What now?

Now that everyone has had their thirty-days of emotional response to:

(Choose one or more)

a) police brutality

b) the Confederacy that was defeated 150 years ago

c) slavery that was legal and existed in America from 1492 until Juneteenth 1865

d) the lack of government tools to deal with public mental health

e) wearing face masks

f) monument and property destruction

f) all of the above

..perhaps we can go back to being adults again. Hopefully, better adults this time around.

Politicians and social leaders took up the causes of protesters AND tolerated the protest misbehaviors for the most part. While plenty of people decried the violence, the protesters who respected the laws (and the traditional American convention of social protest) were not tarred and feathered with the Anarchists.

Even the rantings of the President of the United States to gin up an authoritarian response were ignored by local politicians. Thank God.

So here we are cleaning up the destruction of property, the leavings of human garbage, the bruising of community relationships, and the re-examination of law-and-order in our political infrastructure.

What happens next?

Will we change our meme as a nation?

Will the restraint demonstrated by local authorities continue?

Will battle lines be re-drawn?

Will we finally defeat our past?

What is a proportionate amount?

If you know, please let me know.

I am not disputing a pronouncement like this but I wish to know what is the proportionate amount:

“Crafted by leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the Justice in Policing Act aims to rein in the use of excessive force by law enforcers, particularly the violence targeting blacks and other minorities, who die disproportionately at the hands of police.”

(Note: I think THEY messed up the use of commas in this sentence. It makes no sense to think the “…leaders of the CBC die disproportionately at the hands of the police”. It also makes little sense to read this as “…law enforcers who die disproportionately at the hands of the police.” I suspect the comma after “minorities” should be removed but it is our little secret, yes?)

We already know that crime is not proportional across neighborhoods in a city. And we know that types of crimes (rape, murder, assault, etc) are not committed proportionately. Plus we already know that gender and religion do not have proportional amounts of crime either.

And let’s not forget the age demographic. Does anyone think that senior citizens commit a proportional or disproportional amount of crime?

So when someone says that blacks and other minorities die disproportionately by law enforcement, does that mean age, gender, religion, and neighborhood are factored in to race OR does it mean we are only talking the color of the skin?

Let me know if the methodology employed is fair or not. Might we qualify the statement by saying …”if all other factors are equal, there is a disproportional amount of black men killed by the police” but “when the other factors are not equal, then we really don’t know.”

Black Lives Matter

For a fledgling organization, BLM is racking up some impressive results. Perhaps they are benefiting from the times, or perhaps its the leadership, or perhaps the deployment of technology, or perhaps it is simply the sharp focus of the mission, or perhaps all of it.

Largest civil rights gatherings in history…It has become a movement.

I was at the website to learn more.

https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/

The group is focused exclusively on the “state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism”.

The “state-sanctioned violence” (SSV) and the “anti-Black racism” (ABR) are two things we can all wrap our heads around regardless of our race or ethnicity.

The training of police forces must move away from the “one-size-fits-all” arrest and detain methodology. Handcuffing crying children is outrageous. So too, the beating of suspects into submission.

Alternative arrest methodologies should be developed and promoted in police departments everywhere.

It is better that a hundred suspects escape detention and arrest than it is for an innocent man OR woman to be beaten or killed. You don’t have to be Black to understand that.

And yet, we ask our police force to address lawlessness and brutality everyday. We ask our police forces to be the line of defense between gang violence and middle-class America. We also ask our police forces to confront violent behaviors and make the home and the street safe for the non-violent among us.

Black Lives Matter because every one of us should be safe from racism, anarchy, violence, and brutality, regardless of origin but especially from our governments.

Yikes!

“Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”

***

So says the man who went into the bunker this past weekend because of protesters at the White House.

So says the man who praised the professional response of his Secret Service men on the White House lawn who arrested six people and yet the protests continue at the White House.

So says the bully to the rational and reasonable among us.

So says the man who is consistently wrong on everything.

Perhaps his message should be a bit more specific? Like protect the innocent, protect property, arrest rioters and looters?

Nah, just be tougher…on everyone…

Changing the Police Force

The protests across the country are not about racism as much as they are about police training.

The de-militarization of the police force must take place in the next ten years. Symbolism, tactics, responsibility, and accountability.

No one is safe from the police anymore. Plenty of video evidence of that on the internet. Even the “White Privileged” minority no longer feel safe when being stopped or arrested by a policeman in the US. At one time, we only feared the big, dumb, Georgia cop behind the billboard who stopped you for speeding. (Stereotyped in hundreds of movies) Today we are afraid of them all. Officer Friendly has been replaced by black-as-death stealth-painted squad cars with a foreboding appearance. The man in black is a cop. He’s nobody’s friend. He is trained to be intolerant of those who resist his orders. The type of crime is irrelevant. Obedience to the police officer is paramount. Do as he says or face the immediate consequences of his wrath.

New training is needed. De-militarize the police department.

John McCain, Republican nominee for President in 2008, once said during the hearings on Abu Ghraib that anyone in the custody of the US Military should be safe from harm. I believe that should also be true with police forces.

When handcuffed, the suspect is now a detainee and should be safe from harm. New approaches are needed to capture suspects, restrict their movement, and prevent them from bringing harm to themselves and to others. Suspects should be told that once the handcuffs are on, the suspect is safe unless he chooses to run. If he runs, the penalties are doubled, and his safety is jeopardized until he complies with lawful orders.

No one has a right to be mean. Not even policemen. However, being a policeman means that force is permitted under certain circumstances. Defensive force is allowed and sometimes offensive force is permitted too. Beating a person to submission is unnecessary.

Police force accountability must be reinstated. You are accountable when you have to clean up the mess you made. Policemen and police women have to take action to set things right when they make professional mistakes.

Police must be accountable in a meaningful way with the victims.

Bring a modern Officer Friendly into law enforcement again.

America is full of protest because the Mpls police officer showed no animus in the administration his knee on the neck of Floyd. He was determined to keep his control over the suspect even though the crime was a minimal crime.

No one should be mean. Not the police officer and not the suspect.

A Citizen’s Arrest?

You’ve seen the footage of the Minneapolis police officer with his knee on the head of a detained man. That man died. You’re aware that FOUR police officers present were fired from their jobs as a result and that charges are pending.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/us/minneapolis-police-encounter-death-trnd/index.html

The question that came to mind was if I were present could I have acted to prevent this death? Followed by: Would I have acted while a witness with three other police officers present?

We all want to say yes to that question but would we?

There were three times in my life when I stood up for people who were being victimized. Never like this situation but… I was risking physical harm in one instance and personal respect in the other two. In one case it was a civilian woman being harassed by a small group of sailors. Physical harm was possible but it didn’t happen.

One time I made it my business to stand up for a colleague that had been taken advantage by a corrupt taxi driver. That’s a long story that ended with a bunch of taxi drivers asking me if I was going to have the man arrested. I decided not. And another time, I challenged two obnoxious strangers to cut the crap as they made fun of a young shuttle bus driver.

When these things happened, I acted without thinking. I was up on my toes and I was leaning into the action. I was affronted and I acted immediately.

We never know what we will do until it happens but I like to think I would have acted to confront the police officer with his knee on the man’s neck.

Which leads me to wonder, from the safety of my keyboard, what would have been a good approach to intervene and create a different outcome?

A Citizens Arrest may be personally dangerous with three police officers present but it seems as if it would have changed the narrative, the dynamic, just enough to maybe save the man’s life.

Why do I think this way?

  1. The scene was being recorded so there would be evidence of what I did.
  2. If I shouted that the police officer was using excessive force and that is a felony, each of the policemen would have recognized I knew what they were doing was a felony.
  3. If I shouted a second time that this was a felony and if the physical restraint of the man was not modified that I will make a citizens arrest of the police officer as was my right under Minnesota law. This would get their attention, too.
  4. If I shouted a third time that the witnessing police officers are to be charged as accomplices if they do nothing to change the restraint on the man, everyone will know I am serious.
  5. Under the law, I am allowed to take physical action to prevent a felony and then announce they are under arrest.

My hope is that the witnessing police officers would tell their buddy to get his knee off the neck of the man before number 5 happened.

It is likely I’d be arrested in any event. A small price to pay to save a man’s life but one never knows when courage flows in the veins what one will do.

When the heart pounds and the call-to-arms is all you can think of, one never knows how it will end.

I know I would be considered a threat. Up on toes, fingers extended, accusing officers in no uncertain terms that their actions were felonies and the felonies were being recorded, I can feel their eyes on me even now.

I hope I have the knowledge to understand who is being victimized by whom and adjust my behavior accordingly. I hope I have the courage to act in situations like that, too.

I hope we all do…

Notes from the President

President Trump wished everyone a HAPPY Memorial Day.

You can’t make this stuff up. This President is simply disconnected from the real world. HAPPY? Mr President? HAPPY Memorial Day?

Oh, well. He is one of us even if he isn’t the best example of one of us.

In a second note of the President’s remarks, Mr. President is DEMANDING to know if North Carolina will allow the Republican National Convention take place in North Carolina in August.

I say YES! HAPPY to do it! Keep everything closed except hotels and restaurants within 1 mile of the Convention Center and just let ‘er’ rip!

Caution all attendees to practice social distancing and wear a mask. Keep all the other stuff closed.

And make this announcement: “The City of Charlotte North Carolina wishes to thank the President of the United States for his support of the Republican National Convention and welcomes all to attend. The hotels and restaurants will be open only to the attendees of the RNC event. The City of Charlotte assumes no responsibility for any pandemic outcome and recognizes that Republican leadership will choose how to protect themselves during the pandemic.”

Perhaps a little snigger at the end is also appropriate.

COVID Emails with State Rep Part 3

Hopefully, you have kept up with the progression of my emails to my State Rep over the COVID actions taken by the State of Wisconsin.  And once again, allow me to remind you I am a fan of my State Rep. He is a good man.

I was pointy-headed in my previous response to my State Rep. His reply below has bit of tone to it also. I expect this in a citizen-representative dialogue. I presume he does, too.

Here’s his reply on Friday May 15th:

We aren’t asking for help, we’re asking for the Governor to recognize that there is another co-equal branch of government that he should work with when making decisions. After talking with leaders from other legislative bodies throughout the country, our Governor is one of the few that chooses not to include us in his decision making process, let alone inform us before taking actions.
Did the Governor have the authority to make unilateral decisions for the first 60 days under his order? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he gets to continue to do whatever he wants, but just through his secretary. You say the law is clear that he could continue to do so, but the Supreme Court disagrees.
We have been asking the Governor over and over to meet to negotiate on how best to re-open. He has refused time and again to do so. We’ve asked to look at taking a regional approach to re-opening – he’s rejected that too. We’ve asked him for the metrics he’s using to make almost daily and sometimes odd changes when it comes to who gets to open or stay closed — once again he doesn’t tell us. 
There is no point in passing a plan to regionally re-open or ease restrictions when it still has to clear him, which is why we’ve asked him to meet. At this point, I believe XXX County officials are much more capable at setting guidelines for our area than the administration, and they do have the authority to do so. Blaming one side or the other for the spread of a virus which is based upon actions taken by individuals is sad. I didn’t expect that kind of rhetoric from you.
As you can see, my State Rep is disingenuous again about metrics and knowledge. He has re-framed what the legislative leadership did and is doing. He says there is no point in passing a plan when it has to clear the governor anyway. This is true of everything the legislature does so this isn’t a valid reason for not creating a plan at all in the three weeks it took for the ruling.  A plan which could have been sent IN ADVANCE to the Department of Health Services in order to prevent turning the State of Wisconsin into “shambles”.
I sent my reply to my State Rep yesterday. Here is what I said:
With respect Representative XXX,
Since January 2019, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has blocked Palm’s nomination (RC: Andrea Palm is the head of the Department of Health Services). Some Republican leaders have called for her resignation. An up-or-down vote should have occurred but it has not. That is on the leadership of the Senate.
You can imagine that there might be a reluctance to include Republican leadership in discussions that the law clearly allows. As you recently wrote to me “State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature.”  And the Wisconsin Supreme Court obviously thinks that Section 252 of the Wisconsin statutes does not mean what the Wisconsin legislature intended when it was passed. Shame on them.
In your recent email, you brought up the issue of not knowing what metrics were being used and what plans there were and yet the Wisconsin Outbreak web site is full of metrics and information. That website is a good example of government transparency.
Anyone following the crisis knows that Wisconsin’s Bounce Back Program is showing four out of six favorable indicators for re-opening Wisconsin. The state process is working under the leadership of Palm and the Governor.
And yet, the Republican leadership demanded a seat at the table. To get a seat at the table, Republican leadership broke the darn table.
There was nothing wrong-headed about Palm’s approach. In fact, Republican leadership requested the Wisconsin Supreme Court wait six days after reaching a decision so they could negotiate with the Governor. They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court. What kind of leadership says the order is illegal and Palm is destroying Wisconsin and then says but wait six days before you stop the plan?
This duplicitous maneuver was rejected. The Supreme Court effectively said “You petitioners said it was broken and harmful. Why wait?”
The Republican leadership merely wants the ability to say No. It is power. Adolescent power to say no to the things they don’t like. That is not caring for the people. It is taking care of oneself.
XXX, you are still my guy. You are a good person and we need good people in government.
Please do not say things like “At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.”
This wasn’t about the will of the people. It was about the will of the Republican Party being thwarted by state law.
The evidence is clear.
I apologize for using the inclusive “you” in my email… I did not intend to direct personal responsibility to you for the consequences of breaking the table to take a seat.
It is clear Republican leadership broke a working process that not only flattened the curve but had placed Wisconsin in a very favorable position for re-opening.
The results of breaking that process will be evident in the next two weeks. The Republican Party will have some explaining to do about “unintended consequences.”
Hopefully, there is a skilled carpenter who can create a new table.

COVID Emails With My State Rep

As you may have read in earlier posts, I was irritated my State Rep had brought partisan politics into a pandemic. I admire my State Rep and do not wish him ill.

It buggers me completely why elected officials  BETWEEN elections. Is there some reason why they feel compelled to shove Party politics into everything he talks or writes about? Can’t they simply be EVERYONE’s State Representative in his District?

You can imagine my reaction when my State Rep sent out his monthly newsletter to me and said this:

“Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”

I expressed my displeasure with the tone of that paragraph. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled the StayAtHome order invalid and the leadership of the legislature did not have a plan to replace it. The leadership had three weeks inbetween to prepare something but didn’t.

As you can see, my State Rep’s tone shifted from language like:

“He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take…He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic…He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions…He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.”

The tone shifted from knowing to doing. From “tell us” to one of “to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters.

It’s obvious this lawsuit was no longer about keeping the legislature informed but it was really about giving the legislature a political position to negotiate the pandemic response. The authority and responsibility for public health crisis is spelled out in Wisconsin Statute 252 on Communicable Disease. It is all on the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health Services.

My State Rep is disingenuous when saying “ask him to negotiate”. In fact the lawsuit accuses the Executive branch of government in this way:

“Purporting to act under color of State law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers—unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration—over the people of Wisconsin,” reads the GOP complaint. “Per her decree, everyone in the State must stay home and most businesses must remain shuttered (with exceptions for activities and companies arbitrarily deemed “essential”).”

The complaint also reads:

“By the time the Secretary sees fit to lift her decree (be it in five weeks or eight months), many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under, to say nothing of the Order’s countless other downstream societal effects,” the complaint argues. “Our State will be in shambles.”

Irritated once again, I fired off a second email to my State Rep. As I said, I was irritated by the tone of that paragraph and by the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the StayAtHome order. (which was in accordance with State Statutes)

I said the following:

You wrote: “Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”
Should we voters infer the Republican Party that said the renewal order was illegal (even though the DHS clearly has the authority to do what it did under Section 252 of the Wis. Statutes),  should we infer the Republican Party does not have a plan to open Wisconsin safely and needs help from the DHS?
Takes balls to muck things up  and then ask for help.
Where’s the Republican Leadership plan for managing the pandemic?
Every COVID case from now on is a result of your support for politicizing the pandemic management.
I might remind you of this as the Wisconsin COVID cases rise in XXX County.
The law was/is clear who has the authority to manage communicable disease outbreaks and Republican leadership had to muck this up by making it political.
I might remind you that you should not fix what ain’t broke. And…You broke it, now You own it.

As you can see, I was irritated at the tone in that paragraph. I placed the blame for future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Wisconsin clearly on Republican leadership.

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the StayAt Home order, there was nothing in the legislature to take its place. Shame on the Legislature. Shame on the Supreme Court.

The good people of Wisconsin were abandoned by the Supreme Court and the legislature.

The not-so-good people of Wisconsin celebrated in bars and restaurants and have now become anonymous carriers of COVID-19.

 

Covid Emails with State Rep

My first COVID email to my State Rep was non-partisan. He replied with a partisan email and I was irritated that he did. I sent him the following:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
The moment you used the word “Republican” below, I knew you weren’t on my side. I knew you didn’t care about the people of your District or the State of Wisconsin. Instead you care about your partisanship and you care about making Governor Evers pay politically for his decisions.
I am sick to death of legislators making every damn thing about politics and the optics of a situation. We have a crisis and you put partisanship above leadership. You put partisanship above compassion. You put partisanship above your representation of the common man in your district.
I don’t want you to do anything.Forget my first letter completely. You go do what your handlers want you to do.
I haven’t given up on you yet but every once in a while you might want to nip the Republican hand that feeds you. Remind them you are a Wisconsin dog first and a Republican dog second.
With respect,