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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wilson should have been indicted, and Ferguson is a race issue.

http://media4.s-nbcnews.com/i/newscms/2014_33/622006/140816-ferguson-march-2142_3de16bd8b419bdb6b62b23b7af5f73fc.jpg
I'm writing this post later than I wanted to, but I think it's appropriate in conjunction with the "Hands Up, Walk Out," movement that will be taking place tomorrow, December 1, link here.

I am outlining two views I have on Ferguson. (1) Darren Wilson should have been indicted. (2) Ferguson is absolutely a race issue.

Note: When I refer to "Ferguson," I specifically mean the events of August 9, when Darren Wilson was confirmed to have shot Michael Brown, the ensuing investigation, and the response around the world.

I'm going to keep this post simple and outline the bare minimum of what I need to prove both of my points. Following this, I will link readers to resources made by others to corroborate my points, as well as resources to aid those effected by Ferguson.

First, here are the facts of the case with links to confirm my accuracy. 

Michael Brown received seven gunshot wounds from a gun discharged Darren Wilson on August 9. Link to autopsy report here and here.

Darren Wilson was coming off of a sick case when the altercation with Michael Brown occurred. Wilson stopped Brown because Brown was walking down the middle of the street. Wilson did not stop Brown on suspicion of the convenience store robbery. Here's the Ferguson police chief stating this as fact here.

What happened during the shooting is not clear. Brown was shot seven times, and Wilson was later discharged from Northwest Healthcare of Christian Hospital with a facial contusion (a bruise) and a prescription for twenty tablets of 500 mg Naprosyn. Link to injury photos here. Link to medical report here.

It is important to note that the photo taken of the discoloration on the lateral base of Wilson's skull has been confirmed to be a birthmark and was not reported as an injury in the medical report.

The eyewitness testimonies about what happened during the confrontation are conflicting, however 12 of 14 eyewitnesses said that Brown had his hands up when he was shot, and he was not near the police vehicle. 

Here is a chart outlining the different witness testimonies from the indictment trial. 12 of 15 witnesses who answered the question "did Michael Brown reach into or otherwise directly interact with the police car" say that he did. However, 15 of 20 witnesses who answered the question "was Michael Brown running away from Darren Wilson when fired upon" said he was running away, and 17 of 19 witnesses asked the question "did Michael Brown face Darren Wilson when fired upon" said that he did face Wilson. Wilson is the only named witness on the chart, and he said that Brown did turn when he fired at him, and that Brown did interact directly with the police car. Wilson did not say whether Brown was running away from the car or not.

Wilson was not carrying a taser during the incident because he found them to be uncomfortable. 

So those are the facts of the case. Want to take a look at the transcript yourself? Link here. I'd like to credit the source of these links and the ideas for talking points to a very well written viral post about Ferguson titled The Ferguson Masterpost: How to Argue Eloquently & Back Yourself Up With Facts by Aida Manduley. 

Based on the facts, I argue that Wilson should have been charged, at the very least, for unlawfully discharging a firearm and given a trial. Brown was not near the police car when he was shot, Wilson received very minor injuries, and Wilson was just trying to get Brown out of the street; Wilson did not suspect Brown of any crime and Brown was not resisting arrest. Here's an article on how a Grand Jury works.

As far as the possibility that Brown struck Wilson, Wilson was in a car and certainly had options for handling the situation besides shooting Brown after Brown had already stepped away from the police car.

Ferguson Police Department didn't file an incident report after Wilson killed Brown.

When developing a viewpoint on the outcome of the indictment, it is also important to look at the conflicts of interest regarding the Prosecuting Attorney of the Wilson case.

The prosecutor's name is Robert McCulloch, and he has conflicts of interests with the case that would have gotten him thrown of a jury, nevermind permitting him to be the prosecuting attorney. 

McCulloch's father was a police officer and was killed on the job in 1964 by an African-American man, when McCulloch was 12, McCulloch's spokesperson Ed Magee confirmed to CNN. In addition to his father, McCulloch's brother, an uncle and a cousin all served with the St. Louis Police Department, and his mother worked as a clerk at the department, Magee said.
The article quoting this is Concerns are about prosecutor in Michael Brown case by Leigh Ann Caldwell of CNN.

So, Darren Wilson should have been indicted based on the facts and arguments stated above, and the indictment trial should be critically viewed based on conflict of interest.

My second argument is that Ferguson is absolutely a race issue. Let's take a look at racial incident bingo, created by CG Brown.


Take a look at this. Check out the language on this chart. Have you used any of these arguments?

If you have: check your privilege. 

It's our responsibility to check our privilege as white people who have a history of taking land from Native Americans, importing human beings and using them for slave labor, disenfranchising human beings after outlawing slavery, using demonizing language and stereotypes to blame oppression on the victims, justifying higher arrest rates of black people (who are a smaller percent of the population) than white people by saying it's just because black people who commit more crimes (which is a bullshit argument), further victim blaming, and cultural appropriation and attribution of POC (people of color) accomplishments to white people. That's just to name a few transgressions. 

The language used by white people on the side of Ferguson police department and Wilson when looking at this case is inherently racist, and yet people dare to argue this isn't an issue of race? The arguments claiming this isn't an issue of race are RACIST.

Saying that Brown, a kid younger than I am, looked like a "demon" is using language that has historically been used as a black stereotype and is RACIST and does not make his death okay.

Similarly, the use of the word "thug" in justifying Brown's shooting is another example of historically RACIST language, and it does not make his death okay. Calling him a "punk" doesn't make it okay either.

The fact that he uses marijuana doesn't justify his death either. Using marijuana doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a person who uses marijuana. Big deal. 

Both of the terms are DEHUMANIZING and do not make his death okay.

Brown had a family and a future, and if you're going to apply the argument that because he allegedly robbed a convenience store and may have gotten into a physical altercation with Wilson that it's okay that he's dead, you're making a terrible argument.

I want you to apply that argument to everyone who has ever robbed a convenience store, and I want you to apply this to every single person who has ever assaulted an officer. 

I want you to think about how many dead children there would be, children who could have had a bright future and life and could have changed the world, if you applied this ridiculous argument. And then I want you to think about how many dead adults there would be.

I want to think about how many historical revolutions against oppressive states would have failed because of this argument.


Allegations of robbing a store and striking an officer does not justify the death of an eighteen-year-old American. 

I want you to count the dead, and then I want you to check your white privilege. I'm working to check mine.

Racism is alive and thriving in America, and it's going to remain in America until we (1) acknowledge there is racism in America and (2) actively work to combat racism.

Want ideas to help Ferguson? Link here. Want to join the cause? Link here.

#blacklivesmatter

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voting doesn't matter my ass!!

Prepare yourself...



The idea has been presented that voting doesn't matter, and I'm going to crush it.



Actually, what's been presented is a Facebook post asking if there is value to voting. The post I'm responding to says that proponents or opponents of voting will either use a "utility" argument or a "duty" argument in order to sway the other members of a conversation to support their views (to vote, or not to vote).

Vote. Please vote. I'm gonna tell you why. 


I speak a lot about complacency in my writings and blogposts, and I can see in the facebook conversation I'm reading that there's a whole bunch of complacency.


Some members of society, including myself (and Lawrence Lessig, watch his talk on enacting change here) hold a belief that one of the MANY reasons it's difficult to enact change in the United States is that a large population of the United States believes that Congress and big government are doing poorly, but very few think they can do anything to change it. 

"Now politicians and pundits tell you, there's nothing we can do about this issue, Americans don't care about it, but the reason for that is that 91 percent of Americans think there's nothing that can be done about this issue. And it's this gap between 96 and 91 that explains our politics of resignation," said Lessig. 


Funny. If you don't do anything to enact change, change isn't going to happen.


But no, it's not as simple as that. The first step to enacting change is to decide to change shit. The next step is to come up with a comprehensive plan. In my case, the next step is to choose a comprehensive plan developed by a public intellectual that I like.


But I don't want to start here. I want to start at the state level elections, which are part of the midterm elections.


A lot of the legislation that affects your everyday life happens on the state level. Is there corruption on the state level? Sure. But it's usually more quid pro quo than the corruption going on at the national level, because the corruption on the national level is more an issue of money in politics, which I comprehensively rant about on a daily basis. 


State level elections need people who care about their districts and want to work for the good of the citizens. Now, if you make an informed vote in a state election for the state senator working in your district, you're GOING TO HAVE AN EFFECT ON LEGISLATION PASSED IN YOUR DISTRICT. Smaller amounts of people go out to vote, and your vote has a greater impact.


State elections are soooo close so often, but nobody really pays attention to them. We piss on the national elections all the time, but we don't give nearly enough press and care to the elections happening closest to home.


So, yes, on the state level, your vote absolutely matters. You can vote on ballot questions and share your views, and you can vote for the candidate who holds the same platform as you, whether it be red, blue, green or rainbow.


The biggest issue in state voting is that we need more poli sci students running and working on the state level to improve infrastructure and help the people, and we need a greater circulation of officers, instead of one incumbent making the same lousy decisions year after year. We need citizens to pay attention to the state senate as well as the national senate because state senates also work with Congress.


NOW.


National elections are a shit show. I get that.


To those of you following the money in politics issue, you know why. I'm not gonna to get into that here. If you want to know what I'm talking about, go to this link: http://beanalive.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-i-back-mayday-pac.html


This outlines a plan to help fix the national elections. It's pretty damn cool.

But your vote still matters in national elections. Because elections are still decided by votes?! Yes, the electoral college is fucked up. Yes, dark money is ruining politics. But you're not going to get anything done if you don't educate yourself on the issues and get to the polls.

So yeah, agree with me or not, my view is stop being a pessimistic houseplant and get to the damn polls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

#internetslowdown

I couldn't figure out how to upload the icon, so here is the general idea. For more information on net neutrality, go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/sept10th/