Murder, Plain and Simple


The dashcam video of the public execution of Philando Castile has been released, and it is actually worse than I imagined it would be:

Yanez met with two special agents from the BCA at 1:42 the day after the shooting, accompanied by two attorneys, Tom Kelly and Robert Fowler. It had been a long 17 hours for Yanez and his attorneys noted he had only gotten a couple hours of sleep. Yanez had only pulled over two people since starting his shift at 6 p.m. Since it was a slow night, a recent convenience store robbery, to which Yanez responded to the week before, was very much on his Yanez’s mind, and he was keeping a close eye on the store. He saw a white car pass and thought the driver appeared to match the description of one of the robbers. But when the agents asked Yanez in the interview to elaborate, he couldn’t offer many details. He wasn’t sure about height, weight or even gender. One had cornrows or dreadlocks. One had a hat on.

“And then just kind of distinct facial features with like a kind of like a wide set nose,” he said.


He then goes on to say he smelled marijuana but told him he was being pulled over for his headlight, so he’s already contradicted himself several times. He pulled him over because he was black. The taillight was an excuse, the marijuana is just bullshit to cover his ass.

There are so many things to unpack here, but really, one of the easiest things we could do, right this very instant, without costing a penny, endangering the public, or requiring any roll-out or training that would lead to an immediate decline in these sorts of encounters is this simple: an immediate ban on traffic stops for bullshit like expired tags and broken taillights and crap like that. We all know those only exist (at this point) to harass people, particularly black people, and because taxcut jeebus requires that towns and municipalities fund themselves with bullshit tickets for crap like this. This is not rocket surgery.

Let’s go through the list of recent high profile murders and incidents involving traffic cops:

Philando Castile: Taillight. Dead.
Walter Scott: Taillight. Dead.
Samuel DuBose: Front license plate. Dead.
Eric Garner: Selling cigarettes. Dead.
Freddie Gray: Riding his bike away from police. Dead.
Sandra Bland: Failure to signal lane change. Dead.

We could go on and on and on. Stop the bullshit. We’re not serious or mature enough of a country to deal with systemic racism or implicit bias, so let’s treat cops like kids and limit their interaction with the public and the people who clearly scare them so much. We’ll save lives.

Monday Evening Open Thread: Happy Juneteenth!

And making June 19th a national holiday sounds like a great idea — in this era of White Revanchist Backlash more than ever!

The current administrators behind the Oval Office sent out a (blessedly anodyne) statement, but I like the last guy’s proclamation better:

Juneteenth is a time to recommit ourselves to the work that remains undone. We remember that even in the darkest hours, there is cause to hope for tomorrow’s light. Today, no matter our race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, we recommit ourselves to working to free modern-day slaves around the world and to honoring in our own time the efforts of those who fought so hard to steer our country truer to our highest ideals.


Apart from that, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

Open Thread: White “Progressive” Broflakes, THEEE WURST WORST

And by ‘Progressive Broflakes’, tonight, I mean “Bret Weinstein”.

Although I first encountered the species back in the mid-1970s, on a midwestern state university campus, where an earlier generation of More Feminist Than You Ladies men decided to “liberate” the women’s lounge in the Student Union, a room with some battered couches and tables adjacent to the bathroom, which had for many years been a place where female students could study, talk, or even nap without getting harassed. Like newly-politicized college students, aging “progressive” men attempting to show off their leadership skills are an endlessly renewable resource.

Some context to Cole’s post below, from Inside Higher Ed:

For many years at Evergreen State, minority students and faculty members have observed a Day of Absence in which they meet off campus to discuss campus issues and how to make the college more supportive of all students. Later a Day of Presence reunites various campus groups. Weinstein said he’s been aware of the tradition for some time, and never objected to it. But this year, organizers said that on the Day of Absence, they wanted white people to stay off campus. Weinstein opposed this shift, and he posted a message on a campus email list in which he objected to the proposal to ask white people to stay off campus.

“There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and underappreciated roles (the theme of the Douglas Turner Ward play Day of Absence, as well as the recent Women’s Day walkout), and a group encouraging another group to go away,” Weinstein wrote. “The first is a forceful call to consciousness, which is, of course, crippling to the logic of oppression. The second is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.”

Weinstein went on to say he would be on campus on the Day of Absence and would encourage a similar stance by white people being asked to stay away. People should “put phenotype aside,” he said. “On a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — must never be based on skin color.”

That email is one of the reasons Weinstein is being called racist, with students saying his tone belittled the people behind the idea of having a Day of Absence without white people on campus. The other reason cited against Weinstein is that he has come out against a recommendation on faculty hiring by the college’s Equity and Inclusion Council. That recommendation, currently under consideration by college leaders, would require an “equity justification/explanation” for all faculty hires…

In other words, Weinstein was perfectly okay with those pesky “inclusive” groups as long as they stayed on the margins and didn’t affect his daily life in any way, shape or form. The instant the argument went from “We should let some of those people in, if it’s not too much trouble” to “We should proactively demonstrate what actually having a ‘minority’ group as the standard would look like”, Professor Weinstein’s all BUT WHAT ABOUT *MY* RIGHTS?!?
Read more

Late Night Open Thread: A Violent and Paranoid People

Read more

They Have the Authority to Kill a Minority

I got nothing:

A Minnesota police officer, whose fatal shooting of a black motorist transfixed the nation when his girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath, was acquitted of all charges on Friday.

The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm in the shooting of Philando Castile.

After the verdict, jurors and Mr. Yanez were quickly led out of the courtroom, and Mr. Castile’s family left immediately. When a deputy tried to stop his mother, Valerie, she yelled “Let me go.”

Later, she said: “My son loved this city, and this city killed my son. And a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?”

he continued: “The system in this country continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us.”

Exactly what does it take for a cop to get convicted of shooting a black man? I mean, there was fucking video tape of it.

*** Update ***

Someone just woke up and failed to hit refresh on the backend of the site and didn’t realize Tom had already posted about this. BTW, you guys are never going to guess who walked around in one low cut Merrell shoe and one midcut Merrell shoe all day today.

Some Thoughts on Today’s Shootings

I’ve done a technical post on mass shootings before. Specifically what simulations and simulated recreations can tell us in terms of potential outcomes. And as the author of the US Army report on Soldiers who commit mass shootings (authorized by the Office of the Provost Marshall General and US Army Corrections Command via my office at USAWC), I’ll most likely have another technical post on the subject in a few days. And I’ve done numerous posts here on stochastic violence and terrorism – domestic, international, right wing extremist, religious, etc. And it is the stochastic element that I want to talk about right now.

As numerous others have referenced today there is a lot to unpack behind today’s events. Both the shooting targeting Republican members of Congress in Alexandria and the active shooter/mass shooting in San Francisco. And we’ve seen a variety of calls for comity and a reduction in heated and divisive political rhetoric and pointing of fingers as to who is responsible for what. I’m not linking to all of it as I don’t feel like going to dig up the different reporting, but we’ve seen it all day. All of it misses the point.

The real reason we see so much stochastic violence and terrorism in the US is because it is part of our foundational myths and ethos. We rightly, as a point of pride, celebrate our revolutionary success against the British. We turned the first verse of a hard to sing song based on a poem about a slightly obscure battle against the British in a subsequent war into our national anthem. And we have carried through the decades a mistaken belief that citizen militias, still often considered or referred to as the hallmark of American civic pride and engagement, were actually an effective force during the American revolution. As opposed to the actual professional army that General Washington required his aides and lieutenants create – two of whom weren’t even American, because the militia was absolutely useless for his needs in stopping the British forces.

We have a deep seated tradition of civic engagement that refers back to and is rooted in political violence. The first use of stand your ground as a defense was from the 1790s in Philadelphia. It was related to and rooted in this tradition. In this case a radical localist – an extreme, minority offshoot of the anti-Federalists –  member of a citizen militia decide to use his firearm in self defense while posting political handbills. His defense argument – that he had an enumerated right to self defense through using his firearm – was rejected by the court. The actual coverage of the event and trial from one of the local Philadelphia papers at the time is attached as a pdf at the bottom of the post.

The reason we have so much stochastic violence and terrorism is because we’re Americans. We have a civic inheritance that includes the justifications for it. Including that of the radical localist offshoot of the anti-Federalists that teach us that all government above the municipal level is always potentially tyrannical and the purpose of the armed citizen, as part of the citizen militia, is to provide a check on tyrannical government. We are the inheritors of a revolutionary state and society. And the inheritors of political traditions that are rooted in the revolutionary politics of the Founding – the Federalists, the anti-Federalists, and the radical localists. Each had different understandings and views of the citizen militia, of the proper role for an armed citizenry, but each were reflections of and responses to the revolutionary ethos that led to the split with Britain and the founding of the US.

And we have stochastic violence and terrorism because Americans just aren’t joiners. Despite Putnam’s Bowling Alone, which makes the mistake of understanding American social interactions through the forty to fifty year window between the end of WW II and the late 90s/early 00s, and ignore everything that came before the 1940s, Americans just don’t like to belong to groups. We self atomize. We don’t like to associate. And while modern technology has made it easier to form new associations, it also makes it easier to isolate ourselves into groups that are insular and insulating.

What happened today, and what will happen next week with the next mass shooting or terrorist attack or hate crime, isn’t an aberration. It is pure Americana. It is at our core of who we are as a people. If you spend enough time promoting the idea that one’s political opponents aren’t really even human or that the 2nd Amendment exists to prevent governmental tyranny, then you’re going get what happened today in both Alexandria and San Francisco. It doesn’t matter if the people making the assertions were just being hyperbolic or really didn’t mean it. Nor does it matter if you were actually and only messaging to the people who you identify as your side. All that matters is that someone hears the message over and over and over again, internalizes it, and then acts on it.

What happened today has happened many times before in the US. The ideas and messaging that promote and produce it have a long lineage in the US. And it will all happen again. The saying that “G-d made man, Samuel Colt made all men equal” doesn’t just apply to people that look like you, vote like you, worship like you, and behave like you. And, as a result, you get what happened on both the east and west coast today.

And all of this is why you get this type of paradox:

Versus Senator Paul today as quoted by NBC:

“We’re just like normal people, I go to the grocery store like a normal person. I buy my groceries. I go to the gas station. We practice out there and we just … we live in a country where we hope there’s not such hatred or craziness and, I don’t know, disappointing, sad.”

Here’s the pdf:

Duane 1799 – Report of extraordinary transactions at Philadelphia (1)

Open Thread: Rising Democratic Star

I don’t want to make this post any longer, but y’all should definitely go read the Jezebel and Chait links, because they are mood-enhancing.