Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Brent Thompson. Patrick Zamarripa. Michael Krol. Lorne Ahrens. Michael Smith.
I have zero smart things to say about the events of the week. I have zero interest in who is to blame right now. Too many people are dead who should not be. What I have done is read about their lives, and about their deaths, and thought. A lot.
I see a lot of people talking about how we need to have a conversation about police and policing and guns and racial disparity and Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. But what I find many people mean lately when they say that is that THEY want to talk about their agenda, and make sure other people are listening to them. There’s not so much listening going on. Everyone wants to have their say, but few want to exchange ideas.
Why, after all, would you listen to someone else when you KNOW you’re right? The only real reason to listen is to shoot down their arguments, to – in today’s political parlance – DESTROY them. Right?
I’m not worried about winning arguments or elections here. I’m worried about my fellow Americans – black, white, brown, blue, whatever – who are dying at each others’ hands. I’m worried about their families. I’m worried that we aren’t doing enough to prevent things like traffic stop shootings, and I’m worried about officers running risks as they do their jobs. I’m worried that people think you have to choose one side or the other to commiserate with, when it’s just a smorgasbord of tragedy.
There is absolutely enough grief to go around.
Too much, really.
So last night and today I spent time reading whatever I could find on all the shootings. And some of the best things I’ve read or watched, I wanted to put down in one place so I can find them again. I found things that I completely agreed with, and I found things I had to struggle with. I found things from the far right, from the far left, and from libertarian quarters as well. I didn’t dismiss anything based on the source alone. I just read stories, views, opinions, condemnations, exhortations, explanations, grief, horror, despair, hope, and determination.
I hope you find them useful, thought-provoking, and timely. I’ll add more as I find them, but this is a good place to start.
A Few Thoughts on the Killing of Philando Castile by Charles Cooke – ‘If Reynolds’s account were to be confirmed, it should worry all 13 million concealed carriers in the United States (well, it should worry everybody, but it should especially worry concealed carriers). Under Minnesota law, concealed carriers are not required to tell police officers that they are carrying until they are explicitly asked. Moreover, in no state is the mere act of carrying a firearm sufficient justification for a police officer to open fire (there is a crucial difference between “carrying” and “brandishing” that is often ignored in the press). If, as Reynolds claims, Castile was killed while doing no more than reaching for his ID, then it seems clear that the officer was in the wrong. How many other cops, one wonders, remain unaware of how they should engage with citizens who are licensed to carry?’
Newt Gingrich and Van Jones discuss the recent shootings, including Dallas – some memorable quotes: ‘Nobody’s trying to bring us together. You get points when you keep us apart.’ and ‘All of these conflicts are mediated over platforms that reward conflict.’ And ‘We have a different politics of the head; we have the same politics of the heart.’
Chew on that. That’s profound, how we’re manipulated by the partisan influencers who get paid by how well they divide us. That’s not what I want to do anymore. I want to find things that bring us together, to spite the profiteers of division.
Alton Sterling, Eric Garner and the double standard of the side hustle – ‘“What we hear time and time again is the reason they are doing it is because they can’t find another job,” says Rudy Espinoza, the executive director of a nonprofit that works with street venders in L.A. “Instead of asking for a handout, they are entrepreneurial. Some have a job, but they don’t pay enough to support their families. This is an opportunity to get out of poverty.”
Government-run small-business programs that might help these vendors, he adds, often require the kind of business experience that they technically don’t have.
“We’re criminalizing poverty,” he says. “We’re saying you’re super poor, but to get to the next level [as a business owner], you have to have three years of business experience. In the meantime, we’re going to fine you, we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to confiscate your stuff, we’re going to kill you.”’
Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force But Not In Shootings – ‘In the tense moments when a shooting may occur, are police officers more likely to fire if the suspect is black?
To answer this question, Mr. Fryer focused on one city, Houston. The police department there allowed the researchers to look at reports not only for shootings but also arrests when lethal force might have been justified. Mr Fryer defined this group to include suspects the police charged with serious offenses like attempting to murder an officer, or evading and resisting arrest. He also considered suspects shocked with tasers.
And in the arena of ‘shoot’ or ‘don’t shoot.’ Mr Fryer found that, in tense situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot suspects if the suspect were black.
#Dallas, #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile: No sides now by Matthew DesOrmeaux – ‘Everyone should be outraged when a government agent violates a free citizen’s rights to life or liberty. Conservatives are only upset when bureaucratic agents do so. Liberals are only upset when law enforcement agents do. They’re all government agents, and they’re all supposed to serve us, not kill us.
And everyone should be just as upset when those government agents are themselves deprived of life or liberty without cause.’
Teachers And Parents Share Just How Seriously Philando Castile Took His Job As A Cafeteria Supervisor – ‘One pretty amazing detail emerged from the memorial service. Joan Edman, a former coworker, told TIME that Castile had memorized the names of all 500 kids he served, as well as their individual allergies: “He remembered their names. He remembered who couldn’t have milk. He knew what they could have to eat and what they couldn’t. This was a real guy. He made a real contribution. Yes, black lives matter. But this man mattered.” ‘
A Suspect Rumor – Philando Castile Was Not Wanted For Armed Robbery – ‘The Conservative Treehouse article employed a series of half-truths, misleading claims, and unsupported speculation in an attempt to justify the fatal force used by an officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota. No real evidence has yet come to light supporting the notion that Castile had been involved in an armed robbery or was carrying a firearm illegally when he was killed.’
Philando Castile: Arrest Record, Criminal & Traffic History & Rap Sheet – ‘Minnesota police stopped him for driving without a muffler. For not having an insurance card. For driving after revocation of his driver’s license, and so on. They accused him of minor traffic issues more than 50 times, one for almost every year of his life.’
It’s Hard Not to Politicize Such a Horrible Tragedy – ‘As for Kohn’s assertion that Black Lives Matter’s message “literally opposes violence,” outsiders aren’t so sure, mostly stemming from anti-police groups chanting “What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Now!” and “Time to Kill a Cop!” Perhaps those chanting such messages are an unruly fringe, unrepresentative of the whole movement. If so, pro-lifers, gun owners, and Republicans know exactly how Black Lives Matter activists feel right now.
From the moment a conservative steps into the public debate, he learns, bitterly, that if there’s any nut job out there claiming to act in the name of a cause he supports — from opposing government overreach to opposing abortion — he and his political allies will inevitably have that figure used as a cudgel against them.’
Police Shootings Won’t Stop Unless We Also Stop Shaking Down Black People – ‘”Essentially, these small towns in urban areas have municipal infrastructure that can’t be supported by the tax base, and so they ticket everything in sight to keep the town functioning,” said William Maurer, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice who has been studying the sudden rise in “nontraffic-related fines.”
Take the St. Louis suburb of Pagedale, where, among other Norman Rockwell-worthy features deemed illegal, “you can’t have a hedge more than three feet high,” Maurer says. “You can’t have a basketball hoop or a wading pool in front of a house. You can’t have a dish antenna on the front of your house. You can’t walk on the roadway if there is a sidewalk, and if there is not a sidewalk, they must walk on the left side of the roadway. They must walk on the right of the crosswalk. They can’t conduct a barbecue in the front yard and can’t have an alcoholic beverage within 150 feet of a barbecue. Kids cannot play in the street. They also have restrictions against pants being worn below the waist in public. Cars must be within 500 feet of a lamp or a source of illumination during nighttime hours. Blinds must be neatly hung in respectable appearance, properly maintained, and in a state of good repair.”‘
WARNING: Graphic Content #Dallas #FalconHeights #BatonRouge by Caleb Howe – ‘Watch all of the videos above again. Look at the tragedy in each one. Tragedy. In each one. Heartbreak. Now look honestly at yourself and face the tough questions that we all now face. Look inward.
But of course, you should know it’s not so easy to look honestly inside. It’s hard. Consider this a warning. There’s graphic content.’
America Is Driving toward the Abyss, and It’s Time We Hit the Brakes – ‘Be humble enough to highlight truth and virtue on the other side – and to criticize wrongdoing on your own side. This should be the most humbling election cycle of our lifetimes. In a campaign season when the presumptive major-party nominees are both serial liars and take-no-prisoners political brawlers, the moral high ground is largely deserted. House Republicans actually gave Donald Trump a standing ovation just days after he tweeted grossly anti-Semitic imagery and once again praised Saddam Hussein’s fictional terror-fighting prowess. Democrats closed ranks around Hillary Clinton even after the FBI exposed her systematic and comprehensive lies and her dangerous mishandling of classified information.’
The Uncomfortable Reason Why It Came To This In Dallas Yesterday by Leon Wolf at Red State – ‘The most important safety valve to prevent violence like we saw in Dallas last night is the belief that when officers do go off the rails, the legal system will punish them accordingly. If minority communities (and everyone else, for that matter) believed that, resort to reprisal killings would be either non existent or far less frequent.
But they don’t, and there’s good reason for that. And that is because a huge, overwhelming segment of America does not really give a damn what cops do in the course of maintaining order because they assume (probably correctly) that abuse at the hands of police will never happen to them. As long as the cops keep people away from my door, they have my blessing handling “the thugs” in whatever way they see fit.’
Why African Americans are terrified – ‘A broken taillight can get you killed (Philando Castile). Selling CDs outside a convenience store can get you killed (Alton Sterling). Selling loose cigarettes can get you killed (Eric Garner). Playing in a park with a toy gun can get you killed (Tamir Rice). Shopping in a Walmart can get you killed (John Crawford III). A missing license plate can get you killed (Samuel DuBose). Worshiping in your church can get you killed (the Mother Emanuel nine). A routine traffic stop can get you shot (Levar Jones) or killed (Sandra Bland, Walter Scott). And as every African American knows, a routine traffic stop is never routine when you’re black.
The facts in all these cases vary, and the victims involved are not “perfect.” But this is how we see it. And we’re terrified.’
Let’s Have a Moment of Candor by Erick Erickson at The Resurgent – ‘Republicans have embraced a man who takes tribalism to new levels and, in the process, have put on blinders and willfully ignored how much he excites white nationalists and the race baiters of the right. For every New Black Panther in love with Barack Obama there are two white nationalists willing to march through hell for Donald Trump.’
How Facebook Live Is Becoming the Social 911 for People Who Can’t Trust the Police – ‘”When you feel like you’ve been racially profiled and have just witnessed the police murder your boyfriend, who do you call? The police?” asks Shaun King, a civil rights activist and senior justice writer for the New York Daily News. “We’ve reached a strange point in history where our social-media streams are becoming something akin to our own versions of 911.”‘
Dallas Police Chief: We Won’t Militarize Our Policing Standards Or Let Cowards Change Our Democracy – ‘During Friday morning’s press conference, alongside Dallas’s mayor, Chief Brown showed that he and the Dallas Police Department would not allow fear, anger, and the actions of cowards force them to militarize, or restrict the rights of others.’