November 30, 2009

Women of Farchana Camp (video)

Soulclap to Save Darfur folks for pointing us to the Women of Farchana Camp in Eastern Chad, all of whom fled the violence in Darfur. The Farchana Manifesto was written by displaced Darfuri women and given to a Physician for Human Rights team in June of 2008. These women - who have lost so much due to the conflict in Darfur - demand freedom and equality not only for themselves, but for women all around the world.

I encourage all villagers to read The Farchana Manifesto and share it with your friends and family over this holiday season. We hope that you will read their words and be inspired to make their dream a reality.

November 29, 2009

Sunday Inspirations: A Legend in Your Own Mind

Originally posted: 11/30/2008

"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." -- (Romans 12:3)

Do you want to know one of the secrets of staying in the will of God, of keeping yourself from getting off track? Don't overestimate yourself! Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." How many times have we seen that borne out! How many times do we see believers get into trouble because they get an overblown idea of themselves. They begin to think they're so smart that they have it all figured out. This is a part of the scripture that I wish I paid more attention to over the years. Much of my life has been destroyed because of the false pride that resided in my soul.

Then, the next thing you know, they're thinking they have to straighten everyone else out. Instead of just letting Jesus be Head of the Church, they feel like they have to step in and do the job. Once that happens, it's just a matter of time before they're flat on their faces in failure. Why? Because the Bible says God resists the proud! (1 Pet. 5:5).

Don't put yourself in a position where God has to resist you. Rate your own abilities soberly. Adopt an attitude of humility. Keep a watch on yourself, and when you catch yourself getting puffed up with your own greatness, repent and remember that every good thing you enjoy and every bit of success you've had has come by the grace of God and by His power. Look back on your life and see how many times you could have lost what God had given you. See how many times, when you were floundering around making every mistake imaginable, His tender and precious mercy pulled you through.

Don't become a legend in your own mind. Instead, humble yourself beneath the mighty hand of God, and let God do the exalting--that prevents some very painful falls.

Anything in this post remind you of yourself at some point in your past?

Twilight Zone: Tasers and Sutphin

This blog has been following taser-related deaths over the past year. Here is an oddity that we offer for your consideration.

Sutphin is not a common name. tells us that Sutphin is the Americanized spelling of Dutch van Zutphen, a habitational name for someone from Zutphen in the province of Gelderland.

Anyhow, Sutphin has come up three times in recent taser-related stories:
  1. 19-year old Frank Cleo Sutphin was killed by taser guns in San Bernadino, CA.

  2. Marsha Sutphin was one of five Lee County deputies investigated for firing taser guns while prison inmates were in the area. Two of the deputies have been fired for lying during the investigation.

  3. 43-year old Darryl Bain was killed by taser guns in Coram, NY. The memorial service for Bain was held at David Williams Funeral Home, 108-20 Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens.

I don't know the full significance of this Sutphin-Taser trilogy. I'm open to hearing your interpretation. What say u?

November 28, 2009

Victory: Scholastic Reverses Decision to Exclude Gay Friendly Book from Fairs

Scholastic Books responded to the petition, signed by many villagers, criticizing the company for excluding a book from their popular books fairs simply because one of the characters had two lesbian mothers. Scholastic has reversed their decision to exclude the Lauren Myracle's book, Luv Ya Bunches, and has released a statement affirming the dignity of gay and lesbian parents.

We received the following message from Scholastic Books:

Dear Electronic Villager,

Scholastic has been helping kids learn to love to read for almost 90 years. Scholastic does not censor books. The selection of books we carry in our book clubs and book fairs is the result of a careful review of thousands of titles each year, and we are committed to a review process that considers all books equally regardless of their inclusion of LGBT characters and same sex parents.

Scholastic is already supporting Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle. This book is featured prominently on both the student and teacher covers of our December 2009 Arrow Scholastic Book Clubs catalogs which are already printed and are in schools right now. On October 16 we also recorded a Book Talk Editors' Choice Video which features Luv Ya Bunches.

Scholastic editors recognize Milla's two moms as a positive and realistic aspect of the story. We offer other books with same sex couples and gay and lesbian characters in Book Clubs and Book Fairs including The Name of This Book is Secret and The Misfits, as well as the upcoming After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson, and others. Scholastic provides books that will appeal to the wide range of interests and reading abilities of children in the many diverse cultures and communities we serve. Luv Ya Bunches helps us fulfill our mission to do that.

In an interview with School Library Journal, Scholastic stated that we are currently carrying Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle in our school book clubs. We also said we were still reviewing the book for possible inclusion in our book fairs. Having completed our review of Luv Ya Bunches, Scholastic Book Fairs will carry the title in our spring fairs for middle schools.

Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion. Scholastic is very proud of its long history of helping children learn to love to read. We look forward to continuing to bring the best in children's literature to communities across the country and around the world as Scholastic has done for nearly 90 years.

Kyle Good
Vice President, Scholastic Inc.

Scholastic Books is one of the largest educational publishing outfits in the country, and this sends a clear message to children and parents everywhere that there's absolutely nothing wrong with two men or two women raising a child.

As Lauren Myracle herself said at the height of this controversy, "Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents... It's not an issue to clean up or hide away." That's the message we sent by signing this petition, and Scholastic Books heard us loud and clear.

November 27, 2009

Am I Not Human? Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Soulclap to Jack Healy for reminding us that Human Rights Day is December 10, the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted in Paris, France in 1948.

Human Rights Day 2009 will focus on non-discrimination. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. These first few famous words of the UDHR established 60 years ago the basic premise of international human rights law. Yet today, the fight against discrimination remains a daily struggle for millions around the globe.

Most villagers have never read the UDHR, let alone have a copy or even know about it. We live in a world that rarely allows us to read important documents. As such, it is probably a good thing that UDHR is in animation so that more of us can enjoy it and pass it around.

My hope is that villagers will share this video with others. Help celebrate human rights this year by showing it anywhere and everywhere to commemorate the signing and the importance of the document that can be responsible for making the world a better place.

Roots of Humanity feels that each of us can fight against human rights abuses in the world. We simply need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

November 26, 2009

SCLC President Kyev Tatum Seeks Dignity and Respect in Fort Worth

Villagers are fully aware of the taser-related outrages in Ft. Worth TX that were brought to our attention by the death of 24-year old Michael Jacobs. Pastor Kyev Tatum is the president of the SCLC chapter in Ft. Worth. He shared his thoughts on these matters in the following open letter:

To whom it may concern:

On yesterday I met with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. N. Peewani in what I consider to be a candid conversation on the cause of the taser shock death of mentally challenged Michael Patrick Jacobs, Jr., a 24 year-old African American man who lived in east Fort Worth on April 18, 2009.

The reason I met with him was because I wanted a copy of the "complete" medical report he submitted to the Tarrant County District Attorney justifying his homicide ruling as the cause of death with a taser and at the hands of Fort Worth Police Officer Stephanie A. Phillips, a white female with 17 years of experience as a FW police officer.

My concerns of a "Cowtown Cover Up" was confirmed when the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board published the details of a portion of Dr. Peewani's report that was "suppressed" by the District Attorney Joe Shannon in an effort to "keep the public peace" and to not taint the grand jury process.

What is of great concern is that Mr. Shannon and Fort Worth City leaders in August decided to keep this information away from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference leadership and the local media. In fact, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has to sue in District Court in order to get the report released. District Judge Mike Thomas should be commended for his wise judgment in ordering the release of the complete report last Friday, November 20, 2009.

While the Southern Christian Leadership Conference still awaits a complete copy of the report, I found reason to pause when it was mentioned in my conversation with the Medical Examiner that the two barbs from the taser torture tool hit Michael Patrick Jacobs, Jr., inches from his juggler in his neck and heart.

I can not imagine what pain and torture he experienced with "54 Seconds" of 50,000 volts of painful electricity flowing through his body as Stephanie Phillips executed him in from of his mother and father.

Yet Mayor Mike Moncrief, the City Council and Police Chief have found no fault in Ms. Phillips' actions. The tainted grand jury refused to indict because Taser International was allowed to purchase testimony before the grand jury. Now the entire community is ordered by the Mayor and Police Chief to shut up and sit down because, "this case is closed."

As president of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I am outraged, insulted and offended by the actions of the leadership in my hometown.

Fort Worth, in my humble opinion, is one of the most dangerous cities in America if you are an African American male, especially if you have mental health and wellness issues.

Our civil rights are completely ignored and our right to dignity and justice are disregarded. What should be handled as a medical issues have been handled as a criminal justice issue and many young black men and boys are forced to live a life of second class citizenship without hope or directions.

With African American infant mortality rate in certain zip codes in Fort Worth the highest in the nation; the highest black failure rate in public schools and the highest incarceration rate of any social class within the City of Fort Worth, black men and boys are dying in Fort Worth and no one seems to care.

We need immediate relief and we are calling on Governor Rick Perry and President Barack Obama to put aside political positions and parties and come to Fort Worth and provide us with state and federal relief. Our civil rights are being violated without cause.

The criminalization of the black man in Fort Worth is out of control and is adding to the burden of society.

As a native son of this city and community, I know first hand how the governmental authority abuse, intimidated, punish, control, inflict fear, pain and even death in order to "keep us in our place."

On this Thanksgiving day, I send out this cry in faith and hope that someone will have enough compassion and courage to hear my plea and come offer us some relief.

We are not criminals but citizens of this great country. We do not want a hand out but a healthy hand up so that we can live our lives free from fear, threat and death.

Michael Jacobs, Jr., did not have to die in the most undignified barbaric way know to man. His mother cried out for medical help but witnessed his execution along with his father in their front yard at 6266 Ava Court Drive.

The City may have closed its case locally, but rest assure, the SCLC will continue to speak up and out until something is done about the unsafe, inhumane way Fort Worth treats its African American men and boys.

We need immediate relief.

In complete humility,
Rev. Kyev Tatum, Sr.
1333 East Magnolia Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas 76105
(817) 966-7625

I plan to join Rev. Tatum and others on December 4th in a Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture. I hope you support this effort as well.

Independent Autopsy Says Taser-Killing of Craig Prescott Was Not an Accident

38-year old Craig Prescott, a former sheriff's deputy, died in a taser-related killing back in April 2009 while he was in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail. The original autopsy concluded that the death was accidental. [SOURCE]

The autopsy ruling didn't seem right to Prescott's family. They commissioned an independent autopsy on April 15 by Dr. David Posey (Glenoaks Pathology Medical Center). Dr. Posey's autopsy concludes that the accident was not an accident. This autopsy report says that Prescott died from a lack of oxygen to the brain during a struggle with jailers.

Marilyn Prescott, Craig Prescott's mother, said she believes jail officials subdued her son in a manner that suffocated him, so they are responsible for his death.
"He was deprived of oxygen, so he couldn't breathe," she said. "It just saddens me to read this report, because now I know this was an egregious act."
The Stanislaus County coroner's office conducted its own autopsy a day after Prescott's death and released a report of its findings in early June. Pathologist Dr. Eugene Carpenter performed the autopsy under contract with the coroner's office.

Sheriff Adam Christianson has said jail officials followed departmental guidelines in trying to restrain and move Prescott.

In early October, Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager said the jail officials were not responsible for Prescott's death. He died in a Modesto hospital two days after deputies at the jail used Tasers and pepper spray to subdue him when he acted out in their custody.

Fladager's report culminated a six-month inquiry into whether jail deputies acted criminally April 11 in subduing Prescott. She determined they did not, citing a coroner's report that said Prescott died of hypertensive heart disease and determined his death was accidental.

Posey's independent autopsy concluded a different cause of death.

November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Obama in Love

Conversations with Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler (1947-2006) is one of my favorite authors. Her work was unique and provided an afrocentric view of science fiction. I'm pleased to see that many of her interviews from 1980 until just before her sudden death in 2006 have been gathered together into a book, 'Conversations with Octavia Butler'.

I plan to read this book.

Are you a science fiction fan? If so, what are your views on Octavia Butler and her works?

November 24, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: George Benson

George Benson had the music and lyrics that could cut to the chase. I find myself lost in a masquerade much too often. I 'spose that is one of the beautiful things about having a blog. You can hide behind the mask of your blog personna. Enjoy the flow of Bro. Benson.

I still hold out hope. I still think that I can regain my footing and make a difference for myself, my family, my community and my people. I still think that the light will overtake the darkness. I just need to get my mojo back. Just need to get back to that joyous feeling of breezin' through life with a purpose. One thing that helps is to smile ... and George Benson makes me smile!

Mesa Police Admit Taser Shots Contributed to Death of Francisco Sesate

Mesa Police Department issued a report that acknowledges that the two taser shots of 50,000 volts each into the body of 36-year old Francisco Sesate contributed to his death. The report concludes that drugs (opiates, amphetamines and cocaine) and physical exertion contributed to his death on August 20. [SOURCE]

Doctors who treated him at Banner Desert Medical Center said the combination of drugs in Sesate's system, the blasts from the Taser and his 108-degree body temperature meant his organs were "basically cooking inside his body."

Miguel "Mike" Sesate told investigators he last saw his son the day before, when he dropped him off at the Greyhound station. Francisco had $500 in his pocket and ambitions of reconnecting with his daughters in Nebraska, Miguel Sesate said.

"Francisco had planned to move to Nebraska to start a new life and to be close to his two daughters," the father told police. "Things weren't working out for Francisco since he was released from prison three months earlier."
Instead of being helped ... Francisco Sesate was killed.

Sesate created a disturbance in a convenience store parking lot. He was buck naked. He behaved badly. However, he was not armed. And the penalty for disturbing the peace is NOT DEATH.

About 1:45 p.m., Officer Dennis Riordan arrived and found Sesate hiding behind an advertising sign outside the front door. Seven hours after the police arrived ... Sesate was dead.

"Sesate was grunting and moaning and not obeying my commands," Riordan wrote in his report. A second officer arrived, and Sesate came forward, but refused to comply with police.

So the police decided it was a good idea to use their taser twice to kill Sesate. It appears that disrespecting the police gives them a license to kill.

After Sesate shoved the second officer, Riordan fired his Taser, hitting Francisco Sesate in the chest. Cell phone video shot by customer inside the store captured the man falling through the business' front door and onto the ground.

The video, which was uploaded to YouTube (can anyone point the EV-Blog to this video?), shows the officers struggling with Sesate on the floor as they attempt to handcuff both hands. When the man refused to place both hands behind his back, Riordan fired his Taser a second time.

Police successfully handcuffed the man.

"After Francisco was rolled over on his right side, I noticed that Francisco appeared not to be responsive or breathing," a police report states.
The handcuffs were removed and police began CPR. Too late. Sesate was too far gone at this point.

Detective Steve Berry, a police spokesman, said it's department policy to investigate incidents where an officer's use of force resulted in death. That investigation remains ongoing, and a final use of force report has not yet completed.

When will the police recognize that their use of tasers is causing more damage than good? When will the training for restraint of a suspect be upgraded to eliminate the use of taser guns for convenience rather than for cause/need?

What say u?

November 23, 2009

Interview: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (Video)

Ashahed Muhammad (Truth Establishment Institute) sits down with the former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick in an exclusive interview; this is the first time he has spoken publicly since being removed from office.

I suppose that other parts of the interview will be released in the future. Personally, I wish that Kwame didn't spend any time sharing his thoughts on President Barack Obama. Nothing positive can come from his analysis of our president ... especially when he tries to compare his (Kilpatrick) situation with that of President Obama.

Secondly, I did learn one thing new in this interview. I didn't realize that Kilpatrick and his aide, Christine Beatty, knew each other since they were both in high school. It doesn't excuse their behavior. And I doubt that anything that he does or says now, or in the future, will mitigate the harm that he brought to the city of Detroit.

On the one hand, I wish that the former mayor of Detroit would simply fade away never to be heard from again. However, I guess if America allowed other sinners like Newt Gingrich or Bill Clinton to reset their images ... we can't begrudge Kilpatrick that same opportunity.

What are your thoughts about the video interview?

November 22, 2009

Race-Baiting Comments by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) During Healthcare Debate

Perhaps I am too sensitive. However, 50 years of living in America has taught me to hear the race-baiting dog whistles from old white guys. I heard Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on one of the Sunday talk shows call Medicaid a 'medical ghetto'.

It turns out that Alexander used this term a number of times on the Senate floor during the healthcare debate.

Cheryl Contee (Jack and Jill Politics) wrote,
"The right (and some on the left) would have you think that Medicaid was created so lazy shiftless black people could eat bonbons, watermelon & fried chicken while having their free x-rays, abusing the tax dollars of hardworking white people. Like Lamar Alexander who has repeatedly called Medicaid a “Medical Ghetto” on the Senate floor."
I encourage all villagers to read Cheryl's full blog post.

Why do old white guys in politics always devolve to race-baiting when they are losing the argument?

Taser Death: Ronald Petruney (Washington, PA)

Another case of 'Tasers Gone Wild' in America. This time we learn that Washinton (PA) police officers jolted 50,000 volts of electricity into 49-year old Ronald Petruney earlier this week. In fact, once was not enough. They used their taser guns on him TWICE. He died while in the hospital yesterday morning.

Washington police found Mr. Petruney "in a confused state" when they were summoned to an incident on Jefferson Avenue, county Coroner Timothy Warco said.

Washington police Chief James R. Blyth said the two officers involved, whom he said would not be identified at this time, remain on duty.

"All witnesses told us that it was done by the book," Blyth said.
One of the officers was patrolling Jefferson Avenue just after 1 p.m. Tuesday when he encountered Petruney on the ground near his apartment suffering from what appeared to be a seizure.

Petruney then stood up, disoriented, and attempted to walk into traffic, police said. Petruney refused orders to sit down and charged the officer, biting him and swinging his arms when the two began to struggle.

Another officer arrived on the scene. Petruney was first jolted in the legs with 50,000 volts of electricity from a taser gun. The second officer then applied his taser gun directly to Petruney's torso, police said.

"He was still fighting with the officers for another three or four minutes after he was hit," Blyth said Saturday. "The Taser had no effect on him when he was hit, so they discarded it and went back to hands-on fighting. He kicked one of the officers after he was hit."
Of course, we now know that the tasers did have an impact. They contibuted to the death of this man. He was a man who needed help. Instead the Washington police officers killed him.

When Petruney collapsed, he was attended to by police and ambulance personnel who had been called to the scene before he was transported to Washington Hospital.

Blyth said that all officers carrying a Taser are fully trained in its use per department regulations.

Did the police need to kill Mr. Petruney? I guess we all will wait to hear what the autopsy tells us about Petruney's cause of death.

The number of taser-related deaths are occuring more than once-per-week around our nation. Something is wrong. The training may not be accurate. I wonder if police officers around the country have been re-trained on the new policy suggested by the taser manufacturer? I wonder if it is time to standardize the 'use of force continuum' policy for police on a nationwide basis?

These are the types of questions and issues that should be discussed by a congressional hearing. I hope that these are the issues that we talk about during the Day of Blogging for Justice that is set for December 4th.

Sunday Inspirations: Today I Woke Up a Black Man

Today I woke up to the reality that everything is possible
Leaving nothing to chance, luck or speculation
I have this new realization
I'm a safe bet
The cards are stacked in my favor
Not a victim of some wicked plot, scheme, or attack plan
Today I woke up A Black Man

No longer enslaved by the images that once defined me
I woke up with a light so bright it blinds me
Today I woke up A Black Man

My clothes no longer fit me
My chest pokes out a bit further
My arms reach a bit higher
Even my hat fits snug
My brain has increased its capacity
Enlarged by my own audacity
I can be more than a thug, a pimp, or the crack man
Today I woke up A Black Man

The generational curse has been broken
My journey needs only this token
This fee
That I choose to believe in me
That I set free the thoughts of pain, stress and strain
That I accept the responsibility that greatness is my probability
Today I woke up A Black Man

Not shackled by how the world sees me
What matters most is how I see me
A seed snatched from the equator
The most beautiful reflection of my creator
Fear and failure are simply a distraction
Today my future found traction
Today I woke up A Black Man

I have twenty-twenty vision
Courage, hope, and honor is my daily mission
I'm no longer a gamble
Leaving nothing to chance, luck, or speculation
I have this new realization
I'm a safe bet
The cards are stacked in my favor
Don't you dare suggest these words aren't fact man
Today I woke up A Black Man

November 21, 2009

The Rebellious Sixties? Yes, I Remember

One of the blogging voices that I enjoy the most is Mac 'The Daddy' Walton. He comes strong and he comes correct. I am pleased to see that he is now a published author as well. I encourage villagers to take a moment to check out his new book -- The Rebellious Sixties? Yes I Remember.

Mac wrote, "Listen up. As an African American, a student of American history and a person who sometimes entertains the illusion that he is a writer, I had been trying to write this book for a long time. It weaves a historic yet personal tale about the excitement and the danger about the turbulent sixties. It shares a personal story, or stories, about this period as a learning experience which helped shape who we, the children of the sixties, are today and the values we try to inculcate in our children."

The poems in Section II are personal. The heroes discussed in Section III are primarily political. But the signature poem in the second part of Section III is intensely personal, involving two college students' deep, undeniable love, painful, unforgettable loss, and bitter-sweet memories that neither time, maturity, or subsequent affairs could erase from the heart.

"Ultimately, it was these intensely personal memories set in the midst of the civil rights, Black power, and anti-war movements and my attempt to recall them honestly that took this book so long to write," said Walton
This book was written in memory of Emmett Till, a 14 year old Black manchild whose brutal and tragic death sparked increased protest and the end of apartheid in the southern part of the United States of America.

November 20, 2009

Heather Ellis Accepts Plea Deal for Cutting Line at Walmart

Heather Ellis, 24, accused of cutting in line at a Walmart, shoving merchandise and assaulting police officers will plead guilty to disturbing the peace and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.

Under the terms of the deal, she will also serve a year of unsupervised probation, attend an anger management course and serve four days in jail before the end of the year.

The plea agreement was reached after the jury received the case for deliberations. Ms. Ellis avoids possible 15-year sentence by taking this plea deal.

Read the full story here.

Stephanie Robinson Speaks: Ban Taser Guns in America

Stephanie Robinson provided powerful commentary on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. She called for a moratorium on the use of taser guns and asked everyone to support the December 4th Day of Blogging for Justice to Stop Taser Torture.

You should be able to hear her words here (Windows Media Player) or here (TJMS website).

What do you think about her commentary on taser abuse in America?

Taser Death: Jesus Gillard (Bloomfield Township, MI)

A little twist on the 'Tasers Gone Wild' reality show that plays on a weekly basis in America. This time the taser-killing occurs in a city with one of the highest per-capita incomes in the nation ... Bloomfield Township, MI.

61-year old Jesus Gillard is dead and two police officers injured after a police chase which started in Bloomfield Township and ended in Troy. Police say Gillard was tasered when he started fighting with officers after a crash ended the chase.

Bloomfield Township police chased the van. The driver refused to stop and his vehicle rammed the patrol cars. The chase ended when Gillard crashed into another vehicle.

Investigators say after the crash, this 61-year old man got out of his van and began "assaulting police officers" who in turn used tasers on the suspect. Police were able to finally handcuff the suspect, who then stopped breathing. Officers performed CPR, but the man died.

Police say because the tasers had little effect and the 61-year old man was combative, it appeared he was under the influence of an unknown substance.

The two Bloomfield Township officers who were injured have non-life threatening injuries.

Because the man died, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office was brought in to conduct an independent investigation.

There is no excuse for endangering others with erratic driving ... however, the penalty for driving like a fool should not be DEATH. Apparently, the Bloomfield Township police feel that they have the right to extra-judicial electrocution if they are disrespected.

Is anyone else concerned about the speed at which these taser-deaths are occurring? This is the 4th taser-related death in less than a week. What say u?

November 19, 2009

Brian Davis and Gary Parker are the Taser Cops That Killed Matthew Bolick

The two East Grand Rapids police officers that killed 30-year old Matthew Bolick have been identified. [SOURCE]

Sgt. Brian Davis, 37, and Officer Gary Parker, 58, two longtime officers with the East Grand Rapids Department of Public Safety. I don't know the height and weight of these two officers ... but, they look like healthy folks. You wonder why they felt a need to taser a 5'6" guy who weighed 130 pounds four times with 50,000 volts of electricity?

Are you joining the December 4th Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture online event?

Taser Cop Ken Thompson is Cleared in the Killing Brian Cardall

Hurricane police officer Ken Thompson has been cleared by the Washington County Attorney's Office for his part in the June 9 taser-related death of Brian Cardall. The county attorney's office "concluded that criminal prosecution is not appropriate in this case." [SOURCE]

Cardall died of "ventricular fibrillation" produced by an undetermined cause, according to Dr. Erik D. Christensen of the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office, according to the county attorney's findings.

"Two factors are at play in this case, each of which could represent a possible primary or contributory cause of death," Christensen's autopsy report states.
While the autopsy found it possible that a taser gun could have led to the abnormal heart rhythm, it is also "clear that Mr. Cardall was in a state of both mental confusion and physiologic excitement," and the resulting rapid heart beat and internal agitation would also put him at risk of sudden cardiac death from a disturbance of the heart's rhythm, Christensen's report states.

County Attorney Brock Belnap, concludes, "In my view, Officer Thompson responded to a tense, uncertain and rapidly unfolding situation in a manner consistent with his training and that he did not intend, believe or foresee would seriously injure or cause the death of Brian Cardall."
Villagers may recall that Officer Thompson arrived on the scene at 1:17 pm and began to yell,
"Get down on the ground! Get down on the ground!" Brian Cardall responds twice in what sounds as a panicked voice, "Is this a standoff! Don't shoot."

About 42 seconds after arriving on scene the officer deployed his Taser yelling, "Taser deployed! Stay on the ground! Stay on the ground!"
Thompson is heard on the tape to say, "He went down, he tried to get up and I told him to stay down. I tased him again and then after the second time..." Thompson knew that he did wrong. Listen to the tape ... and you be the judge!

You can hear Brian Cardall moaning and screaming for about five seconds after Thompson first deploys a Taser on him. Following a two-second pause, Thompson deploys the Taser on Cardall again. He says in the recordings Cardall had tried to get up.

Officer Thompson killed a man in June ... and now the powers-that-be are letting him off scott-free. Something is wrong and I hope that Cardall's family files a massive lawsuit in this case.

What are your thoughts on this case of taser (in)justice?

November 18, 2009

Why is David Vitter (R-LA) Still in Public Office?

Interracial marriage became a national phenomenon last month when a justice of the peace in a small Louisiana town refused to marry a mixed-race couple. The small town judge was castigated by almost everyone, including the Louisiana governor and one of the state's US senators. However, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) didn't have anything to say about it.

So, it may not have been a surprise that Sen. Vitter feigned ignorance of the 'Loving v. Virginia' Supreme Court case that struck down all laws forbidding interracial marriage when he was questioned by blogger Mike Stark.

It amazes me that David Vitter is still a public official. Villagers may recall that he was a client of the 'D.C. Madam' was the way in which the senator himself disclosed it. Vitter was outed by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt. Vitter's relationship with prostitutes in Washington DC is not unusual. After all, he was accused by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee of carrying on a lengthy affair with a prostitute in New Orleans's French Quarter in his first Senate campaign. I seem to recall that Vitter had to quit his leadership position in the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani.

What are your thoughts on David Vitter and his lack of knowledge about 'Loving v. Virginia' case?

Family of Taser-Victim Matthew Bolick Issues a Statement

Matthew Bolick, described by his family as a loving brother and caring son who loved jazz and camping with friends and was a year away from a bachelor’s degree in meteorology at Central Michigan University, died Monday night while in police custody. His family issued a statement about his death:

His sister, Kellie Kettner, wrote:
We lost our wonderful son, older brother, and friend, Matt Bolick, who died last night. This is a tragic loss and he is being portrayed in a negative light. Please withhold judgment until all the facts are known and remember, Matt was a caring human being who had a zest for life, and whose family is deeply devastated by this confusing loss.

As Stephen Bolick replayed the scene of his son’s death, he said the details did not add up. Why, Bolick asked, did it take police three or four Taser gun shots to subdue 30-year-old Matthew Bolick, who, at 5'6" inches tall, weighed just 135 pounds?

Bolick died after police arrived at his East Grand Rapids home. Bolick was tasered three or four times by two unidentified police officers. He was dead 45 minutes after the police arrived.

It was the first time a Taser has been used by an East Grand Rapids police officer. The identity of the officers involved have not been released.

No cause of death has been determined yet. An autopsy Tuesday showed no internal trauma; additional tests, including toxicology, could take weeks to complete.

The facts as we know them don't bode well for the East Grand Rapids police officers. I don't recall any of the other 47 people who died in taser-related shootings that were shot four (4) times.

What are your thoughts on this case? Or the taser situation in general?

Wordless Wednesday: Soldier or Mom?

Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson and her son, Kamani.

November 17, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: Bootsy Collins

Soulclap to LaShawn for reminding me about this song from Bootsy Collins and his Rubber Band. I warn you in advance that this video is not appropriate for workplace viewing ... however, when you get it home I encourage you to enjoy the flow! Ain't no funk like the P-Funk!

November 16, 2009

Grand Jury Clears Ft. Worth Cop in Taser-Killing of Michael Jacobs

Police officer Stephanie Phillips, who used a Taser in the homicide of 24-year old Michael Jacobs for 49 seconds was no-billed by a Tarrant County grand jury today.

The grand jury was asked to consider criminal charges for her actions in the April 2009 death of Michael Jacobs. He died within an hour of being shocked, and the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office ruled the death a homicide caused by the Taser.

The Fort Worth Police Department has not disciplined Phillips for the incident and does not plan to do so. Perhaps the police in Texas and elsewhere will have an open mind on December 4th as we join in a Day of Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture online activism event.

Taser Death: Matthew Bolick (East Grand Rapids, MI)

Once again we have an episode of Tasers Gone Wild in which 30-year old Matthew Bolick ends up dead in police custody after being jolted 4-5 times by the taser-happy East Grand Rapids police. Our nation continues to endure these taser torture killings at a rate of once per week. When will the police realize that they do not have to kill a person in order to get handcuffs on them. Resisting arrest is not supposed to be punishable by DEATH in our nation.

Bolick's father called police to report he was worried about his son's behavior. The man then left the home with another son. I'm fairly certain that neither Bolick's father or brother wanted to see him killed by a barrage of taser gun activity when they called in the police. It would be nice to see the police do more 'protect and serve' and less 'taser and kill'.

Police say when they arrived the suspect, 30-year-old Matthew Bolick, assaulted an officer in front of the home. Police say the officer then tased him, with no apparent effect. The suspect then ran into the home.

Bolick was taken into custody after a struggle with police that resulted in him being tased another 3 or 4 times. Bolick died at the scene while under police custody.

It seems that the police were treating some cuts on Bolick's hands while his heart stopped beating from the multiple electrical shocks of police taser guns. I wonder if the police even noticed that he was dying? Did they call paramedics at any point? Perhaps they simply stood around trying to figure out how to cover for the multiple taser shots as we heard the police do in taser-death of Brian Cardall earlier this year in Utah.

Meanwhile, the officers involved in this Michigan incident are on administrative leave while Grand Rapids' major case team and an internal affairs unit investigate. An autopsy to determine the cause of death also needs to be completed.

Villagers, I'm not mad at the police officers that are involved in this killing. I'm made at a taser-happy policy within police departments all over the nation. A policy that won't allow for the fact that killing people with a so-called non-lethal weapon is no longer acceptable.

It is time to stop the Taser madness -- it's time for all bloggers whether you be, Black, White, Latino, Native American, Asian, or progressives to come together on this issue. I encourage all bloggers to join us on December 4, 2009 when we gather for a Day of Blogging for Justice to Stop Taser Torture.

Please Sign up now!

What Has President Obama Accomplished?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Obama of 'dithering'. My view is that our president is more active in more areas than any other president in my lifetime. Soulclap to Robert Watson, Ph.D., coordinator of American Studies at Lynn University for documenting some of President Obama's accomplishments between January-August 2009.
  1. $789 billion economic stimulus plan

  2. Announced his intention to push for energy reform

  3. Announced his intention to push for education reform

  4. Announced plans to purchase fuel efficient American-made fleet for the federal government

  5. Announced the long-term development of a national energy grid with renewable sources and cleaner, efficient energy production

  6. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court

  7. Attempting to reform the nation's healthcare system which is the most expensive in the world yet leaves almost 50 million without health insurance and millions more underinsured

  8. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles

  9. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans

  10. Authorized discussions with Myanmar and mission by Sen. Jim Webb to secure the release of an American held captive

  11. Authorized discussions with North Korea and private mission by Pres. Bill Clinton to secure the release of two Americans held in prisons

  12. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force... this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.

  13. Beginning the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq

  14. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops

  15. "Cash for clunkers" program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulates auto sales

  16. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan

  17. Closed offshore tax safe havens

  18. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan

  19. Ended media "blackout" on war casualties; reporting full information

  20. Ended media "blackout" on covering the return of fallen soldiers to Dover A.F.B.; the media is now permitted to do so pending adherence to respectful rules and approval of fallen soldier's family

  21. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts

  22. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules

  23. Ended previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings

  24. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports

  25. Ended previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions

  26. Ended previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back

  27. Ended previous policy on torture; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards

  28. Ended previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry's predatory practices

  29. Ended previous "stop-loss" policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date

  30. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources

  31. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient

  32. Established a new cyber security office

  33. Established independent commission to make recommendations on slowing the costs of Medicare

  34. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children

  35. Expanding vaccination programs

  36. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses covered to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover A.F.B.

  37. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research

  38. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools

  39. Held first Seder in White House

  40. Housing rescue plan

  41. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters

  42. Improved housing for military personnel

  43. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals

  44. Improving benefits for veterans

  45. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants...) after years of neglect

  46. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program

  47. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel

  48. Increasing student loans

  49. Initiating a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses

  50. Instituted a new focus on mortgage fraud

  51. Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return "home" to visit loved ones

  52. Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women

  53. Instructed all federal agencies to promote openness and transparency as much as possible

  54. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000

  55. Limits on lobbyists' access to the White House

  56. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration

  57. Lower drug costs for seniors

  58. Making more loans available to small businesses

  59. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration

  60. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals

  61. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans

  62. New federal funding for science and research labs

  63. New funds for school construction

  64. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending

  65. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices

  66. Ordered a review of hurricane and natural disaster preparedness

  67. Paid for redecorations of White House living quarters out of his own pocket

  68. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren't even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan

  69. Put the ball in play for comprehensive immigration reform

  70. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions

  71. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic

  72. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research

  73. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel

  74. Restarted the nuclear non-proliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols

  75. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters

  76. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy

  77. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program

  78. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards

  79. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced

  80. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job

  81. The FDA is now regulating tobacco

  82. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010

  83. The prison at Guantanamo Bay is being phased out

  84. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying

  85. The "secret detention" facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed

  86. The White House and federal government are respecting the Freedom of Information Act

  87. US Auto industry rescue plan

  88. US financial and banking rescue plan

  89. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast

  90. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office

Oh, and he built a swing set for the girls outside the Oval Office!

November 15, 2009

Sunday Inspirations: When I Am Gone

I woke up this morning thinking about my Dad and my brother as they look down on their family from heaven. At some point I will sit side-by-side with them behind those pearly gates.

When I Am Gone
To those I loved and those who loved me

When I am gone, release me, let me go...
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears,
Be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it's time I traveled on alone.

So grieve awhile for me, if grieve you must.
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for awhile that we must part.
So bless the memories that lie within your heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see me or touch me, I'll be near.
And if you listen with your heart, you'll hear
All of my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone...
I'll greet you with a smile and a 'Welcome Home.'

November 14, 2009

Taser Death: Darryl Bain (Coram, NY)

The police got tired of messing around with 43-year old Darryl Bain. This time they tasered Bain twice and he died in the Long Island home of his mother in Coram, New York.

I wonder if Darryl Bain's brother had any idea that his brother would be dead less than 80 minutes after he placed a call to the police on Saturday morning? Bain's brother called to complain that his brother was high on cocaine and barricaded into the house of his 78-year old mother.

When the police arrived, they heard a struggle inside and officers broke down the door and tried to wrestle the 43-year old man to the ground.

Police say that Bain continued to fight with the the three officers who entered the house. One of the police officers decided it was a good point to pump 50,000 volts of electricity from his (or her) taser gun into Bain's body. Since Bain didn't make it easy for them to cuff him ... they zapped him again.

Bain died shortly after the second zap.

Bain's mother is Phyllis Hawkins. She has an order of protection against her son. However, she said he was not posing any threat to her or himself and the officers did not need to use the Taser on him.

She said she was trying to get her son to get his hands off the door when officers heard the struggle inside and from past experiences, the police know that when Bain “gets like that, he calms himself down.”

Since 2000, Suffolk County police were called to Bain’s house at least 70 times. It could have been 700 times ... that still is no excuse for killing a man. The penalty for being a jerk isn't DEATH. When will the police figure it out that a taser gun isn't supposed to be used for their convenience.

Please join us on December 4, 2009 for the Day of Blogging for Justice!

Day of Blogging for Justice: 'Stop Taser Torture' on 12/4/2009

The call is going out to all bloggers to support Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture on December 4, 2009. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important related to the tasing issue. Our hope is that the focused effort of the blogosphere will have a positive impact on the issue on the issue of taser abuse in America, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Perhaps the idea of an electric rifle made sense when it was first conceived. The idea is now warped. Villagers, we have a problem when police tasers cause death on a weekly basis. The problem is being discussed by bloggers like African American Political Pundit, Pam Spaulding, Yobachi and others.

Some say that using the term 'torture' is counter-productive. I don't agree. In fact, even Taser International ... the manufacturer of the taser gun issued an alert to the fact that their invention tortures people and may cause unintended heart attacks. Continued use is torture in my view.

Blogging for Justice: Stop Taser Torture should create a worldwide discussion with ideas, advice, plans, and action. We want to expand the discussion on the issue of tasering and how the issue threatens us all.

I hope that all villagers will join us in this online activism on December 4. What say u?

November 13, 2009

Taser Death: Herman George Knabe (Corpus Christi, TX)

It appears that the police have killed another bicycle rider with their taser gun. It appears that the police are cracking down on illegal bicycle use! This time we learn that a 58-year-old Herman George Knabe was shot with a taser by Corpus Christi police. The man was removed from life support Friday afternoon by doctors at Christus Spohn Hospital South.

The dead man is described as a 58-year-old white man, 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 185 pounds. He had long salt and pepper hair with a long, braided beard of the same color. Police said the man rode a faded red women’s bicycle with an H-E-B basket strapped to the front.

We are waiting for an official cause of death to be determined by autopsy that will be conducted by the the Nueces County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Of course, the police don't need an autopsy for them to say that they were justified in killing this man.

"A preliminary investigation has shown the officers acted appropriately in responding to an aggressive individual who was acting erratically," said Police Chief Troy Riggs "Unfortunately, he has died and we will continue the investigation."
Since when is it appropriate for an unarmed suspect to end up dead while in police custody?

All five of the police officers involved in this taser-related death who were placed on paid administrative leave have now been cleared to work.

Here is the story according to police spokesman:

The incident began at 6:54 p.m. Wednesday when officer Stephan Beletic saw drivers flashing their headlights at Cimarron Boulevard and Airline Road. Beletic saw a man riding his bicycle illegally against the flow of traffic and attempted to stop him. The man didn’t stop and rode into a parking lot of restaurant where he banged on the restaurant’s window and spoke unintelligibly.

Beletic, who already had called for backup, began to frisk the man to make sure he wasn’t armed.

The man resisted, and Beletic managed to cuff one hand, but the man continued to struggle. Officers Ross Murray and Daryl Anderson arrived on the scene and Murray used a Taser, hitting the man in the lower back. The man appeared unaffected by the 50,000-volt stun gun, Green said, adding that police aren’t sure if the probe even penetrated the several layers of clothes the man was wearing.

Murray then placed the Taser on the man’s shoulder blade and shocked him. The man continued to be combative.

Anderson used pepper spray, which also did little. Officer Jason Rhodes arrived and the four fell to the ground in a struggle with the man.

It wasn’t until a fifth officer, Jason Tello, arrived that they were able to finishing handcuffing the man.
Once the man was in custody, he quit breathing. He became the 46th man this year involved in a taser-killing by police. These deaths keep piling on at a rate of once-per-week. I encourage all villagers to join us on December 4, 2009 when we gather for a Day of Blogging for Justice to Stop Taser Torture.

November 12, 2009

Police Refuse to Take Responsibility in Taser-Killing of Rory McKenzie

We told you a few days ago that the Kern County coroner ruled 'homicide' in the taser-related death of Rory McKenzie. The Kern County Sheriff's Office didn't like the negative publicity from the coroner's decision. So, the Sheriff's Office convened a group this past Monday to review the case. After a quick review, the Sheriff's Office announced that the four officers involved in the taser-killing operated "within department policy".

You may recall that these four police officers attempted to take McKenzie into custody on July 2, 2009. He physically resisted arrest. During the struggle, a deputy deployed a Taser as McKenzie continued to physically resist arrest. A Kern County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was utilized and McKenzie was bitten on the right leg, allowing deputies to take him into custody.

After McKenzie was taken into custody, deputies noticed he was having difficulty breathing and called for medical aid. McKenzie stopped breathing and deputies administered CPR. McKenzie was transported by ambulance to Kern Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The four officers are Sergeant Otis Whinery (24 years with the Sheriff's Office), Senior Deputy Alan Fullerton (21 years with the Sheriff's Office), Deputy Douglas Jauch (8 years with the Sheriff's Office), Deputy Patrick McNeal (5 years with the Sheriff's Office) and Deputy Edward Tucker (12 years with the Sheriff's Office).

The penalty for resisting arrest should not be death ... and it should not be "within department policy". I hope that the Kern County District Attorney files criminal charges in this case.

In the meantime, I encourage all villagers to see if they can get a copy of the 'use of force continuum' policy from their local police department. We may need to deal with this issue on a local level. What say u?