All Four of George Floyd’s killers are under arrest. Now what?

This is not all just about George Floyd. It’s not just about cops killing black people.  It’s about other abuses, a culture of hubristic arrogance, demanding things of citizens that are unjust, demanding obeisance, treating people like peons.

 

These things might help:

More and better training in de-escalation techniques.

Limited immunity.  “I feared for my life” should not be a get out of jail free card with zero other evidence., No public unions. Not just police unions, no public unions.

Body cams that automatically activate- do not leave this up the officer’s discretion or opportunity- sometimes things will be too heated to fast for the officer to turn the cam on.

End no-knock raids.

Reversing the militarization of the police force.

Better screening in hiring.  Weed out people there for authority more than for helping. More frequent mental health screenings as well as regular mental health counseling and requiring minimal things that make for better mental health- such as better fitness requirements (I feel like more than a few beatings, shootings, unjust tasering happen mainly because the obese cop knows he’s not going to be able to chase anybody or use physical restraint. I say this as a morbidly obese person as well, obesity also comes with some other mental health issues).

More direct police interaction in neighborhoods, but on a personal level, get to know your people, the humans you are protecting and *serving.*

Regularly post local, city, county, state crime statistics in public spaces. This way we can spot problems and successes and use them to improve.

Offer some sort of incentive for people from the neighbourhood joining the police and staying in their own neighbourhoods- along with something like ROTC, but for police instead of military.  Tie participation to scholarships.

A database for police complaints and investigations.

Decriminalize poverty.  Deregulate.  Eliminate laws that are essentially just tax collection gigs for cops- like selling individual cigarettes from a pack, cutting hair, braiding hair, giving a pedicure (if I bring my own nail polish and want to pay my neighbour to paint my toenails, that should not involve the big nose of government.)  Make it possible for the lower 10% of the economy to do some things that help them make ends meet, bring in a bit of cash right now, not a month away and only through working for somebody else.

I don’t trust the organization Black Lives Matter, but I like the general idea of creating a neighbourhood peace force to push back on police brutality and overstepping of reasonable boundaries.  It’s not just about the deaths, it’s the overall culture that lets a police officer think it’s reasonable to  taser a a child, to smash a kid’s birthday cake, to kick a handcuffed suspect.

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From ‘If it saves even one life’ to ‘Protests are more important than stopping the pandemic’ on a dime.

Here.

Police brutality is a problem, we need to fix it. George Floyd was murdered. So was Ahmaud, and several others (they aren’t all black).  It isn’t just deaths, it’s the police unions, cop culture, this idea that policing is only protecting and serving in name, really it’s about control and power and protecting their own, closing ranks against the citizens who are supposedly being protected..

Racism is a blight and it’s wrong.

Burning down other people’s businesses, homes, neighbourhoods, breaking their windows, stealing thier stuff, these things are also wrong and contribute to a toxic society as well, a society so toxic its citizens will welcome tyranny.

I find things that make me angry on all sides, things I disagree with on all sides. and things that break my heart on all sides.

Meanwhile, people are not allowed to go to church in many areas, but they riot with impunity.  Peaceful protestors are screaming at rioters to stop it, they aren’t helping, and they are being ignored.

In one of the videos I’ve watched, a young black woman is trying to reason with two white men in skinny jeans clad all in black, with thier noodles for arms and their skateboards ,throwing things at cops.  Stop it, she begs, you aren’t helping at all she tells them, they won’t come after you, they will kill us, she screams, and one of them just shrugs and tells her ‘But they were already doing that.’ “We’re here for you,” he says.
But they aren’t.  Even if he’s right that the cops are killing black people anyway (that’s not entirely accurate, but the nuances get lost in riots), who does he think he is to choose when and where they will meet wtih pushback from the police?  Why not let the people he thinks he’s helping have the dignity of making their own decisions about when and how to come to the attention of police in riot gear?

 

 

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Shut down also costs lives

“”These financial losses have been falsely portrayed as purely economic,” wrote the four professors in The Hill on Monday. “To the contrary … we calculate that these policies will cause devastating non-economic consequences that will total millions of accumulated years of life lost in the United States, far beyond what the virus itself has caused.”

The four authors were Scott Atlas of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, John Birge of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ralph Keeney of Duke University, and Alexander Lipton of the Jerusalem Business School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The point the authors make, that lockdowns are destroying so many more cumulative years of life, is very poignant to the situation we find ourselves in. For every 1,000 lives lost to the virus, the corresponding 1,000 lives lost to the lockdown will destroy exponentially more “life years,” because the median age of those who die from the virus is 80, while the median age for deaths caused by the lockdown – those who die due to suicide, substance abuse, despair, and poverty – is much lower.”

Right? But when I bring up cancer treatments, people tell me, “Well, everybody I know is getting theirs.” As though their circle of friends is a meaningful statistic. Or I bring up job losses, “That’s just greed.” “Why aren’t they getting by on unemployment? They just have to tighten their belts a bit. Shouldn’t have overextended…”
Not everybody has unemployment. Some were self-employed in jobs deemed nonessential (refilling coke machines is essential, but not selling craft supplies which people might use to make income, entertain children, maintain sanity during a lock-down). Some were already out of work and searching for jobs and run through their unemployment.  Some essential businesses are now laying people off because the shrinking economy has also reduced their income. 
 
I was fine with shutting things down for two weeks, even three, to flatten that curve. We went from flattening the curve to ‘not until a vaccine’ for a virus nobody heard of six months ago. There are single people who have not gotten any human touch in ninety days or more. What is the cost of that? We needed to do this to protect the most vulnerable among us, we said. But we stopped families from visiting their loved ones in nursing homes and then governors in several states put covid patients IN the nursing homes, killing the people we were supposed to be protecting. 
This cannot continue.
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Small Town Living

Property Taxes came due.  We still own the Rattery.  It has done nothing but cost us money, ever, but we still own it.  IT has cost us a lot of money this last 18 months in particular.  I am hopeful we can get a reliable renter in soon.

Meanwhile, I had to pay the property taxes, and it was confusing because we sold off a piece of my heritage this last year to pay for the Malaysia trip which did not take place. It’s complicated, what with property lines and parcels marked off as they are, and the sale was between the buyers and us. They paid something last year, will be paying something this year, etc.

So there was this small parcel on which the property taxes were 5 dollars, and the house I live in, which was considerably more, and the Rattery which was middling and not pretty, and another small chunk for less than fifty, all due by May 11, but the Courthouse is closed, and previously I paid these, or my husband did, by going to the Courthouse and just standing at the counter and writing checks as explained face to, face, but I had to mail them in, only I realized I was almost out of checks (using mostly debit card these days), and I was stressed and depressed and dysfunctional and somehow I just botched it altogether. I overpaid one, underpaid another, missed two (fortunately, the smallest ones).

Paying online by credit card carried a fee of ten dollars per transaction, which is outrageous, especially when it’s twice the amount of the transaction, but I was going to bite the bullet and figure it as a tax on my own stupidity all around.  This week I got a *handwritten note* from “Sally*, Deputy Treasurer” (*not her real name) saying she’d taken the extra I paid on parcel A and applied it to parcel B, paying those two off in full, and that I had until July to pay off the taxes on the smaller two bits without penalty.  Handwritten.  I may frame it.

(We/us used here in a legal or chronological sense. There is no we/us in any meaningful sense)

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More on the Ahmaud Arbery Case

McMichaels, the ex-cop who spear-headed the two car, at least 2 guns, three man car chase of jogger Ahmaud Arbery, was forced into retirement because he  lost power to make arrests after skipping use-of-force training.

The same office that found it appropriate to refer to Arbery’s bringing a gun to a high school basketball game (and running away, never using the weapon or even pulling it out) from several years ago as a teen, did not think it was important to mention that 
“McMichael’s law enforcement certification was suspended in February 2019 after repeated failures to complete required training, according to documents from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office, including a warning in 2014 that he had neglected to finish mandatory firearms and use-of-force courses.”

I get that some of us are jaded after the whole Ferguson, hands-up debacle.  I definitely am.  I have egg on my face over that one, and I hesitated to say anything about this one because I sure blew it there. I was entirely too trusting.  Another good friend of mine tried to explain with sound and gentle reason why statistics made Ahmaud justifiably suspicious on the day he was killed.

I don’t know about that. Good statistics are probably mostly helpful when thinking about large problems, groups, issues, solutions, big pictures, less so when looking at a single human being- especially when he’s unarmed and you’re chasing him down the road armed and loaded, using two cars to play chicken with him and block him.

Or when you, armed and in your two vehicles with your son and a pal chase an unarmed man on foot for four minutes.

Interesting and strange factoid- McMichael Sr. himself is behind the leaking of the clip of video footage of his son shooting Arbery.  He thought it would help his case and calm racial tensions- at least that’s what the lawyer he gave it to says.  That is highly interesting for a couple reasons.  There are a few people out there who insist that they see nothing wrong with the footage, Travis is justified in shooting Ahmaud.  But the vast majority of even those defending the McMichaels do so by saying we don’t have full context, there must be something else outside the video range, or before the filming started, that will justify them.  Hardly anybody but the McMichaels think that the filming he had released actually helps him out, and virtually nobody on earth thinks it ‘eases racial tensions’ at all- so why does he see the world so differently?

I would posit it’s because of his LEO background.  I know traditional law and order conservatives don’t like to hear it, and don’t want to believe it, but there is a sense of us vs them, a sense of strong entitlement, an expectation that if they are speaking, we had best be listening and obeying.  To McMichaels and those defending him, the problem didn’t start when Arbery stood up and fought for his life- it started when he didn’t just freeze and submit to the demands of McMichaels to stop and submit to whatever McMichaels told him to submit to, to answer his questions as though he had any sort of authority to make those demands on another human being.  That world view is at odds with what the law actually requires. Worse, it’s at odds with a proper respect for and care not to abuse what authority legitimate cops do have.  I know I will be hearing, ‘but not all cops,’ and ‘but the good cops.’

I don’t want to believe it, either. I want it not to be true. But I don’t think it is true.  Part of what would go in to the making of a good cop, in my opinion, would be admitting this hubris exists and is part of the make-up of the police force, it would include more standing up against the bad cops than I see happening.

Something else to consider here- McMichaels released the footage himself, thinking it helped his case- but where did he get it? It wasn’t his.  It was his neighbour and friend William “Roddy” Bryan who filmed it with his cell phone from his vehicle behind the McMichaels.

He was recently arrested.  He was charged with attempted murder and false imprisonment.

“The warrant for William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. alleges he ‘did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority … utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions’ in the 20 minutes before the fatal shotgun blasts.”

He filmed a part of the chase and the final shooting.  He followed the McMichaels, and according to them and the police report, he helped chase Ahmaud (he denies that now) and helped block him in, contributing to the growing sense of being trapped Ahmad must have felt in his last moments alive. He is behind the McMichael’s truck, filming (not helping, not calling 911, not stepping out and shouting to his neighbours, who are his friends, “What are you doing?”  Not the actions of an innocent bystander)- when Ahmaud tries to run around the passenger side of the McMichael’s truck, his exit is blocked by Roddy, who is in his car filming, and he has two armed men at his back.  That is the point he turned and fought for his life.

Bryan’s involvement according to the police report:

“The McMichaels tried to cut off Mr. Arbery during the chase, according to Mr. McMichael’s account, and Mr. Arbery tried to avoid them by turning around and running in the other direction. At that point, Mr. Bryan “attempted to block him, which was unsuccessful,” according to the report.

Mr. Arbery then turned onto another street, and the McMichaels got in front of him while Mr. Bryan pursued from behind and began filming.”

Bryan’s involvement is also taken as a fact by George E. Barnhill, the district attorney in Waycross, Ga, the second proscutor in the case.  He eventually recused himself, when it was discovered that his son worked with McMichael’s Sr.   But before he did, he gave an account of the event which included Bryan as part of the trio in ‘hot pursuit’ against Ahmaud.  (more here)

Roddy Bryan says he was a good samaritan.  His lawyer’s chosen defense of him seems to be that he’s a dolt with only a high school education and in Georgia that isn’t saying much.  No, really, That’s what his lawyer says!

The McMichaels daughter, 30, posted an unedited photograph of Ahmaud’s dead body to her Snapchat.  She took it down later, saying she meant no harm, but was just a big fan of true crime stories.  I find that more than a little creepy and disturbing. It’s probably the least important thing in this post, though.

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