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By Leyland A. King
Today, I was aghast as I saw the unfortunate GOP nominee Donald Trump, make his ill-advised pitch to Black voters. After his first sentence, I was so sorry for him, that I wished he would stop after that first insult. Basically he told us as politically incorrect as possible, that we are all poor. He spouted a lot of erroneous statistics and then came the vote-killing, “I mean, what have you got lose.” delivered as only a churlish New York gambler or shyster can make one an offer.
Mr Trump worked very hard to out-do Ron Paul and Paul Ryan’s disasterous out-reach to Black voters. I am now settled in my belief that these blunders are inevitable as long as he continues to be schooled by Bill O’Reily, Shaun Hannity and others of the kind, who need to believe that the cocoon they lived in was real. Their cock-eyed world that believes Blacks vote as we do because we want free stuff. What do I have to lose? My life!
Until they know that Blacks in America have become exceptionly attentive to the unspoken, that they easily pick-up signs of racial bias, well, it’s your party’s wake. Until Trumpers replay the tapes of Hillary Clinton’s graciousness after loosing to Nominee Barak Obama; when they see through our eyes her own loyalty to the Democratic Party and rock-solid support for our president, you have missed the show and its instruction on the virtue of loyalty.
No one talks about meritocracy more than GOPers. If they believed that, they’d vote for Secretary Clinton. Our vote for her stands despite the three decades of persecution and wilful waste of time and taxpayers money. Until you understand that we watched as you, Trump and cohorts kept up daily insults, demanding proof of citizenship and school records from our President. Worst, we watched him be insulted by gov Jan Brewer as GOPers cheered. We watched you vilify First Lady Michelle Obama.
Trumpers are mystified that hanging “untrustworthy” and “crooked Hillary”, and crude labels on Secretary Clinton has no effect on her support. That was the politics of the fifties and sixties. No politician would be stupid enough to refer to citizens constituencies by “Your schools…..your unemployment……your housing”, as if talking to a foreign population. That is why she will be President Clinton. That is why you, Mr Trump, unable to learn anything, will continue to be a buffoon at large, awaiting every federal judge in these United States for the rest of your vampiric life.
When the video of this young mother and her two pre-school children emerged a few days ago, it was about a traffic stop. The three police officers handled themselves professionally, as is expected.
Since the video became public soon after her death and the shooting of her son, many people were either emotionally or intellectually unable to determine that there were two different incidents. Separate in time and place. From the comments posted on social media it seems that much of our society, not only didn’t care, they could resist another ghoulish opportunity to post hundreds of comments about the mother, the children and the father (who was not even there) Try reading a few dozen. It was sickening. So racially ugly, I will not repeat any of it. All from people who know nothing of the family, other than their race. Why miss a chance to debase another.
My respect for the political and criminal justice system is so low, it feels like another day another one -of us.
But this is what America is not hearing: Eric Garner, “this ends today”.
Korryn Gaines, “I am ready to die right here today.” But that’s not all. What America is not seeing is that both incidents with Korryn and her family took place in the presence of her children. She repeated told them not to be afraid. “Fight them.”
No, we are not crazy. We are tired, and America cannot tell the difference.
America refuses to acknowledge that we understand how demonisation works. That African Americans have suppressed so much rage that, for some of us, given the old choice of ‘give me your dignity or your life’ we are saying defiantly and unequivocally, I choose dignity. The life is not real, you can have it.”
July 31, 2016
By Leyland A. King
This may not be the best time to share a true story of contact of any kind with a police officer. Rifts between communities and police have widened; so many refusing to see and understand the issues. But most despicable are those who appear to have perverted interests in aggravating an already tense situation. But no time is inopportune when one is obligated by citizenship, compelled by humanity, to help bring a socially distressing situation to relief. I hope this helps.
My friend and I were sitting on the concrete steps of a church. We were about 18 years old and never got into trouble. Not even at school. We sat there waiting on a class scheduled for 6.00 pm. Waiting on a class, soon became nothing but loitering, because by 6.30 pm it was evident that the teacher wasn’t coming. So we sat and bantered, spicing the dialogue with content so foul a teen would envy the mastery of linking cuss.
In the twilight, a woman walked by a few feet from us. She appeared to be going grocery shopping. Just as we paid her no mind, it was the same for the tall, clean-shaven,thirtysomething man approaching from the direction she went. He wore dark slacks and short-sleeved shirt boasting a print design.
“Police.” He said. “What y’all doing here?”
For brevity, let’s skip the dialogue and our confusion. This was a man one would not even think of running from. He had complete control. He arrested us and took us to the nearby station. There he told us why we were arrested. The charge contemplated was disorderly behaviour and indecent language. We protested our innocence while he moved some ledgers around. I thought of my mother. When we get into trouble, we usually think of our mothers. Two men watched us through the bars of the lock-ups.
The policeman, a sergeant it turned out, asked to see our books, from which he verified our names, addresses and that we were enrolled in a class. Then he gave us a warning so stern I remember it to this day. As we tucked our tails and headed home, I thought of how lucky we were. He said, “I could charge you. I heard you all the way from the road. And, on the church steps?! Have you no respect?” He went on to tell us of the consequences for our future should he take us to court. He knew that shaming the behaviour would suffice. He did not have a quota to fill. He had no personal need to gratify.
Why do I remember him so many years later? What I do know is this: many doors would have been closed to me, had he laid those charges. I joined the police force two years later and had very successful careers.
I neither fear nor hate the police. I must admit that I am angry at them, but as a collective. Their behaviour is appalling. I do not trust or respect them. My feelings are rooted in my personal experiences with law enforcement in America.
But after all the promises, prayers, threats, insults are done; regardless of the vitriol spewed, I hope that we can agree on these truths (1) That the uniform policeman is merely the very visible part of a morally gangrenous justice system and public administration. (2) He/she is abused by a governing system that would corrupt a Saint. (3) A society gets the quality of administrative institutions it deserves.
The profession has been allowed to rot from without and from within. The misuse of police as armed revenue collectors, escorts, lackeys, school sitters, fundraisers, unaccountable warriors on drugs, have easily morphed to enemies of the citizenry.
His training and professional development sacrificed, his management long ago abrogated oversight, he became just a peevish man with a gun. A pacifier misunderstanding his true, professional role in society.
Police in any country, have tremendous coercive power. How they project and use that power is the crux of what we face in America. Police also have deterrent and discretionary power. Where the emphasis is placed in the social contract between government and citizens will determine, over the years, the kind of police bureaucracy and policeman we get.
By Leyland A. King
Monday, July 30, 2016
Nothing impeded traffic-flow on I-4 East bound just after sunset, that late summer’s Friday. Irving Welles, age twenty-four, college grad, was headed home after work, thinking ordinary thoughts in the midst of routine driving. His family was awaiting his arrival for dinner. Had there been a traffic back-up, even for twenty minutes, this night might not have been lamentable for Irving. His exit through the off-ramp would have been as mundane as his stop at the traffic red-light, which he had done so often. But this time, his pause was consequential.
The young woman, loitering at the corner was alluring. What would be described as pacing for most women did not seem so. For her, it was more of a strut. Irving could not believe that she smiled, beckoned him to turn the corner, and soon made a sexual come-on with her mouth. The red lipstick should have warned him just as the traffic light’s red told of danger. The woman approached his car, leaned into the window frame and a chat began. When she suggested what she would for him, he found the talk arousing and liked that. Irving played along, knowing the fantasy would never get real because two dollars and sixty-eight cents was all that he had. Somewhere in the web of chitchat, he might have given the wrong answer, for he could deduce no other reason why he was swarmed by four men who identified themselves as police officers, arrested and whisked him off to jail. Thus began his distress and calamitous social tumble.
His car towed, Irving spent the night in jail, appeared at court the next day and was able to obtain bond through the assistance of relatives. Distraught; confused; unprepared; he accepted an attorney’s proffered card. Had Irving been an experienced criminal, a product of experience acquired in the criminal justice system, he would not have been so trusting of people purporting to represent his interest. People who facilitate the court’s conveyor-belt’s smooth operation. Some players well-practiced in manipulation of gullible defendants.
On his counsel’s advice, Irving pleaded no contest, paid initial costs and was put on program that, if completed, reduced fines. He did all that was required. But no one told him about the most damning consequence, that is, the permanent criminal record created. He was shocked when, on the basis of that record of soliciting a lewd act, he was fired from his government career. Thereafter, every time he was honest on his job application, the red lips disallowed him. Soon, he figured that concealing his arrest would get him past the gate keepers. It did, but as certain as day follows night, three to five weeks later, came the familiar summon and firing. Due to Right to Work State Law, Irving was neither owed nor given a reason for severance .
When last fired he expressed to a kindly manager how relieved he felt that he had been found out. He said that every day of the month that he came in to work, he dreaded discovery. This was also the first time that anyone told him that he might apply to have his criminal record expunged. Sensing a sympathetic ear, he divulged the details of that fateful evening.
It is unknown what became of Irving, but what happened to him, a youth with a previously spotless record, is instructive as to the ethics of police baiting practices.
Our criminal law interprets police behavior of the kind, as entrapment. It asks the question: ‘Would the defendant have committed the crime without enticement’? Yet, the police knowingly do that with impunity. Citizens of more vulnerable classes are most impacted, most arrested (in spite of police discretion to use citations) and most abused of their rights, once they enter the court system. The financial hardship and emotional distress brought on innocent families are incalculable. No one seems to care about the fact that something so simple devastates innocent dependents. Nor is thought given to the cost to taxpayers in training another person to replace Irving every time he is fired.
Clarence Darrow, author of Crime: Its Cause and Treatment seriously criticized the perpetual hounding by the system.
Ethical questions might be framed in many different ways for every person or agency that contributed to Irving’s tribulations. When attempting to answer questions of ethical dilemmas, philosophers simplify resolution by looking to the law and social mores. In this case did Irving, of his own volition set out to commit a crime? Emphatically, no! There was no action that he initiated.
Did the overt actions of the decoy cause Irving’s travail? Absolutely! And we shall revisit this later on.
Florida Law as to entrapment, cited herein is unambiguous:
(1) A law enforcement officer, a person engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer, or a person acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer perpetrates an entrapment if, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime, he or she induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person(2) A person prosecuted for a crime shall be acquitted if the person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her criminal conduct occurred as a result of an entrapment. The issue of entrapment shall be tried by the Trier of fact.
History.—s. 42, ch. 87-243; s. 1196, ch. 97-102.
Of course there are case laws that emerged through challenges. Those intricacies, I defer to legal professionals, but as to the ethics of police conduct of ensnaring innocent persons, as Irvin’s life altering experience shows, there is no ethical dilemma. In deciding the issue of entrapment courts use either ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’ tests. The former focuses on the defendant’s state of mind, his personality and his predisposition to commit a crime. In more progressive and popular examination, objective test, the focus is on police conduct. The question is, whether the police actions would induce a law-abiding individual to criminal behavior. Is the trap for the unwary innocent or the unwary criminal.
Reference similar actions where a few hapless, some of them homeless, people were unjustly netted. A team of several police officers leaned an unlocked bicycle beside the pavement, near a bus stop. An open ladies’ handbag with exposed cash hung from the handle. How convenient? How irresistible? How immoral! To tempt anyone, especially that poorer, needy population, is wrong! Creating crimes is not the mission of the police nor the state.
Some may counter that police have to do as they did, to maintain public order and decency; that prostitution harms the serenity of communities by attracting more serious crimes to the area.
That is not true. Sex purveyors tend to follow potential business and fulfill needs. They don’t lead. Most sale of sex do not take place on street corners. But even if it were so, as police allege, the desired result might be attained by maintaining an uniformed presence in the affected pockets of licentious activity. The agency’s core duties are maintenance of public order, prevention and detection of crime. Not sweeping up the innocent along with the guilty on specious pretensions.
The problem before us seems to be management failure by the police, both in resource allocation and maintaining the agency’s mission focus. Luring the citizen to do what, ordinarily, he would not have done, impugns the integrity of the organization and deleterious in affect to stakeholder trust.
Compounding the concern as to the outcome for citizens, is what appears to be a systemic indifference by officers of the court. It has to be said, that they have a duty to the state and citizenry, to reject a plea bargain where on the face of it the prosecutor, or the judge, sees that the defendant is not fully informed or that there seems to be unjust circumstances of the arrest.
Two examples have been presented for the readers’ consideration. It is hoped that they are sufficiently persuasive for the reader to seek more information on the issue. Awareness of improper police behavior, and for whatever reason allowing its continuance, is also unethical. Knowing of the outcomes for citizens and still continue inaction is egregiously unethical and immoral. We must do better.
The staff of the Innocence Project cannot be commended enough for the work that they do. Earlier this week they were able to free yet another person wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. According to their information, they reckoned that every three days they are able to free an individual.
Any system with an error rate that high, demonstrates deadly incompetence and should no longer exist. Yet, all we hear is talk of reform. Talk! I see no evidence that States’ Governors or President Barack Obama- by their lack of urgency, sometimes complete paralysis- appreciate the magnitude of the problem. I see no willingness to intervene with clemency actions to bring relief to the suffering innocent or the injustice of unconscionably lengthy sentences. It is alarming, yet it tells us more. That is, in the racial profiles of the exonerated. Poor, White, Black and male.
I was working on one similar when this appeared. In that matter, it was the refusal by an Appellate Court to hear an appeal of a man sentenced to life imprisonment for the theft of a hammer from a popular hardware store.
I can’t keep up with the many releases, due to the Innocence Project. So many, so fast. When we say that it’s the Criminal Justice System, that deflects individual contributions and responsibility. It’s like saying the government of Uganda murdered thousands of its citizens; that the state of Michigan poisoned its residents. No, General Idi Amin, President, murdered his citizens. Michigan, the cover-up and denials continue. Not front page anymore. But there too, people were the problem, not lack of information.
To get the link between criminal injustice and the official responsible, we need to clear the bush where the reptiles nest. If these “errors” cluster in the South, then narrow to which states, which judicial districts, which judges and which prosecutors lay most of the eggs. Where perjury or malpractice is present, the official must be dealt with condignly.
People make laws; people enforce laws; people murder under cover of law. So lets stop being shocked. Remove immunity and make people accountable. These are human lives. Some states even have the gall to refuse to pay compensation. Others do, but drag it out for years, hoping the victim dies. So fed-up!
I am not naive. The United States has very ugly enemies and we have to be prepared to secure ourselves. After 9/11 we put in place intelligence systems to do just that. In peace time (still waiting…