Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Perfect Stormtroopers

 Tim McGinty acted more like he was auditioning for The Weather Channel than doing his job defending "the people" as Cuyahoga County prosecutor. He explained away the assassination of 12-year-old Tamir Rice the same way that an oil company executive might explain away climate change: by cynically feigning ignorance.

It seems that the November 2014 Cleveland police killing of a child is just like Hurricane Sandy. Although both were obviously horrific, both were completely understandable, natural disasters. Crap just happens sometimes, soothed McGinty in announcing his grand jury's decision to exonerate the cop who shot Tamir for the "crime" of possessing a toy gun while black.

"It was a perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunications," he pronounced at a Monday press conference, coinciding perfectly with Christmas vacation time and some really horrific winter storms that are helping to keep protesters off the nation's streets.

The officer, another Timmy with the last name Loehmann, had absolute reason to fear for his life as a black boy reached for his toy gun, insisted the prosecutor. McGinty forgot to mention that Loehmann has previously been fired from another police department for emotional lability issues, before being welcomed with open arms by the Kleveland Kops Klan.

From the New York Times:
The case began when a caller to 911 said a male was pointing a gun at people in a Cleveland park. The caller added that the gun was “probably fake,” and that the person waving it was “probably a juvenile.” But those caveats were not relayed to Officer Loehmann or his partner, Frank Garmback, who was driving the patrol car. Officer Loehmann, who is white, opened fire within seconds of arriving at the park. Officer Garmback was also spared any charges.
The shooting in Cleveland came just two days before a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict a white police officer in Ferguson who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old. The Ferguson case became one of a series of police killings that drew protests — in New York, Baltimore, North Charleston, S.C., and other cities — by demonstrators denouncing the way the police treat African-Americans.
McGinty said the benefit of the doubt should always be given to police officers who often make split-second decisions about whether to kill people. If Loehmann felt in his own paranoid brain that a child presented a threat to him, then too bad for that child.

Tamir Rice's family and civil rights leaders had long suspected the grand jury no-bill of the officers, given that the prosecutor had drawn out the "investigation" for well over a year, combing the nation for the few experts who would eventually agree that the killing was justified. Even before the grand jury decision, he released his exculpatory findings to the public, setting the stage for Monday's announcement. As was the case in the Staten Island, N.Y. panel which "investigated" the police choke-hold death of Eric Garner, the closed grand jury procedure took the place of a public trial. The officers were never subject to cross-examination. No attorneys were allowed to defend Tamir Rice's rights.

Meanwhile, pending results of another internal review, Loehmann and his partner remain employed by the department, albeit on "restricted" duty.

The usual platitudes from the usual subjects have ensued. Ohio Gov. and flailing presidential candidate John Kasich admonished "those people" to "not give in to anger and frustration and let it divide us." He might as well have ordered the denizens of Cleveland to embrace their local police state.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, meanwhile, is nobly cutting short his Cuba vacation by a day or two in order to issue more platitudes regarding his own city's latest police assassinations of two more black people. "He will continue the work of restoring accountability and trust," smirked one of his minions.

While still basking in the Cuba sunshine before nobly cutting his vacation short, Emanuel managed to garble out this clumsy preliminary platitude: "Anytime an officer uses force, the public deserves answers and regardless of the circumstances we all grieve anytime there is a loss of life in our city." (thereby effectively reducing the homicides of a student and grandmother to an everyday natural occurrence.)

The fact that the younger shooting victim, Quintonio Le Grier, had mental health issues should also weigh heavily on Emanuel's alleged conscience. As Kari Lyndersen laid out in her exposé, Mayor One Percent, Emanuel had no qualms about dispatching his police thugs to quash protesters fighting against his closure of six of the city's mental health clinics in 2013. The cops have always had their tacit marching orders from his administration. 

And just because Obama's Justice Department has Chicago police tactics on its investigatory agenda is no guarantee of justice. Look at what's been not happening in Cleveland. Only two weeks after the Tamir Rice killing, the DOJ issued a very tepid report on the murderous cop culture in that Ohio city, following yet another tepid report chastising endemic police violence a full ten years prior to that. In both reports, the Justice Department took extra care to put partial blame on the victims of violent cop culture and urged everybody to just try to get along in the future.

"All of the residents of the city of Cleveland should recognize... that many Cleveland officers have pursued their profession in order to effect positive changes within the City and they make great personal sacrifices to do dangerous work.... Respect and trust must go both ways," hectored the DOJ report to "those people."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Be afraid of Isis over there, and that way you won't have to be afraid of the Police State over here. Go see Star Wars, and may the make-believe Force Be With You as you learn to accept without question the justifiable force of your neighborhood perfect stormtroopers.




Will said...

"Our most beloved Christmas movie is about a white boy and his toy gun in Cleveland, Ohio. Spoiler: the police didn't murder him."

- a tweet yesterday from @sarahkendzior


Pearl said...

Some errant thoughts upon being stuck again with the Trump making a speech on CNN with all the following opinionaters' dissecting comments.

Previous attacks against Hillary seemed far fetched, but reminding us of the bazaar sexual history of her husband she admits consulting during her present run, is a reminder of his behavior and dishonesty in answering questions at the time. I personally don't care about a president's private behavior if he does a good job in the Oval Office since too many presidents would be in trouble (Eisenhower, FDR, Kennedy)if their sexual behavior had been known and involved impeachment.

I felt that the Trump was doing us a favor, disarming Hillary in an embarrassing episode which could be effective denting her sterling reputation. But you say, we could be stuck with a crazy man running the country which could be far worse than having Hillary with her agenda. I don't think so. If Hillary got in she would push the buttons for a truly dangerous agenda and have the Congress support her. However, Trump would be either ignored or laughed off should any of his zany ideas beSo considered. Surely Congress would have its limits on what they would put up with (?????)

At any rate the danger of either being in office is pretty equal. And it might be more timely and possible to have the political revolution happen faster with Trump in office than Hillary who knows how to tie up the power interests to stay imbedded. We have a year or less of insanity to deal with - interesting.

Meredith NYC said...

My comment to Times editorial on the 'Cleveland Stain'.
....better title---cleveland cop crime.

British police used a taser to subdue an out of control, homicidal man after he stabbed people in the subway. They were trained to use techniques to avoid killing unless absolutely necessary. It’s on video. No bullets. They didn't choke him.

I wonder how UK cops would have responded to a report of a kid in a park with a toy gun. Or even a real one. Likely try to find out exactly what was going on, and address the situation in stages, before they committed a homicide themselves. But these American cops were trained to use lethal violence as the 1st stage in the encounter. They thought it was ok to let the dying kid lie there on the ground, while they traumatized the sister. Horrific.

Seems other countries train officers to use all the methods these Cleveland cops didn’t bother with before they kill. But this is based on a respectful attitude to their citizens fitting for a democracy, not a dictatorship.

These contrasts should be included in every editorial about these police killings as positive examples of what the Justice Dept should mandate across the US.

But of course that might be called ‘big federal govt’ imposing controls on states and cities which should be left to do what they want out of some crazy idea of American Freedom.

Some Americans live in Freedom, but others, with darker skins, live in a mini police state, where the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply. The hypocrisy continues, as these reports of unpunished killings continue with regularity.

Valerie said...

I guess I always knew that some lives mattered more than others - but these things always hit me on a visceral level. I can see why the group Black Lives Matter has taken that name.

And, yes, Meredith, agreed - this level of violence against our own citizenry is not of the First World - or shouldn't be.

I remember there being a lot of commentary around the Occupy Movement when people were writing that we all needed to unite and soon before it because against the law to protest - before the police became goons. It is all very surreal and frightening.