Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

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.

Hey, Mr. VPOTUS, black lives do matter

Vice President Mike Pence had a chance Friday to say the words “black lives matter.”

He chose to avoid saying them. Maybe he thinks he’ll be struck by lightning, or will ignite in some form of spontaneous combustion simply by uttering the words. Instead, he told a TV interviewer:

“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy,” Pence said Friday. “And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation, we cherish the ideal that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has given the Black Lives Matter movement additional impetus. Floyd’s death at the hands of white police officers has spawned protests.

As it has happened in the past when Black Lives Matter becomes part of the national dialogue, those who take umbrage at the term pervert it, suggesting that Black Lives Matter devalues everyone else’s lives. It does no such thing, which I sense is what kept the VP from saying the words.

If I could prepared his response, I might have him say something like this: “Yes, black lives matter just as much as white lives matter, Latino lives matter, Asian lives matter, native American lives matter. We are created equal in the eyes of our Creator.”

See? That’s not so bad. Mr. Vice President, you and the Racist in Chief need to say the words.

Way to go, Mitt

I am developing a sort of vicarious relationship with a man I opposed when he ran for president of the United States, but whose conduct as a U.S. senator is making me quite proud of his courage.

That’s you, Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah.

I voted proudly for President Obama in 2012 when he ran for re-election against Mitt Romney. I would do so again were the two men to seek that office against each other.

However, Sen. Romney is exhibiting the sort of spine that has been undiscovered among almost all of his Republican Senate colleagues. He is challenging Donald Trump openly and with vigor.

I will not forget that memorable speech Sen. Romney delivered on the Senate floor when he declared his intention to vote to convict Donald Trump on abuse of power during the president’s impeachment trial. He was the lone GOP senator to break ranks from the cult that has developed on Capitol Hill that seeks to protect Trump against those who seek political justice to be delivered to a man who is unfit to serve as president.

He has been excoriated for his vote. Trump has threatened him via Twitter. Mitt has stood his ground.

And now he is marching with “Black Lives Matter” protesters who are demonstrating against the kind of police brutality that killed George Floyd in Minneapolis. He is standing with those who are shocked and dismayed at Floyd’s death. He is one of distressingly few GOP public officials willing to stand on the right side of history.

Trump’s reaction to Mitt Romney has been to skewer him for acting on his own conscience and for doing what he believes is right.

I will stand proudly with Mitt Romney. If only others within his party would exhibit the level of courage that Sen. Romney continues to put on display.