Friday, October 21, 2016

Michael Brown

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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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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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Creative Commons - Ewils Photo

In a stunning about face, the “Rev” Al Sharpton first accepted and then backed out of a debate sponsored by the Oxford union in London concerning the topic of race relations in the United States.

Sharpton was to argue his tired charge that the United States is “institutionally racist” before bailing out on his Oxford union hosts at the last minute. Had he honored his commitment, Sharpton would have stood side-by-side with debate partners Black Panther leader Aaron Dixon and liberal blogger Mychal Denzel Smith.

Arguing the opposing view in the structured style of Oxford union debate were SiriusXM host, Breitbart News, and Fox News Contributor David Webb, conservative commentator Joe R. Hicks and BBC radio host Charlie Wolf.

Sharpton, who has been trading on his close relationships with President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, instead asked Oxford if he could deliver a prepared speech without the classic back and forth arguments governed by a moderator charged with enforcing strict time limits that Oxford union debates are known for.

Upon learning that Sharpton was running for the tall grass, debate opponent Webb said that:

“He (Sharpton) wants to control the event, because he won’t debate the facts and the real issues including how his own conduct impacts race relations in the U.S.”

“He doesn’t want to be exposed for what he really is – a shakedown artist and racial coward. After years of conning people into giving him money by fanning the flames of racism, he’s just too afraid to have a civil, fact-based conversation about the issues of race in America.”

In the end, the Oxford union decided to let Sharpton make a prepared 20-minute speech.

However, Oxford Union president Lisa Wehden, in an attempt to keep as close to debate tradition as possible, said that Sharpton would have to take questions from his debate opponents.

While not pleased with the outcome, Webb said “it would be wrong to allow Sharpton to get away with just his usual thin, inflammatory rhetoric when this is supposed to be a substantive discussion”.

This has not been a good year for Sharpton.

Most recently, the United States Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, decided not to indict former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the self-defense shooting death of Michael Brown.

The shooting set off weeks of angry protests that Sharpton successfully sought to incite before all the facts of the shooting became known. Later, Sharpton again turned up his race-baiting rhetoric when a Ferguson grand jury decided not to indict Office Wilson in the incident.

Subsequently, Sharpton seized on the resisting arrest death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York – an arrest captured in a cell phone that went viral later in the day.

Garner, who was overweight and in poor health, was alleged to have sold untaxed cigarettes on a city street – a crime that he had been arrested for many times in the past. During the arrest altercation, an officer applied a “choke hold” in violation of New York Police Department policy. The NYPD dismissed the offending officer from the force.

Subsequently, a grand jury decided not to indict any police officers involved with the arrest with a crime.

Several days after the failed indictment was handed down, uniformed NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot execution style as they sat in a marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner in what investigators described as a crazed gunman’s goal to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Following the assassinations, Sharpton sought to back off on his rhetoric, calm tensions and avoid public comment but by then, the damage had been done.

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NYPD De Blasio

Embattled New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is not only losing ground in his war of words with New York City Police Department union leaders angry at comments that have stoked hatred of the police, he is also losing hundreds of millions of dollars in parking and moving violation tickets that are not being written by rank and file officers seeking to reduce their “risk profile” with the public.

Some say de Blasio is reaping what he has sown.

In his 2013 mayoral run for Mayor – a race he won with more than 73% of the vote – de Blasio ran on a platform wreaking of anti-police policies that would surely place police officers at greater risk of harm if implemented including:

  • Firing the widely popular Police Commissioner Ray Kelly who had a reputation for being a fair arbiter in matters of police discipline and misconduct,
  • Creating a position of “independent inspector general” to second guess NYPD officers who make split-second decisions when confronting criminal behavior,
  • Ending the “Broken Window” policy of policing designed to apprehend criminals for minor crimes such as vandalism before these same criminals escalate into bigger, more serious crimes. And most importantly,
  • Ending so-called “discriminatory” stop and frisk policy widely credited with preventing thousands of gun deaths – mostly within black neighborhoods – since being implemented by Mayor Rudolf Giuliani in the 1990’s.

However, police concerns over these policy changes have been dwarfed by what Mayor de Blasio has said and done since taking office in 2014.


Following a decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner during his arrest for selling black market cigarettes on a city street in early December, de Blasio told reporters how he had to train his biracial son “how to take special care in any encounter he had with the police officers”.

Writing in the New York Daily News, Erin Durkin reported that:

“Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the mayor threw police under a bus for his comments following the start of Wednesday’s protests. The mayor said he had to train his son ‘how to take special care in any encounter he had with the police officers who are there to protect him.’

As hundreds of cops were standing toe-to-toe with protesters, Mayor de Blasio was busy throwing New York’s Finest under a bus, the head of the city’s largest police union said…”


In an article printed in the New York Post in mid-December, Kirstan Conley, Michael Gartland and Bruce Golding reported that:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio has again spit in the face of city cops — using the word “allegedly’’ to describe the vicious mob attack on two NYPD lieutenants, outraged police reps said Sunday.

Bending over backward to praise the city’s anti-cop protesters for their “peaceful’’ behavior – even as some chanted on Saturday night, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” – May de Blasio “said the attack was “an incident . . . in which a small group of protesters allegedly assaulted some members of the NYPD.”

The two lieutenants were punched and kicked in their faces and heads when they went to arrest a protester as the protester tried to throw a garbage can onto other cops from an elevated walkway.


The December 20 “assassination-style” shooting deaths of two New York City police officers let to cries that Mayor de Blasio had blood on his hands as a result of comments he made earlier in the month supporting “police brutality” protesters.

The NYPD identified the officers as Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. They were on special patrol doing crime reduction work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

Animus directed against de Blasio what heightened by the presence of the “Rev.” Al Sharpton – an activist who profits in both money and influence by fanning the flames of racial hatred against police.

The attacker, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, wrote online that he was planning to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner”… and that “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs” investigators said.

This led tens of thousands of police officers from around the country and within the NYPD to turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio when he spoke at the funerals of Ramos and Liu.

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NYPD Arrests drop

In was is being described as a “work stoppage” in the New York press following the assassination deaths of NYPD Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, overall arrests have dropped 66% citywide by a police department that feels betrayed by Mayor Bill de Blasio following the death of Eric Garner.

Garner, who resisted arrest after begin cited for selling black market cigarettes on a New York City street, died following a “choke hold” that was applied to gain his compliance in his arrest. A bystander caught the incident on a cell phone video that subsequently went viral.

Choke holds are against NYPD policy. The officer who allegedly applied it to Garner was placed on suspension pending an investigation. He surrendered his badge and firearm.

Following Garner’s death, Mayor Bill de Blasio made incendiary remarks about the arrest suggesting it racially tinged and that he had counseled his 17-year-old son, Dante, who is biracial, about how to handle any run in with police.

“I have had to talk to Dante for years, about the dangers he may face,” de Blasio said. “A good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face – we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers…”

Mayor de Blasio continued:

“We’re not just dealing with a problem in 2014, we’re not dealing with years of racism leading up to it, or decades of racism – we are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day,” he said. “That is how profound the crisis is. And that is how fundamental the task at hand is, to turn from that history and to make a change that is profound and lasting.”

According to the New York Post, since the Mayor’s remarks following the police deaths, “traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94 percent”… “as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety”.

In addition, “angry union leaders have ordered drastic measures for their members since the Dec. 20 assassination”…“including that two units respond to every call.” As a result, overall arrests are down 66 percent for the week starting Dec. 22 compared with the same period in 2013”.

Enforcement by the numbers:

  • Citations for Traffic Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also plunged 94 percent — from 4,831 to 300.
  • Parking violations have dropping by 92 percent, from 14,699 to 1,241.
  • Drug arrests by cops assigned to the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau have dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

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Prohibition Violence

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released its report on the number of fatalities among law enforcement officers (LEOs).

The report cites that 126 LEOs died in the line of duty in 2014.

While the majority of deaths were traffic related incidents, the number of deaths from firearms incidents rose by 56% in comparison to 2013.

The number one cause of death that took place with a felony act were “ambush” style attacks, similar to the one that took the lives of NYPD officers Wenjian Loi and Rafael Ramos. The two officers were killed in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Fifteen officers were killed in ambush assaults in 2014 marking the highest number of deaths of that type in nine years.

While the average number of LEO deaths was below the national annual average of 151, the 56% rise in ambush attacks is a statistical outlier for the year and may set the tone for 2015 if current tension between the black community and law enforcement continues.

The deadliest year ever for police was 1930 when 316 officers were killed.

That year represented the high-water mark for prohibition, but from 1919 to 1938, the number of officers killed in action stayed well above 200.

While alcohol prohibition took effect nationwide in 1920, many states pre-empted the ratification by passing laws earlier. Additionally, Congress passed the Wartime Prohibition Act, which took effect on July 1, 1919.

Deaths by law enforcement went from 179 in 1918 to 238 in 1919. A rise of 33%.

Narrowing down those numbers by deaths caused by non-accidental gunfire, the increase is actually 47%.

At the time of prohibition, respect for the law and government was at an all time low. Police were either corrupt or ineffective in enforcing prohibition laws. Government, specifically Congress was a laughing stock – possibly because they were all drunk when passing dry laws.

Congress even had their own bootlegger, George Cassidy, who was known as the “man in the green hat” who plowed politicians with alcohol for a decade during prohibition.

Jumping forward to the present, at least within the black community, respect for the law and law enforcement officers is at a low point – low enough for men like Michael Brown to attack a police officer . . . or low enough for six teenagers to attack two Boston cops serving a warrant . . . or for gunman to open fire on a LA patrol car . . . or for two NYDP cops to be knelt down and executed.

Unlike the prohibition era, there are no laws to be repealed that can fix this and national leaders such as Al Sharpton, President Obama and Eric Holder have only added fuel to the flames.

Trying times ahead.

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Mall of America Black Lives Matter

Bloomington, Minnesota City Attorney Sandra Johnson is expected to file criminal charges against the organizers of a massive protest that took place at the Mall of America last Saturday afternoon over the deaths of Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner of New York, NY at the hands of police officers during arrest.

In all, approximately 3,000 individuals attended the protest that partially shut down the mall for about two hours at the height of the Christmas shopping season driving away customers and causing financial damage to the affected stores during the highly charged standoff.

Using social media including Facebook and Twitter, a protest mob converged on the center of the mall to chant “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and “While you’re on your shopping spree, black people cannot breathe” knowing the protest would be highly visible at a commercial center located on private property.

To determine the amount of financial damage suffered by the protest, Mall officials collected estimates of how much money the stores lost on that Saturday and combined that total with the amount of overtime put in by police to monitor the protest and quell unrest.

Johnson said the number would be “staggering” and that she wants the protest organizers to pay.

An employee at one of the affected stores said ”you had people yelling and screaming inside the mall that wanted out and you had people yelling and screaming outside the mall that wanted in.”

“This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” said Johnson who is now building criminal cases against the protest organizers. “The main perpetrators are those who continued on their Facebook site to invite people illegally to the Mall of America,” she said.

Lena Gardner of the group “Black Lives Matter” said several groups took part in organizing Saturday’s protest and that financial losses were not the fault of protesters instead blaming police who shut down the mall.

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Eric Garner Funeral

“I’m minding my business, officer,” pleads the man on the video. “Please just leave me alone.” Minutes later the man, confronted by police for allegedly selling “loose” cigarettes, would be placed in a chokehold and wrestled to the ground, eventually dying from injuries sustained by the restraint.

The video recording of Eric Garner’s death is deeply disturbing, and has once again stoked protests and fiery debates about police tactics and racial biases. However, focusing the anger and debate on racial bias or specific actions by individual police officers, misses the broader and far more important public policy issues raised by this case: the over-criminalization of our society, and the use of the law enforcement power of the state to regulate commercial actions and raise government revenues.

Make no mistake — whether Garner was targeted because of his race and whether the officers who confronted him employed excessive or improper force, are important issues. And both should be debated and addressed within the context of civil and criminal laws and procedures.

But neither of these questions addresses the far more important issue of why we as a society have clothed police with the authority to consider it within their power to arrest someone for engaging in such a trivial act. Ultimately, it is not so much the police officers who should be the focus of this debate and of our concern; it is ourselves.

If left unanswered, the questions about over-criminalization and abuses of police power to regulate commercial activity and raise revenue, threaten to overwhelm the fundamental principle on which our nation was founded — that government exists to protect Liberty. Unfortunately, what the Garner and so many other cases have come to reflect is the warped principle that the police power of the state exists to protect government.

How bad this problem has become is illustrated in the growth of the federal criminal code. Just three decades ago, a Justice Department study of the U.S. Code estimated there to be approximately 3,000 criminal offenses. In the years since, the Congress has added nearly 1,500 more crimes to the books. And this does not include the thousands of state and local offenses, or the thousands more regulatory edicts with which individuals and businesses are forced to comply.

While many Americans may believe it is easy to stay out of trouble with the law, and thus avoid confrontations with police, prominent civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate notes in his seminal work, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, this is a myth. Silverglate’s well-documented research into abuses of police and prosecutorial powers establishes that there are so many different and confusing criminal and regulatory laws on the books, that the average person in America cannot make it through a normal day without running afoul of at least three government “gotchas.” As Silverglate correctly concludes, this is no accident. “As a civil liberties matter, a government which has the ability to prosecute innocent citizens at will, is a government which has achieved the power that has characterized all tyrannical governments throughout history,” says Silverglate.

As documented further by Silverglate, despite the sometimes trivial or often technical nature of offenses charged, the laws and regulations on which such prosecutions are based are sufficient to empower the government to use its vast law enforcement powers to control whoever they want whenever they want. This applies whether it is a single citizen attempting to sell something as innocuous as a cigarette on a street corner, or a physician who has prescribed to a patient more of a government-controlled drug than federal or state drug agents have decided is appropriate.

In a broad sense, and as philosopher and noted author Ayn Rand opined more than half a century ago, since there is no way to absolutely control free men, government simply declares so many things “illegal” that it makes it impossible for citizens not to break the law.

Back in the 1930s, federal agents had to spend seven years engaged in creative thinking and investigating in order to find a way to bring to heel Al Capone’s vast criminal empire; finally settling on the then-novel use of the federal tax code. In 21st Century America, federal agents can choose from a lengthy (and ever-expanding) menu of regulatory and criminal offenses on which to easily and quickly build a case against someone as big as an Al Capone or as small as an Eric Garner.

It is not only the incessant drive to control people and businesses that fuels the engine of over-criminalization. Government at all levels has become so big and so costly, that revenues are never deemed sufficient to meet those perceived “needs.” Hence, the drive to find ever more creative – and liberty-stifling – ways to bring in more revenues; such as outlawing the selling of a cigarette by one person to another as a way to ensure such “commercial transactions” are taxable and taxed.

This expansion of police and regulatory powers reflects the unhealthy crony relationship between businesses seeking favors through tax breaks or government-mandated monopolies; the violation of which then leads often to criminal prosecutions.

Ultimately, of course, it is we the people who elect and reelect to public office the legislators, governors and presidents who both expand and abuse the powers to which their oaths of office were sworn. Let us not squander the current opportunity to seriously debate and reform these fundamental problems, by refusing to see the forest for the trees.

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Rioting continued into the night on Monday in Berkeley, California.

In a video released on Tuesday, what appears to be white male teens ravaged the streets of Berkeley chanting, “We can’t breathe.”

Thanks to police tear gas that flooded the streets, they were probably being quite literal in their chant.

The kids, who were assumedly protesting the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were about a week or two delayed in their supposed outrage.

A possible reason for the delay was late shipping for the matching bandanas and black hoodies that many of the protesters wore.

Note to protesters: Amazon Prime is on sale for students. On time bandana shipping = On time protests.

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Berkely Riots
Photo courtesy of Jessie Lau

It was only a matter of time before rioting began in Berkeley, California over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The town, known for leading the nation in socialist policies, began to see the damage of outraged citizens over the weekend who protested under the mantra, “No Justice, No Peace.”

In stark contrast to rioting and looting in Ferguson and New York, the Berkeley protesters took the opportunity to loot their local Whole Foods and Radio Shacks.

There’s no word if the local Birkenstock dealer has been the victim of yuppie looting.

Police deployed tear gas on a crowd of 500 that marched along MLK Jr. Way.

In response, protesters pelleted law enforcement officers from the California Highway Patrol with projectiles and even with what has been described by police as an explosive.

The rioting that has resulted in widespread damage to the town, could not even be stopped by the Dalai Lama who visited Berkeley over the weekend.

Berkeley which was a haven for protests and riots in the 60’s hasn’t seen a good looting in quite some time.

One of the most significant protests took place in September of 1964 when 1,500 students occupied Sproul Hall in protest of the expulsion of an activist student. 773 of the students were arrested.



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