The entire back of Gordon, an escaped slave, was covered with welts from being whipped. The South is an affliction, a nexus of hatred, that, a century and a half after the truce at Appomattox, has yet to be cured.
(McPherson & Oliver, 1863)
There are plenty of losers throughout the South who do not believe slavery was harsh, or that it even existed as anything but unpaid labor. Maybe this will change their minds, or else these crackers will live their entire lives with their heads buried up their a*hole. (Did this Southern man need the Confederacy around, anyhow, Skin-nerd? That Southern band needs to admit that they are entirely clueless about racism and the South.)
Welcome to Indiana!
(To racists, this is a pretty sight.)
The vigilante lynching of African Americans Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith had police cooperation. This 1930 lynching in Marion, Indiana, was the last Northern one. It happened on a Thursday, a festive, pre-weekend atmosphere for this gross and revulsive, lynch mob of provincial hicks. Doesn’t a lynching make for a great date night? In Indiana, Vice Pence’s home, it has. It’s just what Americans like to call fun.
Did Lincoln deserve the accolades?
Before we get fully underway with the proposition above, if you ever wondered who got America to where it is today, check out these photos of actual Civil War soldiers from the National Archives. These are pre-battle images, and those depicted might not have made it back from the front.
One photo is especially telling. It shows an African American family crossing into Union territory by mule cart. They had to escape the Confederacy to get there, and it likely wasn’t even their cart before the war began (slaves could not own property, as they were property themselves).
Face facts about your past, America, because even domestically, this nation had a profoundly violent past. Yet the real lesson here is not necessarily the cost of waging wars, but instead the casualties required just to end intolerance and establish basic equalities... (An aside: Here is sizeable selection of World War I photos from the same National Archives.) 8/01/17.
To Slaves, the Wrong Side won the Revolutionary War
The British created The Slave Trade Act 1807, officially, An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. British Parliament at the time joked how American founders claimed they were so much for universal rights, when slavery in America flourished.
If the British had won the American Revolutionary War, the slaves would have been freed in 1783, or at the War's end. Instead, it was the Land of the Free that kept the Africans enslaved another eighty years, or back then, an unusually long, life time. Black, British Loyalists fought in the Revolutionary War for Britain, and against slavery and the American colonists. Americans were the slavers, not the British. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was the second one freeing American slaves, British Colonial Governor Dunmore's Proclamation was the first.
The motivations of Britain’s first Proclamation were quickly questioned by American academics:
“The Dunmore Emancipation Proclamation was, therefore, designed for practical reasons rather than moral ones, and for expediency rather than humanitarian zeal.”‡Yet the same underhandedness might be said of Americans fight for their own dominion. America was created to allow slavery per its Constitution, and to keep those slaves down with guns freely permitted their masters by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
As for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the second one, it brought Europe onto the side of the Union. Until this policy statement, France and England, along with Washington, could view the Civil War as simply a battle against Secession and not one against the oppression of slavery.
It is estimated that up to 100,000 attempted to leave their owners and join the British over the course of the Revolutionary war. At the end of the war, the British relocated about 3,000 former slaves to Nova Scotia. More American slaves were emancipated via British proclamations than any other means until the Civil War.
‡Frey, Sylvia R. (1991). Water From the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 63.
Not one African American in Lincoln’s Cabinet
Lincoln was not the only American President with an exclusively White Cabinet. It wasn’t until 1966 in fact, when Lyndon Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver, that the color barrier was first broken in the top echelons of the Executive Branch.
Racial equality is often presumed as being the primary motivation for Lincoln’s war agenda; so he should have been able to appoint at least one Black; Frederick Douglass, for one, comes to mind. Franklin Roosevelt had an informal Black Cabinet, yet no one from Washington to Kennedy appointed a Cabinet-level, African American. This would not excuse Lincoln, it only makes other Presidents almost as culpable because they allowed racial discrimination.
Lincoln’s White House between two Slave States
Given that Lincoln was surrounded on all sides by anti-abolishionists, yet there was no Confederate offensive anywhere near the White House, makes one wonder how earnestly this Civil War was fought. Was it a gentlemen’s war, a charade, one with horrific casualties, yet one only for show, or for a parade of military muscle?
Lincoln’s White House was surrounded by two slave states — Virginia, on the South, allied with the Confederacy, and Maryland, from the North, aligned with the Union. Maryland, as well as Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia, were known as border states. These five were all part of the Union, yet slavery there was widespread and still legal. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves in the border states, only the states in rebellion.
Lincoln even tried to revoke habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from unlawful imprisonment, so he could put an end to Maryland’s scattered attempts to join the Confederacy. This border state split their allegiances — likely on a single battlefield — contributing 60,000 troops to the Union cause, 25,000 to the Confederate. Maryland never did join the Confederacy.
If it had, Washington would have been fully surrounded. With their supply lines cut, the North would have fallen to the South. America would be known as the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis would be our first President, our national anthem would begin “God save the South,” and unabated slavery would remain the law of the land.
That instead the North prevailed did not change matters all that much for forced laborers. They were subjected to racism that their progeny must cope with to this day. Poverty followed this American apartheid, in each and any degree. After their ‘emancipation,’ former slaves were lynched because of their skin color.
Lincoln’s War between the States
Refreshment saloon in 1861 Philly, preparing the troops
for combat. The battle cry was “The Union For Ever,”
as seen here, and not “Abolish Slavery For Ever .”
The American Civil War was not as resounding a success as our educators may have led us to believe. The war did very little to ease racial tensions, and it did surprisingly little to give Africans an equal footing with other peoples, both economically and socially. That Abraham Lincoln is credited with ending American bondage lies in sharp contrast with the hatred and gross inequalities that the post-Civil War “freed” man, woman, or child had to face.
What quenching “The Rebellion” did accomplish, and accomplish with massive slaughter, was to dissemble the Confederate States of America. From this, the United States of America could reclaim its power base. Happy ending, Washington D.C.
The Union’s primary concern was Confederate agriculture and tax revenues, abolishing slavery was mostly secondary. Being this was the Nineteenth Century, and the ideals of racial equality were not so well rooted, would Union soldiers rather die for Negroes, or die for their country?
To top it all off, Lincoln could put the emancipation feather in his stove pipe hat. With his Proclamation, Lincoln economically crippled the CSA for Northern conquest, and Europe would side with the Union now that the Yankee officially opposed slavery.
As a moderate, Lincoln originally claimed he had no constitutional authority to free the slaves. Anticipating the Union’s Army and Naval ranks rise in numbers by 198,000 freed slaves, this non-abolitionist concluded he had plenty of constitutional authority.
The American Civil War itself was a military engagement met with much less than complete enthusiasm. As Lincoln could not get the necessary volunteers, the Union resorted to a draft. The Confederacy had slaves fighting to keep themselves enslaved. Add to this the fact the Confederacy were outnumbered two to one on the battlefield, and the sum total was two very unpopular campaigns. Given this, those surrendering and those accepting surrender may have been known at the time of the war’s first shot at Charleston’s Fort Sumter.
Lincoln, the devil, trumping the South with the
slavery card, penned by an Englishman in 1862.
How well did Lincoln play his hand?
There were an apocalyptic number of casualties, close to 625,000, more American mortality than in any other war. Lincoln’s War was ten-fold deadlier than the war in Viet Nam. That engagement claimed approximately 58,000 American lives.
With some plan to put blacks on track to be the counterparts of whites, this war would have been more than just a battle over Washington dominion. That there was no plan to lift the African out of poverty, or to offer racial equality, the war was only a blood bath, one Lincoln paid for with his life. For the newly founded Republican party though, Lincoln’s reputed martyrdom became a source of never-ending political capital.
When the War was finally over, very few slaves got the forty acres and a mule, and there was no resettlement programs awaiting them up north. Because the federal government decided to not redistribute southern land, many former slaves became sharecroppers, in debt to both the general store, and the plantation off of whose land they sharecropped.
In the post-Civil War or reconstructionist South, lynching was used as a tool by the Ku Klux Klan to constrict any new freedoms granted Africans. Jim Crow laws, separate yet only equal to the delusional, was the way of the new South.
Final Words for his Wife, from Yankee, Sullivan Ballou
Ballou died for “civilization”?
Did he die for the lifelong menial toil
of cotton harvesters? As seen here,
enjoying a life beyond all expectation,
irrespective of the War’s outcome.
In the last letter to his wife, Sullivan Ballou’s dire presaging of the looming battle let her know this clash would cost him his life, and he was right. The Union commander and Ivy Leaguer tried to convince his wife that his sacrifice was of utmost importance: “American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government ... ” Ballou makes no mention he left behind fatherless children to emancipate the Africans from their shackles. In fact, nothing is said of Blacks, or why he should die for them.
Further down the letter, he offers Sarah more rationale for laying down his life: “how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution.” Why does he draw a parallel between the American Revolution and the Civil War? In both, the American Government emerges victorious. With the first war for independence though, slavery was not at issue. That some were given subhuman status was never questioned, their lot never worth dying for. Ironically, Mr. Ballou dies, in large measure, because the slavery issue was not settled, in the century prior, with the formation of the “land of the free.”
The remaining, less ethereal motivation for Northerner involvement in the Civil War, must be to block the United States of America from becoming a parcel of the break away Confederate States of America. Sullivan does not lose his leg in battle, then lose his life, to end White oppression, or to champion abolitionism. Considering he was an attorney and elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, his sacrifice was made in honor of a country that did well by him.
Looking at the flip side, why were dirt-poor, white southerners having their arteries tapped dry? Just five percent of free Southerners owned enslaved Africans, so roughly 95% of a Confederate fighting regimen had little vested interest in dying for the preservation of slavery. Instead, they might have been taking up the gauntlet in simple self-preservation against these unwelcome travelers from the North with their superior firepower.
The Poor Man’s Fight
Emancipating the whipped and shackled was not a welcome struggle to many, including immigrants of New York, who felt the African would only compete to do their work. As a consequence, these New Yorkers did not feel the enslaved were worth dying for; and they also did not feel it fair they could escape service for $300, those with that kind of cash being known as a “Three Hundred Dollar Man.”
This led to the Civil War being known in less moneyed circles as “the rich man’s war and the poor man’s fight.” To express their complete disgust, a draft riot erupted in midtown Manhattan (at Third Avenue and 47th Street). 120 people were known to have been killed. Even an orphanage, the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue, was attacked.
As for the White House being deep into enemy territory, wasn’t the White House an easy target for the Confederacy? If this had been a more evenly contested, or even a more well contested fight, maybe it would have been. As history is written though, the Civil War was known as the Rebellion; the South annually manufactured just three percent of firearms in America, the Union produced the other 97%.
Yet one can just as easily take the opposite tack, the South had an adequate army, they had the White House surrounded on any side, why don’t they wage a battle against Washington? Why not remove the chief crusader? Which the South ended up accomplishing and accomplishing without much resistance; five days after General Robert E. Lee called it quits before General Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln was assassinated.
John Wilkes Booth’s Stolen Diary Entries
Many may not know that the diary of Abraham Lincoln’s 27-year-old assassin has a final entry after his final performance, yet it is missing 86 other pages. Who, or what organization, would remove them, and why? In the 1865 Conspirators’ Trial, why was the diary not produced for evidence? And then, in 1867, after the first 18 pages were found to be missing, why was the rest not recopied elsewhere?
More questions: if the removed pages were only Confederate propaganda, why would these same pages need to be permanently expunged from the record and remain unread or unreleased? Were the torn leaves the rest of the story, the slayer’s and the Southland’s undisclosed truths about Lincoln’s War, now forgotten with time? And then why were the removed pages never auctioned, anonymously or otherwise? Did they include contact and hideout information, or motivation detail? Did Booth convincingly portray himself in a sympathetic light?
The Aftermath, The Reconstruction Era
After the smoke had cleared, the formerly enslaved had no where to go, there were no refugee camps up North. If the enslaved were close to Union troops, those troops could take them in. The great majority of Africans, however, were not afforded a portion of any economic package — they had no money to start a new life anywhere else. As a consequence of this and more, most freed slaves remained where they were, in poverty.
“The Great Labor Question
From a Southern Point of View,”
Harper’s Weekly, July 29, 1865.
They were surrounded by other plantations with owners of similar sentiment about the cessation of slavery. Those previously deemed plantation property did not own their own transportation. Due in part to anti-literacy laws (no typo), many, if not most, could not read or write. Financially, the education system could not effectively collect property tax. As a consequence, teachers’ dedication was sorely tested with pay that was very often in arrears.
In the post-Civil War, Reconstructionist era, the Ku Klux Klan reinstated fear, or at least an enforced obeisance to the ruling Anglo-Saxons. This was accomplished by lynching upwards of 4,700 non-kneeling Africans and pro-abolishionist Whites. Besides enforcing caste, lynching had a simple economic motive, any freed man with desirable land that was lynched would have his property put up for auction.
This Winslow Homer cartoon criticizes the post-Civil War attitudes of many Southern whites toward the newly freed. It shows a decadent white planter taking his former slave to task, “My boy, we’ve toiled and taken care of you long enough — now, you’ve got to work!”
For many ‘freed’ men getting to work meant trying to make a living through farming ‘shared’ plots of land. So whites could keep the plantation life in full bloom, Africans could become sharecroppers, ‘renting’ out a small parcel of land. Then they would pay their former enslaver one half to two thirds of their crop for the privilege. Given the lack of economic prospects for most, the Civil War simply changed their title from slave to servant.
The Founding Fathers owned People, i.e., Slaves
The plantation gentleman that wrote the “Declaration of Independence” chose an interesting way of expressing his conception of universal equality, that all men are created equal. At birth, though, that equality ends. That Thomas Jefferson owned close to two hundred slaves, he couldn’t say any equivalent to “All men are equal, now and forever.” His use of the word ‘created’ better suits his purposes, allowing for distinctions and gradations of humanity.
Jefferson would be rooting on
the Confederacy, as would
Washington, Franklin might too.
If he were to be more candid in his declaration, this would have been a more honest maxim: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men — except slaves — are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights — we leave out slaves of course — that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness — again, we’re not talking blackies here ... ”
Jefferson did state: “We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” He compares slavery to a wolf that when let go would attack its keeper. White Southerners would receive their just rewards for keeping the wolf; and not just the financial revenge from a wrecked plantation economy, physical restitution.
Jefferson wrote that blacks are an inferior race to whites “in the endowments both of body and mind.” That we’re composed of the same organs, tissue, and cerebral gray matter, all operating with the same chemical principles was not part of his thinking. This founding father held other, racist beliefs ...
As did many other founders of this revered nation. George Washington held title to over a hundred slaves, Benjamin Franklin owned slaves as well, he even commented as to their unwelcome, “sullen” disposition. In fact, one third of the Continental Congress, signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, kept slaves.
Makes one wonder how they could write such stellar prose on universal liberties, when in front of the slave cabins, they are whipping a sadly uncooperative, and screaming, slave into submission. And why not? What’s to stop them? The signed, handwritten version of the U.S. Constitution endorsed the position that some people are not even people in the usual sense, they are without the law’s protection, they are only chattel
The House that Slavery Built 11/05/14. Yesterday, the Republicans gained control of the House that Slavery Built — otherwise known as the United States Senate. Why is there representation based on simple admission of a State into the Union as the Senate has; and a second, much more Democratic, legislator headcount based on the number of people represented, as known in the House of Representatives?
When America was formed, the Founding Fathers felt they needed to make slavery viable long-term, and so they welcomed slave owners into the good ol’ U.S. of A. Washington, Jefferson et al, slave owners themselves, did this by offering the low-population density, racist, and agrarian South the benefit of over-representation; and left the more densely-populated, mostly-slave less Northeast, with more limited say in politics than their census would otherwise decide. As a result, regressive States with small populations — the ones where Confederate flags are still seen waving out the back of their brand-new pickups — were given unmerited sway in national affairs.
The Republicans just won back the House that Slavery Built, but wasn’t racial injustice, general rights abrogation, and property before people, always the hand they chose to play from the outset?
The North’s Hand in Slavery
There is an interesting side bar to all of this. New York State officially ended slavery in 1827. Given the fact that there were many blacks seeking a better life away from a plantation economy, it is not hard to imagine many Africans going north and living as house servants in the many estates of Long Island, Westchester, Manhattan, and Newport.
The child in the sun looks black
and is with a white family
Testament to African servitude north of the Mason-Dixon Line exists today in Newport, Rhode Island. There still stands a slave market, the Old Brick Market — the North was not as kind of heart as written history may purport. We sold people like livestock just as the South did, with physical force we broke the Africans spirit, just as the South did.
Rhode Island was the slave capital of New England, yet I wonder about my own surroundings. To me, this picture from 1913 Long Island is very telling. It is of a white mother with her white child, and with them is what would appear to be a black child. The white mother is not attending to the black child, she is attending to the white one, ostensibly her own. One can further connect the dots and conclude the black girl is getting an early start on a life as a servant or as a maid.
While that puzzle may never be fully solved, we do know that at the turn of the century, the Howard Orphanage and Industrial School on Long Island provided one such labor arrangement for black orphans. Young black boys given up for adoption, perhaps with families tied economically to the South, would bound them out to work in area homes.
Will America always be a Haven for Racists?
General Robert E. Lee and Traveler
With Misguided Rednecks
Great Britain ended the slave trade by 1807, France by 1814, a lifetime later it ended in the United States. Lincoln’s War was an unpopular cause, and when it was all said and done, did not do all that much to compensate for the prior two centuries of racism. Africans were not members of the moneyed or ruling class, they were not considered equals, down South and elsewhere. A full century after the Civil War had ended, 1960’s Civil Rights struggle was helping the U.S. catch up with turn of the nineteenth century France and Britain.
Even today, many in America vote along racial lines. For them, racism is as natural and all-American as peach cobbler. These bigots grade humanity by skin color, the darker the color, the more upset they get.
The Underground Railway is for Moles
Just a footnote, if you give it some thought, the Underground Railway must have been a very plausible fiction. The term itself could have been conjured as a possible dodge to slave catchers.
The Appalachian Trail, blazed as a modern 20th century Georgia to Maine path, takes six months to hike. While the slaves’ escape to freedom could be half as long, theirs was still done without backpacks, and without ready food supplies. It is also easy to capture slaves, their skin is color coded black.
What is much more than likely, is for an Overground Railway ride to emancipation. In her fascinating history of the lives and music of African Americans, Eileen Southern wrote that whites were known to pose as slave traders or slaveholders in escape efforts. Such an arrangement would make a train transit very acceptable to otherwise suspicious passengers and crew. The following hymn actually sung by Harriet Tubman to waiting travelers singularly identified her as the Railway’s engineer, and hinted at an unexpected transportation arrangement:
Dark and thorny is de pathway [What pathway? What map of said pathway? Many hundreds of miles long (Savannah, Georgia to Cincinnati in Southern Ohio is 665 miles via linear Interstate highways), always in the dark of winter, unblazed, 15 miles every night, via foot, with children?]
Where da pilgrim makes his ways, [Those sanctimonious Pilgrims know these woods, we’re an easy capture]
But beyond dis vale of sorrow [This underground deception, possibly transit to a funeral, and this life we leave]
Lie de fields of endless days. [Lies the sweet serenity and perpetual summer sunshine of the final stop, Canada, with no fugitive slave laws.]
Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: a History, c1971, p.130. Comments Other Letter.
Obviously, not every attempted escape could be aided by Ms. Tubman (and if you believe the fabled explanation that she went by foot, none of the required maps of the trails she took were ever known to exist). Assuming Africans could scale the horse fences surrounding their plantation, find then follow a path to the tracks, their freedom was only as far again as a climb on the roof of a railroad car.*
Of course, slave catchers on their bounty hunts must have known these routes of escape. Even so, for the manacled, the worked past exhaustion, the whipped and the raped, the gaining of their emancipation would have been well worth any sacrifice or any risk.
Once on the train though, Ms. Tubman could bring them to Valhalla on the freedom train. Just get a leg up, hop on the roof, next stop, the free North, or the even more free, Canada.
*Could be called Africans, or Americans enslaved by Americans, although the second nationality may be a contradiction in terms. The white and black labels tend to raise moral purity distinctions based on skin color — whites would be purer, blacks not as pure as their enslavers.
Only Over Ground Railroads require Uniforms 1/29/14. Conductors of the typically-defined Underground Railroad would never need to dress up like train conductors, because running from cabin to cabin in the woods would never require railroad attire, as worn by the “underground railroad conductor’ and abolitionist shown here.
Ann Maria Weems, as seen below, is further proof that the Underground Railroad was the code name for slipping slaves onto an over ground railroad — and these efforts were almost incomprehensibly dangerous, noose-defying heroism. (A hero with unfathomable courage obviously describes Harriet Tubman as well.)
The fact that she was Black made her mission all the more treacherous. She may have been chosen to assuage the fears of slaves at the beginning of their journey to freedom that they were not being tricked back into slavery. The fact this conductor was a woman may have partially protected her from violence if the ruse was uncovered.
Historians backing the mistaken conception of an Underground Railroad overlook an obvious logistical solution for the abolitionists — slaves might occasionally need to be transported (say to auctions, or funerals), and if carefully coordinated, they could be transported to freedom.
An Underground Railroad always traveling in the dark of winter, on unblazed trails, fifteen miles every night for hundreds of miles, via foot wearing poor footwear, with children, was not based on the realities of the distances involved, or of the age. It did though, create a great diversionary tactic. Bounty hunters tried to track the fanciful Underground Railroad of escaped slaves in the woodlands and in the marshes, and that is believed to this very day.
Proof it was an Overground Railroad
Brooklyn Historical Society
Ann Maria Weems wearing her “Underground Railroad” disguise, yet only overground railroads require uniforms. The new definition of courage, this woman had true nerves of steel. If caught transporting a railroad car-load of slaves as a conductor, she would be hanging from a tree as soon as a weight-bearing one could be found.
Harriet Tubman needed a Passport 12/24/17. There were no six hundred mile, underground railroad hikes with families in winter without any maps. The most rudimentary of common sense dictates that Harriet Tubman carried rail cars full of slaves with an Overground Railroad instead. But if she was caught, her punishment was certain, she’d be hung from the nearest, broad-trunked tree.
Ms. Tubman needed a passport to help ensure her safety, so she chose to carry a hymnal even though she was illiterate. Harriet needed provenance that she wasn’t a wild escaped slave, and that she wasn’t a homeless, woodlands troll. The New York Times, where the story of Tubman owning a hymnal appeared, quoted an individual ignoring the obvious, and claiming that she carried the hymnal as divine inspiration.
Yet Ms. Tubman didn’t understand a word of the prevailing religion that openly permitted her people’s enslavement. The sanctimonious Southern White Baptists did absolutely nothing for her people, but did plenty for the plantation owners and slave drivers. As far as the hymnal’s direct comfort for Harriet, it could have served as warming kindling if needed.
Do those crosses yet burn?
The Truth about African Americans and Police Brutality
The police are often taken for granted, especially with recent events, but in any kind of weather they are outside in the elements, defusing threats to public safety, despite what would have to be extreme boredom and stress. They must see the worst of the human condition on a regular, even constant, basis. (This could all apply to firefighters, and the other first responders, as well.)
In some neighborhoods, I would have to imagine that a combat mentality exists between police and the Black community because of a steady stream of misinformation about the killings of Blacks who, truth be told, in several of the recent, most infamous cases, were obvious threats to public safety, and had to somehow be stopped by both White and Black police officers present at the time. The police are no longer the keepers of the peace, instead they have become the enemy.
The New York Times recently did a report on racially-motivated killings by police officers, but they hardly tell the whole story. Police can be blamed for brutality, but the original sin is discrimination and segregation. This created an underclass of impoverished African Americans. According to the simplest of common sense, the poor are most often the ones committing crime, because they need the cash. Because of racist oppression, the poor in America are very often Blacks — hence more clashes with police.
If anything, all these killings indicate police incompetence. It says far less about any racial motivation. Police officers, at least initially, join the Force to protect and serve, not to murder African Americans. What is most surprising is that the police kill hundreds of suspects every year, only these recent ones became high profile.
The killings here can be divided into separate categories: incompetence, justifiable self-defense, police brutality, or racism. Surprisingly, racism and brutality do not top the list in this analysis. The exceptions being the Samuel DuBose, Laquan McDonald, and Freddie Gray murders...
|The Dead||Name of Officer||Race of Officer doing the shooting||Was the victim armed?||Was the victim Tasered?||Was the victim a danger to public safety?||Was the victim intoxicated?|
|Eric Garner||Kizzy Adoni, female supervising officer of arrest||Black||No||No||6ft. 3in. 350 lbs.; seemed to make a nuisance of himself; arrested more than 30 times since 1980||No, application of choke hold was excessive force by police, but not racism, and choke usually not deadly like a gun|
|Anthony Lamar Smith||Jason Stockley||White||Yes, or police kept a gun to plant on suspects||No||Involved in a high-speed chase after suspected drug deal, gun||No, but served prison time for dealing heroin|
|Terence Crutcher||Betty Shelby||White||Wouldn’t show hands||Yes||Left car running in middle of a busy road||His sister: “he had an ongoing drug problem”|
|Philando Castile||Jeronimo Yanez||Hispanic||Yes, why he was killed (NRA death)||No||52 minor traffic violations, carrying weapon||Smoking weed with 5-year-old in car|
|Samuel DuBose||Ray Tensing||White, Tensing was wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt beneath his police uniform at the time of shooting||No||No||License had been revoked||Carrying pot, to University of Cincinnati rent-a-cops, deadly force is fine|
|Sandra Bland||Brian Encinia||Hispanic||No||She was threatened with one, but no||Did she have a chip on her shoulder against cops? These days, this is common enough.||She didn’t know how a traffic stop escalated this far, hung herself in jail|
|Freddie Gray||Six||3 Blacks, 3 Whites||Switchblade||No||Fleeing unprovoked, and switchblade, neck broken by police||Drug offenses, but drugs not present here|
|Walter L. Scott||Michael Slager||White||Uncertain if Scott had taken the officer’s Taser||Yes||Fled being arrested, may have taken Taser||Cocaine & alcohol present at autopsy|
|Akai Gurley||Peter Liang||Chinese||No||No||24 prior, unrelated arrests, yet accidental shooting claimed by defense of rookie officer||Not a drug offense, just a stairwell patrol in the projects|
|Laquan McDonald||Jason Van Dyke||White||Knife with 3" blade used to cut patrol car's tire||Dyke almost shot on sight to backup cop’s disbelief||Suspect known to have mental health issues; Dyke had 20+ violations of police policy on his record though; Chicago Police Dept. often cited for mistreating minorities||Had PCP in bloodstream (still, how unbiased are the State’s reports, Angel Dust still sold?)|
|Michael Brown||Darren Wilson||White||6'4", 292 pounds, he was as big and as angry as a bear, and taken down like one||Reached for taser, dropped in favor of gun||Told to stop 10x, hit Ofc. Wilson in the face||Had THC in bloodstream|
Final Note: Did I miss the call on the Walter Scott case? Michael Slage just received a twenty-year prison sentence while I sided with the police. Mr. Scott was high on drugs and was Tasered. There was debate as to whether the Taser was taken from Slage.
With a layman’s survey of justice, one cannot tell if they are getting the same evidence as the grand jury. More than likely, interested parties not participating in the actual trial, never get the full story. 12/09/17.
Hamilton, Grammy-winning Whitewash
Except for the fact that Alexander Hamilton was, like many other Founding Fathers, a slaver, the widely-acclaimed, Grammy-winning, Broadway musical, Hamilton is a wonderful celebration of his life. It rejoices in someone who at minimum, arranged for the return of his in-laws’ escaped slaves, and later, made payment for “a Negro Woman and Child,” as well as being a firm believer in property rights of humans. What is even more galling, is that the cast is half African American, they are rejoicing, and singing the praises of, their ancestors’ bondage.
At best, this little project needed fact-checking before it spread rah-rah, feel-good, jingoistic, patriotic BS, whitewash. A Broadway musical celebrating a slaver acted by slave progeny is one in such stunningly bad taste that it’s in the same league as The Producers, with its classic torch song, Springtime for Hitler. But that production was only meant to be a farce, Hamilton is presented entirely as fact and as great heroism.
What I suggest is that they add a bit of realism to their farce with a face branding, one known from Hamilton’s time. Have him yield a red-hot poker in the direction of a manacled slave’s cheek while doing the jig as a fiddle plays feverishly. That should get the crowd on their feet, which is all this production hopes to get anyway. #BroadwaySoWhite #GrammysSoWhite.
Now, Hamilton is Pulitzer Prize-winning Whitewash 4/18/16. The Pulitzer Selection Committee just gave away one of their dinky, oppression-supportive bowling trophies to Hamilton, the Broadway musical glorifying a slaver. That the Committee is in the market for supporting slavery and/or genocide apologists, why not give one of their trinkets posthumously to Leni Riefenstahl, the woman who glamorized Naziism and Hitler, just as Lin Manuel-Miranda, the profiteer behind Hamilton, is glamorizing slavery today?
If you weren’t looking to make a mint, or a fast buck, from Hamilton, you would have noticed two smoking guns indicting him for all perpetuity. Alexander Hamilton believed that a slave was just three-fifths of a human being. He backed the slave as 3/5 human, voting clause of the American Constitution. Just as indicting, when discussing plantation owners, and their parting with their slaves for the Revolutionary War battlefront, he didn’t think the owners would “part with property of so valuable a kind.”‡
Maybe not to the Pulitzer Committee, or to Manuel-Miranda, but when someone starts writing that people are property, you do not venerate him as they are doing with Hamilton, you crucify him instead.
The Holocaust v. African-American Slavery and Beyond
Compare the German Holocaust to slavery in the American South. Both these eras of evil ruined or ended lives. While the Holocaust lasted only five years, bondage’s direct damage occurred over two hundred years, and additionally, its non-slavery oppression — with lynch mobs, followed by workplace, and housing discrimination — exist to this day. This covert oppression continues another 150 years after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia, a capitulation that was supposed to emancipate Blacks forever.
Nazis thought that their Final Solution of Jewish “Extermination” would make their economic troubles disappear forever. For the Confederacy’s part, by enslaving Africans they set themselves up to live like aristocrats. Exhausted African Americans bore the brunt of the Southern economy on their whipped and bloodied backs in the scorching heat of the Deep South.
While the original, professed reasons for the Nazis and the Southern racists brutality were economic, ultimately they were, and remain, power plays at subjugating minorities, and those less fortunate. There are no longer any possible economic reasons for Nazis or racists to exist, but there are strong psychological ones for those who can only feel good about themselves when they are feeling superior holding down another race, or creed.
Antebellum and Confederate iconography is held dear to the racist. The Confederate Flag, and the statuary of their Generals are on a par with the Nazi Swastika, and statutes of the Third Reich’s leaders like Hitler and Goebbels. Is there any place today that will still proudly fly a Swastika, or commission a statue of Hitler made of marble? Yet the South is littered with pathetically-cherished, Confederate relics.
Dreams Denied, No Rainbow, No Pot of Gold
In the Land of the Free, until roughly 1970, a black person could be lynched for no reason, at any time, and in any stage of their life. The night riders looping the noose around a thick tree branch could do so without any fear of reprisal or jail time, lynching was their right.
Generation upon generation, African Americans were regarded as livestock, sold from ‘slave pens,’ then denied economic and educational opportunity through segregation. Forced into poverty, they were the victims of humiliating discrimination, and suffocating repression. Even today, they are often the stepping stone, the prosecuted and the poorly defended, the ones afforded marginal educations.
Will the blacks’ socioeconomic bracket ever match that of their enslavers? Or will only slave owners, and their descendents, deserve a life of luxury, luxury created from the backbreaking toil of their bond slaves?
From 1910 to 1970, the Great Migration northwards of African Americans gave blacks new hope for their economic prospects, and offered rare peace of mind (although the South, being their home for so long, is now destiny to a new reverse migration). That we have an African American President must set a very positive example for their color. Still, this country is ground zero for racism, where has there been more of it?
Fortunate whites long imbibed the notion that their race was created by God to rule the earth. What if the tables were ever turned, if whites were enslaved instead? Would the supremacist believe in the same god were the slip knot tightened around his red neck?
“A Nation of Laws” for whom?
After the verdict on the Michael Brown killing, certain clarifications about the Grand Jury’s rationale for the acquittal of Darren Wilson, age of 28, still need to be made. If the officer was a racist, and could be demonstrated as such by the testimony of fellow officers, then Michael’s death would be racially motivated, and the death would be the product of the worst kind of hate crime. Any racist character of Wilson has never been mentioned however.
Assuming he was not a racist, then he was at least culpable for gross incompetence, which one would think would at least warrant an involuntary manslaughter charge. To kill someone for stealing a $48 box of cigars, as happened here, does seem entirely like an excessive use of force. Did this 18-year-old cause Wilson to panic? A panicking police officer is not a very effective one.
There are a few more wrinkles to this case. There is conflicting testimony as to whether Mr. Brown raised his hands not when asked to do so (gleaning the testimony it isn’t clear if Darren even bothered to ask him), but to indicate his surrender. This likely reflects the fact that Michael quickly reached for his belt after raising his hands. Michael panicked and, from 35 to 40 feet away, so did Darren Wilson. If Mr. Wilson cannot recognize a gun from 35 feet away (roughly a first down in football), does he require corrective lenses to see with 20/20 vision?
Furthermore, Darren claims none of this would have happened if Michael got off the street, and onto the sidewalk. In other words, by staying on the street, he was resisting arrest. Does this profile him as insane? That may have been what Mr. Wilson was thinking, but that is not what the facts about Mr. Brown bear. Furthermore, how does Officer Wilson fire twelve rounds, receive no return fire, yet still feel his life was in danger?
Darren felt he would be killed by the unarmed Mr. Brown, either by a professional wrestling-like, boa constrictor, body hold, or a punch. So apparently Ferguson’s Finest cannot take a punch, or when confronted by the chance of a body blow, they will take out whoever is intimidating them — down there they just don’t value certain kinds of life all that much. The Ferguson Police Department and Officer Wilson are issued taser guns, which failed by design or by cop error here (they also have billy clubs). If Darren was so afraid of this guy, he could have called for backup, such as for cops with functional taser guns. I’m sure even podunk Ferguson had backup available that night.
I am not an attorney, but I would have to suggest that there are still civil remedies available. These would be punitive, financial penalties against both Darren Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department. The burden of proof is lighter for a civil trial, it is only a preponderance of the evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt as required in a criminal trial. The standard, “probable cause to bring charges,” is used when a Grand Jury determines if a case should be brought to trial, as they tried to do here. Plaintiffs’ attorneys were able to convict O.J. Simpson on civil charges yet not criminal ones.
The notion of the police force as a Republican Guard, one only protecting the interests of the rich, is suggested again with this tragedy — although not entirely in keeping with all the facts that are known in this case. A much more salient point of contention is if this case is being handled by the “Good ol’ boy” provisions of the penal code.
If Missouri does consider this good police work, then it is one state among a few others where refusing to do business there might send a message, however minor, about their policing. As similar tragedies have happened recently in Cleveland, and in New York City, ostensibly from poor local training of officers, wouldn’t municipal police departments benefit from training and oversight by federal law enforcement officials?
Postscript, 11/29/14. Darren Wilson resigns from the Ferguson Police Department still claiming he did a good job. It is tough to imagine though, how the killing of a petty thief qualifies as effective police work.
You’ve tried Tasers, chokeholds, and pistols, but why not nets? 12/05/14. After the several recent killings of unarmed black people by white police officers, Other Letter went to work racking our brains to find a way of collaring suspects without killing them, and in a manner that guarantees justice is served when the day is done. What we designed is versatile, simple, and effective — it’s the Other Letter Police Dragnet net. Patterned after action super heroes like Spider Man and Batman, it incorporates time-tested super-villain capture power with the reality of modern crime-fighting incompetence.
Woven from unbreakable hemp fibers, the OL Dragnet net can be used by any number of a police squadron to lower the net on crime, without any messy cleanup, protest marches, court hearings, officer dismissals, or funerals. Unlike confusing-so-overlooked Taser guns, the directions are stitched into every net, and after a few hours of training are very easy to use, unlike the Taser which is almost impossible for most officers of the law to master. Seriously consider the Dragnet Deluxe, with scoping pole, just like a fishing net, or the kind used to round up crazies in the psych wards of classic cinema. These will be your precinct’s go-to, tactical capture units.
Chiefs of Police, are you sick and tired of subordinates who knock off petty thieves? Of officers who kill before they cuff? Well, get the community back on your side, get police work done right, and order your Other Letter Dragnet apprehension nets today. The Other Letter Dragnet net, and the Dragnet Deluxe — if every department learned how to use them, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and a twelve-year-old in Cleveland would still be alive today. Other Letter is taking pre-orders on nets for use by municipal police departments. Pick up a few dozen, Dragnet Deluxes, and put them in every trunk of your precinct’s police cruisers. Operators are standing by to take your call.
Is the blood of a police officer worth more than that of anyone else? 12/09/14. The Grand Juries in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner tragedies thought they were making a value judgment in favor of the lives of policemen over the lives of the poor and disenfranchised. To them, when the two sides are engaged in “combat,” one of the former is clearly worth more than one of the latter, regardless of whether or not the latter is unarmed.
What the Grand Jury has instead decided is that police work that is grossly incompetent can never be prosecuted or punished, even when it is clear to a nation that it is, at minimum, tantamount to unintentional manslaughter — independent of any racial component. Michael Brown and Eric Garner did not deserve to die, and the so-called American justice system has no desire to hold anyone accountable for their deaths.
Why is Police Officer Slager’s case only being tried as murder? 12/05/16. The Walter Scott murder case is in the news again. He was shot and killed with his back turned away from Michael Slager, a South Carolina police officer. Scott is African American and Slager is Caucasian.
On the face of it, this sounds like murder, yet Scott was high on cocaine and a Taser gun did not take him down. While the police did not see Scott snort cocaine, if a police officer deals enough with that population, they can probably tell if a suspect is on something. Then, what needs to be considered is the danger Mr. Scott presented to others’ safety.
While I am hardly an expert, in New York with its better-funded, more stringent law enforcement standards and practices, a Taser-resistant suspect is not gunned down here, they might rely on back up instead. As seen throughout the country recently, this sounds like police incompetence, maybe manslaughter, but not murder.