A response to the “Why don’t you protest for [Insert name here]” attempt to derail civil rights progress

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I’ve seen some variation of the image shown below posted by some friends. Please allow me to explain why this is utter garbage.

The reason why we protest police brutality and racism is because the police (who are sworn to serve and protect, and who are paid with our tax dollars) get away with murder and lesser forms of brutality on a daily basis. The law as written prevents the police from being held accountable, and leaves us vulnerable to abuse by the government. The goal of the protests is so seek a change in that legal and political situation such that the police stop engaging in that brutality and racism.

As a simple example, the police who killed Breonna Taylor as she slept in her own bed have not been charged as I write this article months later. Similarly, the cop who invaded Botham Jean’s home and murdered him was initially free to walk away from the scene of the murder without charges. Those situations and many more warrant protests.

There is absolutely no reason to protest in regard to the murder of Cannon Hinnant, as the person responsible was swiftly apprehended and charged with murder. The full weight of the police force and the legal system was brought to bear against that man, and he will surely spend the rest of his life in prison. Since there is no miscarriage of justice, there is nothing to protest.  Since the person who committed the crime is not protected by a law that only the government can change, there is no need to assemble and demand a change in the law.

Finally, the attempt to somehow conflate a black person randomly killing a white child with the racism that is systematic in policing is disingenuous and intentionally race-baiting in many cases. Although I don’t think that was the specific intent of everyone who shared such a meme, I know it was for some of them. Note: I commented on the posts of two friends who shared a meme like this, saying substantially what I said above. One of them deleted the entire post. The other deleted just my comment.

What “Defunding” the police means

Defunding the police is a simple and viable solution that will go a long way towards reducing police brutality and racism.  It involves having other agencies that are better equipped to handle a specific problem get the mission (and budget) to handle that problem, instead of giving the over-worked police departments that mission. Scaremongering from those who oppose defunding of the police lacks a basis in fact or reason, as is explored below.

Why defunding the police is necessary

Police officers are currently tasked with doing so much more than they are equipped and able to properly do. The police are called upon not only to handle criminal law enforcement, but to respond to people having a mental health crisis, dogs on the loose, civil disputes that don’t rise to the level of needing actual law enforcement, etc. Since police training in the United States tends to range from several weeks to perhaps half a year at the most, it is no wonder that the police officer who responds to all those different types of calls is not very well equipped to properly handle each of those situations. By being a jack of all trades, the modern police officer is a master of none.

Police are not mental health experts. They are not domestic violence experts. They are not animal control experts. They are not equipped to effectively handle a great many problems.  As a result, police officers facing a difficult situation tend to fall back on their training. Since police training includes significant use of force components, and since police culture glorifies use of force, it is unsurprising that police gravitate towards use of force as a means of resolving problems.

More concretely a 22 year old police officer with a badge and a gun is not going to do nearly as good of a job as a trained mental health care worker when it comes to handling a call regarding a person who is having a mental health crisis.  The odds of injury or death for the citizen, the cop, and bystanders is higher when the cop responds to that call than when a mental health professional who is trained in deescalation and is used to spending their days dealing with people in crisis responds.  Similarly, that cop is not nearly as likely to catch a loose dog without injury to the dog, themselves, and bystanders as someone who works at an animal shelter and deals with rowdy dogs every day.  Sending the cop to do that job increases everyone’s risk. The result in every case where a police officer is sent into a situation they are unqualified to handle is unnecessary risk of to members of the public, unnecessary danger for police officers, and more distrust of the police when something bad does happen.

Indeed, a single instance of seeing the police unnecessarily use violence can stick with a person for the rest of their life and make them reluctant to seek assistance from the police in the future. This produces secondary effects that are not good for society. As a simple example, my first memory of the police involved a police officer falsely accusing my parents of shoplifting a baby carrier. The situation was resolved with the police officer acknowledging that my parents had not shoplifted anything, but being detained and seeing that officer rudely treat my parents like they were less than human has stuck with me for decades. That comparatively mild experience (along with many instances of racial profiling I’ve experienced as an adult) still causes me to be apprehensive around the police, so it is is no wonder that people who have seen and experienced much worse are even more afraid of the police. It is no wonder that some people have panic attacks or try to run from the police even when completely innocent.  Indeed, a cycle is created where abuses committed by the police lead to fear and distrust of the police, which in turn manifests in fear or even combativeness with the police, which in turn results in police using more force…

What defunding the police means

Defunding the police means taking some of their responsibilities (and the budget to go with it) away from the police department, and giving those responsibilities to agencies that are better equipped to handle that area.  Instead of having the police handle a loose dog, let’s have the animal control agency (or a local animal shelter) get the call. Rather than having police officers respond to a person having a mental health crisis, we can have trained mental health professional show up. When a homeless person is loitering or aggressively panhandling, an advocate from a local homeless shelter can be given the opportunity to address the problem. To be sure, not every such problem can always be completely solved without the police becoming involved. But most of them can be solved without the police getting involved, and doing so results in better outcomes with less danger for everyone.

Real examples of what happened when the police were defunded

The city of Denver, Colorado has implemented a system of having a van with mental health workers and other trained professional dispatched to nonviolent 911 calls. The program has been a resounding success and more information on it can be seen here.

Camden, New Jersey abolished it existing city police department, shifted law enforcement duties to the county, reallocated resources to other agencies that could assist with mental health and related issues, and as a result saw a 47% drop in violent crime. The doom and gloom about defunding the police leading to violence was entirely unfounded. More on that here.

Don’t buy in to the scaremongering about defunding the police

Defunding the police doesn’t mean that police will be unavailable to respond to violent crime. It doesn’t mean that citizens will be left to fend for themselves. That is not what is being sought.  Don’t buy into the fearmongering. Instead, see defunding the police for what it is – an opportunity to have better-equipped agencies handle things like mental health and homelessness, resulting in better outcomes and greater safety for everyone (including police officers).

A Summary of Police Brutality and Racism

The purpose of this page is to compile a convenient list of articles on police brutality, racism, protesting, and that situation in general. More specifically, I wanted to create a single page I could use when debating those issues online, and to have a good starting point for those who are new to the subject.

Yes, there is a real problem with police brutality and systematic racism.

Racism in police use of force.

Racism in our criminal courts.

190 video clips of Police Brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Police in America are so violent and trigger-happy that they are even killing each other.

Cops who commit crimes often avoid being held accountable.

My speech about police brutality and racism at the protest in Bettendorf, Iowa on June 13, 2020

Counterarguments to common anti-civil-rights statements

There are many rumors and false accusations against BLM and protesters that are later proven untrue.

The problem with “All Lives Matter”.

“Black on Black” Crime.

“Why are you protesting for this criminal?”.

“Why don’t you protest for [Insert name here]”.

“Why don’t you join the police department and fix it?”

Blaming protesters for riots.

“If they are innocent they have no reason to fear or run from the police”.

For the people who are tired of protests and activism surrounding police brutality and racism.

Confederate statues are not “history”.

Donald Trump

Trump, police brutality, and racism.

Differing sources of information and opinions

All opinions are not of equal value.

A great example of the ignorance and bigotry of people who oppose civil rights.

Why the video of a black person saying racism doesn’t exist is meaningless.

Hidden hate behind “back the blue” rallies – an example.

Solutions to police brutality and racism

Concrete steps to fix the problem of police brutality in America.

Defund the police and reallocate certain responsibilities (and the associated budget) to other agencies that are better suited to handle those responsibilities.

Donate to fight police brutality and racism.

Protest! (This is not a link to click on to learn more as all I have to say on this subject is that everyone should participate in peaceful protests. Showing up matters. Find protests in your area, and attend those protests.)

Security advice for anti-racism activists

Communication security for protesters (and everyone really).

Civil rights activists need to be armed for self defense.

The rest of the articles I’ve written on police brutality and racism

I have written a lot more about police brutality and racism than what is discussed on this page. The entirety of the articles I’ve posted on this website can be seen here: All articles in the police brutality and racism category.

A response to the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” attempt at excusing police brutality

When speaking out against instances of police brutality and racism, I often hear a response along the lines of “why are you protesting for this criminal?” Since I hear it enough, I thought I would write a brief response here so that I can just provide the link in the future and not waste type typing a separate response. For all the reasons stated below, the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” retort is baseless and often disingenuous.

Background on the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” retort

When I’ve commented online about police brutality and protests that I have organized in response to that brutality, there are invariably comments made by people who assert that because the person who the police abused had a criminal history, there should be no protests over that instance of brutality. There are similar memes shared online, expressing the idea that if the person who was abused by police has a criminal history then it is wrong to protest that abuse committed by the police. Sometimes these memes will take the form of “[Insert name of police brutality victim] beat up his ex-girlfriend in 2009, why are you all protesting a domestic abuser. Imagine how she must feel about people saying his name like he is a hero.”

Obviously I don’t endorse people committing crimes, but that is not a reason to ignore instance of police brutality and racism, as I’ll discuss below.

Police shouldn’t execute or otherwise abuse anyone

Whether a person is a cancer-curing, Noble-prize-winning, orphan-rescuing hero or a terribly violent jerk, it is not the role of the police to meet out vengeance through unwarranted violence.  A person does not need to be venerated as a hero for us to conclude that the police were wrong for mistreating them. The way I see it, standing against government-sponsored violence against a vulnerable individual is always right – whether that vulnerable individual is someone who I would want to have over for dinner or not.

Remember, the foundation of our existence as a country under the rule of law is that no one is above the law’s prohibitions, and no one is beneath the law’s protections.
This is a pretty simple concept so I won’t spend much more time on it.  We have courts and a criminal justice system to decide whether a person is guilty and what sentence they should receive. Extrajudicial violence from police officers (who are themselves breaking the law and the oaths they took when becoming police officers) is not justice and should always be condemned.

Anyone who still doesn’t get this should look at numerous examples where vigilante “justice” has resulted in terrible atrocities. The lynching of Emmett Till is a good starting point.

The focus on the criminal record of a person wrongfully killed by the police is grasping at straws to find a reason to oppose much-needed social change

Those who are opposed to civil rights progress search for any reason to justify their opposition.  When Colin Kaepernick peacefully and silently took a knee, those opposed to civil rights falsely claimed he was disrespecting American soldiers.  When professional athletes when on strike, attacks were made on their characters. Trying to find ways to smear the victims of police brutality and use that as an argument against protesting that instance of brutality is just another such tactic. Literally every approach taken by civil rights activists to fix the problems of police brutality and racism are met with scorn and derision.

Police manage to arrest many violent, terrible white people without murdering them

I have already written a separate article addressing the fact that police choose to use force more often and with more violence when dealing with black people than when dealing with white people.  In that article I provide scientific evidence to support that conclusion, discus how the studies mirror what I have seen in my personal life as a black man and as an attorney who has represented people who were mistreated by the police, and provide links to that evidence. Read that article here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/17/police-use-of-force-depends-upon-the-race-of-the-suspect/

Violent police pose a danger to us all
A situation where the police are permitted to brutalize someone who they believe has a bad criminal history poses a very real danger to us all. Many of the cases of police brutality that have led to protests involve the police misidentifying an innocent person as a criminal and then using violence against that innocent person.  Any of us (or our loved ones) could be the next innocent person who the police brutalize.  As such it behooves everyone to take a stand against police brutality.

Indeed, the “mistaken identify” risk is so high that police are actually killing each other because they are so violent and trigger-happy.  If those opposed to civil rights actually cared about the well-being of the police officers they claim to back, they would want to see the problem of police brutality fixed so that those police officers would stop killing each other.  More on that issue can be seen in the separate article I’ve written here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/16/police-in-america-are-so-violent-and-trigger-happy-that-they-are-accidentally-killing-each-other/

Finally, given the inherent racism in our criminal courts where many black and brown people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, or convicted in factual situation where a white defendant would not have had the conviction go on their record, the fact that someone has a criminal conviction should not be seen as conclusive evidence that they are factually guilty or are a bad person deserving of hatred. I’ve also written a separate article on that point, complete with numerous citations to scientific studies: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/05/our-criminal-courts-are-inherently-racist/

Why innocent people fear and run from the police

Innocent people rightfully fear the police. Some of them run from the police as a result.

In response to the question of “if they are innocent why do they run from the police” I would note that there are many sound reasons for innocent people to run from the police. Those include fear of having evidence planted by the police, fear of torture by the police, fear of being wrongly framed for a crime, fear of being brutalized even if compliant, and even just the desire to avoid the indignity of repeated racial profiling. Each of those is explored below, with real-life examples.

Innocent people understandably fear the police will plant evidence on them

Police plant evidence on people to justify arrests, and absent video providing it the police almost always get away with it. As an example, this cop planted meth on dozens of people, causing them to go to jail and even lose custody of their children. It was only after his own body camera caught him in the act that this cop was stopped. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07/11/florida-cop-meth-drugs-arrests-scandal/

When innocent people are falsely convicted of crimes and later freed, in more than half of the cases, misconduct by police and prosecutors played a contributing role. That’s the primary theme of a new report, “Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent,” released today by the National Registry of Exonerations, which has been tracking all known exonerations in the United States for the past 30 years. Police and prosecutors, in general, engaged in misconduct at about equal rates, 35 percent for cops, 30 percent for prosecutors at the state level. In drug cases, though, cops were four times more likely to have engaged in misconduct than prosecutors. https://reason.com/2020/09/15/half-of-all-false-convictions-in-the-u-s-involved-police-or-prosecutor-misconduct-finds-new-report/

Innocent people fear being tortured by police officers trying to extract a confession

Police have tortured countless confessions out of innocent people. One particularly notorious case is that of former Chicago detective John Burge, who led a ring of cops that tortured confessions out of over 200 people (mainly black men) who were innocent. They used methods such as electric shock to the men’s testicles, burnings, and beatings.  More information on John Burge can be seen here: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/jon-burge-ex-chicago-cop-who-ran-torture-ring-released-prison

Innocent people fear being framed for a crime they didn’t commit

In an effort to close cases, police have been known to frame innocent people for crimes that the police know they did not commit. An example is that of the Florida police department where multiple cops (including the chief of police) were engaged in a conspiracy to frame innocent black men for burglaries. Information on that case can be seen here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/us/florida-police-chief-frame-black-people.html

Innocent people rightfully fear being beaten by the police, even if they are compliant

There are many cases where police beat or otherwise harm people why are fully compliant.  The prospect of being attacked even if compliant can motivate innocent people to run.  Since video really shows the point here, I’m going to provide a few videos of police attacking compliant people.

On a related note, see this link for more information on how police use of force depends upon the race of the suspect: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/17/police-use-of-force-depends-upon-the-race-of-the-suspect/

Innocent people may be tired of racial profiling and not want to experience it again

The Massachusetts Supreme Court noted in a decision from 2016 that a black man who runs from police shouldn’t necessarily be considered suspicious — and merely might be trying to avoid “the recurring indignity of being racially profiled”: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/21/494900984/black-men-may-have-cause-to-run-from-police-massachusetts-high-court-says

Innocent people may fear rape while in police custody

Police officers have forcibly raped or sexually assaulted many people (women and men) who were in custody. Making the problem worse, any states don’t make it a crime for a police officer to have “consensual” sex with a person who is in their custody, which makes proving the rape case even harder for the victim. Here is one of the many examples: A jury has found former Muscatine police officer guilty of sexually assaulting a Davenport woman while he was on duty. https://www.wqad.com/article/news/crime/former-muscatine-police-officer-found-guilty-of-sexual-assault/526-62f29b5b-0e76-4451-9cb0-c068573055c7

Innocent people worry about the legal system being stacked against them

A completely innocent person who is arrested has legitimate cause for concern, and a desire to avoid that arrest is understandable. That causes many innocent people to run from the police. The idea of “comply and fight it in court” makes sense if fighting it in court can be expected to produce a fair outcome, but not when a person can reasonably expect time in jail, financial ruin, and even a lengthy but undeserved prison sentence.

Being arrested is unpleasant, as no one enjoys having their freedom taken away as they are hauled off to jail. Often high bond amounts keep people in jail for days or even years as they await trial, and living conditions in jails are generally terrible. Even worse is being taken away from one’s loved ones. The economic impact of losing a job, a house, a car, and everything else due to a lack of money when incarcerated only adds to the misery. The prospect of a prison term when ever so innocent is emotionally devastating, as is the embarrassment of having one’s family and friends know that one is incarcerated. The fact that such a person can be ever so innocent doesn’t change that analysis, as our jails (and prisons) contain many innocent people. As an example, this completely innocent man was held in jail for 3 years on a murder case because a crime lab and a prosecutor’s actions led to DNA evidence that proved his innocence being withheld: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/26/us/louisiana-dna-washing-machine.html?action=click&module=news&pgtype=homepage

Those concerns are especially true for Black people given the racism inherent in our criminal court system that leads to Black people having higher bail set, more serious charges, longer sentences, juries who are biased against them, and a whole host of other disadvantages that can be scientifically shown to be a result of race and not other factors. For a detailed discussion of that, complete with links to studies, see this article: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/05/our-criminal-courts-are-inherently-racist/

Conclusion

Against the backdrop of the information provided above, is it any wonder that some people who have done nothing wrong run from the police? It is unreasonable to expect a person who know that the police can plant evidence, frame them for a crime they didn’t commit, and physically harm them (will likely getting away with all of that) will try to avoid that mistreatment by rapidly leaving the area when the police appear?

It is hard for me to fault those people who run, even though I personally (as a lawyer) take a different approach involving the legal system when the police mistreat me.

Finally, note that in the interest of brevity I provided just a few examples of real-life abuses by police for the above categories, but a simple online search will show a great many other examples for every one of those categories.

Civil rights activists need to be armed for self defense

There is an urgent need for those who support civil rights to arm themselves for self defense. Supporting gun control and choosing to be defenseless in the face of armed and violent racists is folly.

Starting with some history, the inescapable fact is that gun control in the United States began as a means of ensuring the newly-freed slaves would be unarmed. That trend began in the South but spread to the North, beginning with laws that outright banned Black people from owning firearms. Later that goal of banning Black people from gun ownership morphed into laws that were color-neutral on their face, but which allowed the police to use their discretion in granting or denying gun permits to ensure that Black people (and other “undesirables” such as Italian and Irish immigrants) were unarmed. I discussed this and provided citation to other articles back in 2008: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/07/02/junk-guns-and-the-racist-history-of-gun-control-laws/. For those who prefer a video, the “No Guns for Negros” video series provides a recitation of the history and can be seen here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2010/04/17/no-guns-for-negroes-video-clip-part-1-of-2/.

Jumping forward to today, there is a rise of white supremacists and violent racists in this country. They are emboldened by Trump’s hateful rhetoric and the actions that Trump has taken to prevent racists from being held accountable. That too is something I have covered in another article that can be seen here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/05/trump-race-and-police-brutality/. Many of these violent racists are armed. Indeed, the one thing that those deplorable people get right is their understanding of the power of firearms. They know that a gun in the hand of a person (whether that person is good or bad) allows that person to effectively fighting multiple unarmed people and very likely prevail.

Sadly, many people in the civil rights movement erroneously conclude that a desire for a peaceful resolution to police brutality and racism somehow means they should be unarmed and defenseless when seeking that peaceful resolution. They falsely conflate gun ownership with wrongful violence, and fail to see that being armed for self defense is morally right and desperately needed these days. While I appreciate the place of caring for one’s fellow human that such pacifist beliefs come from, that is a naive and dangerous approach to life that should be abandoned. I set forth my arguments on that issue more fully in this article that is also from 2008: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/10/03/pacifism-a-naive-and-dangerous-approach-to-life/.

To those who are still not convinced that they should be armed for self defense, please let me lay out a more concrete scenario: You just finished attending a peaceful protest when a group of racists follow you home and attack you. At home are your children and other loved ones. At that point in time, would you rather be unarmed or armed? For any sane person who is not engaging in mental gymnastics to avoid the clear answer, it is obvious that being armed is the right answer in that scenario. Since you can’t make a gun magically appear in your hand when you need it, and since you can’t make the training to effectively use that gun magically appear in your head either, the time to get the gun and training is now. The time when you desperately need the gun to avoid being murdered is too late to buy that gun and learn how to use it.

For Iowa residents, I offer an online Iowa Permit to Carry Weapons class that provides all the training that is required by law to obtain the Iowa permit. It can be accessed at https://www.qcgunclass.com/. For those in other states, please contact your local gun stores and gun ranges to learn more, or ask a friend who is already a gun owner for advice on getting started. I’ve also put together a lot of free information on this website, to include the Guns 101 section that has basic information for beginners: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/category/guns-101/.

In terms of what firearms to buy, anything is better than nothing but I would generally recommend a concealable handgun for everyday self defense while outside of the home, a 12 ga shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot for home defense, and a rifle such as an AR-15 for self defense during civil unrest. The following articles provide more information on selecting defensive firearms:

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/03/30/selecting-a-gun-for-home-defense/

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/05/21/selecting-a-defensive-pistol-caliber/

Bullet-resistant armor is also a good thing to own. Here is a good option:
BulletSafe bullet-proof vest: https://bulletsafe.com/products/bullet-proof-vest

Finally, a few more articles that I’ve written to expand on some of the points above:

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2015/06/18/the-charleston-church-mass-shooting/

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/06/11/self-defense-the-most-basic-right/

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2008/08/06/what-is-gun-control-an-introduction-to-firearms-regulation-efforts/

A great example of the ignorance and bigotry of people who oppose civil rights

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I posted about the upcoming peaceful protest against police brutality and racism that will take place at the Davenport police station on Saturday August 22, 2020 at 4:00pm.

In response, Rose Mercer (https://www.facebook.com/rose.mercer.5) commented that I should get a job.

The fact that she is assuming that someone who promotes civil rights must be unemployed is an interesting mixture of laughable and sad. For the record, I’m gainfully employed as an attorney.

Details on our protest can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/events/623795348260566/

The Neonazi counter-protest to our peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, Iowa on August 22, 2020

Below are screenshots that provide information on Dave Coghlan Jr., the guy behind the armed “back the blue” rally in Davenport. His swastika tattoo is clearly visible, as is the AtomWaffen Division neonazi mask that he is wearing.

His facebook shows a “Fuck Black Lives Matter” meme. But he does post how “White Lives Matter” and memes about intentionally running over protesters. Dave Coghlan Jr. engages in race-baiting and the fomenting of hatred. He talks about how how won’t die from natural causes but, in a “blaze of glory.”  He also posted a picture of a motorcycle with guns mounted to it, and called it the “protester eliminator bike.” Dave Coghlan Jr.’s facebook posts are a showcase of hate, and he is a member of a various hate-filled facebook groups/pages that express white supremacy and bigotry.

What is especially scary is his apparent interest in law enforcement. He boasted on facebook about seeking a job where they give him a badge and a gun. Given the above-discussed matters, I fear how he would treat me (or some other black/brown person) in the performance of such a job.  Given his posting of the “all lives splatter” meme about running over protesters, I can’t help but worry what he would do with a work-issued vehicle too.

Apparently other people have thought he was racist too, long before I ever heard his name. One of his own facebook posts talks about how a customer expressed concern about him being racist.  Multiple other people have also been finding his posts to be racist and sharing information about that racism on facebook too.

These images were taken from facebook, to include Dave Coghlan Jr.’s own public facebook profile at https://www.facebook.com/scrappycoghlan (although he has since made the facebook page a lot more private). His wife’s facebook also shows pictures of him with an iron cross tattoo and a confederate flag for a pillow.  Review the images:

 

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Screenshot from 2020-08-19 19-05-18

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Protest Against Police Brutality and Racism in Davenport, IA on August 22, 2020

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Some friends and I organized a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, Iowa. The protest took place at the Davenport, Iowa police station on August 22, 2020 at 4:00pm.  Video and news coverage follows:

QC Times article: https://qctimes.com/news/photos-protest-against-police-brutality-at-the-davenport-police-department/collection_78b22457-1c3e-557e-bc54-896e398405d0.html#1

Video interview from our 10:00am counter-protest of the rally organized by the deplorable person discussed here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/08/19/the-neonazi-counter-protest-to-our-peaceful-protest-against-police-brutality-and-racism-in-davenport-iowa-on-august-22-2020/

More information can be seen on the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/623795348260566/

Petition to end police brutality and racism in the Quad Cities (Iowa and Illinois)

Police in the Quad Cities area – to include Davenport, IA, Bettedorf, IA Rock Island, IL, Moline, IL, East Moline, IL – engage in brutality and racism towards the communities that they are supposed to be protecting and serving. This needs to stop, and by speaking up we can make it stop.

View and sign the Petition here: https://www.change.org/p/mayors-end-police-brutality-and-racism-in-the-quad-cities

My speech at the peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, IA on July 11, 2020

Below is video of a speech I gave at the peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in Davenport, Iowa on July 11, 2020.

WQAD Channel 8 news covered the protest. https://www.wqad.com/article/news/protestors-push-for-end-to-police-brutality-outside-davenport-police-department/526-224441f3-a1f9-4d90-9540-5b63526441d5

So did the Quad City Times: https://qctimes.com/news/local/q-c-protest-looks-at-against-police-brutality/article_33d41c58-c273-568b-b66f-74d51f82bc5f.html?utm_campaign=snd-autopilot&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook_Quad-City_Times

Our criminal courts are inherently racist

Our legal system has a serious problem with racism, and I say that as an attorney and a Black man. As discussed below, this is not just some idea of mine; the history, statistics, and peer-reviewed studies make this conclusion sadly inescapable.

Starting with my own personal experiences as an attorney who handles criminal defense work in Illinois and Iowa, I see a difference in how my Black or Brown clients are treated by the court system, compared to how my White clients are treated.  Prosecutors often charge Black/Brown defendants with more serious crimes than White defendants, even when the conduct is identical.  Judges will set higher bond amounts for Black/Brown defendants, even on identical charges. Racist crime lab employees are entrusted to analyze DNA and give conclusions that are relied upon by the prosecutor and court. Prosecutors offer less favorable plea deals to Black/Brown defendants than White defendants for similar conduct. Prosecutors strike Black/Brown jurors, leaving only White jurors to decide guilt or innocence. Juries show a bias in favor of White witnesses and defendants, and a bias against Black/Brown witnesses and defendants. Black/Brown juvenile defendants are transferred to adult court while similarly situated White juvenile defendants remain in juvenile court. Judges impose harsher sentences on Black/Brown defendants, even when race is the only difference between defendants.  Probation and parole officers are more likely to try and revoke the probation or parole of Black/Brown people than of White people for similar conduct.  I personally see all of that, and know that racism is alive and well in our criminal justice system.

 

Study after study supports what I have seen:

A study found that Blacks 18 to 29 years-old pay more to get out of jail than Whites. Blacks are held in jail at rate that’s almost five times greater than Whites, and it is harder for jailed defendants to plan an effective defense. Fifty percent of defendants who committed no crimes at all took guilty pleas to avoid convictions and maximum penalties. http://sacobserver.com/2012/09/blacks-pay-more-to-get-out-of-jail-on-bail/

A 2013 study found that after adjusting for numerous other variables, federal prosecutors were almost twice as likely to bring charges carrying mandatory minimums against black defendants as against white defendants accused of similar crimes. https://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/mandatory-sentencing-and-racial-disparity-assessing-the-role-of-prosecutors-and-the-effects-of-booker

A 2017 report by Carlos Berdejo at the University of Loyola Law School found that White defendants were 25 percent more likely than their Black counterparts to have criminal charges dropped or reduced to less serious crimes. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3036726

When Harris County, Tex., saw a flaw in how drug testing was conducted at its crime lab, officials went back and exonerated dozens of people who had been wrongly convicted for possession — most pleaded guilty, despite their innocence. This is because prosecutors often promise harsher sentences or more charges for defendants who take a case to trial. Black people comprise 20 percent of the Harris County population but made up 62 percent of the wrongful drug convictions. https://www.texastribune.org/2017/03/07/report/

Between 2003 and 2012, prosecutors in Caddo Parish, La. — one of the most aggressive death penalty counties in the country — struck 46 percent of prospective black jurors with preemptory challenges, vs. 15 percent of nonblacks. https://blackstrikes.com/resources/Blackstrikes_Caddo_Parish_August_2015.pdf

In a 2010 study, “mock jurors” were given the same evidence from a fictional robbery case but then shown alternate security camera footage depicting either a light-skinned or dark-skinned suspect. Jurors were more likely to evaluate ambiguous, race-neutral evidence against the dark-skinned suspect as incriminating and more likely to find the dark-skinned suspect guilty. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1601615

While black youths make up 14 percent of the youth population, a 2018 study found that they make up 53 percent of minors transferred to adult court for offenses against persons, despite the fact that white and black youths make up nearly an equal percentage of youth charged with such offenses. http://cfyj.org/images/pdf/Social_Justice_Brief_Youth_Transfers.Revised_copy_09-18-2018.pdf

A 2011 summary of the research on race and plea bargaining published by the Bureau of Justice Assistance concluded that “the majority of research on race and sentencing outcomes shows that blacks are less likely than whites to receive reduced pleas,” that “studies that assess the effects of race find that blacks are less likely to receive a reduced charge compared with whites,” and that “studies have generally found a relationship between race and whether or not a defendant receives a reduced charge.” https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/PleaBargainingResearchSummary.pdf

A 2007 Harvard study found sentencing discrepancies among black people, depending on the darkness of their skin. The study looked at 67,000 first-time felons in Georgia from 1995 to 2002. The average sentence for white men was 2,689 days. The average for black men was 378 days longer. But light-skinned blacks received sentences of about three and a half months longer than whites. Medium-skinned blacks received a sentence of about a year longer. Dark-skinned blacks received sentences of a year and a half longer. https://scholar.harvard.edu/jlhochschild/publications/skin-color-paradox-and-american-racial-order

A 2015 study of first-time felons found that while black men overall received sentences of 270 days longer than white men for similar crimes, the discrepancy between whites and dark-skinned blacks was 400 days. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jels.12077

It wasn’t Black-on-Black crime. Violent video games and rap songs had nothing to do with it; nor did poverty, education, two-parent homes or the international “bootstraps” shortage. When a judge tasked researchers with explaining why Massachusetts’ Black and Latinx incarceration was so high, a four-year study came up with one conclusion. Racism: https://www.theroot.com/a-judge-asked-harvard-to-find-out-why-so-many-black-peo-1845017462

The United States Sentencing Commission is an official part of the federal judicial branch. It produces regular reports about the criminal justice system at the federal level. The most recent report found that Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders. Black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated White male offenders during the Post-Report period (fiscal years 2012-2016), as they had for the prior four periods studied. Violence in an offender’s criminal history does not appear to account for any of the demographic differences in sentencing. https://www.ussc.gov/research/research-reports/demographic-differences-sentencing

 

For further reading, the following links give detailed information from investigative journalists, provide citations to peer-reviewed studies, and thoroughly demonstrate that racism is alive and well in our courts:

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pretrial_racial_disparities_sources.html

https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/

https://www.aclu.org/issues/smart-justice/mass-incarceration

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/18-examples-of-racism-in-criminal-legal-system_b_57f26bf0e4b095bd896a1476

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/opinions/systemic-racism-police-evidence-criminal-justice-system/

https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/05/17/racism-makes-criminal-justice-system-reform-impossible

 

Finally, please note that this article is intended to address the problems of racism in the court system. For a discussion of the racism in policing, please see this article: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/17/police-use-of-force-depends-upon-the-race-of-the-suspect/

Concrete steps to fix the problem of police brutality in America

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Elijah McClain, and so many others at the hands of the police have sparked a civil rights movement in the US and around the world. In particular, watching a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd was just too much for the consciences of many decent people. Hearing George Floyd call out for his mother as his life was being extinguished was something that touched the hearts of so many. In response, tens of millions of people in big cities and rural towns have come together to denounce the brutality and racism that pervades policing in the United States.

The road that brought us to this moment in history is a long one that I won’t try to fully recount in this brief article, as that would take years to write and months to read. However, I will try to provide a brief overview of the racism and brutality that is currently plaguing policing, before moving on to what I believe can be done to fix the situation.

We have a real problem with policing in our country

There is a serious problem with policing in our country. American police officers use force – including deadly force – in many situations where it is entirely unwarranted. Racism is sadly alive and well in policing too.  A comparison of the militarization and violence of American police forces to those in other similar countries is breathtaking and reveals a problem that many other developed nations just don’t have.

As a Black man, I have been racially profiled and wrongfully detained by numerous police departments throughout my life. My first memory of the police involves my parents being falsely accused of shoplifting and being mistreated by a police officer.  I will never forget the way that that officer spoke down to them, forced them to return to the store, and treated them as though they were less than human.  As an attorney, I have represented people who were the victims of police brutality and other police misconduct, with many of those situations clearly driven by racism on the part of the police officers. I have represented clients where the video evidence showed the police officer fabricated charges. Indeed, I have seen judges sternly rebuke police officers for their wrongful actions, only to later see that police officer remain employed and ready to victimize others. Perhaps most frustrating, I can think of multiple clients who were abused by the police yet chose not to sue because they were genuinely afraid of retaliation.

Leaving aside my personal and professional anecdotal experience, the statistics confirm the existence of racial bias in our justice system. The United States Sentencing Commission, which is an independent agency within the judicial branch of our federal government, routinely publishes reports on demographic differences in sentencing. The most recent report found that “Black male offenders continued to receive longer sentences than similarly situated White male offenders. Black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated White male offenders during the Post-Report period (fiscal years 2012-2016), as they had for the prior four periods studied. The differences in sentence length remained relatively unchanged.” So, even adjusting for other factors, being Black means more police scrutiny, more violence being applied by the police during arrests, harsher charges from the prosecutors, and longer sentences from the judges for the same conduct as a White person.  These federal court findings mirror what we see in state court, with many states having an even greater racial disparity – even when we account for things like criminal history such that race is all that is left to explain that disparity.

Indeed, former US Marshall and DEA Special Agent Dr. Matthew Fogg spoke in 2015 about how drug investigations and arrests specifically target poorer minority communities, and how the DEA agents were expressly told not to do drug enforcement in more affluent and primarily-White communities.  A majority of the no-knock warrants that have led to deaths of innocent people such as Breonna Taylor occur in less affluent areas with more Black residents.  As another data point, the ACLU did an analysis this year and found that despite the fact that Black people and White people use marijuana at roughly the same rates, Black people are nearly 4 times as likely to be arrested for using marijuana.  Studies also show that Black people are about 3 times as likely to be killed by the police as White people.  I could go on and on, but presence of a racial bias in policing should be clear by now.

How to fix our policing problem

Fixing the problems in policing may seem daunting, but significant improvement can be made with a few relatively minor actions.  Doing so will help protect both the community and the police officers, as reducing violence and unnecessary police-citizen interactions is in everyone’s best interests.

Ending Qualified Immunity is perhaps the biggest single improvement that can be made to fix policing in America.  Qualified Immunity is the legal doctrine that makes it impossible for many people who have been abused by the police to obtain justice in court.  In a nutshell, Qualified Immunity is a legal rule that prevents a police officer from being liable unless the person who is suing can show that a clearly established right was being violated by the police officer.  While that may sound reasonable at first, it it is anything but reasonable and makes justice unattainable for many victims.  For example, Qualified Immunity has prevented law enforcement officers from being liable for rape when there is not a “clearly established” right not to be raped while in custody expressed in the caselaw of that court when the lawsuit is filed.  Qualified Immunity also allowed two police officers to steal $225,000 because it was not “clearly established” in caselaw that stealing from someone when executing a search warrant was a violation of that victim’s rights. The list goes on and on, but the point is clear: Qualified Immunity acts as free pass for law enforcement to act with impunity in many cases.  Abolishing this misguided legal doctrine will allow our legal system to hold the police officers who engage in misconduct accountable.

A close second in the list of ways to fix policing is something that we can all do, using our cell phones: record the police.  It was 17 year old who recorded the video of George Floyd being murdered, and in doing so that brave young person exposed a killing that would likely have otherwise been swept under the rug.  If we all take the time to record the police – whether they are stopping us in traffic or arresting a total stranger, we will help fix the problems in policing.  Just having cameras present may prevent many instances of police brutality.  Even when police brutality is not prevented by the presence of a camera (as in the case of George Floyd), having a recording of what happened will at least allow justice to be served.  Speaking again as an attorney, I have had cases where my client’s innocence was proven through bystander videos.  I have also had cases where the police department dishonestly tried to hide squad car video and other evidence, and that sort of police misconduct makes the video recorded by random members of the public all the more important.

Requiring squad car video and body cameras for all police officers will help for the same reason that the video of bystanders will help, and requiring the police to carry the video cameras will go a long way to ensure justice even in cases where there are no bystanders.  It will also serve as a deterrent against police brutality. I can think of multiple cases that I have handled where the squad car or body camera video recorded by the police showed that the police officer had falsely accused my client. There have also been cases of police planting drugs on people that were captured on the police officer’s own body camera, saving innocent people from prison sentences. Requiring that the body cameras be turned on during interactions with the public, and having penalties for police officers who turn off or cover cameras, should be part of the solution.

Expressly imposing a legal duty on police officers to intervene and report when they see a fellow police officer engaged in misconduct is something that is sorely needed.  Using the case of George Floyd as an example, one police officer choked the life out of Mr. Floyd while two others held him down, with the final police officer standing nearby. None of those other officers intervened, and that fact pattern has played out time and time again. Indeed, given that police officers take an oath to uphold the law, it is sad that there is even a need to address this point.

Protecting police officers who report misconduct is also key.  There have been many cases in which police officers blow the whistle on their corrupt fellow officers, only to be fired in retaliation.  Whether it is the story of former New York police officer Frank Serpico from the 1960’s or the dozens of modern examples, it is clear that police officers who speak up often find themselves without a job or pension, and sometimes even find their lives in danger.  One particularly relevant example is that of former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne, who was fired and lost her pension after she physically intervened to stop another police officer from punching and choking a handcuffed suspect in 2006. Protecting these officers, who have the courage to stand up for what is right, should be a priority.

Finally, we should reduce reliance upon the police for mental health, motorist assistance, and other such matters.  It is common practice for the police to handle many odds-and-ends jobs in the community that would be better given to mental health professionals, the highway department, etc.  Unfortunately, the police are poorly equipped to do these many other tasks, and their involvement produces unnecessary police-citizen interactions.  In many states, a person needs more hours of training to braid or cut hair than they need to become a police officer, yet those police officers are sent into many situations they are unqualified to handle.  This contrasts sharply with many other developed countries that require much greater education and on-the-job training for police officers.  Tragedy often ensues when that police officer falls back on their existing training in the use of their firearm or baton. To be sure, the police can be available to provide law enforcement when it is needed, but keeping them on the sidelines whenever possible will reduce situations where force is needlessly applied.

As previously mentioned, recording the police is something that requires no action on the part of the government.  We are all able to use our cell phones to record the interactions with the police that we observe as we go about our lives, and I encourage everyone to start doing so right away. Bringing about the other changes discussed above will require political action. Our state and federal legislatures will need to pass laws.  State Governors and the President will need to sign those laws.  In order to make those things happen, citizens will need to write to their elected officials, participate in peaceful protests, and vote.  Spending just a few minutes to do so can be the difference between making a better world for our children and ourselves, or maintaining the status quo of police brutality and racism. The choice is ours.

Protesting is working, so let’s keep at it

Although there is still so much to be done, real progress has been made in the last few weeks. The police officers responsible for George Floyd’s murder have been charged. Other murders committed by the police are receiving new scrutiny from prosecutors at the local, state, and federal levels. Several states (including Iowa) have passed laws that begin to address brutality and other misconduct on the part of police officers. The state of Colorado went the furthest, abolishing Qualified Immunity. Those changes are testaments to the power of protesting, and a reminder that speaking up works.

In closing, I would like to invite everyone to join me for a peaceful protest at the Davenport Police Department on July 11, 2020, at 4:00PM. At this peaceful event, we will oppose racism and police brutality. More information, and a link to the Facebook event page, can be seen at https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/26/protest-against-police-brutality-and-racism-in-davenport-iowa-on-july-11-2020-at-400pm/

When Protesting, the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

A gentleman who opposes police brutality and racism publicly stated that he would not attend a protest against police brutality and racism because that protest didn’t also address the problems of inner-city violence and the related social woes. I respectfully disagree and am sharing my response to him here:

Read moreWhen Protesting, the Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

The problem with “All Lives Matter”

The “All Lives Matter” response to “Black Lives Matter” is a disingenuous attempt to downplay the fact that the lives of black (and brown) people are undervalued and often ended by the police in the United States. The point of “Black Lives Matter” is not to say that *only* black lives matter, or that black lives matter more, but rather to bring attention to the fact that many police officers and other people routinely act as though the lives of black people don’t matter.

By way of analogy, when a brain cancer walk is organized, no one is saying that all cancers don’t matter.  When a funeral is held for someone’s grandmother, no one is saying that all relatives don’t matter. When someone says “save the rain forest,” they are not claiming that pine forests don’t matter.  It is entirely possible to raise awareness about an issue without discounting other issues.

The following links really help drive this point home:

Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 different ways: https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter

The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dear-fellow-white-people-_b_11109842

Why You Need to Stop Saying “All Lives Matter”: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a27075028/black-lives-matter-explained/

Why you shouldn’t respond to ‘Black lives matter’ with ‘All lives matter’: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/why-you-shouldnt-respond-to-black-lives-matter-with-all-lives-matter-my-2-cents/ar-BB14ZRog

These links explore the very real problems of police brutality and racism:

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/17/police-use-of-force-depends-upon-the-race-of-the-suspect/

https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/05/our-criminal-courts-are-inherently-racist/

White Supremacists and related people falsely Accuse Black Lives Matters protesters and other minorities of violence

People who are opposed to civil rights progress have a long history of trying to smear civil rights groups and their organizers. That was true for Dr. Martin Luther King and it remains true today with Black Lives Matter. The following examples illustrate that point, and show how BLM and minorities are being falsely blamed, and how many attacks on people and police are simply made up stories. The same is true for cases where white people have been found committing a crime themselves, while trying to pin the blame on some random black person. So, when you see a news article or facebook post blaming protesters for violence or property damage, please be skeptical and realize there is a very good chance that you’ll later learn that it was an attempt to falsely blame protesters or black people in general.

Fox Lake, Illinois Police Officer Committed Suicide After Years of ‘Extensive Criminal Acts’: The investigation found the lieutenant had been committing “extensive criminal acts,” including stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post over the past seven years, officials said. Thousands of dollars were used for personal purchases, including adult websites, officials said. Authorities determined Gliniewicz intentionally left a staged trail at the crime scene to try to mislead first responders that this was a homicide scene. Gliniewicz had significant experience staging mock crime scenes as a part of his job, officials said. When staging his suicide, he falsely claimed that a black man was among those attacking him. https://abcnews.go.com/US/authorities-reveal-conclusive-results-shooting-death-fox-lake/story?id=34961028

A cop’s wife faked home robbery, blamed Black Lives Matter, police say: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/massachusetts-cops-wife-faked-robbery-indicated-black-lives-matter-police-say/

A Firefighter charged with setting fire to own home — and blaming it on Black Lives Matter: https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/new-york-firefighter-charged-with-setting-fire-to-own-home-and-blaming-it-on-black-lives-matter/

Two White people get gaught tagging “BLM” on a store: https://thinkamericana.com/two-white-protesters-get-caught-tagging-blm-on-store-get-call/

White supremacists pose as Antifa online, call for violence: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/tech/antifa-fake-twitter-account/index.html

A piece of racist propaganda was circulated in an attempt to smear the Black Lives Matter movement: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/blm-flyer-enemy-of-people/

Fake ‘Kill A White’ flyers in Edinburgh have nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, say activists. The inflammatory flyers call for white people, police and white MPs to be killed, Black Lives Matter campaigners in the capital believe they were created by “right-wing groups” to smear the anti-racism campaign: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/fake-kill-white-flyers-edinburgh-18423128.amp

A man welcomed dozens of protesters into his home as police ‘pinned’ them on street. This had been falsely reported and spread online as a home invasion, but rather it was the home owner actively inviting the protesters (who he supported) into his own home to help save the protesters from the violence police officers: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/02/dc-protesters-welcomed-into-rahul-dubey-home-police/5317028002/

Fact Check: Vietnam Memorial NOT Defaced By Rioters During Protests Following George Floyd’s Death: https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/06/fact-check-vietnam-memorial-not-defaced-during-protests-and-rioting-following-george-floyds-death.html

When 27-year-old Samantha Shader was first arrested for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at police, she told detectives that the supplies—including glass bottles—were given to her by a group of Black men and women, according to federal court records. But weeks later, on Friday, police arrested a white man who admitted to providing the materials. Prosecutors said that Shader, who was allegedly caught on camera hurling the bottle toward the police vehicle, has been previously arrested 11 times in 11 states: https://www.thedailybeast.com/protester-samantha-schader-tried-to-blame-black-man-for-molotov-cocktail-supplied-then-nypd-found-a-note?ref=home

Two drunk white college students, who witnesses alleged were using racial slurs according to news reports, tore down the statue of Frederick Douglass. 20-year-old John Boedicker of Endicott and 21-year-old Charles Milks of Kenmore were arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Many initial reports and articles falsely blamed Black Lives Matters protesters for this crime, insinuating that the BLM protesters were so stupid as to not understand that Frederick Douglass was actually a former slave who had escaped slavery to become a powerful voice against slavery. https://13wham.com/news/local/police-two-males-damage-frederick-douglass-statue

Following a review of hundreds of photos and over 50 videos from the scene, Oaklandside reports that tear gas canisters shot by police during the demonstration against the slaying of George Floyd — not protesters with (per police) “Molotov cocktails” — that caused a fire that damaged Buffet Fortuna, one of Oakland Chinatown’s largest restaurants. https://sf.eater.com/2020/7/7/21315944/oakland-police-protest-boby-guys-nyum-bai-belcampo-daily-driver-hella-bagels

Citizens of Virginia and the rest of the country were shocked as headlines across the internet reported that a Fauquier County Sheriff’s Deputy was found unconscious on the roadside after being attacked by people driving a black SUV. The blue line supporters came out in full force driving home the narrative that there is a war on cops. However, after police began investigating the incident, they quickly found out that no attack ever happened and the cop who made up the false claim that he had been attacked was arrested: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-arrested-after-manhunt-launched-for-an-attack-he-faked-on-himself/

Riots in downtown Richmond over the weekend were instigated by white supremacists under the guise of Black Lives Matter, according to law enforcement officials. https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/2020/07/27/police-richmond-riots-instigated-by-white-supremacists-disguised-as-black-lives-matter/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=wsls10

Police say ‘Umbrella Man’ was a white supremacist trying to incite George Floyd rioting: https://www.startribune.com/police-umbrella-man-was-a-white-supremacist-trying-to-incite-george-floyd-rioting/571932272/

New York State Cop Allowed to Retire After Making Phony 911 Alleging He Was Shot By Black Youths, Mayor Claimed Retirement Is ‘Least Expensive Way’ To Get Rid of Him: https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/08/17/new-york-state-cop-allowed-to-retire-after-making-phony-911-alleging-he-was-shot-by-black-youths-mayor-claimed-retirement-is-least-expensive-way-to-get-rid-of-him/

Texas hunters who blamed immigrants actually shot each other, cops say: The hunters told police they suspected the shooters were undocumented immigrants they had seen on the ranch earlier in their trip. Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller. But it was a lie, according to police and, now, a grand jury. Investigators determined that guides Walker Daughetry and Michael Bryant in fact shot at one another by accident, striking Daughetry and hunter Edwin Roberts in the process. Daughetry and Bryant were indicted for third-degree felonies last Wednesday. https://thinkprogress.org/texas-hunters-who-blamed-immigrants-actually-shot-each-other-cops-say-5607b0145119/

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. This one is bogus, even though it was shared widely on social media. Here are the facts:
CLAIM: Photos show four police officers who were injured by Democrats and Black Lives Matter rioters over the weekend in Portland, Seattle and nearby cities.
THE FACTS: The officers in the photos weren’t injured at U.S. protests — in fact, they were on the other side of the world. . . Research into the origin of the photos reveals they were all taken in Australia — and not over the weekend. https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2020/08/did-you-see-photos-of-officers-supposedly-injured-last-weekend-in-nw-cities-the-facts-dont-check-out.html

Fact check: Trump shares White nationalist’s video in retweet falsely blaming Black Lives Matter for 2019 subway assault. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/politics/fact-check-trump-subway-assault-black-lives-matter-antifa/index.html

Officials confirm that the social media rumors of Black Lives Matters and Antifa setting the devastating wildfires are untrue and ask people to stop sharing those untrue rumors. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/10/us/antifa-wildfires.html

Officer Goulart’s “ambush” story began to fall apart. Investigators realized there was no ambush and officer Goulart shot himself in the leg. Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Goulart was arrested for faking his own ambush. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on one count of criminal mischief and one count of malfeasance in office: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-shot-during-ambush-arrested-because-he-actually-shot-himself-and-made-it-all-up/

A white Texas man accused of killing the mother of his daughter disguised himself in blackface to commit the act, police say. https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/10/09/cops-say-murder-suspect-wore-blackface-and-fake-beard-to-kill-his-daughters-mother-witnesses-initially-identified-suspect-as-a-black-man/

For the people who are tired of protests and activism surrounding police brutality and racism

I am entirely unconcerned about people who are inconvenienced by seeing a protest, or seeing activism on Facebook. If you think that seeing a protest or having Black Lives Matters show up in your facebook newsfeed is tiring, let me assure you that actually experiencing racism and abuse from the police is a lot more upsetting and exhausting. If you want to see Black Lives Matters protests go away, then take action to solve the problem that causes the protests. Expect the protests and activism to continue until the problem is resolved.

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All opinions are not of equal value

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In recent weeks I’ve seen a significant uptick in debates where people seem to take the view that their uninformed opinion on racism, civil rights, and police brutality are of equal weight to an informed opinion. That just isn’t the case. This is a somewhat long post, but I’ll try to be as brief as I can without skipping anything important.

A couple of years ago I hurt my shoulder in a martial arts accident. I could tell something was quite wrong right away. I was unable to pickup my children, or even lift my hand above my head without pain. So, I went to my doctor. He said that he thought there was something torn, but that I would need to see an orthopedic specialist. I was given a referral to an orthopedic doctor who was an expert when it came to shoulders. After a few minutes of talking to me, that orthopedic doctor said he was pretty sure I had torn the labrum in my shoulder. An MRI proved the doctor correct, and I had surgery. My shoulder is essentially good as new and I’m back to martial arts with no restrictions.

The reason I mention that story is because it really illustrates a point that some people are missing these days. One person’s ignorance is not as good as another person’s knowledge. When it comes to shoulders, I don’t know much. I’m not a doctor. I didn’t even know what a labrum was until the doctor told me that I had torn mine. It would be nonsensical to think that my thoughts or opinions on my shoulder injury were worth anything in comparison to the orthopedic doctor’s thoughts and opinions. Even my regular doctor’s opinions on my shoulder were greatly surpassed by the specialist doctor’s opinion. That makes sense, as a doctor who spends all day working on shoulders should be the most knowledgeable about that part of the body.

Getting back to the issue at hand, during these last few week issues of racism, police brutality, and civil rights have been discussed more widely than at anytime in the last 50 years. There have been massive protests, some riots, curfews, and real changes to the law enacted in response. That has also caused a lot of people to develop and share opinions on the subject.

I’ve had several people I know express opinions on racism, policing, civil rights, protests, etc. In many of those cases, the opinion expressed is the sort of superficial opinion that could be expected from someone who lacks education and experience on subject. Just as I had friends with no medical experience who expressed disagreement with the orthopedic doctor’s diagnosis and treatment of my shoulder, I now have friends who lack any knowledge or education on this issue loudly proclaiming ridiculous things when it comes to the civil rights issues gripping the country.

There are a great many things in the world that I don’t know much about. But I do know a good deal about racism, policing, and the law. I’m black, and my earliest memory of the police involves a cop falsely accusing my parents of shoplifting a baby carrier from a toy store. That toy store didn’t even have the baby carrier that my parents were using to hold my sister. I’ve dealt with racist cops throughout my personal life, and have had those cops make up false traffic charges. I’ve dealt with racism in school, and at work. The last time someone called me a racial slur to my face was this year. Professionally, I’m a lawyer and have seen the racial bias in our criminal justice system. I have represented clients in civil rights cases against the police. I have studied this area of law extensively, both in law school and in the decade since then. This is an area where I am an expert. While my opinions on medical matters, plumbing, roofing, boating, and a whole host of other areas are worth nothing, when it comes to criminal law, police misconduct, and racism, I know what I’m talking about.

We would all do well to recognize the limits of our knowledge and ability. Just because a person is entitled to hold and express their opinion, it doesn’t follow that their opinion has much (or any) intrinsic value.

Confederate statues and “destroying history”

Confederate statues are not “history” but rather efforts to give a giant middle finger to civil rights progress. The article below makes that point clear, explaining the timing, location, and motivations of the people who put up those statues. In a nutshell, those statues were put up by white supremacists in response to civil rights progress that they didn’t like.

Beyond that, the confederates are losers who took up arms against their country, and slaughtered good American soldiers to try and perpetuate slavery. People like that are unworthy of glorification by statues.

As a further example, consider the case of Iowa. Iowa was in the Union during the civil war. Many soldiers from Iowa gave their lives to put a stop to the the confederacy. Confederate terrorists entered at the border with Missouri and raided Iowa, killing Iowa farmers. Yet in the year 2007, a confederate monument was erected in Iowa. That is entirely about promoting white supremacy. It isn’t “history” to glorify those murderous traitors.

Taking down statues that glorify evil people is not “erasing history.” You don’t see statues honoring Hitler, yet we certainly haven’t erased the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazis from history. Instead, we teach about evils of the Nazi party, and have museums dedicated to ensuring no one forgets. The same approach should be applied to the confederates.

A good article that explains the situation in much more detail: https://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544266880/confederate-statues-were-built-to-further-a-white-supremacist-future

Systematic racism is real

Although the existence and effects of systematic racism are well studied, there are still some people who try to deny its existence.  The following links should help clear up any confusion.

Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology: https://www.thoughtco.com/systemic-racism-3026565

Finally, an explanation of systemic racism that won’t put you to sleep: https://www.vox.com/2015/4/23/8482799/systemic-racism-explained-examples

Fourteen examples of systemic racism in the US criminal justice system: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2010/07/26/fourteen-examples-systemic-racism-us-criminal-justice-system

A DEA agent speaks out about how he was directed to enforce drug laws in poor minority communities, but to leave affluent white drug users alone: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/dea-agent-drug-laws-intentionally-rich-communities/

Eight videos that explain systemic racism: https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism

Systemic racism is real, by Ben and Jerry’s: https://www.benjerry.com/home/whats-new/2016/systemic-racism-is-real

VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer clearly explains systemic racism, mostly for a white audience seeking to understand: https://theweek.com/speedreads/920727/veggietales-creator-phil-vischer-clearly-explains-systemic-racism-mostly-white-audience-seeking-understand

Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism,” often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. When you consider that much of the criminal justice system was built, honed and firmly established during the Jim Crow era — an era almost everyone, conservatives included, will concede rife with racism — this is pretty intuitive. The modern criminal justice system helped preserve racial order — it kept black people in their place. For much of the early 20th century, in some parts of the country, that was its primary function. That it might retain some of those proclivities today shouldn’t be all that surprising: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/opinions/systemic-racism-police-evidence-criminal-justice-system/

A Public Service Announcement

PSA: Just because you can dig up a Youtube video of a black guy saying racism doesn’t exist, or a Jewish person who says Hitler was right, or a woman who opposes the ability of other women to vote, it is not evidence that any of those things are true.

But, it may be compelling evidence that you are a bigot who is grasping at straws to justify your bigotry. To be sure that doesn’t apply to everyone sharing videos/posts like that, but it certainly does apply to many of them.

Trump, Race, and Police Brutality

I’ve spent a fair amount of time debating President Trump and his actions as to race and police brutality.   I’ve put together this page to have my links and information I would provide in those debates conveniently available.

 

Trump undid Department of Justice reforms that were putting a stop to police brutality and holding the police accountable: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/trumps-george-floyd-obama-protest-police-violence-kneeling.html

Trump pardoned former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, preventing Arpaio from facing the criminal consequences of his repeated violations of civil rights: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/a-flagrant-assault-on-latino-civil-rights/538119/

Trump tells police to rough up people when making an arrest: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-police-nice-suspects/story?id=48914504

Trump defended the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville on Tuesday, saying they included “some very fine people,” while expressing sympathy for their demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/trump-defends-white-nationalist-protesters-some-very-fine-people-on-both-sides/537012/

Trump opposes NFL players peacefully and silently kneeling to protest police brutality, saying ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field’ : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/22/donald-trump-nfl-national-anthem-protests

Trump took out a newspaper ad, calling for the execution of the Central Park 5, who were in fact innocent and later exonerated. Trump never apologized, and in fact even after the exoneration of those innocent black men he said he believed they were actually guilty: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/17/central-park-five-donald-trump-jogger-rape-case-new-york

John O’Donnell, who had been president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump saying,“ Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys wearing yarmulkes… Those are the only kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else…Besides that, I tell you something else. I think that’s guy’s lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks.” O’Donnell’s report was shocking, but Trump did not contest it at the time. In 1997 he was interviewed for Playboy by author Mark Bowden and he confirmed that the O’Donnell book was “probably true.” https://fortune.com/2016/06/07/donald-trump-racism-quotes/

Trump engaged in racial discrimination as to housing. The Justice Department’s 1973 lawsuit against Trump Management Company focused on 39 properties in New York City, where Trump’s employees were directed to tell African American lease applicants that there were no open apartments. Company policy, according to an employee quoted in court documents, was to rent only to “Jews and executives.” During a coffee break in a deposition about that discrimination case, Trump stated “You know, you don’t want to live with them either” as he referred to black people. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/06/trump-racism-comments/588067/

US President Donald Trump has retweeted a video showing one of his supporters loudly shouting “white power”: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53212685

Fact check: Trump shares White nationalist’s video in retweet falsely blaming Black Lives Matter for 2019 subway assault. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/politics/fact-check-trump-subway-assault-black-lives-matter-antifa/index.html

President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups. He did tell the Proud Boys, a violent racist group to “stand back and stand by.” Proud Boys leaders and supporters later celebrated the president’s words on social media. A channel on Telegram, an instant messaging service, with more than 5,000 of the group’s members posted “Stand Back” and “Stand By” above and below the group’s logo. https://chicago.suntimes.com/elections/2020/9/30/21495159/trump-debate-stand-back-stand-by-proud-boys

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on Thursday’s meeting told NBC News. Trump’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the nations referred to by Trump also included El Salvador. The U.N. human rights office said the comments, if confirmed, were “shocking and shameful” and “racist.” https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/trump-referred-haiti-african-countries-shithole-nations-n836946

A lengthy article on Trump’s racism, stretching back as far as the 1970s: https://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12270880/donald-trump-racist-racism-history

Another laundry list of Trump’s racist words and actions: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/01/15/opinion/leonhardt-trump-racist.html

To my friends and “family” who turn a blind eye to racism and police violence

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There is something that I don’t understand, and which I’m hoping someone can help me understand.

I know people (on facebook and in real life) who don’t seem to care about the police violence that has led to civil unrest. I have people that I call friends and even family who have not said a single word when it comes to the ongoing, well documented, and pervasive problem of police brutality. Even more confusing to me are the ones who not only remain silent about violence perpetrated by the police, but go as far as to post “back the blue” type messages this week.

So, in all seriousness I ask how you can consider me a friend if you don’t care about the fact that a police officer could almost certainly murder me and get away with it?

How can you claim to love my children if you choose not to take even 1 minute out of your day to oppose police violence that could one day claim their lives?

If you’re not only silent on police violence but are actively promoting the police now, what value do you place on my life and the lives of my children?