Alex Jones and Eric Holder Sing the Same Cynical Song About Police Brutality — And Then Cops Die

no comments

 Alex Jones (the politically elastic InfoWars host) and Attorney General Eric Holder (no introduction needed) both routinely rally their troops by crying wolf about police brutality.  Jones encourages his libertarian followers to harass police and to view them as stormtroopers; Holder uses the power of the Executive Branch to warp criminal justice via the race card, imposing punitive oversight over state and local police on the grounds of “racial discrimination,” and encouraging minority populations to view police as racist persecutors.

So when police get assassinated by violent black power thugs or drug-addled white power wannabes, as happened to Officers Beck and Soldo in Las Vegas this week, Eric Holder and Alex Jones both deserve censure.  Did they put the guns in the assassins’ hands?  No.  But they encourage such events, and then they exploit them for cheap political gain while police attend their colleagues’ funerals then put themselves on the line of fire again.

officer-alyn-beck-1

  Officer Alyn Beck

officer-igor-soldo

Officer Igor Soldo

Of course, Eric Holder is the most powerful person in law enforcement in America while Alex Jones is just a radio talk show host.  But both of them are tearing away at the social fabric relating to law enforcement in similar ways.

It is perverse that we have, in Eric Holder, an Attorney General who has repeatedly sided with violent cop-killers and against police.  Throughout Holder’s private and public career, he has taken extreme positions against police safety, agitated for the release of cop-killers and terrorists, and even secured the release of terrorist cop killers via Bill Clinton’s presidential pardons.  Holder does not oppose the spilling of police blood so long as the cop killer is a leftist; he only cares when he can score political points by accusing anyone and everyone on the right for cop killings committed by fringe, allegedly right-wing types.

Holder also has the power to define the system’s response to crimes, and he is largely responsible (along with Elena Kagan and Bill Clinton back in 1997) for the creation of hate crime laws that make the murders of some types of people more important than the murders of other types of people.

Thanks to Eric Holder, the murders of Las Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck will not be counted as hate crimes because the Department of Justice doesn’t count police as victims of hate.  If they did — if they counted as hate crime not only the killings but the assaults, attempted murders, verbal abuse, and other hatred directed generally at police, then police would rank among the most vulnerable hate crime victims in America.

But Holder would never let that stand.

Alex Jones is just a radio talk show host, but he uses his bully pulpit to dehumanize police in other ways: he accuses them of crimes against humanity and of taking part in ornate deceptions of the public through “false flag” events.  Though Jones claims that he is really blaming the government and not ordinary police officers for “false flags,” that claim is a lie: he spews rage about police “stormtroopers,” and his websites are festooned with images of cops purportedly responsible for beating and torturing civilians.

Jones tells his listeners that police are guilty of perpetrating atrocities against the American public: he says they are the ones who helped the U.S. government cover-up its role in the terrorist attacks that killed thousands on 9/11.  He says they are the ones who murdered the schoolchildren in Sandy Hook, if there were any children murdered at all.  He says the police set off the bombs at the Boston marathon, if there were bombs at all and that police were the killers in the Aurora movie theater massacre, if there was a massacre at all.  Jones really says these things: every time he calls these massacres “false flag” events what he is saying is that either people didn’t really die or the police are the ones who killed them at the behest of our government.

As I wrote in 2010:

[P]olice everywhere are paying the price for the anti-cop rhetoric surfacing in political speech and political activism across the political spectrum these days.  This anti-cop drumbeat is always the same, whether it comes from the White House or a fringe anti-government website, from libertarian hysterics on the right or criminal rights activists on the left.

In 2009, four Seattle Police were assassinated in cold blood by Maurice Clemmons as they sat in a restaurant in a town near Seattle.  Clemmons, a violent career criminal and rapist, had told numerous people of his plans to assassinate police, and after the killings he became a cause celebré among anti-cop leftist activists in Seattle and California.  Before the killings, he had been granted leniency by half a dozen judges and also by then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who has refused to apologize for his role in freeing Clemmons, who went on to rape, brutalize and murder dozens of victims in several states, including these fallen heroes.

fallen

Seattle Police Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold,                                                                                 Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards, murdered by Maurice Clemmons in 2009.

Also in 2009, serial rapist Lovelle Mixon became a left-wing counterculture hero for gunning down four police officers in Oakland, California.  Occupy protesters and activists from Oakland’s deeply anti-cop culture celebrated Mixon after the murders, just as they have long celebrated Mumia Abu Jamal, another cold-blooded cop killer.

4up

Sergeants Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai, Mark Dunakin, and Officer John Hege                                                                   murdered in Oakland in March, 2009 by Lovelle Mixon

Also in 2009, Richard Poplowski, a white supremacist, murdered three police officers and severely wounded two others during a domestic violence call to his mother’s home.  Killed by Poplowski were Officers Paul Sciullo, Eric Kelly, and Stephen Mayhle.

Unknown-1

Officer Paul Sciullo

Unknown

Officer Stephen Mayle

19890Officer Eric Kelly

In each of these cases and also in the Las Vegas killings yesterday, men with long histories of violence, mental instability, race hatred, substance abuse, and animosity towards law enforcement ambushed or assassinated police officers.  But you would not know the similarities in these cases by reading your daily newspaper or even looking up official statistics about police killers: newspapers, taking their cues from leftist organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and Eric Holder’s Justice Department, identify only the right-wing killers as “political” killers of police.

Alex Jones is half-right when he says that he is being singled out for blame for the Las Vegas killings because he is a conservative: he is right that conservative anti-cop agitators get singled out while left-wing agitators don’t get singled out for identical behavior.  But the solution isn’t to give Jones a pass: the solution is to blame left-wingers who incite anti-police violence as well.

Left-wing political cop killers like Mumia Abu Jamal and the fugitive serial cop assassin Assata Shakur are celebrated and defended by the New York Times and by professors at our most prestigious universities.  They are mooned over by ethical buffoons like Terry Gross of NPR.  They are given radio shows on the taxpayer’s dime on NPR to spew their race hatred and hatred of police.  NPR and Terry Gross and the New York Times and all the Harvard professors agitating for Mumia and sheltering Assata Shakur deserve the same sort of blame that Alex Jones gets.

That would be fair.  Also fair: investigating Eric Holder for bias and fraud whenever he and his favorite propagandists at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League create deceptive “statistics” and “reports” that are no more than bombastic political lying designed to blame the Tea Party for violent acts committed by others.

In addition to perverting the mission of the Justice Department by playing partisan politics, Holder, the SPLC, the ADL and the mainstream media are all missing (or actively suppressing) the real story of a dangerous anti-police movement that gains its power not from the Tea Party (a law-abiding, peaceful movement which has been much maligned) but from an unholy alliance of druggy leftist anarchists, druggy right-wing anarchists, and druggy individuals with no discernible politics who nonetheless feed off the paranoia of sites such as InfoWars on the far right, Critical Resistance on the far left, and Cop-Watch on the fringes of both fringes.

As soon as news of the police murders in Las Vegas broke, Alex Jones went on the air and predictably declared the event a “false flag” designed by the government to discredit . . . Alex Jones.  The SPLC’s Mark Potok hit the news circuit with his own false flag, trying to tar the Tea Party with the actions of the Vegas killers despite the fact that killers Jerad and Amanda Miller were kicked out of the only patriot citizen event (at the Cliven Bundy ranch) they were known to have attended (and even the Bundy ranch standoff was not widely endorsed by Tea Party activists).    CNN shamelessly regurgitated Mark Potok’s line, reporting that the Millers had been seen at the Bundy Ranch but leaving out the fact that the Bundy family made them leave.  On his radio show, Alex Jones shamelessly ranted for hours about how he was the real victim of the Vegas shootings.  In coming weeks, Eric Holder will doubtlessly use the shootings to ramp up the Department of Justice’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups and military veterans (though the Millers were neither veterans nor members of any known Tea Party).

Unknown

Not the Tea Party

To Eric Holder, cop killers present opportunities for cold-blooded political calculation; to InfoWars’ Alex Jones, they represent an opportunity to grow audience share by egging on viewers to believe they are being persecuted by a”military-industrial police state.”  As I wrote in 2011, it takes a village to kill a cop.  The village invented by these two ideologues is a very ugly place to be.

images images-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Murdered in 2011: How They Served

7 comments

Hat Tip to Lou . . .

2011 began with the murder of Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper in Ohio.  January 1, Deputy Hopper was shot while photographing a crime scene.  She left behind a husband and four children.  Another officer was shot but survived.

According to her boss, Sheriff Gene Kelly,

Hopper once went six straight years without calling in sick and often put on charity events for the Special Olympics and other causes . . . Her personnel file is filled with accolades and commendations and always service before self.

By the end of January, four police officers were murdered in Florida during a week in which at least fifteen officers were shot:

[1/24/2011] In just 24 hours, at least 11 officers were shot. The shootings included Sunday attacks at traffic stops in Indiana and Oregon, a Detroit police station shooting that wounded four officers, and a shootout at a Port Orchard, Wash., Wal-Mart that injured two deputies. On Monday morning, two officers were shot dead and a U.S. Marshal was wounded by a gunman in St. Petersburg, Fla.  On Thursday, two Miami-Dade, Fla., detectives were killed by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest.

Sgt. Thomas Batinger, St. Petersburg, Florida “just wanted to serve”

Two years ago, Sgt. Baitinger served as mentor for a student at Gibbs High School. Catherine Smith, the former family and community liaison at Gibbs, said he stood out among the 100 or so mentors who volunteer each year. “Some police officers, you know, seem to have like a hard exterior,” Smith said. “This man was just so nice.”  When the sergeant showed up, usually carrying a McDonald’s bag, the student’s face just glowed. “He loved him,” she said. “When that young man came down and saw the sergeant, oh my goodness, it was like he saw his father.”  His hobbies were golf and poker.

Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, St. Petersburg, Florida “one of the best people I ever met”

He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, 40, and his children: Caleb, 12; Haylie, 8; and Calen, 5.  He was on his way home after his night shift with his police dog Ace when he responded to a call for backup . . . It was like him to go. Just flip through his personnel file down at the police station. . . The night before he died, Yaslowitz helped his neighbor haul new furniture inside.  “He was a great guy, I’ll tell you,” said [Herbert] Kane, 77. “A great father, too, and a great husband. I never heard him even argue, ever. They were a great family and I’m just sick about it.”

Detective Roger Castillo, Miami-Dade, Florida “passionate about his job”

To the residents of his well-kept Davie street, fallen Miami-Dade police Detective Roger Castillo was the type of neighbor you wanted to have around. He was the dad you’d see on the front lawn, tossing around a football with his boys. The one who brightened up the cul-de-sac with Christmas lights and inflatables. A helping hand if you were struggling with a fix-it job. “If I’m fixing something, if he passes by, he will ask if I need help, do I need to borrow tools?” said Andre Jean-Louis, a real estate broker . . . On Thursday, as the tragedy unfolded in Liberty City, Castillo’s relatives and neighbors monitored the news and hoped he was safe. Slowly, through phone calls and text messages and hesitant knocks on the door, they learned that their friend was gone. “They stole him,” neighbor Lisa Tuffy said. “He made this world a better place.”

Detective Amanda Haworth, Miami-Dade, Florida “just a beautiful person”

Twenty-three years after she joined the Miami-Dade Police Department, Amanda Lynn Haworth, 44, was fatally wounded, along with another detective — both of them members of an elite team that served arrest warrants on violent suspects. Haworth, a single mother and police detective, loved her job, but was most devoted to her 13-year-old son, her stepmother said. “She took him everywhere she went,” said Diane Haworth, 66. She last spoke with her stepdaughter on Monday, she recalled. “She was just so sweet, so very sweet,” her stepmother said . . . she often played baseball with son, Austin, in their backyard, neighbors said. “Her son and her work were everything to her,” said neighbor Bernardo Gonazalez. She was a big fan of the Weston Red Hawks — the team her son played for — and attended all of his games. “She was just a beautiful, beautiful person,” Gonazalez said.

Why were Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo killed?  Because the justice system failed them.  Not once, but a dozen times.  Because every previous time police risked their lives capturing the thug who murdered them, some lazy judge or overwhelmed prosecutor let him go:

[Johnny] Simms, 22, had been in trouble since he was a teen. Officers first arrested him at 14, for larceny. In all, Simms was arrested 11 times before he was an adult on charges including burglary and auto theft, state records show. He received house arrest in some cases, while others were dropped. His tattoos mirrored his lifestyle: a gun, flames, and the words “savage” and “10-20 Life.” In October 2005 and December 2005, Simms was arrested for separate armed robberies, one with a pistol and the second with a rifle. Prosecutors did not file charges in either case. In 2007, Simms — who also goes by “Sims” — went to state prison for a different 2005 armed robbery and auto theft. He was released in February 2009 on probation. Simms violated his probation when he was again arrested in June 2010, this time for robbery with a deadly weapon and selling cocaine. He pleaded guilty and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez sentenced him to one year in prison plus five years’ probation.But Simms served only one month because he had earned credit for time served earlier in a Miami-Dade jail. He was released in September 2010 on five years of court-mandated “administrative probation,” a low-level form of supervision that does not require regular check-ins with authorities. Simms hadn’t been out a month before he was again implicated in a violent act. According to Miami homicide detectives, Simms shot and killed Cornelious Larry, 27, on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of an Overtown apartment complex, 1535 NW First Pl. Miami police say Simms shot Larry to death after the man began yelling and cursing at Simms’ sister. Simms fled on a bicycle. Detectives searched for him for 12 days before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward signed an arrest warrant. The charges: first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Simms had been on the lam since.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Shoot, rob, burglar, shoot, beat: get off free.  Our highest law enforcement officials in the Department of Justice grandstand about “alternatives to incarceration” and “emptying the prisons.”  Our sensitive academics whine endlessly about America the police state as if thugs like Johnny Simms aren’t getting away with murder after murder, abetted by lousy criminal fetishists festering in courtrooms until good cops end up in caskets.

February

Detective John Falcone

Detective John Falcone, Poughkeepsie, New York.  Wrestled a three-year old from a man repeatedly charged with domestic violence who had hunted down her mother and killed her moments earlier.  Thanks to Detective Falcone’s sacrifice, the infant survived.

Detective Falcone is survived by his parents.

March

Alain Schaberger

Alain Schaberger’s life began in Vietnam and ended when Officer Schaberger responded to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn, where a repeat felon with 28 prior arrests, mostly for robbery and burglary, pushed the young man over a railing to his death.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to Schaberger as a “quiet, gentle soul” who dedicated his life to service.  “Alain knew a lot about grief,” Bloomberg said of the former Naval officer who joined the NYPD in July 2001. “One of his first assignments as a police officer while he was still in the academy in the days after 9/11 was to go to checkpoints around Ground Zero and help the families who came there to cope with their horrific losses. He brought a lot of comfort to those people.”  Addressing Schaberger’s family, including fiancée Shoshone Peguese, Bloomberg said, “I think he would tell you to remember not the last tragic moment of his life, but the many wonderful moments that came before it.”

 

Schaberger was a 10-year NYPD veteran who was born in Vietnam. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old with his father – an Army vet who worked as a civilian guard at the U.S. Embassy when Saigon fell in 1975 – and Vietnamese mother.  Raised in East Islip, L.I., Schaberger grew up on tidy block of single-family homes and played basketball at the local public school. . . Schaberger often returned to East Islip to visit with his parents and sister, Tracey, a nurse with two kids, neighbors said.  “It’s tragic. It’s unbelievable,” said neighbor Mitchell Greif. “He was a great guy from a good family. He was always pleasant and polite. His parents are devastated.” Schaberger’s mother – a hairdresser – and father were too distraught to speak with reporters.  “It’s a shame,” said Bill Conley, 59, an electrician who has lived next-door to the Schaberger family for 25 years. “It’s always the good ones that die young.”

April

Jonathan Schmidt

Officer Jonathan Schmidt

A policeman who died in the line of fire trying to save his sergeant’s life has been labelled a hero.  Officer Jonathan Schmidt, from Trumann, Arkansas, shoved his superior out of harms way when a gunman unexpectedly opened fire during a routine arrest.  He was able to return fire on Jerry Lard despite the fact he was shot in the neck and bleeding. The father-of-three then begged for his life. . . Schmidt worked as a night patrolman so he could spend days with his three children.  He had a 12-year-old daughter and sons aged ten and 18 months. Schmidt recently received a commendation for saving an infant’s life by giving the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Trumann School District Superintendent, Joe Waleszonia said: ‘He wanted to clean up this community. He wanted it to be as safe for the community as it could be.

May

Kenneth Gary Vann

Sergeant Vann was assassinated while stopped at a red light: his patrol car was struck multiple times.  A week later, the killer was caught by police.  He had randomly chosen to kill officer Vann.

Sergeant Kenneth Gary Vann

[During the investigation] Detective Louis Antu, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the mood was somber but dedicated at the command post Sunday. Many officers, including Antu and the sheriff, were out of town for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, when they were called back to Bexar County.  “We’re not robots; we’re all taking time to reflect,” said Antu, who joined the Sheriff’s Office with Vann. “But it was a terrible killing, and everybody wants answers. We’re working for the family, to bring them justice.”  Antu said the two men were “kids” when they joined the Sheriff’s Office. Vann was an excellent officer who loved his job and family, Antu said.  Vann was married to sheriff’s Sgt. Yvonne Vann and leaves behind two sons, ages 19 and 15, and a daughter, 25, from a previous marriage, officials said.  Ortiz was at his hunting lease in Rocksprings when he heard about Vann’s death.  “We’re real saddened by the randomness of this incident; there’s really no rhyme or reason,” Ortiz said. “It’s very difficult because we don’t have anything new, but we’re not going to rest until we find the guy who did it.”

June

Kurt Wyman, daughter born the day of his murder.

Deputy Sheriff Kurt Wyman

Whitestown, NY — Fresh out of high school in 2005, Kurt Wyman joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Activated in 2008, he served seven months in Iraq and won the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.  Wyman also became an Oneida County sheriff’s deputy in 2007. He rejoined the sheriff’s office when he returned from overseas. In 2010, he was rookie of the year. He twice was awarded the Sheriff’s Grand Cordon Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a detail of officers.  “His commitment not only to his country but to his county is second to none,” Sheriff Robert Maciol said.  Wyman demonstrated his commitment to the ultimate degree Tuesday. The deputy, 24, was hit by a shotgun blast as he and two other officers tried to take an armed man into custody after a six-hour standoff in the rural town of Augusta. He died after being rushed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

Wyman left behind his pregnant wife, Lauren, their 18-month-old son, his parents and a sister.

His wife gave birth after hearing of Wyman’s murder.  That’s June.

July

Officer Brent Long

Officer Long and his canine partner Shadow were shot while serving a felony warrant.

Shadow survived.

A fallen police officer’s K-9 partner is now being honored. Fallen Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long’s family cut the ribbon on Shadow’s Trail in Terre Haute. Shadow served alongside Officer Long on the force. The trail is beside Brent Long Memorial Way. It’s part of the expansion of the city’s trails and a way to honor the police dog’s service. “They did a good job for our department and to have Brent’s memorial way here and Shadow’s Trail right next to Brent, they’re partners even after Brent’s gone,” Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse said.

August

Jeremy Henwood, San Diego

Jeremy Henwood, a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves and police officer for the San Diego Police Department, was shot and killed, Aug. 7. He had walked into a fast food restaurant to buy something to eat and also buy a meal for a 10-year-old boy who happened to cross his path. Moments later, while sitting in his patrol car, a man drove up beside him and fired the fatal shot. Henwood was 36.

Officer Henwood, moments before he was shot

Henwood served as an enlisted infantryman before going on to Officer Candidate School to receive his commission with the Marine reserves. The Canadian-born hero became a United States citizen in order to receive his commission with the Marines.  He deployed twice to Iraq, and after his third deployment – this time to Afghanistan as a company commander with Combat Logistics Battalion 2 – Henwood returned to the U.S. in February to continue serving as a police officer with the SDPD.  During the memorial ceremony, Henwood was posthumously promoted to the rank of major.

September

Lt. Joseph Sczcerba

18-year veteran New Castle, Delaware Lt. Joseph Sczcerba was stabbed to death while attempting to subdue a rampaging offender.  Lt. Sczcerba and his wife performed volunteer work at a variety of places.  His service to the community was memorialized by seventy local culinary school students who baked 10,000 cookies in his honor and delivered them to police officers.  6,000 people attended his funeral.

October

Derek Kotecki: His loyal canine wouldn’t leave his side after he was shot.  He wanted a “noisy” funeral.

Patrolman Kotecki and K9 Benny
Lower Burrell, PA, Patrolman Derek Kotecki was shot and killed while investigating reports of a wanted man at a local fast food restaurant. The man was wanted for a shooting ten days earlier and for threatening police officers during the previous week.  As Patrolman Kotecki and his canine, Benny, approached, the man suddenly opened fire. Patrolman Kotecki suffered a fatal wound. The subject then fled but was approached by other officers as he attempted to climb a fence behind the restaurant. He was killed during an exchange of shots with the responding officers.  K9 Benny was uninjured but had to be muzzled after refusing to leave Patrolman Kotecki’s side.
Patrolman Kotecki had served with the Lower Burrell Police Department for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Officer Thomas Babinsack, one of five people to eulogize Kotecki, said they had talked about the aftermath of such a situation while driving to a memorial service in April 2009 for three Pittsburgh officers gunned down in a SWAT siege.  They discussed whether it was respectful to use their flashing lights and sirens in a funeral procession, and Babinsack said he’s since learned the protocol is to use lights but no sirens — which police vehicles observed on their way to Kotecki’s funeral. But Babinsack said Kotecki wanted something else.  “Tom, I want you to promise me something: If something ever happens to me, I want everybody to know I was here,” Babinsack remembered Kotecki saying. “I want the fire trucks and police and ambulances going with lights on and sirens.”  “He wanted a parade and he’s going to get one,” Babinsack said from the pulpit of the noisy funeral procession that was to follow.

 

November

James L. Capoot: a life lived very well.

Officer James Lowell Capoot, 45, of the Vallejo Police Department was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 17, 2011 in Vallejo, Calif. A loving and devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle, officer, coach, neighbor and friend, Jim lived a full and extraordinary life.  Born Nov. 2, 1966 in Little Rock, Ark., Jim attended local schools in Little Rock and graduated from John L. McClellan High School in 1985, where he was a distance runner on the cross country and track teams. Jim enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 18 and was stationed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, where he met the love of his life, Jennifer Eileen DeCarlo. The two were married at St. Basil’s Catholic Church in Vallejo on Aug. 29, 1987.  Jim left the Marines in 1989 but remained on Active Reserve through 1993. In 1990, he joined the California Highway Patrol and began his career as a peace officer. And, in 1993, he joined the Vallejo Police Department.  For 19 years, Jim distinguished himself as a Vallejo police officer while endearing himself to the Vallejo community. He served as a motorcycle officer, motorcycle instructor, driving instructor and SWAT officer. He received two Vallejo PD Medals of Courage, one Life-Saving Medal and many other department commendations. And, in 2000, Jim received the Officer of the Year Award.  Jim coached the Vallejo High School varsity girls basketball team and in his second year led the Apaches to a 25-7 record and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship. Jim left the Apache bench in March 2011 to bring into his home the two children of close friends who were killed in a motorcycle accident in January.

December 20

John David Dryer, tended horses, his son.  Shot during a routine traffic stop.

John David Dryer found his calling as a teenager when he nursed to health a horse that had become entangled in barbed wire.  He turned his grades around, earned his veterinary science degree from Ohio State University, opened his own successful practice — and then became a police officer. . . . At home, Officer Dryer was a doting father to his autistic son, Benjamin. In an interview with the Post-Gazette in 2000 about training bloodhounds, he said his son gave him motivation.  “My son Ben, who is 5, was very sick when he was born. In fact, a couple of times I thought I was going to lose him,” he said. “I think this is why I want to search for missing people, particularly children.”

December 21

Another Tampa Bay Cop in this bloody year: Arnulfo Crispin.

Since Crispin was shot the night of Dec. 18, [Carlos] Cortes and Officer Julio Ruiz have been by his family’s side, offering any assistance they could.  Both officers learned more about their friend and why he always had a big smile on his face.  “His family has been so humble and so giving,” Ruiz said. “They put people and family before themselves.” Cortes agreed.  “It’s a large family and they don’t have that much,” he said. “At one point, they asked my wife and I to come and eat with them. They didn’t have a lot of food, but they made sure we had something to eat. They don’t have much, but what they do have they will give to others.”  That mentality explained a lot about the officer they knew.

Crispin’s parents

Before leaving the family’s house Tuesday night, the officers gave the large family their phone numbers and promised to keep in touch.  Although Crispin can’t be replaced, Ruiz said, the Crispin family has “gained 235 brothers and sisters at the Lakeland Police Department.”

December 29  

Chicago Officer Clifton Lewis: “he took me in as his child”

The off-duty Chicago police officer slain in a West Side convenience store Thursday night had just gotten engaged on Christmas Day, family friends say.  Clifton Lewis, 41, an eight-year veteran assigned to the Austin District’s tactical team, was pronounced dead Thursday at Stroger Hospital, officials said. Two men had walked into the M & M Quick Foods about 8:30 p.m. at 1201 N. Austin Blvd. in the Austin neighborhood, shot the officer, and then grabbed his gun and star and fled, sources said. . . . Lewis . .  has received 81 commendations for his police work, had proposed to his girlfriend, Tamara Tucker, only after asking her 18-year-old son, Keyonta Thomas, for permission. On Christmas morning, Lewis pulled her son aside and asked for her “hand in marriage,” said Thomas, 18.  “I am just at a loss for words,” said Thomas, who said he saw Lewis as a father.  “He was just as a father (to me)… He took me in as his child.”

Addendum: Special Agent John Capano of the ATF was killed yesterday as I was writing this.  He was on his way to pick up prescriptions for his ill, 81-year old father when he encountered an armed robbery at the pharmacy.

James Capano had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve at his son’s house.  The family is grieving the death of James Capano’s wife of 57 years, Helen Capano, mother of John Capano. She died of cancer on Dec. 18.  James Capano said his son had volunteered to share his explosives expertise with military personnel in Iraq.  “He knew what he was doing, and he was the best one they had,” James Capano proudly said.  A tearful Rep. Peter Kingconsoled the elder Capano on the blood-stained sidewalk outside the pharmacy New Year’s morning.  King’s wife was slain agent’s fourth grade teacher.  “I’ve known John Capano for years,” King said, recalling giving Capano an award for bravery during a four-month tour of Iraq and Afghanistan.  “He had a unique personality, a great personality,” King said. “Everybody loved him.”

James Capano, Agent Capano’s father.  His wife, Agent Capano’s mother, died two weeks ago

Capano was the last officer killed in the line of duty in 2011, bringing the total to 163, 66 of which were gun killings.  Thousands of other police were shot or attacked but survived.
Assassination-style killings — where assailants randomly shoot an officer or lie in wait for unsuspecting targets, are on the rise.  Is cultural anger directed at police — by idiotic Occupy protesters, among others — contributing to an atmosphere in which police are targets?  I think the vast majority of responsibility for the presence of dangerous offenders on our streets lies with the courts and civil rights activists who have succeeded in creating a consequence-free world for criminals.  But every little bit of scapegoating counts.  In 2012, it’s time to start speaking up for cops.

 

How to Tell A Lie: NPR Says Rioters Just “Dancing” on Police Cars

no comments

This is dancing:

This is not dancing.  This is thugs destroying public property:

The difference may be apparent to ordinary people, but not to certain publicly funded journalists.  Here is how NPR‘s Mark Memmott describes the scene above:

“some witnesses reported others dancing on top of police cruisers taunting them.”

Using the word “dancing” to describe kicking out the windows of police cars is blisteringly dishonest.  In other words, it is par for the course for NPR’s coverage of anything involving police.  Los Angelenos ought to be thanking the police for risking their necks to control and disperse these anti-social morons.  But instead, what we get from NPR is blunt lying.  Memmott acknowledges that “people threw bottles and vandalized cars,” but he calls destroying police vehicles “dancing” and doesn’t tell us who, precisely, were having bottles thrown at them.

In the alternative universe of NPR, police just aren’t as human as other people.  So bottles get “thrown” instead of “thrown at police,” and stomping up and down on police vehicles is called dancing.

The picture above is from the British Daily Mail Online.  Increasingly, I find I have to look to British tabloids to get pictures of street disruptions that American media simply refuses to show.  How interesting.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times used a very strange photo essay to transform an ugly riot against police into a montage of images of police running amuck and attacking harmless-looking individuals.  The photoessay is a triumph of anti-cop agitprop.  It really is very clever of the Times to show no pictures of the crowd’s behavior, only rows of police in riot gear.  Repugnant, but clever.  Here are all five photographs from the Times photoessay.  Unfortunately, I can only post small copies of the first four photos: to really grasp the intentionality of the paper’s efforts to misrepresent the event and paint cops as jackbooted thugs, go here:

See?  No rioters in this one.  Just a human wall of police, lit eerily by fluorescent purple lights.

No rioters here, either. Just one vulnerable-and-calm-looking youth making a peace sign as cops bear down menacingly.

Police running towards something that isn’t captured in the frame.

No rioters, just bystanders passively watching.  The cops are probably running to help other officers tazer some completely innocent grandpa.  In related news, Rodney King got arrested for the 14,000th time since his infamous 1991 arrest/payday.  His other post-can’t we all get along arrests include trying to run over a police officer with a car, hitting his wife with a car, punching a girlfriend in the stomach, indecent exposure, domestic violence against his daughters and their mother, threatening to kill one of his daughters and her mother, and trying to lead police on another famous high-speed chase, though this time the cops wisely just let him endanger scores of innocent drivers by weaving through traffic at speeds exceeding 100mph, until he crashed through a fence and hit a house.

The fourth photo shows a white cop grabbing a black man while another cop picks something up from the sidewalk and a third in riot gear brandishes a police baton.  You can practically hear the imagined caption: “cop in riot gear brandishes police baton.”  No scenes of marauding crowds in this one either, just one guy and three cops. It isn’t clear why the police are apprehending the man.  Did he just steal something?  Why is he running?  The Times doesn’t explain.  Nor do they tell us what this photo has to do with the riot.  Maybe it’s a stock image they use to flesh out their anti-police crusades.

Robocop getting ready to beat on invisible crowd, from the visual propagandists at the Los Angeles Times.

So that’s five photos of police looking menacing without one single image showing the rioters or the size of the out-of-control crowd that gathered outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  All in all, the Times actually ran six rioter-free photos, if you count one from the front page I wasn’t fast enough to capture — of some half-naked love child peering at the police line through a heart shape made with his hands.

Ugh.

In order to actually see pictures of things like rioters jumping on police cars, you do have to look to the British press.  I’ve begun to notice major American dailies “cleaning up” raw footage that shows rioters and criminals committing crime and replacing them with ominous-looking shots of the police response.  Here is a picture showing the size of the crowd.  Contrast this with the Los Angeles Times’ photos, and you can see how hard the Times had to work to disappear the street violence.

Luckily, not all the witnesses were journalists, so at least we have some record of what actually happened.  “There were people trampling all over the police cars, smashing the windows,” said Greg Magda, who was working in a coffee shop nearby.  Being a non-journalist person, Mr. Magda didn’t get the memo about calling the cop-car-trampling and window-smashing “dancing” instead.  There is a war on cops in this country, and the media is playing an increasingly nasty role in encouraging hatred of police.

The War on Cops: Blame the Courts, Not the Police.

no comments

It is not yet August, and 94 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, 87 by the mid-year mark (June 30), and seven more in July.  That’s an increase of 43% since 2009.  But another fact emerging from the statistics is even more chilling: gun killings of officers have more than doubled in the last twenty-four months, rising 22% in 2008 – 2009, and a staggering 41% in 2009 – 2010.

That is an increase of 63% in just two years.

Those numbers are only fatalities.  Attempted murders — including nonfatal gunshots, stabbings, attacks with vehicles, and other aggravated assaults — aren’t counted.  In Tampa Bay, where I live, four police officers were actually shot last month, in two separate incidents in the last week of June.  Two officers survived serious gunshot wounds.  Two others, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, did not.  Kocab’s wife, Sara, who was nine months pregnant with their first child when her husband was gunned down, delivered a stillborn baby a few days ago.

Then she got up the next day and went from the hospital to court to face her husband’s killer:

Profile in Courage: Sara Kocab (on the right) in Court

Over the weekend, Chicago buried the third cop ambushed in that city in recent weeks. Also over the weekend, a policeman was shot dead in Detroit, bringing the year’s total there to three.  Warnings have appeared in the Chicago media alleging that more cops will be targeted.  This is especially troubling because all the recently murdered officers were felled in surprise attacks.

Just days after [Michael] Bailey’s death, there is a new warning. The police department has acknowledged that both District 3 and District 6 in Chatham, near Officer Bailey’s home, have received phone call threats against its officers. Text messages containing the gist of the threat and a warning have been circulating among officers there.  “More police officers will be shot&gang bangers in the area are passing the word&every night they will be ambushing police in the Chatham area. Please pass along this info and please be safe,” reads one of the text messages.

Imagine the response if “gang bangers” were targeting anyone other than police.  We have come to expect this and even accept it.  The nation’s top Justice Department official, Eric Holder, has said nothing about the slaughter of cops (he is, after all, a man with a history of pushing clemency for cop killers).  The President, who singled out individual police for public excoriation, somehow can’t seem to find the time to recognize these officers’ sacrifices, even when the murdered police hailed from his own hometown and lived lives steeped in the community volunteerism the President claims to value.

Other than covering crime scenes and funerals, the media has remained almost entirely silent about the war on cops — except when they’re pointing fingers at the police.  But what’s really driving this war?  Even the most cursory survey of cop killings offers a single, extremely obvious answer: courtroom-bred, free-range, grudge-bearing recidivism.  A culture of excessively lenient sentencing emboldens thugs and is papered over by opinion-makers who wouldn’t dream of criticizing the sentencing judges or even the “gang bangers” themselves.

After all, newspaper columnists and reporters wouldn’t want to lose their all-important insider status.  Invitations dry up when you ask the wrong questions, and who wants to blame poor youth when there’s a cop, any cop at all, to finger?

So, at best, you get schizophrenic reporting, like this seemingly promising article by the Chicago Sun-Times.   The reporters flirt with a few facts but end up defaulting to a blame the cops mantra:

This is the story of why they won’t stop shooting in Chicago.  It’s told by the wounded, the accused and the officers [not so much by the officers] who were on the street during a weekend in April 2008 when 40 people were shot, seven fatally.  Two years later, the grim reality is this: Nearly all of the shooters from that weekend have escaped charges. “You don’t go to jail for shooting people,” says Dontae Gamble, who took six bullets that weekend, only to see his alleged shooter walk free.  “That’s why m————- think they can get back on the streets and kill again. You feel me?”

OK, Dontae, so there are no consequences for shooting people.  Who do we blame for this?

So far, not one accused shooter has been convicted of pulling the trigger during those deadly 59 hours from April 18-20 of that year, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.  Only one suspected triggerman — a convicted armed robber caught with the AK-47 he allegedly used to blow away his boss — is in jail awaiting trial.

And why is that?  Why does it take two+ years to bring an accused killer to trial?  Might there be something wrong with the courts?

Oh goodness, no.  That couldn’t be. Or if there were, reporters couldn’t possibly investigate, because then they might not get invited to boozy lunches with important lawyers and politicians and judges.

It must be the police’s fault.  Cue, curtain left:

The Chicago Police Department’s batting average for catching shooters has fallen to an alarmingly low level. Detectives cleared 18 percent of the 1,812 non-fatal shootings last year. They were slightly better in catching killers — 30 percent of murders were cleared in 2009.  But here’s the catch: When police “clear” a case, that doesn’t always mean a suspect got convicted — or even charged.  Sometimes police seek charges against a suspect, but the state’s attorney won’t prosecute without more evidence. Other times, the shooter is dead, or the victim refuses to testify after identifying the shooter. Cops call those “exceptional” clearances.

Except . . . it’s not “cops” who make up this lingo, or this accounting system, or these statistics.  It’s not as if your front-line street cop wakes up in the morning and says, hey, here’s how I’m gonna enforce the law today.  Police brass and other political appointees, D.A.s, judges: they’re the ones who make the decisions.

But the Sun-Times reporters make it sound as if the only people with any agency, or any responsibility, in the entire justice system are the street cops.

This is the way the vast majority of reporters report crime: they simply don’t bother to look behind things like failed clearance numbers and ask why it’s so hard to satisfy the current status quo for removing known, armed, violent, recidivist felons from the streets.

They don’t bother to ask why evidence that would have sufficed for a conviction twenty years ago isn’t good enough today, or why prosecutors don’t try to bring every charge possible against known, dangerous offenders.  Reporters certainly don’t go to the guy in the black robe and ask why that convicted armed robber who “blew away his boss” with an AK-47 was out on the streets in the first place.

That type of question is considered off-limits, whereas no question about even the greenest police recruit is off-limits.

How many times do judges even have to say no-comment?  You don’t have to not comment if you don’t get asked anything in the first place.

Better to just criticize police.

The Sun-Times story continues with one “gang banger” shooting another “gang banger” who claims he’s too afraid to testify but isn’t too afraid to try to get money out of the government’s victim compensation fund.  Next, the reporter spends an inordinate amount of time following the victim around town as he pontificates against the police while bragging that he has forgiven (and refused to testify against) the thug who shot him.  After recovering from his wounds (doubtlessly on the public dime), then wasting months of police and courtroom resources, Willie Brown changed his testimony but suffered no consequences:

‘I could be Willie the Rat, but I don’t care about s— like that,” Willie Brown said while rolling a joint near Sheridan and Wilson in the Uptown neighborhood.  Brown is 28. He lives in a run-down high-rise and walks with a limp because he got shot in the leg.  He said he was a bad kid, a teenage Vice Lord and stickup man who did prison time for robbing a corner store with a toy pistol in 2003 while high on weed and angel dust. He had the munchies that day and was looking to steal “wam wams and zoom zooms” — prison talk for snacks — when a police officer saw the gun poking from Brown’s waistband and arrested him. He was paroled in 2007.

Did the reporter even bother to check Brown’s real record?  His arrest record?  Just took his word for it?

On April 18, 2008, Brown took a bullet in his upper right thigh outside 1012 W. Sunnyside. He was the 10th person to get shot on that bloody April 2008 weekend.  “That was a horrific moment,” Brown said.  He says he saw the guy who shot him.  Heck, he even talked to the alleged shooter, Darnell Robinson.  Brown was on his way to buy beer about 11:30 p.m. that Friday when Robinson and his brother stopped him in the street.  Robinson supposedly asked, “What is you?” — street slang for “What gang are you in?”  Brown said he told them about his past Vice Lords affiliation.  Robinson said he was in the “Taliban” before he started shooting, according to Brown.

Nice.  Every Chicago cop’s spouse knows that this is what their husband or wife is walking into, every day.

Police arrested Robinson, who was 31 at the time and had been behind bars for residential burglary and selling drugs. Brown identified Robinson as the shooter, and the case headed for a trial.  Robinson, who claimed he was innocent in jailhouse interviews with the Sun-Times, sat in Cook County jail for 13 months until prosecutors had to let him go because Brown changed his story several times.  Why did Brown’s story change? Because “my momma told me to,” he said.  “I did it so he could go home. I’m not no stool pigeon,” Brown said, recounting his story while scarfing down McNuggets at a McDonald’s in Uptown.  “I don’t have anything against him — it’s like he never shot me. I wouldn’t want to see the m———– sitting in jail because that [jail] is hell. I spared that dude. That’s all I did. I did it for my mom.”

How touching.  Our tax dollars support this behavior from beginning, to middle, to violent, bloody end.  This is how cops and other innocent people end up getting shot on the streets.  How about interviewing the judge or parole board officer who let Robinson go free the last time?  Brown?  How about reviewing their real records, step by expensive, bloody step through the courts?

But at least Brown screwed the system “for his mom.”  I wonder if Hallmark makes cards for that.

Brown said he sometimes bumps into Robinson on the street.  “I talked to the guy. He said he was sorry. I said, ‘Forget about it. Don’t worry about it.’ . . . I feel like I should have forgiven [him] for they know not what they do. He needs to be happy and thank God like I did. Everybody should go by that code.”  And in that moment — as Brown talked about forgiveness as his brand of nonviolent street justice — Robinson walked into the McDonald’s with two friends.  “There he is. That’s him right there!” Brown said.  The accused shooter and the victim awkwardly shook hands and hugged — each assuring the other, “We cool.”  Robinson nervously asked if reporters at the table were police officers. Robinson said repeatedly that he didn’t shoot Brown, but he wouldn’t talk more about it unless he was paid $30. Then he disappeared down Wilson Avenue, heading east toward the lake.  Brown said he and Robinson have a simple understanding: “Don’t f— with me. I won’t f— with you.”

Yes, until the next time.  Why didn’t the prosecutor go ahead with the trial anyway?  The public is sick of this.  Or throw Brown in jail alongside Robinson, for lying and changing his story, for false accusations?  How about making Brown pay for his hospital bills if he won’t cooperate with the prosecution?  Would anything short of zero tolerance guarantee that either of these felonious buffoons will live to old age, or at least not kill anyone besides themselves?  And: “forgiveness [is] his brand of nonviolent street justice”???

Among all the prayers this tableau summons, one can only pray that the reporter was attempting irony.

The newspaper article ends with another drug dealer (this one shot, self-admittedly, in a “deal gone bad”) who complains that the cops didn’t do a good enough job investigating his case (though it is a judge who dismisses the charges).  Funny how even the worst thugs know which side of the bread is buttered and kiss up to judges.

So, in the final analysis, courtroom failures don’t exist and the police are responsible for snitching, for the culture of no-snitching, for the lack of evidence, for the rejection of evidence, for being too tough, for being too weak, for responding to crimes, for not responding . . . for merely existing while some thug sits in McDonald’s stuffing his face, pontificating his views on police performance at a reporter who is hopefully just pretending to hang on his every word:

[Repeat felon and shooting victim Dontae] Gamble also said authorities should have done a better job of investigating, putting together a stronger case and getting their facts straight since a judge might not believe a guy like him.

This would be laughable if police weren’t dying.

It’s too bad the Sun-Times reporters spent all their time eliciting opinions from people like Dontae Gamble and Willie Brown instead of focusing on the one striking fact buried amidst all the street-gang high-fives and sentimentalist clap-trap, because this fact explains entirely why police are dying on Chicago’s streets and elsewhere.  It should have been the starting point for the article they should have written:

Shooting victims in Chicago are almost as likely to have a long rap sheet as the shooters. In 2008, 72 percent of murder victims and 91 percent of accused killers had arrest histories, according to police statistics.

Long rap sheets.  Recidivists all.  If 91% of accused killers in Chicago have long arrest histories, it is not the police who are to blame for their presence on the streets: it is the courts and corrections systems that repeatedly cut them breaks and cut them loose.  The recent killer of two police in Tampa had a long rap sheet, as did the man who shot the two other officers who survived, as did the man who shot another Tampa cop last year, as did all the known cop killers in Chicago, and Detroit, and in Oakland and Seattle and L.A.  And so on and on and on.

~~~

The media may have dropped the ball on the war on cops, but thanks to the internet there are other sources of information from police themselves and police-turned-bloggers.  This article, by Dave Smith at PoliceOne blog is worth a thousand afternoons with the likes of Dontae Gamble.  And this column, by Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed, counters several ill-times, ham-handed screeds by Sneed’s anti-cop colleagues at the paper.

Two Tampa-Area Police Dead, Two Others Wounded: It’s Time for a Citizen’s Review Panel . . . of the Courts

1 comment

The Tampa Bay area is reeling from four police shootings, two fatal, two non-fatal only because the officers were wearing bullet-proof vests.

This morning, Tampa officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were killed at a traffic stop.  David Curtis was the father of four young children.  He worked the overnight shift so he could spend more time with his children.  Jeffrey Kocab was about to become a father: he leaves behind a wife who is nine months pregnant.

Jeffrey Kocab                          David Curtis

Even in death, David Curtis is continuing to serve.  His organs are being harvested today to save the lives of people he never met.  In the next few weeks, Jeffrey Kocab’s wife will bury her young husband and give birth to his child.

~~~

Of course, the person being sought in these murders has a long record and should have been in prison:

Police said they are looking for Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, and Cortnee’ Nicole Brantley, 22, but have not named them as suspects.  Morris was released from state prison in April after serving two years on a drug conviction in Hillsborough County, records show.  In October 2005, he was arrested by Tampa police on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and robbery. He was found not guilty.

Morris spend nine months in prison, starting in 2004, for several cocaine charges.  Upon release, he was quickly re-arrested and charged with murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and robbery.  Some judge or jury acquitted him.  Why, I wonder.  Surely, with multiple gun charges, and an attempted murder, there was evidence.  Police did manage to put him away again after the murder acquittal — on yet more drug charges accumulated over two years.  He went back to prison in 2008 and got out two months ago.

Why didn’t the murder charges stick in 2005?  Why wasn’t Morris’ cumulative — and accumulating — record considered in sentencing him?  Now two police are dead, and while it is premature to draw any conclusions, I hope the question gets asked: What happened in the courts that enabled a repeat offender, a violent gun felon, a man charged with a previous murder, to be walking the streets of Tampa last night?

[The] incident began about 2:15 a.m. when [Officer David] Curtis pulled over the Toyota, which was missing a tag, near 50th Street and 23rd Avenue, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. The passenger was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant out of Jacksonville for a worthless check, so Curtis called for backup and Kocab came to the scene.  Both officers were shot in the head at close range as they approached the passenger side of the Toyota. . .

Somebody in the courts, or the prosecutor’s office, or the city council, or the state legislature, needs to step up and announce a top-to bottom review of the choices made that put this killer back on the streets, not once, not twice, but three times (not counting the inevitable juvenile record).  People crawl all over themselves to create citizen review boards whenever a police officer makes any kind of mistake.  Why shouldn’t the same be done with our courts, especially when officers get killed, but also whenever someone else gets killed by a predator who should have been in prison?

Meanwhile, in Lakeland, an hour outside Tampa, two other policemen are alive today thanks only to their bulletproof vests.

Deputy Paul Fairbanks

Deputy Michael Braswell

Deputies Paul Fairbanks and Mike Braswell were shot multiple times after stopping Matthew Tutt, who is described as a “21-year old . . . with a long criminal history.”  Another repeat offender who should have been in prison.  He was killed by police at the scene, but his presence on the streets that night ought to be the subject of another citizen’s review.  The fact that, by the grace of God, the officers were saved by their vests doesn’t change the fact that Tutt tried to murder them:

Tutt fired seven times, according to the sheriff’s office. Three of those bullets hit 58-year-old Deputy Paul Fairbanks III — in the stomach, left wrist and left elbow, Judd said. Deputy Mike Braswell, 32, was hit in the right hand, twice on the chest and once in the right thigh.

Ironically, there will probably be a review of the officers’ actions in shooting Tutt.  But there will be no review of the court’s decision to allow Tutt to be out on the streets, armed and dangerous, when he might have been in prison instead.  So long as we challenge and micromanage police actions while handing out free passes to the rest of the justice system, it’s the police who will continue to suffer and die.

Police Killings are a National Emergency: Why No National Leadership?

3 comments

These are unbearably dangerous times for police, and their families. In the last week, in two different tragedies, older officers witnessed the murder of their police officer sons, one in Chicago, one in West Memphis.  The second officer killed in the Memphis shooting was the son and grandson of police officers as well.

Chicago:

Thomas Wortham IV, two-time Iraq War veteran, Chicago police officer, and community activist, was gunned down by four men outside his father’s house in a robbery attempt.  His father, retired police officer Thomas Wortham, managed to kill one of the assailants and wound another, but his son, shot in the head in front of his father’s house, did not survive.

The younger Wortham had driven to his parent’s home to show them pictures he had taken at the annual memorial service for slain police officers in Washington the previous week.  Next year, he will be among those memorialized there.

In an interview published in the Chicago Tribune the week before he was killed, Wortham spoke out about rising crime in Chicago.  Unlike naysayers who excuse such violence, downplay it, or try to exploit it for political gain, he was taking the threat seriously:

Chicago Tribune: Chatham residents fondly remember the fierce competition at Cole Park that at times drew some of the best local talent for pickup games.  The park, tucked among the neighborhood’s tidy streets, was also a place for local kids to shoot hoops — and maybe dream of one day being that good.  Then on a spring evening last month, a gunman fired into a crowd of teens playing on the court, wounding two young men. One was hit in the calf and hip; the other in the neck.  It was the second shooting on the courts in four weeks. By that night, the basketball rims at the celebrated courts had been disabled with locks or taken down altogether, on orders of Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 6th, who said it was simply too unsafe to play there. The loss of the courts has disappointed many residents who say kids need a place to play. At the same time, the shootings illustrate a deeper concern in Chatham — how this neighborhood that prides itself on its middle-class values will stem brewing violence.  “It’s starting to feel like it’s expected in this community,” Tom Wortham, 30, president of the Cole Park advisory council whose grandfather built a home across from the park 50 years ago, said of the violence. “When people think of the South Side of Chicago, they think violence. In Chatham, that’s not what we see. It’s happened, and we’re going to fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Chicago Officer Thomas Wortham IV, speaking out against gang violence a week before his death

Wortham is the second police officer gunned down from Chicago’s Englewood Precinct in a year: last June, Officer Alejandro “Alex” Valadez, 27, was assassinated by two gang members who were free on “felony probation” for earlier violent crimes.  Wortham’s killers, too, were on probation from earlier gun crimes.

Like Officer Wortham, Officer Valadez was from a police family: his surviving brother, sister, and girlfriend are all police officers.  Why are we sacrificing our nation’s best families — by pandering to the worst?

Chicago Officer Alejandro Valadez, murdered June 1, 2009

Also in Chicago, police cars are being set on fire, and officers’ houses are being burglarized.

Memphis:

Two police officers in Memphis were murdered by a father and his sixteen year old son: the father was an anti-government-and-bank activist who, like the killers in Chicago, had been granted leniency for an earlier gun crime.  One of the murdered officers was the son of West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, who rushed to the scene:

The bloodiest day for area law enforcement officials began with routine-sounding radio broadcasts that West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert and his wife heard from their car.  One was from their son, Sgt. Brandon Paudert, reporting that he was providing backup for a traffic stop on Interstate 40.  Moments later, however, came a chilling transmission: “Officer down.”  The elder Paudert rushed to the scene to find his 39-year-old son, a seven-year veteran with the West Memphis force, lying dead on the pavement, shot in the head and neck, still gripping his service weapon.

Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans were both young fathers.  Officer Evans’ father and grandfather had been police officers.  Their killer had a long history of criminal charges . . .

Since 1983, [Jerry] Kane was arrested or cited six times in Clark County, Ohio, on charges ranging from passing bad checks to criminal trespass, drunken driving and driving with expired tags.  Kane was charged with felonious assault in 2004 after allegedly shooting a 13-year-old boy in Springfield with a “handgun-style BB gun.”

. . . and increasing confrontations with the police:

Sheriff Gene Kelly in Clark County, Ohio, said he issued a warning to law enforcement about Kane in July 2004, after Kane said a judge tried to “enslave” him when he was sentenced to six days of community service for driving with an expired license plate and no seat belt. Kane claimed he was a “free man” and asked for $100,000 per day in gold or silver, Kelly said.  “After listening to this man for almost 30 minutes, I feel that he is expecting and prepared for confrontations with any law enforcement officer that may come in contact with him,” Kelly wrote in his warning to officers.  Kelly told The Associated Press on Friday that he had been “very concerned about a potential confrontation and about his resentment of authority.”

Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans, murdered in cold blood in West Memphis

Seattle, Oakland:

Seattle and Oakland police forces are still recovering from two sets of quadruple murders of police officers by two different child rapists who had, of course, been granted serial leniency from the courts, previously threatened police, and received support from high places, even after they killed the innocent officers.

fallen

Seattle Police Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards, murdered by Maurice Clemmons six months ago.  Clemmons had been granted leniency and made into a cause celebré by then-Arkansas Governor, now Fox News Anchor Mike Huckabee, who refuses to apologize for his special treatment of Clemmons.

4up

Sergeants Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai, Mark Dunakin, and Officer John Hege, murdered in Oakland in March, 2009 by Lovelle Mixon, who was celebrated by activists from Oakland’s deeply anti-cop political culture — after the killings.

Detroit:

And in Detroit, five police officers were shot, one fatally at the beginning of this month.  The death toll easily could have been higher.  Veteran Police Officer Brian Huff leaves behind a wife and ten-year old son.  “The world has lost a wonderful man we can’t replace,” said one family friend.

Officer Brian Huff: four other officers were injured.

Officer Huff’s killer, like all the others, should have been behind bars, and he had committed acts of violence against officers in the past.  Here is a lengthy and staggering yet still incomplete list of his confrontations with police.  There is no way he should have been on the streets:

Gibson was charged in November with being a felon in possession of a firearm and a carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, according to police sources. The charge stems from a Nov. 13 arrest, during which officers conducting an investigation into a shooting patted Gibson down and allegedly found a gun . . . Gibson was released on bond.  Gibson was listed as failing to appear in March for a hearing.  In addition, he has been listed as an absconder from probation since 2008 in another case.  It is unclear why Gibson was given bond while classified as an absconder in that earlier case . . . Gibson served time in prison under the name James Everet, Michigan Department of Corrections records show. He remains on parole after pleading guilty to attempting to disarm a peace officer and possession of cocaine in October 2007.  He previously pleaded to two charges of third-degree fleeing and eluding police stemming from a 2005 arrest . . .  Last Nov. 13, Detroit Police were investigating a shooting when they spotted Gibson, whose features apparently matched the shooting suspect, walking along E. Jefferson. The police approached, patted him down and felt a gun. They said he then broke free and began to run. Once caught, Gibson struggled before finally being subdued and arrested on weapons charges, documents show. Gibson was charged in the case and released on bond.  In another incident, just after midnight on March 26, 2007, two Detroit cops were monitoring a Marathon gas station where there had been trouble at E. 7 Mile Road and Joann. Documents show that the police saw Gibson and another man walking nearby.  When the cops stopped to investigate, Gibson took off running south on Joann, zigzagging, according to documents. One of the officers ordered Gibson to stop and confronted him. Documents say Gibson resisted, shouting, “F— you! You all ain’t taking me to jail, get off me.” He swung twice at the cop with a closed fist.

One of the officers wounded while coming to Huff’s aid spoke out recently on the “life in prison” charges and “no bond status” now, finally, filed against Gibson.  Too little, too late:

“It does help,” Officer Brian Glover, who suffered a knee injury trying to help Huff, said Tuesday of the charges against Gibson. “But it doesn’t change the fact that he should have never been on the street in the first place.”  Glover, who said he’s barely sleeping at night since the shooting, added that “the Prosecutor’s Office has been pointing fingers at, ‘There’s not enough beds in the jail.’ But when someone has such a long history of gun charges, there is a bed for them.”

~~~

Anti-cop rhetoric greases the skids of serial lenience towards even the worst, most violent offenders, and police everywhere are paying the price for the anti-cop rhetoric surfacing in political speech and political activism across the political spectrum these days.  This anti-cop drumbeat is always the same, whether it comes from the White House or a fringe anti-government website, from libertarian hysterics on the right or criminal rights activists on the left.

The consequences are the same, too, despite the slickest efforts of exploitation artists like Mark Potok, who only speak out on certain instances of murderous anti-cop rage, those that serve some ulterior political, or fund-raising motive — and then spend the rest of their time and substantial resources attacking law enforcement.  Potok is an extreme case, but there is no shortage of elected officials and political pundits eager to blame police for the violence directed against them or remain silent when careless words escalate into another officer’s funeral (or hog the spotlight and act out unconscionably, as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley did in the wake of Wortham’s death).

Where is the sane, sober, respectful, national leadership on behalf of police officers?

One month before their own son, police officer Thomas Wortham IV, was killed, Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell interviewed Wortham’s parents at an anti-violence rally near their home.  The purpose of the rally was to re-direct funds from Chicago’s failed Olympic bid to provide resources for the police:

“The main thing is we need security and more supervision,” said [Thomas] Wortham [Sr.], who has lived across the street from the park for 20 years.  “The Park District hasn’t recognized that there has been an influx of people visiting this park. On any given night, you might have 100 people in the park watching basketball. This is the only neutral park between 71st and 95th Street.”  Before the three [other] people were shot, Wortham’s wife, Carolyn, said there hadn’t been a shooting in the park in the 20 years the couple have lived in their home.  “All we want to do is to preserve the quality of life that we had as children,” she said.

President Obama could create a sea change in attitudes towards police by recognizing Wortham’s service and sacrifice.  But he seems to have remained silent on the young officer’s tragic death, even though it occurred in a neighborhood near where he once raised his own children, even though Wortham’s commitment to community activism exemplifies so much of the President’s own rhetoric on service.

Why doesn’t he make Thomas Wortham IV a household name?

Is Katherine Ann Power Violating the Law by Profiting from the Murder of Officer Walter Schroeder? Did Boston University and Oregon State Help Her Break Parole?

18 comments

In 1970, Katherine Ann Power helped murder Boston Police officer Walter Schroeder in a bank robbery.  Power was a college radical who was helping arm the Black Panthers by robbing banks and stealing weapons.  Thanks to her violent acts, rather than any discernible academic accomplishment, she is now a celebrity in academic circles, like many other violent terrorists of her time, including Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Susan Rosenberg, judge and “human rights” law professor Eleanor Raskin, and Obama Recovery Act advisor Jeff Jones.

Officer Walter A. Schroeder

Officer Schroeder, a member of an extended family of Boston police, left behind nine children who were raised by their mother in public housing following his death — and at least four of his children followed him into police work.  Schroeder’s brother John, also a police officer, was murdered on the job three years after Schroeder’s death.

As the Schroeder family mourned their losses, Power went into hiding, aided disgracefully by feminist activists who sided with a murderer over the widowed mother and nine children she left destitute.  Such is the power of sisterhood.  Power’s boyfriend and fellow murderer-cum-political-activist, Stanley Bond (they met at Brandeis, which was admitting ex-cons like Bond as part of a government rehabilitation project), was a prison pal of serial rapist-murderer Alberto DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler.  But of course, hanging with serial killer rapists is no impediment to sanctification if you also hate the right people, like police.  By preaching the murder of cops, then murdering a cop, Bond and Power earned eternal approval in faculty lounges.  A feminist collective in Connecticut helped her change her identity after Schroeder’s murder.  Then a group of lesbian activists in Corvallis, Oregon helped her become a restauranteur.

In 1993, Power emerged from hiding and received a token sentence for her crimes.  She was also on the receiving end of a tidal wave of positive publicity for the story she composed about her time in hiding, most disgracefully from Newsweek Magazine, which grotesquely equated her “travails” in the underground with the suffering of Schroeder’s nine children at his death.  Equally grotesquely, the New York Times’ Timothy Egan portrayed Power as a suffering, traumatized victim of conscience — and a pretty terrific cook, to boot:

The therapist, Linda Carroll, said she had never seen a psyche so battered as that of the fugitive, Katherine Ann Power. It was impossible for her to believe that this bespectacled cook with the terrific polenta recipe, a person who would cry at any mention of family, had spent 14 years as one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 10 most wanted fugitives … Earlier this week, Ms. Power had a reunion with her family in Boston. On Wednesday, she was led in shackles to court, where she pleaded guilty.  Ms. Carroll saw her patient on television on Wednesday night; she saw that she was smiling. “I burst out crying,” she said. “I was so proud of her. She had walked away but she had walked away as a whole person.”

Carroll, Egan, and other attention-seekers piled on, shilling stories of their encounters with the beautific Power.  The murderer was credited with possessing a special sense of peace and enlightenment, something she is now monetizing in places like Taos, where she recounts her “journey”; the horrors of her brief prison sentence, and her current status as a “practical peace catalyst,” as she puts it.  This is a schtick she had perfected before emerging from hiding in 1993, when she hurried from perfunctory non-apologies to the family to immediately demanding attention through a “victim-perpetrator reconciliation program.”  Such programs, like many prison rehabilitation schemes, have become taxpayer-funded platforms for killers to goose their narcissistic pleasure through recounting crimes and claiming theatrical remorse.
At the time Powers was convicted, she was given a sentence that forbade her from profiting from her crime.  Her parole ended in 2013, and she is now making up for lost time, and cash: she has published a book, and the “Peace Studies” program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where she lived in hiding for years, is honoring her this month.  Somebody should look into the legality of her earning money now from the murder of Officer Schroeder.

But even if she is permitted to profit now, did Power violate parole prior to 2013?  Powers’ sentence, and whether college and university presidents in Boston and Oregon helped her violate it, deserves further scrutiny.  Oregon State promoted her at an event that was held in 2001, while her parole restrictions on profiting from crime were still in place; they also awarded her a degree in Ethics that arguably was granted to her because of her notoriety.  Is there a paper trail on that?  She received a liberal studies degree from Boston University while incarcerated, a degree in which she wrote about herself being in prison: was this not profiting from her crime, too?

It is time to take a hard look at the blood money being earned by unrepentant criminals like Katherine Ann Power.  And any police officer residing in Oregon should call Oregon State to protest the current deification of a terrorist who preached the murder of police and then murdered a police officer.  You’re paying for it with your tax dollars — in fact, given the federal subsidies that are the lifeblood of all of higher education, we’re all paying for Katherine Ann Powers and her murderous academic peers.  Here is the contact information for the Oregon State’s president.

Katherine Ann Power, Enjoying her Newsweek Cover

When Katherine Ann Power was featured as a damsel-in-distress on the cover of Newsweek, one of Walter Schroeder’s children, then-Sgt. Claire Schroeder, delivered this powerful response:

“When Katherine Power and her friends robbed the State Street Bank in Brighton with semiautomatic weapons, my father responded to the call. One of her friends shot my father in the back and left him to die in a pool of his own blood. Katherine Power was waiting in the getaway car, and she drove the trigger man and her other friends away to safety.

“Twenty-three years later, Katherine Power stands before you as a media celebrity. Her smiling photograph has appeared on the cover of Newsweek. She has been portrayed as a hero from coast to coast. Her attorney had appeared on the Phil Donahue show. [She] is receiving book and movie offers worth millions of dollars on a daily basis.

“For reasons that I will never comprehend, the press and public seem more far more interested in the difficulties that Katherine Power has inflicted upon herself than in the very real and horrible suffering she inflicted upon my family. Her crimes, her flight from justice and her decision to turn herself in have been romanticized utterly beyond belief.

“One of the news articles about this case described it as a double tragedy–a tragedy for Katherine Power and a tragedy for my father and my family. I will never comprehend, as long as I live, how anyone can equate the struggle and pain forced upon my family by my father’s murder with the difficulty of the life Katherine Power chose to live as a fugitive.

“Some of the press accounts of this case have ignored my father completely. Others have referred to him anonymously as a Boston police officer. Almost none of the stories has made any effort to portray him in any way as a real human being. It is unfair and unfortunate that such a warm and likeable person who died so heroically should be remembered that way.

“One of the most vivid pictures I have of my father as a police officer is a photograph showing him giving a young child CPR and saving that child’s life. I remember being so proud of my father, seeing him on the front page of the old Record American, saving someone’s life. Years later, when I was a 17-year-old girl at my father’s wake, a woman introduced herself to me as that child’s mother. I was very proud of my dead father.

“More than anything, my father was a good and decent and honorable person. He was a good police officer who gave his life to protect us from people like Katherine Power. I do not doubt for a moment that he would have given his life again to protect people from harm. He was also a good husband and he was a good father. I have been proud of my father every single day of my life. I became a police officer because of him. So did my brother Paul, my brother Edward and, most recently, my sister Ellen.

“My father had so many friends that we could not have the funeral at the parish where we lived because it was too small. On the way to the church the streets were lined with people. As we approached the church, the entire length of the street looked like a sea of blue–all uniformed officers who had come to say goodbye to my father. I saw from the uniforms that the officers had towns and cities all across the United States and Canada. I felt so proud but so hollow. I remember thinking that my father should have been there to enjoy their presence.

“When my father died he left behind my mother, who was then 41 years old, and nine children. He wasn’t there to teach my brothers how to throw a football or change a tire. He wasn’t there for our high school or college graduations. He wasn’t there to give away my sisters at their weddings. He could not comfort us and support us at my brother’s funeral. He never had a chance to say goodbye. We never got a last hug or kiss, or pat on the head.

“Murdering a police officer in Boston to bring peace to Southeast Asia was utterly senseless then and it is just as senseless now. The tragedy in this case is not that Katherine Power lived for 23 years while looking over her shoulder. The tragedy is that my father’s life was cut short for no reason, shot in the back with a bullet of a coward while Ms. Power waited to drive that coward to safety.”

As the late Larry Grathwohl observed, the terrorists of the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, the Black Panthers and other violent groups were not seeking peace: they were seeking communist victory and protracted, bloody revolution on the streets of America.  It is shameful that Oregon State University is honoring a murderer and terrorist in a so-called “peace program,” or any other academic pursuit.  It may be illegal that they endowed her with academic privileges and resources in the past.  Anyone wishing to share information for making the case that Powers illegally profited from her role in the murder of Officer Schroeder at Oregon State, Boston University, or at the Unitarian Churches that hosted her “peace” talks should contact this blog.

In 1970, Katherine Ann Power was radicalized by Stanley Bond, a killer empowered by the Brandeis University scholarship he was given because he had committed violent crimes; 43 years later, Power is being similarly empowered to deliver her coded messages of hate to new generations of impressionable students.  Whether or not Katherine Power can be held responsible for breaking the terms of her parole, it is time to start holding colleges and universities responsible for the fiscal support and academic honors they shower on people who murder police and others.  These academic officials have made their institutions accomplices to murder.

Naomi Wolf, Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman: Retro Radical Chic

18 comments

A few days ago, the glossy-haired fourth estate of the Occupy Movement, Naomi Wolf, joined other activist/journalists in accusing police, federal law enforcement, and “big banks” of committing “totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent” over Occupy protesters last year.  According to Wolf, Occupy was totally subjected to torturous police crackdowns of their peaceful, non-violent, property-respecting protests, for no reason whatsoever.

Wolf’s description of this “corporate-state repression” is, to be kind, histrionic.  She sees herself and other protesters as deeply and dramatically victimized freedom fighters and visualizes Occupy’s many enemies as some sort of highly coordinated giant squid, or maybe a huge fascist octopus.  I thought it was more like code enforcement, myself.  The main concern of most taxpayers, after all, was the scabies and the defecating in the streets.

Though, I would happily draft the biggest fascist octopus available to silence the round-the-clock drumming circles.

In an editorial in The Guardian, Wolf vividly describes:

a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council [try not to scream as punctuation gets tortured].  And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

Elsewhere, just yesterday, police busted yet another peace-loving armed-to-the-teeth political activist.  Aaron Greene, reportedly of Harvard University and Kennedy School of Government, had ironically stuffed the Greenwich Village apartment he shares with his very pregnant socialite girlfriend with enough grenade launchers, shotguns, and unstable explosive powder to totally recreate the famous 1970 Weather Underground Greenwich Village Townhouse explosion that killed socialite Diana Oughton and two other Weather Underground terrorists.  The three accidentally blew themselves up as they assembled nail bombs that were to be used to kill scores of servicemen and their girlfriends at a dance at Fort Dix later that night (see here and here for other recent bomb-related arrests of “peaceful” Occupy protesters).

The cynical way of describing this confluence of events would go something like this:

Naomi Wolf/Occupy Movement Peaceful: 0   —   Police: 1 

But, why be cynical?  It’s the most magical time of the year.  And thanks to a “totally integrated” police response to Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman’s little home-made lab, Ms. Gliedman is safe and sound and reportedly giving birth in a hospital as I write this, rather than possibly having what’s left of her fingertips peeled off the remains of a smoldering pile of rubble, which was the fate Diana Oughton met in 1970.  Contrary to what Naomi Wolf seems to believe, police possibly saved these two, and a newborn, and who knows who else, today.  The explosives they were messing with were not for amateurs: more than one building reportedly had to be evacuated to deal with their venal stupidity.

1970 Greenwich Bomb Factory Explosion

Morgan Gliedman, 2013: New Mommy

Diana Oughton, 1970: Dead

Yeah, I know.  The resemblance between these two women is downright creepy.  You would think that Ms. Gliedman was trying to look like Diana Oughton.  She certainly appears to have been working on turning out like her.  Hopefully, she will someday have the decency to thank the cops who risked their lives and their own families’ future holiday memories in order to save her from the stupidity of trying to hatch a baby in a retro hippy bomb factory.

  Just Doing My Job, Ma’am

But if I were the police, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an apology.  Gratitude for being rescued from their own stupidity has never been a virtue of the radical Left.

Naomi Wolf, for example, is shown at the top of this post being arrested at an Occupy protest last year.  By her own description, she apparently believes that the arrest arose merely from her vigorous efforts to educate ignorant police about protesters’ rights by citing a chapter about sidewalk permits from some book she once wrote.  I’m just going to say it: no matter how much we all wish we lived in a world where it was illegal for Naomi Wolf to write book chapters, that’s not what really happened.  Yet, here is just one portion of the breathless, hair-tousled, cop-loathing Patrick Henry-inspired facebook entry she penned to memorialize her arrest:

The [Occupy] protesters were being told that they needed to leave the sidewalk outside of the Huffington Post event because “Huffington Post had a permit” to control the use of the sidewalk. I have a chapter in Give Me Liberty on NYC permits so I knew that could not be accurate. Sidewalks are public spaces and can’t be leased by private entities. I asked for a copy of the permit . . . Some press reports say that I was arrested because I ignored police warnings to get off the sidewalk or that I was arrested for using a megaphone without a permit. Both of these are untrue. I told the protesters that the NYC permit requirement that states that using a megaphone is illegal. . .

And so on.  And so on.

Is anybody else itching to gnaw off their arm to escape this?  Remember, the cops have to be there.

In her recent Guardian editorial, Wolf breathlessly tells the whole world that’s watching (or at least the part of it that reads The Guardian) about a nefarious plot by police, the FBI, and “big banks” located in different cities to use actual cellphones to communicate with each other about completely non-violent Occupy protesters who pacifistically announced in writing in advance their intentions to invade banks, destroy property, and physically attack police officers.

Here’s how Wolf describes this mysterious law enforcement plot to talk with each other on the telephone:

It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

Mystifying group disruptions?  Canister missiles to the skulls?  Faceless banks wanting protesters to wet their pants?  Bondage?

Now I’m just going to say this: would it be at all possible for modern feminists to at least try get through an essay about ANYTHING WHATSOEVER without mentioning “bondage”?  Please.

Also, having spent a very stinky week in August tramping around after Occupy protesters who were trying to shut down the Republican Convention in Tampa by creating pure physical revulsion through the wearing of giant sweaty pink vulva costumes, I think I speak with a frisson of authority when I say that there was absolutely no need for anyone to “coordinate” with “big banks” in order to get that crew to soil themselves.

Anyone who has ever failed to properly clean their pet gerbil’s cage knows exactly what the Occupy encampments in downtown Tampa smelled like, all on their own, with no pressure from Wachovia.

Really, do we have to do this Occupy/Sixties nostalgia thing all over again?  Because somebody’s going to get hurt.  It was the cops in Tampa who were being pummeled with abuse as they handed out bottled water to masked “anarchists” wandering around looking for trouble while being trailed by their own personal ACLU attorneys and gaggles of argumentative middle-aged women dressed like vaginas.

Yet, Naomi Wolf apparently still feels that when lit.crit. majors with nary a mouse-pelt of common sense between them announce portentously in AdBusters that they are going to arrive by the tens of thousands to smash bank windows and meaningfully blockade Staples stores in order to transform reality itself with their ideas, police and federal agents should just stick their fingers in their ears and let them do it.

Let me try to explain this is language that can be understood: the police have the right to pick up the phone and trade hippy-punch notes with Sgt. Friday out there on the Left Coast.  OK?

~~~

Speaking of radical chic, it was sort of a Weather Underground thing to mix babies with bomb making, from Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers to Eleanor Raskin and Jeff Jones.  Make that Judge Raskin.  The future judge and her future labor lobbyist spouse were busted in yet another apartment/bomb factory with baby in tow in 1981.

Robert Redford is about to release a film that actually romanticizes all those toddlers-n-TNT moments.  You know, the terrorists will be the good guys.

Remember 1981?  Here are just a few of the police officers who didn’t get to go home to their own children around that time because of the murder campaigns against cops waged by the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Black Liberation Army, and others.  Always remember that cop-killers are revered by the peace-loving Occupy Movement:

Murdered in Brinks Robbery: Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown

Murdered in Brinks Robbery: Sgt. Edward O’Grady

Murdered in Brinks Robbery: Brinks Security Guard Peter Paige

Murdered in the San Francisco Police Station Bombing: Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell

Murdered during the Assata Shakur escape: Trooper Werner Foerster

It’s only a matter of time — and the sort of self-indulgent cop-hating rhetoric Wolf and many others are spewing — before something ends in tears.

Welcome to the Dystopia Liberalism Created

no comments

Is it time to have the conversation yet?  The one where everyone acknowledges that crime is the number one toxin weakening economies, creating unemployment, raising the price of living and taxes, blighting education (charter or no charter school movement; Race to the Top/No Child Left Behind, neither, or both), denying property rights, and shearing the vector of life for tens of millions of Americans?

Crime wounds the educated and socially mobile, but it defines life for the lower classes.  It creates winning and losing zip codes, feeds resentment, and forces working people to strain their budgets in a dozen different ways.  It warps childhoods and corrodes old age.  It destroys the value and even the point of owning private property.  It forces us to constrain our lives — especially, women must do this.  It creates and displaces populations — forget “white flight” — it never was just white, but now more than ever it’s about just getting out if you can.  I recently talked to a young Puerto Rican woman who got out of St. Petersburg, Florida because of the violence (after getting out of Puerto Rico for the same reason) and is now terrified of gang violence in her new, previous rural, inland town, where a multiple shooting left two dead and 22 wounded last year.

Yet we don’t talk about these things because such conversations have been deemed taboo by the elite.

For fifty years now, with few and apparently transient exceptions, a small group of legal activists and opinion-makers have managed to cripple our nation’s ability to control crime.  They do this by preventing the incarceration of criminals.  Then they tell us they’re right because all the people in prison were just caught smoking pot.  How long are we going to put up with this fantasy?  Apparently until the last moving van clears the curb to nowhere.

Here is the everyday dystopia these people have created, in two impressive articles in the Detroit News.  This one, by Christine Macdonald, is especially depressing:

October 9, 2012 at 7:07 am

Poll: Crime drives Detroiters out; 40% expect to leave within 5 years

Detroit — Detroit’s crime crisis is prompting such pessimism that 40 percent of residents plan to move within five years, according to a comprehensive poll of Detroiters’ attitudes about their city and leadership.

Residents overwhelmingly believe the city is on the wrong track and have no faith that city leaders have a plan to turn it around. Crime is by far their biggest worry — even higher than finding a job in a city where some put the true unemployment rate as high as 50 percent.

The survey suggests that, unless city officials can combat violence, efforts to halt decades of decline will fail. The city’s population already has fallen by 1 million over the past 50 years, and residents including Michael LaBlanc said they are ready to leave.

“There’s an aura of fear that just pervades the whole neighborhood,” said LaBlanc, 63, who installed a security system at his northeast side home last week because he’s weary of car thieves and gunfire.

“It’s almost like being in prison. We always like to have at least one person home for security sake.”

The survey is believed to be the most authoritative of its kind in years. Commissioned by The Detroit News and funded by the Thompson Foundation, the survey provided a rare, statistically sound measure of public opinion. Detroiters have been traditionally difficult to accurately poll.

Eight hundred residents were surveyed by land and cellular phone Sept. 22-25 by the Chicago-based Glengariff Group Inc. The survey — which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points — asked residents’ feelings about city leadership, schools, transportation, quality of life and overall optimism.

The results were stark — and despairing.

Nearly two-thirds, 66 percent, say the city is on the wrong track. The poll found low support for all city officials except Police Chief Ralph Godbee, who retired Monday amid a sex scandal that emerged after the survey was conducted.

The survey’s author said crime is the biggest obstacle to stemming an exodus that has seen Detroit’s population drop to about 700,000. The city lost a quarter of its residents from 2000 to 2010, an average of one every 22 minutes.

“Crime is the pre-eminent challenge facing the residents of Detroit,” said pollster Richard Czuba, Glengariff’s president. “That was a defining element of the survey. It’s absolutely the driving factor.

“It shows a tremendous mindset of exodus. If you want people to stay, you have to deal with crime first. That’s devastating for the future of the city and it needs to be dealt with.”

Nearly 58 percent of respondents said crime is their “biggest daily challenge.” That far surpassed unemployment and the economy at 12.8 percent.

The survey suggests that many residents who remain would like to leave but are stuck: More than half, 50.9 percent, say they would live in another city if they could, while 39.9 percent plan to move in the next five years.

LaBlanc has little confidence things will improve.

About a month ago, thieves stole his mother-in-law’s 2004 Chrysler Sebring from their driveway. The thieves tried to get his 2003 Neon but failed, although they destroyed the steering column and transmission. Last week a stolen SUV showed up on blocks at the burned out house across the street.

“At night you can sit here and listen to the gunfire,” said LaBlanc.

Police officials said the media make perception worse than reality. Violent crime is down 12 percent from 2010 to 2012 and police patrols have increased, said Deputy Chief Benjamin Lee.

He pointed to policies that put more officers on street patrols. Police no longer respond to burglar alarms unless security companies verify the need for officers. “Virtual precincts” close some precincts at night, freeing officers from desk jobs. And the department is partnering with the state Department of Corrections to better track recently released prisoners.

“The perception is there is lawlessness and that ordinary citizens aren’t safe,” Lee said. “The reality is … that violent crime is down.”

This man is lying.  It is his job to lie about this.

Police Dept. faces challenges

The bleak attitude of residents comes amid an extraordinarily bad year for the Detroit Police Department.

Police union members, upset over 10 percent pay cuts in a city the FBI deems the second-most violent in the nation, handed out fliers Sunday to baseball fans near Comerica Park. They warned: “Enter Detroit at your own risk.”

Homicides are up 10 percent this year to 298, and the city has endured a string of high-profile, brazen crimes that made international headlines, including the carjackings of gospel music star Marvin Winans and state Rep. Jimmy Womack.

Residents don’t believe city leaders can change things.

Nearly two-thirds of residents, 63 percent, say city leaders have no plans for a turnaround. The poll found an “extraordinary lack of support” for elected officials including Mayor Dave Bing and the City Council, Czuba said.

“I don’t see any forward movement,” said Charles Wilson, a 62-year-old retiree, who added that high crime prompted him to get a concealed weapon permit and plan for an out-of-state move.

“I don’t see the administration doing anything about it. I think they are asleep at the wheel,” he said. “Where does this stop? Show me some milestones, give me some objectives. I don’t see a strategy.”

The downtown resident said he’d like to buy a new Corvette but doesn’t want to make himself a target.

“It’s difficult at best going out,” said Wilson, who is concerned about recent violence including the August shooting at the Detroit Princess riverboat cruise. “You want to be able to dress the way you want to dress. You want to be able to go where you want to go. You don’t want to be looking over your shoulder walking down the street. You just want to be at ease.”

Income, safety divide

Perhaps more worrisome to city officials: 57 percent of those who plan to leave are families with children.

Safety fears are widespread, but greater among women and those making less money: 53 percent of women feel unsafe, compared to 43 percent of men. Fifty percent or more feel unsafe in households with incomes at $50,000 or below, compared to about one-third of those making $75,000 or more.

Demographer Kurt Metzger said the city is becoming a tale of “the best of times and worst of times.” The media have focused on pockets of revival led by prosperous young people moving to Detroit, but many more thousands of residents lack the means to leave, Metzger said.

“It is glum,” Metzger said. “The population of kids in Detroit is going down faster than the overall population. If you can provide a feeling of safety, it would go such a long way.”

The Rev. Jerome Warfield, chairman of the Detroit Police Commission, said he hears “emotional appeals at almost every board meeting from citizens who are fed up with crime.”

“People want a change,” he said.

Wayne State University officials wanted change four years ago — and got it through a unique program that pools resources of nearby police agencies, analyzes real-time crime data and has helped make Midtown one of the city’s most thriving neighborhoods.

The CompStat program, modeled after efforts in New York and Baltimore, attacks emerging crime trends, targets repeat offenders and has cut crime in the neighborhood by 38 percent, said Lyke Thompson, director of the university’s Center for Urban Studies.

Since the program started, rents have soared, vacancies have dwindled and investments have skyrocketed.

“There’s no question in my mind that the improvements in Midtown are because of the creation of a greater sense of security,” said Thompson, who helps lead the effort.

“We can do this citywide if we get the right people in the room — and it’s important because personal safety is the first priority.”

Sadly, this isn’t true, either.  CompStat works well when there is a highly motivated population seeking to improve a neighborhood or borough.  But if the courts remain offender-centric, the gains on the policing end are transient.  If the residents are mired in dysfunction, CompStat doesn’t perform as well as it does in places where citizens augment police efforts with substantial resources of their own, from monitoring devices, to private patrols, to court-watching and lobbying for real sentencing.  Sometimes, according to Second City Cop in Chicago, for example, CompStat just impels criminals to seek less challenging terrain or encourages the downgrading of crime reports (see here too).

Austin Black II, a Detroit real estate agent, said city leaders need to try to replicate Midtown’s crime prevention successes.

“Detroit has a lot to offer people, but crime is a huge issue,” Black said. “Something needs to be done and done fast.

“Whoever wins the election for mayor next year will be the person who best connects with the neighborhoods and offers a real solution to crime.”

Gary Brown, the City Council president pro-tem, said the department has enough resources and should primarily focus on getting more patrol cars in neighborhoods.

“We have to start taking responsibility for our police department taking a stronger role in preventing crime,” said Brown, a former deputy police chief. “If (residents) see a proactive approach, there wouldn’t be this feeling of hopelessness.”

Residents look past borders

In the meantime, residents like Denai Croff are making plans to leave.

The 44-year-old single mother of two is socking away $200 a month from her job at Gethsemane Cemetery to move to North Carolina.

She recently witnessed a carjacking near her duplex at Kelly and Morang and imposes a 9 p.m. curfew for her family most days. The windows have bars and she had her landlord install flood lights.

She lives next door to a memorial to a neighbor who was shot and killed last year, several months before Croff moved to the neighborhood.

“I just think Detroit is not happening right now,” Croff said. “It’s hard to come outside and even feel comfortable.”

“The economy is bad everywhere, but the crime here has really gotten out of hand.”

Who to thank for all this hopelessness?  Obama is a very good choice, since every social movement and activist group he has aligned himself with throughout his life stands against law enforcement and in support of criminals and lawlessness.  Blame the criminals’ lobby running our law schools, Justice Department, and much of the criminal courts.  Blame the ACLU the most: with Eric Holder’s help, they are using creeping federalism to cripple what’s left of law enforcement — see, for example, their handiwork in Puerto Rico, and you will understand why people are fleeing that island, fleeing Detroit, fleeing Chicago, fleeing California . . . and ending up with fewer and fewer affordable places to run to, then flee from.

Holder, Obama, ACLU Director Anthony Romero, Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson — along with under-incarcerated anti-incarceration criminals like Angela Davis, Bernadine Dohrn, and Bill Ayers — and for that matter, some conservatives exploiting the issue in the name of cost savings — have no business telling the rest of us how we should feel about the criminals who affect us, not them.

People who can afford to live anywhere don’t choose places where real crime affects real people.  So when they tell us we need to empty the prisons, you really have to wonder at their audacity.

Why Is WEDU Using Our Money To Broadcast Democracy Now! During the RNC? And Other Questions.

no comments

A few days ago, in so-called Romneyville, where anti-RNC protesters are squatting, I watched a television cameraman genuflect before a protester.  The gesture wasn’t technically religious: it is a strategy used to create the impression of a large crowd out of the presence of a handful of people.  Zoom in on a close shot of one or two people; aim the camera close to the ground to capture walking feet: these are shopworn media strategies for inflating protest numbers.

It’s bad enough when “private” media invents story lines this way.  They’re selling the drama of big crowds.  But when we’re the ones paying for the reporting, bias is much more troubling.  And when you mix in the radical reporters blending protesting directly with “reporting,” it’s a toxic soup.

The Tampa media market has what seems to me to be an unusually high number of publicly-funded PBS television and radio stations.  There are four WUSF television channels and four WEDU channels, including its flagship channel, the one that runs the deeply leftist programming interspersed with social engineering cartoons for children.  This week, WEDU is re-running Better This World, a documentary celebrating the violent protesters at the 2008 Republican Convention.  What a nice touch: welcome to Tampa, five anarchists!  Here’s how to make pipe bombs to throw at policemen!

WEDU is broadcasting Democracy Now! for the duration of the RNC.  I find this amazing.  I find it amazing that even the tiniest sliver of our tax dollars are going to subsidize this sort of deceptive, hate-filled, Soros-funded socialist garbage.

How much does Amy Goodman make off the public trough per year?  How about per lie?

Amy Goodman.  Un-ironic Puppet Version.

WEDU’s Vice President for Content, Jack Conely, told me in a phone conversation today that he unilaterally made the decision to air Democracy Now! as a special service to viewers during the RNC.  He said he considers doing this a “nice courtesy” because of the local angle of their reporting this week.  He added that WEDU “give[s] a platform to all sorts of different political programming.”

How much did WEDU spend to give Amy Goodman a taxpayer-funded platform?  “You don’t spend anything extra for Democracy Now!” Conely said, missing the point.  “They didn’t come to me, I made the decision,” he told me when I asked how the “free content” deal was initiated.  This story is developing.

~~~

But PBS isn’t the only taxpayer-funded reporting going on at the Convention.  There’s Voice of America, the “official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government.”  That excellently concise description is from Wikipedia.  VOA is broadcast overseas, and though I generally agree with their claim that they try to be unbiased in their reporting, I was disappointed to see their silly coverage of the protesters.  They uncritically reprinted claims by discredited local “homeless activist” Bruce Wright about protesters “helping” poor people while in Tampa.  They are doing no such thing, and lending credibility to such a false narrative is troubling:

Camp residents have tried to help suffering locals like Thomas Diehl and his companion, Michelle Kelly.  “Right now they are trying to help us get food stamps, medical help for me and her, stuff like that,” Diehl said.

Bunk.  “Romneyville” is a squat for professional activists who are willing to exploit mentally ill homeless people in order to gain attention from the media.  No matter what the New York Times/CNN/Guardian/ABC/CBS/NBC says.  Social services for the homeless are actually provided by real social service agencies located a few blocks away.  Wright is a highly controversial professional activist who has gotten in trouble in the past for his handling of resources for the homeless.  None of this is difficult to figure out, if you bother to actually research a story.

The Occupy Movement’s War on Cops: Coming to Tampa?

3 comments

Last year, before the Occupy encampments fizzled, it was surely a comfort to parents of college-age “Occupy” protestors that police officers remained near the camps, where drug abuse and overdoses, violent fights, criminal acts of vandalism,and multiple sexual assaults were among the revolution’s few fruits.  Protestors churlishly claimed that police alone pose a threat in their utopian tent cities, but scenes of Occupiers smashing store windows or recoiling in shock as police processed yet another suicide at a Vermont camp told a different story:

Police comfort distraught Vermont Occupier after suicide at camp

When nirvana tips over into chaos, the adults must step in.

The police presence at the camps cannot have been similarly comforting for parents and spouses of police.  Their loved ones spent days and nights trying to keep order in volatile settings where hatred for police was openly celebrated, so openly that posters of cop-killers Mumia Abu Jamal and Lovelle Mixon were ominously affixed to tents.  Mixon, a convicted child rapist, gunned down four Oakland officers in 2009 as they sat eating breakfast; he is now an annointed hero of the Occupiers.

Atlanta Occupiers re-named their entire encampment after cop-killer Troy Davis, who shot a policeman in 1989 as the officer came to the aid of a homeless man Davis was pistol-whipping.  Impervious to irony, the Atlanta Occupiers thus re-christened a park where homeless people loiter after a man who bashed a homeless man, rather than naming it after the police officer who gave his life to try to save that homeless man from Davis’ violence.

The intensity of venom the Occupy protestors direct at street police, and not at the elected officials or even police chiefs, is part of an intentional strategy to incite and amplify confrontations with police and then scapegoat police for the ensuing incidents.  This is a well-worn activist strategy, one that relies on both a complacent media eager to report “clashes” between protestors and police, and on elected officials eager to curry favor curry with the activists and constituent groups that support them.

The strategy worked perfectly for Occupiers in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, and Oakland, where Mayors Kasim “Not-What-I-Seem” Reed, Michael “Egg Cream” Bloomberg, Human Lizard Rahm Emanuel, and the buffoonish Jean Quan pandered to protestors one day, then demanded police action the next.  This was a low-stakes game for mayors but a high-stakes one for the street-beat cop who had to confront the protestors’ entrenched feelings of cop-loathing and entitlement.

While mayors and editorial boards postured, scolding the police one day and then wondering why they didn’t stop store-looting the next, the seasoned activists behind the visible Occupy encampments created no-go zones for the police on public property.  This disturbing development, like others, was accepted by authorities with barely a whimper, even when the result was serious crimes such as rapes.  Where were the feminist activists decrying Occupiers’ efforts to discourage rape victims — and witnesses — from cooperating to capture sex criminals?  Where were the allegedly pro-woman council members, and mayors?  The Occupiers’ strategy of creating ostentatious “safe zones” for women rather than using all their resources to unambiguously cooperate in capturing sex offenders placed them in the company of the disgraced football coaches of Penn State.

Quarantined tents for women to sleep in . . .

. . . while being watched over by designated monitors to prevent sexual assault in public parks: was this the utopia the Occupiers imagined?

Actually, it was.  A few raped women, and men, was apparently not a price too high to pay for striking another blow at law enforcement (in activist argot, the “fascist police state”).

Behind the visible faces of the Occupy movement — students worried about repaying their loans, aging peaceniks, and drug-addicted hangers-on — there was a wide range of professional activist organizations united in principle and practice.  The principle is dismantling capitalism, and the practice is delegitimizing capitalist institutions.  While the street protests have largely gone away, and it is not yet known if there will be disruptions at the Tampa Republican National Convention, these activists are doing precisely what they have always done: plotting the next surprise attack in their ongoing revolution against Western Civilization.

The professionals occupying the Occupy movement will continue to do so even as the movement itself disperses like a thousand cockroaches scattering before the arrival of the bug man.  Long before the first tent went up in Zuchotti Park, Angela Davis’ Critical Resistance “cop-watch” organization was teaching activists to writhe and scream for the cameras while being handcuffed, and the anarchist collective Ruckus Society was publishing how-to manuals with detailed instructions for invading buildings, disrupting mass transit and cargo movement, and maximizing chaos in the streets, while the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyer’s Guild, and the A.C.L.U. continued their tradition of defending such lawbreaking.

To wit, check out the poorly-named AdBusters, which is really one big advertisement advertising against advertisements by others . . . while its well-heeled editors direct the Occupt “revolutionaries” from very nice lofts elsewhere.  But they’re ironic, you see:

In its own sweet way, our movement is now moving beyond the Zuccotti model and developing a tactical imperative of its own: Small groups of fired up second generation occupiers acting independently, swiftly and tenaciously pulling off myriad visceral local actions, disrupting capitalist business-as-usual across the globe.

The next big bang to capture the world’s imagination could come not from a thousand encampments but from a hundred thousand ephemeral jams… a global cascade of flash encampments may well be what this hot Summer will look like.

Meanwhile, tents are up once again in Tahrir Square and youth from Quebec to Auckland toMoscow to Oakland are rising up against a future that does not compute.

Stay loose, play jazz, keep the faith … Capitalism is crashing and our movement has just begun.

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

While the Tampa City Council pretends that they are negotiating with the ACLU to ensure orderly and “fair” protests at the upcoming Republican convention, Adbusters is busy recommending that these protesters join forces with the most violent and radical groups for the next phase of the revolution.  Conveniently, they publish their numbers, so the Tampa politicians don’t need to, like, Google them or anything:

Decide for yourself which groups you respect then call them for a chat or send them an email or a tweet. Ruckus Society is at 510-931-6339,ruckus@ruckus.org, @Ruckusociety; Rainforest Action Network at 415-398-4404,answers@ran.org, @RAN… Let’s nudge our friends back into the Occupy camp . . .

While it has become a cliche to say so, every one of these activist groups enjoys funding from George Soros, who not only provides millions to the legal organizations listed above but also donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to subsidize the Ruckus Society’s workshops teaching rope skills and building invasion techniques and the virulent anti-police rhetoric from Critical Resistance and the dozens of groups coordinated through the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Movement Support Coalition.

The police have always stood on the front lines against such groups, while the rest of us have the luxury of watching from a distance.  The Occupy protests are merely the latest battleground in an ongoing war on police.  What will happen in Tampa in August?  With the Mayor and members of the City Council playing patty-cake with the ACLU, rather than behaving like adults and representing the taxpayers who fund them, only two things are certain:

It’s going to be hot, and when the cops aren’t busy handing out water bottle to protesters, they’re going to be under attack by them.  What should the rest of us do?  Make sure the people we elected remember the difference between a cop handing a protester a water bottle and the protester throwing a bottle of something else back at the cop.  It’s simple, really, but somehow the politicians just don’t get it.

“Grassroots” Prisoner Strikes in California Actually Funded Directly by George Soros

8 comments

The hunger strikes at several California prisons this summer may have seemed like spontaneous uprisings against torturous conditions.  That’s how many incurious souls in the fourth estate are portraying them.  To wit, this hand-wringing Washington Post editorial highlighting the “tragic modesty” of prisoner demands:

DOZENS OF INMATES at California’s Pelican Bay facility went on hunger strikes for several weeks this summer for what seemed like pitifully modest demands: “Allow one photo per year. Allow one phone call per week. Allow wall calendars.”  What would prompt such drastic measures in the quest for such modest goals? Answer: The protest was an exasperated and understandable reaction to the invisible brutality that is solitary confinement. Some of the Pelican Bay inmates have been held in “security housing units” for years; those tagged as gang members can expect to stay there for six years, with no certainty that they will be reintegrated into the general population even if they renounce gang membership.  When an inmate is holed up alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day with no meaningful human contact, a photograph of a loved one or a weekly telephone call can help to forge a connection with the outside world. With little or no exposure to natural light, a calendar can help forestall losing all track of time, all sense of reality. These simple privileges, in short, can help ward off insanity.

Well, that sounds just horrible.  Why wouldn’t the cruel prison wardens allow a mere snapshot, or wall calendar?

Because the protests weren’t really about family pictures or calendars.  Because the inmates, and particularly their leadership, weren’t really harmless and misunderstood “ex” gang members in the first place.  Because the dozens of well-funded activist organizations who played the media like dumb fiddles aren’t telling the truth about either their tactics or goals.

The whole thing was a set-up, and any fish smarter than many fish in the MSM would have smelled something fishy and swum away from the bait.

Rainy Taylor, “Bay Area Revolution Club”

While the national and international media were busy wringing their hands over the seemingly sentimental prisoner demands, and dumbly reprinting activist agitprop as facts, local news sources like the Sacramento Bee bothered to ask real questions about the policy being protested — Secured Housing Units (SHU), cellblocks which isolate dangerous, disruptive, and gang-related prisoners from the rest of the prison population:

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [] said they will review policies on how the agency determines which inmates are believed to be gang leaders who are then placed in a security housing unit.

But they insist that inmates inside the SHU, including several who have identified themselves as leaders of the hunger strike, pose a serious threat to others and are there for very good reasons. [emphasis added]

The state’s security housing units were designed as prisons within prisons to house the most dangerous criminals. While SHU inmates are largely isolated from other prisoners, corrections officials say, they still have certain amenities available to them.

“They have 23 channels, including ESPN,” [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. “I think that’s something that’s far from extreme isolation from the rest of the world.”

These guys get cable, including ESPN.  I certainly don’t pay for that.  Yet they claim they’re striking because they lack “wool caps” for “wintertime.”  Such demands don’t pass any smell test.  They are deliberately designed to create an impression that the prisoners are shivering in the cold, not sitting around watching Sports Center.

Inmates in California SHU watching cable TV . . . what, no HBO?

Yet the “wool caps for winter” campaign was repeated uncritically by media sources throughout the world.  Al Jazeera English published a wildly misleading editorial by one prominent Soros-funded activist, Issac Ontiveros, who calls SHUs “torture.”  For good measure, Ontiveros’ editorial throws in a bunch of other deceptive agitprop painting the U.S. as a “prison industrial complex” that must be overthrown.  He repeats all the activists’ greatest hits, bluntly lying about the real circumstances of mass murderer George Jackson’s death, whitewashing the horrific, racially motivated killings perpetrated by Jackson, and downplaying the murders of prisoners and guards by other prisoners during the Attica riots.  Racial accusation?  Check.  Denial of violence by “activists”?  Check.  America equals police state?  Check.

This is the type of “news” about America being disseminated around the world, all subsidized by George Soros.

Quite astonishingly, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee is actually using photos of the bloody Attica riots to illustrate their demands on behalf of the current California hunger strikers.  This is the coalition homepage:

Get it?  Give in and end the practice of secured housing units for offenders who stab prison guards, or . . . prisoners will riot and stab a bunch of prison guards.

~~~

Back on Planet Sanity, the San Jose Mercury News bothers to document real conditions in the SHUs, plus the behind-bars behavior that landed some of the benighted residents of California’s Secure Housing Units in secure housing to begin with:

Many of the inmates on the tour were housed in pairs in cells stocked with televisions and books. The cells had doors perforated with dozens of tiny holes, instead of standard prison bars, to make it more difficult for inmates to pass items from one to another.

In one area, two inmates in neighboring cells played virtual chess, calling out their moves to one another.

Inmates do have contact with other prisoners, staff and visitors, including spending more than an hour each day in exercise yards, [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. They have 23 cable television channels, reading materials, access to a law library and learning materials, and can correspond with family and friends.

Conditions are “far from what we think is torturous,” Hidalgo said, though some violent inmates and purported gang leaders are kept physically separated.

Three of the state’s prisons have such units, housing about 3,800 of the state’s 161,500 inmates.

Inmates sent to the unit “have essentially earned their way,” Hidalgo said. “They have numerous assaults on inmates, they have numerous assaults on staff, they have to be isolated for their protection and for the protection of other inmates. These are predatory-type inmates, and we need to ensure they are not harmful to others.” . . .

He said the strike originated in the unit’s “short corridor,” home to 202 top gang leaders. The department provided background on five strike leaders at the request of The Associated Press. They include:

— Todd Ashker, 48, who prison officials contend is a high-ranking member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood. He’s serving 21 years to life for a killing another inmate at Folsom State Prison in 1987, the latest in a long series of convictions. He’s accused of stabbing five inmates and assaulted three employees in prison.

— Danny Troxell, 58, of the Aryan Brotherhood, who’s serving 26 years to life for a Fresno County murder. He’s accused of six assaults on other inmates.

— Arturo Castellanos, 50, of the Mexican Mafia, serving 26 years to life for a Los Angeles County murder. He’s accused of stabbing six inmates in prison.

— Ronnie Dewberry, 53, the Black Guerrilla Family’s “minister of education” in charge of orienting and indoctrinating other inmates. He is serving 25 years to life for an Alameda County murder.

— George Franco, 46, of Nuestra Familia, serving 15 years to life for a Santa Clara County murder.

Hidalgo said the strike was coordinated by gang leaders who normally are sworn enemies.

~~~

In order to understand the professional activists orchestrating the hunger strikes, you first have to understand that they view incarceration itself, whatever the crime, as illegitimate.  Their goal, stated openly, is to “empty all prisons.”  Yet, such extreme statements don’t place them beyond the pale in the progressive Left, who largely view America as a fascist police state.  The tone of this activism has grown increasingly extreme, even though public relations efforts often mute the rhetoric for certain audiences.  The current anti-incarceration movement is more powerful and more dangerous than their outré predecessors such as the original Black Panthers.  Unlike these former groups, the current movement’s leaders wield tremendous influence in public policy and legal policy organizations, as well as in the current Justice Department and other government bureaucracies.

Coordinated actions like the California hunger strikes also demonstrate the reach of such extremism into taxpayer-funded institutions like the California university system.  Several movement leaders are tenured professors whose activism is really their only academic work — activism subsidized by the taxpaying victims of the super-thugs being housed in SHU units.

Here are just a few of the activist groups involved in inventing the recent hunger strike.  In one way or another, nearly all these groups are bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation:

Critical Resistance — founded by well-reimbursed, Communist, taxpayer-employed, “professor” Angela Davis, Critical Resistance is dedicated to eliminating prisons entirely.  Their mission statement:

We call our vision “abolition”, and take the name purposefully from those who called for the abolition of slavery in the 1800’s. Abolitionists believed that slavery could not be fixed or reformed – it needed to be abolished. As PIC [Prison Industrial Complex] abolitionists today, we also do not believe that reforms can make the PIC just or effective. Our goal is not to improve the system; it is to shrink the system into non-existence.

All of Us Or None — AOUON is at the forefront of a dangerous new legal campaign: promoting lawsuits against corporations like Home Depot when such deep-pocketed targets deign to choose to not hire ex-cons with criminal records.  That’s right — employers everywhere may soon be facing civil rights lawsuits if they choose any non-felon over a felon, or take applicants’ criminal histories into account in any way.  How would you like to not know the criminal background of your kid’s teacher — or your mom’s nursing home aide — or that guy Home Depot sent over to hang the new cabinets?  Disturbingly, Eric Holder is grandstanding on this issue and deploying the resources of the Department of Justice to “research” such discrimination claims.  The EEOC is, of course, on board through Holder’s Cabinet Level Prisoner Re-Entry working group.

Good luck not hiring muggers and robbers in the future.  See here for more shocking details.

Aw, heck.  The day is growing short.  I’ll just list the rest of the organizations agitating for wool hats for violent offenders.  Remember, all of these groups have joined hands with radicals seeking the release of all prisoners and the total elimination of incarceration.  Some things to ponder when reading this list:  Do most of these organizations and “organizations” really look like grassroots groups?  How many are part of the vast activist astroturfing being coordinated through “civil liberties” legal foundations?  How many are extreme left-wing or openly communist political and legal groups rebranding themselves as social justice advocates?  How many are directly or indirectly funded by George Soros?

[Answer: No, Lots, The Rest of Them, and Almost All the Big Ones]

A Better Way Foundation
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Los Angeles, CA
ACLU of California (Read Statement here)
ACLU of Mississippi
AIDs Foundation Chicago
All of Us or None
American Civil Liberties Union (National)
American Friends Service Committee
American Gruner: Coalition of Latino Leaders

American Public Health Association (Prisoner Health Committee, Medical Care Section)

ANSWER
Arkansas Voice for the Children Left Behind
Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco)
Black Awareness Community Development Organization
Breakout!, New Orleans, LA
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross
Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety (BLOCS) –Atlanta, GA
Cafe Intifada
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Prison Focus
California Prison Moratorium Project
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Campaign to End Prison Slavery (UK)
Campaign to End the Death Penalty (Read statement here)
Cante Wanjila Native American Reentry and Support Project, South Dakota
Center for Community Alternatives
Center for Constitutional Rights (National) (Read statement here)
Center for New Community (national)
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, RI
Center for Young Women’s Development
Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar
Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective (NC) (Read Statement here)
Chicago Anti-Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective
Chuco’s Justice Center
CLAC Legal Committee
Coalition for Prisoners Rights
COMITÉ DE SOUTIEN DE LA GRÈVE DE LA FAIM / HUNGERSTRIKE SUPPORT COMMITTEE
Comité pour un Secours rouge canadien
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community justice network for youth
Community Restoration Services (Los Angeles)
Courage to Resist (Read statement here)
Critical Resistance
CUAV: Community United Against Violence (San Francisco)
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Denver Anarchist Black Cross
Detention Watch Network
East Bay Saturday Diaologues with Dr. Nancy Arvold & April Schlenk
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fair Chance– Los Angeles Project
Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth
Families to Amend California’s Three-Strikes (FACTS)
FedCURE
Florida Immigration Coalition (Miami, FL)
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Archives
Freedom Inc (Madison WI)
Fresno County Brown Berets
Friends Committee of Legislation on California
Frontline Soldiers
Generation 5
Glen Cove Solidarity
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Human Rights Coalition- Fed Up! (Pittsburg)
Immigrant Workers’ Center
Immigration Law Clinic of UC Davis Law School
International Action Center
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Council for Urban Peace, Justice & Empowerment
International Health Workers for Peace Over Profit (Read Statement here)International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, SF Bay Area Chapter
Justice for Families
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Kemba Smith Foundation
Kersplebedeb
L’En-Droit de Laval
La Raza Centro Legal
Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA
LAGAI-Queer Insurrection
Law Office of Rebecca Young, East Boston, MA
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Little Lake Learning Center
Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network (Read statement here)
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (Read statement here)
Merced County Brown Berets
Milk Not Jails, New York
MIM Prisons
Modesto Anarcho Crew
Modesto Copwatch
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Jericho Movement
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild University of Pittsburg Chapter
National Policy Partnership for Children of the Incarcerated
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (Read statement here)
NC Piece Corps
Needle Exchange Emergency Program
New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter
New York City Anarchist Black Cross Federation
New York City Anti-Racist Action
November Coalition
Oakland Community Action Network
Oakland Education Association (OEA) Peace & Justice Caucus (Read Statement here)
Osiris Coalition
Parolees for Change (Los Angeles)
Parti communiste révolutionnaire
Pathways To Your FuturePeace & Justice of La Luz, New Mexico
Peace Over Violence Los Angeles
People’s Commission NetworkPeople’s Organization for Progress (NJ)
Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center (NY)
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Health News
Prison Law Office. (Read Statement here)
Prison Policy Institute, Massachusetts
Prison Radio
Prison Radio Show CKUT 90.3 FM Montreal
Prison Watch Network
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
QPIRG Concordia
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Redwood Curtain Copwatch
Registered Society within Association for Probation and Offenders’ Assistance, Germany
Republicans for Change
Resurrection After Exoneration, New Orleans, LA
Rethinking Schools
Revolution Newspaper
Revolutionary Athletes Worldwide (R.A.W.)
Revolutionary Hip Hop Report
Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Safe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LA
San Francisco Women in Black.
SF Pride at Work/HAVOQ (Read statement here)
Shabazz Legal Services
Socialist Action
Solidarity Across Borders
Southern California Library
Stanislaus County Radical Mental Health
Stop the Injunctions Coalition
TalkBLACK, Atlanta, GA
Tamms Year Ten, Illinois
Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth
The Mobilization to Free Mumia-Abu Jamal
The New Orleans Loiterers Union
The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT)
The New York Task Force for Political Prisoners
The Outs
The Termite Collective
The WE Project, Los Angeles
Time for Change Foundation
Toronto Anarchist Black Cross
Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois
Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project
UHURU Solidarity Movement
United for Drug Policy Reform (Oakland, CA)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United National Anti-War Committee
United Panther Movement
Urban Justice Center (New York City)
Vermont Action for Political Prisoners
Visions to Peace Project, Washington, D.C.
Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE)
Voices Unbroken
W. Haywood Burns Institute
WESPAC Foundation (NYC)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Pajaro Valley Chapter
Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Women’s Prison Book Project (Minneapolis, MN)
World Can’t Wait

Fascinatingly, the Open Society Foundation isn’t on the list.  But they don’t really need to be: they are the list.

~~~

If you like this report and other stories published at Crime Victims Media Report, please consider making a donation at our Paypal button.  Donations of any size are greatly appreciated, and they enable me to do this work.

If you are victim of crime and feel you were denied justice, or if want to thank the police and prosecutors who supported you and sought justice, contact me at tinatrent2@yahoo.com.  I can’t guarantee I can personally be of assistance, but I may be able to steer you to other resources and organizations, or help you tell your story.

If you have suggestions for stories or are media seeking pro-prosecution, pro-incarceration, victims’ rights perspectives from an experienced state lobbyist and academic, type “media” in the heading and send your query to tinatrent2@yahoo.com.

Tom Walker, Malcolm Bernarde Taylor, Alicia Martinez, Jeffrey John Wallace: Murdered By Judicial Lenience in Colorado

1 comment

All sorts of uninformed people, like governors and editorial writers, complain that we put people away for far too long. Judges whine that their hands are tied because of the horrors of minimum mandatory sentencing.  Even conservative anti-government types, often egged on by the statistical fibs and confabulations of the pro-pot-libertatian-wing of their movement, see the prison system as a bloated bureaucracy ripe for slashing.

They don’t know what they’re talking about.  They have no idea what it takes to end up in state prison, and what types of animals will be released by their careless demands for “reform.”  Chatter about emptying the prisons and creating even more (yes, we have plenty already) “alternatives to incarceration” leave the defense bar giggling into their thinning ponytails in anticipation of all the serial sex offenders and vicious adolescent gunmen, and murderers they’re going to be getting off in the next few years.

Let’s meet a few:

Lonnie Hyram Johnson, Utah

Lonnie Hyram Johnson won a sort of trifecta from judges who seem only to have been merely amused by his propensity to rape children.  First, in 2006, some judge in Washington State gave him less than a year to serve for raping a teenage girl.  After that, other child victims — his niece and her cousin — came forward to report that Johnson raped, sodomized and molested them repeatedly between 2001 and 2006.  He faces 20 felony counts, with lifetime sentences.  But despite the fact that he served time in Washington, apparently without any problems, Utah has declared him too competent for civil commitment but too incompetent to stand trial due to a “cognitive disorder.”  What’s that?  A cognitive disorder could be, say, fear of spiders.  Or mild depression.  So Lonnie Johnson might be slightly depressed at the thought that there could be spiders in prison.  And no little girls to rape.  So he’s being released.  Next stop: Salt Lake City.

Onto Denver:

Edward Romero, Colorado

Ah, the joys of alternatives-to-incarceration. States like Colorado save big bucks on their prison budgets.  Plus, with all those tax dollars being shoveled through Eric Holder’s “Prisoner Reentry” cult, there’s lots of money in not putting people into prison these days, lots of loud activist groups on the ground drawing those federal dollars to “educate” and “rehabilitate” and “job train” these offenders back into states of goodness and light (and then, of course, to report back to the in-house bean-counters that their rehabilitation programs are roaring successes).  Everybody wins, sort of.  All these guys needed was a hand up, right?

Edward Romero, for instance, got a hand.  In fact, thanks to the good state of Colorado, he got an entire body, Alicia Martinez, a sixteen-year old girl he kidnapped and mutilated.  The authorities asked the media to not report the details of the crime because the young woman had to be identified through dental records.  Romero was under “intensive supervised probation” for a serious previous crime when he killed Martinez.  What’s one young girl’s life really worth?  After all, the state saved some $30,000 a year by not putting Romero away.  And isn’t that what really matters?

Is it unfair to paint the whole system red because of one rogue mutilator? But wait, there’s more.  The Denver Post compiled a list of ten probationers who committed murder or attempted murder while living the dream of alternatives-to-incarceration.

David Thomas Orton

David Thomas Orton.  Nice guy.  Beat his wife, terrorized his children, got probation, then shot at the cops.  Charged with ten counts of attempted murder.  It’s nice to see prosecutors using the attempted murder charge: there’s no point in awarding leniency just because you have bad aim.

Christopher Rodney . . . no, wait, Denver Judge Edward Bronfin

Heck, let’s just show the judge’s face.  Judge Edward Bronfin apparently decided to believe that four months in prison was adequate punishment for Christopher Rodney after Rodney nearly beat a man to death:

Denver Police arrested Rodney in 2009, charging him with a vicious, random beating and robbery. It was a crime that landed him a 6 year prison term but a Denver judge released him in just 4 months.  Rodney confessed to the Nov. 8, 2009, assault on a man who had just gotten off an RTD bus at a downtown bus stop.  A videotape obtained by CBS4 shows Rodney and a second suspect attacking their victim from behind at the Denver bus stop, pummeling him with fists and feet until the man lost consciousness. Rodney stole the man’s cell phone.

On June 1, 2010, court records show Rodney pleaded guilty to robbery and assault for the 2009 case. Citing the extreme violence and the random nature of the crime, Denver prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Rodney to 8 years in prison.  Denver District Court Judge Edward Bronfin sentenced Rodney to 6 years in prison and agreed to allow him to return to court in 4 months for a sentence reconsideration hearing.  Rodney was back in Bronfin’s courtroom Oct. 15, 2010. He had been imprisoned for 4 months of a 6 year prison term. Bronfin decided Rodney had served enough time. The judge cut the inmate’s sentence from 6 years behind bars to 3 years probation and Rodney was freed.

Now that’s the kind of judicial performance that wins brownie points with Eric Holder’s Justice Department.  After all, Christopher Rodney was only 19 when he got himself caught up in this “attack an innocent person getting off a bus and beat them into unconsciousness” thing, and Holder is hellbent on making sure young men don’t get “caught up” in the criminal justice system.

But it looks like Rodney would have better off in prison:

The next time the judge and prosecutors heard from Rodney was this week when he was arrested for the murder of Jeffrey John Wallace, 4 months after Judge Bronfin ordered Rodney be placed on intensive supervised probation and released from prison.  “I don’t know what the judge’s reasoning or thinking was behind the sentence reconsideration. And we’re horrified when we see previous defendants come back around under these kinds of circumstances. It’s a bad day,” said [Denver DA Spokesman Lynn] Kimbrough.

Judge Bronfin is refusing to explain his sentencing decision.

And how does the judge get away with not explaining himself?  A life was lost because he indulged in some fantasy that he was saving poor, misunderstood Christopher Rodney.  Rodney apparently wrote a long, plaintive letter to the judge, talking about his dreams and plans and saying he needed a second chance to make his life better:

“I would really like a second chance to live in the society like a regular person,” wrote Rodney. “I want to be a regular upstanding citizen in the society that takes care of real responsibilities . . . I am sincerely sorry for all the trouble and problems I caused. So in saying all that I would really appreciate a chance to do what’s necessary to change my life and be successful,” wrote Rodney.

When judges indulge themselves by imagining that they are heroes, rescuing the downtrodden, and something of course goes horribly wrong, there are only two possible  choices.  They can acknowledge that their narcissism cost someone a life, or they can hide and pretend it didn’t happen, denying the value of all victims’ lives.  Any judge who chooses the latter should be forcibly removed from the bench.  Are victims worth so little?

Apparently so.

What really happens is that judges whose self-indulgence cost lives often end up becoming more and more radicalized, deifying defendants in order to legitimate and cover up their own fatal mistakes.  There’s a huge reward system in this choice — honors from the offender-centric law school world, kudos and election support from well-heeled anti-incarceration activists, affection and free passes from many in the media, and thanks from the radical budget-cutters and sundry reformed former felons on the Right.

Plus, you get to feel persecuted: “They’ve got it in for me, you know” you can whisper over the rim of your chardonnay glass at the next A.C.L.U. Awards Banquet.

It’s a nice life.  Nicer than being strangled to death by Christopher Rodney, for sure.

But there’s more wrong with the system than judges who look in the mirror and thinks they’re seeing Gregory Peck.  When we talk about “alternatives to prison,” we’re frequently talking about parole and probation systems that are nothing more than a colossal joke.  Everyone knows this, but nobody does anything.  Given his magic candy-bar second chance, Christopher Rodney immediately capitalized on it by embarking on a consequence-free course of complete disregard for the terms of his parole:

He missed mandatory treatment, tested positive for marijuana, got into a car wreck while fighting with his brother and punched a wall during an argument with his girlfriend. All the incidents were known to his probation officer; none was enough to get that officer to seek revocation.

Yadda yadda yadda.  The system was teaching Christopher Rodney to assume that authority is illegitimate.  Good thing he didn’t end up shooting a cop.

Like Aaron Davon Williams did:

Aaron Davon Williams, 20, was convicted of burglary for breaking into a Denver home in 2009 and sentenced to two years of probation. A judge revoked his probation Jan. 14, after a probation officer reported that he found guns in Williams’ home and that Williams shoved a probation officer during a home visit.  Police say Williams shot an Aurora police officer in the leg after a traffic stop March 17. Williams then fled to an apartment building, where he held a family of four hostage.  He was shot after he exited the apartment through a window. Police say he was holding a handgun when several officers fired.

At least that cop survived. Deputy Sam Brownlee, shot by yet another special parolee, Ruben Reyes, did not.

Ruben Reyes

Reyes was granted mere parole after trying to kill a passerby in a road rage incident.  He beat the man and tried to run him over.  What does it take to receive a prison sentence?  Apparently more than that.  He was a known gang member with a long criminal history:

Reyes has a criminal history, including July convictions for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and underage drinking in Morgan County, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. He was convicted of felony menacing with a real or simulated weapon in February.  Reyes, who went by the street names, “Demon” and “Smiley,” also had previous arrests for assault causing serious bodily injury and driving under the influence of drugs, according to CBI records.

So none of these things landed him behind bars, and now an innocent police officer is dead.  Reyes is the type of offender whose record gets erased over the course of multiple decisions to drop charges.  This behavior enables academicians to make claims that X% of young men are behind bars for “only burglary,” or “only fighting,” or “only drugs” and should be freed, and people (and politicians) believe them.  This thug seriously wounded at least two people and tried to kill one of them before murdering a cop.  Still his family got together with anti-incarceration activist Denver Attorney Michael Evans and tried to sue the city for “causing” Reyes death.  It’s worth reading this exchange, if only to let the sheer perversity wash over you:

The attorney for the family of a man who shot and killed a Weld County Sheriff’s deputy demanded an apology from Sheriff John Cooke for the killing of the gunman . . .Denver attorney Michael Evans sent a notice early this week to Cooke and to the Greeley and Evans police departments warning that Rueben Reyes’ family could file a civil lawsuit for $250,000 plus punitive damages unless they could reach a settlement.. .  .After Cooke said the notice was an attempt to make money, attorney Evans sent the e-mail letter to the sheriff, stating: “This case is not about the money. Its (sic) about the value of human life, or the complete disregard for it.”

The attorney then told Cooke the Reyes family has agreed to release the sheriff’s office from any civil lawsuit if the sheriff takes the following actions:

1. You will write a personal letter to the family apologizing for the loss of Mr. Reyes;

2. Promise to correct your agencies (sic) policies and procedures (which even your own investigative review panel agrees are faulty);

3. Discipline or terminate those individuals who are responsible choosing not to act to save Mr. Reyes’ life at the scene.

Cooke said of the letter written to him: “It’s very unethical to send me an e-mail like that. He knows I have an attorney, and they know they should deal with my attorney and not directly with me.” . . . Attorney Evans set a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday for Cooke to take action on the demands, and “If you don’t accept, then I guess you would have to agree that its (sic) really not about the money after all.”

What a tool.  But I digress.

Among the ten Denver parolees re-arrested for murder or attempted murder, five of them took innocent lives.  Kevin McGregor shot football player Tom Walker during a robbery in Boulder.  McGregor had been released early from prison by yet another Denver judge:

More than two years before Kevin Michael McGregor was accused of fatally shooting a University of New Hampshire football player during a botched robbery on University Hill, he helped rob a man in south Boulder by stabbing the victim in the head, police reported.  He was convicted by a jury in that case of charges including second-degree assault and third-degree assault, and he was sentenced May 22, 2009, to five years in prison. But he asked for a sentence reconsideration 120 days later, and on Jan. 11, 2010, Boulder County District Court Judge Gwyneth Whalen agreed to allow McGregor to leave prison and instead serve a three-year probation sentence.

Kevin McGregor

McGregor took an innocent life, that of a brave young man who tried to rescue a young woman who was being robbed at gunpoint by McGregor.  He’d previously stabbed a victim in the head during an armed robbery.  What is the matter with judges in Colorado?

New Hampshire football player Tom Walker, slain by paroled felon Kevin McGregor

Judge Whalen isn’t talking, either.  McGregor’s attorney argued that he had learned his lesson, that he was improving himself, and that, if he stayed in prison, he might be the victim of violence.  The judge believed him, and Tom Walker died:

[Attorney Keith] Pope . . . argued that his client should be let out of prison because the Boulder County Probation Department recommended McGregor be sentenced to community corrections based on his minimal criminal history, stable employment history and need for substance-abuse treatment.  “The Probation Department further noted that Mr. McGregor had been compliant with the conditions of his bond prior to trial, had been attending community college and had expressed remorse for his involvement in this matter,” according to a motion filed for McGregor’s sentence reconsideration.  McGregor, who was 19 at the time, had not been a problem while in jail and prison, suggesting “amenability to community-based sentencing,” according to the motion. And if McGregor stayed in prison, Pope argued, he would be “prone to victimization” because of his youth.

You see, he was young, which worked in his favor.  And a drug addict, which worked in his favor.  And a potential community college student, which worked in his favor.  In the sickening world of mitigation, absolutely everything works in defendants’ favor.  Even the fact that they committed an horrific crime is transformed into a learning experience:

[A]unt, Sue Petracek, wrote in an e-mail that she believed McGregor’s eyes had been opened “to the pitfalls of some kinds of loyalty” through his recent experiences, and he was ready “to take responsibility for what he makes of his life going forward.”

How nice.  Another relative shamelessly made up stories about McGregor’s kindness to animals (you know, except the human animal into whose skull he drove a knife):

Family members supportive of McGregor’s release wrote letters for the court at the time of his sentence reconsideration, saying he was a man with “very strong core values.”  “His compassionate nature is really expressed when he deals with children and animals,” McGregor’s aunt Sandy McCallister wrote in an e-mail. “I know Kevin to be very responsible and trustworthy. Kevin understands the value of family and good friends and has always had a respectful, sensitive, happy nature.”

~~~

So how much did this orgy of judicial lenience end up costing Colorado taxpayers? That’s ten crime scenes; five murders; five death investigations; four potential death penalty trials (one killer was shot by police).  Plus life behind bars for the surviving four killers; medical bills for one suspect; medical bills for two police and two victims wounded by gunshots, including a severely wounded cab drive shot in the chest; medical and counseling bills for several other surviving victims, including child hostages; two attempted murder trials, and long (hopefully life-long) incarcerations for the two surviving attempted murderers.

Plus, defense lawyers for the six surviving defendants, whose lives are over, for those who care.  The other four defendants’ lives are literally over.

Not to mention the pain and suffering of the survivors, and the hell the murder victims’ families will now endure as they spend the rest of their lives sitting like ghosts in courtrooms watching the legal system enact its criminal-centric charade.

Let’s see the savings in that.

War on Cops: It Takes a Village to Kill a Cop

no comments

Last spring was a bloody time for police officers. Chicago buried three officers in fast succession.  Tampa/St. Pete, where I live, saw two officers gunned down and two more wounded (seven more police in Florida, three in Tampa/St. Pete alone, have been shot to death since then).  Nationwide, by the end of the year, 59 cops had been murdered in shootings.  The previous year, 2009, ended on a bloody note, too.  On November 29, in Lakewood, Washington, Maurice Clemmons gunned down four officers as they sat eating breakfast in a restaurant.

Maurice Clemmons

Despite a lifelong history of extreme violence and mental instability, Clemmons’ primary experience of the justice system was “catch and release,” that is, the police caught him, and everybody else let him go.  So when he went really off the deep end, is it any wonder that he picked cops — and not judges, or lawyers, or parole board members, or politicians — for his targets?  Then-Arkansas-Governor Mike Huckabee pardoned Clemmons in 1999 despite a disturbing and precocious record of violence on the streets and while in custody.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee grandstanded about his Christian motives for releasing Clemmons and other predators, as Clemmons immediately began committing crimes again: aggravated robbery, theft, parole violation.  But Arkansas justice officials continued their pattern of leniency: he managed to get out of one ten-year sentence in only two years, and his parole violations were simply ignored.  A free man, Clemmons moved to Washington in 2004.

In 2009, he assaulted neighbors, passing cars, a police officer and jail employees.  Yet in the amnesiatic calculus of sentencing, he was only charged with a fraction of these assaults and was released on bail.  That week, he sexually assaulted two young nieces and held them captive.  Arrested again, he was evaluated by psychologists who said that he was dangerous, but another judge granted him bail.

Unsurprisingly, Clemmons also ignored the terms of that bail: he had been taught by “the system” that breaking the law after an arrest is frequently overlooked.  Arkansas authorities notified Washington state and said they didn’t care that he had violated parole in their state, so he was not extradited.  He purchased guns and showed them to several relatives and friends, telling them that he was going to kill policemen and schoolchildren.  He did this at a Thanksgiving dinner at which he was apparently welcomed despite the sexual assault of his child relatives.  He talked there about his plans to cut off his GPS monitor in order to lure police to his house to kill them.  Nobody called the police to warn them.  He cut the GPS monitor off his ankle, and nothing happened to him.  He even told people that he had tried to drive to a police station to start shooting people but had experienced car problems.  Nobody dialed 911.

The story of Maurice Clemmons is like a fable where people drift slowly towards a crisis, seemingly without the means to veer away.  Yet this is not true: anyone might have alerted police that Clemmons had purchased a weapon and was planning to use it to kill innocent police officers and schoolchildren.  On the other hand, what if someone did dial 911?  The police know that the Maurice Clemmons of the world are protected by many rules and just as many exceptions to rules.  What if they picked him up, and the incident turned into an ambush where others were hurt?  They would be blamed for framing an “innocent” man, a man who had “done nothing more than complain about police brutality in the past,” as the story would doubtlessly be told.  The child-rapes, threats, previous assaults on authorities, and Clemmons’ criminal past would all be erased in favor of an image of a persecuted minority man.  This is precisely the way the shameless Christian Science Monitor spun the story of another cop-killer in Georgia this week.   Thus are the flames of anti-police hatred fanned.

A fellow Arkansas felon who was also in violation of parole drove Clemmons to the town of Lakewood.  When the men saw a police car, Clemmons got out, walked into the restaurant where four officers were sharing breakfast, and shot them dead: Mark Renninger, 39; Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards, 42.  Clemmons’ friend drove him away, and other people, including his sister, helped him escape town. Someone phoned in a false tip to police, which delayed his capture and endangered innocent people.  Clemmons was finally caught two days later, when his car broke down.  Armed with a dead officer’s gun, he charged another police officer, who shot him.

It takes a village to kill four policemen. Mike Huckabee, judges and parole board members in two states, Clemmons’ relatives and friends, his wife, his aunt, and his sister: they all contributed to the murders.  High-ranking court officials in two states made decisions that released Clemmons back into society no matter what he did and no matter what he said he would do next.  Psychologists said he was dangerous; he held two little girls captive, one for days, and sexually assaulted them, and still there were no immediate consequences, and he was welcomed by family and friends.  Only police tried to remove him from the streets, and only police died.

This is the real war on cops: it involves hatred, and negligence by many authorities who aren’t policemen.  All through 2010, when one officer after another was gunned down in Chicago, and Memphis, and Tampa, and Los Angeles, Barack Obama said nothing.  Eric Holder, “the nation’s top cop,” remained silent.

It may be disturbing, but their silence shouldn’t be surprising.  Both men have credentials that place them, politically, in opposition to police.  Throughout Holder’s career, he has taken extreme positions against police safety, representing terrorists and even securing the release of murderers who targeted cops.  It was incongruous for Holder to remain silent as men and women under his command experienced rising levels of violence.  But it would have also been incongruous had he chosen to speak out, given his previous alliances with anti-cop social movements.

Was it incongruous for Obama to insist on staging a televised “beer summit,” allegedly designed to ease tensions between blacks and police, without once acknowledging the rising death toll of police officers of all races?  Between the time when Harvard Professor Henry Gates was arrested and briefly detained, and Obama’s famous “beer summit” with Gates and the publicly chastened officer, six cops were killed or succumbed to wounds received in the line of duty.  Six cops dead in a little more than a week, and in the Rose Garden, not one word was said about the public’s responsibility towards cops, or the sacrifices these cops made to keep people safe.

Thus Henry Gates’ temporary discomfort at the hands of an officer who was actually just trying to protect Professor Gates’ property was deemed more important that the murders of six cops, so much more important that the dead police were not even part of the conversation.  This is a calculus, too.

Deputy Sheriff Robbie Chase Whitebird, Seminole County, OK; Deputy Sheriff Marvin Gene Williams, Seminole County, OK; Sgt. David Joseph Kinterknecht, Montrose, CO; Border Patrol Agent Robert Wimer Rosas, Jr.; Sgt. Steven Edward May, Modesto, CA; Detective Marc Anthony DiNardo, Jersey City, NJ.  Oklahoma, New Jersey, California, Colorado, Texas.  Six cops who died while the President and the Attorney General grandstanded against the police.

The “Beer Summit”

A year later, Obama and Holder still had nothing to say when violence against police took a terrible toll in their hometown, Chicago.  Thomas E. Wortham IV, a young Chicago officer who had ironically just returned from the memorial for murdered police officers in D.C., was gunned down in front of his father, a retired police officer.  Two other Chicago cops were soon dead, to resounding silence from the White House and the Justice Department.  Imagine how powerful it would have been if Obama had travelled to Chicago and talked about those deaths.  He did return to Chicago for a vacation at that time.  But he said nothing in public about the loss of policemen’s lives.

Police Officer Thomas E. Wortham IV, Police Officer Thor Odin Soderberg, Police Officer Michael Ray Bailey Sr., all Chicago PD.

According to the Officer Down website, since 2009 there have been 128 officers killed by gunfire, nine fatal assaults, and 21 vehicle assaults — 159 officers murdered in 27 months.  This represents a steep rise which continues to grow steeper this year.  Last week, Eric Holder finally acknowledged the war on cops.  But he wasn’t exactly passionate about it, the way he is with pro-offender issues, like “prisoner re-entry.”

He did announce one promising initiative:

Ask local prosecutors to identify the “worst of the worst” – offenders with criminal histories who cycle in and out of local jails and state prisons – and discuss whether any of these repeat offenders may be prosecuted under federal law for offenses that make the offender eligible for a stiffer sentence.

Considering the careers of men like Maurice Clemmons, that makes sense.  But it is also in direct conflict with scores of programs and research studies Holder has been sponsoring that single-mindedly promote “alternatives to incarceration,” the types of programs that enabled Clemmons to be out on the streets in the first place and fed his paranoid, obsessive hatred.  Such studies — academic activism, really — always manage to prove what the researchers were seeking: that incarceration “doesn’t work,” or is “unfair” merely because there are higher percentages of blacks than whites in prison.  These claims become powerful instruments in the political movements to roll back effective sentencing in the states, including sentencing for prolific recidivists like Clemmons, who directly benefitted from efforts to reduce sentences for people convicted of crimes at a young age (one of Holder’s most passionate causes).

So why use federal law to target recidivists while you’re also quietly undercutting laws in the states that target recidivists?

Philosophically and politically, Obama and Holder side with those who oppose the best measures that tackle offenders who pose the biggest risks to police: amoral adolescents with guns and repeat offenders who ought to be serving long sentences.  More importantly, through relentless talk about perceived racial injustices, Eric Holder has fed the paranoid anger of those who believe that law enforcement is illegitimate — this is, after all, the man who put his own career on the line to free FALN terrorists who targeted police and innocent civilians.

That, he certainly believed in.

Holder has a great deal more work to do before he proves that he is no longer accommodating the village that sees nothing wrong, and a great deal to recommend, in killing cops.  I don’t think the nation’s so-called “top cop” is really all that interested in protecting policemen’s lives.  Somebody has to say it.

From Murder Bumps to Brain Scans: New Ways to Excuse Crime

1 comment

All this week, NPR is reporting on new genetic research to determine if some people have genes that make them kill people.

That is, if by “report” you mean shamelessly advocate and if by “genetic research” you mean paying expert witnesses to misrepresent academic findings in the courtroom.

Bradley Waldroup: Destined to Kill?

In the subtly-titled “Can Your Genes Make You Murder?” reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty answers: Why of course, yes, if it will get that poor man in the trailer park off from shooting his wife’s best friend eight times and then hacking up his wife with a machete, and to heck with him being drunk and just deciding to do it!

When the police arrived at Bradley Waldroup’s trailer home in the mountains of Tennessee, they found a war zone. There was blood on the walls, blood on the carpet, blood on the truck outside, even blood on the Bible that Waldroup had been reading before all hell broke loose.

Note the “all hell broke loose” sentence construction, as if it wasn’t Waldroup doing something, but that something beyond his control was acting on him.  Like genes.  Or hell-ghosts.

Or maybe he became a zombie.

In other words, it took a mere one and a half sentences for Ms. Hagerty to start singing the defense attorney’s refrain of diminished capacity.

Assistant District Attorney Drew Robinson says that on Oct. 16, 2006, Waldroup was waiting for his estranged wife to arrive with their four kids for the weekend. He had been drinking, and when his wife said she was leaving with her friend, Leslie Bradshaw, they began to fight. Soon, Waldroup had shot Bradshaw eight times and sliced her head open with a sharp object. When Waldroup was finished with her, he chased after his wife, Penny, with a machete, chopping off her finger and cutting her over and over.

Ordinarily, this would be a slam-dunk murder conviction.  After all, it takes some time to pump eight bullets into an innocent woman and then tear around chopping up another one.  But then, enter the “experts”:

[Defense attorney Wylie] Richardson says he realized that the testimony at trial would be “very graphic.” The defense team, he says, did not try to dismantle the graphic evidence but rather sought to “give a broader and fuller picture of what that was.”  How to do that? The answer, it turned out, lay in Bradley Waldroup’s genes.

Wouldn’t that be “the defense said the answer lay in Bradley Waldroup’s genes”?  No?

Immediately, Richardson went to forensic psychiatrist William Bernet of Vanderbilt University and asked him to give Waldroup a psychiatric evaluation. Bernet also took a blood sample and brought it to Vanderbilt’s Molecular Genetics Laboratory. Since 2004, Bernet and laboratory director Cindy Vnencak-Jones have been analyzing the DNA of people like Waldroup.  They’ve tested some 30 criminal defendants, most of whom were charged with murder.

They’ve tested a whole 30 defendants since 2004.

They were looking for a particular variant of the MAO-A gene — also known as the warrior gene because it has been associated with violence. Bernet says they found that Waldroup has the high-risk version of the gene.

Oh no.  Not only does the killer have the Warrior Gene, he’s got the High Risk Warrior Gene!  And that’s not all.

“His genetic makeup, combined with his history of child abuse, together created a vulnerability that he would be a violent adult,” Bernet explains.

Remember when this used to be called phrenology?

You know, the discredited science of feeling people’s heads for things like “murder bumps” and promiscuity centers?

Boy, those Victorians sure were crazy.  And prejudiced, because, of course, phrenologists got busy fast dividing mankind into superior and inferior groupings by doing things like measuring people’s foreheads and noses, and you know where that ended up.

Phrenology also made policing easier, because you could simply categorize people by their physical characteristics and not wait for them to actually do anything wrong before sending them to the poorhouse.  Or Australia.

Thank goodness we’re far more advanced than those Victorians. Now we have experts convincing jurors that people can’t be held responsible for murders they actually did commit because their genes made them do it:

[Vanderbilt researcher William] Bernet cited scientific studies over the past decade that found that the combination of the high-risk gene and child abuse increases one’s chances of being convicted of a violent offense by more than 400 percent. He notes that other studies have not found a connection between the MAO-A gene and violence — but he told the jury that he felt the genes and childhood abuse were a dangerous cocktail.  “A person doesn’t choose to have this particular gene or this particular genetic makeup,” Bernet says. “A person doesn’t choose to be abused as a child. So I think that should be taken into consideration when we’re talking about criminal responsibility.”

So, essentially, Bernet “feels” a non-proven connection between violence and a gene that non-murderers also possess ought to mitigate culpability for violent acts.  Enough jurors bought this story:

[Juror] Debbie Beaty, says the science helped persuade her that Waldroup was not entirely in control of his actions.  “Evidently it’s just something that doesn’t tick right,” Beaty says. “Some people without this would react totally different than he would.”  And even though prosecutors tried to play down the genetic evidence, Beaty felt it was a major factor.  “A diagnosis is a diagnosis, it’s there,” she says. “A bad gene is a bad gene.”

Well, thank you, Dr. Beaty.

After 11 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted Waldroup of voluntary manslaughter — not murder — and attempted second-degree murder.  Prosecutor Drew Robinson was stunned.  “I was just flabbergasted. I did not know how to react to it,” Robinson says.  Nor did fellow prosecutor Cynthia Lecroy-Schemel. She worries that this sort of defense is the wave of the future.  “Anything that defense attorneys can have to latch onto to save their client’s life or to lessen their client’s culpability, they will do it,” Lecroy-Schemel says.  Waldroup’s attorney, Wylie Richardson, says she’s right.  “I would use it again” under the right circumstances, he says. “It seemed to work in this case.”

It seemed to work in this case. There’s a scientific standard we can all be proud of.

NPR’s Three-Part Series, Inside the Criminal Brain

Cop-Killers, Neil Boortz, and, Thank God for the Roberts Court

no comments

I get a lot of angry mail from people who are shocked and offended that anybody would deign to advocate for locking criminals up.  You know, using words.

Most of this mail is weirdly personal and tendentiously riffs on a few themes:

  • I’m for enforcing the law, so I must want innocent people to rot in jail.
  • I’m for locking up predators and thugs, so I must be a vengeful person who daydreams of pulling the switch on fuzzy puppies and other living things.
  • I must hate men, or minorities, or human beings in general, or myself in particular.
  • Furthermore, since I was a crime victim once, I cannot be trusted to express any opinion about the justice system, so I should just shut up, or dedicate myself to apologizing for existing, or make amends for existing by pretending to teach pretend literacy at some pretend prisoner education program.

My favorite angry letter was a recent screed from one of the many registered sex offenders who contact me whenever I write about . . . sex offender registration.  They have an on-line club or something, and there’s a big sign nailed to the door with my name crudely painted beneath a skull and crossbones.

So this sex offender guy writes to tell me that he is “ashamed” of me.  He says that I am a symptom of “a broken education system” because I have PhD. but my ideas suck and I should try to think harder (he clearly doesn’t know much about graduate schools).

He gave me a lot of advice about improving myself.  It’s nice to know that people care.

My least favorite letter arrived from a Ron Paul supporter in Colorado who wrote that he loves to hear about police officers getting killed because they don’t deserve to live.  He was writing in response to a post about several officers killed recently in the line of duty, including two young men killed in front of, or near, their own fathers, who are themselves cops.  None of this moved the letter-writer:

Cops ARE assholes, no doubt about it.  And IT IS ALWAYS a good thing when they get blown away. . . I’m fairly certain most assaults are carried out by police officers.  They are scum of the earth not by coincidence . . . only assholes apply to be cops.

And so on.  There was a lot more of it, fringy, pot-addled, paranoid, extremist rantings to be sure.  But far too many non-extreme people also feel far too comfortable treating cops like they are expendable, or inhuman, these days.

I don’t think the average person could endure very much of the crap that police must endure in their daily soak in the waters of whiny –and yet potentially deadly — criminality.  Imagine having to spend ten or twelve hours a day, every workday, stuck with that irritating, whacked out, stinky, unpredictable guy you avoided on the train this morning . . . and twenty more like him . . . all the while being brow-beaten by a bunch of self-important “criminal defenders” who fancy themselves Atticus Finch while playing a rigged system that flushes violent men back out onto the streets the moment you arrest them.

~~~

Which brings me to Neil Boortz’s unfortunate column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution today. I like Neil Boortz, not sycophantically, but I’ve listened to him on the radio for some twenty years, and he’s one libertarian who doesn’t irritate like most people who subscribe to the weird church of libertarianism (aka — Of course everyone should build their own personal highways to get to work because that’s far better than government taking your money to build highways for everyone).

He, and I, and my sex offender pen pal all feel the same way about the blighted state of education these days, for example.

But today, Boortz published one of those non-argument arguments in defense of the existence of defense attorneys, as if anyone really thinks they shouldn’t exist.  And, quite unfortunately, to illustrate his example of why society (allegedly) doesn’t appreciate defense attorneys enough as they valiantly defend us against the rampant false accusations imposed by the blue meanie police state, he jokingly mentioned the horrific case of Larry Davis (aka Adam Abdul-Hakeem), which ought to instead be remembered as a watershed injustice of the degree of the un-prosecuted murder of Emmett Till or the un-prosecuted murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

Only, it was cops who got shot.  Six cops and at least four other men who Davis likely assassinated.  The police were risking their lives trying to arrest Davis when he shot them.  And then, in just one of the innumerable injustices that made much of the late Sixties to early Nineties such a bloodbath, defense attorney William Kunstler not only got Larry Davis off on multiple murder charges and the shooting of six cops but degraded the victims by making Davis a cultural hero — not using superior wit and legal skills, as Boortz implies, but by exploiting a twisted system of government protection that no libertarian should espouse.

Here is Boortz, describing the trial:

Davis hires William Kunstler who, in his closing argument at trial, tells the jury that if they don’t acquit Davis of these murder charges they will one day wake up at 3 a.m. — screaming. Larry Davis kills [sic] six police officers; Kunstler gets him off. Davis goes on to become known as “Hood Hero,” and later as Adam Abdul-Hakeem. Quite a guy. Eventually, as you would expect, the Hood Hero murdered again, and this time was convicted. The prosecutors got it right the second time.

How does Boortz know the prosecutors “got it wrong” the first time?  He doesn’t even barely get the facts straight.  The police weren’t killed, for instance, though several were badly wounded.  The rest of the editorial is a similar flight of fancy: set up defense attorneys as misunderstood victims of society, then praise them for standing up to a government hell-bent on framing and convicting perfectly innocent people for some unknown reason:

The question is not whether or not you did it; it’s whether or not the government can prove you did it.  Trust me, you don’t want to live in a country where your life, liberty or property can be taken away because of political whim or the passions of the majority.

Never mind that six innocent public servants got shot trying to protect the life, liberty and property of people who went on to make a hero of the unrepentant shooter.

Never mind that Kunstler used both politics and passions — pure mob mentality — to win his cases in the highly politicized courts of his era.

Never mind that he valued some types of people over others.  That he unabashedly celebrated the murder of people who were cops.  That he defended leftist and Muslim terrorists while heaping contempt on the “life, liberty and property” of ordinary citizens.  That he refused to defend people whose politics clashed with his own, while pretending to stand for transcendent legal values.

That’s why people hated him, not because he was a defense attorney.

But here is the part of Boortz’ editorial that really makes no sense, coming from a libertarian: William Kunstler was actually for big government standing between jurors and the facts of any case.  He believed the people could not be trusted with the truth, and he shamelessly used an activist system of technicalities to get brutal killers off free — free to deprive other people of their rights.

Above all else, Kunstler represented a system of increasing bureaucratic intrusion into the justice system, not the defense of the boring little people from state power.

~~~

In any case, William Kunstler is dead and buried, and the little people have been winning real victories recently. In a little-noticed trend, the Roberts court has begun to chip away at excessive Kunstler-era exclusionary rules that keep evidence from being heard and considered.  Of course, news organs like the New York Times don’t like this provide jurors and judges with actual evidence and trust their judgment thing, but it is a sign of balance returning to a system in which defense attorneys — you know, those under-appreciated freedom fighters — have managed to tilt the playing field for far too long.

Splitting (Other People’s) Hairs (Or Their Throats): David Oshinski, Amy Bach, Jimmy Carter, and Terry Gross Whitewash Wilbert Rideau’s Crimes

2 comments

This is Wilbert Rideau, Academy Award nominee, George Polk award winner, George Soros grant recipient, Jimmy Carter Center honoree, American Bar Association Silver Gavel winner, Grand Jury prize winner at Sundance, NPR commentator, journalist, Random House author, Terry Gross pal, friend of the famous and the rich . . . you get the picture.

Oh yeah, he also kidnapped three innocent people during a bank robbery in 1961, shot them all, and then stabbed the one young woman who couldn’t escape him after he “ran out of bullets,” as the second victim played dead and the third hid in a swamp.  He plunged a butcher knife into Julia Ferguson’s throat as she begged for her life.  Rideau later went on to claim that she wasn’t technically begging for her life, as part of Johnny Cochran’s successful 2005 bid to get him out of prison, but in this conveniently forgotten video, he tells a very different — and shocking — story about the crime.

When you read about people being released from death row, think of Rideau.  The real grounds for his release are typical — a gradual wearing-down of the justice system, manipulation of technicalities, re-trial after re-trial as victims and witnesses die or get forgotten — as, all the while, powerful activists and journalists make heroes out of the men who destroyed innocent people’s lives.

Rideau is unusual only because so many powerful and famous people decided to anoint him mascot status.  Terry Gross can’t stop aurally wriggling in his presence.  I tried to find a photograph of Julia Ferguson, but she has been entirely forgotten.

Random House, by the way, has been promoting Rideau’s book tour as an inspirational life story without mentioning his crimes.  Here is their warm and fuzzy description of their author.  The Jimmy Carter Center Facebook page, meanwhile, says that Rideau “has lived a more productive life in prison than most do outside.”  They write off the murder of Julia Ferguson as “a moment of panic during a botched bank robbery.”  Of course, it took more than “a moment” to hold up a bank at gunpoint, kidnap three people, drive them into the swamp, shoot them, chase them, catch one and slaughter her, but then again, that’s just former President Carter speaking up for justice from his human rights center again.

I don’t know anything about the author of this site, Billy Sinclair, but in addition the video he posts, he has a lot to say about the myths that reporters have invented, or swallowed whole, regarding Rideau.  As a fellow con and former colleague of Rideau, it’s especially interesting to read Sinclair’s take on Rideau’s self-aggrandizing tale of prison yard life — particularly because these stories are ostensibly what make the murderer so valuable to those of us who have, according to the Carter Center, wasted our lives by not bothering to kill anyone and then make up award-winning prison yard stories from behind bars.

I guess they don’t have video technology at the New York Times yet.  Nor New York University, where Rideau apologist David Oshinsky pens his prose.  I don’t know Jimmy Carter’s excuse, since he’s been on tv.  I guess one dead girl isn’t one too many dead girls too much to Carter.

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, NYU Professor David Oshinksy has just published a disturbingly dishonest review of murderer Wilbert Rideau’s book, In the Place of Justice.  The paper also ran a second worshipful review by Dwight Garner.  What’s striking about the two pieces (besides their redundancy — indicating the cult hero status of vicious killers like Rideau among denizens of the Times) is the lengths they go to in pretending to recreate Rideau’s brutal crime while leaving out or actually denying important facts.  If this is the new journalism — paying lip service to crimes before getting down to the main task of stroking the criminals — well, I’ll take the old journalism that simply denied the existence of the crime and the victims whole-cloth.

For it’s actually less degrading for victims and survivors to be ignored than to be forced to play bit parts in salacious spectacles like this one.  But beyond the little matter of human decency, the fact that Wilbert Rideau’s record is being increasingly whitewashed as time goes on speaks to the culpability of NPR, and the New York Times, and academic institutions like NYU that sponsor people like Oshinsky and Amy Bach, who calls the fatal injury to Julia Ferguson’s throat a “one inch cut.”  They’ve gone far beyond merely twisting the record to suit their purposes this time.  They’re publishing lies.

~~~

In the Place of Justice is not, as reasonable people might assume, a title that refers to what happened when activists got Rideau out of prison on a fourth try in 2005 — despite his undisputed kidnapping/murder of a young bank teller and shooting of two other victims in 1961.

No, it’s Rideau’s opinion of having to be locked up for such a triviality in the first place.

The murderer’s view is shared by scores of journalists and academicians who consider the skin color of Rideau’s victims (they were white) to be more significant than Rideau’s decision to shoot them (scores of minority murderers of other minorities do not receive such breathless adoration).  David Oshinski is only the latest in a long line of apologists who shamelessly rewrite history in order to advocate certain murderers’ side — an act that used to accurately be called racism, when it was just as wrongfully committed for the other side, but is now labeled “justice” when committed on behalf of vicious killers like Rideau.  Devaluing some people’s lives is justice, you see; devaluing others’ is injustice: that is where we are now.

We should have the integrity to acknowledge that, because it is preventing us from valuing all lives.

So the history prof (perhaps knee-deep in student essays that skim, not plumb, facts) must have decided this time that enough time has passed without the victims being heard from to pretend that the facts of Rideau’s crime were genuinely in doubt again.  Of course, the surviving victims weren’t given taxpayer-subsidized NPR gigs to flog and manipulate the airways for decades, either.  Oshinski’s description of the crime, laid in the fertile manure tilled by NPR and other activists, is as dishonest a performance as I’ve seen in print in a long time:

The details of his crime would be contested for decadesThere is agreement that Rideau robbed a bank at closing time, kidnapping the male manager and two female tellers. Rideau claimed he was about to release them when one of the women bolted out of the car and the manager tried to overpower him. Rideau opened fire, hitting all three as they fled. When one of the women rose to her feet, he writes, “I grabbed the knife, stabbed her and ran to the car.”  The surviving victims told a different story, insisting that Rideau had used his weapons at close range and that the woman he killed had begged for her life. [bold added]

Remember: passive language reeks cover-up of someone’s pain, and the killer’s culpability.

“There is agreement.”  And, “He was about to release them.”  “Opened fire, hitting all three.”  “The surviving victims told a different story.”  Distance, lie, distance, minimalization, misrepresentation.  In Oshinski’s version, the only fact we know is that Rideau robbed a bank and kidnapped three people: the rest is disputed, the professor claims.  Are there no standards in academia anymore?  Doesn’t this man have colleagues courageous enough to measure his words against the actual record?  You know, fact-check the historians representing their fine institution?

Of course the scores of activists who swarmed to Rideau’s cause were deeply invested in using whatever means possible to advance the idea that the details were contested.

That is, if by contested one means: self-satisfied people standing around cocktail parties one-upping each other at denying the victims’ suffering in an endless game of burnish-the-progressive-credentials.  But facts denied here aren’t really in dispute.  And the real story of Rideau’s release is very different from what Oshinski claims.

Let’s be clear about what Oshinski is playing at here: he is pretending that all that really matters — to the historical record as well as in the courts — is whether Rideau managed to shoot the people he was torturing when they were close to him or a little less close.  For good measure, he casts doubt on whether a dying girl begged for her life.  How nice.

I’ll be a little more direct in my review of his review : such agitprop denial of other people’s suffering is a moral obscenity.  For the New York Times to publish it is shameless.

For, of course, Rideau “told a different story” from the people he killed and tried to kill (except when he didn’t).  That story was rejected repeatedly until one jury committed nullification in 2005 because they believed that the history of racial discrimination was more important than Rideau’s actions in taking one life and trying to end two others.  So be it — that’s on their souls — and another blot on the jury system.  But the fact of what Rideau actually did to his victims was not contested.  Now it has been rewritten by two different men in the Times last week, the latest stage in the long rewriting on the victims’ backs.

Journalism as human rights violation.  Journalism as denial.  How much denial?  When a vehemently pro-criminal reporter like Adam Liptak bothers to report a less glowing story about the killer you’re whitewashing, you know you’re knee-deep in it.  Here is Liptak, writing in 2005:

Mr. Rideau has never denied that he robbed a Gulf National Bank branch in Lake Charles on Feb. 16, 1961, that he kidnapped three white employees of the bank or that he shot them on a gravel lane near a bayou on the edge of town. Two of the employees survived, one by jumping into the swamp, the other by feigning death. But Mr. Rideau caught and killed Julia Ferguson, a teller, stabbing in her in the heart.  The two sides at the trial last week agreed on those basic facts.

So what is not in dispute is that the shot victims tried to hide from Rideau, that he hunted them down and slaughtered the one he caught by stabbing her through the heart (heart? throat?).  Oshinski looks at this and natters on about “close range” versus distance.  How dehumanizing.  Does he have a daughter with a beating heart, I wonder?

Julia Ferguson’s parents did, at one time.

~~~

Liptak, of course, betrays far less interest in Ferguson’s heart than in the ways the legal system granted Rideau endless opportunities for appeal, and the superness of Rideau’s journalistic talents, but at least he gives the D.A. his say:

Rick Bryant, the Calcasieu Parish district attorney, said the jury had ignored the evidence.  “The verdict makes no sense,” he said yesterday. “It’s a subtle jury-nullification type of thing. The jury basically said, there is still a conviction and he’s done a lot of time.”

Of course, the victims and other witnesses lacked the vast resources heaped on Rideau all these decades.  One victim was dead, the other too ill to testify.  That gives people like Oshinski more leverage to cover up the crimes committed against them.  Here is Liptak’s recounting of Rideau’s defense.  It’s not much of defense, really, and it’s a stark injustice that anyone fell for it, insomuch as it really mattered to the jurors at all:

Mr. Rideau said his initial plan was to lock up the employees at the bank and take a bus out of town with the $14,000 he had stolen. When that was foiled by an ill-timed phone call from the bank’s main branch, he said, he came up with a second plan. He would drive the employees far out of town in a teller’s car and escape as they walked back. But they jumped from the car before he could accomplish that, and he started shooting.  “If I had intended to kill those people, eliminate witnesses, I would have done it right there in the bank,” Mr. Rideau testified on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “It never entered my mind that I was going to hurt anybody.”

How dare those people try to save their own lives, rather than submit to murder by a future famous prison journalist.

Mr. Bryant said the prosecution had been at a disadvantage throughout the trial.  “It’s very difficult to try a case that’s 44 years old,” he said. “We had 13 witnesses who were unavailable, including the two eyewitnesses, and we had to present them by reading transcripts.” One of the survivors of the crime died in 1988, and the other was too ill to attend the trial.

You won’t read about it in the Times or from the pen of any of Rideau’s admirers at NYU, but his former prison co-editor punches more holes in Rideau’s claims of non-premeditated murder in one blog post about the suitcase he brought with him to rob the bank than the collective talent of our nation’s courts, universities and newspapers can fend off in the millions of dollars and thousands hours they have poured into his defense [“WILBERT RIDEAU’S UNEXPLAINED SUITCASE “].

And the lamented blogger crimgirl does a far better job of explaining why Rideau actually got out of prison in 2005 than all the ex-presidents and all the law school professors you can squeeze onto all the pages of all the news that’s fit to print.  I don’t know anything about “crimgirl,” and she doesn’t seem to be blogging anymore, which is a shame:

[A]fter the [1961] confession, Rideau was found guilty by a southern all-white, all-male jury. It’s probable the jurors were racist, corn-fed Klanners; however, this doesn’t negate the fact that Rideau committed the crimes. The verdict was eventually overturned because the confession’s broadcast had tainted the jury pool. In the years to come, two more trials and two more guilty verdicts were overturned on the grounds of racial bias and other jury selection violations. In 2005, a fourth trial took place. The prosecution said he murdered a woman in cold blood, and should spend life in prison. Rideau argued that he killed her, but he didn’t murder her.A racially mixed jury was selected in Lake Charles, LA. To ensure jury nullification, Johnny “Chewbacca” Cochran was hired to lead the defense team. Cochran played up the strengths of their case:

  • In prison Wilbert Rideau had published an award-winning prison-bashing magazine, co-authored a Criminal Justice textbook, shared an Academy Award nomination for an anti-prison documentary, become a sought-after lecturer, and gained many high-profile supporters who fought for his freedom.
  • Racist officials were racist.
  • Thirteen prosecution witnesses were now dead.
  • In a major victory for the defense, the judge only allowed the jury to consider verdicts that would have been available in 1961: Premeditated murder (life without parole) or manslaughter (21 years). If they had gone by 2005 law, he would have almost certainly been sentenced to life without parole, the sentence for killing someone in the commission of a felony.

~~~

Let’s be very clear about what people like David Oshinski and Terry Gross (see below) did to the victims of this crime.  They made their killer into a civil rights hero — for killing them and for refusing to regret it.  That’s the version of “rehabilitation” actually operating here.  And it makes a mockery of any notion of real rehabilitation, or real remorse.  Wilbert Rideau was released from prison by biased jurors who ignored many undisputed facts because he had been turned into a cultural hero by academicians and journalists working as accessories to cover up the details of his victims’ suffering.  In other settings, this is called a war crime — an act of historical denial.

Here, it’s called punching your ticket for tenure.

If there is any doubt that Rideau was released because he does not regret destroying lives, read on:

Theodore M. Shaw, the director-counsel of the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also represented Mr. Rideau, said he found it hard to reconcile Mr. Rideau’s crime with the thoughtful and accomplished man he has become.  “I’ve never lost sight of the fact that when Wilbert was 19 he did something incredibly stupid and tragic,” Mr. Shaw said. “On the other hand, he’s not the man he was then. It’s a story of redemption.”  Mr. Shaw pointed to Mr. Rideau’s journalistic work as proof of his transformation. As editor of The Angolite, a prison newspaper, Mr. Rideau won the George Polk Award, one of journalism’s highest honors. “The Farm: Angola, U.S.A.,” a documentary he co-directed, was nominated for an Academy Award.

In other words, if Rideau had not kept protesting the alleged injustice of people not believing his story that his victims were lying, then he’d still be serving time for the lives he destroyed.  But because he’s never shown actual remorse, he’s a cultural hero and a free man.

Mr. Bryant, the prosecutor, said Mr. Rideau’s achievements were irrelevant. “Rideau’s actions were driven by greed,” Mr. Bryant said, referring to the robbery. “It’s not like he’s been some sort of civil rights pioneer. He’s a crook.”

~~~

But fast-forward five years, and now even these protestations have been cleansed from the record. Rideau is a civil rights pioneer, full stop.  All that’s left is people like Oshinski trying like heck to finish brushing even the slightest unpleasantry into the dustbin of history, insinuating that the victims’ families are the actually dangerous people based on crimes they didn’t in fact, ever commit against Rideau himself, and painting Rideau as a jailhouse saint — you know, like the ones in the movies Oshinski likes to cite:

An hour’s drive northwest from Baton Rouge sits the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the United States. On the site of a former slave plantation, it currently houses close to 5,000 inmates and covers more ground, at 18,000 acres, than the island of Manhattan. Surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, its stunning physical isolation and distinctive antebellum feel have provided the backdrop for numerous feature films and documentaries, including “Dead Man Walking,” “Monster’s Ball” and “The Farm” . . . Slight of frame, weighing barely 120 pounds, Rideau seemed like easy prey. What spared him physically, he believes, was the respect he earned for repeatedly dodging the electric chair. And what saved him emotionally, he insists, were the books he devoured in his solitary death row cell. “Reading ultimately allowed me to feel empathy, to emerge from my cocoon of self-centeredness and appreciate the humanness of others. . . . It enabled me finally to appreciate the enormity of what I had done.”

No, there are no victims here, just professors and journalists and their convict-heroes reading, writing, carrying out mutually gratifying acts of affirmation:

[Rideau] saw prison life as a delicate negotiation. Convicts “possess the power of disobedience, rebellion, disruption, sabotage and violence,” he writes. “A peaceful maximum security prison owes its success to the consent of its prisoners, a consent that comes from mutual understanding and reasonable common-sense accommodations at almost every level of interaction” . . .  The new Angola owed much to Rideau’s skills as editor, gadfly and ombudsman. While in prison, he became a national celebrity, appearing on “Nightline” with Ted Koppel and winning journalism’s coveted George Polk Award. Rideau is hardly modest about it all . . . In 2005, the man Life magazine had featured as “The Most Rehabilitated Prisoner in America” was granted yet another trial.

Well, why should such an accomplished man be modest? Heck, why doesn’t Oshinski just go all the way and say that Rideau’s victims carelessly tripped into the bullets exiting his gun?   Maybe because Terry Gross’ tonsils would get in his way. Here is Gross’ version of her radio colleague and pen pal Rideau’s crimes:

Wilbert Rideau was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1961. At the age of 19, he’d robbed a bank. When he realized the police were on the way, he took three hostages. After one of the hostages got out of the car, he killed one hostage and shot the other two. He described this as an act of panic, not premeditated murder.  As an eighth-grade dropout from a poor family, he couldn’t afford a lawyer and didn’t understand his rights.

How . . . dishonest.  What’s especially creepy is the way Gross imagines the scene only from Rideau’s perspective: “[w]hen he realized the police were on the way, he took three hostages . . . After one of the hostages got out of the car, he killed one hostage.”   This is in no way an accurate description of the crime.  It apes Rideau’s claims that he did not intend the victims’ harm, nor that he intended to kidnap them, and it reduces the death scene to an actuarial nonentity.  Gross seems irked that she must even recount this little aside.

It takes a particularly cold and inhumane chewy-voiced NPR reporter to reduce the death scene to such cold prose.

But the death-scene is just a lagniappe, compared to the toe-curling pleasures that follow:

TERRY GROSS: Wilbert Rideau, welcome back to FRESH AIR. The other times we have spoken, you have been in the penitentiary, and it so great to talk to you knowing you are a free man. Thank you for the conversations and for the reports you did for us from prison. . . .

GROSS: Wilbert, we’ve spoken several times before while you were in prison. We spoke by phone. And the book really filled me in on the details of what you went through during your four trials and how many times you were treated unfairly.But before we talk about how unfairly you were treated, I just want to acknowledge that you really did commit manslaughter, and that Julia Ferguson was killed. You did create a lot of suffering. You’ve never denied the act, but you have said that you never intended to kill anyone. You wanted money. You bought a gun to rob a bank, thinking it was the only way to get a new life was to get money and get a way out of your life. In the middle of the robbery, the phone rang. One of the tellers picked it up and tipped off the caller there was trouble. Knowing the police were on the way, you took three hostages and fled. What did you think the hostages would accomplish for you? [bold added]

Would accomplish for him?  Accomplish?  Darn those hostages.  They just didn’t live up to their potential.

Mr. RIDEAU: I wasn’t thinking. That was the problem. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, understand, when people commit crimes, they’re expecting to get away. I mean, even in all the – it was desperation that drove me to do this, but even in my desperation, I mean, you don’t expect to get caught.

In other words, Wilbert Rideau feels less responsible for killing someone because he was certain he would not be held responsible for robbing a bank.  Had he known he would be held responsible for robbing a bank, he wouldn’t have done it, and nobody would have died.  Now there’s an idea.

If people expected to get caught, nobody would ever commit crimes.  And I didn’t know what I was thinking. I was just – all I knew was that everything had been shot to hell. Everything – you know, it was out of control. And I had no control, and I was scared to death, I mean, because I’m sure they were scared to death, too. But I didn’t have any – all I knew was just get out of that place in a hurry, and I hoped to be able to drop them off someplace and let them walk back. But it didn’t turn out that way.

GROSS: No, the police started chasing you. One of your victims jumped out of the car, and you say you panicked and just shot one of them.

Well, thanks for clearing that up, Terry.  How probing.  If only those lazy victims had worked harder to avoid the path of dear Wilbert’s bullets — but then, NPR wouldn’t have such a stimulating commentator for Gross to natter with.  If only the police hadn’t tried to stop an armed criminal who cruelly took three innocent people hostage, then Wilbur wouldn’t have had to shoot three people, then get out of his car and stab one of them for good measure.

If only the hostages and the police had accomplished more in the service of Wilbert Rideau.

There’s more, of course, of Gross simpering at the feet of Rideau, praising his prose quality, his special insights, his terrible suffering, the tragedy of people misunderstanding him.  There’s always more, once you get the pesky victims out of the way, stomp their throats out so they can’t utter a peep.

But what is strange, and ironic, and utterly unnoticed by Gross and Oshinski and all the other prisoner fetishists eagerly sweating their turn in the wings, is that when you read Wilbert Rideau’s work, what Rideau is actually saying is that he doesn’t want to be anywhere near any of the sick bastards he knew in prison, including the sick bastard that he was, and he certainly doesn’t want people like them walking the streets.  At the end of the day, his is a pro-incarceration argument:

GROSS: Give us a sense of what you faced when you left solitary confinement and joined the general population, and you were appalled by the barbarity that you witnessed. And I should say that the penitentiary at Angola had a reputation as being one of the most bloody prisons in the United States at that time.

Mr. RIDEAU: There was violence literally every day. You had people getting killed and gang wars. You had drug traffickers rampant. You had sexual violence…

GROSS: Sexual slavery.

Mr. RIDEAU: Enslavement of prisoners. Right, sexual slavery, as well. I mean, you know, if – guys would rape you, and you would – that was a process that redefined you not as a male, but as a female, and also as property. And whoever raped you owned you, and you had to serve him for – I mean, as long as you were in prison, unless you killed him or he gave you away or sold you or you got out of prison. And that’s the way it functioned.

GROSS: You wrote an article about sexual violence in prison that is one of your best-known articles. And I think that one won an award, didn’t it?

Mr. RIDEAU: It did, the George Polk Award, and it was also nominated for a National Magazine Award.

GROSS: Mm-hmm. So when you got into general population, you’re relatively short. What did you do to protect yourself as a small man entering general population? Yeah.

Mr. RIDEAU: Well, the first thing is I was looking for a weapon. In fact, when I went before the initial classification board, the chief of security told me that, you know, he asked if knew anybody. I said no. And he said, well, you’ve got to get you a weapon, and either that or go into a protective custody cell.  Well, I just spent all those years in a cell. I wasn’t going back to a cell, and I figured that, you know, I would try to make a life in the jungle. And the first thing I knew I had to do was get a weapon, and I looked around for people I knew, and I saw some of the guys who were on death row before who had already gotten off, and they told me, you know, I wouldn’t have to worry about that.  And that was a peculiarity due to the fact that I was on death row. Prosecutors and media had so – you know, they so demonize people on death row, you know, as being the worst of the worst, until not only do they kind of scare society about these guys, but they also scared the prisoners. It was kind of perverse, but it spared me that whole – I didn’t have to worry about that.

OK, let’s review: prisoners in Angola are violent rapists who prey on the weak, enslave each other, and routinely kill.  Yet Rideau survived unscathed because prosecutors “demonized” men on death row to such a degree that all these raping, killing monsters in the general population feared him despite his diminutive size.

While this story makes little sense, it is the type of thing that makes Terry Gross simper: “Mm-hmm.”  Which is the entire point, really.  The point of Rideau’s fame is that he gives people like Terry Gross the type of victimization they can revel in.  For, testifying about his victimization at the hands of other criminals is actually what Rideau is all about, little as that makes sense when you step back from it and remember Julie Ferguson.  Rideau says certain things happened to him; he complains of being victimized, and reporters and academicians eat it up uncritically because it feeds their fantasy life.

They don’t write purple prose about there being two sides to the story of any of Rideau’s stories. They don’t minimize his allegations of victimization in prison or reduce it to a few stingy lines written in teeth-gritting passing.  They give him awards for denouncing the suffering they’re simultaneously denying that his victims experienced at his hands.  This is a sickness, pure fetish, and it has passed for acceptable behavior for far too long.

Mr. X: Did the State of Georgia Let a Serial Killer Go?

8 comments

Some mornings, it’s pitifully easy to find something to write about.

Like, this morning.  Back in the early 1990’s, a serial killer was stalking women in the Reynoldstown neighborhood in Atlanta.  Reynoldstown was, in all senses of the term, crack-infested.  There were a lot of drug-related deaths.  There were a lot of prostitutes: the two go hand in hand.  Men from all over metro Atlanta would drive there to get an extremely cheap woman, or girl.  Or boy, I imagine.  This was precisely the same area where little boys were disappearing during the Atlanta Child Murders in the 1980’s.  It wasn’t a very long walk to some of the body dump sites.

I lived a few blocks east, in Cabbagetown.  On Fridays, I avoided gardening in my front yard because the men with Cobb County plates were trolling the streets, picking up emaciated prostitutes.  Some of the prostitutes jerked and twitched as they walked from cocaine-induced tardive dyskinesia.  Anyone who believes prostitution is a victimless crime is an intellectual buffoon.  The wives of the Johns were certainly victims.  There was a mother-daughter team jumping in and out of cars on my street corner: the daughter didn’t wear shoes.  She looked like she weighed about 75 pounds.  Her arms and legs were a constellation of bruises and sores.  What were those old men from the suburbs thinking?  She could be their granddaughter.  She was visibly sick.

By 1990, when I moved in, Wayne Williams had been sitting in prison for nearly a decade.  The cameras had gone elsewhere, and the money, too: politicians like Maynard Jackson and Arthur Langford (curious story, that) had sucked up the cash decent people sent to Atlanta to help the murder victims and long ago moved onto the next gravy train.  Eight female prostitutes dead in Reynoldstown didn’t attract much attention outside the police, who, contrary to stereotype, were actually the only people who gave a damn about the deaths.  Police, relatives, and local people — they knew who had children, and who went missing, and who had been a nice teenager before she got hooked on drugs.  On the other side of town, both female and transvestite male prostitutes were getting killed.  The transvestites were getting shot in the head: the women were mainly strangled or beaten to death.  If I remember correctly, if this particular murder didn’t occur later, one of the female victims was found strung up from a tree in a graveyard.  I went looking for more information about the transvestite killings and found only this blog post by “atl-Steve,” who lists nine of the Atlanta transvestite murders, eight between 1990 and 1992, seven shot in the head.  There were probably several serial killers preying on people in Atlanta at that time.  The drugs and the prostitution gave them extremely easy access to victims.  Life was extremely cheap.

One of the stories that circulated was about a Mr. X: in 1994, a woman’s body was found with a note that said: “I’m back in Atlanta, Mr. X.”  The woman was a prostitute, and she had been strangled.  This morning, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, there is a story about the upcoming trial of Michael Harvey, who is linked to her murder through DNA.

That’s where the story stops making sense.

Michael Darnell Harvey: Mr. X

The newspaper is reporting that Michael Harvey was linked to the murder through DNA in 2005 and arrested in 2008.  It isn’t clear why it took three years to arrest him.  Was he on the run?  Was he being held on other charges?  It doesn’t say.  But it seems to me that if the police had been looking for him all this time, somebody would have said that.  And if he had been in custody in Fulton county pending charges after the DNA match, somebody would have said that.

Because the alternative is so extremely disturbing.  The alternative is that Michael Harvey was identified as a murderer, likely a serial killer, in 2005, and then nobody did anything about it for three years.  In the age of DNA, that can’t possibly be true, can it?  I hope I am missing something here.

Since 2000, all felons sentenced to state prison in Georgia have had to provide DNA samples to the state, to be added to a DNA database.  That law was passed thanks largely to recently deceased feminist activist Vicki McLennon and Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, and it has solved many sex crimes and saved lives.

In 2002 or 2003 (it isn’t clear from the state database), Michael Harvey was convicted of an aggravated assault in Fulton County.  The crime occurred August, 2002.  He was sentenced to six months and spent February to June, 2003, in state prison.  At that time, he should have given the state a DNA sample.  He also had a prior false imprisonment and attempted sexual assault conviction on his record.  Wouldn’t the DNA from anyone with a sexual assault conviction be  carefully checked for other sexual assaults?  In any case, if the law was followed, Harvey gave the state a DNA sample no later than June 2003.  His DNA was matched to a stranger serial murder in 2005.  He was charged with that murder in 2008.

So somebody has some questions to answer:

  • If he was in fact released, why was Michael Harvey, a convicted sex criminal, released from prison in 2003 without his DNA sample being entered into the state database?
  • Why wasn’t he arrested and charged with murder in 2005, when the GBI linked his DNA to a serial murder?
  • Why did it then take three more years to charge him with the crime?  Is this a screw-up that should be laid at the feet of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard?

And some larger questions:

  • Was he really convicted only of aggravated assault in 2002/3, or was that a sex crime charge pled down to mere assault by some willing prosecutor and judge?  Were any other convictions actually sex crimes that got pled down, too?
  • Why did Michael Harvey get only three years for attempted rape and false imprisonment in 1996?  Three years for trying to rape a woman?  Nice.
  • Why didn’t the state of Georgia bother to take a DNA sample from Harvey when he was convicted of rape in 1996?  DNA was being widely used by then, and as a sex offender, Harvey probably had to provide a sample, even though the state law requiring DNA of all felons had not yet been passed.  Did he give the state DNA?  Why wasn’t it tested, if it wasn’t tested?  Is that sample one of the thousands shelved and forgotten by a criminally careless criminal justice system?
  • Does Michael Harvey’s DNA match any other crimes, especially crimes committed since the state last cut him loose?

Here is Harvey’s prior conviction record:

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: NOT AVAILABLE
CONVICTION COUNTY: CONVERSION
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: NOT AVAILABLE
CONVICTION COUNTY: CONVERSION
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: BURGLARY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FLOYD COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 2 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: THEFT BY TAKING
CONVICTION COUNTY: FLOYD COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: THEFT MOTORVEH OR PART
CONVICTION COUNTY: FLOYD COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 130362OFFENSE: THEFT MOTORVEH OR PART
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 6 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

He spent four years behind bars for these crimes, October 1980 to November 1984.  A long time for motor vehicle theft.  And that burglary: was it really just burglary?

CASE NO: 176538OFFENSE: NOT AVAILABLE
CONVICTION COUNTY: CONVERSION
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 09/07/1984
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 176538OFFENSE: CRMNL INTERFERE GOVT PROP
CONVICTION COUNTY: HABERSHAM COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 1 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

CASE NO: 176538OFFENSE: simple battery
CONVICTION COUNTY: HABERSHAM COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

He appears to have served nine months for these crimes, February to November 1985.  Then the Atlanta killings began.

CASE NO: 392286

OFFENSE: FALSE IMPRISONMENT
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 08/08/1996
SENTENCE LENGTH: 3 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

CASE NO: 392286

OFFENSE: AGG ASLT W INTNT TO RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 08/08/1996
SENTENCE LENGTH: 3 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

CASE NO: 392286

OFFENSE: AGG ASLT W INTNT TO RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 08/08/1996
SENTENCE LENGTH: 3 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

He appears to have served 1 year, 4 months in state custody for this crime, from May 1998 to September 1999.  He probably served some of his sentence in county custody prior to being transferred to state prison.  But his DNA, if it was sampled, was never checked against other rape and rape-murder cases in Fulton County while they still had him behind bars.  Come on, folks: 1999?  Unsolved rape-murders?  There’s no excuse.

CASE NO: 515573OFFENSE: AGGRAV ASSAULT
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 08/18/2002
SENTENCE LENGTH: 0 YEARS, 6 MONTHS, 0 DAYS

He served February – June 2003 in state custody for this crime.

2005: Harvey’s DNA is matched to the 1994 murder of Valerie Payton.

2008: Harvey is charged with Valerie Payton’s murder.

~~~

“I’m Back in Atlanta.  Mr. X.”

Living in Cabbagetown in the early 1990’s gave me a front-seat view of the realities of prostitution.  Not that they’re particularly difficult to discern from further distances.  Ironically however, just a few years later, I entered graduate school and found that academic feminists had a very different attitude towards what they euphemistically termed “sex work.”

While real feminists were pounding the halls of the Georgia legislature and city officials to strengthen laws against rapists, child molesters, and pimps who targeted children (Mayor Shirley Franklin’s finest legacy), many of the academic feminists I met were busy “celebrating” prostitution as a “liberatory practice.”

So, in a city where scores of prostitutes, including children, suffered addiction, disease, violence, rape, and murder as a direct consequence of their “careers,” the academics were excitedly playing at being fake prostitute labor organizers and paying fake professional “sex workers” like the repugnant Dolores French to come titillate them with trumped up stories about happy hookerdom.  French is married to defense attorney Michael Hauptman, who used to specialize in getting violent child molesters off (his e-mail name is loophole) — sort of a two-fer for those whose outrage over date rape never bled over into actually advocating for harsher sentencing for any rapists.

The distance between Valerie Payton’s murdered body and this dismal intellectual buffoonery?  Four miles, or a thousand light years.  Take your pick.  Meanwhile, I hope somebody in Atlanta will get to the bottom of Michael Harvey’s story.  Nothing is particularly clear right now.

Rapists, Child Molesters Treated With Most Lenience: Washington Examiner

1 comment

Why does it seem like the people who commit the most heinous sex crimes are the ones getting multiple breaks from the courts?  Apparently, I’m not the only person wondering.  I certainly hope the Washington Examiner doesn’t mind that I’m copying their article in its entirety.  It’s so staggeringly rare to find stories outside the “Hooray, We’re Emptying the Prisons” media drumbeat these days:

Freed criminals prey on public

By: Scott McCabe
Examiner Staff Writer
March 21, 2010

From left: Darryl Hazel, Robert Joseph Williams and Virgilio Nunez

Cops hunt felons turned loose by system

A high percentage of the top fugitives sought by U.S. marshals in the region had been in the hands of authorities only to slip away through cracks in the legal system or questionable judicial decisions.
Of the criminals designated “Most Wanted” by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, more than 70 percent had been released from custody for various reasons, requiring marshals’ deputies to track them down again.

Imagine the cost of tracking these felons down, not once, but twice, and sometimes more than that.

Some presented a clear danger to area residents:

» Two-time convicted killer Darryl Hazel was two months out of prison when he was arrested on drug charges, released on his own recognizance and went into hiding.

» After Virgilio Nunez was charged with 15 counts of child sex abuse involving multiple children, the El Salvador native was allowed to post $10,000 bail. He remains on the loose, authorities said.

» Robert Joseph Williams was out on supervised parole after serving 20 years of a 35-year prison sentence for raping his adoptive mother. He was put on supervised probation. But during that time he was charged again with drug distribution. He violated the conditions of his probation and disappeared.

» D.C. Jail inmate William Brice, awaiting trial in a near-fatal shooting, was allowed to be released into the custody of his defense attorney and attend his father’s funeral. The inmate fled the funeral, his lawyer failed to notify the court and Brice has the been on the run for more than two years.

William Chambliss, a criminologist at American University, said the biggest mistake when talking about the law or the courts is to think the system is rational, organized and precisely managed.

“It’s fundamentally flawed,” Chamblis said. “It’s impossible to create a large bureaucracy that is not going to make a lot of stupid mistakes.”

Hazel, 33, already had two murder convictions under his belt when he was re-arrested in D.C. for misdemeanor marijuana and heroin charges last year. At age 15 he pleaded to the shotgun death of a Capitol Hills store clerk. At age 22, Hazel killed again, this time in Northern Virginia. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in federal court, served eight years hard time and was placed on probation.

So this guy killed two people.  He served something less than 15 years for two murders.  The D.C. court simply decided to stop monitoring him, and once they got around to picking him up again, he’d been involved in another shooting:

According to records, after his drug arrest, D.C. court officials attempted to call Hazel’s probation officer but the officer had been transferred and the replacement was unavailable. Five days later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office withdrew its request to keep him behind bars.

Hazel was set free and told to return to court in four weeks. He didn’t.

Seven months later, on the day he was featured as a Most Wanted fugitive in The Examiner, U.S. marshals said they got a tip from a reader who reported that Hazel was living under the name of a dead relative. Marshals arrested him.

During their investigation, detectives discovered that Hazel was involved in a shooting three months earlier while using his alias. Hazel has not been charged in connection with the shooting.

Hey, why bother charging him?  It’s just his third known violent crime.  And the other two were just murders.  Yet what you read in virtually every newspaper, day after day, is overstimulated, breathless reporting on “alternative sentencing,” emptying the prisons, and the newest pro-offender cash-cow, “prisoner re-entry.”

None of these initiatives, they tell, us, will apply to violent offenders, of course.

They’re lying:

The most lenient cases, said one Maryland prosecutor, seem to fall on people accused of sex, child abuse or domestic violence crimes, especially if the supsect “doesn’t look like central casting with the knuckles dragging to the floor.” One violent sex offender had to be picked up three times for violating his parole.

Virgilio Nunez, 44, was indicted on 15 counts of child sex abuse in February 2009 when a Montgomery County court commissioner allowed him to post a $10,000 bond, authorities said. Nunez, who was born in El Salvador, hasn’t been seen since. Nunez’s court records were sealed under adoption privacy laws.

State’s attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy’s office said he could not comment.

Valencia Mohammed, a victim’s rights advocate who lost two sons in separate killings, said she’s amazed that Nunez was allowed to post bail.

“Immigrants seem to be let off on things that I know that we would be held on,” Mohammed said. “Why give them the opportunity flee? Why put the bail so low or make the sentence so lenient that you let the person out to commit so harm? It makes no sense.”

Joe diGenova, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said these incidents are inevitable in a system that handles huge numbers of cases.

It happens all the time,” said diGenova. He said sanctions should be considered against judicial officials whose mistakes endanger the public. “This is important stuff,” he said. “The public relies on the function of the system.”

Good luck with that “judicial sanction” fantasy.  Judges are above the law: there are barely any mechanisms by which they censure each other, and forget about the rest of us weighing in.  What of that defense attorney who helped his client escape?  Were there even consequences?

Duplicative, hyper-vigilant review boards monitor every move the police make; civil rights organizations scream endlessly over every defendant’s rights and privileges; prosecutors face a rising tide of disruptive legal actions to keep them from doing their jobs.  But defense attorneys can do virtually anything in court with no fear of censure, and judges who fail to enforce sentencing law or make appalling errors that result in wrongful releases are never held responsible.  Not even when someone gets murdered as a consequence of their carelessness.

No, consequences are for the little people.  The non-lawyers, non-judges, non-criminals.

~~~

Here is a very interesting post from Britain by a cop who sees the same thing, day in and day out.  The cops pick them up, and the courts cut them loose, says PCBloggs:

[I]t disturbs me that the courts seem to operate in a world apart from the rest of us, with no accountability whatsoever when flagrantly ludicrous decisions are made and a nonsense made of facts. I have sat in court and heard a defence solicitor telling a magistrate that his client had not been in trouble with the police since the incident in question, with no recourse whatsoever for me to leap to my feet clutching the defendant’s police print screaming “Damned lies!” If a police officer falsely presented facts in court, regardless of whether through ignorance or malice, they would be rightly investigated and potentially prosecuted.

Likewise, if a police officer attended a report of child rape and decided to leave the offender wandering free to attack his next victim, he would probably be jailed for neglect. This judge remains free to continue unchecked. It appears that in the interests of a fair trial, anything goes.
So should the Yorkshire Ripper achieve his parole and go onto offend days, weeks or months later, the judge who frees him would at the worst face removal from office via an internal process. More likely, they would merely be villified in the press but no actual sanctions brought, largely because there are no serious disciplinary or criminal measures that can be brought. I am not suggesting we can or should realistically prosecute masses of judges for manslaughter or neglect for every offender who reoffends under their grammercy. But why should those options be ruled out when they weigh on the minds of every other member of the criminal justice process? Why should accountability fall at the last hurdle?
Why should accountability fall at the last hurdle?  Indeed.

The Guilty Project, Kevin Eugene Peterson and Charles Montgomery: Two Sex Offenders Who Would Have Been Better Off Behind Bars

no comments

Early release is going to be a disaster. It would be less of a disaster if the public had access to the real criminal histories of the people being released.  But we’re being kept in the dark: nobody wants to admit the chaos in criminal record-keeping.

genthumbKevin Eugene Peterson

Already, someone has been cut loose on the pretense that was merely a non-violent offender, when he was not.  He immediately tried to rape a stranger.  How immediately?  A few hours.  Expect more of the same:

Kevin Eugene Peterson, who was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail around 11:30 p.m. Monday, was arrested by Sacramento police around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after he allegedly attempted to rape a female counselor at Sacramento’s Loaves and Fishes on North C Street.

Peterson qualified for the early-release program, supposedly restricted to non-violent offenders, because his latest arrest was for violating parole on an earlier felony: assault with a deadly weapon.  Get it?  He should have still been in prison for the felony weapon charge, but because they let him go early to save money, once he got sent back to prison for breaking the law again, he was classified non-violent, rather than counting the parole revocation as a reinstatement of his previous sentence.

Most people assume that revoking parole means reinstating the person’s original sentence.  That is, after all, what we are told about the parole process.  We’re not told the truth, apparently.

So by failing to abide by the law the last time he was released, Peterson got himself to the head of the line to be released early a second time.  Now a woman has been abducted and terrorized.  Authorities say their hands are tied, however, because they are bound by the rules that classified Peterson as “non-violent”:

Peterson was one of 121 non-violent inmates released from Sacramento detention Monday and Tuesday after the state penal code was re-written as a cost-saving measure.  About 250 inmates were expected to be let free by week’s end.  While good behavior traditionally could cut up to a third of a California jail inmate’s sentence, the new law passed by the state Legislature last year mandated county jail inmates with good behavior be set free after serving only half of their sentenced term.  While all of the inmates considered for early release are non-violent offenders, Peterson was originally arrested in August 2007 in south Sacramento on a felony assault with a deadly weapon.  However, since Peterson served that sentence and was sent back on a non-violent probation violation in December, he was eligible for early release.  Also, the assault with a deadly weapon charge did not result in great bodily injury to the victim, nor did that attack include the use of a fire arm.

More loopholes: because Peterson failed in his effort to do “great bodily harm” to someone, and the “deadly weapon” he used was something other than a gun, the great whirling roulette wheel of justice eventually slotted him out as a non-violent offender.  There are a million such loopholes in our sentencing laws, not to mention the giant classificatory loophole that is plea bargaining.

Which raises a serious, though entirely neglected question: how many of these other “non-violent” offenders slated for release, or released already, are actually violent felons?

When politicians promise that only non-violent offenders will be allowed to walk free in these cost-cutting schemes, they’re lying.

~~~

Speaking of erasing evidence of crime, here is one sadly typical consequence of extreme leniency: subsequent violent death of the offender.  He might have been safer in prison, after all:

charles_montgomery_cousinCharles Montgomery

Charles Montgomery was born in the back room of his grandparents’ house on the 400 block of E. 104th St. in the Green Meadows neighborhood of South Los Angeles. Twenty-four years later he died on that very street, a few houses down, shot on his way home from the store in the early afternoon, his family said. . . Montgomery, a 24-year-old black man, was shot several times in his upper body about 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 by a man who approached him on foot, police said. Montgomery died at the scene. . . Police said they have no suspects and no witnesses have come forward.  “It was broad daylight — it just don’t get more blatant,” said Kali Kellup, Montgomery’s  cousin. ”Somebody saw something.”

No witnesses have come forward.  Kellup also said that people were shocked because his cousin was shot in a little section of the block that was “considered neutral territory.”  That a war zone with agreed-upon “neutral” spaces is an accepted reality in any corner of America ought to be more shocking.

Raised by his grandparents, who have lived on the block for more than 50 years, Montgomery was known to be “happy go-lucky” and constantly in motion. His family said he had the mental state of a child; he was afflicted with an unknown mental condition that doctors could not diagnose.  “He was always happy, always laughing about something,” Kellup said. “Even if you didn’t know what it was, he was laughing about something.”

He was also charged with attempted forcible rape, and kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon, serious charges that got pleaded down to a non-sexual charge.  I tend not to believe people who claim that a predator isn’t responsible for his crimes because of mental incapacity.  If you’re capable of kidnapping and assaulting someone, you’ve got some competence, not to mention enough to face the consequences.  If there are consequences:

As a teenager, Montgomery spent two years at juvenile hall before being charged as an adult with assault with intent to commit a felony, assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and attempted forcible rape, according to court documents.  In 2003, two years after he was taken into custody, his court-appointed attorney agreed to a plea on his behalf. Montgomery was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, and the other charges were dropped, according to court records. Montgomery was sentenced to two years in state prison; however, he was given over two years of credit for time in custody and good behavior and was released, according to court records.

Two years, and no record as a sex offender, for assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, and attempted forced rape.  That’s what passes for normal these days, but the Justice Department and their Crime Experts keep insisting that we are far too harsh on all offenders, that we need to roll back sentencing even more.  To what, minutes or hours in a cell?  When you already get time served for armed kidnapping and attempted forcible rape, or a slap on the wrist and two-time early release for assault with a deadly weapon, what exactly are we going to cut?  The people controlling this debate are not speaking honestly.

Kellup said he believed his cousin was innocent.  “He was basically a fall guy,” he said. “It was a travesty of justice.”

Just a “fall guy” in a kidnapping and attempted rape?  Hmm, with a deadly weapon involved?  If everyone, from the prosecutor and the defense attorney and the judge, to his own family, had not worked so hard to excuse Montgomery’s prior crime, then he would probably still be alive today.  In prison, but not dead.

“I wish they’d stop the killing,” Montgomery’s grandmother said. “Young people killing one another for no reason at all.”

The Guilty Project. Death by Parole Board: Ankle Bracelet Didn’t Stop Ronald Robinson From Killing Officer Michael Crawshaw

2 comments

It’s too bad we don’t have CSI units slapping crime tape around our parole boards.  From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Ronald Robinson, 32, of Homewood, who is charged with the slayings of Officer [Michael] Crawshaw and another man Dec. 6, has a long criminal history and a record of repeatedly violating terms of his parole . . . From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Robinson was repeatedly accused of wielding firearms on the streets of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. In a January 1998 criminal complaint, police said Mr. Robinson choked and punched a woman and then pointed a semi-automatic gun at her. In 2001, he was accused of shooting a man in the leg.  Two years later, according to court records, a pair of witnesses told police that Mr. Robinson fired a gun in the air at Hawkins Village in Rankin. In each case, many charges were withdrawn.

In other words, after each shooting, Robinson was permitted to plead down to lesser charges.  He apparently suffered no consequences for the 1998 semi-automatic attack.  He also apparently served less than two years for shooting a man in 2001, for he was out on the streets, firing a weapon, again by 2003.  He then repeatedly violated parole assigned for the 2001 and 2003 crimes.  How many times did Robinson violate parole and get caught?  The Post-Gazette doesn’t say, but they do note that, according to the Pennsylvania Board of  Probation and Parole, “Parolees are sanctioned an average of five times before being sent back to prison.”

Robinson was granted serial leniency.  Then he killed a police officer:

At the time of the Dec. 6 homicides, he was on parole following convictions in the 2001 and 2003 cases. He had been released from prison in 2007 after serving a minimum sentence; the maximum sentence would have kept him in jail until February of next year.  Mr. Robinson repeatedly was caught violating the conditions of his 2007 parole, according to court records. As punishment, he was jailed for two weeks in July and then released to a halfway house for felons. He was wearing an electronic monitoring device on his ankle at the time of the shootings.

Officer Crawshaw’s family has started a petition drive with a painfully obvious message: stop letting armed, recidivists plead to lesser charges, and we will need to bury fewer police officers.  Officer Crawshaw’s cousin, Sarah Kielar, has information about the family’s campaign on facebook, here:

On Sunday December 6, 2009, Penn Hills Police Officer Michael Crawshaw was shot and killed by Ronald Robinson, a career criminal who was on parole and wearing an electronic monitoring device at the time of this crime. We the family and friends of Officer Michael Crawshaw need your help. The system failed Michael and changes must be made.
During the past four years, 11 law enforcement officers have been shot and killed in Pennsylvania. In Allegheny County alone, in just 13 months, five law enforcement officers have been killed. In the most recent example of this senseless violence, Officer Michael Crawshaw was murdered by Ronald Robinson, who like the other offenders described below, exhibited a blatant disregard for human life, the police, and the rule of law. In Robinson’s case, he had multiple prior convictions and was serving a 2 ½ – 5 year sentence when the parole board reported that he was “misconduct free,” they had “a positive attitude toward this inmate” and had “no objection to parole.” Once released, Robinson repeatedly violated the conditions of his parole and was even jailed for 2 weeks due to these violations.
• Agent Sam Hicks: In November 2008 FBI Agent Sam Hicks was shot and killed while serving an arrest warrant on Robert Korbe. Although Robert Korbe did not pull the trigger, had he not been a career criminal, law enforcement officers would not have entered the house and Agent Hicks would not be dead. Korbe had three previous felony convictions but had been sentenced only to probation. He had been arrested on additional violent felony charges just 6 months prior to Agent Hicks’ death.
• Cpl. Joseph Pokorny: In December of 2005, Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Joseph Pokorny was shot and killed by Leslie Mollett during a traffic stop in Carnegie. Prior to this killing, Mollett had been arrested 8 times in 10 years, resulting in three felony convictions. Yet, he had received only a single 2-4 year prison sentence and had recently been paroled prior to murdering Cpl. Pokorny.
• Philadelphia Police Officers Charles Cassidy, John Pawloski, Sgt. Stephen Liczinski and Sgt. Patrick McDonald: During a 16 month period between November 2007 and February 2009 all four were shot and killed by violent repeat offenders with multiple felony convictions, one of whom was reportedly paroled just weeks prior to the killing.

How many times will this story repeat in 2010?

You Have The Right to Commit Crime. Nothing You Say or Do Will be Used Against You in a Court of Law.

no comments

Yesterday, I linked to one section of an interesting Philadelphia Inquirer series on chaos in the courts.  The entire series is worth reading, but you have to download a flash player to view it all (pathetically, that’s onerous for me): here’s the link.

Anyone who believes the problems described by the Inquirer are limited to the City of Brotherly Love has not visited a courtroom in their own jurisdiction lately.

Such problems are not even limited to our country, though the panoply of indulgences we shower on criminal defendants used to be the envy of criminals throughout the world.  As in so many other endeavors, the rest of the world is catching up with us.  Britain may be even more lenient than we are on serial recidivists, and simultaneously hard on ordinary people who break the law, a phenomenon crying out for a name.

See, for example, this from the U.K. Telegraph:

Businessman Jailed For Attacking Intruder, Who Goes Free

Munir Hussain, who was threatened at knifepoint and tied up by a gang of masked men in his living room last year, was told he must go to prison for 30 months to preserve “civilised society”.

But Walid Salem, a criminal with more than 50 convictions, was handed a two-year supervision order for his role in the break-in at an earlier hearing.

He was one of three men who ambushed Mr Hussain, his wife and children . . . Their hands were tied behind their backs and they were forced to crawl from room to room before being forced to lie down in the living room . . . when Hussain’s teenage son managed to escape and raise the alarm, he seized his chance and turned on his captors. While two of them got away, Salem was cornered in a neighbour’s front garden. With the help of his brother, Tokeer, 35, who lived nearby, Hussain set upon him with a metal pole and a cricket bat, the court heard.

Hussain and his brother got long prison sentences: 30 and 39 months, for retaliating in the heat of the moment against a man who was terrorizing their community and had tied up and threatened — in a word, tortured — Hussain’s wife and children.  Walid Salem, he of the torture and 50 priors, got no jail time.  No matter what you think of the Hussain brothers’ actions, it is hard to read the words of their sentencing judge without simply recoiling:

“[I]f persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting justice take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are the hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.”

Whatever part of walking free after 50 prior crimes and a current crime of such severity does not indicate the collapse of both civilization and the British system of criminal justice, eludes me.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia:

Just 23 years old, John Gassew has been arrested 44 times, mostly on charges of sticking a gun in people’s faces and robbing them.

But in the eyes of the law, Gassew isn’t an armed robber.

He’s never been convicted.

Gassew has only been sent to jail once, for a drug charge.  So on the books, he looks just like all those imaginary people locked away for no reason other than that they once took a toke of pot.  Remember that the next time some activist starts ranting about the unfairness of our “barbaric” justice system.  It’s unfair, allright:

Despite being called one of the city’s more prolific, and sometimes violent, stickup men by police – they say he bashed a delivery man over the head with a bat, shot at a 13-year-old neighbor, and smashed in the face of a robbery victim – Gassew has been sentenced to jail only once, for a drug charge.

The Northeast Philadelphia man has become so confident in his ability to beat charges, police say, that he openly scoffs at the system. In December 2007, officers arrested him as he ran down a street, leaving behind a car that police said was filled with the loot from 21 robberies he committed in just one weekend.

“It looked like a store in there,” said Detective Bob Kane.

As Kane and Detective Robert Conn of the Northeast Detective Division tell it, when they confronted Gassew with four trash bags of evidence, he leaned back in his chair and told them he’d take his chances in court.

“The bad guys know that if they come in the front door, the back door is usually open,” Conn said.

That back door being the courts, where some bloviating magistrate listens hard to the sound of his own voice as he ushers felons back onto the streets.  It’s the same story everywhere:

A small-time criminal emboldened by a system that fails time and again to put him away graduates to more violent acts and, eventually, a standoff with police.

Gassew has beaten cases in almost every way – including three trials in which he was found not guilty after witnesses changed their story on the stand or were found not credible.

“Twenty-three years old and 44 priors. There’s no excuse for that,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

“A second chance? OK. A third chance? OK. But how about a 30th? At some point, you have to realize this guy’s a menace to society. You can’t keep cranking him out,” said Ramsey.

After a decade of attempts to crack down on gun crime, the streets of Philadelphia are still awash with armed robbers, and the courts are unable to put them away even when they are caught red-handed.

And why is that?  Because those “decades of attempts” coincided with and were not nearly as powerful as the vast and systematic dismantling of consequences for criminal actions enacted by an unholy cabal of activists, attorneys, academicians, all abetted by cherished public fantasies about our prisons being stuffed full of innocent men, and felons being misunderstood innocents crying out for help.

One of the most effective ways of keeping people out of prison is to de-fund the courts by creating unnecessary, virtually unenforceable sets of hoops to be jumped through in order to achieve a prosecution.  Philadelphia is the poster child for such legal shenanigans, but it’s bad everywhere, and behind every legal loophole, there’s some self-satisfied appellate judge telling his grandchildren how gramps bravely protected the poor and weak — criminals, that is.

That’s how streets ended up “awash” with crime.  Fitting adjective, awash:

Of the 9,850 gunpoint robberies reported in the city in 2006 and 2007, only a quarter were brought to court, according to an Inquirer analysis. In the end, only two in 10 accused armed robbers were found guilty of armed robbery.”There’s a law on the books that enhances the penalty when you commit a crime with a gun. It’s not enforced,” noted [Police Commissioner] Ramsey, referring to the state’s mandatory minimum five-year sentence for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a felony.

I would love to hear an explanation from any judge — or law professor — regarding the state of affairs that exists today, in Atlanta, Philadelphia, every major city, wherein judges and prosecutors simply disregard the laws they are required (you know, by law) to enforce.  I’ve never heard an explanation, nor have I heard one peep about censure of the many judges whose careless abdication of their responsibilities have most recently resulted in horrific subsequent crimes:

A 13-year-old girl who lived next door said Gassew pointed a sawed-off shotgun at her and asked, “Do you all want to die?”, before firing at her. A judge found the story credible enough to allow Gassew to be tried as an adult. But a different judge found him not guilty.

In May 2004, Gassew was charged with clubbing a pizza-delivery man over the head with a baseball bat and stealing about $100. The victim, who spoke only Spanish, identified Gassew at the scene and later in court. But Gassew was found not guilty after a witness changed her story on the stand.

Prosecutors said she was scared. Another neighbor, who also identified Gassew, failed to appear. Even a codefendant in one of Gassew’s robbery cases said he was scared of him.

Police say they had reason to be frightened. His own aunt, Neilene Calloway, took out an emergency restraining order on him in April 2005 after several armed men came looking for him at the house.

It appears that court authorities in Philadelphia were content to wait for Gassew to murder someone before they acted.  We are all responsible for letting such things go on.  We sacrifice victim after victim and do nothing:

Jennifer Mulholland, who was a bartender at Brian’s Sports Bar in Frankford, got a taste of [Gassew’s threat].

Gassew drank there often, she said in an interview, and befriended her.

One night in May 2006, Gassew said good night and left. A short time later, a man wearing a mask burst into the bar with a gun in his hand and demanded that she empty the register.

Mulholland thought it was Gassew. “Quit playing,” she told him.

“It’s not a joke,” the robber replied, pointing the silver gun at her head.

“I knew it was him,” she recalled.

He grabbed her by the neck and told her to open the register.

She gave him the money.

Mulholland, whose father is a police sergeant, said she was prepared to testify.

“I never got a court notice,” she said.

There are millions of Jennifer Mulhollands in this country (and elsewhere), victims whose lives were treated like garbage, and then “the system” decided they had no rights, who could have died and then were told that their right to even be heard in court was irrelevant because the rights of criminals are the only rights that matter at all.

I’m one of those people; my husband is another.  We were both merely lucky to survive.  So were the cops who ended up getting shot at by John Gassew, in the utterly inevitable, thankfully non-fatal, denouement of a decade of criminal negligence on the part of the Philadelphia court system issuing from the end of Gassew’s semiautomatic handgun.

The law comes down hard on decent people, while prolific thugs are literally groomed in-court by irresponsible judges and lawyers to escalate their violence to the tipping point.

At what point do people like us get some answers from those responsible?

How Not to Change

5 comments

Chief Pennington is leaving, but Al Sharpton has set up camp. Atlanta can’t catch a break.  From an Atlanta Journal Constitution article:

Sharpton Decries Black on Black Violence

In West Atlanta, Sharpton called thugs “a disgrace and a shame to the community.”  And he blamed civil rights leaders like himself for failing to rein in violence.

Nearby, youths held signs urging peace as drivers honked their horns.

Sharpton called for town hall meetings in each of the cities that were participating in Monday’s event.

“None of us have done enough,” he said.

I think Al Sharpton has done quite enough already.  I smell grant money, federal or county or city: somebody should check to see exactly how much Sharpton’s palm is getting greased, and by whom, for this so-called “National Day of Outrage.”  Such things aren’t done for free.  We always pay for them, through Weed and Seed or some other Justice Department tax-dollar give-away, or city funds, or police discretionary budgets that are supposed to be used to, you know, catch criminals.

Follow the money, especially the public safety budget.  Remember back in July, when Pennington and Mayor Franklin finally got around to holding a press conference on crime?  Then the ministers got in on the action, rallying behind a local Sharpton affiliate.  Now Sharpton shows up.  Do you have any idea how much you might be paying for these professional activists?

That’s Chief Pennington standing with Markel Hutchins, an anti-cop activist and local Sharpton representative.  He has a history of sowing divisiveness between communities and police officers.  Why did Pennington join hands with him, and by extension, Sharpton?  Did the Chief actually have this little respect for his own officers?

Good cops risk their lives every day to protect residents in dangerous neighborhoods.  In other cities, the Chief of Police doesn’t get into bed with people like Sharpton.  Pennington did.  If any of Sharpton’s “activism” is being bankrolled by city public safety taxes, or the feds, whoever approved of such expenditures needs to be held accountable.

~~~

The arrival of Sharpton this week to “speak out about crime” reminded me of a comment somebody made on the AJC‘s website after Pennington and Mayor Franklin finally deigned to hold a press conference to scold the public for caring about crime.  File it under “be careful what you wish for, because you might end up paying for Al Sharpton’s lunch.”

Seriously, though, it’s worth reading:

“Captain”   July 30th, 2009

Where are the City’s self proclaimed righteous and pious leaders such as Rev Joseph Lowery, Rev Markel Hutchins, Tyrone Brooks and others? The same leaders who were so quick to go after Police Officers who shot a car thief some 3 yrs ago are silent during this crime wave. Where are they? These are Atlanta’s self appointed leaders who called for “Community Review Boards” to monitor APD, who routinely protested action by APD, never failing to find fault with virtually every aspect of APD operations. Much of this current crime wave is as a direct result of their anti-Police actions and activities of the past several years. These same leaders can’t wait to villify police officers, call for investigations, call white officers ‘racist’, accuse the Police of being ‘out of control’ when the Police do their job. Amazingly, when an athlete is gunned down by those trying to steal his vehicle, when a City council members vehicle is stolen we have a crime wave and they demand action from that same Police force they’ve hammered with relentless accusation after accusation the last four years. The message from Atlanta’s high and might self appointed leaders has been crystal clear to the outlaws during the past few years, the Police are not to be respected, nor are the laws.

“Captain,” whoever he is, is absolutely right.  These activists have been tearing down the police for decades.  They invented the very “no-snitching” anti-cop culture they’re now suddenly so eager to grandstand against.  “Captain” continues:

The ‘thugs’ are running the streets doing as they please. For months it was the ongoing ’smash and grab’ across the city, store after store, time after time. Then it was home breakins, apartment breakins, Atlantic Station breakins, then they moved to shooting restaurant employees, store clerks, followed up by assaulting and robbing college students, now the crowd has moved to car jackings. What a surprise!!! Who could have seen that coming?

Where are Rev Lowery, REv Hutchins, Tyrone Brooks and others today? Their war against the Police Dept has resulted in today’s crime wave. When police officers are treated as these self proclaimed leaders have treated them, is it any surprise the ‘thugs’ feel they have no constraints? I have to wonder, if an APD officer shot and killed one of these outlaws during an attempted car jacking tonight, would one of Atlanta’s ‘leaders’ applaud the Police or call for an investigation, a community review board, prosecution of the officer, and if he were white, allegations of racism and calls for a FBI probe?

Why can’t these same pompous and self proclaimed leaders who have,by their actions, contributed to this current crime wave take to the podium, in front of those TV cameras they so adore, and publically call for Atlanta’s citizens to rise up, stop the crime, and encourage the APD to do all within it’s power to make the City safe? Why won’t they publically SUPPORT APD rather than again ‘blaming”? Why are they so quick to speak out and blame, yet so silent when times call for real and honest leadership? Atlantans are reaping what has been sown, it’s a shame, a real shame.

Some might say that any anti-crime advocacy is welcome, even from the likes of Al Sharpton.  But Sharpton has attacked crime victims, unrepentantly ruined an innocent man’s life with false allegations of rape, and repeatedly incited racial antagonism and violent protests, one of which led to an arson attack where several people burned to death.  He has no business claiming to be a leader against violent crime.  

And then there’s the money.  A few years ago, Sharpton was busy shaking down other people over other causes; now he smells green in people’s demands for safe streets.  Don’t let him leech off the anti-crime movement: it’s disrespectful to victims, and he will do everything he can to divide people by race, which will shatter chances for change in the long run.  Staged activities like “National Days of Outrage” do nothing to stop crime.  They garner a few headlines and line Sharpton’s pockets, while real representatives of the community continue to be frozen out by politicians like Franklin and Pennington, the types of regressive politicians who benefit when people are pitted against each other.

And that’s what Sharpton does best.

If local ministers really want to unite all Atlantans against crime, they must honor all victims and distance themselves from Sharpton and his ilk.  If they want to work to heal divisions between some neighborhoods and the police through personal example, more power to them.  But the movement must be inclusive, and it must be a two-way street with the police: activists need to acknowledge the risks cops take and the thankless work they do in the face of hostilities fired up by people like Sharpton.

It was bad enough that Pennington and Franklin only came out of the bat cave after a well-known athlete got killed.  With that said, kudos to Vernon Forrest’s family for using their influence to push city leaders to action.  But now, if anti-crime activists choose to acknowledge only some crimes, as Sharpton is trying to do, it is a step backward, not forward, for the city.

Anything involving Sharpton is a step back.  He has no business in decent company. (Et tu, Newt G.?)

Criminal Apologetics and Bizarre Technicalities in St. Pete: Blaming Cops for Criminal Acts

2 comments

I didn’t have to look far to find today’s dreadful example of the media blaming anyone except criminals for criminal acts.  In the St. Pete Times today, Howard Troxler, a normally reasonable man, wanders far down an ugly path by questioning the recent conviction of a knife-wielding repeat offender on two grounds: the purported reputation of the officer who confronted him, and some trumped-up technicality about types of knives that should be considered weapons.

Troxler apparently feels that police officer Joe Ardolino is permanently tarnished because, in 2003, he was involved in a car chase (of a violent, prolific offender) that ended in the suspect’s death.  Never mind that Ardolino was cleared in the incident, as he should have been: once charged, always guilty, at least when it comes to the police.  Troxler crosses a troubling line when he impugns the officer in the subsequent murder of a fellow officer:

Ardolino was the deputy who made news in 2003 for a chasing a traffic violator through the Lacoochee area of Pasco County until the driver crashed into a palm tree and died. The resulting racial tension contributed, a month later, to the mistaken-revenge murder of Sheriff’s Lt. Bo Harrison.

Joe Ardolino is in no way responsible for the murder of Lt. Bo Harrison.  Ardolino was chasing a suspect; the suspect crashed his car and died; the suspect’s family swarmed the scene, practically started a riot, and accused the police of killing him.  Later, Lt. Harrison was assassinated outside a nightclub.  Calling it a “mistaken revenge murder” is unbelievably inappropriate.  When someone aims a semi-automatic at an officer’s head and pulls the trigger, where does “mistake” enter in, no matter what the defense argues in court?  The killer is responsible for murdering the officer.  Full stop.

After Reed crashed his car, Ardolino tried to revive the suspect while being threatened by a hostile crowd; he was cleared of wrongdoing, and yet, in the eyes of the St. Pete Times, he still must be guilty of something.  Here are some details from the 2003 incident:

[Michael] Reed’s family members said he leaves behind a girlfriend and a 11/2-year-old daughter, Mykeia. Friends said he was quiet and liked to visit Rumors nightclub.

The suspect’s family said he was “quiet.”  His criminal record, of course, tells a different story:

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Reed was arrested at least eight times since 1994 on charges ranging from vehicle theft to burglary to cocaine possession with intent to sell. In 1996, when he was 17, he was one of two men who took part in the early morning robbery of R & J Foods that left three people hospitalized with gunshot wounds. A judge sentenced him to 41/2 years in prison in connection with the incident.

[And, once again, we have a criminal who might still be alive if a judge had taken seriously an armed robbery that left three people shot.]  Anyway, this is what Ardolino was doing as the suspect’s family threatened him:

The scene of the crash had turned tense as 75 to 100 people yelled threats, profanity, and racial insults at deputies, according to the Sheriff’s Office. . .

Reed had been hurled through the front windshield of his white Chevrolet and was hanging off the car’s hood. His left ankle was hooked on the car’s antenna. Ardolino put a handcuff on Reed’s left hand. After checking Reed for breathing and pulse and finding none, Ardolino began giving Reed chest compressions. After several compressions, Reed began trying to breathe.

Ardolino checked again for a pulse and found one. He unhooked Reed’s leg and laid him on the ground beside the car.

“I then heard Mr. Reed’s breathing become labored,” Ardolino’s report said. “His teeth were tightly clenched together, and he was sucking air through his teeth.”

Ardolino pried Reed’s mouth open and tilted his head so that fluid could drain from his mouth.

“He then continued to breathe while I held his mouth open,” Ardolino wrote.

The crash happened at 6:22 p.m. Ardolino arrived at the scene one minute later, and the chief of Tri-Community Volunteer Fire, Mike Morgan, arrived at 6:27 p.m., according to sheriff’s spokesman Powers.

Ardolino reported that when fire rescue arrived, he briefed an unspecified paramedic on Reed’s condition.

“He took over administering aid,” Ardolino wrote.

This is called a police officer doing his job in the face of extreme danger.  Witnesses said the officer was being intimidated and was outnumbered.  This is called a sacrifice.  Cops are put into dangerous situations all the time; they are forced to deal with dangerous people all of the time; they are investigated and accused and interrogated constantly, and yet they still show up and do their jobs: that’s the curiosity of it.

So, four years later, Ardolino gets called to a dangerous domestic violence scene.  The offender, Steven Miholics, who had already been to prison for child abuse (as I’ve said, you have to do a lot to a child to end up in prison), kicked his way into a house.  He armed himself with a knife.  His terrorized family managed to call the police.  Ardolino showed up and confronted the man, who lunged at him.  Ardolino shot him.  Miholics survived, was prosecuted, and was sentenced to 15 years.  As he should have been.  Now he wants that reduced to a one-year sentence because the knife he was holding was dull, and Troxler thinks he has a point.

Picture the scene of the domestic violence call, the knife, the split-second decision the officer must make.  Here is what Troxler thinks of it:

On appeal, Miholics’ new lawyer raised the issues both of allowing the deputy’s testimony and whether Miholics could have been legally convicted of a “deadly weapon” assault in the first place.  State law had been changed in 2006 to exempt a “blunt-bladed table knife” from the definition of a weapon. For Miholics, this could have meant the difference between a year in jail and 15 years in prison . . . This man Miholics has struck out in every way — his record, his choice to wield a knife and spatula as he met the Pasco deputies, his decision to fire his lawyer at a crucial juncture. I do not think many people will feel sympathy for him. And yet, as I said, these twists are worth noting.

“These twists are worth noting”?  Oh, don’t be shy.  By the lights of newspaper columnists, no offender should ever stop appealing any verdict, no matter the evidence, no matter the cost, no matter the ludicrousness of the grounds, no matter the disruption and danger and suffering of the victim.

Prisons should just be big bingo halls where every offender gets endless bites at the apple until they scamper out the door.

“Twists are worth noting”?  Justice be damned, more like.  Does Troxler believe that a police officer confronting a man with a violent record, at a very chaotic home invasion-domestic violence scene, should pause and say:

“Hey, wait a minute, that might be a blunt-bladed knife.  If I shoot the guy trying to stab me with it, I could get into trouble because some defense attorneys convinced the State of Florida to exclude blunt-bladed knives from the legal category of “deadly weapons.”  So since I can’t quite see from here how sharp that knife is in that crazed aggressor’s hand, I’ll just try to back out of the kitchen without getting killed so I can stay on the safe side with the courts.”

This is what we’re asking of officers, among a thousand other stupid, dangerous things.

Also stupid?  Suggesting that somebody who terrorizes his family, invades a house, and lunges at a cop with a knife should only get one year in prison.

Troxler manages to squeeze an impressive amount of responsibility-deflection into one column:

  • He brings up officially discredited claims against Officer Ardolino from 2003 to question his credibility in the 2007 case, rather than blaming Reed for his own criminal acts back then and the crowd for threatening the officer as he tried to save the offender’s life.
  • He claims that the judge should not have let Miholic represent himself (something Miholic had a right to do, and chose freely), suggesting that Miholic was incapable of bringing the defense that the officer “overreacted” to Miholic’s knife because its blade was dull (Here Troxler chomps at the bit to re-try the case on grounds that don’t even apply because there was no question that the shooting was justified — does no condemnation of police ever satisfy the appetite to condemn police?  Ever?).  Amazing.  And sloppy.
  • He blames the prosecutor and judge for the “deadly weapons” charge, rather than blaming Miholic for lunging at an officer with a knife.
  • He points a finger at Officer Ardolino for Lt. Bo Harrison’s murder, rather than blaming the murderer.  That’s disgraceful.

Quite a list.  Here are the people Troxler doesn’t hold accountable:

  • criminals who shoot people in robberies and flee from police
  • people who wrongfully accuse officers and threaten their safety
  • people who kills cops
  • people who lunge at cops with knives

Detect a pattern?

Tragically, the justice system reinforces this deflection of responsibility every time they permit defendants to make absurd arguments about things like the relative dullness of their knives.  Every cop responding to a call for help has to remember that the courts are stacked against them in this way, and a thousand others.

Imagine a world where, instead of advocating for the release of people like Miholic, Howard Troxler writes columns advocating for the legislature to change that dangerous and wrong-headed “blunt-bladed table knife” law.  No?  I didn’t think so.

Perception of Crime or Expectation of Normalcy?

1 comment

There goes the AJC again, in its death-spiral of mis-perceiving its readers, running yet another story about fixing “perceptions” of crime in the city.  This time they fire across the bow, smugly reminding readers that all this crime talk is bad for property values.

Make that the perception of property values.

It really is beyond me how a major newspaper could get itself into this shape.  When you read newspapers in other cities that are facing the sorts of problems Atlanta is facing — that is, loosely-organized gangs of armed young men who do not hesitate to use guns against each other and innocent bystanders, plus a more-or-less constant presence of unpunished property criminals — well, newspapers in those cities report it when the Chief of Police gets in front of the cameras and blathers on about “mere perceptions of crime,” but they don’t then set out to become the Chief’s own TASS-style fourth estate by publishing article after article promoting the Chief’s political assertions as fact.

They also don’t set out to police their reader’s responses when innocent people get shot and residential burglaries skyrocket.  They don’t scold the public for caring and argue endlessly about mindsets: they report the news.

In other cities, the public gets reporting on crime.  In Atlanta, when you open up the morning paper, what you get is a morality tale larded with threats that your property values will drop if you keep daring to demand a normal level of security and accountability when you call 911 or appear in a courtroom to see if the guy who stole your lawnmower is going to get a jail sentence or a birthday party thrown for him by the judge.

Why is it so hard to just tell the truth?

Here is the truth about Atlanta. Atlanta had an astonishing violent crime rate in the late 1960’s and the 70’s, 80’s, and early 1990’s because huge portions of the city were a wild west of dysfunction, drugs, dependency, and despair.  Dysfunction depopulated the city.  Businesses pulled out.  Abandoned buildings and homes stayed empty.  All of the recent growth — all the condos, the renovations, the infill housing and new-builds — took hold only after the city made a real commitment to dismantle the housing projects.  Before then, nobody sane who had any other choice would move to the area around Techwood Homes, for example, or Vine Street, or Grady Homes, or Thomasville Heights.

Here is how abnormal it was: I made the mistake of driving a co-worker home one day — during daylight — to somewhere off Simpson Street.  He was feeling sick, and nobody else was around.  He told me to get in and out quickly and to keep driving if somebody tried to block my car.  As I let him out, a group of young men swarmed the car, and he shouted them away.

That is not normal.

That is not normal, but people accepted it as normal, for nefarious or soft-headed reasons, all of which led to the same dead end: children raised in war zones that would put regular war zones to shame. And people were happy to ignore this huge violent mess by dumping every last bit of responsibility for it onto the police, then accusing the police of doing nothing about it or blaming the police when they tried to do anything about it.

It was a huge abdication of moral and social responsibility by everybody except the police, who have every right to feel like the deeply abused spouses they are in the social contract we have written for them.

Now, Atlanta is beginning to grow up. The violent crime rate is down from the highs of the 1990’s, but it is still outrageous: it insults sensibilities, which is good because that means people aren’t accepting the old status quo anymore.  The daily newspaper may be hell-bent on policing people’s responses to crime because they are used to that old status quo — they are invested in it, for nefarious and soft-headed reasons — but the rest of the city has moved on.

The new normal means the expectation that you won’t get pulled from your car if you make a wrong turn.  The new normal means you don’t need to start each day by looking at your house and car and loved ones and thinking: what can I do to keep them from harm?  The new normal means the expectation that not only can you mow your lawn without getting shot, but that everyone should be able to mow their lawns without getting shot.

The new normal will lift all ships, if, that is, it gets proper support from new leaders who don’t use the same old excuses to pit people against each other, dump the problem on the police again, and look away.

The city isn’t there yet, but the expectation is.

Not So Funny: Project Turn Around

no comments

So Al Sharpton, Andrew Young, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, and Fulton Superior Judge Marvin Arrington walk into a courtroom. . .

There is no punchline.  They walked into a courtroom to hold yet another courthouse special event for yet another group of criminal defendants who were having their crimes excused, who then failed to avail themselves of all the special tutoring and counseling and mentoring provided to them in lieu of sentencing, all paid for by us, the taxpayers.  What is going on in the courts?  Here is the press release from Paul Howard’s office:

On May 22, 2008, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office joined by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington unveiled a pilot program designed to clean our streets of rampant, unchecked illegal drug activity. With its innovative programming, this endeavor entitled Project Turn Around . . . [will] provide an opportunity for young drug dealers, with limited criminal histories, a chance to remove themselves from illegal drug activity . . . Project Turn Around is an intensive 12-month program that will provide these young men with drug counseling, G.E.D. classes, job training, family counseling, enrichment courses, life skills training and other social services. . . Fourteen young men, between the ages of 17-25 years old, were officially entered into the program on May 22 with an additional six more program participants enrolling within that same week.

To say that they did not change the landscape of Fulton County is apparently an understatement, according to this comment by a community member who volunteered to mentor the youths assigned to Project Turn Around.  In fact, the post by this person, who goes by “Nich,” challenges pretty much everything the D.A. said about the Project.  The comment appeared in an interesting Atlanta Journal Constitution discussion about crime:

I joined a group called “Project Turnaround” as a council member. (volunteer PO, basically.) This was a program to help these participants/offenders get back on track monitored by the DA’s office. Most every offender was recommended by the council members to be exempted from the program/put back in jail, for repeat offenses. Nothing was done. My participant, for example, never went to the classes, continued to sell drugs and was shot in during a drug deal gone bad. Why was he not thrown out of the program and into jail? The DA’s office eventually just walked away from the program, but the kicker…NONE, NADA, 0% of the participants were put into jail. They basically were given “get out of jail free cards!” They are roaming the streets worse off today, because they don’t believe they will ever receive consequences. Sadly, all evidence supports that theory.

So the D.A. failed to prosecute — how many?  20 repeat offenders?  “Nich” also reports an extremely troubling exchange with another D.A.:

The courts are a very big problem, especially with regard to minors. A lot of the offenders are young. Evidently, there is a 12-step program (you get 12 strikes before you are out) that applies to all minors, per Zone 3 DA. So if a 16 year old boy walks into my home, slays my husband and robs us, is that strike 7?

The public deserves some answers from Paul Howard (not to mention Arrington):

  • How many of the 20 enrolled youths failed to complete Project Turn Around?
  • How many were then prosecuted for the crimes that brought them to your attention in the first place, as you pledged to do?  As is your job, for that matter?
  • How many of these youths were arrested for additional crimes while “enrolled” in Project Turn Around?
  • How many of those crimes have been prosecuted?
  • What were the actual arrest records for the 20 participants prior to their enrollment in Project Turn Around: what constitutes a “limited criminal history”?
  • Is it true that your office has a policy of giving minors multiple passes — 2 or 5 or 12 “get out of jail free” cards — before you actually bother to prosecute them?

And don’t forget these easily-overlooked questions:

  • Who got paid for this?  Where did the money come from?
  • Is this failed attempt at rehabilitation going to be evaluated and dutifully entered into the academic literature on the efficacy of alternative sentencing programs, or is the whole mess just going to be swept under the rug?

~~~

It isn’t just the Fulton County D.A. who stands accused of failing to bother to prosecute serious crimes: over at the blog Dekalb Officers, cops and others are weighing in about multiple failures to prosecute violent offenders in DeKalb County, too.  The pattern of complaints about Dekalb D.A. Gwen Keyes resembles the complaints about Paul Howard, and both are extremely troubling.  Here are just a few:

Thank Gwen for taking years to indict!! When you don’t even get an indictment within a year or two of the crime, what chance does the state have at trial?? Remember, it is the STATE who was to bring in all of the witnesses and evidence. Try finding reports, evidence, and witnesses years after a crime took place. The more time that passes, the easier it is to get a not guilty verdict. Why do you think defense attorneys in DeKalb rarely demand a speedy trial?? It only happens if their client is unable to make bond. If their client is out, they know every day that goes by is to the defense’s advantage. But our DA’s and Judges don’t care.  The dirtbag who dumped his baby son in the sewer committed an armed robbery and kidnapping at a business over a year ago. He STILL hasn’t been indicted!! Defense attorneys like to say, “Indictments don’t mean anything. You can get an indictment against a sandwich.” Apparently, not with our DA’s office!! They can’t be bothered to bring violent criminals up for indictment within a reasonable amount of time!

And:

Most cases are pending for years. They usually get NOLLE PROSCESS.

And:

Take a look at the recent arrest in DeKalb County of a worthless coward who killed three people, including a three year old child. The perp has 5 different felony arrests in his past. Some have multiple felony charges. Guess how many indictments he has? ZERO!! Way to go Gwen!! Maybe if you indicted him on ONE or TWO cases, that three year old child might be alive today!

And this comment, which makes the important point that police officers’ lives are particularly endangered when offenders face no consequences in the courts:

Detectives have a good phrase for the D.A. Office and the Judges…..they plead guilty and guess what ……..TIME SERVE AND PROBATION. They get a second chance to steal again or rob you with a gun.

~~~

There are many reasons why programs like Project Turn Around fail. One of them, surely, is the confidence offenders must feel in knowing that they won’t face real consequences if they don’t bother to follow the rules.  Every young man who entered that program apparently failed to complete it.  Did anything get accomplished, other than reinforcing the participants’ sense of invulnerability?

In the current courtroom culture, any program like Project Turn Around is just one more free ride.

But this particular initiative is even more troubling.  It appears to have encouraged offenders to view themselves as victims of the justice system:

During the unveiling of the program, Judge Arrington told the young men, “I want to make sure before I send somebody to jail for an extended period of time that I’ve done everything I can do to make them a better person.” In addition to hearing from the judge, the young men were addressed by the Honorable Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton.

First of all, it’s not Arrington’s job to “make people into better people.”  That’s a nice sentiment, one we can all agree with, but Marvin Arrington’s job is to enforce the law.

Second, what, precisely, was Al Sharpton doing there?  He has committed anti-Semitic and unapologetically racist acts, and his followers, encouraged by his rhetoric, have burned down businesses, threatened witnesses, rioted, and committed murders.  He is anti-cop, and his appearance at the side of Fulton County’s District Attorney sends a disturbing message to every police officer on Atlanta’s streets.

What’s the matter with Howard, in his position, agreeing to associate with the likes of Sharpton?

More mundanely, Al Sharpton has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the justice system in cases filed against him.  After being found guilty of slander and defamatory statements in his false accusations of rape against a Dutchess County prosecutor, Sharpton disgracefully refused to pay the damages the court ordered him to pay.  The Federal Elections Commission found that he broke election finance laws — apparently with few consequences for him.

Most recently, he shockingly advocated for the release of four men who raped, sodomized and beat a Haitian immigrant in Miami, forced the woman to perform sex acts on her 12-year old son, and then doused them both with household cleansers and tried to set them on fire.

He went from that performance to Marvin Arrington’s courtroom a few months later, ostensibly to encourage young offenders to become better people.  What message did that appearance really send?  Something like this:

Don’t worry about following the law, because if you don’t, nothing will happen to you.  Look at me: I have no respect for the law and I’m rich and famous and on TV.  I hang out with your judge and your prosecutor, who admire me, even though I side with violent rapists and murderers and against the innocent people they torment.  You are the victims of an unjust system and deserve to be set free.

Is it any wonder that the young defendants did not bother to take Project Turn Around seriously?  No courtroom program featuring Al Sharpton should be taken seriously.  Of course everyone wants young offenders to be rehabilitated.  But the public deserves safety, and this is just craziness.

Marvin Arrington and Paul Howard are up for re-election in 2010.

A Truly Offensive Effort to Whitewash the Crime Problem

7 comments

What’s the matter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution?

In the last year, the residents of Atlanta stood up and declared that they do not want their city to be a place known for crime, where murders and muggings are taken in stride.  They declared that one murder, one home invasion, is one too many.  They partnered with the police — ignoring the headline-grabbing anti-cop types who perennially try to sow divisiveness.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution stubbornly failed to grasp the significance of these events.  They mocked the anti-crime activists and denied the crime problem with a scorn they would not dream of directing at other types of community leaders or social movements.  They sought out the usual political operatives to feed them quotes denying the seriousness of crime.

They didn’t understand that the public had long-ago grown tired of these condescending tactics.  The newspaper of record especially didn’t understand that the internet gave citizens powerful new ways to see precisely how much their lives and pocketbooks were being affected by crime — whether it was sharing information about the ten-time recidivist standing in their driveway or finding out how many other people got put on hold when calling 911.

Atlantans began to demand a healthier, saner, safer status quo.  They set out to change the culture of the city in ways that will benefit every single person, from the well-off to the poor to criminals themselves (for criminals are not helped by a system that allows them to destroy their own lives).

Now, less than a year later, anti-crime activism has brought about a sea change in the political culture of the city.  Several candidates are running in this election on solid platforms of public safety — notably Adam Brackman, a leader in the volunteer court-watching movement that pressures judges to remove repeat offenders from the streets.

Every politician in this election is on notice that they dismiss public concern about crime at their peril.

And by the time the next election rolls around, I suspect that some of the judges who are failing to uphold the law and siding with offenders rather than law-abiding citizens will be folding up their black robes.  Pressure on the courts, and pressuring the city to end the police furloughs, has already set the city on the path to reducing crime, though it will be a long road.

So why did the AJC choose this moment to retreat to the “crime is a perception thing” debate again?

“People are scared,” said Kyle Keyser, founder of Atlantans Together Against Crime. The group formed in January, in a near-spontaneous reaction to a perceived crime wave that crested with the killing of a restaurant worker near Grant Park.

“Near-spontaneous.”  “Perceived crime wave.”  “Crested.”  Could the reporter wedge in a few more diminutives?  I lived in that neighborhood for decades, and in reality, crime has always been unacceptably high there.  It would be a lot higher if residents weren’t paying through the teeth for security patrols and motion detectors and cameras inside and outside of their homes, a veritable self-imposed police state that reflects the failure of city leaders and especially judges to behave as if all crime matters.

So why is the newspaper still hammering away at the theme that it is the perception of crime that is the problem?  Even when they acknowledge that crime is up alarmingly, from a base rate that is alarming enough, they feel the need to remind people that such things are normal, you know, in urban places:

Residential burglaries are a key component of the property crime category. But while all property crime decreased, reports of residential break-ins grew by 65 percent from 2004 to 2008. This year alone, home burglaries in southeast Atlanta are up 52 percent.

Larcenies have steadily decreased, as well. But thefts from automobiles, a frequent grievance of in-town residents, rose 30 percent in five years.

Criminologists say a high crime rate is inevitable in Atlanta, where widespread poverty and an influx of commuters, conventioneers and tourists create an atmosphere conducive to illicit activity.

Yeah, that pickpocket’s trade show sure brought a bunch of pickpockets to town.  The problem isn’t poverty: it’s profound social dysfunction, and the primary targets of crime are not conventioneers in the security-heavy downtown business district but residents going about their lives.  Some criminologists will say anything, however, in the service of rejecting legitimate worries about criminal behavior:

How well a police department performs its most basic job — preventing crime — can be assessed three ways, said Robert Friedmann, a professor of criminal justice at Georgia State University.

“One is the numbers,” he said. “Two is the numbers. And three is perception.”

Is it?  “Perception” is criminologist-code for “hysteria.”  The argument that Atlanta’s crime problem is merely the “perception” of paranoid whiners was rejected by the public months ago.  Yet here comes the AJC, once again, scolding people for failing to lower their expectations to meet the “inevitable” reality of violent urban crime.

The reporter doesn’t stop there, however.  The end of this article, an article that purports to investigate “dysfunction in the police department,”  is instead dedicated to dismissing the seriousness of John Henderson’s murder and by extension the legitimacy of the entire anti-crime movement.

He does this by claiming, again, that John Henderson’s death was probably just “an accident,” foolishly valued and misapprehended by those who reacted to it:

The case featured many archetypal elements of the high-profile urban crime story: the neighborhood’s historic poverty contrasted against the Standard’s hipster scene; the free-roaming young killers, possibly gang members; the overmatched police force, struggling to keep pace with crime. To many, the case seemed to be a metaphor that captured Atlanta as a growing threat.

Except it wasn’t.

It wasn’t?  It wasn’t what?  The bullet that entered John Henderson’s head was neither an archetype nor a metaphor nor a plot twist: it was a chunk of metal that ended an innocent man’s life, fired from a gun by malicious thugs who displayed murderous contempt for other people’s lives.  To point to the dead body of that young man and say “those who have reacted to this loss are making too much of a big deal about it: it’s just routine, the sort of thing that happens is the big city,” is utterly, starkly, reprehensible.

It smacks of telling people that if they’re “hipsters” who choose to live in-town, they must accept a certain body count among their friends and loved ones, and to complain about that is the real crime.  The reporter backs up this sleazy assertion by insisting that the murder wasn’t as bad as people thought.  Get it?  The murder wasn’t all that bad:

Much of what was reported about Henderson’s killing turned out to be false. He was not shot execution-style. Nor was he wounded four times. He was hit once in the leg during the robbery and once again in the head, maybe by accident, as the robbers fled. One of the bullets came from a handgun the robbers took from Henderson’s co-worker.

“He was hit.”  “Hit,” not shot, a softer word.  “Once in the leg during the robbery.”  Only once, not four times, so why complain about it?  “Once again in the head, maybe by accident.”  Accidentally shooting someone in the head?  What is motivating the AJC to keep bluntly denying the horror of this crime?

I’d interject here that this is not the way the AJC reported on Vernon Forrest’s death.  Forrest chased his robbers with his own gun.  He was no less a victim for it, and the AJC took the right line on that murder, as they did on that family’s demands for justice (as did the Chief and the Mayor, who leaped to action, in stark contrast to their response to Henderson’s murder).  And yet, even after finally doing the right thing, the AJC has now returned to Henderson’s murder to throw a little more dirt.

This is selective policing of the public’s reaction to a cold-blooded murder.  Cold-blooded, no matter where the killer was standing when he fired the bullet.  When you shoot a person through a door, you are as legally and morally as responsible for killing them as you would be if you stood over their body and fired the gun.

The reporter, not the public, is the one wallowing in metaphor and fiction here.  John Henderson is just as dead as he would be if the killing were expertly choreographed.  The public understands this.  They understand that adolescent killers waving guns are just as dangerous as — maybe more dangerous than — seasoned thugs who control their firing range.   Why is the AJC so obsessed with diminishing the responsibility of the killers in this case?  Why do they seem more outraged by the public reacting than by the killing itself?

[T]he area around the Standard was hardly unprotected before the robbery.

From 2:55 to 3:05 a.m., police dispatch records show, the officer assigned to the neighborhood was checking on a gas station at Memorial Drive and Hill Street — 500 feet from the Standard. The officer resumed patrol moments before the robbers smashed the bar’s door.

Short of standing guard at the Standard, it appears the officer could have done little more to prevent the crime.

“There’s a limit to how much officers can impact,” said Friedmann, the Georgia State criminologist. “If someone wants to commit a crime, they’ll commit a crime.”

Well, thank you for clearing that up.  Let’s just forget about it, then.  What’s the big fuss?  The police can’t be everywhere at all times.  This isn’t, like, The Matrix, dude.  So you should forget about complaining when your friends get gunned down.  It’s just life in the big city, after all.

And if it’s the right kind of crime, one involving a victim or location presumed immune from violence, news coverage often implies a broad menace, Friedmann said.

Memorial Drive is presumed immune to violence?  Since when?  Bartenders closing shop are presumed immune to violence?  Sometimes I think criminologists will say absolutely anything to whitewash the reality of crime.  Maybe Fridemann was quoted wildly out of context, because this makes absolutely no sense: he is saying that crime is omnipresent and unavoidable but that a bartender working late at night on Memorial Drive is an utterly unlikely potential victim of crime.  Say anything, in other words, so long as it ineluctably reinforces the conclusion that crime is just a “perception” problem:

“You have a story, people pay attention to it,” he said. “You don’t have a story, people don’t know about it, and it’s as if it didn’t happen.”

I speak fluent Hackademese, so let me try to translate.  Dr. Friedmann is saying that it’s not the murder that is the problem: it’s the fact that people made a big stinking deal about the murder that’s the problem.

Now, to mix things up, back to the reporter denying the severity of Henderson’s murder:

In this case, all that followed — protests over police furloughs, a property tax increase to put officers back to work full time, the “City Under Siege” media frenzy over later crimes — was based on inaccurate information provided by a police detective the day of Henderson’s killing.

Keyser now knows the story was exaggerated.

Does he?  I know Kyle Keyser, and he is committed to ignoring the media’s relentless claims that crime doesn’t matter — the reporter’s insinuation here flies in the face of Keyser’s message and actions.   Playing “gotcha” journalism with a person’s death is pretty ugly stuff.

Sadly, reports of John Henderson’s death were not exaggerated.  Thus, claiming that all that followed — a young man’s funeral, a city coming together to confront the problem of violent crime, more murders, more funerals — hinges on precisely how the gun was held when the bullet entered Henderson’s brain is setting up a straw-man of peculiarly grotesque intent.

The AJC really ought to be ashamed of peddling this type of underhanded opinion-mongering as news.   Nobody in touch with reality cares whether John Henderson was shot by somebody standing over him or shot through a door after being shot once already.  Nobody with a shred of decency would obsess over that distinction and conclude that public outrage over the murder and other crime is just “hype.”  Nor crack a joke about it, as the reporter does:

Pennington has a chance to try to turn the hype to his advantage, to convince Atlantans they’re safer than they think. On Tuesday, the chief is scheduled to address an annual breakfast sponsored by the police foundation.

The event’s theme: “Crime is toast.”

Get it?  Just stop worrying about crime, you ignorant hysterics, and it will all go away.

The Good Kids in the Crossfire

1 comment

I was going to write about good kids getting killed in the crossfire when I got up this morning.  Then I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution and realized there was nothing to add:

One person was in custody Thursday in connection with the early morning shooting death of a Spelman College student hit by a stray bullet on the campus of nearby Clark Atlanta University. . . The victim, Jasmine Lynn, of Kansas City, Mo., was “walking southbound on James P. Brawley when she was struck in the chest by a stray round from a group of individuals involved in a physical altercation on Mitchell Street,” Atlanta police Lt. Keith Meadows said. . .

According to Lynn’s Myspace page, the 19-year-old sophomore was majoring in psychology and minoring in business.  She was a 2008 graduate of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City.

And this, from the Los Angeles Times last week:

It’s Always the Good Kids: That’s The Sad Part About It

A street memorial for Samuel Leonard, a 22-year-old black man. Leonard was shot while getting into his car at the intersection of West Century Boulevard and Hobart Boulevard in Gramercy Park. Credit: Anthony Pesce / Los Angeles Times

Samuel Leonard, a 22-year-old black man, was shot and killed in the 1700 block of West Century Boulevard in Gramercy Park on Saturday, Aug. 22, according to Los Angeles police. . .

This afternoon friends and neighbors of Leonard gathered at memorial set up at the site of his shooting. Surrounded by caution tape, the display included 22 votive candles, more than 10 bouquets, two pictures, and a handful of stuffed animals.
Albert Tyson, 45, said he lived across the street from Leonard and had known him since he was 14 or 15 years old.  “He was a good kid,” Tyson said. “He didn’t get into any trouble. He didn’t use drugs.”
Tashika Brackens, 32, lived down the street from Leonard. She said her husband was friends with him, and he would frequently drop by her home to say hello to her two young daughters or ask what they were making for dinner.  “He would talk to anybody. He was real friendly,” she said. “I had seen him that morning…. I think someone was just jealous he had a good job and a good car.”  She said Leonard worked at LAX in the baggage claim department but wanted to get a job with her as a bus driver and, eventually, to go back to school.  “It’s always the good kids, that’s the sad part about it,” she said. “I just don’t understand, just don’t understand.”
Albert Tyson had this extraordinary thing to say about the memorial for Leonard:
Though there were several visitors to Leonard’s memorial, people did not linger.  “People get shot up at memorials now,” Tyson said. “I don’t want to stay too long.”
~~~
Rochelle Riley is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press.  She has written two editorials in as many weeks that are must-reads on the current crime crisis:

More than 1,100 people have been shot in this city! And 215 have died! That’s 215 faces families won’t see. That’s, most likely, 215 funerals. . . We have to find a way to stop letting reports of violence and death pass by like commercials in the daily drama of our lives.

Detroit has a new Police Chief who seems to be making a difference, instead of denying the problem:

[Detroit Police Chief Warren] Evans says if Detroiters don’t muster up some righteous indignation about the crime that’s sweeping the city, it will be harder for his department to stay ahead of it.  “People have got to get indignant,” he said. . . On Friday, Evans met with every ranking person in the DPD — inspectors, commanders, assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs — and assigned each of them to take five citizen complaints and go meet with the person who filed it. “They’ll talk about the problem, and we’ll check it out. That will have a tremendous impact. … If people see someone with four stars, five stars, two stars out there answering complaints that will say a whole lot more to people than lip service.”

The chief doesn’t know what kind of crime it would take to wake people up, to stir some righteous indignation. But he’s bracing for it. In the meantime, he said, “I don’t want people living in denial about where we’re at.”

Imagine having a Chief of Police who talks like that.

Today’s column by Rochelle Riley:

The problem has been like a tropical storm that changes to a hurricane and catches us off guard.

For years, we’ve made excuses.

For years, we’ve looked the other way.

For years, we’ve pronounced other things more important. But what is more important than children committing murder?

Continue reading here.

Gang Outreach or Just Enforcing the Law: Chicago, LA, Atlanta

1 comment

Will Atlanta be the next Chicago or L.A.? Those cities have been shelling out big bucks to “ex-gang members” and holding summits and negotiating with gangsters rather than prosecuting them.

Imagine the impact this must have in communities where these thugs live, where they now draw paychecks because they are/were thugs, and walk the streets empowered by their special relationships to certain politicians.  How does that not teach children the value of going bad?

Predictably, the people drawing paychecks from these programs declare them a complete success, while, jarringly, also insisting that if the money doesn’t stop coming, the killings will start again.  Think about that for a moment: do gang prevention programs just create a new ways for gangs to shake people down?  Meanwhile, despite the purported success of these programs, the body count keeps growing:

A 15-year-old Chicago girl who was shot in the head outside her Far South Side home Wednesday as she shielded a younger relative from gunfire has come through surgery, a relative said this morning.

And in L.A.:

The gang member accused of murdering a local high school football player will face the death penalty, prosecutors announced Wednesday. . .

Espinoza, an 18th Street gang member and illegal immigrant, had been released from jail on a firearms charge the day before Shaw was killed.

So what would have kept 17-year old Jamiel Shaw from being killed?

  • A fiscally unaccountable, money-hemorrhaging program with a fancy name that pays politically-connected ministers to “pastor walk” the streets (as Mayor Franklin is proposing), or a policy of not releasing offenders caught with guns prior to their convictions?
  • A “gang negotiation” program that pays thugs who pretend to have gone clean (and later it turns out they haven’t, even when powerful politicians get snowed by them), or sentencing laws that take thugs off the street for significant periods of time when they get caught with guns?

I worked in the world of non-profits and community outreach for a long time, and that is precisely why I’m so cynical about gang summits and pastor walks.  We already spend billions on this stuff, and there is little untainted evidence that it does anything but enrich the non-profits themselves and feed the machines of local politicians.

I’m always amazed when people say to me: “why don’t we do more to reach out to delinquents and help them get jobs and other services they need, instead of throwing them in jail and throwing away the key?”

Well, to answer the first part of the question, we already do, and to answer the second part, that is precisely what we don’t do, even though it would save lives.

Do readers have any idea how much is already spent doing social services, and to what little effect?  The city, county, state, and Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) already directs billions of your dollars into job training and outreach and gang prevention and social service programs  — as Stephanie Ramage details in this excellent article about money spent on Atlanta’s Vine City, and the dubious results:

[M]oney is not the area’s primary problem.  According to Ivory Lee Young, who represents them on the Atlanta City Council, English Avenue and Vine City get more government money than any other neighborhoods in Atlanta. They have received more than $23 million in public funding in recent years. . .There’s the Parcel 25 Trust Fund, which takes a small percentage of earnings from the Courtyard at Maple apartment development and reinvests it in Vine City. . . There’s the Urban Residential Finance Authority (URFA), which has shelled out more than $10 million to the area over the past 20 years. . . The Westside Tax Allocation District (TAD), managed by the Atlanta Development Authority, also includes both neighborhoods. On Aug. 17, it made $2.8 million available for capital improvement projects only . . . In 2005, the Westside TAD disbursed almost $14 million to English Avenue and Vine City. The federally funded Title 20 empowerment zone has allocated $5.8 million for the area.  A Weed and Seed resource audit found that between $4 million and $5 million in funding was disbursed into English Avenue and Vine City in 2008 alone.

And so on.  That doesn’t include all the other resources from private and corporate non-profits, not to mention the vast amounts of taxpayer dollars that go into high-need education, day care, after-school care, city-funded summer camps, Head Start, housing, food stamps, W.I.C. free health-care, transportation, and job training programs, all the types of outreach that activist and the Mayor and Police Chief are now saying we need more of.

Frankly, I wish people would start talking back a bit when their elected officials tell them they’re not doing enough.  It’s utterly untrue, and it’s also pretty insulting.  If you spent a couple of years bopping around in those “outreach” programs, you’d be amazed at what some people are milking off your largesse.  I was surprised.  Salaries of 80K, 150K are hardly uncommon in community outreach — and salaries, frankly, are only the tip of the iceberg.  Then there are the questionable land investment deals that enrich the activists, the power that comes from being able to employ (and thus indebt) vocal community activists and naive VISTA and AmeriCorps neophytes, and the ever-so-flexible category of “administrative costs” that are used to build astonishingly cushy fifedoms, thus laying the ground for future grant-getting.

From Ramage’s article:

There is the Northyards Business Park Improvement Fund, which takes a portion of the money earned from the office park where Bauder College is located and infuses it into English Avenue. The fund is overseen by Antioch Baptist Church North, which boasts a $4.5 million annual budget on its Web site and runs the Bethursday Development Corporation.

Bob Jones, the head of Bethursday, failed to return calls for this story. However, the church’s Web site states the following:

“In addition to the ultra modern, multi-million dollar worship center which was dedicated in 1991, the church campus includes a bi-level administrative complex, a large formidable business plaza that houses the offices of the Antioch Urban Ministries, a community computer center, and the membership orientation facilities, four major parking lots, and a multi-functional Youth Center and adjoining recreational green space for outdoor activities. Dr. [Cameron Madison] Alexander [the church’s minister] has organized the Bethursday Development Corporation to manage building development and other investment opportunities of the Antioch Congregation. In late 2003, construction began on the church campus for a 261 unit apartment building.”

Look, if community programs and community development worked, I’d be the first person in line to support them.  But in addition to largely being theft and waste of taxpayer money, they don’t work.  They often make problems worse, because once you’ve got activists being enabled by tax dollars, those people are empowered through their political connections and your money to promote agendas that actually undermine public safety.

Like doing away with minimum mandatory sentencing, which Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned as part of that “gang summit” Mayor Franklin and Chief Pennington famously attended last week.

How on earth, one might ask, would doing away with laws that take the most violent offenders off the streets actually help with the gang problem?

Good question.  In order to answer it, you have to first understand that the people overseeing the movement to “talk to gangs, not prosecute them” are philosophically opposed to incarceration as a response to crime.  They’re not just anti-incarceration: they believe that people who commit crimes are not really responsible, just deprived.

They believe that you are responsible, for not giving these folks enough things, and that’s why they’re stealing your television set.

Broad strokes, I’ll admit.  But this is the philosophy of the courts, where municipal and criminal court judges have been drawn narrowly from anti-incarceration activist circles for decades.  It’s not the philosophy of the cops on the streets, but it is the philosophy of many Police Chiefs and Sheriffs, many chiefs and sheriffs being elected officials first and cops second.

And it is definitely the philosophy of our new Attorney General, who by saying the things he said at that gang summit clearly delivered the message that he, and the feds, plan to impose themselves on a government power that is not theirs, that is supposed to lie in the hands of the states: sentencing for crimes.

Listen very carefully as Pennington and Franklin and even Fulton D.A. Paul Howard talk about the new gang initiative in coming weeks.  Think about the weird undercurrent of chatter about how this isn’t about putting people away, and we can’t possibly get these people off the streets.

And while you’re at it, take a good look at that child holding up his pants with one hand while trying to break into your car with the other.

How well do you think “negotiating” with him is going to work?

And who’s going to get paid to pretend it did?

Blog Post from Nigeria on Antoine Wimes’ Earlier Victim

7 comments

Interesting post on Wimes’ February victim by Mista Jay, a Nigerian-based blogger:

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Whose gun killed him?

Who’s the real killer? Antoine Wimes or Sani Abacha

Imagine being an academic and educator possesing two masters degrees. Imagine being a useful and productive member of society. Imagine having to leave that society in search of greener pastures because said society doesn’t reward true productivity.

Imagine arriving in a strange land where your skin color is already a liability and your foreign accent compunds matters by further separating you from your own kind. Imagine now having to take on part-time menial jobs to survive and care for your wife who is sufffering from kidney related problems.

Now imagine all of this ending in a burst of gunfire because some punk kid decides that your life is the obstacle to him getting a $5 tshirt! WTH?

This is the sad story of Etus Obi Onyemaechi, a 48year old Nigerian living in the US. . .

continue here

Here is the latest on Wimes, from WSB:

Neely’s son was badly beaten during the robbery.

Investigators said Wimes and McCoy may have swung the 1-year-old like a baseball bat.  “It appears as though he was struck with either a very hard object or — as hard as it sounds — he was…his body was actually struck against a hard object,” said Jones.  Wimes was out on bond after being charged in the July 2008 killing of a convenience store clerk.

Here is the original WSB report on the July 2008 murder of Onyemaechi.  Apparently Wimes tried to kill more than one person but ran out of bullets:

Atlanta Store Clerk Gunned Down Over $5 T-Shirt

Gunman Wanted White T-Shirt Size 5X

Atlanta police said a convenience store clerk was shot and killed Sunday morning by a man not demanding money, but an extra large T-shirt. . .  Elliott Glass, an eyewitness, said he was mopping the floor inside the convenience store when a young man entered and told the clerk he wanted a white T-shirt size 5X.

“These guys wear those baggy pants, and big long T-shirts,” said Glass.

Glass said when the clerk turned to give the young man the shirt, the man started shooting, then calmly walked out of the store.

“He shot him like five times, four or five times, at point-blank range for no apparent reason,” said Glass.

The store clerk is identified as Obi E. Onyemaechi, 48, of College Park, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“I was afraid he was going to shoot me, but I guess he must have run out of bullets because he was steadily clicking the gun as he walked out the door,” said Glass.

Glass said he called 911, but claimed the operator put him on hold, so he ran out onto Cascade and flagged down the first police officer he saw.

That’s just great.  The operator puts him on hold.  Glass continues, heart-breakingly:

“The guy was my friend you know. He was a good guy. He helped everybody around here. Senseless killing, he killed the man for no reason, you know,” said Glass.

Now we learn Onyemaechi was an educator with two master’s degrees, supporting an ailing wife.  He travels half-way around the world to support his family and some kid kills him for a five-dollar t-shirt.

Does anybody know the name of the judge who let him bond out?

I would add, to Mista Jay, that he can add another picture next to those of Antoine Wimes and Sani Abacha:

It’s the Fulton County Superior Court (Atlanta, Georgia)