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All Lives Matter (September 24, 2015)

 

Back in the sixties America's black communities organized and presented unified fronts in order to be eventually and legislatively recognized as worthy of esteem. So effective were those courageous efforts that the U.S. now boasts a sitting President who is incidentally black. Nevertheless today's unification efforts surrounding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement appear to be relatively opportunistic and unnecessarily divisive since all U.S. "suspects" and "targets" face the unchecked authoritarianism of militarized U.S. police and all U.S ethnic groups chronically suffer at their hands. Racism intensifies the abuse of minorities nonetheless core issues are law enforcement militarization and lack of police accountability, burgeoning tyranny, rather than prejudice and discrimination. Singling out one ethnic group's sufferings to the exclusion of others smacks of ethnocentricity. Today's police typically act with militancy and impunity whether or not individual officers involved are bigots. Certainly blacks have no monopoly on unjust police encounters whether or not fatal.

Two of the more horrific examples of unpunished law enforcement episodes in the past several decades did not involve racism at all. They were the needless slaughters of mostly non-black innocents in Caribou Ridge, Idaho, AKA Ruby Ridge, and in Waco, Texas. In 1992, with criminal charges threatened against Lon Horiuchi, the highly-trained FBI sniper who shot Vicki Weaver, a white woman, in the head at Ruby Ridge and later claimed it unintentional, the Constitution's Article VI "supremacy clause" was successfully invoked to preclude prosecution. And despite a preponderance of circumstantial evidence indicating high probabilities that federal marshals used a silenced submachine gun to shoot 13 year old Sammy Weaver, Vicki's son, in the back, the prime suspected perpetrator of that incident was, with whitewashing pomp and circumstance, cited for bravery.1 Diligent investigative efforts, both official and unofficial, have not yet revealed a satisfactory explanation as to why federal agents wearing camouflage and carrying silenced submachine guns were dispatched in force for weeks to a rural Idaho family's home in redressing a man's failure to appear in court over trumped-up charges

Swift, harsh, and certain punishment for government wrongdoing in Idaho might have prevented the debacle at Waco, Texas, about 6 months later where similar government operations early in 1993 bore analogous but tragically more savage results on an expanded scale. Seventy six mostly non-black members of a federally-demonized religious cult, including men, women and children, were assaulted by overwhelming federal force, including armed tanks of military purview, and lost their lives infernally, and once again unnecessarily according to now widely-accepted facts, although neither courts nor congressional hearings meted out appropriate punishments against either FBI or BATF officials2 since the status quo always is protected irrespective of costs.

Both Ruby Ridge and Waco were high-profile militarized law enforcement operations. Militarization of American law enforcement gained impetus in 1988 with U.S. Code modifications requiring the Secretary of Defense, "in cooperation with the Attorney General, to conduct annual briefings of law enforcement personnel of each State (including law enforcement personnel of the political subdivisions of each State) regarding information, training, technical support, and equipment and facilities available to civilian law enforcement personnel from DOD"3—arguably unconstitutional long-term policies encouraging integration of military tools, methodology, and training into civilian law enforcement while expanding the military-industrial customer base and sphere of influence. Once the U.S. Code was modified, it took less than four years to experience the frightful results of militarization in both Texas and Idaho. Nowadays the "rules of engagement" used by police to justify hasty shootings of suspects are all too similar to those justifying U.S. combat actions in general and Wikileaks' "Collateral Murder" video in particular.4 Today's primary law enforcement goal was expressed in military jargon by the director of the FBI to a 2014 gathering of law enforcement personnel in Tampa, Florida, "Our paramount wish as leaders of law enforcement is that our people come home after each tour".5 What tour? And whatever happened to "protect and serve"?

It is generally recognized that Timothy McVeigh was suffering an "exaggerated sense of justice" over the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents when he bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. In his pre-sentencing comments he quoted from one well-known paragraph of Associate Justice Brandeis' dissenting opinion in the 1914 Roy Olmstead case ["Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means—to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal—would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face."] thereby tacitly underscoring the implicit contention that his actions were retaliatory employing learned techniques from what he considered to be government crimes.6

Whether or not properly chastising agents for actions in Idaho would have precluded both Waco and Oklahoma City tragedies, government admissions of wrong surely would have instilled significant lasting pride back into the American psyche. Many U.S. citizens are ashamed of fashionable self-serving militarized policies both at home and abroad. Some earthlings, even some Americans, still favor human rights, accountability, and due process over militarism and de facto tyranny. However government admission of wrongdoing is detrimental to the organization of political means unless necessary to control public outcry. More often the official steamroller just keeps on a-trucking.7

In 2011 "occupy movement" crowd-control-police in the streets of major cities looked like Darth Vader stand-ins itching to confront opposing force. The "us" against "them" military mindset and costume prevailed. Sadly that was nothing compared to the ludicrous 2013 Boston lock-down while "authorities" searched door-to-door combat-style for a 19 year old kid who was eventually located by a private citizen.8 This year the Hunt County, Texas, sheriff's deputy who was filmed punching a pregnant handcuffed white female Iraqi War veteran "has been cleared of any wrongdoing, police said Monday".9 Although lives were not lost these three episodes poignantly depict police mindsets and impunity. Contemporary law enforcement like today's military seldom appears accountable to anyone. State policies and actions including legislative efforts typically are self-serving and seldom produce benefit, or have independent merit, outside of nourishing the organization of political means. Likewise when government officials, employees, or agents make inexcusable blunders detrimental to citizens' lives, liberties, properties, or pursuits of happiness, the aftermath's focus invariably becomes damage control and self-preservation rather than justice.10 The fact that racism frequently intensifies injustice toward minorities is tragic nevertheless does not comprise the essential core issue.

The typical American view that government's character and intentions are social rather than antisocial stems from wishful thinking and ignorance of history and it obliges incremental tyranny and corruption by sanctioning reluctance to challenge official acts.11 The assumed infallibility of police is perpetuated by the criminal justice system's handling of cases like that heart-wrenching 2014 case of Baby Bou Bou in Georgia. A grand jury found "no evidence of criminal intent or negligence" despite a swat team's raiding the wrong residence and depositing a stun grenade there in a fashion that horribly and permanently disfigured an innocent 19-month-old non-black child.12

Only after government reigns-in ill-advised legislation and restores constitutional protections to all citizens will police begin to understand that Magna Charta principle is of far more lasting import to society than any methodologies preferred by law enforcement. To hold police strictly accountable for errors in actions, judgment, and internal communications will require enormous changes of mindset within the criminal justice system, possibly generational changes. Hopefully BLM's ultimately lasting significant contribution to society will be in using black power to draw attention to the larger issues of burgeoning U.S. tyranny and to instigate corrective dialogues. Nowadays home-grown tyranny issues are substantial threats to ways of life heretofore known and they currently affect every ethnic group in America on a daily basis whether or not so noted in main stream media and whether or not so acknowledged by BLM.

 

Endnotes:

1Randy and Sara Weaver. 1998. "The Federal Siege At Ruby Ridge". Ruby Ridge Inc.
2Carol Moore. 2000. "The Davidian Massacre Pages". CarolMoore.net. Last retrieved September 20, 2015 (http://carolmoore.net/waco/).
3U.S. Code, Title10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 18, Paragraph 380. 1988. "Enhancement of cooperation with civilian law enforcement officials". Last retrieved September 18, 2015 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/380).
4Wikileaks.org. 2013. "Collateral Murder". Collateral Murder.com. YouTube.com Last retrieved September 21, 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/v/5rXPrfnU3G0%26hl=en%E2%88%93fs=1%26rel=0).
5Paul Peluso. 2014. "IACP2014: FBI Director Talks About Threats to Law Enforcement". Officer.com. Last retrieved September 19, 2015 (http://www.officer.com/article/12014162/iacp2014-fbi-director-talks-about-threats-to-law-enforcement).
6Gore Vidal. 2002. "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated". Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books.
7John Danilow. 2014. "Short Essays: Cherishing freedom, practicing equality, seeking justice". Militarization (October 2012). Skink Works.
8Brian Naylor. 2013. "Boston Lockdown 'Extraordinary' But Prudent, Experts Say". NPR.org. Last retrieved September 19, 2015 (http://www.npr.org/2013/04/22/178446136/boston-lockdown-extraordinary-but-prudent-experts-say).
9BeforeItsNews.com. 2015. "Officer Filmed Punching Pregnant Veteran Cleared Of Wrongdoing". Last retrieved September 18, 2015 (http://spreading-virus.beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2015/08/officer-filmed-punching-pregnant-veteran-cleared-of-wrongdoing-3205068.html).
10John Danilow. 2014. "Short Essays: Cherishing freedom, practicing equality, seeking justice". Militarization (October 2012). Skink Works.
11Albert J. Nock. 1935. "Our Enemy, the State". Hallberg Press Corporation.
12Abby Zimet. 2014. "No Charges For Baby-Burning Butt-Stupid Cops Because Hey Mistakes Happen". CommonDreams.org. Last retrieved September 19, 2015 http://commondreams.org/further/2014/10/08/no-charges-baby-burning-butt-stupid-cops-because-hey-mistakes-happen (on 02/11/2017 this link is dead and the page appears to have been removed from the web).

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