What ails us all…

July 22, 2020

Vox.com (US) – Ezra Klein
Bryan Stevenson on how America can heal – A conversation about truth and reconciliation in the US.

Stevenson is the author of the book and now movie of the same title – Just Mercy.  He carries on an extended conversation with question / answer format but not in the usual superficial manner of Q&A.  His answers are provocative and insistent, well worth the time to read, especially since many are pulled in confusing and conflicting directs for a cure to what ails us all, perhaps even our understanding of the problem.   https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/21327742/bryan-stevenson-the-ezra-klein-show-america-slavery-healing-racism-george-floyd-protests?__twitter_impression=true  Related article:  The Marshall Project (US) – Eli Hager and Weihua Li    A Major Obstacle to Police Reform: The Whiteness of Their Union Bosses – Even in the 15 largest departments where the majority of officers are people of color, only one union leader is black, our analysis shows. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/06/10/a-major-obstacle-to-police-reform-the-whiteness-of-their-union-bosses?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share-tools&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=post-top  

 The Marshall Project – Eli Hager
They Agreed to Meet Their Mother’s Killer. Then Tragedy Struck Again.

This article is a restorative justice story that reaches into the lives of a number of people, both the Lilse family, the murderer, the professional life of the district attorney.  It serves to sharpen our understanding of the human element in the victim-offender restorative justice process and what can go wrong.  It is a sobering story that leaves lots of regrets and lots of understanding around the preference that the process is never needed because there is no victim.  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/07/21/they-agreed-to-meet-their-mother-s-killer-then-tragedy-struck-again?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sprout&utm_source=twitter   Related article: Pro Publica – Jodi S. Cohen   Judge Won’t Free Michigan Teenager Sent to Juvenile Detention after Not Doing Online Schoolwork  https://www.propublica.org/article/judge-wont-free-michigan-teenager-sent-to-juvenile-detention-after-not-doing-online-schoolwork/amp?__twitter_impression=true

CBC News – Shanifa Nasser
A young Black man was fatally Tasered in his own backyard – now his family is demanding answers

This article defies belief that after all that Black Lives Matter has done to raise consciousness,  the police deaths of young Black men is still happening, this time consequent to the use of a stun gun – approximately six times.  Clive Mensah was dead an hour later.  The incredulity is augmented by the fact that the event occurred Nov. 20, 2019, that Mensah was unarmed in his family’s backyard, and that police have been silent since November, and no one has been charged. “Since Mensah’s death on Nov. 20, 2019, his uncles say they’ve heard almost nothing from investigators, and are desperate for answers about why their nephew, a young, unarmed Black man with a history of mental illness, was fatally tasered in his own backyard — and why no one, to date, has been held accountable.”   https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/clive-mensah-black-taser-police-1.5655022  Related article: CBC News – Idil Mussa   Montsion’s assault gloves part of his uniform, defence argues – The gloves manufactured by Oakley are described as ‘tactical’ or ‘assault gloves’  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/montsions-assault-gloves-are-a-part-of-his-uniform-defence-argues-1.5657121 (Ed note: Constable Daniel Montsion is charged in the death of mentally-ill Abdirahman Abdi who died from a beating during arrest.)

Ottawa Citizen – David Pugliese
Team with Canadian military intelligence unit data-mined social media accounts of Ontarians during pandemic

Here’s a scary scenario, made worse by the apparent ignorance of the activity by those in charge and by the vagueness around what use has been made or could be made of the data collected.  The story involves the military, a five person team called the Precision Information Team, monitoring the data on various platforms around the retirement homes where the military was called to assist.  The data, which the military says was publicly available, eventually found its way to the Ontario provincial government.  Critics think the operation may be unethical and borderline legal.  https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/team-with-canadian-military-intelligence-unit-data-mined-social-media-accounts-of-ontarians-during-pandemic

Martin Luther King Institute
“When Peace Becomes Obnoxious”

This speech was given King in the context of the decision by the University of Alabama to expel its first Black girl admitted after federal legislation obliged her acceptance.  The initial admission resulted in widespread uproar and violence and the decision, after only a few days, was labelled by King as a peace of great price:  “It was peace that had been purchased at the price of allowing mobocracy to reign supreme over democracy. It was peace that had been purchased at the price of capitulating to the forces of darkness. This is the type of peace that all men of goodwill hate. It is the type of peace that is obnoxious. It is the type of peace that stinks in the nostrils of the almighty God.”  We may resort to these words as we climb out of the impasse on police violence and the economic imperatives of Covid-19 crisis.  https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/when-peace-becomes-obnoxious   Related article: NBC News – Eric Ortiz   Michigan judge denies release of teenage girl who was jailed after not doing homework – “I miss my mom. I can control myself. I can be obedient,” the 15-year-old girl known as Grace reportedly said during a hearing Monday. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/michigan-judge-denies-release-teenage-girl-who-was-jailed-after-n1234377?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma

 The Marshall Project (US) – Simone Weichselbaum

One Roadblock to Police Reform: Veteran Officers Who Train Recruits – Field trainers “are part of the old guard of the department. They teach the old way of doing things.”  

The first step following training at the police academy for most of the recruits and the 18,000 police forces across the US is the pairing with a senior and veteran officer for field training.  “Critics say the low standards create poisonous field training programs that fuel a toxic street-cop culture, marked by too much aggression and too little accountability.”  https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/07/22/one-roadblock-to-police-reform-veteran-officers-who-train-recruits  Related article: San Francisco Bayview – Tasha Williams   Soledad guards in riot gear at 3 a.m. July 20 snatched 200+ Black prisoners from their bunks, brutalized them, crammed them into the kitchen for hours, zip-tied, unmasked  https://sfbayview.com/2020/07/soledad-3-a-m-raid-on-200-black-prisoners/   Related article: The Appeal.org – Chesa Boudin and Miriam Aroni Krinsky    Prisons Are Overwhelmed With COVID-19. Why Aren’t Governors Doing More?  https://theappeal.org/prisons-are-overwhelmed-with-covid-19-why-arent-governors-doing-more/