How Not to Stop Police Violence.

Dash camera footage shows violent arrest of Sandra Bland. CREDIT: Associated Press

Dash camera footage shows violent arrest of Sandra Bland. CREDIT: Associated Press.

As the fight to end police violence rages on across the country, a state senator in Texas wants high schoolers to learn how to communicate with law enforcement during traffic stops. But the proposed curriculum assumes that the people targeted during those stops are the problem— not the officers.

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) is currently eyeing legislation that would require schools to teach ninth graders about encounters with police on the road. Noting that there’s a deep-seated mistrust of police, he wants the Texas Board of Education to ensure that young people learn what their rights are early on. But Whitmire, who says his idea was inspired by Sandra Bland’s violent arrest and subsequent death in custody, also wants students to learn how they should behave around officers who pull them over.

“Ms. Bland’s tragedy is a huge motivation for me to hold the officer accountable and also assist the public in some of the better practices when they encounter law enforcement,” he told the Texas Tribune. “[If] Ms. Bland and the officer would have taken a deep breath, I don’t believe she would have been taken to jail, where she ultimately met her fate, unfortunately because she was not treated right when she got to jail.”

She wasn’t treated right? She was murdered, Senator. Dead, never coming back. That’s more than not being “treated right”, we aren’t talking about cops being rude.

As for teenagers in Texas, it’s impossible to know if officers will shoot them during traffic stops — even if they’re obeying orders and expressing their rights in a respectful way. While Whitmire said that officers should also let go of the “‘I caught you’ mentality,” his proposal still puts the responsibility of de-escalation on teenagers, rather than the adults hired to serve and protect them.

Local police officers included in conversations about the proposed legislation agree that the responsibility to reduce tension during a stop shouldn’t fall on officers’ shoulders.

“On the side of the street is not the place to litigate what you believe the officer is doing is wrong or what the officer believes you are doing wrong,” Executive Director Kevin Lawrence of the Texas Municipal Police Association explained to the Tribune. “It needs to be a better understanding by our general citizenry of what law enforcement is expecting of them. They need to understand that when they’re being contacted by a law enforcement officer — we’ll just take a traffic stop as an example — they need to think about that stop from the officer’s point of view, not their own.”

There isn’t enough fuck you, and fuck that in the universe for this continued idiocy. No, cops need to be accountable, and the responsibility for not escalating anything at all should be firmly on the shoulders of every single cop. You want to swagger around, weighed down by weapons, playing lord of the universe, you fucking take responsibility. I can’t even express how much I hate this shit, that it’s on me and every other person out there to prevent our own murder, especially as cops seem to be very keen on murdering people who are not only fully complying and have their hands up, they are now seen as a threat after they have been tased, for fuck’s sake! No, cops, go fuck yourself, you are all wrong, wrong, wrong. You stand up, and take responsibility. You stand up and do the right thing. You stand up for your community, because you are a part of that community. You point the finger at the bigots, the violent morons in uniform standing next to you. You point the finger at all the bullies. You refuse to work with them, you refuse to work at all unless there are goddamn standards put in place. Point the finger at all those upstanding people in blue who go home at night and beat the shit out of their partners and kids, then wander around with weapons the next day. Clean up your own houses, put that focus on policing yourselves. There isn’t a person anywhere who can trust a fucking cop.

While well-intentioned, Whitmire isn’t the first lawmaker to offer advice about how to behave around cops. And not all of that advice has been positive.

Following the shooting death of Jamar Clark in Minnesota, Rep. Tony Cornish (R) wrote an op-ed about how to “reduce the use of force by police.” In it, he wrote, “Don’t be a thug and lead a life of crime so that you come into frequent contact with police,” and “Don’t make furtive movements or keep your hands in your pockets if told to take them out.”

This year alone, police have shot multiple people who had their hands raised.

Full story at Think Progress.

Black Lives Matter.

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

Have a wander over to http://blacklivesmatter1.com/ – you can keep up with the latest news, and help out a bit by becoming a member, donating, or just spreading the word. And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter. Everyone who reads here should know the importance of signal boosting, can’t stop the signal!

White Saviors Need Not Apply.

Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march on the anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police (a katz / Shutterstock.com)

Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children’s march on the anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death at the hands of the Cleveland police (a katz / Shutterstock.com)

In this post, I wrote about problematic white people at the Očeti Sakowiŋ camp. Certainly this does not apply to all white people, there are plenty of thoughtful, mindful white people who get it. As with most people who manage to do the right thing, they get to be unsung heroes, because it’s more important to talk about people who are serious problems, big ol’ roadblocks when it comes to any sort of social progress. I have no doubt there are plenty of times when white people feel as though they are constantly picked on, but it’s desperately important to understand that there are many good reasons for that.

Here in uStates, and in way too many other places in the world, people have been brought up and raised in a drowning pool of colonial kool-aid. Colonial thinking is extremely bad, it’s bad for everyone and everything. It’s destructive, dismissive, disrespectful, condescending, and unthinkingly arrogant. It’s short-term thinking, which is the very worst kind. There’s no looking to the past, through the present, into the future. Colonial thinking does not allow for a time bridge, or the importance of all generations, past, present, and yet to come. Look at the photo up there ^. Look at that child’s face. Every child’s face should reflect trust and happiness. That so many children, all over the world, know fear, distrust, and suspicion at such young ages is wrong on every possible level. That so many children, if they are not white, are viewed as sufficiently mature to be a threat, therefor, it’s okay for them to be gunned down by cops and citizens. Wrong. So wrong. That’s racism run amok, when you target children and think it’s okay to do that, for those children.

I know I’m not alone in being very tired of the fact that in spite of everywhere, in every way, every. single. thing. is made better, easier, softer, kinder for white people, yet they still manage to complain if the sugar-coating on a bitter pill isn’t thick enough.

I have mentioned, so many times, that I’m half white, and it’s that half which shows on the outside. When I’ve been at the camps, frinst., and someone is speaking about wašiču, and not in a nice way, I don’t take offense, I don’t get upset in any way. I listen, because generally speaking, I know I’m going to hear something valuable. Sure, I often hear things which hurt, but that happens when you’re trying to always learn throughout your journey on this earth. When you do hear things that hurt, it’s important that your hearing isn’t overwhelmed to the point that you miss bitterness, generational trauma, and/or the pain of deep wounds from the speaker. When you miss things like that, you miss the opportunity to understand. When you miss the opportunity to understand, you lose the opportunity of forgiveness and healing. When you lose the opportunity of forgiveness and healing, you lose the ability to be an ally. When you lose the ability to be an ally, you lose the possibility of peace.

When you’re white, at least here in uStates, it’s so very easy to be dismissive of the deep wounds of generational trauma; to handwave horrible acts because that was X amount of years ago. Ask yourself, if you have been hurt, does it help if someone tells you to get over it already? It’s not possible to “get over something” when that something has never been addressed in any meaningful way. It’s not possible to “get over something” when a majority of people refuse to even consider said harmful acts, and the repercussions echoing down the generations. Would white people consider it helpful if I simply posted: “White people, get over yourselves!”?

Then there’s the problem of white people trying to help when they have no understanding and little respect. Then you get people who are determined to be white saviors. No one is looking for white saviors. People of colour have already had long histories with white people who considered themselves saviors to the “lesser” races. Being an ally, that’s good. A wannabe savior? Bad. Lorraine Berry has a very good article up about the selective doubt of white people, and the savior problem. It’s in-depth, so just a bit here, click on over for the full read, and it’s a good one.

White people spend a lot of time telling black folks what their stories mean. If it’s not white writers insisting that they can tell a person of color’s story better than a black writer can, or Trump running mate Mike Pence telling black people that they talk about systemic racism too much, or Iowa Congressman Steve King telling Colin Kaepernick what his protest against police brutality “really means,” or folks who insist that “slavery wasn’t that bad,” there’s no shortage of white folks who insist that they know better than black folks when it comes to interpreting what happens to black bodies. It would be tempting to dismiss it all as the ravings of a minority of kooks if it weren’t for the ubiquity of the phenomenon. Everywhere, it seems, white people just can’t help themselves.

[Read more…]

Solidarity from the South.

Left to Right: Eriberto Gualinga (Sarayaku), Franco Viteri (Sarayaku), Kandi Mossett (IEN), David Archambault II (Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman), Nina Gualinga (Sarayaku), and Leo Cerda (Kichwa, on Amazon Watch staff). Courtesy Josue Rivas/Indigenous Rising.

Left to Right: Eriberto Gualinga (Sarayaku), Franco Viteri (Sarayaku), Kandi Mossett (IEN), David Archambault II (Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman), Nina Gualinga (Sarayaku), and Leo Cerda (Kichwa, on Amazon Watch staff). Courtesy Josue Rivas/Indigenous Rising.

Indigenous leaders from Ecuador joined the protectors at Standing Rock recently to show solidarity and share information, as their community has had some victories against oil companies and politicians in the past few years.

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In an interview on September 14, Viteri explained the reasons for the visit and outlined the connections between indigenous communities in the north and south. News of the struggle at Standing Rock had reached them, and Viteri and his group had been selected by the Sarayaku communities to “stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” the veteran activist and leader said.

“We came from the Amazon jungle with a message of strength and solidarity for the Sioux,” Viteri said. “My people are very conscious, because of our history and our tradition, just like the tribes here, of our connection with nature, with Mother Earth; we know that this is what gives balance to life here on Earth. The transnational corporations, like those trying to build this oil pipeline, are blind because they don’t understand the language of nature.”

Viteri noted that his Kichwa community had been in contact with other tribes in the U.S. before, but not with the Standing Rock Sioux. He also pointed out that he had seen other indigenous people from Latin America at the camp, and recalled that he had spoken with a few from Honduras, Peru and El Salvador. Another Amazonian indigenous community from Ecuador will be coming, Viteri said. He closed the interview with a message for the protectors at Standing Rock and others throughout North America.

“In the name of all the children, elders, women, the birds, the large and small animals that depend on water to survive, the Kichwa people extend a greeting,” he said, “a sacred greeting of respect for nature and for the life of all the peoples of the North, because we know that if water is destroyed, life on Earth will end.”

Rick Kearns at ICTMN has the full story.

Indigenous News Round-up.

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The Immortal Mr. Plastic.

Excerpts only, click links for full articles.

barack_obama On My Final White House Tribal Nations Conference, by President Barack Obama:

This week, I hosted my eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference as President, a tradition we started in 2009 to create a platform for people across many tribes to be heard. It was a remarkable testament to how far we’ve come.

It was just eight years ago when I visited the Crow Nation in Montana and made a promise to Indian country to be a partner in a true nation-to-nation relationship, so that we could give all of our children the future they deserve.

winonaladuke-e1336873224811  Slow, Clean, Good Food, by Winona LaDuke:

In an impressive fossil fuels travel day, I left the Standing Rock reservation and flew to Italy for the International Slow Food gathering known as Terra Madre. A world congress of harvesters, farmers, chefs and political leaders, this is basically the World Food Olympics. This is my fifth trip to Italy for Slow Food. I first went with Margaret Smith, when the White Earth Land Recovery Project won the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity in 2003, for our work to protect wild rice from genetic engineering. This year, I went as a part of the Turtle Island Slow Food Association- the first Indigenous Slow Food members in the world, a delegation over 30 representing Indigenous people from North American and the Pacific. We have some remarkable leaders, they are young and committed.

It is a moment in history for food, as we watch the largest corporate merger in history- Bayer Chemical’s purchase of Monsanto for $66 billion; with “crop protection chemicals” that kill weeds, bugs and fungus, seeds, and (likely to be banned in Europe) glyphosate, aka Roundup. Sometimes I just have to ask: ‘Just how big do you all need to be, to be happy?’

tribal_chairman_jeff_l-_grubbe_agua_caliente_band_of_cahuilla_indians_main_0  Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Donates $250,000 to Standing Rock Legal Fund:

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is donating $250,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s legal fund, citing the need to keep pushing for proper consultation even after the Dakota Access oil pipeline issue is decided.

“We support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s effort to ensure the United States Army Corps of Engineers, or any other agency or department of the United States, strictly adheres to federal environmental review and tribal consultation requirements prior to authorizing any projects that may damage the environment or any sites that are of historic, religious, and cultural significance to any Indian tribe,” said Agua Caliente Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe in a statement on September 27, calling on President Barack Obama to make sure consultation is thorough.

3-fiesta-protest-woman-with-sign_dsc0508_widea  Natives Speak Out Against the Santa Fe Fiesta – The Bloodless Reconquest:

A loud group of about 50 mostly Native protesters disrupted the Entrada kickoff event of the Fiestas de Santa Fe. This is the annual reenactment of Don Diego de Vargas’s “peaceful reconquest” of Santa Fe in 1692 as produced by Caballeros de Vargas, a group which is a member of the Fiesta Council, and several current and past City of Santa Fe Councilors are members of the Fiesta Council or played parts in the Entrada over the years. So these are layers you must wade through when people ask questions and protesters demand changes. And changes or outright abolishment of The Entrada are what the groups “The Red Nation” and “In The Spirit of Popay” are asking for.

climate_news_network-binoculars-flickr-aniket_suryavanshi  Dire Climate Impacts Go Unheeded:

The social and economic impacts of climate change have already begun to take their toll—but most people do not yet know this.

Politicians and economists have yet to work out how and when it would be best to adapt to change. And biologists say they cannot even begin to measure climate change’s effect on biodiversity because there is not enough information.

Two studies in Science journal address the future. The first points out that historical temperature increases depress maize crop yields in the U.S. by 48 percent and have already driven up the rates of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 11 percent.

big-pix-rick-bartow-counting-the-hours ‘Counting the Hours’ By Rick Bartow:

Rick Bartow, a member of the Mad River Band of Wiyot, walked on April 2, 2016, and had suffered two strokes before he passed. The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts reports that those events affected his work, and it can be seen in his collection as “exciting examples of Bartow’s production since his stroke… that evidence a new freedom of scale and expression.”

Born in Oregon in 1946, Bartow was never formally trained in the arts, though his artistic nature was encouraged and he did graduate from Western Oregon University with a degree in secondary arts education in 1969. Right after that he served in Vietnam from 1969-1971, and it was demons from that war that he spent his early years in art exorcising. He says he was “twisted” after Vietnam and his art can be described as disturbing, surreal, intense, and visionary; even transformative.

harney_peak_renamed_black_hills_peak_-_ap_photo  Celebration of Forgiveness at Black Elk Peak:

On a recent Autumn Saturday in the Black Hills, a handful of men and women gathered at around 9 a.m. at the Sylvan Lake trailhead just below Black Elk Peak. By 10 a.m., they numbered close to 80.

“The focal point of our gathering was to have family members of General Harney have an opportunity to apologize to members of the Little Thunder family,” said Basil Brave Heart, Oglala Lakota, an organizer of the event. Brave Heart initiated and led the effort to change the name of this highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains from Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

Among those standing in a circle that morning was Paul Stover Soderman, a seventh-generation descendant of General William Harney, known as The Butcher of Ash Hollow, and to the Lakota as the architect of the same conflict, known to them as the Massacre at Blue Water Creek. Soderman had come to apologize to Sicangu descendants of Chief Little Thunder, the Brule leader of those murdered in that conflict, and to seek forgiveness and healing.

All this and much more at ICTMN.

Standing Rock, Back at Camp: The Good.

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Where to start? First, find your note cup. The line of flags is now marching down 24 into Standing Rock proper, there are so many. It’s not possible to get them all in one shot. As we were on the way home on Wednesday, we passed a long convoy of cars heading to camp, with more flags piled into a couple of the cars, so there will be more when we get back next week. It was quiet when we arrived on Wednesday morning with a load of wood. We pulled around the back of the kitchen, and unloaded all the wood, then wandered into the communal area. Solar panels have been donated, and while one was in the communal area, most were up by the media tent on Facebook hill. We arrived too late to be part of the spell out – people went up on Facebook hill and laid down to spell out Water is Life and No DAPL for one of the drones, but a helicopter also flew over. We were in time to hear the roaring cheer as people got back up.

There’s heavy emphasis on recycling and trash pick up, and there are more washable plates and utensils in camp now. On a walk, we noted, with fascination, a tipi frame made with unusual material (10th photo), and realized what it was when we passed one of the tips (11th photo) – a broken tent canopy frame. That’s the same kind that collapsed and slammed into me. Perhaps I brokt it, being so hard-headed. The endless creativity of people deeply delights me. We have the potential to be such grand animals.

Okay, back to the beginning. On our way to camp (6 to 21 to 24), we noticed an unusual amount of cops. Generally speaking, cops aren’t terribly visible in Ndakota. They were certainly visible that morning. We sighed as we turned onto 24, at the realization that the cop in the gas station was most likely recording license plates. No one likes that sort of thing, we certainly don’t, but you can’t let yourself be intimidated. Right after passing the turn off for Sacred Stone Camp, we were very surprised to see a very large, very new looking mobile command center hulking behind some silos, along with assorted cop vehicles. We continued on into camp.

Right now, people are focused on preparing for winter. There were meetings set up about getting compost toilets going, and building earth lodges. There’s also some uncertainty right now, regarding the Oceti Sakowin camp (No DAPL), as the ACoE are being petty asses and making bullying noises about everyone having to get off “their” land, land to which they do not own the mineral rights. So, the whole camp may need to be moved a couple of miles up on the hill, which is Standing Rock Rez proper. We didn’t hear too much about that during our day there. Things may well have really changed by the time we get back on the 4th or so. Damn, I think I have to get to the pain clinic then. I need to keep track of appointments.

Two massive trucks filled with wood were brought in by the Tsalagi people out of Oklahoma, to cheers and applause. We had the privilege of meeting Tom Jefferson, tireless in his documentary work. While many people might not know his name, a whole lot of people will remember this particular video of Tom’s: One Of The Many Face of Racism in America, which went wildly viral. Tom is also involved with Tour de Frack.

We were fortunate to listen to a Havasupai elder speak, who was there with his 90+ year old grandfather. They were leaving the next day, so we felt particularly blessed to have been there to hear and listen. I was very disappointed to have to turn away from the opportunity to help tan two whole buffalo hides, but it required a 4 day commitment. It’s upsetting to be there, and not be able to stay.

There was a call to go up to the “front lines” and people needed rides. I considered calling Rick out of the kitchen, where he was happily slaughtering squash, but I had a very bad feeling about it, so stayed quiet. That bad feeling translated to most everyone being arrested. Phyllis Young had quite a lot to say about that, but that’s for tomorrow’s post, which will be Part the Bad.

Photos © C. Ford, all rights reserved.

Spurs Jesus for President.

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Instagram will soon be blessed with San Antonio’s latest piece of photo opportunity art, a mural of — and by — Spurs Jesus, on the exterior wall of Tito’s Mexican Restaurant.

The holiest Silver and Black superfan, who has a local discipleship of his own, is the subject and co-artist of the “Spurs Jesus for President” mural, at 955 Alamo St.

Spurs Jesus told mySA.com he and local artist, Carlos Cantu, finished the mural, designed by Ray Scarborough, late Tuesday night.

Like the “I love tacos so much” wall, by Luis Munoz, there is a higher purpose for the Spurs Jesus piece.

He told mySA.com the installation is sponsored by the St. Anthony Hotel and Alamo Brewery. The two businesses will donate $1 for each photo taken of the wall and posted to social media with the hashtag “#SpursJesus4President.” The challenge lasts until Election Day, Nov. 8, and will benefit The Paseo del Rio Association, dedicated to preserving and protecting the San Antonio River Walk.

The mural is also part of Spurs Jesus movement to “keep San Antonio great” and “puro.”

“I’m excited to bring another fun piece of art to San Antonio,” Spurs Jesus said, adding he hopes the mural becomes a “fun way to lighten up” the U.S. Presidential race.

Sharing a mural photo is also good for your appetite. Spurs Jesus said Tito’s will give a 10 percent discount to customers who show proof of their social media posts.

Surely, a Spur Jesus presidency would have room for taco trucks on every corner.

Via My San Antonio. That’s a Jesus I could get behind, and if I was in the area, I’d be taking advantage of that discount, too.

A Crocheted Statement.

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Artist Olek reveals an entire two-story house covered roof to floorboards in pink crochet. This new yarn-bombed installation currently stands in Kerava, Finland where Olek worked with a team of assistants to stitch together huge panels of crochet that envelop every inch of this 100-year-old house. Olek shares:

Originally, this building, built in the early 1900s, was the home of Karl Jacob Svensk (1883-1968). During the Winter War 1939-1940, the family fled to evade bombs falling into the yard, but they didn’t have to move out permanently. In 2015, more than 21 million people were forced to leave their homes in order to flee from conflicts. The pink house, our pink house is a symbol of a bright future filled with hope; is a symbol us coming together as a community.

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Isn’t that grand! I love this. I love the statement, the vibrancy, the life, the love, and the community of it. From Olek’s site:

A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet. Life and art are inseparable. The movies I watch while crocheting influence my work, and my work dictates the films I select. I crochet everything that enters my space. Sometimes it’s a text message, a medical report, found objects. There is the unraveling, the ephemeral part of my work that never lets me forget about the limited life of the art object and art concept. What do I intend to reveal? You have to pull the end of the yarn and unravel the story behind the crochet.

My work changes from place to place. I studied the science of culture. With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. My goal is to produce new work and share it with the public. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community.

Via Colossal Art. –  Olek’s site.

Art withdrawn

Denver Student's Art Work, withdrawn

Denver Student’s Art Work, withdrawn

A 10th grade Denver student withdrew her work after receiving criticism from police. There’s insistence that this was done voluntarily, and it most likely was, but it both pains and infuriates me that the artist felt the need to do so. It’s not as if police killings, especially those where the victims are non-white people are some sort of rare event here in the States. The work seems self evident to me, but according to the meeting with the mayor and chief of police:

“I wanted to know from that perspective exactly what are you saying and what can you share with me that I can share with the men and women of the police department to kind of correct what that artwork portrayed,” Chief Robert White said after Friday’s meeting.

So, the work wasn’t clear, and he expresses a desire to “kind of correct” cops killing black people. I think that alone expresses very clearly the need for this type of artwork, whether the police like it or not. If they don’t wish to be portrayed as bigoted killers, perhaps they should stop being bigoted killers. (Yes, fine, qualifier: not all cops, just way too fucking many.)