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. Continue reading “Noisy neighbors”

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
Continue reading “October rambling #1: Thoughts and Prayers App”

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 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.”
Continue reading “Keith Lamont Scott of Charlotte, NC”