Chauvin is guilty, guilty, guilty- and now?

“We can be better than this”

Derek ChauvinBefore I heard that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter, I was sitting in front of my computer, waiting for about a half-hour. My wife was downstairs in front of the TV, likewise waiting. I’m sure my daughter was doing the same on her phone.

When I heard the news, I felt a little numb, to be honest. No fist pump. But I did exhale, as though I had been holding my breath. Maybe, unconsciously, I was.

Though I only watched bits and pieces of the trial, I felt distraught, primarily over the re-traumatization of the people who watched George Floyd die, afraid to interfere with four cops on the scene. And I was infuriated when the defense suggested that the gathering was a “distraction” to Chauvin.

To be honest, I decided that he’d be found guilty of the manslaughter charge. But finding a cop guilty of murder? Certainly, the prosecution made the case.

But this got me wondering what it means for the future. This was a case featuring about three dozen prosecution witnesses, including several police officers.

A change is gonna come?

I keep hearing this case is an “inflection point.” What the heck does that mean? “An event that results in a significant change in the progress of a company, industry, sector, economy, or geopolitical situation and can be considered a turning point after which a dramatic change, with either positive or negative results, is expected to result.”

So does this signal real change? Or is it a one-off, involving an act so egregious, and seen so widely, that the jury HAD to convict? And just wait for the appeals after sentencing. The alternate juror, speaking to CBS News, acknowledged that, at least in her mind, the violence from last summer, and the potential for more, was on her mind. Undoubtedly, Maxine Waters’ ill-timed remarks, made before the jury was sequestered, will surely be introduced as well.

I suppose I should appreciate the conviction as perhaps a small gain for police accountability. Still, as one advocate said, there are “no victories today,” for “justice would mean George Floyd is still with us.”

Nearly 29 years ago to the day, the streets of Los Angeles were filled with people rioting after the police officers who beat Rodney King were found not guilty.

The litany of unarmed black citizens injured or killed at the hand of police officers who were acquitted or never charged, just since then, is staggering. Do I need to repeat it?

Moreover, the verdict doesn’t erase the fear that “many of us, particularly Black people, have of interacting with police.” Put another way, being black isn’t exhausting;  racism is exhausting.

The verdict is in. The work continues.

Change the trajectory

Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian wrote this: “Until we find collective solutions, until we admit and grapple with our tortured racial history, we will continue to suffer the effects of this pernicious malignance consuming the soul of the nation. Now is not the time to shrink from the task, though, nor is it the time to give in to cynicism.

“It is the time to join with all who believe in the promise of America. It is the time to say, “we can be better than this.” It is time to redouble our efforts to build a more perfect union. Justice is so beautiful when it is applied fairly.”

Philando Castile homicide has wrecked me

‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless?’

In the roster of black men killed by police and available on video, the brutal, and totally unnecessary death of Philando Castile, and the acquital of the police officer who shot him, has hit me the hardest. As Trevor Noah said on the Daily Show, “I won’t lie to you, when I watched this video, it broke me.”

In case you can’t keep up with WHICH miscarriage of American justice this was:

“After Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez politely informs Castile that he’s been pulled over for a broken taillight and asks for Castile’s license and insurance, Castile calmly discloses that he has a firearm (Castile had a permit to carry the gun). Then the situation rapidly devolves. Yanez places his hand on his holster and tells Castile not to reach for the gun; within a few seconds, Yanez is yelling ‘Don’t pull it out!’ as Castile and his girlfriend try to assure Yanez that no one is grabbing for it. Then Yanez fires seven times into the car.”

Yes, watching videos of police brutality can traumatize you, especially if you’re black. “Research suggests that repeated viewing of terrorism news coverage can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Though Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, had previously streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live, the moment of the shooting itself was not made available to the public until this week.”

And then it gets surreal.

Moments after Yanez shot Castile, [Diamond Reynold’s] 4-year-old [daughter] climbed out of the back seat of the car in which Castile was shot…

Diamond Reynolds and her daughter were in the back of a squad car for “45 minutes until an officer drove them to a nearby police station for questioning…” While handcuffed there, “Reynolds shouted an expletive, and the girl said, ‘Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.'” The girl also wished they lived in a safer place.

I’m watching this with my teenaged daughter, and she’s crying, and I’m crying. We show it to my wife and watch it yet again, and she’s crying too.

And where’s the National Rifle Association in this? The NRA has shunned a Second Amendment martyr. “Philando Castile died because he exercised his right to bear arms.” Even the very conservative Hot Air thinks so.

“Part of the irony of this verdict, Noah explained, is that it comes after years of people saying that the solution to unwarranted police shootings is to require police to wear body cameras, to eliminate any doubt about what had happened. ‘Black people have already taken that initiative, all right?’ Thanks to cellphones, every black person has a body cam now’ — and for Castile, neither a dashcam nor a cellphone mattered.

“Even worse, Noah went on with palpable horror, is that the jury of Castile’s fellow citizens did see this footage, and concluded that Officer Yanez had reason to claim self-defense. ‘Forget race,’ Noah said. ‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless? People watched that video, and then voted to acquit?'”

The Philando Castile story hasn’t made me mad as hell. It has brought out a level of despair that even I, as melancholy as I can be, have not felt in a very long time.

Noisy neighbors

It’s 10 p.m. The Daughter and I are watching JEOPARDY! when the doorbell rings.

neighbors2You may recall an incident involving the second-floor apartment of our next-door neighbors. It’s been more fun.

OCTOBER 1 – it’s a three-day weekend for the college students on the second floor next door. The noise from the music was so loud, I went over there to ask them to turn it down around 11 p.m. It was so loud that when I was POUNDING on the door, it took about three minutes to be heard.

The music returns. The Daughter cannot sleep. I go out in front, talking to the neighbors on the front porch, warning them I would call the police if the music didn’t lessen. BTW, it wasn’t just music. It was loud and constant conversation, punctuated by occasional WOOs.

OCTOBER 2 – Redux. I call the police non-emergency number at the stroke of 11 p.m. Music diminishes, and I go to sleep. But at 12:30, music volume returns, and while I slept through it, The Wife awoke. Finally, at 1:15 a.m., she called the police. Neither of us knew that the other had called until morning.

OCTOBER 7- I’m home in the morning with a sick child. The doorbell rings. It’s a guy from the other side of the problem house. He wants to know if it was a problem for us (oh, YES), if we had called the police (yes, twice), and whether HE ought to call the police if he’s bothered by their noise (absolutely). I want it made clear that it is not just us who are inconvenienced, and TIRED.

OCTOBER 8 – It’s 10 p.m. The Daughter and I are watching JEOPARDY! when the doorbell rings; it’s the police. They had gotten a report of a loud party at OUR house, but it is instantly clear to them that this is not the case. I theorize that this may be in retaliation for our calls. The police go over to visit them.

Later, the music got a little loud, but not as bad as the other nights. It was soft enough that my white noise machine, which The Wife had purchased a couple of Christmases ago, blocked the noise.

OCTOBER 9 and 10 – The Wife and I, separately, see the absentee landlord and tell him of our woes. He told me that, as a result of my spouse’s conversation with him, he had had a chat with them.

It’s been OK since then. We have heard them talking at 4 a.m. occasionally, but not loudly enough to complain, usually when they’re in the rear of their building. The houses on both sides of us are longer (deeper) than ours, and The Wife theorizes that the noise leaves the back of the one house, bounces off the other building, and echoes even louder into ours.

Also, the midterms are approaching, and as the weather gets chillier, the windows tend to be closed more often.

Meanwhile:

OCTOBER 5 – The Wife parks in front of our house, and goes inside. The Daughter, tired from soccer practice, remains in the vehicle. The adult granddaughter of our other-side neighbors – she does not live there – is going to pull in front of our car. But she rushes, likely in response to a car barreling down our street too quickly, and clips the front corner on the driver’s side.

The Daughter runs into the house to tell her mother the car has been hit. The young woman was very apologetic, and she and the Wife discuss insurance and the like. The woman’s grandparents come out, concerned. They don’t see the damage at first -our car is white – but soon enough they do. The other car is worse for wear.

OCTOBER 6

I see the male neighbor and mention in passing that The Daughter’s OK after the accident. Very soon, the entire family’s at our door, concerned and actually angry with my spouse. Why didn’t she tell them our girl was in the car? She wasn’t hurt, and it wasn’t an issue.

The Wife dealt with at least two insurance companies, had a loaner car for three days, and as of OCTOBER 19 has her car back.

October rambling #1: Thoughts and Prayers App

Ronald McDonald Is Laying Low

trumpish-indianExplaining Progressive Christianity (Otherwise Known as “Christianity”)

He was tortured by the U.S. and held without charge. Suleiman Abdullah Salim is still haunted by the prison he calls “The Darkness”

Misogyny defied: Michelle Obama’s New Hampshire speech (start at 25:00) and Dear Men from Amy Biancolli

Time to Own the Legacies of Others

Five myths about Russia

John Oliver: Police Accountability

Racist Social Media Users Have A New Code To Avoid Censorship

Yes, Preschool Teachers Really Do Treat Black And White Children Totally Differently

Confessions of a former neo-Confederate – Who believes slavery wasn’t really that bad? I did

6 million citizens blocked from voting because of felonies

The ‘Green Book’ Was a Travel Guide Just for Black Motorists, which I wrote about here, plus a PDF of the 1949 iteration

How Evan McMullin Could Win Utah And The Presidency – It’s unlikely, but far from impossible

Robin Williams’ Widow Writes A Devastating Account Of His Final Year

The Ross Perot myth

Thoughts and Prayers App

Elena Ferrante published her books anonymously, but recently, the NY Review of Books published a piece that exposed her true identity. As friend Dan notes: “None of it was relevant; I would go so far as to say it was unnecessary.” One of many critics of the unmasking

950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

Bill Warren, R.I.P.

NOT a parody: Ronald McDonald Is Laying Low Until the Clown Craze Is Over

Racer disqualified for using ChapStick?

Professor and student interaction

All Of America’s Science Nobel Prizes This Year Were Won By Immigrants

PBS’ American Experience: Tesla premieres October 18

THE FANTASTIC URSULA K. LE GUIN – The literary mainstream once relegated her work to the margins. Then she transformed the mainstream.

How to memorize scripts, part 1 and part 2

Learning YouTube tricks

Now I Know: Baby, Not Bored

Audrey Munson, the first supermodel

Tank top

Why I Stopped Wanting to Make Serious Art Films and Came to Believe Movies Should Be Fun

Extra Gum ad: The Story of Sarah & Juan

Would you pull a Coke can off the head of a skunk?

Arthur, about me asking about his blogging, or somesuch

Music

Sir Neville Marriner obit and music

Sviatoslav Richter plays Handel keyboard suite in G minor, no.9

1812 Overture

Coverville 1142: 20 fantastic Sting and Police covers

No Man’s Land -Glass Hammer

Sara Rose Wheeler: Soundtrack of my life

K-Chuck Radio: More forgotten 60’s pop music

It’s Too Late To Apologize – New Republic with lyrics

Coverville 1144: 20 Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon solo covers for Rhymin’ Simon’s 75th

Duke Ellington – East St. Louis Toodle-Oo

Let’s Have A Party Albany (1986)

Robert Morse sings “I Believe In You”

“Fan” Star Trek Original Series Clip to “Common People” by William Shatner

The World Map of Nobel Prize in Literature, including Bob Dylan

Reggie Harris music

Keith Lamont Scott of Charlotte, NC

Some gun person asked me, “Wouldn’t you feel safer having a gun?”

keithlamontscottYou’ve likely heard about the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man, at the hands of the police, specifically a black police officer. There were demonstrations that started out peacefully but turned violent for a couple of days.

Putting aside, for the moment, the grief over the untimely death of the individual, I was immediately concerned about the well-being of my “baby” sister and her adult daughter who live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Somehow it’s different when you see a massive demonstration at the corner of Trade and Tryon, and you say, “I know exactly where THAT is.”
The family, BTW, is fine. My sister and my late parents moved down there in 1974, and it was a struggle to adjust, but they seemed to have made the transition, not without some race-based difficulty.

Charlotte is the home of several banks, and there is great wealth there, but also systemic injustice. The reaction to the Scott shooting was larger than just his death, but about similar incidents in the recent past in the Queen City.

I thought Robert Reich made a good point:

Assume, for the sake of argument, that the account given by the Charlotte police of how they came to fatally shoot… Scott on [September 20] is true – that he had a handgun. Okay. So what? North Carolina is an open-carry state (like 30 other states) where a citizen has the right to walk around with a handgun.

The Charlotte police department says its officers saw Scott “inside a vehicle in the apartment complex. The subject exited the vehicle armed with a handgun. Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject.”

So exactly what illegal activity did the Charlotte police observe before they approached “the subject?” The only conclusion it’s possible to draw is that it’s illegal to carry a handgun in North Carolina if you’re African-American.

Eugene Robinson made much the same point, which is that In America, gun rights are for whites only. Some gun person asked me, “Wouldn’t you feel safer having a gun?” I said, “Hell, no!” And that was before in incidents in North Carolina and Minnesota.

The Weekly Sift went further, suggesting that there is The Asterisk* in the Bill of Rights when it comes to both the Second Amendment (right to carry arms) and Fourth Amendment (against unreasonable searches and seizures) for blacks.

A United Nations working group says U.S. police killings are reminiscent of lynching. Yow. Read about what eighteen academic studies, legal rulings, and media investigations shed light on the issue roiling America, police, and racial bias.

Strategically and philosophically, I oppose rioting. But when one’s level of outrage hits a certain threshold – remember Keith Lamont Scott, because this happens so frequently, sometimes I can’t keep track – I surely understand it.

(I didn’t even mention the death of Terrance Crutcher of Tulsa, OK at the hands of white police officer Betty Jo Shelby because the shooting appeared unjustifiable even to Donald Trump.)