Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ferguson

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Law Enforcement

From the Ferguson Police Department’s first public statement about the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014, the town of Ferguson, Missouri was doomed. Like Newton’s First Law of Motion, the shooting started a cascading series of events that continues a year and a half later.  The rounds of looting, rioting, protesting and media circuses, has morphed into a massive lawsuit filed against the small suburban town by the U.S. Department of Justice.

If one accepts the allegations in Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s lawsuit, Ferguson is nothing but a teeming hotbed of racial hatred and official incompetence; the only solution for which is federal control.  In the government’s eyes, the town has no regard whatsoever for the Constitution and laws of this country, and has engaged in widespread and systemic violation of civil rights.  Tough stuff, indeed; but the Department’s approach reflects more an example of how to address a manageable problem with a wrecking ball than a tool kit.

Tragic as it was, there was nothing so remarkable or unique about the shooting of Brown that justifies this action by the Justice Department. The aggressive and authoritarian manner in which the Department has hounded the Ferguson Police Department over the past 18-months is far different from the way in which previous presidents and federal prosecutors, including myself, dealt with incidents in which law enforcement officers or departments violated individuals’ civil rights. By vigorously prosecuting such cases individually as warranted, prosecutors and the Department of Justice itself were able to hold the officer or officers accountable; and without attacking entire departments or needlessly imposing federal government control over local government responsibilities.

For U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice, however, control – not justice – is the real goal; and Ferguson has become ground zero for its crusade to scrutinize and punish law enforcement officers and departments for perceived racial injustices. In effect, the Department is seeking to implement its own form of “Common Core” for Law Enforcement, wherein local control is stripped away in favor of federal policing standards that have been packaged into what may be “politically correct” on the surface, but have little actual impact on the troubling issues that linger in the criminal justice system.

To an Administration obsessed with “optics” more than genuine reform, this façade may fulfill its objectives. However, for those who genuinely care about individual liberty and constitutional conduct within the justice system, they actually are poisoning public debate about criminal justice reform and exacerbating the already strained tensions between citizens, police and the federal government.

By showing that it cares about civil liberties by attacking police, the Obama Administration is making it harder to protect civil liberties.

For the first time in decades, for example, we have an opportunity to achieve substantial and lasting criminal justice reform through federal legislation. Reforms that would help restore civil liberties to the criminal prosecution process while providing much-needed relief to an overcrowded and costly prison system, currently are pending in the Congress. These measures enjoy strong bipartisan support, including among policy organizations ranging from the leftist Center for American Progress to conservative FreedomWorks. It is one of those rare scenarios in which Democrats, Republicansand the President are in at least partial agreement on an issue that actually strengthens civil liberties.

Unfortunately, without Administration support and in the absence of public demand for passing these reforms, the pending bills have languished without votes to send them to the President for signature.  Ironically, the Justice Department’s highly visible crusade against Ferguson (and other police departments) is much to blame for this failure.

By antagonizing police departments and politicizing police-involved shootings of minorities, the Obama Administration has turned the conversation about “justice reform” into a false dichotomy between support of police on the one hand, or social justice groups like “Black Lives Matter” on the other. In such a polarized environment, real efforts at reform, such as those pending in Congress, are given nary a thought, much less active support from those members of Congress who can help win their passage. Meanwhile, individual Democrats and Republicans who oppose such efforts are undermining the bills before they ever reach the floor.

The clock is ticking on criminal justice reform, and an opportunity such as this for genuine, lasting reform is truly once-in-a-lifetime. If Obama cares to salvage at least a sliver of a notable legacy, he should abandon his shortsighted and misguided drive to place local police departments under Uncle Sam’s thumb, and help shift the public conversation back to substantive reforms that really matter.

 

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sharpton-is-back

One year ago today, a young man named Mike Brown robbed a convenient store and was stopped by a police officer shortly after the crime. What happened next left “Big Mike” dead and ruined a police officer’s life. There was no winner that tragic day.

The death and controversy surrounding the officer’s actions sparked national debate about police and race relations, but also fueled a rage in Ferguson. Riots, looting and fires engulfed the community.

Al Sharpton was one of the first and foremost people fanning the flames. Promoting his National Action Network didn’t help the situation.

Many firmly believe that Sharpton was there to benefit himself and not Michael Brown or his family.

James O’Keefe reported for Project Veritas that Sharpton was in it for the money. O’Keefe released the viral underground video with the family of Eric Garner and community members in Ferguson talking about why Sharpton was in their town.

One year later, after the Justice Department and a grand jury said that there was not enough evidence to charge the officer in the shooting of Michael Brown, guess who is back in Ferguson?

Despite extremely volatile racial relations between police and their communities all though the United States, Al Sharpton decided to head back to Ferguson to get back in the spotlight.

Al Sharpton is in Ferguson Missouri for the anniversary of Michael Brown’s tragic death to declare, “As of today, no justice has been served in regards to this case.”

Al Sharpton is simply causing trouble. He clearly doesn’t believe the old adage, “the best way to avoid being hit by a car is to not walk in the street.”

Going back to Ferguson and declaring that the fight is not over and that there is no justice is just another attempt to raise money and raise awareness for Al Sharpton.

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state-sponsored-racism

The U.S. government paid a controversial civil rights activist/comedian to deliver an anti-white racist tirade at a major federal agency during Black History month and Judicial Watch has obtained the disturbing transcript of the offensive political rant.

It took place at the United States Census Bureau earlier this year and the paid speaker was Dick Gregory, a self-professed humanitarian and drum major for justice who claims that his social satire changed the way white Americans perceive African American comedians. But Gregory’s angry outburst at the Census Bureau was not funny to some employees and the agency was forced to explain that it will thoroughly review its procedures for selecting future speakers to “ensure their views are appropriate for the federal workplace.”

Based on Gregory’s well-known reputation as a fiery race-baiter, it’s unlikely that the government officials who booked him didn’t know about his discriminating, shock-based performances. The Census Bureau paid Gregory $1,400 to “share a wealth of history as a Civil Rights Activist,” according to the records obtained by JW under the federal public records law known as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Instead, American taxpayers funded a disgusting stand-up routine filled with the “N word” and replete with conspiracy theories about whites and the U.S. government targeting prominent blacks—including Martin Luther King and Malcom X—for assassination or career destruction (golfer Tiger Woods and beleaguered comedian Bill Cosby).

Gregory also said whites stole black inventions, such as ice hockey and the cotton gin, and accused the U.S. government of conspiring to kill Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. The movie King Kong is really a depiction of former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson dating white women, Gregory claimed at the Census Bureau performance, and whites treat President Obama “like dirt” and “like he’s a Redneck Cracker that can’t read or write.” Gregory delivered most of his routine in Ebonics (also known as African American Vernacular English) and advised his black audience not to obey “white racist cops,” which he also referred to as “filth.”

The rioters who destroyed Ferguson after a cop fatally shot a black man with an extensive criminal record who had just committed a robbery, didn’t steal enough merchandise from the businesses they looted, Gregory told his government audience. “I was complaining about Ferguson because the N_ _ _ _ _ _ wasn’t getting enough,” Gregory said, according to the transcript obtained by JW.

“Did you see the brother go in there and walk out with a half-pint, I said ‘Get some tips.’ And, y’all be trying to trick them White folks and say rebellion. No rebellion is put together, predicated, on some White person shooting a Black person and that tips it off. Those was riots, riots.”

Gregory also told his audience of public servants that if he were president of the United States no white people would be in his cabinet. “Had I been elected to be the President, listen good White folks, none of y’all would be in my cabinet,” he says. “Now don’t worry about Black folks who be saying ‘oh, he didn’t mean it.’ So, I’ll say it ten times, non of y’all be in my cabinet, none of y’all be in my cabinet, none of y’all be in my cabinet.”

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Police-Ferguson

Yesterday, two Ferguson law enforcement officers were shot directly in front of their police headquarters at the close of a protest.

The protest, following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, was sparked by a scathing report of racism by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

The two police officers have been released from the hospital.

The incident represents a wave of crime and aggression against law enforcement following the shooting of Michael Brown, a 6’5, 289 pound 18 year-old who attacked Ferguson Cop Darren Wilson. Brown had just fled the scene of a convenience store where he stole cigarillos and assaulted the store clerk when approached by Wilson.

Brown grabbed Wilson’s firearm after saying, “you’re too much of a f—ing p—y to shoot me.”

Wilson shot Brown six times in the struggle, proving the aggressive 18 year-old dead wrong.

Since the incident, Ferguson has devolved into a state of anarchy with riots and a complete lack of respect for law and order.

While advocates of the black community in Ferguson, bolstered by Obama’s Department of Justice, blame police racism for the chaos and call for mass resignations and “community policing,” advocates for law enforcement are left with their hands tied.

While the Internet has rand out with calls for Ferguson police to start “cracking skulls” increased police aggression will likely lead to stronger and violent opposition.

A theory posed by libertarian advocates call for complete withdraw of law enforcement from Ferguson.

The theory gains merit in that residents will be responsible for their own physical safety and protection of property.

Residents will be forced into civility or cries to bring back order through enforcement of the law.

While the theory is unlikely to be executed, the alternatives all lead to increased police aggression or increased criminal violence.

Should they stay or should the go?

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In a secretly taped video interview conducted by conservative journalist James O’Keefe’s group Project Veritas (PV), Erica Snipes – the eldest daughter of police chokehold casualty Eric Garner – was asked about the help the Garner family had received from “Rev.” Al Sharpton and his National Action Network (NAN) organization to bury her father.

When prompted by PV’s undercover investigator to confirm or deny whether she thought Al Sharpton “is kind of like a crook in a sense”, she rubbed her fingers together and said, “He’s about this (money)”.

The PV investigator pursued this line of questioning by asking Snipes if Sharpton was “about money with you?” She replied “Yeah”.

Writing for The New York Post, Kevin Sheehan and Carl Campanile reported that Ms. Snipes went further in her critique of Sharpton by pointing out a confrontation she had with the Staten Island director of NAN, Cynthia Davis, “who scolded her for handing out street fliers about her father’s case that did not include NAN’s logo.”

Returning to PV’s investigator, Snipes said “She started attacking me. ‘ Oh, I see that you got this flier out, how come you didn’t add the logo?’’ PV asked if “They want their logo on your fliers?” Snipes responded that “Instead of me, he wants his (Sharpton’s) face in front.” Because “Al Sharpton paid for the funeral. She’s trying to make me feel like I owe them” she added.

Snipes is not alone.

In a separate hidden camera interview, the Post reported that Sharpton “was also criticized by leaders and supporters involved in the Michael Brown police shooting case in Ferguson, Mo., and the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida…”

“Jean Petrus, a Brooklyn businessman who attended a recent Trayvon Martin Foundation fundraiser in Florida, is also seen criticizing Sharpton in the secretly taped video.”

“He knows how to make money and get money. They’re shakedown guys to me. You know, let’s call it what it is, they’re shakedown,” he says in the video.

Also in the video released by Project Veritas, Bishop Calvin Scott of Believers Temple in Ferguson said he had attended several meetings with Sharpton as the investigation into the police shooting death of Martin killing by Ferguson police was unfolding. Scott said that:

“To some degree, he sort of incites people for the wrong reason,” the bishop says. “I’m in the gathering. He got them all fired up. But I just sense this is not the way you want to go.”

Jean Petrus, a Brooklyn businessman and donor who attended a Florida fundraiser for the Travon Martin Foundation said in a secretly taped video that:

“He (Sharpton) knows how to make money and get money. They’re shakedown guys to me. You know, let’s call it what it is, they’re shakedown,” he says in the video.

When approached by the Post to speak on the record to explain their comments about Sharpton, the people quoted in this story reaffirmed their support for Sharpton, said their comments were taken out of context or failed to respond.

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While brick-and-mortar retailers saw 11% declines over Black Friday weekend, gun purchases on Black Friday were the second highest in recorded history with 175,000 background checks conducted.

December 21, 2012, seven days after Adam Lanza went on a shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, remains the leader with 177,000 checks completed.

Politically capitalizing on the tragedy, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Barack Obama setup a buying spree with calls to ban firearms and ammunition.

At the time, Pelosi pushed for stronger gun control laws stating, “There’s a small window of time here to get something done.

The politicians’ intent to pass new legislation triggered a national buying spree that lasted nearly two years causing ammunition shortages in the most popular calibers.

This holiday season, with Republicans to control both houses of congress in 2015, there is no political instigator for firearms popularity.

Earlier in the year, publications from Newsweek to the Huffington Post ran stories on the decline of gun sales in 2014 and the public’s lack of interest in firearms.

Their speculation was incorrect as it turns out that gun shoppers, like most shoppers, were simply waiting for the best deals and ideal times to buy.

However, one San Francisco columnist, Mark Morford, chalks up the increased gun sales to “scared white guys” who are deciding to pack heat in the wake of Ferguson.

Morford even went so far to profile the current gun buyer:

You’re a scared white person, almost certainly male. You do not live in a major city, or near a university or intellectual hub of any note, nor have you ever traveled very far from your home town, much less out of state or anywhere further than, say, Mexico. Once. And that was enough.

You do not read complicated books. You do not like new or weird things. You watch lots of TV, mostly Fox News, which rejoices in showing you endless images of angry foreigners and minorities in pain: tear gas explosions, fights in the streets, looting, this time involving sad, small-town black people in Ferguson, all of them protesting the acquittal of that murderous white cop.

Morford, a Yoga teacher who doubles as a freelance writer and columnist will likely have to fabricate another excuse for gun popularity in 2015.

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Last week, residents of Ferguson, Missouri might have noticed a strange sight amidst the scenes of burning buildings, overturned cars, crazed rioters, and police in full military dress. Standing stoically on the rooftops of buildings in areas threatened by prolonged rioting were men dressed in masks and camouflage, armed with buckets of water, fire extinguishers, and occasionally AR-15 rifles.

These men were not members of the Ferguson Police Department or the Missouri National Guard. They were members of the Oath Keepers, a nationwide collective of military veterans, former law enforcement officers, first responders and other concerned citizens who have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. They were drawn to Ferguson to help protect the people and property of the town from the rioters and criminals, who largely had avoided being stopped by the police and National Guard troops.

While the appearance of the Oath Keepers came as a relief to citizens and small business owners affected by the riots, to the authorities they posed a threat. That’s right. Within just days of arriving, rather than being thanked by the police for volunteering to help protect lives and property, these law-abiding volunteers were ordered to get out of town, apparently for “operating without a license.”

Absurd as it is that a person would need a “license” to do nothing more than protect private property from wanton destruction — especially when the police force’s apparent “best efforts” to do so were woefully deficient — that is exactly how government views the right to self-defense in the Bizarro World of 21st Century America.

While the government’s assault on the principle of self-defense underlying the Second Amendment is nothing new, the degree to which federal and state officials misunderstand or simply choose to ignore the fundamental principle of self-defense, is truly disheartening.

Many people consider that the modern era of gun control began in the late 1960s following the assassination of Robert Kennedy; but it actually dates to 1934 when the Congress passed the 1934 National Firearms Act. Since that seminal event, a distinct anti-firearms philosophy has taken hold in large segments of society; one that considers personal ownership of a firearm not as an exercise of a God-given right to defend oneself, but rather as a direct threat to “public safety.” Adherents of this group-centric philosophy consider the right to defend oneself with a firearm as something separate from — indeed, inferior to — the collective responsibility of government to protect society. In this world view, “public safety” trumps both individual responsibility and individual liberty.

Employing footholds gained through advocacy in the legislative, judicial and executive branches at all levels of government, these anti-gun forces have worked steadily to transmogrify the Second Amendment into a public-policy commodity, subject to the at-will regulation of government officials. The ultimate goal of this movement is to empower government as the exclusive owner of the means to personal defense; thus relegating citizens to a position of absolute reliance on the government for their personal and property protection. It is all about Control.

The historically-sound notion that citizens possess primary responsibility for protection of their persons and property, is reflected not only in the clear intent of the Second Amendment, but as well in federal court decisions. For example, in 1981, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit noted in Warren v. District of Columbia, that “. . . government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular citizen.” This assertion was reiterated a year later by the Seventh Circuit, in Bowers v. DeVito, when that Court held “there is no constitutional right to be protected by the state.”

Government, of course, wants to have it both ways. While accepting it is under no absolute obligation to protect citizens from harm (thereby avoiding liability for failing to protect against criminal actions), government officials constantly seek to acquire and maintain a monopoly of the means by which individuals are able to exercise their responsibility to protect themselves – that is, by remaining free to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Thus the bizarre spectacle of police in Ferguson rejecting efforts by citizens to protect lives and property when most critical to do so.

Unfortunately, the reaction by state and local authorities in Ferguson to citizen-based self-defense represents not the exception, but the prevalent view of “public safety”; and not only in the United States but throughout western society generally. It is, however, particularly discouraging that such a fundamentally flawed understanding of individual rights and constitutional history are run amuck here, in what Ronald Reagan correctly described as “the last best hope of man on earth.”

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Black Friday was put on hold in Ferguson this week thanks to protesters gathers in support of Michael Brown and his family.

Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer after the 290 pound, 18 year-old rushed the officer, Darren Wilson.

Wilson was acquitted of wrongdoing in the case, setting off riots and protests that continued through Thanksgiving weekend.

For Black Friday shoppers in Ferguson, their hope to get on with holiday preparations were dashed by angry crowds blocking stores.

For retailers in the area, Black Friday could have been a welcome break from the rioting, looting and violence that had effected many businesses in the area.

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