How The Cops Killed Trayvon

Drug War Racism

Blacks Are Almost 4 Times More Like To Be Arrested For Marijuana

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

Haven’t seen this diaried, and it seemed rather important. The ACLU did a study on arrest rates for marijuana possession . They say that usage rates are similar. Arrest rates are not similar.

Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report also found that marijuana arrests now make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with police making over 7 million marijuana possession arrests between 2001 and 2010. “The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests” is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.

“The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color,” said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the primary authors of the report. “State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost.”

The findings show that while there were pronounced racial disparities in marijuana arrests 10 years ago, they have grown significantly worse. In counties with the worst disparities, Blacks were as much as 30 times more likely to be arrested.

I learned of this when I saw a story in my local paper, the Gainesville [FL] Sun. It showed blacks to be six times more likely to be arrested for pot possession in Alachua County . . . higher than the national average disparity reported by the ACLU. I’d give you the link, but the story is now archived and behind a firewall.

Discuss . . . starting with last Friday’s video.

Suckling On The Government Teat

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

I grew up in Brevard County, Florida. Every stretch of coast in Florida has a name. The Emerald Coast is around Pensacola. The Sun Coast is around St. Petersburg. The Treasure Coast is Palm Beach. Brevard County is the Space Coast.

Where I went to school, you had a choice. You could watch Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo spacecraft lift off on television. Or you could outside and watch them directly. They were 35 miles away, but you could still see them. My father was pumping gas in 1986, and watched the Challenger explode.

My father was an engineer who worked for a government contractor. He worked with a government engineer, a civilian with the Department of Defense, and together they built a string of telemetry antenna’s that stretched from Merritt Island, into the Bahamas, the lesser Antilles, the South Atlantic and South Africa.

The civilian DOD engineer had a son who I grew up with. From the moment he drew his first breath, until he left home, every single calorie that crossed his lips was paid for by the United States government.

As a son of the space program, he was fascinated with flying. He wanted to become a pilot with the Air Force, but his eyesight was bad. He had to settle for being a navigator, but settle he did. Being a highly intelligent young man, he was able to gain admission to a prestigious engineering school, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering — and extraordinary difficult course of study, in case you’re wondering.

His education was paid for by an ROTC scholarship. In payment for his education,,the government then paid him to serve as a navigator on air force jets like the B-52. He wound up spending 20 years in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Which means that from the day he was born until he almost 45 years old, he never spent a single dollar he didn’t get from the United States government. He can literally claim to a be a creation of the United States government, which government spent literally millions of dollars on his education and training. Indeed, the government started spending on his prosperity years before he was born, when it sent his father to engineering school on the GI bill.

This friend of mine, who grew up with me watching rocket ships leave the earth from Cape Canaveral, occasionally complains about having to pay taxes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of tracks, the government has spent much less of his tax money mostly just keeping poor, uneducated, kids alive. Where he and his parents enjoyed things like FHA and VA mortgages to help them become home owners, poor folks get Section 8 rent subsidies . . . subsidies that help other middle class slum lord wannabe’s pay the mortgages on their rental properties. He and his parents were given very expensive educations, and put to work in good paying government jobs.

What investment have we made on the poorest among us.

Mrs. Walton’s Big Box!

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

It’s one of those perennial questions raised by rightwing ideologues. “Why should the rich pay higher marginal taxes?” Flat taxes are said to be “fair,” as opposed to “redistribution” which is “stealing.”

For today’s podcast, we offer the simple obvious answer for the simple justice of progressive taxation, especially with respect to the estate tax. We start with the question of what exactly the Walton sisters, as an example, did to earn their fortune?

Is it really harder to push your way out of a rich woman’s vagina? Only we use a different word.

As for why the Walton should pay more, that’s simple. They use more government services.

Local police protects Walmart’s goods from thieves.

Walmart uses interstate highways to transfer tons of goods to their stores.

Walmart tracks it’s inventory, and moves money around using satellites and communication infrastructure built at taxpayer expense.

Last but not least, the United States Navy protects the sea lanes between China and the Walmart store near you.

The argument is simple . . . and you need to use it everytime you hear your favorite conservative complaining about how “unfair” taxes are to millionaires.

As usual, the video is much more entertaining than the dry write-up. Enjoy.

Bigots Are Destroying America

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

The other day, diarist Will Smith wrote an open letter to “white anti-racist activists.” Here is the money quote . . . at least for what I want to talk about, today.

However, in my sensitivity about race, I realize that I have been insensitive to those white people who do not partake in and who refuse to adhere to this system of white supremacy. They refuse to be a part of the racist culture that is so pervasive in our society.

Let me first say, to the extent that I qualify as an “anti-racist activist,” I appreciate the kind words. But I really must confess to something.

To the extent that I might be an “anti-racist activist,” it is not primarily for anyone else’s benefit. My activism is about nothing more difficult to understand than my desire to create the kind of country I want to live in. Not only do I dislike the ugliness of bigotry, I realized many years ago, that bigotry is just simply bad for us.

You have only to consider the south before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before that landmark legislation, the south was nothing short of a third world dung heap. It was a stagnant backwater, ruled by some of the most corrosively violent people in history. The south was by far the poorest region of the nation, and no white person in the south appeared to have the slightest interest in changing that.

It was only after the south ended such absurdities as colored drinking fountains and segregated lunch counters, that capital started flowing to the south. The prosperous new south didn’t exist until the Ku Klux Klan was driven, at the point of rifles pointed by the 101st Airborne [among others], back under the rocks they crawled out of.

As a southern white man it is crystal clear for me. I don’t want to go back that bad history. I don’t want to go back to literacy tests, and armed vigilantes.

I also don’t want the economic stagnation of the south to become the economic model for the nation.

Make no mistake, the current strategy of the wealthy elite, is obstruction, and economic stagnation. They have managed to amass more wealth than ever before in history, and bottom up prospereity is a threat to their position. Full employment, rising wages, improved healthcare, all threaten to liberate ordinary Americans — white, black, hispanic, and native, alike — from the tyranny of wage slavery and sweatshop capitalism.

This was always what racism, white supremacy and bigotry were all about. It was a deal with the devil offered to working class white to accept a few extra crumbs, and marginal improvement in status in exchange for serving as the bullies and lick spittles of the wealthy. The result was a poorer society . . . even for the allegely privileged whites.

So yes, I oppose racism, white supremacy, and bigotry, but only because I understand how much better off everybody will be, “privileged” whites included, when we finally see the end of it.

As always, the video includes everything you just read . . . and maybe a little bit more.

Will Zimmerman Profit From Murder?

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

We’re talking book deals, movie rights, television appearances, and speaking engagements. George Zimmerman is the next “Joe The Plumber” — a poster boy for the bigoted right, who is now poised to cash in and profit from killing a 17 year old boy.

That’s why Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, needs to bring suit against George Zimmerman. Immediately. He needs to seek substantial punitive damages, and he will likely get them. The standard of proof will be preponderance, also known as the “greater weight of the evidence.” If he has an unpaid judgement with a punitive damage award — not dischargeable in bankruptcy — Trayvon Martin’s familiy can levy on every dime Zimmerman earns from his new found notoriety, until the judgement is paid.

A punitive damage judgement will not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, which means that a punitive damage judgment will follow George Zimmerman, preventing him from accumulating a thin dime in net worth for the next 20 years. That is reason enough to bring the suit, and refuse the settle unless Zimmerman is willing to confess judgment including punitive damages.

But wait, there’s more.

Who paid for Zimmerman’s lawyers? Why the George Zimmerman legal defense fund, that’s who. According to the top post at that site, they raised $77,000 in a single week. The web page includes lots of quotes from donors about the need for a “fair trial.” Of course, they don’t show you messages saying things like “good job killing that n****r.” Perhaps they’re discoverable, in a civil suit that is.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman said in his infamous Sean Hannity interview how “sorry” he felt for Trayvon’s family.

If you say so, George. Why don’t you prove it? Why don’t you make personal appeal to all of your non-racist supporters, who are just concerned about justice doncha know, to help you out?

While he’s at it, what with being “sorry” and all, why doesn’t Zimmerman go ahead and negotiate that movie deal, and that book deal, and turn all of the money over to the Martin family? He doesn’t have to wait for a jury.

Maybe Zimmerman will do that — and if he did, I would consider that to be a big step toward redemption. I have my doubts, but we’ll see.

As for Zimmerman’s supporters, I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that not a single contributor to Zimmerman’s defense will cough up a nickle to pay a judgement against Zimmerman. They do not care about George Zimmerman. This case was nothing more than an opportunity to vicariously participate in the killing of a black teenager.

Why We Are Doomed

More on who stole your TV, who didn’t, and what it all means for the working man. Video in the morning.

Most Thieves Are White

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

George Zimmerman called police 47 times between 2004 and 2012. Fifteen of those calls were for “suspicious activity.” Seven of those calls involved “suspicious” individuals. One of those individuals was white. Six were black.

In one of those calls, Zimmerman made his famous statement about “break-ins” which had occurred in the development. I will go out on a limb and speculate that he believed the thieves were “probably black.”

He would be wrong.

Here’s how I know. The State of Florida Department of Corrections has a website. On that website you can do huge searches by category of crime and race. You can also look by incarceration status — probation/parole, released from incarceration, and presently incarcerated. I looked at the raw numbers of everyone under the offense category “theft” for white, black, and hispanic offenders.

White thieves outnumber black thieves in the DOC database by 50%.

AllThieves

Interestingly, it seems the State of Florida hands out stiffer sentences to black thieves. This leads to the perverse result that more known thieves who are white are out on the street in even greater numbers.

ThievesIncarcerated

ThievesReleased

ThievesOnProbation

This data destroys the most powerful motivator for white bigotry, namely fear of “black crime.” There is simply more “white crime.”

As for why Zimmerman was frustrated in his efforts to find the thieves in his gated community, we now have a really simple explanation.

He was looking for the wrong people.

There Are No “Them”

Trayvon’s father who lived in that gated community. He owned a townhouse, and was one of Geroge Zimmerman’s neighbors. Whatever George Zimmerman fears, the fact is that the vast majority of black citizens are law-abiding, hard working people just like all the white working people who irrationally fear them.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some hard numbers for you.

What If Zimmerman Is Acquitted?

Cross posted at Daily Kos. Please recommend this diary.

Could Zimmerman be acquitted? Absolutely. The evidence of marihuana use is a sterling example of what can go wrong. Of course the simple solution would be for the state to produce a rebuttal expert to testify that marihuana makes you LESS aggressive. But the state would have to undermine decades of drug war propaganda, something they may not want to do.

So the defense may have a free hand to use the marihuana evidence anyway they want to, and those who fear a travesty in this case may see their worst fears realized.

Then what?

In 1993, Rodney King’s neigbors rioted, and the haters in this case are already predicting as much. In these days of twitter and facebook, we may hope that such a counterproductive backlash does not occur.

But something needs to be done — something more effective than the usual, ineffective protest march.

I actually came up with an idea, which lo and behold has an historical precedent. It was called the “March Against Fear.” In 1966, it was led by James Meredith, the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. He started by himself, walking through Mississippi, but by the end hundreds had joined him.

The version I propose would take place in the most exclusive, wealthiest sections of every city in Florida, simultaneously on the same day. The idea is to simply dress up in a hoodie, create a big banner that says “We Are Trayvon,” and walk en masse where you’re “not supposed to be.” One place in particular would be Palm Beach, right by Rush Limbaugh’s house.

Make sure the effort is well publicized, and I guarantee the wealthy power structure will take notice. They might even prevail on their Republican legislators to repeal the more egregious portions of the Stand Your Ground law.

Below is a video discussing the idea.