Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The McKinney Pool Incident: Profiling

With the recent events in McKinney, Texas of police brutality at a pool party, it's time we as a nation consider the larger issue.  The issue is not that of racism as popular media would have everyone believe - although, admittedly that may play a role, but the issue on a larger scale is that of profiling.  Now, before you jump on me saying that the McKinney Pool Party was racial at the core, read the rest of this article.  Profiling comes in many forms and racism is just one small, ugly part of it.

Profiling at it's basic core means to analyze something, or someone's capabilities.  In the case of police profiling it's to determine, through analysis, if that someone poses a threat to society, himself or herself, or to the officer as defined within the law.  Profiling can be based on the type of car driven, the clothing, skin color, tattoos, piercings, and even status in life.  Keep in mind, of the many types of potential profiling that can occur, only one of them has to do with race and that is skin color.

To prove a point, I'm going to point out some key examples where I have been a victim of police profiling or have witnessed it.  Despite my various heritage from Cherokee and other nationalities, the fact is most people seeing me would consider me to be Caucasian.  So keep in mind that I'm for all intense purposes a Caucasian in each of these events.

Russellville, Arkansas - Several years ago I went with a group of friends to the basketball courts near the Arkansas River late at night.  When the night was over, six of us got into a Ford LTD (big older car even for this time) and started back to our school (Arkansas Tech University).  Another friend was in his own car.  Going down Highway 7 we played around as young people sometimes do as if we were racing - keep in mind, our friend was driving a Volkswagen Rabbit that in our college days likely ran on two cylinders at best.  While we were in the wrong, we were not exactly blowing the speed limits away or shooting up the town.  When blue lights came on, we immediately pulled to the side of the road where we came face-to-face with one of Russellville's Caucasian Police officers.  After a brief exchange between our driver and the officer, our driver was asked for his registration papers.  He responded, "Yes sir, they are in the glove compartment.  Can I get them."  The officer who had been very rude up to this point, just about yelling at the driver, responded, "That had better be the only thing you get out of there!"  He then placed his hand on his gun and unholstered it.  Naturally somewhat nervous my friend reached to the glove box and handed the papers to the officer.  I'm sure he was glad that nothing else fell out to distract or perhaps alarm the officer.   Despite filing a compliant later, nothing was done to our knowledge with the officer.  He had apparently used profiling to see a car with six people, racing with another car, pulled over the car, saw young people in the car late at night and decided based on profiling that we were a potential threat to someone.  In the car was myself, three girls from our school, a former United States Marine, and the driver- an appointed Constable for his hometown area, an honor student, and a member of the ROTC program (consequently today he is a Lt. Colonel in the United States Army).  Everyone in the car would be considered Caucasian and we had a Caucasian officer.  We were obviously profiled as being "bad news" or "trouble".

Texarkana, Arkansas - years later I would be driving with my children when a light would turn yellow as I went through it.  I felt strongly that the light was yellow, but apparently the police officer who pulled me over did not.  He indicated to me that I had driven through a red light.  When I responded that I thought it was yellow, he stated, "Now we can do this the easy way.  My way.  Or we can do this the hard way.  Was the light red?"  Naturally, with my children in the car, my mind flashed back to another officer who had unholstered his gun just because we wanted to get what he asked us to give to him.   I decided we would do it the easy way.  I responded, "Well, I must have been mistaken.  It must have been red."  I did not get a ticket, only a warning, but felt very threatened.  In this case apparently the officer, using a profiling method, decided that I was going to be trouble based on the fact that I did not agree with his assessment and that he had to "put me in my place."

A couple of years ago I bought a black Volvo.  I travel a lot down Highway 59 in Texas and it's known for having drug runners.  For several months I drove the car with no problems.  After I got the windows tinted dark, I was pulled over on average three to four times between Houston and Texarkana each trip I took.   I was given excuses like, "You appeared to pass the truck very close.  Have you been drinking?" and "I noticed your tire is low.  You can come back here and look at it."  Finally, after about the eight time of being stopped I had the following conversation with a nice county officers:  I said, "Wow, I used to never get pulled over for anything.  After I got these windows tinted I seem to get pulled over all the time."  His response was, "I bet you do."  Again, I had done nothing wrong other than make my car appear to be what they assumed a drug dealer might drive-needless to say I'm a little hesitant still to get the windows on my new Toyota Camry tinted.

While the examples above involve me, I have also seen people with tattoos being profiled and singled out.  I have friends who ride motorcycles who have been pulled over for no apparent reason.  I know young people wearing their pants low, both Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American, who have been stopped and questioned.  I've seen homeless people walking down the street being questioned by police simply because of the way they look or the time they are out at night.

Based on everything I have read regarding the McKinney Pool Party-especially the last sentence of this article where a young Caucasian kid sees his African-American friends being singled out and nothing is said to him at this pool party (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/us/mckinney-tex-pool-party-dispute-leads-to-police-officer-suspension.html) profiling is occurring based on skin color in this situation.  However, we do not need to think this is an exclusive area for profiling.   Profiling is still based on many factors - cars, clothing, status in life, tattoos, mental abilities, and yes also skin color as pointed out.

When any officer takes action against someone simply based on any form of profiling we should all be alarmed.  When I watched the video from McKinney, Texas I saw something very disturbing.  I saw a young girl sitting on the ground asking the officer for her mother before being flung around and forced face down.  She had no weapon, she was not fighting back, and in fact she seemed afraid.  Witness statements seem to confirm that profiling in this case was based on race (remember, the Caucasian kid was overlooked).  Even if this young lady had a bad attitude before, she certainly did not have that attitude before and as she was forced to the ground.

Many people will feel like the events at McKinney do not concern them.  They will draw this conclusion because they are Caucasian, Hispanic, Japanese, Chinese, American Indian, or some other nationality.  They will feel like the assemblies and protest do not concern them.  I have never been profiled, to my knowledge, for my race.  I have, as exampled above, been profiled for other issues.  If we stand by allow The McKinney Pool Party to go by without our support and protest regardless of race, then how long before we are profiled for a Tattoo, a car, clothing, or even our own race?  If we allow this to go unanswered, the the foundation of the Bill of Rights which was completely thrown out by this officer regarding this young lady for the First (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances)-she was unable to speak in her request for her mother and forced to the ground for doing sofourth (The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized)-she was unable to be secure at a party where she was invited and in fact those hired and paid to ensure her security violated that securityand Eight (Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.)-this officer threw her to the ground face first when there was no resistance and this qualifies as punishment inflicted parts will soon come back to haunt everyone through profiling.  No, we cannot allow this to go unanswered and regardless of your heritage you must reach across and support those affected.  If you do not, then someday it will come to your door as you are profiled for some reason and your rights are also thrown out by one individual or perhaps a group of individuals.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Old Glory and Racism

A group of college professors and students have signed a petition to remove the American Flag from their campus because it represents racism (Fox News).  As I read that first line on a news feed I was shocked at first, and then I read the article and I was angry.  We live in a country where people seem to have forgotten a lot about that American Flag, or Old Glory as some call her.

First off, I will admit the flag has been flown in some situations that are outright racist.  It was flown against Native Americans when our army slaughtered many of them for no reason other than to take their land, it was flown for many years over our country when we approved slavery, and it has been flown by some men and women at events meant to be racist in their very nature.  But, the choices of those individuals do not represent the whole of what this flag has represented and what it continues to represent.

1.  It represents a nation whose army marched into Little Rock, Arkansas to force segregation and protect school children trying attend public school.

2.  It represents a nation that wrote the Civil Rights laws and has upheld them since the 1960s in federal courts.

3.  It represents a nation where tax dollars are used for higher education (like that at the University of California) to pay for those regardless of ethnic backgrounds who can not afford to pay.

4.  It represents a nation that ripped across Europe against the Nazi powers to stop oppression and destruction of those viewed as not Aryan.

5.  It represents a nation that admitted the first African-American soldiers into the United States Army.

6.  It represents and flew for freedom after the historic proclamation freeing all slaves in America and then carried the blood of those supporters.

Yes, I was angry when I read the article, I was offended, and I was outright upset.  Take away the protections that the American Flag has stood for, and those same professors might find themselves without a job and perhaps without many of the freedoms they currently enjoy.  Yes, our flag has been misused, but a symbol of racism?  I dare think that if the men below were still alive today, those professors would not be nearly so bold:

Recruiting poster: http://civil-war-info.weebly.com/uploads/6/1/6/2/6162303/1300825024.jpg

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Why I'm Giving Up on the Save Dallas Campaign

I'm giving up on the "Save Dallas" Campaign that is targeting networks in an attempt to gain a season 4 for the series.  As most people know, Dallas was cancelled by TNT back in October.  It was crappy the way they did it, but it was done nonetheless.  TNT had put out a poll asking viewers what they wanted to see in season 4, they ended season 3 on a cliffhanger - several actually- and they had a cast and crew working in the Dallas (you know, the city) area.  After all that, "Boom", they dropped the bomb and said Dallas was cancelled and would not be renewed. 

Most of the time when television series are ended, people get upset, but they go on with life.  You have a few people who will write the network and complain, but for the most part people go on about life.  This didn't happen when Dallas ended.  A petition went up, Facebook post started, and famous hastags (#SaveDallas, #SaveDallasTNT, or even #SaveDallas2015) started going all over Tweeter and other sites.  Heck, I wrote two articles about the drive and saw a huge spike in readers (thank you by the way!).  Then NetFlix got seasons 1-3.  There were rumors that they, NetFlix, might pick up the show in January and run it as a web based television show....now there was a historic opportunity that I thought they would take.  I really thought that NetFlix would realize that they could get more viewers and be one of the first streaming networks to take a popular show from network television and put it on demand.  I thought they will take a show that has been popular on two networks (CBS and TNT), transform major actors and actresses into streaming television, and move a major nighttime soap (or as TNT put it "Drama") into the world of the Internet streaming shows.....Apparently they didn't take the opportunity to make history.

While Netflix didn't take the opportunity, nobody else did either.  We have now gone since October 2014 without one positive word on a season 4.  Five months of no word is simply not good.  It now is becoming apparent to me that we will not season 4 anytime.  Sadly, I feel like it's time we hang up the "Save Dallas" campaign and move on.  A lot of my friends will disagree, and I'm glad because in truth, I'd still like to see season 4.  Maybe the Netflix folks will read my little blog and say, "Hey, this guy is right...we could make history!"  There's always a chance.  But in truth, I'm skeptical.  I really figure we'll never see a reunion show, or another series again.  If you're wondering why I'm skeptical, here's a list:
1.  We only had 3 seasons of Dallas before TNT dropped the bomb.  Not a good run to promote a reunion or even television movie.
2.  J.R. is dead.  Think about all the reunion movies...they were all centered around J.R. doing something.  He's gone, it's over, and what are they going to do now?  We did not have long enough for John Ross or any of the new characters to truly develop potential and the old characters aren't getting any younger (sorry guys).  
3.  It's been five months.  The longer it goes, the less likely the chances of salvation for the show.
4.  Face it, a quick read on Tweeter and search and you'll find a lot of the hastags are starting to disappear.  That's right, people aren't posting as much.
5.  The Save Dallas Campaign only has a little over 89,000 signatures.  In the TV world, that's not a lot (Save Dallas)
6.  The producers, who know TV way better than most of us, gave up back in November (Gave Up)

Now, all this being said and before I'm bashed for giving up, I'd like everyone to keep in mind J.R. would have always wanted TNT to think they won..... (Dallas Quotes)

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Walking Dead Presents the Good and Evil Choice at Death

The Walking Dead pulls no punches when it comes to killing off our favorite characters and Sunday night was no different.  This time we said goodbye to Tyreese.  However, unlike our former characters who have died, we were given a glimpse of what Tyreese hallucinated, saw, thought he saw, or perhaps he actually had a vision of those in the afterlife.  The entire death scene presented the major possibility that Tyreese was actually being pulled two different directions.  Good and evil was bidding for him to join their way of thinking during his last minutes alive.

Now set aside all theology and all thoughts of various religions as we believe them to be and remember those old cartoons.  Remember when the good angel would sit on one shoulder and the bad angel would sit on the other should and encourage the person in the middle?  It was the ultimate wrestle of the conscience and usually one or the other won out depending on the comic needs of the show.  Sunday night was no different.  We have Beth, Bob, Miki and Lizzie acting as the "good" side trying to encourage Tyreese by telling him "It's better now."  We have to assume that they are trying to help Tyreese to the other side.  It was interesting to note that Hershel was nowhere to be seen.  Maybe he had some other stuff to do....you know, being all closer to God than most characters who have died seemed to be.  Anyway, on the other side we have Martin and the Governor trying to pull rage, anger and even admitting that he owes the Governor something out of Tyreese.  It's as if they want him to be angry and join them.  

The pivotal moment comes when Tyreese tells the Governor off.  You can almost imagine that he's telling the Devil himself to get away.  Once that is done we are given some glimpse of other scenes before we find Tyreese seeing all his "good" friends again in the Suburban.

Tyreese is dying at this point.  After all, most of us in Twitter land had already noted that he was looking a "little green" there.  While Rick and company try to drive to the others and save Tyreese - not sure why they didn't maybe decide to make a fire where they were and save him, but hey, that's TV for you.  Anyway, everyone in the Suburban turns into someone dead from Tyreese's past.  He doesn't ever see some of the people he knew- which besides wondering about Hershel also leaves us wondering about Karen - but Miki, Lizzie, Bob and Beth all encourage him as they ride along that things are going to be okay.  There's a moment when everyone watching has to stop and think, "Wow, Beth get your eyes back on the road or we're all going to get killed," but I guess when you're riding that final ride to Heaven, you don't need to see the road to get there.

So, once again the Walking Dead has found a way to bring some former characters back.  Rick had to spend some time with his dead wife and hear other lost characters on the phone, and now Tyreese has allowed us to see some favorites one more time.  I'm left thinking a couple of things.  First, the "Bring Beth Back" campaign must have done some good since "Whoop, there she was!" and two the writers must want us to believe in the afterlife and that good and evil continue to struggle....besides, did Tyreese ever see the Governor with a hole in his head?  I thought this was done after everyone left the prison, but sure enough you can see the hole and blood right there on the left side of the Governor's head.  Since Tyreese couldn't have known that, maybe it's a hint that these good and evil people do come back to carry the dying across to that great unknown.  Whatever the case may be, we can gain comfort knowing that Tyreese chose the right side and rode off into the sunset with Bob, Beth, Miki and....oh yeah, one crazy little Lizze who must have been healed of her mental issues once she passed over to the other side as a member of the "Hole in the head" club.