Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ricky Burgess and Rachel Maddow on Homewood, Gun Violence and the NRA's Influence.

You have to admit, this is something you just don't see every day:

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Makes me think of this:

Police Chief Nate Harper yesterday asked for the public's patience as the city's Office of Municipal Investigations investigates, while members of the city's Fraternal Order of Police praised Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak as the city's most effective at getting guns off the streets. (P-G, Gurman and Lord, 1/27/10)

Police leaders honored Officers Michael Saldutte, Richard Ewing and David Sisak with eight citations for their work in 2009, including rescuing trapped motorists from a June flood, taking illegal guns off the street and helping to identify a man who was snatching purses from elderly women in Bloomfield. (Trib, Jill King Greenwood, 3/20/10)

The trio were patrolling in what police call a "99 car," assigned to aggressively rid the city's rough spots of drugs and guns. In that capacity, they were known as some of the police bureau's most skilled officers, leading the bureau in firearms arrests. (P-G, Sadie Gurman)

So we have a torrent of unregistered firearms making their way into some poor and neglected communities due in large measure to our refusal to enact any sort of policies to counteract the illegal deadly weapons trade -- quick and easy violence ensues for about a generation, increasingly being the surest perceived path to respect for many -- a terrified populace sends specially trained officers into these neighborhoods with orders to "aggressively" get the guns off the streets, ranking and rewarding them for how many they can collect annually -- I guess I can only say that I hope the Police Department doesn't somehow wind up selling these collected guns at gun shows after they're done with them as evidence? This is what I meant in the last post by suggesting it's possible these three officers can't intelligibly be tried as criminals by The People, their own co-conspirators -- though the absence of any findings of misconduct whatsoever would be a little hard to understand. There's almost assuredly a bit of wounded pride and fearful litigiousness clouding matters right now.

For the record, I watched the above clips with Comet Senior Political Analyst Morton Reichbaum, and his only critique of the discussion was, "How could they have talked about guns and killings for that long and not talked about drugs?"


  1. All too typical...May 8, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Two points:
    1, there are no such thing as unregistered firearms, since we have no gun registration in PA. There are plenty of policies (i.e. criminal statutes) that deal with the exchange of firearms, at both the federal and state level (not to mention the silly ordinance passed by City Council). There are also state and federal statutes that prohibit certain individuals from possessing a firearm (those with prior convictions for certain felonies, etc). There are also statutes prohibiting the carrying of a concealed handgun, provided one does not have a license to carry (and to get a license, you must be 21 and have a clean record). But the guns themselves are not the subject of those statues - the people are the targets.

    2, as for granting laurels to the Jordan Miles 3, basically the job of officers in a "99 car" is to go to certain high crime areas (all of which are in black neighborhoods), jump out on groups of individuals they think might have guns (i.e. nearly every black male between 15 and 30) and search them - very aggresively, nearly always at gun point.

    If they find guns or drugs, they arrest the guy - and then invent probable cause out of thin air after the fact while typing up their report. If they don't find anything, the guy is sent on his way, grumbling about the po po harrassing him for no good reason.

    Occaisionally, one of the people to be searched runs away, and is given a beat down for their trouble. This is certainly dangerous work for these officers, because people (criminals or not) generally don't take kindly to being stopped and searched just for walking down the street. But I wouldn't exactly call it detective work, because that would imply they were using investigative techniques BEFORE arresting people - these 99 car crews arrest people first, then charge them only if they find evidence.

    This is what Mayor Nutter, the darling of the so called "Progressives" wants to expand in Philadelphia. What happened to Jordan Miles, and what happens to dozens of black males that do not end up in the paper (including many who are not charged with a crime, but suffered from having a few plain clothes cops jump out of nowhere and point a gun to their face), is the predictable side effect of such an "aggresive" policy. You want gun control? This is it... this is what it looks like, Jordan Miles swollen, tree punctured face. Get use to it.

    [And by the way, unless a gun is concealed, or unless you've been convicted of certain felonies, having a gun is perfectly legal in this state. And if I lived in one of those neighborhoods, you bet your ass I'd have a gun too - we don't send cops into those places unarmed, do we? ]

    Listen to your Senior Analyst, Morty - the problem is drugs. The problem is that drugs are illegal. The problem is that the money to be made selling drugs goes to the most ruthless and violent, not the people with the best business plan and advertizing campaign. Until you address that, be prepared for more Jordan Miles - and all the other nameless guys who aren't violin player at CAPA, thus no one cares if the cops beat their asses.

  2. If they legalized pot, they could require it to be sold in the state stores. Then, they could let people buy wine in a regular grocery store like people do in civilized states and Ohio. Less money for prisons, easier to get wine, and the state store workers get to keep their jobs. Everybody wins.

  3. I should hasten to point out that drugs were discussed -- for a heartbeat. "They're not killing over drugs," asserted the Rev, "they're killing over rep[utation], over girls, over territory, turf; silly shootings." We should recognize that ending Prohibition wouldn't serve as a panacea; but it could be one serviceable leg of a stool. The resources it would free up alone...

    Meanwhile -- yes, common sense gun regulation. The kind that mainly just enables authorities to map criminal networks, issue appropriate warrants and elicit information for starters. Something so we can do better than cast around in the dark.

  4. It is very much not obvious to me what types of regulation might accomplish that. I can see some room for improvement mostly by making it so that more people have to be involved, thus probably bringing more chance of detection, but I don't see how you could change much.

  5. Occasionally, one of the people to be searched runs away, and is given a beat down for their trouble.

    Why would they run if all they were doing is *walking to their grandmothers house* at 11:30pm?

  6. Come on. Who hasn't run from the cops at least once? The stakes for getting grabbed were just lower when I did it.

  7. I mean, I was doing something illegal when I ran from the cops, but not anything that would have gotten more than a citation.

  8. What makes this case difficult: I apologize in advance for making any assumptions.
    Jordan Miles, a young artistic black male, living in a neighborhood where you would have to look over your shoulder on a good day. He is walking home, at dark, the time in this case is irrelevant, and 3 males come after him, he runs. Why in the world should I believe they are cops? Where is the police car with flashing lights while they identify themselves? I would run too. If they were white males, in a predominantly black neighborhood and I was a smaller size black male, I would run faster.
    Second: These police officers were performing aggressive, dangerous work. They were, by all accounts, finding success removing guns from the neighborhood.
    Drugs have been involved in these neighborhoods for quite some time. Violence, gun violence, has escalated again in these same neighborhoods and now many others, since we have lived through the hey dey of the gangs from the late 80's early 90's.
    This case was a clash of the perceived culture and violent and negative current history of a neighborhood, meeting with a beautiful flower that had risen from that neighborhood.

    Were the police wrong in this particular instance? I think most of us have our own opinions on that however, we have asked them (police) to achieve results in a haystack where flowers like needles in this haystack are often difficult to find.

  9. Re: flowers

    BS knows how to find them.

    I don't see how a person can question the accountability of the police while they turn a blind eye to the accountability of the community.

  10. I don't see how a person can question the accountability of the police while they turn a blind eye to the accountability of the community.

    Amen, brother.

  11. Can't we do both? Walk and chew gum?

  12. There is much to be said about gun violence and the accountability of the community.

    Why is it that virtually everyone in rural Pennsylvania owns guns (plural) and we infrequently hear the stories about gun violence that we constantly hear coming out of Homewood or Knoxville/Beltzhoover?

    This is the most politically incorrect truth but I am going to say it "It's not the NRA -- It's the culture -- stupid!" When you have a culture that doesn't value human life there will be deaths if not from guns than from drug overdoses or other forms of violence.

  13. Anonymous said...

    Why is it that virtually everyone in rural Pennsylvania owns guns (plural) and we infrequently hear the stories about gun violence that we constantly hear coming out of Homewood or Knoxville/Beltzhoover?

    This is a common misconception, propagated by opponents of gun control. Speaking a gun-owning resident of a 5000 person rural PA town, we have our share of gun-related injury and accident. News coverage and all crime in general tend to trend upwards with population density, and inversely with average income.

    I can only speak from personal experience, but I haven't seen any gun legislation being brought forward that threatens my ability to defend myself, blow off steam shooting clays or hunt.

    The slippery slope argument can be applied to just about any issue, and thus is sort of a moot point.

  14. Everyone seems to talk about how good of a student and person Miles is to bolster his side of the story but when the police talk about the exemplary records of the officers involved that information is dismissed as irrelevant. Look no further than that to understand where the bias lies and why this event happened.