Community Voices: Beyond Repair – While Republicans and Democrats unite to increase police power, others point to new way forward

Virtually unnoticed in the cacophony of the Trumpian news cycle, a bill to place more power in the hands of police slithered through the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support – including from such progressive Democratic luminaries as Luis Gutiérrez, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The “Serve and Protect Act” (H.R.5698) comes packaged as a necessary measure to protect our brave officers “who put on the badge every day to keep us safe” from the dangers of an imaginary “War on Police.” Specifically, it would impose prison terms of up to ten years for harming or attempting to harm officers of any local, state or federal agencies of what is euphemistically called “law enforcement.” If convicted of carrying out or attempting a kidnapping or killing of an officer, the accused could be imprisoned for life. The Senate version even designates police as an oppressed “protected class” under hate crime laws. The legislation is designed to increase police power in communities of color, strengthen the fortress of police impunity and reinforce the plea-bargain-to-prison conveyor belt. Its targets are anyone the police decide they want to see locked up. These are the same police, after all, who routinely insist that children playing with toys, young men shopping at Walmart, residents reaching for their ID, teenagers trying to drive away, neighbors holding cell phones and motorists calmly disclosing their legal firearm to police are aggressors poised to kill them. Continue Reading

Budget Priorities

The slave patrol in the classroom

No sooner had the National Rifle Association and its congressional servants raised the call to place armed cops in every school, than videos began to surface of Black students thrown, dragged and beaten by “school resource officers” for such offenses as refusing to put down their phone or getting a drink of water during assembly. While not all schools have armed cops, the trend toward criminalizing childhood for dark children has been in motion for some time. Calling in the cops has become an accepted school response to temper tantrums, arguments and other minor forms of acting out. Continue Reading

Martin Luther King Goes to the Mall (or WWMD?)

“It’s important to make an example out of these organizers, so that this never happens again.” This message was sent to the managers of the Mall of America by Sandra Johnson, the City Attorney of Bloomington, Minnesota, where the Mall is located. The “organizers,” whom she also refers to as “criminals,” assailants” and “ringleaders” were involved in one way or another with a peaceful, multi-generational, multiracial rally held in the Mall’s rotunda to draw attention to racist police brutality. Such events are what “must never happen again.”

Johnson’s over-the-top push make the defendants pay for the police overreaction has raised eyebrows in legal and business circles and alarmed civil libertarians. The Mall had earlier rebuffed her proposal to punish Mall employees for showing sympathy with the rally, citing “the potential for further press.” “Further press” is what the City Attorney appears determined to deliver. Continue Reading

Miss Saigon With the Wind

I would like to invite the leadership of the Ordway Theater to a panel discussion on why I didn’t consult them before creating this poster and why they should be grateful for the extra attention it Continue Reading

Remembering Chairman Fred

Screeching tires.  Flashing lights.  Heavily armed men rushing up the dark stairwell open fire through walls and doors on the sleepers inside.  When it is over at least 90 holes mark Continue Reading