“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.

5 Ways Star Trek Diversity is Great For Native People.

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Here are five reasons the diversity of Star Trek is great for Native people:

Star Trek was a leader in the world of science fiction. It was also a leader in the world of civil rights.

The cast was incredibly diverse at a time when the American Indian movement was facing opposition from the federal government and civil rights leaders were being attacked by police dogs.

I ask you to take a good look at the world around us. We are not a world that wants to accept diversity or genuinely work on improving our planet.

Star Trek taught us that all types can be empowered.

From the Native side of things, we are still looked upon as a defeated people. We see our likenesses and images used as racist caricatures for sports teams and university mascots. Items that our people deem culturally significant and sacred are used as “hip” props.

Star Trek taught us no matter how seemingly insignificant a creature, they could all be empowered. Take a look at the Tribbles. The crew thought they were just cute little fuzzy animals, but they nearly took over the Enterprise. In numbers, all together, we are strong.

Star Trek taught us that all races could work together.

One step onto the bridge of the Starship Enterprise would convince anyone that many races can work together to overcome any odds.

These are injustices we face as Native Americans today. If you asked our ethnic brothers and sisters who share this land with us, they would likely same the same. We all live in a reality of hatred and racism that shows its ugly face in the form of mass shootings and unchecked violence that is scars the heart of our nation.

It is the same type of social division that the 60’s are best known for, the very same decade that birthed Star Trek are still prominent today.

Star Trek taught us there is hope.

There is always hope when we have people stand up for what is right. There is hope when people who go against the accepted norms and say enough. There is hope when individuals choose what is morally right in the face of persecution. There is hope when we choose decency and recognize diversity for the gift it is. There is hope when people behave like Kirk and Picard say enough, and chose to solve problems instead of making them.

Star Trek is a promise that things can be better.

It is a spirit of evolution that guides us to a wonderful tomorrow, filled the same principle that Gene Roddenberry spoke of when he coined the concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Star Trek is a call for us all to be more than we are, becoming ambassadors of hope to a world in need.

In closing I would like to offer both congratulations and my gratitude to all who have contributed in the past 50 years of Star Trek, you have made my life better with your shows, films, books and toys. You helped provide a safe retreat a young S’Klallam growing up on his reservation 30 years ago and continue to inspire me today.

To quote my favorite Vulcan, “May you continue to live long and prosper in the years ahead.”

Jeffrey Veregge’s full article can be read here.

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.

RNC Transgender Ad

ad

The National Center for Transgender Equality is part of Fairness USA, a partnership that includes the Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, the Movement Advancement Project, the Equality Federation, the Equality Ohio Education Fund, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Today we are launching a major public education campaign — the first of its kind — to raise awareness of the need for protections for transgender people across the United States.

The centerpiece of the campaign is an ad that will be aired during the Republican National Convention. The ad depicts mistreatment and harassment that many transgender people across the country have faced and continue to face when they need to use the restroom.

Newly released survey data from NCTE shows that 59 percent of transgender people have avoided bathrooms in the last year because they were afraid of problems like being confronted by others. A shocking one in 10 (12 percent of) transgender people report they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the last year, and one-third of transgender people have avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom. In the majority of states, restaurant and store managers can legally stop transgender people from using bathrooms that match the gender they live as every day — or kick them out of their restaurant or store just for being transgender.

This is appalling, but we are no longer fighting this battle alone. Much like the state-by-state marriage equality battles, we have seen that when people get to know their LGBT colleagues, neighbors, and friends for who they are, their opposition weakens and their support grows. Today, as more transgender men and women step forward to tell their stories, and parents advocate for their transgender or questioning children, negative attitudes are challenged and hearts and minds open up. In truth, we’re a mishmash community like everyone else — some of us are raising children, most of us are regular working folks, and some of us are serving in the military.

Those who support us see us for who we are – people. And in the same way that they’ve opened their hearts and minds, so too have voters across the country. Just last month, Quinnipiac University released findings from three swing states in the presidential race — Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — showing that support for transgender people is on the rise.

I think that’s a great ad, and it shows all people what we need to do – to view and treat all people as people. When we see someone’s rights being blocked, we need to step in and stand up.

Full story 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.

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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.