ADMINISTRIVIA: there will be a personal blog upcoming. I am cautiously reopening the Breadbin, with the caveat that there will be few posts for a while yet, as I type for a living and it is BUSY right now.
I am working from home and grateful to be. My shift isn't the best - 2-11, with Fridays and Saturdays off this month coming - but with the province still in quasi-lockdown, weekends don't matter as much as they once did. Regrettably.
God, I miss people. In one week, it will have been three months since I last saw Kathy and Jade. I haven't gone that long without seeing them since I...started seeing them. And that includes the break-up last year.
But there has also been good news, and I will be sharing that in due course.
My apologies. This will be a political post. It must be written, because if I don't write this out, I will lock it in and I will explode.
WARNING: there are several links to videos in this blog. The videos are harrowing, triggering, astonishing, and almost impossible to watch. I do urge you to watch what you can and no more. People need to SEE what's happening.
Frank Wilhoit: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”
I have conservative friends who will object to that, I'm sure. But it is so screamingly, irrefutably true, and the truth of it is capering in the flames of destruction as America burns to the ground under conservative rule. Literally.
To get your ass into an in-group that the law protects but does not bind, you pretty much need to be white. That will exempt you from laws against jaywalking, and allow you to brandish guns with impunity at protests against protecting some of the out-groups. Can you imagine the police response if these were people of colour? Especially considering that police murder people of colour at a rate of one every three or four days in the United States? Read that again. THE POLICE, WHOSE MOTTO IS TO SERVE AND PROTECT, MURDER PEOPLE OF COLOUR AT A RATE OF ONE EVERY THREE OR FOUR DAYS in the United States.
Oh, I can hear it already. "They kill twice as many white people!" Yeah, true. But guess what? There are SIX TIMES as many white people in the United States as there are black people. Proportionally, cops murder three times as many blacks as whites.
"But what about weapons?"
Glad you asked. The ratio is roughly even: about as many "unarmed" black people as white people are murdered by police. I put the quotes there because in some cases all we have for sources are police reports, which tend to cast police in a favourable light. At any rate, again proportionally, an unarmed Black citizen is about six times as likely to be murdered by police as an unarmed white citizen.
"But blacks commit more crime!" Well, that's not really true, of course: it's just that the white (ahem) collar crimes that whites tend to commit are brushed off, sometimes even glorified. But it would then follow that police shootings would be happening a lot more frequently in high-crime areas. And that isn't true.
And let's get some things straight here, okay? Even where there is crime involved, the cops are not supposed to play judge, jury and executioner. George Floyd allegedly attempted to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. For that alleged crime, three cops subdued him, one of them kneeling on his neck, for almost nine minutes. For the last nearly three minutes of that, Floyd was unresponsive. Let's further note that Floyd was prone on the road at the time with his hands cuffed. The police say he resisted getting into the cruiser. He didn't. Bet those cops are pissed at themselves that they didn't think to shoot out the surveillance camera. I mean, since they never bother to wear bodycams and when they do, the things seem to malfunction suspiciously often. The cop who knelt on Floyd's neck had EIGHTEEN PRIOR COMPLAINTS filed against him.
Floyd begged to breathe. Imagine that, my friends of privilege. Having to ask permission to breathe. And having your request denied.
Let's name a TINY number of the black men and women killed by police for no good reason.
Walter Scott, murdered because of a malfunctioning brake light. The cop involved actually was sentenced for second degree murder, but only because a video surfaced blatantly contradicting his version of events.
Jerame Reid, murdered at another traffic stop (the car had run a red light). There was a gun in the glove compartment, but Reid was unarmed and attempted to get out of the car to lay on the ground. He was shot point-blank by an officer who "feared for his life". No charges were filed.
Phillip White, who may or may not have attempted to disarm a police officer (which would be a justified use of lethal force if true) but who was knelt on (sound familiar?) when subdued and cuffed, and who suffered a fatal heart attack. The police officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Eric Garner, who was murdered for the heinous crime of selling single cigarettes. A chokehold this time, which continued long past the time Garner was immobIlized. He said "I can't breathe" eleven times and then died, and the officer who killed him was not indicted despite the medical examiner's finding of homicide. It took five years for that officer to even be fired; nothing else happened.
Trayvon Martin, unarmed, whose murderer observed him walking in the street and considered him suspicious enough to follow and kill. The neighbourhood watch coordinator had previously called police to report suspicious activity several times, always involving black males. People of colour of my acquaintance are wearily -- and very warily -- familiar with "he fits the description". They usually don't, apart from being, you know, black. Trayvon's murderer was never indicted; Florida laws seem to allow you to kill anyone you want and all you have to do is say "it was self-defence".
Sean Bell, slaughtered by police who never identified themselves as such and never even shouted a warning. They believed Bell had a gun, then seem to have fabricated a story about another man who had supposedly fired on them when it was determined Bell was unarmed. The cops were never fired on; all fifty bullets (!!!!) were theirs.
Freddie Gray, unarmed homicide victim, suffered injuries that proved fatal while being transported to the police station after having been arrested for possession of a knife. It was in his pocket, and he never so much as reached for it while being arrested. (I carried a knife in my pocket for more than ten years, on my way to and from work. Never was I so much as glanced at.) The six cops (!!!!) escorting Gray to the station were all indicted on homicide charges. Nothing ever came of them.
Aiyana Jones, eight years old murdered when the police raided the wrong house. They threw a flash grenade in first, setting Aiyana on fire. Her grandmother attempted to put the fire out. The officer said she tried to slap his gun, which caused it to fire and strike Aiyana. This insane story -- the grandmother's fingerprints were not found on the officer's gun -- somehow managed to get the murderer off scott-free.
Sandra Bland, found hanging in a jail cell three days after being stopped for not signalling a lane change (!!!!) The officer who stopped her had done similar things more than sixteen hundred times, pulling people over for the most picayune reasons and proceeding to search their vehicles, hoping to find something criminal. Bland refused to extinguish her cigarette, so the officer naturally placed her under arrest and threw her in jail. He said she resisted. He also never told her what she was being arrested for, which last I looked was against the law. Her head was slammed on the ground. She informed the officer she was epileptic. His response? "Good".
Kimani Gray, 16, shot and killed by police who had previously racked up five civil rights violations, all settled out of court, costing their city $215.000 in legal fees. They claim Gray was "adjusting his waistband" and then pointed a gun at them -- again, this would justify lethal force -- except Gray was shot in the back.
John Crawford III, shot in a Walmart in Ohio while holding a BB gun. Walmarts sell BB guns, incidentally, and Crawford had one in his cart. Officers claim he was pointing it at people. None of the witnesses seem to agree with that version of events. He was talking on his cell phone when officers, again without identifying themselves or giving a warning, shot him dead. They said they identified themselves and shouted a warning, but store video shows otherwise. No punishment to the officers.
Breonna Taylor, murdered by cops who were executing a "no knock" warrant on her home. They claim they did knock and identify themselves, which makes me doubly wonder what the purpose of a "no knock" warrant is. Breonna's boyfriend, who is licensed to carry a gun, fired on the officers entering his home, citing self-defence. Quite frankly, in his place I would have done the same thing to plainclothes officers battering my door down. However you see this incident, Taylor was undoubtedly innocent. Just another black woman caught in the crossfire, ho hum.*
ARE YOU GETTING SICK OF THIS YET?
I repeat, this is a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of black people killed by police over the years. Being murdered is only the most extreme issue. Black people are more than four times more likely than whites to be detained for mental health issues; Blacks are much more likely than whites to have their cars pulled over and searched. (They checked: traffic stops involving black drivers actually plummet after nightfall, when a driver's race is harder to discern). And all of this says nothing about racially motivated crimes and murders by civilians, such as the Charleston church massacre in 2015 -- or the outright horror and barbarism of the South in the Jim Crow years.
Canadian? Don't get smug, it happens here too. Regis Korchinski-Paquet: fell to hear death from a 24th story balcony in the presence of several Toronto police officers. There's an allegation they pushed her. Whether that's true or not, they indisputably did not do anything to prevent her death.
Change "POC" to "Indigenous" and honestly? We're worse than the States. I know of nowhere in the States where black people have had to boil their water to make it safe to drink. (Except Flint, Michigan...) Here in Canada we have had reservations having to do that for decades despite more than ample money available to solve the problem without costing Canadian taxpayers a dime. I speak of course of the native monies held in trust by the Canadian government. There's about a trillion dollars in that fund -- compensation for stolen land. We can also talk about the murders in Thunder Bay (the cops think it's funny) or Vancouver (the cops there ignored it for years and still downplay it). Indigenous people have peacefully blocked road and railways as a response to systemic racism -- and many of the older people I know are in favour of running them over. Just to remind them of their place, you understand. The inconvenience of being stuck in traffic is ever so much worse the residential school system with its more than six thousand deaths, generations of physical and sexual abuse, and the wholesale demolishment of ancient cultures, What probably causes the most anger and despair is the knowledge there are many white people who would do it all again given half a chance.
So you're a person of colour. People like you are murdered for no reason by cops who get away with the crime, over and over and over. You face peril every time you leave your house -- sometimes you don't even have to do that, witness Breonna Taylor -- just because you're black. What is your response?
Colin Kaepernick peacefully took a knee. He was mocked and threatened for it. Peaceful protests have been going on for decades and the murders and brazen racism continue unabated.
So that hasn't worked. And why would it? People of colour are an out-group. The law binds them but does not protect them. They are intimately familiar with that. We tell white kids to run to the police when something bad happens. Imagine that! How naive can you possibly be?
I am a white male. I am in like Flynn. The law doesn't bind me: I can steal a bike in full view of witnesses without so much as a batted eye. The law does protect me: my word will almost certainly carry more weight than that of a woman I rape. She'll get asked what she was wearing, how many drinks she had, how many sexual partners she had...I won't get any of that. Women are an out-group, too: miscarriage is a felony in some states. Felons can't vote. See how this works?
I wasn't around for the Black Day In July, but as it turns out nothing has changed in 53 years. I'm not sure much has changed in 153 years, not for America's people of colour. It's happening again, all over the United States. More than thirty cities. I had chat customers yesterday who went to pick up their purchases at a store only to find it...gone. Obliterated.
The first riot broke out in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed. It was a peaceful protest until some white guy broke the first window. Many of the arrested looters are from out of town and have ties to white supremacist groups. Often the police act as agents provacateurs.
That's happening now all over the country. Here's police and National Guard shooting civilians on their own property for no reason whatsoever in Minneapolis yesterday. Here's police shooting an unarmed, prone man in the spine from point blank range in Salt Lake City yesterday. It goes on and on and on
I am sick unto death of hearing, "if they didn't commit a crime, they'd have nothing to worry about." That bullshit applies to white people. Not black people. They have something to worry about just existing. You hear it again and again: they're all criminals. Even if that were true (and it ISN'T), YOU MADE THEM THAT WAY. You aid and abet a system in which criminality is often the only rational course of action for the out-group. Also, people live up or down to your expectations of them. If someone's going to be tarred a criminal no matter what he does...why not be a criminal?
Oh, you're bothered because buildings are being destroyed and merchandise is being taken. Not surprised: buildings and merchandise seem to matter a hell of a lot more to so many (white) people than LIVES SNUFFED OUT FOR NO REASON. Let's also not forget there's a pandemic raging and the United States government, in its infinite ineptitude, decided to give people $1200 to last...indefinitely. The fuck would you do in that situation? There are apt to be a couple million homeless people JUST IN FLORIDA in the next two months. You ain't seen nothin' yet, folks.
Yeah, I called this. I am on record as saying that by summer, there would be widespread rioting and looting. I had no idea the flashpoint would be racial, but in hindsight I should have known. In the United States, there has always been a simmering hatred of black people. (By the way: Covid-19 is killing people of colour well out of proportion to their numbers, too. Black people are on average ten times poorer than whites, and poverty breeds disease several different ways. Meanwhile you have authorities from donald trump on down STILL dismissing the virus that's killing so many people. RIOTS ARE THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD.
ARE YOU LISTENING???????
*names taken from Janelle Monae's searing song "What You Talmbout (Say His Name)". I did not include every name mentioned in the song, as in a couple of cases I judged the murder victim might well have been murdered even if he or she were white; but I only omitted three of those names, and Goddamnit there are so, so many others.