It was another rough week. I was even more challenged than last week to limit myself. So, out of eight that I bookmarked (although there were even more that I didn't), here are three which really call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
Of the two police brutality stories, I picked this one, even though no one died (which someone did in the other one); in fact, there don't seem to have even been any marks left on the hapless arrestees (that's pending a health check, as two are diabetic). What makes it so jaw-dropping face-palming outrageous is that (a) the five or more arrestees were children. The oldest was 13, the youngest 6. Most were under 10. (b) The children were arrested, with warrants, at their school, in front of their peers. (c) The charge was that they failed to break up a fight which, incidentally, occurred, not in a public place, but in someone's backyard. At least two of the arrestees were not even present at the disagreement.
You know, if I had a child who was six years old, and he was in a friend's back yard, and a couple of other kids disagreed about a basketball game and pushed each other some, I would hope to God he would NOT try to break it up. But these arrested children have been charged with criminal responsibility for each other (which sounds to me like they are being charged as adults, which is insane.)
Jen Hayden, who uses her real name in her bylines at Daily Kos, but whose Twitter handle is @Scout_Finch, had this to say: "Any way you slice it, these kids did not deserve to be handcuffed in front of their peers, hauled away to juvenile detention without notifying the parents and ultimately headed down the classroom-to-prison pipeline."
This happened in Murfreesboro, TN, where the chief of police is Karl Durr. That is really all I know about him. Someone about whom I know even less of but we all probably should know more about is the judge who signed these warrants with which the officers apparently showed up. He's the guy (or, I hope not, but possibly she's the gal) who precipitated this abomination. I am going on record that this whole scenario can best be described as grudging, so, Megaera, I trust you will be on it.
Staying with the legal profession for the second item, there is a county circuit court judge in Mississippi, name of Jeff Weill, who has a habit of holding piblic defenders in contempt … for doing their job. Well, mostly he threatens it rather than does it, but a little over a week ago, on Wednesday April 13 to be precise, he actually locked one up. Of course leaving his client, a woman with a three month old baby, without representation.
In fact the public defender had to get a lawyer himself, to file an emergency appeal with the state supreme court, which, to their credit, granted it, or most of it. To their discredit, they wanted $500 bond from the public defender while he appeals.
His supervisor, THE Hinds County Public Defender, Michele Purvis Harris, stated on Thirday, "The actions of Judge Weill on yesterday in effect criminalized the very job we are sworn to do." Yup, that's about the size of it. She added that every public defender who has served in Judge Weill's courtroom "has at some point been threatened with the contempt that has never occurred in any of the other courtrooms." She herself was thrown out of his courtroom in December (the word she uses is "escorted out" but that sounds like being thrown out to me.) The State Supreme Court sided with her also (he doesn't learn, does he?) But, she adds, “We will not be intimidated. We will not be bullied.” I believe the consistent repitition of this injustice qualifies it as unceasing, so, Alecto, off you go.
I will give the voter ID issues a rest this week, as well as the obligatory legislator arrested (this one in Georgia, open container, open carry, 4 children in vehicle, BAC 3x legal. Do I need to say he is a "family values" Republican? I didn't think so.) I'll just move right along to the New York Tactical Officers Association (NYTOA) annual conference, this year to be held in Verona, New York the end of this month. It's the kind of gathering that police go to to learn to be the bullies we all hate, instead of getting mental health and crisis diffusion training which we all want them to have.
And there are a lot of these gatherings, and the general public and journalists are excluded from them. They keep a very low profile. The only reason this one has attracted a little attention is that somehow word got out that Ryan Mauro will be honored as a key presenter.
And who is Ryan Mauro, when he's at home. you may ask? Well, for starters, he is an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who has been personally designated an extremist by the SPLC. And now I'll bet you can see vengeful destruction coming right up.
His day job is as a national security "analyst" for the anti-Muslim think tank Clarion Project. Among other things, he things the DHS is full of Muslim Brotherhood types. He has stated that "civilians really need to step up" and start reporting suspicious activity they see on Facebook. Seriously. He has promoted the discredited myth of Muslim no-go-zones and fear-mongered over Somali refugees living in the US. Media Matters outed him in 2014 as "not (a) credible source … given (his virulent history of Islamophobia."
"There are reasons police violence fill our headlines and politicians ride waves of hate. One of those reasons is SWAT trainings and expos like NYTOA, where Islamophobia and major arms dealers take center stage," Ali Issa, national field organizer for the War Resisters’ League, told AlterNet. "Unnoticed, these trainings happen all the time, all over the country. Stopping this national phenomenon means empowering our communities to live without fear."
The executive director of the NYTOA, Larry Beresnoy, however, is a believer. “Ryan Mauro is a national expert on terrorism and Islamic extremism,” he said. “His entire job is researching the issue. I’ve looked at Ryan’s stuff, looked at Clarion’s stuff. I’ve seen their videos Third Jihad and Obsession. There are many experts who believe that the information is accurate. He has good information to share.”
I won't even go into the details of the martial arts training and weapons manufacturers' booths which will be part of the fun. I think it is already pretty clear that this is not just vengeful destruction, but organized, state-sponsored vengeful destruction. Knock yourself out, Tisiphone.
The Furies and I will be back.