Politicking While Black

The new sin/crime:

On Sunday the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist and television host, mentioned that voter turnout in Ferguson, Mo., was a mere 12 percent in the last election, and pledged to help boost that number with a registration drive. Twelve percent, he said, was “an insult to your children.” He wasn’t the first to think of channeling the anger over Mike Brown’s death in this particular direction. Twitter users on Saturday noted voter registration tables in front of the makeshift memorial where the unarmed teenager was shot by a police officer.

Encouraging more participation in the democratic process in a community that feels alienated from political power — hence the demonstrations — seems like an obviously good idea; and one that’s particularly compelling because it’s so simple. Voting is an alternative to protesting in the streets.

And yet, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, denounced the plan.

Mr. Wills told the right-wing website Breitbart: “If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is. I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”

On another right-wing site, Red State, Dan McLaughlin also argued that there was something indecent about the registration drive. Ferguson presents an opportunity for “Right and Left” to find “common ground,” he wrote. But “the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election,” he argued, “the harder you make it to keep the common ground from vanishing in the fog.”

Then, the other day, this:

The stars of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement took the stage on Labor Day at Charlotte’s Marshall Park to condemn the state’s record on voter suppression and racial profiling, and urge the community to organize and turn out at the polls this November. Just a few hundred feet away, police cuffed and arrested local LGBT activist and former State Senate candidate Ty Turner as he was putting voting rights information on parked cars.

“They said they would charge me for distributing literature,” Turner told ThinkProgress when he was released a few hours later. “I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”

Thinkprogress had an update this afternoon:

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department held a press conference about the incident Wednesday. They said they believe their officers behaved appropriately, and Deputy Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters that officers routinely take a person away from the scene of a disturbance to “ease the tension,” and said the arrest was “sparked primarily by Turner’s non-compliance.” Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham and several other supporters of Turner say they will continue to call for a full investigation.

Of course he behaved appropriately!

Look, here is how it works with bad cops and shitty police departments. They approach a person who is doing nothing wrong and mess with them. The person says “WTF are you doing?” The bad cops then arrest them for non-compliance or resisting arrest or some other bullshit. If they are lucky (translation: white or in public with lots of witnesses), they get taken to jail and get screwed with a while and released. If they are unlucky (translation: black or there is no one around with a camera), they get beaten, sometimes to death, and then taken to jail or the morgue.

In either case, the resisting or bullshit non-compliance charge is dropped 99% of the time (75% of statistics on the internet are made up) because there is no underlying charge. Regardless, the chief and FOP will stand behind the cop.

Freedom smells like tear gas and feels like plastic handcuffs in America. Especially if you are a person of color or “foreign” looking- and it doesn’t matter your station in life.

*** Update ***

According to the NY Post, only 6.2% of resisting arrest charges in NYC are prosecuted. So I was wrong- it’s not 99%, it’s 93.8%. My bad.

31 replies
  1. 1
    SatanicPanic says:

    “fanning the political flames”- so? America is a democracy, I don’t know why someone would think this would be persuasive outside the usual bubble of dumbasses. Maybe I just answered my own question.

  2. 2
    skerry says:

    I find it quite telling (and scary) that the crowd at the scene walked to the jail and arrived there before the police car with the young man that had been detained. The police had driven him to 3 different locations, including an empty parking lot, before taking him the few blocks to the jail. The NAACP had intervened and phoned the police to let them know they were being watched. The reporting says he emerged from the police car with a limp.

    Any guesses on what might have happened if the police didn’t have all that attention on them?

  3. 3
    jackie says:

    McConnell and wife GUILTY!!

  4. 4
    BGinCHI says:

    It’s generous of whitey to get the GOP to help them spread Jim Crow to the whole US.

    PS. McDonnell guilty!!

    See you in the pokey, dumbass.

  5. 5
    elmo says:

    Look, ere is how it works with bad cops and shitty police departments.

    You put extra words. I fix.

  6. 6
    Belafon says:

    The most important evidence that voting still matters is how much the right is fighting against it.

  7. 7
    Belafon says:

    @elmo: Not every cop and department is bad.

  8. 8
    skerry says:

    @Belafon: #NotAllCops

  9. 9
    kc says:

    It sounds as if Republican Matt Wills is conceding that the GOP is the pro-execution-by-cop party.

  10. 10
    David Hunt says:

    But “the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election,” he argued,

    Notice how he just assumes that the registration drive will lead to a net increase in Democratic voters. Come on! Maybe the blacks in the Ferguson are some of the smart ones that realize that the GOP is where their true interests lie and the Democrats are the real racists fostering a culture of dependency!

    Sigh. At least he didn’t mention the Democrat Party.

  11. 11
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @skerry:

    Any guesses on what might have happened if the police didn’t have all that attention on them?

    I’m trying not to imagine it… I also can’t quite imagine how scary it has to be for a black person to be taken everywhere except the police station. What assholes…

  12. 12
    wmd says:

    I’ll post this again:

    There is a law passed in 1994 requiring the Justice Department to collect data on Police Misconduct and publish a report on it annually. This hasn’t happened since 2001 (9/11?).

    I’ve got a petition asking for the DoJ to form a task force with a leader like Joseph McNamara to collect the data and publish the data.

  13. 13
    John N says:

    This is why I don’t go outside!

  14. 14
    John N says:

    Anyway, what’s the big problem? Can’t these people call their high powered attorneys? Or better yet, simply avoid the confrontation altogether by going to their villas in the south of France?

  15. 15
    WaterGirl says:

    Ferguson presents an opportunity for “Right and Left” to find “common ground,” he wrote.

    I laughed out loud when I read that. In what world?

    Oh, I get it now. Common ground. Black folks are murdered and buried in the ground while the white racists piss on your graves.

  16. 16
    John N says:

    @WaterGirl: Yeah, it’s like, there’s no common ground on this. I don’t want to find common ground with bigoted right wingers. I consider them enemies of our nation.

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:

    Looking at the second story (a woman detained while waiting for her family outside a restaurant in New York), this piece stood out:

    Officers offered to deliver Huq’s purse and personal items out to her husband, but then became suspicious when she told the officer his last name was different than hers, according to the lawsuit.

    “In America wives take the names of their husbands,” the officer told her according to court papers.

    I’m Whitey McWhiterson and I didn’t take my husband’s name when we got married. Because contrary to what that buffoon seems to think, it’s not actually required.

  18. 18
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    @WaterGirl:

    Common ground. Black folks are murdered and buried in the ground while the white racists piss on your graves.

    Given the smear campaign against Michael Brown, and the $400,000 that was crowd-sourced as a reward to Darren Wilson for murdering him, I think “piss on your grave” might actually be way too mild…

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mnemosyne: Wow. I have two daughters who’ve married in recent years, and neither changed her name, for perfectly sound legal and professional reasons.

  20. 20
    WaterGirl says:

    @Jebediah, RBG: Until today, I don’t think I’ve ever typed the word “piss” ever, so for me that’s pretty darn harsh.

    Edit: Until this year I had also never uttered the words “fuck me in the ass because I love Jesus”, so it may be that Balloon Juice is having a detrimental effect. It took more than 5 years, though, so you guys better step it up.

  21. 21
    Rafer Janders says:

    They said they believe their officers behaved appropriately, and Deputy Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters that officers routinely take a person away from the scene of a disturbance to “ease the tension,” and said the arrest was “sparked primarily by Turner’s non-compliance.”

    Um, how can an arrest be “sparked primarily by….non-compliance”? You actually have to, you know, have reason to suspect a crime is being committed to arrest someone…..or that’s the way it should, anyway.

  22. 22
    Tenar Darell says:

    @Mnemosyne: The older I get, the more I realize that the hippie crunchy idea of both partners picking a new legal last name as a couple is a much more valid option than only one partner having all the work of legal name changes. Why is it still, do you think, that in this day and age of banks, endlessly proliferating databases, credit reports and background checks, assumed that it’s the woman who should go to the trouble of changing her last name? Forty plus years of feminism and cops still think wives take their husbands’ names by default, in NYC?! Seriously, WTF? (These are rhetorical questions, but if anyone has any ideas…)

  23. 23
    jame says:

    “Freedom smells like tear gas and feels like plastic handcuffs in America.” John Cole, that is a terrific quote. I will use it, with attribution of course, at the earliest possible occasion.

  24. 24
    Brendan in NC says:

    a href=”#comment-5105310″>skerry: – The jail is approximately 2 blocks from Marshall Park…so it’s even scarier.

  25. 25
    Brendan in NC says:

    @Rafer Janders: I notice they trotted out the Deputy Police Chief for the dog and pony show. That’s because the Police Chief is an African American. The other thing to remember is this. Here in Charlotte, the police review board has never upheld a complaint against an officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg PD.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Arclite says:

    On another right-wing site, Red State, Dan McLaughlin also argued that there was something indecent about the registration drive. Ferguson presents an opportunity for “Right and Left” to find “common ground,” he wrote. But “the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election,” he argued, “the harder you make it to keep the common ground from vanishing in the fog.”

    I don’t think this is a left and right issue. This is an oppressed vs. oppressors issue. The oppressed can be any political stripe. And signing up voters IS EXACTLY HOW THE SYSTEM IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. If you don’t provide a political avenue for change (voting) then people will find and extrapolitical way to change things (riots, joining revolutionary groups).

  28. 28
    Arclite says:

    @wmd:

    There is a law passed in 1994 requiring the Justice Department to collect data on Police Misconduct and publish a report on it annually. This hasn’t happened since 2001 (9/11?).

    Isn’t there a group, like the ACLU, that can sue the gov’t and force the report?

  29. 29
    pluege says:

    But “the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election,” he argued, “the harder you make it to keep the common ground from vanishing in the fog.”

    geee, can’t imagine what that “common ground” might be, and its moral underpinning that it should disappear because of a voter registration effort.

  30. 30
    Kropadope says:

    @pluege:

    geee, can’t imagine what that “common ground” might be, and its moral underpinning that it should disappear because of a voter registration effort.

    I would hope people finally notice a common interest in paying attention to their local representation and ensuring it represents the actual locals.

  31. 31
    artem1s says:

    And yet, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, denounced the plan.

    GOP party boss does not understand that voter registration does not have to involve throwing out all the registrations for the opposing parties. Color me shocked. Democracy, how does it work?

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