Author Archives: SHG

The Brotherhood of the Knife

Lawyers for Baltimore police officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, both charged with the false imprisonment of Freddie Gray for having arrested him without probable cause, have gone on the offensive.  Good. That’s what they’re supposed to do, aggressively defend their clients.

But having raised some issues, the media has seized upon them and, in furtherance of their desired outcome, awarded the cops the win.  Not so fast, guys.

Mosby correctly notes the “knife was not a switchblade”—but police never said it was.

“The knife was recovered by this officer,” Officer Garrett Miller wrote in the arrest report, “and found to be a spring-assisted, one-hand operated knife.”

Spring-assisted knives open on their own after a small push on the blade by a finger, unlike switchblades, which shoot out with the press of a button.

Despite their differences, they’re both illegal in Baltimore.

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Rape Culture? Blame Grandma

At five, relatives used to kiss my cheeks even as I winced and turned away. 

Jordan Bosiljevac, The Forum, Claremont McKenna College

Me too!  In fact, even today I avoid social kissing, when someone I meet goes to kiss me on the cheek, and I don’t want them to.  I don’t mean to be rude, but I just don’t like kissing, or being kissed by, random mouths or cheeks. But then, I make a choice.

These incidents, unfortunately, are not unique to me. In discussing this experience with friends, we coined the term “raped by rape culture” to describe what it was like to say yes, coerced by the culture that had raised us and the systems of power that worked on us, and to still want ‘no.’ Sometimes, for me, there was obligation from already having gone back to someone’s room, not wanting to ruin a good friendship, loneliness, worry that no one else would ever be interested, a fear that if I did say no, they might not stop, the influence of alcohol, and an understanding that hookups are “supposed” to be fun.

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A Tale of Two (or more) Killings

New York City Police Officer Brian Moore, 25, was shot in the face and killed.  His alleged killer, Demetrius Blackwell, has been arrested and will be charged with First Degree Murder, as well he should be.

At a time of low crime in the city and a national debate over deadly police actions, officials said Officer Moore’s death was as a reminder of the dangers inherent in everyday situations officers encounter. The shooting erupted in an instant as the officers tried to question a man they deemed suspicious.

Officer Moore was the third New York police officer killed since last December, the first this year.

“Policing is never easy,” Mr. Bratton said at the news conference. “At this time in America, it’s even more difficult.”

Police Commissioner Bratton refers to what he described as “anti-police sentiment,” saying “these are strange times.”  Continue reading

Because Mens Rea Applies To Boys Too

It’s unlikely that there is any young man who doesn’t find a laser pointer incredibly cool.  Adam Gardenhire, then 18 years of age, did, and on March 29, 2012, played with a green one by pointing it upward, where a Cessna Citation seven-passenger jet was making its approach to Burbank Airport.  That’s where the fun and games ended.

The captain and pilot were onboard the private jet when the laser struck the pilot’s eye. Although momentarily blinded and distracted by the laser, the pilot was able to safely land the aircraft. Gardenhire also aimed the laser pointer at a police helicopter that was dispatched to determine the
laser’s source.

They located Adam, who admitted it was him playing with the green laser pointer.

Gardenhire, a high school student, explained to the FBI that he had borrowed the laser from a friend. Gardenhire and his friend had been using the laser to play around in their neighborhood, pointing it at parked cars, stop signs, and other objects. Gardenhire’s friend warned him against shining the laser directly at anyone’s eyes because it could blind someone. Continue reading


In the New York Times Sunday Review, Ylonda Gault Caviness writes from the perspective of a black mom.  Black moms have become all the rage, following Toya Graham’s smacking her son upside his head for donning a hood and engaging in the Baltimore protest.  She was on all the morning shows, because she’s the sort of black mom that white folks like.

Did she need to smack him upside his head? I don’t know. But she was doing what she felt she had to. “I didn’t want to see him become another Freddie Gray.”

And that’s what moms do, what they feel they have to.  But that’s where black moms and white moms tend to diverge.

I FEEL sorry for the others. You know those mothers: the highly informed, professionally accomplished — usually white — women who, judging by the mommy blog fodder, daytime TV, and new parenting guides lining store shelves, are apparently panicking all day, every day, over modern child rearing and everything that comes with it. They feel compelled to praise their kids, but fret the dosage. They worry about pesticides; this year’s best birthday-party theme; enrichment summer camps; preparing Johnnie for college admissions in 2025 (it’s never too early); and, of course, the biggie — keeping their kids happy.

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But For Video: Puppy Edition

There is an old, disgusting, kinda sick joke that we used to share when I was a kid: you’re in a pit filled with feces up to your neck and somebody is about to pour a bucket filled with vomit on your head. Do you duck?

That was the choice faced by Martin Lee Hoogveldt when police burst into his home, ordered him to put his hands in the air and then released the dog.  This is an ugly, graphic video.

There was nothing about Hoogveldt that should have suggested to the police that he was violent or a threat to them, aside from the fact that bad things happen when cops forcibly enter a home without a warrant.  His “offense” wasn’t exactly offensive. Continue reading

The Random Asshole Dilemma

On a Finnair flight from Helsinki to Rome, I held a business class ticket which was purchased from American Airlines, with this leg of the flight being on a “partner” airline.  Despite the flight being more than three hours, it didn’t actually have any business class, and so I received coach class seating and service.

Not to make a big deal of it, but the cost for business class is substantially greater than coach.  It wasn’t that the flight didn’t get me to Rome. It did. It wasn’t that flying coach was horrible. It wasn’t. It was that I paid for business class and didn’t get it.

So American Airlines and I had a chat, to the extent one can have a chat with an Airline, and, after going back and forth a few times via their online communication mechanism, the finally reached their conclusion: We have your money, you’re screwed.  By the end, they gave up trying to explain why, because they had no reason whatsoever, and just dumped the bottom line on me: Nope. We won’t refund the difference between business and coach for that flight. Because we don’t have to and you can’t make us. Continue reading

Freddie Gray’s Bad Arrest And Still Dead

Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby seems to have acted with extraordinary speed in charging six Baltimore cops with the murder of Freddie Gray, but then, it’s only due to the comparison to the lengthy delays we’ve come to expect in every other case. These are the cops charged: Officer Caesar Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer William Porter, and Officer Edward Nero.

Five months after the death of Tamir Rice, we’re still awaiting the end of the “investigation,” even though there was nothing to investigate.  In contrast to killers without shields, it’s no big deal.  But then, they’re no big deal, and have no union president to threaten the prosecutor’s husband.

In addition to charges of murder, there is a charge that will evoke a deeper sadness, false imprisonment.  What distinguishes this charge is that it reflects the allegation that the arrest was baseless. Everything that followed, including Freddie Gray’s death, shouldn’t have happened. But he’s dead, and false imprisonment won’t change that.

In a Daily News op-ed, Elie Mystal emphasizes the significance of this charge: Continue reading

A Cop Apologist Apologizes

Peter Moskos was once a Baltimore cop, and has since turned his attention toward explaining the police perspective to the public because they just don’t get it.  He teaches at John Jay College of Coppery and Shoe Repair, and even served as guest blogger at Radley Balko’s Agitator, back when Radley was still a blogger and had yet to achieve international fame.

As a Princeton and Harvard (masters and Ph.D. in sociology) educated voice, Moskos is articulate and honest in his explanation of the cop perspective.  This is what he had to say at GQ following the Baltimore riots.

As a former cop, what were you thinking as you followed the riot? What’s easy to misunderstand if you’re not a cop?

You know, cops are put in this horrible position where they have to solve the problems of America that nobody wants to deal with. The same idiots who burned shit down Monday, they’re gonna be there today and tomorrow. The cops are always dealing with them, whether they’re burning things down or not. They’re always there. Continue reading

De Blasio To Protestors: It’s Not Debatable

A career as a liberal ideologue when one has no actual power or responsibility is one thing, but after the police unions gave New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a good spanking following the Eric Garner fiasco, he learned what part of the body politic is in charge.

Protest over the killing of Freddie Gray was peaceful, but not compliant enough to suit the New York Police Department, so they arrested 143 people who just didn’t listen.

Invoking his own past as a liberal organizer, Mr. de Blasio urged reporters “not to exaggerate what happened” at the Union Square rally on Wednesday night, saying the Police Department had acted appropriately in arresting 143 people marching to protest the death of a Baltimore black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody.

Exaggerate?  How so, Mr. Mayor? Continue reading

Rights, Plus

There were six officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death and still no one has a clue how his spine came to be nearly severed, his voice box crushed. Meet the Law Enforcement Offices Bill of Rights.

A few lone voices in the wilderness pointed out that this presented problems.  Mike Riggs was one, Radley Balko another. Walter Olson as well (edit: plus a new post today in Newsweek).  But until there was a name, a face, put to the problem, few cared.  Now it’s Freddie Gray’s turn, and the New York Times made it the subject of a Room for Debate.

Many in Baltimore are enraged not just by the death of Freddie Gray in police custody but by the mystery that surrounds his death after a ride in a police van. This mystery exists because the officers who could say what happened are protected by a Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which limits and delays questioning police about potential misconduct. The idea behind such laws in 14 states, and similar contractual rights in some jurisdictions, is that no one should be forced to speak to investigators and possibly incriminate themselves.

Do such measures protect the constitutional rights of police, or do they unnecessarily impede investigations of possible wrongdoing?

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