Showing posts with label police. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police. Show all posts

01 May, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 9: The May Day Special

 Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.  -- George Orwell

I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be this past Saturday. Part of me wanted to be in Pikeville this past weekend facing down the early break of this New Wave of American Fascism.  Somewhere in me lurks a reactionary, even still. The reactionary me wanted to go to Pikeville and punch Nazis and bring to bear on their heads the considerable anger and violence I feel towards the baby fascistas who vandalized my son-in-law's car and terrorized him and my daughter.

There are days when the lines are very clear and I know where I'm supposed to be. But as the plans started to come together for an insurgent reaction to the TWP having their little Nazi picnic, I found myself feeling not entirely sure of  how it was all going to pan out. Any time you walk into Eastern Kentucky like the Grand Pooh-bah Savior of the people, you are walking into trouble. If you think they need you (even if they ask) you've got to tread carefully. Regardless of your thoughts about the book, Jesus, fishes and loaves, the banished money changers, or Golgotha, you ought to expect to be crucified by the very people you think you're going to save if you intend to march into Eastern Kentucky.
Martyrs ... have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood - never. Camus

Because there isn't an Eastern Kentuckian, devout Christian or no, that demands anything less. They have what you might call a high standard.

As I write this, today is May Day. The first of May has historically been a labor
holiday pretty much everywhere except in the United States, where our early robber baron overlords gave us Labor Day in September in order to try and steal thunder away from the radical labor movement. Of course now, The Big Orange Meanie, our Fascist-in-Chief  Donald "The Don Don" Trump is trying to recast this historic and global radical holiday as "Loyalty Day."
The Don Don

Yeah. Let that one sink in and tell me again that he's not a fascist.

For months, Memeworld has been all a-twitter about a General Strike -- or, as I like to call it, the Wobbly Rapture. They've already started one down in Brazil. I don't expect to see much in the way of a general strike around here simply because there isn't the will or the numbers for it. Memeworld has it's own warriors, though, and I realize I am not one of them. I'm an opinionated sometimes activist and organizer who's really more of a poet than a protester. I'm all for it, of course... protesting and pushing back against Nazis, a General Strike. All of it. But one of the things I've learned is that just because you're in a room full of folks who might agree with you, that does not mean you have a cultural quorum.

That's not to say that the anti-fascists can't win out the argument. Tyranny always betrays itself in the end, and even now, the mask is starting to slip off the figurehead for the New Wave, our boy Don Don. The mistake that most traditional liberals are making right now is they act as if getting rid of Trump will stem the tide. It won't. His vitriol has unleashed something that's been a part of the American character since the first settlers came here.*

If the Pikeville Rally shows us anything, it's that there is absolutely nothing new about hate. It sometimes takes on a slicker facade, like Richard Spenser or Steve Bannon. It sometimes takes on the mask of an arrogant bully, like Donald Trump. Sometimes it takes on the mask of the true believer, like Kentucky's own tin pot fascista, Matt Bevin. But it's nothing new.

Something else the rally made clear, if it wasn't already: the powers that be are complicit in protecting the ability of hate to spread itself like cancer. The cops didn't try and shut down the fascists for making verifiable threats to peaceful protesters. The cops shut down the peaceful protesters by relying on fear and the implied threat that the cops would not be there to protect them.**

I was not at the Pikeville Rally. In the end, I decided it was more important to be here with my family and the community of folks I work with in homeless outreach.

But that shouldn't confuse anyone into believing that I've gone anywhere, or that I'm backing down. It's true, I've been a little quiet of late.

That's over now.
*Note: the Puritans did escape England to pursue their own religious ideals, but they were not then, now, or ever, martyrs for religious freedom. These are the ones who burned women for witches, remember?
** This, too, is nothing new. See Also: The Kent State Massacre, The Cripple Creek Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre, The Haymarket Affair, the murder of Joe Hill by the state of Utah, and The New Testament. 

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28 March, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 7: tread bare and fancy free

Anger cannot be dishonest. - Marcus Aurelius

My truck has been at the garage for a few weeks now.  I had it towed to a place nearby -- not my first choice of mechanics, but the place I like to take the truck was too busy to look at it soon, and I needed it soon -- because one of three things is wrong with it. If it's the more costly of the three things and it needs a new fuel pump, taking it somewhere with a lift seemed like a good idea. Now, I'm not a mechanic. I know enough about cars to be able to figure out what the problem most likely is, and I can do simple maintenance -- plugs, tires, oil, battery. But it's been a few weeks and one of the reasons I sent it to where I did was because I wanted it looked at quickly.

Well, my initial calls there were not promising. The voice on the other end of the phone told me they needed to order another diagnostic scanner. The truck is a 1995 Dodge Ram. That's not old, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, it has power windows and power locks. One of th e things I like about it is that the engine is sufficiently more engine than computer parts, so I understand how it works a little better. I also like that it's a big truck -- big back when they made vehicles to be repaired and kept, not tossed away in a few years.

I also like that it has a metal bumper. They don't use metal in bumpers much anymore, even in pick-up trucks. Lots of plastic and foamy fill.

Now, the truck had been sitting for about a month and half. It stopped turning over shortly after the first of the year. Since I started out 2017 self-employed and we live on a bus line, getting it fixed got bumped down on the list in preference to other things. But I decided to start substitute teaching in the public school system here, just a few days a week, to help bridge the gap between now and summer and while I built up my freelance client base.

Well, I ended up starting to sub before my truck was fixed. This is an issue as the county is a big one and getting to most of them on public transit is complicated at best. It's hard to accept positions when I can't just pick up and go when they call -- and they have a tendency to call at the last minute, like an hour into the day they're call me about. And yes, I can pick through some of the sub offerings on the website, but I'm more or less limited by geography. I've been trying to stick to the schools in my neighborhood or on a reasonable bus ride. It's not easy.

Well, on Sunday after Amanda and I  helped with homeless outreach, I decided to swing by and get a few things out of my truck. When we got to it, the cab was unlocked the middle console had been rifled through, and my papers were strewn everywhere. I had a tarp folded up under the seat that was pulled out. The truck had been rifled through, probably because someone at the garage left it unlocked.

Now, because it's an older truck, it's also got an older radio. It still has the factory radio, as a matter
fact. And, what's worse for any would be opportunist thief, it plays CASSETTES.* My socket wrench set was missing. It's not especially valuable, money-wise, but still.

Amanda thought I should have called the cops, but cops in Division 4 are useless unless it involves a drug bust** or there's a dead body, or they're just bored  and out to profile people because they look suspicious.

It being Sunday evening, there was no one there. And of course, the phone doesn't have an answering machine. When I talked to the manager on Monday, he told me his assistant manager quit while he, the manager, was on vacation. The scanner had not been ordered.

So, I'm still waiting. It doesn't change the fact that substitute teaching is an even bigger pain in the ass because I either take the metro or I inconvenience my wife. And, then there's my absent socket set. I'm not fool enough to think the garage will take any responsibility, and I know they are not technically legally liable.

But that doesn't change the fact that I'd just love to run into that jerk at the bar. I was so pissed that night we went for drinks during the UK/UNC game and I cheered for UNC just to maybe get the chance to hit somebody. As we were sitting at the bar, surrounded by rabid UK fans***, I told Amanda that I wanted yell out that I really thought Christian Laettner was nice guy.

"No," she said. "Stand up and say Christian Laettner was your lover."

I didn't. But it's nice to know that my wife understands me.

There's no great lesson here. I really just want my truck back. If for no other reason than that I stretch out and drive along SR 42, up and down the river.
*Suck it, ye who want to pawn my shit!
**  Please save me your "I know one good cop" anecdotes. Also, I saw the PR picture of the cop giving that homeless lady new shoes. I get it. Doesn't change the fact that Division 4 LMPD is more interested in asset forfeiture than they are in serving the public. And you can quote me.
***There's no other kind. They set couches on fire when they win. They set couches on fire when they lose. Basically, they're opposed to furniture.
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30 June, 2014

Politics and Preponderant Rumination Along the Dirty, Sacred River

The week before last I had the opportunity to go to a community meeting for the neighborhood I live in. The topic of the meeting was crime. There's been a rash lately... though it seems there's always a rash of opportunistic crime that somehow, according to someone, is indicative of the downfall of society.

Never mind, of course, that the economy is down, the heat index is increasing, and there's a serious lack of anything for kids to do in the south end that doesn't require cash. The problem, according to one... "enlightened" neighbor I will call "Bill" is that this roaming band of evil-doers are "Nigerians and Hispanics" and that "they don't care."

This wasn't the only ugly rearing of that "Blame The Other" argument, though. Lucky, too, that there's plenty of blame to go around.

The real purpose of the community meeting, was, of course, for District 21 Metro Council Representative Dan Johnson to try and look like he's actually doing something other than 1) blatantly ignoring his constituents and 2) using taxpayer money -- some of which is money that could be directly benefiting the 21st District --  to employ a bigot whose only claim to anything is that he was elected to the unnecessary post of Jefferson County Judge Executive. 

Division 4 Top Cop
After he failed to redirect the meeting into a sleeper of a political rally, the floor was turned over to one Major Kim Kraeszig, head cop at LMPD's 4th Division. According to her, the key to community involvement is that we lock our doors and stay vigilant. We're supposed to know who our neighbors are. We're supposed to leery of people wandering the neighborhood we don't know.

In other words: we are on our own.

I didn't have to go to a meeting to hear this. I also didn't have to go a meeting to know that bigots live in my neighborhood.

One of the highlights for me was when I pointed out that no one corrected "Bill." I pointed this out by reiterating and summarizing what I'd heard at the meeting thus far: lock your door, watch your shit, and don't trust Nigerians or Hispanics. Apparently the white kids who break windows and tag everything are just "boys being boys."

I was roundly interrupted by the top cop, who was disturbed that I could even draw that from what was said.  I wasn't the only one who heard the blatant bigotry and xenophobia*. I certainly wasn't the only one who was offended by it. But Amanda and I seemed to be the only ones who took any real exception to it... well, us, and in intern from the Americana Community Center. We spoke to her after the meeting and she said she was bothered by the absence of programming available.

A not very recent picture of Dan.
Ol, Dan Johnson... our elected representative... only pointed out that
The "Judge"
these kids need jobs, like one of the many available at the newly reopened Kentucky Kingdom. The word around the water well is that he's using budget money from a line item meant to go for neighborhood improvements to give his errand boy, Judge-Executive (cough) Bryan Matthews an undeserved salary for reminding the councilman to turn off his cell phone ringer during council meetings and for making him stop engaging in flame wars on Facebook like a 12 year old. I guess that's worth $50 grand a year... which is a full  $5 grand more than he paid his previous assistant, who happened to be a woman.**

Later in the meeting, which ended up being an opportunity for people to recount the list of crimes they have either been victim of or have seen or have heard about while shopping at the Pic n Pac, someone asked about what the coppers were going to do about the panhandlers.

This part of the meeting has been sticking in my craw a bit, dear readers.

Never mind that panhandling is listed among the various offenses committed under the watchful eye of Division 4: drug dealing, property tagging, theft, home invasion, and generally not being white. Never mind that there was no distinction drawn between aggressive panhandling... which is a form of assault and intimidation that should NEVER be accepted... and regular panhandling. Never mind that the top cop explained her feelings on panhandlers by describing one encounter she had while not in uniform during which she bought a panhandler a bucket of  KFC. This panhandler in particular was holding a sign that read  WILL WORK FOR FOOD. She drove by, went and bought the chicken, and took it back... only to have the unrepentant bum throw the bucket on the ground.

Her conclusion: clearly he was only interested in money. I do wonder, though, if she'd thought offering to feed him if he did a little yard work.

When people refuse public assistance or unemployment because they are too proud, it's generally lauded as a good thing by those who have no milk of human kindness. When a bum rejects KFC that he didn't have to work for, it's clearly because he was only looking for cash.

I was told I read that conversation wrong. I was told, by one pious soul in the neighborhood, that the top cop was only pointing out that some people panhandle "to make a living."

Well, sure some of them do. Some bums put on a badge that lets them bully people. But for some reason, we don't complain about those bums.

I could pray that we don't feel the need to give a select few power and authority over the rest of us for our own good,  I guess.

But I got tired of  pie in the sky a long time ago.

*There is a school of thought that says we ought to forgive folks of a certain age for what is clearly sheer ignorance. This is the Poor Whitey Rule, which also says that as a white man, I ought to mourn for 1952. I do not because 1) I read and 2) I think. So, screw poor whitey in his homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted gloryhole.
** This story is playing out in the local media. Look it up. It's a hoot. It will restore your faith in dictatorships.