Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Justice for Our Children


Sculptor George Segal and his sculpture in memory of students slain and wounded at Kent State by Ohio National Guardsmen, entitled: In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State-Abraham and Isaac.

“Is dissent a crime?”, asked Arthur Krause, the father of 19-year-old Allison Krause, one of the slain KSU students. “Is this such a reason for killing her? Have we come to such a state in this country that a young girl has to be shot because she disagrees deeply with the actions of her government?”

Fifty-one years ago, four Kent State University students were murdered, and nine others wounded by a tsunami of incompetent leadership and bigoted politics. Back then, as today, the people of the USA were wrapped up in a cultural straight jacket of disdain and intolerance for their own youth.

“KSU was in chaos on 4 May 1970, because Ohio Gov. James Rhodes came to campus the day before. In a press conference he unleashed a tirade against the students, calling them “worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the nightriders and the vigilantes … They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America, he continued. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.”

“Then he stated that he would get a court injunction banning future protests and left the impression that something like martial law had been declared. Then he departed the KSU campus.”

“Rhodes actually did neither. But, the Guardsmen and their officers, the university administration and the student protesters did not know that. Rhodes did accomplish inciting Guardsmen and the general public against the students and muddling the "chain of command" so that no one really knew who was in charge.”

“That night, Sunday, 3 May, students confronted Guardsmen demanding that the Guard leave their campus. Several students taunted the Guard and were bayoneted.”

“The previous Friday, 1 May, KSU students and students at other universities, such as Yale, protested President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the expansion of the war in Vietnam.”

Please go here for the whole Kent State Massacre story:

When Demagogues & Incompetence Rule Innocents Die, DownriverUSA, 24 Feb 2017


Silently Sacrificing our Children, DownriverUSA, 19 Feb 2018


Closure, DownriverUSA, 3 May 2020


Here We Are Again - 50 Years Later, DownriverUSA, 29 May 2020


Why the Kent State Massacre Matters Today

In the Trumpian era of “alternative facts” and demagoguery we are ever slipping and sliding deeper and deeper into our own Fascist-American quicksand where our leaders mislead, confuse issues and make up “facts” to feed their narcissistic addiction and never-sated power and wealth appetite.

Kent State continues to offer lessons for us today… lessons we continue to disregard.

The KSU administration has still not accepted sculptor George Segal’s, In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State - Abraham and Isaac. A work of art they commissioned.

Segal’s sculpture is a contemporary version of Abraham and Isaac “in an allegory for the May 4, 1970, tragedy at Kent State University. A poignant visualization of humankind's struggle between ideology and paternal love, it mirrors the conflict that led to the death of four students at the hands of the Ohio National Guard.”

In other words Segal is mirroring our willingness to sacrifice our own children to our gods, whoever or whatever they are. I fear many will continue the practice, still cheerfully following the whims of our past president.

After commissioning it in 1977, Kent State refused the sculpture in 1977, saying that it “depicted violence”.

Violence, indeed. That, after all, is still what we are all about.

In Memory of May 4, 1970: Kent State - Abraham and Isaac is now on display outside of the Princeton University Chapel as part of the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection, funded by a partial gift of the Mildred Andrews Fund.

Please go here for Paul Keane’s* illuminating and thoughtprovoking words about Segal’s Abraham and Isaac.

*Paul D. Keane, Teacher, M.A. (1972, Kent State University), M.Div. (Divinity School, Yale University) and M.Ed. recently passed. He taught English at Whitcomb High School and Hartford High School, Connecticut.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Protecting Us from Our Police

"Helping Hand" insignia, US Army Humanitarian Corps.

Each day we learn that more American citizens have been murdered by our police. We must put a stop to this carnage by reforming policing in the United States. I have discussed this on DownriverUSA several times. Here are two posts:

Policing Reform – Today – 23 Apr 2021


When Protectors Become Gangsters - 26 June 2020

What Has Been Done?


One successful local community policing reform program is aimed at improving community policing by reducing police shootings and beatings of citizens. It has been in operation for over 30 years in Eugene, Oregon. 

Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS). CAHOOTS works for citizens and for local government by reducing police brutality while also saving the city about, “$8.5 million in public safety costs every year, plus another $14 million in ambulance trips and ER costs”.

Basically, CAHOOTS created a response unit comprised of medical personnel from a local medical facility, most likely a hospital, which is dispatched by the local police dispatcher, to deal with nonviolent/non-sworn-officer-required 911 calls, such as, “unsheltered people or those with mental health issues”.

As Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner explained, "We need to get law enforcement professionals back to doing the core mission of protecting communities and enforcing the law, and then match resources with other services like behavioral health -- all those things we tend to lump on the plate of law enforcement."

Psychological Standard Test

Some federal authority must oversee, license, require continuing education and psychological testing for police officers throughout the U.S. That oversight must also include ICE, FBI, alcohol and drug enforcement, U.S. Marshalls, etc. – police officers at all levels of government - anyone authorized to wear a badge and carry a gun. Please see: Outraged Yet? - 13 Apr 2021.

Universal Body and Dash Cams

Every American ciizen must wear a body cam and mount an in-vehicle dash cam. Cams are inexpensive and nearly ubiquitous now. Video and audio records will offer some proof of deadly encounters with police.

Who Will Protect Us from Ultra-Right Policing Abuses? – The Humanitarian Corps

The recent CPAC conference clearly displayed a brazen neo-Nazi connection that should alarm all Americans. 

Obviously, we need a new way to deal with domestic terrorism, white supremacy, and disinformation i.e., treason, fostered by the emergent, Trump-controlled, ultra-right wing Republican Party.

Who Will Protect Us from Ultra-Right Policing Abuses? 

We must create a "Humanitarian Corps", a new type of Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit of the National Guard, under command of the U.S. military, with the mission of “quick response” to protect and defend government units and the people who are victimized by Republican disenfranchisement… those subject to police brutality; those predominantly non-white Americans who cannot depend on their local police or state or even federal law enforcement, to be treated with common decency under the law; and those victimized by our for-profit prison system.

An additional mission would be providing humanitarian relief, education, and training, in situ, to the millions of unemployed, homeless, despairing, Americans who are mired in a never-ending cycle of poverty. Consider this a new form of FDR’s CCC-style employment programs, akin to an updated “Domestic Marshall Plan”.

As a past service person, I have faith that our military command will get the job done forthwith, in an efficient and evenhanded manner, under the Constitution, under Congressional oversight, using the equipment, personnel and material, as approved by Congress.

Through the Humanitarian Corps, funded under the existing Dept. of Defense budget, we may steer the course of America away from unending inhumanity to itself and toward a more humane world – for all of us.

Using some military resources for humanitarian purposes is not a new concept. Often during times of natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc., political people mobilize military units to evacuate victims, provide medical care, transport emergency relief supplies as well as security.

The military, after all, has ships, planes, manpower, and the command structure at the ready. All that is required is the order to spring into action and get the job done.

What could comprise The Humanitarian Corps? 

Answer: existing resources, historically activated under military command, following post-combat, including military personnel, Department of State personnel, Intelligence agencies, nonprofits, etc. 

We may never be able to defeat the "powers that be – the funders of Republican treason". Still, we can help some of those left in misery due to our systemic failures. For me, "No one left behind", includes the civilians we displace, leave to starve, and die of their wounds - wounds our system permits - e.g., unemployment, poor education, no health care, inadequate housing, poverty, etc. We have the means to change the course of history by allowing our "better angels" to come forward and do what needs to be done to ensure that our Democratic Republic survives the next coup attempts sure to come.

We can do something different today because we have the wherewithal to profoundly change what will happen to people who are truly hurting because of Republican sponsored domestic terrorism, white supremacy, racism, and outright treason. By doing so, by taking a different path, we can stop our national free fall into fascism. 

This can be a new and unexpected counter to the Republican Party, ultra-right, Trumpian authoritarianism, one somewhat akin to the post-WWII Marshall Plan, but vastly more focused on individuals over industry and government. 

We can do this by creating a solution: The Humanitarian Corps.

To help move us forward, the concept below is an excellent step… A federally-funded, Police Holster Sensor and Use Report

Let's talk about a plan and a wish for changing law enforcement....
Beau of the Fifth Column - 25 Apr 2021

Friday, April 23, 2021

Policing Reform – Today


Have you given a thought to what happens to people when the police arrest them during a protest?

Well, the British newspaper, the Guardian, did the research and discovered the following:

“At least 90 percent of charges against Black Lives Matter protesters in a dozen jurisdictions have been dropped, dismissed or not filed, according to an analysis by The Guardian. Such a high percentage suggests that the police may have been arresting people simply to suppress dissent.”

“In Houston and Los Angeles, The Guardian found, 93 percent of charges were either dropped or never filed; in some cities like Dallas and Philadelphia, that number rose to 95 percent of charges dropped or never prosecuted. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, 100 percent of 127 cases related to peaceful protesting were dropped.”

The conclusion?

“The extremely high percentage of protest-related charges ultimately being dropped or dismissed suggests that police may have been using arrests as a tactic to prove that the protests were unruly and unlawful.”

Despite this clear record of outrageous, authoritarian police abuse, Republican-dominated state legislators, such as Florida, “…are filing a stunning number of anti-protest laws. Some bills criminalize protesting in what appears to be a stark infringement of First Amendment rights to assembly and freedom of speech that the right wing pretends to revere. Others propose legal protection for people who run over protesters with their vehicles or shoot them.”

In fact, one current Trump-wannabe, Gov. Ronald DeSantis of Florida, crowed this as he signed Florida’s version of the First Amendment-burning travesty while wrapping an ultra-right Republican ribbon around a slew of other minority-suppressing dreams, including:

  • Allowing people, “to sue local governments if their property is damaged, injuries or deaths that arise from a riot or unlawful assembly.”
  • Bumping up, “many criminal penalties from misdemeanors to felonies, meaning that, in Florida, many who are convicted under the new law could lose their right to vote.”
  • “Making it a first-degree misdemeanor for a group of three or more to try and change someone’s viewpoints by using violence or the threat of violence. The crime would be punishable by a sentence of up to one year.”
  • The governor said the bill will also target calls to “defund the police,” which he said was an “insane theory.”
  • “This bill actually prevents against local government from defunding law enforcement,” DeSantis said. “We will be able to stop it at the state level.”

Florida’s new law, and those other Republican-controlled states are adopting, are clear harbingers of future ultra-right authoritarian rule as well as high-protein food for those like-minded authoritarian police officers throughout the nation. You know them as those clad in military gear, driving blacked out SUVs, armed with the latest weapons and wearing badges. The same “law enforcement” people who are also most likely to shoot a black person for being black, as well as others, regardless of race, for not following their commands, especially if that person is also obviously not wealthy.

Can we please make USA policing reform happen today?

The Plan to End Police Misconduct -Thom Hartmann (w/ Ben Jealous) - 21 Apr 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Salvation Ticket

Ray Downing used the Shroud of Turin to create Jesus' image.

With all this Republican Party talk about their Anglo-Saxon heritage, keeping America “white”, the "America First" caucus, and working so hard on being a white nationalist, fundamentalist-Christian party, I hope someone reflects for a moment or two on this question:

Who is it who punched their salvation ticket for eternal life?

Why, it was Jesus. Was it not?

And was Jesus an Anglo-Saxon? Well, no.

He was a Mediterranean Jew. But he was the guy who died for us. (John 3:16)

Jordan Klepper Fingers The Pulse - Into The MAGAverse: Full Special | The Daily Show 
19 Apr 2021

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Outraged Yet?

Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, is pepper-sprayed by Windsor, Va., police officer Joe Gutierrez, during a traffic stop in December. Gutierrez threatened Lieutenant Nazario before dousing him with pepper spray and pushing him to the ground, according to body camera footage of the episode.

We passed outrage years ago. 

Honestly, it is time to create a federal standard test for the police class people.

We need to know before they become cops if they will behave ethically and follow the law when they put on a badge and strap on that sidearm. 

Do they like people or do they hate people?

Do they have serious psychological disqualifications?

Do they like inflicting pain on others?

Are they control freaks?

We need to know.

We must not continue to empower these predators, those who fail the test, with life-taking, abuse-inflicting freedom to roam our streets.

We need to know. 

Some federal authority must oversee, license, require continuing education and psychological testing for police officers throughout the U.S. That oversight must also include ICE, FBI, alcohol and drug enforcement, U.S. Marshalls, etc. – police officers at all levels of government - anyone authorized to wear a badge and carry a gun.

We must put a stop to police lawlessness and abuse today.

Daunte Wright’s Death & America’s Broken Policing System | The Daily Social Distancing Show

Monday, April 5, 2021

Forever Tigers Fan


I grew up in Ohio, but I guess I was always a Detroit Tigers fan at heart. 

Akil Baddoo cleared that up for me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

If Not Our Military... Who?


Photo credit: Tigerland, the movie about Ft. Polk.

Back in the 1970s, I never doubted the loyalty of the U.S. Army. I knew I could count on our troops because they shared a common desire: survive, go home, and live their lives. Everyone wanted the same thing. So, people worked together and supported each other. No one worried about whether fellow Americans, or our leaders, were working against our common welfare.

Today, things seem to have changed and that shared “common good” appears to be disappearing.

Who will pay the price of Mr. Trump’s insurrection, misinformation, “alternative facts”, and endless lying? What will the resurgence of white supremacy and white nationalism in our military cost you and me?

If not our military, who will defend our Constitution the next time the white terrorists are breaking down the doors, threatening to hang their political opponents?

“Nearly one in five people facing charges related to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol had some connection to the military, including at least two active-duty troops, prompting Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to order a 60-day stand-down across the services to address extremism.