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How’s That Anti-Cop Crusade Working Out? Rochester Edition.

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Last year, a tedious brew of Occupy protesters and “Cop-Watch” activists took to the streets in Rochester, New York.  They mobilized behind a contemporary flower-child named Emily Good.  Good had been detained briefly after interfering in a police stop that occurred outside her urban hipster-neighborhood home.

After the actual subjects of the police stop slunked into the night, never to be heard from again (and doubtlessly grateful that Good’s hysterics had distracted the police), Good and her supporters tried to make hay out of her arrest.  She granted interviews to CNN and posed for pictures “doing ministry work” in a drop-waist dress, all the while denouncing the “horrors of police brutality” on Rochester’s violent streets.

Good on CNN

But it soon emerged that Good was not the earnest-random-citizen-witness-to-alleged-police-brutality she pretended to be.  Video showing her physically attacking an Olympic torch runner in Canada and feigning abuse at the hands of police during a violent squatter’s protest revealed her real identity as a professional anti-policing activist — one trained to incite and escalate conflicts with the police.  Luckily, the videos of Good’s prior activities were saved by a smart local blogger before Good and her supporters cleansed her Facebook page of evidence of her radical activities.

Good Pretending to Be Brutalized By Police

The Olympic torch video was particularly chilling.  Good and other “native Canadian rights” activists knocked down the woman runner, who was nearly ignited in flames from falling on the torch.  Rather than being chastened by the near-disaster, Good bragged about it online, gleeful that she had interrupted the “Gestapo” Olympic torch run.  She wrote:

The runner actually tripped over all of her security people who were frantically shoving us out of the way.  Anyway, the torch went down!  Hitler started that tradition for the nazi olympics — time to extinguish it!

What sort of person jokes about nearly setting another human on fire?  More importantly, who does such a thing while simultaneously believing she is on the side of angels, who sees herself not as a violent person but as a social heroine, feeding the poor and spreading justice to the dispossessed?  It is to our detriment that we have forgotten about the lost girls of the Seventies, those college-educated daughters turned glassy-eyed cultists who flocked to Charles Manson, shot at presidents, or blew themselves up wiring bombs in their daddies’ townhouses.

John Updike’s story, “The Lovely Troubled Daughters of Our Old Crowd,” says something about the starting point of this sort of social disintegration.  Not precisely, but read it anyway.

Good and her compatriots were protesting the “imperial” Canadian state and the evil corporations hosting the Olympics.  That justified almost setting an innocent woman on fire.

In the mindset of activists like these, anybody who does not agree with their politics is an expendable dupe, and the police are no less than the Gestapo.

Emily Good with Hugo Chavez: Just Another Young Woman Who Cares About Justice

Bread Not Bombs 

Emily Good is a member of the radical activist group Food not Bombs.  Good even wore a Food Not Bombs t-shirt to one television interview in which she denied that she had ever been involved in anti-police activism.  ”I have never agitated directly against the police . . . I wouldn’t say I’m an activist against the police at all,” she told the reporter, while wearing a t-shirt for an organization that agitates against police.

In recent years, Food Not Bombs Rochester has hosted events such as: “Open Mic Against Police Brutality and State Repression” and “Support the Police: Beat Yourself Up.”  The reporter didn’t ask Good about her t-shirt during the interview: the media has utterly failed to report credibly on the war on cops being waged by radicals ranging from activists like Good to national lawyer’s groups subsidized by billionaire financier George Soros.

Tampa, beware: the Emily Good story — the media’s epic failure to identify her, or to report on Food Not Bombs’ radical motives and training — is a cautionary tale for the city of Tampa, which is preparing to host the 2012 Republican Convention.  Food Not Bombs is planning to arrive in the city in advance of the convention and set up so-called “feeding stations” providing “vegan food for the homeless.”  These encampments will serve as cover for other radicals.  The local media is taking its marching orders from the A.C.L.U. instead of investigating Food Not Bombs’ tactics.  So the public remains uninformed, while elected officials pander to the professional activist classes instead of asking hard questions of the protestors, let alone holding them responsible for the trespassing and code violations they have committed so far.

 Nothing to See Here: Good Denies Anti-Police Activities While Wearing an Anti-Police  T-Shirt

The media’s failure to notice Good’s shirt would have merely been funny if the stakes weren’t so high.  Cities like Rochester are contending with exploding crime rates, while police budgets are gutted and police find themselves are under attack.

Rochester has been living through a 40% increase in homicides and a 73% increase in shootings.  Nevertheless, the A.C.L.U. keeps encouraging the public to resist all crime-fighting measures.  Through an initiative subsidized and orchestrated by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, A.C.L.U. activists advertise free phone apps that teach people to videotape police and interfere in crime fighting.  Meanwhile, Rochester burns.  Little wonder that people in high crime areas are less enthusiastic about A.C.L.U. lawsuits and anti-cop street-marches than the dilettantes who pack up after marching picket lines and return to nicer houses and safer neighborhoods.

Still, silly as they seem, there’s no underestimating the damage such people can do.

Last year, Emily Good and her trumped-up “persecution” cost the police time and money that could have been spent fighting real crime.  It also tied their hands, as activists descended on Rochester to take advantage of Good’s fifteen minutes of embarrasingly-non-vetted media fame.  Even now, as the murders and shootings pile up, the A.C.L.U. keeps playing by the script, accusing police of brutality no matter what they do to try to quell the crime wave.  But some residents are speaking out in support of stepped-up police protection.  Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Columnist Jermayne Myers recently wrote:

Kudos to Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard and the police department for shifting into over gear to help curb a recent spike in shooting, stabbings, robberies, homicides and other senseless acts of violence and crime in the City.

As I’ve said in the past, our city and its residents have been held hostage by the numerous senseless acts of violence and crime over the past two-three months. With 21 homicides and 95 gun assaults, and still counting as of last week, Rochester is on the path to seeing one of its worse and most violent summers.

One recent tool to help combat this rash of violence and crime is operation “Cool Down”. According to Sheppard, during operation “Cool Down”, additional officers will be highly visible, and engaging people on the street to prevent crime rather than reacting to its aftermath.

I commend and respect Sheppard for not being scared to use these tactics to target and make those that commit crime and violence in the city feel uncomfortable walking or riding around our streets, neighborhoods and communities.

As a young African-American man living in the city, I endorse these tactics (when used correctly) to help reduce violence, crime, homicides and keep our city safe.

I’m sick and tired of hearing about someone else getting shot, stabbed and/or killed on our city streets, and sadly both the victim and perpetrator are young African-American men. If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about. Just cooperate with police, thank them for doing their job and keep it moving.

This sort of attitude is anathema to the Emily Good and A.C.L.U. lawyers.  Of course, they don’t spend their nights worrying about their families’ safety or hauling bleeding young men to emergency rooms.  As Rochester mayor Tom Richards wryly observed, in response to a predictable media question about the civil rights implications of stepped-up police patrols:

 “The ultimate violation of your civil rights is to be shot to death.”

Neighborhood activists — not radical activists like Emily Good – cheered the increased police activity:

When News10NBC informed her of the police department’s “Cool Down Detail,” [Doreen Brown] was thrilled. “I would be very proud for that to happen. We care about out neighborhood, we care about our neighbors and we would love to have more patrols around here there is too much violence.”

Brown said, “We have people that are terrified terrified. We try to stay together to keep peace. We don’t want it to seem like we just a bad neighborhood with crime, but if we don’t have help from the police, what are we to do?”

 Adults in Charge: Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard and Mayor Tom Richards

The adults solve the problems, while the activists destroy, no matter the human cost.

~~~~

More information about the radical anti-police movement:  The Soros-Funded War on Police

PBS is Re-Educating America’s Schoolchildren, One Cop-Hating Poster at a Time. So . . . Give Your Money to the Kurt Wyman Fund Instead

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Mary Grabar (of the excellent blog Dissident Prof) and I have a new report out at  Accuracy in Media.  It’s about the political manipulation of schoolchildren by PBS Teachers:

PBS: Re-Educating America’s Schoolchildren, Thanks to Your Contributions

Part of our report discusses a PBS lesson plan in which students are encouraged to “learn about historical research methods” by investigating the origins of a cop-hating poster that was plastered around Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention riots.  Of course, the lesson plan celebrates the protesters and doesn’t mention the slaughter of police and others by the Black Panthers, Weathermen, and radicals associated with them.  The Panthers, for example, are described as social workers who fed children breakfasts and taught them about politics.

Sort of like PBS:

These “educators” behave as if they’re just teaching children how to gain library skills while using the word “pig” to refer to police over and over again.  I hope our report shows how far from pedagogical decency PBS has strayed.

If not, here’s an anecdote:  

Thanks to the generosity of the Alexander Hamilton Institute, I’m staying for the month in Clinton, New York.

The town of Clinton could not be more bucolic, in a Mennonites-and-hippies-selling-whoopie-pies-and-heirloom-tomatoes-in-the-town-square sort of way.

But bad things happen everywhere.  I was walking around town buying whoopee pies and heirloom tomatoes yesterday, and I saw a different kind of poster about cops.  This one was promoting the second annual Kurt Wyman Memorial Ride.  Kurt was a 24-year old war veteran, sheriff, father, and husband gunned down protecting the people of this beautiful place.

His wife gave birth to their second child upon hearing of his murder.  I previously blogged about him here.

Now imagine a world where teachers educated their students about the poster below, instead of slyly celebrating the cop-hating one above.  This world does exist, of course.  It exists in the town square of Clinton.  It exists just about everywhere, but it does not exist at PBS, which uses our tax dollars to train children to see cops as less than human.

Instead of donating to PBS this year, why not send your money to the Kurt Wyman fund to support the children he left behind (information below), or the Kurt Wyman Memorial Park (information here), or the Kurt Wyman scholarship fund (link needed).

Then, be sure to send PBS a letter telling them why.

 KBW Ride 6437 Pillmore Drive Rome, NY 13440.

 

Father Moloney Jokes About His Role in Brinks Robbery: The New York Times Fetishizes Another Terrorist

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With enough clichés to fill a file cabinet labeled Boy’s Town, the Order of St. Duranty of the prefecture of 8th Avenue absolved another preening terrorist last week.  And, look!  It’s yet another radical chicklet involved in yet another Brinks Robbery.  I’m sorry, I mean Father Radical Chic, the Reverend Patrick Moloney, who still thinks it’s extremely funny that some poor innocent Brinks guards suffered the hell of guns held to their temples.  Moloney got to wallow in a big pile of money before getting caught and serving a few token years.

Yon Patrick: you don’t hold a gun to the temple of an innocent and then change the location of the money, you chase the money changers out of the  . . . oh, never mind.

Moloney was given a slap on the wrist.  Why, I wonder.  I guess “who” is actually the cogent question.  Dead . . . Kennedys?  The Reverend does not regret his involvement.  Rather, he gleefully admits he dines out on it.  Nor has it harmed his career.  Nice.  Then consider this blog post my contribution to Catholic Charities this year, ‘kay?

 Praying for Murdered Brinks’ Employees?

Before, during, and after Moloney served time, he was lavished with impressively selective Times profiles praising his commitment to “causes.”  He was thus given a platform to claim he was a political prisoner; to claim that the U.S. was using his faith to punish and essentially torture him, and to promote himself as a hero of conscience on the grounds that he wouldn’t cooperate in defending himself because he was protecting illegal immigrants.

Except, he had defended himself.  And none of the rest of it was even slightly believable.

I believe in believing people when they say they hate you and accuse you of wrongdoing.  The accusations Moloney levied against our justice system and Italians in particular and Americans in general should have banished him from decent society, not burnished his caché.  If such things matter, falsely accusing the American public of persecution for being a priest ought to mean something, not mean nothing.  And if false accusations matter so much, why is it that they don’t matter at all when they’re directed at certain people, like Italians, or Americans, or the prosecutors who did a fine job proving their case?

Instead of correcting the record, the Times buries it while swooning about Moloney in creepy fake brogue:

AH, now here comes Father Moloney, ambling down East Ninth Street in his priest’s outfit, a crucifix on a heavy chain around his neck.

This cuddly 80-year-old priest with the Limerick lilt doesn’t exactly look like “the underground general” of Irish Republican Army gun runners, as one British intelligence officer pronounced him in 1982.

“That’s what he called me,” said the Rev. Patrick Moloney, chuckling . . .

Har, har.  Funny stuff, written by the doubtlessly entirely objective Corey Kilgannon: after all, who couldn’t trust someone who calls a terrorist “cuddly”?  So why was Mr. Moloney — thugs do not deserve honorariums, especially when they use them to terrorize innocents — really arrested in Ireland, Corey?  Oh, never mind.  Let’s get on to the stateside sadism:

He sank into a sofa, leafed through his mail and launched into another story, this one about serving four years in federal prison in the 1990s in connection with a $7.4 million Brink’s armored car robbery in Rochester — at the time, called the fifth biggest Brink’s robbery in history — which authorities said he helped pull off to fill I.R.A. coffers.

Isn’t it weird how at the paper of record, killing or at least threatening to kill Brinks employees is sort of the equivalent of turning wine into water?  Judith Clark helped off a couple of cops and Brinks guards in 1981 and even though one of the cops turned out inconveniently to be black while dying, she still qualified for the Times’ beatification beat 3 months ago.  Now it’s Moloney’s turn:

Father Moloney, a slight man with a short gray beard and glasses, emigrated from Ireland in 1955 and, inspired by the Catholic activist and anarchist Dorothy Day, began his ministry for the poor in the blighted East Village. He battled the gang leaders and drug dealers as ferociously as he now fights the developer-gentrifiers.

Bla, bla, bla.  Moloney performs what he thinks are good deeds, so it’s OK to have all those gun-running, innocent-person-torturing incidents in his past.  By the way, why didn’t the Times ask Moloney about that very inconvenient unsolved murder tied to his crimes?  The one where the buddy of his buddy got hackled to pieces in upstate New York, and his remains just got identified in December?  December, 2011.

Gibbons went missing in August of 1995 after he told a friend he was driving to Rochester to get his cut of the [Brinks robbery] millions.  Greece [N.Y.] Police say while this began as a missing persons case, that changed after body parts were found in Jefferson County in 1999 and 2000.  Those remains were just recently identified using DNA.  The Medical Examiner in Onondaga County found that the remains were those of Gibbons and that this was a homicide.

You see, after the Brinks robbery, the money not found in Father Pat’s pockets went missing.  And then this guy decides he wants his cut of it, and he goes to get it in 1995 and ends up hacked to pieces like some extra in the Sopranos.  But you can’t blame this one on my people (though Moloney tried to do so): this is the IRA and its sleazy apologists at the Times, who somehow never manage to get around to mentioning Moloney’s very recently identified, long-missing pal, or the December I.D.’ing of the body parts scattered all over upstate New York, what with all the column inches they have to dedicate to smiling Irish eyes and cups o’ tea and pretending that sheltering terrorists isn’t a federal offense.

Here’s the Times’ entire statement on the missing millions.  They calls this reporting.  In Gaelic, though, it is colorfully known as a lieae:

While Father Moloney was in federal prison — he called himself a political prisoner — “Free Father Pat” graffiti was scrawled around the East Village [of course it was].  The remaining $5.2 million in Brinks money was never found. Certainly Father Moloney never showed signs of getting richer. He has lived like a monk, sleeping in a closet-size room on a cot stretched over his filing cabinets.

Meanwhile, Ronnie Gibbons sleeps with the potatoes.  Can’t the people at the Times at least pretend to stop stroking terrorists?  Didn’t they watch the towers fall?  Has anyone they love ever had a pistol held to their skull?

Is this stuff really just an opportunity to mock normal people?

It is to Moloney:

 Father Moloney . . . used the Brinks publicity for his causes and never missed a chance to gleefully snub the authorities about it.  “I rubbed the government’s nose in it,” he said, and he poured himself a cup of Irish tea.

Of course.  Of course the whole hacked-up bodies, gun-to-temples, supporting terrorists, blarney clap-trap parade gets ignored by the people who are supposed to offer moral guidance or enforce immigration rules . . . so what does the Church do to stop this blight on their honor from continuing to spit in the face of the cops and security guards kneeling in the pews?  What does immigration do about what they haven’t ever done about this treasonous thug, who admits to other crimes, which he calls not-crimes, which doesn’t mean they weren’t, just that the Times won’t ask for anyone else to weigh in for, like, accuracy:

He has defended and hidden fugitives, the undocumented and I.R.A. members on the lam. The list includes relatives of both Gerry Adams and Malcolm X, he said. They have stayed in the secret apartments he has kept around the city for this purpose, some of them in public housing. “I have never broken a law, but I have circumvented most of them,” he said, fingering his ever-present prayer beads, a mischievous glint in his eye.

In a YouTube video, Moloney’s got some strange stories about living posh and the usual vague claims about racists burning down his stuff, which drew him approbation and likely big funding –funny, how unsolved fires and unsubstantiated accusations so frequently turn into cha-ching for America-hating faux humanists.

I also wonder how many of the people who gave him cash knew about the $2 million in extracurricular Brinks fundraising found in his safe, or the “foot found on Lake Ontario,” the “partially clad torso” in Cape Vincent, or the gym shorts of said torso tied to the New York Athletic Club and now confirmed to be associated with the disappearance of the robbery money not found in Molony’s possession.

Moloney ”[s]ays proudly that he worked with Robert Collier and other Black Panthers, and that he met with Yasser Arafat,” though the Times plays a bit coy with that last bit.  I wonder if he’s won any awards from PEN yet.  Probably has to raise his body count first.

Or, start rhyming.

~~~
Patrick Moloney tried to get a pardon from President Clinton in 1998.  It didn’t work out.  But it’s pretty clear the New York Times has just added him to their recent pin-ups for pardons.  Grounds for inclusion appear to consist primarily of loathing America, succoring terrorists, and/or just being one.
Garden variety felonious sad-sacks, take notice: assume a radical political identity immediately — or, you need not apply.

 

Tom Robbins and the NYTimes Lie About Judith Clark’s “Rehabilitation”

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What a surprise: the New York Times is lying again.  It must be . . . well, it’s Friday.

The lie starts with a pun.  Because dead cops are always the right occasion for lighthearted humor:

Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation

Judith Clark: a “ray of sunshine” who made some mistakes as a youth

The “radical” in the title refers to participating in the Brinks robbery that left two police and security guard dead.  Wordplay: funny.  The “transformation” is more of the usual claptrap about radical chic criminals — their in-prison AIDS activism that is actually about attacking the government, not a disease, and all the faked MFA degrees handed out like candy by PEN and other cop-hating syndicates and universities to talentless scum, including Clark’s colleagues Marilyn Buck, Laura Whitehorn, Susan Rosenberg, and so on.

The “lie” is that this article is about Judith Clark’s alleged rehabilitation.  In reality, the Times published this sleazy mythopoesis to advance a very specific yet entirely unmentioned goal: to advance a rules change regarding parole for murderers and other offenders serving long sentences — in other words, to make all those knitting classes and fake poetry degrees grounds for release if you helped kill cops — like the sainted Ms. Clark — or raped and killed women, like several other “reformed” poets and knitter-activists eagerly awaiting the rules change.

Anyone care for another Kitty Genovese?

Tom Robbins should apologize for participating in an unusually ornate untruth.  He should apologize to everyone who might see their loved one’s killer released because of his participation in this lie.

He should wear comfortable shoes: it’s going to be a long and extremely angry line.

I wonder why Times readers put up with this sort of manipulation.  It doesn’t reflect well.

And then there’s the other lies within the lie.

An officer carrying a shotgun waved the U-Haul over. Clark drove past the ramp and stopped.

“I was in this terrified, frozen state,” she said. She considered just driving away. “I can’t do that,” she told herself. “I am not supposed to leave people.”

She heard gunfire behind her. Suddenly “two people jump into my car and scream at me to drive.” She quickly drove ahead, up a curving mountain road, no idea where she was headed. When a police car pursued them, she drove faster. “I am so out of my league,” she remembers thinking.

Clark claims she’s rehabilitated based on her ritual performance of several faux social justice causes, but she’s still lying about the gun, the strategy of using stupid white girls like her to lure police to their deaths that day, and everything else she knows and has done.  She’s lying in very specific ways because she needs to say certain things and deny other things in order to meet the guidelines for parole.  Now, that would make an interesting story.  Not nonfiction, though.

Clark’s shoulder popped out of its socket — a chronic ailment since childhood. She was squirming in pain, trying to bang it back into place, when she heard a policeman barking orders to come out. The shouts came from the South Nyack police chief, Alan Colsey, who had chased Clark’s car over the mountain. After Clark and her passengers were taken into custody, a pistol was found behind the front seat and a clip of bullets in Clark’s purse. Colsey thought she was reaching for the gun as she twisted in her seat. Clark said she never knew it was there. “I sort of rolled out,” she said. “I didn’t want to be shot. I was scared but also relieved it was over.”

Yes, we’re supposed to believe she didn’t know about the gun in her purse (that happens to me all the time) and that she was only “squirming” towards the gun because she hurt herself playing volleyball some time back before she became a weaponized hate-moppet trying to off an innocent cop, and we’re supposed to believe that she has achieved some cosmic level of rehabilitative bliss while we’re also supposed to believe that she knew nothing of the purpose of the Brinks robbery, which was to secure funds to buy lots of other guns that Clark apparently knew nothing about — while believing that she is some sort of unique saint among all the other utterly unique saints who coincidentally happened to converge on one little bloody armed robbery in upstate New York.

You’d have to be Eric Holder to believe all that.

Holder, after all, has made it his personal mission to get cop-killers and terrorists like Susan Rosenberg out of prison.  Judith Clark is the next in line for the Holder privilege: thus the Times clockwork encomium.  If Obama loses the election, the grey cloud within the silver lining will be the inevitable pardons of fistfuls of violent thugs like Clark who had the good sense to choose the right types of people to murder.

In jail, all she could think was that she had let down her friends and had to make up for it. “I was not a good freedom fighter,” she told herself, “but I can be a good captivefreedom fighter.” Her role models were Puerto Rican radicals, linked to a group responsible for a string of deadly bombings, who declared themselves prisoners of war after being arrested.

Why does the Times leave out the rest of the story of these hale and hearty freedom fighters — the part about who they killed, and the part about Eric Holder orchestrating their releases?  The part about the judge’s home firebombed while his children slept, about the prison guards tortured to death?  Why does Tom Robbins so carefully choose to focus on Judith Clark’s knitting of baby clothes, clenching and unclenching of fists, etc., while he cannot be bothered to so much as mention the part about an Attorney General who has repeatedly sided with terrorists who blew away cops and judges and prison guards?

Why not tell the story, if you are going to tell it, if you are an “investigative journalist” teaching, of course, journalism, and of course at CUNY?

Here’s a who, what, when, where, why for Journalist Robbins: how inhumanely elitist do you have to be to weigh Judith Clark’s hobbies against the lives she and her fellow revolutionaries gleefully snuffed out?  For this is precisely the goal of the not-reported campaign beneath this story: to make the hobbies trump the crime, to make a twenty-year pile of bad poetry and offensive radical chic win out over dead and buried men.

Inmate 83G0313, as Clark was known, was considered a major security risk, her every step carefully tracked. There was good cause for concern. Clark’s radical crew was known for plots like the 1979 prison breakout of Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army leader. At one point, the prison superintendent, Elaine Lord, was assigned a guard. Twice, Lord had to leave prison grounds as a precaution.

As a precaution against what?  If you have room to count the stitches in Clark’s remorseful sweater-weaving, surely you have the column inches to tell the truth about the real threat these people posed, and the real consequences of their long, in-prison campaigns of terror.  That’s part of the story, too.

In reality, people like Judith Clark become what they become because they are sociopaths, or just pure evil.  As Theodore Dalrymple recently observed in the New English Review, privileging your subjective feeling of mercy for murderers over the rule of law is really no different from privileging a mob who wants to bypass justice in the other direction.  The commenters praising Clark’s personality in the Times comment thread really should take a moment to look in that mirror.

How does the Times justify meddling in the justice system this way?

In December 2010, a few days before Governor Paterson’s term ended, he met with a small delegation of Clark’s supporters led by Bennett and Dennison. He told them that his staff advised against her release and that he was in agreement. Paterson wouldn’t talk to me about it, but he recently told Jim Dwyer, a Times columnist, that he feared being “tarred and feathered” if he released Clark.

Last June, I went to meet some of the people whose wrath the governor feared at a fund-raising breakfast in Nyack for a scholarship fund in memory of officers Brown and O’Grady. Most were still bitter over Boudin’s release and felt that Clark deserved to remain in prison. Did they believe such criminals could be rehabilitated? “I know, they’re all wonderful,” Bill Ryan, a former New York City Police lieutenant who lives nearby, responded sarcastically. “They’re teaching little children and working with the handicapped and unwed mothers.” His remarks brought knowing smiles around the table.

It’s a skepticism shared by many. When I first started visiting Clark, I also wondered whether her transformation was a calculated effort to get out of prison. Over time I’ve come to see her differently.

So Tom Robbins writes a long propaganda piece denying Judith Clark’s cruelty, while tarring her victims, who lost loved ones, with the term “wrath.”  That’s an ugly stunt.  Elsewhere, in places where people possess ordinary morals and judgment, it’s called prejudice.  But not in the universe of the Times, where the Judith Clarks of the world are just more human than their victims.

 

 

 

 

Chicago Weekend: Is Crime Down, Or Are Neighborhoods Emptying?

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Is crime really dropping in Chicago? Not long ago, the public would have been forced to rely on some pretty unreliable sources for an answer:

  • academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown‘ altar
  • mainstream reporters who worship at the “academicians who worship at the ‘the public’s crime fears are overblown’ altar” altar
  • Chicago politicians

From sources like that, you get contradictory numbers like this, in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Five men were killed and at least 19 other people — including two children — were hospitalized after violence in the city this weekend.

Despite the violent weekend, Chicago Police announced Sunday that violent crimes have decreased for the 30th consecutive month and there have been 31 fewer murders this year than through June of last year, a 14.4 percent decrease. The crime stats also indicate a decrease in aggravated batteries, aggravated assaults and criminal sexual assaults.

Five people blown away, 19 others shot or otherwise injured, in one unremarkable weekend that featured the sort of bad weather that tends to drive people off the streets, so that’s good news: crime is down!  (**Update: 11 more shot overnight Sunday, ten homicides total)

Sure, murders are down.  They don’t say how much agg. assaults and batteries dropped, nor do they offer what might be the most accurate measure of non-safety — the number of shootings, as oppose to the number of entirely successful gun murders.  Let’s not reward bad aim, or good doctoring.

At least the public has alternative sources of information, now that cops are blogging.  Second City Cop speculates about other possible explanations for the alleged “drop in crime”:

Are there any actuaries out there who can determine the per capita rate of homicides? We lost at least 200,000 people in the recent census, and since rates are measured in terms of crimes per 100,000, is this a real drop in crime or just a statistical equivalent? And are we still doing that thing with people shot during robberies? And the other thing that negates the FBI ever using Chicago numbers in their crime stats because they’re so hinky?

SCC’s commenters (also cops) knock a little more gild off the lily:

What about property crimes? Criminal damage reports? Thefts? And what of the clearance rates, esp. for violent crimes, like robberies? Oh, I forgot, robberies are property crimes, acc. to Cline.

Crime has gone down for over 30 straight months with the shortage of cops? We don’t need any more cops. In fact lets get rid of all of them and let the animals run the asylum.

With severe police shortages, crime reports fall through the cracks.  So is the public “over-reacting” or is crime under-reported?

It also appears from the cop blogs that Chicago authorities are camouflaging crime numbers by classifying gun robberies as “property crime” instead of violent crime.  I imagine this sort of free pass gets carried over to Chicago courtrooms, where felons who stick guns in peoples’ faces get off easy because it’s just a “property” offense.  And remember all the criminals robbing other criminals who aren’t about to call 911, and the residents intimidated into silence.

Remember too the nine-year olds and eight-year olds and 12-year olds caught in the crossfire.  I don’t even think that’s a complete list from the past week.

How many violent crimes go unreported in a city like Chicago?  This demoralizing Chicago Tribune must-read offers some insights:

Whatever you do, don’t use my name, said the 83-year-old widow, and the fear in her voice was palpable. . .

We [the reporters] met a lot of longtime residents on many blocks fighting to hang on to and regenerate their communities. We wanted to tell their stories, but more often than not they would not let us if we used their names. They are terrified of retribution by the criminal elements — gangs and drug dealers — whose activities mushroomed in the newly vacant houses around them. . . ”It’s like young people are berserk around here,” said the elderly widow. “It’s like they’re destroying themselves. Practically every other night or so, we hear shooting just west or east of us, or in the alley. It sounds so close, it scares you.”  She has lived in her house for 54 years, one of the early black families to move into the community. . . After years of watching, [the elderly residents] know by sight most of the players in the nightly drama. The one they fear most is a soft-spoken boss of street crews selling drugs.  ”He is just an ordinary-looking person,” said one of the block club’s men. “He doesn’t dress fancy or drive flashy cars. He is very quiet and usually very courteous with people on the street. But he is a vicious killer who is all business.

“Everybody knows who he is.”

If the drug boss knew people were reporting his activities to the police, club members agree he would strike back at them. It’s a frightening prospect because they say he calmly shot a man to death in front of witnesses near their block several years ago and walked away free. The fear of reprisal for reporting criminal activity seems well-founded. Police recognize that gangs and drug dealers plant their own people into community meetings as spies, taking notes on which residents speak out against illegal activity. Community policing experts tell residents to report crimes in strict privacy, not in public forums.

Does any of this sound like good news about the crime rate?  Is Chicago really getting safer, or is the opposite true, despite any temporary drop in murder stats?  The reporters here lay too much blame on the “subprime mortgage crisis,” instead of on the thugs or the justice system that allows them to get away with murder, empty houses or no empty houses.  But, otherwise, the story serves as a fierce corrective to the “crime is down” boosterism coming out of city hall.  For the senior citizens trying to hold their neighborhoods together for the uptenth time in fifty years, it’s horror show:

They are terrified of retribution by the criminal elements — gangs and drug dealers — whose activities mushroomed in the newly vacant houses around them . . . crime problems didn’t seem epidemic, block club members say, until the recent foreclosures as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis.  According to the census, Englewood and West Englewood lost nearly 20,000 residents in the last decade. Now, 3,500 boarded-up houses and empty lots dot the communities

This actually confirms Second City Cop’s musing about population and statistics: high-crime areas experienced large population losses during the recent mortgage crisis.  So it might be that crime rates, adjusted for population, have not dropped at all.

Gee, you’d think some city statistician or publicly funded academic would have caught this.  No, they’re all far too busy denying the existence of crime and lobbying to empty the prisons.  Meanwhile, back on the block:

Because their street is quieter than nearby streets, the longtime residents say police don’t patrol their block as frequently as they do adjoining ones.  ”The drug dealers and addicts know that,” said an 80-year-old woman who is also a longtime block club member. “The addicts buy their drugs around the corner and then park in their cars on our block to use their drugs and have their sexual encounters (to pay for drugs). At night, you know they are smoking crack from the blue flame that flares up.”

She talks despairingly of how the crime surge has changed her life.

“I don’t want shooting outside my house or out in the alley. I just want to go to the store and not be afraid, and to get on the bus without fear.”

Is crime really down? Or have the official statistics merely been pummeled by fear of reprisals and thinned by the cop shortage . . . then massaged by statisticians, pled down by attorneys, and shiatsu-ed again by academics, until that hard metal barrel pointed at someone’s face has metamorphosed into a property crime, or maybe just drug possession, if victims are too afraid, or too felonious, to come forward?

Then the anti-incarceration activists can claim that we need more “alternatives to prison” for all those “drug and non-violent offenders” who fill cells.  And the cycle starts over again.

Englewood Neighborhood, Chicago (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / July 10, 2011)

Why Isn’t Mbarek Lafrem Being Charged With a Hate Crime? ***Updated 4/13/10***

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Mbarek Lafrem

Take a good look at the face of hate. This is Mbarek Lafrem, a Moroccan citizen who nearly beat a pediatric nurse to death in a New York City nightclub last month after she had the temerity to refuse to dance with him.  The nurse suffered multiple head wounds, including a skull fracture, broken eye socket, and shattered nose.  She was beaten around the face.  She was also attacked sexually: Lafrem is charged with attempted rape.  And attempted murder, because the attack was so severe.

This is called overkill.  So why isn’t it being prosecuted as a hate crime?

Mbarek Lafram was at first so unconcerned about raping and nearly killing a woman that he found his legal predicament funny.  He laughed and mugged for the reporters.  He announced that he was the real victim, that his victim was actually the aggressor.

Mbarek Lafram Smiling for the Cameras

Later, perhaps after some lawyer apprised him of the fact that women are permitted to refuse to dance with men without being beaten to death as punishment, he changed his tune.  “I wouldn’t want that to happen to my sisters,” he said.  Well, that’s nice.  I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone’s sisters.  What he did is what ought to matter, not to whom it was done.

But in today’s increasingly identity-politics-saturated justice system, to whom you do something is precisely the thing that matters the most.

Why isn’t the New York City hate crimes squad on this case? What, precisely, is the difference between this assault and the gay bashing outside a bar in Carroll Gardens a week earlier that spurred mass demonstrations, immediate hate crime charges, vehement outcry from elected officials (see below), and all the rest of the activist groundswell that arises when it’s anyone except a woman who gets randomly attacked?  The attack on the nurse resulted in far graver injuries, but the politicians and activists behaved as if the gay bashing was the more serious crime.

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Comptroller John Liu, Councilman Brad Lander and others

Will Bill DeBalsio stand outside Mbarek Lafram’s trial holding a little candle in a cup?  How about John Liu?  Don’t count on it.  Some victims are just more important than other victims, thanks to the ways hate crime laws have warped the entire legal and political landscape.

Hate crime activists have long been given the power to influence who’s in and who’s out as victims of hate.  Unsurprisingly, given the results, these are the same activists who machinated quietly for years to ensure that women don’t get called victims of hate, or officially counted as victims of hate, not even in states where “gender-bias” is on the books (including New York).  Their reason?  They don’t want the vast numbers of women who are assaulted “in part or in full” because they are female “overwhelming” the all-important hate crime statistics.

By design (a design kept firmly behind closed doors), the “gender bias” category is used almost exclusively in cases with victims who are transvestites or transgendered.  Biologically-born females don’t count.

These activists get away with denying that “hate means hate” when it’s directed at a woman largely because the N.O.W. and other feminist groups have long provided them political cover, despite occasional press releases like this one that contradict decades of tacit institutional support for reserving the “gender bias” category for non-females like transvestites.  Don’t expect the ladies of New York City N.O.W. to utter a peep about hate crime charges in the Mbarek Lafram case.  Heck, don’t expect them to even mention the case.

They know their place.

All three of the recent crimes being labeled “hate crimes” and widely denounced in New York City are minority-on-minority, though you wouldn’t know it from the speeches being made by politicians.

The media carefully avoided describing the Carroll Gardens gay bashers as Latino youth, but one gay publication on the scene, Lez Get Real, reports that the police are seeking Latino suspects.

That would make it an Hispanic-on-gay hate crime.  Only in reality, it does not, because hate crime activists have also made sure that the “Hispanic” category is only used to describe victims of hate crime, not perpetrators of hate crime.  This is part of the federal reporting rules, thanks to Eric Holder, who was instrumental in drafting them.  When so-called “hate” perpetrators are Hispanic, they are officially counted as “white.”  But when they are the victims, they aren’t “white” but “Hispanic.”

On cue, some early commenters on the Carroll Gardens crime laid blame for the attack on white “xenophobes.”  They don’t know how wrong (and, thanks to hate crime laws, right) they are: officially, the crime will be recorded as white-on-gay.  This useful fiction provides the press and activists with yet another tool to perpetuate the message that “hate” is synonymous with “young white males.”  In other settings, this is called “prejudice,” but within the hate crimes movement, it is called “justice.”

Predictably, such Balkanization and politicization of the law begets not tolerance but more Balkanization and politicization in society — and even internalized Balkanization among individual members of society who find one portion of their identities more politically salient than the other parts.   The Lez Get Real writer, for example, contemplates the problem of ethnic-minority on sexual-minority crime in her column, worried that one movement is trumping the other, but she doesn’t have a thing to say about the fact that she, as a woman, is in practice excluded from hate crime protections — that she would only “count” as a gay victim, not a female one.  People attach to the group that gives them the best status, and this perpetuates divisiveness and identity-mongering, precisely what the American legal system is not supposed to do.

Here is Lez Get Real‘s unintentionally ironic take-away from Carroll Gardens:

[T]he man was attacked last Tuesday morning at Luquer Street and Hamilton Avenue as he left a gay and lesbian party at a bar, about 12:50 a.m. on March 2. Police say, the attackers, called the victim a “faggot” and punched him numerous times in the face, knocking him down and causing him to suffer a gash on the back of his head . . .  The only description of the five men is that they are all Latino. Luckily, there is surveillance video taken outside the bar that will hopefully lead the police to the attackers identities.  City officials, including out lesbian Christine Quinn, gave statements that refer to the diversity of Carroll Gardens as a strength of the neighborhood.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said: “Something like this that still happens in the city of New York is terribly upsetting,” Quinn said. “We’re a city where diversity is our greatest strength.”  City Council Member Brad Lander said: “Carroll Gardens is a diverse community. We have no room for hate in our community. We embrace every race, religion and sexual orientation. We will not tolerate hate and violence in Carroll Gardens or anywhere else in New York City.”

However, it is possible that in this case, diversity has worked against the LBGT community. When you mix different backgrounds and cultures, you also mix together people who may not accept each other’s values and lifestyles. It’s sad but true, diversity is not a panacea to violence and intolerance. Diversity is the first step, but it is not the last. There should be community programs in place to educate people on the importance of tolerance, acceptance and peace. Let’s all hope for the victim’s speedy recovery and for increased tolerance towards the LGBT community.

Yes, that’s what we need, more “tolerance education,” which, in practice, highlights and exacerbates the very differences Lez worries about here — differences hate crime laws then actually institutionalize.  Wouldn’t simple equality before the law send a stronger message?

And as for Christine Quinn, here is what the female city council member had to say about the gender-hate attack on the nurse by Mbarek Lafram:

“                                                                “  Update, see below

Here is what Quinn had to say about the other 109 murders, 290 rapes, and 3500 felony assaults that have occurred in New York City since the first of the year:

“                                                                “

She did hold press conferences to speak out about the two other offenses being called “hate crimes, which include a recent spate of attacks by young black girls and boys on older Asian women living in public housing projects, and a brutal attack and robbery of a Mexican immigrant by a group of three black youths and a Hispanic youth.  What, precisely, triggered the hate crimes charge in the robbery and beating of a Hispanic by another Hispanic?  Reportedly, calling the victim “a [expletive] Mexican” and “a stupid Mexican” while beating him.

And if you believe that women aren’t showered with sexist expletives when they get raped, robbed, hassled on subways, threatened in parks, beaten and battered throughout New York City every single day, in crimes Christine Quinn et. al. won’t call hate, then I have a bridge to sell you that you can then cross in a futile attempt to escape the mounting insanity of identity politics justice.

Hate crime laws destroy the very notion of equal protection.  They’re antithetical to real justice.  Still, so long as these laws are on the books, there is no excuse for not applying them to men who attack women, no matter what Attorney General Eric Holder, city council member Christine Quinn, and others think.

Even if such crimes actually do end up “overwhelming” other crimes labeled “hate.”

Ironically, while the five youths who attacked the Asian women are charged with anti-Asian and not gender bias crimes, local news media, apparently having trouble illustrating the concept of “anti-Asian hate,” resorted to showing the traditional symbol of womanhood as the backdrop for their news stories:

But in this context, the image is officially incoherent, for, according to hate crime authorities and movement activists, the crimes had nothing to do with the gender of the victims.  Legally, too, under hate crimes law they have nothing to do with targeting women, though all the victims are female and doubtlessly chosen because they are female every bit as much as they were chosen because they are Asian.

In a world without hate crime laws, such distinctions would hold their proper place: apparent, appalling, but not relevant in a court of law.  With the existence of hate crime laws, however, the law itself institutionalizes untruths and partial truths, such as: The victims were chosen because they are Asian, but not because they are female.  Once you deem “prejudiced intent” to be all-important — but only some prejudices — then you are declaring to the world that those other prejudices aren’t important after all, regardless of the body count they inspire.

Some people, of course, would certainly agree.

~~~

Update#1: I received a message from Eunic Ortiz, in New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s Office:

I just wanted to reach out with a bit of helpful information, but first introduce myself. My name is Eunic, I work in Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s press office and handle press for her surrounding hate crimes and LGBT/Women’s issues along with a few other colleagues in my office. I noticed there was an error in “Why Isn’t Mbarek Lafrem Being Charged With a Hate Crime?”. The Speaker has long been out front on issues surrounding violence against women and ways to combat hate crimes . . . The Speaker put out statements, her district office worked closely with the precinct from the moment we found out about this incident and we held a press conference and flyered throughout Hell’s Kitchen to find the man who committed this vile crime. The perp was turned in just hours after we saturated the streets of Hell’s Kitchen with flyers that had a sketch and description of the suspect passed out by the Speaker, Council Members and staff.
The Speaker does not stand for nor has tolerance for anyone who commits such acts.
Again, if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.

Ms. Ortiz covers “hate crimes and LGBT/Women’s issues.”  Note that “LGBT issues” undoubtedly encompasses “hate crimes.”  The same certainly cannot be presumed about “Women’s issues” and “hate crime.”  Not that Ms. Ortiz says so, in so many words, or even one word: she says precisely nothing about it, though that is the blog post’s subject.

Interestingly, however, Ms. Ortiz does not dispute my characterization of Speaker Quinn as being among those who quietly support the practice of excluding women from being counted as victims of gender bias — so that, God forbid, they don’t start demanding equal treatment and end up cluttering the all-important hate crime statistics with their harassed and slandered and beaten and raped bodies.

As per page 10 in the hate crimes playbook, Ms. Ortiz carefully says absolutely nothing that would indicate her boss’ stand on counting or not counting women as hate crime victims — and specifically victims of gender bias.

What would happen if the public were to look too closely at the ways these laws are enforced, and deployed, and reserved for special interest groups?  Might the entire “hate crimes” movement be imperiled, just as it is imperiled to the point of collapse now in Canada, after just a little light was cast on practices there?  Silence is crucial in order to avoid uncomfortable debate.

For it really is ugly, the insistence that one murder is “worse” than another — that one slur word thrown with a punch does worlds of harm, while another slur is just, well, irrelevant.  “Dyke” uttered by a rapist is grounds for enhanced bias crime sentencing; “bitch” thrown at a heterosexual rape victim is not.  At what point does somebody point out that the parsing is appalling?

Hate crimes prosecutions are pure politics.  As special interest groups — illegal immigrants here, homeless people there — jostle for predominance, crimes against people from those groups are systematically declared “worse” in the pages of the New York Times and the press offices of identity politics-playing pols.

And that shrill claim “worse” is beginning, middle, and end of debate.  “Don’t let anybody tell you hate crimes aren’t worse: they are worse,” Attorney General Eric Holder is wont to holler whenever the subject of hate crimes comes up.  That’s all he says, whether he’s testifying in Congress or speaking to the public.  The hate crimes establishment uses shouting and silence, never reason or debate, to address any retrograde who dares to ask: Excuse me, is that murder really “worse” than this murder?

Silence is necessary to keep the hate crimes racket rolling.

Ms. Ortiz is absolutely right about one thing: she is right that I was wrong not to check the Speaker’s website before writing that Quinn didn’t comment on the Mbarek Lafram attack.  I usually check press releases, and I utterly failed to do so in this case: Christine Quinn did issue a press release condemning Lafram’s crime, and she also held a press conference.  But it is disingenuous to imply that holding a press conference is the same thing as demanding that the city treat the crime as the most serious type on the books: as a hate crime.  Ms. Quinn quite specifically avoided doing that, as she does in every case in which the bias is bias against women.

Of course, nobody is accusing the Speaker of standing for or tolerating violent crime.  I’m accusing her of playing politics by endorsing hate crimes investigations in certain cases and remaining silent on the identical hate evident in others.  I’m accusing her of using these laws, not for justice for every New Yorker, or to actually combat hate “wherever it happens,” but to advance the interests of an activist class that views these laws as their fiefdom.

So in the interest of starting up a real discussion about the selective uses of hate crime laws, I sent Ms. Ortiz a list of questions that actually address the subject of women and hate crime.  Here they are:

  • Does Speaker Quinn believe that the “gender bias” category of New York’s hate crimes law is being applied fairly regarding females, that is, in every case in which a female crime victim is targeted “in part or in full” because she is female, is subjected to sexist or misogynistic language in the course of an attack, or is attacked in ways designed to humiliate her as a woman?
  • Does Speaker Quinn agree that the “gender bias” category of hate crimes codes is currently being reserved for crimes committed against transvestites, transgendered people, and cross-dressers, not biologically-born women?
  • Does Speaker Quinn agree that Mbarek Lafrem should be charged with a hate crime?  If not, why not?
  • Does Speaker Quinn agree that the offenders charged with ethnic-bias hate crimes in the attacks on five Asian women should also be charged with gender-bias hate crimes for targeting victims who are all women?  If not, why not?
  • Does Speaker Quinn agree that every incident of gender-based subway and street harassment should be treated as potential hate crimes against women and investigated by the city’s hate crimes department?  If not, why not?
  • Does Speaker Quinn agree that every sexual assault of a woman should be treated as a gender bias hate crime and subject to hate crime sentencing enhancement?  If not, why not?

Hopefully, I’ll receive an answer soon.



Middle-Class Gangsters: Is Poverty a Good Excuse for Being a Gangster?

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The subject of middle-class youths joining gangs was raised in both the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the New York Times last weekend, but in very different ways.

The Times, predictably, describes such youths as “swept up” by forces beyond their control, like their poor counterparts, as if they have no responsibility for choosing to commit armed robbery:

“Raylin [Footman] comes from a good background,” said Mr. Footmon’s aunt Lisa Polite, 44, the correction officer.  [Footman was killed while participating in a violent armed robbery where the store owner opened fire after the robbers began pistol-whipping his employee] “My nephew didn’t have to rob anybody. His mother took care of him. I don’t know why he was there.”

Actually, nobody has to rob anybody.  People don’t commit crimes in order to pay community college tuition: they commit crimes because they choose to break the law.  “Mr. Footmon was a marketing student at Technical Career Institutes in Manhattan,” the Times irrelevantly tells us, going on to describe the academic accomplishments of fellow criminal Bernard Witherspoon in even more detail:

[A] 20-year-old man from East Harlem hoping to get a job with the city sat down at a computer in a building near City Hall and took civil service exam No. 8309. . . Witherspoon, had graduated two months earlier from Borough of Manhattan Community College with an associate’s degree in liberal arts. . . The passing score on the exam is 70. Mr. Witherspoon earned 82.5.  Nearly a year later, Mr. Witherspoon’s life has taken a dramatic turn: He sat last week inside the Manhattan Detention Complex, not as a guard but as a prisoner . . . “I’m not a naïve mom,” said Mr. Witherspoon’s mother . . . “He was really a good kid. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. He really was.”

“[H]ad taken a dramatic turn.”  As if Witherspoon just looked up from his studies one day and was standing in a store, beating an innocent man while his friend waved a gun.  “[W]rong place at the wrong time.”

~~~

The Times seems annoyed that the public was not appalled, as they were, when an innocent store owner defended himself and his employees with a gun (“a simple Western-style parable,” they sneer).  They set out to correct their wayward readers:

[T]hat reality coexists with another, less publicized narrative: That while the four men may have put their lives and the lives of others at risk, not all of them fit the stereotypical profile of violent offenders.

More whitewashing.  Armed robbery is not secondhand smoke.  Walking into a store, pulling out a gun, and threatening to kill people cannot be couched in the soft verbiage of “putting others at risk,” at least not by people writing honestly.  But the Times is not interested in honesty.  They are unwilling to examine their ruling preconception: that criminals are merely poor people expressing their feelings about the injustice they experience, that they are victims of society.  The fact that virtually all poor people do not engage in criminal activity to “express themselves” is irrelevant: law-abiding poor people are merely one group they misrepresent, in the interest of mythology.

Then, faced with a situation that even the Times cannot fit into this chosen narrative, they don’t question the narrative: they simply manufacture a new one.  These “sons and strivers,” as they label the armed thugs, are just a slightly different style of criminal-victims, led astray by authentic (“stereotypical”) criminal-victims, but no more culpable than they are, which means not culpable at all:

“No matter what people might say, they did not know [Footmon],” Umar Abdul-Jalil, an imam who is the Department of Correction’s top chaplain, told those gathered. “We knew him. He was a good son.”  Moments later he reached into his pocket and pulled out something small and held it up in the air, to applause. It was a pebble.  “Let those who do not sin cast the first stone,” Mr. Abdul-Jalil said.

In other words, even though a young man of some promise is dead as a consequence of his own action, that action — participating in a violent armed robbery — must not be seen as the cause of his death.  Footmon was not responsible — how could he be responsible?  Maintaining the illusion of “not responsible” is more important, even, than learning how to prevent the next dead young man.

~~~

The Times, likewise, learns nothing, even though they are forced by minimal adherence to journalistic standards to include another fact that says a lot:

Raylin Footmon had one previous arrest. Last June, he was charged with robbing a Queens gas station attendant; he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal facilitation, was given a conditional discharge and served no jail time.

Curiously, other papers reported that Footmon’s record was more extensive:

Raylin Footman, 21, who had prior arrests for robbery and weapons charges . . .

Either way, Footmon was not really a naif.  He had committed robbery before, probably many times before being caught, and (according to the Post) had been arrested on other weapons charges.  When he was caught victimizing a poor working person in Queens, there had been no consequences.  This is all about the courts: the police arrest them and the courts let them go.  Through the magic of non-prosecution and plea bargaining, Footmon’s Queens robbery became “criminal facilitation.”  The sentence was “no time” for a violent crime.  The other arrests, if they exist, which I’m sure they do, must have ended in non-prosecution as well.

The judge, the D.A., the newspaper, the prison chaplain: all of these people sheltered Footmon (or his post-mortem reputation) at the expense of people he had targeted and would target in the future.  The experiences of his victims — the gas station and the employee — were officially purged, disappeared in multiple travesties of justice benefiting an armed thug.

Of course, for Footmon himself, said benefit was both dubious and short-lived.  Had he served prison time for the gas station robbery, it is possible that he might have decided to lead a different kind of life when he was released.  That’s a moot point now.  But this point is indisputable: had he really been held responsible for that crime, he would be alive in jail right now, thinking about his future options, instead of dead and buried.

~~~

The Atlanta Journal Constitution article explores similar territory, but it is not a brief for excusing criminal conduct.  Quite the opposite.  Where the New York Times tries to downplay the New York robbing crew’s culpability on the grounds that two of its members also attended college, AJC reporters Bill Torpy and Steve Visser elicit reactions from observers who are shocked that Atlanta college graduates and other middle-class youths would choose a life of crime:

[Defense lawyer Mawuli] Davis said more middle-class kids were being drawn into gangs, which he partly blamed on the media-generated “thug culture.” “It is almost like a kid who is embarrassed by his privilege, trying to show he is as hard as those guys,” he said. . .

That point was driven home to Morehouse College history professor Augustine Konneh last March when he testified at a bond hearing for a star student charged with murder.

Derek Davis, 27, a former Morehouse student from an accomplished family, is accused of joining another family: Prosecutors say he participated in the Nine-Trey Bloods’ “discipline” of [Jesus] Cintron and is among those charged with his murder.

Konneh came to the hearing believing he knew his favored student well and that the charges would be dismissed. After all, Davis’ mother was a banker, his father was a counselor dealing with deviant behavior and his stepfather was a school board president in Texas.

After hearing the case against Davis, the professor no longer knew what to believe.

“When the prosecutor said there were other members of the gang at Atlanta University Center, that really scared me,” he said. “I left that place trembling.”

Did Derek Davis get bonded out?  Is he one of the 43 accused murderers walking Atlanta’s streets?

~~~

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Mayor and the Chief of Police are gearing up to introduce a new “gang intervention” initiative that will probably be just another expensive, “expert” driven pony show to cover up the fact that they are not really removing dangerous people from the streets.  Expect more of your tax dollars to go into the pockets of ministers and activists who have already made untold millions from your taxes already — all under the guise of “outreach, not incarceration.”

No wonder middle-class kids are joining gangs.  There are few consequences, beyond lots of attention, which kids crave, and the chance to have some exciting times and get some “bling.”  And the possibility of death, of course, but that’s hard for the adolescent mind to conceive.

Mission Creep: Burglars With Drug Problems. And Drug Courts With Burglar Problems. And Reporters With Truthiness Problems.

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Atlanta is not the only city where recidivists with long records of serious crime are being permitted to avoid jail sentences because they are also drug addicts. From the Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, New York:

In a plea deal with prosecutors, a Groton woman charged with taking part in burglaries in three counties has been sentenced to time served, five years probation and ordered to attend drug court for local crimes.

Judge John Rowley sentenced Julianna Salerno, 30, on Friday after she pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary in Tompkins County Court. Salerno admitted that she waited in a vehicle and “acted as a lookout” for Daniel Samson, 25, of Groton, when he broke in and stole items from a building at Treman State Park.

Salerno and Samson were charged with six counts of third-degree burglary, four counts of third-degree criminal mischief, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor. . .

They were also linked to Cortland County burglaries at the Greek Peak Ski Resort and Hope Lake, and Cayuga County burglaries at Salmon Creek Sports, Grisamore Farms, Badman’s Bushel Baskets Produce, Ron’s Corner Store, Triangle Restaurant and Longpoint State Park, according to law-enforcement officials. [Ithaca Journal, “Groton Woman Receives Sentence,” 4/27/09, fee for viewing]

More than a dozen burglaries, and this woman is being offered probation and community-based treatment, instead of conviction and incarceration, because she has a drug problem. This type of story, which plays out every day, severely challenges the conventional wisdom that our prisons are stuffed with otherwise innocent drug addicts serving long sentences for merely possessing drugs. Claims that prison populations have expanded because states are locking up mere addicts are not true either, as this chart on inmates from the Department of Justice clearly shows:

The problem, again, is lenient judges, not to mention a system so steeped in anti-incarceration ideology that the mere idea that someone might expect to go to prison for committing a dozen burglaries can no longer even be taken for granted. The judge who sentenced Salerno apparently felt the need to say out loud that there was some possibility that she might go to jail despite her addiction:

While acknowledging Salerno’s actions may have been a “drug-related crime spree,” Rowley told her that she’ll be facing incarceration if she doesn’t adhere to her probation terms and treatment programs.

In other words, Salerno was permitted to get away with at least a dozen crimes against others, but if she messes up in rehab, a crime against herself, then the state might decide get serious with her. Is it any wonder that people have a hard time believing that the justice system is there to protect the rights of anyone except criminals?

Drug courts were never supposed to be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card for people with long offense records. They were supposed to be used to divert first-time offenders whose primary offense was drug-related. But even the term “drug-related” has been twisted: now, apparently, any crime committed by a drug addict is “drug-related,” as the judge in the case above above uses the term.

Another example of abusing both the concept of drug courts and the concept of “drug-related” crime, from the Baltimore Sun — note the reporter’s empathy for the criminal, and his disturbing efforts to downplay his crimes:

Break-In Artist Finally Gets Into Drug Program

Peter Hermann | Baltimore Crime Beat

Michael D. Sydnor Jr. is finally getting the help that he needs.

This is no small accomplishment, as District Judge George M. Lipman made cle[a]r when he learned that the drug-addicted defendant suspected of fueling a plague of car break-ins in downtown Baltimore had been accepted into an inpatient treatment program.

“Hallelujah,” the judge said, a pronouncement not often heard from the bench, and certainly not from this jurist, who apologized several times for being too preachy during Friday morning’s docket at the Hargrove District Court in South Baltimore. He told one man, upset that being sent off to jail meant his car would be towed, “I don’t wipe people’s noses.”

No, the judge doesn’t wipe people’s noses, but that probably needs to be put into the record, just to be clear, because he otherwise plays head cheerleader for repeat felons, as does the reporter. The victims? Well, never mind them: insurance will cover their losses.

Here is reporter Peter Herman’s heart-wrenching account of the court’s efforts to “help” Syndor. Note the way Syndor’s crimes become “petty,” “nonviolent,” and things that “drive people crazy” in the reporter’s hands, as if he is writing about some kid bouncing a basketball against a curb, not a repeat felon breaking into people’s cars, actually committing violent crimes, and betraying an utterly frightening disregard for the law:

I first wrote about Sydnor back in February, painting the 40-year-old as the face of a problem that drives residents crazy and tourists out of the city. Day after day, police reports of car break-ins pile up from Federal Hill, around the Inner Harbor and to the far edges of Canton.

Cell phones used to be the prized catch, but now navigational devices, iPods and iPhones are all the rage, usually stolen by addicts seeking electronics to hawk for a quick buck to score a quick high, a never-ending cycle of car-to-needle-to-car that ends up costing us thousands upon thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, car window repairs and replacements for stolen items.

Sydnor is charged with breaking into two cars in January at a garage at 218 N. Charles St., and authorities tell me he’s suspected in other break-ins at garages at The Baltimore Sun and Mercy Medical Center on North Calvert Street. He has been in jail for the past three months awaiting word on a coveted, hard-to-get drug treatment slot, and his cases will be put on hold until he gets through the program.

Police have arrested Sydnor more than 100 times in the past 15 years and he’s been convicted dozens of times, mostly of seemingly petty, nonviolent offenses.

“Mostly of seemingly petty” offenses? What about the other ones? This isn’t journalism: it’s a mutual admiration club with three members: judge, reporter, and predator.

And these admiration clubs so frequently get out of hand, which is why I question one of the main tenets of drug court: that the judge and the offender form a relationship in which the judge takes a personal interest in the offender’s progress. Do we really need to be encouraging judges to be even more enamored of their “patriarchial/matriarchial” roles vis-a-vis criminals? Haven’t enough innocent victims of crime paid, with their lives, for these special moments of bonding, Hallelujahs, slap on the backs, and all?

Shouldn’t people like this be getting their drug and alcohol counseling in prison, as they’re serving time for their crimes?

Given how he reacted while sentencing Sydnor, the judge in this case might as well have been openly berating the public for its failure to leap to Sydnor’s aid by providing him with a bed, on demand, in a drug rehab center. Yet even a brief perusal of Sydnor’s incredibly long record indicates serial neglect on the part of Baltimore’s judiciary to protect the public from this man’s violence. In 1996, Sydnor was found guilty of assault (neither petty nor non-violent). Even though he refused to acknowledge his guilt and was found guilty, he was given only a suspended, one-year sentence — in other words, no time at all. He quickly ended up back in jail again, this time for second-degree assault, and received one year again, another example of judicial carelessness.

The record grows worse as time goes by. Drug dealing, narcotics dealing, felony theft. There are 147 separate court appearances in his record. Assault, second degree, in 2005, some 97 cases in? One month in jail. And this is what reporter Peter Hermann calls a non-violent, minor record? Have they lost their minds, or do they just despise the law-abiding public?

What do you call a 100+ time offender, appearing before Judge Lipman (who is, unsurprisingly, a former defense attorney)?

You call him a good candidate for drug court.

Breaking out the Bubbly: National Drug Court Month

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National Drug Court Month is just around the corner, so I am going to spend this week taking a closer look at some of the claims being made about the effectiveness of drug courts. By next week, the canned press releases will be seeping out all over the news in the form of stories lifted directly from the press kits provided by advocacy groups such as the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Rather astonishingly, the NADCP press kit asserts that “for twenty years, drug courts have saved millions of lives.” Millions? Really? In New York State, which has one of the larger state drug court systems, only 20,400 people have graduated from drug court since the program began, and nobody can say how many of those people stayed sober for more than a few years after they left the scrutiny of the courts. No man is an island, but really — millions of lives?

I do not oppose very limited use of drug (and alcohol) treatment sentencing diversion, but there is a big difference between diverting first-time offenders into treatment programs and the runaway drug court system that exists today. Drug courts have become dumping grounds for all sorts of criminals — including serial offenders and people charged with multiple crimes.

The system is broken when criminal defendants know to say they want help for a substance abuse problem in order to avoid a jail sentence for some other crime. Such was the case with Johnny Dennard, the career criminal in Atlanta assigned to a community-based drug treatment program upon his sixth burglary conviction.

Dennard is precisely the type of person legislators had in mind when they tried to reign in judicial leniency towards repeat offenders. But the fact that he was permitted to walk free from a burglary conviction because he claimed to have a substance abuse problem is only one of the problems with drug courts. Another problem is the quality of the “community-based treatment programs” assigned to treat offenders like Dennard.

There is, of course, a money trail to all of this. When a judge decides that someone who has broken into a dozen houses needs treatment, not incarceration, he or she picks from a list of programs that charge the state to rehabilitate offenders. Some are well-run. Others are scams, often connected to small non-profit organizations and church ministries. Public oversight of the placement choices made by judges is practically nil — another casualty of the secrecy of the courts.

Many people are made happy by this process. The judge has saved the state prison system the cost of incarcerating the offender; the criminal has gotten away without prison time and maybe even cleaned himself up — temporarily — enough to get some fat on the bones; the “service providers” have pocketed some serious cash, and the academicians can write their next study on the efficacy of drug offender programs. Troublingly, some of these studies rely on self-reporting by the very ministers/outreach workers who are profiting from the rehabilitation programs that are being studied.

Everybody is happy, except the people with unnatural attachments to, say, not having their cars stolen and their homes invaded by junkies on a post-intervention-program tear.

About twenty years ago, fresh out of college with a charmingly ineffectual degree in Renaissance Poetry, I found myself accidentally providing rehab for addicts at one such program. To say the least, I had zero qualifications as a counselor, but my boss was getting paid by the federal government to supervise me as a VISTA “community outreach” worker, and he was getting paid (six figures) by the Department of Human Resources to provide “AIDS outreach to under-served populations,” and he was getting paid to provide “rehabilitation services” and “job training” and who knows what else –- many were the people billed for his time. Billing for services, however, is not the same as providing them, which was the primary lesson I learned from my stint with this man (the other being that many “services” serve nobody but the service provider).

Nowadays, when I read about this or that “outreach” program, the image that forms in my head is of a big hand reaching out to grab a bundle of cash.

In order to pretend to fulfill one of the program goals for one of the grants my boss was receiving, I was sent over to a medical center in southwest Atlanta to educate recovering addicts on sexually transmitted diseases: your tax dollars at work. The addicts, many of them prostitutes, were sleepily polite. They were also still high. Some of them were so high, they nodded and nearly fell out of their folding chairs as I went through the pyramid of risky behaviors, which read something like a daily planner for their lives: 9:00 a.m., give unprotected oral sex in a pickup truck; 10:30 a.m., share a needle in the shooting gallery. And so on.

I didn’t belong there, and neither did they, though I learned some skills I later applied while teaching indefinite pronouns in early-morning composition classes. For example, always make sure students are seated close enough to each other that they don’t fall all the way to the ground when they pass out.

But even though I didn’t belong there, somebody (not me – I made $6,000 a year as a VISTA, or domestic Peace Corps worker) was being paid handsomely to “rehabilitate” these poor, crazy drug addicts. I am certain that some of them would have had a better chance at recovery (not to mention personal safety) if they had been sent off to prison, where they would have had a slightly harder time getting drugs and a much better chance of being forced to attend real 12-step programs and real detox programs run by real professionals, not by some community activist who wrote a grant.

To say that community-based programs vary wildly in quality doesn’t scratch at the surface of what I experienced in my year as a VISTA, or what I saw in the neighborhood where Johnny Dennard was released to another program, and where a third church-based rehab has been plying its trade in some very strange ways for over a decade now. More on that tomorrow.

Jean Valjean, Selling Crack to Pay Child Support?

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The economy may be declining, but the marketplace of improbable claims is doing just fine. In this story from the New York Times, a neighborhood advocate in Columbia, South Carolina, claims that the bad economy is driving men to sell drugs in order to meet their child support obligations:

“Why can’t we get a step up in patrol?” asked Mary Myers, president of the tenant association at the Gable Oaks apartment complex in the northern part of the city, condemning what she says is a marked increase in drug dealing and gang-related violence in recent weeks.

“It’s going to get worse,” Ms. Myers said. “You’ve got guys who have kids, who are on the hook for child support. If selling drugs is the only way they can get the money, they’re going to do it.”

Hmmm, is this even a little bit true? Did the reporter identify even one person in all of South Carolina who used to have some legitimate job but has turned to the crack trade to make child support payments on time? Or is this just another example of the shockingly sloppy, ideology-driven naivety that defines Times reporting on crime?

People have been permanently banished from journalism for less than this. But when it comes to justifying the actions of criminals, the Times is so shameless that a sort of glazed-eyed credulity takes over their stories.

Nobody is entering the drug trade in order to make child support payments. Street dealers sell drugs in order to sustain their lifestyles, or at least those parts of their lifestyles not entirely subsidized by taxpayers. We pay the rent, utilities, food and medical care for their female relatives, children and girlfriends — and they crash with relatives or women they hook up with, on our dime, a lifestyle amply documented in Times reporter Jason DeParle’s very well-researched book, American Dream. We give them free utilities and rent, fistfuls of free bus tokens, pocketfuls of W.I.C. vouchers and food stamp credit cards — that often get traded for cash on the black market. So long as drug dealers don’t marry any of the women they live with, and so long as those women become single mothers, we pay the bills.

When drug dealers get sick, they go to the emergency room, and we pay for their medical care. When they go to prison, we pay for everything. When they have to appear in court, we pay for their lawyers, for the court costs, for our lawyers, for the judge, for the policeman who brought them in.

What do they pay for? Drugs. Stupid stuff. Electronics, cars, pricey clothes. That is the domestic economy of the street drug trade, not getting laid off from Thom McAn and hitting the streets so you don’t fail to make your next child support payment on time.

In fact, there has been absolutely no reduction in aid for people dependent on the government since the economic crisis began. People who didn’t pay to feed their own kids in the first place aren’t stealing televisions or selling drugs to feed them now.

In fairness, the Times reporter does float a few believable thoughts about the effect of the economy on crime control:

With the punishing economic downturn, police officers in many American cities are confronting what they describe as a surge in property crime. At the same time, many are being forced to improvise and make do with less: The recession is shrinking the finances of local governments, limiting the resources of police departments.

Fewer cops, furloughed prosecutors, and shuttered courtrooms equals more crime. And it’s entirely believable that some types of economic crime would increase as ordinarily employed people lose their jobs:

“When people get desperate, they’re going to feed their family,” said Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County, whose jurisdiction includes parts of Columbia and its suburbs.

Sheriff Lott has noticed a pronounced increase in insurance fraud and credit card scams in recent months. “When you catch people and ask them why they did it, they’ll say: ‘I’m desperate. I can’t pay my bills.’ ”

Insurance fraud and credit card scams, I can believe. Selling crack to buy diapers (that your girlfriend is already getting free through W.I.C.)? Bunk.

Here is the real reason we can’t control crime, buried, oddly, in the article’s first paragraphs, before the familiar tune from Les Misérables begins to tinkle:

Sgt. E. M. Marsh peers into the darkness, through the rain-speckled windshield of his Chevy Impala police cruiser, and recognizes the sinewy man in the black stocking cap.

“I locked this guy up already,” he says, as his headlights flood the parking lot of an apartment complex north of downtown. “A year ago, he was breaking into every house in this neighborhood, stealing laptops, DVD players.”

Now he is back out in the world.

We can’t control crime because somebody can get caught “breaking into every house in the neighborhood” and still be out of jail within weeks, or months. Now why doesn’t the Times ever write about that?