My Castile post…

After some recent Facebook conversations with a few people I’ve decided to bundle all my thoughts through all my comments and replies into one concise post.  Although most of what I say here will be my thoughts about systematic racism in our justice system in general, there will be a good focus on Castile.

The question/concern came up about a police officer’s right to protect their self and their duty to protect the public.  This was also coupled with the argument of us civilians will never fully understand/appreciate the positions that police officers get put in:

Police officers who kill unarmed people are not protecting the public. What is the point of all that training as a police officer if you’re just going to kill an unarmed person? What is the point of carrying a taser if you’re going to kill an unarmed person? Rare is it the crime is worth the death.  A lot of this boils down to having better police training.  This could be de-escalation training, training in non-lethal methods of restraint, better conditioning of officers, etc.  The main point would be to take the focus off the firearm and to turn the firearm into more of a last resort than a first option.

Police officers do get put in situations you and I will hopefully never face. Thing is, they know that going into the job. Police officers are expected to be able to operate under stress and duress. I am a teacher, I am expected to operate under stress and duress. If a child cusses me out and I cussed him or her out in return, I wouldn’t keep my job. That comes with the territory. An officer needs to be able to keep a level head when the heat is on, period. An officer shouldn’t have a light trigger finger that goes off so quickly, as in the Castile case.  Again, much of this can be fixed via better and more thorough training of officers.

With Castile, there was nothing threatening or intimidating about a man informing an officer that he was legally carrying a firearm. The officer asked him for his ID, which he then reached for. I’ve seen the video. It is disgusting.  It is so disgusting that I won’t even link it to this blog.  If you truly feel the need to view it, please do, however.  Keep in mind that you are watching a man die, however.  Nothing in Castile’s voice or demeanor appears to be threatening in the officer’s dashcam. Even after the shooting, Castile’s girlfriend remains cool, calm, and collect and still refers to the officer as “sir”.

For Yanez to go from 0-60 in literally half a second is absolutely disgusting. Yanez has no right to wear that badge. He used absolutely none of his training and recklessly fired multiple bullets into a car with at minimum two civilians, one of which was a young girl. There were bullet holes in the back seat of that vehicle, where that small girl was. Even if you firmly feel that Castile was a threat, there is no justification for emptying a firearm recklessly into a vehicle with two innocent lives, one a woman and the other a child. That child is never going to know what a “normal” life is thanks to Officer Yanez. That child had to watch a father figure be gunned down by somebody who was suppose to protect her. That is just disgusting and there is zero justification for it.

Another argument brought up was the Milwaukee case, where a black officer shot an unarmed black man:

Yes, sometimes a black officer shoots an unarmed black man. It isn’t okay, but to try and compare that case to the many cases of white officers killing unarmed black men and boys for selling cigarettes, playing with a toy gun, walking towards them, walking away from them, or even being pinned to the god damn ground is just perverse.  The larger picture shows that black males are targeted by ANY law enforcement at a much higher rate.

Even our court system does the same. Statistically, black males serve more time or have harsher punishments than their white male counterparts for the same damn crime. Doesn’t matter if its a black judge, white judge, female judge, etc.

Point is, to try and focus on just one or two cases isn’t doing justice to the larger picture.  Yes, we focus on Castile, Rice, Garner, Crawford III, etc. despite being just one case because ultimately those cases are a part of the larger picture of systematic racism.  There isn’t a system of systematic racism towards whites in this country.  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about being called a cracker?  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about not being able to get a cab?  When was the last time you heard about a white man being followed by a police officer for 5 blocks while out on a jog?  You just don’t hear it, but this is something that black people live with every day of their lives.  You might be sick of hearing about it.  You might be sick of seeing Black Lives Matter stuff around your city or social media.  If you’re so sick of hearing about it, imagine how sick some people are of living it?

The marijuana aspect gets brought up a lot, too:

First off, how would Yanez immediately know that Castile had smoked marijuana within the last 30 days?  If you smoke marijuana, it can still be detected in your system, like it was with Castile, up to 30 days afterwards.  This has been one of the largest defenses of this.  This was even used as a defense to my asking why the NRA doesn’t care about Castile’s 2nd amendment right, as he was legally carrying a firearm in an open carry state.  He was following the law.  Somebody’s rebuttal was, “if under the influence you cannot legally carry.”  Okay, that’s fine.  I’ve still seen the NRA protect the 2nd amendment rights of others, despite being under the influence.  You see pictures and videos of gun toting white guys at pro-gun/NRA rallies, beer in hand, gun in tow.  This has never been an issue.  With John Crawford III he was gunned down in a Walmart for carrying a bb gun he intended on purchasing.  Nothing illegal here but where was the NRA?

Back to marijuana.  Even if Castile had been under the influence at the time, Yanez has no way of assessing that.  To my knowledge there was no visible marijuana nor was there a smell of marijuana in the car.  Where was the perceived threat?  Nothing in Yanez’s demeanor says he felt threatened up until about 3 seconds before he starts shooting into a vehicle with innocent lives present.  Even if Castile had a joint hanging from his mouth, does this still justify the response from officer Yanez?  Castile was still being honest and informing the officer he had a legal permit to carry/had a gun in the car.  He wasn’t making any threats and was complying with Yanez’s order of producing an ID/insurance, but Yanez still shot him.

Please feel free to comment to this post or share it.  I would love to engage in some discussion if anybody has any additional points they’d like to bring up.



On the Paris Climate Agreement and why it is important to the USA…

So obviously the big news that we’re barely hearing about *cough* thanks covfefe *cough* is the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  This puts us on a grand list of countries that include Nicaragua and Syria.  Actually, scratch that, that put on on a list of countries that only include Nicaragua and Syria.

The main argument that Donald Trump has given about this agreement is that it is bad for the U.S. economy and bad for U.S. jobs, and also that the rest of the world essentially conspired against the U.S. in creating this deal to make us less competitive.  Obviously both of these are vastly incorrect, but Donald Trump will never admit to being wrong, less alone to making a simple typo.

For the sake of  you climate deniers, I am not going to even broach the subject of climate change.  If you’re still arrogant [or do I mean ignorant?] enough to believe that, then nothing I, nor any expert on the subject, can change your mind, therefore I’ll leave it firmly in the sand.

Let’s look at U.S. jobs, first, shall we?  Donald Trump & Co. try to tell us that we’re destroying the coal industry and that we’re putting coal workers out of work.  While I am not necessarily an expert in this area, I do know that coal industry isn’t in dire straights.  Coal is obviously on the decline, however, because newer, more efficient, and cleaner options are available.  Also, coal mines are becoming harder to operate, as we do believe in workers safety, therefore we’re not going to pack coal carts to the max with children and men and literally work them to death.  Some quick coal statistics can be found here and here.  So yes, the coal industry is on a slight decline.

When you look at just the coal industry, one can make an argument that jobs are being destroyed.  When you look at the U.S. job market on a macro scale, however, there is a different picture being painted for us.  What boggles me about Republicans, is how clean energy isn’t supported by their agenda.  Clean energy is one of the largest growing job creators in this nation, and truly, around the world.  Clean energy boosts the manufacturing industry.  When you are creating more solar panels, more windmills, and more hydro-electric dams (of which I am more against due to their ecological impact on the area, but again, staying out of the nature side of things here) then you obviously need manufactures for those.  If the U.S. continues to lag behind in the clean energy push, then so, too, will our manufacturers.  This will ultimately put other countries ahead of us in this game.  Later on, when we finally decide to get into the clean energy game, it’ll be harder and more expensive to manufacture these right here in the U.S., as the top clean energy manufacturers will already be established abroad.  This is obviously something that goes against a huge Trump/Republican agenda item.  Winning clean energy keeps manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A.

Sticking with jobs, there are more than just manufacturing jobs to be had here!  Engineering jobs, those upper-middle class jobs, will also soar.  With a “new” energy market there is more room for innovation.  We’ve innovated coal/gas for hundreds of years.  Much of the top technology in these fields are already here.  With solar and wind power, however, we are still creating newer and more efficient ways to generate power.  If we as a nation lag behind here, other nations will fill those gaps.  We will no longer be competitive in the world of engineering, as we fall behind in innovation.

Donald Trump loves to talk about buying American steel.  He thinks that Chinese steel is crap and that the U.S. should ultimately shut down on any steel imports from China and other countries.  Clean energy would be a great way to boost the American steel market.  Obviously as you create more windmills and solar panels, you need steel in this process.  Energy independence can also go hand-in-hand with being independent in our resource production for this.  We can keep all steel, copper, aluminum, silica, etc. production right here in the U.S.A.  This again creates jobs, boosts our markets, and keeps that money here, as opposed to overseas.  (I’ll keep away from a rant about steel magnates putting away their profits in overseas banks, again, for the sake of keeping to the point.)

Continuing with jobs; who is going to construct and set-up all of these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will monitor the new power grids created by these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will go out and repair and maintain these structures?  More American jobs!  Republicans who are all about creating and building American should be signed up on this, one would think.

So, I think jobs have been fairly well covered here.  How else can clean energy benefit the U.S.?  Well, if we create our power right here in the U.S.A., that means we are less dependent on foreign markets.  This is another thing Donald Trump keeps preaching to us.  He wants Chinese influence gone!  He wants Middle Eastern influence gone!  Here’s the thing though, we can’t do that without clean energy.  Even if we’re producing tons of oil, coal, and natural gas, prices are still highly dependent on the global market.  If there is a huge coal and oil demand surge in China, our prices increase.  If there is unrest in oil rich areas of the Middle East, our prices increase.  With clean energy, that helps us cut the cord of being governed by foreign powers with our prices.  As long as the sun keeps shining and the wind keeps blowing we will have steadier energy costs here in the U.S.

This leads me to my last point, the consumer.  The Republican Party champions their own selves as the savior of the common man.  Donald Trump says he cares about the lower and the middle class and helping them.  Clean energy does this!  If energy costs are lowered and less dependent on foreign powers, that cost can also be passed along to the consumer.  Also, having a steadier market and steadier prices helps the consumer.  Energy savings for Joe and Jane to keep their A/C running, as well as energy savings for the big store down the street ultimately create a whole lot of winning for all parties  involved.  So much win with such a simple idea.

Trump surrogates are telling us that we needed to get out of the Paris agreement because this was other countries imposing restrictions on the U.S.  This is a flat-out lie.  The Paris deal was largely created by the U.S. and was a mass collaboration from various global powers.  Why would the U.S. author and create our own handcuffs and give them to our competitors?

Regardless of whether you believe in or agree with climate change isn’t a factor.  The truth is that clean energy and ultimately true energy independence can be one of the biggest booms to the U.S. since the Industrial Revolution.  The only question here ultimate is do we want to be a global leader in this sector, or do we want to be left in the dust…