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Showing posts with label Police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Police. Show all posts

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Transform, Part IV - Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

Transform, Part IV

From all across the nation we are hearing stories of police corruption. The stories are coming from the victims of police brutality, the victims of wrongful prosecution, they are accompanied by live footage of police in our communities beating up protesters, and doing it with a smile, pushing an old man down on the concrete and not stopping to help while he bleeds from the head.

This has to stop.

We need to transform policing in America and we cannot do it soon enough.

America needs to examine its conscience, all of us members of the white majority need to do it in the worst way.

We need criminal justice reform, no incarceration for non-violent crimes, we need to bring an end to the war on drugs, which only promotes illegal markets, and extra judicial gang-warfare to protect those markets.

We need to stop putting our brothers and sisters in prison.

Every hospital in America must undergo inspection and review of its policies and procedures, its best practices, by an Inspector General style investigation conducted by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAOH), every single police force and Sheriffs department must undergo the same thing.

Police cannot be immune to prosecution, in fact or in practice.

Police must fulfill their mandate, to protect and to serve, they cannot run around acting like the biggest gang in town, but all to often that is what they are, criminals in uniform preying on the communities they are supposed to serve.

Change cannot come soon enough.

We must transform the police, their mission, criminal justice and the courts. We transform them now!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bread and Circuses - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


Bread and Circuses

If you keep the people “fat and happy” you can get away with anything. This is a common synthesis of the phrase first attributed to the Roman poet in the first century CE, “bread and circuses;” he said. Give the people bread and circuses and you will have their support. They will not object to anything you do, and they will follow you anywhere.

In the Roman context, the call for circuses meant; give the people games to entertain them. Gladatorial games, yes, but the reference to the “circuses” meant the great racing track of the Circus Maximum, the round “ovular” course where chariot races took place.

“Fat and Happy” fairly approximates the sense of “Bread and Circuses,” but “Fat and Entertained,” is closer to the original meaning. Some historians have viewed this political philosophy as a strategy of appeasement; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained they will not revolt. Others have seen it simply as a strategy of distraction; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained they will not notice the crimes you commit, or your mismanagement of government. The same philosophy can serve both strategies, and it can also be a strategic means of fostering loyalty; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained, you can count on their continuing support,

Bread and Circuses, Bread and Games, is not exactly the same as Fat and Happy. We may just as easily be saying Fed and Entertained, wherein entertainment could also mean angry, hostile, and vehement.

In America today there is no end to the supply of food. This is not to say that some people to not suffer from food insecurity, food scarcity, even malnutrition; this is a resource management problem and has nothing to do with the abundance of food available in the market place.

Americans are fed, fat, and completely distracted.

We are entertained by games, sports, Pokemon Go, by television, movies, and social media, we are distracted by partisan politics, by protests, by injustice. We are do distracted by ephemeral issues like racism, classism, and sectarianism that there is little opportunity for us to come together and hold our government accountable for providing the basic services we require, such as; health care, education, public safety, roads and bridges, and the most important thing of all, justice.

Another ancient axiom is this A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand. We live in a divided world, we live in a divided country. There is not an American Society, there are thousands of little societies, each doing its own thing.  

American are distracted by their differences, and by their sameness. We have gay society, and straight society, and the rest that just don’t care. We have white societies, and black societies, and Latino societies, and Asian societies, and humanist societies, and allied societies. We have gamer societies, and comic-con societies, and Facebook groups, and band followers, meth heads, and pot heads and drunks, we have protest societies, and police societies…and so on, and so forth ad nauseam.

It is natural and normal to differentiate ourselves from one another. It is good to stand up and fight for your rights. It is good, and it is our duty to demand justice in the face of injustice, but those natural and normal ways by which we come to differentiate ourselves from one another, when they become the focus of our energy and identity rather than the interests of justice and human rights; then those modes of differentiation have failed to serve any meaningful purpose.

In my community there are protests taking place. People have gathered to protest another (in a long line of) unjustified shooting of a black man, by police. People are angry, and they are protesting, they are stopping traffic, they are fighting with police. They have no leadership, they are not talking to the media, they have no coherent voice. I am trying to understand what it is they want. What is the object of their protest? What do they want to see happen?

The ultimate answer is that they want the shootings to stop and they want reform of the criminal justice system, the full enfranchisement of African-American citizens.

I am with them on those goals.

However, the people on the protest line are distracted. They are angry, and distracted, they are whiling away their days shouting and throwing bricks, or singing songs and playing games. Sending out messages for coffee and food delivery, alienating those whom they perceive as not having a sufficient commitment to their cause; those who are not doing the same thing as they are doing.

They are so distracted by their passion that the justice they seek; systematic reforms in the criminal justice system; may be slipping away from them. It is almost certain that the ability of the protest leaders to have an influence on public policy, and possible legislation has. And so, in the greater scheme of things, that have become the pawns of the status quo.

The bread and circuses stratagem is working

Saturday, July 9, 2016

On Racism - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


On Racism

This week an African American, a black man, a Negro, a person of color; a man named Philando Castille was shot, and killed by police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. This happened just a few miles from where I live; in a part of the Twin Cities that I cross through frequently.

Philando was sitting in the passenger seat of a car, the car being driven by his fiancée, Lavish Reynolds, who had her four-year old daughter in the back seat.

It was early in the evening of July 6th, it was still light outside. The car had been pulled over by the St. Anthony Police; ostensibly for a broken taillight.

Philando, who was a Member of the Teamsters Union, who worked for the Saint Paul Public School System; he was armed at the time, and had a permit to carry his weapon. When the police officer asked him for his identification, Philando informed him of that relevant fact; as he was trained to do. Having been asked for his ID, he was at the same time reaching for his wallet when the police officer shot, and killed him. He bled to death in the car, while his fiancée, Lavish, captured the moment on video, streaming the whole incident live on Facebook for the world to see. Philando bled to death while he fiancée’s daughter watched from the back seat of the car, trying to comfort her mother. 

Lavish remained calm, the police officer who did the shooting was nothing short of hysterical.

Philando was shot four times with a woman and a child sitting in the car next to him. After the shooting, the police did not administer first aid. They did not call for an ambulance. They continued to point their guns into the car, until they ordered Lavish and her daughter out, where they separated them, put Lavish in handcuffs, administered a breathalyzer too her, and did whatever else it is that they did…

The community reacted instantaneously, the whole world was connected to it through Facebook, the people at Facebook found the video so terrible they began to restrict access to it, news of the incident spread regardless.

Crowds gathered in protest all around the country, and at the Governor’s mansion in Minnesota. 

Mark Dayton, the Governor of Minnesota said that this killing would not have happened if Philando had been a white man, it would not have happened. The governor used the word “racism,” and the critics of the governor were quick to scramble: “how could he call the officer a racist?” They demanded, but he did not call the police officer a racist, he said the event was caused by racism. It was caused by racism, not by the actions of a racist cop, and those are two very different things.

Racism permeates our culture. Racism, nationalism, tribalism, permeate all of the cultures of the world. Good people, bad actors, the fair, and the unjust, men, and women; people of all ages, all colors, all socio-economic backgrounds are conditioned by the paradigm of “race.” Racial categories condition our views of self, of family, of community; race is not a biological reality, it is a thought construct, it is a language game, it is a function of metonymy, semiotics, and linguistics. Most importantly; it is a lie.

Philando Castile was the latest victim of this lie; he and his family that survives him.

Governor Dayton was right, the killing of Philando was a product of racism. It was caused by racism. Not because the police officer who shot him was a racist. Who knows what was in that man’s heart when he pulled the trigger? I do not know. He could be a racist; a person who actively promotes the classification of people by “race;” black, white, red, yellow, maybe that cop is a person who hates people based on the color of their skin. Who knows? Not me. The governor did not say he was, the governor did not call him a racist, the governor said that Philando Castile was killed because of racism, and all of the hidden (or not so hidden) emotions and assumptions surrounding that construct. 

The overwhelming emotion on display in Lavish’s livestreaming video was not hate, it was fear on the part of the officers, fear and indifference. I do not know of any credible person who is saying that the police officer who killed Philando Castile was a hater, but he was definitely afraid, and when Philando lay there dying, without the administration of first aid, there was also indifference. It is in the vector of fear and indifference that the racism which killed Philando Castile can be found.

The root of racial injustice, its ordinary cause, is fear, not hate.

Fear is how racism manifests itself as a deadly plague in our community, It is the responsibility of the community to overcome that fear, through togetherness, relationality, and love.

I can think of a lot of good public policy we could enact to address this problem, it is my fervent hope, that we can arrive at a place where good policies can be honestly considered. However, the ultimate solution lies with us, people will not stop being afraid of the “other” unless they determine to do so. We must determine to treat everyone we meet with respect, to honor the inherent dignity of all human beings, we must determine to do so. 

Treat each other lovingly. Do to your neighbor what you might wish would be done for you, treat them as you yourself would like to be treated, and do not do to any other what you would not like to have done to you…the Golden Rule; live by it.