Posts Tagged ‘Police Reform’

I could not watch the video.

The Memphis special squadron that took it upon themselves to stop a young Black man for some unknown traffic violation, and then beat him to death. I thought the carnage might end as police cams and onlookers with cell phones recorded the shootings in the back, the knee on the neck, the vindictive assaults. Everyone whispered, “Thank God they are Black officers,” as if this somehow made what happened to Tyre Nichols acceptable. It is not. This morning, we learn that more police and emergency personnel have been relieved of duty, although no one else besides the original five officers, has been charged with murder… yet.

“The Memphis Fire Department has also said it pulled two personnel from duty in response to the case and launched an internal investigation.”


Did you know that a climate activist was killed while demonstrating in a forest outside Atlanta? Their name is Manuel Esteban Paez Terán (who identified as non-binary), also known as Tortuguita, was shot in the abdomen by a Georgia State Trooper. They were protesting the plan to turn a large section of the 85 acre forest into a training camp for police and firefighters – calling it “Cop City.” Activists around the globe were shocked. “Environmentalists for years had urged officials to turn the land into park space, arguing that the tall, straight pines and oaks were vital to preserving Atlanta’s tree canopy and minimizing flooding.” https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/protesters-question-circumstances-surrounding-stop-cop-city-activists-death

What do you think? Should we build more police training centers with gun ranges, or preserve our public parks? Should we build more preschools or more prisons? The banality of economics, of guns vs butter, is never ending.

Over the years, I haven’t had a lot to do with the police. Granted I’m White, I’m ghostly, Irish White. And my step-father was a judge, which may have colored my young ideas about the justice system. In some ways, I felt a part of the system, like the police were there to “protect and serve!” It wasn’t until I started working at Head Start in Jersey City that I realized African Americans have an entirely different idea about policing. That they would never call the police because A) they wouldn’t come, and B) if they did, it would only make things worse.

I’ve never called the police myself, but I have had them call on me.

I was served a summons once, many years ago, by a sheriff In NJ letting me know I was being sued. Another time a nice young officer showed up at my door to remind me to keep my dog on a leash – oh and btw the neighbor who complained is “well known” to them. He’s the same lovely guy who set up a bear trap on his property to keep the local children from running into his yard. Here in Nashville, I had a young female officer come to my home for a statement after someone stole my wallet in a Panera, although I never heard from the police again.

When Vietnam happened the police became the enemy. The protest movement of the late 60s consumed our generation; Kent State, the killing of four unarmed students in 1970 by the Ohio National Guard while assisting the campus police.

As I marched by the buses full of guardmen and women during the DC Women’s March of 2017, I have to admit I was skeptical. Why were so many National Guard standing by for our peaceful protest? Later, I wondered why the National Guard were not standing by on Jan 6 of last year at the planned insurrection?!

I heard the First Gentleman mention “The banality of evil” as he spoke about the Holocaust last week. About how seemingly good people can become conditioned to incremental abuses of power. How the silence and indifference of the German people allowed the Nazi Party to dehumanize Jews and Gypsies and LGBTQ people. How violent acts triggered by prejudice became ordinary occurrences. How Six Million Jews were lost.

How many more Black, unarmed people are we willing to lose? How many peaceful protesters need to be sacrificed? Have we become a society so habituated to gun violence, so polarized, so willing to accept the idea of a 6 year old shooting his teacher that we raise our hands – that we wash our hands – in surrender?

I asked the Love Bug’s friend’s father. who is Black, if he ever gets pulled over by the police since he moved to Nashville. He smiled and said, “Only 16 times this year.”

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Yesterday, my cell phone was acting hot and wonky, so I turned it off. All the way off; I plugged it in and forgot about it in an upstairs bedroom. Well actually, I did remember it when we decided to walk down to the Farmer’s Market for lunch, but then decided I could do live without it.

There were no pictures of my hand holding an itty bitty TN statehouse. No pix of tourists stopping on their Hop On Hop Off trolley to take pictures of us locals eating lunch outside and wondering which Country artist we might be. No videos of us singing and twirling to Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” in the middle of the booming Carillon bells on the Bicentennial Mall. https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville/carillon-bells

And I can honestly say it was one of the ten best days of, let’s just say, the past five years! And it wasn’t just my incommunicado state of being “In the present,” without beeps or Insta. It was also the first day the sun decided to shine again after so many days of rain. I saw our cardinal at the bird feeder in the morning and at twilight. And…. it was sweater weather! Finally the Autumnal Equinox begins!

I told Bob it’s only natural for people to love the season of their birth. For me it’s the outlandish color of Ginkgo trees, the old feel of new school shoes, the smell of burning leaves. And whenever there’s a chill in the air, I just have to make chili! Luckily we still have peppers in the garden.

“It’s like this all the time in California,” he said.

Well that’s true. In the South we have maybe two weeks of this weather if we’re lucky. I also have a very loud squirrel named Kevin reminding me he needs to fatten up for winter!

Plugging back into the news stream this morning, I heard Eugene Robinson of the WAPO discuss the stalemate in Congress over Police Reform. It would seem that Republicans, even Black Republicans, were willing to leave the table over qualified immunity – a term Robinson called “qualified impunity.”

Qualified immunity is a defense that law enforcement and other government officials can raise in response to lawsuits seeking monetary damages for alleged civil rights violations. Unless the plaintiff can show an officer violated a “clearly established” right—meaning a court already declared similar behavior in a previous case to be unconstitutional—the officer can’t be held liable.


Being able to sue somebody in America should be our birthright! Right? If a doctor forgets an instrument, let’s say he left something in your abdomen after surgery, and you are injured or die because of his/her negligence, you can sue for damages… you can sue the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the hospital! Hell, you could probably also sue the maker of the instrument.

But if a police officer mistakes his/her taser for a gun and shoots you dead? Or maybe they got the wrong address and shot you in your own bed? Well, mistakes happen. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that qualified immunity allows officers to, “shoot first and think later.” 

Was I just naive to think we could actually work out some bi-partisan plan to save our democracy? To pass an infrastructure bill, to undo all these unnecessary, tedious and costly state recounts, to keep Roe steady and strong for American women?

In Texas, one can sue a doctor for performing an abortion, but not a police officer for killing an innocent person. My splendid day did a deep dive until I remembered we were getting the Grands tonight for a sleepover!

May I never be immune to the sound of children’s laughter.

About to release the butterflies

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