Saturday, June 06, 2020

Video of injured Austin protesters, Texas Monthly interviews Grits and Chas Moore, local TX GOP chairs tell on themselves, when cussing is (not) a crime, and other stories

There's been so much coverage of policing issues in the last few days, rounding it all up would be an impossible task. But here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention:

Video of injured Austin protesters
A bunch of people have asked me to post the police brutality video my wife presented at Thursday's Austin City Council meeting. This was actually prepared by a gal named Catina Voellinger, who has posted it on Facebook. Watch it here

Texas Monthly, Chas, and me
Texas Monthly interviewed me and the Austin Justice Coalition's Chas Moore on policing issues in the wake of recent protests. Read the Q&A here.

Telling on themselves
Numerous Texas GOP county party chairs posted missives on Facebook suggesting George Floyd's death was staged to make Donald Trump and the GOP look bad (smfh). One of them, Jim Kaelin, until 2018 was the Nueces County Sheriff! Another one, reported the Texas Tribune, "posted a racist image of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote next to a banana." Meanwhile, Texas' Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, said there was "no doubt" in his mind that protesters were being paid by George Soros to sow chaos. Ag commissioner is a statewide elected position. Needless to say, all these stances are asinine, ass-i-ten, ass-eleven ... The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Senator John Cornyn denounced the party chairs, but I've yet to hear any statewide electeds address Miller's nutty, anti-Semitic remarks.

Remembering Mike Ramos
At the Texas Observer, Michael Barajas offered up a profile of Mike Ramos, a black Ausinite who was killed by police in April, spawning widespread calls for Austin Police Chief Brian Manley to resign well before the recent protests ever began. (See Grits coverage here, here, here, here, and here.) Just Liberty put up an action page so Austinites could contact City Manager Spencer Cronk to call for Manley's ouster. If you live in the Texas capital and haven't done so yet, go here to send your own message. Nearly 2,500 people have done so so far. Also, a GoFundMe page was set up to help his mother with expenses; Grits encourages you to give to it generously.

Remembering Mauris DeSilva
The Austin PD officer who shot Mike Ramos nine months earlier had also killed Mauris DeSilva, a neuroscientist who worked at the Naval Medical Research Unit in San Antonio. At the Texas Observer, Michelle Raji has a fine story on that case titled, "Why is APD responding to mental health crises like violent crimes?" Why, indeed! Very glad to see this published, this case received far too little attention when it happened.

Remembering Levi Ayala
At Texas Monthly, the indefatigable Michael Hall tells the story of 16-year old Levi Ayala, who was shot in the head with a bean bag round and seriously injured while observing the recent Austin protests. If you haven't seen the video of this one, it's indefensible. This kid was doing nothing to merit being shot and nearly killed.

When the shine wears off
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has been selling himself in the national press as a progressive reformer. But locals aren't buying it. Similarly, some in Dallas are calling for the Dallas police chief's resignation because of how her department reacted to the George-Floyd protests.

Cussing a crime?
The Baytown police chief filed a complaint against his own police officers after seeing video of them aggressively arresting young men for cussing. One of the cops had previously been accused of police brutality in a high-profile incident, but that time his department defended him. There's a Houston Chronicle editorial citing this episode as evidence why departments should fire "bad apples."  That's not my favorite analogy, but definitely those cops shouldn't be cops. Grits can never think of the Baytown PD without remembering Luis Torres, whom Baytown officers beat to death on video while he was handcuffed back in 2002. At the time, I was Police Accountability Project Director at ACLU of Texas; check out a series of posters we commissioned about the Torres case.

Tarrant County Jail dinged for ignoring health concerns
The Tarrant County Jail briefly lost its state certification last month after a man died and inspectors discovered jailers had failed to check on him regularly per state protocols. Also last month, a woman gave birth in the Tarrant jail and nobody noticed until after the fact. The Sheriff became defensive when questioned by the commissioners court, but that's a pretty astounding level of neglect/incompetence.

'Race and Reasonableness in Police Killings'
Finally, garnering far less attention than protest-related news, a new article from the Boston University Law Review titled "Race and Reasonableness in Police Killings" argues that, "standards in constitutional case law fail to anticipate the circumstances of fatal police shootings and are therefore seemingly irrelevant in preventing racial disparities in police fatal police shootings." Grits couldn't agree more. Give it a read.


Gadfly said...

From that TM interview:

"The police unions’ political power is a big part of it. Prosecutors are allied with police, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican: if you have that job, you’re not gonna prosecute cops because you have to work with them every day."

BUT! Don't be so idealistic as to vote outside the duopoly for president, eh? Even though Democrat-appointed Supreme Court justices, for the most part, SUPPORT "qualified immunity" about as much as Republican-appointed justices do, for the most part.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Funny, I've never seen a Green-Party-appointed SCOTUS Justice oppose qualified immunity, either. I wonder why? Oh yeah, losers don't get to appoint judges. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

OTOH, oddly enough, I've seen a Trump appointee to the 5th Circuit who opposes it.

Phelps said...

If complaining about Soros is anti Semitic, does the same apply to Jared Kushner?

jdgalt said...

I supported the elimination of cash bail when you were advocating it before, but the events in New York and Minneapolis (where arrested looters and arsonists are immediately going back out to do more harm) has discredited the idea, at least in its pure form. How about a comment?

@Phelps: Soros was a Nazi soldier, I have a photo of him in uniform, so labeling him a Jew is just silly.

M.D. Cohen said...

Phelps, I've gotta give it to you, you posed a good question. I would have to say, NO, in regards to negative comments about Jared Kushner being tantamount to antisemitism, for no other reason than the fact that he is a Trump puppet with Trump's hand as far up his ass as it can possibly go.

And, Jdgalt, while I love picking on Phelps and some of his less enlightened comments as much as the next man, I don't particularly think what he said this time was at all off base, and I think I agree with him. As far as what you've stated, about George Soros, the erstwhile György Schwartz was in fact Jewish, even if he was from a an upper-middle claas Hungarian Jewsih family that was non-observant. He was certainly never in a Nazi Uniform, and he was only 14 when VE day occurred. I don't know where you got that nonsense.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@Phelps, it's one thing to complain about Soros for things he did. Quite another to make up conspiracies and attribute the protests to a billionaire controlling the movement like puppets from behind the scene. I don't think that's comparable with criticisms I've read of Kushner. By contrast, the crazies do it all the time with Soros. Though Just Liberty receives no Soros money, I get accused of working for him several times per year. Usually it's framed as though I'm receiving direct communiques instructing me how to spend my days.

@jdgalt, New York rescinded bail reform, so you're complaining about the status-quo money-bail system, not anything I've been advocating. Besides, most of the protesters weren't poor folks and would have been able to make bail, anyway, or else a bail fund would have liberated them. If that's enough to make you support wealth-based detention, you were never much of an opponent in the first place.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

One more thing, jdg, I just checked. Bail reform also failed in Minnesota last year. You're literally complaining about the status-quo money-bail system, not criticizing reforms, in either NY or MN.

Phelps said...

So, in other words, Some Jews Matter.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No Phelps, that's all you. Don't put words in my mouth. What I said is some arguments are valid and some are not.

Phelps said...

What you said was, criticizing a jewish person is anti semitic (sometimes.)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, I said the George-Soros-controls-every-movement-actor-from-behind-the-scenes meme is an anti-Semitic trope akin to historic portrayals of Jewish bankers by John Birchers, etc.. Criticisms of Kushner I've seen don't follow that pattern.

Phelps said...

You haven't seen the criticisms of Kushner that he's

controlled by mosaad/israel
a neocon
Controlling Trump
Advising Trump in the interests of Israel
etc etc etc?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, I'm apparently not on the same nut job message boards you're spending your time on. Mainly I've read legitimate criticisms of his real-estate practices, complaints that he was unqualified to lead the coronavirus response, and people calling him soft on crime for the First Step Act.

Phelps said...

Just the Soros related nut job boards I guess.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, I hear the Soros stuff personally - get accused of being his lackey quite frequently. It's absurd and tiresome. You're becoming so, too.

Anonymous said...

Grits doesn't have to read the Soros conspiracy theories on any message board when a statewide elected official is trumpeting those lies in the mainstream media. Then there's this:

"According to the Anti-Defamation League, “aggressive language towards Soros has exploded on social media” since the protests in the wake of Floyd’s death erupted across the country. Negative tweets about the billionaire Jewish philanthropist — many spouting anti-Semitic tropes — rose from 20,000 per day on May 26 to 500,000 per day on May 30."

BillMiller said...

'Race and Reasonableness in Police Killings'

Fortunately police killings of unarmed citizens - be they black, white or whatever - are remarkably rare. In 2019 there were nine blacks killed by police. And remember that "unarmed" does not mean "not dangerous" or "not presenting as a threat." Most of those shot were presenting a threat to the office. My source is the WaPo's database.

Just to put this in perspective, each year twice as many blacks die from constipation according to the CDC.

"...racial disparities in police fatal police shootings."

Indeed, the chances of being unarmed, arrested, and then killed by the police are higher for whites than for blacks.

Quick, and without using Google, can anyone reading this name even one unarmed white person killed by the police in the last year? Or even 10 years?

But what about "systemic police racism"? It's a myth. "There’s no evidence of widespread racial bias," states Heather MacDonald after reviewing the data.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Bill, I just read the Race and Reasonableness article and nothing you've written here relates to anything in it. No one claimed police shootings are a primary cause of black deaths, but proportionally, they happen a LOT more often to black folks than whites. Other types of police violence are even more disproportionately skewed toward black folks.

Without using Google: Tony Timpa comes to mind. In fact, his death was highly reminiscent of George Floyd's.

Finally, Heather MacDonald is a one-trick pony who's made a decades-long career defending every bad cop in sight and uses statistics as a drunk uses a lamp post - for support, not illumination. Citing her won't win you any points here, I'm afraid.

BillMiller said...

Fagan and Campbell claim that they analyzed "data on 3933 killings to examine this intersection of race and reasonableness in police killings." I read through their paper in vain for such an analysis. It was not to be found. Instead I found mere assertions that implicit racial bias is a thing, and clunky language rooted in critical race theory mush ("stereotype threat"). They also cloud the issue by bringing in mental health issue. And they make up data.

Fagan and Campbell claim that "black suspects are more than twice as likely to be killed by police than are persons of other racial or ethnic groups." Let's look at the facts. Each year in America police kill about 1,000 people, about one-quarter of whom are black. This is about twice their share of the population, which is 13 percent. "Implicit racial bias"? No. Blacks are far more likely to have interactions with police because on average they are far more likely to commit violent crimes. In 2018, the most recent year for which there are statistics, blacks accounted for 37 percent of all arrests for violent crimes, 54 percent of all arrests for robbery, and 53 percent of arrests for murder. With so many blacks involved in this kind of violent crime, that blacks should account for only 25 percent of the people killed by the police seem like a surprisingly low figure.

"While the Washington Post database reports the race of the decedent, some decedents were missing a racial identifier," state Fagan and Campbell. So if an honest investigator is trying to reach some kind of conclusion about race and unnecessary police violence, he will put that data aside. But no, Fagan and Campbell make assumptions based on - are you ready for this? - the surname of the suspect. Absolutely risible.

Fagan and Campbell claim that they "describe the objective circumstances and interactions of police killings and map those event characteristics to the elements of reasonableness articulated in case law." No, they didn't. If I were grading this paper, I'd give them an F. THIS is what passes for criminal justice scholarship these days? So glad I got my degree before PC anti-intellectual culture took over the academy.

I could go on, but I have a large pile of work in my in-box to which I must attend.

"Heather MacDonald is a one-trick pony..."

A cursory glance at the titles of her books and articles tells me that you might not be all that familiar with her work.
The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society; Are Cops Racist?; The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave, "City Journal" Winter 2004; The Immigration Solution; The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe; Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture; The Campus Rape Myth: The reality: bogus statistics, feminist victimology, and university-approved sex toys.

She is an expert at demolishing progressive shibboleths. No wonder mobs of totalitarian leftists (a redundancy perhaps) shut her down whenever she tries to speak on campus.

Calling her names does not refute her arguments.