This video of a petrified 15 year old girl being pepper sprayed in the back of a police car has been making the rounds. It's a complicated story. The girl hit a car with her bicycle. The cops showed and tried to talk to her, she got scared and tried to ride away and when they stopped and detained her she got hysterical and non-compliant. The cops handcuffed her and put her to the ground, finally decided to take her to the station and wrestled her in the back of their cruiser. She was screaming and crying and as they were trying to close the door on the car as she writhed in the back, one of the officers who had arrived late to the scene put his hand through the window and said if she didn't "get in the car" she was going to get sprayed. And then he sprayed her with pepper spray right in the face. While she was handcuffed and could not wipe her eyes.
They had her in the car. She was not a danger to anyone. She was emotionally overwrought and needed to be calmed and soothed not further agitated. Indeed, she might have even been injured for all they knew.
Pepper spraying her was a punitive act of torture.
And the police department says it was all good police work.
This episode reminds me of this post from long ago which continues to haunt me whenever I see pepper spray being used up-close by police:
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Yes of course pepper spray is a torture device
The hideous pepper spraying of college students at UC Davis yesterday reminds me of a similar case in the 90s, which I've written about several times before.
In 1997, environmentalists were staging a sit-in against the cutting of old forest in Humboldt county. The police sprayed pepper spray directly into the protesters eyes in similar fashion to what happened in UC yesterday and then used liquified pepper spray and applied it directly to the protesters eyes with q-tips. I'm not kidding. There's video:
I was writing about the use of tasers when I wrote this piece back in 2009:
Why is it that the taser videos always show a bunch of cops sauntering around, three or four of them bent over a prone person in handcuffs, blithely administering the taser as if they are merely wiping a speck of dust off the suspects shirt? I think that's the part I find so chilling --- it's so methodical, so cold, so completely inhuman --- that it seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel featuring robots or aliens.
I'll never forget the horror of seeing the video of those environmental protesters having their eyes calmly swabbed with Q tips soaked in liquid pepper spray, by the Humboldt County sheriffs dept. In searching for the video I came across this San Francisco Examiner editorial from 1997, that could be written today about tasers:
Law enforcement arguments in a federal lawsuit are malarkey - pepper spray used senselessly hurts cops as much as protesters
San Francisco Examiner
Monday, Nov. 17, 1997 Page A 18
It's almost farcical for law enforcement officials to continue defending pepper spray as a weapon to get protesters to follow orders. A videotape of officers applying pepper spray in liquid form to demonstrators' eyes shows the technique to be a form of torture.
Yet, attorneys for the Humboldt County Sheriff and the Eureka Police Department argue in federal court that this use of pepper spray is legitimate and unobjectionable. In court papers filed in a protesters' suit against the cops, police training expert Joseph J. Callahan Jr. says, implausibly, that the videotape could be used as a training film "illustrating modern police practices delivered in a calm, deliberate manner." (Remind us not to volunteer as guinea pigs for Mr. Callahan.)
The videotape was shot by Humboldt sheriff's deputies at an Oct. 16 demonstration, against logging in the Headwaters Forest, that took place in the Eureka office of Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor. Four women who had chained themselves together with heavy metal "black bears" got liquid pepper spray rubbed into their eyes with cotton swabs, and one woman who refused even then to move had the pepper mist sprayed into her face.
This hurts, as the videotaped reactions make clear. But it broke up the demonstration pronto, and that's what counted for the law enforcers.
"At stake," attorneys for the cops argue, "is whether professionally trained police officers are to be deprived of the use of pepper spray, a substance carried by millions of private citizens in this country."
But this is really not the issue. Most people don't object to police using pepper spray the way it's designed to be used: To subdue a suspect who threatens officers or threatens to flee. Neither occurred in the case of the Eureka protesters.
Police shouldn't use pepper spray, or any other weapon, to dish out punishment to suspects. Just because cops are in a hurry doesn't make it OK for them to take shortcuts, or inflict pain to get things done.
The argument doesn't wash that no lasting damage was done by the pepper spray. By the same logic, police could use branding irons, sharp knives or psychological abuse on recalcitrant protesters as long as "no lasting damage was done."
Other police legal arguments are similarly shallow. An attorney for the cops said the use of heavy metal sleeves linked with chains that made protesters virtually immovable amounted to "active resistance," justifying the use of pepper spray.
In the past, police used metal grinders to cut through the heavy metal in order to oust demonstrators. That takes longer and is inconvenient, but it doesn't violate anyone's civil rights or threaten their physical well-being.
No one wants to live in a society where police are free to do whatever they wish in order to punish suspected law breakers. Cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Constitution. And anyway, punishment is up to the courts to determine and the penal system to administer.
What cops risk through indiscriminate use of pepper spray, and its indiscriminate defense in court, is losing it altogether. If police are too dense to distinguish between legitimate use and torture, the Legislature should eliminate any confusion and outlaw pepper spray, period.
That holds true for all weapons that can be used for torture.
It took three tries and eight years, but the protesters finally won their case against the police in federal court. They were awarded a dollar.
An article called "Pepper Spray, Pain and Justice" from the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project in northern California on the use of pepper stray as a torture device gives all the details of this famous case.
It tells the harrowing story that you see in that video up top, including the chilling statement by the police after they were done pepper spraying one of the girls directly in the face: "We're not torturing you anymore."
It asks the question:
Are these valid tactics for the DA's office to use? May the Sheriff and the DA single out forest activists for "special treatment" when they are arrested and charged? The argument for this would be that the protests are costly to the county, and in an effort to contain those costs by reducing the number of protesters, or to prevent nonviolent civil disobedience which is expensive to the government, the government may use its discretionary powers to make the experience these activists have with the criminal justice system as unpleasant and costly as possible. The use of pepper spray to torment activists who are nonviolently sitting-in can be seen as the latest and most extreme step in this campaign.
The difficulty with this approach is that it puts the Sheriff and the DA into the position of the judge. It metes out punishment -- pain, days in jail, costly trips to court, disruption of normal life -- without the bother of proving guilt. Did the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say, "First the sentence, then the trial"? Even children can see that this is backwards.
Here's yet another example of Trump basically saying whatever comes into his head and getting away with it. It's a powerful tool. He can contradict himself, make no sense, be totally uninformed and pathologically mendacious and at least 40% of the country thinks he's terrific because "he tells it like it is" and a fair number of other people think he's more honest than his opponent.
Donald J. Trump on Thursday traveled to Pittsburgh, a city once synonymous with the rich coal seam that runs beneath it and now the capital of natural gas fracking, to promise the impossible: a boom for both coal and gas.
Mr. Trump’s energy promises to those attending a corporate conference contained a fundamentally incompatible concept, as expanding the exploration of natural gas is the surest way to hurt coal production, and vice versa. Since the two fuels compete directly for the same market — the power plants that light American homes — it is effectively impossible to increase production of one without decreasing the other.
But ever the salesman, Mr. Trump gave it a go and promised to restore the region’s old coal economy and pump up its booming new gas economy.
“The shale energy revolution will unleash massive wealth for America,” he told an audience of chief executives from the energy industry. “And we will end the war on coal and the war on miners.”
It is not the first time Mr. Trump has tailored his policies to be all things to all audiences. Last week, he told auditors tallying the cost of his tax plan that he had dropped a $1 trillion tax cut for small businesses while he told the small business lobby he had not. He has promised a foreign policy more focused on American interests than on global entanglements as he promises to widen the war on the Islamic State and take oil from Iraq. His immigration policies have swung wildly depending on his audience.
Energy experts said Mr. Trump’s pledges on gas and coal pandered to his audience while showing a lack of basic knowledge about energy markets.
“There is a fundamental inconsistency between Trump’s promise to ‘bring the coal industry back 100 percent,’ as he says, and any promises to use government policy to grow the market for natural gas,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.
“The primary cause of the tremendous fall in coal employment is low natural gas prices, due to increased supplies of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing,” Professor Stavins said. “If the Trump administration wanted to help coal, it could ban fracking. But he can’t have it both ways.”
As recently as a couple of years ago, when Max Geishüttner was in his second year of law school in the Austrian city of Linz, he tended to avoid talking about his support for the country’s Freedom Party. It wasn’t exactly taboo, but a lot of Austrians still associated the party with racism, even neo-Nazism. Its first two leaders, from 1956 to 1978, were former SS officers, and their successors in the years that followed were implicated in a series of scandals over anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. In the homeland of Adolf Hitler, who also went to school in Linz, such a reputation seemed an impossible obstacle to popular acceptance in a Europe that was supposed to have left such prejudices behind.
“So you would feel, like, a bad conscience if you say, ‘I vote for the FPO,'” Geishüttner told me at one of the party’s campaign rallies in mid-September, using the Freedom Party’s German abbreviation. But 2016 is different. Thanks to a broader shift to the right in European politics, the FPO has become the most popular party in Austria, with its support growing fastest among voters younger than 30. Its presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, is well positioned to win a runoff election in December, which would make Austria the first country in Western Europe to elect a far-right head of state since the fall of Nazi Germany. “Now it’s normal,” said Geishüttner.
The Freedom Party’s rise is not an anomaly. Across the once placid political landscape of Western Europe, right-wing upstarts have created what Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, recently termed “galloping populism.” He was referring to movements like the Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and other voices on the far right calling for their once open countries to close up and turn inward. But the insurgency is not limited to Europe. All the rising rightist parties are aligned with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in what they encourage voters to fear: migrants taking your jobs, Muslims threatening your culture and security, political correctness threatening your ability to speak your mind and, above all, entrenched elites selling you out in the service of the wealthy and well-connected.
In the case of Austria, the man responsible for harnessing this formula is Heinz-Christian Strache, a fast-talking, telegenic former dental technician who took over as FPO chairman in 2005. Back then, the party’s approval ratings were in the single digits, weighed down by claims of anti-Semitism that had dogged its upper ranks for years. But Strache changed the party’s image. Support for the state of Israel became part of its platform, and its new leaders renounced the aversion that their predecessors had expressed toward Jews. Instead, Strache focused his party’s hostility on a different minority group: Muslims.
“Political Islam,” he told TIME in an interview in his office in Vienna, “is the fascism of today, and that is what we have to fight.” Such claims would have once been met with outrage in Europe, but no longer. Amid the political backlash to the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, when more than a million asylum seekers from around the Muslim world came streaming into the E.U., a patchwork of populist movements have begun to call for Europeans to shut their borders to Muslim migrants, close Islamic schools and ban Muslim women from covering their hair or face in public. And they’re winning.
We have one of these too. And the US is the world's only superpower.
Yesterday, a fairly typical day at Huffington Post, Trump received much more than twice as many headlines as Clinton. And there were more than 4 times as many pictures of Trump as there were of Clinton.
This kind of gross skewing of coverage is repeated throughout the media. You think this might have something to do with Trump's unnervingly high poll numbers? You think????
On Saturday morning there is usually time for a thoughtful (I hope) run back through the week's news. But this morning I cannot get a story published this morning out of my mind.
I have long admired the work David Waldman (@KagroX) has done on Twitter in chronicling the sickening, daily litany of accidental shootings (#gunFAIL) in this country. I don't know how he can stand it. Plus, we've seen this week two more shootings of African-American men by police with itchy trigger fingers. What we rarely get is the backstory of victims of the daily carnage of accidental or intentional gun violence in this country.
On Saturday 23 November 2013, ten children across America, all boys, died from gunshots. In an extract at the Guardian from the soon-published "Another Day In The Death Of America," Gary Younge tells the stories of the shooting deaths of two young boys on that day. He picked the day at random.
Seen in the context of the ordinariness of their lives, their stories are heartbreaking. Younge spent two years piecing their stories together from interviews with their families.
Jaiden Dixon, 9, was getting ready to leave for school with his mother Nicole and his older brother when the doorbell rang. He opened it, thinking it was one of the girls down the street who might need a lift:
Jaiden opened the door gingerly, hiding behind it, poised to jump out and shout, “Boo!” when one of the girls showed her face. But nobody stepped forward. Time was suspended as the minor commotion of an unexpected visitor failed to materialise. Nicole craned her neck into the cleft of silence to find out who it was. She looked to Jarid; Jarid shrugged.
Slowly, curiously, Jaiden walked around the door. That’s when Nicole heard the “pop”. Her first thought was, “Why are these girls popping a balloon? What are they trying to do, scare me to death?” But then she saw Jaiden’s head snap back, first once, then twice, before he hit the floor. “It was just real quiet. It was like everything stopped. And I remember staring at Jarid.” She knew what had happened. It was Danny.
A former boyfriend and Jaiden's father, a man with a violent temper and an actual physical list he'd written of people he wanted to kill. He'd come for Nicole, but shot the first person he saw in the doorway before speeding away. He left his son in a pool of blood with a bullet through his skull. Danny Thornton drove 20 minutes away to the workplace of another ex-girlfriend he had not seen in 12 years. He shot her too (she survived) before committing suicide by cop in a Walmart parking lot.
Tyler Dunn, 11, lived in tiny Marlette, population 1,879, in rural Michigan an hour northeast of Flint. He was staying over on Friday night at the house of a friend, "Brandon." Brandon's father Jerry was a truck driver who sometimes took the boys hunting or sometimes take them along on his day-long delivery runs. But this day they decided not to go, and Jerry left them at the house. That evening before Jerry got home, Brandon called 911:
An officer went inside, where he found a lever-action rifle on the kitchen floor and Tyler on the dining-room floor, in a Mountain Dew T-shirt and sweatpants, with a large pool of blood surrounding his head. There was a huge wound on the left side of his head. The policeman found no pulse, called dispatch, and told them Tyler was dead. As he left, he saw a shotgun lying on the living room couch and four holes in the dining-room window.
Nobody but Brandon will ever know for sure what happened that night, Sheriff Biniecki says. Brandon claims they were playing Xbox when he got a rifle out of Jerry’s closet to show Tyler. He asked Tyler to hold it while he went to get his milkshake from the bedroom. He came back and took the rifle from Tyler, who passed it to him butt first, the muzzle pointing in Tyler’s direction. Brandon was resting it against the wall when the gun got caught on his pocket and went off.
The house contained a small arsenal. Both Brandon and his father faced charges, Brandon in juvenile court.
The effects on both families that lost children were devastating.
This is not a story about gun control. It is a story made possible by the absence of gun control. Americans are no more violent than anybody else. What makes their society more deadly is the widespread availability of firearms. To defend this by way of the second amendment – the right to bear arms – has about the same relevance as seeking to understand the roots of modern terrorism through readings of the Qur’an. To base an argument on an ancient text is effectively to abdicate your responsibility to understand the present. Adopted in 1791, the second amendment states: “A well–regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” These 27 words have been elevated to the level of scripture, inscribed on a blood-soaked pedestal thwarting all debate, more than 200 years after its passing.
None of the family members I spoke to raised the second amendment. Almost all believed guns were too readily available; none believed there was anything that could be done. But when I told them of other families who had lost children that day, they seemed shocked. It was as though they had lost a loved one in a war, unaware that the same war was simultaneously claiming other lives – indeed, unaware that a war was taking place. As though it were happening only to them, when in fact it was happening to America. Every day.
From Newark to San Jose, eight other children (older teens) died that day: killed by a stray bullet, in a drive-by shooting, in a case of mistaken identity, by accident by a friend or in gang violence.
I still find it hard to believe that, days after Terence Crutcher died at the hands of police in Tulsa, Keith Scott would get out of his vehicle – while surrounded by Charlotte police – with a gun in his hand. His wife insists he did not have one. And the casual way it appears police tossed "something" onto the pavement at Scott's feet suggests the something seen in blurry images was not a handgun. But in a country awash with them, it's not surprising police "see" guns everywhere. Of course, there's the 2nd Amendment, so nothing can be done about that.
For 17 years of his life, Tilin was seen as nothing more than a performing animal — and when he wasn't on stage, he lived in solitude.
When the Hamadryas baboon wasn't out in the circus ring, he spent his time locked in a tiny cage in Bolivia. The sad reality he endured being forced to entertain audiences finally came to an end in September 2010, when Tilin was confiscated from the circus and transferred to a sanctuary.
"Tilin was found starved of primate companionship, living next to lions and with a chain around his neck," James Shaw, who founded Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary with his wife, Sharon, told The Dodo. "This [chain] was cut and his new life began."
When Tilin first arrived at Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary, based in England, he was unable to move freely. His legs were weakened due to being deprived of exercise and free movement for years. "We immediately fell in love with the gentle giant," Shaw said. "His character and spirit were still intact."
In the weeks following his arrival, during which he remained in quarantine at the sanctuary, his caretakers read to him, allowing him to learn their voices and grow used to their company (as a result, Tilin is now a huge fan of Jane Austen, Shaw said).
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
Through a regime of balanced diet and exercise, Tilin slowly but surely regained strength in his legs. His mental health improved as well, and Shaw said he noticed a decrease in certain repetitive behavioral patterns Tilin had developed during his time as a circus animal. [...] But the most harrowing part of Tilin's dark past, by far, was how long the social animal lived without companionship. "When we think how long he was living his solitary life, we think what has happened to us as humans during those 17 years; the places we've been, the people we've met, the births, deaths and loves that we've all experienced," Shaw said. "For Tilin, his days were always the same. This, we wanted to remedy as soon as possible."
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
Through the luck of a mutual contact, an animal rescue organization called Animal Responsibility Cyprus, the Shaws learned about another baboon, the same species as Tilin, who was living with a German shepherd at a donkey sanctuary.
Her name was Tina, and she was born at a captive breeding facility in Israel before being exported with another monkey to Cyprus, where she became part of the country's exotic pet trade. After she became too big for her owners at the age of 5, they handed her over to the local donkey sanctuary.
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
She was another baboon who had never known the friendship of her own species — and so the Shaws knew she would be a perfect match for their lonely boy. Tina arrived at the sanctuary in June 2011.
Tina was introduced to Tilin slowly. They were placed next to each other with a wire barrier and were watched carefully for any signs of aggressive behavior. To the Shaws, it soon became pretty obvious that Tina was yearning to be even closer to Tilin, who also liked to keep close to her. It finally came time to properly introduce two the two, face to face.
"The moment Tilin and Tina met, they were inseparable," Shaw said. "They ran to each other, embracing and vocalizing, then Tilin turned to us humans and, in no uncertain terms, threatened us to make us leave them alone. We spent the next few hours hiding behind the trees trying to monitor the situation in case anything happened. Every time Tilin spotted us, he told us off."
Today, Tilin and Tina continue to be a happy "married" couple together, with plans underway to build an even bigger enclosure for them to continue living their peaceful days together.
Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary
"Tilin and Tina are just amazing together," Shaw said. "For two animals who never had the chance to be with their own kind, to see them relaxing in the sunshine, grooming each other is very moving … we feel they truly deserve the best after their past traumas."
Here's the conservative movement's answer to Donald Trump's abdication of every tenet of freedom and liberty they've espoused for the last half century. This one's by Richard Viguerie. And that picture above is the cover of a new book they're pimping to keep the coffers full:
“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Samuel Johnson The 2016 Presidential Election is now about six weeks away – a bit more than a fortnight – but close enough that it should concentrate the mind of every conservative and right-of-center voter in America on what the effects of a Hillary Clinton presidency would be on their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.
Accordingly, this booklet isn’t about why conservatives should support Donald Trump, or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or any other candidate running for President.
Instead, it is a cannonball through the doors of the Ivory Towers of those “conservatives” who continue to obdurately claim that a Hillary Clinton presidency might not be that bad, that the country can recover after four or eight years, and that her policies won’t be aimed at marginalizing, if not outlawing, the conservative worldview. To outline and explain these dangers I asked a group of conservative leaders to share with me their assessment of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean to those Americans who hold traditional Judeo-Christian values and who believe in American exceptionalism. Most of these leaders had not backed Donald Trump during the Republican Primaries, but the response was immediate and overwhelming – far beyond the expected pro forma election year support for the Republican candidate for president.
In fact, each of these respected conservative leaders saw Hillary Clinton not as merely a wrongheaded political opponent, but as a genuine threat to the future of the conservative movement and to the domestic tranquility of this great country.
The dangers that these leaders saw in a Hillary Clinton presidency represent not obscure Capitol Hill policy differences, but dangers to the peaceful lives of ordinary Americans.
What they told me was that Americans who believe in the right-to-life; Americans who believe that marriage between one man and one woman is Biblically ordained; Americans who own guns; Americans who believe in the rule of law and protecting our borders are all at risk. Perhaps most at risk from a Clinton presidency are those Americans who believe that the Constitution is the law that governs and restrains government.
The one voice that is not represented, and from whom I expected to receive a response was my longtime friend, the First Lady of the Conservative Movement Phyllis Schlafly. Not only was Phyllis Schlafly the first major conservative leader to endorse Donald Trump, she was also conservativism’s most effective opponent of the radical Leftist Feminism to which Hillary Clinton subscribes and wishes to impose upon America.
What’s more, the Trump campaign’s populist – conservative coalition of outsiders seemed to be the very embodiment of her 1964 classic A Choice Not An Echo, committed as they are to breaking the power of the kingmakers, as Phyllis called the Wall Street – Washington – Silicon Valley Axis.
Unfortunately, before she could submit her response, Phyllis Schlafly passed away and it is to her and her lifelong struggle against the establishment kingmakers and the radical Left that this booklet is dedicated.
Remember, they like to lose. It makes it easier to fund raise.
Looks like Clinton didn't screw the pooch after all. Imagine that:
It was supposed to be her "47 percent" moment.
When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables," Republicans thought they just might have found her campaign-crushing-blunder.
The gaffe, they hoped, was a way to cement an image as an out-of-touch snob, just as Democrats did four years ago to Mitt Romney after he said "47 percent" of voters backed President Barack Obama because they were "dependent on government."
But a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Clinton's stumble didn't have quite the impact that Trump and his supporters wanted. Instead, it's Trump who's viewed as most disconnected and disrespectful.
Sixty percent of registered voters say he does not respect "ordinary Americans," according to the poll. That's far more than the 48 percent who say the same about Clinton.
The reason for that is that it's obvious to anyone that Trump is an odious pig and that many of his supporters cheer on his odiousness. There's no better example than the GOP partisans at the RNC shouting "lock her up!" in unison over and over again. Millions saw it. It's obvious. And they're proud of it.
When Robin Roberts asked President Obama for debating advice for Hillary Clinton, this is what he said:
"Be yourself and explain what motivates you. I’ve gotten to know Hillary and seen her work, seen her in tough times and in good times. She’s in this for the right reasons. There’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before, so she’s having to break down some barriers. There’s a level of mistrust and a caricature of her that just doesn’t jive with who I know -- this person who cares deeply about kids."
CNN's Gloria Borger characterized his comments this way:
He wants her to try to be more like herself because she has a hard time doing that.
I don't think that's what he was saying. In fact, he was saying something else altogether. But they've got a narrative and they're sticking to it.
Gloria is one of my oldest friends and she and her mother Mary are from upstate New York and huge Clinton fans just like that woman. They always say "she's our girl" too. There are a lot of women like them out there with a ton of enthusiasm for her. They're just not the kind of people that anyone pays attention to. They do vote though.
And this ad might motivate some people with daughters and it's really important. The sexism I battled in my working life was very difficult but I really thought it had gotten a lot better. The last few years have been a revelation. Of course there have been improvements since I was a young women. But there is a whole lot of work to do. If this country could produce a man like this as a possible president we still have big problems in this area:
That day 15 months ago when Donald Trump descended that escalator to announce his candidacy, it was obvious to me that whether or not he won, he was going to turn the race into something we had never seen before. He had massive celebrity and a lot of money, and he was tapping into a groundswell of anger over immigration that had shocked the political world just a year earlier when the incumbent House majority leader (Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia) was defeated in a primary largely because of that issue. It was foolish for political insiders to laugh at the possibility that Trump could go all the way. But they did. And they’ve had to play catch-up ever since.
The mainstream Republican establishment was knocked for a loop. They had offered up a dazzling array of GOP all-stars for the public to choose from: former and sitting governors and senators, movement heroes, policy wonks, tough guys, pious religionists, a world renowned neurosurgeon and even a famous high-tech businesswoman. It was beyond their imagination that this crude and inexperienced demagogue could beat any of them, much less all of them.
But as much as political insiders and establishment leaders should have been a more savvy about the potential of a populist celebrity billionaire to throw a grenade into a presidential campaign, it was entirely reasonable for many conservative movement leaders to be shocked that a man like Trump could capture the imagination of their movement so quickly, and without any serious commitment to their cause. After all, the last we heard, the Tea Party was still running the congressional asylum. Those folks may have a flair for the dramatic, but they’re true believers in the conservative movement. There was every reason to believe that the millions of Republican voters who supported them were too.
What conservatives found out was that all those years of carefully and patiently educating their voters in the nuances of small government, traditional values and strong national defense, to the point where they could elicit ecstatic cheers by merely uttering the words “tort reform” or “eminent domain” turned out to be for naught. The voters really only heard the dog-whistles.
This has been a rude awakening for conservative intellectuals who’ve spent their lives developing their elaborate ideological framework only to find their millions of supposed adherents never really cared about it. Zach Beauchamp at Voxinterviewed one such leading intellectual, a professor of political theory at George Washington University named Samuel Goldman, about the state of the movement in the age of Trump. Goldman admits that the conservative movement is “doomed,” or at least it is no longer viable as a majority, and rightly attributes the problem to the fact that conservatives no longer attract anyone but white people:
The answer has to do with the adoption of a fairly exclusive vision of American nationalism — which sees America not only as a predominantly white country but also as a white Christian country and also as a white Christian provincial country. This is a conception of America that finds its home outside the cities, exurbs and rural areas, in what Sarah Palin called the real America.
If you project yourself as a white Christian provincial party, you’re not going to get very many votes among people who are none of those things. That’s what’s happened over the last 10 or 15 years.
Goldman says this is the result of a demographic delusion in which conservatives believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that their idealized vision of the Real America was literally true.
I’m confused as to why he thinks this trend only goes back 10 or 15 years old, however. This idea that “real Americans” are white small-town folks, hard-scrabble farmers, blue-collar workers and small-business owners who live somewhere in the heartland has been around a lot longer than that. And it’s been used specifically in politics since the late 1960s, when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase “silent majority” and the political press began to notice that its own experiences were not necessarily reflective of the nation at large.
I previously noted this piece by Joseph Kraft, a famous newspaper columnist of that era, because it illustrates the point of view that began to pervade the political establishment in the wake of the upheavals of civil rights, the counterculture and the anti-war movement. He wrote it right after the famous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago:
Most of us in what is called the communications field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans – in Middle America. And the results show up not merely in occasional episodes such as the Chicago violence but more importantly in the systematic bias toward young people, minority groups, and presidential candidates who appeal to them.
To get a feel of this bias it is first necessary to understand the antagonism that divides the middle class of this country. On the one hand there are highly educated upper-income whites sure of and brimming with ideas for doing things differently. On the other hand, there is Middle America, the large majority of low-income whites, traditional in their values and on the defensive against innovation. The most important organs of media and television are, beyond much doubt, dominated by the outlook of the upper-income whites. In these circumstances, it seems to me that those of us in the media need to make a special effort to understand Middle America. Equally it seems wise to exercise a certain caution, a prudent restraint, in pressing a claim for a plenary indulgence to be in all places at all times the agent of the sovereign public.
From there flowed decades of “plenary indulgence” toward this white, provincial Real America by both parties, in which politicians were required to pledge fealty to “heartland values” and ensure that such folk were treated with the deference and respect they required.
In other words, this isn’t new. The only thing that’s changed is that the people Real Americans resent — African-Americans, women, recent immigrants and LGBT folks — are now assuming positions of prominence and power, and the provincial anger, stoked for so long by the Republican Party, has finally boiled over. Donald Trump is telling those folks what they’ve been wanting to hear, exactly the way they’ve been wanting to hear it for a very long time.
Three nights of protests in Charlotte have given new meaning to North Carolina being a battleground state. Other cities across the country have seen large-scale protests against police killings of black men: Ferguson, New York, Baltimore. The list goes on. Now Charlotte joins them. Last night the mayor issued an order for a midnight curfew.
Police insist that Keith Lamont Scott posed “an imminent deadly threat” when officers shot and killed him on Tuesday.
After viewing police recordings from the scene yesterday, Scott's family requested police release the footage. But as protesters chanted “Release the tape! Release the tape!” police refused:
Kerr Putney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, said that video footage of the encounter did not give “absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun,” but he said that the footage and other evidence “supports what we’ve heard” about what happened.
“You shouldn’t expect it to be released,” Putney said during a news briefing Thursday. He added: “Transparency is in the eye of the beholder. … If you think I’m saying we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
Charlotte organizers have been holding protests, creating coalitions and leading discussions about police brutality against the African-American community for almost three years, since a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who had wrecked his car, in September 2013. But until this week, the violence that erupted in cities across America had not come to Charlotte.
Now, leaders of some of those protests, such as Michael McBride, a California minister who leads the Live Free campaign against mass incarceration, and Traci Blackmon, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo., traveled to Charlotte.
Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP branch, said Thursday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, including Chief Kerr Putney, have worked with local groups to build the kind of relationships that could improve treatment of African-Americans and build trust.
Donald Trump blamed the unrest on drugs, telling an audience in Pittsburgh, “If you’re not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you’re watching on television at night.” Trump suggested Thursday he would address violence and black-on-black crime using stop-and-frisk tactics already declared unconstitutional. Trump said of police in a town hall appearance with Sean Hannity:
But, basically, they will -- if they see -- you know, they're proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they'll look and they'll take the gun away.
The 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct, but only as it applies to white people. The NRA stuck its fingers in its ears and heard nothing. Today, Trump will be back to warning people it is Hillary Clinton who wants to take their guns.
Hillary Clinton responded to the killing and protests, tweeting:
We have two names to add to a long list of African Americans killed by police officers. It’s unbearable, and it needs to become intolerable.
Politico wonders if the protests in Charlotte could have an effect on North Carolina Republicans' prospects on November 8:
North Carolina political operatives are skeptical that, unless the chaos in Charlotte continues for weeks, the issue will make a substantial dent in the race. But Republicans and some Democrats do say that the dynamic creates an opening for Trump to further shore up and energize the GOP base—something he has struggled to do—predicting voters will respond to his campaign’s law-and-order message and his staunch defense of police, even amid national concerns over institutional police racism. A senior adviser to the Trump campaign said only that Trump had been in the state earlier this week and "we have not yet announced the date of our next trip back to the state."
“I certainly think unrest feeds into Trump’s narrative that ‘America’s falling apart, we need to make America great again,’” said Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster whose firm is based in North Carolina. “My sense is, most white North Carolinians who would be really repulsed by what’s going on in Charlotte would be in Trump’s camp. I doubt it moves the needle a lot, but the race is just about tied … something like that is never going to move the race by 3 or 4 points, but it can change the race on the margins, and we’re on the margins.”
But one thing that's not obvious from 30,000 feet is that while the protests might help turn out Trump voters in rural North Carolina by a percentage, that's not where the real untapped cache of votes is. Charlotte may be the state's largest city, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg County is the 2nd largest block of registered voters in the state, just behind Wake County (Raleigh). Its voter turnout numbers in recent statewide elections, however, have been anemic, falling below state averages, and ten percent below Wake's in 2014. Sen. Kay Hagan might still be in the United States Senate if Mecklenburg had simply matched average state turnout numbers in 2014.
Because of Mecklenburg's size, it is possible that a large African-American turnout spurred by the shootings and protests could actually help Democrats more than the protests help Trump. In North Carolina's largest city, a percentage or two increase in voter turnout counts for a lot more votes than it does in rural counties. The question is whether Democrats can get their act together enough to turn out voters for Hillary Clinton who actually supports the kind of reform people have taken to the streets to demand. Whether the state goes blue in November might depend on it.
One of Robert Kennedy's speech writers wrote a bizarre screed for Politico making the so-called "liberal" case for Donald Trump on the basis of his alleged pacifism. Yes, it's as daft as it sounds. Today, another RFK associate, Peter Edelman, talks some sense:
Writing as a former legislative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, I was disappointed to see in Politico the screed written by my former colleague, Adam Walinsky, excoriating Clinton’s record on foreign policy and national security and going on to conclude that Donald Trump should therefore be elected president. It is one thing to disagree with Secretary Clinton, which Walinsky does heatedly, and quite another to turn to Donald Trump.
We should be clear that Walinsky’s critique is not confined to Clinton. He lays out (and massively overstates) a dark view not just of Clinton but also of President Obama and almost the entire Democratic Party. The analysis is overwrought, but even one who buys the argument defies all logic in imagining that the solution is Trump.
The question is not whether there is a military-industrial complex in our country. President Eisenhower called us out on that and there is enough responsibility to go around among both parties for it. The 21st century version begins with the Iraq War, which was originated by a Republican President. I am not interested in adjudicating the issue of which party is the war party except to say that Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter have stood for peace in important and tangible ways. The question here is whether Donald Trump can claim in any way that he is the candidate who stands for a foreign policy of restraint and the answer is that he cannot.
Walinsky finds in Trump a rationality and consistency that do not exist. Any reasonable observer of the presidential campaign has seen that at one moment, Trump will represent himself as an isolationist who wants to end ties with NATO and other allies; at another, he will lash out at any perceived insult to the U.S. or to himself, and pledges that America’s pride needs to be vindicated militarily. “America First,” Trump says regularly, bringing the isolationism of Charles Lindbergh to mind—before excoriating President Obama for not using greater force in any number of venues and then insinuating that he has a secret plan to obliterate the Islamic State.
To compare John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy to Donald Trump is—well, I won’t finish the sentence. Yes, Robert Kennedy turned against the Vietnam War, but not because he felt that America should retreat from the world. He opposed the war because it was unjust and was based on a flawed notion of American interests. The result, as we know, was the death of Vietnamese and Americans and others who should not have died. JFK and RFK were internationalists. They understood that World War II left the United States with a responsibility to play an active and constructive role in the world. They understood that America must stand together and dependably with allies who also are committed to pursue a peaceful world. They understood that the use of force was sometimes necessary and that brave men and women would be put at risk. They made those difficult, often excruciating, decisions carefully and as transparently as possible, never rashly, impulsively, or vindictively.
Walinsky quotes Robert Kennedy’s statement that if any member of the ExComm other than John F. Kennedy had been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we would have had a nuclear war. Ask yourself what a President Trump might have done in that moment. “Restraint” is not the word that comes to mind.
This is a man who said he would order the military to kill the families of Muslim terrorists and use interrogation techniques worse than waterboarding and opined that the United States should have seized Iraq’s oil resources as “spoils to the victor.”
Yes, we have put too much power in the hands of militarists and profit seekers in both the public and private sectors. But electing Donald Trump is not the answer; it would only compound the problem in new and dangerous ways. The answer is an active citizenry that speaks out against the inappropriate use of force and opposes interference in conflicts that involve neither American security interests nor egregious human rights violations—a topic in which Donald Trump has shown an ostentatious indifference, as his fondness for Vladimir Putin reflects.
All the evidence, provided again and again by Donald Trump’s own mouth, tells us not that he is a man of peace, but that he is a man of no principle—a man who will say, and possibly do, whatever happens to cross his mind at a given minute. He is like the weather in New England: If you don’t like it, wait a minute. We do not know what he believes because he does not know what he believes. We do not know what he knows because, from all we can see, he does not know much.
I don't know when it was that corrupt businessmen with violent, authoritarian oligarch tendencies became acceptable to liberals but it seems to be a thing at least among a few. I think they will come to regret that if he wins. First they came for the undocumented immigrants and I did nothing ...
"I don't think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this. I'm in the real estate industry. There's none. Now, the people with the guns and shootin' up neighborhoods and not being responsible citizens—that's a big change. And I think that's the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America. I think that's all his responsibility. And if you're black, and you haven't been successful in the last 50 years, it's your own fault."
"I think [if you're black] you have a real advantage because you had all the advantages—going to college. You had all the advantages because they got into schools without the same grades as a white kid. So I think that when we look at the last 50 years, where are we and why? We have three generations of still having unwed babies, kids that don't go through high school. I mean, when do they take responsibility for how they live? I think it's due time, and I think it's good that Mr. Trump is pointing that out."
She's now resigned as an official Mahoning County Ohio campaign chair for Trump. But she's not alone. When they say "he tells it like it is" this is what many of his voters are talking about.
Don't kid yourself. Its what his campaign has tapped into and it's not just older people like her:
Update: Here's the whole video. Fascinating stuff:
One of the most tedious moments of any presidential campaign is when everyone in the country decides they are better campaign strategists than the professionals. It’s like watching the World Series at a bar full of drunken fans in the losing team’s hometown. They all know more than the experts, or so they think, because they’ve watched a lot of baseball. This time it’s more tiresome than usual because it’s pretty much tied going into the ninth inning, and both team’s supporters are yelling their advice at the TV screen.
In recent days we’ve seen most prescriptions directed at the Hillary Clinton campaign, as the always nervous Democrats are waking up the startling reality that the flamboyant, white nationalist demagogue on the other side might just pull this off. And they have as many different ideas as there were GOP all-stars Donald Trump smoked in the primaries. These range from “She needs to take the fight to Trump and call him out” to “She should attack the Republican officials who endorse him” to “She should stop attacking him and lay out a positive policy agenda so people have a reason to vote for her” — which, to be fair, sounds like a good idea.
But the question is, if someone lays out a positive policy agenda and nobody hears it, did it really happen? Let’s take Wednesday as an example, when Clinton gave a big speech about something that is important to millions of Americans. She went to Orlando, a major city in a crucial swing state, and spoke about disability rights, expressing her plans in terms of American values of equality and inclusiveness. This is the fourth in a series of “Stronger Together” speeches the Democratic nominee has given recently about faith, community service, families and children, designed to display her values and vision for the future and show how her policies will achieve them.
Clinton also published an Op-Ed in the New York Times on Wednesday called “My Plan for Helping America’s Poor,” in which she discussed a comprehensive policy including one modeled on Rep. Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan, “directing 10 percent of federal investments to communities where 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years,” putting “special emphasis on minority communities that have been held back for too long by barriers of systemic racism.”
Did you know about any of that? Has the press asked her questions about those issues in the now-frequent press avails she’s given over the last few weeks? Did you see any of those speeches in their entirety? Probably not. And that’s not the campaign’s fault. I get inundated with notices and press releases from the Clinton campaign, its surrogates and outside groups promoting her public speeches and other appearances. There’s no coverage of this “good news” stuff. Unless she’s thumping Trump the media is basically not interested.
Harvard’s Shorenstein Center has been tracking media coverage throughout this campaign and yesterday released a fascinating study of the four weeks around the political conventions in the middle of the summer. The study’s author, Prof. Thomas E. Patterson, wrote about it for the Los Angeles Times, and its conclusions are depressing. Clinton’s so-called email scandal was the single most important story of that period, and the coverage of it was overwhelmingly negative and without context. In fact all the coverage of Clinton was overwhelmingly negative:
How about her foreign, defense, social or economic policies? Don’t bother looking. Not a single one of Clinton’s policy proposals accounted for even 1 percent of her convention-period coverage; collectively, her policy stands accounted for a mere 4 percent of it. But she might be thankful for that: News reports about her stances were 71 percent negative to 29 percent positive in tone. Trump was quoted more often about her policies than she was. Trump’s claim that Clinton “created ISIS,” for example, got more news attention than her announcement of how she would handle Islamic State.
Even with the email story that dominated Clinton coverage, of course, journalists largely failed to provide the context that would allow voters to put the issue into proper perspective.
The Shorenstein study was backed up by an ongoing Gallup survey that asks people to give them the first word that comes to their minds when they hear a candidate’s name. Since July 11, the words most commonly cited for Clinton are “email,” “lie,” “health,” “speech,” “scandal” and “foundation.” Trump, by contrast, brought to mind the words “speech,” “president,” “immigration,” “Mexico,” “convention,” “campaign” and “Obama.” As you can see, the Clinton words are loaded with negative judgment. Trump’s, not so much.
Clinton has given prepared remarks on 22 occasions since the end of the Democratic convention. Some of these were standard stump speeches, while others were major policy addresses. She has dozens of positive ads running in media markets all over the country. But the only Clinton speech that garnered the full and interested attention of the press corps was her “alt-right” speech in Reno, Nevada, in late August. Almost all her speeches are covered the way the New York Times covered the disability speech on Wednesday: Clinton’s remarks are framed as a political ploy designed to evoke Trump’s ugly comments about a disabled reporter (which she did not discuss in the speech at all.) At the very end of the article, the reporter mentions that “some of [Clinton’s] most affecting moments on the campaign trail” come when she speaks with disabled people and their families, and that she often spontaneously brings up the subject in informal settings. There’s no reason to think she isn’t sincere about the issue, even if the campaign is subtly trying to highlight Trump’s cretinous attitudes by contrast.
It’s an old truism that negative campaigning works, so it’s no surprise that Clinton’s campaign would try to leverage Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric against him. But there is plenty of positive material out there as well. It’s just the press isn’t interested, and there isn’t a lot of evidence that the voters are either. This doesn’t seem to be that kind of election.
The armchair strategists who think a more positive, uplifting message is what Hillary Clinton needs to put this election away may be right. But the question is whether anyone could hear such a message above the din of cynicism and negativity that characterizes the coverage of this campaign.
Kevin Drum noticed that polling shows there are a fairly significant number of Sanders voters who are saying they prefer to vote for Gary Johnson over Clinton. He thought it was worthwhile to list some of Johnson's policy positions:
In one sense, this is easy to understand. Johnson favors legalization of marijuana. He's good on civil liberties and wants to cut way back on overseas military interventions. He's moderate on immigration. He's pro-choice and supports gay rights. There are plenty of things for Bernie supporters to like about him.
On the other hand, Johnson is a libertarian. Here's a smattering of what else he believes:
He supports TPP.
He supports fracking.
He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
He thinks Citizens United is great.
He doesn't want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
He opposes net neutrality.
He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he's open to privatization.
He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
He opposes any government action to address climate change.
He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
He wants to remove the Fed's mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.
His position on choice, by the way, is that it's up to the states. So your "personal freedom" is subject to whatever yahoos in the state capitol decide it is i you're a woman. But hey, whatever. People feel differently about fundamental human rights in different parts of the country so we shouldn't force them to acknowledge those they think are icky. But other than that he's a real civil liberties champion.
Joss Whedon usually leaves the heroics for characters in his movies, but the Avengers director’s next project is battling what he believes could be a big threat in the real world.
Whedon has founded the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Save the Day and donated $1 million toward helping her beat Donald Trump in the presidential election. Instead of going on the defensive, Whedon is focusing on encouraging people to vote through a series of star-studded online videos. He’s hoping that these videos will resonate with several groups of people that are likely to vote for Clinton, including rural college-educated white women and groups that often have low voter turnout such as black men and millennials.
"It's not about attacking because Donny's real good at attacking himself," says Whedon. “It’s about getting people to vote, because it’s frightening the apathy that people are treating the most crucial election of their lifetimes with.”
Whedon has never been shy about his political leanings. During the 2012 election, he made a tongue-in-cheek video in which he proclaimed that Mitt Romney had “the vision and determination” to take the country on a path toward a zombie apocalypse. Last year, he signed a petition encouraging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president. But he’s been a loyal Clinton supporter since she entered the race, even when she was fighting for the Democratic nomination against Sen. Bernie Sanders. “I really loved a lot of the things that Bernie had to say,” he acknowledges, but adds that ultimately believes “Hillary will be better at this job.”
Before the Democratic National Convention, he began to convene small get-togethers of other Hollywood writers to discuss what could be done to lend Clinton their support. “I wasn’t going to do anything until she got the nomination,” he says. “And then it was the first night of the Democratic Convention — before Michelle Obama spoke — when the Democrats were so fractious that I just went into the sweats and was like, ‘I’ve misinterpreted what needs to be done.’”
Whedon had the time to commit to the effort. His last film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was released in 2015, and he stopped writing his next script to work full time on Save the Day, building up a small but experienced team that includes executive director Ben Sheehan, who hails from Funny or Die, and head of media partnerships Carri Twigg, who previously worked in the office of public engagement for Vice President Joe Biden.
The team is currently at work on more than 10 videos and plans to make between 15 and 25 before the election. It launches today with a spoof of a traditional campaign ad, called “Important,” that is jam-packed with A-listers, including Neil Patrick Harris and Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo. Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, Keegan-Michael Key and Stanley Tucci have also shot videos, which range from comedic to earnest, for Whedon. Says Sheehan: “They’re passionate about the cause, but they also love Joss and the things he wrote.”
Save the Day is taking a measured approach, first encouraging voter registration, then voter turnout and finally voting down the ticket on all races, both national and local. The team is doing outreach to ensure the videos are seen by the right people and, if lucky, go viral. Whedon acknowledges that “no one really cares what an actor’s opinion is,” but he says that’s not the strategy. “Seeing somebody famous makes people stop. Seeing something funny makes people stop. Seeing something with emotion makes people stop,” he adds. “Those are the ways you can get to people.”
Another night of unrest in Charlotte in response to the police shooting of Keith Scott. One man went to the hospital with a gunshot wound and was reported critically injured. (No shots fired by police, spokesmen say.) Tear gas. Flash-bangs. Riot gear. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for the city. The Guardian's Ijeoma Oluo wrote about the events of the night (you need to click through to see the photo described below):
A line of police officers stand in the dark on a Charlotte, North Carolina, highway. They look like an occupying force with their helmets and face shields and various weaponry strapped all over their armored clothing. A large bus illuminates them with its headlights. The front of the bus declares in bright lights: “NOT IN SERVICE”.
It’s as if these police responding to protests of Tuesday’s shooting death of Keith Scott are carrying with them a lighted banner that declares what black Americans already know: they are not in service. Not for us.
It’s the message that police have always been sending black Americans. Blacks make up about 13% of the US population, and yet accounted for 27% of the approximately 1,146 people killed by police in 2015. “Not in service” is the message we got when Tamir Rice was killed, when Freddie Gray was killed, when Eric Garner was killed. This was the message we got when Terence Crutcher was killed this week while asking for service. We understand that if our police force really does exist to protect and serve, it does not exist to protect and serve us.
One has to wonder what sort of mindset is being trained into police cadets these days. Officer Betty Shelby's attorney and the Tulsa police department gave this account of the shooting of Terence Crutcher:
When Shelby approached the car, the doors were closed, and the windows were open, Wood said. She looked into the passenger's side to make sure no one was on the floor of the car, and as she was getting ready to move to the driver's side, she turned around and saw Crutcher walking toward her, Wood said.
Wood said that Shelby then said to Crutcher, "Hey, is this your car?"
Crutcher didn't respond, simply dropping his head while continuing to look at Shelby, "kind of under his brow," Wood said. Crutcher then began to put his hand into his left pocket, Wood said, adding that Shelby told Crutcher, "Hey, please keep your hands out of your pocket while you're talking to me. Let's deal with his car."
Crutcher did not respond, Wood said, so Shelby ordered him again to get his hand out of his pocket. He then pulled his hand away and put his hands up in the air, even though he was not instructed to do so, which Shelby found strange, Wood said.
Shelby tried to get Crutcher to talk to her, but he simply mumbled something unintelligible and stared at her, Wood said. He then turned and walked to the edge of the roadway and turned to look at her, his hands still in the air, Wood said. He put his hands down and started to reach into his pocket again, Wood said, and she ordered him again to get his hands out of his pocket.
At this point, Shelby, a drug recognition expert, believed Crutcher was "on something," Wood said, possibly PCP.
Shelby then radioed in that she had a subject "who is not following commands."
"You can kind of hear a degree of stress in her voice when she says that," Wood said.
Shelby then pulled out her gun and had Crutcher at gunpoint as she commanded him to get on his knees, Wood said. She pulled out a gun instead of a Taser because she thought he had a weapon, and she was planning to arrest him for being intoxicated in public and possibly obstructing the investigation, Wood said.
Shelby ordered Crutcher to stop multiple times as Crutcher walked toward the SUV with his hands up, Wood said.
But those orders cannot be heard in the audio from the dashcam video, which starts as another patrol car pulls up to the scene, showing Crutcher walking toward the SUV with his hands up as Shelby follows him, apparently with her weapon drawn and pointing at Crutcher.
As the video from the helicopter begins, Crutcher was "angling" toward his car while Shelby repeatedly commanded him to stop, Wood said. His hands were still in the air.
"As a police officer, you have to wonder — why would someone ignore commands at gunpoint to get to a certain location?" Wood said.
Crutcher's arms came down, and he turned to face the car, Wood said, and he reached into the driver's side window with his left hand. That's when Shelby fired one shot and a fellow officer, Tyler Turnbough, deployed a Taser, Wood said.
Shelby believed that when Crutcher attempted to reach into the car, he was retrieving a weapon, Wood said. In her interview with homicide detectives, she said, "I was never so scared in my life as in that moment right then," according to Wood.
He might have had a gun in his pocket. He might have been on PCP. He might have been going back to his car to reach for the gun that might have been inside instead of for the one that might have been in his pocket. After Ferguson and countless "Hands up. Don't shoot." Black Lives Matter protests, a black man, encountering police, puts his hands in the air unasked and that's "strange." "You have to wonder" why a guy who might have been on PCP might be doing something irrational at gunpoint, police said. Crutcher had no gun. If police received better training (and if Crutcher were white), he might still be alive.
Gregory Wallace, a law professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, cites a 2013 Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals case and asks, even if Keith Scott had a gun, whether police were even justified in stopping and questioning him about it. North Carolina is an open-carry state:
“The mere possession of a handgun does not give the police probable cause or reasonable suspicion to briefly detain you for stop and frisk,” Wallace said. “The mere fact that you have a handgun isn’t enough – it’s legal in N.C.”