*Originally published on LinkedIn, June 5th, 2020. Republishing includes minor edits and ToC addition.
The other night I was out and about with a friend in Santa Rosa, California, looking for places to paste up some really cool inspirational art. The few times I’ve been lucky enough to participate in such shenanigans had gone smoothly and been exciting experiences, and the feedback I’d seen on it had (has still) been super encouraging that it’s a positive thing to do.
That night – Saturday, May 30th – was just as enlightening, but no where near as smooth. We started after dark.
After almost getting busted once when three cop cars showed up for us parking illegally, then having a confrontation with an angry resident who called us “nutjobs!” at two subsequent unsuccessful “canvas locations” (aka “targets”), the third stop was gonna be a charm, right?…
… we decided to go towards downtown.
Mind you, my friend and I are middle aged white people. You might see us at your kids soccer game. By the looks of us, you could totally take our pics and make some funny Karen memes, or something like that.
Before we flushed out plans I had said to my friend the night prior: “Be careful if you are going into Oakland or the City, I think there’s gonna be protests going on and it could get dangerous really fast.”
When we decided to hit Santa Rosa on Saturday night, I didn’t have an inkling whatsoever we might encounter anything like I had been concerned about in Oakland or SF.
I was wrong.
We didn’t get anything pasted up in Downtown Santa Rosa that night.
We inadvertently arrived smack in the middle of the demonstrations in a spot where I couldn’t go forward on the street without running people over… we weren’t there for this… I made a U and as we tried to get out of the area we kept encountering blockades of police and growing mobs of people around every turn.
As far as I could tell shit hadn’t popped off yet, but it was about to.
The timeline (which I now know after the fact) of how things went that night downtown with the protest and subsequent chaos, validates for me that my Spidey-sense is still in good working order.
We got the fuck out of there just in time.
However, my friend and I both were left with a thought that night: Why weren’t we at the protest on purpose?
She and I have both lamented that we weren’t prepared that night to go out and share in community with the movement in our area, as so many have across the nation this weekend.
Although, hindsight 20/20, looking at how some of it played out Saturday in Santa Rosa…
…even though it was quite tame compared to the chaos that ensued in other places all across the world this weekend…
…on that night we made the right call to keep out of harm’s way as people who hadn’t even known the gathering was going on, nor who organized it.
People are ripe for change. There’s so much to do to get it right, it’s overwhelming… yet not getting it right – as we haven’t – well, the results of that are overwhelming too.
I’m writing this hoping to contribute to positive change. I hope if you don’t like my thoughts that they will at least help generate the kinds of discussions that still propels towards positive change. Either way is good with me, if it helps us get there.
When I used to be a Soldier, I experienced it more times than I can count: out and about in uniform at random places – stores, airports, on the street – strangers would come up to me and say:
“Thank you for your service!”
I still get that salutation from people I meet who discover I am a Veteran, from time to time.
Thing is, I, like most Service Members I’ve ever talked to, always feel a bit awkward when someone says that to me.
I mean, what am I supposed to say?
“You’re welcome?” or “My pleasure?” or “Thanks for your patriotism!” or something?
I have no idea whether you personally have lived the American dream that I made sacrifice for partly, at least, in hopes that I was protecting that entitlement for everyone in our country when you tell me “thanks.”
And when you tell me that, by the way, you have no clue what kind of Soldier I was. Maybe I am a total douche. Maybe I don’t agree with your points of view on anything.
I’m being cynical, and I do think it’s great that folks are mindful to thank Vets, Service Members, Emergency Responders, and the like for their service.
I don’t want to discourage that gratitude at all.
Even though it makes me feel awkward in choosing the right response, the sentiment does always make me feel good.
Anyways, over the years I decided on my response to these encounters that I would use whenever possible.
“Who better than me?”
Meaning, someone’s gotta do it… why not me? (or you, by implication)
It’s also a passive aggressive sort of way saying:
“We all have a duty to our country and fellow man, and I hope you’re holding up your end of the bargain too.”
Giving my voice, for whatever its worth, is the least I can do now. What can you do? Listen! Speak up! Act!
No one will look out for ours and our fellow Americans’ dreams if we don’t.
Soldiers are protecting America from the outside. We citizens have a duty to shape the America they are protecting inside.
Wherever you land on the political and ideological spectrum in our spectacularly diverse nation, it should be plain to see around you that things are way the fuck off track.
Who better than you and I to do something about it?
I regularly get attacked by a debilitating kind of sharp, burning, throbbing, special physical pain that hits me right between my shoulder blades, from time to time. I reckon I’ve simply accepted it as something I’ll just have to put up with for the rest of my life.
It hurts, but whatever… it passes for a while and only flares up when I don’t act right…
… and gives me an excuse to get massages, lol. I sometimes cope with accepting burdens by trying to see the bright side of them. Don’t we all?
I’m convinced the condition I have is a result of years of standing at “Parade Rest” or “At Ease” when I was in the Army, and from the weight on my back over the time as well. I still need to do my VA claim on that one, just like I need to for my shoulder impingement too.
I know a guy whose wrists are totally fucked forever from doing so many pushups year after year. I’m glad I don’t have that problem (yet), cause I did plenty of pushups.
In case you don’t know, “Parade Rest” and “At Ease” are standing positions which, by doctrine, require your hands to be behind your back.
Soldiers, especially Enlisted ones, who serve any amount of time in the Army (and Service Members in other services too, I’m sure, except Air Force and Space Force!, jk) end up spending alot of time standing in these positions, hands behind their backs, both frequently in short bursts, and also for long extended periods of time whenever required.
Parade Rest is less comfortable than At Ease. Your hands are expected to be together higher behind your back, and you’re required to stand completely still. At Ease means you are allowed to move your head to look around a little and make small body movements… but in both positions silence is also expected.
Have you ever been told “At Ease!”? Meaning, “shut up and put your hands behind your back!” I have, and I’ve almost always complied. I’ve told it many times to grown men too. Most I’ve ever said it to were willing to comply, same as I have.
We submit to authority with our hands behind our back. That’s part of what it means in this way in the Army.
When I was a Lieutenant, part of the training we all undertook centered around assessing citizens (members of a population, rather) we might encounter in our Areas of Operation (AOs) to determine whether they were a threat, supporter, criminal, non-combatant, etc…
…and how to properly neutralize, detain, and safeguard them as a prisoner (if appropriate) by escalating force gradually, within the Rules of Engagement (ROE), and with proper technique…
…or, conversely, when it was okay to (rather, when you “should”) kill them, and how to do that too.
Parts of the training we went through included things like combatives, cultural sensitivity, awareness of media power and how to interact with them, some Information Operations, Public Affairs, development of diplomatic skills, and a whole host of other facets which must be mastered to be a police force that wins hearts and minds, and facilitates good order and democracy in the society of any AO.
We were expected to know how to do that job right in the situations we might face, we all got the training. We understood we would be held accountable to uphold the standards we were taught.
I can’t think of anyone who didn’t take that training very seriously.
We all knew our lives could depend on it.
Training non-MP (Military Police) Soldiers (regardless of their individual Branch or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS)) about this stuff became a central general subject matter pillar across the force training as part of preparing us for the policing nature of our deployed wartime duties in Iraq or Afghanistan not long after our initial invasions “succeeded.”
Certain Branches and MOSs got more of this kind of training than others, just as certain units also did more of it than others because their mission might be more heavily focused on the tasks of it within an AO.
Anyways, one thing I learned is that once you get a subject’s hands behind their back and zip tied together (like handcuffs) with them on the ground, they are no longer a threat really.
I mean, in a sense that as long as you have made sure they aren’t wired to explode or carrying a radio or weapon they could pull out on you…
… before successfully detaining someone you DON’T want their hands behind their back, they are still a threat…
… but once they are prone with hands secured behind their back, they are under your control… all you really have to do if you’re not ready to move them is overwatch them…
I mean, you’ve got weapons, and their hands are tied behind their back.
You can let them sit up even… there’s not much they can do as long as you just keep eyes on them.
Threats are submissive whether they like it or not once you have their hands secured behind their back. They are no longer the threat to you that you are to them. It’s very basic.
Police must ALL uphold higher standards with ALL people in America than what was expected of me and my fellow service members in our dealings with foreign populations on their soil. Just saying. Very basic.
My daddy, from as early as I can remember, taught me that if I am ever pulled over by the police that I should immediately put my hands up so they could see them, and even get out of the car with my hands up without being asked, like, as soon as I stop and turn off the car.
He explained that the most important thing for me in that circumstance was to make it as clear as possible that I am not any threat to the officers.
The man I call my daddy, rest in peace, was the black man who raised me in Flint, Michigan. Johnny Lee Culp, from Dyersberg Tennessee, 1944-2007. He was a cook for the Army during Vietnam, drafted. He was a black disabled veteran. He was a helluva dude.
He used to tell me about picking cotton as a kid with his mother, and buying comic books for a nickel.
He taught me all kinds of stuff for which I am so grateful, and his wisdom and character extend well beyond any of the ways I’ve described him. My point of mentioning him here, though, is to explain that I was taught a lot growing up about the world and life, and America, from a perspective that most white folks don’t really experience firsthand in their whole lives.
In Flint, I got a lot of real American black history lessons, every day in some ways, growing up.
Sidenote: As a parent, I’ve watched “Eyes on the Prize” with my kids and talked all about it with them, just like mine did with me as a kid. A new installment of that series, or something like it, would be awesome for dialogue in households these days. Just sayin.
Tiger Woods, Johnny Culp was proud as fuck of you for winning the Masters when that first happened. I didn’t get what a big deal it was at the time because black people have always been better than me at sports in my life, lol, but it was a historic moment in our household.
We cheered when OJ got off too… and I remember how seeing what happened to Rodney King and Malice Green shaped my awareness of the evils of the world.
I wish Johnny Culp woulda lived just a year longer. November 2008 woulda brought tears of joy to his eyes, like it did mine.
Man, that feeling of hope was so good.
Here’s the thing: even though I was as poor, if not poorer, growing up than most of my black friends in my neighborhood…
…some of which might still call me cousin, or be cool with me saying the “n” word (a, not er) in certain contexts, and even think of me as actually black in some way that we used to joke about back in the day when they’d have my back on the playground or in the hood…
…even though I was on the same streets with them growing up, going through the same metal detectors and random searches to get into school and class, and passing by the same in school daycare in High School…
… eating government cheese and fried bologna… shooting hoops at the same playgrounds…
…witnessing the same drive by shootings, trading food stamps for cash with the same hookers and crackheads on the corner…
…doing some of the same dirt… trying to “get paid fully whether truthfully, or untruthfully” (Trump knows) like ODB said… seeing the same lack of opportunity in the future… or fairness in the world…
I always knew I could get away with a lot more fucking up and be ok, because I am white.
That shit is basic.
Doesn’t everyone know this or are we still arguing that this is a reliable basic truth in America?
I’ve benefited greatly from so much my daddy taught me, but one thing I was never under any misconception about is that I needed to put my hands up and get out of the car as soon as I’ve been pulled over.
There are a few times I have put my hands up like he taught me, and I’ve been pulled over my fair share for sure.
When cops walk up it’s usually a great ice breaker to talk and laugh about… my hands being up, that is.
I have always known cops wouldn’t likely treat me the same as my black friends. They don’t see me as a threat in the same way.
These days, even knowing what I know, I put my hands up just in case… my faith in consistency from police is unfortunately not what it used to be.
There’s definitely too many police being allowed to carry out their duties below any acceptable standard, that’s for sure.
Things can pop off so quickly these days, the things we let happen… the tragedy of our American standards right now… it’ll make you throw your hands up.
We bystanders are as bad as those perpetrating wrong. Every day we allow unacceptable standards to endure we are complicit in them.
It isn’t exclusively socialist to give a shit about your fellow man and community. We can have the American dream without taking it away from other Americans.
We can realize fair capitalism and enterprise without being reliant on oppression the way our systems have. We can have a fair and just democracy where all our people can thrive in life, liberty, and their pursuit of happiness.
Diversity and inclusiveness are fundamental to the American ideological identity.
Americans, we are allowing our country to operate below our standards, and we have been way too long. The time to reclaim our dignity from what we’ve allowed is now.
I wanna see the higher standards we all talk about. I’ve seen some great signs of hope for it this weekend, that’s for sure. The world is watching us and most of it is rooting for us to be the moral authority we’ve always claimed to be.
If for no one else, for George Floyd.
The first step to real sustainable change, perhaps, is getting enough folks to recognize that it is in their best interest to unite with folks who might not be like them in any recognizable way whatsoever in ideology nor appearance nor way of living… and to do it anyways.
Unite, and take actions towards a common idea to make the future better…
…and the now better.
Sidenote: The flag must always move forward. That’s why it’s backward on uniforms.
Something I was very motivated by this past weekend is seeing how many people were out, all over the world, putting themselves in harm’s way, potentially, with intention because they feel strongly enough that change immediately is worth the risk.
Karens everywhere who were bitching about people not Sheltering In Place (SIP) before weren’t saying shit about it once the protests started flaring up globally, so that was nice too.
However, like anything, a lot of bad shit went down all over the place this weekend too.
We all have a vested interest in seeing to it that we address our societal injustices and shape the future in a better way than the tragedy we’re seeing manifest in America today.
The way of life for all of us is on the line for all of us.
Put your privilege up and do your part in whatever way you can. It’s your future too. It takes everyone to shape it.
I’m gonna do my best to sum up what we saw this weekend across our country. It’s a lot to take in.
The fact that it’s so overwhelming is an amazing thing. We’ve got to harness this momentum and point it full speed ahead in the direction to make the right things happen.
People everywhere from all walks are pissed and charging head on into danger, against so much wrong in our nation that has endured too long.
May God bless you, George Floyd, and to all your friends and family the same. I don’t know what kind of a man you were in your life, but you didn’t deserve to be murdered as you were.
I saw a quote reported to be from one of your loved ones that said you would be disheartened by the riots that erupted in some places this weekend, as many were, and that you would call for peace.
Your death was another reminder that terrorists are being allowed to strike fear and oppression in our American communities… and that we as a nation haven’t been fixing it fast enough.
I hope history will prove your sacrifice a blessing in some way to the world that in the end it will have triggered action for real, positive, long lasting change against the oppressive systems and double standards in our country which failed you, and many other black Americans in our nation’s history, more than any other race.
I was encouraged to see so many people across the world out to express their outrage in what was allowed to happen to you and in protest of brutality, injustice, and oppression.
However, this weekend we saw a lot of destructive agendas manifest to seize the opportunity of the positive outrage that George Floyd’s sacrifice thankfully unleashed too.
We saw freedom and the quest for the American dream exploited… again… we’ve escalated past many tipping points, and it ain’t stopping.
I’ve looked at a lot of stories from many sources and various ways the same video clips and images have been spun to opposing narratives of things happening all around.
There’s some interesting conspiracy theories out there…
Here’s the thing, though… this is real life. In color.
It’s not this OR that. It’s this AND that.
Welcome to the full spectrum if you weren’t seeing the forest for the trees before.
See what I meant by “from all walks” yet?
The most telling evidence of what’s been happening are the direct firsthand accounts and footage we have the capability to access these days thanks to the internet unlike ever before, and to the people for sharing their voice and experience.
All kinds of people with all kinds of mixed emotions, motivations, and intentions are wildin’.
Fucked up stuff is happening everywhere.
Some places & people got rocked. Some got some real good community healing going. Some went through the motions to virtue signal without really being impacted or caring much about all the ado at all.
We’ve seen military brought out to aid police and police forces coming to terms with why they should not approach their operations like they are the military… because they are not.
Towns all over felt the wrath of the American people’s anger with injustice… because they could see the injustice all around.
Maybe before you didn’t already know how fucked up this country really is everyday already…
But, ya kinda can’t miss it now, can ya?
We saw both riots and protests. I hope average Americans are smart enough to see the differences between the rioters and the protesters, because that distinction is important…
… however what is more important to see is how most of the persistent rioters and protesters are the same.
They represent a majority of our people who are tired of being beholden to a system and administration that dishonors and disadvantages them… and doesn’t uphold trustworthy standards of accountability to them, the diverse, proud, caring, and freedom loving American public.
Police and civilians alike found themselves in some situations where they felt helpless and panicked for their life in the same mortal tragic way George Floyd felt in his last moments, I bet, this weekend.
More people shit themselves this weekend than has been reported, I guarantee.
Too many people of all colors, police and civilians alike got hurt really bad, and worse, some even murdered in cold blood. Lots of arrests were made.
Maybe some investigations have been opened. Lots of arrests weren’t made, nor ever will be, for the destruction and mayhem that went down around the country.
America, we are fucked up.
Let us wear the collateral damage as a mark of shame for our inaction all these years, and as a wake up call for taking action now.
We’ve seen our police forces continue to exhibit exactly the kind of blind enforcement of their oppressive tactics we as Americans must recognize as terrorism in our communities.
We’ve seen it, thanks, in part, to non-violent protest akin to classic MLK, in some places…
We’ve seen the message “we’re not gonna take it” hit home for police in other ways, in a more Malcolm Xesque “by any means necessary” fashion as well…
The point of all this will not be ignored…
And we’ve seen it hit home for police that “we need you to be better than that” in some inspiring ways too.
It’s alarming how much of the rioting we saw was clearly not ignited by the core organizations who coordinated public support for constitutional protest against the police in the name of George Floyd in most places where rioting broke out, from what I have seen.
We as a people must recognize that there are terrorist agendas in our country, and opportunistic bad actors abounding, foreign and domestic, which are inciting chaos and unrest against our American values.
Police that do not uphold the public trust are indeed terrorists, as are our elected officials who put personal gain over the cries of the public. Anarchists looting, gangs inflicting ultra-violence Clockwork Orange style, white supremacists trying to incite racial unrest hiding under false flags… ALL of it…
It is all terrorism against our community safety and our American dream that all people shall be treated equal in life, liberty, and pursuit of their happiness.
We must also acknowledge that there is corruption in our government not just with certain folks who behave unethically and for self interest above the call of their office, but also systemically in the way government is manipulated by the interest of industry and the wealthy 1% more so than is in the interest of American dream for the majority of our democratic people.
Its a fucking good ol boy system on both sides of the aisle as far as I can tell. It’s over due time to hold our elected servants accountable to the people. And to hold ourselves accountable to each other.
We need to join with the organizations who are trying to advance equality in protest for the good of America, and unite against the folks trying to further distort and destroy the intended American way of life.
We are the forces to be reckoned with. In unity, we prevail.
Black Lives Matter! As an organization and ethos, you have my support. I admit that over the last several years I have been a skeptic. I have been leery of inconsistencies I have observed in some of your tactics between different cells…
…and I still can’t get behind some of the hate speech against all white folks that I have heard coming from many black folks who invoke BLM behind it.
Frankly, I’m still leery a little because black anger growing into hate is totally justified.
However, I am proud to see that you have continued to grow and have not given up.
Across the world the uprising of support for the Black Lives Matter movement is simply awe inspiring. You got the world’s attention!
Listen, fellow white people, and all people for that matter: maybe you don’t agree with or understand fully some of the points of view you’ve heard coming from the BLM movement.
That’s okay… but get over it. We as Americans have got to do better, NOW.
We must acknowledge that there has never been a level playing field for blacks in America in free life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness here, and that there has not been the level of accountability for systemic horrors perpetrated against them throughout our country’s history which we should uphold as a basic standard for ALL Americans.
If you’re not black, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your life is worthless to point out that Black Lives Matter. If you’re still taking it that way you’re missing the point.
I mean, come on, do police as a group have some history of being enslaved in this country that I simply don’t know about? Or white people?
Aside from Native Americans, Black people have gotten fucked by America worse than any other group of people throughout its history.
White people, its shameful how non-whites have been abused so blatantly in America’s history, yet we have continued to ignore that shame and let racial oppression persist.
Sticking our head in the sand in the face of problems needing our attention doesn’t make them go away.
The time is now for partnership with and support for Black Lives Matter across America.
We must recognize that BLM is the organization poised with the momentum to achieve things we never have for civil rights if we get behind them now as a unified American people.
We’ve got to join in the movement for change from outside the system.
Its past time or us to correct the wrongs of our past and to set our systems right to enable opportunity, liberty, fair treatment, justice, and equality for all our citizens as intended.
By asserting that Black Lives Matter (now!), and getting behind the advancement of their cause, as they are successful in their mission we will all see an increased quality of life and the American dream.
Meaning, if we can achieve fairness and equality for all people institutionally, that’s a win for the entire future of our democracy and nation.
The world is rooting for us, it means hope for them too.
I call on every American to get out into your local community and government to find out what ways you can help, and what issues need advancing, to help our governments acknowledge that Black Lives Matter in your neck of the woods too.
BLM has the potential to achieve elusive things we never have before in this country because of the far reaching support they have. Let’s all get involved to do what we can in our AOs to help manifest the sweeping positive change America needs.
It’s unlikely we will see any meaningful cooperation at the Federal level until after November, certainly, so getting voters aligned and ready, and impacting direction at the local level, I think, is what we should be doing NOW. BLM, let’s go!
It’s unfortunate that my tone thus far has been so insensitive towards our police forces that put themselves in harms way on a daily basis to serve the American people under their jurisdiction.
However, sorry, not sorry.
It’s tough love, blue people, now take it…
because I DO love you, guys and gals in blue, and We need You too.
I am sorry for those of you who have made the ultimate sacrifice in honor of doing the right things. I’m sorry for those of you who were good cops that have gotten a bad wrap because of the anger against your bad apples, and had harm come as a result.
However, I’m not sorry to be harsh on you because you need to do better about policing your own.
Four people killed George Floyd, and shit like that happens too much. Americans’ public trust in its police commands higher standards that too many law enforcement organizations are not upholding.
Check yo self before you wreck yo self. Just sayin.
You gotta be better than this, and that’s it.
I have tremendous respect for the job that cops are expected to do, for their role in providing safety to the American dream, and for all that they do which is so awesome in the face of fear and danger every day on behalf of their communities.
We should be investing more in the noble Americans that serve and protect us. How about spending less on the armored trucks and more on blue education benefits and salaries?
I had a taste of policing just a bit as a Soldier, and, cops, with respect, ya’ll can have that shit. I only had to live that mindset for a year in Iraq, with much looser ROE, under whole different press microscopes.
I’d be wound real tight doing what you do everyday, never knowing if that next stop is gonna be a nice old lady with a cat in a tree or a meth head that just wants to see your brains splatter for fun.
I’ve got mad respect or the job you have to do. Thank you for your service!
In the Army, across my 18 years, it was very rare that any Soldier was allowed to remain in service who couldn’t meet service standards.
There’s “studs and duds” in nearly every unit, and always “works in progress,” of course, perhaps on their performance improvement plan towards continued service…
…but the reality of the Army life I experienced on large scale it wasn’t akin to giving many second chances to egregious misbehavior, nor sometimes any misbehavior at all by Soldiers.
Shape up or ship out. Police, no slack, you have to start holding each other to higher standards. In nearly every case of unjustified brutality and murder committed by police, it has been the circumstance that the police perpetrators of those crimes had a history of misconduct.
Police your own!
We honor police because not everyone is fit to uphold our American public trust. Do not allow substandard police to carry that honor and dishonor that trust. No Slack!
Stop thinking of your jurisdictions as war zones. You are not Soldiers. The roles of police and Soldiers are very different. I challenge departments to address the cultural ideolgy of your police forces to recalibrate them to that understanding.
Food for thought: In military doctrine, there’s this thing called the 3 to 1 rule. Before initiating contact, do you have three times the combat power of the force you intend to take on?
The general rule is you always want at least 3:1 ratio in traditional force on force engagements.
Why did I share that? Because, police, if you don’t get off the war path with your public trust you will lose. I’d bet $1 no force in this country, military and police all combined has 3:1 odds against the American people.
And we’ve already seen how guerilla war and patriotism can outlast our military tech in the long term fight… in Vietnam, and Iraq, and Afghanistan, and more…
Its time to wake up from any notion that any occupying police force will enjoy good order with Americans without the support of their communities.
Police, my brothers and sisters, you don’t want to go to war. The public you serve doesn’t want you to go to war… so stop looking at your duties like a Soldier at war, please.
Partner with your communities! Partner with Black Lives Matter! Partner with activist groups in your area so you know what the people you serve are concerned about. Listen to the complaints of your community and solve them!
Many people are leery of police, and to truly win the hearts and minds is often thankless, yeoman’s work, but that’s why we exalt you as heroes: because we need you to do the hard job. Get ‘r done. No slack. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
We NEED you to be allies in positive change alongside us. America needs you to get this right.
When you have the trust of your communities, YOUR work will be safer and more fulfilling.
Communities that can trust the fairness of the justice system and law enforcement will be much more of an ally to you in eradicating the enemies of the public you are sworn to protect us from (like fascists, for example), just sayin’.
Community leaders, young people, all Americans, Black Lives Matter inclusive, of course, I assert that each of us has a duty to engage with our law enforcement and local government too. If you want safe communities with just enforcement of laws that work for us we’ve got to be part of the solution WITH them if possible.
Who better than you?
Police departments would be less inclined to let substandard cops keep working if they had a huge pool of willing candidates to step up and do the job right with/for them instead.
Be the change you want to see in the world, that’s all.
Local law enforcement leaders, I call on you to break the chain of dysfunction at your level in defiance of police militarization mentality as much as is needed to protect the trust of your community against that kind of tyranny.
This past week we’ve seen exactly how much more effective partnership is for communities, police, and this country than the war approach.
I know at the federal level the “go to war” mindset is coming down the order chain for you, but don’t act out that mindset in your duties.
Remember the people you are sworn to serve and protect!
Do the right things! Start NOW in building our community partnerships toward a more prosperous American future than the history we’ve made thus far by immediately changing the mentality that the people are your adversary.
Treat us all right and everything will be ok.
Regardless of your political party, reader, I hope you can see now how facist, corrupt, and unAmerican our current president is now, if you didn’t know that already.
His “great America” isn’t real… its only a gimmick.
You see, his vision isn’t actually ideologically “American” at all… and his political party has refused to hold him accountable, seeing their motivations as befitting betrayal of our American ideals.
Please see this. He is all about dictatorship, not democracy. He is all about himself, not you, no matter who you are.
Is this the great America you thought he was talking about? Where if you are in my way it’s simply okay for me to kill or harm you for inconveniencing me?
Is this how we as American’s should expect our highest public servant to treat us?…
Molest our American women and children if it serves his vanity?…
…to get the photos and sadistic satisfactions he wants?
Well, when we start playing by those rules it’s not America anymore.
In America due process and innocent until proven guilty are ALWAYS supposed to be what reigns supreme in all States, United, E Plurbus Unum, for EVERY American, as is the right to protest and speak to power.
Our federal government is failing us, and many local governments are too. They aren’t getting anything done and the checks and balances have been shattered.
Shame on you spineless elected cowards who acknowledge the President’s misbehaviors and give him a pass.
You should give back your paychecks, and be shackled alongside him.
Shame on any public servant who puts personal gain ahead of their oath, or enforces unconstitutional order ahead of American freedom, justice, and equality.
If the shoe fits, you’re punk ass bitches. You dishonor your office and this country. You are complicit in this tyranny on our nation and it’s people.
Sidenote: Way to stand up, Mitt Romney! You gained some respect from me for doing that, but that’s old shit now.
Remember, politicians, your office comes before your party in the eyes of the American people, and you are sworn to uphold STANDARDS in keeping with highest integrity of our basic ideals and trust above all else. That’s why they call it PUBLIC SERVICE.
As a Veteran, it makes me especially sad to see our national cemeteries and tributes to our fallen destroyed and defaced in all of this. However, I dare say it that those fallen aren’t unfamiliar with collateral damage.
At this point, I don’t think they mind.
Maybe down in Fiddler’s Green they’re dancing up a storm to the noise we’re making up here getting the work done that they started but never got a chance to finish.
I’ll definitely ask em when I get there, to Fiddler’s Green.
All races contributed members of their family to those graves and monuments in service to our nation. And more of their names come from poor families than rich ones, I believe.
Well, I don’t like to see things this way, but we can make more monuments.
I reckon our heroes past who gave their lives for our freedom would say the folks that defaced their memorials had just as much right as anyone to be heard.
So instead of being mad, wake up!
We do not live up to our duty to honor our dead heroes every day we allow our anti American systemic injustices to persist.
Many white Americans dismiss the idea of reparations to black people for the injustice of slavery in our country as if its a joke. Unnecessary to waste a thought on.
However, let’s consider the fact that we, as a “free” nation, America, have the highest prison population on earth. Not only do we have an overall higher number of inmates in total than countries that dwarf us in total population, like China, but we have a higher inmate per capita than any other nation on this earth too.
Are American people inherently more evil than other humans across the world? No.
We as a nation are just bigger hypocrites than every other country, perhaps, in greater denial of what we have been.
You see, in our constitution and bill of rights we paint a picture of the utopia we want America to be. Liberty and justice for all. Yet in practice, we built our nation’s might by subjugating in worse ways than anything we escaped on our path to declare our independence.
I assert that any true American should value the life of all races as equal on this earth.
However, in case you happen to be someone who cares about America, but not really about the plight American minorities for some (stupid) reason, think of it this way:
Do you want America to be the most powerful, best, smartest, richest, most free country in the world? Where people are happiest? And people in other countries wish they could live here because they know even the minimum quality of life here is better than anywhere else on earth?
Wouldn’t it be better for our country’s productivity if less of our able people were in prison, and contributing to our national might? I bet it would.
Think of America as only as great on the world stage as it’s weakest links.
America, as an opportunity for investment at the time it was born cheated black Americans out of their birthright to get in at the ground floor. They worked for American prosperity and even fought in our wars, yet were not allowed to get a stake in it.
By the time the Emancipation Proclamation hit the white patriarchy was already too far ahead in the rat race for blacks to likely ever catch up in this country, economically, as a population of people in our country.
Wealth and economic power compound over time. Slavery pushed black Americans as a population way behind the starting line in time as white America was sprinting ahead in developing wealth by investing in this country.
The power of whites collectively in our economy being so much greater than blacks is because our original investments have compounded year after year, while all the while we have systematically held blacks back from participating in our venture.
As such, our society has continued to shape out in a manner that serves the machinations of white American men above all else. Blacks, minorities, women, have all been subjugated to the laws and rules of white patriarchy. It is what it is.
Access to voting, ownership of property, segregation, pay gaps, justice system unfairness, corruption, racism, sexism… police brutality… persistent fucked up laws…
Year after year glimpses of access to the whole American dream has been doled out bit by bit to women and minorities… who continue to frown and bear the setbacks and the gains they will never make after the opportunity costs of lost time competing in the market… fighting in our wars… and shaping our culture… and contributing to America’s greatness in the world.
What was once slavery, has resulted in the black population overall in America being disproportionately imprisoned, impoverished, and having severely less opportunity for access to higher education in America than whites by far.
Our American racist origins created a self fulfilling prophecy that we have allowed to endure for generations of black Americans, and which will tear apart our country if we don’t set things right in perpetuity.
And, goddammit, it ain’t right! I’m ashamed to be an American when I think of our identity this way, but it is what it is, and the time is now.
We have never been the America we profess to be. Let’s change that.
Here’s some ideas that may seem radical, but to me is common sense.
How about we look at the basic nature of our “American freedom” to shape our idea of rules and laws (and justice) of being permissive of liberty of the individual, and restrictive only as a requirement to prevent abuse or harm to the rights of others, and we as Americans are all accountable to our own pursuits of happiness?
For example, why as an adult should I ever be harassed or cited for not wearing my seatbelt?
Why should I be taxed (a citation), as a free American, for exercising my liberty to not be physically restricted by a seatbelt while I drive?
Why did we ever allow our government to enforce this rule?
I should be permitted the liberty of driving with my seatbelt on or off, however I choose.
Freedom means I get to accept my own risk for my own choices. I should be restricted as a parent to enforce seatbelts on minors in my vehicle, perhaps.
As a parent I recognize children cannot make their own choices about risks, they don’t know them yet. However, we’ve got a severe problem in this country with perspective of law enforcement, the government, and the cultural ideology of too many people in our people’s personal choices, all the way down to the minutia of seatbelts.
The click or ticket mentality is unAmerican. It encourages police in the government that they should meddle in our personal affairs that infringes on our liberties beyond our duty to anyone else.
It encourages “Karenism”. It encourages spitefulness between people and government. It gives brutal cops an excuse to harass folks whose right to liberty and pursuit of happiness ought not have to suffer such a thing.
That mentality has been an insidious and rampant threat to the meaning of “freedom” in America, and getting worse and worse every day.
Why can’t I as an adult buy mango nicotine? Police your own kids. I shouldn’t have my adult freedoms restricted to pick up the slack for your lack of involvement with your kids.
With the freedom of parenthood comes the responsibility of it on the individual.
Seatbelts and tobacco flavors are small, easy examples of anti American mentality enforced in laws by our white patriarchy. But here’s the thing: whites ignore the laws just as much as anyone else. As do the rich alike with the poor on different levels.
However, rich whites typically aren’t gonna get harassed for jaywalking… or murdered by police for suspected forgery valued at $20.
…but a black men and impoverished minorities certainly do. It’s a fact.
Folks who can afford to pay stupid citations don’t care about them and don’t usually have to deal with much repercussion about the existence of such laws because they’re not the ones getting harassed and chiseled by them.
The white patriarchy has put all kinds of stupid roadblocks to further disadvantage the poor and minorities throughout our history. The reparation of our original American hypocrisy cannot simply be mended by sending all black people a stimulus check.
No. The reparation must be a performance based consequence to satisfy our tort against our most pure American ideals of fair treatment and freedom for all.
It’s time for the next American re-evolution. Time to grow up.
We have got to shift major industries to reshape the economic and legal landscape of our society and government to more properly align to our American civil responsibilities against individual rights and entitlement to freedom.
I started with seatbelts as a baby step, but strap in… I’m gonna take you for a turn.
Why isn’t prostitution legal? Why isn’t cocaine? White people, rich people… they’re customers like everyone else, if not the chief customer of such luxuries.
Its the poor, the dealers, the service delivery folks who end up in jail or dead. Its minorities.
Instead, let’s permit people’s freedom.
If I die because I didn’t wear my seatbelt, my insurance policy can settle up my freedom account with America when I’m gone, assuming I’ve abided the requirement to have insurance as a driver.
Rich people, in a permissive America you can use your money for cocaine and blow jobs openly, and more reliably and safely too.
Put people who commit crimes on the life of others in jail who can’t handle freedom responsibly enough to be trusted in society. But let’s stop creating dead weight in our society by limiting peoples access to freedom legally.
We can also stop investing so much in prisons and jail. We can redistribute so much of what we spend on unnecessary laws, enforcement, and bureaucracy on trying to control American life at the individual level into our collective tax investment for the thriving of all Americans.
Infrastructure, research, education, technology, quality of life. Health care.
We can have capitalism in democracy without it being mutually exclusive to a higher minimum standard of quality of life for all Americans if we fundamentally change our “this or that” mentality. Growth mindset.
There should be no place in America that has substandard education or infrastructure. As technology advances and our systems take on more load that people used to do, we can enable more Americans to be free and simply QA/QC our systems more vigorously with people so that we sustain the integrity of American fairness and equality in them.
We’ve got to shift our investment in a war on drugs and the poor into a war on poverty and obstacles for all of our people.
We’ll have gotten it right when our prisons and professions are more proportionately populated racially against the norms in our country, our public schools on skid row are as nice as the ones on main street, and a janitor and movie star can walk into the same hospital with the same problem and get the same level of quality care anywhere in America, maybe free of charge.
We must recognize that all of our taxes should go towards a basic quality of life first and foremost for all Americans as a standard in our public institutions: our entitlement to life.
Without that basic quality of life for all Americans, we won’t realize the type of capitalism our democracy intended. The sicknesses of today’s capitalism will only get worse if we don’t give it some penicillin.
99% of everyone’s quality of life could be better, especially public servant roles who we must in turn hold to higher standards of performance and accountability to us all.
1% can afford to take the hit on their overall wealth to help initially set-right America as necessary. Why not? They’ve been the benefactors of our original wrong turns all along and the ones perpetuating systems to widen the gaps. Even so doing, they still will be much richer than everyone else, and still owners of the industries that sustain their wealth in the future.
Frankly, it is in the interest of the rich to not have the turmoils we are experiencing escalate. They have the most to lose if America finds itself amidst revolution. Just saying.
We will never be as great as a nation as we could have been had we empowered all our people to contribute the best of their life potential in American freedom.
Maybe you don’t see eye to eye with some of my fundamental opinions on how life should be in America, or some of the thing we should do to get there. That’s okay with me.
However, if you support the positive change that we are all yearning for it will only come through revolution, or through the vote. Getting it done through the vote is what is best for America, if we can do it, to prevent more bloodhsed.
If we don’t get it done through the vote there will definitely be more pain and bloodshed.
Left, you have got to stop alienating the right middle. We all need to stop, listen, and support civil rights for all Americans before anything else short of protection from foreign attack.
However, left, you will never win the support of the number of people you could if you don’t reconcile your stuck up hypocrisy. For some reason, in media, the left asserts a moral haughtiness as if it’s farts smelled like cherries.
Just about every liberal I know would have assumed Amy Cooper a Trump supporter, but she reminds me a lot of many NorCal liberals I know.
Left, check yourself. You’re wrecking yourself with your elitist hypocrisy. You gotta do the internal work to come to terms with this, or else you will just be irrelevant noise.
You are never going to win over people from the right by talking down to them, assholes…
… check your privilege…
… and stop aiming so goddam low.
Dems, I can’t help but get the impression that you’re aiming not to lose the American people more than you’re trying to win representing everyone you need to endorse you.
I didn’t vote for Hillary or Trump… or anyone last election. I won’t give my vote to anyone I don’t endorse, regardless of the outcome. Give me better options or we’ll go through getting there the hard way.
One reason I thanked god for Black Lives Matter in this piece is because they just might have enough influence to ensure that Trump goes out. Good thing, too, because without the kind of momentum in the culture they are bringing I don’t have faith that you’re (left, Dems) doing any better with the American people in your choice of candidate than your approach to the last election, and we see how that worked out.
Americans, invest in America. Get out and vote.
We need to fundamentally reform our electoral process and system of checks and balances on government power, and desperately need a third party to disable government stalemates in the two party system.
The stalemates of our two party system have held up so much progress against the exact evils in our country that we are facing today and trying to eliminate in the name of George Floyd.
The spectrum of Americans is much more left, right, and middle than a two party choice can satisfy.
A party that can harness the values of the middle with practical solutions for all could overtake power throughout our branches of government from both parties in the next 8 years. It’s very possible.
I have a dream too, and I’ve come to believe getting the balance of that dream in real life in America will only be achieved sustainably through a three party political system. Just sayin.
As a final note, please consider more details on my story from Saturday. I had an encounter with police. Due to SIP, our local college campus is closed and “locked down.” My friend and I wanted to paste art on a location whose closest parking location was on that campus.
Technically, I guess, what we do could be considered vandalism, or littering maybe… we are mindful about pasting on business or private property and our messages are positive, but nonetheless I suppose it could be considered a crime of some sort.
The piece pictured above was already taken down in Santa Rosa. Sadface.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. C’est le vie.
Anyways, in order to get where we need to be for our mission I navigated my vehicle around multiple barriers to get to the parking spot I went to.
Just as my friend and I were getting out to take our wares and put them up we saw the 3 police SUVs coming our way.
Rather than wait for them to approach us at our vehicle to see all the stuff we had – which might give away why we were there – I told my friend to wait in the car, and I did something my daddy taught me.
I walked away from my car, in the dark, towards the police headlights coming my way waving and smiling, with my hands up in front me.
When I approached the passenger side of the lead vehicle I laughed, smiled, and made up a lie as to why were there. I told the officer I had made a mistake, and would leave that parking lot immediately. That part was true, lol.
The officer didn’t ask me a single question, nor for ID, and said “yeah this campus is closed you’re not supposed to be here.” and I said “I’ll leave right away, my apologies for the misunderstanding.” with no further incident.
They never touched me or felt cause to infringe my rights and search me or anything.
For some reason this how I think all Americans should expect their interactions to go with police, even when they may have committed a small crime.
Definitely George Floyd’s interaction with the final police he interacted with should’ve gone much more like mine did for parking illegally with some criminal intent…
… I mean, even if the cops had come to my vehicle and seen everything we had, and if I told them exactly why we were there… to commit the crimes we were…
… the most risk I was reasonably taking in my mind is that I might get a ticket and not get to paste art up like I wanted…
… and that’s the kind of police consistency EVERY American should expect. Right?
Black Lives Matter.
What hand were you dealt? What’s in your hand now?
Are your hands capable? At all?
What color are they?
Are they smooth? Or rough?
Are your hands in your pockets?
Are they in fists?
Are they in prayer?
Are they in chains?
Are they holding your gun?
Are they holding the hands of your loved ones?
Are they wielding a pen? Or a sword?
Are they making something?
Are they reaching out for a handshake?
Are they extended for an embrace?
Do you have a thumb up your ass and rubbing one out?
Better knuckle up, and put those hands to work…
Otherwise endure the pain, for you’ve left your hands behind your back.
If you dig the paste up art I featured check out The Velvet Bandit on IG and please support the street art bail fund!
Here’s some mood music:
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If you feel so inclined... it is MUCH appreciated, and I'll pay it forward.