Tears of Rage …

There are so many important things I need to write about today that as I sit at the keyboard, I am conflicted, not knowing where to begin.  Trump’s emoluments lawsuit?  His DACA threat?  His intent to pull out of Syria?  His threat to pull out of NAFTA?  His ignorant statement that The Washington Post should have to register as a lobbyist organization?  Laura Ingraham’s cruel statements about the kids protesting for gun regulation and the backlash against her?  Then again, I have a piece started about how gerrymandering could affect the mid-term elections, but it requires more research that I haven’t yet found time for.  Sigh.  But I know that I will write about none of these topics for this post, because while they are all extremely important, another story has stirred my emotions … all of them: rage, grief, despair.

Stephon Clark with his two children

A young man, Stephon Clark, was only 22-years-old when he died, fatally shot in his grandmother’s backyard by police officers.  Police said he was coming toward them with a weapon.  In fact, he held a cell phone.  Police said they shot in self-defense … all twenty times.  In fact, six of the eight bullets that hit Mr. Clark, hit him in the back … in the back!!!  They shot an unarmed man six times in the back!  Stephon, as I’m sure you have guessed by now, was black. It happened two weeks ago, 18 March, to be precise. At first I steered clear of this story, for it was reported that Stephon may have been vandalizing cars in the neighborhood, and details seemed conflicting in several areas.  Besides, our friend Gronda had done a fine post about it, so I went in a different direction.    But when I heard the autopsy reports, I began to lean toward writing about it after all.  And then today … on Saturday night, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s car hit a 61-year-old woman in a crowd of protestors and then … sped away!!! That’s right … one of “Sacramento’s Finest” is guilty of hit-and-run against a woman who was doing nothing more than protesting a brutal murder by other members of “Sacramento’s Finest”! It was at this point that I knew I had to write this else my fury would eat me alive.

Wanda Cleveland, the woman the deputy hit, will fortunately be alright.  She was treated at the hospital for injuries to her arm and the back of her head.  The incident was captured on video, so there should be no doubt as to who the guilty deputy is, though the Sheriff’s office has not released that information as yet.  They say only that it is ‘under investigation’.  There is already a demand that the two officers who shot Stephon be fired, and I would add this deputy’s name to the list of people who do not need to be in law enforcement.

Does anybody remember the riots in Los Angeles in 1991 after the videotaped beating of Rodney King by L.A.P.D. officers?  It looks a lot like Sacramento wants to repeat those riots.  Protests in Sacramento had been ongoing for days, but those protests increased in intensity and tension after the results of the autopsy were released.  Thus far, the protests have shut down major roadways, blocked entry to an NBA game and created a seemingly ever-present tension in the streets of California’s capital.  I must commend the protestors, for through it all, there have been only two arrests.

And there have been signs of compassion and remorse.  Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg walked with Clark’s family as they left his funeral last week.  The Sacramento Kings NBA team has launched an education fund for Clark’s children.  Protest organizers are cautiously optimistic about the new Police Chief Daniel Hahn, who just last August became the city’s first African American police chief. Hahn did not hesitate to swiftly release body-cam videos of the shooting and summon the assistance of the state attorney general’s office to investigate it.

So yes, there are signs that this is being taken seriously, there may well be olive branches extended, but it is not enough.  Steps must be taken to hold law enforcement accountable, and thus far that has not been done.  As Attorney General under President Obama, Loretta Lynch initiated investigations and implemented procedures to ensure federal oversight of police departments, especially those accused of racial profiling.  Upon taking office, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who has a history of proven racism,  repealed much of what Ms. Lynch had put into place, saying …

“It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.”

Then whose responsibility is it, Mr. Sessions???  We The People are sick and tired of unarmed black men being gunned down in cold blood by local police, and never being held accountable.  Local police across the nation have proven that they are not going to terminate officers who shoot unarmed black men.  Community outrage?  Sure, for a while, and then it dies down, the officers are found “not guilty” and reinstated in their positions, their killing weapons returned to them so that they can go out and take another young life.  #BlackLivesMatter is a movement that is rarely understood among the white population of this nation.  It is not saying, as some would claim, that only black lives matter … it is saying that black lives matter every bit as much as white lives!  Just maybe not to the police, the courts, or the current Department of Justice.

Something must change.  This cannot continue.  The people of Sacramento are angry.  The people of this nation are angry, at least most of us.  And we are tired … tired of racial injustice, tired of law enforcement being “above the law”.  Tired of white supremacism, bigotry, racism and hatred.  I hope the protests in Sacramento continue until finally somebody sits up and takes notice.  I do not hope to see more lives lost, but hope that, like the young people who marched for laws to control guns, the protesters are spirited, yet operate peacefully, within the bounds of the law. But the point must be made, somehow, that no, this is not okay with us!

In two days, 04 April 2017, it will have been 50 years since the assassination of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King.  Are we any further along in our quest for racial equality than we were 50 years ago?  You tell me …

32 thoughts on “Tears of Rage …

  1. Dear Jill,

    Don’t ever think twice about posting something that I may have blogged on because you always bring a fresh perspective to any news item. There are some stories that need to be out there as much as possible and these police mistreatment of our Black brothers and sisters is one of them.

    I started blogging over the Trayvon Martin case but years later, we are still dealing with this phenomenon of unarmed peoples of color being subjected too often to excessive force by police.

    Since when have we heard of a swarm of police with guns drawn with a helicopter circling overhead arriving in a neighborhood, in response to a complaint about vandalism.

    The hit and run crime case by a police vehicle where police run over a 61 year old lady but then take off, is unconscionable.

    Sacramento has a problem police department. Of course, the current republican administration will not even comment on this outrage.

    Hugs, Gronda

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        • That is a question I keep asking myself … has the world turned upside-down, or was it always like this and we just wore blinders? I dunno. But it is indeed UGLY!!! I am sick of it. Hugs ❤

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            • The Chinese believe that history is cyclic, and the more I study, read and see, the more likely I think they are correct. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over … ad nauseam. Remember the song by Peter, Paul & Mary — Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

              Liked by 1 person

                • I think that with each passing generation, as more and more distance is put between the event, the lesson, it dims, becomes less relevant. And thus, when we see a trend toward fascism such as we defeated 70+ years ago in Germany and Italy, the memories now come, not from the stories of our mothers & fathers, but from history books, and they just aren’t as real. For instance, how emotional do you get over the murder of Julius Caesar? It’s merely a part of history … ancient, not relevant to today. Or so we think, anyway. Just my take on it. Hugs!

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                  • ‘..how emotional do you get over the murder of Julius Caesar?’
                    -stares at Jill-
                    Of course. That’s the missing element, the /emotion/ attached to the event. I feel like an idiot but I never saw it quite that way before. lol – you’ve just changed my whole view of history. 🙂

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • You, my friend, as as far from an idiot as they come! Perhaps you just never thought of it that way before … I suspect many don’t! I remember as a child, sitting on my grandpa’s knee and hearing about his first-hand experiences fleeing the Nazi’s and ultimately spending time in a camp. He would cry in the telling, sometimes sob, and it was very, very real to me … I felt as if I had been there. But when I would tell my own children and later, grandchildren, the same stories, I could see that the emotional attachment just wasn’t there. Certainly they were horrified, but … it wasn’t ‘personal’ to them. Hugs, my dear friend.

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                    • -hugs- I had no idea your family had experienced the Holocaust at first hand. I simply cannot imagine how your grandfather must have suffered. 😦
                      Your experience, though, has served to remind me that empathy needs something to cling to. I’m 100% against racism because I experienced a tiny taste of it as a child in Australia. It was teamed with bullying so I hate bullies as well.
                      I wish there were some way we could all be vaccinated against hatred and racism and fear of the ‘other’.
                      Keep fighting the good fight. You’re not alone.

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                    • Yes, my father was Jewish, my mother Catholic. I ended up Agnostic … go figure. But I still remember so well my Pa’s telling of it … he would hold me tight … always smelled of beer and cigars … and start telling the stories. Some funny, some tragic. He died when I was 5, yet I still remember it so well … I can still see his grey chest hair peeking over his shirt! The things we remember, yes?

                      I do love your idea about being vaccinated against hatred and bigotry of all forms. If only. But what we CAN do, MUST do, is find as many ways as we can to make it real for our kids and grandkids … help them see that it IS personal and not just some history lesson from the past. An uphill battle, but one worth fighting. ❤

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  2. OML… Jill, I didn’t know about the lady being hit. Was that deliberate? What the hell was that cop thinking? You would suppose that in this day and age when everyone has a cell phone to record what they’re seeing people would be a bit more circumspect in their behaviors, wouldn’t you?

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    • I don’t know whether it was deliberate, but obviously once he had hit her, he had to have realized, and yet he drove off. Personally, I expect better than that of our law enforcement. They are the ones we tell our children to always trust. “If you ever need help, go find a policeman,” we tell them. Just not if you are black, Latino, Muslim, or gay, huh? Sheesh.

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  3. Jill, asking the same question for the umpteenth time, why 11, 12, 14, 16, 20….even 41 shots. I recognize that it is a hard job being in the line of fire, but to be frank, the only reason that makes any sense is the fear causes them to overuse force. Why must he or she unleash the entire weapon along with others

    The 41 shot example is remembered by Bruce Springsteen in his song “American Skin.” It would be very profound and unsettling for The Boss to play this song in front of the Capitol Building and White House plus a few Governors’ mansions.

    There is a reason Black Lives Matter exists. There is a reason the NFL players kneel. To many of their fellow citizens are dying. As Marvin Gaye sang “What’s Going On?” Keith

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    • Keith if I may add my voice here. It is training. I carried a weapon for years. From the US military to a reserve sheriff’s deputy, to P.I. to Private security under government regulation and oversight. I was trained far differently from the people out there today. We were not taught to fear the public. We were not taught to be afraid we would die. We were taught the rules of force. What was and was not legal, authorized, what we could do and be backed by the department, and what the department wouldn’t accept. We did not have a fear every day we wouldn’t coming home. We treated those we dealt with like neighbors and everyone with respect. Even when cuffing a suspect we remembered they had rights and were people in our community. We were not perfect. We made mistakes. But we did not kill out of fear, we did not treat life lightly. I carried several non-lethal weapons and I was required to use them first if the situation did not call for deadly force. We used our heads, our reason, and we interacted with those we dealt with. I think police today are too isolated. They don’t deal with the community. They don’t have a relationship with the areas they patrol. Often we could talk about family and people we knew to the suspects and get cooperation. I guess it was a different world back then. Hugs

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    • Yes, I agree with your take on it. And I would also add that there are people who are simply not cut out for law enforcement. If they panic and cannot be trusted to shoot to maim, or to try something else, like a taser first, of if they cannot shoot straight for the fear clouding their vision, then perhaps they should consider another line of work. It seems there would be some form of psychological profiling they would have to go through to find out beforehand whether they can maintain their cool in tense situations or not. This guy was walking toward the cop, arms outstretched, with nothing but a WHITE iphone in his hand, and they felt so threatened they fired 20 rounds! Sigh.

      Two earworms in one day! I’m honoured!

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  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Wow!!! When will these senseless killings stop?! Never? Ever?
    ‘And then today … on Saturday night,, March 31, a Sacramento County Sheriff’s car hit a 61-year-old woman in a crowd of protestors and then … sped away!!! That’s right … one of “Sacramento’s Finest” is guilty of hit-and-run against a woman who was doing nothing more than protesting a brutal murder by other members of “Sacramento’s Finest”!
    … only a ‘few bad apples’ …. my arse!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill I understand and share your anger. I read on the website of Jerry Coyne, a biologist from the university of Chicago, that race is only a social concept. The reason is there is only a 1% difference between “races”. There Is a bigger difference in a given population than there is between the ‘races”. From what I can understand of the subject over history we have mixed so much that their really is no white race, no black race, no such whatever race. We have some level of other races genetics in all of us. So every time someone looks at a person’s skin color and thinks that they are the other, they may have the same genetic mixed make up. We are a human race, once species. We really got to understand that and take the welfare of all of peoples as the same as our own. For we are all brothers and sisters, we are the human family. Hugs

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    • I fully agree, Scottie. I think that racism is rooted in arrogance. While I suppose all ethnicities have a degree of arrogance, it seems that those who can trace their ancestry back to Europe have an overdose of arrogance. Think of the Mayflower Society, open only to those who can trace their ancestry to the few who came to this country on the Mayflower. I am disgusted by it all … I cannot understand why we can’t simply treat each other as human beings! Hugs, dear friend!

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