Reposted from Daily Kos by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse
Most people have heard or read the acronym "DWB," which stands for "Driving While Black," or in many cases "Brown," derived from DWI—Driving While Intoxicated. In certain parts of the country, "DWI" can also mean "Driving While Indian," which this story, Driving While Indian: A Refresher Course by Mary Annette Pember, illustrates:
On a dark country road in Indian Country, the lessons of childhood come back quickly when the police pull you over. As a nation debates police violence, we should know that Native people are the ethnicity most likely to be killed by law enforcement.
When the officer rapped loudly with a flashlight on the passenger-side window of my car, my 16-year-old, special-needs daughter flung her arms around me like a frightened kitten climbing up my pants leg.
I tried to calm her as I rolled the window down. I could make out no details of the officer because he shined the flashlight in our eyes. The squad car's flashing lights were blinding.
This story did not end in tragedy—meaning death—but the scars that are left by the experience of racial profiling of drivers who are not-white are indelible.
Follow me below the fold for more on the perils for people of color behind the wheel.
I am joining Most Awesome Nana and several others in the Community Fundraisers group in strongly supporting this community effort for elenacarlena. Ever since she joined Daily Kos, Elena has been a strong and regular presence while participating very widely and quickly becoming a valued community member. As an example of this commitment, we have worked closely together (along with JoanMar, 2thanks, Tortmaster, and others) behind the scenes for the past year in helping to finalize and post weekly diaries on police brutality and Medicaid expansion through the Support the Dream Defenders group. As you know, she is also a regular diarist for the War on Women diary series.
Please help Elena through this difficult time for her as well as her beloved pooties and woozle. On behalf of the entire CFs group, thank you. JekyllnHyde
Welcome everyone to our Derby Day Party!
We are going to have a horse race (also known as the "most exciting two minutes in sports"), a few mint juleps, and a good time raising funds for our fellow Kossack, elenacarlena. Everyone is invited to join us to make a comment, tip, rec, republish, share on Facebook, promote on Twitter, send good vibes, or donate.
Elena is always ready to help others with information, good wishes and when possible, money. But now she is the one who needs help. Many of you read her previous diary and responded with great kindness. Unfortunately, the situation has not yet resolved itself. She still lacks enough funds for her special needs cats.
Please follow me below the bourbon fudge swirl for a few words from Elena.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has recently been in the news for its historic approval of marriage equality. But in these news stories, you may have noticed that Christian Right organizations that are unhappy with the outcome are promoting the idea that people are leaving this and other churches because of their support for equal rights, and for rejecting the Right’s corrupt and redefined version of religious freedom.
As is often the case, the Christian Right’s claims don’t hold much water.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), or PCUSA, is the fourth major denomination of mainline Protestantism to support marriage equality, following in the steps of the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
While these developments make news, generally unreported is that these churches came to their positions after years of careful deliberations, discussion and debate. Unlike most of the opponents of marriage equality, these churches have democratic governance structures.
Also largely unreported is how outside Christian Right agencies have exploited the democratic polities of the mainline churches, in an effort to degrade their capacities to advance social justice.
The reasons for all this have everything to do with the successes of what the churches call their “social witness” across the 20th Century.
From the enactment of child labor laws, to advancing the African-American civil rights movement, to ending the war in Vietnam, to elevating the role of women and of LGBTQ people, the major denominations of mainline Protestantism have provided moral authority, leadership, and resources that were vital to these movements for social change.
And yet, if you read most of the media you might be led to believe that the only reasons people leave these churches is because of their positions on such things as ordination of women and gay people; reproductive justice, and/or and marriage equality.
The decline in membership in these churches is painfully real. But there is much more to the story of why people leave the churches and people they love.
One of the primary reasons for the departures is a sustained pressure campaign by external interests, seeking to pit mainline Christians against one another; manipulate democratic processes to be unnecessarily divisive; and ultimately diminish and displace these historic denominations which have held a place at the center of American culture for centuries.
One of the main agents in this war of attrition has been the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), funded by the same group of conservative foundations that brought the likes of the Heritage Foundation to Washington, DC. IRD has been primarily funded by neoconservative and Christian Right interests that view the mainline churches as obstacles to their regressive, and sometimes overtly theocratic, political agendas.
So I won't tarry in getting to the point. If I have to listen to one more supposed liberal or progressive or Democrat here tell me on this board that our efforts on social issues are unimportant and don't make us different as a party, I'm going to….well SIGH, what can I do, but write this.
And if I have to hear one more Democrat/progressive/liberal on this site DEMEAN efforts on social issues, I'm going to…well, again, what can I do except write this diary. But I am going to write it with every angry beat of my heart.
Let me start here. My son is gay. I watched him struggle to come out, and it broke my heart. I will NEVER FORGET the day he said to me "Mom, why do so many people hate me just because I am who I am?"
Of course I told him that there will always be those who hate, those who are bigoted and disgusting, but that there are many who have his back. Thank God he doesn't read this site enough to know there are too many here who DON'T HAVE HIS BACK, at least when it comes to priorities.
It wasn't freaking enough for me to try to reassure him with my highest hopes. NO. I wasn't about to leave it at that. And I hurled myself into fighting for gay rights with everything I have. Thankfully, I know I'm not alone in this. There are many parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who have gay people they love, and they are fighting that battle with me.
So imagine my utter disgust when I come to read several posts here today on meta diaries telling me that social issues are not important, and that we progressives must all claim allegiance to economic policies over everything else. That we must not cleave to the essentially "unimportant battle" to protect our loved ones through those silly social issues.
And it is hardly the first time I've heard this meme about social issues here. Hardly the first time I've heard folks here tell me that "yeah, well, OK, Democrats are better on social issues, but that's not what's really important." In fact, it has long bothered me, but today lit the fuse to my TNT.
So y'all listen up. I CAN fight for and on more than one front at a time. I CAN support social issues w/all my heart and ALSO, fight the economic policies of both parties that are lethal to this country.
And I CAN understand that the parties are NOT the same, just because they are both beholden to raising money. NO. NO. NO. The parties are not the same. And if you have a child who is gay, or muslim, or black, or in any way different than white, you'll know what I'm sayin'.
I am sick to puke about hearing about how "social issues" don't really matter, and how we as Democrats don't have the right to claim higher ground here, and sing it loud and proud. For Pete's sake, most of America argues with this these days via the back lash to Indiana's law. But here on the DK, I still have to hear from prominent posters that we are mistakin' to float our boat under this mast. Just not good enough it seems.
Well, we better damn well step forward and claim that higher ground---for my son, for every gay kid/adult out there, for every muslim trying to live a decent life in this country, for every black person who knows DAMN WELL that social issues effect their lives every day in every way. For every person in our lives who was born unlucky enough to not show up white and straight in the republican's periscope.
And yes, I have great anger towards those here who would diminish and demean these efforts as in, again, "well, Democrats are Ok on social issues, but that's not enough.
Well, maybe it's not enough, but it certainly should be the foundation of who we are as progressives/liberals/Democrats. We should NEVER be caught dead fighting each other on this, and yet I see it here all the fucking time.
And I've had a bellyful of it. If folks here think for one single minute that my efforts to assure my son a fair life in America aren't all that important, along with the Democratic party's attempt to do so, SCREW YOU.
And if you think that we can't pat our heads and rub our tummies at the same time, you underestimate me and many other Democrats/progressives here.
I do not want to continue to hear the diminishing and demeaning of social issues by the far left here. But I know my angry words will not stop this. But I'm just here to say, you're going to get a big fight from me on this. And I hope I'm not alone.
And if little old me can do that, so can all of you who agree. Don't let anyone tell you that social issues aren't important. Don't let anyone tell you that social issues aren't part and parcel of economic issues, because they most certainly are.
I'm sure I'll get my share of nasty comments for writing this, but I don't give a damn if I do, as it felt so darn good to write this.
Lest there be any doubt about what I'm saying here, anyone who gets in my way when it comes to fighting for a better life for my son, is on my SHIT LIST. Period. Don't negate my efforts, don't demean them, don't underestimate them. And if you choose to do so, you've got one strong and angry mama bear standing in your path.
"He may be a very nice man. But I haven't got the time to figure that out. All I know is, he's got a uniform and a gun and I have to relate to him that way. That's the only way to relate to him because one of us may have to die."
Some years ago, my then 13-year-old son went to a classmate's birthday party and was supposed to come home by 10 pm. He had promised that he'd get a ride with a friend's mom. 10:15, and he wasn't home. I am the type of mother that if my children are one minute late, I start worrying. I called him and he said the mom had left and he was still at the party. "Get your butt home," I ordered him. "Do you want me to come get you?" "No," he said, "I'll get a ride with John's (not his real name) mom.
Another half an hour went by, and then an hour, and now I am really furious ... and worried. It was around 12:00 pm when the doorbell rang. My heart threatened to jump out of my chest ... my son had a key. I opened the door and he was standing there with a cop. "What's happening?" I asked nervously. Even at thirteen my son was as tall as the burly cop. "Now, now," said the officer, "Let's go inside and talk about this." I ignored him and addressed my son, "What did you do?" He refused to look me in the eye and muttered something that I didn't understand.
"Let's go inside, Mrs. X," the cop insisted. We went inside. The officer took command of the situation, "Before we do anything, I want you to relax," he said. "Take a couple deep breaths. Your son may or may not have done something stupid tonight..." It turned out that my son and his older classmate took a cab and when it got to a block from the friend's home, he jumped out and ran without paying. The driver suspecting that my son was in on this, promptly locked the doors and drove to the precinct.
"You did what?" I exploded, as I lunged at him. "Now now, calm down," the cop said as he placed himself in front of my son - shielding him with his body - as he took me by the shoulders. At various times throughout our talk, the officer would actually push my son back behind him and it was almost comical to see him peering at me nervously from behind his protector. But this is the key part of the evening: said the officer with the beautiful turquoise eyes (as best as I can remember), "He is a boy and boys do stupid stuff. I swear it's in their DNA. I have two boys at home and they are the reason I have no hair (he was bald). Let me tell you, they have done worse. Much worse." He gave my son a good talking to, he gave me his card and had me promise to call him if I ever needed to talk, and he complimented me on the fact that my son was only concerned that I was going to be hurt and disappointed, and then he took his leave.
My son said that when the angry cab driver made his complaint, the protective cop was actually defending him (my son). The cop told the cab driver that my son had not run; that he had stayed in the cab and so could not be accused of doing anything wrong. And then he said, "Come on son, I'll take you home."
He was white (I expect that he still is).
That type of policing cannot be enacted in law; I know that. You are either that kind of person or you aren't, but the pendulum should not be swinging from one extreme to the other. There should be a livable medium.
I was blessed that evening. We live in Connecticut and not in Ferguson, Missouri.
A few days ago, I get a call about 2:30 a.m. from my friend who plays in a band. I hear something in the cadence and sound of his voice I have not heard in the 15 some odd years we have shared a friendship. My friend is one of the original members of a band who have played together for over thirty-five years. The band received a Grammy; they have played on the Tonight Show, at Madison Square Garden, and play other various large and small venues across America and around the globe each year, and for many years.
The original members of the band are black men. White people and other people of color have also participated as members of the band in the past. What did I hear in my friend's voice on this particular night? It was a combination of anger, frustration, disappointment, and hope all expressed in the tone of a minor key. There was a series of racist events that transpired during this particular night's gig. The events were overt and offensive enough to compel a seasoned professional musician, who literally travels the world the over, to take pause and make a musician's personal proverbial mental note.
More details below the orange swirls that, kind of but not quite, resemble a horizontal treble clef.
Note: This is a community diary with contributions from many members of the Support the Dream Defenders group.
When using their Capital Punishment systems, Red State governors at a minimum know how many people they are killing, who they are killing, when they are killing them and how they are killing them. Should they know any less about the working poor they are killing? My God, shouldn't they at least try to find out?
Enter the Support the Dream Defenders group with our Let Our Poor People Live campaign. With our Freedom of Information Act requests, we aim to force these ignoble politicians to give an accounting for each life that they have allowed to fall by the wayside. To accomplish our goal, we are sending Freedom of Information Act requests to all of the opt-out governors with some Catch-22 questions, including a demand that they provide us with all of the documents showing what they, as Governors, are doing to discover how many people are dying, or potentially dying, because they have refused to Expand Medicaid.
You can join us as we track these FOIA requests going around the country. This is a United States Postal Service tracking tool that has been uploaded with twenty of our requests. If you click on the plus sign (+) on each of the letters that have already been "delivered," you can see where they went. For example, immediately below is a screenshot of the certified mail delivery last Tuesday of our Freedom of Information request to Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas:
And here is a link to help you track our final four FOIA requests. They are going to Mississippi, Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia. As you can see, these were mailed out yesterday morning.
Once we have rounded up all the responses, we intend to send them off to the media. It will be interesting to see how these governors respond once the media begins asking the following questions: How many people are needlessly dying in your state because you will not Expand Medicaid? How many people have had to file for bankruptcy because you will not Expand Medicaid? What have you done to find out the answers to these questions?
While we have been working on the FOIA Project, we have marshaled some of the arguments for Medicaid Expansion. In the next two sections of the diary, we discuss some of the humanitarian and economic reasons for saving lives while saving your state from a future health care crisis.
1. The Humanitarian Argument.
A Harvard Study published in 2014 has indicated that as many as 17,000 people will die each year because Red State governors refuse to Expand Medicaid. This makes sense as the New York Times has noted that approximately eight million additional people would receive Medicaid if it were expanded in Republican-controlled states. Like the rest of the population, these folks suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers and other ailments that could be treated. The Study authors noted,
Medicaid expansion in opt-out states would have resulted in 712,037 fewer persons screening positive for depression and 240,700 fewer individuals suffering catastrophic medical expenditures. Medicaid expansion in these states would have resulted in 422,553 more diabetics receiving medication for their illness, 195,492 more mammograms among women age 50-64 years and 443,677 more pap smears among women age 21-64. Expansion would have resulted in an additional 658,888 women in need of mammograms gaining insurance, as well as 3.1 million women who should receive regular pap smears.
As bad as that is, the problem's even bigger than that. It still doesn't tell the whole story. The eight million or so people who would be helped by Expanding Medicaid, many of whom have undiagnosed or untreated conditions, also have to deal with the pain caused by their ailments--sometimes on a daily basis--as well as deal with the fear that the next cough or lump or tremor will land them in the emergency room and then in bankruptcy court or worse.
A. How Democrats Respond to the Issue.
Bill Moyers is not mincing words about the situation. An article on his website by Joshua Holland is entitled, "Study Shows the Madness of States Refusing to Expand Medicaid." The article leads off with a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute that shows Republican-controlled states are missing out on $423 billion in federal health care money through 2022. But the article goes further to note other studies that show Texas leading the nation in percentage of uninsured, followed by Florida in third, and it links to the Harvard Study discussed above, which warns of up to 17,000 needless deaths each year.
Last Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest showed exasperation with Republicans for "literally prevent[ing] individuals in their states from getting badly needed health care coverage." In fact, his entire response to a question about ObamaCare is worth repeating, with the quote above highlighted near the bottom:
B. How Republicans Respond.
Another way to look at the humanitarian argument for Expanded Medicaid is to look at it through the eyes of a Republican. For that, we have enlisted Scott Walker of Wisconsin. He has taken a position on the issue that is literally comedic in its villainy. We'll let Snotty speak for himself:
Scott Walker bypassed historical villains, modern villains and book villains and, instead, plagiarized directly from a comedy villain--Judge Smails from Caddyshack:
JUDGE SMAILS: "I think you can still become a gentleman someday ... if you understand and abide by the rules of decent society. Danny, Danny. There's a lot of ... well, badness in the world today. I see it in court every day. I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. I didn't want to do it. I felt I owed it to them."
How egregious can Republicans get? Again, let's think about that like a Republican would. Let's say, for example, you had a tough decision about whether to give half a million people health care or take it away from them. When it came time to make that decision, would you be smiling? Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina would:
2. The Economic Argument.
Expanding Medicaid makes economic sense. Most people know that under ObamaCare, the states would pay nothing through 2016, and they would never have to pay more than ten percent of the costs. Additionally, there is an opt out provision if the state, for some reason, cannot pay its share of the costs.
States that have accepted Medicaid Expansion will not have to make up for the shortfall when the Federal Government stops paying hospitals and clinics for serving the uninsured. Those states have also seen increased economic activity, including jobs that will provide salaries which will be spent in the local economies. Their employee workforce will be healthier and stronger and more competitive.
A. Federal Funding of Hospitals and Clinics.
A huge economic problem will terrorize Red State governors and their tax-paying constituents in the very near future. That is, the Federal Government had been giving huge grants to states every year so that the states, in turn, could pass the money along to hospitals and clinics that provided care but received no payment from the uninsured. That stops in 2015.
With the Expansion of Medicaid, those grants should not be necessary. So, the program will be cancelled. A few Red State governors have had the temerity, while refusing to Expand Medicaid, to ask the Obama Administration to resume those payments. They have been told, "No." Instead, those governors have been told to Expand Medicaid and get the funding for their state's hospitals and clinics that way. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is already earmarking tens of millions of dollars of state funds to give to hospitals--while she ignores hundreds of millions of Federal dollars that would go to help the working poor in her state.
B. Job Growth.
Even Forbes magazine, a vociferous opponent of ObamaCare, has had to admit that Medicaid Expansion can be beneficial to the job market:
"States that agreed to expand coverage of Medicaid to more Americans under the Affordable Care Act have created more jobs than other areas of the country, according to a new report.
Fitch Ratings said 'healthcare and social assistance jobs grew over 30% faster between December 2013 and December 2014 for 24 states that implemented ACA expansion on Jan. 1, 2014 than those that did not.'”
C. The Vicious Circle.
Republican Governors are not only screwing their working poor constituents by Refusing to Expand Medicaid, but they are screwing them on the price of health care insurance coverage. Even if the working poor in a non-Expansion state could afford to pay any of the few dollars they earn over the federal poverty line on medical coverage, the price of that coverage goes up because Republican Governors Refused to Expand Medicaid.
It is a vicious circle that kills people, costs constituents more money, costs states more money and fails to create the jobs and economic activity that would come about with Medicaid Expansion in that Red State. Let's say you are single person in Texas making $7,500 per year based on two crappy part-time jobs, and you have high blood pressure and have already suffered a stroke. You have to spend the money on the bronze plan, even though you cannot afford it, and take whatever subsidy you can get. Republican Governors have ensured that folks like this are squeezed dry, and, as high-risk insureds, they will drive up the cost for everyone buying insurance in that state. Their effect on insurance rates would be more than cancelled out if all the healthy people in the "Medicaid Gap" were allowed to join. SeeWhy a State's Health Insurers Should Support Expanding Medicaid, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (September 2012).
You see, if Republican Governors Expanded Medicaid and added those millions of healthy potential working poor individuals to insurance pools in the state, the costs for everybody would almost certainly decrease. Thus, the working poor gets screwed on both sides from their Republican Governors.
Finally, with the Federal Government no longer directly reimbursing hospitals and clinics for their service to uninsured persons, the hospitals and clinics will cost-shift that expense to everybody else--or fire staff, cut hours or close down.
To give you some idea what states are missing out on, please consider this:
Now think about the billions of dollars and all that healthcare that Florida (Rick Scott) and Texas (Greg Abbott) are giving up every year.
I have read the Department of Justice report on their non-indictment of Darren Wilson, and, quite frankly, I am very disappointed.
The report reads as if Bob McCulloch, the St. Louis county prosecutor, and his two subordinates prepared it. The whole report reads as if the investigators were more concerned with the well-being of the killer than they were about the teenager who was killed. Who was advocating for Michael Brown, I want to ask.
I must confess that I had a problem with Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, announcing the findings of the investigation of the Ferguson Police Department and the non-indictment of Wilson all at the same time. It reminded me of the stunt pulled by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson when he called the news conference to announce the name of the murderer. If you’ll recall, that was when we were flooded with news of a “strong-arm robbery,” and so the news media dutifully focused on that rather than on the killer-cop.
This is what I got from the attorney general: We will not be indicting Darren Wilson because we could not prove he was guilty of violating Michael Brown’s rights ... but look what we have done over here!
The reaction from those who have been fighting for Michael Brown has been swift.
“They’re trying to throw us a bone because we’ve been saying the police were racist, then it only took them 100-plus days to actually make a statement acknowledging that they were being racist,” Russell said.“I find it strange that the Justice Department has been found them to be operating with racial bias and that their stops and arrests are racially biased. But there are no civil rights charges against Darren Wilson. That sounds like the direct definition of a civil rights violation to me.”
“I know that Holder believes the standard is too difficult to meet, but in the end it comes down to the fact that an unarmed young man was shot dead in the street and we know this police department not only knowingly engaged in discriminatory practices but encouraged a culture of racism,” Roediger said. “The end result of that culture of racism was an unarmed man shot dead in the street should be sufficient to file charges.”
Apologists for the killer-cop have been popping champagne and gleefully pointing to the Attorney General's words. Especially this:
“It remains not only valid — but essential — to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily.”
Maybe, Mr. Holder, maybe it was the picture of the white guys by their truck throwing up their arms in the air to demonstrate what they were seeing unfolding before their eyes. Why would so many people make up that particular lie? Why would the report make such a big deal about Michael Brown not being shot in the back, suggesting that the killer-cop didn't fire at him while he was running away? All the early reports were that the killer fired shots as the teen fled.
But my biggest question to my attorney general is this: Why would you believe a word of what Darren Wilson said when you know the nature of the police department for which he worked? When you know that he failed to write a report immediately after the killing and only produced one after he saw the eyewitness accounts? When you know that his testimony was not challenged in the grand jury investigation? Why would you believe one single solitary word of his self-serving, carefully crafted lies?
The Police Department for which the killer-cop worked was a cesspit of racism and bigotry, coupled with unethical and unprofessional behavior. And here, I am not relying on the DOJ's report. For years the residents of the city have been telling everyone who'd listen about the oppressive yoke around their collective necks. But given your own findings, Mr. Holder, don't you think that every case of physical abuse or killing committed by members of that department should be automatically charged as civil rights violations? In my humble opinion, to do anything less is a travesty of justice.
Among the incidents of excessive force discovered by our comprehensive review, some resulted from stops or arrests that had no legal basis to begin with. Others were punitive or retaliatory in nature. The police department’s routine use of Tasers was found to be not merely unconstitutional, but abusive and dangerous. Records showed a disturbing history of using unnecessary force against people with mental illness. And our findings indicated that the overwhelming majority of force – almost 90 percent – is directed against African Americans.
About 2 weeks ago, 2 members of Support the Dream Defenders boldly went where no member of STDDs has gone before, to a town called Netroots Radio, and 2 detectives were on them like powdered sugar on pancakes. Two members of the Daily Kos group Support the Dream Defenders took a break from their agitatin and activatin and gave up the goods so easily, you could hardly tell they were seasoned crimin supporters of the Dream Defenders. Who were the detectives? Justice Putnam and Wink. Who were the Supporters? Tortmaster and 2thanks.
Listen my children, and you shall to the podcast or skim through all 3700 words of the transcript, looking for the highlights. Glance at the green Chart of FOIA Progress, and then surrey down to the stone soul pic comments, where operators are standing b waiting breathless at their keyboards to answer your every question about Support the Dream Defenders and to hear you volunteer to help them in YOUR state (if you live in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, or Wyoming) and to see your commentary and links.
FBI Director James Comey gave an address at Georgetown University on Thursday titled "Hard Truths: Law Enforcement and Race." The New York Timescharacterized it as "unusually candid." Our own Shaun King called it "brave, but clumsy." I agree with both assessments, in particular Shaun's point that Comey's call for all police departments to provide accurate, comprehensive data about police shootings of citizens is "significant."
Let's begin with a truth that is both obvious and easy to forget. Speeches by politicians and government officials do not have telling the truth as their primary goal. That doesn't mean that they don't seek to tell the truth. Some do so while others ... well, not so much. Rather than truth-telling per se, political figures speak in order to make a specific impact. The question they ask themselves is: what information can I present and—most importantly—what is the best way to present it in order to achieve my goal, to make the impact I want to make. I believe that Comey had a very specific goal in mind for his speech, and that goal is to change the behavior of police officers.
What is the most effective way Comey could get cops to really hear his message? Before we go there, let's start by discussing a way that would not work. That way is to tell the police that they are a bunch of stone-cold racists and that's why they are killing so many unarmed black men and boys. And let's make something clear: no mainstream civil rights leader or politician is saying that. But that message is one that police officers are primed for, and ready to reject. Right off the bat, look what Comey does:
I worry that this incredibly important and incredibly difficult conversation about race and policing has become focused entirely on the nature and character of law enforcement officers, when it should also be about something much harder to discuss. Debating the nature of policing is very important, but I worry that it has become an excuse, at times, to avoid doing something harder.
Is it true that the debate has become focused on cops' "nature and character?" Of course not. But by contrasting himself to that straw man, Comey gains the trust of his target audience—the police officers whose behavior he knows must change—and makes them far more willing to listen to the message he's going to deliver.
Please follow me beyond the fold for more on how he delivers it.
It's a start. Even though he seems to be explaining "racial bias" as a "mental shortcut" of some cynical police officers -- worn down by their difficult 'seen-everything' dangerous jobs;
Director Comey also calls on police officers to do better. "To design systems and processes to overcome" their racial biases. Including better databases for keeping stats on officer-involved shootings.
Including acknowledging the FBI's own over-reach on tracking civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, back in day of their predecessors. A disturbing legacy that they must now 'own'.
In a speech entitled "Hard Truths: Law Enforcement and Race," Comey [FBI Director James Comey] plans to highlight research suggesting a bias against blacks among majority white communities — a bias that he says goes largely unaddressed and leads to dangerous practices among law enforcement officials. NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson says Comey wants law enforcement to acknowledge that bias in order to improve relations with minority communities.
"He's going to say people who serve in law enforcement have to be honest and acknowledge most of our history has been unfair to minorities and un-favored groups."
Johnson reports Comey's leading by example in his new post as director. He requires new police recruits to visit the new memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C., as a reminder that the FBI once specifically targeted the civil rights leader.
Like I said "it's a start" ... but it needs to go further.
Senator Oletha Faust Goudeau proposed changes in the way that Kansas handles issues of police-related shootings. Senator Goudeau hopes that her legislation, KS-SB-216, provides a framework that protects both officers and the community.
SB 216, The Special Prosecutor Bill, named the Investigation and Review of Deaths Involving Law Enforcement Officers, was introduced to our legislature this week.
SB 216 requires that the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) operate investigations in all law enforcement shootings that results in a death. It prevents local agencies from investigating themselves in shootings where someone is killed. It requires that if fault is found, the Attorney General will prosecute the case himself or herself or assign a special prosecutor to prevent any conflicts of interest from arising. This will remove the impression of bias that families currently experience with local district attorneys investigating the cases.
This law will ensure a common-sense approach to law enforcement and provide many families relief in knowing that their loved one's death was not in vain.
This bill echoes part of the Michael Brown Over-Policed Rights Act. The MBOPRA is the bill which Support the Dream Defenders (STDDs) crowd-sourced at Daily Kos last fall. That law has been subsequently promoted by both the NAACP and the ACLU. Congressman G. K. Butterfield, the recently elected chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that the number one priority of that group this year is to focus on relations between police and African Americans. He added that he was very concerned about this issue, given recent tragic developments.