Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts

Friday, May 26, 2017

Miss Black Texas and Racist Road Rage

There's so much shit in Texas, I'm bound to step in some
Goin' back to Dallas, take my razor and my gun
If there are people lookin' for trouble, sure gonna give 'em some
I load up my revolver, sharpen up my knife
Some redneck messin' with me man, I'm bound to have his life
Down to Dallas, take my razor and my gun
Man, people there lookin' for trouble, sure gonna give 'em some

"Dallas" Johnny Winter
American segregation wasn't just the attempted physical separation of blacks from whites. It was the zealously enforced rule that black people were inferior and had no right to contradict whites, talk back to whites, displease whites, complain about being cheated by whites, testify against whites or do anything that would set their will against any white person, regardless of age, gender, status, right or wrong.To do otherwise would be to be considered "uppity". And to be considered uppity meant that a black person ran the high risk of assault or worse by local outraged whites, often with the tacit assistance or open cooperation of law enforcement. Supposedly the changes which took place in the 1950s and 1960s put an end to that sort of foolishness. But unfortunately racism doesn't just go away because the law changes. There are still a lot of white people who really do hate black people. 

And when that hate is combined with a badge and a gun, bad things can happen. Recently in Texas (and why am I not surprised about this) a white police chief and his friends behaved as if this were 1917 and not 2017. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Texas Cop Kills Black Child

You might ask yourself why some white cops are so quick to use deadly force against unarmed Black men and boys. You then might ask yourself how long it would take the cops to arrest a non-police officer who fired shots into a police car that was moving away from him. And after you pondered those questions you might wonder if the system would indict a cop who killed a child for no reason at all or if the jury would convict such a cop or if the judge would give such a cop the same punishment that he or she would grant to any other similarly situated criminal. But this is 2017 America so if you're honest with yourself you probably already know the answer to those questions. But hope springs eternal. We shall see what happens to Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver who, upon responding to reports of a disturbance at a house party, shot dead an unarmed 15 year old black boy, honor student Jordan Edwards, who was a passenger in a car that was leaving the location. Oliver and/or his police department initially *misspoke* (lied) and claimed that the car was backing up aggressively towards the officer. But apparently the video shows otherwise. The police department has since fired Oliver, who of course is trying to get his job back. At the time of this writing there hasn't been any arrest of Oliver. It's important to point out that Jordan Edwards was killed in front of his brothers who were also jailed for absolutely no reason. Imagine, as a child, watching your sibling die in front of your eyes, killed by the very people who are sworn to "protect" you. What sort of issues are you going to have throughout life?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cop Assaults Teen Girl in McKinney Texas

All of the facts leading up to this incident are still up for debate. What's not up for debate are the apparently unprofessional, thuggish and dangerous actions of one of the police officers who responded. Knowing how police generally behave and their differing perceptions of threat based on race I'm not really too surprised by anything in the video, though I am angered. I really don't have a whole lot to add about this other than incidents such as these are precisely the reason that police officers ought to be better trained. But if someone is racist and hateful the level of training is meaningless. This is in many ways the historical and apparently current black experience in America in a nutshell. Blackness is considered criminal by definition when it's outside of its "place". In our (not so) post-racial America, black children, white children and hispanic children are apparently having a good time at a pool party. Apparently some white adults are put off by the numbers of black invitees or question whether they are all invitees.  A security guard (white?) starts to evict the black children who were apparently invited. One white woman, who evidently feels that black children should not be at that particular pool party, starts hurling racist insults. When she is called out on this by another black woman, she apparently initiates a physical assault. The police are called. Like most black people, young or old, would do, many of the black children decide that now would be a good time to depart the premises. After all the police are quite comfortable beating or shooting black people. Everyone knows that. What the video seems to show is that one police officer, upset at having fallen down chasing someone, decides to unload his bile on any black teen in the vicinity. He curses and insults them and then takes down a young teen girl, grinding her face in the ground and sitting on her. He also pulls his gun and points it at the children when they protest. These children were treated as if they had just slaughtered nine people. Oh wait, no they weren't. The bikers who actually killed people and exchanged gunshots with the police were treated better than unarmed children committing the felony crime of being black in an area where being black is illegal. The officer has been placed on administrative leave...

WASHINGTON -- When Miles Jai Thomas arrived at a party at the Craig Ranch North Community Pool in McKinney, Texas, on Friday night, the pool was open to everyone -- until a security guard showed up and removed black partygoers from the area. “Then he started making up rules to keep us out,” Thomas, 15, told The Huffington Post.
A white woman at the pool started making racist comments, Thomas said, such as telling black teens at the party to get used to the bars outside the pool because that’s all they were going to see. Grace Stone, 14, who is white, told BuzzFeed News that she and friends objected to an adult woman making racist comments to other teens at the party and that the woman turned violent. This is when, according to Thomas, a 19-year-old black woman told the belligerent white woman to stop fighting with the teenagers. The white woman called the black woman a “young b***h,” then walked up to her. After the young woman said her age out loud, the older woman punched her in the face. Another unidentified white woman jumped in as well before Thomas, who was recording the incident, and his friends went to break it up.
It was after this incident that the cops showed up and “started cursing and yelling at us,” Thomas said. He described an officer manhandling a young girl, as shown in this video embedded above. “So a cop grabbed her arm and flipped her to the ground after she and him were arguing about him cursing at us,” Thomas said. When two teens went toward the cop to help the girl, they were accused of sneaking up on the cop to attack. “So a cop yelled 'get those motherf*****s' and they chased [us] with guns out. That's why in the video I started running,” Thomas said. "I was scared because all I could think was, 'Don't shoot me,'" he said.

There are a few takeaways here, besides the obvious one that white police officers are often very quick to resort to force or the threat of force with black citizens of any age. If you haven't been living in a cave your whole life you already knew that. The really sad infuriating thing on display here is what the black children learned. They learned that just being in a "white" area when someone thinks you shouldn't be there can be hazardous to your health. They learned that the police really don't care about their constitutional right to assemble or use free speech. Being polite and respectable won't prevent you from being detained or arrested. And the children also learned that no adult will come to their aid. That last thing is a horrible lesson to learn. I don't see where the young woman committed any crime. And I certainly don't see where it was necessary for the cop to body slam her and sit on her. What would you do if that was your daughter, your sister, your wife, your mother, your girlfriend? 
Could you live with yourself if you did nothing? Or if you were the young woman being so treated could you ever look the same way again at the men in your life if they didn't do something? Of course the police would be very happy to shoot anyone they believed was even thinking about "interfering".  It's comforting to imagine that your loved ones would never be in that situation but that is not only foolish, but downright delusional. It's also tempting to believe that this is only a Texas problem but it's not. It's nationwide. But maybe I'm all wrong. Maybe the police were all in fear of their lives from the black kids (and apparently only the black kids), who after all may have had rifles and hand grenades stuffed in their swimwear. Of course, once again I look at the Cliven Bundy situation where police, faced with numerous men who had their own guns and weren't afraid to shoot back, somehow managed to show some restraint. There's probably a lesson to be learned there. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Racism and Ted Nugent: Then and Now

Asa Carter Then:

Ted Nugent Now:

Any Questions?
The enemy is the same as it's always been. I'd like to know where are the Republicans who constantly bleat that the base of their party is not in large part animated by racism. Where are the politicians and media types who hounded President Obama to denounce, disassociate, and differentiate himself from people like Jesse Jackson, Reverend Wright, Cornell West, or any other bĂȘte noire of the day? Where are Nugent's high profile friends or media enablers like Mitch Albom or Nick Cannon? Will they denounce such language?
Probably not. I'd like to think that people would reject and shame white right-wingers who say things like this but it very rarely seems to work that way. We'll see.
At the time of this writing the only high profile Republican political operative to openly criticize Nugent's hateful speech is Senator Rand Paul. So far no one else has the stones. Either that or as is more likely they agree with him regarding President Barack Obama. Just as Klansman Asa Carter ultimately lost the fight to keep segregation and ban rock-n-roll, the Republican party is doomed to keep losing national elections unless they separate themselves from the extreme right-wing fringe. There just aren't enough angry white men with fecal matter for brains to keep voting Republican. Nationwide, that is. Texas is apparently a different story.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Don't Mess With Texas: Prisons and Air Conditioning

If through an unfortunate series of events, I was unlucky enough to be convicted of a crime and sent to prison, I would have many concerns that I would want to address. Things like avoiding becoming someone's sexual surrogate, learning all the correct rituals around which tables to sit at, exactly when you should curse out the guards just to make people know you're not soft, how to make dangerous weaponry from plastic utensils, when it is permissible to talk to or befriend a prisoner of a different race, which territory belongs to which prison gang, staying alive, and above all getting OUT as soon as possible would be foremost on my mind.

Something that probably wouldn't be on the immediate concern list would be air conditioning. Of course I am not in prison and (knock on wood) not in a Texas prison so the issue lacks a little, shall we say, urgency for me.

But there are some people for whom this is not just an academic exercise. In fact they claim it is a matter of life and death. They are quite serious about this. It's not a joke to them. Not at all.

Inmates and their families have complained for years about the heat and lack of air-conditioning in the summertime, but the issue has taken on a new urgency. An appeal is pending in a lawsuit initially filed in 2008 by a former inmate claiming that 54 prisoners were exposed to Death Valley-like conditions at a South Texas prison where the heat index exceeded 126 degrees for 10 days indoors. And several inmates at other prisons died of heat-related causes last summer; a lawsuit was filed Tuesday in one of those deaths.A Texas law requires county jails to maintain temperature levels between 65 and 85 degrees, but the law does not apply to state prisons. The American Correctional Association recommends that temperature and humidity be mechanically raised or lowered to acceptable levels.
“The Constitution doesn’t require a comfortable prison, but it requires a safe and humane prison,” said Scott Medlock, director of the prisoners’ rights program at the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is representing the former South Texas inmate who sued prison officials. “Housing prisoners in these temperatures is brutal.”A prison agency spokesman, Jason Clark, said that many prison units were built before air-conditioning was commonly installed, and that many others built later in the 1980s and 1990s did not include air-conditioning because of the additional construction, maintenance and utility costs. Retrofitting prisons with air-conditioning would be extremely expensive, he said.
State Senator John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston and chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said he was concerned about the inmate deaths but wanted to examine the circumstances of each. He said he was not sympathetic to complaints about a lack of air-conditioning, partly out of concern about the costs, but also out of principle.“Texans are not motivated to air-condition inmates,” he said. “These people are sex offenders, rapists, murderers. And we’re going to pay for their air-conditioning when I can’t go down the street and provide air-conditioning to hard-working, taxpaying citizens?”
Basically Whitmire hits upon something that I initially agreed with upon reading this story. If you're convicted of a felony and if you're in prison then you must have been, your comfort is not really going to be high on the state's priority list. There are special circumstances with aged or invalid prisoners where I think the state does have a special duty to ensure some level of cooling but that aside it's called prison for a reason. It's not supposed to be a comfortable pleasant environment!!! If you murdered or raped someone then really you should be thankful that you're still alive and being fed by the state instead of having a quicker and permanent solution imposed. But on the other hand the state does have a duty to ensure to the best of its ability that while you're under its control you don't do anything so final as die from heatstroke. And if you make conditions too unpleasant there's always the possibility of prison riots. And those cost money. So there's that. I would want to know more about the death stats in Texas prisons before air conditioning became widely available. Certainly in the 1920s-1940s no prisoner would have thought to sue over lack of air conditioning, would they? There are plenty of people today who lack air conditioning in their home. I don't think that someone in prison should have more comfort than someone out of prison. That messes up incentives fairly dramatically.
What's your take on this? 
Should air conditioning be made widely available in prison? 
Is it cruel and unusual punishment to live without air conditioning?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Homeless Hotspots Coming Soon!!!

Have you ever run into a dead zone and are unable to connect to the net? And maybe you're too far away from a Starbucks or other Internet cafe? Or maybe your neighbor has shut you out of their Wi-Fi network?

Never fear. Just sidle up to the nearest homeless person in your neck of the woods. Because there's a chance he might be an actual "Homeless Hotspot". Yes, 21st century America is all about getting EVERYBODY plugged in and empowered. Be the change you seek in others. Yes we can! The world is flat!

At the South by South by SouthWest convention, an ad company BBH, decided to think outside the box.
BBH's experiment, dubbed "Homeless Hotspots," launched during the South by Southwest tech-and-entertainment confab in Austin, drawing complaints from critics who viewed the gimmick as exploitative.
In an interview with The New York Post, BBH chairman Emma Cookson said the company has pulled the plug and will not go forward with plans to continue the project in New York."We have no definite, specific plans yet, in New York City or elsewhere," she said. "This was an initial trial program.""We are now listening carefully to the high level of feedback, trying to learn and respond, and we will then consider what is appropriate to do next," she added.  
At SXSW, more than a dozen homeless people were outfitted with wireless routers and T-shirts declaring: "I'm a 4G hotspot."While the effort, which was not associated with the festival, was crafted to provide a digital connection for SXSW Interactive partipants and a charitable service to the city's homeless, outrage quickly gained momentum on social media and among homeless-rights activists.The four-day trial concluded on Monday afternoon, with the door left ajar to expand the project into various cities. But that's a no-go, for now.Users would ask the homeless hotspot for an access code, and were encouraged to donate $2 to their walking Wi-Fi zone for every 15 minutes spent online.
Emma Cookson: Visionary or Cruella DeVille understudy?
So I guess the latest plan to make money off the homeless cure homelessness won't work. So if a homeless man walks up to you and asks for $2, chances are he's not actually a "Homeless Hotspot" but is just a run of the mill beggar.  You should feel free to do whatever you normally do in situations like that, whether it's to offer the money, refuse, give a long lecture or pretend you didn't see or hear the man.  But on the other hand what makes this offer degrading? People have long hired homeless people to pass out flyers for strip clubs, concerts, political rallies and so on. You name it, someone has tried to save on marketing costs by using homeless people. It's not like Ms. Cookson was the first person to use this logic. I guess she reasoned that as long as people were going to be homeless they might as well make themselves useful. Were the people who were complaining about this going to offer a homeless man a job or place to live? Well some of them, maybe. But generally probably not.
1) What's your take? Was this degrading?
2) Was this an attempt at innovative marketing or a remarkably stupid idea?
3) If this brought more focus to the problem of homelessness was it a good move?

Friday, July 1, 2011

International Treaties and Texas

Humberto Leal Garcia
Texas has given us a lot of good things:  Albert Collins. James Lee BurkeFreddie King.  ZZ Top. Cornell Dupree.  Barbara Jordan.

Texas has also given us a justice system that makes it very clear that if you do the crime you most definitely are gonna do the time. Texas has no issue with the death penalty. Since the death penalty was allowed again, Texas has executed more people than anywhere else. Texas also has a reputation for not really seeming to care too much about that whole dotting the i's and crossing the t's thingie when it comes to getting convictions. 
Humberto Leal Garcia was convicted of raping and murdering a 16 year old girl. Her name was Adria Sauceda. She was kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and finally bludgeoned to death with a hunk of asphalt. 

Now, 17 yrs after her death, Leal is due to be executed for that crime. In the meantime he has discovered that he is a Mexican citizen and evidently didn't talk to his consular before his trial and conviction. This is required under international law. But during the Bush Administration, faced with a similar case, in Medellin v. Texas, the SC has ruled that absent a law from Congress the US government can't tell Texas what to do on this issue. 

Apparently the Feds are all hat, no cattle when it comes to Texas. Leal has also claimed that he was molested by a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church has added its voice to those calling for a stay of execution. You can read Leal's pov here. But Texas Governor Perry doesn't seem inclined to stay or commute the sentence. So absent a miracle, on July 7 Leal will be executed. The blog members hashed this out and as usual everyone had different opinions. Mine is pretty apparent so I'll skip that.

GrandCentral said this:
As a nation we have a moral obligation, to honor our commitments and lead by example. When an American citizen commits a crime abroad, it is not only presumed, but often demanded that the individual be given adequate legal representation and access to the US Embassy. The United States should respectfully extend the same courtesy to any individual who is convicted of a crime here. 

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, two American journalists, were convicted of illegally entering North Korea and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. According to the North Korean government, they committed a crime. Their families along with the US State Department,  pleaded with the North Koreans and demanded their release. We cannot expect fair treatment of our citizens abroad, when we don't extend the same courtesy to citizens of other nations.

The Janitor pointed out:
When it comes to criminal laws of a state, the feds are pretty much powerless to intervene with the sovereignty of a state's internal judicial process.  You violate a law of the state, the state has jurisdiction over you.  The feds can't intervene UNLESS there is some constitutional violation, in which case the feds can overturn state convictions.  That's the general rule.

This case presents a rare exception where international law may apply.  Things get tricky once you start talking about conventions and treaties and whatnot.

"While a treaty may constitute an international commitment, it is not binding domestic law unless Congress has enacted statutes implementing it."
And in this case, Congress has not implemented any statutes implementing the Vienna Convention.  In fact, in 2005 the U.S. opted out of the convention's international court provision that would have allowed the international court to decide whether or not a Mexican like the guy in this case should be able to overturn his conviction by Texas state law. So is the US a party to this treaty?  Yes.  Is it binding on the States? No, thanks to the SCOTUS.

However, even if it isn't LEGALLY binding on the states, Texas should realize there is an internationally political aspect here that is bigger than the wishes of one state to execute one person.   If we execute this guy, as much as he may deserve to be executed, then we are basically giving other countries the green light to disregard our rights to consult with our embassies overseas whenever we get in trouble. 
Texas needs to be a team player here, but somehow I doubt they will.

The Fed stated:

This is where I DISAGREE with the SCOTUS... State law is NOT Supreme law in this country! HOWEVER, along with the constitution, treaties and international agreements are.  This isn't an issue of State's Rights vs Fed's Rights.  States HAVE NO RIGHTS on this issue.  They should stop trying to force their make believe rights. The US signed an agreement that said XYZ.  PERIOD.  As a result, Texas can't decide it doesn't want to follow that law. What good are treaties if states don't have to follow?

Is this impending execution problematic? If so, why?
Should Congress pass a law preventing state executions where there's a conflict with a treaty?
Is an execution that takes place 17 yrs after the crime any sort of deterrent?
Should the Administration seek other ways to pressure Texas absent a bill from Congress?