Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

Hometown = municipal pariah

PORTLAND, Ore. — I have returned to the very city where I was born … and which has become a whipping boy for those on the right who believe it has become some sort of “woke” haven.

Whatever that means!

You’ll remember the “defund the police” movement that flared after several incidents involving Blacks who had died in altercations with law enforcement officers. Portland became a sort of ground zero of that movement.

Protests got out of hand in some neighborhoods here. There were reports of violence, of government office buildings burned, of arrests made by cops.

One could surmise that Portland had gone rogue, that it was a city in flames, that its streets are filled with homeless people sleeping in tent cities under bridges.

I’ll speak briefly to the last point, which is that I saw few tents under bridges as I made my way through Portland along Interstate 5.

I glanced out the truck windows as I whizzed along the interstate and noticed that the city is still mighty pretty, even with the low overcast sky and the drizzle that persists here.

I am looking forward to examining the city, to reconnecting with family and friends, to receiving hugs from those who want to comfort me in my time of grief.

Moreover, I intend to see for myself what the city looks like — up close and personal — as I visit neighborhoods throughout this lovely place.

I’ll get back to you on what I find.


Did Beto come clean on cops?

Beto O’Rourke got the question I was hoping someone would ask him tonight in his debate with Greg Abbott down yonder in Edinburg.

Does he want to “defund the police”? I asked O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor, to answer that one cleanly and crisply.

He, um, didn’t. Is that a deal breaker? Does that mean I am pulling my support for O’Rourke? No.

A reporter asked him straight up. His answer was that he “always” has supported law enforcement. Hold on. I heard him praise the Black Lives Matter movement for calling on communities to defund the police.

Now he says he always has supported police fully? Not exactly.

I am a strong supporter of the cops, too. I have said so many times on this blog and have expressed it verbally to police officers over many years. If O’Rourke is going to continue supporting the cops from this moment forward, I’m all in.

I just wanted him to clear up any misunderstanding on the issue. He didn’t do it.


How do you find a jury for this trial?

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This might be one of the world’s greatest puzzles … trying to find 12 competent Americans who can pass judgment on a former police officer accused of murdering a man in one of the nation’s most chronicled and publicized events — ever!

A Minneapolis trial court has commenced the process of finding jurors who will decide the fate of Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd, the African-American man who suffocated after Chauvin placed his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. The judge in this case has delayed jury selection for the time being.

There is no “allegedly” to be used here. The whole world has seen it. Chauvin snuffed the life out of Floyd as Floyd was pleading for his life. He said he couldn’t breathe. He begged Chauvin to let him get up. Chauvin didn’t budge.

How do lawyers determine who hasn’t seen that video, or who hasn’t drawn any conclusions based on what they saw? If they can find 12 men and women who live in Hennepin County, Minn., who know next to nothing about this case, then how competent are those individuals to pass judgment in this most notorious matter?

Hey, I’m sitting here far away, in the peanut gallery. I don’t have a direct stake in who they select.

And for that I am grateful. This is a tough call to make. I wish them  well. As for Derek Chauvin, I wish something quite different for him … which is why I never could serve on that jury.

Play the Anthem at these events

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This is an item that likely shouldn’t give me much of a reason to get upset, but in a strange way it does bother me.

Mark Cuban, the flamboyant and mouthy owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has decided to no longer allow the National Anthem to be played at the start of Mavericks games at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.

I guess Cuban is tired of fighting the ongoing battle over whether athletes should be allowed to “take a knee” to protest police brutality — chiefly against people of color — in cities across the nation. The NBA has issued statements in support of players’ actions when the Anthem gets played.

Perhaps the decision by the Mavs’ owner to no longer allow the Anthem to be played and sung at the AA Center is his way of cutting his losses, or seeking a path of lesser resistance.

Make no mistake about this: I am highly unlikely to attend a Mavs game any time soon. It’s too expensive for little ol’ fixed-income, retired me. Plus, I live about 30 miles north of the arena and parking downtown can be a hassle; I’m too old for that kind of grief, you know?

However, I do enjoy the sound of the Anthem at sporting events. It’s a bit of Americana played out in real time.

Am I nuts about the athletes’ protests, their “taking a knee” while the Anthem is played? Not really. It’s not the way I would express my displeasure over government policy. However, I respect that form of protest as a peaceful expression of disagreement. Thus, I am conflicted somewhat by the entire matter.

Whatever …

It’s Mark Cuban’s team. He has all the money he can ever spend and his face can be seen all over the place, given his role on a broadcast network TV reality show and his penchant for making a spectacle of himself.

Cuban’s decision to ban the National Anthem at Mavericks games irks me … but I’ll get over it.

BLM protests vs. Capitol Hill riot? Let’s ponder that one

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Let us consider something that needs to be said about why the nation should be outraged at what transpired Wednesday afternoon and evening on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Right-wingers are growing fond of comparing the riot to the Black Lives Matter protests that admittedly turned violent in many cities across the nation. They cite the difference in the casualty counts; the length of time the disturbances lasted; the scope of one vs. the the other.

What makes the tragedy that unfolded Wednesday so graphic and so hideous is its context. It occurred — and I will write slowly so everyone can understand my meaning — within the halls of our democratic system of government. 

You want some more context? Try this one out: They were incited by the president of the United States, who four years ago took an oath to “defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.” And he swore to God in Heaven that he would be faithful to that pledge.

Donald John Trump this week smashed that oath to smithereens one final time.

I also want to be clear about something else. This blog has decried the violence that has occurred during the BLM riots. I recognize fully that violence does not constitute any sort of “peaceful assembly” or an effort to seek redress of grievances against authority.

That said, let us not compare one series of events to a singular attack on the very foundation of the nation we all profess to love.

The Capitol Hill insurrection stands alone.

Go away, 2020

I want to enthusiastically endorse the notion expressed in this social media post that showed up on my Facebook feed today.

This year has sucked … out loud!

The pandemic, the violence, the unrest, the racial tension, the widening political divide in the nation.

We have lost 180,000-plus Americans to the pandemic. Many thousands of those folks died alone. Their loved ones couldn’t hold their hands as they slipped into the great beyond. The nurses, doctors, technicians have been pushed into the role of surrogate “loved ones” replacing those who were blocked from sitting with Mom, Dad, Wife, Husband, Brother, Sister, Daughter, Son.

The pandemic has destroyed weddings, school graduations and, yes, funerals.

Then there have been the African-American men who died at the hands of rogue police officers. They have been shot, suffocated and otherwise harassed. The Black Lives Matter movement has erupted.

Yep, 2020 should become a curse word.

What can redeem this hideous year? I’ll tell you what would do it for me: a presidential election that turns out the correct way.

Why do we care?

A friend of mine in Amarillo posted a question on Facebook that wonders whether we should care about what pro football, hockey, baseball, soccer and basketball players think about police brutality.

I told him “I do” care. A lot.

Pro athletes are protesting the shooting of a young black man in Kenosha, Wis., who police shot at seven times, hitting him with four rounds in the back. The young man, Jacob Blake, is paralyzed; it might be permanent paralysis.

Meanwhile, a white teenager allegedly killed two protesters who were marching for justice in the earlier mentioned case. He walked past police officers with an assault rifle. He was allowed to go home that night. He surrendered the next day. I won’t mention the alleged shooter’s name because I don’t want to give him any more publicity than he deserves.

The first incident involved a man who was fleeing the cops. He had turned his back on them. They shot him with a Taser, then with a pistol. The other one involved a young parading down the street brandishing a rifle, yet no police officer thought to question him.

Again, the first man is black; the second man is white.

That is why the pro athletes are upset. It is why they are boycotting the games they are supposed to play.

It also is why their voices are worth hearing and heeding as they seek justice in an unjust world.

Back the Blue = dog whistle

A bit of a tempest might be brewing up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, in a publicly owned county complex and I am trying to connect a few dots to make some sense of it.

Some Carson County employees have plastered “We Back the Blue” signs in the courthouse complex in Panhandle, the Carson County seat. I don’t know what “We Back the Blue” means to you, but to me it’s a dog whistle, one of those thinly disguised messages that carry a double or possibly triple entendre. The signs are hard to read in the picture attached to this blog post.

Thus, I am concerned that a publicly owned structure is being used as a forum for a partisan political message. What is the message as I see it being portrayed?

It is that suggesting that you “back the blue,” you support the police that have become rhetorical targets of the Black Lives Matter movement. You know the history, yes? BLM comes from the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of cops, some of whom have been charged with felonies in connection with those deaths.

If you “back the blue,” do you dismiss the BLM movement? Or do you support both the Black Lives Matter and the We Back the Blue movements?

Why am I even talking about this? Well, Carson County sits in the heart of Trump Country. Carson County voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016 and is likely to do so again in 2020. Donald Trump, as you no doubt understand, has been highly critical of the BLM, calling it a movement based on “hate” for the cops.

Can you connect those dots with me on this?

“We Back the Blue” is a political statement that presents enough of a concern to me over whether it’s intended to denigrate another political movement. Therefore, it doesn’t belong in windows of a publicly owned government structure that must — under law — serve all the residents of that jurisdiction regardless of political leaning.

Trump makes my hometown a spectacle … disgusting!

Donald Trump is turning my beloved hometown into a spectacle and it is making me sick.

Portland, Ore., is all over the news and for all the reasons it does not deserve this kind of attention.

Donald Trump has sent in federal agents to quell protests in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement. The agents are wearing camo fatigues, armed to the teeth with tear gas cannisters and assorted firearms, they are hauling protesters off the streets. Now comes word that Trump wants to do the same thing in Albuquerque and Chicago, maybe also in Kansas City and Miami.

What the hell is going on here?

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is calling out the president on this heavy-handed response to what is happening in my hometown. Good for Sen. Wyden!

Trump’s response has done the opposite of what he says it has done. It has worsened the public mood, inflamed the city known more for its myriad coffee shops, craft beer and some of the finest downtown dining establishments anywhere in the country.

Now it is being perceived as a city that is erupting in anger. At whom? At the federal agents who have swooped in to crush a few skulls and to smother crowds under clouds of tear gas.

This is making me — a proud son of the City of Roses — sick to my stomach.

Portland is hurting … and so am I

It hurts me terribly to watch the city of my birth going through what is occurring at this moment.

Portland, Ore., has become the scene of a terrible, heavy-handed and tyrannical response from some sort of secret security force that is rounding up protestors and taking them … oh, somewhere.

The Oregon attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, saying that the secretive security force is violating the civil rights of those who are protesting peacefully.

At issue, of course, has been the response to the death of George Floyd, the man who died at the hands of police of Minneapolis, Minn. Portland became one of the cities where protestors rose up in a “defund the police” movement.

In recent days, though, the situation has gotten out of hand. Security forces wearing unidentified uniforms have been collecting protestors, throwing them into motor vehicles and taking them to undisclosed locations; the protestors then are released.

It’s a bizarre, frightening and dangerous response from the federal government. Donald Trump has referred to the protestors as “anarchists” and hurled assorted other epithets at them.

Why does this trouble me so much? Well, for starters Portland in many ways no longer resembles the once-sleepy city where I spent the first 34 years of my life … minus a couple of years I was away serving in the U.S. Army.

I got married there. We brought our sons into this world in Portland. We moved away in 1984 to pursue my journalism career in Texas. My family and I have been back many times over the years and I have watched my hometown become a cosmopolitan, vibrant, busy and socially conscious city.

Now this has occurred. We have the president of the United States declaring his intention to “dominate” the streets to make sure the “anarchists” no longer protest. Really? This is happening in the city of my birth?

Watching this kind of jack-booted tyranny erupting in Portland simply hurts my heart.