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.

05 January, 2011

The Copper's Report

I was drinking in a town I'd never heard of in a bar that I wasn't familiar with when I overheard a group of men talking down bar from where I was seated mulling over my scotch and trying to catch some warmth. My purpose for being in an unfamiliar place? Story hunting. I was writing an article for a travel magazine of miniscule circulation about antique shopping in down state Illinois – down state meaning every place that isn't Chicago, for those not familiar with the gravitational truths of living in the Land of Lincoln. If you're not in Chicago, you're not anywhere, and never did that truth present itself more than when I sat in that bar, in town whose name I didn't bother to read on the sign, in a bar whose name I didn't bother to notice. The town was one of the more significantly sized towns I'd been through, a little southeast of my final destination, North Eustacia – known for it's antique shops, pleasant small town folk, and as the once world capital of hickory smoked lard. (That particular title still stands, though I understand that the town no longer uses it as a bragging point or in any of it's tourist literature.)

“Tell us about it again, Jasper.” So said one of the men, an older, grizzly humpty-dumpty shaped individual wearing engineer's bib overalls (and matching cap) that were near worn out in the ass over top a bright red flannel shirt that was crusted with the remainders of several long forgotten meals. “Tommy here hasn't heard the story.”

Tommy was apparently the much younger man in the group. Given his looks and general disposition, he was clearly related to Humpty; I would venture to call Tommy the man's son, but I couldn't help but wonder what happened to the poor woman who was undoubtedly too drunk to know better than to spread her legs or blind, deaf and dumb as to her lover's true nature. The resemblance was undeniable, though. From the size of his gut, though, Humpty could have birthed a slightly smaller version of Tommy and still made it to the bar on time.

Jasper was also a younger man, though clearly no direct relation to Humpty or Tommy. Jasper Cullen, as I later found out was his full name, was a part-time Police Deputy. His head was square the way most cops' heads are square … probably just the choice of hair cut … but his shoulders were narrow and he had a slight hump in his back. At first I thought maybe Jasper had had too much to drink; I soon realized, however, that the slight slur and the way he sometimes ran his words together had nothing to do with booze. It would be unfair – or at least, politically incorrect – to call Jasper Cullen the town idiot. It would be fair to say that his mother held the record for the most drinks consumed in a single evening, a distinction she achieved during the fourth month of her pregnancy. And if that didn't explain the pointed head and wide sloping forehead attached to entirely too small a face and nonexistent chin, the fact that he was birthed in womens' underwear section at JC Penny's 30 miles away might. At the time of her son's birth, the woman claimed to not only be unaware of her pregnancy, she also claimed emphatically that she was virgin; she had also “forgotten” about several panty and bra sets she had stuffed into her purse to purchase.

Either because of his parentage, or in spite of it, the men in town had always taken care of him; as I was to discover later, the women all took this personally, since any one of their husbands or fathers could have been the divine instigator. As such, when he wanted to become a cop after watching a three day television marathon of TJ Hooker reruns, it was generally agreed upon to let him hang around the police station; and maybe because the mayor at the time was high on the list of people who might actually be the other half of Jasper's genetic soup, it was agreed upon that Jasper could be a part-time deputy. It was a more or less harmless position: one that garnered more respect than dog catcher and put him in far less danger of being hurt.

Jasper smiled and laughed a slurry laugh. He seemed almost embarrassed. But after some more encouragement, he took a drink of his Shirley Temple and started in.

A call had come in while he was sweeping up the gun room and preparing to empty the trash cans. A teenage girl – someone everyone knew, but did not to mention specifically by name – called the station, crying. Her mother – someone all the men in town were well acquainted with – had locked herself in her bedroom and would not come out. Jasper told her he needed to call someone else... though why the girl didn't think to dial 911 was beyond Jasper... and that he would send them as soon as possible. But the girl was hysterical. Something was wrong; it wasn't unusual for her mother to be nodding out on the couch half drunk and wacked out on her prescribed pain killers in the mid-afternoon when her daughter came home from school. But it was very odd that she locked herself in her bedroom and refused to answer the repeated yelling and banging on the door. The daughter told Jasper that she had pushed something in front of the door and she couldn't open it at all.

Jasper tried telling her again that he would call someone; the chief was out of town on at policeman's conference and the other deputy was on vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Jasper, as a general rule, didn't go out on calls; he had a driver's license, and was cleared to drive a squad car, and to even carry a gun – though it generally didn't have bullets in it and the chief let him wear the holster to make him feel more like part of the department. But it was generally understood that Jasper himself didn't answer calls; and if any came in... mostly they didn't because anymore people dialed 911... he would call someone more appropriate. But the girl, who at that point was so hysterical that Jasper could hardly understand what she was saying, begged him. Please, she cried. Please come save my Mommy.

At this point in the story, while he was imitating the girl's voice, the men at the bar all guffawed.

Well, whether the young girl's crying pulled on his heart or whether he imaged what TJ Hooker would do in that situation was unclear; but it was at that point that Jasper … who himself had a mother he loved dearly … dropped his broom and told the girl he was on his way. He took the keys for the squad car – it was actually the K9 vehicle, but the dog had recently died from Parvo and had not been replaced – got in, started it up, turned on the siren (something he said he had always wanted to do) and went at high speed to the girl's house. He arrived in less than 2 ½ minutes and found the girl standing in the yard, crying and pacing. She had been crying so much that her eyes were near swelled shut.

Jasper said he didn't know a girl could cry that much.

She led him to the bedroom in the back of the small house. Jasper found that the door was, indeed blocked as the girl had told him. He drew his unloaded fire arm and announced himself as he had heard it so many times on television. “THIS IS TH' PO-LICE! OPEN UP!” Of course, there was no answer. Jasper tried pushing on the door. It was a little open, enough that Jasper could see the bed. There was no one on the bed. He pushed on the door a little harder, but it was blocked by something. He pushed a little harder, but the door seemed to push back. Then he put his shoulder into it and it seemed to give a little more. But not enough to get into the room.

Either out of desperation or frustration, the girl – who had just turned 16 – helped him on the next attempt. At this point in his story, Jasper got a little dreamy eyed and started to stutter a little. The girl, apparently, was very pretty and had a nice shape and was pushed right up against him – which was probably as close to someone of the opposite sex as he had ever gotten. Humpty asked him how it felt to have a pair of nice young tits pushed up against him and what she smelled like.

Jasper smiled, shifted uncomfortably on his stool, turned a little red in the face, and took another drink from his Shirley Temple to finish his story.

The door finally gave way enough for Jasper to get inside; before he did, though, he turned to the girl, making sure to look her in the face and not in her heaving jail bait breasts, and told her to go call the fire department. He told her to dial 911. And then, after taking a deep breath, Jasper, fire arm pulled, announced himself again, and pushed his way into the room. The bed was indeed empty,but it had been laid on recently. There were two empty fifths of rum, and a pile of little blue pills on the night stand. There was a funny smell and a muffled buzzing sound; but upon first glance, the room appeared empty. Jasper heard the fire truck sirens coming, and he was unsure of what to tell them when they arrived; he didn't want to look like fool for calling them out for an locked and empty room. And then he thought of the door, and how it was blocked and how there was no furniture in the middle of the room. Then he turned around.

The woman herself had been blocking the door; not a small woman, she had fallen and blocked the door, presumably after drinking too much and taking too many of her prescription pain killers. And there she was, jammed between the door and the wall. She was naked with a self-massager, the kind you can buy in most drug stores, stuck up in her. Her head was bleeding – probably from being banged when Jasper and the woman's daughter pushed the door open.

When the emergency crew arrived, they walked into find Jasper staring at the woman's naked body, his fire arm drawn. After they finally turned off the massager and removed it – the EMTs drew straws and the short straw lost – they attempted CPR. But it was no use.

At first, it was supposed that the head trauma had killed her; it was later discovered that she had been dead before she hit the floor. Apparently, the woman suffered from depression and chronic pain, and had decided to end her own life; but sometime between downing the pills with rum – her drink of choice – and dying, she decided that she wanted to go out smiling, which explained the clearly unorthodox use of the massager. At that point, the coroner could only theorize, and he supposed that maybe after achieving a mechanical climax, the poor woman decided she had something to live for after all, and she left the bed in an attempt to call for help; but, sadly, it had been too late.

“So what did you think, Jasper?” Humpty asked with a smile that showed all five of his teeth. “You ever see a woman like that before? Huh?” The men laughed and guffawed and shook their heads. They all knew the woman, each in their turn. And while she would not be missed, her death was considered a tragic inconvenience.

“So what DID you think, Jasper?” Tommy spoke up. Everyone had supposed – correctly – that the closest he had ever come to a naked woman was in a late night movie or one of those magazines they sell behind the counter at the corner gas station. Jasper took a drink of his Shirley Temple and smiled, his eyes wide and empty.

His pronouncement was met with laughter and fresh drinks all around. “Big titties,” he said.