Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

…or Cannabis. Whatever you happen to call it, weed is on the rise.

I wanted to see Venice when I was visiting the Rocker and Ms Cait in LA before Thanksgiving. Did I tell you they moved from the Jersey Shore? A career in composing music for the film industry compelled their cross-country caravan. The https://www.walkscore.com number is high in their charming neighborhood of Silver Lake. But I just had to see Venice Beach, and the boardwalk wasn’t what I had imagined. Granted it was a Saturday so everybody was out enjoying the weather, the non-stop beautiful weather of Southern California.

Along with skate boarders, roller bladers, and sightseers, were bright green signs for weed clinics with guys in green scrubs hawking their wares. It was like a carnival side-show. The Rocker told me it’s fairly easy to get an Rx for cannabis, you can walk right in, and I could say maybe my arthritis was acting up, and voila. Of course if I did, and tried to carry said package back home to VA, I could have been thrown in a federal prison!

Which illustrates how paradoxical our laws are about this substance. Anyone can tell you that weed is actually safer than alcohol, or tobacco, although there’s not much evidence-based science out there in this country. We have a President who wrote about his younger pot-head days, and I dare you to ask anyone between 18 and 70 if they ever lit up a joint.

Now we have Sanjay Gupta,MD who might as well be our Surgeon General, exposing how weed is used for intractable seizure disorder in children on CNN. And today, even in VA, a legislator would like to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use. I came across this proposal in the House on my Twitter feed:

“I really don’t care. I mean, I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “If my constituents want me to retire, it’s okay with me. I’m not saying I want to; I didn’t say that at all. But I think what I’m doing is the right thing and I think that’s why they sent me here.” Delegate Harvey Morgan (R)
“Morgan’s Republican colleagues say they will quickly kill the measure.”

Maybe it’s because he’s been in the thick of politics for so long that he realizes a conviction on a drug charge can change the whole trajectory of a person’s life. That we are wasting our country’s youngest citizens by throwing them in jail for non-violent offenses that his own peer’s children can circumvent because they have money and privilege.

Maybe some measure of wisdom really does happen with age, even in the GOP.

It may be awhile before we see weed clinics popping up in Virginia Beach. Medicinal, recreational or otherwise, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve said it before, solving the drug problem in this country is a public and health policy issue, it’s not a war to be won. IMG_1817

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Months ago I heard about a nifty new strategy for robbers and thieves. They would roll up next to your car at the gas station, and while you’re busy filling up your tank with gas (just ignore this my NJ peeps, everyone else in the states has to pump their own gas) the bad guys will drive up next to the passenger side of your car, and in one swift move jump out, open up your door and boom, snatch your purse right off the seat! Seems like easy pickins, right? So I’ve been locking my car doors while gassing up ever since, just in case.

But one time in Nashville I didn’t see this hustle coming. The Bride was outside her car filling up the tank, while I stayed inside in front talking to the Love Bug in the back seat. All of a sudden there was a young girl at my open window telling me a sob story about how she had to get somewhere and just needed a few bucks for gas. Naturally I gave her a five dollar bill for gas, and later the Bride told me I’d been had. In retrospect, she did look like a meth addict, but hey.

But I was not surprised this past week. In the middle of my zombie/like/9hour/driving/trance on my way back from Nashville at a Sheetz, I was struggling with the monitor on a gas pump. It took my credit card info and I was about to enter my zip code when it asked me if I wanted a car wash??? Normally I’d press the “No” button – only there was NO “NO” button! So I’m trying to figure out how to get back to the initial screen, when all of a sudden a man who I can only describe as a lunatic is staring me right in the face.

With my car locked and only a gas hose between us, he starts telling me how he needs some money to get back to West VA!This guy, who looks like the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart, hauls a big red gas can up for me to see and what? fill it up for him? I can’t even get my own gas, which is what I start yelling at him – “I can’t get this damn thing to work, so NO…” and he gets out of my face in a hurry. Probably the first crazy Yankee nana he’s ever encountered! As I drive out of the Sheetz, I notice a beat-up van with a woman who looks like the wife of the psycho who abducted Elizabeth Smart sitting in its open door. She’s holding one of those cardboard signs with a message I didn’t read.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice? In retrospect, maybe I should have called the police. But I’d already called them on my drive to Nashville about an aggressive driver who almost ran a car off the road right in front of me. I didn’t need to become known as the interstate watchdog/vigilante/nana, so I found a Starbucks, which is like finding an oasis in the desert on that trip, and refueled my engine. One non-fat, Chai tea latte later, and I was home free.

"Yeah so then what happened?"

“Yeah so then what happened?”

They are searching in Orange County today for Alexis Murphy and another missing girl. The last place Alexis was seen was at a gas station. Maybe NJ has the right idea after all?

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Normally, I’m not a scaredy cat. However, once my vision was affected by West Nile, I pretty much stopped driving at night. Which is why I’ll be car-pooling with some friends to see the first episode of Downton Abbey at the Paramount Theatre on the Historic Downtown Mall this weekend.

Added to my natural inclination to visit with friends and actually enjoy my Anglophile evening, is my revulsion at a local news story. A little past midnight on December 20th, a young couple leaving Millers was beaten severely right outside the Wells Fargo bank, a few steps away from the Paramount. This incident received national coverage when the victims discovered, nine days later, that the ball had been dropped by the City of Charlottesville PD. The woman took cell phone pictures of the beating and posted them to her Facebook page, initiating an investigation that has so far come up short on suspects.

The rotten part of the story is that the three attackers seemed to take great pleasure in kicking and beating the young man unconscious, and punching the woman in the head. They laughed, they joked and hugged each other. They didn’t take her purse or their money, even when it was thrown at them. The three attackers were Black and the two victims were White; which led some to call this another example of the “knockout game.”

“They didn’t want to rob us. They wanted to beat us. It was like it was enjoyable to them to beat us,” she said. “There was camaraderie to it.” http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/charlottesville-police-chief-orders-internal-review-in-mall-attack-case/article_87e5fdfa-71cf-11e3-a232-0019bb30f31a.html

This knockout game is just another example of a hate crime imho. Maybe it started when Brad Pitt made that fight club movie, or maybe it started as a gang initiation; pick an innocent victim and sucker punch them into oblivion. It’s caught on like wildfire around the country and states are trying to catch up – http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/30/state-introduce-knockout-game-bills/4249987/

It would be a shame if this news coverage served to deter people from enjoying a night out on the Mall. But calls are coming in for more widespread surveillance and a beefier police presence on the Mall. Our former Mayor Dave Norris had this to say:

…One other predictable outcome: expect another big push for a public camera surveillance system downtown. The damage done by those three jerks to our sense of community, to our sense of safety and to our civil liberties is likely to far exceed the physical damage done to their two victims. I hope none of this comes to pass and that we in Charlottesville avoid the temptation to escalate and overreact. Given human nature, I am not optimistic. I sincerely hope we find these criminals and put them away. I hope their victims’ wounds heal quickly. I hope ours do as well.

I’m not against more cameras, let’s just put them everywhere like London has done. And btw, let’s also ban guns like the Brits, and legalize marijuana like Colorado. But while we’re busy day dreaming, I wonder how our latest single parents will be coping this season?downton-abbey-season-52


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UnknownMy fearless editor of Tangerine Tango asked a question on her Facebook page. Lisa Winkler said,

“The cicadas are gone. What world will they find in 17 years?”

Now I wouldn’t blame you for missing that speech President Obama made at Georgetown University on climate change. After all, there was testimony in the Trayvon Martin case to analyze. His poor teenage girlfriend got the third degree from a jokester defense attorney because she was the last one to speak with him on his way home with Skittles in his pocket and an Arizona Iced Tea in his hand.

And then we had to pull apart the Paula Deen redemption interview with Matt Lauer. He sat back, pompously asking her if she was a racist, digging deep into her Southern gentility. I am glad she has finally hired a PR closer, Judy Smith; the DC crisis manager who is supposedly the inspiration for Scandal’s Olivia Pope. In truth, it’s a show I don’t watch, could somebody bring back The West Wing?

And of course we had some mighty interesting SCOTUS decisions to follow, as the Court seemingly stepped back to the future.

But back to the cicada question…17 years from now will a certain barrier island off the Jersey Shore still be here? Our President decided finally to do something concrete last week about climate change, to bypass an intransigent Congress, and try to save that Blue Marble we call earth! It was an image of Earth -– beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon,”the President said.

Obama talked about carbon emissions but he really focused on water; on rising sea levels and flooding, on depleting our aquifers. Here’s what he said, in a nutshell:

“And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers. And we’ll also open our climate data and NASA climate imagery to the public, to make sure that cities and states assess risk under different climate scenarios, so that we don’t waste money building structures that don’t withstand the next storm.”


In local news relating to water. two UVA sorority girls were surrounded and attacked by men in plain clothes, with guns drawn, in our upscale shopping center after leaving Harris Teeter with cases of La Croix bottled water and ice cream. Yes, the Alcoholic Beverage Control agents thought they were underage purchasers of beer, while their blue cartons only contained water…still one girl had to spend an afternoon and an evening in jail and they were charged with a felony. Go figure. Maybe before trying to save this blue marble, we should try to find the marbles we’ve lost?


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Closing arguments have wrapped up in a trial that has everybody talking in Central VA. In the sleepy town of Culpeper, Daniel Harmon-Wright is fighting to get his life back. An ex-police officer, he made the mistake of taking on the wrong woman in the parking lot of a Catholic School on February 9, 2012. Somebody called and said there was a “suspicious looking car.” Think of Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes in front of the Winn Dixie, “TOWANDA.”

Only it didn’t work out that well when 54-year-old Patricia Ann Cook decided that she wasn’t getting out of her car for no good reason. When Harmon-Wright tried reaching inside (to get her keys I presume), she closed the window on the officer’s arm and started dragging him down the pavement. That’s when he shot her. He is charged with “…murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony…A prosecutor called the fatal shooting “excessive” and unnecessary, while Harmon-Wright’s attorney said the officer was doing his job in shooting at a ‘fleeing felon.'” http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/ap/ex-culpeper-officer-s-murder-trial-nears-end/article_76733eba-ade6-5188-a938-ec980d8b5db2.html

Wait, who’s the felon? The officer had a history of unnecessary force, “…about a month before the fatal incident, Harmon-Wright received a reprimand for entering a house with his gun drawn and forcing a teenager to the floor. It turned out he had the wrong teen.”

I remember thinking how strange and stupid the whole thing was when I first heard about it, why not shoot out the tires, or just threaten her, or aim at her hand or something? Now I love the police just like the next guy, or girl, but growing up in the North we learned to never take chances when somebody in a uniform with a gun approaches us. You do what they say. Period. However, you know that if they want to search your car, they need a little something called “probable cause.” Just because you’re a young man with long hair and a brake light is out won’t cut it…do you detect a note of the anti-establishment 60s? Maybe Cook was having a bad day, maybe it was a menopausal Towanda kinda day? Did she deserve to die?

It’s serendipitous that the jury will most likely deliver its verdict on the same day that a new immigration policy is unfolding further upstream in Washington, DC. Police have been stopping suspicious looking people, (ie Mexican) and asking for their identification in some states. They have been imprisoning people who may have been called for a domestic dispute, turning them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and deporting them…because they raised their voice and didn’t have a green card. Children have been separated from parents. During President Obama’s tenure, deportations have risen beyond the levels of President Bush, calling for a policy that “…would force local law enforcement to share fingerprints of those arrested with the Department of Homeland Security, which has immigration records, through the FBI.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/27/obama-is-deporting-more-immigrants-than-bush-republicans-dont-think-thats-enough/

We read about police states, but we never really think this could happen here. When is deadly force the right move? Who gets to question who about their immigration status? Now, because the clueless GOP thinks that losing 71% of the Latino vote in November is reason enough to consider a humane, comprehensive immigration policy, we should celebrate. Well, OK, just un pequeno.
RIP Patricia Ann Cook, the unarmed Sunday School teacher who was shot 7 times. And thank God for online petitions, like the one that kept the city from brushing this case under the proverbial rug.

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My news sabbatical is over. While nursing this cold I’ve taken to watching CNN in the morning with my oatmeal, tylenol and Vicks scented tissues. And somehow I thought that maybe everything on a Facebook news feed wasn’t necessarily true. Yet there it was, a story I’d merely glanced at online because it made my stomache churn, was now being reported as fact on morning TV: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/04/justice/ohio-rape-online-video/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

This story hits all the wrong notes – the high school football team of Steubenville, Ohio is somehow implicated in a gang rape of an unconscious 16 year old girl. Two 16 year old football players are identified and charged with rape, but the real question is was the town and its police force trying to cover this up since it happened in August? And what sets this rape apart from any other is the evidence; it’s not just he said, she said. A hacking activist group called Anonymous has posted video of a drunken boy boasting about the crime, along with pictures of the girl…which is why I saw it online before national media picked it up.

Now juxtapose these two images: CNN reporters interviewing Steubenville shopkeepers about how we mustn’t judge the whole town by the actions of a few, with the protests from India. A 23 year old medical student died after being brutally gang raped on a bus in New Delhi on December 16th. There have been daily protests in the streets since that day calling for justice and the men to be hanged. Five, possibly six men have been charged with “… murder, kidnapping and rape… voluntarily causing harm during a robbery, armed robbery with murder, and destruction of evidence.” http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/03/world/asia/india-rape-case/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

I know our legislators have much to do after their first day back on the Hill. They must keep kicking the can down the road of fiscal temerity; they must agree with some form of realistic gun control; they have to pass a budget, and oh BTW, thanks for that last minute Super Storm Sandy pass…on the heels of your humiliating first vote. And it saddens me that Congress could not reauthorize the 2012 version of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). It seems the GOP balked when language was added to include “…expanded provisions to protect victims even if they’re gay, illegal immigrants or Native Americans living in tribal jurisdictions.” Rumor has it that R-VA Eric Cantor balked at the LGBT provisions, but a rape is a rape is a rape, no matter who you are or where you live. I am hopeful that the increasing number of women in the new 113th Congress can make this happen.


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