Monday, June 8, 2020

Change Ain't Easy

If you have not watched John Oliver he has not once but twice done shows on the subject that has plagued our country for decades with regards to Police misconduct. (They are below)  What is also being ignored but a part of the problem is the trifecta of our Criminal Justice system - Prosecutorial Misconduct and Judicial bias.

The reality is that the entire system of criminal justice is a piece of shit and is utterly untenable as it stands today.  Again I can use only my personal experience to remind people of what I first hand saw, experienced and it reduced me to be broken beyond my wildest imagination.  I had to hide money, I had to move across country, I had to change my name. My own Attorney's ripped me off blind, they did little to advocate for me from getting a subpoena to access cell phone records, to wanting me to take a lie detector (useless and inadmissible and I was to pay for it), to failing to bring up the Supreme Court ruling on blood draws without a warrant, which the Judge, who was Black but utterly incompetent regardless, conducted his courtroom with endless sidebars and seeming confusion as to the law on the issue, deteriminng that the ruling was irrelevant in my case.  Then there was the Prosecutor who inferred I was a whore and made it all up as I was ashamed for being a whore, drank myself into a stupor then crashed my car to kill myself. This woman called in sick numerous times, took a vacation during the endless motions filed  used to be a sex crime Prosecutor. Not MeToo, I guess.   I used to love her long black pointed fingernails, stiletto heels and other slut wear, takes one to know one right, Jennifer Miller?   I love that she now defends the same people she used to Prosecute. That is another massive issue the turn and burn and revolving door, they are all hypocrites.

 The we have laws written by Legislators who are lobbied and in turn paid to write them and while they are overkill and utterly destructive it makes it impossible for Juries to actually make any deliberations other than to determine guilt.

Washington State now requires anyone arrested (not convicted — arrested) for drunken driving to install an “ignition interlock” device, which forces the driver to blow into a breath test tube before starting the car, and at regular intervals while driving. A second law mandates that juries hear all drunken driving cases. It then instructs juries to consider the evidence “in a light most favorable to the prosecution,” absurd evidentiary standard at odds with everything the American criminal justice system is supposed to stand for.

 Then Jury composition which many who elect that option find out that Voir Dire means rule out the faces of minorities and anyone who is your peer.    The folks I saw as this went on for over three years were a panoply of people, largely white as Seattle is largely a white city; however there were faces of color, largely represented by overworked Public Defenders and that was the primary difference. They were unlikely to get bail, they pleaded as did actually most everyone down to a reduced charge, for if you go to trial they up the charges and in my case they did as well.  And that is the same with both civil and criminal courts, Seattle is no exception. Even this is a Google review on the Seattle courts.

Here's a real thing that happened: I had a case against the city, and when challenged, the city prosecutor very blatantly lied about the law in order to win. The judge didn't read any of the documents I brought in backing up my position. Needless to say, they ruled against me. I filed a damage claim to be reimbursed for my trouble, and those guys lied too, claiming they couldn't find any evidence of my allegations. I sent them the evidence directly and they simply ignored it, leaving me on the hook for several hundred dollars worth of fraudulent charges. I couldn't get anyone to do anything about it. 

I get that there are a lot of hard-working honest people in here, and many of them really are doing their best. But the system as a whole is fundamentally broken, and nobody cares. They have no problem lying in court just to squeeze you for a few extra bucks. I contacted an attorney about this and was told it was more or less normal and my chances of winning an appeal were next to nothing. These people are criminals in a very literal sense and it is embarrassing that this is the best our city is willing to do.

 So  after a trial that was cut short by the incompetent Judge who seemed to think that this was all a waste of time, I was convicted of a more significant charge and higher punishments and fines to further denigrate and degrade.  My costs were over 13K for charges and fees, thankfully that was on thing my Lawyer did do was to get those waived.  Again without a Lawyer you would pay and he had already taken most of mine and perhaps knew was a fuckwit he was to do that much, as his courtroom performance was passed onto a drunk, suicidal lunatic.  However, there are other incendiary charges, such as  the Interlock (I had no car so that was not an issue), a class for $150, which consisted of all white people, young old, women and men and all just incredulous about it all. Then add the home monitoring device versus ($50)  spending any time in jail. And give the fates they fucked up on that and rather than 30 days it was 3.  Whoops! At least one thing worked out, most often it does not. And you wonder why I ran, ran so far away.  I could not risk being a target in the future and for the record they do as it is more money.   And yes I knew those people who hurt me were still out there and they may come back to finish the job.. from Shar who drugged and shoved booze down my throat to whomever Harborview passed me onto when they released me. Again I have no idea as I was head injured and had bad amnesia so whomever they allowed to take me out of the hospital had their own agenda as well,  it was fortunate that I came out when I did, in one of the three Doctor's office this same persons took me too, and NOT one single one took the woman's name, checked to see if she had legal rights to attend to me or my care. Again another systemic fuck up.  So between the medical and justice systems I was fucked beyond belief.  And no I will not take a lie detector to prove I am telling the truth nor will I get in a "my story is worse than yours" contest as I win. 

But that was not the first time at the goat rodeo, as in Berkley, California in the late 90s, I was walking my dog to the store when  Black homeless man accused me of having my dog attack him. While I was in the store, the Police had my dog who was waiting outside and I came out to find them and her where I was "arrested;" theyy were going to call animal control but I asked as I literally lived down the street we could take my dog, drop her, call my husband and then a take me to the station to process the complaint.  The story as I was told was a Black man, apparently homeless, said as I walked had my dog attack him randomly.  There were no witnesses despite it a busy street and he had some type of visible wound and was going to a hospital to have the wounds repaired.  I never saw such man, or had I, must of ignored him and he followed me, in turn saw the dog and used that as opportunity for some type of misguided revenge.  The Cops could not tell me more as they were investigating the complaint.  They drove me home and there they issued me a citation and did not take me to the station and frankly I realize it was clear that I had done nothing, even the Checkers in the store were horrified as two came out to see what was wrong,  but the Police had to follow though. And again this is about proving a point, being right and being in Berkeley showing that all lives matter, What.the.fuck.ever.  Again perhaps it was because I was white, a woman, and really afraid and my dog adorable we were released without having to be processed in the station; However,  I still had to hire an Attorney, go to court, and of course the man did not show up, (nor do I think the Cops did either)  and  the charge was dropped.  That cost at the time a few hundred dollars but the fear was not lost.  My marriage failed shortly after that as I seemed to have nothing but luck when it came to Police or anything to do with men.

When I moved to Oakland, walking home on a Sunday evening the Police stopped me a block from my home and asked for my ID. I asked why as I was just coming home from work at Macy's and was racing to get home to walk my dog and get ready to watch of all things, The Wire.  They said they were just checking the area and making sure it was "safe." Really? Okay then.  I did not produce my ID and I went home, walked my dog and was not relieved in the least.  A few weeks later they and the SWAT team broke into a home nearby and shot a man in the head and his girlfriend and dog escaped through a window.

When I moved to California I got the first inking of this.  Driving across the country alone with my dog again in Arizona led to posturing and threats to kill her and take my car as it was odd that the registration was expired, my tabs, my address on my license was Texas and I was moving to California. All of that said, "Hey she is up to something."  They threatened to take my car under the civil seizure laws that are still in place across this country and all over a speeding violation.  This went on with the woman cop until the male cop stepped in, issued me a citation with not just speeding, but other charges that would require me to  go to court (I cannot recall specifically what those were).  I was moving to Berkeley and when I got there I paid the citation for speeding and said I had not committed any other infraction and that I would not be able to come to Arizona for said charges. Funny I never heard a word again so maybe there is justice or just at that time who gives a fuck.  I am not sure but I can assure you that I have never set foot in Arizona again to test that. But it could have gone a completely different direction and that has happened to many who travel America's highways. 

This is Policing in America. Busting down doors in the pre dawn hours, a no knock warrant, the shooting residents who are sleeping or confused, this was Breoanna Taylor who did nothing but the Police had the wrong address. Not the first time nor the last. They shoot dogs, take cars, cash and other personal items when they "think" they were earned from criminal activity under the blanket law of Civil Asset Forfeiture, which in turn it takes money, time and massive effort to have them returned, even when no crime was committed.  

Then lastly the three times in Nashville, one time in my home as some sort of "wellness check" after my outburst in the Dentist office over billing, which after time I realized with Vanderbilt that is the norm not the exception.  Then the two times at the Public Schools with the last one with me hitting the ground throwing my purse and crawling to get my Id sitting there to prove I was an employee.  The Nashville Police had just killed a black man running right in front of a school,  so perhaps I was overreacting,  but frankly who the fuck knows in that right wing cesspool.  I carry a lot of scars over Seattle and to this day watching all this hysteria over Policing I want to say, yes I know and guess what they do it to anyone just they do it more to those faces of color just because its easier.  I am not getting into a contest with anyone over who had it worse, I have simply been lucky, managed to have resources and be resourceful to circumvent worse.

That is why, they are not racist as much as they are highly charged to bring harm. And Prosecutors enable it via misconduct, Judges ignore it,  experts without any actual credibility and skill set testify with utter impunity as well, laws are written in such a way to absolve in the same way they are to punitive punish (think that there is the concept innocent until proven guilty, think again) , then you have the victims rights advocates (think MADD) who stand aside the elected Politicians who are in deference to them for financial support, as well as the Police Union and Lobbying system that holds them accountable over their members. So if you think taking to the street will change that you are wrong, this is a long game. Good luck.

Protesters hope this is a moment of reckoning for American policing. Experts say not so fast.

The Washington Post
Kimberly Kindy and
Michael Brice-Saddler
June 7, 2020

Glimmers of hope have emerged for Americans demanding action on police violence and systemic racism in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, the black man who gasped for air beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer last month.

All four officers involved have been fired and charged in his death, a far more rapid show of accountability than has followed similar killings of unarmed black people. Massive, diverse crowds have filled streets nationwide, sometimes with politicians and law enforcement officials marching and kneeling alongside. Legislation banning chokeholds and other forms of force have been passed by local governments. And on Monday, congressional Democrats plan to roll out a sweeping package of police reforms on Capitol Hill.

But there are signs that Floyd’s killing might not be the watershed moment that civil rights advocates are hoping for, some experts say.

The extraordinary facts of the May 25 incident — the gradual loss of consciousness of a handcuffed man who cried out for his deceased mother with his final breaths — distinguishes it from the more common and more ambiguous fatal police encounters that lead to debate over whether use of force was justified. And the politics of police reform that have squashed previous efforts still loom: powerful unions, legal immunity for police and intractable implicit biases.

“We have 400 years of history of policing that tell me things tend not to change,” said Lorenzo Boyd, director of the Center for Advanced Policing at the University of New Haven. “It’s a breaking point right now, just like Trayvon Martin was a breaking point, just like Michael Brown was a breaking point. But the question is: Where do we go from here?”

It’s a familiar question for Gwen Carr, who watched her son take his final breaths on video as a New York police officer held him in a chokehold and he pleaded, “I can’t breathe.

Thousands of Americans filled the streets for Eric Garner in 2014 — mostly black men and women — with bull horns and protest signs in dozens of cities.

But their pleas for comprehensive police reforms took hold in only a smattering of the country’s more than 18,000 police departments. Dozens of agencies adopted training on de-escalating tense encounters. Sixteen states passed stricter requirements for use of deadly force.

Not a single piece of federal legislation passed on Capitol Hill.

So when Carr reached out last week to the family of 46-year-old Floyd, who uttered the same words as her son while officers held him down, she offered encouragement — and a warning.

“I told them, ‘Don’t think it’s going to be a slam dunk,’ ” Carr said. “They had video of my son, too; the world also saw him murdered. It should have been a slam dunk then — it’s been anything but.”

Changing perspectives

There are some signs that this time is different. For one thing, public perception of police bias has started to shift. Last week, a poll by Monmouth University found that 57 percent of Americans now say police in difficult situations are more likely to use excessive force against black people. That’s a substantial jump from the 34 percent of registered voters who said the same when asked a similar question after the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge in 2016.

Civil rights leaders and allied lawmakers point to substantial differences in protest crowds this time around: Their historic size, even during a pandemic. The faces, now as likely to be white and brown as they are to be black. After Garner’s death, there were about 50 demonstrations, compared with more than 450 so far this time around, based on media coverage and police records.

“I don’t think they used to think there was an attack on black lives. Not until it was recorded and people were seeing it, I don’t think they believed it,” said Lezley Mc­Spadden, mother of Michael Brown, who was killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in 2014. “What is happening now is not new to those of us who live in these oppressed areas and communities that are devalued. But it’s new for people who don’t live in those areas. It’s changing people’s perspective.”

Even some Republican lawmakers have broken from strict law-and-order stances to express support for protesters. Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said, “I think people are understanding that those protests make sense.” And Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staunch Trump ally, allowed that “there’s a problem here, and we have to get to the bottom of it.”

The growing assortment of voices represents an important shift, said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). He is among the sponsors of the Justice in Policing Act, expected to roll out Monday. The massive package targets racial profiling, bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and makes it easier to prosecute and sue for police misconduct.

“No change in America that is worth it has been easy. But the demands are now coming from increasingly diverse coalitions,” Booker said. “I feel we are in a moment now.”

'The deeper problem'

Reform advocates have won other victories. Last week, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints. And the council in New York is poised to pass a law this month that would make using a chokehold in an arrest a misdemeanor.

Without systemic change, however, some experts say these piecemeal policies would do little to curb the use of excessive force and racial inequities in policing. And the effectiveness of policy changes is blunted by police union contracts that protect officers from discipline and firing for wayward behavior.

“There are so many terms and conditions in the collective bargaining agreements that insulate police from accountability and transparency,” said Jody Armour, a law professor at the University of Southern California. “Can we know who the bad police are? Are there public records? A lot of times, that is squelched in collective bargaining.”

Even changes to training can have little effect. A growing number of police departments are providing cadets with de-escalation and anti-bias training, but once they are assigned to a field training officer — a veteran on the force — the training can fall by the wayside, according to police training experts.

One of the rookie officers who helped hold Floyd down questioned whether they should roll the gasping man over, but then-officer Derek Chauvin dismissed the suggestion and insisted on “staying put” with his knee on Floyd’s neck, according to court records.

“Seasoned officers will push away from what they learned in the academy and go to what works for them in the street,” Boyd said. “And officers will often say, ‘We have to police people differently because force is all they understand.’”

Those views appear to disproportionately impact black communities, at least in the most extreme cases. A Washington Post database that tracks fatal police shootings found that about 1,000 people have been killed by police gunfire every year since 2015. So far this year, 463 people have been fatally shot. While the vast majority are white men armed with weapons, black men are killed at a rate that far outstrips their numbers in the overall population.

Other forms of police violence, from chokeholds to beatings in custody, also tend to fall heavily on African Americans, Armour said.

“When you give police discretion to enforce any law, it seems to get disproportionately enforced against black folk. Whether it’s curfew, social distancing,” said Armour, noting that Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

“Would you have put your knee on a white guy’s neck like that? Would you have a little more recognition of humanity, and when he’s screaming out, ‘I can’t breathe,’ would that have raised more concern?” he said. “That’s the deeper problem.”

The vast majority of such cases are not caught on video and therefore often go unnoticed, Boyd said. For example, Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency room technician who was shot at least eight times inside her home by Louisville police in March, is often left out of the discussion of systemic injustice — in part because no one was there to record Taylor getting shot by officers serving a drug warrant, said Andra Gillespie, director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University. All three remain on administrative leave, but no charges have been filed, according to the Courier Journal.

“Video is certainly aiding in getting justice for these individual people,” Gillespie said. “Breonna Taylor hasn’t gotten comparable attention because there is no video. That’s also because she’s a woman, and we forget the black women are subject to disproportional police violence as well.”

Even killings captured on video rarely lead to prosecution of police officers. Sterling had a handgun in his pocket when he was tackled by police outside a Baton Rouge convenience store, and police said he was reaching for it when officers shot him six times. The DOJ and Louisiana attorney general decided not to file criminal charges against the officers involved. Attorneys for the officer who put Garner, 43, in a chokehold argued that he probably died because he was obese and had resisted arrest. Daniel Pantaleo lost his job after a disciplinary hearing four years later, but the Justice Department declined to bring criminal charges.

Floyd’s killing has received near-universal condemnation because it lacks the contradictory evidence that allows skeptics to deny that race was a factor in police behavior, said Armour, author of “Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs of Being Black in America.”

“It’s almost like you have a case that’s so cry-out-loud bad that people who aren’t necessarily that sympathetic to black equality are able to come out and now make a big display,” Armour said. “It’s not that often you run into these knockdown, no-question videos.”

Setting a different tone

That raises the question of whether the nation is experiencing a real turning point or simply responding to a particularly egregious offense, some experts say.

There have been many questionable displays of solidarity: When the Washington Redskins joined the #BlackoutTuesday protest by posting a black square on Twitter, critics noted the perceived hypocrisy from an organization whose team name is a slur for Native Americans. And as New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea celebrated images of officers embracing peaceful protesters, video surfaced Wednesday that showed his officers beating a cyclist with batons in the street.

“We’ve seen officers kneeling in the same departments that are brutalizing journalists and protesters,” said Philip Atiba Goff, director of the Center for Policing Equity research center. “You can’t say justice for George Floyd, that you condemn the actions, while you condone the actions in your own house.”

Charles H. Ramsey, a former chief in the District and Philadelphia and co-chair of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, said perhaps the biggest obstacle to nationwide change is the unwieldy way in which police departments are organized. With every city, town, state and county fielding its own force, he said, it’s hard to standardize training and policies.

“Regionalizing them would be a solid first step,” Ramsey said. “But then you get into the politics. Every county and every mayor; they want their own police force, they want their own chief.”

For that reason, a coalition of nearly 400 disparate organizations is focusing on securing federal reforms. Last week, the group — including the NAACP, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Music Therapy Association — sent a joint letter to congressional leaders calling for legislation to combat police violence.

“With so many police departments, it is important that there is federal action,” said Vanita Gupta, a former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Although past efforts at policing reforms stalled in Congress, Booker expressed optimism, noting that civil rights legislation has always traveled a bumpy road. Bills were introduced and stagnated for years before the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, he said.

Police reform advocates are skeptical. Ramsey noted that the playbook for reform that he created as chair of Obama’s policing commission sat on a shelf, unused, for five years. Meanwhile, the FBI still hasn’t followed through on a pledge to aggressively track the nation’s fatal police shootings.

“It’s been five years since they promised to fix that database,” Ramsey said. “Come on. That’s enough time.”

And this from 2016

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