Are We All Defined By Our Lunatic Fringe?
1. Speaking of the recent assassination of two New York City cops in Brooklyn, craven opportunist Rudy Giuliani claims that such a thing never would have happened if he was mayor.
Under Giuliani’s mayoralty, 27 members of the NYPD were killed, not counting 9/11. Giuliani claims that protesters are to blame, and current Mayor DeBlasio gave them “too much power”.
Blaming the Brooklyn assassination on people protesting excessive police force is a common theme.
2. Jim Kelly’s nephew Chad is a football star who has evidently done wonders for the Mississippi Community College pigskin circuit.
Kelly, 20, of Niagara Falls, refused to leave Encore at 492 Pearl St. about 3:15 a.m. and punched a bouncer in the face, Buffalo police said. Kelly’s companion, Brandon Hickey, 21, of Clarence, had been thrown out of the bar earlier and tried to re-enter, police said.
Kelly continued to fight with two bouncers and stated “I’m going to go to my car and get my AK-47 and spray this place,” according to a report.
Buffalo police officers responding to that alleged threat stopped a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck in which Kelly was a passenger at 458 Pearl.
Kelly was forcibly removed from the vehicle, officers said. Police said Kelly kicked and tried to swing at officers as they removed him from the vehicle. They said he resisted getting into a patrol vehicle and struggled with staff at central booking.
The bar’s security staff, Scott May and Clay Hubert, suffered minor injuries in the melee, including pain and swelling, according to the report.
What is a 20 year-old doing at a nightclub at 3:15 am? But more importantly, Kelly was belligerent, violent, threatening, and resisting arrest. I’ve heard a lot of people arguing recently that this sort of behavior justifies an arresting officer choking the suspect to death. However, this kid for some reason was released on his own recognizance unscathed.
3. This is going to be a little tough to articulate because it involves nuance and thought – things that don’t fit on a bumper sticker.
People protesting the police are, for the most part, opposing excessive police force; police brutality. A Google search reveals far too many instances of homicide by cop of unarmed Black suspects. One mentally ill suspect in Wisconsin got a hold of a cop’s nightstick during a struggle and was shot 14 times. His original crime? Sleeping in the park. Eric Garner was selling loosies. Mike Brown was jaywalking and was accused of ripping off a convenience store.
These crimes are petty, not capital. The black community in particular has a right to understand why it is that these young men end up dead, but Chad Kelly can hit and kick cops, and threaten to spray bullets into a nightclub with the “AK-47” in his truck, and sleep in his own bed that same night.
People want better policing and the black community in particular would appreciate it if police would maybe stop treating their young men like animals. It’s notable that the assassination of the officers in Brooklyn by a deranged recidivist psychopath (who also shot and wounded his girlfriend earlier that day) has been universally and unconditionally condemned. Eric Garner’s daughter came to show support for the fallen officers, attending their memorial service.
The point isn’t a war on cops; the point is to stop unnecessary violence and killings.
Oh, but what about the lunatic fringe that is genuinely anti-cop? What about the self-declared leftist revolutionaries who support assassinating cops?
Well, yes. There are lunatic assholes in America. Some of them are leftist “revolutionaries”. Some of them are right-wing “sovereigns”. Luckily, America and her people have a knack for rejecting extremism such as this.
Last week someone clued me in to a relatively new anti-cop activist group in Buffalo that has posted some videos to YouTube and been involved in recent protests in town. A minimal amount of digging revealed that our revolutionary vanguard is led by a privileged 30-year old woman who still lives with mommy in a tony colonial in Snyder, and attended a private local Catholic college. She has bounced around different activist groups and causes in the short time she’s been out of school, and she seems to be a supreme poseur of the highest order. Her services were bought by political opportunists on at least two occasions, unsuccessfully. She is as ineffective and profane as she is fake. I have toyed with the idea of writing extensively about her, but then I see that her group’s YouTube account has fewer than 10 subscribers, very few views, and that she’s basically just a nobody accomplishing nothing more but looking like a clown, there’s no point. Let her flail in the ether, on the fringe.
Our society depends on and relies upon police protection, and that’s why we give cops special privileges that you and I don’t share. With those expanded privileges come heightened responsibility and accountability. It is incumbent on people to keep that privilege in check when the authorities won’t do it themselves, and protests are part of that. Every protest movement or event is going to have somebody in it that takes things too far or is inflammatory and not worthy of support. That’s how it goes. But condemning all protests and demonstrators for the misdeeds of the lunatic fringe is unfair and misdirection.
Police officers aren’t under siege from hostile elected officials. At no point, for example, has de Blasio attacked the New York City Police Department. Instead, he’s called for improved policing, including better community relations and new training for “de-escalation” techniques. “Fundamental questions are being asked, and rightfully so,” he said at the beginning of the month, after the grand jury decision in the death of Eric Garner. “The way we go about policing has to change.”
Likewise, neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder has substantively criticized police. After a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, Obama appealed for calm and praised law enforcement for doing a “tough job.” “Understand,” he said, “our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.”
When directly asked if “African-American and Latino young people should fear the police,” Holder said no. “I don’t think that they should fear the police,” he said in an interview for New York magazine with MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid. “But I certainly think that we have to build up a better relationship between young people, people of color, and people in law enforcement.”
Even Al Sharpton supports cops. “We are not anti-police,” he said after the Wilson grand jury concluded. “If our children are wrong, arrest them. Don’t empty your gun and act like you had no other way.” And on this Sunday morning, Sharpton held an event where he and the Garner family condemned the cop killings in Brooklyn. “I’m standing here in sorrow over losing those two police officers,” said Garner’s mother. “Two police officers lost their lives senselessly.” The family of Michael Brown has condemned the shootings—“[We reject] any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement”—and in a statement, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, said, “This is not about race or affiliation, and it isn’t about black versus blue. All lives matter.”
Query why we have to have so basic a discussion as to the relative value of lives. Query further why it is that an insane man was able to obtain a gun – legally or otherwise.
People are angry about Eric Garner’s death. In the Michael Brown case we learn that one key witness who corroborated Darren Wilson’s story is a white supremacist who clearly lied about witnessing the altercation between Brown and Wilson, yet prosecutors knowingly brought her unvetted testimony before the grand jury with no cross-examination, and helped bolster the narrative that Michael Brown charged the cop and deserved to die. This is, as I argued weeks ago, why Wilson should have been indicted and subjected to the rigors of a trial – so that all stories could be presented to a jury under oath, and that these stories could be vetted through cross-examination.
Shit is all fucked up and shit, but no responsible person is anti-cop or thinks that shooting cops is a great idea. This idiot who did this in Brooklyn was a recidivist violent criminal and representative of the miniscule number of psychopaths who unfortunately infiltrate any political movement. That’s it.
Blaming the assassination on “protesters” and “demonstrations” is a sly way to outlaw speech. The right, who oppose the very notion of “hate speech” when used against them, have suddenly found an affinity for it, because it suits their aims. They lump the peaceful protesters in with those few on the fringes who spew hatred and commit violence. They point to the hate speech in an effort to ban and blame all speech.
(By the way – union boss Pat Lynch, shown above, has managed to do the unthinkable. He has made it safe for America’s right wing to lurve a public sector union boss.)
But these same people on the right wing have argued for years that hate speech on the public airwaves, day after day, can never be blamed for bad deeds. If it’s true that an endless barrage of hate-speech can lead to violence, when does the right begin monitoring what their favorite radio commentators say?
The Las Vegas attack came just two days after a member of the “sovereign citizen” anti-government movement waged a brief war outside a courthouse near Atlanta. Dennis Marx came supplied with an assault weapon, “homemade and commercial explosive devices,” as well as “a gas mask; two handguns; zip ties and two bulletproof vests,” according to the Associated Press. He opened fire, shooting one deputy in the leg. Sovereign citizens are militia-like radicals who don’t believe the federal government has the power and legitimacy to enforce the law. The FBI has called the movement “a growing domestic terror threat to law enforcement.”
Fox News barely covered the Marx attack on law enforcement. Nor did Fox assign collective blame.
On May 20, 2010, two West Memphis, Ark., police officers were shot and killed by a father-son team during a routine traffic stop. The shooters were AK-47-wielding sovereign citizens with ties to white supremacy groups and who had posted anti-government rants on YouTube.
And in April, 2009, 22-year-old Richard Poplawski grabbed his guns, including an AK-47 rifle, and waited for the police to respond to the domestic disturbance call his mother had placed after she had fought with her son. When two officers arrived and knocked on the the front door, Poplawski ambushed them, shooting them both in the head. Then he killed another officer who tried to rescue his colleagues. Poplawski was convinced Obama was going to take away Americans’ guns, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
If we’re going to blame anti-brutality demonstrators for the Brooklyn shootings, oughtn’t we blame whomever inspired the shooters above? The American right’s hands aren’t clean on this.
I think that the blame for these horrific crimes lies squarely on the ignorant psychopaths who committed them, regardless of what sort of hate speech – whether from poseur “activists” or right-wing hate radio – inspired them. After all, millions of people listen to stuff like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Bauerle and don’t decide that, e.g., the Obama administration is worse than Al Qaeda, and then decide that they should start assassinating.
The tree of liberty doesn’t need any blood today, thanks.