Tag Archives: BLM

Ham-handedness rules

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There is something that borders on ham-handed governance that troubles me about the Texas Legislature’s apparent desire to punish cities that take money away from police departments in response to the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.

Why is that? It’s because the Legislature is trying to tell communities — the folks who govern their own affairs — how their elected officials should do their jobs.

According to the Texas Tribune: The Texas House on Friday passed a bill to financially penalize the state’s largest cities if they cut their police budgets. The measure was sent to the Senate after two days of heated debate and emotional speeches, with the bill authors calling to “back the blue” and the opposition decrying the bill as political propaganda.

Texas cities that cut police funding could face financial penalties | The Texas Tribune

Let’s call it what it appears to be: a political payback ploy launched by Republicans who control the Legislature against cities run by politicians who lean Democratic.

I want to stipulate in the clearest terms possible that I oppose efforts to “defund the police” in response to what has happened in communities across Texas and the nation. I believe there is ample room for reform and I want the cops to keep the money.

If the Princeton City Council — in a highly unlikely event — were to “defund” the cops, I would be among the loudest protesters calling for the ouster of every one of them. That, however, would be their call, which thus would give voters like me a chance to respond accordingly.

The Legislature has no business dictating to cities how they should spend taxpayer funds dedicated to certain municipal services, such as police protection.

Texans don’t want the state to adopt this kind of ham-handed policy … do they?

Feds now involved in Floyd murder

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A Hennepin County, Minn., jury had the good sense and common decency to endorse what we all saw on that ghastly video, which was the sight of Derek Chauvin suffocating George Floyd while arresting him for passing counterfeit money.

They convicted him of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin faces a lengthy prison term.

4 ex-cops indicted on US civil rights charges in Floyd death (msn.com)

Now, though, comes this bit of news: Chauvin and his three former Minneapolis police colleagues have been indicted by a federal grand jury of violating Floyd’s civil rights when they arrested him and then killed him.

The ordeal ain’t over for Chauvin or for Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. The three other officers also are awaiting trial in state court for their role in Floyd’s death.

You know the story. Chauvin is a white man; Floyd was an African-American. Floyd’s death drew international attention and helped spawn greater interest in the Black Lives Matter movement.

This case isn’t not about to fade into history any time soon.

Nor, frankly, should it.

Libs have blowhards, too

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I recently called Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson a right-wing “blowhard,” which drew rebukes from my friends who believe he is right and others of us are mistaken about the state of affairs.

It all got me to ponder something. Do I aim my “blowhard” epithet only at right wingers and if so, am I being fair to them? I want to lay down a predicate, which is that we all are fueled by our own bias. So, when I toss out an epithet such as “blowhard,” or “gasbag” I usually am talking about righties with whom I disagree.

As I scan the political commentary landscape, I find far fewer such left-leaning targets. However, the field isn’t devoid of left wing blowhards.

In the interest of fairness, I want to offer you this example: The Rev. Al Sharpton. 

I am no fan of Sharpton. He runs the National Action Network. He has become a “civil rights leader” of some repute and renown. Sharpton shows up at protest marches to extol the virtues of Black Lives Matter. He delivers eulogies to victims of police brutality. He speaks on behalf of what I consider to be noble causes.

However, every time I see the Rev. Sharpton, I cannot erase one incident from my memory: Tawana Brawley. Do you remember her?

In the late 1980s Brawley accused white New York City police officers of brutalizing her, of raping her, of dehumanizing her. She is an African-American. At that time, up stepped Al Sharpton to raise holy hell on her behalf. He and others accused the cops of behaving in a disgraceful, despicable manner.

It turns out that Tawana Brawley made it all up. The cops sued Brawley and others, including Sharpton, for slander and defamation. They won their case!

Has the reverend ever apologized for taking part in that monumental charade? Nope. Not a word. Instead, he parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into a role he has embraced as a “civil rights leader.”

This has not a thing to do with the causes for which he speaks. I happen to endorse most of Sharpton’s platform. If only, though, he hadn’t emerged from such a scandalous event — in which he was on the wrong side of a contentious dispute — to bask in the celebrity status he enjoys today.

So, there you have it. I have just declared that lefties have blowhards, too.

Bad move in Greenville

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Allow me this bit of unsolicited advice to educators everywhere: Do not engage in “jokes” that seem to mirror hideous news events.

So it is, then, that a Greenville Independent School District teacher has resigned after being suspended over a picture of her placing her foot on the back of a Lamar Elementary School student’s neck. Sound familiar? Yep, the teacher took part in this supposedly good-natured stunt on the day that a Minneapolis jury convicted former cop Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd by pressing his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in 2020.

The ”joke” went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Could the timing of this incident have been any worse?

When the picture went viral, the school district suspended the teacher. The youngster on whom the supposed joke was perpetrated said he didn’t take offense. The boy’s mother said her family has a good relationship with the teacher and she, too, spoke in support of the educator.

Then the teacher quit. I should point out that the teacher is white and the student is African-American.

Good grief.

KETR’s Mark Haslett reported: “We take this situation very seriously. It will be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action will be taken,” Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said in an email that went out to parents of Greenville ISD students. “We have heard from many community members, and we understand their concern and anger.”

The anger apparently prompted the teacher to resign rather than face possible recrimination for her action.

The entire world’s sensitivity to this kind of conduct has been heightened tremendously by the Chauvin trial and the incident that resulted in his conviction of murdering George Floyd. Chauvin is a white former police officer who applied unreasonable force to restrain Floyd, a black man who was arrested for – get this – passing some counterfeit currency in a Minneapolis convenience store.

So, for a Northeast Texas educator to take part in a so-called prank and have the image of her foot on the back of a youngster’s neck released on the very day of Chauvin’s conviction smacks of the height – or the depth – of poor judgment.

So, there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this. I believe the world’s eyes have opened wide to people’s perception of actions intended ostensibly to be done as a good-natured joke.

NOTE: This blog post was published initially on KETR.org.

What will AG find?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

My curiosity is killing me.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced a Justice Department investigation into the Minneapolis, Minn., police practices. Garland wants to get to the bottom of policies that resulted in George Floyd’s death a year ago when former cop Derek Chauvin suffocated him while arresting Floyd on a charge of passing counterfeit currency.

I am left to wonder: Why?

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified during Chauvin’s trial that what he did was not in keeping with the PD’s policy. He said that Chauvin violated the police department’s policy and standard when he pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

So what is the AG intending to determine?

I happen to support Merrick Garland’s position as the nation’s top law enforcement official. I supported President Biden’s decision to nominate him to be the next AG.

I just am wondering out loud whether this investigation is as much for show as it is for actually finding policies that routinely result in the ghastly event that the whole world witnessed on that Minneapolis street.

Is there systemic racism within the PD? Is the department training its officers adequately?

I hope the attorney general’s probe produces legitimate findings.

Chauvin verdict hardens ‘fault lines’

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The cheers for the jury’s verdict convicting Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd has come from one side of the political chasm.

The other side has been virtually silent.

This is according to a report published in Politico, which reports that Democrats at all levels of government have endorsed the verdict. Meanwhile, Republicans at all levels have stayed virtually silent.

Chauvin trial political fallout: Groundbreaking verdict, same fault lines – POLITICO

My goodness. The divide just seems to deepen and widen even as a troubled nation watched a jury deliver long-needed justice to a rogue cop who killed a man by employing unreasonable and cruel force. The ex-cop is white; his victim was black. That is the story of this case.

Why are GOP pols sitting on their hands? Why are they quiet? Why can’t they bring themselves to condemn what the whole world witnessed and cheer a judicial system that has delivered justice?

Instead, Republican politicians have criticized President Biden for declaring — as the jury was deliberating — that he wished for justice, which GOP pols interpreted as meaning a “guilty” verdict. Did I mention the jury was sequestered during its deliberation and did not hear what the president said in real time?

Derek Chauvin has received what he deserved, guilty verdicts on all three murder and manslaughter charges. It took the jury 10 hours to make it determination.

Some folks had hoped there might be a sign of unity with this verdict. Hah! It has hardened both sides. Shameful.

No federal rules on policing

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As a “good government progressive,” I feel the need to weigh in on an issue that is beginning to get some traction, particularly in light of the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

It’s the issue of police reform and whether Congress should enact laws that dictate how local police departments should do their business.

I don’t consider that a level of “good government” by the feds. Congress would be well-advised to keep its hands off what is fundamentally a local-control issue.

Floyd’s death while being arrested in Minneapolis for passing some fake currency was a shocking reminder of how cops can go rogue and how the consequences of their actions can cause such tragic results. A jury convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and of second-degree manslaughter. He is likely to spend many years in prison.

Police departments answer to local governing authorities. City councils or senior city administrators have the final say over how the cops should do their job. They hire police chiefs, who then administer policing rules and regulations for their officers to follow. The burden must remain with them — not Congress — to determine what is correct and proper. If the voters in their cities, counties and states don’t like the way these matters are being handled, they can take measures to rectify the situation.

And yet some zealots are pushing Congress to enact federal laws that prohibit certain policies. No, Congress should stay away from that particular discussion and let local communities have their say.

I, too, am horrified at what has been happening in communities across the land. Too many police officers are acting badly when arresting racial minorities. The result, such as what happened to George Floyd, have occurred with shocking regularity.

It must rest with those communities to repair the damage being done and to find permanent repairs. Congress need not get involved in what belongs to others to resolve.

Next up? The other 3 cops

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Now that Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murdering George Floyd on that Minneapolis street a year ago and might spend the rest of his life in prison, attention now turns to his three fellow former cops who are awaiting trial in that hideous incident.

Of all the questions that need answering, the one I want answered is this: Why in the world did you stand by silently while Chauvin continued to press his knee against George Floyd’s neck, suffocating a man on whom you had placed handcuffs?

Any one or all of those former police officers could have intervened when they realized Floyd no longer was offering resistance, let alone even breathing!

They didn’t. They allowed Chauvin to snuff the life out of a man they were arresting for seeking to pass some counterfeit currency. Good Lord!

The first act of this drama is drawing to a close as the world now awaits the sentence that will come for Derek Chauvin. The rest of this tragedy, though, has yet to play out.

Justice is delivered

(Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Excuse me for a brief moment as I offer a somber reaction to a jury verdict delivered today in a Minneapolis courtroom.

Former cop Derek Chauvin is guilty of three counts of murder and manslaughter brought against him in the death of George Floyd, the man he killed when he pressed his knee against the back of the victim for more than minutes on Memorial Day, 2020.

Is this a reason to rejoice? No. It isn’t. It is a time for us take stock of what must continue, which is that we need to stay vigilant against the kind of abuse that Chauvin delivered to George Floyd and to work tirelessly to prevent future cases such as this from ever recurring.

We surely can be glad in the belief — at least the one I hold — that our communities likely won’t erupt in violence. Chauvin has now been convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. When all is done he likely will spend time in the slammer. He belongs there. From my cheap seat in the peanut gallery, that’s what I saw on that hideous video. It also is what a jury of Chauvin’s peers has delivered in that courtroom.

I won’t be cheering. I will take up the cudgel on this blog for a more just society that seeks to prevent the kind of manhandling of a citizen by rogue police.

Justice came at the end of this criminal trial. The full measure of justice remains out there … somewhere. Let the larger society find it.

Keeping faith in system

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Try as I might to understand the anger simmering inside the black community in this nation, I cannot possibly grasp it in its entirety.

I am a white man. I haven’t experienced the type of brutality that many of my black friends have endured. With that said, I am left to stipulate that I am inclined to place a good measure of trust in the judicial system that seeks to render a decision that has a lot of folks on tenterhooks.

Former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin is on trial on a charge that he murdered George Floyd. Chauvin is white; Floyd was black. Floyd was suffocated on a Minneapolis street by Chauvin because he tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

From what I have witnessed of this trial from the peanut gallery, I believe Chauvin is guilty of the crimes for which he is standing trial. I have the luxury, though, if being able to go about my day without being hassled because of my skin color.

The jury that is going to deliver a verdict has heard every bit of evidence. It has heard prosecutors and defense counsel take their best shot. The criminal justice system places a huge burden on prosecutors who have to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the defendant did what he is charged with doing. Defense counsel has to persuade one of the 12 men and women that there is reasonable doubt, producing a hung jury.

I am sitting at a safe distance from the simmering anger in the Twin Cities community. Thus, I won’t presume to know how I would react to an unfavorable verdict if I had been hassled by the cops. Nor can I in good conscience instruct others on how they should react if they don’t get a verdict that fits their expectation.

I am left only to hope sanity will prevail. I also can hope that those who want the jury to deliver their version of justice will understand that our  judicial system places these decisions in the hands of just plain folks … just like the rest of us.