The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore
murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.
From the WaPo story:
BALTIMORE — A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.
The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.
The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.
Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.
That solves that mystery then, right?
Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.
Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.
A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.
Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.
Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:
One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.
Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident. For more surgery procedures, check out nanoknife cancer surgery on atlasoncology.com for more information.
“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray by his vehicle accident lawyer.
“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.
But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.
“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”
And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”
F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”
From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’
Experts such as Baizer Kolar P.C. as well as Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.
Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.
In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.
In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.
As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.
While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.
Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.
Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.
The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.
President Obama’s executive action on immigration tops the news today. Ferguson is a close second. I’ll be focusing mostly on those two stories in this post.
Before I get started, I want to point you to a new post by Darren Hutchinson of Dissenting Justice. It will give you some reality-based ammunition to deal with crazy wingnut friends, relatives, and Facebook and Twitter followers.
ATTENTION: Before you can argue that the government has violated a law, you must actually READ the law.
FACT: Congress has the exclusive power to pass laws regarding immigration (U.S. Const. Article I, Section 8, Cl. 4).FACT: Executive Power of the US is vested in the President, which means the President, not Congress, executes the immigration laws (U.S. Const. Article II, Sect. 1, Cl. 1)….
FACT: Consistent with the Constitution, the INA gives the Executive Branch (President, Homeland Security, Attorney General, and Secretary of State) the power to enforce immigration laws (8 U.S.C. Sect. 1103-1104)….
FACT: The Executive Can “Cancel” the Removal of Certain Deportable Individuals.
The INA allows the Attorney General to cancel removal (deportation) or adjust the status of certain categories of undocumented individuals. The statute explicitly spells out the criteria for doing so. Thus, the statute provides an “intelligible criteria” for the Attorney General to follow. (8 U.S.C. Section 1229b(a)-(b))….
The Executive Can Give Temporary Protected Status to Certain Deportable Individuals. The INA also allows the Attorney General to grant “Temporary Protected Status” (TPS) to deportable individuals from certain countries that the Attorney General has placed on a TPS list. As required by Supreme Court doctrine, the INA gives SPECIFIC guidelines – or an intelligible principle – for the Attorney General to follow when determining whether to give TPS designation to a country. The statutory factors include serious conditions in the individual’s home country, like armed conflict; natural disasters; a request for temporary protected status by the country; or “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that preclude the safe return of the individual, so long as TPS does not conflict with the interests of the US.
(8 U.S.C. Sections 1254a-i)
Those are the highlights. There’s more at the link. I plan to save Hutchinson’s post for future reference. I’m thinking of printing it out in case I get in a political argument with my brother over Thanksgiving dinner.
Obama has been vilified from day one by people who obviously have never read the Constitution or any U.S. laws dealing with their various political hobby horses, and I’m sick and tired of it.
You all know I not a fan of Obama when he ran for president in 2008, and I still think he’s a conservative technocrat who is far to willing to support privatization of public services. But he is the President of the United States now. I support his efforts to reform immigration laws. He’s only taking executive action because Congress is full of stupid and irrational people who are too lazy or stubborn to cooperate with him. Sadly, the DC media is largely made up of wealthy, privileged people who got their jobs because through nepotism and/or because they attended elite universities and are too lazy or stupid to provide accurate information to the public. Therefore, people who don’t focus on politics like we do get false information from TV news or “journalists” who do not understand what journalism is.
A few more links on the immigration story:
Washington Post Wonkblog, Flow chart: Who qualifies for Obama’s immigration offer?
The president’s executive action would delay deportation for the undocumented mother of a child born in the U.S. on Thursday — but not an undocumented mother who gave birth here one day later. Similarly, the president has offered deferrals to children brought to this country by their parents before their 16th birthday — but not a few weeks after.
Such deadlines serve a purpose: They’re meant to discourage new immigrants from coming in the future, or to dissuade women already here from giving birth with the goal of securing deferrals. But they also show that the president’s action falls far short of a comprehensive solution. It offers, instead, a fragmented answer that will leave many immigrants disappointed.
Check out the flow chart at the link for details.
Greg Sargent at The Washington Post, Bringing perspective to Obama’s move on deportations.
Now that President Obama has announced his executive action to temporarily shield millions from deportation, confirming the administration’s view that this move is well within his authority, the battle now shifts to a political fight over the policy itself, and over whether it violates “political norms.” Is this action so provocative an affront to Congress that it sets a precedent for future GOP presidents to use discretion to selectively enforce laws liberals like?
Embedded in the legal opinion that the Office of Legal Counsel released to justify the move is an important nugget that should, in theory, help take the steam out of the idea that this move is a flagrant violation of political norms.
Obama’s action temporarily shields from deportation the parents of children who are U.S. citizens and legal residents, and also expands the program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to protect people brought here illegally as children. But it excludes parents of DACA recipients.
The reason for this offered by the OLC memo is that protecting parents of legal residents is in line with Congressional intent, as expressed in statute, while protecting DACA parents isn’t:
[T]he parents of DACA recipients are differently situated from the parents of U.S. citizens and LPRs [Legal Permanent Residents] under the family-related provisions of the immigration law. Many provisions of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] reflect Congress’ general concern about separating individuals who are legally entitled to live in the United States and their immediate family members….But the immigration laws do not express comparable concern for uniting persons who lack lawful status (or prospective lawful status in the United States with their families…Extending deferred action to the parents of DACA recipients would therefore expand family-based immigration relief in a manner that deviates in important respects from the immigration system Congress has enacted.
This legal opinion probably precludes any future expansion of this program to cover parents of DACA recipients. And it underscores two things: First, that the proposal is heavily focused on providing relief from humanitarian hardship endured by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, a longtime intention of Congress, as expressed in statute. Second, it shows that the proposal’s legal rationale is tightly circumscribed to reflect that Congressional intent.
Follow me below the fold for much more . . .
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For the past few days, the corporate media has been reporting on a phone call made to Arlene Holmes, the mother of alleged mass murderer James Holmes. ABC News’ placed a call to the Holmes family home in San Diego, CA in the early morning hours after the shootings in Aurora, CO. ABC reported that Mrs. Holmes immediately said, “You have the right person.” Since that time, multiple media sources have reported over and over again that Arlene Holmes was not surprised to learn that her son had gone on a murderous rampage.
Personally, I never interpreted Mrs. Holmes’ words in that way. I assumed that she was saying that, yes, she was the mother of a man named James Holmes who lived in Aurora, CO. It turns out that my interpretation was the correct one.
Today, Lisa Damiani, the Holmes family attorney, read a statement from Arlene Holmes in which she attempted to clarify the media narrative. She explained that the reporter asked her if she was Arlene Holmes and if she had a son, James Holmes, who lived in Aurora, CO. She then said “You have the right person,” indicating that she did have a son by that name. She then asked the reporter why he was calling and he told her about the shooting and asked for a comment. She told the reporter that she needed to find out of the person in custody was really her son. She the said that she would call the police or go to Colorado.
UPDATE: The full statement is reproduced at the end of this post.
I have to say that I am disgusted with the way the media covers horrible stories like this. Can any of us possibly imagine what it would be like to be awakened by a phone call from a national news organization announcing that your son has committed an unspeakable crime? The cold-blooded way that the media confronts families is sickening to me.
I am as fascinated by stories like this as anyone, but I try my best to be fair in evaluating what I read and hear. Unfortunately, the media narrative has probably been set in stone already and will continue to be reported again and again, as people judge this family and hold them responsible for their son’s actions.
I was also surprised to learn from the press conference that the family has not been contacted by Aurora police. It may be that James doesn’t want police to contact them. He’s an adult and legally can make his own decisions.
Another interesting thing the attorney said was that the family does not wish to discuss their relationship with James at this time. I don’t want to read anything into this, but the statement is suggestive that there may have been some kind of difficulty. I don’t want to be guilty of the same behavior that I’m criticizing, so I’m going to wait until there is more information.
TMZ has a breaking news story on this now. As soon as someone publishes the full statement, I’ll link to it here.
UPDATE: Here is the full statement from Arlene Holmes from Politico:
Arlene Holmes, the mother of Colorado theater shooting suspect James Holmes, says that ABC News mischaracterized her when it reported that her initial statement to the reporter, “you have the right person,” was a reference to her son.
“This statement is to clarify a statement made by ABC media. I was awakened by a call from a reporter by ABC on July 20 about 5:45 in the morning. I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time,” Holmes said in a statement this afternoon, read to the national press by attorney Lisa Damiani. “He asked if I was Arlene Holmes and if my son was James Holmes who lives in Aurora, Colorado. I answered yes, you have the right person. I was referring to myself.”
“I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora,” she continues. “He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son, and I would need to find out.”
In the first paragraph of its initial report on Friday, ABC News reported that it had identified the correct James Holmes because his mother “told ABC News her son was likely the alleged culprit, saying, ‘You have the right person.'”
I don’t know who the reporter was that made the phone call to Arlene Holmes and then twisted her meaning; but he or she should be fired. Brian Ross had previously reported that a Tea Party leader named Jim Holmes might have been the shooter. He should be fired too.
Quixote wants the media to leave Ann Romney alone. In that spirit, I say it’s time for the media to get off Elizabeth Warren’s back about her Cherokee ancestry. Good Grief! This is the woman who stood up to Wall Street, Barack Obama, and Tim Geithner. Now she has to prove she’s 1/32 Cherokee?
Guess what? The Chief of Cherokee Nation is only 1/32 Cherokee. That ought to be good enough to satisfy the corporate media, although nothing will ever satisfy the right wing nuts, as we know from their continued demands to see a different birth certificate than Barack Obama has already provided.
Just plug in “Elizabeth Warren” on Google News, and all you’ll see are headlines about Warren’s Native American heritage, as if it mattered one bit as to her qualifications to serve in the Senate. Here are a few examples:
And in the midst of the madness, it looks like Warren is going to have to deal with a primary challenger.
At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky calls it a “witch hunt,” and I agree with him. He calls it “the biggest media-manufactured story since the Lewinsky scandal.”
So now Elizabeth Warren has to prove that she’s 1/32nd Cherokee? The temperature on the story is rising. There was a huge article in the Boston Globe on Friday written to raise a number of questions and suggest that Warren used the minority designation to get her job, or get ahead—exactly at the same time that a poll was released (PDF) showing that 69 percent of Bay State voters don’t consider her heritage to be a “significant” story. It reminds me of nothing so much as Monica Lewinsky, and of the media’s need sometimes to get a grip.
Why Lewinsky? The situations are in fact almost precisely the same. You had then a press pack that had decided that whether Bill Clinton was telling the truth about Monica was a question on which the fate of the republic hinged. The press became self-righteously consumed with its search for The Truth. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, and outside of Wingnuttia (it existed then, just at about half of its current GDP), nobody cared what the truth was. The media kept producing revelations; surely, now, swore Maureen Dowd and Michael Kelly, America will see this man for the reprobate he is! America looked, yawned, told the press to start acting like grownups, and continued to approve of the job Clinton was doing as president at rates near 70 percent and to oppose impeachment at similar levels.
The appearance Thursday morning of this Suffolk University poll (linked to above) made me think: Well, this story line is about to wrap up. If more than two-thirds of voters don’t care, then that’s that. But no—still going strong! And now it’s not the loopy, right-wing, and pro-Brown Herald, which pushed the story first, but the Globe trying to play catch up. Yes, yes, it’s all in the public interest. What, you say, the public says it isn’t interested? Well, we’ll teach them what’s in their interest!
This is sheer insanity.