Month: September 2016

  • Police Shootings

    I hate the shootings.  I hate the protests even more.  I might be losing my mind.  I might even be a racist.  (But I don't think so.)

    At, or near, the bottom of this post, will be an excerpt from a CNN report this morning.  That's in case you want to know what set this off.

    So anyway.  Is it racist for me to think -- just think, not assume -- that most of the protesters hurling rocks at police cars and shouting "Black Lives Matter" are black?  As I say, I don't think I'm a racist, because I really and truly believe that I have no proof, and no opinion, and don't even care, what the skin color is of the protesters.  I have no objection whatsoever to nonviolent protest, but attacking police, not to mention looting and burning down businesses and all of the other craziness that has followed shootings in Ferguson, MO, or Baltimore, MD, or more recently, Tulsa, OK, and Charlotte, NC, is NOT going to solve the problem of wrongful police shootings of unarmed black people.

    I repeat.  It doesn't matter what anyone's skin color is.  I say I'm colorblind, and I say it proudly, and I've been told I'm wrong, and maybe I'll learn why Oct. 1 and 2 when I attend a two-day workshop called "Dialogue:  Racism."  Cherry Steinwender, founder of The Center for the Healing of Racism, Houston, TX, and Marcy Jolosky will be the facilitators.  As for why colorblindness is supposedly wrong, my hunch is that the blowback comes from the perception that I'm unaware of the scars left by slavery and Jim Crow.  And I AM aware.  That's not what I mean by colorblind.

    Back to my "racist" thoughts.  I hate the fact that I say almost the same words as some right-wing nutcase said the other day when she said that black people ought to take responsibility for their behavior.  The difference is, when I say it I'm saying it with love and concern and respect.  At least I think I am.

    When a drugged-up, non-compliant "victim" gets shot (undeservedly) dead by a cop who was too hasty with the trigger finger, I'm all for a requirement that the cop be prosecuted.  (Note:  a judge or jury still gets to decide.  But do prosecute the case.)  I do feel that such a policy can be awfully unfair to a cop who is simply trying to make sure that he finishes his shift alive.  But we who back the law enforcement side of this issue have to put SOMETHING on the table.  And I've just put forth my offer.  And another part of my offer is that even if a jail sentence is deemed unwarranted, a cop who shoots under questionable circumstances should be barred from continuing in that profession.  That's plenty harsh enough, in my opinion, in cases where the shooter is "not guilty enough" to be convicted.

    But I am not only on the law enforcement side.  I'm also on the Black Lives Matter side.  And we have to put something on the table as well.  And that something is to take responsibility.  The mother who is heartbroken over the death of her drugged-up, noncompliant son should be saying, "I should have done a better job raising him," in addition to demanding justice for the shooting.

    What bothers me is that nobody (except that right-wing nutcase) is saying that the victims and their mothers should take some responsibility.  

    Michael Brown and Sandra Bland didn't deserve to die.  (Brown was shot; Bland committed suicide in her jail cell.)  But neither of them was compliant when directed by a police officer to be cooperative.  That doesn't make the cops right.  But it doesn't make Brown and Bland right either.

    Here's an incident from my personal past.

    Thirty years ago, I was working my 4 a.m. to noon shift at the Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas, NV.  At about 10 a.m. we learned there was an active shooter at the California Club two blocks away, which is where I had happened to park my car when I arrived for work.   After I got off work, I tried to get to my car.  By that time, the shooter was supposedly inside the California Club, holed up, not yet apprehended.  A city block had been roped off, and as I attempted to cross the street to get to the Club's parking lot, a police officer ordered me to keep away.  I told him I needed to drive myself home, and he repeated the order.

    Guess what.  I complied.  What else could I do?

    I walked back to the Horseshoe, found a coworker who lived near me and he gave me a ride home and the following morning, I found someone else willing to drive me downtown so that I could be reunited with my vehicle.

    I admit.  If I had been a black person and a white cop denied me access to my car, I might have had reason to be even more peeved that I had been under the actual circumstances.

    It doesn't matter.  If you don't comply with a policeman's order, you're asking for trouble.

    That's all I feel like writing for now.  Here's what I promised.  More about Charlotte, and a brief mention of Tulsa. 


    From CNN:

    Violent protests erupted overnight in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a police officer fatally shot a black man while trying to serve a warrant for a different man at an apartment complex.

    Police said the man killed, Keith Lamont Scott, had a gun. But his family members said he was carrying a book.

    Several hundred people gathered outside the complex Tuesday night, chanting "no justice, no peace!" and carrying signs reading "Black Lives Matter."

    The officer who killed Scott, Brentley Vinson, is also black, the mayor's office said Wednesday.

    The Charlotte case is the latest shooting involving an officer, and racial tensions are high nationwide following a spate of others.

    Last week's fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sparked protests after video of the killing appeared Monday. Protesters have been demanding justice and an end to police brutality for months.

    In Charlotte, police went to serve a warrant Tuesday and shot and killed a man in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex in the University City neighborhood.

    Scott was not the person authorities were looking for, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.

    Scott died at Carolinas Medical Center. A gun he was holding was found at the scene, police said.


    Friday Update:

    I'm not sure what CNN was talking about when it said that the "shooting of Terence Crutcher ... sparked protests" because more recent reports indicate a calm response to the Tulsa shooting.  At any rate, the shooter is being charged with first-degree manslaughter, so that's a definite news update of the blog I posted two days ago.


  • A Day in the Life of Twoberry

    Not a Typical day, exactly, but it's a lot More typical than I wish it was.

    Translation:  My ambition is to have a day with no responsibilities whatsoever.  But that will never happen.


    So here's what yesterday was all about.

    I work 6 to 8 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. six days a week.  Unlocking office buildings in the morning, locking them up at night.  And a few other duties, such as changing trash can liners and picking up trash left in parking lots and parking garages.

    Alan had invited me to his house 40 minutes south of where I live.  Show up at 11 a.m., play two games of Scrabble, have lunch, play three more games.  I can do this, I told him.  Thank you.  But I do have to leave by 5:20 p.m.

    Those were not the only thoughts on my mind as I arrived home at 8 a.m. from the morning rounds.  There were six dogs in the house:  my four (Dagmar, Margie, Max, and Daisy Mae) and the two guests Deacon, a Jack Russell, and Sophie, a toy poodle.

    On my Friday morning schedule were to call Deacon's owner to let him know that Deacon could be picked up after a week at my house, and to cross my fingers and hope that the lawn guy showed up in time for me to open the doggie door for my animals to use while I was at Alan's house.

    So the first thing I did was check phone messages (Barbara's in Orlando for the weekend at the NAACP convention), and a geriatric dog I know whose name is Happy is owned by an equally elderly lady who's recently been having physical difficulties and we were walking Happy twice a day until just a few weeks ago when the owner felt well enough to walk Happy without our assistance.  But Friday's phone message was urgent.  Serious complications, sleepless nights, could Barbara or Bob please come over and walk Happy?

    I called.  I explained my tight schedule, and was told that the morning duties had been taken care of and could I come over in the afternoon.  I said I might not be there till 6, and that was OK.  I do have SOME flexibility in my work hours.  Not much, but enough.

    So the lawn guy showed up at 9:50 a.m. PERFECT!!  I let Sophie out to pee right before I left at 10:20, and got to Alan's at 11.  The games went well and lunch was delicious.

    One slight problem.  Alan's housekeeper had recently quit and he desperately needed to arrange to hire new help.  And when a call came into his cellphone at 3 p.m. or thereabouts, that turned into a 45-minute timeout while they talked and negotiated.  I had had my hopes up that I could head home in time to change clothes, take care of my dogs, take care of Happy, and get to work not too late.

    We were done and I was on my way at 4:50 p.m.  Fortunately, I have a tile floor throughout my house and Sophie's messes were easy to clean up, so I was able to drive straight through to Happy, get him walked and relieved, and the day would end satisfactorily.  I revised my schedule so that after I locked up my first two buildings, I could go home and feed the dogs (and let Sophie out) before going to the last building to lock up.  I TOLD you I had some flexibility, see?

    This morning, Saturday, also needed some careful schedule revisions, and Happy's owner was finally able to get some sleep, so she's doing better, but still needs help.

    I'm there for her.

    And I'm here for my readers.

  • Colin Kaepernick

    I only wish I had Colin Kaepernick's courage.

    Was just listening to Roland Martin on MSNBC, and he nailed the problem:  Instead of talking about Black Lives Matter ISSUES, critics of Kaep are talking about HIM, and his SOCKS, and their outrage that he won't stand while our national anthem is being played.

    Missing the whole point, as Roland says.

    When the anthem does get played -- at any events I attend -- I stand right along with everyone else.  But usually, it's not because hearing the anthem makes me feel patriotic (I generally do feel patriotic, anthem or no anthem, but at the same time I often feel as Kaep does:  namely, I wish my country would live up to its ideals more than it does).  No, the usual reason I stand when the anthem is played is because I'm afraid of what the reaction around me would be if I didn't.  I'm too cowardly to remain seated.  So I stand.  Proudly.  But I wish I didn't feel as if I have to stand.

    Good for Kaep.  All he wants is for us to talk about the fact that too many cops are shooting blacks to death and getting away with it when they shouldn't.

    It's not that simple, of course, which is why we have to talk about it.

    We have to talk about IT.  And not about Kaep's socks (which have pictures of pigs with cop hats on, in case you didn't know).

    Oh, by the way, Kaep has announced he's donating the first million dollars of his pay this season to charitable organizations, and I'm sure he means orgs like NAACP or some such.

    I'm not anti-police.  And neither is Kaep.  One of the reasons I stay active on our local BLM committee is to keep my friends from acting crazy in the streets.  Law enforcement personnel here in Indian River County act very responsibly when it comes to their duties.  I'm proud of them.  And I don't want them getting hurt in the exercising of their job any more than I want innocent people of any color to get shot.