Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome to the Hunger Games, Humboldt County

It's just a movie. Unfortunately, someone had a premonition about Humboldt County. Good luck in the New Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Local War on Children Takes Its Toll

High school basketballers out of tournament for 'I Can't Breathe' T-shirts

California students' silent protest over police brutality follows those by professional athletes including LeBron James

A high school basketball tournament on the Northern California coast has become the latest flashpoint in the ongoing protests over police killings of unarmed black men, after a school was disinvited because of concerns its players would wear T-shirts printed with the words "I Can't Breathe" during warm-ups.
The athletic director for Mendocino High School was informed by his counterpart at Fort Bragg High School this week that neither the boys’ nor girls’ teams would be allowed to participate in the three-day tournament hosted by Fort Bragg High starting Monday, Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent Jason Morse said.
The boys were reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirts inspired by the last words of Eric Garner — the New York man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold — while on the Fort Bragg campus during the Vern Piver Holiday Classic tournament, Morse said. Too few girl players accepted the condition for the team to field a tournament squad, he said.

Click here for more coverage of Flashpoint: Ferguson

Click here for more coverage of Flashpoint: Ferguson

Brian Triplett, the athletic director at Fort Bragg High, did not return a call and email seeking comment. Principal Rebecca Walker issued a written statement Friday saying that school administrators respected the Mendocino teams "for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them," and that the T-shirts were being prohibited as a security precaution.
"To protect the safety and well-being of all tournament participants it is necessary to ensure that all political statements and or protests are kept away from this tournament," wrote Walker, who said she was speaking on behalf of the athletic director and the Fort Bragg school superintendent. "We are a small school district that simply does not have the resources to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, students and guests at the tournament should someone get upset and choose to act out."
Mendocino varsity teams first wore the "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts before a game with Fort Bragg on Dec. 16, according to the girls’ coach, Caedyn Feehan. The girls also wore them before games at two other tournaments and didn't receive any blowback, Feehan said.
"I didn't even know what it meant. I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard," Feehan said. "None of the administrators knew what it was or that any of them were doing it in advance. This was entirely for their cause that they had strong feelings about."
Professional basketball players such as LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving wore "I Can't Breathe" shirtsduring warm-ups this month without repercussions from the NBA. After Kobe Bryant and other Laker player wore them before a game and on the bench on Dec. 9, coach Byron Scott said he viewed it as a matter of "freedom of choice and freedom of speech."
That's how Marc Woods, whose 16-year-old son Connor plans to sit out the tournament, sees it. Connor wore the T-shirt at the Dec. 16 game in the name of team solidarity, but "now that's become a First Amendment violation, that's what he is fired up about," the father said.
Woods, whose father was a California Highway Patrol officer, said he is outraged by what he sees as using intimidation to silence players and fans. Fort Bragg administrators have warned spectators who plan to protest the T-shirt ban that they will be asked to leave, he said.
"It doesn't take a lot to suppress the exchange of ideas when you put fear into it," Woods said.
Both schools are located in Mendocino County — known for redwood forests, rugged coastline and marijuana growing — 120 miles north of San Francisco. The student bodies at the two schools are 1 percent black, 50 percent white and 41 percent Hispanic at Fort Bragg; and 75 percent white and 9 percent Hispanic at Mendocino.
A county sheriff's deputy, Ricky Del Fiorentino, was killed in March by a man suspected of murder and carjacking in Eugene, Oregon. The suspect was killed by a Fort Bragg police officer.
Walker referred to Del Fiorentino's death, saying "We simply feel this issue is too emotionally charged to allow such a demonstration to happen in our tournament and be able to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved."
The Associated Press


Friday, December 26, 2014

The Right of Self-Defence, The American Way

This copy is reposted here specifically for the police and people of Humboldt County. Make your own comparisons, draw your own conclusions. Impunity is its own sin and brings its own sanctions. The empirical value of life or lack thereof speaks to the decadent moral character and to the truth of our dying society.
An Unaccountable Army
Police Violence and Violence Against the Police

On March 31, 2004, one year after the launch of the U.S. war against Iraq, four U.S. military contractors, mercenaries, were ambushed and killed in the Iraqi city of Fallujah and their charred corpses were hung from a bridge. The indignation expressed by the American political leadership and senior military officials was that their imperial privilege had been challenged— how dare the people whose country they had illegally invaded and substantially destroyed and whose relatives, neighbors and friends they had murdered fight back? The city of Fallujah was surrounded; women and small children were told to leave and then the slaughter began. White phosphorus and depleted uranium shells were dropped until thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of Iraqi boys and men in Fallujah had been murdered.

Left unsaid at the time was that most Americans subjected to an illegal war, invasion and occupation would respond largely as the citizens of Fallujah had done. Self-defense against invading hordes is as close to a natural right as the term could convey. The real crimes committed in / on Iraq were the war and occupation launched by the Americans and Brits. And the collective punishment visited upon the male citizens of Fallujah very closely resembled the acts that led to collective punishment being designated a war crime in the first place— the group slaughters regularly meted out by the Nazis in WWII for acts committed by unrelated individuals or groups. Today the Americans and Israelis (against Palestinians) are the main global keepers of the war crime tradition of collective punishment.
Picture (1) above: An NYPD motorcycle cop gratuitously rides his motorcycle over the leg of an NLG (National Lawyers Guild) legal observer at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. The role of the police as armed thugs protecting the privilege of connected kleptocrats on Wall Street is framed in the language of the radical right as protecting ‘the public’ from over-privileged, elitist kids disrupting the public order. When former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who made his early career prosecuting Wall Street criminals, says that the police are concentrated in ‘high crime’ areas he fails to mention that any concentration of police in the financial districts of major U.S. cities is to protect financial criminals from being held accountable for their crimes. Source: Washington’s blog.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made explicit the military role of the police when he bragged that he had ‘the seventh biggest army in the world,’ the NYPD. Mr. Bloomberg claimed the NYPD to be ‘his’ army in 2011 as he was violently repressing the Occupy Wall Street movement. A short time after the comments were made the NYPD participated in a coordinated national assault against lawfully assembled protestors that included the total destruction of the Occupy library, kitchen and associated infrastructure. Through an ongoing campaign of violence, infiltration, disinformation, ‘pre-emptive’ kidnappings and legally dubious arrests the Occupy movement was effectively destroyed. Mr. Bloomberg made his fortune from Wall Street and he used ‘his’ army to prevent it from being held legally and socially accountable for its crimes.

When Ismaaiyl Brinsley murdered NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in self-proclaimed revenge killings for the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner spokespersons for the NYPD and the PBA (Police Benevolent Association) were quick to personalize the victims while using the language of belligerent militarism to politicize the broader context of growing public resistance to police violence. What wasn’t expressed by NYPD spokespersons was any regret for the unjustifiable murder of Eric Garner or any number of other black and brown youth, for participation in systematic racial repression like stop-question-and-frisk or for the acting as an occupying army in poor neighborhoods of color. What was affirmed through the words of spokespersons for the police was that black lives don’t matter but that cop lives do.
Picture (2) above: The NYPD applies an illegal choke hold in the murder of Eric Garner. The allegation against Mr. Garner was that he was selling ‘loosey’ cigarettes, individual cigarettes on which applicable taxes were not paid. In the run-up to the Great Recession Wall Street made dubious, in many cases fraudulent, mortgage loans of over one-trillion dollars. The economic calamity that resulted cost millions of families their homes and millions more their jobs and life savings. The everyday business of U.S. corporations is avoiding hundreds of billions per year in tax liabilities through sham transactions. Eric Garner could in theory have sold loosey cigarettes for the next 500,000 years and not neared the annual tax avoidance of Apple Computer or General Electric had the police not murdered him. Source: ABC News.

The loss of any life through violence is tragic, which makes the police practice of casual, consequence-free, assault, murder and harassment so worthy of public condemnation. The contention put forward by PBA spokesperson Patrick Lynch that those protesting police violence have ‘blood on their hands’ leaves unaddressed the reasons why protestors are protesting— around the country heavily armed, militarized police routinely assault and murder people, largely black and brown youth, with impunity and largely without conscience. Seventy-six unarmed black and brown youth have been murdered by the police since 1999 and it is only the murder of two cops that raises the moral outrage of the police. And here lies irony— the protestors by-and-large have great sympathy for the families of the slain cops whereas, as best can be determined by the words and actions of the police, courts and political leadership, the imperial privilege of police to murder with impunity remains intact.
Picture (3) above: it has been nearly fifteen years since unarmed Amadou Diallo was murdered by the NYPD in a hail of bullets. In the intervening years the police across the country have murdered seventy-six unarmed people of color (link above), have been increasingly militarized, given the right to rob people of their possessions at will, made immune from prosecution for crimes committed and dedicated to systematic race-based repression like stop-and-frisk. The failure of the political leadership and the judiciary to hold the police accountable at any level demonstrates the political role that the police fill— that of an army of the rich existing to protect the ruling class from social accountability. Source: Life Magazine.

The existence of a heavily armed, highly militarized, wholly unaccountable army to protect a class and race based social order is totalitarian by degree— those on the side being repressed bear the brunt leaving the illusion of justice for those not paying attention. The one-sided response of the political leadership and police spokespersons to the tragic murder of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is evidence of the social order being protected. Left entirely unaddressed is the historical role of the police in maintaining an unjust race and class based social order from slave patrols to convict leasing to mass incarceration and for-profit prisons to class and race-based enforcement of selectively repressive laws. And to be clear, it is the political leadership that has designated and so-armed the police to be the quasi-military force they now are.

The mainstream press is claiming that the murders of Messrs. Liu and Ramos have reframed the protests against police violence to be against violence. Without disarming the police and changing their role from militarized guardians of ruling class interests to servants of all of the public it is difficult to see how opposing violence without opposing the existing role of the police is politically coherent? And reduction of the idea of justice to the will of the police is to accept the role they have been given in protecting class and race interests by a political leadership that straightforwardly answers to economic interests. Put differently, if fealty to the law had anything to do with the current role of the police then areas with high levels of criminal activity could be found in the financial towers of lower Manhattan and on Park and Madison Avenues just north of Forty-Second Street. As of a few days ago the NYPD was nowhere to be found enforcing the law in these locations.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist. His book Zen Economics is forthcoming.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

No Mistake, Just Plain Murder

The police committed a crime when they killed Tommy McClain on September 17, 2014, in Eureka, CA. They made NO mistake, NO miscalculation, NO slip-up, NO misjudgment, or NO error in judgment when they deliberately confronted him that night. They admittedly had been watching him and other family members for some time. They knew he was not doing anything illegal or presenting himself as a threat to them or anyone else that justified several of them confronting him as if he was a known armed and deadly felon with their guns drawn. They, the Eureka Police Officers deliberately brought violence to this boy at his home on the premise or assumption he might be packing something in his belt that could be a gun. In their desire to bully and cow him into submission, show him who the Man is, in their paranoia they fabricated or conjured in their scared feeble minds a hallucination about some supposed threat to them, and he died. In fact, he was dead the moment they decided to assault him – no matter what he did.

That boy died for absolutely nothing, accept being a boy, trying to be a man. With, I might add, having the misfortune to cross paths with a gang of effeminate Eureka Police Officers. He was doing exactly what they told him to do and used his compliance as an excuse to shoot him. No sniveling punk was going to talk to them like he did nor was he going to tell them what to do. So, they taught him and everyone like him in Eureka a lesson. Tragically, this exactly what the people of Eureka want from their police and so-called justice system.

What does it say about an old community when their police can murder a boy in cold blood and absolutely no one gets angry or outraged? Where a new police chief and an old and a new District Attorney sweep the crime under the rug to protect these criminals from answering for their crimes? No one demands justice for the murder. No one is outraged over the crime and its cover-up. Nothing about going to the Grand Jury. Nothing about going to the State's Attorney General or any demands for a police review board with teeth. JUST NOTHING.

This police murder of Tommy McClain tells you everything you need to know about the City of Eureka and the people that live here. This incident clearly shows just how debased and depraved the city of Eureka and it's people are. They are not just morally corrupt, but are totally lawless as well.

What the wannabe so-called Upper Class people don't seem to understand, as they hunker down in what they believe are their secure Ivory Towers, is that they are just as threatened and endangered as everyone else. The people of Eureka have a choice, either enforce the law or see it enforced upon them. The debasement caused by these officer's actions and the universal impunity granted by everyone responsible for enforcing the law is merely a symptom of the disease destroying the whole community. The Eureka Police Department needs a complete attitude change. In fact, the whole town needs an attitude change. That starts when you stop cooperating with these lawless criminals and they are held to account and answer for their crimes. Until then, no one is free or safe from these sociopaths.

Make no mistake, the real thugs all wear flag pins.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hallelujah! Finally Someone With GUTS

In this Sunday morning, December 7, 2014, edition of the Times-Standard newspaper, right on the second page I was greeted with this picture and caption:
"Recent police killings are described and protested at a rally in Old Town Eureka's Gazebo Square during Arts Alive! on Saturday night. About 50 members of a new, unnamed collectie gathered to lay on the  ground with targets on them as if dead, talk about  how people of color still face discrimination  and  read  the names and stories of those  recently killed -- including Eureka's Thomas McClain."
At least I am not the only one in this town incensed at the murder of an innocent boy by Eureka police willing to take stand and do something. (I don't consider what goes on over at the Tuluwaa Crier anything more than a pretence; watered down double-speak.) Ever since the murder and particularly since the District Attorney Paul Gallegos decided to cover over the obvious crime with his decision of impunity, I've waited for a newspaper editorial, a letter to the editor, something from the newspaper's moral standard bearers, the Reverend Eric Duff, Sherae O'Shaughnessy or Tim Martin - Just Nothing!

The biggest tragedy for the social order in Eureka in my book are the religious people's abject silence. No moral outrage from the preacher, priests or pastors. Do they not know that their silence is an act that affirms and condones the morally corrupt lawless acts of these criminals? And destroys the social order?

I guess these 50 people can assuage their consciences by believing they are really accomplishing something beneficial that will lead to meaningful, substantive change. I got to hand it to them, laying down in the Gazebo with targets on their chest is really meaningful. The people in this town that are responsible for a rogue police department and a lawless District Attorney are really going to pay attention, see and hear them. When these 50 can figure out how to turn their die-in stunt into meaningful, substantive and effective non-cooperation, that actually holds the people's feet that are responsible to the fire, maybe then someone will actually see, hear and acknowledge them.

Law is only as valuable as the people that honor, comply and enforce it. Without Law there is and cannot be justice - only anarchy and chaos. The police become a  law unto themselves, the justice system, District Attorney, lawyers, juries and judges are without equanimity, totally corrupt. People and children of all color are murdered at will for nothing more than an accusation, or a psychotic hallucination someone believes to be real. Life's whole experience in Eureka becomes a living nightmare.

The near total lack of interest, moral indignation, and lawfully motivate outrage is a clear indication of how deep the sickness runs in Eureka and Humboldt County.