No, Judge, there is not a difference.

Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich (Photo: Screen capture from WKBN)

Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich (Photo: Screen capture from WKBN)

Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich took attorney Andrea Burton into custody for contempt of court after she refused to remove a Black Lives Matter pin while in his courtroom when he asked.

Judge Milich sentenced Burton to five days in jail, but she was released on a stay because the decision is on appeal. She’ll stay out of prison while she works her way through the appeals process and abides by Milich’s rule not to wear items that make a political statement in his court.

Milich told WKBN his opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement are irrelevant when it comes to his anti-pin policy.

“A judge doesn’t support either side,” he said. “A judge is objective and tries to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have a fair hearing, and it was a situation where it was just in violation of the law.”

A judge wasn’t wearing the pin. An attorney was wearing it. So much for that bit of ‘logic’. It’s not a violation of any law to wear a pin, or any other piece of self decoration. So much for that bit of ‘logic’. This is obviously not the work of anyone being objective, now is it, Judge Milich? No, what we see operating here is bias. It’s right there, out in the open, plopped out for everyone to see. Would you try to force someone to remove an Amerikkan flag pin? A Christian cross?

Oh, here we go…

The judge said his ruling is based on Supreme Court case law in which a judge can prohibit symbolic political expression in courtrooms, even if it’s not disruptive.

“There’s a difference between a flag, a pin from your church or the Eagles and having a pin that’s on a political issue,” Milich said.

So, Black Lives Matter is a political expression, but a Flag pin isn’t. Hmmm. And a church pin? That’s not political, it’s perfectly okay to be sporting that type of open discrimination in your objective court? Right.

Full story at WKBN, video at the link.

The Fraternal Order of Police Is Insulted!

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk.

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk.

Cops are insulted that they aren’t being put up on a pedestal of pure heroism. It’s hard to imagine how they think having snitrums all over the place is helping any.

Philadelphia’s police union is blasting Hillary Clinton for inviting relatives of victims of police shootings to speak at the Democratic National Convention next week, but failing to include relatives of slain police officers.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said the union was “shocked and saddened” by the planned choice of speakers at the convention, which opens Monday in Philadelphia.

“The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows and other family members of police officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit and not implied racism,” Mr. McNesby said in a statement.

Shocked! Saddened! Insulted! Angry! Certainly, I can understand those feelings. Interesting that Mr. McNesby just can’t figure out that all those emotions and more are also on the part of all the families and friends of those who were victims of extrajudicial killings by cops. As for explicit vs implicit racism, you need to understand those concepts, not just the words, Mr. McNesby. You also need to understand that cop isn’t a race. It probably wouldn’t hurt if you could figure out that people wouldn’t be driven by absolute fury if you acknowledged wanton murder committed by cops, and stopped killing people of colour. The little things, you know. :eyeroll: The mere fact of this outrage is terrifying coming from cops, because you know there is zero thought going on there, it’s all kneejerk reactions, reactions which have a hell of a lot to do with a lack of cop worship. I don’t want people who are authorized to kill wanting worshipful obeisance. We already have enough trouble with religions.

He said it’s “sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country.

I, uh, can I just die of irony poisoning now?

The Clinton campaign has scheduled former President Bill Clinton to speak Tuesday night with members of Mothers of the Movement, a group that includes relatives of black men killed by police such as Eric Garner of New York and Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri.

Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who said the nation is a “powder keg” over the police-involved shootings and assassinations of officers, is also scheduled to speak.

Full story here.

The Red Hot Assholes Revival.

Pastor Steven Anderson (Screenshot/YouTube)

Pastor Steven Anderson (Screenshot/YouTube)

Remember Steven ‘Pulpit Stomp’ Anderson? Steven and his other hateful buddies are getting together, for the Red Hot Preaching Conference in Sacramento, Ca. this weekend. Gosh, a whole weekend of poisonous hatred. Sounds charming.

The “Red Hot Preaching” conference scheduled for this coming weekend in Sacramento will feature four of the most repugnant King-James-Only pastors who have more than just their relentless hatred of gays in common … they’re all Quiverfull. These preachers of patriarchy are Truly True Believers™ who embrace Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar-style “family values” … Christian homeschooling mega-families who reject all forms of birth control and are devoted to raising up a “quiver full” of children to serve as “arrows” in God’s holy war.

Pastor Roger Jimenez, who celebrated the Orlando massacre, saying, “Christians shouldn’t be mourning the deaths of 50 sodomites,” will be hosting a four-day conference of “soul-winning” and “hard preaching” at his church, Verity Baptist, in Sacramento beginning Thursday evening.

Jimenez will be joined by three fellow “fire-breathing” preachers: Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, who has advocated for the death penalty for gays and adulterers, Donnie Romero, pastor of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, who prayed for the injured survivors of the Pulse nightclub attack to die and who threatened violence against LGBT people, and David Berzins, pastor of yet another Independent Fundamental Baptist church, Word of Truth, in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

When Jimenez and company are not busy condemning “sodomites” and “faggots,” they’re likely to be preaching about a woman’s duty to stay at home, dress modestly, submit to her husband, have lots of babies, homeschool, and always be sexually available when hubby’s in the mood.

The current political climate didn’t create these evil doucheweasels. They’d be evil any where, any time. That said, the current political climate is openly fostering and embracing every kind of bigotry and hatred, under one guise or another. The guise of Christianity is being used to push through one evil after another in the GOP dream platform. That’s why, while it’s very tempting to simply mock and dismiss these evil clowns, we cannot afford to do so. Here in uStates, if we aren’t vigilant, if we don’t make every possible effort to rouse people to get out and vote, to make a difference, these evil clowns could well be our future overseers.

The full story is here.

The 800 lb. Gorilla.

Judicial candidate Eric C. Grimm in a May 2016 campaign video. (Screenshot)

Judicial candidate Eric C. Grimm in a May 2016 campaign video. (Screenshot)

There’s no longer an 800 pound gorilla sitting in the middle of the room. There’s a herd of oliphants, trampling their way across uStates, and they white, angry, and bursting with hate.

MLive reports that Eric C. Grimm, a Muskegon lawyer and a judicial candidate for Muskegon County’s probate court, sent an email out to his colleagues on July 10, asking for their votes and criticizing sitting probate court judge Gregory C. Pittman for bullying the other candidates.

“I can understand why some of the other candidates may not want to speak up about the 800-lb Silverback Alpha Male in the middle of the Probate Court,” Grimm wrote in his email. “They are each considerably less free to walk away and refuse to have anything to do with this court if the bullying problem is not fixed.”

According to MLive, Grimm apologized for the bigoted remarks after backlash from prominent public officials including the county prosecutor and the chairman of the county board of commissioners.

The candidate claimed both in a statement and a television interview that he is redeeming himself by, “sentencing myself to 100 hours of community service, in the very same community most adversely impacted by my mistake.”

MLive notes, however, that Grimm refused to retract his broader statements alleging Judge Pittman’s bullying behavior, claiming that he merely “got carried away with the artfulness of a triple metaphor, and lost sight of the optics,” and that the resulting “so-called ‘outrage’ is overblown, insensitive in itself, and a charade.”

So much for that redemption. I wonder just how much that “very same community most adversely impacted” wants this assclown attempting to redeem himself in their neighbourhood. I wouldn’t want him in mine. On another level, it’s the statement about that most adversely impacted community that bugs me no end. I grew up with a couple of extremely bigoted relations. The rest were of the “we’re good people, not bigots” stripe, with heads full of stereotypes they accepted unthinkingly. Of course bigotry harms those it targets, that’s the principal aim, but it reaches much farther than that. Bigotry harms every single person it touches. It’s an infection of thoughtless hate, and highly contagious. It poisons every environment, it ends up in the heads of children everywhere, and so it keeps growing, keeps infecting one person after another, seeping through generations, a toxic mold which inhibits thought, the desire to learn, compassion, and empathy.

I expect it’s too much to hope that Mr. Grimm figures out what he did wrong, and actually tries to correct that, rather than loading up his brain with buzz word idiocy. You don’t need to concern yourself with losing sight of the optics, Mr. Grimm. You need to concern yourself with your loss of humanity.

Full story here.

Goodbye, Dylan.

Dylan Francisco, who was killed in Chicopee, as seen in a Facebook profile photo uploaded June 24, 2016.

Dylan Francisco, who was killed in Chicopee, as seen in a Facebook profile photo uploaded June 24, 2016.

This is Dylan Francisco, a 15 year old murdered by coward and gun fetishist Jeffrey Lovell.

Funeral services have been scheduled for a 15-year-old boy who was shot to death by a homeowner Saturday. […] The teenager, whose obituary who gives his full name as Dylan Christopher Waitson-Francisco, attended the Glenwood School in Springfield for elementary school, according to the obituary. Later he attended middle school in Chicopee. He also started working for the Summer Youth Program with the Valley Opportunity Council in July.

He leaves his mother and step-father, Heather Francisco and Steven Beauregard, and three siblings, Damien and Desiree Francisco and Anthony Beauregard.

Sounds like a good kid, who was gunned down for being a teenager doing teenager things. Unfortunately, this has sparked discussion of the so-called Castle doctrine, where some people are actually defending Lovell. Thankfully, there is no Stand Your Ground law in Massachusetts. So, where are all the pro-lifers, screaming in outrage over this child’s death? Where is anyone screaming in outrage over this death? You know we’re beyond fucked when the important conversation is deemed to be one over whether or not castle doctrine applies. I’m sure that’s of great comfort to Dylan’s family and friends.

Here in Massachusetts, there is no stand your ground law.

However, local attorneys said that homeowners have some rights, but they come with standards.

“To obtain the defense of self defense, the homeowner has to show that the intruder had actually entered into the home of the person who fired the shot in self defense.  Furthermore, there has to be a threat of imminent serious hard.  In other words, if the person has a weapon or threatens a weapon, if a person doesn’t have a weapon, I don’t believe there is a right to use force like a gun,” said Jack McQuade from the Law Offices of Mark E. Solomone.

 

Jeffrey Lovell.

Jeffrey Lovell.

“Mr. Lovell told this party to ‘get the f–k out’ and ‘stay the f–k out.’ As the … party continued to bang on the door Mr. Lovell stated that the window broke at which time Mr. Lovell raised his loaded S & W (Smith & Wesson) firearm and shot one round through the glass of the door,” the police report states.

The door has three windows lined up vertically. The top window broke when the boy was knocking on it, said James Leydon, spokesman for Gulluni.

“Mr. Lovell stated he aimed towards the … torso. After firing the weapon, Mr. Lovell then looked out of the kitchen door and saw the individual lying on the ground at the bottom of the stairs and the … individual was moaning,” the police report states.

[…]

When police arrived, they found no evidence that the victim entered the home, court records said.

“Mr. Lovell also indicated that the victim never entered his residence,” the police report says.

So, it’s obvious Mr. Lovell was not in any danger whatsoever, let alone imminent danger. I think it’s best to remember that this is the man who festooned his Pinterest page with photos of weapons along with “Can you say ‘pest control?’ Gotta get one. ”

Via MassLive, WMN, and MassLive.

That’s not political correctness. That’s fixing inhumanity.

There is Hope: Time to Follow an Indigenous Model for Peace in America

There is Hope: Time to Follow an Indigenous Model for Peace in America.

Gyasi Ross has an excellent article up at ICTMN about these troubled times we find ourselves in. I’m just going to do a bit here.

[…] We’re progressing as a society, becoming more compassionate as a society.  Some folks call that “political correctness,” but I don’t think so.  Instead, it seems like it’s just a heightened humanity that holds certain behavior accountable.  Bullying.  The stuff that is making news today would not make news 100 years ago.  Heck, it may not have even made news 50 years ago.  The “tiny” little daily assaults against the dignity and bodies of so many people who were not white men—Natives, black folks, gay and lesbian folks, Mexicans, women—would not even be an issue some years ago.  That’s one of the reasons why Donald Trump’s Trumponian use of hateful rhetoric is so interesting; Donald Trump’s campaign really seems to be is the last stand of those white men who wish for the days when they could commit those assaults against all of those groups with impunity.

That’s not political correctness.  That’s fixing inhumanity.  And the stories that accompany them, whether “black man got shot by the police” or “Native man shot by the police” are no longer taken for granted.  And the subsequent protests and social media outrage over those shootings are likewise no longer taken for granted.

That’s good.  We’re evolving.

However, there is a genuine divide between different generations of people. Amongst those generations, let’s be clear, none of them are bad. Even Donald Trump. But many of us simply have fundamentally different worldviews and perspectives depending on how we grew up and the entanglements into which we were born.  Currently, there is an old guard oftentimes represented by those in power. Police. Law enforcement in this nation was constructed to protect property and not people; as such, it inherently favors the wealthy.  Certain communities have historically been intentionally and systematically kept out of wealth structurally because of many reasons (that’s a different conversation and I’d love to have that conversation with all of you someday; still that’s not the point now); those communities include pretty much all of the communities—black, Native, LGBTQ—who are catching hell from law enforcement today.

A genuine divide.

INDIGENOUS MODEL FOR PEACEKEEPING

I’m a disciple of John Mohawk, a dearly departed Seneca philosopher and professor.  He introduced me to the Great Law, a model for peacemaking and peacekeeping amongst warring nations—communities where there is a genuine divide.  I’m simply going to quote his 2004 take on the Great Law from “The Warriors Who Turned To Peace” and hopefully start a conversation about how we can heal some intergenerational wounds and provide our children a new start.

[Read more…]

IndigenousXca

pow_wow

In an effort to keep that momentum going with a new Indigenous host each week covering a variety of topics, and due to her diligence in bringing awareness to Indigenous issues, ICTMN’s UK-based correspondent Lisa J. Ellwood (Nanticoke-Lenape) has been invited to host its Canadian version, @IndigenousXca, July 14th – starting at 7pm ET – through July 21st.

[…]

Ellwood’s week as host kicks off with a look at her “Comprehensive Report on MMIW: The Curiously Different Tales of Violence against Indigenous Women On Both Sides of Turtle Island” story.

Follow ICTMN Correspondent Lisa J. Ellwood on Twitter at @IconicImagery and on her week-long account at @IndigenousXca.

Full Story at ICTMN.

“You first, motherf*cker.”

Henry Rollins. Credit: Heidi May.

Henry Rollins. Credit: Heidi May.

Henry Rollins latest column tackles the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the media, white privilege, and the problem of two Americas. Here’s a bit:

…I’m an educated, Caucasian, heterosexual male. Does this ensure I will have success and live the American Dream? Obviously it doesn’t, but it damn sure drops me on second base with a great opportunity to steal third.

I live solidly in one of the Americas but have been aware of other Americas for decades. For the last week, I have heard politicians use a phrase that nauseates me whenever I hear anyone say it. The need to “come together.” To that I say, “You first, motherfucker.”

Since an upgrade will not occur on a national level via presidential pen stroke or SCOTUS decision, you have to take it upon yourself to be an infinitely fantastic person every single day. There will be times when it will be a bitch to be so awesome, but you’ll handle it. This century will be about incredible individuals. Bold acts of kindness and a genuine desire to at least try to see things from someone else’s perspective are but two of the mandatory requirements for betterment moving forward.

Don’t wait for your government. It’s a broken machine that can only deliver damaged goods. Prejudice coats the mechanics of the USA’s OS. Attempts to clean the parts are attacked as big-government, special-interest meddling. It’s by no means a Gordian knot, but a total system retool is required. It would be incredibly expensive and time-consuming, and the growing pains would be enormous. Not gonna happen.

Equality, tolerance and decency are not inherently American or human traits. They are values you choose to adopt and use or not. So, be amazing all the time.

Not much I can add to that. Be amazing, people.

Full column here.

Bulletproof Warrior.

Jim Glennon. Credit: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune.

Jim Glennon. Credit: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune.

The seminar was called “The Bulletproof Warrior,” and the instructors urged the law enforcement officers in the hotel conference room to make the decision to shoot if they ever feel their lives are threatened.

Videos of bloody shootouts between police and civilians emphasized a key point: Hesitation can kill you.

In the audience at the May 2014 seminar was a young St. Anthony police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, city records show. He’s now known around the world as the officer who killed Philando Castile minutes after making a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last week.

Amid intensifying demands for changes in police training in the wake of the shooting deaths of Castile and others, such “survival” courses for officers are flourishing nationally. But some in law enforcement are distancing themselves from the approach.

The Houston Police Department, for example, won’t pay for its officers to attend the Bulletproof Warrior seminar, which is put on by an Illinois for-profit company called Calibre Press.

And the leader of an international police training association said he thinks some seminars like those offered by Calibre and other firms foster a sense of paranoia among officers.

Oh, you think? As if the militarization wasn’t bad enough, there’s shit like ‘bulletproof warrior’, which is little more than an expensive exhortation to shoot! shoot! shoot!, but not white people if you can avoid it.

“Police training became very militaristic and it caused a lot of the problems that are going on in the nation,” said Michael Becar, executive director of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, with offices in Idaho and Washington, D.C.

Ah, there it is. Nice to see this acknowledged, but are you going to move past that?

Jim Glennon, a co-owner of Calibre who co-taught the seminar Yanez attended, said it’s wrong to link the course to the officer’s actions last week. “Everybody’s going after this kid,” Glennon said Wednesday. “Nobody should be judging what he did yet without the evidence.”

Well, you see, we have evidence. Evidence of murder. It’s right there, for everyone to see. Perhaps if you hadn’t invested so much time in making cops hyper-aggressive, this might not have happened.

The Bulletproof Warrior is one of 15 sessions offered by Calibre and its parent company, LifeLine Training. The courses are well-known and popular in law enforcement circles. Facebook photos show conference rooms and auditoriums filled with officers to hear the Bulletproof Warrior message.

Fans say it provides a valuable “wake-up call” in police safety tactics for the street: how to read the body language of someone preparing to attack, for instance. Training professionals note that Calibre was a pioneer decades ago in teaching basic police safety.

The body language of someone preparing to attack. Right. Interesting how the body language of PoC is always “oh no, gonna attack!”, while that of white people, even when firing at police, is not, so you end up with dead PoC, and white people arrested. Something is seriously fucked up with your warrior training there.

Yanez took the 20-hour seminar on May 21-22, 2014, according to a summary of Yanez’s training that the city of St. Anthony provided after a public records request. A year earlier he attended “Street Survival,” another of the company’s seminars, records show.

Yanez also took 20 hours of training in 2012 in “Officer Survival” from a different organization. In May of this year, he took two hours of training titled “de-escalation,” the only instruction in his four years with the department that appears to focus on that approach, the records show.

Over 40 hours of “training” in how to be a bigoted profiler, hyper-aggressive, and a killer. Great. And a whole 2 hours in de-escalation. Wow, I am just so impressed. I don’t want to be funding cop shops, when they are doing this sort of shit. Who in their right mind would? (I said right mind.)

William Czech was also in the Bulletproof Warrior class in the Ramada in Bloomington those two days in 2014. Czech isn’t a police officer. He’s a 47-year-old electrician from Mendota Heights with a keen interest in police training because of incidents involving a mentally ill family member.

Czech posed as a student to get into the class. He said he was horrified. He said he expected to see a presentation about understanding both how to avoid using deadly force as well as how to realize when it’s unavoidable. Czech said the course consistently emphasized the risk of hesitation.

[…]

Still, there are some in law enforcement training who question the courses.

Becar, who leads the international law enforcement training group, said his organization has no position on LifeLine Training and Calibre. But he said he has attended Calibre classes.

“Everything they were doing made the police officers very paranoid,” Becar said. “At some point they wouldn’t even stop a car without three backups.”

The Houston Police Department will not pay for officers to attend the Bulletproof Warrior seminar, said Houston police spokesman Kese Smith. Officers can go on their own time and expense, he said.

Smith said he couldn’t elaborate, saying only that “some of their instruction is not what we instruct.”

“No position.” “Can’t elaborate.” Why in the fuckety fuck not? If there are good cops, who think all this shit has gone much too far, why don’t you have a position? Why can’t you elaborate? Why in the hell aren’t you speaking out and denouncing this absolute crap? Why aren’t you doing your damn job, to protect and serve?

Full article here.

Why Killer Cops Aren’t Prosecuted.

Max Becherer/AP Photo

Max Becherer/AP Photo

Steve Russell (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a Texas trial court judge by assignment and associate professor emeritus of criminal justice at Indiana University-Bloomington. He lives in Georgetown, Texas) has a good article up at ICTMN. I’m just going to include a few points here. Click over to read the full, two page article.

2. When the officer is the perpetrator of the homicide, he or she is almost never interviewed in the same circumstances as other persons accused of homicide.

A civilian person of interest in a homicide may be interviewed without even a chance to change out of bloody clothes, and investigators will conduct the interview without a defense lawyer present, if possible. A spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department told The New York Times that the officers involved in the shooting of Alton Sterling were not interviewed the day of the incident because “we give officers normally a day or two to go home and think about it.”

Taking a human life unleashes powerful feelings even when doing so was necessary. Considering that, a police officer involved in a shooting will often be sent home right away and only returned to duty in a desk job. By union contract or by custom, the officer will have a lawyer provided and plenty of opportunity to talk to that lawyer before giving a statement for the record.

When the system finally does get around to recording the officer’s statement, the officer knows what’s on the video (if there is one, and there so often is now with phones and body-cams prevalent), and so is unlikely to give a statement that conflicts with it.

3. The normal burden of proof is reversed.

In normal circumstances, the homicide investigator is looking for facts to show probable cause to believe that an unjustified criminal homicide took place and the person of interest committed it.

Studies of how innocent people get convicted show a lot of “confirmation bias.” That is, investigators start with a theory of what happened and they minimize or disregard evidence that does not support their preferred theory.

When a police officer has deployed deadly force, the bias of every police investigator is to believe that the use of force was justified. Nobody wants to charge a fellow officer with a crime for coming down on the wrong side of a line around which they have had to dance. Rookie officers don’t get assigned to investigate other officers.

8. The prosecutor needs the police department and vice versa.

Should prosecutors and police start urinating on each other’s shoes, there is no practical limit to how bad each can make the other look in court, and in the court of public opinion.

For this reason, the investigation and prosecution of all officer-involved shootings need to be taken away from the department for which the accused officer works. The choices are a prosecutor from some other jurisdiction (complicated), a special prosecutor (expensive), or a prosecutor from the state Attorney General’s office (possible conflict of interest if the AG has to defend a civil suit from the same incident).

The final way to mitigate the team spirit between prosecutors and police officers is to go to a federal agency. To do this routinely would require legislation, because every officer involved shooting does not contain a federal issue.

Are the feds more competent and honest than the state police? Indians on reservations have strong opinions from watching Major Crimes Act cases.

We’ve come a long way since Indians could not testify against white people in court, but most of those rules came from states. The federal government has been better than that, the modern federal government lionized for honesty in the face of temptation in The Untouchables.

The FBI reported that between 1993 and early 2011, their agents killed 70 people and wounded 80 others. All 150 incidents were internally investigated by the agency that claims to be incorruptible and the source of forensic science that is state of the art for the entire world. How many FBI shootings out of 150 were found to be legally justified?

One hundred and fifty.

Full article is at ICTMN.

Jim Obergefell Takes On Religious Liberty Bigotry.

jim-obergefell-x750

In a disgusting move by the House, they decided to open hearings on anti-LGBT legislation on the Anniversary of the Orlando Massacre. Well done, U.S. Government! That’s the way to show us you really, truly care, and that all lives matter isn’t just a knee-jerk privileged response. For the sarcasm impaired, sarcasm. Jim Obergefell testified, and it is a very moving and emotional testimony. Here’s a bit:

Here’s what I said to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Tuesday.

Chairman [Jason] Chaffetz and Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings:

Thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Jim Obergefell, and I was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

June 2015 was a joyous time for me and LGBT people across the country. The Supreme Court decision extending the freedom to marry to all loving couples was a landmark achievement in the long and ongoing struggle for equality under the law. I was deeply honored to have played a role in helping same-sex couples win this victory.

June 2016 was a time of heartbreak for millions around the world, including myself. The murder of 49 people and wounding of 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on June 12 was a devastating tragedy and the worst attack on the LGBT community in our nation’s history.

Today, exactly one month after this horrifying event, I am appearing before this congressional committee to discuss a bill that would authorize sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people. I think that is profoundly sad. With all due respect to you, Chairman Chaffetz, and the members of this committee, this hearing is deeply hurtful to a still-grieving LGBT community.

It is my opinion that a hearing like we’re having today would have been much better spent in looking at how best to ensure that no one in this country is subjected to violence or discrimination based on who they are or whom they love.

Sadly, that is not the focus of today’s hearing. I will explain why I am so strongly opposed to the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, but I first would like to share a bit more about myself.

Mr. Obergefell’s full article can be read here.

Cops, Bigotry, Cops, Bigotry…

Louizandre Dauphin's selfie after he was pulled over by police (Photo: Instagram)

Louizandre Dauphin’s selfie after he was pulled over by police (Photo: Instagram)

First up, for a change, a story from Canada, where a man was confronted by cops for reading while black.

Louizandre Dauphin of Bathurst, New Brunswick snapped a selfie of his arched eyebrow for Facebook with red and blue police lights flashing behind him. The former high school English teacher pulled had over by the water to read a book by C.S. Lewis. All he wanted was a nice quiet place to read his book. But he had been pulled over.

The officer said that they had received several calls from concerned citizens who said that they saw a “suspicious person” on the wharf. He left his teaching job and now serves as the city’s director of parks, recreation and tourism, which might be why he sought out the city’s wharf as a place to read. But his appreciation of nature isn’t why he thinks people called to complain, The Province reports. He thinks it is because he’s black.

Full Story Here.

Shutterstock.

Shutterstock.

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, the union that represents the city’s police officers, has scrubbed its social media accounts less than a week after suggesting the Black Lives Matter movement was to blame for the fatal shootings in Dallas, The Stranger reported.

Not only was the guild’s website offline, but a Twitter search for its account came up empty as of Monday, as seen below: (See image at linked story.)

As the Seattle Times reported, the guild’s Facebook page was also taken down, just days after a post commenting on the Dallas attack by saying, “The hatred of law enforcement by a minority movement is disgusting” and adding the tag #Weshallovercome, a reference to the Civil Rights Movement protest song.

Geekwire published a screenshot of the post prior to its deletion, which can be seen here:

ScreenHunter_5537-Jul.-12-20.07

Guild President Ron Smith, a detective with the department, said at the time that the post was criticized because people took it out of context.

Oh. Always a good sign when someone decides to go full court Sam Harris, and scream context. There really isn’t any complex context to consider here.

“Somehow some folks were offended that police officers are disgusted at the level of violence directed toward law enforcement officers across this country by the vitriol spewed by a small segment of society,” he said.

So, people of colour are a small segment of society. Interesting. If that’s the case, why are all these white bigots so damn upset, screaming at how white people are a minority and will soon become extinct? You don’t get to have this both ways. Also, Mr. Smith, if people of colour are such a tiny segment of society, why in the hell are almost all extrajudicial murders by cops happening to PoC? Something smells, don’t you think? Full Story Here.

whitecouple6-800x430

Teen confronts white couple over racial statements (Facebook/screen grab)

Live Facebook video caught a Texas couple shouting racial slurs at an African-American teenage girl.

According to Media Takeout, the girl was dining with her family after church at Chester’s Hamburgers restaurant in San Antonio and began streaming the encounter live on Facebook after the couple made racial statements.

“So, Facebook, this is what racist people look like,” the girl announces to her followers.

Both families tell each other to “shut the f*ck up” before the white man begins calling the black family “god damn n*ggers.”

“You’re a f*cking n*gger!” the white woman wails.

“This is what racism looks like!” the teen recording the video shouts back.

“F*ck you, honky!” one of the women in the black family exclaims.

“I can be a honky! I can be cracker too!” the white man yells.

“Take your n*gger ass back to Africa!” the white woman says.

“I was born right here in America!” one black woman points out.

“My ancestors owned your mother f*cking ass,” the young white woman squawks. “My ancestors owned your ass, bitch.”

The woman adds, “Black people don’t belong in America.”

[…]

They call us monkeys and n*ggers and nobody is paying attention. You know, I had to record it to let you all see. Because it’s real in San Antonio too. For everyone who thinks it’s not real, it’s real in San Antonio.”

“That’s the problem though,” she notes. “You can’t fight these people because that’s how you end up in jail.”

And right there is a prime reason that white people need to be good, strong allies in this fight. Don’t be silent. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look down. Don’t tell yourself “this isn’t my fight.” It is your fight, it’s the fight of every thinking, decent person, and a lot of the time, you won’t find yourself up against stone asshole racists, like the ones quoted above. You’ll be facing nice people who think they are good, and decent and kind. And for the most part, they are right in that self-assessment. But they don’t know enough, and they don’t think enough. I found myself in that situation at the pain clinic yesterday, laying on a slab, half naked, with a needle in my spine. For a moment, I considered letting the remark about those poor cops slide, then thought “no, you cannot do that.” So I didn’t. Talk, even when you think “eh, not the right time”, talk anyway. You never know when you can get another person to think deeper, and they’ll end up wanting to know more.

Full story here.

 

Faces.

A woman confronts stormtroopers. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

A woman confronts stormtroopers. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. Source.

 

Faces2

A man being “detained”. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. Source.

Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Ieshia Evans. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters. Source.

 

Police arrest activist DeRay McKesson during a protest along a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. (Max Becherer/Associated Press)

Police arrest activist DeRay McKesson during a protest along a major road that passes in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. (Max Becherer/Associated Press).

 

A man being "detained" by stormtroopers. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters.

A man being “detained” by stormtroopers. Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters.

 

Another person being "detained". Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters.

Another person being “detained”. Credit: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters.