You. Can. Not. Reform. This.

First published on The Big Smoke.
April 19, 2021

On Friday, Portland, Oregon, police murdered an unarmed man who had no home, had expressed a long-time (unfortunately validated) fear of cops, and who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis. They were responding to a call about a different man possibly experiencing a mental health crisis in Lents Park. The cops fired impact munitions at Robert Douglas Delgado’s body and prevented anyone from offering medical attention until seven and a half minutes after police shot him (four minutes after arriving at the scene) almost five full minutes after he finally stopped moving, attacked with chemical weapons those who gathered to mourn the victim and protest his murder, and ate pizza over the corpse which they left lying in the grass for hours while they tried to “find” the gun they claimed was in his hand when they shot him. (Some reports before the fact that they had shot the “wrong” man was released, included the existence of a replica handgun, but cops are known to carry those to drop at a scene when they’ve murdered yet another unarmed person. Three days after the shooting, police produced a photograph of a toy handgun with an orange tip identifying it as fake that they allegedly found at the scene. Audio released at the same time “does not indicate that Delgado had a gun — or replica gun — in his hand at the time he was shot. … none of the officers on the ground say they see a gun in Delgado’s hand before” shooting him.)

This all took place:

  • after police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, murdered 20-year-old Daunte Wright in front of his girlfriend during a traffic stop and then brutally attacked those who rallied to protest his death and the reporters who covered those protests;
  • before a “trigger happy” cop placed on administrative leave for sexually abusing a child murdered three people in Austin, Texas;
  • during the same week that Chicago police finally released the video showing how many times and how many ways they lied about their murder of 13-year-old Adam Toledo;
  • while Derek Chauvin’s defense attorneys did their best to put his victim, George Floyd, on trial for Floyd’s own murder including smearing him with false overdose theories and other lies.

Image of a black sign with "Defund Brutality" written in white block print over three red fists and the outlines in white of two raised hands.For reference, Brooklyn Center police — who shot at protesters from tanks and continued using tear gas and other “crowd control munitions” after the Brooklyn Center’s city council passed a resolution “banning dangerous crowd-control tactics including the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, and protester kettling” – gained national recognition as a “police reform model” last summer.

In Portland, a federal judge found in February of 2020 that the police department was in “substantial compliance” with a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice reached after DOJ found officers often used excessive force on people who were experiencing a mental health crisis. Portland recently launched a pilot program in Lents — the Portland Street Response team — which is supposed to answer calls for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis rather than police. The Portland Street Response was not sent to the scene because the caller (possibly a member of a group notorious in Lents for attacking the houseless and which organized a “back the blue” rally the day after the murder) claimed that a man “acting erratically” had a gun. It also should be noted that the murderer, Zachary Delong, has expressed support for Michael Brown’s killer Darren Wilson and that Delong’s boss, East Precinct Commander Erica Hurley, is under investigation by the Secretary of State for violating Oregon law last month. In addition, Portland Police are currently under investigation by the DOJ for brutal attacks on protesters, failing to file use of force reports, and using flawed, possibly unconstitutional logic to clear themselves of alleged misconduct.

All of the above represents just a few of the incidents that occurred in less than a week of egregious police malfeasance and murder in the United States of America.

Over and over again, politicians at federal, state, and municipal levels play the “reform” game. They pass laws, enact codes, and implement policies which police then ignore, fight in court, and/or claim are in violation of their contracts. Most of the time, even if the police obeyed them, the laws/code/policies changes touted by reform politicians won’t even prevent the most egregious violence and brutality that police inflict. The U.S. House of Representatives’ so-called “Floyd Act”, passed March 3rd, “could not have even saved George Floyd’s life” or all those police have murdered since Floyd died, begging for his life, on May 25th, 2020.

Portland is preparing to revive, yet again, the racially biased, ever name changing Gang Enforcement Team (GET) Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) Focused Intervention Team without ever discussing with those who experience and understand the causes of gun violence whether or not this program offers any solutions. “Adding more police is like putting sugar on shit. It makes it taste a little better, but it’s not really changing anything. You may prevent murders, but you won’t stop the problem. You’re just going to have a lot more guys in jail… a lot more families without fathers. Then what?” asks Mike “Bretto” Jackson, former gang member who’s now a hip hop artist and youth mentor.

Meanwhile, using gun violence as an excuse, the agencies that claimed deputizing local law enforcement as federal officers last year was only temporary have announced a “gun violence collaboration” that includes Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who ran for office as a progressive reformer. Collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Portland and Gresham police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office “entered into a voluntary agreement … to “deputize a small contingent of local law enforcement officers”.

Because Portland public officials don’t understand, or refuse to acknowledge, that correlation does not equal causation. In reality, gun violence spiked across the country during the pandemic, resulting in overall gun homicides at the highest rate in more than 20 years. “The COVID-19 pandemic worsened many of the underlying conditions that contribute to community gun violence risk — poverty, unemployment, food and housing insecurity, ” according to Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, who researches violence prevention at the University of California.

One of the centerpieces of reform is the call to require police to wear body cameras. But there has been no reduction in police violence as more and more departments spend millions of dollars incorporating this requirement and citizens with smart phones fill the Internet with videos of egregious police conduct. And we have a multitude of video evidence of police brutally attacking and maiming the thousands of people who gather to protest police behavior, no matter how peaceful.

“Rather than thinking that they ought to be chastened by being caught on tape beating, tear-gassing, and pepper-spraying protesters, perhaps doing all this in full view of the public is the point. They’re not afraid of being filmed, because being filmed simply reinforces the central theme: If you come to protest, an action that explicitly challenges the order and my place in it, this is the consequence,” Patrick Wyman wrote last June. It’s “about sending a message: Try to hold us accountable, and we’ll find you. Whether the violence is real or merely threatened, the goal is public acknowledgement of this order, rooted in racial inequality and the protection of property.”

Mass arrests of protesters across the country are “all about intimidation” of people who vocally oppose police brutality, said Detroit Will Breathe organizer Tristan Taylor. “It says something about the nature of policing when that’s a uniform tactic.” The vast majority of citations and charges against protesters were ultimately dropped, dismissed, or otherwise not filed, but “police response created this whole additional public health crisis that wasn’t something people talked about much, but, in the moment, that was one of the biggest issues we were concerned about,” said Tyler Crawford, the National Lawyers Guild director of mass defense.

Reform is not possible when, as Colin Kaepernick stated in his introduction to a 30-part series demanding abolition, “The central intent of policing is to surveil, terrorize, capture, and kill marginalized populations, specifically Black folks.” He echoes the words of Huey P. Newton, Black Panther Party co-founder, “The police are in our community not to promote our welfare or for our security or our safety, but they are there to contain us, to brutalize us, and murder us.”

Organizations with roots in capturing and punishing Africans who attempted to escape carceral slavery, whose members ignore the law themselves while using it to capture, incarcerate, and kill those who are not white, cis, straight, able-bodied, males — or otherwise do not fit in what their limited worldview defines as citizen — cannot be reformed. They must be abolished.

Abolish The Police

For political reasons, I temporarily changed my social media avatar from “Abolish The Police” to “Black Lives Matter”. Since the reason no longer applies, I changed my avatar back. Almost immediately, someone on Facebook Abolish the Police asked the standard liberal question “And do what about crime?” (She deleted her comment after I a) documented the fallacy of her question and b) informed her how lazy and inconsiderate it was.)

Given that others still don’t understand why we will never end white supremacy and systemic racism without eliminating slave patrol/union busting cops, here’s some places to start. (And, these are only starting points. Many of my articles point to other articles/authors and there are long and detailed reading lists available at many libraries and online.)

1) Much of what you call “crime” (except that involving bodily harm) was created by laws written to continue slavery based on the wording of the 13th amendment (and have precedence in imprisoning uppity peasantry).

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-black-codes-4125744

2) #Police ≠ #PublicSafety
In fact, cops are hazardous to public health.

https://goldhaber.home.blog/2020/08/20/bioweaponizing-a-pandemic/

https://abcnews.go.com/US/black-man-wrongfully-detained-maskless-police-officer-tests/story?id=74967778

3) Police do not prevent or solve crimes. They show up after a “crime” has been committed, ask for the public’s help and/or tap into your business/personal surveillance video to figure out who did it, and then lie to get confessions/convictions.

https://goldhaber.home.blog/2020/06/06/defund-the-police-to-end-police-violence/

4) Police are criminals and liars.

https://thebigsmoke.com/2020/08/29/blue-crime-matters/

https://twitter.com/fodderyfodder/status/1297405642848837633

https://thebigsmoke.com/2020/09/09/peaceful-protests/

(Also, see thousands of hours of OTG video contradicting fabricated police reports “documenting” protest events in which police instigate and are the primary perpetrators of violence and murders of unarmed Black people.)

5) There are no good cops.

https://goldhaber.home.blog/2020/11/17/no-good-cops-still-on-force/

https://goldhaber.home.blog/2020/07/18/rotten-apples/

If you want to stop crime, use the money wasted on police to make sure everyone has enough to eat, a safe place to live, an education, and health (including mental health) care.

https://goldhaber.home.blog/2020/06/06/defund-the-police-to-end-police-violence/

Also, eliminate the oligarchy that rewards corporations and billionaires who constantly steal from the rest of us and never face any penalties.

If you want to know more, you should do your own research. If you do not know where to start, I regularly post on Facebook and on Twitter on this topic.

I also write about it here and on The Big Smoke America as well as in much of my poetry.

Protesters, Press, Police

First published on The Big Smoke.
December 16, 2020

In 1983 — when USA Today began changing the way, and what, newspapers covered as “news”, when Reagan’s deregulation started enabling the consolidation that would become mega media mergers, eventually leaving the U.S. with almost no locally-owned newspapers and television stations — I walked away from newspaper reporting as a career after only six years.

In that short time, I exposed discrepancies in federal loan subsidy application handling, local political manipulation of the federal bidding process, the impact of the Reagan administration’s first major union busting move, a medical clinic’s prescription misuse and inappropriate use of federal funds, a local coal baron’s questionable financial dealings and tax avoidance, and a local agency’s conflict of interest — all while reporting for very small newspapers. My stories resulted in state and federal investigations, tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes paid, contracts terminated, and Flight Service Station siting changes.

But, after a year of watching major metropolitan newspapers, including my own employer, remake themselves in McPaper‘s image, I walked away when my boss demanded I go out and cover a non-event (except on the police scanner), that required invading someone’s privacy. If didn’t, he said he would fire me. I quit.

The story I refused to report is one you have read dozens of times since. One that, instead of condemning the system that created the problems, merely makes you feel sympathy for the victim, or treats them as a hero, or vilifies them for crumbling under the weight of a society that deliberately breaks people.

Over the years, my decision was repeatedly validated as television and newspapers became worse about disrespecting everyone’s privacy, more and more mistakes appeared in print and on the air, and entertainment and celebrity coverage drowned out actual news. Bigger and bigger media conglomerates gobbled up local newspapers and television stations, and most media now is owned by a handful of mega corporations. [see two examples at the end of this article]

Now, we have so-called journalists who believe they’re empowered to invade other people’s lives and private property for their clickbait and sixty seconds of infotainment spotlight. They work for companies with right-wing, racist, misogynist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant agendas and do not care whose lives they destroy to get their “stories.”

When activists politely ask them not to take a photograph or collect video of an event, they scream about freedom of the press and their First Amendment rights. Except most of them have never, apparently, actually read the First Amendment. Because it doesn’t give them any rights at all to invade other people’s lives and steal their stories. It states that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” [emphasis mine]

Nothing requiring anyone talk to the press; no mention of allowing the press to invade private property in order to report on an event. Case law, specifically libel and sunshine laws, allow the press to write about public figures and celebrities without worrying about being sued and require government officials, both elected and appointed, to produce information to the press as representatives of their constituents.

But, if a broadcast “journalist” sticks a microphone in your face or points a camera at you, they are invading your privacy without your consent and if you don’t want to enrich them by sharing your information and/or photograph for their broadcast, you have the right to insist they stop and/or walk away. I have done both. As an author and a business owner, I also have been interviewed more than once by a reporter who took the facts I gave them and inadvertently misinterpreted or deliberately twisted them to meet their own narrative, rather than reporting mine.

Too often, people who have watched television footage of victims sobbing, witnesses sharing details, and families wailing their grief, believe they’re obligated to answer questions in front of a camera. But, footage like that is lazy reporting and rarely includes factual information.

Moreover, police view that footage and use it to target activists who protest police brutality and demand their elected officials stop funding military police forces in urban areas; who fight gentrification and sweeping houseless camps during a pandemic; who stand up against armed Nazis marching in our streets.

White Supremacist terrorist groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer use video and photographs posted by media to doxx and menace anti-fascist activists and their families with violence, including rape and death threats.

Right-wing “journalists” edit video to remove any mitigating circumstances, such as self defense. Edited video, claiming a “random lone protester fights with multiple proud boys” led to the arrest of a local Black man who defended himself with a knife in Washington D.C., when dozens of out-of-town white Proud Boys surrounded, trapped, and attacked him. It should be noted, that the Proud Boys, who were openly carrying hand and long guns in violation of D.C. laws, had already vandalized black churches, and roaming mobs of them attacked multiple counter-protesters, reporters, and random passersby with fists, chemical spray, weighted gloves, flag poles, and other weapons. But police arrested the Black man and they will use the edited video against him in court.

Those at home, scrutinizing photographs and video on television, websites, and social media, forget that U.S. law requires a presumption of innocence. With broadcast and print media frantically regurgitating inaccurate, deceptive, and outright deceitful police reports, viewers judge someone guilty before they’re tried, sometimes before they’re even charged with a crime, based on seeing often-doctored video.

Invasively filming and photographing people involved, sometimes only peripherally, in news events puts lives in danger. “Any journalist who has embedded with military forces knows there are times you DO NOT take photos,” investigative journalist Robert Evans tweeted recently. “A picture is not worth life.”

When I was a reporter, I was the first to report a national story from a small town newspaper because I worked to develop relationships with sources and to protect them. But, even back then, one of my sources lost his job because his superiors were able to determine, based on our locations and history, that he had to be the person I had spoken with. Today, with all the surveillance tech available to authorities, those who protest police brutality, evictions during winter and a global pandemic, stolen land, and other forms of capitalistic-enforced inequality are in even more danger from an authoritarian government.

At a recent active eviction defense in Portland, The Oregonian complained about being denied access making “it difficult to provide the public with a full account of the ongoing occupation“. This was after the newspaper printed false information, including calling the event an “occupation”. The only other “journalist” quotes routinely endangers protesters by deliberately filming their faces.

In addition to endorsing Portland’s much-hated Mayor Edward Tevis “Ted” Wheeler, The Oregonian, owned by Advance1, is run by John Maher who also chairs the Portland Business Alliance which heavily funded Wheeler’s election campaign. Urban Housing Development, which purchased the Red House at a foreclosure sale, belongs to the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland (HBA) which is affiliated with the Portland Business Alliance (PBA). HBA and PBA, along with Realtors and developers, also were among the entities behind United for Portland, created in the final months of the mayoral campaign to spend money targeting male voters to discredit Wheeler’s female opponent.

The Oregonian continuously uses language such as “become known as the ‘red house'”. Well, it’s a house. And, it’s red. So people call it the red house — hardly worthy of repeatedly wasting words. The Oregonian also deliberately contrasted the $260,000 the current owner paid at auction in 2018 with the more than $308,000 raised to buy it back via GoFundMe without acknowledging the $20,000 in property taxes also required as part of the proposed agreement, possible legal fees, and the costs of major repairs to the house required after law enforcement deliberately trashed it, including destroying the plumbing fixtures. It faulted the family for failing to pay the mortgage for nearly a year and half without mentioning that they paid the mortgage until it was sold and two different companies demanded payments. Although the family has made it clear how they want to be contacted, The Oregonian called one of the individuals on the phone and then made a big deal about reporting that he hung up, despite the fact that they had specifically asked not to receive phone calls.

Meanwhile, a reporter with KATU, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group,2 refused to leave the property when asked and kept filming people despite their repeated requests that she not do so. Her camera was knocked from her hand and stomped on to prevent her from further filming. She was injured slightly (although she tried to make it appear worse than it was, including erroneously claiming her hand was broken) when she tried to pull it out from under someone’s foot.

“By treating this like a regular news story you are, inadvertently or not, antagonizing the participants”, an activist who uses the handle @imlaceyimfine, posted in response. “You, and especially your camera, are a threat, whether you believe that to be true or not. The fear your camera inspires in people who have been brutalized and arrested all summer, is very real and in my opinion incredibly valid. Not only are the protesters rightly afraid of retribution, they are also traumatized. Many of them may be triggered by your presence. If you want the story, right or wrong, you need to make allowances for that fact.”

The “reporter” cried (literally) “crocodile tears” on Twitter and demanded the right to invade people’s privacy on private property with signage clearly stating filming was not allowed.

“If you have been following KATU’s limited coverage at the protests or the press conferences, you know they are not capable of telling the entire story,” TeamRaccoonPDX, volunteers who cleans up trash at protest events, noted.

Many of KATU’s reports about the Red House Eviction Defense were inaccurate and/or just a series of quotes from Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sherriff’s Office, and Wheeler. The station played down Wheeler’s and Police Chief Charles Lovell‘s threats against and lies about the family and activists that resulted in racist death threats and attacks by fascists. KATU was among the media breathlessly reporting that the four generations of family fighting to retain ownership of the “infamous ‘Red House'” also own another home.

When an agreement was reached with the city and the barricades protecting the house from police raids were removed Monday, December 14, KATU claimed “those who live in North Portland” — an area that encompasses more than fort-five square miles, 25,883 households, and the University of Portland — were “still concerned” about the few blocks surrounding the house. Sources for this included an “anonymous person” who allegedly lives in “the area” (already defined as North Portland, so, not necessarily anywhere near the Red House) and the Coalition to Save Portland (another entity formed to push Wheeler’s reelection) were still upset about the “occupation”.

During its “coverage”, the station also interviewed another person who doesn’t even live in “the area”, who was upset because some activists legally carried firearms. (This person also complained in that article he was unable to get “the city’s help to get his concealed handgun license”.  Licenses to carry concealed handguns are issued by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office not the city of Portland.)

These few “complaints” ignored numerous neighbors, including businesses, who supported efforts to fight the gentrification that has driven almost all Black homeowners out of a traditionally (redlined) Black neighborhood as well as efforts by activists protecting the eviction defense area to provide food, clothing, and medical supplies to those in need and to help remove graffiti from local businesses.

Other reporters — who respect their sources and do not film them without consent and/or who edit their video to remove information that can be used to identify, arrest, and doxx someone — had no difficulty providing accurate coverage of the events.

“This Oregonian article is nonsense. I’ve been at Red House nearly everyday since Tuesday. I’ve taken pictures & interviewed people without issue,” tweeted Garrison Davis a young, dedicated, and effective journalist who has covered protests in Portland since they started in May. “You don’t need to film 24/7 to “accurately” report. Write, take notes, it’s in the name, ‘Journal(ism)’.” Unlike reporters who pretend to be objective while working for right-wing media owned by oligarchs, Davis makes no effort to hide which side he sympathizes with.

“It’s not a matter of being objective, it’s really about being transparent,” Andrew DeVigal, chair in journalism innovation and civic engagement at the University of Oregon, told Portland Monthly.

“Not choosing a side, when one side is oppressed, means choosing, through inaction, the side of the oppressor”, freelance journalist Lady Rosie G. Riddle points out. “if you’re not an anti-fascist FIRST and press SECOND, then chances are, you’re helping fascists.” As she and numerous other BIPOC journalists and pundits state repeatedly, “objective journalism upholds white supremacy.”

If you do not believe that statement, compare any mainstream coverage of Portland BIPOC protesters in trying to prevent a local family from losing its home in winter, in the middle of a pandemic, while providing food, clothing, and PPE supplies to any in need, to the coverage a few years ago when heavily armed, out-of-state, anti-government white men took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, threatened local residents and law enforcement, and did major damage, including removing fences and plowing roads in defense of two men who had pleaded guilty to arson further.

 

 

1The Oregonian/OregonLive is owned by S.I. Newhouse-founded Advance which also owns Condé Nast (Architectural Digest, Allure,  Ars Technica,  Bon Appétit,  Epicurious, Glamour,  GQ, House & Garden, Teen Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, and more), American City Business Journals (BizEquity, The Business Journals, Bizwomen, etc.), among others and is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery (HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Animal Planet, Cooking Channel, American Heroes Channel, Now This, Thrillist, to name a few) and Reddit.

2KATU is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group which owns 190 television stations in 88 markets that are affiliated with all major broadcast networks plus 23 regional sports network brands. In May, 2020, it paid the largest civil penalty by a broadcaster, $48 million, to the Federal Communications Commission for violating the FCC’s sponsorship identification rules as part of its attempt to acquire Tribune Media. In addition to slanting its reporting to the right, Sinclair requires talent at its subsidiary stations to spout pro-Trump propaganda and right-wing opinions such as “comparing removal of Confederate statues to destruction of archaeological treasures“.  The Guardian calls it ” the most dangerous US company you’ve never heard of”.

Meet the New Boss … Same As the Old Boss

First published on The Big Smoke.
November 10, 2020

Despite

  • more than a quarter million mostly preventable deaths from COVID-19
  • thousands of children imprisoned in concentration camps
  • at least 660 children who may never again see their parents
  • hundreds of asylum seekers who were sexually assaulted, physically abused, and then deported to hide the evidence
  • hundreds of women whose uteruses were involuntarily/unnecessarily removed and who are now being deported to hide the evidence
  • a $2 trillion increase in U.S. debt
  • 12.6 million unemployed
  • 40 million on the brink of eviction
  • and 12 million who lost access to health care

while

  • a handful of billionaires increased their wealth by $1 trillion
  • the president, his family, and cronies stole millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury
  • the president violated the U.S. Constitution daily since January 20, 2016
  • he and his staff lied constantly (thousands of times)
  • and the president, his children, son-in-law, and staff committed treason

more than 71 million U.S. citizens voted to keep the current administration in office. And many of them lied about it. Because the only reason 99 percent of them had to vote for him is to support white supremacy.

And yet, despite four years of numerous analysts explaining in myriad articles, Twitter threads, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, etc. that racism is their primary reason for supporting him, there are still people insisting we need to “understand” why people vote for white supremacy and that we must not blame them for doing so.

Mike Stanfill, who creates Raging Pencils, went so far as to claim voter fraud in favor of the president because “in no rational universe could that walking bolus of bile and malice garner 71 million votes, 8 million more than in 2016, without significant covert aid.”

The only reason for anyone to not understand why and to not blame the people who subjected BIPOC, LGBA, transgender and two-spirit folx, immigrants, non-christians, people with disabilities, and others to four years of abject terror is to assuage their own, covert racism and/or white supremacy.

Black voters, Indigenous Americans, and many other people of color fought attempts to disenfranchise them; risked their lives; lost wages they couldn’t spare; traveled for hundreds of miles; stood for hours in the rain, the heat, the snow; registered thousands of new people to vote, and drove those who had no other way of getting there to the polls. All so they could hold their noses, after eschewing more progressive and representative choices in the primary, and vote for the slightly less evil, racist white man who has only marginally better impulse control. Because, they knew they couldn’t count on white voters to make the right decision last week.

“White pundits and talking heads still cannot say White folks voted for racism,” Marley K. said on Sunday. “When you can’t get White people to acknowledge there was no reason on earth to vote for Trump except racism, there’s no way in hell you can address the problem.”

Anyone who is still shaking their head, “reaching out” to racists, trying to understand why people vote for a narcissistic con man, is complicit in white supremacy, whether or not they’re an active participant.

More than 71 million U.S. citizens voted for a treasonous criminal because he allows them to brazenly display their hatred for people who are not straight, cis, white, xtianist, third generation; to be proud of their homomisia, transmisia, Islammisia, xenomisia, misogyny, and racism; to deny anyone they see as other civil rights, access to medical care, housing, food, bodily autonomy if they’re not cis males; and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

That complicity includes the entire Democratic party that

  • actively worked to prevent any progressive candidate from topping the ticket
  • sabotaged progressive candidates for vulnerable Congressional seats only to have the moderates they supported for those seats lose to the Republican incumbents
  • within moments of network news declaring a winner began haranguing against any attempts to move the party toward the left.

If “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) proclaimed despite

  • at least half a dozen Democratic centrists losing their seats in the House
  • every single swing seat member who co-sponsored Medicare for All winning re-election
  • only one of the 93 House co-sponsors of the Green New Deal who ran for re-election losing

Because white people in the U.S. will forfeit healthcare, retirement, affordable education, childcare, breathable air, drinkable water, etc. rather than allow BIPOC the same benefits. The people who were comfortable with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal because Black people were deliberately excluded, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren consistently vote to impoverish themselves rather than improve the living standards of a single BIPOC.

“White Americans are the rich world’s most hostile, ignorant, violent, cruel, and selfish social group — by a very long way,” Umair Hague explains.  “White Americans want America to be a failed state — and that is its fundamental, deep, and long standing problem.”

So, while liberals wring their hands and shake their heads, while they try to understand, while they believe the “long nightmare” (four years isn’t long when your people have been oppressed for four centuries or four millennia) is over because the oligarch was elected instead of the autocrat, the reality is that for anyone who isn’t white, straight, cis, neurotypical, and abled; for all the people who stood in line for hours and hours; for those already at work in Georgia on the runoff elections, the nightmare continues, as it has for centuries.

If* the president-elect takes office, he plans to “work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you,” making it clear that he learned nothing from the previous administration in which he served as vice president about what happens when you put bi-partisanship over getting things done.

He refuses to back programs that eliminate insurance companies as arbitrators over who gets access to health care; has given only lukewarm support to the Green New Deal, which although it might have been meaningful a few years ago, now is in itself inadequate; will do nothing to stop police from murdering BIPOC; and has made it clear he has no intention of mitigating a Supreme Court poised to reverse Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. The latter is despite

  • the fact that the vast majority of the people who live in this country approve of both women’s bodily autonomy and marriage equality
  • there’s no restriction in the U.S. Constitution on the number of SCOTUS judges
  • five of the nine justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a senate representing fewer than half the people in the U.S.

The protests will continue despite whoever is in the White House, because the occupant doesn’t really matter to those who are poor, houseless, hungry, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S, immigrant, non-christian, different abled, neurodivergent, etc. (and it’s no coincidence that many of those categories overlap).

The problems in this country that feed white supremacy — racism, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, misogyny, homomisia, transmisia, Islammisia, xenomisia — are systemic. They are literally built into the foundation (and founding documents) of the U.S. and all attempts to remove them, from the very beginning, have failed.

I am not alone in the belief that 400 years of white supremacy, genocide, colonialism, never-ending wars, planetary destruction, unfettered exploitative capitalism, patriarchy, and enslavement/murder of BIPOC is enough.

The coup* started June 1 when the president ordered the U.S. military to attack civilians exercising their First Amendment rights. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had no problem with that, although he apparently drew a line in the shifting sands wide enough to get himself fired Monday, paving the way for someone with even fewer scruples. Also on Monday, Richard Pilger, the director of the Department of Justice’s elections crime branch, stepped aside after Attorney General William Barr — who has actively been trying to suppress dissent for the past six months by arresting protesters on trumped up (pun intended) federal charges — released a memo making it clear he intends to have the DOJ interfere in the election results. The second U.S. Civil War is already in progress.

Older Black voters who consistently pull the U.S. back from the brink of self-destruction are tired and dying. And the younger ones, who are in the streets now, see no reason to continue the colonialist wars of aggression, extraordinary resource theft, and oppressive racist systems that the rest of the world learns from (e.g. German Nazis).

The reality is that this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a United States. It’s a bunch of very different states with very different values, and with many value differences within individual states. The GOP, unsatisfied just controlling a bunch of states where not many people live, has been working for decades to force the rest of us to fall into line with its colonialist, patriarchal vision of America circa 1784.

None of this started with the current White House occupant and it won’t end if/when he’s removed from power. The slaughter/incarceration of BIPOC didn’t pause under the previous administration. Children were still separated from their parents at the border. The concentration camps that this administration stuffed full were built before this president took office. The Shelby County v. Holder decision gutting the Voting Rights Act is named after the previous administration’s attorney general for a reason … it was handed down in 2013.

The Affordable Care Act didn’t get health care to BIPOC because it was written to appease insurance companies and then eviscerated by various states. So BIPOC are dying in far greater numbers from COVID because they don’t have access to medical care and because even if they have insurance they’re turned away from hospitals and their symptoms ignored. (Did no one else notice the not-so-subtle shift in the administration’s attitude toward the virus when the numbers came out that more BIPOC were dying than white folks?)

People in the U.S. are houseless. They are starving. The police are beating and murdering them. They are dying for lack of medical care. In much of the world people are drowning because of climate change the U.S. and its fossil fuels companies caused. And the president-elect will not do one damn thing to change any of that.

The biggest difference if he is able to boot the current occupant from the White House? Liberals will blithely brush off their hands as if they had accomplished something when all they did was put some crazy glue on the massive crack opening in the dam.

Standing Still While Moving Left

First published on The Big Smoke.
October 29, 2020

I grew up in the U.S. “south” and experienced explicit racism firsthand, both as an observer of how Black and other people of color were treated, and as a victim for not being white enough and not practicing christianity. I have spent most of my adult life in the U.S. “north” where the racism was always implicit, but no less systemic.

I always speak out against bigotry and intolerance in all its many forms: racism, misogyny, homomisia, transmisia, xenomisia, etc.; step up when and where I can to defend victims; use my words in an effort to explain harm and persuade change.

But, during my lifetime I have watched the animus and bitterness of the reaction to small gains in civil rights for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; freedoms for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and other Queers; acceptance for people who are transgender; and independence for women grow rapidly in the United States, far out of proportion to the relatively minor advances that were made. The acrimony comes couched in pious but authoritarian terms: “law and order,” “America first,” “religious freedom,” “pro-life,” “border protection,” “individual liberty,” etc.

Hands of a white-passing person in focus in the foreground holding a Black Lives Matter sign with a Black person, out of focus, on a bullhorn speaking to a crowdWhen the Civil Rights movement made open racism more unpopular and awareness curtailed racist speech, the evangelical crusade — started before the U.S. Civil War to fight the growing movement to abolish slavery — shifted gears. Inspired by women’s access to hormonal birth control and the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision, which combined gave women in the U.S. unprecedented control over their own bodies, evangelicals transferred their focus from keeping “coloreds” out of their schools, jobs, unions, and neighborhoods to “saving” the lives of “unborn children”. This campaign flourished despite biblical declarations that life begins at first breath, specification that a fetus has a lower value than a person, inclusion of an abortifacient formula (for unfaithful wives), and the fact that no statement against pregnancy termination was even once attributed to Jesus in the text.

Meanwhile, U.S. legislation and practices that prevented non-whites from owning homes, obtaining a quality education, earning equivalent income and benefits, and securing access to political influence, continued. The 1994 crime bill (sponsored by then U.S. Senator Joe Biden and signed by then U.S. President Bill Clinton), combined with the zero tolerance policies enabled in the Gun-Free Schools Act signed the same year, exacerbated the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline sending people of color, especially young Black men, into the for-profit carceral system built and codified after the Civil War to replace slave labor.

Still, white, especially male, resentment simmered, albeit below the surface in “polite” circles. It emerged as the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-LGBQ, anti-Trans, anti-reproductive health care biases spread by right-wing organizations across the globe. Attempts to address harm done to BIPOC, LGBTQ, women, and non-christian populations through affirmative action met with fierce backlash and ludicrous accusations of reverse discrimination.

Straight, white, cis, male entitlements — the pillars of systemic racism and patriarchy — allow mediocre heteronormative people with lighter skin tones to continue reaping the rewards of advantages bestowed those who fit within privileged classes. And that, more than anything else, is what the melanin challenged refuse to give up, whether they are willing to admit it or not.

While they may claim to abhor racism; express regret and anger about the deaths of BIPOC routinely slaughtered by police, especially but not exclusively in the U.S.; berate and ridicule those who call the cops to report folks who are just trying to work, deliver packages, drive, park, picnic, swim, play, bird watch, or even just exist while Black; there is a limit to how much they are willing to personally sacrifice for the necessary changes to end systemic racism and patriarchy.

Once upon a time, I labeled myself a Democrat. But, as the Democrats moved to the center-right to fill up the void left by Republicans’ radical shift to the authoritarian right, I renamed myself a liberal, even though my views did not seem to have changed all that much. But then, more and more, I encountered only neo-liberals and hypocrites branding themselves with the “liberal” label. So, I switched my identification to progressive.

But now, five months into world-wide protests against police brutality that have been met with even more egregious police savagery, while media constantly equate protester vandalism with police violence, so-called officers of the law continue to kill Black and other people of color, district attorneys continue refusing to charge police with any of the crimes they commit, and elected officials across the United States and in other countries continue ignoring the public outcries demanding they strip funding from police departments.

And yet, I still hear “liberals” and even “progressives” enthusiastically embrace a tough-on-crime ticket for U.S. president and vice president, rallying behind the man who helped create the school-to-prison pipeline that has swallowed so many Black lives and communities, voicing their ardent support for the pro-cop/pro-prison woman who locked up and terrorized BIPOC and trans Californians because she has dark skin. That back-the-blue endorsement spits in the face of the millions in the U.S. who took to the streets, at the risk of arrest, injury, and even death, to demand abolition of the carceral system.

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his August 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, where he was imprisoned after he defied a state court’s injunction and led a march of Black protesters without a permit, in response to a statement, published in The Birmingham News, written by eight moderate white clergymen criticizing the march and other demonstrations:

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “white moderate” is today’s liberal and progressive. And, personally, I just cannot identify with those who find it acceptable to support two people who have done so much harm to communities of color and LBGTQ people. Bigotry and white supremacy behind a polite, civil, congenial facade is still bigotry and white supremacy.

So, now, I apparently am a radical abolitionist. I already had come to accept the utter impossibility of reforming a police force of racist white supremacist bullies who do not believe the law applies to them, whose organizations began as slave patrols and whose progenitors were protectors of property that belonged to well-to-do white men and union busting thugs. But even though I have always been well left of center, “radical” seemed too far, especially as a senior citizen.

Is believing that all people — whatever their skin color, sexuality, gender, faith, ethnicity, nationality, financial status, age, mental acuity, ability, etc. — are entitled to the same protections under the law, the same civil rights, the same access to basic needs such housing, food, and medical care, really that radical?

In an epiphany-inspiring article she wrote about how whiteness dilutes voices of color at public radio stations for The American Prospect, Laura Garbes, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, wrote:”Public radio and the broader academic world are liberal or progressive in their thinking, but are not radical. They are not about to jeopardize their own comfortable situations by fostering fundamental change” (boldface emphasis is mine).

And therein lies the crux of the difference between liberals/progressives and radicals. It is fine to talk about equality and police reform, but liberals and progressives are not willing to do the necessary heavy lifting of completely rebuilding a system that was designed to create “equality” only for straight, white, cis, property-owning men, a Republic that built slave patrols into its Bill of “Rights” (what that “well-regulated Militia” in the Second Amendment refers to).

Many liberals and progressives are not even willing to confront their fanatically white supremacist, homomisiat, transmisiat, and/or xenomisiat friends and relatives because that might mean giving up the pleasures of a weekend brunch or the comfort of a holiday dinner. They are certainly not inclined to support zoning changes that would provide more houseless people places to live if that would also allow apartment complexes in the neighborhoods of their single-family homes; services for the mentally ill in the same building as their fancy, high-rise apartments; or tent camping in their church parking lot. They won’t support defunding the police because then who would they call if someone stole a lawn ornament or took shelter in their doorway or painted anti-fascist graffiti across the street?

Fundamental change requires extensive sacrifices. And most people who identify as progressives and liberals are only willing to make small efforts toward the illusion they are working to offset the injustices that fuel their privilege: making commensurately small donations to crowd-funding campaigns, food banks and/or social justice organizations; recycling paper and cans; giving up plastic straws; signing meaningless petitions; adding a Black Lives Matter border to their social media profile picture; and maybe even writing a letter to the editor or showing up for a night of protest or two. However, they are not ready to sacrifice any of their own comforts, even to save someone’s life (unless it is someone they know personally, but sometimes not even then). They are not willing to recognize that the planet cannot sustain a capitalist lifestyle, that the privilege that allows them to own a home or condominium and one or more personal vehicles (even electric ones) is killing BIPOC around the world.

The liberals and progressives reveal themselves when they fervently urge you to vote blue, as if that would result in any substantial changes, and explain how they firmly believe that peaceful protests are perfectly acceptable and should be permitted, but they draw the line at looting, graffiti, setting fires, pulling down statues of colonizers, and other acts of vandalism. That translates to the colonialist concept that “white people’s property has more value than Black lives”. The excruciatingly brutal police response: bloody beatings with night sticks and arrests for “disorderly conduct” and “interfering with a peace officer” echo across centuries of violent oppression.

Although liberals and the progressives, especially in the U.S., know, and quickly recite or post, every MLK quote about non-violence, they conveniently forget that he was assassinated because agencies of the United States government considered him a dangerous radical. And they never quote from his April 14, 1967 speech, “The Other America”, given at Stanford University one of the many times he referred to rioting:

“I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. … But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities, as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. So in a real sense, our nation’s summer’s riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

Oregon LEO Favor Racism Over Reform, Again

First published on The Big Smoke.
September 29, 2020

A few Proud Boys came to Portland, Oregon, on Saturday, threatening anyone who got in their way. Believing their blustering boasts that thousands would participate in their rally, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a state of emergency Executive Order on Friday.

She handed control over “law enforcement coordination” to the Oregon State Police (OSP) and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). This was done deliberately to bypass court orders and feeble attempts by elected officials’ to restrain Portland Police. Putting the city cops under OSP and MCSO command, removed the (often-ignored) prohibitions against attacking and arresting the reporters and legal observers who document their violent nightly assaults on protesters.

As part of this, the U.S. Marshals Service deputized 56 Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers and 22 Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies as federal marshals early Saturday morning. This was in addition to approximately 50 Oregon State Police troopers who were deputized in July for one year as part of Brown’s deal with the Trump administration to return the responsibility for beating, gassing, and arresting Black Lives Matter protesters to OSP, MCSO, and PPB, relieving U.S. Marshals, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, etc.

Racism Over ReformAnointing local officers as federal officials allows federal prosecutors to charge protesters with federal crimes. Most importantly for local cops, federal marshal status allows the U.S. Attorney’s Office to bypass progressive Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. Elected by more than 75% of voters, Schmidt has a mandate to change the criminal justice system. The resounding defeat of the handpicked successor of previous law-and-order District Attorney Rod Underhill led him to resign five months early in a fit of pique. And Schmidt’s refusal to prosecute protesters for crimes that do not involve violence or property destruction has angered local police.

Also, anyone accused of assaulting a peace officer, a charge frequently made without justification, would now face severely harsher penalties for “assault on a federal officer”. Protesters filmed attempting to cover their faces or protect their heads with their hands are routinely charged with “assaulting” an officer. On Monday, PPB claimed that most of the officers working Saturday night/Sunday morning were on light duty due to “injuries”. As a public defender noted Sunday, “Nearly every time someone I represented was charged w/ assaulting a police officer, the wounds were self-inflicted. Bruised hands. Pulled shoulders. Twisted ankles. When you rush, push, punch, kick, & attack protestors w/ hundreds of other cops, you’re likely going to get hurt.

Since July, federal charges have already been filed against a number of protesters including four announced on Monday. Despite the executive order expiring early Monday morning, the deputization will remain in effect through the end of the year — until after the election and whatever turmoil follows.

On Saturday, fewer than 200 white supremacists turned out at Delta Park in north Portland. They were armed with AR-15s and other long guns, pistols, paintball guns, bear mace, and shields. They were captured on camera (photographs and video) breaking various laws and ordinances, often in full view of police, including:

  • Smoking in a city park (“No person shall smoke or use tobacco in any form in any place in any Park. For purposes of this policy, smoking and tobacco are defined to include, but are not limited to: bidis, cigarettes, cigarillos, cigars, clove cigarettes, e-cigarettes, nicotine vaporizers, nicotine liquids, hookahs, kreteks, pipes, chew, snuff, smokeless tobacco, and marijuana.”)
  • Drinking alcohol in a city park (“Alcohol is not allowed on park property unless you have applied for and received a permit”. It should be noted that the Proud Boys applied for, and were denied, a permit partially because they significantly overestimated the anticipated number of participants.)
  • Violating the Weapons and Explosives section of Portland’s city code prohibiting the carrying of loaded firearms without a concealed handgun licensed. (“Oregon is one of the few states that does not recognize any other state‘s” concealed carry license. Many of the Proud Boys were from out of state and unlikely to have applied for or received an Oregon license. Police asked about this violation wouldn’t answer questions as to whether police had checked if any of the armed Proud Boys were licensed to carry.)
  • Operating an armed checkpoint preventing people from entering a public park
  • Assaulting at least three journalists including one who is Black and another who is Syrian, injuring at least one, and damaging their equipment; none of those involved in the assaults were arrested (Portland Police claim to be investigating the incident in which the Black journalist was kicked in the head, but took no action at the time. After the incident, Oregon State Police were seen talking and joking with the person who committed assault. The mugger has since been identified by anti-fascists as Samson Steele of Tangent, Oregon, an employee of Pacific Northwest Environmental, LLC in Damascus. No known attempt to arrest Samson has been made.)

No efforts were made to stop or arrest any of the Proud Boys, who were seen “chatting it up with cops”. However, police did prevent anti-fascists from unloading shields, and arrested someone who was helping them, at a Black Lives Matter counter protest.

Meanwhile, more than 2,000 anti-fascists gathered at multiple locations throughout the city for several peaceful counter protests that included speeches, music, mutual aid, food distribution, information sharing, and the 100th protest appearance of the no drama llama.

After only ninety minutes, the Proud Boys left Portland. As night fell, Black Lives Matter activists gathered downtown to continue the ongoing protests against #PoliceBrutality and police murders of numerous Black men and women. While they listened to speeches, Portland Police, still under command of OSP and MCSO, attacked them with a vicious fury that demonstrated raging hatred, suppressed by court orders and city attempts to rein them in.

[Content Warning: many of the following links are to videos that show graphic violence by police.]

After sitting around all day ignoring Proud Boys’ illegal activity, police had lots of energy to chase protesters. Police, who removed even the inscrutable numbers previously providing an almost-useless way to identify them, wore black uniforms with only the words “police” printed on their backs making it impossible to determine which agency they worked for. They:

More than 30 people were arrested, most for nebulous “crimes” which could all be interpreted as attempts to suppress freedom of speech such as disorderly conduct, interfering with a peace officer, resisting arrest, and harassment. Mug shots show many of those arrested with facial injuries, including multiple contusions, swollen lips and eyes, abrasions, and cuts. A number of people required medical attention.

John Rudoff, the 73-year-old photographer police threw to the ground, posted: “…the cops need to understand that an action like this — shoving a guy down on the cement with no warning — can fracture a hip or an arm or a skull, and can be a life-ending or career/mobility-ending move.I responded on Twitter, “They do understand. They don’t care. They see injury/death as a way to get people off the streets.”

Before Saturday’s events, the governor stated: “Let me be very clear. Those who commit serious, violent acts will be charged, prosecuted and held accountable.” But her only response to the documented, horrific violence committed by Portland Police, Multnomah County Sherriff’s Deputies, and the Oregon State Police on Saturday night was to ask “Superintendent Hampton, Sheriff Reese, and Chief Lovell to review any alleged incidents involving officers from each of their agencies during joint operations last night.” In response, hundreds of Oregonians demanded an independent investigation via Twitter and telephone.

Multiple media outlets, which had filed voluminous reports about the clash that didn’t happen Saturday afternoon, mostly ignored the outrageous violence Saturday night as they have the previous four months of police brutality. At least one outlet regurgitated the standard police lies that projectiles were thrown at officers even though the only “weapons” confiscated from all the protesters arrested were the aforementioned “can of bear spray and a baton”.

Despite numerous reports of police attacking multiple members of the press, to say nothing about the abuse heaped on multitudinous protesters, the Independent Police Review of the Portland City Auditor’s Office which is responsible for “independent, civilian oversight of the Portland Police Bureau”, posted only that “the IPR is aware of video footage circulating on social media that shows an officer grabbing a press photographer and throwing him to the ground during a protest on the night of September 26, 2020. IPR has opened an investigation into this incident“. As one reporter asked, “If a person is grabbed by an officer and thrown to the ground and it’s not caught on camera/doesn’t involve a well-known person, does it get an investigation?

The “Unified Command” responded to use of force concerns by stating: “Individuals who felt an officer’s action was unjust or excessive, should file a complaint with the officer’s department or review board. Each officer is responsible for following their agency’s use of force policy.” As previously noted, police made sure it was impossible to determine which agency they worked for.

On Monday evening, police continued to drive home the message that there are two sets of laws in Portland: one for white supremacists who support police and the racist in chief, and completely different standards for Black Lives Matter activists and anti-fascists. Despite ignoring much more egregious crimes listed above that Proud Boys committed Saturday, on Monday night/Tuesday morning, police:

  • Violated protesters’ Fourth Amendment rights by searching them and their belongings and seizing  their property
  • Viciously shoved a woman, who may or may not have been involved in the protests (she wasn’t dressed for it) to the ground, and when she regained her feet pushed her, dazed, to the sidewalk
  • Violently arrested multiple people for:

Police were also captured on video collecting rocks to use to support their daily fabricated tales about protesters throwing “projectiles” at them. Today, Portland Police even claimed that “at least 5 officers were sprayed by a chemical irritant“, attempting to imply that protesters had done so, even though multiple reporters had captured them carelessly spraying each other in attempts to injure more protesters.

When asked how to end the protests, one police officer specifically told a homeowner, that the only way they would stop abusing protesters would be “if people liked our trump government a lot more“.

Federal Troops “Removed” from Portland

I sent my monthly newsletter out this morning (you get kitty pics if you subscribe) and several recipients responded with questions along the lines of: were the Federal troops removed from Portland? Das Fuhrer (okay, that’s my moniker for him) is threatening to send them to my city and make things here much worse.

The answer is yes, no, and it doesn’t really matter.

Yes: the governor and the mayor made a big show of “negotiating” (Why would you “negotiate” with a dictator illegally using an armed force created under a piece of probably, but never-tested, unconstitutional legislation as his own, personal police?) to get the Feds “out” of Portland.

No: Although they haven’t come out and attacked protesters recently, we know at least 120 Feds are still stationed in the Portland area (although we don’t know precisely where) and they’re still kidnaping people off the streets in unmarked rental vehicle (boycott Enterprise).

It doesn’t really matter: Why? Because for five weeks before the Feds got here and ever since they “left”, the Portland Police have beaten, gassed, shot “less-than-lethal” bullets at protesters, and violently “arrested” them.

The only real differences is a) the Portland Police are required to “declare a riot” before they start shooting (something they never did before the temporary restraining order, something they do without any justification every since). Sometimes they remember to do so beforehand. Sometimes, like last night, they do it mid volley.

And b) the Feds seemed to have more tear gas to use, so they filled city streets, the parks, and nearby buildings with what was an horrific amount compared to what the cops use.

It should be noted, we do not know the long-term impact of being attacked with tear gas every night, although we do know that female-bodied persons have had their menstrual cycles screwed up.

Also, both the Feds and the cops are using expired munitions — protesters and reporters have found canisters with expiration dates that passed as long ago as 20 years ago — and we don’t know what the impact of those are, although we do know that expired CS gas produces cyanide gas, among other things.

We also do not know what the long-term environmental impact of prolonged tear gas exposure for trees, other plants, and the river will be.

But, every single thing the national media reported, and local elected officials berated, the Feds for doing, the local cops had been doing for weeks before the Feds got here and are still doing nightly, now. Haven’t heard a peep out of the elected officials (including the mayor, to whom the cops report, who made a big deal about showing up when the Feds were here and hasn’t been seen since). National media (and many of the white protesters) went home.

But the protests against police violence are still met with police brutality. (Again, it should be noted that on those few nights the police stay inside there is no violence. There is no riot, because the only rioting that’s been done in Portland has been police and Feds violently attacking protesters who are practicing their First Amendment right “to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

But the reason the protesters took to the streets (some BIPOC protesters as early as 72 days ago), the reasons there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of them in the streets every night, haven’t changed. Police routinely lie, violate the law, and ignore court-ordered restrictions, their own policies, and the demands of elected officials to whom they allegedly report. I saw at least three restraining orders, specific orders from an elected official, and several state laws broken by police just last night. (And, that was only one night’s observation, this happens every time the police venture out into the street.)

Cops break the law and any attempts to restrict or reform them with impunity because they have “qualified immunity” and will never face any consequences and because their “union” aka, in this case, the Portland Police Association (a private organization the headquarters of which the police attacked protesters to “protect” last night), will get them their jobs and pay back. They can’t even be bothered to obey orders to wear masks and we know there are infected employees of the Portland Police and Multnomah County carceral system (we just don’t know how many). If you watch the protests you’ll see most of the protesters wearing face coverings. Almost none of the cops do (their riot face shields do not protect against virus transmission).

And, if you think this isn’t already happening in your city, you’re either consuming the wrong media or aren’t blessed with the brave, independent journalists who risk injury, death, and arrest every night to report the truth about what’s happening in the streets of Portland. Because every report you read from Portland that was not written by one of those local journalists, was at best inaccurate and at worst outright copaganda.

The media in this country are owned (yes, even your “local” newspaper and television stations, look it up) by megacorps who benefit from GOP tax cuts and who are part of the cabal behind the Astroturf movement to “reopen” the U.S. They slant stories to meet their own agendas. And they won’t pay for journalists to do actual reporting so they regurgitate the lies that fill self-serving police press releases.

Many of our local journalists are working for tips (portlandpresscorps.com points you to where they can be tipped, but also to their Twitter handles so you can see some of the reports/video they’re producing). Reports that originated from other so-called “local” media (the local television stations and the Oregonian, specifically) are suspect.

Although Portland features prominently, you can probably find at least one example of police brutality where you live on this Twitter thread.

The first weekend of nationwide protests against the police who murdered George Floyd, T. Greg Doucette, a #NeverTrump 2A conservative who is also an attorney, posted 10 links to police violence videos of the most brutal incidents captured during the first 36 hours. But people kept sending them to him. So he kept posting them. And numbering them. Currently, there are more than 800 separate (he groups video from the same incident under the same number) reports of police brutality posted from just the United States, just the people who know to send the videos to him, just the most violent and egregious occurrences.

And, if you’re foolish enough to come on my blog and make noises about protester violence, you and your comments will be blocked for disseminating false information. Vandalism, including graffiti and pulling down monuments to white supremacy, is not violence. Throwing a water bottle in the general direction of police, is not violence (although the video of the Fed pretending to be injured by one that didn’t hit him is hilarious).

“We came out here dressed in T-shirts and twirling Hula-Hoops and stuff, and they started gassing us, so we came back with respirators, and they started shooting us, so we came back with vests, and they started aiming for the
head, so we started wearing helmets, and now they call us terrorists. Who’s escalating this? It’s not us.” — Mac Smiff, Portland, Oregon

Shooting people in the head, beating them with batons, hitting them with tear gas canisters fired at close range, is violence. Throwing them to the ground and kneeling on their neck is violence (and yes, at the protests against police brutality inspired by a man strangled to death by a cop kneeling on his neck, cops are horrifically brutal and have knelt on peoples’ necks). Pulling people’s masks and goggles off to spray mace in their face is violence. Throwing people in jail overnight in the middle of a pandemic when correction officers refuse to obey the governor’s orders regarding sanitation, knowing the bogus charges are going to be tossed, is violence. Lasers do not “blind” people. “Less-than-lethal” bullets fired directly at peoples’ heads blind people and have cost more than one reporter an eye.

Cops lie. They’re trained to lie. They are legally allowed to lie under some circumstances. And they do so by default. On Monday night, the cops claimed someone threw a “glass bottle” and used it as an excuse to violently attack protesters. But half a dozen independent journalists were streaming. At least three of those journalists, knowing that the “bottle” would be used as an excuse, made a point of asking everyone if anyone had seen anything thrown at the cops before the cops attacked. The only thing that had been thrown at the cops was an inflated pink pig and the only thing that hit was their egos.

Again, this is just one specific example of the constant lies being told by police. Every night, I watch the video. And in the morning, I see the police chief and his minions (and the mayor) lie about what happened. Every .Single. Night

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell 1984

Rotten Apples

People still keep saying a “few bad apples”, forgetting it figuratively and literally only takes one bad apple to spoil an entire barrel.

There are no “good” cops. Because if there were, they would report and testify against the “few” bad cops. They don’t. They work to make sure those “few bad apples” are protected from prosecution. On the rare occasion they are punished, that information is deliberately hidden from the public, any settlements with their victims are paid by taxpayers not the offenders, and because the information is hidden those “bad apples” get a job in another jurisdiction.

Policing is historically a white supremacist institution. It evolved from slave patrols and the Pinkerton security guards hired to protect rich people’s property and beat immigrant workers into submission. Much of our criminal code was written specifically to put Black and other people of color in prison where they could be used as slave labor.

The “War On Drugs”, for just one example, was specifically invented to imprison Black people and Hippies. But, white folks with money (and/or medical insurance) can always get drugs and rarely, if ever, get arrested for using them.

In reality, the entire carceral system, the for-profit prison pipeline, the criminal code, etc. need to be abolished for Black Lives to Matter in this country. Police reform has been tried. Reform does not work. The only way to address the white supremacy on which this country was founded is to abolish the carceral state and start over.

Our local paper prints the police logs. Lately, I’ve been reading them and checking off all the ways the calls could be handled better if anyone other than armed police had answered them: mental health professionals, mediators, social workers, traffic safety patrol, etc.

Even larger crimes, are not stopped or solved by the police for the most part. They show up after the fact and file a report. The evidence is gathered by evidence technicians and forensic specialists. The cops don’t “investigate” anything. They constantly post notices that are “asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect from …” or “looking for information about …”

I’ve watched livestreams of the protests in Portland for the last six weeks. Every single time, the protesters (kids, most of them) are at worst mischievous (moving fences around, painting court and police buildings with graffiti, throwing dildos, pig food, and water bottles at cops). But most of the time, they’re listening to speeches, chanting, eating, and dancing.

Then the cops come out and attack them, shooting “less than lethal” weapons directly at them (including at their heads); pulling their masks down and spraying pepper in their eyes and mouths; beating them with batons and their fists; throwing them onto concrete curbs with enough force to break bones including spines and skulls.

The cops fill the streets with tear gas (a weapon banned for use against civilians in other countries) which makes people cough (during a pandemic), cry, vomit, etc. Tear gas can result in long-term major health problems, but the cops are filling the homes, offices, and cars of nearby residents and employees with that gas, and spraying it into cars that just happen to be driving by.

It also should be noted that most of the protesters wear their masks most of the time (and there are no indications the protests are causing community spread) while many of the cops refuse to wear masks.

The cops attack people who are obeying the orders they just gave. The cops have been photographed slashing the tires of those who are just there to feed others, throwing away food that was being donated to feed the hungry and homeless (who are also suffering from being tear gassed while they sleep), and stealing the supplies that volunteers were using to keep people safe including hand sanitizer and masks.

Every night the cops ignore court orders, police bureau policies and procedures, and the law itself including violating rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. They operate as if they were the Gestapo, specifically attacking reporters and legal observers, knocking cameras out of people’s hands or spraying paint on them to avoid being photographed and filmed. They cover their badge numbers and refuse to wear name tags so they can’t be identified. They have arrested people just for calling out their names (because they recognized them from previous encounters). They will fight (and have always fought) against reform. They must be eliminated or no one who is BIPOC, female, or LGBTQ will ever be safe.

Lethal Chokeholds Still Used. Repeatedly

One more reason (of thousands) why police reform (which has been tried and failed) isn’t an option. Why we must #DefundThePolice and put that money into social services.

We don’t teach it. We don’t authorize it in terms of a technique” and yet chokeholds are still used. Repeatedly. Lethally.

John Catanzara, president of Chicago Police Department’s largest union said “I’m not going to give up my life because of some stupid department policy that under no circumstances are you allowed to choke anybody. It’s just a dumb process to even think about. … He said the same principle would apply to carotid artery restraints. ‘I’m going to do it every single time.'”

There is no evidence at all that George Floyd’s murderer was threatened by Floyd. The only threat the murderer saw was the color of Floyd ‘s skin. Four police were involved in murdering a man who was already in restraints.

None of the police who murdered Eric Garner were at risk of losing their lives. Every time a chokehold has been used, there has been no actual justification. The only struggle has been someone instinctively trying to survive the use of excessive, unwarranted, lethal force.

“Chicago has restricted use of chokeholds as far back as the 1980s. But the department’s troubled history with controversial restraints continues to this day.” A Chicago police officer pulled Mia Wright from a car by her hair and placed a knee on her neck last month. For no legitimate reason.

And, this is just one police force. They all have the same problem. They always try to blame their victims. Policing attracts bullies, racists, sexual predators, abusers, and murderers. The very concept of policing (which I again remind you started with slave patrols, the “well-regulated Militia” mentioned in the Second Amendment) is incompatible with a free, equitable society.

Read the in-depth article about chokeholds in Chicago but substitute your city name because you will find similar cases where you live.

Training is not the answer.

Reform is not the answer.

We need to abolish the police and start over with other public safety options that will address, rather than enforce, systemic racism.

You Can Do More

Words have power. Images supposedly are worth a thousand words. So think about the difference between putting a “Black Lives Matter” circle border around your photo versus replacing your photo with an image that just says “Black Lives Matter”.

Those who choose the first example, are still centering themselves in the conversation, an endless problem for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) tired of explaining white supremacy, educating those who haven’t been paying attentionBlack Lives Matter about systemic racism, and consoling fragile white egos.

Performative “support” is almost worse than no support at all. It makes the person performing believe they’re doing something and allows them to believe they aren’t required to do any more.

But, there’s so much more we can/should do, so much more that needs to be done. Plenty of others on social media have listed some of the options, I’m not going to be repetitive. (Because quite frankly, if you don’t know what you can/should be doing you again haven’t been paying attention.)

The purpose of this post is to get people to think about performative support versus committing to action. The difference between signing a petition (which only gives your data to the petition site and is routinely ignored by recipients) versus tracking down names and addresses of politicians, sending them letters/emails, and making phone calls.

Chances are if it’s easy and makes you feel good, it’s performative and you can do more.