Monthly Archives: March 2018

His name was Stephon Clark, young father of two, and we failed him fatally

Image result for Stephon Clark

The rather opportunist Al Sharpton plans to attend the funeral of Stephon Clark (pictured above) in my city of Sacramento, California, on Thursday. Clark, the 22-year-old father of two, was shot to death by two Sacramento police officers on March 18 but had had only a smartphone in his hand. A little-discussed wrinkle in this racially charged incident, however, is that one of the two cops who shot Clark to death is black, as is Sacramento’s police chief.

As I’ve noted before, you have to take these cases of cops killing black men case by case. There is no one-size-fits-all narrative, as politically convenient and personally satisfying as such narratives may be.

For instance, Eric Garner, in my book, was murdered, choked to death by a thug posing as a police officer.

And Walter Scott by any reasonable person’s book was murdered, shot in the back as he ran away from a coward posing as a police officer.

Both black men were unarmed. Garner’s “crime” for which he was put to death by cop was illegally selling cigarettes on the street, and Scott’s was a broken brake light. The cop who murdered Garner remains free, while the cop who murdered Scott sits in prison (albeit he technically was found guilty of civil rights violations, not of murder).

Again, each case must be taken by itself. The Michael Brown case, for instance, spawned a movement that was based on some lies, probably especially the ubiquitous “[my] hands [are] up — don’t shoot!” meme.

The Barack Obama/Eric Holder U.S. Department of Justice’s own final report on the Michael Brown matter found that the physical evidence, including the autopsy of Brown, corroborated white cop Darren Wilson’s version of what had happened, which is that “gentle giant” Brown had not tried to surrender to him with his hands raised in the air, but instead had attacked him and tried to take his pistol from him.

The last page of the Obama/Holder DOJ report concludes:

… As discussed above, Darren Wilson has stated his intent in shooting Michael Brown was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true – i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive.

Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat.

Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law. The same is true even if Wilson could be said to have acted with poor judgment in the manner in which he first interacted with Brown, or in pursuing Brown after the incident at the SUV.

These are matters of policy and procedure that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation and thus cannot support a criminal prosecution. Cf. Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430–31 (8th Cir. 1997) (violation of internal policies and procedures does not in and of itself rise to violation of Constitution).

Because Wilson did not act with the requisite criminal intent, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that he violated 18 U.S.C.§ 242 when he fired his weapon at Brown.

VI. Conclusion
For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.

Indeed, case closed. Legally, anyway, but the myth of Michael Brown lives on, because the myth still is politically useful and personally satisfying to so many.

Unfortunately, in the Brown case the black community rallied around the wrong case. If I had ever tried to take a cop’s gun away from him (or her), I wouldn’t expect to be sitting here typing this sentence — and I am a white male.

The Brown case unfortunately immediately was turned into an inherently-racist-and-murderous-white-cop-vs.-inherently-innocent-young-black-man-guilty-only-of-being-black myth. According to the DOJ report on the Brown case, bystanders had lied through their teeth about what they had witnessed — very apparently in order to perpetuate the lie that every time a white cop shoots a black male, it only can be rooted in racism (and not, say, in very immediate self-defense because the black male is trying to take your gun from you).

The recent shooting death here in Sacramento of 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark also has some wrinkles that aren’t convenient to the aforementioned narrative that (only) white cops shoot young black men willy-nilly: One of the two cops who are reported to have shot Clark to death is black (see here too), as is Sacramento’s police chief, Sacramento native Daniel Hahn.

Hahn has said that he suspects that Clark was the man reported to have been breaking the windows of vehicles in a Sacramento neighborhood on March 18 before he was confronted by two cops in his grandparents’ backyard and shot to death.

All that Clark had in his possession, however, was a smartphone, and from the police helicopter video of the shooting, I cannot see that it was necessary for Clark to be shot even once, much more 20 times.* (A police body-camera video of the shooting that also was released does not give any more insight than does the helicopter video, other than that the cops apparently were trigger-happy; I struggle to even see Clark in the body-cam video at all until a while after he has been shot and is on the ground.)

I am not an expert in the excusable use of police force, but in the videos I don’t see Clark raising anything in the direction of the police officers or otherwise appearing to pose an immediate threat to them; I only see him being shot many times, apparently even after he already has fallen to the ground.

In the police helicopter video, before he is shot by the two cops it certainly looks like Clark isn’t up to any good, but running from police, probably especially if you are a black man, isn’t in and of itself indicative that you are dangerous and/or criminal; it always could be that you’re simply scared of being shot 20 times.

And even if Clark is guilty of having committed property crimes, there are penalties for that — and those penalties don’t include summary execution.

And it’s probably fair to say that many if not most white (and many other non-white) people do need to learn that human life — all human life — is far more important than is fucking property.

All of that said, it largely to totally has been ignored in the local protests over Stephon Clark’s shooting death that one of the cops who shot him — and the city’s police chief — are black. And I have to suspect that that’s because those two pieces of information aren’t convenient to the narrative that it’s only ever white cops and white chiefs of police who unjustly shoot and who support the unjust shootings of black men.

Sacramento has had some localized protests since Clark’s death, but it’s not at all like the city has been shut down, and to my knowledge not one person even has been hospitalized because of the protests. So it’s not like Sacramento has been enveloped in a conflagration, and many more Sacramentans have been touched by the heavy local media coverage than those who actually have been touched by any of the localized protests.

And again, I have to wonder if that outcome might have been different — if the protests might even have turned deadly — if Sacramento’s police chief weren’t black and if one of the two cops who shot Clark weren’t black. Does the race of the actors, rather than the acts themselves, matter that much? I suspect that it does.

Nonetheless, we need to continue to have the discussion about race and policing, and we have to examine where racism and police culture overlap, because very apparently there is a police culture that all cops can get sucked into, regardless of their race, and very apparently part of that police culture is the underlying belief that black lives do not matter as much as do white (and other non-black) lives.

And unnecessary police shooting after unnecessary police shooting amply proves that we must develop — and require the use of — non-lethal ways of neutralizing those we suspect of having committed a crime and/or of being about to commit a crime.

And for fuck’s sake we must stop executing people on the spot for property crimes, and we must hold every human being’s life as sacred. And we must prosecute — really prosecute — cops who don’t value human life, just as we prosecute the criminals who don’t value human life.

If we learn nothing else from the case of Stephon Clark, we need to learn that much.

*Since almost everyone in the world but I carries a smartphone, it seems to me that cops now have complete immunity to mistake or “mistake” smartphones for hand-held weapons. That is something with which we must as a society grapple — and fix.

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Waiting for President Bernie Sanders (and/or a rematch of the Civil War…)

New York Times news photo

Last week illegitimate U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III had the fucking gall to come to my city of Sacramento and proclaim that California may not “secede,” actually comparing California’s intent and desire to protect the most vulnerable among us to the South’s attempt to preserve the slavery of black people. (In his hateful little lecture-speech to California, the most populous state of the nation by a margin of more than 10 million people over the next-most-populous state, the Nazi elf brought up the pro-slavery John C. Calhoun but for some reason didn’t remind us that his first and middle names have very special meaning in the South.)

My regular readers (there are at least a handful of them) will have noticed that during the illegitimate reign of the unelected Pussygrabber regime* my blogging has dropped off considerably.

It’s that I can’t blog on every outrage. There are far too many of them these days (and weeks and months).

I will comment on one recent outrage, however: the Pussygrabber Department of “Justice” suing my state of California over its being, by state law since January 1, a “sanctuary state” and Pussygrabber regime Attorney General Jeff Sessions proclaiming that California may not “secede.”

(Specifically, Sessions proclaimed that “There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is the supreme law of the land. I would invite any doubters to go to Gettysburg or to the tombstones of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln. This matter has been settled.” Yes, he went there.)

Funny: Nazi elf Sessions’ Southern ilk wanted to secede — and did secede, even before President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated after his first election, for fuck’s sake — in order to be able to continue to mistreat human beings abhorrently (indeed, the pro-slavery white Southerners didn’t consider the black slaves to even be human beings).

Yet when California wishes to protect human rights, human dignity and human well-being, Jeff Fucking Sessions, a treasonous piss-ant piece of shit, has the fucking gall to actually liken California to the slave-owning Southern states that had their asses handed to them on a silver platter by us slave-liberating Northerners. (Yes, of course, California was a Union state, unlike Jeffy’s backasswards, treasonous state of Alabama.)

Here’s the deal on “sanctuary cities” in California (and the fact that by state law the entire state is a “sanctuary state”): One, these “sanctuary” jurisdictions have been around in California for decades now and so aren’t new. And two, no California elected official, whether on the city, county, state or any other level, wants to just allow violently felonious “illegals” (a.k.a. “bad hombres”) to murder and rape fine white California citizens on his or her watch. That’s what you call bad politics.

Therefore, no, “sanctuary” jurisdictions do not protect violent felons who are in the country illegally. (As the Los Angeles Times notes, “The [“sanctuary state”] law prohibits state and local law enforcement agencies from using personnel or funds to hold or question people, or share information about them with federal immigration agents, unless they have been convicted of one or more offenses from a list of 800 crimes.” [Emphasis mine.])

No, the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions is that law-abiding residents (those who haven’t committed serious crimes, anyway; almost all of us in the U.S., citizen or not, have committed at least misdemeanors during our lifetimes, whether we’re ever charged with those misdemeanors or not), whether they are here legally or not, don’t have to feel terrorized by storm troopers from ICE — a bunch of mostly right-wing, authoritarian, hypocritical white men with fascist tendencies if they’re not already full-blown fascists who get off on terrorizing others even for nonviolent legal infractions (such as merely existing where they’re “not supposed to” exist). This makes their fucking fascist day, you see.

And the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions also is that no resident in California, whether here legally or not, is too afraid to report a crime committed against him or her and/or against others because of his or her and/or the others’ citizenship status. Or is too afraid to testify or otherwise appear in a court of law. Or too afraid to seek medical care for himself or herself or another because of his or her citizenship status. Or to even to just go to school or to just take his or her child or children to school.

And the idea of “sanctuary” jurisdictions is that families (chosen families as well as biological families, in my book) aren’t ripped apart. It’s in society’s interests that that doesn’t happen. (The Repugnican Party is supposed to be all about the family, but of course that’s only white, Repugnican-voting families.)

Still, even being a “sanctuary state,” as Vox.com notes, “California, like any other ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction, isn’t stopping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from being able to arrest, detain, or deport immigrants. In fact, ICE has already responded to the 2017 laws in its own way — by escalating raids in California and claiming that the state’s sanctuary laws force ICE to get more aggressive in its tactics.”

Indeed, the unelected and thus illegitimate Pussygrabber regime’s acting head of ICE, Thomas Homan — of course yet another stupid, fascist white man — in January proclaimed (of course) on Faux “News”/state television, “California better hold on tight. They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers.”

This moronic fascist who heads ICE demonstrates the need for California to protect its most politically vulnerable residents. And I’d gladly trade one stupid white man like Homan for 1,000 “illegals,” the vast majority of whom are hard-working and law-abiding.

(Indeed, non-citizens are less likely to commit crimes in the U.S. than are U.S. citizens. This isn’t shocking, as the vast majority of those who are not here legally quite obviously don’t have the strong desire to draw negative attention to themselves, be that by voting illegally or murdering and raping and pillaging and plundering, although it’s awfully interesting that the traitors on the right proclaim that the “illegals” are interested in both murdering and raping and in voting, because, you know, our prisons are filled with felons — bad hombres — who put voting illegally at the top of their lists of their favorite crimes to commit. [“You just raped and murdered a beautiful young white woman! What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to go vote!”])

Since Nazi elf Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III went there first, I’ll say it again: The North acted to stop the South’s terrorizing of brown-skinned human beings there. Now, the South thinks that it’s going to invade the North to terrorize the brown-skinned human beings here.

A second fight with California and the rest of the North** is not a fight that the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, MAGA-cap-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving fascists want to pick.

But, alas, as much as I often think that Abraham Lincoln’s No. 1 mistake is that he didn’t destroy the South entirely, but let way too many of the inbred traitors there live only to continue to drag down the entire nation to today, it most likely won’t come to that.

What’s more likely to happen is that the Repugnican traitors lose the U.S. House of Representatives in November. Then, “President” Pussygrabber is neutered. (True, expect him and his band of fellow traitors and criminals to do as much damage as they possibly can until then and even afterwards.)

Then, after November 2020, ideally we’ll have both houses of Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, as woefully imperfect as the Democratic Party is, and we’ll have President Bernie Sanders in the Oval Office.***

Maybe the red states will try to secede again between Bernie’s election and his inauguration, and they’ll get that rematch of the Civil War that they — and many of us on the other side — are itching for.

*Again, to me, if you did not win the popular vote, then you are not legitimately the president, as the majority of the American people did not select you. This is the case with “President” Pussygrabber as it was the case with “President” George W. Bush (whose “re”-“election” also was bullshit, since you can’t legitimately be elected again if you never were elected legitimately in the first fucking place). 

**By “North” and “South” and “Northern” and “Southern,” I sometimes refer not (only) to the regions (the blue states and the red states), but (also) to the fascist/anti-democratic/treasonous and non-fascist/democratic/patriotic mindsets of the South and the North respectively; of course a person could be in the North but be a Southerner at heart and vice-versa.

***PredictIt.org, as I type this sentence, has the Democrats more likely to take over the White House in November 2020 than Pussygrabber is likely to keep his job, and has Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden tied for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

I am not at all on Team Biden. I see him as a male Billary Clinton, a Democrat in name only (well, maybe he’s a little to the left of Billary, but she’s so far to the right that it’s a pretty insignificant distinction), and I don’t think that has-been, faux-progressive populist Biden will be able to overcome the enthusiasm that Bernie, a genuine progressive populist, generates.

Biden has, after all, run for the White House twice already. His plagiarism scandal of 1987 (which apparently wasn’t an isolated incident of plagiarism) speaks to his character, methinks, as does his mistreatment of Anita Hill in 1991.

Hopefully the changes that supposedly are being made within the Democratic National Committee after the fucking fiasco that was 2016 will mean that Biden won’t simply be coronated, like Queen Billary was.

Should anything like what happened to Bernie Sanders in 2016 repeat itself in 2020, what’s left of the Democratic Party can count the number of days that it has left; the Democratic Party already is on life support right now.

What support the party has now comes more from fear and loathing of the fascists who comprise the Repugnican Party than from real love and respect for the Dem Party, which lost its spine and veered away from progressivism no later than in the 1990s.

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