Guilty of their own murders

We have had an extraordinary 2014 so far, given all the events transpiring domestically and abroad.  Striking are the number of incidents involving teenagers killed for no or minor reasons. I don’t want to be too technical in discussing this, because if we zoom in too closely, we tend to get buried in the specific details of each case and lose an important bigger picture, the long view that affords perspective.

I was not going to blog about Ferguson.  For one thing, Geoffrey and I have been hashing it over ever since it began and for another, there are new developments every two hours, it seems, on this roiling cauldron of issues.  But, from the standpoint that I can offer the social and behavioral scientists’ points of view, perhaps it is appropriate for me to share my take on all this, basically off the top of my head.

Some friends and I have been talking together about this for the past week, some online, others here in California.  I see this post as a chance to discuss this with my WP community, if you are interested. Since I view what happened in Ferguson as a symptom of underlying forces at work in our society that will require major legislative actions and then attitudinal shifts — as do all macro-level cataclysms to revolutionize hearts and minds — it really isn’t about one town, one kid, one type of crime, as much as it is the roots of all these similar instances which are buried deep below the social surface, so to speak.

So jump in and add your thoughts if you care to and don’t hesitate to differ with me or one another.  It may be we are all tired of the discussion (I know people expressed this exhaustion to me this weekend), or still awakening to a disturbing and growing threat.  And let me say, there are wonderful things happening in this country, like, for example, the way the Ebola emergency is being managed by the CDC — I wasn’t sure they could handle it.  They are doing so, amazingly, so far.  There are advances in every aspect of our lives and I don’t forget them when I also say, we need to address something dangerous that keeps popping up, before it gets away from us altogether.

I won’t go into all the many cases (the 16 year old walking with soda and candy, the kids playing loud music in their car, the girl in a car accident who bangs on a door for help in the middle of the night, and a kid who is shot multiple times as he walks down the street, and the husband and father choked to death on suspicion of selling illegal cigarettes — not a teen, but a sadly similar event).

But let’s just look at the beginning of the latest foment-ferment incident in Missouri.  Start at the beginning not in the convenient middle when riots break out in response to the mishandling of the death.  An 18 year old is shot multiple times, after witnesses say he put his arms up to indicate surrender, and was left for four hours, dead in the street.  When he was finally picked up — no 911 call made right after he went down, mind you — he was not taken to a hospital.  He was spirited away to an undisclosed location and the man who shot him, equally tucked away from public sight.

There are a lot of moving parts to this and similar stories.  Let’s just take a few of them here, for the purposes of an informal discussion but one we can have because we have been or should have been thinking about this subject for the past year, if not years, if not decades.

Race and gender

One of them, perhaps the key factor for me, is racism and cultural blindness.  You cannot look at the black community’s behavior today and judge it without considering the last 300 – to 400 years of white-black relationships starting with how they were brought here and what their lives have been like from that day to this.  It is quite easy to say, ‘get over it’, that was then and those were our forebears, not us, so let’s just start behaving ourselves today and don’t bring in the past.

Well, you and I couldn’t eliminate our pasts and start as a tabula rasa wiped clean the day we were born and neither can the communities of color who have lived in this country under the terms of the dominant white, European culture.  We act as we do today because of a fabric of expectations and opportunities in which we and our entire families and social groups have been woven and held closely for thousands of years.  So have people of other ethnic and racial groups.

We have to recognize that this incident would not have erupted into a full blown melee so quickly if people of color had not felt that there has been a systematic campaign to exclude them from voting for the past multiple election cycles.  All the reports of long lines, eliminated voting days and methods, requirements for very specific forms of ID, voter registration rolls purged are fresh in their minds.  They are well aware of the attempt to keep them from having a voice and electing representatives that look like and understand them.

Do we think it is lost on them the way the first AA President has been vilified, slandered, and ridiculed? All the nonsense and disinformation about Obama being associated with terrorists, being a foreigner from Kenya, a Mao-Mao, a colonialist, an Arab. Do we wonder that other people of color are incensed?

When communities are told that they must be indoors and off the street after dark, do you think it doesn’t remind them of the infamous Sundown Towns, the last remnants of which have only been abolished in the last decade? In fact, Ferguson was a Sundown Town until the late 1960s — that’s recent enough for me!

How about the way the media reports crime in this country.  Just take a look at this example.

Just these few examples of discrimination on the basis of race and color should be sufficient to drive the point home.  There are dozens and dozens of others, including the rise in neo-Nazi hate groups that target minorities, to enable us to understand that this shooting was just a match that lit an already smoldering pile of tinder.

One other thing to recognize about this from a racial or civil rights perspective and that is inter-cultural blindness.  What I mean by that is simply that it has been proven that races have a harder time seeing each other than they do members of their own race.  So, for example, a Caucasian attempting to identify African Americans in a lineup, is more likely to be mistaken than another African American would.  Research has been done to verify that this is so.

It was useful to consider this when looking at Captain Johnson of the State police handling a young black protester last week, who was very aggressive verbally, shouting threats and wearing a scarf as a mask.  Instead of retreating from him, Johnson walked toward him and spoke to him in such a way that the individual calmed down, removed his mask and spoke quietly with the Captain.  When he removed his mask, he looked like a young boy, and Johnson dealt with him with a soft kindness and compassion. With the mask on, the protester was menacing and looked fierce and older, more formidable.  When Johnson saw the young man, he saw fear and desperation.  What many white people see is a thug, an angry black man, and are afraid.

There is such a thing as racial profiling.  Keep in mind, the 53 man police force in Ferguson was comprised of 3 African American officers and 50 Caucasian officers.  Of 5000 police stops last year, 4600 were blacks, 400 whites.

African Americans are rightfully fed up with the biased light in which they are viewed in America, to this day. And, we need to remember that they are not monolithic as a community. There are just as many variations within the group we characterize as AAs as there are variations between that group and other groups, other racial and ethnic categories.  So, just because some young African American males commit crimes, does not mean that every time we see one, we should assume they are up to no good.  When white teenagers pilfer cigarettes from a convenience store, does any one of us think, “shoot and kill them”?

Poverty and socioeconomic conditions

You cannot understand the tensions in Ferguson and other equivalent towns without considering the high unemployment level it is suffering.  Much of this is the aftermath of the Wall Street’s cavaliere gambling with the economy that resulted in a Depression, which started in 2008, if not earlier.  This is increasingly a two-class economy, irrespective of race and ethnicity.  A great many young men and older women are out of work, disproportionately to the national averages, which are low to begin with.

Zip codes are the key to understanding this problem, especially when it comes to goods and services.  If you are in a depressed area, schools, food, law enforcement, peace protection, banking, infrastructure will vary widely from one area to another.

Living in poverty, going to schools that are pipelines to failure and even imprisonment will certainly affect your attitude and behavior.

The social dysfunction that plagues poor communities and breeds seething tensions on a continual basis makes them ripe for outside agitators to exploit and manipulate.  A lot of the rioting we saw in Ferguson, it is now clear, was committed by people who were not members of the community.

Militarization of police forces

In the wake of 9/11 and two costly wars in the Middle East, the Pentagon finds itself with surplus equipment.  Additionally, to help local police forces cope with terrorism of various forms, legislation was passed to enable their departments to purchase subsidized materiel from the military.  Things like fully automatic machine guns and tanks, called MTRAPS, for example.  Along with this, full SWAT gear, including uniforms and complete head armor and face masks.  This has been going on behind the scenes, largely, for the past ten or more years and thousands more local law enforcement units have orders in for the kind of gear we just saw deployed in Ferguson.  These are meant to fight an enemy. They have no place in the institutions that are designed to protect American citizens at home, other than in true SWAT emergencies.

The casual use of extreme measures and objects of warfare have had a large hand in the explosive violence taking place in Ferguson.  If Congress does not act immediately to put tighter restrictions on the issue and use of this military equipment in local peace protection departments, Fergusons will continue and intensify.  The size and nature of the equipment and its potential force are intimidating to the peaceful citizens who make up the vast majority of our American communities.  What is the point of needlessly frightening them?

Drug wars

This is related to the previous topic.  The simple solution is to end the drug wars and all the collateral damage they create.

We don’t know the details yet, but it’s apparent that, in spite of all we went through with Trayvon Martin so recently, in a clinchthe mean, messy place where these things always happenthe Ferguson cop Darren Wilson assumed that a big black guy was trouble, serious trouble, and shot him dead. It’s what happens in that clinch that matters, and we can now see that no amount of articulate protest can cut through such visceral human tendencies as bias and fear.

The prison-military-industrial complex

America has become a full blown corporatocracy along the lines that Eisenhower and even some of the Founders foresaw and warned against.  We have privatized so many services that used to be handled by public agencies that we have inadvertently created a greedy incentive to funnel customers to them.  I am speaking not only of the vast war machine and all the private contractors and vendors of supplies that the Pentagon feeds with our tax dollars, but also private prisons.  These are popping up all over the country and are providing in most cases sub-par care and treatment of the inmates, many of whom are there for minor infractions, drug possession (see heading above) and living while being young, male, and black.

In a way, I see this as entrapment.  The oversized and over-powerful weapons, uniforms, and vehicles are sold to the local peace enforcement units, who are given no restrictions or guidelines on their appropriate use. This stimulates confrontation that will likely end in peace officers walking away without any accountability beyond a slap on the wrist, and the incarceration of new clients into the private prison system.  Those private prisons are also subsidized by tax dollars but not overseen in the same way the public prisons are.  The corporations in this country, through entities like ALEC, are writing the rules and our pay-to-play Congress is enacting them into legislation, verbatim in most cases. Our Congress no longer represents the majority of the people of the United States, they represent international corporations, democracy be damned.

Is this what Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Franklin had in mind, do you think?

Ineffectual leadership and disorganization

If ever there was a poster child for ineffectual leadership, from the police chief to the prosecutor (who should recuse himself) to the Governor of Missouri, this case would be it.  Eric Holder brought in the FBI to interrogate witnesses because it is a federal crime to lie to the FBI. There were three independent witnesses who claimed that Michael Brown was surrendering and was down when the two final fatal shots were fired. Michael Brady, who saw Michael Brown just as the final four shots were fired, said that Brown had his arms tucked across his stomach, he had been shot twice as he tried to flee after Wilson had reached through a car window and grabbed him by the neck, allegedly on the suspicion that Brown and his friend had stolen a handful of cigarillos earlier. Wilson had fired two illegal shots at Brown who was fleeing.  Brown turned around and stumbled, then fell, as Wilson continued to fire, one shot through the top of Browns head, which killed him. There have been no witnesses to corroborate Officer Wilson’s contention that he was in fear of his life and that Brown advanced toward him, arms down, after the first four bullets hit him. Is it plausible that an unarmed, wounded teenager, shot twice, would actually try to advance toward a fully trained, armed law enforcement agent?  Ridiculous!  Brown did not have a criminal history. Wilson’s actions, if this story is true — and three independent witnesses give some version of this account — were illegal and criminal.

What can be done, then?

The people of that community want a forum where they can be heard.  If there are no other means, then, in the wake of this murder of an unarmed teenager who had his hands up and was heard to yell several times, “Don’t shoot!”, then peaceful, non-violent protest may be the only way to be heard until the better alternative is instituted.

There needs to be a place where any citizen can interact with community leaders. There needs to be a sense that the peace force is protecting the people of the town and has not morphed into a paramilitary brigade that seeks to terrorize and confine them in their homes.  The leadership in both the law enforcement and political arenas needs to reflect and be sensitive to the array of socioeconomic and ethnic groups that comprise the population. The largely white, middle class team of officials overseeing Ferguson, and that area of Missouri, apparently turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of their constituents. In a town with 67% African Americans, why is there a white mayor? One reason is that it takes money to get someone elected. People of color in economic distress do not have disposable cash to fund a campaign, nor are they part of the power elite that attracts outside money for their candidates.

A mechanism for bringing the two entities together so there can be a dialogue that leads to practical solutions and improved communication and understanding when problems or disagreements arise has to be established.  The lack of just such a tool can be blamed for a lot of the despair and anger that has been expressed for the past two weeks.  This should not be happening in America.

Furthermore, this community needs jobs.  With over 30% unemployment, is it any wonder that people are miserable and hopeless? There is a bill sitting and waiting for approval for tens of thousands of jobs to be created all over this country if we would just let infrastructure renewal move forward.  What kind of idiocy and partisanship has stood in the way of this win-win project?  Please explain it to me in any other than political terms.

And, justice needs to move quickly, fairly and transparently.  The victim has no voice, but the defendant will be able to meet with and present his rationale to a Grand Jury, behind closed doors.  The process has been estimated to last through October.  This will only breed more tension, frustration and distrust.

The DA, Mr. McCullough has known conflicts of interest when it comes to police shootings and racial tensions. He needs to do the right thing and step aside.  If the county and state don’t act, then the Justice Department will step in and adjudicate this fairly and expeditiously.  We owe the community that much.

The public, the country, the community want the truth, wherever it leads.  An independent prosecutor, one with no close ties to law enforcement, needs to be appointed to shepherd the indictment process and fairly identify the charges.  It does not seem to me to be a complicated case.

It goes far beyond Ferguson.  There is a pattern of these murders of unarmed people who happen to fit a certain profile that we can all recognize as exposing them to greater suspicion than any of us would face if we were to find ourselves in their circumstances.

In my opinion, most importantly, we the people along with the media have to stop blaming the victims for their own murders. We need to look beneath the surface, behind the curtain and get the facts with as unbiased a mind as we can manage.

Image: Wikimedia Commons, blkhistory.com

paw2014-s

 

 

20 Comments on “Guilty of their own murders

  1. Beth- this is so well-presented, I’m not sure I even know where to start. As an ‘outsider’ (read: Canadian) looking in at all this, I haven’t seen anyone, anywhere, lay out the causal realities as succinctly as you have done here.

    Our societal disconnects and inequities are multifaceted and epidemic. As you rightly point out, it’s long past time we look beneath the surface (as it is dictated by the media- and those who control the media) and acknowledge the origins of the social breakdowns we are seeing- since those breakdowns are global- and affect ALL of us.

    Thank you for this food for thought.

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    • Thank you Cole for taking on this long read. I hate to be so wordy but the subject is vast and deep.

      This is such a frustrating and sobering issue. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to tackle it, because to me this back-story is so obvious and intimately tied to what is transpiring.

      But then I read the disinformation being repeated all over certain swathes of the media and internet and I think that someone has to stand up and say all this, so at least these irresponsible and ignorant untruths do not go completely unchallenged by ordinary, rational people.

      A lot of this is tied up with our wild west gun culture, I am sorry to say. Police have (and so do every other gun carrier) rapid fire weapons that act faster than their minds and judgment can apparently handle. I am sure people who like guns think this is all collateral damage. But, if we were like the UK and Australia and perhaps Canada, there would be far less of this.

      It is angering and embarrassing simultaneously.

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  2. Beth, what a well-thought, researched and written post. Do we ever hear of this happening to a white teen? No! Yes, it’s angering and embarrassing. It’s tragic and horrifying. That we continue to have pogroms in our own country is, quite frankly, appalling.

    I don’t know what the solution is; the problem has been systemic for so long. Unfortunately, laws will not change hearts, but certainly we must establish an outside agency to monitor and enforce police actions, one that, as you say, will be just, swift and transparent. ALL citizens need to know they are safe and equal under the law.

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    • Thank you Susan! Exactly. Kids are getting into trouble all the time but most of them don’t have to fear they will be shot for it. Clearly Michael and his friend should not have been shoplifting or engaging in any other illegal activity, but Michael did not deserve to die for it. The police have the ability now to fire off multiple rounds in seconds. This to me means they will often react before they think things through. It is appalling and has to change. We cannot consider ourselves to be the leaders of the civilized world, while this continues. And, given what is going on in the Middle East, we need to have our collective resources devoted to protecting Americans everywhere, not wasting them re-litigating the Civil and Revolutionary wars, imho. I value your wise input, Susan.

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      • Absolutely, Beth. Frankly, the only time I can ever remember white kids getting shot was during the protests over the Vietnam war. If we continue to fear our own police due to politics, religion or systemic discrimination, we’ll not only be re-litigating those wars – we’ll be fighting them again.

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        • We are turning in one big circle. I guess now we have to wait not only for all the Greatest Gen to be gone, but the Boomers and all of us who came afterward. I guess when, what, the twelve year olds today are adults, we may finally be beyond all this stupidity? I wonder.

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  3. You know where I live so you can imagine the chatter going on around me about this. I have to be picky with whom I even discuss it because I don’t want to hear more of the same old same old. I wish we lived in a world where some of these solutions could be implemented; I just not sure they can or will.

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    • I know what you mean. This is just more of the same. In fact, I wouldn’t even have blogged about it but for the ridiculous spin that is going on about the whole thing. And today, they have to “bench” one of the extremists on the force there, further emphasizing the atmosphere of ignorance that characterizes that police department. We really have bigger fish to fry with ISIS and the mess in Iraq and I had planned to talk about that first. It must be so discouraging to people who had hoped that racism was behind us. I even have some African American friends who told me they will never feel comfortable with us, no matter how close we feel to them. It really shocks me that they feel this way. It is impossible to know how to fix this, but recognizing it for what it is has to be at least a first step.

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  4. Good words here…Evil hunted Michael that day…We see it at every turn at the end of his story….Evil permeates the media, the police, community, outsiders & government workers/leaders involved in this sad story.

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    • It would be easy to see it in that light, I can relate to that. Sometimes all this hostility and brutality become overwhelming. Somehow even this terrible tragedy pales next to what happened to James Foley, in the so-called name of religion. Humanity has a lot of work to do to become truly civilized. Thank you for stopping and commenting.

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      • ‘humanity has a lot of work to do…’ to that I say ‘church rise up!’ ‘be the church’ “Jesus is in YOU!’ ‘be the hands and feet of Jesus to your neighbor!’

        You post and my thoughts charge me to go into our inner city and offer hope and life. My prayer group prayed about this issue this morning. We have so much opportunity to offer life and hope. Will we step up is the question?

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      • This post and having the director of Jobs for Life at the prayer time urged me on to be a part of Jobs for Life this fall. The director say he is focusing on work release guys for the fall program. This is the most direct offer of hope and life I can make.

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  5. Beth I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the mess in Ferguson and I’m really grateful for your wisdom and perspective. I wouldn’t live in Ferguson if you gave me a house and I’m not judging anyone, just how I feel. I’m leery of the police officer getting a fair hearing because of the intense media coverage and the high emotions. Everyone claims to want justice but what if justice means the shooting was legally justified? I’m sad about the tragic death of a young man in his teenage prime and I wonder if he was headed for a happy and productive life or if he was destined for trouble. I don’t like the militarization of the police and hopefully the DoD and Justice Dept will change the way civilian police departments procure and use the equipment. I’m not sure I liked Eric Holder showing up in Ferguson. I don’t think the state and local authorities are all buffoons that required Mr Holder to have a cameo. Hopefully his motives were pure for de-escalation of the situation rather than bullying local law enforcement. I’m sick and tired of poor race relations and I can’t solve the problem. I don’t want to see anymore young black men shot, I don’t want to see Al Sharpton on TV anymore, I want everyone to be an American rather than African American or Latin American or Asian American or white American. I’m proud of my Irish heritage but I’m an American through and through. I love diversity and appreciate the differing perspectives and opinions I just don’t want to be shouted down by the individuals with differing ideals. But I think the thing I want most of all is for parents to be parents. Own it if you have children. Teach them to respect others and others property. Teach them a life of service rather than selfishness and teach them to spend a lifetime learning.

    I suspect Ferguson will end with a more diverse police department and hopefully more “customer friendly” to the citizens they serve and I hope other law enforcement agencies pay attention to this debacle and voluntarily make changes where needed. I’m fearful that nothing will really change in society until parents take a more active role in their children and teach them that color of skin is immaterial and gaining an education or vocation is necessary.

    You did good on this 🙂

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  6. Rick, I really appreciate your thorough comments and you do bring a different perspective to this.

    You and I both wouldn’t live in Ferguson. I consider myself lucky in that I can pick up and move anywhere and no one will bat an eye.

    I can understand every single thing you said.

    Let me say, in case I forget, that Michael Brown was apparently headed for college.
    While I am at it. Geoffrey’s brother Bratley (Bradley, the brat, my moniker for him) is white, Irish/Swiss and grew up in one of the most affluent communities on earth. When he was 17, he decided to set off illegal fireworks on the beach in front of their beach house. He was arrested. But, Brat and Geoffrey’s family would never think that he was a hoodlum. He went to 12 years of Catholic school and then to a top university for, wait for it, accounting. Kids, even from privileged backgrounds, do these things. No one shot him. Michael Brown could have been tasered. Why six gun shots?

    Anyway, back to you and me. We can go anywhere. No one frowns when we arrive. We are welcomed. White skin, decent looks get you a ticket anywhere on earth. If you also happen to have a little smarts, a decent education, a tiny leg up in life, you have the world by the tail.

    What if you wake up every morning and are black? Do you think you would be welcome everywhere? It makes me think of what it must have been like to find out you were Jewish in a world that hates Jews, especially in the first half of the 20th Century.

    My favorite relative married a brilliant Jewish man. They have a little child. My heart breaks for that baby the day it wakes up to find out how the world has treated the Jews and realizes that it might also be hated, just for being Jewish.

    What must that be like? I don’t think any parent, no matter how good, how loving, can prepare a child for a world when the color of your skin makes a huge segment of your society hate you, look down on you. For heaven sake, they even go after Michelle Obama, a Princeton and Harvard lawyer. Beautiful, kind, elegant. Nope, it must have been affirmative action. I guess these dopes don’t know Princeton and Harvard. No affirmative action gets you into those two schools. Princeton is the hardest school on earth to get into, even if you are a WASP blueblood. How does a loving parent teach you to deal with that? And yet she and her husband, overcame it, partially because they had the guts and determination that many of us just don’t have.

    I will speak for myself. English/Irish, educated, from an affluent background, with hands-on parents. A thoroughly educated couple, a mother with three degrees in child development. An ivy league education myself. I could not take a fraction of the treatment these people get every minute of their entire lives.

    I would like it all to go away too. But, sorry, this is the price Anglos are paying for years and years of slights, ridicule, underestimation, suspicion, hatred, discimination, brutality that we visited as a culture, as an ethnic majority with all the goodies, on these other groups. We can’t just tell them to wipe it all away because now it is coming back to bite us in the butt. Too bad for us.

    As for that policeman, he ought to man up and face the music. He is the one that chose excessive force, when other measures were available. I have no sympathy for him, unfortunately. Had he not drawn a gun, had he just disabled the kid with other means, had he not assumed more than there was to assume, had he not fired 6 bullets, he would not be in this mess.

    I hope he gets a fair shake. It will be more than Michael Brown got. I think he needs to be tried, outside of Ferguson. Let’s get the facts, that is what a civilized society should demand now. It will do no good to continue to make mistakes in this sorry mess.

    As for ISIS? Just in case you think I am a complete softie. I say eliminate every last one of them, immediately, whatever it takes. They are subhuman. More on that one soon. 🙂 ❤

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  7. Yay ISIS! Send in the Marines to blow them all to hell and then pull us out. No police work for our military men and women.

    You’re right of course, regarding the policeman choosing deadly force. I know I live in lala land hoping for everyone to raise their children to be loving and motivated for good and maybe if that actually happened there would be forgiveness for the sins of our fathers and compassion from us white dudes for others less fortunate, historically speaking.

    Immediately following your ISIS post I’m expecting a Beyoncé dance video from you 🙂

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    • Yeah, like that’ll happen. 😀

      Send in the Marines. Clobber those b#st#rds.

      As long as we have this idiotic two-party system, we cannot have a harmonious country. I am ready for a Parliamentary government. Sick of the parties and the money behind them.

      [On a better note, I weakened and ordered the 16-85 and now I cannot WAIT for that thing to get here …!!]

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  8. Beth, this is an excellent article. Having the capacity to view tbe bigger picture and implications is just what is required in so many areas of life. Too often we are entrenched in one or two aspects of an issue and fail to see possible causes and solutions. This sort of discernment is what should be applied at government level before major decisions on anything occur. I see a think tank of minds open to history, facts and future, unafraid and urged to speak their findings.
    I wish all those with authority to manage/mismanage policies were answerable to thinkers first. With insights that are borne of honest reflection perhaps there wouldn’t be quite the messes there are in education, economics, domestic and foreign affairs and so on.
    We too soon forget or choose to ignore what has gone before and the dangers in doing so. It’s as if history is being rewritten at every stage of decision making, a la ‘1984’.
    Even while there are minds open to truth and facts there are too many agendas considered in light of lobby and self-interest for real listening to occur. Those minds who already reflect on and advise are largely ignored when it comes party politics. A new type of government structure might help address some of our major problems. I fear though that we wll wait a long time for any politician to embrace a relinquishing of the sort of power that sees no further than the next election.
    Thanks for such an amazing analysis of a stuation I am not so famliar with but an analysis that serves beyond only one issue.

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    • Thank you for saying all this here, Anne-Marie.

      What prompted me to write this post was a string of serious human rights/civil rights violations involving the police using excessive force to stop what they believed to be were minor or misdemeanor violations in progress, and ending in them killing the alleged suspects. In all cases, the victims were young African-American males who were thought to be doing such minor things as selling loose cigarettes or taking small packages of cigars from a convenience store. In none of the cases were these charges actually pressed, they were only suspected because the police tend to patrol certain neighborhoods here, looking for crime and then when they target someone, guilty or not, they escalate the incident by drawing weapons and threatening the victims. It seems that in each case, where they killed the suspect, the suspect had not even been resisting or being belligerent.

      Americans have to ask themselves why this is still happening, after 100 years of trying to make progress and eliminate racism. It has to do with ignorance, giving the so-called “peace forces” here military weapons that are unnecessary and dangerous to deploy in ordinary communities and a policy of shoot first, and protect the patrolman later. It is a very disturbing trend that adds to the stress the middle class and working poor are already under, in a lingering down economy.

      Sigh! Some police are now wearing body cameras so they will be less likely to step over the boundaries of reasonability and others are getting inter-racial, inter-cultural training, long overdue.

      Thank you for reading all this and adding such intelligent and thoughtful comments.

      Like

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