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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
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The Price of Blackness


In undergrad, I drove a '92 Ford Taurus that just hulked, tank-like, up and down the streets of Berkeley. The thing was conspicuous, an ocean liner. I was pulled over all the time, once or twice a week at one point. Often I'd see a squad car following me and just pull to the curb to get it over with. An officer would walk up to the car, one hand on that little button that secures the strap over his gun. He'd ask for my license and registration. Some inner voice would remind me that this was the time to point out I'd done nothing wrong; I'd ask for a badge number, I'd take a stand. But black boys are supposed to know better.

So what I would do was: I would slip my college ID over my driver's license. The officer's eyes would light up. Not your college ID, he would say, amused. Then he would go back to his car and dally a little, pretending to check on things, before handing my license back with some mock-heroic advice about staying out of trouble. The story ends right there. I remember feeling vague anger afterwards, although I was probably feeling something a lot closer to despair. Every time I used the college ID trick, it bred in me a kind of survivor's guilt, a guilt about a life that feels as if it's being protected weakly, through cowardice. Because what I was really doing was saying, Yes, some of us deserve to be shot in the street, but this ID proves that I'm not one of them. I used the little plastic card to secure my status as One Of The Good Ones[1], and I always drove away ashamed, always. At best, I was reducing my humanity—my right to not get shot by a police officer—to a giveaway received during freshman orientation. At worst, I was just delaying what is now starting to feel inevitable.


Mentally-speaking, what happens when you hear about another unarmed black teen killed by police/police-like officers? For me, it goes something like this: First, anger, a kind of 360-degree, completely unfocused, completely diffuse anger; but since anger is a fairly cheap emotion it fades, and sadness settles in; and then I get that familiar helpless feeling you get when you realize what you're doing is utterly rote, almost Pavlovian, but you don't know how else to deal. To put it another way: For reasons I'm still trying to parse out, I've realized that simply mourning the deaths of other young black men isn't good enough any more.

I don't mean for this to sound melodramatic, because my emotions don't really matter; or, they matter less than a murdered black boy whose body was left in the street. But what I'm trying to describe here is something real, a sinking-in-quicksand feeling familiar to anyone who is tired of the terror—which is the only really truly appropriate term—police officers exact on young black men. When an unarmed black boy is killed by a police officer, again, and some loud-talking reporter is interviewing the boy's mother, again, and you can see his mother's shoulders slumped until they can't slump any more, and she's been crying so much she's gotten to the point of simply not bothering to wipe the tears away, and you watch her as she tries to look into every camera and speak into every microphone, and watch her as she suddenly gets the spectacle of all of this, and starts listing all of the good things her boy ever was, so that everyone can remember him the way she's remembering him right then, in that moment—when will we decide this is not okay?

Open Letter to Our Nation’s Police Leaders - from former Madison, WI Chief of Police David Couper

Retired from the force, Chief Couper is now serving his community as an Episcopal priest ...


But let’s look at one more thing (and this comes out of the ’69 President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice and the Kerner Commission Report a few years later): police departments in a multi-cultural society must reflect the communities they serve. And let me add: It is wrong to have a police force 90% white in a community that is predominately of color. Period. No exceptions.


A number of years ago while teaching a police leadership course in a large midwest city, an old grizzled sergeant came up to me during a break, and in response to my comments about the necessity of diversity in policing said, “I know what you’re saying. I am a night shift sergeant and all night long my officers and I go to disturbance calls primarily in the black community. We are all white. We can’t keep doing this. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous — for them and for me and my men. Things have to change.”

We need a “stand down” in policing today. It’s been well over a decade since 9/11 — the day fear took over America and its police and increased militarization was our response.

It’s time to get back to basics and those basics are what we once called community-oriented policing. Let’s dust off those important values and get back to building trust and building it together with those whom we are privilege to serve and to lead.

It's not just Ferguson that's a tinderbox - my state's shameful legacy.

Given the despicable sheriff of Milwaukee County, the peaceful protesters described below are taking a big risk even though they're just praying.


The New Jim Crow has replaced the Old Jim Crow in cities like Milwaukee, neighborhoods like Ferguson, and pretty much every other part of our country. Like Ferguson, Milwaukee has had its share of young black men whose lives have been extinguished simply because of the color of their skin. Milwaukee may not be seeing the protests and unrest that are rocking Ferguson, but with the horrible statistics illustrated in the infographic above, and a growing number of unresolved deaths of unarmed youth in the city, the tinder is certainly there.

This past Sunday, a large group met at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee to march in support of the people of Ferguson. Present at the march were several families and relatives of young African American men killed recently in the city at the hands of the Milwaukee Police Department and citizen vigilantes. Throughout the day a few bravely came forward and told their painful personal stories.

One of those to speak was Craig Stingley. Craig expressed his outage at attending these same marches over and over again without ever getting any results. In 2013, a cashier at a corner store caught his son, Corey, trying to shoplift. When confronted by the clerk, the young African American man got scared, dropped the merchandise and tried to leave, but was forcibly detained by three White men, Jesse Cole, Robert Berringer and Mario Lauman. They put Corey in a chokehold and forced him to the ground. Even when he started foaming at the mouth and stopped struggling, the three men did not release him.

By the time the police arrived, Corey was dead. The cause of death was anoxic encephalopathy, or brain damage caused by lack of oxygen. The entire incident was caught on store camera, and the death was ruled a homicide by the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office.

More at the link.

We simply cannot afford all the welfare.

"... the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

Perhaps this is why people are angry ...

Controlling The Message

No citation, but I remember this as a Dick Gregory quote, circa 1975. It sure applies today.

"Everybody's talking about law and order, but nobody is talking about justice."

If anyone can source this I'd be grateful.

Federal District Court: Assault Weapons ‘Outside Second Amendment Protection’


Sorry, gun lovers. The Second Amendment doesn’t include protection of AR-15s, AK-47s, and other assault weapons, a U.S. District court recently ruled.

Stephen Kolbe and other plaintiffs attempted to contest Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013, which outlawed the sale of particular assault weapons, specifying 45 different models. The Act was introduced in Maryland legislature in Jan. 2013 shortly after the infamous Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut. After extended debate and amendment proposals, the bill finally passed in April of that same year, and was signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley shortly after on May 16.

In Kolbe et al vs O’Mally et al, filed in Sept. 2013, the complainants argued that the legislation violated their constitutional rights, even though the Act excluded all weapons that were rightfully owned prior to its becoming law. On Aug. 12, however, Judge Catherine Blake ruled that the guns specified in the Act “fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual.”

“(T)he court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right(.)”

Kolbe et al also claimed that the specific weapons were already common and sold popularly, too, including sales statistics in their argument. That too was dismantled by Blake, however, even using the statistics they offered in counterargument.

“Even accepting that there are 8.2 million assault weapons in the civilian gun stock, as the plaintiffs claim, assault weapons represent no more than three percent of the current civilian gun stock, and ownership of those weapons is highly concentrated in less than one percent of the population.”

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen calls out "certain politicians"

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