Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Because I Can Breathe.

The man was pushed down on the ground and could not breathe, and he said it over and over again.

He was a very large man, but not threatening. He put his hands up, and then a half dozen or so wrested him to the ground.

And a baton choked him in a move that was purely outside of the rules for NYPD for the past two decades.

When a prosecutor related this story to a grand jury--they didn't deliver any reason to indict and try the officer who choked the life out of someone in a video we all could see for ourselves. And I wasn't in that jury so I don't know why that is--I just know that it is. And It doesn't feel right.  It doesn't seem like a prosecutor trying whether there's reasonable cause to bring someone up on charges, lets the officer testify on his own behalf for hours, as was done here, and in the Ferguson case. These grand juries feel like a kind of cover-up or attempt to ignore the facts in those cases, and reasonable people know that isn't right.

I have to express my thoughts that this isn't right because if I don't say it, it's like I'm agreeing with it, and I can't. There is an unfairness in our legal justice system, and it has killed men and women. And that unfairness will persist until we really address it.

I don't know what bodies in the streets will do. I don't feel confident that cameras, body or squad car, can't be worked around. But I have to say the status quo doesn't seem right, because it just doesn't. Because of his young family. Because he was too sick to work legit and hustled loosies to feed his kids.

We have a video and some idea of the dynamic that killed this man. And I would say--more needs to be done.

How can anyone breathe if the law isn't for everyone?

7 comments:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It was just about twenty years ago that Anhony Baez was killed by a P.O. using a chokehold, all because of an incomplete pass during a game of catch with a football.

That was the case that led to the banning of chokeholds by police.

mikey said...


From Rodney King to Eric Garner, we have repeated proof that cameras won't change anything until our legal system decides that part of its job is holding police accountable for extreme and criminal violence against citizens. The system is fully prepared to ignore or hand-wave away the video evidence right along with the eyewitness testimony. I'm not sure why anybody, even the most right wing teapartier, would want to create a society where the police can gun down or otherwise murder citizens with impunity, but that's what we seem to be building...`

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, there are different sides to this tragic set of events, and the side that I am interested in is a little different.

First off, it is estimated that one out of 25 people in the US is a sociopath. This is a disorder that you would never know about even if you were around a person intimately for many years. You might read the novels of Patricia Highsmith to get a bead on this strange type of character.

However, in the prison system the rate of sociopaths or psychopaths rises steeply, maybe to 80% or 90%.

This victim had been in jail over 30 times. So my question is, was he a sociopath? And were any of the cops sociopaths? And since this disorder does not act like others (being able to tell right from wrong, and so forth), how should the victim and the responders be considered with the awareness that someone in the mix may have been a sociopath.

The victim was selling cigarettes. If he were just selling individual cigarettes this would not apply. But if he was also taking orders for packs and cartons, then he would have low-level Cosa Nostra connections. He would have to be paying the mob a street tax.

The mob has been in business for years of going to states or Indian reservations where there is no tax on cigarettes. Or someone in their network of acquaintances hijacks a truck carrying cigarettes. The mob acquires the cigarettes, brings them back to New York, and then sells them a lot cheaper than for a regular purchase.

It's conceivable that the same thing has been done for years in Philadelphia; I don't know.

Things ran smooth under the genial Angelo Bruno. Regrettably, when the murderous Little Nicky Scarfo took over with a tacit nod from the Gambinos, he completely disrupted the natural order of things. The mob bosses who have followed him have yet to reestablish the relatively peaceful rule of Bruno.

In short, if it turned out the victim was a sociopath kicking up a street tax to whichever organized crime family ruled his district, that would put a different complexion on the matter.

Vixen Strangely said...

This victim had been in jail over 30 times. So my question is, was he a sociopath? And were any of the cops sociopaths? And since this disorder does not act like others (being able to tell right from wrong, and so forth), how should the victim and the responders be considered with the awareness that someone in the mix may have been a sociopath.

An interesting query. I'm not prepared to infer a personality type from a criminal record, and with reason--for one thing, the stats are that black male have a fifty percent likelihood of being arrested by age 23--and alarming statistic (40% for white males and 30% for white females). The recidivism rate, depending on neighborhood for higher crime areas can go as high as 60%.

Staten Island, like Ferguson, MO, seems to be an area where there is a high likelihood of police coming out for misdemeanor beefs. Street vending of loosies is a pretty low-level crime--depending on the situation, as you point out, it can be seen as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If Garner was pinched numerous times, his 30 stretches in jail were probably a handful of days each for low-level offences because he'd be what, in the parlance, is considered a "fish"--easy to catch.

There very likely is an "organization" behind the obtaining of the cigarettes his vending, no doubt (I believe only Charles C Johnson of Got News has credited anonymous sources with calling it "organized crime") but merciful heavens! It's a far cry from an episode of "The Sopranos". There is a very probable possibility of interstate trafficking of contraband smokes that "fell off a truck" (highjacking) or were purchased in an area where the duties are lower or nonexistent (several southern states have significantly lower tobacco duties, and of course, there's reservations.)

We simply can't know the level of the "organization" providing Garner's contraband. I'm not sure the cops rolled him to get to his sources because it was easy enough to just keep picking him up without doing the job of finding out who he might've kicked back to. (He might not have even been selling at this incident.)

Acquiring duty-free smokes isn't that difficult. There's a res in Mastic. Frankly, one of the fun things that the internet has brought us is websites that make illicit tobacco tax avoidance possible without all the smuggle-y bits. But it's also possible he was selling counterfeit Chinese "Newports" which is a nice international set-up. (Some of that dollar even finds its way to Hizbollah.)

But Garner was a bit player. I think his example is that of the socioeconomic attraction of the black economy and the dynamic of the carceral system to keep people who've been in the system, coming back. After all, once one has a record, one's legitimate avenues to earn narrow. If nearly broke most of the time, stuff like being properly licensed, or driving under someone else's credentials because you have things to do, and any other number of hustles start making sense.

Vixen Strangely said...

Frankly, to me, it still comes back to his sense that the cops were singling him out, and the way that he wasn't let go when he repeated stressed he was not able to breathe--which became seven minutes of unconsciousness without aid before being loaded into an ambulance, all rather dispassionately, as if he was just meat. There is something sociopathic in treating a human being in obvious distress as a piece of meat. And part of sociopathy is authoritarianism, and seeking roles where one needs to be obeyed, can manipulate a system, has the ability to cover things up--no doubt, sociopaths could be drawn to police work, but there too--is a problem:

Are the sociopaths "rotten apples" that spoil forces--or is there a "rotten barrel" where, because these things are possible, police work is corrupted due to lack of oversight and transparency and other systemic issues that create sociopathic behaviors, even in otherwise normal people? Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." So I wonder--Who watches our Watchmen?

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, interesting query. Who is going to watch the watchers? Who's going to watch the government? Who's going to watch the corporations? Who's going to watch the cops?

My answer is unpopular. Don't expect much in the Kali Yuga. I caution people about having children. This is too nutty a world to expose a youngster to. I grew up practically like Tom Sawyer compared to the hurdles that exist today. At my age I'm no longer looking for reality. I'm looking for a good fantasy.

I can sum up my actual thoughts about all this in a few points.

1. If you can conjecture a hundred grand juries, you can figure that a certain percentage don't get it right. However, to start completely dismissing 2 grand juries in a row, both dealing with cops and black offenders is stretching it. I was a juror in a high-profile murder trial once, and I learned that being a juror is a sobering experience. People try to bring their best game to it.

2. I live in the South, and I confess we are having a very small sense of satisfaction watching all this. For decades the South has been reviled by the North because of our supposed racist mistreatment of our black neighbors. The fact that this has not been true for decades and that many of us were in the civil rights movement never seemed to count. Now New York City, the bastion of Yankee superiority, the crown jewel of the eastern seaboard, has people marching in the streets screaming racism. While those of us in the south and red states generally are not having these problems.

3. My view is that the problems in Ferguson need to be solved in Ferguson, and if it requires more attention and authority, it needs to be solved by Missouri. The problems in New York City need to be solved in NYC and if they require more intervention than that (unlikely) then they need Albany's help. We have nothing to do with it. We can't vote in their elections; we have not clout with their politicians; we have no say-so about their police departments. We are out of the loop. My state bears no responsibility for what is occurring in these other states. Furthermore NYC would be contemptuous of my state if we said anything. There is an attempt to federalize all this, but usurping decisions of municipalities and states because of personal feelings that circumvent legal decisions at the local and state level is extremely dubious

4. Buddha said be happy when you're 60, because you're not longer part of the system. In Hinduism, when a man reaches middle age and has taken care of his family and set his kids off in life, he is supposed to renounce everything and go off as a beggar trying to find absolute reality. We don't do that here, but I advise people when they are in the middle years to begin the process of relaxing their grip on temporal concerns beyond their own needs and requirements and begin to turn their attention to the spiritual dimension.

Vixen Strangely said...

My impressions differ in some significant ways:

1) If you can conjecture a hundred grand juries, you can figure that a certain percentage don't get it right. However, to start completely dismissing 2 grand juries in a row, both dealing with cops and black offenders is stretching it.

The percentage of people who don't get indicted (which is piddly) favors cops. In NYC, out of 179 NYPD fatalities over 15 years, 3 cases led to indictment and 1 conviction. I've stated before that that there is an outsized relationship between race and police-caused fatalities--about 21:1. At some point, it stops looking like a coincidence, and looks explicitly hand-in-glove.

2) Now New York City, the bastion of Yankee superiority, the crown jewel of the eastern seaboard, has people marching in the streets screaming racism.

Northern superiority ain't what it's cracked up to be. I grew up in the supposedly enlighted City of Brotherly Love, and basically heard the N-word on the regular. NYC is where Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times and Abner Louima faced a disgusting torture. Just recently, an officer shot an unarmed man in stairwell, where that cop wasn't even necessarily supposed to be. Cleveland, where one child and one young man were precipitously executed for holding toy arms, is Northern enough. And California--liberal bastion? Not for this stuff. This isn't a North/South issue at all. to me anyway. I see it as a proper training and police accountability issue.

3) My view is that the problems in Ferguson need to be solved in Ferguson, and if it requires more attention and authority, it needs to be solved by Missouri. The problems in New York City need to be solved in NYC and if they require more intervention than that (unlikely) then they need Albany's help.

There's cases like this all over the country, and in most of the states where there's protests (like Colorado, where students in Denver are going strong) it isn't so much about dictating to other states, as reminding people locally that there is a duty to protect and serve the public--which goes for AG's and prosecutors as well. Denver schoolkids aren't trying to solve a Ferguson problem, they are identifying with it as one of their own. But it is entirely true that 50 states might figure out fifty different ways of trying to sort out how to address the issue.

4) Buddha said be happy when you're 60, because you're not longer part of the system. In Hinduism, when a man reaches middle age and has taken care of his family and set his kids off in life, he is supposed to renounce everything and go off as a beggar trying to find absolute reality.

One keenly feels the intrusion of caste-consciousness. If one lives to see one's kids off and doesn't live hand-to-mouth all one's days, one might very well leave artha behind. Some have argued that a sense of meaning and connection to the larger world in the form of other people and usefulness in the form of productive industry is in itself sustaining--at least to the life span.

My generation is pessimistic. Kama and Artha share a bed. Dharma may be possible, but Moksha is like rest for the wicked. (Me, I toil in the dirt and look at the stars. Sometimes.)