Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old boy who was playing in a Cleveland, Ohio park with a toy gun. Someone called 911 and reported that a “juvenile” was pointing a gun at passersby and that the gun was probably a toy. Two city police officers named Loehmann and Garmback arrived on the scene in separate cars. Critical information had NOT been related to them: they were not told that Tamir was a child, nor that Tamir appeared to be playing with a toy gun. It appears, however, that within two minutes of arriving on the scene Officer Loehmann had taken out his real gun, aimed, opened fire, and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice.
It is unclear to me how anyone, including a trained police officer, can assess a scene in under two minutes. It is unclear how a grown man can not recognize the difference between a child with a toy gun and a threatening adult. It is equally unclear to me how anyone with a conscience can ever again sleep at night after shooting a child to death. Yet two “independent experts” in police shootings stated that this police shooting was justified and/or reasonable.
In South Carolina, a female high-school student refused to leave the classroom, and security was called. The so-called “school resource officer,” Ben Fields, confronted the girl, grabbed her, and then turned over her desk with her in it, throwing her on the floor in the process. He then dragged her out of the classroom while choking her. Of course, everything was caught on a cell-phone video. Another student, who complained about her classmate’s treatment by calling out “Stop! What are you doing to her?” (or something along those lines), was then arrested for interfering. The security guard has since been fired – but was this the best way to handle a teenager?
America is simply too violent. It seems the only way we try to resolve a dispute is with a gun. Shoot first and asked questions later. It’s as if we live in the Wild, Wild West with Wyatt Earp and John Wesley Hardin, who once shot a man for snoring. Where is Wild Bill Hickok? We have to have a better way of resolving our differences.
Continue reading Violence in America
Had a great dinner with Linda Monk, constitutional scholar and great friend.
Another shooting. It is so crazy. I would say, “Something would happen in this country if there were…” But we’ve seen almost every scenario imaginable. We’ve seen a shooting in the middle of an army base. Fort Hood. We’ve seen a shooting in the middle of a elementary school. Sandy Hook. These horrors simply keep happening. Aaron Alexis, someone with mental illness, opened fire and killed 14. The Washington Post has several great articles. There’s one about the anatomy of the shooting with exactly what happened inside of building 197. Then there’s more and more background on the shooter, Aaron Alexis. As I’ve mentioned before, I think we have to approach this problem from two separate vantage points. First of all, we have to do a better job of taking care of mental illness in this country. Secondly, too many people have too many guns (recent study shows that more guns equals more gun violence). Gun ownership is a privilege. If you had a run-in with the law in Seattle which seems to suggest mental illness, you really shouldn’t have a gun a decade later unless you’ve proven to be mentally stable. I guess the biggest question that remains unanswered is how did this gentleman, Aaron Alexis, pass a background check? How was he allowed on a Navy shipyard?
Oh, by the way, I didn’t talk about the election that was going on in Colorado. Colorado voters who were infuriated over their representatives’ having the audacity to pass a bill that limits gun violence, had a special recall election. Basically, the NRA decided that they did not want two progressive state Senators and signed a petition to have both senators removed. Yes, the actual details are more complex, but that’s basically what happened. There was a special election which included many special caveats, like no absentee ballots, which seem to always benefit the conservative candidates. The bottom line is that two progressive senators are out and 2 NRA stooges are in. DKos has more – 1) Core Democratic groups (Latinos, African Americans, youth voters, single women) have the worst voter performance, and 2) Republicans will do everything they can to prevent our people from voting.
The news media erupted yesterday with the news that the United States government, our government, is spying on its own citizens. Domestic Spying. I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. Weren’t we just talking about this a couple years ago? It was just six or seven years ago when we found out that the Bush administration, through the NSA and other agencies, was listening in on our conversations. We were told that this was necessary in order to combat terrorism. Since the initial revelation, we came to understand that the Bush administration was mischaracterizing (or lying, depending upon your perspective) about the extent of the domestic spying program. Initially, we were told that the domestic spying program only involved overseas switches in which the NSA would scan American foreign calls. Slowly but surely we found out that this program was far more extensive. Conservatives told us not to worry. Now, when conservatives find out that the Obama administration has been continuing this exact same program, there is outrage. From my standpoint, I have no idea whether this program is helping to keep Americans safe or if it is an unnecessary violation of our privacy. As I understand the program the NSA is allowed to collect a bunch of data, but they’re not able to look at individual calls or listen to individual calls unless they go back to the FISA court and ask for permission.
I must admit I have not been following the case of a man who asked for an escort and then shot that woman for not performing sexual acts. Somehow, the accused man was able to convince a jury that it was okay to kill a prostitute because under Texas law you can use deadly force to retrieve stolen property. Yep, I don’t understand it either.
Our whole culture around sexual assault and rape seems to be completely backwards to American ideals. A Fox News host was “baffled” that MSNBC was covering the military sexual assault hearings. She said, “Sex crimes in a military, they are a real issue. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to poo poo it and say it’s not. What baffles me though is the way they prioritize these issues. The timing and the tone of them. If these were liberal groups targeted by George W. Bush, they would not be covering sex assault in the military. … Why is MSNBC devoting so much time to this issue when, as David Axelrod points out, there are so many other issues to deal with?” First of all, I find the statement mind-boggling. Why isn’t this a big story? Why shouldn’t this be promoted? Should the military be forced to change their ways? Shouldn’t Americans be informed about this issue that has been swept under the carpet for way too long?
What stories are you following today?