Baltimore: Dissecting the Riotous Behavior

It’s time to Break It Down!

A friend of mine characterized himself as “conflicted” over the Baltimore riots. Another, a Baltimore native, described himself as “DISGUSTED!” The all caps were his. And yet another who reads my blog, added, “I’m looking forward to your take on the events today in Baltimore.” All three made their remarks Monday, long before I decided what I would write about in today’s post. Ultimately, the sequence of events made the choice for me. To that end, let’s do this.

Ta Nehisi Coates, a son of Baltimore, himself, who wrote a nearly 16,000 word, 10 Chapter essay on “The Case for Reparations,” featured in the June 2014 issue of The Atlantic, has weighed in with, as you might expect, a nontraditional view of the matter. Mr. Coates essay was a powerful instrument for initiating, and in some cases, provoking, discussion about a subject Americans often find difficult to broach. In an effort to leverage the national discussion that ensued, I blogged about the topic myself in my June 4, 2014 post, entitled, “Why Reparations?” For your convenience, both Mr. Coates essay and my blog post are included in separate links below.

All that taken aside, my reference to Mr. Coates relates not to his views on reparations, but to his reaction to Monday’s Baltimore Riots. On Monday, Mr. Coates penned another piece that appeared in The Atlantic, this one entitled “Nonviolence as Compliance.” In this piece, Mr. Coates opines, “Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray’s death, and so they appeal for order.”

While he said much more than that, those words right there; one sentence, eighteen simple words synthesize and crystallize the catalyst for why Baltimore was at least temporarily beset by rioting. You could reduce Coates’ articulate phrasing to a shorter, but perhaps more powerful, and much more familiar meme: “No justice, no peace.”

Let me say straight away, there is no simple secret sauce coding that explains what unfolded in B’more on Monday. Yes, there was rioting, looting, threats, and rumors of all that and more. Numerous individuals engaged in criminal behavior; much of it captured on video. These acts included violence, and a substantial amount of property damage, some to vehicles, but most to businesses that served the community in which the riots occurred, and in which many of the rioters live.

Those operatives who call for peace in instances such as this are often called collaborators, and are considered to have betrayed the cause and/or the community. Conversely, individuals who fan the flames of dissent, often leading to progressively escalating confrontational behavior are frequently referred to as instigators, and are frequently considered to be intent on fomenting violence and disorder.

In most instances, by the time a situation devolves and deteriorates to one in which there is this level and degree of yin-yang, the balance has tipped and events such as those occurring Monday evening are all but inevitable. By the time crowd members had attacked police officers by hurling rocks and debris, and surely by the time business were looted or burned, Freddie Gray was long since no longer the issue.

These were acts of anger, spiked by a longstanding seething over past slights and sins against African Americans. It is easy enough to submit that two wrongs do not make a right. That is not just easy to say, but also a fact. However, another fact that too often gets lost in the high intensity media frenzied translation that accompanies occurrences such as this in the digital age/24-hour news cycle, is Freddie Gray’s demise was not the first, or the twenty-first, of the fifty-first of it’s kind. It was just the next…in a long and tragic litany of black lives lost to violence perpetrated by law enforcement officialdom.

Given the myriad of dynamics, moving parts, related to just the actions in Baltimore this week, I can appreciate why one of my friends would feel “conflicted.” His sense of personal resentment, no doubt fueled by the recognition that, as the Baltimore Sun reported results from a study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

  • At least 109 people have died after encounters with police in Maryland between 2010 and 2014
  • Nearly 70 percent of those who died were black, and more than 40 percent of the people were unarmed
  • Blacks make up 29 percent of Maryland’s population
  • Of the 109 cases studied, less than 2 percent of the officers involved in the deaths were criminally charged

There is a deep level of food for thought integrated in those findings; at least, there should be.

I can also understand the sentiment of the friend and Baltimore native, whom declared himself “DISGUSTED,” by the events of Monday evening. His mother still lives on the Westside of Baltimore, less than 10 minutes away form where much of the action went down. In his words, it “Makes ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE to tear up/burn up your own stuff…the few businesses that are bold enough to come to and stay in your community. I’m DISGUSTED tonight!!!”

Moreover, I can see very well why a third friend would say, “I’m looking forward to your take on the events today in Baltimore.” At this point, it is imperative to emphasize, the issues on the ground in Baltimore are complex and historically entrenched. However, they are also not just present in Baltimore, Maryland. As I have noted in other posts, they are evident in locales as far afield as:

  1. Stanford Florida (I know Zimmerman was not a police officer, but as a neighborhood watch captain, he took the law into his own hands),
  2. Staten Island, New York,
  3. Ferguson, Missouri,
  4. Cleveland, Ohio,
  5. Beavercreek, Ohio,
  6. North Charleston, South Carolina,
  7. Charlotte, North Carolina (my hometown)

I have written about troubling and related events in each and every one of the communities listed above.

Back to B’more, as I’ve have already stated, the looting, burning, and violence that took hold in parts of Baltimore is criminal. Authorities there are justified in calling it such, and in seeking to bring offenders to justice.

But let us not pretend it is fair, courageous, or even minimally acceptable to suggest that an individual who was apparently healthy during the police’s pursuit of him, in great pain and discomfort as he was arrested (captured on audio/video), and dead from a nearly severed spine 2 hours later, was taken into custody “without excess force.” It is this unfathomable narrative that ultimately served as the fuel for the rioting. The Mayor, the Police Commissioner, and any other official who has in effect chosen to say “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” bears a considerable share of the onus for the ugly events we now contemplate and review.

I pray for the Baltimore community. I sincerely hope that state/local officials and disaffected citizens resolve their issues without addition mayhem. If there is a lesson to be learned from this community dysfunction, it is that the days of grin, bear it, and suffer in silence are behind us. We are barely a month into spring, but, frankly, this blowup foretells a long, hot American summer, if police officers continue to flagrantly African Americans, unabated. There you have it; my take on “Baltimore: Dissecting the Riotous Behavior!”

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Dangerous Encounters With Police: The Flip Side

It’s time to Break It Down!

Another week has commenced, and it is tempting to elevate for review and discourse the next African American male killed by a police officer, Mr. Freddy Gray, of Baltimore, Maryland. B’more, as Baltimore is affectionately known, has often been cited as a place where relations between police and poor sections of the black community go awry. That appears to have happened in the case of Mr. Gray.

In an encounter that is being investigated by local, state, and federal authorities, many questions remain. In what local law enforcement officials insist was a police stop that involved no force by police officers, Mr. Gray was found to have a nearly severed spine, and died one week after being taken into custody.

Temptation notwithstanding, I’m not going to sift through the details of that case, as we know them, for this week’s post. Instead, I will highlight an instance in which an intrepid police officer, despite being confronted by a suspect whom the officer ordered to stand down on a number of occasions, chose not to use deadly force. In fact, the suspect was not tased, not beaten, or shot to death.

Those circumstances alone make this situation stand out among the almost weekly procession of instances in which it seems another police officer (in fear of his life) shoots another black man, more often than not of late, unarmed. But for perspective, add to the amazing confluence of unlikely circumstances, the suspect had been accused of killing his best friend and his fiancée. In addition, the officer, Jesse Kidder, was a rookie with the New Richmond, Ohio Police Department.

There is little reason to doubt this man posed a danger to people in general, and at the time of this encounter, to the Officer Kidder. Yet, instead of recapping the details of yet another tragedy, the Ohio cop is being praised as a hero for not shooting Michael Wilcox, a 27-year-old man who was apparently attempting to commit what is known in the vernacular as suicide by cop.

The entire incident was caught on Officer Kidder’s Body Camera, and shows that Mr. Wilcox repeatedly charged the officer and threatened to shoot the officer, if he didn’t shoot him. He even reached into his pocket as if to retrieve a weapon. As reported by MSNBC, the exchange below can be heard on the audio accompanying the Body Camera video feed:

     “Shoot me or I’ll shoot you!” (Wilcox)

     “No man, I’m not going to do it!” (Kidder)

Officer Kidder tripped while back-pedaling, but used evasive measures to avoid Wilcox. Given the information available to the officer, including the details previously referenced above, and the fact that the dispatcher advised him Wilcox had a weapon, either on him, or in his car, and was fleeing another law enforcement agency, he could have shot and killed Mr. Wilcox and in all likelihood, been deemed justified by every authority who would have been called upon to review the details of the encounter. Randy Harvey, New Richmond Police Chief, essentially said as much:

“For him to make the judgment call that he did shows great restraint and maturity. This   video footage, it eliminated all doubt that this officer would have been justified if in fact it came to a shooting.”

Despite those facts on the ground, according to ABC News, Officer Kidder persuaded Wilcox to lie down on the ground and surrender. Prior to joining the police force on April 16, 2014, Officer Kidder was a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, and won a Purple Heart. The video of the officer’s actions, understandably, has gone viral. In response to the many laudatory comments about his actions, Officer Kidder had this to say:

“Law enforcement officers all across the nation have to deal with split-second decisions that mean life or death. I wanted to be absolutely sure before I used deadly force.”

Mr. Wilcox has been charged with fatally shooting his 25-year-old girlfriend, Courtney Fowler. He is also a person of interest in a Kentucky slaying. He is being held in the Brown County Jail on $2 million bond.

Officer Kidder said a relative gave him the body camera following the deadly officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown last year in Ferguson, Missouri. Chief Harvey is seeking funding to purchase more cameras.

It may have occurred to you, this incident ended in stark contrast to so many others in the past year, even in the past weeks. Unlike in Ferguson Missouri, New York City, Cleveland, Ohio, North Charleston, South Carolina, and Baltimore, Maryland, the suspect survived. And the suspect survived, even though:

  1. He was known to have killed (twice)
  2. He was deemed to be armed
  3. He charged the police officer
  4. He disobeyed commands to stop
  5. He threatened the officer
  6. He never retreated
  7. The officer was in continuous retreat

Despite a litany of aggravating circumstances, Officer Kidder has been deemed a hero, and much more importantly, Mr. Wilcox is alive. I wrote this post, not to critique the actions of the officers involved in the recent incidents in the aforementioned localities, but rather to underscore the one central point I always try to make in discussions about matters such as this. “Officers almost always have options other than ending a suspect’s life!” No encounter is apt to make that point more compellingly than this one (fortuitously on video).

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the “ginormous” elephant in the room. While I do not know Officer Kidder, and would never deign to question the personal character of a Purple Heart recipient, I do know the one thing in this discussion that is not like all the other things. Michael Wilcox, the suspect in this incident, is a white man…who is alive today after a recorded encounter with a police officer that few if any black men would have survived. There, I said it…or at least, I wrote it.

I reiterate this is not a statement about what Officer Kidder would have done, had Mr. Wilcox been black, though that may be a fair point for consideration. Rather, it is a point blank statement of the inescapable: White men are afforded greater latitude than black men when they are involved in encounters with police officers.

That is a problem on many levels. It is a reflection of flawed public policy, an indication of a tacit distinction in the valuation of human capital, and an undeniable example of inequitable treatment of individuals due to race. All three of these points are incongruent with the “Exceptional” society we deem ourselves to be. Please join me in taking the requisite actions to create A More Perfect Union, as heralded in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, and in President Obama’s 2008 Speech using the same title. As we move forward to that end, let this encounter remind us that for all the events such as those for which Ferguson and North Charleston have been recently highlighted, they do not have to end the way they did, because due to the events in New Richmond, we are aware of…”Dangerous Encounters With Police: The Flip Side!”

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The Ubiquitous Government Handout: Not Just the Purview of the Poor

It’s time to “Break It Down!”

In the world of partisan politics, few things are more scrutinized and criticized than government handouts. The topic has been a frequent target of Right Wing politicos for decades. The familiar screed asserts that the ubiquitous giveaway is expressly reserved; no, targeted for the undeserving lazy, unmotivated, shiftless poor of our society. After the main proposition come the supporting premise: We must eliminate this wasteful expenditure of precious resources.

The very notion is in fact a fallacy. The truth of the matter is, the well to do benefit directly from the largess of government subsidies too. As a familiar post-Obama meme goes, “We are all socialists now.” In fact, not only are we, but we have been for quite some time. “Social” Security, as it’s commonly called, for example, has been around since 1935, or 80 years. Undoubtedly, there have been, and still are efforts to roll back, or eliminate it ever since the original Social Security Act, a compendium of social welfare and social insurance programs, was enacted. Surely one can make the case that America employed policies that inured to the social or collective benefit of citizens before that time. However, the 1935 measure marks an undeniable line in the sand.

What I want to make perfectly clear at this juncture is, it is not just the poor who sup at the government’s teat. The well heeled seek, obtain, and accept benefits derived from government. Last week, Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham wrote a piece in the Washington Post that not only made this case, but delineated 10 current day examples of how folks, including those not defined or thought of as poor, come to receive government sponsored benefits. I will list those items here for your edification:

  1. The mortgage interest deduction for big houses and second homes. Thanks to this tax break, the 5 million households in America making more than $200,000 a year get a lot more housing aid than the 20 million households living on less than $20,000. Deductions for mortgage interest incentivize people already capable of buying big homes to buy even bigger ones. This tax break applies as well to second homes (you only get one second home though!). Note: In the eyes of the Congressional Budget Office — the official word on this in Washington — the mortgage interest deduction is equivalent to the government offering you money, not you keeping your own
  2. The yacht tax deduction. If you’ve got a boat and you’re paying interest on it, that interest is tax-deductible – provided your boat is really, really big. If it has sleeping quarters, a kitchen and a toilet – e.g., it is a yacht – then it can be considered a second home and any interest you pay on it is deductible. But if you just have a garden-variety fishing boat or canoe, sorry – no deduction for you. Beyond that, if you have a yacht you can loan it out to a charter business for part of the year, and keep it for personal use the rest of the time. This allows you to deduct the purchase price, insurance, maintenance and slip fees too. [This image perfectly sums up inequality in America, according to the Internet]
  3. Rental Property. If you’re a landlord, which you probably aren’t if you’re very low-income, you can deduct many of the expenses you incur renting a home, including repairs, advertising, HOA fees and — again — mortgage interest. If you happen to rent out either your first or second home for 14 days or less — because, for example, Augusta National Golf Club is hosting the Masters nearby — you get to just pocket all that income without paying taxes on it at all.
  4. Fancy business meals. Talking business over an expensive dinner? That’s tax deductible, too, a fact that puts taxpayer spending on food stamps into relief. This is a good deal for, say, a CEO presiding over actual filet mignon at a five-star restaurant. Scott Klinger, now the director of revenue and spending policies at the Center for Effective Government, explains how this works here:
  • Imagine that the tab for dinner and drinks for 10 executives comes to $1,600. Current tax law allows companies to deduct half of the cost of business meals — in this case, $800. With a corporate tax rate of 35 percent, each dollar of deductions yields 35 cents of tax savings — so that $800 deduction saves $280 in taxes. This means one dinner for 10 people provides more public food assistance than the $279 an average household receives in food stamps for the whole month. [Missouri Republicans are trying to ban food stamp recipients from buying steak and seafood]
  1. The capital gains tax rate. This is the big one. Taxes on investment dividends and capital gains currently max out at about 24 percentwhen you add in a Medicare surtax that applies to some investment income. But the top income tax rate is 6 percent. So investment income is taxed at a much lower rate than regular income. The annual earnings of many of the ultra-rich come from investments, not from wages. This is why Warren Buffett famously has a lower effective tax rate than his secretary.
  2. The estate tax. “The Estate Tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death,” according to the IRS. Without the estate tax, super-wealthy families would be able to hoard that wealth in perpetuity, becoming ever more powerful in the process. The tax, as it currently exists, only kicks in on estates worth $5.4 million or more, affecting about the top 0.2 percent of households. For everyone else in the top 1 percent, congratulations! You can pass on your riches to your heirs tax-free. [The double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits]
  3. Gambling loss deductions. Did you know that the government provides a generous tax deduction for literally throwing your money away? You can deduct your gambling losses up to the value of any winnings you earned. More gambling winnings mean more gambling deductions, incentivizing you to keep gambling more to at least break even. And if you’ve got more money to gamble, you’ll have more losses to deduct.
  4. Social Security earnings limit. Social Security taxes only apply to income up to $118,500 – anything after that is Social Security tax-free. So the more money you make, the less your effective Social Security tax rate is, making this tax about as regressive as they come. Technically, of course, Social Security is a savings plan, not a tax. But the rich tend to live longer than the poor and receive benefits longer than lower-wage earners, so an adjustment to the earnings limit would help offset this difference. Social Security’s own actuaries estimate that eliminating this cap would reduce the program’s long-term deficit by about 86 percent.
  5. Retirement plans. The federal government incentivizes retirement by allowing you to reduce your taxable income by saving money in 401(k) plans or IRAs. But employer-sponsored retirement plans only benefit those people with employers that offer them (so, largely not people who work in retail or the fast-food sector). And the benefit for IRAs doesn’t help people who have no money left over for retirement after they pay their living expenses. In total, about 66 percent of these retirement subsidies go to the top 20 percent of taxpayers. Less than 1 percent go to the bottom 20 percent.
  6. Tax prep. If you have hired an accountant to help you sort through all of these tax breaks to make sure you maximize them — which the wealthy are much more likely to do — you get to write off that expense, too.

Now, I’m not a tax attorney, or preparer, or a member of the one percent. I know the wealthy, as a rule, take great exception to most if not all ten of the points above. And that’s OK. Feel free to post your own thoughts on the subject. One thing that is beyond rational repudiation is that corporate and wealthy welfare is real. We can engage in earnest debate about whether such subsidies are earned, or simply a part of our economic system that needs repair.

I know folks who believe that arguments such as that proffered by the WashPo writers amounts to wealth envy. Interestingly, when arguments are made about the economic drain ensuing from the rich carrying the poor, few if any one from the ranks of the wealthy considers that poor envy. And of course, it isn’t. What wealthy person would actually want to be poor? None!

I don’t believe pointing out the systemic inequities listed in the items above is a function of any sort of envy. Rather it is a legitimate effort to foster a conversation about aspects of our economic policies and practices that could be realigned and improved.  Meanwhile, my postulation remains, The Ubiquitous Government Handout: Not Just the Purview of the Poor!”

I’ll leave it at that. I’m done, holla back!

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Another Officer in “Fear” for His Life: Another Black Man Down (From Not So Friendly Fire)!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This past Saturday, North Charleston, South Carolina became the next Ground Zero for what is rapidly becoming the new normal…a law enforcement officer killing an unarmed black man. The very mention of this topic has become so sensitized that it needs to be preceded by a disclaimer. I have one; here it is: There are many ethical policemen and women, and other law enforcement officers who execute their professional duties and responsibilities to the highest standard expected and deserved by the public, in accordance with their oath, and consistent with every element of their job description. I believe that to be the unequivocal, unimpeachable truth.

Having stipulated that, there are too many officers who do not observe or comply with the aforementioned standards. On March 4th, just five weeks ago, I wrote about the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department, an entity that was exposed by a Department of Justice (DOJ) Report as a perennial rogue agency that preyed upon African Americans, a demographic segment of the community that just happen to account for two-thirds of the population, but only about 8% of the police department.

In Ferguson, the shooting of Michael Brown resulted in a series of events that included riots and looting, nationwide attention, and two federal investigations, among other things. While many observers took solace in the fact that one of the two DOJ Reports did not result in finding that Officer Darren Wilson violated Michael Brown’s civil rights, a second report uncovered a repugnant picture of injustice against African Americans that included, but was not limited to the following:

  • Blacks account for 85% of traffic stops
  • Blacks account for 90% of tickets issued
  • Blacks account for 93% of arrests
  • Blacks account for 95% of jaywalking arrests (which often hinge on police discretion)
  • Black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops, but 26% less likely to have contraband
  • Blacks account for 88% of persons against whom force was used

In North Charleston, a completely different fact pattern appears to be emerging. First, amazingly, there is a video; no doubt, one that paints, or more aptly, depicts a compelling picture of the events that unfolded when North Charleston Patrolman First Class Michael Slager, 33, stopped Walter Scott, 50, for a broken taillight. The video (which can be seen in one of the links below), captured by an observer who happened to be in the vicinity, shows that Officer Slager shot Mr. Scott up to eight times, in the back. The video also, importantly, highlights what may be key inconsistencies in the officer’s story.

Slager asserted in the official police report that Scott tried to obtain his Taser and use it against him. He added, as is common verbiage in such cases, that he feared for his life. He initially stated through his attorney at the time, David Aylor, that he followed appropriate policies and procedures. Not having been present at the scene, I will not deign to contradict, or even interpret what emotion(s) Officer Slager experienced, due to or during the encounter.

Whether it was fear, or anger…or something else, I do not know.  I am aware of what the video shows. Mr. Scott is fleeing, and Officer Slager is firing…multiple shots. He also appears to have “planted” his Taser near Scott’s body. Mr. Aylor told CNN he no longer represents Officer Slager. This case may be many things, but what it is not is an episode hinging upon unconfirmed reports of whether Scott was charging toward the officer, or if he stopped with his hands up, pleading to the officer, “Don’t shoot.”

Mr. Scott’s family has communicated two basic desires, early in the investigative process. First, they maintain, they want to find out the truth. Anthony Scott, Walter’s brother, had the following to say on Sunday afternoon:

“We just would like for justice to be taken, for justice to be served, and we would like for the truth to come out so my brother can rest in peace. Whatever happened yesterday, that’s all we want is the truth, and we will go to any length to get it.”

Second, they want this situation to be the anti-Ferguson. The family met Sunday in an empty lot where the shooting had occurred the day before. The held a press conference with community activists, calling for community calm and law enforcement transparency during the process of the investigation.

But it is not just the family’s urging that stands out, as events unfold after the North Charleston incident. Actually, Michael Brown’s family called for calm to, so it may be unfair to suggest there is anything different about that aspect of this shooting. However, that may be where similarities end.

Yesterday afternoon, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced during a news conference that Officer Slager has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of Walter Scott. The mayor indicated the video, which must be deemed powerfully corroborative, has been sent to Mr. Scott’s family, and to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Local officials’ decision to bring charges against the officer was heavily influenced by the video. Police Chief Eddie Driggers said the video shows Officer Slager shooting Mr. Scott as he was running away from the scene. According to Mayor Summey:

“As a result of that video and bad decisions made by our officer, he will be charged with murder,”

Chief Driggers, speaking with CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” called it “A tragic day.” He went on to say city leaders have been in contact with Mr. Scott’s family’s pastor, and that the city has been an open book with investigators.  When asked if race played a part in the incident, Chief Driggers, who is white, would not rule it out.

When asked a similar question, L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family was somewhat more direct.  He said:

“This is a bigger issue of human life and the value of it, and when people start respecting that more it won’t matter what color you are.”

The Mayor called the video “very demonstrative,” and said it would have been difficult to resolve the issue without it. He noted that Scott was hit with the officer’s Taser, and they know that because one of the Taser projectiles was still attached.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott, South Carolina, posted about the case on his Twitter account.  He said:

“After watching the video, the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott’s life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable. My heart aches for the family and our North Charleston community. I will be watching this case closely.”  No word on whether the Senator, who is African American, is related to Mr. Scott.

According to SLED records, Officer Slager was booked at the Charleston County Detention Center, and the case will be prosecuted by the Ninth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The South Carolina Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened a concurrent investigation, and is providing assistance as necessary to the State’s investigation. The DOJ Civil Rights Division and the South Carolina U.S. Attorney’s Office will work with the FBI in the investigation. The DOJ has committed to take appropriate action in light of the evidence and developments in the case.

There is an inherent sadness about finding our society in this position, once again. Yet, it is fair to say, it is possible to learn from mistakes of the past, and as I like to insert, they do not all have to be one’s own mistakes. Officials in North Charleston seem to be students of recent history. They saw or read about the events in Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, and elsewhere, and they decided when faced with a similar tragedy, they did not have to repeat the mistakes made in some of those jurisdictions.

They did not wait or hide behind a Grand Jury, a la Ferguson, they did not try to stifle the video, as in New York, and they did not await a federal investigation, as in Cleveland. There are still investigations to unfold, and a trial to ensue. As such, there is still time and an opportunity for things to unravel.

However, based on the “First 48,” as the saying goes, there is legitimate hope that justice will be served. That is what the Scott family asked for, and what the true creed of our society demands. With that in mind, we may take a calculatingly cold look at the facts… “Another Officer in Fear for His Life: Another Black Man Down,” and recognize, for once at least, we may actually be confronted by real progress. It is after all worth noting that North Charleston is not only in South Carolina, but just miles from the Port of Charleston, and the Old Slave Market. I enthusiastically extend kudos to Mayor Summey, Chief Driggers, and the citizens of North Charleston.

I’m done; holla back!

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President Obama Stumbles: Haters Rue Missed Opportunity!

Its’s Time to Break It Down!

The last six and one-quarter years have presented an incredibly fascinating study in the execution of democracy, American style. As a nation, we elected the country’s first African American President…twice. In that regard, we are living in historic times. On its face, it would seem this is a feat our entire nation could reflect upon, take stock of, and bask in an enduring pride of our having, as the late Neil Armstrong might said, collectively taken “One small step for man; one giant step for mankind.”

Undoubtedly, there are those who feel that way. Many, however, do not. It’s not difficult to foster a spirited debate among Americans about the basis for this lack of unanimity regarding our history-making venture. On one side you have the proponents of the notion that President Obama’s policies are so egregious, malevolent, and anti-American, that it is imperative to oppose his “every action,” in a Machiavellian, the end justifies the means kind of way. Alternately, there is a view that much, if not most of the enmity people direct toward President Obama stems from one simple root…race.

There are countless examples of a virulent strain of hate against this President, constantly on display. In today’s post, I will cite just one. On this past Sunday, after returning from a trip to Florida, President Obama slipped and nearly fell, while exiting Air Force One (AF-1). Extra emphasis on “nearly fell.” Upon reading a couple of entries addressing this story, I wondered what in the world the reaction might have been, had he actually fallen.

Then I came across a particular article, complete with one of those comments afterward sections. I confess I have heard any number of mean, hateful, and derogatory comments, aimed at President Obama during his tenure in Office. Some actually were tied to his policy initiatives or positions, such as the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, or equitable access to justice (or the lack thereof). But I recently came across a pretty amazing screed, the source of which was the President’s mere exiting a plane.

As noted previously, President Obama slipped as he exited AF-1. Being the dexterously athletic individual he is, not surprisingly, he caught himself, and quickly regained his balance. If this had happened to anyone of us, we’d undoubtedly been relieved because we avoided further embarrassment, not to mention injury. I’m sure Mr. Obama was too. But oh did his haters have a field day?

Here’s a sampling of the comments pulled from a few “comment sections, beginning with World Net Daily:”

Right2Bear: Too bad he didn’t…….Never Mind


Christian1897: Too bad he didn’t break his traitor neck.

Countryflowers: Too bad he didn’t break his neck.

SoonerMD: Please tell me that his writing hand was broken beyond repair!

John Cross: Too bad he didn’t……” DIE There, I said it.

At The Blaze, it is the same story — a flood of “loving” and “Christian” conservatives wishing harm on the President of our nation:

Bioya: Gravity is racist. Missed Opportunity.

WorldWideWalker: Doggone it! And it was from the top step too!

Conservativearin: Darn it, fate foiled by a stair rail.

Zipit: A Presidential “Face Plant” would have been an inspiration to our country!

Libh8ter: I have been hoping to see him fall down that flight of stairs. He has always exited the plaine, not wanting to hold onto the railings because it would be a sign of weakness. This was just a bobble…I’m still hoping to see him break something.

LSL: Stuff like this happens every time a little girl tries to skip down the stairs. Thank goodness he didn’t break his freakin’ neck and end up like Stephen Hawking. I can dream, can’t I.

theycallmeNero: Glad he didn’t fall and get terminally injured…we don’t need another holiday to honor a turd in a punch bowl.

Outlaw_Josey_Wales: Returning home from an all men foursome, Obama almost tumbled down the stairs of Air Force One.

Of course not to be outdone, Fox News responders provided their own special brand of commentary on the subject:

Commnav: Dodging sniper fire?????

TexasMyCountry: Too bad he didn’t break his neck.

Palawan: That’s a shame he didn’t trip and break his FN neck falling down the stairs.

Grandpa1959: Nearly is not good enough. Full frontal tumble, thump, thump, splat is more like it.

Marting515: Why couldn’t he have fallen, smashed his head and be brain dead? Oh wait, he’s already brain dead.

Kenyanhunter: Can’t we catch a lucky break and have him fall on his head ?

drwho4: D a m n…too bad he couldn’t have some pain like the kind is giving the rest of the country!

Stork1938: The “ ghetto roll “ is difficult to do on steps !

Howie444Brown: America was almost saved ………. Glad it didn’t happen though – Bush would have gotten blamed for it – again

Arcticdude1: Dang, almost!

Duncan2dog: Too bad he didn’t break his neck.

Bigengineman: damn,, almost

Airvet1968: If he fell and broke his neck, that would have been Classic instant Karma

ustruth: There goes a missed opportunity.

The design of this post is not to assign motive to these deep-thinking Americans, patriots all, I’m sure. Rather it is to cite for the record, in one place, the fervor and tenor of responses generated by even the most benign actions by our Commander-in-Chief. “President Obama Stumbles: Haters Rue Missed Opportunity!”

I’m done; holla back!

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