Say Her Name: Ma’Khia Bryant

The details are sketchy at this point and a number of important things, including how to spell her name and even her age are being reported differently in different places, but from the best information I have right now (which could easily change later):

A foster child, 15 years old, whose name was Ma’Khia Bryant, was being bullied and attacked by other foster kids, probably other girls. She called police for protection. At some point before police arrived (possibly even before she called them?) she acquired a knife to use in self-defense. When the police arrived there was some sort of altercation between Ma’Khia and at least one other girl. At this point she may or may not have been still holding the knife. It’s even possible that someone else had taken the knife from her, but I don’t consider that likely.

Police seeing a physical altercation with a knife involved shot to kill Ma’Khia, the girl who called desperate for protection. She is dead.

I don’t give a god damn if Ma’Khia had the knife in her hand and was swinging it: she was in state custody (unless this detail is also wrong, I fucking hate how different stories are saying different things, but none seemed to say that she **wasn’t** in state custody, it’s just that some stories don’t mention foster care at all), and the state owed her better. Even if there was an immediate necessity to protect the other child because Ma’Khia was swinging the knife, that only backs up responsibility from the cops to the foster system that shouldn’t have put her in that situation to begin with.

To make matters worse, the Mayor of Columbus, Ohio where Ma’Khia was killed called her a “young woman” who “lost her life”, probably between the couch cushions.

Ma’Khia was not a young woman. She was a child, a girl. It’s bad enough that the mayor would say such a thing, but it is much worse than that in that there is a long trend of Black children being treated as adults to maximize the blame that can be placed upon them while white young adults are called “children” or “teenagers” to minimize the blame that can be placed on them. Kyle Rittenhouse is a perfect example of the latter.

I’ll keep watching things, but FUCK THIS SHIT. I’m so sick and tired police violence. I’m so sick and tired of the government killing the people it has a duty to protect.

A thought I had elsewhere on war and the media

So a long time ago now Phil Donahue was fired from MSNBC for being too anti-war. When that firing came up again through a casual aside on Wonkette, it occurred to me to write something there in the comments that I now bring over here:

Going to war is the most consequential decision a nation can make. In the US, by virtue of how it practices war, the consequences can seem distant, and so too many people will fail to understand that going to war requires an increase in some combination of debt and taxes, that much of that increased financial burden at home will then be spent overseas, where the US people cannot benefit. Then, of course, the US military will kill. Not only will we commit thousands of murders in the name of our war, depending on the war we may easily commit hundreds of thousands, while destroying the homes and infrastructure that provides shelter, necessities, and economic engagement for millions more. As a result, the US war will cause internal struggles for any attacked peoples, bringing the death toll resulting from our decision as high as the low millions.

You cannot start a disaster that will claim millions of lives, or even tens of thousands of lives, and wreck economies for hundreds of kilometers without creating a huge amount of ill will. In addition to traditionally-understood blowback, there is also a difficult to quantify effect on the ability of US persons & companies to engage in international trade after such a reputational hit. Our diplomacy is negatively impacted as our credibility dives. In any number of ways other than military, the US loses.

And yet, it is the recurrent pattern in every time and every place that when a nation goes to war, dissent is quashed: the US is not so exceptional as to escape that pattern.

As a result, the closer a nation, yes, even the USA, gets to war, the less informed the public and the worse the information base used for making decisions.

We know this.

Knowing this, it is unconscionable that US media companies do not go out of their way to recruit and protect anti-war voices, long term voices that can gain in reputation and stature as criticisms of past wars are slowly acknowledged by the monied and political classes to have merit. Voices that we can point to, then, and say, “But they were right about the last war; we should listen to their warnings about this one.”

And they will not always be right. And there have been such things as wars the US should have entered, as World War 2. But without them we will continue to make our worst decisions when we need our best.

If you are a media company employing 10 or more reporters, there is no excuse for not having anti-war journalists and commentators on your staff.

 

 

Takeover: Movement toward justice

Quite a number of years ago, I joined with some students who had taken over the administrative building of their college. I wasn’t at the takeover when it happened, but I was asked to come speak to the people who had. It was a very odd thing, from my point of view. I was new to the campus and honestly didn’t understand the specifics of the grievances that led to the takeover, but I had been invited as a guest lecturer specifically because the student body trusted me and wanted my opinions on various topics related to feminism, anti-racism, queer liberation, trans liberation, and disability. Several of those were implicated, most prominently feminism and racism, and I think it made sense to the students to have a competent facilitator for certain discussions related to them, but also to have a facilitator without baggage, without a history at the college. I had something of an educator’s patina, but no relationship to the administration or its past choices. Thus I was invited, and thus I went.

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It isn’t up to us to win

I first became politically active when the Oregon Citizens’ Alliance put a citizen’s initiative on the ballot to declare in law that “homosexuality” was “abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse”. Measure 9 was itself an abomination, one that treated anti-discrimination laws as if they were discrimination against bigots, which was somehow supposed to be an unconscionable thing, what with how unfair that would be to the bigots.

Measure 9 lost. The OCA (which then featured Scott Lively as its highly visible 2nd in command) lost. But that doesn’t mean that queers “won”. We spent money and energy and made ourselves visible, made ourselves targets, so we could be attacked intensely for an election season in the hopes that sacrifice would make us safer after the election season. That isn’t victory. Honestly, it was a lot like being in abusive relationship, something I knew a lot about, and provoking abuse as the “walking on eggshells” phase of the relationship grated horribly on one’s nerves. Sometimes one’s fears of what abuse comes next are worse than the actual abuse when it occurs. I had to reasonably fear being killed by my abusive partner, but as it turns out, I was never murdered.

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Say It, ACLU!

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Sep 23rd, not much more than an hour after the Kentucky AG announced that no officers would be charged for the killing of Breonna Taylor, the ACLU released its own statement to the press. Before you read it, remember that this is the statement of an old organization that depends on its relationships for its effectiveness as much as it does the courts. So when they release statements, they’re not normally likely to simultaneously set fire to their political relationships and impugn the credibility of the courts.

But read this fucker:

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Black Lives Don’t Matter

Well, the grand jury indictments are in and a single officer is being charged with three counts of “Wanton Endangerment” because his bullets penetrated through the dry wall of Breonna Taylor’s apartment, burst through the drywall on the other side, and trespassed in an apartment not belonging to Taylor.

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When it matters to locals…

Many years ago, Bob Packwood represented Oregon in the US Senate despite a veritable career of sexual assault, often carried out in the US Capitol Building. Although the Oregonian, the largest newspaper in the state and one which likes to bill itself as the paper of record for Oregon, had the story, they declined to take it to press. IIRC, one reason for that decision was that they didn’t want to influence Packwood’s reelection bid by printing the story too close to November.

The Oregonian’s slogan at the time was, “If it matters to Oregonians, it’s in the Oregonian.” Naturally enough then, when the Washington Post printed the story of Packwood’s serial predations one immediately began to see bumper stickers around Portland stating, “If it matters to Oregonians, it’s in the Washington Post.”

This phenomenon isn’t unique to the Oregonian, however. There’s an old expression, “Don’t shit where you eat.” The message of the metaphor is that you don’t want to make a mess of the place where you live, because you’ll hurt yourself in the process. Though journalism writ broadly does like to hold powerful figures to account, it doesn’t like to do so if that’s going to make a mess of the places where journalists have to make a living.

As a result, it can sometimes be easier to get good, honest analysis of how fucked up your local situation might be when reading a news source based far away. The problem here is that the honest assessment and willingness to tell the truth even if it makes a local mess is combined with a lack of access to local facts. It’s simply harder to get all the details necessary for the analysis, even if it’s easier to do the analysis honestly once the facts are in place.

But every once in a while you’ll get good writing about your local situation in a foreign source that also managed to get access to all the most important facts, and when that happens it’s often the best reporting you can read.

Today, courtesy of Wonkette.com, I found my way to reporting in The Guardian on police violence in Los Angeles. The whole piece is worth reading, but the conclusion takes one’s breath away:

Lopez knew she wanted to get in engaged in local activism after watching George Floyd’s death. In June, she wrote to the mayor of Ontario, the southern California city where she lives, and outlined her own experiences with police over the years and the ways officers mistreat Black families like hers. She called on city leaders to stand up to systemic racism: “I tell you about us so that you are convinced that we matter.”

On 10 June, a police official responded to her email, thanking her for her words, but suggesting the George Floyd tragedy was unique and did not represent officers’ behavior.

The following day, police killed her father.

California god damn.

Cornelius Frederick Was Murdered. What will we do?

For those who thought the residential schools nightmare was over, I present you Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. Don’t read any further without preparing yourself for the horror you know is coming.

16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks [sic – actually “Frederick”] died on May 1 after suffering a heart attack on April 29.

Why did his heart stop on April 29th? I will never GEORGE FLOYD guess, will I?

[S]taff sat on his chest as he lost consciousness. …Employees waited 12 minutes to call 911, even though Fredericks was limp and unresponsive.” …[V]ideo from Lakeside Academy shows a staff member placing his/her weight directly on Fredericks’ chest for nearly ten minutes as the victim lost consciousness.

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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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