Law and Order

(I wrote this for the Urban News in September 2020.)

Tens of thousands of Americans recently descended onto Washington DC to reenact the March on Washington in which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The purpose of this march was to rekindle the feeling and the momentum that were present back in 1963. While George Floyd May 25th death while being detained by the Minneapolis police may have been the catalyst that started the protests around the country, he has been far from the only person of color to die in police custody. Jacob Blake is the latest in a long line of men of color who get detained by the police for some minor reason (or none) and somehow end up getting shot.

In Blake’s case, like Floyd’s, we have an infamous video. The circumstances leading up to the video are unclear. Mr. Blake was trying to break up a domestic dispute between two women; the police were called; Jacob Blake, unarmed, is seen = walking to the driver-side door of a family-type van. He opens the door to get in—where his sons are waiting for him—and then gets shot seven times in the back. Thankfully, Jacob Blake is alive. Unfortunately, he is paralyzed.

We Need Action

Since the public reaction to George Floyd’s death began early this summer, we have had plenty of protests. We have protested in large cities and small communities. We have had moments of silence. We have also had thought-provoking, emotionally and mentally stimulating speeches. It seems to me, that the time for speeches is over. Now we need a plan to move forward.

Every city needs to establish an Office of Neighborhood Safety—a civilian-led office that works closely with the police department on decreasing violence and increasing safety and well-being in our communities.

Police departments need to be refocused on the core mission which is to promote safety in the community. (This is not DE-funding, but RE-allocating budgets.) Some police funding should be diverted to social services. Police officers should not respond to situations in which someone with mental illness is exhibiting erratic behavior. Let a highly trained social workers attempt to defuse the situation before calling in the police.

All police shootings should be investigated by independent federal agencies and NOT local officials. (This will also require that our federal agencies, especially those under an Attorney General, be thoroughly depoliticized and returned to independence from the White House.) Our goal must be to keep everyone safe and have zero unarmed Americans shot by the police.

David Cornelius Smith

David Cornelius Smith was a 28-year-old gentleman who suffered from some mental issues. The police were called because he was acting erratically. A struggle ensued as the police tried to subdue him, including by tasing him five times—but were still unable to control him. The police finally wrestled Mr. Smith to the ground and pin him, face down. One police officer is on his legs. Another has his knee on Mr. Smith’s neck. After over four minutes, Mr. Smith is not moving. He is also not breathing. The Minneapolis police officers call for an ambulance and David Cornelius Smith dies in the hospital several days later.

This event occurred in September 2010. It involved the same Minneapolis police department that held down George Floyd 10 years later. Back then, there were promises of reform. There was also a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit paid out to Mr. Smith’s family. But still the behavior persists. Still nothing has changed. This is truly depressing.

Yet it is important for us to remember that change is hard. Police departments have been allowed to police our communities as they see fit for decades. We are asking for major reform. This will not come easy. This is a fight that we need to continue on the local, state, and federal levels.

Law and Order

In 1968, Richard Nixon ran a campaign based on “restoring Law and Order.” The country had just completed eight years of Democratic rule under John F. Kennedy (1961-62) and Lyndon Johnson (1963-68). Martin Luther King had been assassinated in April 1968. Bobby Kennedy—running against Johnson—was assassinated in June. Protests and riots broke out throughout the nation. This was against a backdrop of national introspection over the Vietnam War.

But things are vastly different in 2020. Donald Trump is trying to run his reelection campaign based on “law and order.” The idea that Trump—who has ignored the Constitution, bent and broken scores of laws, and run roughshod over Congress and even ignored Supreme Court rulings—can rebrand himself as someone who supports the military and the police, is somewhat ironic. It would almost be amusing if it weren’t so appalling.

Richard Nixon was the challenger in 1968. Donald Trump is the incumbent. Therefore, whatever disorder and lawlessness that exists sprang up under his presidency. Trump has proven time and time again that he does not believe that laws apply to him.

Donald Trump obstructed justice. In the Mueller report, they clearly outlined multiple times in which Donald Trump tried to influence the outcome of the investigation, he and his Attorney General, William Barr, told us that there was no collusion, but we also know that Paul Manafort gave campaign information to a Russian citizen (the US intelligence community believes that the Russian citizen is also a Russian spy). This simple act is in fact collusion.

We also know that Donald Trump solicited the president of Ukraine to help Trump win reelection. This is also against the law. Donald Trump got impeached for this action. Donald Trump just accepted the Republican nomination for president and held a campaign rally on the White House lawn. This is a clear violation of the Hatch act. This is against the law.

Many of the people that have surrounded Trump for the last 36 months have been arrested and thrown in jail for different violations of… the law. It seems a little far-fetched to say that you are the law and order president when you and your cronies are constantly breaking the law.

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By |2020-11-02T20:10:44-04:00October 25th, 2020|Civil Liberty, Civil Rights, Domestic Issues|Comments Off on Law and Order

General Lee – To Honor or Not to Honor

It is not a surprise to any American that there are statues coming down all over the south. Why? Is this wrong? Are we really losing our history?

So let’s agree that all statues are not the same. For reasons that are not clear there was a statue of Chief Justice Roger Taney in Baltimore.  Whether he was a great jurist or not, he wrote the Dred Scott decision. He can never live that down in my opinion. Thankfully, his statue was removed last week.

Most of the fuss over statues surrounds Robert E. Lee, the commander of Southern forces during the Civil War. Lee was/is a very interesting character. Let’s all agree that he was a brilliant military mind. He did stuff on the battlefield that was supposed to be a no-no but not only did he do it, he did it well. His men loved him.

When you hear people talking about Lee they talk about only the great military stuff. There were times when southern forces captured northerners. Sometimes the prisoners were simply shot. Almost all Black prisoners were shot. Lee did nothing that I know of to stop this practice. When Lee put on a Southern uniform and took up arms against the United States. He became a trader. Taking up arms against the US if you are a US citizen is treason. Lee knew this.

In my opinion, if you have to honor those that fought in the Civil War, honor the foot soldiers that were poorly equipped and barely fed. They fought against the North because they thought that their way of life was going to be taken away from them. Honor the foot soldier. They understood courage and sacrifice.

Finally, let’s discuss the reason for the Civil War because there is a ton of misinformation about why the war was started. One of the best lies was that the war was started over “State’s Rights.” This is a fig leaf. The war was started over a state’s right to continue the institution of slavery. The first state to leave the union was South Carolina. In their reason of leaving the Union was very clear. It wasn’t about some nebulous State’s Right. It was …. “increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the Institution of Slavery.” There it is in black and white (no pun intended).

I really don’t care if you want to have a statue of Robert E. Lee or Nathan Bedford Forrest just understand what those men stood for while they were living. Sure you paint a picture of honor and glory but I know that they were all treasonous traders who embraced and fought to keep slavery alive and well.

By |2017-09-28T09:02:03-04:00August 21st, 2017|Civil Liberty, Civil Rights|2 Comments

Correcting an Old Wrong – George Stinney

Every now and then you can hear something that is so foul, so stomach turning that it almost makes you physically sick. This is what happened when I heard the story of George Stinney, Jr. I don’t remember when I first heard the story, but it was several years ago. Basically, this 14-year-old boy was lynched for talking to two white girls. The young black male had been seen talking to the sisters and sometime later they were both found brutally murdered. Yesterday, a South Carolina judge said that the 1944 convention was wrong and that George Stinney was not given due process.

(Let me just say something about the victims. As far as I can tell, their interests were never served. There appears to have been no attempt to actually find who killed these poor little girls. Instead, this was a horrific event which caused outrage throughout the community and was swept under the rug. The police found somebody whose cries of innocence would fall on deaf ears. This whole case is ridiculously sad.)

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By |2014-12-23T20:00:30-04:00December 18th, 2014|Civil Liberty|Comments Off on Correcting an Old Wrong – George Stinney
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