John Crawford III was shopping at a Walmart when he picked up an unpackaged BB gun. He proceeded to shop, while talking on his cellphone. A shopper saw him and called the police, claiming that Crawford was pointing a gun at people. The police arrived, came around the corner behind Crawford and shot him twice – once in the torso, and once in the arm. Crawford died at the hospital.
The police claimed Crawford did not respond to verbal commands to put down the gun. Video surveillance, however, showed that they did no such thing. The witness who had called the police backpedaled on his claims, stating that Crawford wasn’t actually aiming it at anyone, but he was “waving it around.” Again, the cameras show Crawford doing nothing more than talking on his cellphone. Neither the witness, nor the police, faced any charges.
For those of you keeping track, here is the list of things people of color aren’t allowed to do without being shot by the police:
Kiwane was living with his aunt after the death of his mother. On October 9th, 2009, the after school program he was a part of was cancelled for the day. He and a friend went to his house instead, where he realized he didn’t have his house key. It was raining, so he and his friend went to the backyard to try and find shelter until it stopped or his aunt came home.
A neighbor saw them and called the police, reporting a burglary in progress. An officer arrived and told the boys to get down on the ground in the mud. Another officer arrived shortly after and – despite having no reason to believe the boys were armed – had his pistol pulled. He claimed he shot on accident, but the bullet fired went through Kiwane’s elbow and into his heart. He died less than a hour later.
The shooting was dismissed as an accident and the officer no longer works for the police, but this is why they march. This is why they kneel.
Something common I hear, is that the #BlackLivesMatter is a “new” thing. “Police brutality didn’t exist until phones started coming with cameras.”
Tell that to Stinney’s family. Some of you might be familiar with this case, but for those of you who aren’t: In 1944, Stinney was accused and convicted of murdering two young white girls. One was 7, the other 11. According to the medical examiner, the older of the two died due to blunt force trauma to the head, and showed signs of possible sexual assault. Stinney reportedly confessed to the crime, but the only form of a written confession was a series of notes by the investigating deputy. Stinney claimed that he was starved and bribed with food to confess to the crime. He had no decent legal support, was tried with an all white jury, and convicted of 1st degree murder within 10 minutes. He was sentenced to death by electric chair later that same year.
When they went to execute Stinney, they had to give him a bible to sit on. The mask they fit over his head was also so large on him, that it fell off during the execution.
He was 14. He remains the youngest person in American history to be sentenced to death and executed. It wasn’t just the cops that failed him, it was the legal system at the time. Ever read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? That was this, but worse – in a lot of ways – because the person in this case was just a kid. It’s also worse because – while this may be a “commonly known” case to many – every single person I know personally – when asked – said that the name sounded familiar, but they didn’t know who he was.
His conviction was overturned in 2014 – 70 years after his death. As far as I know of, the family received no compensation for the gross injustice committed against them. George was a child and while the police didn’t pull the lever on the electric chair, themselves, they were just as much responsible for his death as the person who did. Police brutality existed before phones came out with cameras. The only difference is now they can’t hide it as well.
Michelle Cusseaux was a 50 year old woman living in Phoenix, Arizona. In August of 2014, police were called to take her to a mental health facility. The officers arrived and Ms. Cusseaux refused to go with them. According to the police spokesperson, “as police were opening the security door to her unit, Cusseaux was opening her front door with a claw hammer raised above her head,” (Woodfill, 2014). They were within arm’s reach, and one of the officers felt “threatened,” so he fired a single shot into her chest. She was rushed to a hospital where she died. The officer was demoted as a result – not because of any “criminal wrongdoing” – but because his actions “violated department policy” (Staff, 2016).
There will be arguments here – “He felt threatened” , “She had a weapon” – but it comes down to this: he had options, and out of the (at least) two people who were in the situation, it was only that one officer who felt “threatened” enough to open fire. Furthermore, there are conflicting reports here. A book excerpt I found, detailing police violence against “black women and women of color,” says that when the police arrived, Ms. Cusseaux was fixing her door – which is why she had a hammer – and that Ms. Cusseaux and her mother had both informed the officers that there was no weapon in the house (Ritchie, 2017). She spoke to them through the door, informing them that she didn’t trust them and that she felt like they would shoot her. Instead of backing off or trying to gain her trust, or even ask for additional help from someone trained in such matters, the officer in charge ordered the other to pick the lock and entered the home without permission. He later said that it was the look on her face that made him open fire. Her mother questioned that, asking what he saw, “A Black woman? A lesbian? He said it was just a look on her face. What look would you have on your face if the police broke into your house? Could that have been the look of fear? I would have been in fear for my life too, especially if I already felt like they were going to kill me” (Ritchie, 2017).
With this context, it becomes more than obvious that the officer in charge was either poorly trained or of the wrong temperament to be handling any sort of mental health pick ups. The fact that he was only demoted makes it painfully obvious that the people over him aren’t any better trained than him.
Next month will be the six year anniversary of Michelle Cusseaux’s death.
Just out of curiosity, does anyone else feel like we’re living in SimCity and the player walked away from the computer? Does anyone even remember SimCity? Oof. Showing my age.
Anyway. I have a special request of anyone/everyone reading this: if you ever see/hear me say “I love moving!”, “Packing is fun!”, or anything else along those lines – smack me. Really hard.
I’m not actually moving (yet), my relocating plans have been put on hold until this stupid death plague is under control, but, I have so much stuff to go through, I figured I should start early. I’ve already condensed four totes into one box, and reorganized about 10 random boxes of crap I had around my room into…okay, 4 boxes, but they’re small! I should actually put them together into one bigger box, but I’m trying to keep them organized, so. We’ll see. I still have a bookcase to go through and a couple things to toss into storage so they’re out of the way. Some massive rearranging is about to happen with my space, so that’s something fun to look forward to.
In other news, I have a big chapter for “Don’t Feed the Trolls” to write, and I haven’t even touched it. On that same note, I did get around to looking into self-publishing for “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies.” It would be easy enough to do, through KDP. The e-book price would have to be set to at least $2.99 USD, but I’m not sure what the print price would be, because apparently it depends on quite a few things. I will be working all that out, and I might actually have a sales link for you near the end of August. In the meantime, I’m hoping to have some fun little pieces to drop on you here in the next couple weeks. Nothing big, but something I hope you’ll enjoy.
This month is going to be a busy one for me. I finally have dental and vision insurance again, so I have a bunch of appointments set up. My glasses are scratched to hell and back, so I need new ones, and the dentist has scheduled me for a follow up surgery to finish the process we started last year. Today is my first day of yoga (haven’t done it yet, but I’m already feeling the oof), and…just…so much. So much planned.
That’s it for the big news though. I live in Texas, so – for those of you who don’t already know – the virus thing is a definite concern right now. Early May, our idiot governor decided it would be a good idea to reopen the state, and our mayors followed suit. The number of people I had come in to my work, buying things like kids’ snorkels, sunscreen, and beach towels, talking about how they’re going to spend the weekend at the lake…oof. The bars across the state opened at far more capacity than they were supposed to, and absolutely no one was staying home (from what I saw, anyway).
Now, the hospitals are running out of beds, our numbers are rising at a ridiculous rate, and the idiot is only pausing the reopening of the state. June 25th, we finally got a mask mandate put in place, but there’s still no stay at home order. The governor told people they should stay home, but he’s not enforcing it. Our schools sent out a notice the other day saying that students will be given the option of how to attend school – in person or online (but that might change). It’s like the people in charge here are doing nothing to really help stop the spread. It’s a mess.
Even the weather seems to realize things are bad enough as it is. It hasn’t even hit 100 yet, and only a handful of tornadoes so far. Please note: this is not a complaint.
Hope you all are staying safe and sane, and your governors are being smarter than ours. If any of you are taking part in the protests, remember to keep your eyes open and look out for each other.
This is going to be my soapbox song, because so many people don’t seem to realize that LGBT+ people have the same relationship issues as non-LGBT+. They argue over who will cook, who will clean, whose job it is to walk the dog this time. They live, they laugh, they love, and sometimes…sometimes they cheat.
I finally sat down and listened to this song and watched the video. At one point, she writes “I think you’re super cute” in a note for the person bussing the tables, but really? The entire video is super cute. It captures that feeling of peeking around corners at the person you think is good looking, the shy smiles and ducked head, and just…everything about it. Oh, and the end? With the hands? MY HEART.
Just when she thought everything was finally settling down, Shelly is once again thrown into the fray. Her friends are stuck on the other side of the Mississippi River, with no weapons, no food, and no chance of survival without her help. Throw in the complete collapse of civilization, extremely limited technology, and hordes of zombies that are becoming more and more sentient every day…
Hey, no one said it was going to be easy, but where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Shelly made sure to update hers just before she left.
Please note: this work contains language and themes that may not be appropriate for young readers.
Frankly speaking, I’m NOT a fan of this song. His voice, the style of the song itself, etc., however…this song was also recorded and released in 1970, just one year after the Stonewall Riots, and was the subject of controversy due to its subject matter. Even now, it’s a tricky matter with arguers going back and forth whether it’s transphobic or a love story. I’m not sure where I see the transphobic side, but as a cisgender person, it’s not up to me to decide which one this is.