Lynching Without Punishment

Jesus fuck.

Other people will say that I should be fucking heartened by this:

On May 7th, 2020, the GBI arrested Gregory McMichael, age 64, and Travis McMichael, age 34, for the death of Ahmaud Arbery. They were both charged with murder and aggravated assault. The McMichaels were taken into custody and will be booked into the Glynn County Jail.
But I’m not. Read further:

I am not heartened.

Yes, I read what it said. I understand what it said. But I also read further:

On May 5th, 2020, District Attorney Tom Durden formally requested the GBI investigate the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The Kingsland Office initiated an investigation on May 6th, 2020.

and I am not heartened.

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Lynching is legal, says Georgia DA

In a case that can’t seem to get appropriate coverage inside the USA, Canada and the UK are publishing important stories detailing the lynching of a  Black jogger by a white ex-cop and his son just as fast as any published by the national press inside the USA. The best review of the footage of the actual killing is probably in this story, by a local news station in Jaxonville.

So what happened here, why are prosecutors declaring this behavior acceptable, and why do I call it a lynching?

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Police Union Declares War vs Government

I probably don’t write nearly as many stories about fascist cops as I should, but today’s news is far, far too important to ignore. After a NYC cop was killed, Mayor Bill de Blasio posted a supportive message to twitter:

This was a premeditated assassination attempt against New York’s Finest. It was also an attack on ALL New Yorkers and everything we believe in. This MUST be a city where everyone can live in peace and respect. This individual attempted to destroy that. We will not let him win.

In response to this message, calling the killing an assassination and an attack on all New Yorkers, the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association’s official twitter account responded with this:

Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you! We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you. This isn’t over, Game on!

It is stunning that a group of armed public servants would “declare war” against their own elected government. It’s hard even to think of appropriate commentary to respond at this point. While it’s probably only one or a very few NYPD sergeants were involved in the wording of this tweet, the head of the NYPD SBA has been reelected in the past after saying things nearly as horrible (or, hell, perhaps more horrible, I don’t follow the SBA carefully). At this point it’s clear that the SBA is dangerously biased toward conflict and violence. It’s hard to imagine any reform being successful short of firing them all.

Criminalizing fighting in sport

So… there’s been quite a bit of discussion in the wild about why a recent fight between NFL players of the Cleveland Browns and players of the rival squad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not result in criminal assault charges. The fight was broadcast to at least hundreds of thousands, I would imagine, very possibly millions. There were tens of thousands physically present at the scene and able to observe what happened and testify to it. Why, then, aren’t the participants being brought up on charges? Why were they not immediately arrested by sworn police officers present at the time?

Today this discussion was referenced by Mano Singham. And while I agree that there are reasons why we as a society might choose to prosecute the participants in these assaults, there are also reasons why we might not. One of those reasons is racism.

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Utah Criminal Code Chapter 9 §702-5

This is a delightful little statute. It bans “Lewdness involving a child” within the state of Utah.

I quote:

A person is guilty of lewdness involving a child if the person under circumstances not amounting to rape of a child, object rape of a child, sodomy upon a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses, intentionally or knowingly:
(a) does any of the following in the presence of a child who is under 14 years of age:
(i) performs an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy;
(ii) exposes his or her genitals, the female breast below the top of the areola, the buttocks, the anus, or the pubic area:
(A) in a public place; or
(B) in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child;

…(iii and iv omitted)

I’m going to pare this down for you a bit:

A person is guilty of lewdness involving a child if the person [does not commit or attempt to commit a more serious sexual crime, but]:

(a) does any of the following in the presence of a child who is under 14 years of age:

(ii) exposes the female breast below the top of the areola

(B) in a private place under circumstances the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of the actor or the child;

Got that? Exposing a female breast in the presence of a child, while in a private place, is a crime if anyone will “likely” feel affronted or alarmed.

Interesting little statute there. I’m sure it would never be abused by any misogynistic prosecutors in the United States. Especially not in a state as friendly as Utah, for Mormon Heaven’s sake! No, I’m sure that they would reserve it for egregious behavior like …

Tilli Buchanan, 27, … and her husband had been installing drywall in the garage and had taken off their shirts that were itchy from the fibers, she told The Salt Lake Tribune.

When her stepchildren, aged 9, 10 and 13, walked in, she “explained she considers herself a feminist and wanted to make a point that everybody should be fine with walking around their house or elsewhere with skin showing,”

Well there was that consequential condition on the actus reus that involved some sort of distress. This doesn’t sound like quite enough to …

The charges were filed after the children’s mother told that authorities she was “alarmed”

Ah. So a mom hates her ex’s new wife enough that she got her arrested on charges of “lewdness” because she was doing the exact same thing as the ex (removing clothes itchy from drywall contamination), something that anyone might do in their own home. That makes more sense. Gotta protect the kids from seeing their step-mom’s boobies. At least the punishment should be proportionate given the wisdom of the Utah legislature and its…

If convicted, Buchanan faces imprisonment [for a maximum of 364 days – cd], fines up to $2,500 and the requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

DAMN. Well, at least exposing your nipple in your own house isn’t a felo…

Lewdness involving a child is a third degree felony if at the time of the violation:

… (ii) the person has previously been convicted of a violation of this section.

So children walking in on you while your top is off in your own home is a misdemeanor the first time. The second time it happens, you can be punished

 by an indeterminate prison term of up to five years, and a fine of as much as $5,000 [oh, and by the by, they make your sex offender registration permanent].

Well. I guess that is serious. They’ll probably lose their house too, with no one out of prison to work and pay the mortgage…

Though her husband was similarly clad, he was not charged with a crime.

But… but…

Fuckit. Utah, you are fucking horrible.

 

 

 

Botham Jean: A Black Life that Mattered

We have known for quite some time that, factually speaking, Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean. What we did not know was whether or not the law would find a white police officer, off duty and on no official business, legally guilty of murder for breaking into Jean’s apartment and shooting him dead.

Now we know.

Guyger could easily have negotiated a plea deal for manslaughter, claiming fatigue or whatever the fuck she felt justified the shooting, since there does seem to be no doubt that she and Jean lived in the same apartment complex and that she was on the wrong floor and at least initially thought maybe she was entering her own apartment. But she, like so many cops before her, wanted the law to impose no consequences whatsoever for shooting a Black man dead. She took her case to the jury, and the jury, almost beyond all reasonable hope, found her guilty not of manslaughter, but of murder.

Now that Guyger’s trial is over, perhaps we can spend much less time on her and spend time instead remembering Jean for his loving, generous life.

Follow up to the Punisher cops: Logo Lawyer is Troubled

And FREEZE PEACH activists, for that matter.

One of the things that struck me the hardest in that story, at least after excluding the revelation that cops had actually placed punisher logos on their patrol cars anywhere, ever, much less huge logos covering nearly the entirely of the hoods, was the DeepThoughtsing™ of batshit dingleberry Roy Gutterman, head of the Syracuse Tully Center for Free Speech.

What did this “expert on communications law and the First Amendment” have to say that could help us appreciate precisely what had happened in Catlettsburg, Kentucky?

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Old News I Missed: Cops have placed the Punisher skull on patrol cars

This is from two years ago, though I didn’t see it at the time. Apparently the Blue Lives Matter movement created any number of mind-bogglingly awful logos and graphics, and at least some of them incorporated the stylized skull used as a personal symbol by the fictional Marvel comic and television character The Punisher.

If you don’t already know: The Punisher is not a good guy. He’s a former marine who now treats every crime as an act of war, and responds in kind. It never occurs to him that his wars might not make communities safer, that even if he targets bad guys war on the streets is bad for good guys and bad even for normal, non-noble but non-evil human beings. He is a man of blood and battle, a torturer and a murderer, and the embodiment of all the ideas that good is defined by its hatred of evil, that men are defined violently imposing their will over others, and, of course, that intent is magic. So, naturally, cops in the US think he’s the greatest.

Just check out those cars mentioned in the title:

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When You Let George Zimmerman Get Away With Murder …

Apparently two white supremacists shot bullets, at least two shots, at two bi-racial siblings (16 yo and 12 yo) who were walking on a footpath that is property of a local church and intended and maintained for public use. The evil white supremacists arrested for those shots are James Reidnauer and Brent van Besien. They don’t claim that the fired no shots, but they do insist that they fired the shots because the children were “meth heads”.

There’s little mystery about their future defense: they can claim erratic behavior on the part of the children that scared them, then invoke stand your ground. We know that Zimmerman claimed he thought Martin might have been high. We know that Zimmerman, despite being a violent, horrible jerkface ended up being found not guilty at trial. Why should the white supremacists neglect a winning strategy?

This. This is the evil that your government encourages when it passes a stand your ground law. Every single such law should be opposed in every single jurisdiction that has passed or considers passing such a provision. Do not retreat from this fight. Go on offense. The mere existence of stand your ground laws is a threat: treat it as such and never back down.