The System Didn’t Fail. It Was Supposed to Work This Way.

Great White Hunter.

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson and the return of violent unrest in Ferguson, I’ve read and heard a lot about how Blacks and Whites need to stay calm and have a rational discussion.

Okay. Let’s calmly talk rationally about the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer last Friday, why don’t we?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving his moving patrol car while his partner stayed at the wheel, surveillance video shows.

The video showed Wednesday by police captures the Saturday afternoon shooting at a West Side recreation center in which 12-year-old Rice was shot.

The video contains no audio.

A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.

Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a “guy with a gun pointing it at people.”

The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was “probably fake,” but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.

Over the past few days I’ve read so much amateur analysis, part-time forensic experts and ex-cop war stories and “woulda/shoulda/coulda” scenarios made up of skewing some facts and misinterpreting and excluding others of what happened and all the while with fawning deference for Support Your Local Police Officer no matter what because gee they do a tough damn job and they are they only thing that stands between the nice people and the jungle predators.

Frankly, it makes me want to vomit.

I see no point in holding a rational discussion with anyone who can rationalize the actions of a murderer. A rational discussion serves no purpose when the intent to shame and embarrass one member of a racial minority into apologizing for the actions of a few while assuaging the fears of the majority that “we’re all not like that.”

I have no interest in having a rational discussion with anyone more upset by broken windows and the looting of cheap stores and shoddy merchandise and are untroubled by a young man losing first his life and then his humanity.  They shrug it off with a blase “Well, I wasn’t there but he must have done something to deserve it.”

Something like boosting some smokes, jaywalking and maybe smarting off to a cop? Yeah, that’s some serious flaunting of the law there. Better pump 12 in him since he’s such a big target.

a System cannot fail

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”W.E.B. Du Bois

A rational discussion is a pointless waste of time when the same “rational discussions” have followed after the cops killed Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Patrick Dorismond, Darrien Hunt, Joseph Ferrell,

Now add Tamir Rice to the roll call of the dead. What happened to him wasn’t a shooting. It was an execution. The trail of Michael Brown’s blood has flowed all the way from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland Ohio.

Some say the problem is the BB gun Rice was carrying looked too realistic.   Okay,  I see how that come lead to complications but how about training rookie cops better so they don’t zoom up to a 12-year-old suspect and fucking immediately blow him out of his shoes? Would that work?  Shoot first, shoot last and keep shooting and asking no questions later is a prime example of piss-poor policing. You could paint the toy guns in all the colors of the rainbow and it still wouldn’t stop some of these trigger-happy cretins.

This is a problem situation which has to be resolved by addressing the issue of the realism of the toy and the overkill response of the cops. You have to start demilitarizing the warrior cop mindset when they zip around in their cars, never know anything about the people in the neighborhoods they patrol and start trying to change the adversarial relationship between cops and communities of color. Until both sides meet each other halfway nothing will ever change.

Changing the “I am a hammer and everything is a nail” philosophy of the warrior cop would help.  Community policing isn’t a new idea and has had both its unqualified successes and dismal failures, but an adversarial relationship between cops and the communities they patrol is poisonous. Nothing positive can come from cops calling civilians as “fucking animals” while the civvies serenade the cops with a chorus of “Fuck the Police.”

The cops have the bullets and the weaponry to fight the community, but the community has bullets and weaponry too. Neither side can win so where does that get us to but M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction)?

 

ferguson

White critics think violence and destruction are indefensible. They need to ask what brings people to react this way. Tweet by Steve Chapman

Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police department and possibly with a million dollars raised from supporters for a trial he was never going to face.  Like George Zimmerman before him, Wilson has become the recipient of  charity from supporters who hate the idea just because you shoot and kill and unarmed teenager that’s no reason you should be punished for it.

A million dollars. Imagine that. Who would have thought one dead Black kid was worth that kind of money?  For Darren and George, despite being the ones with the guns its okay to take Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s lives a long as they claim were frightened for theirs.  Not only will you go free, you’ll get paid too!

Get rich or kill trying.

While rioting is terrible a riot is not the most terrible thing.   People never really understand something until it happens to them and sometimes not even then.

Peace will never be present where justice is absent.

It's settled down for the moment, but at any moment Ferguson could go up in flames again.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

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“Don’t Shoot…Oops. Too Late.”

Mike Brown

A week after Michael Brown was shot multiple times and killed for reasons that remain unknown, Ferguson Police Department Police Chief Thomas Jackson held a press conference which accomplished exactly two things:

1. We learned the name of Brown’s shooter was one Officer Darren Wilson.
2. The police released a surveillance video of a man fitting Brown’s description apparently stealing $48 worth of cigars from a convenience store and then turning on and physically confronting a store clerk.

There were two more things wrong with this. The first is is even in Missouri, a “strong-arm robbery” as Jackson described it is not an executable offense. The second, and more important fact is Wilson didn’t know Brown was a suspect when he stopped him and in less than five minutes, shot him dead.

Even if Brown understood the clerk would call the police, he wasn’t running or trotting or making any effort to hide or conceal himself. At worse, Office Wilson stopped Brown for jaywalking or being a hazard to drivers by walking in the street.

Maybe that was dumb behavior. Jerky behavior. Smart-ass behavior. But none of it explains what happened between Wilson and Brown.

Young. Black. Male. Better shoot him before he becomes dangerous too.

No audio recordings. No video recordings. No eyewitnesses testimony. No ballistic reports and no statement about what was found at the crime scene. Jackson didn’t take questions and didn’t offer any new answers.

Why did it take numerous Freedom of Information requests before the Ferguson P.D. finally released the name of the officer involved? Why did the Ferguson P.D. share surveillance photos of what appears to be an altercation between Brown and a store clerk, but have yet to provide a timeline of Brown’s actions or Wilson’s?

Why is it we still don’t know how many times Wilson pulled the trigger and how many shots hit Brown? Even without an autopsy report, don’t the Ferguson P.D. have Wilson’s gun?

Can’t they count?

The chief’s press conference satisfied nobody (except for Fox News talking heads and they don’t count) and actually made things worse.   The fragile calm that had settled in after the National Guard replaced the the heavy-handed police presence of the Ferguson and St. Louis police force didn’t hold and the chaos and looting began anew.  Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and issued a curfew.   It hasn’t helped settle matters much as the Black community in Ferguson remains frustrated by the stonewalling and the slimy attempt by Jackson to smear a dead teenager with allegations of a criminal act.   As if that justifies shooting him down in the street.

The Ferguson P.D. gassed and harassed the media until they could come up with a plausible story and reasonable doubt. Now they are attempting to manipulate the media and the public. If Michael Brown can be made to look like a guilty thug, he becomes less of an innocent victim.

The police are public servants. They answer to the public, not the other way around. That’s clearly not happening here and it has turned a local tragedy into a national scandal. The longer the cop’s “account” of what happened goes unshared, the greater the likelihood when it finally does the story will be more about covering asses than uncovering truth.

The protests by the people should continue until they get the answers the authorities have failed to give them. The burning, looting and violence has to stop. It does nothing to help Brown’s family and the community if criminals are exploiting a tragedy to help themselves. Leave the protesters alone. The criminals should be arrested, prosecuted, and if proven guilty, punished and possibly imprisoned.

All the things which Michael Brown was not.

If the shooting Mike Brown was the explosion, the choking of Eric Garner was the fuse.

An observation: Brown was 6’4″ and 292 pounds and allegedly stolen cigars from a convenience store before his fatal encounter with a police officer.

In NYC, Eric Garner was 6’3″ and 350 pounds and allegedly was selling illegal cigarettes (or “loosies”) when he had his fatal encounter with police officers.

The conclusion seems to be if you’re a big Black guy, if the tobacco doesn’t kill you, the cops will.

Who’s afraid of a large Black man? Everybody. Or at least the cops seem to be. Any cop who is so scared of a large Black man their only recourse is to kill them, is a coward and has no business with a badge and a gun.

One more thing. I’ve been impressed by how attentive young Black people have been to the goings on in Ferguson. This has engaged them in a way similar killings have not.

How Michael Brown’s met his end is no more heartbreaking than that of Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, or even Trayvon Martin. Unlike Eric Garner’s demise, no video of the last moments of Brown’s life exists, but there are 40 FBI agents in Ferguson knocking on doors just to be sure.

But the image of Brown’s bloodied corpse lying in the street like a dead dog was seen on Instagram, on Twitter, on cell phones and all over the world and it incensed a generation for whom the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the acquittal of the four police officers who beat the hell out of Rodney King happened before many of them were born.

This is their Rodney King moment. Eric Garner was the fuse. Michael Brown was the explosion.   They’re angry.  They’re engaged.  They’re paying attention.   If the dreamers stay awake they may take a hard look around and realize they have been living in a nightmare.

What will it take then to put them back to sleep?   Quick!  Gimme an update on the state of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s marriage!  We need to keep these Negroes happy and complacent!

No more civil rights marches should not to be taken to mean nothing is wrong, because as the world watches in horror and fascination, Ferguson 2014 looks a lot like Birmingham 1964.

It’s news when an American city looks like the Gaza Strip (photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

The Brave One

michael-sam-brandon wade_AP

Michael Sam (photo: Brandon Wade/AP)

So we’ve got an openly gay man that wants to play in the NFL?  And he’s good enough to deserve a shot?  What’s the problem?

Michael Sam came out publicly on Sunday, likely setting himself to become the first openly gay player in the National Football League. And then a group of league executives reminded everyone why such an announcement probably didn’t happen sooner.

Speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated, the executives said that the All-American defensive end from Missouri probably hurt his draft stock with his announcement.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” an NFL player personnel assistant told SI. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

One longtime NFL scout said there’s “no question” the announcement will make teams less apt to select Sam in April’s draft.

An assistant personnel director said it will take “one confident general manager or head coach” with firm job security to take Sam.

Or at least a general manager or coach confident enough to go on record and declare, “I don’t care if he’s gay.  I care if he can help us win!”

I can’t remember the name of the player but a few seasons ago there was a guy the Tennessee Titans drafted who was supposedly “too cerebral” for the NFL.   This is a league that drafts guys with criminal records, “off the field” issues, disciplinary problems and drug dependencies.  This is a league that has guys who have committed crimes including drug dealing, gang affiliations, DUI’s, and a couple of murder raps (Aaron Hernandez, Rae Carruth, Jovan Belcher, O.J. Simpson, Ray Lewis(?).

Open the door, NFL or I'll kick it in."

Open the door, NFL or I’ll kick it in.”

The NFL makes all the right noises about being diverse and inclusive, but in all the ways that counts it’s no different from the days when Reggie White was saying he never played with a gay teammate.  Which of course is a crock.  White always played with gay players.  He just didn’t know they were gay and for Sam there is still a lot of  White’s homophobic ignorance in the NFL.

But this is no longer White’s NFL and in this case that is a good thing.

Maybe because of his size, Sam will have to play as a linebacker instead of a defensive end, but he’s got the credentials that say he should be able to play on Sundays as well as he did on Saturdays.

Sam never hid his sexual orientation at Missouri and from what is being reported, he went public with it before someone else did.  Let’s be real here.  College and pro football is like ham and eggs.   There are coaches in college whom are friends with coaches in the pros and they talk.   Does anyone really think they don’t talk about the players on their teams who might be gay or are?

There will be proclamations of how wonderful this is for gay rights and how far we’ve come as a country and my, look how progressive and enlightened we are!  Which is why in 2014 an openly gay football player is the lead story on programs that don’t do football stories, right?   Let us not be naive.  Homophobia and gay-baiting/bashing won’t be ended in a NFL team’s locker room anymore than it has in Vladimir Putin’s Olympic games.

Sure Michael Sam will be called names and subject to gay-baiting.  So what?  What rookie isn’t given a hard time? What Sam will go through will be a bit different sort of hassle.  As long as he makes plays on the open field that will matter far more than what he does behind closed doors.

I don’t concern myself with the sex lives of grown-ups as long as its only with grown-ups in their sex lives.   If Joe Montana and Jerry Rice turned out to be secret lovers on the down-low creep it wouldn’t lessen one bit the joy I received from all those victories they racked up.

We will see who’s brave enough to get past the ignorance on Draft Day.  The NFL is on the clock.

It will be a great day when the NFL is troubled less by players who kiss men than players who have killed men.

Coming to sack a QB near you next season?

Coming to sack a QB near you next season?

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Has Todd Aiken Screwed the GOP With “Legitimate Rape?”

McCaskill may have found the one Republican she can beat.

Normally, no one but a political junkie would pay much attention to a Missouri Republican candidate for the Senate has to say about abortion.   What Todd Akin sad was far from normal.   Even for experience campaign observers  Akin’s candid response left their jaws crashing to the floor.

First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

“Legitimate rape?”   Rape is an ugly crime of hate and violence.  What’s almost as ugly is how pigs like Akin trivialize it to exert their moral authority over a woman’s body.  

Akin’s ill-considered remarks set the race in Missouri on its ear and Republicans in full-blown panic mode as Democrats pounced on the gaffe.   The Republican National Committee said it would not provide funds for Akin’s attempt to unseat Claire McCaskill,  the vulnerable incumbent for control of a Senate seat the GOP desperately wants to wrest from the Democrats.     The calls for Akin to quit the race began almost immediately.

Akin is telling anyone who will listen that he’s in the race, but he’s running out of listeners. Today, even Sean Hannity said he needs to quit.

The G.O.P. needs to pick up four seats to retake the Senate and Claire McCaskill in Missouri is one of the most vulnerable Democrats out there. She was losing to all the Republican challengers before Akin won the primary. They can find a replacement with no sweat, but if Akin hangs on, with the national money drying up, McCaskill could hang on.

That wouldn’t make Karl Rove or the Kochs very happy. The elephant stampede from Akin isn’t because he’s a stupid asshole, but because he might screw up Mitch McConnell’s wet dreams of becoming Senate Majority Leader. Politics trumps decency. Same as it always was.

Bad boy. He’s gotta go.

The Republicans are hoping Akin will drop out and allow them to replace him. Probably with someone not as stupidly insensitive about rape, but likely better at hiding it.

Unless Akin drops out, McConnell could stay in the minority.

Which isn’t to say he doesn’t have his defenders   “This is an effort to try to direct attention away from…Claire McCaskill, who has been supportive of Planned Parenthood – an organization that’s been under investigation for criminal activity,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.

Akin’s candidacy got an unexpected boost from Democrats who poured a million dollars into ads attacking the GOP favorite, businessman John Brunner and a second challenger backed by Sarah Palin.

It was a political calculation to want the weakest and least electable Republican to run again a vulnerable Democrat. McCaskill was losing to all three of the Republicans in the primary and chose to boost the candidacy of Akin, the one she was losing to by the smallest margin.

If Akin wins the strategy will blow up in the face of McCaskill and the Democrats. If she wins because she suspected or hoped Akin would screw himself, then it was a brilliant move. Either way, she had to choose from the best of nothing but bad options. She chose the least worst one.

at the end of the day, Todd Akin is still a Republican. Akin’s idiocy gives McCaskill something she didn’t have a few weeks ago–an opening and a classic screw-up she can exploit. Akin’s repugnant views are being condemned by the GOP not because they find his view so repulsive. They don’t and his ignorant views aren’t out of the Republican mainstream, but they’re afraid Akin staying in will blow one of their best shots for a Senate pick-up.

You won’t find Mitt Romney or any other national GOP leader saying jack about that because that would mean they would have to accept blame for supporting this babbling fool in the first place–the way Paul Ryan did after Akin won the primary.

“Todd Akin has been a great asset to the House Budget Committee,” Ryan said in a joint press release last November with fellow House leaders, including NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan. “His principled approach to fiscal responsibility is exactly the kind of leadership America needs and I appreciate his hard work.”

The Democrats may have given Akin a boost, but it was Republicans who gave him their support. He’s their boy and their problem.