No one expected the unfair, unjust, immoral police system we live under to discipline (even in liberal and supposedly progressive Minneapolis the future of home of the Super Bowl in 2018) in any way the cops who unnecessarily killed Jamar Clark nearly a year ago. So why did the Minneapolis power structure lead by two women, mayor Betsy Hodges and police chief Janae Harteau make a big deal about announcing their non- punishment of these cops?
The news rang out all over the country on every major news outlet from CNN to the Chicago Tribune to the Washington Post. The message was delivered, Minneapolis holds the line, business as usual.
The press conference was called to assure the Minneapolis police that they have carte blanche and nothing will be done if they harm or kill a citizen especially a Black one. Or as Charles Samuelson of the Minnesota ACLU put it, “This sends a chilling message to all Minneapolis police officers that the next time they confront a similar situation they should take another life.”
Contrast this with Harteau’s outrage with the arbitrator’s judgment reversing her decision to fire a cop who had disrespected (calling a woman the C word and grabbing her by the throat) two women involved in a domestic dispute.
The press conference was called to reassure the power structure that the police, when caught in these situations will not hesitate to follow procedure and protocol and deal with (even fatally) those that threaten their authority.
Moreover, the conference also represented a taunt, a tossing up of their middle finger and in your face to the Black community in particular and the justice loving community in general.
The press conference was synonymous with urinating on Jamar Clark’s grave.
At bottom, it suggests they have no sense of decency!
Truth is, few people gave much thought about whether the police were even considering disciplining the officers. No one was waiting with “baited breath” so to speak to see if the police were going to hold the cold-blooded killers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze accountable.
The nice lady who is mayor said “I know that some will be angry at this decision and find it difficult to accept, and I get that.” She would be wrong; to be angry folks would have to expect a different outcome, most Minneapolitans and others around the country expected nothing less than business as usual. If folks are mad they would be upset with the mayor and her crew for their callousness. What is hard to accept is the rubbing of the decision in the faces of the family and the community.
Harteau was quoted in the Star Tribune saying, “she was going to be talking to community leaders (read collaborators) about her decision and the ways “we can all move forward together in the coming weeks, months and years.””
Who is she talking to: the stupid and the foolish?
Clearly Harteau thinks people are stupid, because she made the unbelievable statement that, “these officers did not dictate the outcome of this incident.” What is she talking about? Clark didn’t shoot himself, these officers absolutely determined the outcome of the incident by putting a bullet in Clark’s head, which despite their creative lies about why they killed him they weren’t forced to kill him.
How can anyone move forward when this system continues to victimize folks, while absolutely no one is ever held accountable? It’s absolutely impossible for a human institution to be justified in every situation in which it is called into question. The cop’s actions in Minneapolis are ALWAYS justified! It defies all odds and logic.
Anyone who attends that meeting is naïve and at bottom dishonest!
Besides, what is there to talk about? The decision has been made. And since according to them shooting human beings down like dogs in the street is justified, so we can expect more of the same. These folks didn’t even have the decency to apologize for the loss of life.
Mayor Hodges even had the nerve to use the word healing. How could that take place, according to her and the power structure there wasn’t even a wound, just a justified action?
This incident proves yet again that sex and party affiliation have no bearing on a system that coddles and encourages injustice, in this case, police abuse. You would think that women and good liberal Democrats would know better than to add insult to injury!
justice then peace
Nate Parker and his critics let the American public off the hook yet again. Distractions have given many folks an excuse not to look at a film that captures the savagery of chattel slavery (that inhumane period of barbarity that good Americans like to tell African Americans to just get over) Unfortunately it over promises and under delivers as it fails to stick to the historical record and doesn’t flesh out the real Nat Turner or his very real reasons for wanting to rebel.
Haiti needs help and should be helped; period. Some claim the country is cursed. It has been but not by the Creator, no Haiti has been cursed by the North American and Western European ruling classes, whose constant meddling in Haiti is designed to force Haiti into a vassal state. And the Western nations have no intention on forgiving Haiti of its original sin: liberatig itself from slavery.
It is these folks North Americans and European neighbors who ripped Haiti off after their last disaster (the 2010 earthquake) using their NGO’s to pocket the lion’s share of nearly a billion dollars with the help of Bill and Hilary Clinton. (Bill controlled the Haiti Reconstruction Fund Hillary as Secretary of State oversaw US funds)
Before Haiti can begin to dig out from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Matthew they find themselves having to explain themselves and justify their existence.
Ironically, they also find themselves the victims of a kind of “charity fatigue” as a result of the earthquake rip-off. Add to that the reluctance for people to see Haitians as they see themselves.
In reporting on the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew on Haiti the US newspaper of record the New York Times thought it was appropriate to editorialize and provide a critique of Haitian society rather than simply report the damage.
The Times seemed to be providing Americans with a way out, an excuse for not sympathizing with the Haitian plight and an excuse keep one’s wallet closed.
In two “objective” news articles, “Hurricane Matthew Makes Old Problems Worse for Haitians,”and ”Toll Rises by Hour in Haiti Amid Ruin Left by Hurricane Matthew,” reporter Azam Amed not so subtly implies that the damage is partly the victims fault by writing:
“The country’s infrastructure had been in decline for decades, even before the earthquake and other storms weakened it further. ……Policies that ordered or permitted the stripping of trees have left barren and scorched landscapes susceptible to mudslides. Poor development has left the country defenseless to hurricanes…The nation’s politics, meanwhile, often brew their own type of disaster, leaving the country bereft of clearly elected leaders.”
However Azam Amed who as a refugee from Afghanistan a country that has faced lots of problems, many stemming from European and US interference should have known better.
Unfortunately his editorializing was only partially accurate because he conveniently left off how Haiti wound up in this position.
Deforestation of Haiti began the day Columbus got off the boat and claimed he discovered Hispanolia. His moneyed colonists built huge plantations where trees once stood. Haiti was one of the richest colonies in the New World. The slaves of Haiti revolted led by Dessaline and Toussaint L’Overture subsequently handing a defeat to Napolean’s army and freeing itself. For getting themselves free they became an automatic enemy of the United States along with England that enforced a blockade making it nearly impossible to trade. France forced the new nation to pay it 90 million gold francs as the price for compensation for the slaveholders losses, at the point of a gun with the US providing incentive with its Navy.
The new nation impoverished itself trying to repay the debt, which wasn’t paid off until 1947. The debt amounts to about $20 billion in today’s currency. Haiti in 2004 asked France to pay it back France refused.
The United States consistently meddled in the affairs of Haiti even occupying it from 1915 to 1934 while controlling the island nation’s economy through 1947 . The US has invaded Haiti at other time as well. Every time the Haitian people attempted to rule and run Haiti for everyday working class Haitians the US would intervene and prop up the elite. More recently the US helped prop up the brutal dictatorships (1957-1986) of Francois Duvalier (Popa Doc) and later his son Jean Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc).
In the early 1980s, over a million pigs were destroyed in a US-Canadian program supposedly to prevent the spread of swine fever.
Haiti had produced inexpensive rice for its domestic market but in 1995, the International Monetary Fund mandated as part of it economic plan for Haiti that Haiti cut tariffs on rice imports to Haiti from 35% to 3%. As a result Haitian rice farmers were literally priced out of business..
In 2004 the US was suspected in helping to overthrow the elected leader of Haiti at the time, Jean Bertrand Aristide.
The expected human response when people are in need of help is to help them. But for whatever reason when human beings that are Haitian are in need of help the response is tempered by finger pointing, criticism, editorializing. ‘Haitians ought to take care of themselves,’ folks like to say. They would if the US and others would simply help them get on their feet and then get out of their affairs.
justice then peace
Donald Trump has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he belongs in Hilary Clinton’s basket of deplorables. But what is also becoming more obvious is that this sham of an election belongs in the basket. And sober, honest, introspection should reveal that Clinton should be placed in it as well.
Proving yet again that those with power and influence are as clueless as anyone else the University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler defended as free speech the campus Young Republicans not so subtle attempt to denigrate all things Latin when they painted a sign on the West Bank wall saying “Build the Wall.” Making matters worse he chastised students who simply tried to paint over the insulting phrase and made it appear that were worse than the folks who in essence were saying Mexicans go home.
Liz Sawyer of the local Big Business press the Star Tribune tried to run to their defense as well writing an article that said that the rebuke of the students who painted over the sign was a lesson in free speech.
Only the dishonest can pretend that “build the wall,” is anything other than hate speech. The statement is not borne out of the need for new policy when it comes to Mexico, but its borne out of hatred and dislike for those who don’t have a European pedigree. Every honest person knows its code for go back to Mexico, or just a middle finger aimed at our Latino brothers and sisters. It’s an anti-immigration statement. Donald Trump advocated for building a wall between the US and Mexico because he wanted to appeal to xenophobes.
At bottom it is the language of proto-fascist thugs!
Of course the blatant irony in all this is just about everybody trying to tell folks to go back to where they came from originally came from somewhere else and it wasn’t that long ago.
Sawyer very unobjectively stated as fact the idea that students had learned a lesson in free speech though no one she interviewed said so. It’s likely she thinks she struck a blow for the cause of free speech, but she would be as wrong as her analysis.
The students on campus didn’t learn a lesson in free speech. What they learned is that there are people on campus who are intolerant, xenophobic and narrow. Latin students learned that there are some students on campus who would like to see them go back to where they come. The students learned that they are in a hostile environment. They also learned that the administration isn’t going to defend their right to exist but is going to coddle the intolerant allowing them to hide their thuggish behavior behind the right to free speech.
Moreover they learned that the Young Republicans are just young sniveling cowards, who possess so little confidence in themselves and their position that instead of taking their perspective to the University square and testing their ideas against those of their peers instead, took a cheap shot
“The University of Minnesota supports a campus climate that welcomes all members of our community and our values of equity and diversity,” wrote President Kaler, “but that also ensures the free flow of ideas, even those that are offensive to some .People in our community may disagree with the sentiment expressed. However, while the University values free speech, the subsequent vandalism of the panel is not the way to advance a conversation.”
But scribbling hateful signs is advancing conversation? And signs implying some students should go home are welcoming?
Oddly Kaler wasn’t as vigilant in defending the rights of the four Black football players recently suspended apparently without due process, simply because they were accused of wrong doing.
A real leader would have used this as a teachable moment. They would have pointed out that while you have the right to say what you want, you should also be willing to take responsibility for whatever harm your speech causes. A real leader would have organized a debate on immigration on campus while pointing out that real free speech is that which adds to the pantheon of ideas that helps advance the ideas of human solidarity and unity
The Young Republicans response is telling: “Our party’s nominee supports building a wall on the Mexican border to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into this country. We understand that some students may disagree with this policy position. However, free speech is at the center of a functioning democracy, and the action taken against our panels runs contrary to free speech.
While free speech may be at the heart of a democracy, Xenophobia and hate speech are central to fascism.
The sign was divisive, a pejorative, a provocation. It was a like throwing an insult and then hiding under the president’s coat, or behind the Constitution.
Ideally, speech that’s accepted in the public square is civil speech, speech which unites rather divides speech which builds rather than destroys speech that inspires rather than discourages.
justice then peace
The struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation against the proposed 1,172 mile Dakota Access Pipeline is a throwback fight, it conjures up memories of the centuries earlier tussle between a people who hold that the earth is sacred, versus Big Business and finance capital who hold nothing sacred except the possession of property,the making of money and the exploitation of labor.