If you don’t do anything else today, read this article about the legal underpinnings of the Chauvin trial.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has crafted and circulated to legislators a new “anti-mob” piece of legislation. This legislation is an expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The law would:
- allow armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business;
- allow vigilantes to justify violent actions against protesters;
- opens for door for death as a punishment for property crimes;
- allows people to use force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business;
- enhances criminal penalties for those involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies;”
- makes it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest;
- allows the withholding of state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.
Ceballos, Miami Herald, 11/10/20).
If you only have time to listen to one podcast, I would suggest The Majority Report. Sam Seder consistently chooses material that is challenging and different from anything you will hear on the corporate media.
Sam hosts USC Law Professor Jody Armour (@niggatheory) to discuss his new book N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law and the importance of eradicating anti-black bias in America. The class distinction masquerading as a moral distinction in black respectability politics. The destructive impact of these ideas on the fight for racial justice, particularly with regard to police and prisons. How Obama represents the limits of respectability politics. The need for our criminal justice system to move away from retribution and towards restoration and rehabilitation, even in cases of interpersonal violence.
Devereaux, Ryan (8/28/20) “The thin blue…” The Intercept.
“We appreciate you guys. We really do.”
That’s what the police officers in vehicles told a gathering of armed men on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin while throwing them bottles of water. One of those men then killed two protesters and seriously wounded another.
After shooting a protester, the assailant made a call saying “I just killed somebody.” He then ran away while other young men tried to save the protester’s life.
The shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, approached police with his arms up and his AR-15 gun strapped around his chest. He was virtually ignored and allowed to return home even though other protesters were telling the police that he had just shot someone.
Knosha County Sheriff David Beth offered no explanation as to why Rittenhouse was permitted to leave the scene of the shootings. In addition to being identified as a shooter out after curfew, the 17-year-old was not old enough to legally carry the weapon he had.
When asked about Rittenhouse leaving the scene, the sheriff said: “I don’t have a clue.” He later added: “I don’t even know the man’s name.”
Just hours before the shooting, the Kenosha Guard, a local militia group issued a “call to arms” over Facebook. This call was amplified by the conspiracy theory website, InfoWars. They urged private citizens to arm themselves and come out in defense of private property.
Sheriff Beth said at a press conference that the group sought to be deputized, a request he claims he rejected. But, you only have to watch Rittenhouse walking toward the police, an AK-15 strapped around his chest to realize that he assumed the police would regard him as an ally.
“Mike German, a former FBI agent who went undercover in far-right groups in the 1990s and who is now at the Brennan Center for Justice, noted that law enforcement’s tendency to back off in the face armed right-wing protests was evident in altercations during Trump’s 2016 run for office, and has continued throughout his administration. “To see the police continuing to treat these far-right militants as friendlies is troubling,” he said.” (Quote from the Intercept)
Among the myriad factors contributing to the political violence and unrest the country is now witnessing is an inversion of the relationship between some elements of the armed right and the federal government…. “The anti-government movement is no longer anti-government in the sense that the federal government is no longer its enemy.” “Trump has changed that calculation — the militias, the larger anti-government world, is essentially a pro-Trump political formation.” (Quote from the Intercept)
Posts Rittenhouse made on social media indicate that his worldview was drenched in a militarized culture that has animated large swaths of the country after nearly two decades of war and the emergence of law enforcement as a powerful cultural and political constituency. Embedded in that worldview is a “tactical” community with its own symbols and language, built around the idea of constant threat, good guys versus bad guys, and the sacred role of guns in maintaining social order.
In Philadelphia earlier this summer, a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and the local police union also featured members of the Proud Boys, a right-wing street-fighting gang that often shows up at pro-police protests to brawl with leftists.
Mackey, Robert (8/27/20) “Trump supporters…” The Intercept.
When Tucker Carlson set off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday — by describing a 17-year-old Trump supporter who opened fire on protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday, killing two, as a well-meaning kid who decided he “had to maintain order” in the Democrat-run state because “no one else would” — the Fox News host was surfacing an idea that had already spread widely on the far-right.
- According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, (8/13/20) even the administration’s coronavirus task force is warning that Georgia continues to see a “widespread and expanding community viral spread.” And, the task force warns that the state’s current policies aren’t enough to curtail the spread of the virus.
- Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in August signed into law a new measure providing additional legal protections to police officers, a step that critics say is flawed and out of step with nationwide efforts to make officers more accountable for their actions.
From The Root: “Georgia governor and unofficial Donald Trump butt-wiper Brian Kemp signed a proposal into law Wednesday that basically treats police officers as a protected class because white conservatives have convinced themselves that “blue” people are actually an oppressed minority. What’s worse is that the bill was pushed by state Senate Republicans as an ultimatum demanding it be signed into law otherwise they wouldn’t approve a hate-crime bill that had finally gained overwhelming support and approval after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.” https://www.theroot.com/georgia-gov-brian-kemp-signs-police-protection-bill-in-1844634019
Michael Browning, Glynn County Commission
It was in Glynn County, Georgia that three men stalked and killed Ahmaud Arbery. One of the men documented the killing on video. But, when police from the Glynn County Police Department arrived at the scene of the murder, they made no arrests. One of the three men, Gregory McMichaels, is a former police officer and investigator for the Glynn County DA’s office. Gregory McMichaels, his son Travis, and a neighbor who filmed the murder were allowed to go home after pretty much dictating the police report.
Later, another officer from the Glynnn County Police Department phoned the mother of jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, and told her that her son had been killed in a burglary. This was untrue.
The DA in the county promptly recused herself from the case giving as the reason that Gregory McMichael had worked as a police officer in the 1980s and in the district attorney’s office until 2019. She passed the case on to another DA who maintained that the two men were acting in self defense and should not be charged.
The case was later shifted to another DA.
Meanwhile, the Aubery family’s lawyer released the videotape of the killing and there was a public outcry as citizens watched these three men shoot and kill another man in broad daylight.
After bringing in investigators from the state, the three men were eventually charged, but only after a public outcry and national coverage of the murder.
Much of the attention in the case has been on the District Attorneys involved and their unwillingness to bring charges against the three men. What should also have been brought out was the history of the Glynn County Police Department which not only failed to make an arrest in the case, but for whom one of the assailants (Gregory McMichael) used to work as a police officer and investigator.
The Glynn County Police Department has a history and it is not a proud one. As Page Page, a criminal defense attorney in Glynn County stated in an interview, “There is not just one prior case. There are many prior cases. And each one is a separate Netflix episode.”
In 2018, Glynn County Police Lt. Robert Sasser killed his estranged wife and a man she had been seeing. He then took his own life. This final act followed a history of problematic behavior, much of it witnessed by members of the very police department he worked for. But, that police department failed to act.
The family of Sasser’s wife is now suing the police department arguing that the department’s failure to act led to their daughter’s death.
In 2010, Sasser and another officer were involved in a brutal police shooting of a woman who led them on a low-speed chase. The officers opened fire on her. Nevertheless, Sasser avoided any punishment for the act and remained on the force. The family of this woman is also taking legal action.
In 2018, the police department saw its certification with the state taken away because it did not meet basic police standards. Part of the report that led to the de-certification noted that even though African Americans make up 26% of the population in the county, they make up only %12 of the police force.
In 2019, the county’s drug task force was disbanded after a state-led investigation. This investigation found misconduct by Glynn County police officers, one of whom was having sex with an informant.
Then, Glynn County Police Chief John Powell, was indicted for perjury and witness tampering. This was four days after the Arbery shooting. This police chief remains on administrative leave.
County Commissioners have defended the police department handling of the Arbery case. They blamed the DA for the decision not to arrest the three. Commissioner Peter Murphy said that the police were told by the DA’s office not to make an arrest.
The DA, Jackie Johnson, says her office didn’t tell the police whether to make an arrest. Johnson maintained that the police and the county commission wanted to smear her.
“I think it’s retaliation for me being the whistleblower on their police department multiple times over the last year.”
We have no idea what this means.
In June of 2020, the Glynn County Commissioners (some of whom are lame ducks leaving office) met to approve creating a new job for the Police Chief, John Powell. Approximately $150,000 of county “reserve” funds were to be used to make a job for the indicted Police Chief.
But, the local newspaper, the Brunswick News, reported that the vote was to occur. When the County Commissioners met at a scheduled meeting all had agreed to, two of the members were missing. One of the Commissioners gave a statement to the local newspaper that it would be “unfair” for the Commission to go ahead without the missing two members.
I suspect that what he meant was that they didn’t want to go ahead unless all the Commissioners were implicated in the decision.
The members present voted to “defer” the decision about using county funds during a pandemic to create a job for the indicted police chief. The Commissioners failed to reveal when they planned on meeting again.
The outrage about the history of the Glynn County Police Department had led to a bill passed by the Georgia legislature allowing the citizens of Glynn County to vote on whether they wanted to dissolve the Police Department entirely.
The Glynn County Commissioners announced through one Michael Browning (one of the lame ducks) that the County Commission would hire lawyers and pay them with county funds to sue the state of Georgia if they went ahead with plans to allow the citizens of Glynn County to vote on dissolving the police department.
The Brunswick News is reporting this morning that the Glynn County Commissioners (the county where Ahmaud Arbery was killed) “deferred” to create a job for the Police Chief who has been indicted. Just let this sink in. The Glynn County Commissioners were creating a job out of reserve county funds (at a time of a pandemic) for a police chief who has been indicted.
Powell was the Police Chief when Ahmaud Arbery was killed and his officers failed to make an arrest of the killers. They also phoned Arbery’s mother and told her that Arbery had been killed during a break-in. One of the men who killed Arbery is a former police officer.
John Powell and the County Commissioners presided over the Glynn County Police at a time when the agency was involved in repeated scandals including a now disbanded narcotics unit, a police officer who was allowed to stalk and finally kill his ex-girlfriend, and a woman shot inside her car.
One of the County Commissioners narrowly escaped being prosecuted for insurance fraud recently because he got his wife to plead guilty to the charges and argue that he didn’t pay any attention to what was going on in his own insurance company.
These men must be removed from office, never allowed to hold office again and shunned.