Browsing Category Law and Order

Are Things Changing?

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Y. Davis

 

I cried. Yes, I admit I lost it and bawled like a baby whose pacifier had been snatched away. But mine were happy tears.

Until yesterday, when the verdict against Derek Chauvin was announced, I had not seen so much hugging, hi-fiving, and joyful weeping since Joe Biden was elected president. Telephone signals crisscrossed nationwide as friends and associates, many expressing stunned disbelief but euphoric gratification, phoned each other to confirm that what we heard was not a cruel joke or a bad dream. The track record of bad cops vs. Black Americans trapped in their web is common knowledge. How many Black people didn’t find it hard to believe their eyes and ears when Judge Peter Cahill said, “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty?” Say whaaat?

I wrote my first post about George Floyd on May 28, 2020, nearly a year ago. Although I have always maintained hope for justice for Mr. Floyd, honestly, I wasn’t expecting it, not even after a video circulated worldwide showed Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and pressing the life out of him. I didn’t expect it even after Chauvin was fired and arrested and put on trial. I still have little faith in the so-called justice system. It has failed us so many times before until “Say Their Names” has become as much a rallying cry as Black Lives Matter. On Tuesday, my prayers and the prayers of millions of principled people – people of color and whites – everywhere were answered. My close friends and I collectively exhaled a sigh of relief, although disbelief still hovers in the shadows of the future like an ominous cloud as does Chauvin’s expected appeal.

During the days after Mr. Floyd’s murder and the following weeks, I refused to watch the video showing his demise. I just couldn’t. Whenever I knew that it was about to be shown, I’d mute the TV and look away until I thought the segment was over. In the months preceding the trial, when I thought of the tragic way in which the incapacitated man was murdered, in my mind, I would see the smirk on the killer cop’s face as he pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck. Today, I replace the image of that smirk with what I saw above the mask on Chauvin’s face after the verdict was read – deer in the headlight eyes. I imagine and hope that what was going through his mind was gut-wrenching fear; fear of a dire future.

I’ve learned of so many – too many – senseless murders-by-cop of black men and women during my lifetime. I hope that the Chauvin verdict will change bad policing in America.

I pray for Darnella Frazier, the teenager who courageously stood her ground and filmed Mr. Floyd’s murder. I also pray for all of those who testified against the rogue cop, especially the other police officers who – this time – ignored the blue wall, that informal code of silence among police officers, and did the right thing.

I know that before the verdict and even in its light, many organizations and some individual citizens continue calling for police abolition (replacing policing with other systems of public safety) or defunding the police. As I understand it, “defunding the police” does not (as some believe) mean doing away with the police. It means reducing police department budgets and reallocating or redistributing those funds toward essential social services.

I hope that Congress will pass H.R.7120 , the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, aka the George Floyd bill. Not only will the bill address systemic police misdeeds, among other things, but it will also create a national registry to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. Ideally, that registry will prevent bad cops who willingly leave or are fired from the police force in one city from relocating to another police force in a different town. The proposed ordinance is primarily intended to “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.”

I don’t think that the majority of Americans are anti-police. I’m not. I know that there are good officers out there. We all are just sick and tired of bad cops using their badge and gun to get away with murder, literally. I agree with Michael Moore, who in his Podcast proposes that our country “abolish a sick and cruel system of policing and replace it with a humane and accountable system of Public Safety and Compassion.”

What right-minded person wouldn’t agree that this country’s law enforcement system needs massive change? Who would not like to believe that there truly is liberty and justice for all?

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Warriors for Justice

The following post was written by Guest Author, David White.

Think 1955 in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The murderers of Emmett Till are on trial, and everyone – everyone – black and white knows that the outcome of the case is a foregone conclusion. The prosecution team does the best they can. Till’s Uncle, poor Mose Wright, under immense life-threatening duress, identifies the culprits in front of the crowd in the courtroom, and the murderers still get off scot-free.

Fast forward to 2021, and put yourself in the House Managers’ position at the 2nd Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump. Imagine the demoralizing effect of knowing that you face a group of Senate jurors who are as intractable and oppositional as those in the Emmett Till case. The Managers did an excellent job. They certainly inspired me to want to do more to ensure that we preserve the ideals they so eloquently and fervently advocate.

Their opponent was the personification of autocratic nihilism, a man who would gleefully watch the destruction of the beautiful Capitol building, a structure erected with immeasurable toil, blood, and tears. A man who would encourage an insurrection because voters spoke and he could not find enough accomplices to help implement his devious plan to invalidate the election results and maintain power.

The word that perhaps best sums up what I witnessed from the former president’s defense would be “absurd.” Of course, when your client is the 45th president of the United States, you expect nothing other than absurdity.

Look at some of the imprudent and sometimes humourous outbursts from the trial (with a few personal interpolations).

“Mr. Chairman, the prosecution is being unfair, they’re bringing in evidence that implicates my client, and I feel that is prejudicial and so….uh, wrong”.

“Mr. Chairman, they’re using his words as reported by the media and as promulgated on social media platforms, and how can that be fair? After all, they’re only reports, and who would ever be prosecuted or found guilty on mere reports, even if they are his own words?”

“I declare ‘reports’ to be hearsay and inadmissible and totally unfair”.

“I say they should present their case without reports, without incendiary video, and simply go about fixing the pandemic and racial inequity.”

“Mr. Chairman, we reserve the right to imply that their presentation is fraudulent and hypocritical because we say it is.”

“And we reserve the right to present statements into evidence that are mere assertions and assert them as facts, because – the prosecution is partisan.”

“And we know they’re partisan because they identify as Democrats, except Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, the numerous other Republican congressmen and women who declared the trial valid along with the over 100 legal scholars of all political persuasions who determined my client was guilty of inciting insurrection. So, this whole trial should be declared a sham, and let’s all go home in the name of unity.”

“Oh, and by the way, the videos they showed with my client appearing to egg on those pre-meditated incursionists didn’t tell the whole story. They forgot the part, somewhere after about the tenth time he said fight, that he dropped in the word peacefully in a totally non-sarcastic manner. As we know, my client does not have a sarcastic, insincere bone in his body.”

“Since they can doctor up videos let me show you some totally out-of-context videos, for several minutes, of numerous Democrats, many of them in this chamber at this time, using the word ‘fight,’ which of course I will present in a nonpartisan manner because we on this side don’t believe this should be a partisan matter.”

“And while I’m at it, let me show some gratuitous videos of violent street incidences involving a lot of people of diversity with the implication that these are Black Lives Matter and Antifa members; not Trumpers acting violently, though not put in any contextual framework because – somehow this is really a trial about Antifa and BLM, and we really shouldn’t be partisan.”

“So, in conclusion, Mr. Chairman what I’m saying is, you can’t find that my client, who called those well-known violent thugs, racists, anti-semites and kooky conspiracy theorists to the Capitol for a ‘wild’ day as Congress was certifying the election that he legitimately loss, but which we don’t have to admit, guilty of incitement, just because he sent them there to fight like ‘you know what’  or they would lose their country.”

“Oh, one more thing, can you call a recess so that I can consult with the jurors as to how to go about assuring my client’s acquittal?”

I brought up the Till case to push back on this notion that I’ve been hearing from pundits that I generally respect, like Ari Melber and Joy Reid, that the House Managers were derelict by not demanding witnesses to “look those jurors in the eye” and tell them about the pain and suffering they’ve endured. Presenting witnesses may have produced more tearjerking drama, but in my opinion, it would not have brought more conviction votes from naysaying Senators who had already – over three days – seen proof of criminal acts.

Just as an affidavit, handwritten by Emmett Till and certified by God, would have been rejected by the Mississippi court, no truth or proof that anyone else could have provided in that Impeachment Trial would have swayed any of the Trump loyalists.  Furthermore, the trial would have descended further into their nihilistic trap and turned into a comedy of errors.

Lawyers for the Defense:  “Mr. Chairman, if they call this witness, I demand that Kamala Harris be called…VP Harris, are you now or have you ever been a member or associate of Antifa or BLM?”

House Managers: “Objection.”

Lawyers for the Defense:  “You can’t object. This isn’t a real court of law, and the chairman is not a real judge. Mr. Chairman, they are being unfair in not allowing me to question my witness as I see fit.” (Moments later) “The defense now calls Rep. Maxine Waters to the stand.”

Back to critiquing the trial, I loved how Chaplain Barry Black designed his opening prayer to touch the conscience of anyone who was listening who had a conscience. He was precise about what the trial was supposed to be about (truth over falsehood, courage over cowardice). And I imagined his majestic voice and prayer emanating from above, delivering a message about good battling evil, and lies versus truth to souls that need saving.

House Managers Jamie Raskin, Joe Neguse, and Stacey Plaskett’s presentations were uplifting, and I was especially impressed by their impassioned, principled exhortations to righteousness. Raskin’s citings of Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and the Bible were also profoundly inspiring.

Although most Republicans clung to their false prophet, there were some courageous living testimonies on that side, too. Burr, Romney, Cassidy, Murkowski, Collins, Sasse, and Toomey sought and will find salvation in the truth.

Following the Emmett Till trial, Wright and the two other black men who testified against the killers had to relocate away from Mississippi. The fate of the courageous seven Senators in the 2nd Impeachment Trial, along with the previously insufferable Liz Cheney, may not cause them to be run out of town; still, it is not unreasonable to think that a megalomaniacal sociopath and his disciples will try to punish them in every way possible. They are to be commended for their courage.

The “fight” for justice continues, and righteous warriors carry on.

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Say Their Names

I cried this morning. After saying my morning prayer and thanking God for waking me, I cried for people who won’t see the new day.

I cried for George Floyd, the most recent poster man for police abuse. I cried for Sandra Bland and Philando Castile. I wept for all of the people listed below whose lives resulted in unnecessary and senseless deaths at the hands of rogue law enforcement officers, and as in the case of Trayvon Martin, wanna-be-cops.

I no longer watch the video showing a policeman with his knee, pressing George Floyd’s neck to the ground, applying his full body weight, squeezing the life out of the helpless man lying prone with his hands cuffed behind his back. Once was enough. I am tired of seeing videos of black people, particularly black men being murdered by the boys in blue, who, without courage fueled by a badge and gun, might otherwise be quivering cowards.

All seasons are open season on black people. Some cops – and I emphasize some because not all of them are bad – appear to take pleasure in using lethal force and lethal weapons against unarmed black men. You need a license to hunt animals, but black men are fair game. Shoot them. Stun them to death with a taser. Hang them in a jail cell or suffocate them on the street. Hands up, hands down, hands cuffed behind their backs, it doesn’t matter to corrupt officers. They spot their prey and slay it.

The unmerciful killing of black people is happening in cities across the country. Will it ever stop? Amerikkk have you no conscience?

On May 24, The New York Times ran a list of people who succumbed to COVID-19. How about we start compiling and publishing lists of the black people who have been murdered by law enforcement officers or hate monger racists like those who killed Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

In these contemporary times, high-profile police brutality cases draw public attention and protests. Still, I suspect that numerous cases are so well covered-up that the public never learns about them.

It doesn’t matter if brown-skinned targets happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the wrong time. Any time or any place can be a kill zone for a cop on a mission, including one’s own home.

If you have a relative or friend who you haven’t seen or heard from for a while, do not, I repeat, do not call the police and ask them to do a wellness check. Last year, a neighbor of Fort Worth, Texas resident Atatiana Jefferson, after noticing her door ajar, called the police and asked them to look in on Atatiana. According to reports, a responding officer saw a movement through the window of Atatiana’s home and fired. She was shot dead — in her own home. In September 2018, Botham Jean was murdered by a Dallas policewoman in his home. She claims she thought it was her apartment. In February 1999, Amadou Diallo was mowed down by four plain-clothed police officers. They blasted him with 41 shots as he was preparing to enter his apartment building. They claim to have mistaken him for a rape suspect, a claim that was never confirmed by any evidence.

When I began researching this subject, I was determined to find and list enough related cases to produce a list at least half as long as the corona list published in The New York Times. A list of black citizens who have been haphazardly murdered for decades would surely fill up several issues of the paper. In that regard, Coronavirus ain’t got nothing on us.

While researching the subject, I read so many stories about people who unjustly suffered death by cop until I couldn’t read anymore. Every story tugged at my heartstrings. My emotions were too raw for me to complete the task. In some cases, the officers were charged and convicted, but many times, they were not criminally charged. I read the line “No officers have been charged with a crime,” so often, I thought I’d vomit. Many rogue cops get off Scot-free to live to kill another day. During a recent newscast, I heard a man say, “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.” Oh, but unfortunately, it is.

If you aren’t familiar with some of the names in the list below, Google them. Read their stories, pray for their soul, and say their name.

 

Akai Gurley

Albert Davis

Alonzo Smith

Alton Sterling

Alvin Haynes

Amadou Diallo

Andre Larone Murphy, Sr.

Ahmaud Arbery

Anthony Ashford

Artago Damon Howard

Arthur McDuffie

Askari Robert

Asshams Manley

Atatiana Jefferson

Bettie Jones

Billy Ray Davis

Botham Jean

Brandon Glenn

Brandon Jones

Breonna Taylor

Brian Acton

Brian Day

Brian Pickett

Bryan Overstreet

Charly Leundeu Keunang

Christian Taylor

Christopher Kimble

Cornelius Brown

Dajuan Graham

Dante Parker

Darrell Brown

Darrell Gatewood

Darrius Steward

David Felix

De’Angelo Stallworth

Denzel Brown

Deontre Dorsey

Dominic Hutchinson

Dominick Wise

Donald Ivy

Dontre Hamilton

Eric Garner

Eric Harris

Ezell Ford

Felix Kumi

Frank Shephard III

Frank Smart

Freddie Gray

Freedie Blue

George Floyd

George Mann

India Kager

Jamar Clark

James Carney III

Jason Moland

Jerame Reid

Jeremy Lett

Jeremy McDole

Jermaine Benjamin

Jonathan Sanders

Junior Prosper

Keith Childress

Keith McLeod

Kevin Bajoie

Kevin Garrett

Kevin Matthews

Kris Jackson

Lamontez jones

Laquan McDonald

Lavante Biggs

Leroy Browning

Leslie Snapp

Lorenzo Hayes

Matthew Ajibade

Michael Brown

Michael Lee Marshall

Michael Noel

Michael Sabbie

Miguel Espinal

Natasha McKenna

Nathaniel Pickett

Norman Cooper

Paterson Brown

Philando Castile

Phillip White

Rayshun Cole

Reginald Moore

Richard Perkins

Roy Nelson

Rumain Brisbon

Salvado Ellswood

Samuel Dubose

Samuel Harrell

Sandra Bland

Spencer McCain

Tamir Rice

Tanisha Anderson

Terence Crutcher

Terry lee Chatman

Terry Price

Tiano Metron

Tiara Thomas

Tony Robinson

Trayvon Martin

Troy Robinson

Tyree Crawford

Victo Larosa III

Walter Scott

Wayne Wheeler

William Chapman II

Zamiel Crawford

 

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Giving Forethought to Never Saying Never

“Nothing like that ever happens in this neighborhood.” How often do we hear someone being interviewed during a TV news segment say that?  The thoughtless statement always makes me shake my head in dismay. Don’t folks know that there is a first time for everything?

I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 43 years. (Obviously, I like the place.) During that time, I have never seen so much as a fistfight in our complex, not even among the children when they were growing up here. (Correction, I do recall one fight among two sisters.) Overall, ours has been a sedate place, where neighbors feel like family and look out for each other. The milieu changed yesterday.

It was around 10:15 a.m. I was doing what I normally do, sitting at my computer, zoned-out in my literary domain, composing essays that I hope would bring me extra bucks like they sometimes do. Suddenly, a deep male voice yells “Get your hands up!” And I nearly fall off my chair.

I had been so focused on what I was writing that the first time I heard the order I thought it was coming from the TV since the set was turned on. But the volume was low. Had the volume suddenly jumped up? I wondered. That thought got nixed when I looked over my shoulder at the screen to see an animated bear shaking its rear and singing about a clean hinny. Then, I heard the booming voice again. Shouting twice. “Get your hands up! I won’t say it again.”

In temporary bewilderment, I almost raised my hands, until it dawned on me that I was home alone, and my door was chain locked. That’s when my frayed nerves relaxed, and I realized that the voice was coming from outside my window. I got up from my chair and looked through the Venetian blinds. What appeared to be a platoon of police officers was standing strategically all over the yard and on the sidewalk outside the gate that surrounds our complex.

I backed away from the window, turned, and hurried downstairs. I opened the door, a few inches at first, in case shooting started, forcing me to retreat inside. After a few seconds, I summoned the courage and went outside on the porch. Some of my neighbors also began coming out. Cops were everywhere. Some of them guardedly glanced at us.

A young man who looked to be Hispanic and was wearing all black, including a black hoodie that partially covered his head was pinned face down on the ground beneath my window. One officer was handcuffing him while others stood vigilantly nearby. A second Hispanic man similarly attired, was being led through the courtyard. He, too, was handcuffed and flanked by a trio of officers. Both men appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties.

The commotion of what could have been filming for an episode of Cops was over in about 10 minutes, although some officers stayed around for at least an hour searching the grounds. During that time, a truck with “Investigation Unit” printed on its side arrived on the scene. I never found out what the two suspected lawbreakers did that led the cops to chase them onto our property, but I later learned from one of my neighbors that the cops found a gun near the trash bin. One of the two fugitives had accidentally dropped or purposely ditched the weapon after jumping the fence during the chase.

Yesterday’s event was the most attention-grabbing incident to occur in our neighborhood since one afternoon, in 1988, when a homeless advocate affiliated with Mitch Snyder’s CCNV climbed the 761-foot transmission tower (that is higher than the Washington monument) and hung a banner from it that read, “Housing Now.” We stood outside for a few hours, until sundown, as did police until the tower climber was eventually persuaded to climb down. He was promptly arrested.

Unfortunately, the state of this world provides no safe haven. Whether you live in a gated suburban community or an upscale urban neighborhood, you should never say never. Due to factors over which we have no control, none of us can predict what will happen from one minute to the next.

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