Juneteenth Reads !!!

See the source image

Happy Juneteenth!

Yes.  This is a regular post here at Sky Dancing!  It’s not something we all just discovered.  I went back into our archives and searched for the Juneteenth tag and discovered that Mona, JJ, BB, and I had all written posts for the occasion.

That link goes to the one I wrote in 2017 and it includes pictures, history, and a link to Black Lives Matter plus a police brutality case in Seattle where police shot and killed a mother of four waving a knife around.  There is also a link to the outrage in the Twin Cities over the acquittal of officers involved with the death of Philando Castille plus bonus links on gerrymandering in Wisconsin and how difficult it is to climb out of poverty.  It’s like reading headlines today with different names and none of the Trump chaos and malfeasance.

This link has some exciting news for a history nerd like me. “An original ‘Juneteenth’ order found in the National Archives. The handwritten document informed the enslaved in Texas they were free on June 19, 1865.”  This is via WAPO.

The National Archives on Thursday located what appears to be an original handwritten “Juneteenth” military order informing thousands of people held in bondage in Texas they were free.

The decree, in the ornate handwriting of a general’s aide, was found in a formal order book stored in the Archives headquarters building in Washington. It is dated June 19, 1865, and signed by Maj. F.W. Emery, on behalf of Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free,’ ” the order reads.

“This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

So, if only we did a better job living up to the promises our country made to every one.  Jamelle Bouie writes this for the NYT: ‘Why Juneteenth Matters. It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.’

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves.

“Slave resistance,” as the historian Manisha Sinha points out in “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” “lay at the heart of the abolition movement.”

“Prominent slave revolts marked the turn toward immediate abolition,” Sinha writes, and “fugitive slaves united all factions of the movement and led the abolitionists to justify revolutionary resistance to slavery.”

Juneteenth this year will have a different feel.  This is from the AP:

For many white Americans, recent protests over police brutality have driven their awareness of Juneteenth’s significance.

“This is one of the first times since the ’60s, where the global demand, the intergenerational demand, the multiracial demand is for systemic change,” said Cornell University professor Noliwe Rooks, a segregation expert. “There is some understanding and acknowledgment at this point that there’s something in the DNA of the country that has to be undone.”

Friday’s celebrations will be marked from coast to coast with marches and demonstrations of civil disobedience, along with expressions of black joy in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation. And like the nationwide protests that followed the police involved deaths of black men and women in Minnesota, Kentucky and Georgia, Juneteenth celebrations are likely to be remarkably more multiracial.

And from WAPO:

This year, invigorated by weeks of protests that began after the police killing of George Floyd, more than 20 rallies, marches and events are scheduled for Friday in the District — with hundreds more in at least 45 states, according to the Movement for Black Lives.

Starting about 8 a.m., protesters will gather at symbolic landmarks, including the U.S. Education Department, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Freedom Plaza, the African American Civil War Memorial, Meridian Hill Park (also known as Malcolm X Park) and the White House. Other rallies, vigils and demonstrations in the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs also are planned.

Here’s some hopeful news:

Amy Walter / The Cook Political Report:  New 2020 Electoral College Ratings  —  With just under five months until the election, President Trump is a severe underdog for re-election.  Polls show that voters do not trust him to handle the two most pressing issues of the day — the coronavirus pandemic and race relations — which has helped drive his job approval to 41 percent.

Cat Zakrzewski / Washington Post:  Twitter labels Trump video tweet as manipulated media, continuing its crackdown on misinformation  —  The label marks the fourth time Twitter has added labels to the president’s tweets.  —  Twitter on Thursday evening took the rare step of appending a warning label to one of President Trump’s tweets …

So, the first reference I found to our Juneteenth blog celebration was from 2010 and Wonk wrote it.  She’s from Texas so she has a lot more familiarity with the holiday than most of us did but yet, we all found out about it way before Donald Trump and way before the sudden interest of white people in its celebration.  Today, I think about the number of black Americans dying at the hands of police, black women dying from  inadequate pregnancy care, black elders with comorbidities that should not exist in a country as rich as ours dying from COVID 19.

I think about all the systemic hurdles our country has placed in front of the black community. I think about the hope of the Emancipation and the Dream of MLK and the basic justice and equality built into the US Constitution that never quite becomes true for all of us at the same time.

See the source image

Perhaps, this is a Juneteenth that serves as a new Emancipation watermark. However, just looking back on the last 10 years I realize that it’s going to take a hell of a lot more legislative action to make any of those Promises and Dreams a reality.  Which brings me to Mitch McConnells’ reign of terror in the Senate. We could’ve done a lot more without him.

At a time when Confederate symbols are being removed from public places it’s time to think about what we can do to get rid of the NeoConferates in the Senate like Mitch (and Lindsey too). He’s taken cover behind Trumpist chaos to block all legislation except those huge horrid tax cuts and a few minor others.    He has worked tirelessly just to put unqualified judges with NeoConfederate ideology on federal benches in life time appointments.  None of the hard work of getting laws passed is going to get through him if he can help it.

We need to get rid of these old NeoConfederates in the Senate this year or it’s going to be another log slog down the road to freedom and justice.  The struggle continues.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?




Friday Reads: Really Freaking Over It All


Good Day

Sky Dancers!

I’m just tired of the constant bombardment of absolutely outrageous actions, words, and plans coming out of the Trumpist Regime.  There appears no end to what Trump and his cronies think they can get away with and still be considered fit to work and walk around in pubic.

Watching Trumpists downplay the dangers of a pandemic running rampant in many parts of the country is just one of these outrages that sets me off.  Trump wants business as usual and so he’s getting it through mouthpieces like Larry Kudlow who has no business being employed by anyone, let alone our government.  He’s also flouncing around the country spreading hate and discontent and furthering his profile as the nation’s racist-in-chief. This is from the AP.

At the White House, aides now routinely flout internal rules requiring face masks. The president’s campaign is again scheduling mass arena rallies. And he is back to spending summer weekends at his New Jersey golf club.

Three months after President Donald Trump bowed to the realities of a pandemic that put big chunks of life on pause and killed more Americans than several major wars, Trump is back to business as usual — even as coronavirus cases are on the upswing in many parts of the country.

While the nation has now had months to prepare stockpiles of protective gear and ventilators, a vaccine still is many months away at best and a model cited by the White House projects tens of thousands of more deaths by the end of September.

Amid renewed fears of a virus resurgence, financial markets — frequently highlighted by Trump as a sign of economic recovery — suffered their worst drop since March on Thursday. The market opened on the upside Friday morning.

At the White House, though, officials played down the severity of the virus surge and sought to blame it on factors beyond Trump’s forceful push to reopen the economy, which he’s counting on to help him win reelection.

“I spoke to our health experts at some length last evening. They’re saying there is no second spike. Let me repeat that: There is no second spike,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Friday on “Fox & Friends.”

He said COVID-19 cases are increasing only in certain spots of the country, but that nationally, the rates of new cases and fatalities have flattened out. “There is no emergency,” Kudlow said. “There is no second wave. I don’t know where that got started on Wall Street.”

See the source imageYascha Mounk–a contributing writer at The Atlantic— wrote this today “The Virus Will Win. Americans are pretending that the pandemic is over. It certainly is not.” There is a huge list of what our country and our so-called leadership is doing wrong.

A second wave of the coronavirus is on the way. When it arrives, we will lack the will to deal with it. Despite all the sacrifices of the past months, the virus is likely to win—or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it already has.

In absolute terms, the United States has been hit harder than any other country. About a quarter of worldwide deaths have been recorded on these shores. And while the virus is no longer growing at an exponential rate, the threat it poses remains significant: According to a forecasting model by Morgan Stanley, the number of American cases will, if current trends hold, roughly double over the next two months.

But neither the impact of mass protests over police brutality nor the effect of the recent reopening of much of the country—including the casinos in Las Vegas—is reflected in the latest numbers. It can take at least 10 days for people to develop symptoms and seek out a test, and for the results to be aggregated and disseminated by public-health authorities.

Even so, the disease is slowly starting to recede from the public’s attention. After months of dominating media coverage, COVID-19 has largely disappeared from the front pages of most national newspapers. In recent polls, the number of people who favor “reopening the economy as soon as possible” over “staying home as long as necessary” has increased. And so it is perhaps no surprise that even states where the number of new infections stands at an all-time high are pressing ahead with plans to lift many restrictions on businesses and mass gatherings.

See the source image

I am horrified that bars in my neighborhood are opening tomorrow albeit at 25 % capacity and that the local AirBnbs are filling up with folks with license plates from CoVid Death Zones like Georgia, Alabama, Texas and the like.  I’m just blessed most folks from Arizona don’t get this far east or they’d be here to spreading it merrily around our vulnerable population too so they can have a little Disneyfied Adult Entertainment at our expense.

Then, there’s the endless parade of current and former Trumpist Regime appointees that coulda whoulda shoulda done something but just sat there and let the chaos flow all over us and expect a voice in the criticism now.  Oh, and a big pay check … they expect that too …

This outrage pretty well sums up my thoughts on Bloodless John Bolton and the release of his “tell all”.  He should of told all when we could’ve impeached the ass and saved lives.

See the source image


This is from Axios who have gotten an advance copy of the book.  Like I said, it seems to me that we should all boycott buying it since he obviously didn’t care enough about the country to come forward with this out of patriotism instead of greed.

“Scoop: John Bolton to argue Trump misconduct”

John Bolton taunts President Trump, his former boss, on the back cover of his forthcoming book: “Game on.”

  • In a memoir coming June 23 that the White House has tried to delay, former national security adviser Bolton will offer multiple revelations about Trump’s conduct in office, with direct quotes by the president and senior officials, according to a source familiar with the book.

Why it matters: Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush, is a lifelong conservative and longtime Fox News contributor who is well-known by the Trump base, the source pointed out.

  • In “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” Bolton will go beyond Ukraine, and argue there was “Trump misconduct with other countries,” the source said.
  • Axios agreed to grant anonymity to the source in order to give readers a window into the book ahead of publication.

Behind the scenes: People close to Trump have been worried about the book because Bolton was known as the most prolific note taker in high-level meetings, Jonathan Swan reports.

  • Bolton would sit there, filling yellow legal pad after yellow legal pad with notes.
  • In short: Bolton saw a lot, and he wrote it down in real time. And when he left, the White House never got those notes back.

See the source image

Jordan Fabian and Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg have more to offer on this: “Bolton Book to Relate Trump Chaos, How Re-Election Drove Policy.”

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” Bolton writes in the book, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” the publisher said in a release.

The former top security aide, who was ousted last September, will argue the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry was too narrow and should have focused on more than Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. Simon & Schuster promised Bolton will offer details on other similar moves by Trump across the full range of his foreign policy and the national security adviser’s efforts to stop them.
Bolton declined to testify in the House’s impeachment probe, and instead deferred to the federal courts if a subpoena would be legally valid. House Democrats did not issue a subpoena, saying a lengthy legal battle would unnecessarily prolong the impeachment process.

Bolton said during a February speech at Vanderbilt University he did not regret his refusal to testify because it “would have made no difference to the ultimate outcome.”

“I sleep at night because I have followed my conscience,” he said, according to USA Today.

So glad he can sleep well at night.  I sure as hell wish I could.

See the source image

Bill Barr continues to dismantle democracy daily.  Can this Judge stop him from setting Michael Flynn Free?  From WAPO: “Court appears reluctant to order judge to immediately drop criminal case against Michael Flynn”.

A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday appeared reluctant to order a judge to immediately dismiss the guilty plea of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, suggesting courts have the authority to review whether Justice Department moves to drop a prosecution are “in the public interest.”

Flynn, joined by the Justice Department, had asked the appeals court to force U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to quickly close the case and put a stop to Sullivan’s examination of the government’s unusual decision to drop the charges against the retired three-star general.
But Judges Karen Henderson and Robert Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit expressed skepticism of Flynn’s argument that Sullivan cannot conduct an independent evaluation or name an outside party to argue against the Justice Department’s May 7 motion.

“If Judge Sullivan had just kept this motion waiting and languishing, that’s one thing,” Henderson told Flynn attorney Sidney Powell. “But he has set a hearing for mid-July. For all we know, by the end of July he will have granted the motion. You also know courts have said he’s not a ‘mere rubber stamp’ either. There’s nothing wrong with him holding a hearing — there’s no authority I know of that says he can’t hold a hearing.”
Wilkins agreed, citing two cases in which he said the Supreme Court upheld the authority of federal judges “to perform an independent evaluation” before granting a government motion to drop a prosecution.
“You’re saying the Supreme Court got it wrong,” he asked.

“No,” Powell said, “I’m saying the independent review of the record consists of just that, and the record in this case is extremely well documented of prosecutorial misconduct, and suppression of [exculpatory] evidence which would warrant dismissal in any circumstance.”

So, one final scream on Trump, his rallies, and his plan to  host his triumphal speech in Jacksonville Florida violating yet another sacred day in US History.  So, of course, the first is holding a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth which is the site of a horrific massacre of African Americans on May 31 and June 1, 1921.

And now this!

There is no end to his hateful racists actions, words, and sentiments.

So, I know all of this is depressing because living in our country right now is an ongoing nightmare.   He has no respect for the US Constitution, our American laws and values, or any of us for that matter.

I hope you have a very peaceful weekend and that you’re fortunate enough that you can stay safe at home with your beloveds!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?



Rainy Day Monday Reads

John Lewis at Black Lives Matter Plaza - Democratic Underground

Good Day From Soggy New Orleans !

Tropical Storm Cristobal has left the area technically but we’re still getting plenty of rain and street flooding!  Just another good reason to stay my fat ass home and find us some good reads today.

From CNN and Chandelise Duster: “Civil rights icon John Lewis calls Black Lives Matter mural ‘a powerful work of art’ during visit with DC mayor”.

In a series of photos posted on Twitter by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday, the Georgia Democrat is seen standing next to the mayor wearing a mask on the giant mural, which spans two blocks of 16th Street, a central axis that leads southward straight to the White House.

“We’ve walked this path before, and will continue marching on, hand in dihand, elevating our voices, until justice and peace prevail,” Bowser tweeted. “Thank you for joining me at Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of the White House, @repjohnlewis.”

I was moved by this picture of 80 year old Civil Rights Legend Representative John Lewis standing shoulder-to-shoulder at Black Lives Matter Plaza with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Every time I feel like this country is on a road to no where and re-fighting the same fights with little result, Rep. Lewis pops up and reminds me I haven’t been at it long enough to be bone tired yet.

He’s a beacon of light in a long endless night that I wanted ended with an illegitimate grifting narcissistic White House Usurper in Federal Prison along with all of his evil enablers.

This interview with Rep. Lewis is from New York Magazine and Zak Cheney-Rice.

We have, in a lot of the cities where this unrest is happening today, progressive mayors, progressive city councils, and yet law-enforcement violence occurs regardless of who’s in office. I just wonder, Where should concerned Americans be directing their energy when voting the right people, or who they think are the right people, into office doesn’t seem to be solving the problem?
We must never ever give up, or give in, or throw in the towel. We must continue to press on! And be prepared to do what we can to help educate people, to motivate people, to inspire people to stay engaged, to stay involved, and to not lose their sense of hope. We must continue to say we’re one people. We’re one family. We all live in the same house. Not just an American house but the world house. As Dr. King said over and over again, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools.”

Do you have any advice or thoughts for communities that are looking for ways to reform how policing is done where they live?
It is my belief that we must work on a national level as well as a local level. That we need to humanize police forces, humanize the people, whoever is in charge of the police department at the local level but also at the national level.

Can you tell me what you mean by “humanize”? Do you mean we need to understand that they are humans too?
Well, I mean that we all are human beings, and we must be treated like human beings and respect the dignity and the way of each other. What happened in Atlanta with the officer beating up two young students was uncalled for. And I think the mayor and the police chief did the right thing, and they didn’t wait — they did it right on the spot. Of course, officers of the law didn’t have a right to abuse other people’s right. You have to be human.

Do you think there are major philosophical differences between the way that your generation viewed the struggle for civil rights and the way today’s younger generation views it?
Well, I wouldn’t say there are major differences. I think my generation of young people was greatly influenced by the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and by individuals like James Lawson. And we dedicated ourselves to creating what we called the loving community. We wanted to do what we called “redeem the soul of America.” We wanted to save America from herself.

Read the rest of the interview at the link.  This interview is also about  “release of Good Trouble, a documentary about his life and work.”

Protesting never comes easy. Many folks believe that the act of protest is revolutionary and leads to violence and property destruction. It is quite American and Constitutional and should lead to peaceful change. There are many who do not want that.

From the CBS affiliate in Richmond, VA: “‘KKK President’ arrested for hitting protester with his truck
A hate crime investigation is underway.”

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — The Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney said a hate crime investigation was underway against the self-proclaimed president of the Virginia KKK.

Harry Rogers appeared in Henrico Court Monday morning where he agreed to receive a court-appointed attorney.

Rogers, 36, of Hanover, was formally charged with attempted malicious wounding (felony), destruction of property (felony), and assault and battery (misdemeanor) after police said he drove his pickup truck into a group of protesters Sunday in Lakeside.

The destruction of property charged stemmed from a bicycle damaged during the ordeal.

A Henrico judge denied Rogers’ bond during Monday’s hearing.

Outpouring of support follows Rep. John Lewis' cancer diagnosis ...

Here’s more on “The Disturbing Appeal of Boogaloo Violence to Military Men” from Daily Beast.  “The fringe movement is the latest in a long series of paramilitary scenes to court U.S. soldiers.” as reported by Kelly Weill.  Here’s your outside agitators.

Fantasies of a violent tipping point feature prominently in the Boogaloo scene, which—while relatively new and not an ideological monolith—generally trends right-wing or fringe libertarian, with many of its memes and aesthetic markers borrowed from more explicitly racist alt-right and 4chan culture. The movement is broadly anti-government, and talks often of sparking a civil war.

In the midst of that are current and former service members talking about waging war on U.S. soil. Participation by military members in an anti-government movement might seem counterintuitive on its face, but the Boogaloo movement is only the latest in a long series of fringe paramilitary scenes that court American troops.

Parshall, 35; Andrew Lynam, 23; and William Loomis, 40, were arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas. But the trio weren’t there to protest the death of George Floyd, prosecutors say. Instead, they allegedly planned to throw Molotov cocktails and incite violence, in the hopes of sparking greater unrest.

Their Las Vegas cell came under investigation in April, when one of Parshall and Lynam’s associates contacted the FBI about what that person claimed was the two men’s interest in conducting a terror attack, prosecutors said. The person agreed to become a confidential informant in the group, and gathered with members as they allegedly discussed plots to commit violence and overthrow the government.

The trio allegedly went heavily armed to a “re-open” rally in Las Vegas—one of the largely conservative protests attended by people who wanted to end COVID-19 business closures. There, they allegedly talked of targeting government infrastructure, like a ranger station at a nearby lake.

During later meetings, they allegedly planned to blow up a power station and throw smoke bombs at a different re-open protest. (They allegedly went to the protest but got cold feet when they saw cops watching them.) Finally, on May 30, they allegedly attended the Black Lives Matter protest with Molotov cocktails and a plot to spark chaos. The FBI arrested all three on the spot.

John Lewis (1940- ) •

And from Seattle: “Man drives into Seattle George Floyd protest, shoots one protester.A 27-year-old man was taken to hospital after being shot, police said.

Video shared on Twitter by a bystander at the incident showed a man emerging from a vehicle that appeared to have struck a barricade at an intersection. The driver appeared to be carrying a gun in one hand as he ran into the crowd. The sound of what appeared to be gunshots could be heard on video of the incident from the scene.

One witness told NBC News’ local affiliate KING that the victim had tried to stop the vehicle from driving into the crowd before the driver shot him. NBC News was not able to confirm this account.

Police later tried to disperse the protesters and said some people had thrown projectiles and fireworks at officers, the department said on Twitter. Police said some demonstrators had shone green lasers in officers’ eyes.

Police said they were responding with pepper spray and blast balls. Police also authorized the use of tear gas.

We continue to find completely unacceptable behavior in many many police forces as they seem completely at a loss to deal with crowds of mostly peaceful protestors.

A NYT editor has been fired for publishing the authoritarian, hateful Op Ed written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who truly is represents the worst of American vicissitudes from the Trumpist Regime. This is from Vox and David Roberts:  “The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America’s values.  It cannot remain neutral when those values are under threat from racialized authoritarianism.”

Last week, the New York Times editorial page published an op-ed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton calling for a wide-scale military crackdown on protests against police brutality.

It immediately caused an uproar both inside and outside the Times, as covered in the Times itself, the Washington PostSlate, and here at Vox, by my colleague Zack Beauchamp. That was followed by a plaintive editorial from the head of the Times opinion page, James Bennet, attempting to explain the decision to run the piece, then an official apology from Times editors, and then, on Sunday, Bennet’s resignation.

In his excellent explainer on what happened and the history of tensions between the Times opinion and news sides, Beauchamp asks some questions that I want to pull out and mull over. They get at a core dilemma facing political media in the Trump era.

“Does every idea that’s popular in power, no matter how poorly considered, deserve some kind of respectful airing in mainstream publications?” he asks. “Or are there boundaries, both of quality of argument and moral decency, where editors need to draw the line — especially in the Trump era?”

There clearly are boundaries. The Times would not publish an op-ed advocating for a return to chattel slavery in the US. Presumably no mainstream US publication would. If it was found that a US senator (or a group of them) believed in the return of slavery, the Times would not give the senator space to make his casein the op-ed section. It would assign reporters to cover the story, like a scandal.

That slavery is abhorrent is taken as a background assumption informing coverage, not a subject of legitimate debate in which both sides deserve a hearing.

So the question is where are the boundaries and, just as importantly, who draws them? Who decides what is in bounds and out of bounds? Is it the press’s job to draw those lines and defend those boundaries?

These questions are at the heart of the Cotton affair, and they have haunted all of journalism since Donald Trump became president.

WeLoveYamiche Trends After Donald Trump Accuses Reporter of Asking ...

In deed, most Journalists seem at a loss still about what do about the radicalized authoritarianism of the Trumpist Regime.  All except Yamiche Alcindor of PBS who is another Beacon of hope, truth and reason in these dark days.  From the UK Independent: “Trump clashes with black female reporter again who asks about unemployment rates: ‘You’re something’. Reporter asked about rising minority unemployment despite overall declining joblessness as president sat down to sign a bill. He was not amused.”

He ignored a question about George Floyd, a black man killed by white police officers in Minneapolis last week. And he grew agitated with Ms Alcindor when she asked how, despite lower overall unemployment, rising joblessness among African-Americans and Asian-Americans could be considered positives.

“Excuse me, I’d like to sign this bill,” Mr Trump said before telling Ms Alcindor: “You are something.”

She soon defended herself on Twitter, calling her’s a “critical question.”

Yes. She is something!  She is a journalist we should lift up as some one who does her job extremely well. She asks the tough and right questions and does it with grace.

Rep. John Lewis remembers Selma, 51 years later

So, there is a discussion about “defunding” the police which aims to completely redesign police departments. Christy E. Lopez from WAPO writes “Defund the police? Here’s what that really means” in an Op Ed today.

Be not afraid. “Defunding the police” is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need. During my 25 years dedicated to police reform, including in places such as Ferguson, Mo., New Orleans and Chicago, it has become clear to me that “reform” is not enough. Making sure that police follow the rule of law is not enough. Even changing the laws is not enough.

To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue.

Police themselves often complain about having to “do too much,” including handling social problems for which they are ill-equipped. Some have been vocal about the need to decriminalize social problems and take police out of the equation. It is clear that we must reimagine the role they play in public safety.

So, we continue to have a lot of listening, discussing, and marching to do.

I hope every on has a good week!  Be kind and gentle with yourself and others and stay safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Watch your language, pig…

View this post on Instagram

The sad truth…

A post shared by Jackie Beat (@jackiebeat) on

This is an open thread.

Friday Reads: The State of Our Union is Scary

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I wanted to share the protest art of New Orleans Artist Caroline Thomas who usually gets props from me for her marvelous work on Mardi Gras Floats and costumes.   Thanks for letting me use these!!!

And you can find her work here: Instagram: @c_to_the_line (personal art) and @feastandfolly (Carnival research) Carolinemthomas.com

So, I feel like I’m in a bunker even though my city and state are gradually reopening after we’ve met criteria to move to stage two. We’re now facing down a Tropical Storm heading for us over the weekend.  My friends and neighbors are still attending protests here in New Orleans supporting Black Lives Matter and Police Reform taking place despite the teargassing of protesters on the Crescent City Connection Wednesday Night.  I’m no where near as hunkered down as the mad Russian potted plant occupying the White House but then I’m not delusional either.

Image may contain: text that says 'HISTORY JUDGES THE COMPLICIT'

Despite evidence that protests are peaceful and that it’s actually right wing agitation creating the chaos, the narrative from Right Wingers and their Trumpist Regime is that Cities in the US are a hotbed of Leftist activity.  Of course, it’s the usual suspects inventing conspiracies where none exist.

This includes the delusional opportunist James O’Keefe who has been in a closed Portland bookstore looking for the elusive and imaginary ANTIFA headquarters.  So, Project Veritas basically broke into Portlandia’s Woman and Women First Bookstore or what?

Image may contain: 2 people

“This is Nimali Henry’s daughter with a portrait painted by local artist Caroline Thomas. Art is an important part of the expression, questioning and adoption of ideas, and the struggles we as a society face today are no exception. We all have a role to play in this discussion. Thank you, Caroline for bringing your talent and being an important part of this conversation.” — via Aryanna Gamble

These folks might as well look for unicorns.  (sigh)

Meanwhile in the real world Politico goes down the Bill Barr rabbit hole to figure out which collection of agencies in DC are sending shadowy forces to occupy the Washington DC. From Garrett M Graff: “The Story Behind Bill Barr’s Unmarked Federal Agents. The motley assortment of police currently occupying Washington, D.C., is a window into the vast, complicated, obscure world of federal law enforcement.”

To understand the police forces ringing Trump and the White House it helps to understand the dense and not-entirely-sensical thicket of agencies that make up the nation’s civilian federal law enforcement. With little public attention, notice and amid historically lax oversight, those ranks have surged since 9/11—growing by roughly 2,500 officers annually every year since 2000. To put it another way: Every year since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government has added to its policing ranks a force larger than the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Nearly all of these agencies are headquartered in and around the capital, making it easy for Attorney General William Barr to enlist them as part of his vast effort to “flood the zone” in D.C. this week with what amounts to a federal army of occupation, overseen from the FBI Washington area command post in Chinatown. Battalions of agents were mustered in the lobby of Customs and Border Protection’s D.C. headquarters—what in normal times is the path to a food court for federal workers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been given special powers to enable it to surveil protesters. It is the heaviest show of force in the nation’s capital since the protests and riots of the Vietnam War.

As large as the public show of force on D.C.’s streets has turned out to be—Bloomberg reported Thursday that the force includes nearly 3,000 law enforcement—it still represents only a tiny sliver of the government’s armed agents and officers. The government counts up its law enforcement personnel only every eight years, and all told, at last count in 2016, the federal government employed over 132,000 civilian law enforcement officers—only about half of which come from the major “brand name” agencies like the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, DEA and CBP. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which serves as the general academy for federal agencies who don’t have their own specialized training facilities, lists around 80 different agencies whose trainees pass through its doors in Georgia, from the IRS’ criminal investigators and the Transportation Security Administration’s air marshals to the Offices of the Inspector General for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Railroad Retirement Board. Don’t forget the armed federal officers at the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement, whose 150 agents investigate conservation crime like the Tunas Convention Act of 1975 (16 USC § 971-971k) and the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (16 USC § 773-773k).

Image may contain: 3 people, text

In and around D.C., there are more than a score of agency-specific federal police forces, particularly downtown where protests have played out over the past week, nearly every block brings you in contact with a different police force. A morning run around the National Mall and Capitol Hill might see you cross through the jurisdictions of the federal U.S. Capitol Police, the Park Police, the National Gallery of Art police, the Smithsonian Office of Protective Services, the Postal police, Amtrak police, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing police, the Supreme Court police, the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, the Government Publishing Office police, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service. (Only recently did the Library of Congress police merge with the Capitol Police across the street into one unit.) Run a bit farther and you might encounter the FBI Police or the U.S. Mint police. And that’s not even counting the multistate Metro Transit police and the local D.C. Metropolitan Police.




Image may contain: text that says 'BLACK LIVES MATTER'

DC Mayor Bowser has had more than enough of this. From WAPO:  ‘Black Lives Matter’: In giant yellow letters, D.C. mayor sends message to Trump”

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed the street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” on Friday and emblazoned the slogan in massive yellow letters on the road, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets.

The actions are meant to honor demonstrators who are urging changes in police practices after the killing in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city officials said.

They come after several days in which the mayor strongly objected to the escalation of federal law enforcement and a military response to days of protests and unrest in the nation’s capital.

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Most importantly:

In a letter Thursday, Bowser formally asked Trump to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence from Washington, D.C.”

So, why is the White House beginning to look like one of Saddam’s Palaces on a lock down?  This also from WAPO with the top bylines belonging to Phillip Rucker and Ashley Parker. “With White House effectively a fortress, some see Trump’s strength — but others see weakness”

The security perimeter around the White House keeps expanding. Tall black fencing is going up seemingly by the hour. Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent.

In the 72 hours since Monday’s melee at Lafayette Square, the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress — the physical manifestation of President Trump’s vision of law-and-order “domination” over the millions of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice.

The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands — strikingly incongruous with the historic role of the executive mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, which since its cornerstone was laid in 1792 has been known as the People’s House and celebrated as an accessible symbol of American democracy.

This week’s security measures follow nighttime demonstrations just outside the campus gates last weekend that turned violent. White House officials stressed that Trump was not involved in the decision to beef up security or to increase the fencing around the compound’s perimeter, with one senior administration official saying that the precautions are not unique to the Trump administration.

Nevertheless, the resulting picture is both jarring and distinctly political — a Rorschach test for one’s view of Trump’s presidency. His supporters see a projection of absolute strength, a leader controlling the streets to protect his people. His critics see a wannabe dictator and a president hiding from his own citizenry.

Trump — who has long gravitated toward strongman leaders abroad and has sought to bathe himself in military iconography — likes the images of police and troops enforcing order, believing they symbolize his toughness and communicate that his crackdown has largely controlled unrest in the streets of Washington, according to White House officials.

“Washington is in great shape,” Trump said Wednesday in a Fox News Radio interview. “I jokingly said, a little bit jokingly, maybe, it’s one of the safest places on earth. And we had no problem at all last night. We had substantial dominant force and it — we have to have a dominant force. Maybe it doesn’t sound good to say it, but you have to have a dominant force. We need law and order.”

So of course, the gullible and stupid Trumperz go on paranoid rampages and terrorize a family based on all of this crappy conspiracy stuff.  This happened in Washington State:  “Family harassed in Forks after being accused of being members of Antifa. High school students help them”

A multi-racial family of four from Spokane was accused of being members of Antifa, followed and prevented from leaving their campsite by trees felled to block the road, Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies said.

Four high school students cut the trees with chainsaws to allow the family to leave, said Sgt. Ed Anderson in a press release issued late Thursday.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office is actively conducting a criminal investigation into the incident and is seeking information regarding those involved, Anderson said.

Names of the campers or the high school students were not available Thursday.

Image may contain: 3 people, text

As the weeks of protests continue, Amanda Terkel makes this important observation: “The Police Have Shown Their True Colors. When they say they don’t have too much power and don’t act with impunity, will you still believe them?”

The police have been out in full force responding to the anti-racist protests. And their overwhelming response to the accusations of violence and unchecked power has been more violence and unchecked power.
“People started this conversation by saying policing is out of control; they’re not making the situation better. They have not been reformed,” Alex S. Vitale, author of “The End of Policing,” said in a recent NPR interview. “Well, now all you have to do is turn on the nightly news and see how true that is. The level of aggression and unnecessary escalation is stark evidence of how unreformed policing is and I argue how unreformable it is.”

Patrick Skinner, a former CIA officer who is now a Georgia police officer, says a central problem is that law enforcement sees itself fighting a “war on crime.” That mindset is contributing to the overreaction by the police to the peaceful protesters.

“Ninety percent of what we’re seeing are protests. Police should just sit back. They shouldn’t have overwhelming force. … That amps things up. Now granted a riot, when people are hurting ― I mean, police officers have been attacked, people have been killed, lot of damage. I get that. But we use that 1% and we treat the 99% like that. And that’s exactly what police training does,” he said. “Every situation is not just can be dangerous but will be dangerous, because we’re in a war on crime. Anybody can kill you.”

And everything is just hunky dory according to the Russian Potted Plant occupying Fortress White House.

And back here in the hood …

And from our police:

And Right Wing Nut Cases are out there shouting these Anitifa folks are going to destroy the Andrew Jackson statue and the Cathedral on Jackson square.  It’s the usual list of dirtbags including both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers just so you know who comes along and mucks things up.  They’ve put a call out to “patriots” to guard Jackson Square tonight.  This doesn’t sound good.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Stay Safe!  Be gentle with yourself and others!