929 posts categorized "Public Safety"

September 11, 2015

In praise of Rep. Keith Ellison

On this anniversary, I highlight one of the most decent people in Washington, a civil rights attorney who is the first Muslim elected to Congress. Thank you, Rep. Keith Ellison, for holding our country to its values and standing up to bullies like Peter King.

In April 2013, I had the honor of introducing Rep. Ellison as keynote speaker at the Bill of Rights Dinner of ACLU of the Nation's Capital.

September 09, 2015

Privilege by Gaslight


In my Blade column this week: authoritarians and demagogues are trying to win by driving us crazy. Don't let them! Here's a portion:

If you didn't know better, recent news might have you thinking that anyone with a Hispanic accent is an alien; that activists protesting police violence are cop killers; and that a government official's religious freedom entitles her to impose her beliefs on an entire county.

Enough of these brazen falsehoods could drive a person crazy. This is called "gaslighting" after Charles Boyer's efforts in the 1944 movie Gaslight to make Ingrid Bergman think she is losing her mind so he can get her out of the way and steal her aunt's jewels.

When Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos challenged Donald Trump's promise to deport eleven million undocumented workers, he was treated like an undocumented worker himself. Trump has slandered Mexicans and used one murder to support a media narrative about criminal hordes flooding America that is entirely at odds with the facts. Undocumented immigrants in fact have a lower crime rate. Trump subsequently described Ramos as "raving like a madman." This is like describing women who assert themselves as hysterical. When Trump contemptuously ordered Ramos removed, the other reporters should have walked out. If tough questions are off-limits, we have a celebrity media availability, not a press conference.

These crude tactics appeal to the Trumpen Proletariat (a term coined by conservative writer Jonah Goldberg): the sort of people who vehemently opposed Obamacare but now favor single payer just because Trump is for it. Goodbye, coherent politics. Hello, fearless leader defended by a mob.

Read the whole thing here.

September 04, 2015

He's not mad at you, he's mad at the dirt

Mommie Dearest with a bit of A Clockwork Orange for color.

The truth about #BlackLivesMatter

Amen and bravo to the NYT editorial board.

The effort to defame Black Lives Matter

The malign fraud of right-wingers smearing police reformers as cop killers

I will have more to say on this lie soon. For now, I offer contrasting tweets from Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop.

September 03, 2015

Ukrainian group's community center attacked

NYPD officers punished for not targeting people of color?

September 02, 2015

The big lie of calling #BlackLivesMatter a hate group

August 30, 2015

Police Chief Cathy Lanier on Kojo Nnamdi Show

MPD Chief Lanier discusses police response to crime in the District.

Stop blaming non-violent protesters for others' violence

Stop the bigoted double standards: Blaming all black people for any black person's violence, or blaming all gay people for any gay person's violence, raises the question of why all white people are not blamed for any white person's violence. The answer is that it doesn't occur to anyone to do group-blaming except toward minorities. This will not stop unless we work together to make it stop.

August 28, 2015

Don Lemon slams CNN for homophobic coverage of Virginia shooter

Emmett Till would be 74

The horror of racist violence is never more present than when you look at the posthumous photo of Emmett Till, who was murdered 60 years ago at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The photo is easy to find online, but I will not inflict it on you. Once seen, it can never be unseen. We only have it because his mother Mamie bravely ordered an open casket and said, "I want them to see what they did to my son." Three months later, Rosa Parks was arrested on a municipal bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and the discipline and determination shown by African Americans in resistance to injustice changed the nation. A new generation is stepping up to contend with the fact that hatred and the violence it fosters continues to plague us.

August 27, 2015

Rallying for the black trans women killed in America


Why the Rentboy raid is about way more than just sex work

Keyshia Blige is the 19th transgender person killed in the US this year

Rand Paul's patronizing, self-parodying response to #BlackLivesMatter

An interactive guide to police killings and the system that excuses them

Jindal tells Obama not to talk about climate during Katrina anniversary visit

A friend writes on Facebook:

I would make sure I said "climate change" and pointed out how Republicans are doing absolute zilch to deal with it as many times as I could to spite the ignorant dumbshit.

Above the Keyboard Warriors’ Din


In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:

Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.

When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.

This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.

After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.

The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."

Read the whole thing here.

#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards

Watch: Janet Mock on murders of trans women

Gun violence and mental health

My initial reaction to Wednesday's horrific shooting death of a Roanoke television reporter and cameraman during a morning news broadcast, other than shock and sadness, was that we need fewer guns and better mental health care. But I like a friend's comments on Facebook:

There is a really offensive meme going around that says to "like & share if you blame [Vester Flanagan] for the Virginia shooting...not the gun." My response to the people who have posted it and it showed up in my feed:

"I blame every single person who prevents implementation of policies and procedures to keep people like him from having access to guns in the first place. I blame everyone who refuses to recognize the critical need and provide funding and help for people who suffer with mental health issues. Then I blame him. I don't blame the gun."

Mr. Flanagan was sufficiently responsible to know what he was doing...otherwise he would not have had the wherewithal to send a manifesto or liveblog his actions. He could and should have voluntarily walked into any hospital or police station and declared he was in crisis and the tragedy could have been averted.

He plainly was a troubled man. I hope his family tried to get him help. Even so, the system failed everyone in this case...same as it has before...same as it will again. Anyone who claims they are pro-life, pro-family, and a Christian, is anything but if they oppose fixing our laws and our society to prevent tragedies involving guns. It's just that simple. Stop playing along with them and they will lose their power.

Some on the right, I suppose inevitably, are blaming the shooting on #BlackLivesMatter activists, whose advocacy is nonviolent and in protest against state-sanctioned violence against black citizens. The fact that the shooter, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, was also gay (according to a manifesto posted in his name, purportedly by him) only gives more red meat to the haters.

A few months ago, around LGBT Pride, I announced a policy of apologizing for every crime or calamity that anyone blames on gay people as a class. This of course is ridiculous, unless you are prepared to blame (say) Ted Bundy's serial murders of women on all straight guys. But reason has little to do with scapegoating of minorities, so I wish to apologize for these horrific killings. I am so sorry. What was I thinking. Please forgive me. And fuck you ignorant motherfuckers. Oh, sorry, I was temporarily channeling Samuel L. Jackson.

Seriously, we need to do something about the proliferation and glorification of guns in this country. Due to a second fatal shooting Wednesday, you couldn't bring up "the shooting" without clarifying which one you meant.

As another friend said last evening, in response to a colleague who snarkily suggested it is "peak assimilation" when a deranged shooter announces he's gay:

The fact he was gay, and his complaints around such, are irrelevant. He was severely mentally ill. If he'd been told they were out of his favorite cone at Dairy Queen, he'd have imagined some slight that was worthy of massacre.

Yes. Let's address the problem, not exploit it to score cheap points on social media.

August 24, 2015

Hollande presents train attack heroes with Legion of Honor

Vive la France!

August 23, 2015

Americans who stopped a train attack in Europe were boyhood friends

More here on the focus this attack puts on the vulnerability of U.S. rail.

August 21, 2015

'We can end police violence in America' - #CampaignZero

#CampaignZero local policy agenda

DeRay McKesson and his colleagues release their local policy agenda to end police violence.

#CampaignZero state policy agenda

DeRay McKesson and his colleagues release their state policy agenda to end police violence.

#CampaignZero federal policy agenda

DeRay McKesson and his colleagues release their federal policy agenda to end police violence.

August 19, 2015

On Hillary's frankness with #BlackLivesMatter activists

A good read on Hillary Rodham Clinton's videotaped backstage encounter with BLM activists. On balance I think it helps her. Many black activists are agreeing with her.

25 trans women of color have been killed in 2 years

As the article points out, these numbers may be the tip of the iceberg.

August 18, 2015

Police Units Blame Each Other For Security Failures At Jerusalem Pride

August 15, 2015

Israel's Threat from Within

(Photo by Sebastian Scheiner / Associated Press)

My latest column for Bay Windows looks at how home-grown fanaticism is isolating the Jewish state. Here is an excerpt:

A pair of recent atrocities by Israeli terrorists (which is what they must be called) underscores the futility of diverting attention from the country's oppression of Palestinians by emphasizing its pro-gay policies.

The fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Shira Banki at Jerusalem Pride, and the firebombing death of Palestinian Sa'ad Dawabshe and his baby son, Ali Dawabshe, in a West Bank village, point to increased Israeli fanaticism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appropriately denounced the attacks, but that is small comfort coming from a man who has done so much to stoke the extremism that led to the crimes.

The deluge of threats against Israeli President Reuven Rivlin after he condemned the violence demonstrates that vigils for the victims are not enough. The present situation disturbingly echoes the one 21 ago when a right-wing extremist killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as he left a peace rally. At the time, Netanyahu eloquently said that bullets would not be allowed to determine the course of government, but in fact they did.

Israel is isolating itself more and more, including from American Jews, and failing to address internal threats for which it has planted the seeds. Netanyahu's pledge in March never to return occupied land was not just an election ploy. Israel continues to build new West Bank settlements while knocking down Palestinians' houses and cutting down their olive groves. In light of this, expressions of horror are unconvincing.

Read the whole thing here.

August 11, 2015

White supremacy, racism killed Sandra Bland

I neglected to post this commentary last week. Our friend Lateefah Williams illuminates the structural racism behind the death in custody of Sandra Bland by sharing her own degrading experiences. Thanks to her for sharing this personal testimony. Those of us privileged enough not to face such treatment need to learn from those who do.

Appeals court upholds clause in D.C. hate crimes law

August 06, 2015

Matt Baume: 'The Real Queens and Kings of Stonewall'

More on the Stonewall era.

August 04, 2015

An Israeli court is holding a man accused of leading extremists

A commendable sentiment, but hard to enforce amid an occupation accompanied by illegal settlements that amount to a slow annexation of the occupied territory.

D.C. judge rescinds reduced sentence in anti-gay attack

August 03, 2015

He's training police officers to shoot first, and he'll answer questions later

This bogus expert gets killer cops off regardless of the facts.

Flamboyantly dressed military vet vows to beat up gays at Russian Pride rally

Work it, honey.

Teen Jerusalem Pride Marcher Dies From Stabbing

Grim news. It is not enough for Mr. Netanyahu to condemn such violence. He must stop creating the climate that leads to it.