02-19-2017  6:09 pm      •     
Tamir Rice protest

It’s not surprising that no one will be punished for the death of Tamir Rice. Since the youngster’s killing, the police, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty, and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson have refused to do anything except look for ways to sweep it away in hopes that it will be forgotten, just like previous similar acts of lethal aggression against Black people.

The report stated Rice’s death was caused, “by the failure…to exercise due care to avoid injury.” In other words, the 12-year old boy caused his own death. The Mayor apologized, not for the killing, but for the words used to describe the cause of the killing. Rice was shot for holding a toy gun 1.7 seconds after the cops pulled up to his location in a park. No warning, no command to drop the gun, and no attempt to speak to Rice; they shot first—immediately, and now we are asking the questions.

McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir’s death as a tragic series of errors and “miscommunications” that began when a 911 caller said a male who was “probably a juvenile” was waving a “probably fake” gun at people in a park. Has there been any disciplinary action issued against the 911 dispatcher for not relaying the entire message to the cops?

The fact that those caveats never reached Officer Timothy Loehmann — who shot the child within two seconds of arriving on the scene — was more than just an administrative misstep. Like the 911 call that led to John Crawford’s death in an Ohio Walmart, for holding a BB gun, not “pointing” it at customers as the caller said, Rice’s instantaneous execution reflects an utter disregard for Black life. That disregard began with Officer Loehmann’s work history and emotional state not being fully vetted before he was given the power of life and death over the citizens of Cleveland.

Wanton violence against people who pose no threat to the police was on full display in a particularly striking case in 2012. Officers mistook the sound of a car backfiring for a gunshot, thus, according to The Guardian, causing 104 of the 277 Cleveland officers on duty that night to get involved. Cops chased down and fired 137 bullets into the vehicle, killing Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, who were unarmed.

Regarding the last series of shots fired by Officer Michael Brelo, who said his life was in danger yet, in Rambo style, jumped on the hood of the car and started firing, Judge John O’Donnell said, “I cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt which of the fatal wounds he caused.” Oh, I get it. New defense: Fire as many shots by as many cops as possible so no one can determine which cop fired the fatal bullet. Everybody walks.

That’s almost as good as the invention of the “Affluenza” defense (rich kid in Texas kills four people with automobile and gets probation), which suggests that rich folks are less responsible for their crimes than the rest of us because their actions are somehow skewed as a result of having too much money. Here’s a thought: How about “Pofluenza” as a defense for “Po” folks?

As for Tamir Rice, there are some who are unafraid. City Councilman, Jeff Johnson, has demanded that the Cleveland Law Department do a full review and file charges of negligent homicide against the officers involved in Tamir’s death‬. Also, Basheer Jones held a press conference with a coalition of various organizations, to outline their demands in response to what they label as “Tamir Rice injustice,” and promised there will be civil disobedience in response to the killing.

In contrast, other folks are asking LeBron James to refuse to play until justice is done. That will never happen, and even if it did it would have little effect except for news value. They should be calling on the folks who attend the games and pay millions to see James play. Oh yeah, they’d get some justice then. Money talks; T-shirts walk.

If police officers were required to have personal malpractice insurance, for instance, not paid by the municipality but by themselves, and if court awards had to be paid by insurance companies rather than by taxpayers, maybe there would be fewer killings. (See www.iamoneofthemillion.com and read Plank #3 of our political platform)

Injustice can and does lead to violence in return, and it could ultimately be one reason for young people turning to terrorism. While some naively think jobs will stop terrorism, a report, “The Age of the Wolf,” cited an 18-year old boy who stated, “I did not join the Taliban because I was poor; I joined because I was angry.”

There is a lot of anger out there about our broken criminal justice system. I believe economic responses will accelerate the process of repairing it.

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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