“President Obama just banned the federal government’s transfer of certain military vehicles and weaponry to local and state police departments across America.”
At OnTheIssues.org, you can find out where every U.S. representative and senator stands on every issue, including their voting records (how they have voted on legislation). As voters, it’s incredibly important that we keep an eye on what our politicians are doing and make informed decisions about who to support.
By Robert A. Vella
Relations between minority communities and local law enforcement are rapidly deteriorating across the U.S. in the wake of two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the killing of unarmed black men (Michael Brown, Eric Garner), and the subsequent murder of two NYPD cops. The most prominent flashpoints have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and now New York City, but worsening race relations are a national problem which has shaken America to its moral foundations.
At the heart of the matter is the dangerous increase in economic inequality that has plagued the U.S. and other western countries since the Great Recession. As societies become more stratified and segregated along class and ethnic lines, civil unrest intensifies as a natural result. This pits a stubborn – and predominantly white – administrative establishment against an angrily disaffected – and racially diverse – population with law enforcement…
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I recently received this message, and an accompanying petition, in an email from the ACLU:
“On August 9th, local police fatally shot an unarmed African-American 18-year-old named Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the days that followed, there have been massive protests in Ferguson and heavily armed SWAT teams are roaming the streets in response. Our communities are not war zones.”
By Robert A. Vella
Here are the major developments that have occurred over the past day regarding the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent violent confrontations between local law enforcement and civilian protesters in that beleaguered town:
Yesterday, after a phone conversation with President Obama, Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered the state highway patrol – headed by Captain Ron Johnson – to assume law enforcement duties in Ferguson (see: Missouri Gov. Puts Highway Patrol in Charge in Ferguson).
Afterwards Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney who would be responsible for bringing the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown to trial, responded to the Governor’s move. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch – McCulloch blasts Nixon for replacing St. Louis County Police control:
“It’s shameful what he did today, he had no legal authority to do that,” McCulloch said…
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The video report and transcript are at Democracy Now! The core of the statement:
STEVENHAWKINS: Well, Amnesty saw a human rights crisis in Ferguson, and it’s a human rights crisis that is escalating. We sent observers down because there was a need for human rights observers. Clearly there are violations of international human rights law and standards, in terms of how the policing is being done on protests. So, for example, we’ve issued reports on, for example, Israel and the Occupied Territories, how tear gas is supposed to be administered—never in an indiscriminate way where children and the elderly could be subject to very harmful effects, even death, from tear gas. So, we sent down observers to be on the ground. We have been thwarted in our efforts to be able to go out on curfew with the police, which would be a clear standard in these circumstances…
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Hatred and intolerance can take many forms. Some are obvious- racism, sexism, homophobia. But there’s something else not often called hatred or intolerance, but that is just as destructive- a mean, callous disregard for the poor and the working class and their needs. I think about this as food stamps are being cut and unemployment benefits are allowed to expire.
I’d imagine that Dr. King felt any and every kind of hatred can paralyze, confuse, and darken a society as much as it can life overall. We’d do well to remember his words.
He’s no longer with us, but that shouldn’t stop us from continuing his work.