Sun, 01 Nov 2020

Political and justice systems of America under fire

(Op-ed) Jerome Irwin
30 Sep 2020, 07:55 GMT+10

The sculpture Stand Tall, Stand Loud, conceived by the African American artist Aaron Bell, whose father once was a prominent jazz bassist with the Duke Ellington Band, was originally assigned a spot directly beneath a complex of apartment buildings in New Yorks Manhattan Riverside Park that bear the name TRUMP.

However, the sculpture was soon removed and silenced by New York Park officials who deemed it a Problematic Sculpture because it cut too close to the bone and made too many Americans uncomfortable seeing that noosed head. But its lofty intent was meant to express to Americans and citizens the world over the need to rise above and defeat the historical roots of so much black oppression, racial discrimination and intolerance in American society and culture. The original work, featuring a lynched noose-like head on a muscular body with a captivating windmill part in its heart was censored because it simply spoke too much truth to power, especially when on its base a call to action quote by Martin Luther King Jr read, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.

Aaron Bells story, as both an artist and an African American human being, is but one of millions of such stories about the heroic determination, especially demonstrated among peoples of color, to rise above and defeat so much intolerance and injustice in their daily lives. American Justice or Injustice clearly remains a woeful travesty and abomination of what, from a humanistic perspective, should be a self-evident equally right, fair and just principle for all regardless of their race, color, creed or station in life.

THE SEED OF RACISM, INJUSTICE & FASCISM WERE PLANTED AT ITS BIRTH

Yet ever since the United States was first formed as a nation, based upon its unique historical Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, American Justice has meant diametrically different things to the Black, Brown and White Races. Since 1776, glaring disparities exist between how White America, historically, has meted out Justice to its own race, compared to the fascist ways it has differently treated its former African slaves, Indigenous Turtle Islandtribal peoples, as well as other coloured peoples and their descendants of all manner and kind.

To know this to be true, one need only briefly examine the on-going deterioration of American Justice, society and culture, the questionable legal and civil rights disparities of what all thus far has transpired in 2020, and what continues to evolve for so many who somehow have become involved with, or affected by, the on-going protests and backlashes to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Modern-day lynchings, as in the days of old in American culture, include such figures as: Floyd George, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others down through the ages who can attest to this patently true reality.

At this point, on the eve of one of Americas most contentious and pivotal elections in its history, the whole world continues to watch with dread and apprehension as American ideology, dogma, truth and justice are locked in violent contention with one another, and the very life and death struggle of the Democratic principles upon which the American nation was predicated remain in question if not serious doubt.

A brief review at this point in time is in order to reflect upon what currently is being resolved or not being resolved in the outrageous political and justice systems of America over the recent murders of African American figures and why the racial, cultural and social tensions in America continue to point towards the ominous fascist direction they are headed.

One case in point is that of Breonna Taylor, an African American woman emergency medical technician in Louisville Kentucky, shot six times and killed while innocently sleeping in her own bed, by three plainclothes Louisville law enforcement officers who mistakenly forcibly busted into her apartment on a no-knock warrant, looking for an old boy friend who no longer was there.

Eventual ballistic tests have since shown that one defensive shot was fired by Breonnas new boyfriend at the three plainclothes police when he was aroused from a dead sleep and never heard, as apparently 11 other witnesses in the surrounding apartments also didnt hear, any such forced entry announcement that the police claimed they made.

Yet in response to that one defensive shot fired, further ballistic tests show that the mind-set of the police was as if at that point they were breaking into the apartment of some dangerous John Dillinger killer, and were prepared to shoot up the apartment and everyone in it in response to whatever resistance was shown.

Taylors apartment was riddled with some 30 bullets blindly fired. Kitchen clocks, pots and pans, furniture in the living room and bedrooms were hit by the hail of bullets. It was a one-sided shoot out. One officer fired 6 rounds, another fired another 10 rounds blindly from outside through a patio door, while some 30 bullets all toll were sprayed inside Taylors apartment, with bullets also hitting neighboring apartments that narrowly missed a 5-year old child and a pregnant mother.

Yet in spite of the evidence of so many rounds randomly and carelessly fired into Taylors apartment a secret grand jury concluded, behind closed doors, without any transparency as to how or why they arrived at their conclusion, that only one of the officers was to be fired. But, insultingly, the officer wasnt even fired for the murder of Breonna Taylor but only for a far less serious Class-D charge of wanton endangerment to the public, while the reckless actions taken by the other two officers were absolved and deemed justifiable.

Many prominent Americans have since expressed their outrage at this decision. Preeminent African American figures in the sports world, like LA Lakers star Lebron James and Dallas Cowboy quarterback Dar Prescott, have made their voices of outrage publicly known. While internationally-acclaimed actor George Clooney, who was born and raised in Kentucky, also publicly has declared he is ashamed by the outcome of the grand jurys verdict. Remarked Clooney, I know the community of Louisville. I know the commonwealth of Kentucky. I was taught in the schools and churches of Kentucky what is right and wrong. Im ashamed of this decision.

Yet as is the case in all matters of hot potato politics, dogma and ideology in America there always are those on the other side of whatever the point of view, ready to argue differently While Clooney, James and Prescott argue one side of the coin, former African American NBA stars Shaquille ONeil and Charles Barkley, now TNT commentators, have drawn to themselves a widespread backlash of criticism from many quarters when they declared Taylors death is justifiable by the police because they were just doing their jobs and shouldnt be lumped in with the police murders of those like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks.

But ONeil and Barkley now have been lumped together, too, with the likes of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who himself has since ramped up his own inflammatory rhetoric about the Floyd George case and Black Lives Matter Movement. Every story weve been told, declares Carlson, about police brutality against African Americans has been, at its core, a lie. Carlson argues that George Floyd and Breonna Taylor had it coming to them for their own deaths and injuries and not the Minneapolis or Louisville police; as did Jacob Blake who was shot in the back seven times, at point-blank range, by Kenosha, Wisconsin police. Tucker Carlson has even gone so far as to attempt to tie Breonna Taylor into the drug trafficking of her former boy friend to cast further doubt on her innocence and reckless murder by Atlanta police.

U.S. Presidential Democratic candidate Joe Biden is on record as having openly declared that the Kenosha officer that shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times at point-blank range should have been immediately charged.

But Rayshard Brook's murder in Atlanta, Georgia should also have been added to Bidens outrage, as well as Ahmud Arberys murder, a 25-year old jogger in Georgia who also was shot to death in the back by self-described vigilantes who bogusly claim they shot Arbery in self-defense while attempting to effect a citizens arrest upon him as a suspected burglar. Seven months later, though these white supremacist vigilantes were charged with murder, theyve pleaded not guilty and have yet to be convicted.

Meanwhile, President Trump, instead of outright condemning the actions of the fascist right-wing vigilantes in Georgia or paramilitarists in Wisconsin, like Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two Black Lives Matter protestors and wounded a third in Kenosha, Trump has chosen to instead apologize for Rittenhouse. He appeared to be in very big trouble, defended Trump, and probably would have been killed if he hadnt defended himself.

In other words, according to Trump, a fascist paramilitarist who traveled with violent intent from Illinois to Wisconsin with a high powered military weapon was justified in defending himself against Black Life Matters supporters, while killing two of them and seriously wounding a third. True to form, Trump again refused to condemn the shooting of Jacob Blake, even though Blake also was shot seven times at point-blank range in the back by a local Kenosha police officer. Trump even refused to meet with the Blake family to pay his respects on behalf of the country, because the Blake Familys representative, Ben Clump, a lawyer, would have been present at the meeting. Race relations in America is always something to shake ones head at and puzzle over.

AMERICAS 1033 PROGRAM IS AT THE HEART OF NATIONS FASCIST MILITARIZED POLICE

The 1033 Program was created by the National Defense Act of 1997 that required the Department of Defense to make U.S. military equipment available to local police departments throughout America. It arose during President H.A.W. Bushs term in office

The greatest problem in modern times, as it was from the outset of Americas birth as a nation is the lack of fair and just treatment of the Black & Brown Races in the New World. Even the treatment of elements of the White Race has grown ever worse since Americas 1033 Program allowed local law enforcement agencies to acquire a wide spectrum of Department of Defense technology. Ever since the Bush-eras War on Terror, that its critics say more correctly should be called Americas WAR OF TERROR,a war of control and domination of the people has been progressively waged against White-Black-Brown Americans alike, but especially against Black & Brown peoples and their communities.

To date, the challenge to get weapons of war off Americas streets and pass more gun control legislation in general hasnt ever been successfully accomplished by any administration because the majority of Americans, White Americans in particular, still dont mind the fact that weapons of war on Americas streets are increasingly placed in the hands of the police, so long as the people themselves are also allowed to continue to legally buy their own weapons of mass destruction under the protection of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that protects the individual Americans sacred right to keep and bear arm for their own private use and protection, even when that sacred right may be high-grade combat military weaponry. No manner how heinous mass shootings in schools and public places become none ever make a big enough dent in the minds and consciences of those who subscribe to this ancient American belief.

As a result, Local police departments have become increasingly militarized and fascist-oriented by the obvious type of hard-edged military gear that now commonly can be seen being used on Americas streets to address protests and riots of all kinds, no matter how peaceful they may be at the outset.

Americas local police departments have continued to become militarized as the focus has shifted from what, once upon a time, was simply keeping the peace to what today now is meant to dominate the streets and catch as many lawbreakers or suspected lawbreakers as possible.

The continued militarization of America has fed into the racial tensions and unrest as the gap in Americas unjust, uneven society has become that much more unjust and uneven. The ensuing Watts Riots in California and Detroit in the 1960s, the FBI Miami Shootout in 1986 and North Hollywood shootout of 1997 were all game changers that spurred on, all the more, right-wing, authoritarian, Law & Order-type politicians like Trump to become ever more heavy-handed and reactionary. During his term of office, Trump has oft repeated his Law & Order urges to police departments to dominate Americas streets which has continued to create even more racial divisions.

The result has been that American justice has suffered proportionately to the degree that civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves, around the tenets of militarism and the military model. Militarized police are frequently deployed to communities with large populations of African Americans beyond anything to do with simply controlling local crime rates.

Already there exists dark militaristic police elements within organizations like Homeland Security, such as those unidentified brown shirt forces that suddenly appeared out of nowhere in Portland, Oregon, apparently at the order of President Trump, kidnapped Black Lives Matter protesters and drove them to some underground parking lot in black, unmarked SUVs with darkened windows where they were interrogated before being released. To many observors that instance was one of those tangible, flash-point signs that pointed to the fact that the active creation of a fascist, authoritarian state already was well underway.

1033 PROGRAM & POLICE ACADEMY TRAINING

The implementation and training of SWAT Teams in 1965, originally invented to storm barricades and address hostage situations, have since been used more as shock troops to quell urban unrest in urban Black & Brown peoples communities, in particular. Across America the use of SWAT team raids have grown from 3,000 in 1980 to 50,000 SWAT raids in 2014. John Whitehead, Constitutional & Human Rights lawyer, President of the Rutherford Institute, and author of Battlefield America; The War on the American People,declares that in the future a possible 80,000 SWAT Team raids in the USA wouldnt be a surprise.WTF! If this be true is America slowly becoming a fascist state of its own volition?.

The obvious negative consequences for the creation of so many SWAT Teams in the future means the loss of even more civil liberties and violations thereof, and ever more massive surveillance over-reach which continue to exercise the use of force leading towards widespread community alienation in general.

With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, police departments have now turned into the most heavily armed gangs on Americas streets, where theyre prepared for whatever kind of warfare may be needed. Police Departments use of body armor, night-vision scopes, military-grade M16s, camoulflage fatigees, Humvees, Mine-Resistanct-Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, with massed baton-beating of shields, loud intimidating unified marching movements resembling phalanxes of ancient Roman-style troop movements all are used on Americas streets to disperse hostile crowds, enforce imposed curfews or confront protestors who, as a result, often turn from peaceful protestors into rioters.

The deeply-embedded war machine philosophy of the American governments 1033 Program, and whatever racial divisions it continues to exaceebate, would seem to be here to stay. President Trump and his Law & Order Party oppose ever reforming the 1033 Program. The result is that American Justice continues to suffer proportionately to the degree that civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism while the military model grows ever more pervasive.

Police Academies that train cadets to become future police officers and provide refresher courses for seasoned officers now compound the problem by providing more and more advanced military, combat-style techniques for subduing unruly, uncooperative civilians, as well as providing Full Metal Jacket-type hard-nose psychological-confrontational techniques. In many police academies the self-evident paramilitary model of police culture now is so deeply-engrained and taken for granted as to be as pernicious as they are ubiquitous. As a result, some 1,000 or more protestors in Americas street, speaking out against racial injustices, are fatally shot each year, a disproportionate number of them brown and black-skinned people, with a per capita rate of police violence unparalleled in other democratic countries.

More and more progressive police department leaders and police academy instructors in America now seriously question what must happen differently in the future. In Washington State, the former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr pioneered a new kind of police training approach centered more on the use of police as guardiansrather than warriors.Rahrs training approach was called LEED, for Listen & Explore with Equity & Dignity. Rahrs approach simply de-emphasized such actions as yelling and confronting, emphasizing traininging that instead increased police officers ability to better listen, show empathy, explain their actions, de-escalate tense situations and, most importantly, always leave everyone they encounter with their dignity intact.

ONE MANS EXPLANATION FOR THE DISPARATE STANDARDS OF AMERICAN INJUSTICE

Many years ago, when this writer was living and working with the Lakota and Dakota Sioux peoples in South Dakota, one old Hunkpatinaelder, Buck Pomani, was met up with who harkened back to the old, pre-reservation, way of life.

Buck by then had seen a lot of life. Using a bit of old Lakota sign language, he would begin the telling of one of his tales by waving an open hand back over his shoulder behind him to indicate that this tale was something that happened a long time ago.

Buck had fought in WWI even though he wasnt even then considered to be an American worthy enough to fight for America, but, as Buck often would say in the telling, I didnt volunteer to go across the big water to fight them Heines for those suckers, who hated us Indians anyway and stole our lands from us. I went over to all those terrible places in Europe to fight for my own peoples land that is sacred to us Indians and needed our protection.

Buck had a sharp mind, was a fast learner and could speak fluent French from what all he had picked up on the run while living amongst, as he so fondly liked to say, Ooh, La, La! Them Frenchie girls!, because they were the first white people he said hed ever met who treated him like a real, normal human being.

Before having lived, loved and fought amongst the French people, and been gassed in the trenches that had collapsed one of his lungs, Buck had only gone to the third grade in the White Mans schools because his traditional grandparents had hid him out whenever the school authorities came around to drag Buck off back to the White Mans residential school. He was like many old-time traditionals whose native tongue was Dacotah and may or may not have ever spent many years, if any at all, in the White Mans schools because they,too, had been hid out by their families and so only roughly knew the writing and reading of American English as a foreign language. But, like many of his contemporaries, he had an uncanny natural ability to listen to the spoken word and then cut to the heart of whatever truthful or untruthful meaning and intent lay behind the word was being used and what it meant to convey.

One day, while talking with Buck Pomani the conversation turned to the question of the radical differences that exist between the kind of justice that brown and black peoples receive in America compared to what white people commonly experience. He interrupted our conversation on the topic to comment, There you go again, Jerry Vista (this ones government name that had been adapted and used by the Dacotah to give more personal, intimate meaning to our relationship). Jerry Vista, youre talking about somethin you got a lot to learn about when using that there wasichu (white man) word Justice.

Picking up a nearby stick and tapping it on the ground as we spoke, as though it was a drumstick beating upon the earth as if it were a drum, Buck continued, Before I ever knew how to spell it, I picked up a stick one day, just like Im doing now, and scrawled in the sand at my feet the letters, JUST-US. Thats when I got it. I knew why we Indians never do get the same justice from the White Man that he gives to his own people because the way they read the laws for us in the White Mans laws aint the same ones for them. Theyre just for us! Thats why they have one law for how they violate the earth and all living things and another law just for what they want to keep for themselves.

Chuckling to himself in the telling as he brushed the palms of his open hands across one another again in a bit of old Indian sign language to signify it was finished or understood, Buck said, Ah Ho! Waste yelo! Thats when I got it.Theyve got one set of laws for themselves and another kind of justice thats just for us! Thats why we never could understand, and still cant understand, the way the White Man thinks about us Indians and whats the right and wrong way to live for us all.

This classic constant double standard always has existed and probably always will in Americas inherently-racist Justice system as it so differently and unevenly is applied to Black, Brown and White Peoples. It probably will forever remain that way until something totally unexpected and dramatic happens to radically change the basic mindset of what is causing the meltdown of Americas Great Failed Experiment in Democracy to continue.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who once upon a time in university was a Criminology student while working in one of America's local police departments. For decades, Irwin has especially sought to call world attention to problems of environmental degradation and unsustainability caused by a host of environmental-ecological-spiritual issues that exist between the conflicting world philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Irwin is the author of the book, "The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey" (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a spiritual odyssey among the native peoples of North America that has led to numerous articles pertaining to: Ireland's Fenian Movement; native peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement; AIPAC, Israel & the U.S. Congress anti-BDS Movement; the historic Battle for Palestine & Siege of Gaza, as well as; the many violations constantly being waged by industrial-corporate-military-propaganda interests against the World's Collective Soul.

(Photo credit: Courtney Harristuten | Instagram).

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