His Future For A Carton Of Free Milk

At Graham Park Middle School in Prince William County, VA they have a strange idea about educating students. They insisted on having 15-year-old Ryan Turk, suspended from school and charged with larceny for allegedly stealing a carton of milk from the lunch line valued at 65 cents. This “theft” is of milk Ryan was already entitled to free due to his participation in the school’s free lunch program. The incident happened May 10, 2016, and he’s scheduled to go to trial in November.

Ryan indicated he forgot to get a carton of milk when he initially passed through the line and went back to get it. The School Resource Officer (SRO) grabbed Ryan according to his mother and Ryan admits to “yanking away” and telling the officer to “get off me, you’re not my dad.” Because of his “resistance,” he was handcuffed by the on-duty Prince William County Police Officer and ultimately charged with larceny and suspended from school for “concealing” the free milk. Also noted in the suspension was that Ryan was allegedly “disrespectful” and used his cell phone.

Ryan Turk is getting an education in Virginia, not I think the one they imagine. He’s been introduced to the Classroom to Prison Pipeline where children become introduced to the Criminal Justice System at an early age because schools choose to hand off discipline to the police instead of taking responsibility on their own. It goes without saying that the students most often arrested, suspended and expelled are of color. No doubt the prism they’re seen thru makes them appear “disrespectful” as opposed to willful or boisterous like their white counterparts. If Ryan Turk had placed his hands on the officer the way he was handled that would be assault. Apparently, the officer (who all this time has gone unnamed) has a different set of rules when manhandling children.

I wonder is there nowhere an adult involved who’ll recognize the schools and the police have taken this way too far. Is there no one to say there was no crime, this is not the appropriate way to proceed. A Principal, the police department, a district attorney? This calls for protest. This calls for shaming the school and the court for not immediately dismissing these charges. I encourage all that read this to call the school at (703) 221-2118 and express your outrage. Pass this along and others to do the same. Who that has a child or grandchild can say with certainty this could never happen to them?

Lastly, go to Being Black At School  and look for a way you can help whether it be by buying a book or making a donation. We ignore this situation at the peril of us all.

Say One More Name: Alfred Olango

When Alfred Olango’s sister called 911 yesterday, she wanted to get him some help. She made sure to tell them he was “mentally ill. “I called three times for them to help me,” she said. “Nobody came; they said it’s not a priority.”

El Cajon, CA is about 15 miles Northeast of San Diego. It’s around 69% white and 6% black according to the last census. An unarmed black man is just as dead there as in Tulsa, OK or Cleveland, OH or North Charleston, SC. Witnesses are unsure if Alfred Olango was having a seizure or what the exact nature of his distress was? He was acting erratic and walking in traffic according to reports. They are certain he was shot multiple times. It’s reported that up to twenty police officers arrived on the scene before the ambulance finally arrived. His sister said he died on the scene. Other reports say he died later at a local hospital. All agree on his death.

Police say Alfred had his hands in his pockets and ultimately pulled something out of his pocket, assumed a “shooting stance” while pointing the object at the police. At least one witness say Alfred had his hands up. Another confirms portions of the police story. A woman voluntarily provided a cell phone video to the police. They released one still photo showing Mr. Olango pointing at an officer in a stance. There will be calls to release the rest of the video. We’ll see if transparency extends to all the evidence and not just a single frame supporting the police side? His sister said to police, “I just called for help, and you came and killed him.”

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The facts will sort themselves out. We know police knew when responding that it was a “5150 Call” and that the victim was demonstrating mental instability. The area has a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) for just such occasions, they were not brought in. We know that Alfred Olango was unarmed. He’s now dead. He was 30.

Protesters in Charlotte have not yet put down their signs before we have another man dead across the country. Protests have begun along with calls for transparency. The cycle begins anew. Time for a change!

An Open Letter To “Morning Joe”

I’ve written three open letters to Joe Scarborough over the years. I generally watch “Morning Joe” to hear a range of views and discussion of current events. Two of my previous letters were in response to his enabling of voter suppression and the third regarding his defense of Republican Governor’s Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie. The Supreme Court apparently agreed with him on McDonnell, the jury is still out as to whether justice will catch up with Christie but at minimum,  without a Trump victory, his political career is over.

Today I must include a few others in my rant, because white privilege. Mika Brzezinski read a story about the wife of Keith Lamont Scott filing a restraining order last October alleging violence against their son and that he “had a gun”. Joe Scarborough jumped in and they went back and forth to suggest there this was justification for his killing and we can all look the other way because there was no racism here.

Were it not for the sole black man on the panel, they would have gone unchallenged. I’ve criticized Harold Ford Jr in the past for taking both sides and being a bit wishy-washy. Today he stood his ground. He reminded Mika that the restraining order had nothing to do with the shooting. She pushed back and with no evidence suggesting that “maybe the officers were aware”. She went on to imply that when the wife was calling out, “Keith don’t do it!” She was really telling him not to confront the officers with a gun. Joe chimed in with his view that racism wasn’t the same factor in Charlotte as in Tulsa.

 

In perhaps his finest moment over his years appearing on the show. Harold Ford Jr didn’t buckle and reminded us that black men in a confrontation with police end up dead when others are taken alive. Many days on the show there is no black panelist to speak up. Today there happened to be one who didn’t let Joe and Mika go although they still are just as convinced of their views as before.

What Harold might have added, is that only white privilege would allow them to determine when and where racism exists for the rest of us. They decide for us that the systemic treatment and oppression of minorities isn’t racist if the officer or police chief is black. He might have brought up the times over the years that primarily Joe has raised the bar on what qualifies as racism to where almost nothing does. He could have mentioned the times the show has come up with other descriptors for racism; nationalism and American Exceptionalism, which allowed them to ignore the elephant in the room. But that really isn’t really Harold’s responsibility to call them out. It’s ours.

Morning Joe, I want you to do better. I want you to call out your guests and panelists when they make their pronouncements that allow your viewers to justify their racism by naming it something else. I want you to recognize the racism behind Voter ID Laws and to acknowledge that since voter fraud isn’t a significant thing, what they are trying to attack is something else. I want you to start by acknowledging your own privilege and asking yourselves, “How can I do better?”

You might take comfort that you’re not as bad as “Fox & Friends,” or Sean Hannity. But you’re as bad as Morning Joe and have a lot you can work on.

“It’s Just One Of Those Things”

I watched the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and was frankly stunned. I’ll confess that I’m biased by my support for Hillary and my certainty  that a Trump presidency would be the worst imaginable thing for the country, so I did have a hoped for outcome. Having had almost all of my wishes fulfilled during the debate. I was at a loss for what to say as there was so much.

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I’ll leave it to others to describe Trump’s temperament, his lack of stamina as the night went on. His lack of understanding of international treaties and relationships. His defense of calling a woman “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.” His justification of attacking Rosie O’Donnell and offering up Sean Hannity as proof of a long-standing position, offset by public radio interviews. I choose to focus on a smaller statement. “It’s just one of those things.”

Secretary Clinton brought up his record of having been sued by the Justice Department in 1973 for discriminating against blacks in housing, refusing to rent to blacks in some of their developments. She didn’t even mention that his managers marked the application forms with the letter “C” for colored to ensure their rejection. Trump’s response was as follows:

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“Now, as far as the lawsuit, yes, when I was very young, I went into my father’s company, had a real estate company in Brooklyn and Queens, and we, along with many, many other companies throughout the country — it was a federal lawsuit — were sued. We settled the suit with zero — with no admission of guilt. It was very easy to do.”

He also said:

“But, frankly, I look — I look at that, and I say, isn’t that amazing? Because I settled that lawsuit with no admission of guilt, but that was a lawsuit brought against many real estate firms, and it’s just one of those things.”

Discriminating against black people was just one of those things to Donald Trump. Even after being sued by the Justice Department, he continued his racist policies and was sued a second time three years later where he settled a second time. He took great pride in proclaiming he never admitted any guilt. Donald never has.

Time 100 Gala, Arrivals, New York, America - 26 Apr 2016
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFA/REX/Shutterstock (5665251k) Donald Trump Time 100 Gala, Arrivals, New York, America – 26 Apr 2016

It struck me as odd that he mentioned in his defense that he was very young and “went into his father’s company,” suggesting he as President of the company he was following his father’s existing racist policy. It’s worth noting that Fred Trump was arrested in 1927 during a violent confrontation between the police and the KKK. Fred Trump was not a member of the police department. I wonder if one day Donald Trump, Jr will defend his racist tweets as something he picked up from his father?

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There was so much to say about the performance of Donald Trump during the debate. It would be easy to miss something this because of all the other things he said or did. His history of racism including housing discrimination, a full page ad requesting the death penalty for the “Central Park Five” who turned out to be innocent. His comments about not wanting black people counting his money. His Birtherism. His newfound affinity for “The Blacks” that he expresses mostly before crowds of white people. No Donald, it’s not “just one of those things.” That would only be the case if the people you discriminated against didn’t matter. You will discover on election day that black lives definitely do.

Florida You Suck!!!

Florida You Suck!!!

 

Because I needed to take a moment away from the killing of black people who posed no threat. Murdered by police officers for committing heinous crimes like breaking down on the road, and reading books. I’ll turn momentarily to a new law that exists for no purpose other than to extort citizens of more money. And will no doubt be unfairly applied against minorities and the poor.

Florida had a law that indicated nothing could be placed on your plate that obscured the tag numbers and the word, “Florida.” In July the law changed to where “all writing” must be visible including the website address “MyFlorida.Com.” Local police and state troopers have begun pulling over cars with MyFlorida.Com even partially obscured and issuing tickets for $114. I have a friend who was able to avoid the ticket, only because he had the tools handy to remove the offending cover in the presence of in this case the Orange County Sheriff Deputy that pulled him over.

You might reasonably ask, what kinds of things are people putting on their cars that cover wording on their plates? Many car dealers sell you cars with a license holder with their name on it. $114 ticket. Gator fan, Seminole fan, like the University of Miami? $114 ticket.  Show your support for fighting breast cancer, Planned Parenthood. $114 ticket. Suppose you wish to Make America Great Again? Twice the fine would be justified in that case but I digress.

And how will this tool be used? It will lead to more traffic stops which historically have targeted minorities. That’s all we need is more confrontations with police. How could that go wrong? Where are the right-wing groups who rail against new taxes of any kind? This fine is a tax and will be levied against those least able to afford it.

I wonder what state legislator (or was it you Governor Rick Scott) woke up one day with the need to keep MyFlorida.com safe from being partially obscured? How did they determine that $114 was the amount that people should pay for website obfuscation? How did Florida notify people of the change in the law? Did they tell car dealers, University bookstores, stadiums and all the places that provide or sell these tag holders? Is this an effort to force people to buy vanity tags if they want to support a team or an effort?

This sucks. Gov. Rick Scott, you suck. If you think this needs to be changed and you’re a Florida resident. Contact Rick Scott and tell him he sucks.

 

Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

(850) 488-7146

 

Where Is The Truth?

Tyre King, Terence Crutcher, Keith Lamont Scott; the one undeniable truth is that these black males are dead. Killed by police. After that we have opinions, and lies, where is the truth?

Tyre King, a 13-year-old boy was killed by police who say he had a “realistic” BB gun with a laser sight. To make their story more convincing they showed us a picture of a different gun. A different gun. Yes, the picture they showed us looked very much like a real gun. It had no orange tip, no laser sight. Why not take a picture of the actual BB gun? Did it differ from the picture they showed us? Police say he pulled the BB gun and pointed it at them, leaving them no choice but to shoot him. An autopsy was performed with no results released. An independent autopsy was ordered by the family which said, “more than likely he was running away.” All three shots hit him in the back. Where is the truth?

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Terence Crutcher had his hands up. Shot and killed by Officer Betty Shelby. Thru her lawyer, she said she shot when Terence was reaching into his vehicle. My view of the video and the reflections off the window indicate to me the window was up. A family attorney showed an enlarged photo showing the window rolled up making it impossible for Mr. Crutcher to have reached in. A “source” from within the Tulsa Police Department says the window was rolled down. Why is this even a lingering question? Surely there were hundreds of contemporary crime scene photos showing one way or the other. The Tulsa Police Dept. Could settle it all by making a statement with accompanying time stamped photos or videos. What is the truth? Thru her attorney, Shelby’s story has changed somewhat saying Terence Crutcher wore loose clothing and kept “reaching for his pockets which could contain a gun.” Where is the truth?

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Keith Lamont Scott, a father of seven was waiting for his son to come home from school. Several witnesses say he was unarmed, he didn’t own a gun, he was reading a book. The police say they recovered a gun. What was its history? Where was it purchased? Was it a throwdown? We know the officer who shot Mr. Scott was wearing plain clothes and wasn’t wearing a body camera. What of the other videos? Why not release them? Recent police statements now say they issued several warnings. The story keeps changing. Where is the truth?

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Part of the truth is that the initial police statements are almost always self-serving. And usually fact-free. They tell us to “wait until the investigation is complete,” and then selectively leak information to shape the narrative. Many times they don’t name the officers involved while they scurry to tarnish the victim’s name. In stories about protests in Charlotte, we hear about the number of injured police officers. There was no mention of the citizens harmed, estimated to be about the same number. Where is the truth? As I write this right now. Charlotte police wearing riot gear have fired tear gas into crowds. There are reports of bottles being thrown and broken windows. There is a report of a new shooting with life-threatening injuries. No other information is available. Where is the truth?

Another (Yes Another) Black Man Killed By Police

I can’t write this story today… maybe tomorrow, maybe never. Another unarmed black man was slain by police in University City, NC a suburb of Charlotte. He was sitting in his car reading while waiting for his son to be dropped off after school. His name has not yet been released.

Police were looking for someone with outstanding warrants, this was not the man. Did I mention he was disabled?

Maybe tomorrow I’ll report that police claimed, “He posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers.” An eyewitness claimed he was tased and then shot at least three times.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll know the name of the book he was reading? Or the name of the victim? Did I mention he was disabled?

Maybe tomorrow the officers involved will be named but don’t bet on that. Maybe tomorrow I’ll watch the whole Livestream video recorded by his daughter. She learned her father was dead during the course of the recording.

Livestream

Maybe tomorrow there won’t be news of another black man killed by police? Maybe?

This post has been edited to include that police say the man was armed and that a gun was recovered at the scene. The family insists he did not own a gun and was reading a book. Police acknowledged te victim was not the man they were searching for but tried to insinuate a possible connection. Assuming a gun was actually recovered. I will be very interested in knowing how it got there? Surely the police wouldn’t place a throw down gun at the scene to cover up their mistake? To be continued…