Deputy Chief of Police (Ret.) Lou Arcangeli on the Troy Davis Case

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Lou Arcangeli is the rare cop (he’s retired now) who’s earned kudos from people both sides of the political aisle.  Atlanta journalist John Sugg calls him a “cop’s cop” in this 2003 profile.

Lou Arcangeli

Lou weighed in on the Troy Davis case today: the editorial ran in the Savannah Morning News (http://savannahnow.com/column/2011-09-22/arcangeli-no-injustice-davis-case#.Tntcz831aqm).  He writes:

I wish that [Troy] Davis’ supporters had met Davis years earlier and worked as hard to connect with and help the troubled young man before he started carrying guns and killed a policeman. I think they enjoy the camaraderie of their tweeting and demonstrations much more than the work and commitment it would take to make a safer society.

I second that.  The more years I spent in Atlanta, the more I despaired of helping kids emerge from bad environments unscathed . . . and the less I trusted the loud “social justice” activists who preferred the easy self-aggrandizement of valorizing murderers over the work of keeping children from wasting their lives in violence.

The activists below will drift to other causes (or continue collecting big checks from foundations) while kids keep killing kids, and police keep trying to save them, despite being pilloried by  . . . activists like the people below:

I am Troy Davis: I am a cop killer.

I am Troy Davis: I killed another man in an utterly senseless murder.

Our teacher says we’re Troy Davis: we pistol-whipped a homeless guy and

threatened to kill him because he wouldn’t give us a beer.

I am Troy Davis: I’m really excited to be holding this sign.

Arcangeli links to a good website debunking the activists’ lies about this case, and I’ve added a few more.  The performance of the media, particularly the New York Times, has been disgraceful throughout:

Support Mark MacPhail: Debunking the Myths

A Useful Chart Debunking the “Recanting Witness” Claims (see also: http://legalcases.info/troydavis/)

Text of the Denial of Davis’ 2010 Appeal: Why the Judge Rejected the “Recanting” Claims (part 2)

D.A. Spencer Lawton on Davis guilt.  In other words, the prosecutor’s and appeals courts’ position, which was carefully suppressed in coverage of the execution by the New York Times, CNN, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and most other news sources.

Educate yourselves: the media isn’t going to tell you the truth about this case.

And thanks to Lou for quoting me.

Troy Davis is Guilty, but the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Trust You With the Facts.

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And with the parole board once again affirming his guilt, the Atlanta Journal Constitution continues its tradition of leaving out all the relevant facts when reporting on the Troy Davis case.

At least they can’t be accused of inconsistency.  Here’s my previous post, with relevant links (near the end).

Cliff Kincaid on the Real Story of the UC Davis Pepperspray Incident . . . and UC Davis Prof. Nathan Brown on “Teaching” Revolution

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Cliff Kincaid interviewed UC Davis Professor Nathan Brown regarding Brown’s call for the campus to become a no-go zone for police.  This is a new strategy being used by many Occupy groups and other protestors, who look to be beginning to migrate to college campuses now that cold’s setting in.

Universities and colleges tend to be more hospitable than city parks, because they are much more nursery-like: nice places to crash; built-in constituencies of the verbosely idle; anorectic girls willing to share their cafeteria cards; PR-allergic administrators . . . and protection from the more deranged homeless and/or criminal hoi polloi who harshed many a city-park-Occupy vibe by hogging the tofu loaf, among less amusing ironies.

Besides, universities are already occupied by herds of tenured professors dreaming nostalgically of their own big moments occupying the lunchroom at Columbia.  And tenured professors have a superpower in the form of double-secret-protected speech, which they like to call “academic freedom,” a highly unusual title if you think about it, because, unlike other things labelled “free,” “academic freedom” is guarded very, very jealously by the very tiny subset of faculty who claim it for themselves.

 Professor Nathan Brown, exercising his special superpower academic freedom of speech

So it would seem that college campuses are ideal places for the weary Occupiers to winter, except, ironically, if the faculty succeed in this throw-out-the-police thing.  For, if excited gaggles of tenured professors like the ones occupying the English Department of UC Davis do get their way, then all the other perks of protesting on campus — warm dorm showers, landscaping for pupping tents, safety for females and other living things — well, all of that is going to go poof the moment every pickpocket, sex offender, and crazy homeless person learns that the post-structuralists over at U.C.D. have booted the campus cops to the curb.

The following is an actual statement by the entire UC Davis English Department demanding the disbanding of the school’s police force.  It sure is going to be a highly stimulated crowd at the Department Holiday Party this year:

 The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for “a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.” Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.

Hmmm, except, as Cliff Kincaid observes, UC Davis has an actual crime problem:

According to the most recent crime statistics, while crime on campus in general showed little change from 2009-2010, some serious crimes were on the rise. There were 88 burglaries on campus in 2010, compared with 84 in 2009, and 21 forcible sex offenses compared with 18 the previous year. There were 11 aggravated assaults compared with nine in 2009.

How much worse will that get, once the coppers get replaced with composition teachers or, God forbid, roving militias conscripted from Philosophy or Classics?  Forget Occupy for a moment, and consider preoccupation, which ranks high among things that make campuses desirable for predators, along with stuff like:

      • keeping odd hours
      • living away from home for the first time
      • spatial un-vigilance due to music devices wedged in ears
      • public lugging of expensive consumer electronics on expensive bicycles
      • distractions brought upon by big ideas and/or hormones
      • beer

And that’s just the professors.  Think of the students.

~~~

Professor Brown, who earns a nice salary teaching classes on incoherencies such as the poetics of nanotechnology, has become something of a celebrity, thanks to an open-letter-blog-post currently mounted beneath an image of a fist on the website Bicycle Barricade (Get it?  French Revolution plus expensive bicycles), in which he fumed, scolded, and grandstanded; used the word “outrage” a lot; issued accusations about severe physical injuries that have not been confirmed by anyone; referred to himself as a special asset to the school, and then told the school’s chancellor that she, in contrast to him, was not an asset.  The latter seems awfully materialistic, coming from someone advocating for the overthrowing of rapacious consumerism, but, whatever.

Brown j’accuses:

[T]he administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. . . I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds. . . I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms [emphasis inserted, to emphasize the hysterical tone] that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. [Why?  He does not explain.] There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. [Let me see if I’ve got this right: they need space to assert their right to decide on the form of protest, and then they need other space to do the protesting . . . wait, I’m getting confused, perhaps you could say more about that]  There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

[Here comes the deconstruction part, so hang tight]Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately. . .

And so on.

You can find the entire “manifesto” here; yes, there is much, much more of it.  Technically, repetition is a rhetorical device, as I am sure Professor Brown will demonstrate repeatedly in coming days.  The tone of all of this is terribly childish, but, to me, not nearly so disturbing as the contents of the following video, which I need to preface by saying that it resembles nothing so much as one of those totalitarian mind-control dystopias hippy professors used to attempt to inoculate us against by assigning books by Orwell, back when I used to take English classes, or rather, back when I used to take English classes where the professors actually assigned novels, instead of assigning political manifestos instead of novels in English classes:
[you-tube video here.]
~~~
Despite all the cop-hating and protest-leading he’s been doing lately, Dr. Brown still seems to find it curious that anyone would question his course syllabus on past and present protest movements, titled: The Real Movement of History – Left Communism and the Communization Current.  Indeed, it is true, as he asserts, that his syllabus covers the seminal Marxist texts, a reasonable academic subject, if taught reasonably, by which I mean objectively.
Though I know the word “objective” is objectionable, I’m just going to put it out there.
Curiously, though, the syllabus ends with The Coming Insurrection, a manifesto with extremely detailed descriptions of the very scenario unfolding largely under Dr. Brown’s direction on the U.C. Davis campus as I write this, a scenario beginning with creating and then escalating conflicts with police, then demanding the removal of police from public spaces, then “occupying” those spaces, then fomenting total, violent revolution in which no one group takes responsibility for the violence being perpetrated by their leaderless, horizontal, mass-chanting compadres once the police have gone home — to protect their threatened families, is the way it goes in Dr. Brown’s reading list.

That’s not quite the same pedagogical coincidence as looking up at the sky whilst reading Wordsworth and suddenly thinking that you might consider “wandering lonely as a cloud.”

I quote The Coming Insurrection at length here because I think it’s important to see the point at which it is impossible for Dr. Brown to continue coyly insisting that he is merely teaching historical texts of revolution, as opposed to performing them step-by-step on the taxpayer’s dime while pretending to teach English:

In the subway, there’s no longer any trace of the screen of embarrassment that normally impedes the gestures of the passengers. Strangers make conversation without making passes. A band of comrades conferring on a street corner. Much larger assemblies on the boulevards, absorbed in discussions. Surprise attacks mounted in city after city, day after day. A new military barracks has been sacked and burned to the ground. The evicted residents of a building have stopped negotiating with the mayor’s office; they settle in. A company manager is inspired to blow away a handful of his colleagues in the middle of a meeting. There’s been a leak of files containing the personal addresses of all the cops, together with those of prison officials, causing an unprecedented wave of sudden relocations [emphasis added throughout]. We carry our surplus goods into the old village bar and grocery store, and take what we lack. Some of us stay long enough to discuss the general situation and figure out the hardware we need for the machine shop. The radio keeps the insurgents informed of the retreat of the government forces. A rocket has just breached a wall of the Clairvaux prison. Impossible to say if it has been months or years since the “events” began. And the prime minister seems very alone in his appeals for calm. . .

Liberate territory from police occupation. If possible, avoid direct confrontation.

“This business shows that we are not dealing with young people making social demands, but with individuals who are declaring war on the Republic,” noted a lucid cop about recent clashes. The push to liberate territory from police occupation is already underway, and can count on the endless reserves of resentment that the forces of order have marshaled against it.  Even the “social movements” are gradually being seduced by the riots, just like the festive crowds in Rennes who fought the cops every Thursday night in 2005, or those in Barcelona who destroyed a shopping district during a botellion. The movement against the CPE witnessed the recurrent return of the Molotov cocktail. But on this front certain banlieues remain unsurpassed. Specifically, when it comes to the technique they’ve been perfecting for some time now: the surprise attack. Like the one on October 13, 2006 in Epinay. A private-security team headed out after getting a report of something stolen from a car. When they arrived, one of the security guards “found himself blocked by two vehicles parked diagonally across the street and by more than thirty people carrying metal bars and pistols . . .

There’s no ideal form of action. What’s essential is that action assume a certain form, that it give rise to a form instead of having one imposed on it. This presupposes a shared political and geographical position – like the sections of the Paris Commune during the French Revolution – as well as the circulation of a shared knowledge. As for deciding on actions, the principle could be as follows: each person should do their own reconnaissance, the information would then be put together, and the decision will occur to us rather than being made by us. The circulation of knowledge cancels hierarchy; it equalizes by raising up. Proliferating horizontal communication is also the best form of coordination among different communes, the best way to put an end to hegemony.

Sound familiar?  Watch the whole creepy Dr. Brown repeato-video, and read his entire manifesto, and then as much of The Coming Insurrection as you can take without needing a nice long walk, and then let me know if you believe this guy has a snowball’s chance in hell of calling himself a mere scholar and not tactician of Marxist revolutionary tactics . . . anywhere but in academia, of course, where wishes are horses being ridden by beggars.

Furthermore, mustering all the authority of a former graduate student who involuntarily took a snootful of Marxist theory courses myself while expecting them to be about stuff like poetry or literature, I sincerely doubt Dr. Brown even grasps at feigning academic objectivity in his classroom.

I doubt it precisely because of the way he stood ranting in public about the relationship between his scholarship and the protests in which he was engaging.

I, too, have been schooled to interpret texts and see through rhetoric, and my take on Nathan Brown is that he stood in his own public square quivering precisely at the frisson of un-objectively teaching while doing — all the while feeling the ghost of the soapbox in Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner creaking beneath his Birkenstocks.

Or perhaps, his expensive Italian shoes.

But the main point here is not the class politics of footwear, and I apologize for presumptuousness on my part.  The point is whether Dr. Brown is being truthful when he says that his scholarship is one thing and his activism another, or whether the actual content of the former might not raise some troubling questions regarding both his academic professionalism and his current ascendence to spokesperson for the entire U.C. Davis English Faculty on the subject of overthrowing the police.

Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that Dr. Brown fails to include in his fascinating survey courses any viewpoint contrary to the assertion that communism is the inevitable and right endpoint of all history, shades of Fukuyama certainly withstanding.  Such is the minutiae of crabbed minds.  Or, the discipline of teaching history as once practiced (not performed) by modest intellectual giants in short-sleeved button-collared shirts humanly striving above all else to preserve the protocols demanded of them by the creed of professional objectivity.

Let’s set all this . . . traditionalism . . . aside, this outré neutrality, cast it into the depths of extreme relativism from which Harold Bloom, who is responsible for so much of it, somehow rises every morning inexplicably smelling as if he has just washed both his hands, as we instead contemplate one detail — the detail of how Dr. Brown’s oddly-named survey course on communism ends precisely where his public persona begins — with cries for bloody, absolute revolution in the streets, and not-too-veiled threats towards any and all “authority figures” but especially the police.

To borrow an ugly from the current argot, I’m just trying to problematize these things.

~~~

And now, to this — the true story of what happened on the UC Davis campus in the hours leading up to the use of pepper-spray on a few systematically threatening, definitely not passively-resisting students and non-student professional agitators.  Here is the video you won’t see on the evening news, although it ought to be the one that is being seen, because it shows precisely what these protestors intended for the police they surrounded, and jeered at, and threatened.  Put yourself in the police’s shoes.

The video also shows a great deal about Professor Nathan Brown, although he is not in it.  It shows that despite papering his accusations with overwrought claims about his own special rhetorical perspicacity, he is just an average, even sophomoric, dissembler.  He wildly exaggerated what the police did; he threw a tantrum at his bosses, and he lied about the behavior of the protestors.  Even the best excuse that could be made for him is a particularly pedagogically unfortunate one: he just didn’t do a close enough reading of the text.

And now he is encouraging others to similarly misapprehend, and this makes for a demoralizing spectacle — an entire department of people claiming to be specially trained and insightful readers-of-texts, eagerly signing up without bothering to fact-check an inaccurate, premature, and presumptuous manifesto.

And these are the people getting paid to teach the art of reading.  Reading.  Remember that?

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

The New York Times Lies About Another Cop-Killer: Sheriff Barrett Hill Was Murdered by Rob Will

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It’s Sunday.  That must mean the New York Times is lying about a murder case.  This time, reporter Brandy Grissom has slapped together an especially incredible whopper:

Appeal of Death Row Case Is More Than a Matter of Guilt or Innocence

Rob Will, Cop-Killer

The headline is the only factual part of the story.  Will’s latest appeal certainly is, as the headline writers put it, “more than a matter of guilt or innocence.”  It’s a demonstration of the lengths to which the New York Times and their hand-in-glove activists will go in order to mislead the public about our criminal justice system . . . particularly when the killer in question murdered a cop.

Deputy Sheriff Barrett Travis Hill

Robert Will killed Deputy Sheriff Barrett Travis Hill on December 4, 2000.  Hill was shot multiple times: his murder was gruesomely audible over police radio.  Chest, hand, face.  Will could have disabled the officer and fled, but once Barrett Hill was on the ground, he chose to kill him instead.  He then carjacked a woman, told her he killed a cop, forced her out at gunpoint, and fled.  He was caught with the murder weapon.

Ever since Robert Will was convicted, various attorneys have tried to pin the blame for DS Hill’s murder on Will’s criminal accomplice, Michael Rosario.  They’re not doing this because they care about Will, or care to capture Rosario: they do it because it’s the one argument they’ve got.  Every few years, advocates for Robert Will (paid for by us) produce additional “witnesses,” virtually all jailhouse snitches who (temporarily or transiently) claim that Rosario confessed to the crime, a claim Michael Rosario, of course, denies.  The real story of these witnesses is complicated, so the Times keeps their reporting on them very, very vague.  At different times, most of them actually refused to commit to testifying in court.  Nevertheless, the media myth keeps building, as in the Troy Davis case, that all of these “witnesses” were somehow blocked by court procedures from “telling the truth.”  Oddly, the Times story tells us nothing about Rosario’s current status or his response to the latest round of allegations against him: they work very hard to avoid looking too closely at him, because doing so wouldn’t suit their desired narrative.

With every “new witness,” an expensive legal game reboots.  In response, the state has repeatedly clarified the record by re-investigating and systematically ruling that each of these belated witnesses either had their chance to testify and refused, or that the defense themselves wouldn’t use them because they were hostile, or that they were, in fact, researched thoroughly despite allegations otherwise, or that they are so unbelievable that the court need not revisit the issue of Will’s guilt because they’ve come forward with unbelievable new stories.  Nevertheless, the games plays on, shifting only slightly over time.

Robert Will has had his day — his decade of days — in court.  The court has considered and rejected every new and unabashedly contradictory effort to invent or re-tread witnesses.  Robert Will himself is stuck with a particularly hard set of facts to transform into lies.  Yet this hasn’t slowed the liars, who call what they do “advocating” and sleep well at night because there are no consequences when defense attorneys make things up out of thin air . . . as admiring reporters pile on.

~~~

Also helping Will’s case is the theological realpolitik of death penalty reporting.  There are no atheists in Times’ newsrooms: they all believe deeply in the myth of their own infallibility.

For the Times, article of faith #1 is that being convicted of a crime means you’re the victim, doubly so if you have killed a police officer.  Dead cops whet their appetites.  The fact that Rosario — the supposed “real murderer” — is the son of a cop further whets appetites.  The Times mentions this twice in one article.  The editors didn’t have room to address the actual facts of the case, but readers certainly come away knowing that Michael Rosario’s dad once wore blue.

Now that Robert Will has burned through another round of habeas corpus, the Times is focusing its attention on sloppily retreading all of his previous failed appeals in an effort to promote their utterly risible default argument: that the system is stacked against him.  What really happened is that Robert Will lost his trial and was found guilty based on a very strong case, then lost multiple appeals based on a series of rejected claims about bias (policemen wearing their uniforms in the courtroom) and his pop-up alleged witnesses.  But everything old is new again in newsrooms and courtrooms.  Except evidence, of course.

The Times can’t explain away the facts, so they hide some of it and lie about the rest.  They hint at the discredited claim that Mr. Rosario shot the handcuffs off his colleague’s hands to free him.  They’re coy about it because they don’t want to acknowledge that this theory is a proven lie.  Here is the Times’ intentionally vague description:

At Mr. Will’s 2002 trial, his lawyers argued that after losing the other officer, Mr. Rosario found Deputy Hill and Mr. Will, shot the deputy, freed his friend and took off.

But there’s a problem: the handcuffs weren’t shot off anyone.  To say only that Mr. Rosario “freed his friend,” is to endorse a flimsy and laughable lie.  But who would know, unless they read the transcripts from all the appeals Will lost?

The whack-a-mole witnesses are grounds for a few more bald-faced deceptions.  Here is the Times, breaking all sorts of rules about objective reporting in their effort to make something out of the latest rejected “witness”:

Another key piece of testimony came from Mr. Will’s ex-girlfriend. At a 2011 hearing, she testified that Mr. Rosario had come to her apartment with blood on his pants and on one of his shoes. He told her that he had shot the deputy and then tried to shoot the handcuffs off Mr. Will.

This girlfriend has said, and not said, a lot of things over the years, while bouncing in and out of prison herself.  Not that you’d know this from reading the Times’ description of her latest version of events.  The girlfriend said nothing at all about this alleged conversation for years and just recently remembered it for a lawyer.  Now she says she did tell people, once, but that nobody asked her any follow-up questions, so she let the subject drop as her boyfriend got sent up for capital murder.  In a 2012 denial of one appeal, Judge Keith P. Ellison destroyed the girlfriend’s testimony, but the Times doesn’t mention that.  In 2012 and also in 2010, Judge Ellison similarly eviscerated the testimonies of the other belated, alleged, witnesses, along with all of the excuses Will’s lawyers made regarding admissibility of the same.  And, all the arguments about bias.  And, all the arguments about inadequate counsel.

The Times ignores all of this and insinuates that Judge Ellison is, instead, merely “agonized” over having to reaffirm Robert Will’s sentence.  Here is the Times’ summary of Judge Ellison’s decisions, which amounts to one quote plucked from an otherwise consistent repudiation of all of the claims Will’s lawyers have brought before the court over the years:

In his ruling denying a new trial, Judge Ellison said that the lack of physical evidence linking Mr. Will to the crime and the reports that Mr. Rosario had confessed gave him pause, but that he could not simply overturn the conviction. Judge Ellison wrote that Mr. Will had not presented enough evidence to show that Mr. Will’s claims of innocence and shoddy lawyering warranted a new trial. “The court laments the strict limitations placed upon it,” Judge Ellison wrote.

Here’s something Judge Ellison really wrote about that evidence, that the Times chose to ignore:

After hearing the gunshots, Deputy Kelly saw Will run from the area. As Deputy Kelly began looking for his partner, Will fled to a nearby apartment complex. Cassandra Simmons was dozing in her parked vehicle when Will opened her car door. Will ordered her outside and pulled at her arm. Ms. Simmons screamed as Will put a pistol to her neck. Will exclaimed that he had “just shot a policeman.” [Tr. Vol. 21 at 74]. Will stole Ms. Simmons’ car and drove away.

About a half hour later, searchers found the body of Deputy Hill approximately 470 feet from where Deputy Kelley had lost Rosario. The police conducted a thorough investigation of forensic evidence at the crime scene. The police recovered seven spent shell casings and two projectile fragments from the area near the body. Deputy Hill’s gun was in his holster, though it was not snapped shut. An investigator found Deputy Hill’s handcuffs on the ground, but later he could not remember whether they were in an opened or closed position. An autopsy revealed that Deputy Hill suffered gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest, and wrist. Will’s blood was found on Deputy Hill’s shoe.

Will drove west after visiting his apartment. Will replaced the licence plates on Ms. Simmons’ car with ones that he stole from a parked vehicle. When the Washington County police took Will into custody around three-and-a-half hours later, he had a .40 caliber Sig Sauer pistol in his belt. Will’s handgun had three rounds left from a ten-bullet magazine. Will had a full gun magazine in his pocket. Will was bleeding from a wound on his left hand. The police found bloody gloves and bleached-out dark clothing in the car. Also, Will carried $2,300 cash in $100 bills. No gunshot residue was found on Will’s hands, though traces of gunshot residue were discovered in the paper bags the police placed over his hands. A later police search of the apartment of Will’s girlfriend turned up several guns and some stolen property.

The prosecution tied witness testimony and forensic evidence together into a coherent version of the events leading to Deputy Hill’s death.

~~~

Sins of omission + sins of commission = NYT reporting.

Here’s the opening lines of the Times article about Robert Will:

No one saw Rob Will shoot and kill Harris County Deputy Sheriff Barrett Hill in the still-black morning hours in a Houston bayou on Dec. 4, 2000. No physical evidence linked him to the murder.

Except the gun, and the fact that, as the judge points out, “Will’s blood was found on Deputy Hill’s shoe.”

The article ends with another particularly ugly dissimulation, this from one of those pathetic women who attach themselves to murderers.  She snapped at me that it was only one very teensy-weensy drop of Will’s blood on the dead deputy:

Dawn Bremer drives 90 miles from her Spring home to the state prison in Livingston to visit Mr. Will. She is among a cadre of advocates who believe [Rob Will] is innocent and fear he will be executed because of a legal technicality.

A legal technicality.  That’s what they call “losing your trial and ten years of appeals because you’re guilty as sin,” in Times argot.

Actually, the only technicality involved is the one that might save Will’s life.  If the courts allow for yet another expansion of activists’ ability to eternally retry settled cases, which is what is really at stake here, Will’s supporters might triumph over the facts of the case.  If that happens, it will be memorialized, not as a technicality slam-dunk, but as “proof of innocence.”  And the public will be instructed to believe, again, by the criminal fetishists embedded in the New York Times, that no conviction is legitimate.  More killers will go free, laughing, with their advocates, at the people who happen to believe that it matters when you kill a cop.

Robert Will is not innocent.  He has been convicted of murder.  His conviction has been upheld through ten years of appeals.  He is also not an innocent: he is a murderous gang-banger who attracts stupid or unhinged advocates with his “poetry” and scribblings as leader of the pseudo-revolutionary DRIVE movement (Death Row Inter-Communialist Vanguard Engagement).  He has his groupies and his poetry and scores of activist law students.  He has the criminal fetishists lobby of the Times, people who couldn’t locate a journalistic scruple if it bit them on the tush as they perched in the visitor’s room on death row, getting off on their own inflated roles in the fictions they’re creating.

Barrett Hill’s family have their memories of a good man who didn’t come home one day because he was brutally assassinated by a heartless thug.

~~~

If you want to read the real story of Robert Will’s appeals, you’ll have to do a little searching on the web: I can’t link them here.

Here, I think, is the 2010 Will vs. Quarterman (aka Will vs. Thaler):

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/texas/txsdce/4:2007cv01000/498690/44

And here is the 2012 decision:

http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/texas/txsdce/4:2007cv01000/498690/88/0.pdf?ts=1326894861

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Green Mile Syndrome: David Lee Powell Was Not Innocent. His Victims Are Not Hateful.

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Someone claiming to be cop-killer David Powell’s cousin has written me, accusing Powell’s victims and the justice system of various sins.  Unsupported allegations like these too often pass for debate over the death penalty in the mainstream media.  Therefore, it’s worth a look, though the slurs Powell’s cousin tosses at the victims ought to just be trash canned.  See here and here for my previous posts on Powell.

The writer, John Struve, makes several assertions about minutiae of the appeals process — assertions that should be taken with a very large grain of salt, for he offers no proof.  It’s not as if the courts didn’t revisit these cases in detail: that is why it took 30 years to execute Powell.  It’s not as if Struve lacks access to the court documents.  But he feels no need to back up his claims, and in this, the media has unfortunately trained him to need no proof as he says everything and anything about the case against Powell.

For, while a technical error or defense-biased evidentiary rules can blow a strong case for the prosecution, the defense suffers no consequences for repetitively and flagrantly lying.  Many activists and defense lawyers feel that such lies are an honorable act — a sort of noble rot that produces the always-desired outcome of avoiding consequences for crime.

If Mr. Struve would like to send actual documentation backing up any of his assertions here, I’ll post it.  But his claims sound like the type made loudly and repetitively — in cases like Troy Davis’ in Georgia — that lazy reporters reprint without looking into the original court records, or the prosecution arguments, or the trail of appeals.

John Struve’s letter:

You are all so short sighted. The fact still remains that the dying Ralph Ablanedo, when asked who did this, said, ” a girl” and “That damn girl.”

Powell’s female accomplice was the driver.  Powell opened fire not once, but twice on officers.  Ablenado’s dying words are being misrepresented, which is an awful thing to do.

Several officers testified at Sheila’s parole hearing in 1982 stating that she was a future danger to society and that she did all the shooting and threw the grenade. Unfortunately, this information was not released to us, the family, until 2002, and the prosecutors at that time thought it would be easier to get the death penalty for a man than a woman. He had already exhausted all of his appeals by this time.

Actually, the female accomplice testified that Powell thrust a grenade at her, but she wasn’t able to deploy it right.  I’m sure the officers testified that the she should never get out of prison.  I would be very surprised if they testified that she “did all the shooting.”  Struve appears to be accusing these police of lying in their original testimony in the Powell trial — a serious allegation.  Defamation of character is actionable.

Incidentally, if this case were tried today, changes in the law would make it easier to hold all offenders responsible for a crime in which someone is murdered.

Now a human being that had definite reasonable doubt of guilt has been murdered.

Not true.

Just like Cameron Todd Willingham.

The Powell case has nothing to do with the Willingham case.  The Willingham case, in which a man was executed for setting the fire which killed his three small children, is another cause celebré, thanks to wildly biased and strangely querulous reporting in the New Yorker.

Why is it that New Yorker editors seem to thrill at watching predators prey on the great unwashed?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, forensic scientists are revisiting the Willingham case.  But cherry-picked claims about the fire itself, which constitutes the much-publicized defense, ignores other forensic evidence and the actual testimony that put Willingham behind bars (and you can buy expert witnesses to say anything — they charge by the act, as do many professionals).

I’m not going to bother to link to anything regarding Willingham.  The local news reporting, read in total, explains the controversy.  Virtually everything else should be read with a highly critical eye.  Embarrassingly, even Wikipedia places the word “alleged” before prosecution testimony that passed courtroom muster while allowing defense testimony which failed to pass muster to be stated as fact.  Pretty unprofessional of them, but that’s typical of reporting in these cases.

It’s death by a thousand cuts for the truth. Back to John Struve:

I am 33 years old, so my cousin David had been in jail my entire life.

Officer Ablenado has been dead for the last 33 years of his sons’ lives.  Shame on Struve for attempting to insert himself into that tragedy.

Once it came to a point where justice had failed due to officer and political vengeance

Again, defamation?

that caused the truth to be buried, we realized that we needed to embrace that David was guilty of this single act.

And then there was the auto theft, petty theft, stockpiling weapons, drug dealing, over 100 bad checks — yeah, he was a boy scout carrying hand grenades and automatic rifles around in a car, serially ripping off innocent people by the scores.  Come on.

Maybe not the one who pulled the trigger, but definitely responsible as the law of parties would suggest. He took that responsibility, although up to his murder, always stated that he has no recollection of what happened that dreadfully fateful night. All we wanted was for his life to be spared. Please read his story at letdavidlive.org before jumping on the “eye for an eye” human written testament of justice bandwagon dated over 2000 years ago.

Crying “vengeance” is offensive.  Struve doesn’t know these people.

If killing 100 evil people means that even 1 is innocent, then that indicates that the entire system is dysfunctional. Just think if it were you or someone you loved that was truly innocent. Now, my only hope is that the Willingham and David’s cases serve as martyrs to help us move from the 18th century into the new world where people actually think instead of seek blood for blood. Since David was put to death, then you should

See, we are all vengeful.  Bloodthirsty.  If I had a dime for every time some bloated defense attorney wannabe accused me of wanting innocent people to suffer . . . I still wouldn’t have enough money to buy enough earplugs.

all believe that Officer Leonardo Quintana should be held to the same standards. [?]   The unredacted Key Point report specifically states that his reckless tactics were what caused the police sanctioned murder of a defenseless individual, Nathaniel Sanders III. And unlike David, he had a history of reported violations prior to committing his murder. I used to be a huge proponent of the death penalty, but as I go through life, as I probably would have felt during the Spanish Inquisition, I question the tactics that we, as a society, use to punish individuals for acts of behavior “outside” that of what is considered the norm.

Behavior “outside” that of what is considered to norm? Is Struve equating blowing away an innocent public servant and trying to murder several others (whom Powell shot at, and missed) with, say, changing radio stations or hairstyles?

My brother is a Texas State Trooper. If he were killed in the line of duty or otherwise, I would not want the death penalty for the accused. If he were to murder someone on the taxpayer’s dime or not, I would not want him to receive the death penalty. Now we mourn. Next we move forward with our efforts to abolish the death penalty 1st in Texas, then in the entire United States. NOTE: What do you do when it is later found out that someone WE executed is found to be innocent? Go to their grave and pour some Mickey’s on it?

Nice.  Struve places his feelings above the officer’s family’s, makes himself the center of attention, accuses the real victims of heinous, animalistic rage, defames scores of police officers, and then accuses society of failing to live up to his standards of morality.  So much of this activism is a sickness, parading around as morality.

I wonder if this John Struve is the same person who sent me an anonymous e-mail celebrating the recent murder of Chicago Officer Thomas Wortham?  The sentiment sounds similar.

I welcome any suggestions for identifying anonymous e-mails.

~~~

You don’t have to support the death penalty (I don’t) to be disgusted by what passes for activism and reporting on death row cases.  An enormous, fact-free myth system has been built up around allegations that innocent men fill our prisons and molder nobly on death row.  This “Green Mile” syndrome, indulged by politicians and priests and professors — and more journalists than you could shake a forest of redwoods at — well, it has consequences.  It abuses the real victims, because they are falsely accused of everything from ransacking the justice system to being simply evil.

Careless reporting gives careless people free reign.

Consider the Troy Davis case. It has also become a cause celebré.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported ceaselessly on the activism for Davis and editorially advocated for him.  Yet, nowhere in their reporting (unless there are articles that have never appeared on-line) have they bothered to mention the subject of forensic evidence withheld by the original trial court on a technicality, evidence that strongly supports Davis’ guilt.  Nor have they addressed the case made by prosecutors who were (quite unusually) freed up to discuss evidence against Davis after the Supreme Court made an unusual decision to revisit that evidence.

Nor have they mentioned efforts by Davis’ lawyers to keep physical evidence from being considered as the case gets revisited, thanks to the Supreme Court’s actions.  No, you couldn’t possibly trust the public with information about the real issues at stake in the Davis case, and other death row appeals.  Atlanta readers — by far the largest audience of Davis supporters — know nothing of any of this, unless they read Savannah papers:

Black shorts evidence:  After months of wrangling over evidence and legal issues, attorneys for the state’s attorney general’s office last week asked permission to submit Georgia Bureau of Investigation reports concerning “blood examination on pair of black shorts recovered from (Davis’) mother’s home on Aug. 19, 1989.”  They also asked to submit a report of DNA typing of the item.  Davis’ lawyers cried foul, urging Moore not to allow the evidence which they called “untimely” and “of questionable probative value.”  They argued it would “clearly prejudice” (Davis’) ability to rebut the contents of the report.  The jury hearing Davis’ 1991 trial never heard about the shorts after Chatham County Superior Court Judge James W. Head barred them from evidence because of what he found was police coercion of Davis’ mother, Virginia Davis, when she arrived near her Sylvester Drive home Aug. 19, 1989.  Police seized the shorts from a dryer while searching for the murder weapon.

And this must-read from the Chatham County D.A., published last year in the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County’s district attorney explains why he’s not concerned that an innocent man may be put to death.

Many people are concerned that an innocent man is about to be put to death. I know this, and I understand it. I am not likewise concerned, however, and I want to explain why.

The only information the public has had in the 17 years since Troy Davis’ conviction has been generated by people ideologically opposed to the death penalty, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

While they have shouted, we have been silent. The canons of legal ethics prohibit a lawyer – prosecutor and defense counsel alike – from commenting publicly, or engineering public comments, on the issue of guilt or innocence in a pending criminal case.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the case is over, and I can try to tell our side.

First , Davis’ advocates have insisted that there was no physical evidence in the case. This is not true.

Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail’s murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

And, while it isn’t physical evidence, consider the “testimony” of Officer MacPhail himself: When he comes to the rescue of a homeless man being harassed and pistol-whipped, the officer ran past Sylvester Coles on his way to catch Davis. This makes Davis the only one of those two with a motive to shoot Officer MacPhail. Yet Davis’ lawyers argue to condemn Coles for shooting MacPhail. Why would he?

In fact, Davis’ advocates are eager to condemn Coles based on evidence far weaker than their characterization of the evidence against Davis. Where is their sense of fairness? This is the same Sylvester Coles who promptly presented himself to police, and who was advised by counsel to tell all that he knew – with his lawyer not even present. Which he did. No lawyer who even faintly suspects a client of criminal conduct would let him talk to the police without counsel.

Second , they claim that seven of nine witnesses have recanted their trial testimony. This is not believable.

To be sure, they’ve produced affidavits; a few handwritten and apparently voluntarily and spontaneous, except for concluding with “further the affiant sayeth not.” Who wrote that stuff? The lawyers, perhaps?

The law is understandably skeptical of post-trial “newly-discovered evidence.”

Such evidence as these affidavits might, for example, be paid for, or coerced, or the product of fading memory.

If every verdict could be set aside by the casual acceptance of a witness’s changing his mind or suggesting uncertainty, decades after the event, it is easy to see how many cases would have to be tried at least twice (perhaps ad infinitum).

Thus the law sets strict standards for such “newly discovered” evidence.

For example, it cannot be for a lack of diligence that the new evidence was not discovered sooner, and the defendant is expected to present that evidence at the earliest possible time.

Yet these affidavits were not offered in a motion for new trial until eight days before the first scheduled execution in 2008 seventeen years after Davis’ conviction. If this affidavit evidence was so compelling, why didn’t they rush to seek a new trial in 2003 when they had most of the affidavits they now rely upon? Or collect those affidavits earlier?

Each of the now-“recanting” witnesses was closely questioned at trial by lawyers representing Davis, specifically on the question whether they were in any way pressured or coerced by police in giving their statements or testimony. All denied it.

And while an 80 percent recantation rate – the first in the history of the world ? – may seem to some as overwhelmingly persuasive, to others of us it invites a suggestion of uncanny coincidence, making it very difficult to believe.

Third , they claim that their “newly discovered evidence” (i.e., the recantations) hasn’t been adequately considered by the courts. This is not true.

The affidavits, in various combinations, had already been reviewed by 29 judges in seven different types of review, over the course of 17 years, before Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state Parole Board halted the execution in 2007, saying they wouldn’t allow a possibly innocent man to be executed. Then, after more than a year of reviewing all of the evidence on both sides, and hearing from every witness Davis’ lawyers presented – including Davis – they refused to grant clemency.

The trial was fair. Davis was represented by superbly skilled criminal defense lawyers. He was convicted by a fair jury (seven black and five white). The post conviction stridency we’ve seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Troy Davis.

The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Mark MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon.

A more complete discussion of these – and other – points can be found at Chathamcounty.org/vwap/html [link gone]
Spencer Lawton Jr. is Chatham County District Attorney.

Why would the AJC be so coy, essentially misleading an audience of millions on crucial elements of physical evidence in a controversial case?  Because what they are doing is not reporting: it is advocating for Davis.  Ditto Davis supporters like the Pope, Bob Barr, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu — none of whom, I’m sure, bothered to reach out to Officer MacPhail’s family.

As I’ve said before, oppose the death penalty on grounds of universal ethics, or opposition to state-administered death, but when you make a faux hero out of a murderous, worthless criminal like Troy Davis, you are doing so at the cost of the humanity and dignity of the real victims.

Slain Officer Mark Allen MacPhail’s Children

Officer Mark Allen MacPhail’s Website

Welcome to the Dystopia Liberalism Created

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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.

Watcher’s Council Nominations: Empty Chair Edition

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The Watcher’s Council

 

 

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

This week’s contest is dedicated to Clint Eastwood. Who proved once again that a man, even a president, has got to know his limitations. And of course, to Professor Bill over at Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion for a brilliant idea.

Council News:

This week, Right TruthTinaTrent.comAsk MarionBoker Tov, Boulder and The Pirate’s Cove took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status with some absolutely excellent pieces.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category.

Then just return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning.

Easy, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!