Tag Archives: police brutality

Just think of the irony

Irony can be a real bitch … you know?

Let us consider two issues dealing with “respect for our troops” and whether we can make any sense of them.

Donald Trump has been foaming at the mouth over the sight of pro athletes “taking a knee” to protest police brutality while they play the National Anthem. “Throw the SOBs out!” Trump bellows, contending that such a form of protest disrespects the flag … as well as disrespecting the men and women who fight on behalf of that flag.

Are you with me?

Now we have the distressing news about Russians paying bounties to the Taliban for killing American service personnel. Reports have seemingly confirmed what has been divulged, that the Russians have paid the money. The question now is when Trump knew about it.

His reaction to the initial reports has been, shall we say, much less visceral than he has been in reacting to athletes kneeling during the National Anthem.

This brings to mind a puzzle I am trying to solve. If the president is going to demand that we respect our troops by standing proudly, with hands over their hearts, while we sing the National Anthem, then where is the outrage over reports that Russian goons are paying bounties for the lives of our priceless treasure?

My goodness, Donald Trump’s relative passivity over these reports is more than disconcerting. It is reprehensible, disgusting, disgraceful. It speaks volumes to me — as well as to others — about the seeming lack of sincerity from Trump about the respect he demands for our fighting men and women.

The irony of these two examples — taking a knee and silence in the face of evidence of threats to our fighting warriors — is hideous in the extreme. I only can conclude that Trump’s alleged love and respect for our troops in battle is as much of a sham as his version of the presidency.

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney — a Utah Republican — was right in 2016 when he called Trump a “phony and a fraud.” I implore the rest of the country to wake up to what has been patently obvious about this con man all along.

We need compassion, empathy from Oval Office

I’ve given you a wish list of things I hope a President Joe Biden would do were he to take office next January … but I have one more item to add.

We have witnessed a president who is fully incapable of expressing genuine, sincere empathy and sadness over the plight of Americans and Lord knows we have endured plenty of tragedy during Donald Trump’s tenure in office.

The pandemic. Repeated gun violence. The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of rogue cops. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Where in the name of humanity has the compassion gone from the office of president? Donald Trump is incapable of exhibiting it.

I want the next president – and I do hope it is Joseph R. Biden Jr. – to return empathy to the office. I want the next president to lead a nation that is suffering.

Joe Biden isn’t uniquely qualified to offer such compassion and empathy. I mean, many of us have experienced tragedy in our lives. Donald Trump, for heaven’s sake, lost a brother to alcohol abuse, so he, too, has suffered grievous loss. Trump, though, just isn’t wired to convey that grief into meaningful and authentic mourning on behalf of others.

Biden, though, has gone through hell. His first wife and daughter died in a tragic automobile accident in 1972; his two sons were seriously injured. Young Joe had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and he considered giving it up to care for his sons. He decided to stay in office. He endured loss and powered through it, raising his sons as a single dad … until he met the next love of his life, Jill, who – as Biden has said – “saved our life.”

Then his older son Beau became ill with cancer. He would die and then force the vice president to bury a second child. As has been said many times already, that is a parent’s worst nightmare.

I want a president who is able to convey that loss in a way that translates across the land. The nation is hurting. Illness is sickening and killing too many of us. I want a president who’s been tested by intense grief and has learned the lessons of how to cope, to survive and to seek restoration of his own human spirit.

A president of the United States can use that knowledge to lead a nation out of its collective grief.

Ex-cop faces some serious prison time

I’ve seen the video. You have, too. We’ve all seen it. The video is stomach-churning and heartbreaking.

Rayshard Brooks got stopped by Atlanta police. They tested his sobriety after finding him asleep in the drive-through lane at a Wendy’s restaurant.

He took a Breathalyzer test and came up slightly inebriated. He offered to walk to his sister’s house just a few blocks away. The cops sought to handcuff him instead. Brooks resisted; he wrestled a Taser stun gun from one of the cops; he ran away.

The cop — Garrett Rolfe — shot him in the back … twice while he was fleeing, running for his life. Brooks died later in a hospital.

Now the cop is charged with felony murder. This looks like a legitimate accusation to level at the former officer.

The ex-cop is white; Rayshard Brooks was black. It is another case in a distressingly long line of cases involving white police employing the heavy hand of the law on a young African-American. To think, as well, that this case happened while the nation is still reeling from the George Floyd case in Minneapolis, where another white officer snuffed the life out of Floyd, a black man who allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit bill.

Oh, my goodness. When will we learn? Ever?

‘Defunding’ = ‘reform’

I dislike the phrase “defund the police,” which has become all the rage — pun intended, really — across the nation these days.

Individuals and groups of Americans are angry at police departments over the way many of them treat African-Americans. They contend that the cops are much rougher and tougher on black citizens than they are on white folks.

Indeed, the videos we have seen — such as the George Floyd video in Minneapolis, which has spawned so much of the anger — tell a grim tale of “systemic racism” that many folks believe runs rampant in police departments.

If “defund the police” means “reform the police,” then why not call it what it is … a move to enact fundamental reform of police departments?

I don’t believe these efforts to “defund the police” means that communities will go without police protection. Cities such as Minneapolis, though, are taking gigantic steps toward redirecting police funds to other programs intended to assist communities in need.

My hope for all this anger is to see police departments, even those that haven’t been caught up in the swirl of controversy, enact meaningful reform. By “reform,” I intend to mean that the reforms will produce dramatic improvement in community/police relationships.

Every department, given the tenor of the times and the extreme anger being expressed all across the nation, would do well in this moment to examine carefully how their officers are being trained to respond to incidents involving  everyone they serve. That means black citizens, white citizens, immigrants … you name it.

Are they ensuring even-handed treatment of everyone with whom they come in contact? That is where reforming the police can begin.

Antifa getting a bad rap

BLOGGER’S NOTE: This post was published originally on KETR.org, the website for KETR-FM, based out of Texas A&M-Commerce.

“Antifa” as become a four-letter word in some circles around the nation.

It is meant as a sort of shorthand for a group that opposes fascism, as in “anti-fascism.” Of course, it has morphed into a more militant sort of operation. Of late, though, it has been blamed for fanning the flames of discontent and discord on our city’s streets in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic killing in late May by Minneapolis police officers who were arresting him for – get this! – allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

National Public Radio, though, has done some research on the conspiracy charges being leveled against “Antifa” and has found no credible evidence that the organization has sought to energize protesters, turning them into vandals, looters and rioters.

According to NPR: U.S. Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly blamed anti-fascist activists for the violence that has erupted during demonstrations over George Floyd’s death, but federal court records show no sign of so-called antifa links so far in cases brought by the Justice Department.

NPR has reviewed court documents of 51 individuals facing federal charges in connection with the unrest. As of Tuesday morning, none is alleged to have links to the antifa movement.

Of the cases brought so far, 20 involve allegations related to arson; 16 involve the illegal possession of a firearm, more often than not by a felon; another eight people face charges related to inciting a riot or civil disorder.

That doesn’t sound like a widespread Antifa conspiracy to me.

But it continues to resonate in many quarters around the country. I prefer to think of the protests as a legitimate reaction to an appalling demonstration in Minneapolis of police arrogance. We have heard the concerns expressed already too many times in other cities and towns about cops treating African-American detainees differently than they treat others. What the nation has seen via video recording is precisely the kind of policing that protesters insist must stop.

I want to add a brief post-script to all of this.

North and Northeast Texas have seen their share of demonstrations against the horror that revealed itself in the Twin Cities. There have been “unification” rallies in Princeton, Farmersville and Greenville. People have marched in Greenville, calling for an end to racism and brutal conduct. I attended a rally in Princeton where protesters didn’t march, but instead observed an 8 minute, 46 second moment of silence in George Floyd’s memory.

I am proud that we have kept our composure while lodging this legitimate redress of government policies.

Cops under even more scrutiny

I never thought it possible that law enforcement officers would be put under the glare of national scrutiny in the manner that is now occurring all across the nation.

It has happened. It is happening right now.

During nearly four decades in journalism, I have covered law enforcement officers in two states. Those I have known professionally have been stand-up men and women. They have been devoted to the oaths they took to protect and serve the communities where they work and live.

Some of those officers became personal friends and I have sought to keep those relationships separate from the work I did as a reporter and later as an editor. I’ve always have told them: Don’t mess up.

We have entered a whole new era. Police have been seen via social media conducting themselves badly with regard to certain citizens who they swore to protect. These incidents have revealed an ugly and terrible racial divide.

Accordingly, the men and women who risk their lives each day simply by reporting for work are now being scrutinized in a way none of them possibly ever expected.

I live near a law enforcement officer. He works unusual hours and I often go several days without ever seeing him. I now intend, once I get the chance, to visit with him and to elicit — I hope — a candid response to what he is feeling as he interacts with the public he serves.

I long have believed the cops I have known back in Oregon, in the Golden Triangle region of Texas, in the Texas Panhandle and even now in North Texas (where my wife and I plan to spend the rest of our lives) to be men and women of high integrity. None of what we have witnessed in these terrible and troubling times will shake my belief in the honor of those I have known.

The intense scrutiny that has come upon these individuals — and the agencies that employ them — is likely deserved, based on what we have witnessed. I do not intend to impugn anyone’s integrity. I do intend to endorse the call for even greater accountability and transparency of those who work in arguably the most dangerous profession imaginable.

They have my gratitude for honoring the oath they take. I just want to ensure that they continue to earn it.

Protester suffers brain injury

You no doubt have seen the video.

Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old protester, approached a phalanx of Buffalo, N.Y., police officers armed with shields and assorted riot gear. The cops pushed him to the ground. Gugino hit his head hard on the pavement and blood began pouring out of his ear.

The police walked on by. Someone finally summoned medical help. Gugino was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in serious but stable condition.

It turns out Gugino suffered a brain injury. He needs physical therapy.

What, though, did the president say about this fellow? The Conspiracy Theorist in Chief suggested that Gugino faked his fall, that his tumble onto the pavement was exaggerated. Donald Trump called him an Antifa “provocateur.”

Let’s just say that the only provocateur in this instance is Donald Trump, who is provoking more anger, more distrust of those who are protesting police brutality … which was the cause of the Buffalo march in the first place.

Get well, Mr. Gugino. As for Donald John Trump, well … I am just hoping he is in the final throes of his disgraceful tenure in the nation’s highest office.

Trump to talk about ‘police reform’? Really? C’mon!

Donald Trump, the guy who famously encouraged police to get rougher with criminal suspects, now is going to talk to the nation about police reform.

To which I say, simply: You gotta be kidding!

Trump is responding to the outcry and uproar over the death of George Floyd and the calls to “defund police” around the nation. Floyd, a native of Houston, died when that rogue Minneapolis cop snuffed the life out of him by kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.

So now the president of the United States is going to offer his view on how to reform police procedures? Is that right?

Oh, my. Donald Trump has nothing constructive to add to this debate. How do I know that? Because his political record contains zero evidence of any commitment to the issues that have roiled the nation in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Trump doesn’t speak to the issue of police practices. He doesn’t reach deep into his gut to speak to the misery that so many Americans of color feel when they hear of these incidents. Trump doesn’t express a scintilla of empathy or genuine sorrow over the death of a man who was killed while lying on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. 

Trump has saved his public outrage — every bit of it — for the rioters who went berserk in cities across the nation.

What is so profoundly weird is the thought of Donald Trump reading a prepared text from a Teleprompter and trying to persuade us that he means what he is reading. You’ve seen Trump in these moments, yes? When he reads such text, I get the sense that he looks like someone reading a statement with a gun pointed at the back of his skull. Donald Trump simply is incapable of sounding sincere in that context.

What are we going to hear from Donald Trump. More tripe, I fear that it will demonstrate once again to us out here this clown’s fecklessness and recklessness.

Time has come for federal police reform

The nation is facing a watershed moment in its struggle to correct a problem that has grown into a full-blown crisis.

We must debate honestly, completely and comprehensively the issue of police reform at the federal level. What does that take? It requires our Congress — House members and senators — to determine that racist policies in local police departments have contributed to the needless deaths of too many African-Americans.

George Floyd’s tragic demise two weeks ago in Minneapolis, Minn., ad the hands of a rogue white cop appears to be the tipping point.

Democrats are calling for a national response. Republicans so far have been quiet about that. Democrats see racism as a national crisis; Republicans appear to view it as a local matter to be solved at the local level.

I believe today that we are entangled in a national crisis that needs a solution enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president of the United States.

We can talk all we want about police departments enacting policies that ban chokeholds or other restraint techniques that inhibit people’s ability to breathe … for crying out loud! Do we trust all PDs to do the right thing? No. We cannot.

I believe the time has come for Congress to enter this fight. There ought to be a solution that that makes use of these techniques a violation of federal law. I am not not altogether certain that we can endure the kind of response we have seen in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Will a federal prohibition end this mistreatment of U.S. citizens? Probably not. However, there must be ways to apply deterrent pressure on beat cops and the brass sitting in police headquarters to ensure that they follow federal law or else face serious consequences.

Call it the George Floyd Law if you wish, or name it after any of the individuals who have died as a result of police brutality.

Let’s get it done!

‘Could be a set up?’

Donald Trump posted this little ditty today on Twitter.

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

You’ve seen the video of the 75-year-old gentleman being pushed to the ground during a protest against police brutality. He hit his head hard on the pavement. The protester was bleeding from his ear. The cops kept on walking by; no one reached out to help him. Gugino was hospitalized and declared to be in “serious, but stable” condition.

And so the president of the United States of America uses this social medium to suggest Gugino faked his fall and essentially created a self-inflicted injury.

Well, just keep tweeting this trash, Mr. President. It only exposes you as being the vile, venal piece of sh** you are.