This is my rage face.

[CONTENT NOTE: mass shootings and shooters, violent misogyny, rape culture.]

Emoji: face with cringing eyes and mouth.


First, when I use the word misogyny, by way of definition I incorporate by reference the concept of entitlement. It may be directed to women’s deference, obedience, attention, decisions, bodies, privacy, place in a hierarchy (such as a business), perceived or actual safety (relative to men), and/or umpteen kazillion other aspects that I cannot think of right now on account of the blinding rage. So whatever else its definition may encompass, it encompasses at least some form of gender-based entitlement.

Second, the definition of mass shooting lacks consensus, to put it mildly. Broadly speaking, it requires a single shooter, a minimum of three (or four) victims, which may (or may not) include the shooter, in a public place, in essentially the same geographic location with shots fired close together in time. Again, broadly speaking, it does not include foreign terrorist attacks, or incidental homicides such as multiple killings during a bank robbery.

Interestingly, the common caveat that a mass shooting must occur in a public place means that incidents where a shooter kills his wife, girlfriend, or ex, her children, other family member(s) and possibly himself (odds are 50-50 there) does not meet the definition of mass shooting.

I wonder why that is?

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It’s Day 19 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

[CONTENT NOTE: police abuse resulting in the death of 14-year-old child with no accountability. No violent images in this post.]

Today we will STFU and listen to Deanna Hardy Joseph and Andrew Joseph, Jr., who lost their 14-year-old son to police abuse with no justice or accountability, and the team at Black Lives Matter Global Network who co-signed their letter. Those of us who are able and wish to help can do so in several different ways.

logo: white rectangle with "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in black text above three horizintal yellow lines, which when clicked links to the site

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It’s Day 18 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

[CONTENT NOTE: police killings of Black people; no violent images appear in this post, which does contain: an image of a casket and pallbearers at a funeral for police shooting victim Amir Locke; discussion and news reporting on police killings of Black people; some links in the Amir Locke section go to pages which contain graphic and disturbing police body camera footage of his killing and/or still images extracted from it.]


I have learned something about myself through this Black History Month project (JFC! There I go making it all about me already! #whitefail): it’s that I physically cannot write a blog post every day about every “newsworthy” story I encounter about Black people, whether tragic, triumphant, or very often both. That is why, for the past few days, I included in my posts links and blurbs about stories I did not address.

More than one article regarding police killings of Black people appears in my news feed today. I am posting about all three of them.



Photo of face of Amir Locke, smiling very broadly.

Amir Locke, 22
(image: source via

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It’s Day 8 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

Any rational observer (which excludes conservatives, by definition) would conclude that the so-called “War on Drugs” is misleadingly named. Not the “war” part of the construct; that part’s accurate. From the extra-constitutional surveillance, “stop-&-frisk” policing, coercive consent searches and no-knock warrants to the military equipment provided to local law enforcement by the Department of Defense (including tanks… tanks!), the tactics and weapons deployed against U.S. citizens in the drug war are indistinguishable from those deployed by the U.S. on foreign battlefields in actual wars.

Likewise, our rational (non-conservative) observer would be dead-on accurate were he/she/they to rename the entire endeavor the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs.”

That this is so cannot be disputed (in reality). For the facts of the matter, see the ACLU report A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform. In it, you will learn such facts as these:

Analysis conducted by the ACLU shows that due to racial profiling and bias in marijuana enforcement, Black people are 3.6 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite similar usage rates. This disparity has not improved over the last decade, and in fact, disparities have actually worsened in most states.

“3.6 times more likely” is a national average. On a state level, the Black/white racial disparities can get much worse: in Montana it’s 9.6 times more likely, Illinois 7.5, and in no state is it equal or less than even. Hell, it’s 1.5 times in Colorado, where weed has been legalized since 2012. At the county level, the disparities can get much, much worse. And this is before racialized sentencing disparities factor in.

Even so, a marijuana arrest is much more than an arrest. The ACLU report also addresses what it calls the “collateral damage” that often comes along with it, including:

  • Denial of public benefits based on use, arrests, or convictions for marijuana
  • Drug tests for benefit eligibility
  • Separation of families in the child welfare system
  • Loss of driver’s licenses
  • Deportation
  • Loss of federal financial aid
  • Bans on participation in the marijuana industry for those with drug arrests
  • Felony disenfranchisement [i.e. loss of voting rights]

Taken together, the “collateral damage” accrues to the individual, families and entire communities. And we’re not talking about violent traffickers and cartel kingpins here:

Nine out of 10 of marijuana arrests are for possession. While arrests for possession have decreased nationally since 2010, the rate of decline has stagnated and, in recent years, has even reversed upward despite popular reform movements.

For the whys, the hows and the history of the matter, see the The Last Prisoner Project’s extraordinarily comprehensive and beautifully written report Criminal Injustice: Cannabis & The Rise Of The Carceral State. It tracks the intertwined threads of politics, ideology and the perverse incentives that perpetuate the racist injustices of the weed war, and is worth a read for the highlighted quotations alone.

There are many who agree that the “War on Drugs” has been an abysmal failure by virtually every measure. (To hear the ACLU tell it, a majority of Americans agree.) The cost in blood and money lost in waging it is likely incalculable at this point, to say nothing of all that “collateral damage.”

But I disagree. By certain measures, the “War on Black (and brown, and other, but mostly Black) People Who Use Drugs” has been a spectacular success. It’s not exactly a secret that there are powerful factions in the country who are going to great lengths to disenfranchise Black voters. Take a look again at the ACLU’s list of “collateral damage,” and you’ll notice that for those same powerful factions, many of the harms listed are quite openly and enthusiastically touted as features, not bugs.

I’d say this war is working out very well indeed – for conservatives.


It so happens that today, there’s something you can do about this, at least at the federal level. I received an email from RootsAction as I was writing this:

Here’s candidate Joe Biden: “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

We couldn’t have said it any better. In fact, it was our public pressure that compelled him to say it.

Here’s what President Joe Biden has done: ______________. Nothing! He has not pardoned a single cannabis conviction.

Join a big coalition petition by signing your name here! Let’s make this happen.

Text of Petition:

While running for President, you committed to the American people that you would expunge marijuana convictions.

Yet more than one year into office, you have not taken a single action to provide relief to those still held back by a criminal conviction.

Millions of Americans have been subjected to a marijuana-related arrest and criminal conviction. Branding these individuals as lifelong criminals serves no legitimate society purpose and results in a litany of lost opportunities including the potential loss of employment, housing, voting rights, professional licensing, and student aid.

Further delay is completely unwarranted. The time for action is now.

In November of 2019, you said “I think we should decriminalize marijuana, period. And I think everyone – anyone who has a record – should be let out of jail, their records expunged, be completely zeroed out.”

This action would be a meaningful step in moving our nation beyond the harms of the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization and prohibition. Furthermore, this would set a tremendous precedent for state and local leaders to follow in your footsteps and facilitate the expungement of millions of cannabis records that were assigned under state and local criminal codes.

Please, honor your promise and take action to pardon marijuana offenses now.


GRAPHIC: Sign here button

After signing the petition, please use the tools on the next webpage to share it with your friends.


Please sign and share if you are able and inclined.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 of Black History Month 2022 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 of Black History Month 2022 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 of Black History Month 2022 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 of Black History Month 2022 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 of Black History Month 2022 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 of Black History Month 2022 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.

It’s Day 4 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

I had something else lined up for you beautiful people today, but instead decided to post quotes from two stories in my news feed this morning. Note: there is nothing particularly special about these two stories. The contrasts they illustrate are common as dirt.

Let’s call it…A Tale of Two Citizens.

First, meet P. Moses.

Undated photo of Black Lives Matter Memphis founder and former Memphis mayoral candidate Pamela "P." Moses during her campaign (2021).Pamela “P.” Moses
Black Lives Matter Memphis founder and
former Memphis mayoral candidate during her campaign (2021).
(image: via / uncredited)

via The Guardian (bold emphasis mine, except for headline):

The Black woman sentenced to six years in prison over a voting error

Pamela Moses was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register despite a felony conviction but officials admitted making a series of mistakes

On Monday, Moses, who is Black, was sentenced to six years and one day in prison… Amy Weirich, the local prosecutor, has trumpeted both the conviction and the sentence in press releases.

[I]t is rare to see a prosecutor bring criminal charges against someone for election crimes, and … there has been growing awareness of racial disparities in punishments for election-related crimes. Black people such as Crystal Mason and Hervis Rogers have faced years in prison for making mistakes about their voting eligibility. White voters have received much lighter sentences for election-related crimes.

Behind the scenes, Tennessee officials conceded that they had made a series of mistakes concerning Moses’ voting eligibility.


Moses is currently in custody and an appeal is expected. But the case highlights the byzantine maze that people with felony convictions have to go through to figure out if they can vote. And it shows the harsh consequences prosecutors can bring if people with felony convictions make a mistake.


Next, meet Officer Nicholas Gifford.

Photo of Officer Nicholas Gifford being interviewed by Internal Affairs investigator accompanied by his attorney, Phil Vogelsang. Officer Nicholas Gifford (top)
with his attorney, Phil Vogelsang, during interview with Internal Affairs investigator at Jacksonville, FL Sheriff’s office.
(image: Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office/public domain)

via First Coast News (bold emphasis mine, except for headline):

‘I’m drunk’ | Jacksonville SWAT officer who worked intoxicated will keep his job after city board reverses sheriff decision

The Jacksonville SWAT Officer, whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, admitted working ‘impaired’ on multiple occasions.

A SWAT officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office who admitted drinking a fifth of vodka just hours before driving his police car to a gun range for firearms training will keep his job, despite the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s decision to fire him.

Officer Nicholas Gifford was terminated by JSO in October after he showed up to the city’s gun range with a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit. But two months later, the city’s Civil Service Board ordered JSO to reinstate him, saying the firing was “manifestly unjust.”

Gifford’s intoxicated condition was initially discovered Oct. 13 by fellow officers who saw him “swerving back and forth” while driving his city-issued car to the JSO Firing Range, some 30 miles from his home. Gifford admitted to his inebriated state when the officers confiscated his gun belt.

“I’m drunk,” he told them, according to an Internal Affairs report.

A series of breathalyzer tests taken more than three hours later confirmed it. Gifford blew a .316 — four times the state’s legal limit of .08, and a patent violation of JSO’s policy threshold of .00.

He acknowledged having a serious drinking problem and reporting for work impaired previously, “probably five, 10 times.”

I’ma go out on a limb here and bet five, 10 million internet dollars that those numbers are undercounts by a factor of probably five, 10 times.

The eight-year officer was suspended immediately, and fired Nov. 5.

But on Dec. 16, he appealed his firing to the city’s Civil Service Board – a volunteer body tasked with reviewing discipline decisions challenged by city employees, and whose members are appointed by the mayor, JEA and the school board.

After hearing from both sides, the board concluded the decision to fire Gifford was “manifestly unjust” — a legal term defined as “shocking to the conscience.”

The Board voted to reinstate Gifford following 90-day suspension (retroactive to his dismissal date), with the condition that he undergo three random breathalyzer tests per work cycle for a year.

Manifestly unjust, indeed.

Under credit where credit is due, “the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will be appealing the Civil Service Board’s decision.”

One theory: nearly everyone at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has long thought that Officer Nicholas Gifford is an a$$hole.

Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 of Black History Month 2022 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 of Black History Month 2022 (Emmett Till) is here.

It’s Day 1 of Black History Month and We Whites Are All Going to STFU and Listen.

At least here at Death to Squirrels, we are. Because (1) listening to (and boosting) Black voices is important, and (2) no one learns anything while they’re busy talking. Or blogging. Whatever. You know what I mean.

Today, I share with you a powerful piece from the January+February 2022 Issue of Mother Jones by Lori Teresa Yearwood, titled “I Escaped the Trauma of Homelessness—Only to Face Your White Savior Complex.” [CONTENT NOTE: sexual assault and other egregious violations of autonomy; police, pastors and others behaving cruelly; homelessness: mental health (mis)diagnoses and stigma; trauma.]

photographic image of Lori Teresa Yearwood standing in front of a pond or strem with birds around it. She is wearing a beautifuolly embroidered red sweater and smiling.Lori Teresa Yearwood
(image: Niki Chan Wylie via Mother Jones)

I hope that you will read it, and if it makes you uncomfortable, that you will sit with that discomfort, and learn everything you can from it.


UPDATE: Ed Mullins has resigned his position, at the request of SBA’s board. The original Daily News article has also been updated with this paragraph:

[Mullins] is an outspoken backer of President Donald Trump and visited Trump at the White House in February 2020. He grabbed headlines in July 2020 for giving an interview on Fox News with a QAnon coffee mug in the background.

Quelle surprise.



Now here’s something you don’t see every day.


New York Daily News logo with "breaking news" banner

FBI raids suburban home of NYPD sergeants’ union head Ed Mullins and Manhattan headquarters

FBI agents are seen carrying boxes with evidence after raiding the Sergeants Benevolent Association headquarters in downtown Manhattan early Tuesday morning. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

FBI agents are seen carrying boxes with evidence after raiding the Sergeants Benevolent Association headquarters in downtown Manhattan early Tuesday morning. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

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BREAKING: Derek Chauvin sentenced to 270 months for murder of George Floyd.

It’s a ten-year upward departure from the state’s sentencing guidelines for the crime of second degree murder. The victim impact statements were fucking heartbreaking and incredibly moving, especially the appearance of Floyd’s 7 year old daughter Gianna, who spoke via video link. It’s just a fact that there can never be any real justice for her. Floyd’s brother just aches to understand why. I don’t think he will ever get any kind of answer either, at least not a satisfactory one.

The judge said the upward sentencing departure was based on four aggravating factors, one of which was cruelty. No one who has seen the video of Floyd’s murder could deny that. Nevertheless, the defense argued for a sentence of “probation and time served.” And Chauvin’s mother got up there to proclaim Chauvin’s innocence, and assured her son that many other people believe in his innocence, too. That the Floyd family sat quietly through all of that is a testament to their extraordinary strength of character. I’m sure I couldn’t do it.

Now the world will bear witness to Chauvin’s endless appeals, as well as the additional trial on federal charges. I will be paying attention, because George Floyd matters.

Graffiti artist Eme Freethinker kneels in front of his portrait of George Floyd, which he painted on one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. “I remember when I came in [to paint it], some guy told me, ‘You have to do it with the police over his neck,'” Freethinker says, “and I was like: ‘No, man. Not like that. No.'”