mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Where Anger And Fear Have Brought Us”: Children Are Children, No Matter Their Race Or Ethnicity

Darren Wilson made if very plain in his testimony before the grand jury that he was afraid of Michael Brown. As a matter of fact, his entire case is based on whether or not people believe that to be true. We also know that the officers who shot and killed 12 year-old Tamir Rice assumed that he was about 20 years old.

This is all part of a pattern that was recently the subject of research published by the American Psychological Association.

Black boys as young as 10 may not be viewed in the same light of childhood innocence as their white peers, but are instead more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime, according to new research.

Beyond the Michael Brown’s and Tamir Rice’s, those assumptions also lead to this:

Fourteen states have no minimum age for trying children as adults. Children as young as eight have been prosecuted as adults. Some states set the minimum age at 10, 12, or 13…

Some 10,000 children are housed in adult jails and prisons on any given day in America. Children are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities and face increased risk of suicide.

Whether they are being shot on the street, tried as adults, or locked up in adult prisons, Jonathan Capehart is right.

In America, black children are just that, children. It’s a damned shame people’s fears and prejudices blinds them to that fact. It’s a crying shame black kids must suffer because of it.

A lot of people are thinking that the one area where bipartisanship is possible in the next Congress is on criminal justice reform. But anything meaningful in that arena has to include the premise that children are children – no matter their race or ethnicity. A system that fails to treat them as such can never call itself “just.”

Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, brings it all together when he says that these kinds of policies are the result of “a political vision that is fueled by fear and sustained by anger.” He echoes President Obama in suggesting that we have to find a “voice of hopefulness to turn these things around.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 6, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Police Shootings, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dems, It’s Time To Dump Dixie”: A Lost Cause, A Different Country

I don’t remember a much sadder sight in domestic politics in my lifetime than that of Mary Landrieu schlumpfing around these last few weeks trying to save a Senate seat that was obviously lost. It was like witnessing the last two weeks of the life of a blind and toothless dog you knew the vet was just itching to destroy. I know that sounds mean about her, but I don’t intend it that way. She did what she could and had, as far as I know, an honorable career. I do, however, intend it to sound mean about the reactionary, prejudice-infested place she comes from. A toothless dog is a figure of sympathy. A vet who takes pleasure in gassing it is not.

And that is what Louisiana, and almost the entire South, has become. The victims of the particular form of euthanasia it enforces with such glee are tolerance, compassion, civic decency, trans-racial community, the crucial secular values on which this country was founded… I could keep this list going. But I think you get the idea. Practically the whole region has rejected nearly everything that’s good about this country and has become just one big nuclear waste site of choleric, and extremely racialized, resentment. A fact made even sadder because on the whole they’re such nice people! (I truly mean that.)

With Landrieu’s departure, the Democrats will have no more senators from the Deep South, and I say good. Forget about it. Forget about the whole fetid place. Write it off. Let the GOP have it and run it and turn it into Free-Market Jesus Paradise. The Democrats don’t need it anyway.

Actually, that’s not quite true. They need Florida, arguably, at least in Electoral College terms. Although they don’t even really quite need it—what happened in 2012 was representative: Barack Obama didn’t need Florida, but its 29 electoral votes provided a nice layer of icing on the cake, bumping him up to a gaudy 332 EVs, and besides, it’s nice to be able to say you won such a big state. But Florida is kind of an outlier, because culturally, only the northern half of Florida is Dixie. Ditto Virginia, but in reverse; culturally, northern Virginia is Yankee land (but with gun shops).

So Democrats still need to care about those two states, at least in presidential terms. And maybe you can throw in North Carolina under the right circumstances. And at some point in the near future, you’ll be able to talk about Georgia as a state a Democrat can capture. And eventually, Texas, too.

But that’s presidential politics. At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going to win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try.

My friend the political scientist Tom Schaller said all this back in 2008, in his book Whistling Past Dixie. I didn’t want to agree with Schaller then, but now I throw in the towel. He was a man ahead of his time. Look west, Schaller advised the Democrats. And he was right. Now it’s true that many states in the nation’s heartland aren’t winnable for Democrats, either. Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah will never come anywhere close to being purple. But Colorado already is. Arizona can be. Missouri, it’s not crazy to think so. And Montana and South Dakota are basically red, of course, but are both elect Democrats sometimes. (Did you know that both of Montana’s senators right now are Democrats?!) In sum, between the solid-blue states in the North and on the West Coast, and the pockets of opportunity that exist in the states just mentioned (and tossing in the black Southern seats), the Democrats can cobble together congressional majorities in both houses, under the right circumstances.

But it’s not just a question of numbers. The main point is this: Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats. As Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen recently told my colleague Ben Jacobs, the Democratic Party cannot (and I’d say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores: “It’s come to pass, and really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.”

Cohen thinks maybe some economic populism could work, and that could be true in limited circumstances. But I think even that is out the window now. In the old days, drenched in racism as the South was, it was economically populist. Glass and Steagall, those eponymous bank regulators, were both Southern members of Congress. But today, as we learned in Sunday’s Times, state attorneys general, many in the South, are colluding with energy companies to fight federal regulation of energy plants.

It’s lost. It’s gone. A different country. And maybe someday it really should be. I’ll save that for another column. Until that day comes, the Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying. If they get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, December 8, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Mary Landrieu, Politics, The South | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“If Our Grief Were Colorblind”: A Willful Disconnect, In Cleveland And Across The Country

Hundreds showed up Wednesday morning for the funeral of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

Tamir was black, and all but a handful of his mourners in the pews were black, too. A group of white people was in the balcony, armed with cameras and media credentials.

I point out the lack of white mourners at Tamir’s funeral because it illustrates a willful disconnect, here in Cleveland and across the country. We white people, even the good-hearted liberals among us, tend to view shooting deaths of black children as a black problem. We don’t say that. Most of us don’t even think it. But how else to explain why virtually none of us thinks we should show up at such a child’s funeral? How better to telegraph that we, too, have suffered a loss than to disrupt our day and walk through the door of that church?

I do not mean to suggest I was one of those few “good” white people. I sat with my reporter’s notepad throughout Tamir’s service. Halfway through, I left the balcony to sit among the mourners, but only because I was feeling so uncomfortable with the voluntary segregation.

By now, if you are even a casual consumer of news, you’ve heard about Tamir Rice. You may not know his name — I’ve already discovered that too many times in recent days right here in Cleveland — but you probably know how he died. On Nov. 22, Tamir was playing alone in a Cleveland city park with an air pellet gun missing the telltale orange tip identifying it as a toy. A 911 caller told the dispatcher that Tamir was waving a gun but stressed that it was probably a toy. This detail was not conveyed to the two policemen, both of them white, who answered the call.

The police car zoomed up only feet away from Tamir, and within two seconds, maybe three seconds at most, the child had fallen to the ground after rookie cop Timothy Loehmann leapt out and shot him twice.

We know these details not because of the original police account, which cast Tamir as a young man waving a gun into a frightened crowd and ignoring three warnings from police to drop his weapon. We know what happened because of a grainy video later released by police, which captured the last few viable minutes of Tamir’s life. It is a silent, haunting depiction of an innocent boy who had no idea his life was almost over.

Tamir’s death and too much of the local coverage since have sparked outrage here and across the country. A low point for the Northeast Ohio Media Group was to post online a story not of this young boy’s short life but of his parents’ past criminal records. As if their misdeeds led to — what exactly, their son’s being alone at that park? Their son’s playing with a toy gun? Their son’s inevitable death?

This is what happens when you prize clicks over context and you sideline veteran Guild journalists who’ve been covering Cleveland’s neighborhoods for decades. To his everlasting credit, the editor in charge of visuals at The Plain Dealer, NEOMG’s partner, insisted publicly that he would do everything in his power to keep the story out of the print edition. In a small victory for journalism, he prevailed.

Initially, Loehmann was depicted as a young cop who, according to an interview with his father, had left a suburban police force for Cleveland’s because he wanted more action.

On the day of Tamir’s funeral, that suburban police department, in Independence, Ohio, released Loehmann’s personnel file, revealing a far more troubling story behind his December 2012 departure.

From Deputy Chief Jim Polak’s Nov. 29, 2012, letter in Loehmann’s personnel file:

“It appears from the pattern developing within our short time frame with Ptl. Loehmann that he often feels that when told to do something, that those instructions are optional, and that he can manipulate them if he so feels it can better serve him. I do not say he is doing this for some benefit, or in an insubordinate way, but he just appears to have the mind set that if he thinks he knows better, (then) that is the course he follows.

“Due to his dangerous loss of composure during live range training and his inability to manage this personal stress, I do not believe Ptl. Loehmann shows the maturity needed to work in our employment.

“Unfortunately in law enforcement there are times when instructions need (to) be followed to the letter, and I am under the impression Ptl. Loehmann, under certain circumstances, will not react in the way instructed. …

“…I am recommending he be released from the employment of the City of Independence. I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies.”

On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners prayed for a boy who should not have died at the hands of a man who apparently should never have been a Cleveland cop.

“This is not a problem of black and white,” Tamir’s uncle Michael Petty said in his eulogy, “but of right and wrong.”

May we prove him right.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist; The National Memo, December 4, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Cleveland OH, Police Shootings, Tamir Rice | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Walmart Christmas For Congress”: The Senate Should Cancel Its Own Christmas And Stay In Session Until 2015

Assuming Democrats and Republicans agree on a bill to fund the government by Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner has told his members that they will recess after that. Despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s annual threats to keep the upper chamber in session through the holidays, the Senate is scheduled to do the same. But it shouldn’t. Instead, Reid should keep the Senate in session until Republicans take over next year in order to confirm as many executive branch and judicial nominees as possible.

Consider the actions of Senate Republicans during the past six years. Led by Majority Leader-Elect Mitch McConnell, the GOP used the filibuster to block President Barack Obama’s nominations for key executive branch and judicial positions. In some casessuch as the nomination for the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureauthey refused to confirm any nominee unless Democrats made specific changes to the program. In other words, they used the nomination process as leverage to extract policy changes from Democrats. They often refused to confirm any judicial branch nominees. Sick of these tactics, Democrats changed the rules of the Senate in November 2013 so that all executive branch and non-Supreme Court judicial nominees could not be filibustered. In the 13 months since, Senate Democrats have spent much of their time confirming nominees.

That will end in January as Republicans are expected to clog upif not seal off altogetherthe nominations process. “The difference between 50 Democratic senators (plus a tie-breaking vote by Joe Biden) and 49 Democratic Senators is the difference between two full years of filling the judiciary and two years of likely gridlock,” New York’s Jonathan Chait wrote before the midterms.

Relations between the parties have only worsened since then with Obama’s executive action on immigration. In a pre-buttal to that move, Senator Ted Cruz proposed that Congress “not confirm a single nomineeexecutive or judicialoutside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists.” It’s not clear whether Republicans will take up that strategy, or how many nominees are “of vital national security positions,” but pressure from the Texas conservative will not make the nomination process any smoother.

That’s what makes Reid’s decision about whether or not to keep the Senate in session so important. Any time spent in recess between now and when the 114th Congress begins on January 3 is time that could have been used to confirm nomineesnominees that won’t be confirmed otherwise. Lawmakers will likely object to working through the holidays. If Reid must give them a couple of days off around Christmas and New Year’s, to appease them, he should do so. But it is too important for the functioning of the executive branch and the makeup of the courts to spend the entire time on holiday.

 

By: Danny Vinik, The New Republic, December 8, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Christmas, Congress, Harry Reid, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Free Spirits With No Accountability”: 179 People Killed By NYPD, 1 Cop Conviction, No Jail Time

Over the last 15 years, NYPD officers have killed at least 179 people, according to a new investigation.

The New York Daily News found that in only three of those incidents, the officer involved was indicted and only once was the cop convicted.

In that one instance, when ex-officer Bryan Conroy was convicted in 2005 of criminally negligent homicide for killing Ousmane Zongo, Conroy didn’t serve any jail time.

Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, defended the NYPD officer’s actions.

“When there is a life-or-death situation on the street, be it an armed robbery, a homicidal maniac on the street or someone driving a vehicle in a dangerous and potentially deadly way, it is New York City police officers who step in and take the risk away from the public and put it on themselves,” Lynch said in a statement. “Our work has saved tens of thousands of lives by assuming the risk and standing between New Yorkers and life-threatening danger.”

To be sure, some of the incidents catalogued by the Daily News involved the justified use of deadly force by officers.

But, holding cops accountable when they are not justified in killing someone is difficult, because often the prosecutors tasked with bringing charges against officers also rely on good relationships with police to do their day-to-day work. DA’s also count on endorsements from police unions when they run for re-election.

The recent decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner chokehold case, has set off calls for laws requiring special prosecutors in cases involving possible police misconduct.

The idea behind any proposed legislation would be to keep local district attorneys out of cases where they might be biased in favor of the police department they work with regularly.

But some, like panelists involved in a recent Democracy Now discussion, said such reforms have been sought for years and have little chance of becoming law, at least at the federal level.

Harry Siegel, a columnist for the Daily News, pointed out that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently said special prosecutors could be necessary in some cases, had the chance to appoint a special prosecutor in the Garner, case but didn’t.

“I would note that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s now mumbling about all sorts of reforms, had the opportunity to appoint a special prosecutor here,” Siegel said on Democracy Now. “Andrew here, who’s now outraged by where we’re at, allowed us to get to this point.”

 

By: Simon McCormick, The Huffington Post, December 8, 2014

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Justifiable Homicide, NYPD, Police Shotings | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: