Thursday, August 27, 2020

In Kenosha

Charles P. Pierce:

Be wary of paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.

—Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Kenosha Police said early Wednesday morning that two people had been shot and killed and a third injured during protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake; authorities were looking for a man armed with a long gun. Earlier Wednesday, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that one victim had been shot in the head and another in the chest late Tuesday, just before midnight. Beth didn’t know where the other person was shot, but video posted on social media showed someone had been shot in the arm.

The incident occurred at about 11:45 p.m. in the area of 63rd Street and Sheridan Road, Kenosha police said. The release from the Kenosha Police Department said the injuries to the third individual were not life threatening. The release said the names, ages and cities of residence for the victims were still being determined.

The gunfire coincided with the arrival of some armed right-wing boogaloo militia types. From The Guardian:

Beth said people describing themselves as belonging to a militia had been patrolling Kenosha’s streets in recent nights but he did not know if the shooter was involved with such a group. “They’re a militia,” Beth told reporters. “They’re like a vigilante group.” The shootings were reported at about 11.45 pm in an area crowded with protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism across America.

Where the hell were your guys, sheriff? Armed militias roaming the streets? Where’s the National Guard?

Cellphone video of at least two of the shootings posted online showed what appears to be a white man with a semi-automatic rifle firing three or four shots from a prone position on the ground, hitting at least two people…Footage posted on social media showed chaotic scenes as gunfire rang out, scattering people in the street. One of the victims, a young shirtless white man with a red bandana around his neck, was seen receiving first aid in a car park after being shot in the head. In another image, a man sits on the ground with his arm almost severed by a gunshot wound…

Images of the rival group showed heavily armed white men, some wearing body armour. According to witness reports, the two groups had clashed as the night wore on, and police fired teargas and rubber bullets at demonstrators near Kenosha’s courthouse. Social media users posted a series of images including video that appeared to show the same individual – a young man – at key points during the confrontation, including interacting with police in a tactical vehicle who say they “appreciate” the alleged vigilantes’ help and give them bottled water.

Oh, that’s where they were.

The alleged gunman is finally seen heading north towards several police tactical vehicles, with his arms raised as the tactical vehicles drive by him. Other clips, which appear to have been filmed before the shootings, show him interacting with local police, who at one stage tell him not to approach, but at another talk to him and other armed men. Beth said the initial investigation into the shooting was focused on the group of men with guns outside the petrol station.

Commenting on calls to deputise citizens to help police the protests, Beth said: “I’ve had people saying: ‘Why don’t you deputise citizens? This is why you don’t deputise citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”…“Ain’t nothing being done. We’re the only ones,” said Joe, 29, who said he was a US Marine veteran. “Three thousand of us are armed and ready,” he added.

Anyone who appears on the streets of Kenosha after curfew with a firearm needs to be arrested on sight. I don’t care how much bottled water they hand out.

In related news, 68 people were arrested in Louisville for sitting down in the street

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

This Cannot Go On

Charles P. Pierce on the state of law enforcement in America.

I don’t know what to make of the events in Kenosha, a city with which I am somewhat familiar, and a city with a police department possessed of something of a…history. That history prompted some reforms that got national notice. These reforms now seem to have been inadequate. Jacob Blake is in the hospital, paralyzed, shot seven times in the back by members of the reformed Kenosha P.D. And Kenosha has erupted in protests and violence because citizens generally are frustrated and angry at being shot with impunity under color of law. And the crisis in American law enforcement heads into a very perilous new iteration.

Not long before Blake was shot, a brawl broke out in Portland between a mob of Proud Boys and a group of protestors. The Portland police declined to involve themselves. From the Washington Post:

As the brawls unfolded, Portland police officers remained at a distance. They made several announcements over loudspeakers, encouraging the crowds to “self-monitor for criminal activity,” even as people beat others with sticks, and at least two right-wing activists brandished handguns.“Each skirmish appeared to involve willing participants and the events were not enduring in time, so officers were not deployed to intervene,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.

Police said they did not stop the violence, although the event met the criteria to be declared a riot, because too few officers were available to respond and they deemed it too dangerous to intervene. Officers were tired from responding to a much smaller and less volatile protest that was declared a riot the night before, the bureau said in a statement, and incident commanders also had concerns that officers would be targeted by the crowd.

It appears that the country’s police, feeling unwanted and unloved and embattled because justice is now demanded for the people they kill, are sliding into taking sides with the people who declare themselves as their supporters. This also appeared to be happening a while ago when gunslinging white dudes bum-rushed the Michigan legislature. On Tuesday, the same thing happened in Boise, Idaho. From NPR:

The clash was a manifestation of the anger and frustration from a vocal minority of far-right Idahoans that has been compounding over the last several months as the state has navigated its reopening amid the pandemic. To enforce social distancing, the gallery area above the House chamber was restricted with limited seating. But after the confrontation with state troopers, which resulted in the shattering of a glass door, Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke relented and allowed protesters to fill every seat.

The response stands in stark contrast to 2014 when dozens of advocates pressuring lawmakers to pass LGBTQ protections were arrested for standing silently in a hallway, blocking access to the Idaho Senate chamber. On Monday, an Idaho State Police spokeswoman, Lynn Hightower, said she wasn’t aware of any pending charges against protesters. The following day she released a statement saying that “Idaho State Police personnel determined they could not have made arrests on the spot without elevating the potential for violence,” and that an investigation was ongoing into any criminal behavior “that may have occurred.”

This can’t go on. A black guy gets shot seven times for walking to his car, but armed white goons can break into a legislative chamber and nobody gets clicked. And yes, it all will impact the presidential campaign, and yes, the president’s campaign will use video from the unrest to reinforce the bloody fantasies that they’re peddling to their nervous white base, and yes, the Biden campaign will be pestered by idiots to deplore, and distance, and renounce people and things. All of that will be as it will, but this can’t go on. Something very important will break. Cooler heads may prevail, but that’s not the way to bet any more.

Can you imagine the furor that would ensue if a Black couple who had brandished guns at the police had stood up at the Democratic convention last week and warned the country that the police were out of control? No, you can’t, because if a Black couple had shown weaponry in the presence of a police force, their funerals would have followed shortly thereafter. And even if they had been able to present themselves, the hue and cry from the Trump crowd would be louder — if possible — then that rant by Ms. Guilfoyle.

No, this cannot go on. Not with the current administration, and even if it were to be swept away in November, changing the president and the people in power in Washington isn’t going to overcome the hard-wired and institutionalized racism that permeates every level of our society.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Making America Great Again…

Via the Miami Herald:

A young African-American man is stopped for jaywalking. A white law enforcement officer sternly orders him to the police car, threatens to put him in jail, and tells him he needs to have identification on him at all times — and tickets him for not carrying his ID.

Miami Beach, 1962? No, Jacksonville, 2017.

Such was the encounter between Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Officer J.S. Bolen and Devonte Shipman last week.

A video posted on Facebook details the incident wherein the officer threatened Mr. Shipman with arrest for not carrying his drivers license even though he wasn’t driving.  Officer Bolen ended up citing him for two violations.

But hey, he didn’t shoot him.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Short Takes

After decades of war, peace between Colombia and FARC.

Another mass shooting, this time in Houston.

A federal judge blocked attempts to approve proof-of-citizenship for voters.

The Justice Department is sending $20 million to police departments for body cameras.

Jury selection begins in the Dylan Roof trial in Charleston.

Tropical Update: Invest 97L could move toward the U.S.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Short Takes

Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident.

Charlotte shooting videos released.

Floodwaters could swamp parts of northeast Iowa this week.

UN takes no action in Syria amid arguments over Aleppo.

Debate prep continues.

R.I.P. Arnold Palmer, 87, legendary golfer.

The Tigers split with KC this weekend; the wild card spot is fading away.

Tropical Update: Invest 97L develops.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Short Takes

Charlotte police chief says the video of the shooting does not offer definitive evidence that the victim was holding a gun.

Police officer in Tulsa charged with first degree manslaughter in shooting of unarmed man.

Yahoo reports a vast e-mail breach by a “state-sponsored” hack dating to 2014.

President Obama honored some of the country’s top artists and filmmakers, including Mel Brooks.

The Tigers took Game 1 9-2 and Game 2 4-2 of the double header from Minnesota.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Short Takes

Secretary of State Kerry briefed the UN Security Council on the Syria ceasefire.

Charlotte police say the armed man shot and killed was warned several times to drop his weapon.

ISIS is on the verge of losing Mosul.

The Fed left interest rates unchanged.

Tropical Update: Karl is depressed and Lisa is still storming, but harmless to land.

The Tigers were rained out last night.  They’ll play a double header today against the Twins.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Short Takes

The bombing suspect in New Jersey had been checked out by the FBI in 2014.

President Obama delivered his valedictory address to the UN.

Another unarmed black man was shot and killed by police, this time in Tulsa.

Federal judge tells Texas to revise their voter ID laws.

Tropical Update: Two storms, Karl and Lisa, are in the middle of the Atlantic but no threat to land now.

The Tigers beat the Twins 8-1.