Too many police leaders and politicians have responded to the recent tragic double murder of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by blaming Barack Obama, Bill de Blasio, and peaceful police brutality protestors. At the same time, they refuse to acknowledge, let alone condemn, the police violence and brutality that have claimed the lives of countless people, including Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
This New Year’s, a good resolution for these professional pugilists would be to learn from the very families who have lost their loved ones to police brutality. The families of Michael Brown and, Eric Garner, in particular, would be good to study. While grieving their own losses, they have been able to extend condolences and sympathy to the grieving families of officers Lui and Ramos. And they have condemned violence in any form.
On Saturday, a lone mentally ill shooter, not from New York City and not part of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest movement, executed two NYPD police officers, before killing himself. In June of this year, a couple who had spent time on Clive Bundy’s ranch executed two Las Vegas police officers, wrapped their bodies in Don’t Tread on Me flags, and then shot themselves. Republicans, right wing media and police officials are blaming the NYPD murders on BLM. But why didn’t they blame the murders of the Las Vegas officers on the Tea Party movement?
Obviously, the way to honor the two police officers murdered on Saturday is by exploiting their tragic murder for political purposes in a way that actually defies logic. To do this, simply blame the actions of a single lone shooter with a history of mental illness and suicide attempts on a non-violent protest movement which outrageously demands that police not kill people for the crime of being Black. Also claim that Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama are to blame but don’t bother pretending that there is any evidence for that claim because you won’t find it. But if you’re Ray Kelly, Rudy Giuliani, Patrick Lynch, George Pataki or Fox News, that’s no big deal anyway.
“I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath, I can’t breath.” Those were the last words uttered by Eric Garner. He told the police who was holding him in a chokehold eleven times that he couldn’t breath. Yet the policeman, Daniel Pantaleo, kept his arms around his neck and, perhaps even more appallingly, neither the police nor the EMT even attempted to revive Mr. Garner who lay on the ground for seven minutes.
Shirin Barghi, a filmmaker from Iran and based in New York City took the last words of Eric Garner as well as other unarmed Black men killed by law enforcement and turned them into very minimalist images that are truly heartbreaking.
Ben Stein is a renaissance man. Famous for his role as the attendance-taking teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he was also a game show host, a speech writer and lawyer for President Nixon and a philanderer. He is a man of contradictions. Socially conservative and in an open marriage. Jewish and doesn’t believe in evolution.
But when it comes to his racism, he’s extremely consistent. Recently, Stein gave an interview with Newsmax in which he totally, and unequivocally, exonerated not only the officer who killed Michael Brown, but the officer (who was actually not a policeman, and explicitly disobeyed police orders to stay in his car) who killed Trayvon Martin. For Stein, both Brown and Martin, not their innocent executioners, were the guilty ones.
Stein disputes the fact that Brown was not armed: ”I mean he wasn’t unarmed; he was armed with his undoubtedly strong, scary self.” See! If he didn’t want to get shot, Brown shouldn’t have gone out with…. himself.
Also, if you want to not be executed by the police, simply change your tone. In both the Martin and Brown case,
it’s the very large, so-called victim attacking the policeman who winds up dead…. I mean if they didn’t just, would not attack the policeman, if they would just talk to the policeman in a reasonable way instead of attacking the policeman, nobody would be dead.
(FYI, Trayvon Martin was 158 pounds. George Zimmerman weighs 178 pounds at the time. But, yes, Martin was taller. None of this is relevant but it just shows how Stein’s theory lack coherence and how is premise is not based on reality)
So, Ben Stein’s advice to young Black men: don’t leave the house because you are scary. But if you do… use your words.
Stein is concerned for the real victims and expressed fear that the Justice Department’s investigation into the killing of Brown would result, not in justice, but in a ”lynching jury.” Choice words.
Luckily, Stein doesn’t just use lynching as a metaphor. He addresses it literally:
There was a time, even in my youth … when lynchings of African Americans were not that incredibly rare. Now the lynchings are of the police, and it’s just an outrage!
Ahhh… the good old days. Before lynching of African Americans was replaced by the lynching of police officers. Not sure when any police officer in the United States was ever lynched. But it makes a great soundbite (lie).
To hear more about Ben Stein’s racism police fetish, watch this week’s Morning Jew.
Ninety-year-old Hedy Epstein, who was one of several protestors arrested outside Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office, is no stranger to state-sanction discrimination and violence. Epstein fled the Holocaust as a child. A true intersectionalist, she insists on applying the lessons of the past to the present, refusing to remain idle in the face of persecution, whether she’s protesting the demolition of Palestinians’ homes or police brutality and racism in Ferguson.
Epstein was born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, but was sent to England at 14 via the Kindertransport, which brought nearly 10,000 children from countries invaded by Nazis right before the start of World War II. Epstein’s parents died during the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Following the war, Hedy returned to Germany, where she worked on the Nuremberg medical trial, against doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. In 1948, she joined her only living relatives, an aunt and uncle, in the United States.
While the Holocaust is often invoked to justify Israeli policies, Epstein’s experience as a survivor makes her speak out against the government of Israel: “In 1982, I heard about the massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon — I wanted to know who was responsible for this, what had happened between 1948 and 1982. As I learned more, I became increasingly disturbed by the policies of Israel and its military.”
As she explains, “The Israeli government’s actions happen far too often in the name of protecting Judaism, thereby conflating Zionism with Judaism. As Jews, we must not let the Israeli government use our heritage to excuse its morally unexcusable actions. Our Jewish values will not let us.” So, Epstein started to visit Palestine, where she’s been several times, and taken part in protest against the Occupation, the wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Epstein published an autobiography, Remembering Is Not Enough, and speaks around the world.
So, it makes sense that Epstein would join the approximately 125 people at a St Louis (where she lives) protest organized by the Organization for Black Struggle against the decision to call the National Guard into Ferguson. They marched to the Governor’s office, demanded a special prosecutor to investigate the murder of Michael Brown, a larger Department of Justice investigation and a withdrawal of the National Guard. They sang, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round,” and chanted “Hey hey! Ho ho! National Guard has got to go!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Epstein was among nine protestors arrested for failing to disperse. They were handcuffed, taken to a police station, given a court date and then released. Continue reading “90-year-old Holocaust survivor arrested at Ferguson protest”→
After the initially ignored fatal police shooting of the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, people of Ferguson, Missouri, took to social media and the streets to protest the status quo of police brutality. And the police responded to these mostly peaceful demonstrations against excessive force, with… excessive force, using military gear and firing tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and smoke bombs at the mostly non-violent crowd. They responded to claims of a media blackout around the shooting by arresting members of the media, including reporters who were filing their stories from inside a McDonalds.
The United States likes to think of itself as the land of the free, home of the brave, and a peace-spreading, stabilizing, inspiring and intervening force for all things good and fair and democratic in the world. But images of Ferguson suggest that this country isn’t the beacon of liberty it would like to be. Many people, in fact, have been comparing the scenes in Missouri to scenes we see in countries considered unstable and undemocratic, especially in the Middle East. So, see if you can tell the difference in these images below. (Answers at the bottom of the page.)