There was a time, a very long time, when stories about police beatings and killings were either buried or whitewashed, and so I did what I could to tell those stories because they were happening, needed to be known and represented critical problems that needed to be fixed. There were a few others who did the same, but not too many. And not too many cared.
It was a time when America was in fear, of crime, of terrorism, of whatever bogeyman was the worst thing possible that had to be stopped or the sky would fall. So the few of us were lone voices in the wilderness. Times change. Boy, do they ever. Continue reading
As the defense lawyers for the four cops charged with the killing of George Floyd make their motions, a surprising voice appeared in opposition, buried deep in the bowels of the New York Times story.
Prosecutors rejected suggestions that Mr. Chauvin — or any of the other former officers — could shift blame away from the larger group.
“The defendants watched the air go out of Mr. Floyd’s body together,” said Neal Katyal, a special assistant attorney general who is part of the prosecution team, led by the office of Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general. “And the defendants caused Mr. Floyd’s death together.”
In the litany of silly solutions that appeal to the insipid, more black police officers, along with more female cops, more black and female prosecutors and judges, has been regularly proposed. After all, people who “look like us” must have had our experiences and thus empathize with our plight. Maybe it wouldn’t fix everything, but it couldn’t hurt. At least it would provide the demographics that shallow minds demand.
In anything resembling normal times, the ascent of black cops to the top of these urban police forces would be seen as substantive racial progress. What has become hard not to notice is that these black officers, not to mention black cops on the street, are getting no support from prominent Democrats—not Joe Biden, not former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, not anyone but Donald Trump.
Over the past few weeks, three police chiefs quit. Continue reading
The Portland Police Bureau took what would have been a highly unusual step for a police department in another age. After Portland mayor, Ted Wheeler, who was forced out of his apartment by rioters breaking windows in the middle of the night and making life for fellow residents untenable, ordered the police to stop using CS, the compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, which is often described as tear gas, they turned to the public.
Banning the lawful use of CS will make it very difficult to address this kind of violence without resorting to much higher levels of physical force, with a correspondingly elevated risk of serious injury to members of the public and officers. CS, while effective, is a significantly lower level of force than impact weapons, which would very likely be necessary to disperse riotous groups with its prohibition. We do not want to use gas. We do not want to use any force.
There remains an expectation that police will make arrests for crimes committed in civil disturbance events. The inability to use CS means this task will require higher levels of force to accomplish.
Monday mornings were special for Sheriff Roy Templeton. That was his time to work on the past week’s New York Times crossword puzzles. For all the problems that paper had, the crosswords never disappointed. It was something reliable in a chaotic world.
Pressing a button on his desk phone, Sheriff Roy asked, “Francine, what’s six letters and a term for ‘stab in the back?’”
“Crossword’s going to have to wait, Sheriff,” came Francine’s reply. “Mayor Tribe wants a word with you.” Continue reading
It was always bound to happen. December 7th was proclaimed to be a day that would live in infamy, and for some it does. But most young people won’t have a clue what happened that day. Heck, World War II has been reinvented to trivialize concentration camps to prove they were nothing compared to how cops treat black people daily in America.
In one respect, it’s the product of weak minds being twisted to convince even weaker minds that the horror du jour is as bad as the worst horror in history. Is the shooting of Jacob Blake the equivalent of the lynching of Emmit Till? Some would call it “ahistorical.” A blunt person might call it “nuts.” A woke person won’t care because nothing in history matters except for how it can be twisted to serve their impassioned goals of the moment. Continue reading
She’s not wrong, but she’s missing a salient point.
Of course he should have been arrested and had his guilt determined in court rather than be “killed by a motley of federal law enforcement.” The missing detail is that in order for that to happen, he would have had to allow himself to be arrested rather than . . . something. Continue reading
Among the many takeaways from watching the brilliant play “Hamilton” was how little it mattered that George Washington, generally believed to be a white guy, was played by Christopher Jackson. He did what an actor is supposed to do, make me believe. It didn’t matter a whit that he wasn’t white when the real George was. What mattered was that he was George Washington in the play. It worked. He made it work.
The Academy Awards has announced a new regime for consideration of films in the Best Picture category. As others from across the political spectrum have already figured out, the new regime isn’t likely to change much, if anything, because the four categories, two of which must be met for consideration, are largely already met or, with the most insignificant of tweaks, will be met. Continue reading
Traffic stops have long been one of the gravest dilemmas in police reform, and the pop reaction has been calls to remove armed police from performing them, whether replaced by unarmed traffic enforcement agents, cameras or, to the truly aspirational, robots. They constitute the foremost incidence of interactions between police and the public. Dangerous driving can kill. And they sometimes turn angry, violent and tragic.
At the same time, it is indisputable that black and Hispanic people are disproportionately stopped and, because why squander an opportunity, subject to search. If one focuses solely on this fact, then it’s understandable why removing police from the scene would be simple answer. But if one looks at all the competing factors, it’s clear that taking cops off traffic stops trades one set of untenable problems for another. Continue reading
It was curious that he was a member of the board and former president of the National Book Critics Circle if he was such a disagreeable fellow. Yet, Carlin Romano, writer, philosopher, critic, was on the board and, accordingly, did what a board member is supposed to do.
One critics circle board member, Columbia University professor John McWhorter, an African American, agreed with him on the substance of the anti-racism pledge, but told the website Vulture that Romano’s way of expressing his dissent was a bit tone-deaf. He “was not being a modern person in the way he responded” to the anti-racism pledge, McWhorter said, perhaps referring to Romano’s charge that some of the arguments of the anti-racism pledge were “absolute nonsense.”
How exacty does a “modern person” express himself? Continue reading