Thursday, March 26, 2015

Open Letter To Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson

Having co-opted Negroes in the employ of Baltimore County Police Department that validate the racism evident within this rogue agency by ignoring it does little to dissuade one as a conscious professional Black man from pursuing a full and thorough airing of an extremely serious grievance against the agency.
Under no circumstance will I allow an aggressive, wet-behind-the-ears, overpaid, under-trained cop to insult, threaten and humiliate me while a Negro corporal senior to this moron stands idly by divesting his authority because like most if not all Black cops within this law enforcement agency and many others he was more concerned with going-along-to-get-along than with doing the right thing, acting professionally, and exhibiting a degree of responsibility commensurate with his standing as not simply sworn police officer but ostensibly a senior one. 7-11 and the “terrorist” in its employ is going to be dealt with in the appropriate forum.
This agency needs to obey the laws it is sworn to uphold instead of stonewalling, being hypocritical, and ignoring a formal demand pursuant to Mary Public Information Act (“PIA (“GP”), §§ 4-101 through 4-601, Annotated Code of Maryland to identify these idiots so that they can be properly dragged into court to answer for their excesses. The misconduct was so outrageous that I had to call my cardiologist because my heart did not stop palpitating for days afterwards.
I thought I was experiencing a heart attack. Unless I missed a class in constitutional law, the police have no lawful authority to escort anyone out of a store under threat of arrest based on the whims of an employee of that establishment absent an independent finding that the “suspect” was being disorderly, abusive, or disruptive, period. Without this finding or a court order the police had no lawful authority to literally throw me out of the store because they agreed with the clerk that I ought to return the food, after I called him a ‘terrorist’ in response.
The officers interviewed no one - although there were at least three customers and one other employee in the store at the time - not to mention a functioning video surveillance system they also neglected to review. So all they relied upon to violate my rights was the self-serving grievances of the store clerk. Second, no one threatens me with arrest for “disorderly conduct” because I exercised my right to free speech. I do not care if the cops found the comment offensive (which I hardly believe and, in fact, know they have heard considerably worst). I found their conduct offensive, and I was the aggrieved party, not the clerk. More importantly, I had the constitutionally protected right to utter it. 
Third, I do not appreciate an officer standing behind me menacingly while his partner does the threatening after I was outside in the parking lot intentionally being held up by the young white cop who had demanded my identification. It was extremely frightening. The officers obviously were out to lunch as cadets during their 6 month academy, apparently missing the class on “Terry stops,” which violated my right to be free of “unlawful search and seizure.” The young, white cop did so by demanding my license though I was not driving a vehicle, and voluntarily left the store under my own steam.
More importantly, it was clearly apparent no crime had been committed, or was in the process of being committed when first the Black then the White officer arrived on scene. The officers had the right to ask a few perfunctory questions under Maryland law as I understand it but should have simply left under those same provisions because the matter was clearly “civil” not “criminal” in nature, period. The African American officer initially seemed willing to do just that. Unfortunately, in typical fashion for this agency, when his obviously younger, much more aggressive, white backup arrived on scene, the situation rapidly began escalating, and, thereby, heading south.
It culminated in both cops colluding with the employee by demanding that I return my food saying, “he didn’t ring you up, so he wants it back…” in front of customers in the store embarrassing me, and attempting to physically escort me out the door, which I am grateful did not occur for the sake of all involved.
I did nothing wrong, complied with all police orders - however unlawful - but do not tolerate being embarrassed, threatened or, definitely, not touched. I know there is a serious training issue with this agency. That issue as it relates to another serious allegation is currently being litigated. I plan to bring suit anew for this latest insult because the cops were clearly out-of-line and violated numerous – i.e., First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment - constitutional rights; embarrassed, detained and menaced me in that order all while acting under color of law.
I can say what I want, when I want. I cannot be subjected to arrest for either “disorderly conduct” as the white cop threatened (although he was deliberately holding me up by neglecting to return my license) or “charged with a hate crime” as the black cop erroneously believes (though I really cannot believe that he actually believes that. If he does training issues with this agency are a great deal worse than I initially believed) so long as I do not threaten or harass anyone as the clerk did to me without the objectionable, disrespectful, and unlawful treatment the young white cop accorded me. 

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Eric Holder's Parting Remarks On Race: The DOJ's Ferguson Report

A cultural shift has begun in this country with respect to criminal justice policy generally and policing particularly as Ferguson Police Department has become the latest poster child in a long awaited campaign to out rogue law enforcement agencies for unfair extra-judicial processes and procedures that have had catastrophic consequences for those persons of color unfortunate enough to get caught up in “the system.” Unwarranted [pun intended] police contact is a dark portal through which many unwary, law abiding Blacks enter into a hostile, racist and patently unfair criminal justice system.

To those brothas and, to a lesser degree, sistas suffering the indignity of false arrest is not the end but very often beginning of an insult that always has unforeseen collateral consequences. Those overcharged for minor often non-criminal offenses, like misdemeanor traffic infractions, possession of small amounts of marijuana, or other “quality of life” violations, these “criminal justice” contacts are tantamount to descending down the rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland.

A colleague was more sanguine yesterday during a faculty meeting, because she is beginning to see evidence - albeit anecdotally - of a paradigm shift spurred by Ferguson, and other high profile incidents throughout the country, emerging like the phoenix raising from the ashes, with the scathing DOJ report against Ferguson Police Department, acting as a catalyst. Unfortunately, I do not share her unbridled optimism. Ferguson Police Department is emblematic (the rule not the exception) of many law enforcement agencies in this country. What was missed in the wash is how the Feguson Municipal Court lent its imprimatur to police excesses.

In one notable example illustrated by DOJ’s stunning report that was stupidly memorialized by electronic mail, the city comptroller encouraged police managers to actually step up unlawful enforcement of “quality of life” violations to generate revenue streams for a cash strapped city on the backs of citizens least able to exercise their constitutional rights, hire competent lawyers to mount effective defenses, and, more importantly, sue to recover court costs and fees, which would both disincentivize and discourage these extra-judicial practices.

But where the Judiciary was supposed to act as a separate branch of government curtailing the excesses of the Executive – i.e., “police” – here Ferguson Municipal Court actually validated police misconduct, which became a prima facie example of institutionalized racism conservative talking heads like to dismiss as baseless conspiracy theories. In Ferguson, we clearly see a startling example of a corrupt court that did not act as either a check or as a balance as it was designed against egregious police excesses.                                         

Thankfully, young Black folks are tired of seeing themselves being so vulnerable, marginalized and disenfranchised: watching their parents burying loved ones, peers, and friends whether by police action or intra-racial criminality. These are the kids manning the front lines in the protests we now see re-emerging in the wake of that damning DOJ report against Ferguson Police Department, which ironically substantiates everything we already suspected - either biographically or anecdotally - about the police in areas heavily populated by minorities.

The cops, black, white, Hispanic, Asian and every ethnic group in between, have adopted classist, racist, and, invariably provincial, worldviews they then rationalize away by saying they are the thin blue line between criminals and law breakers all while occupying, brutalizing and terrorizing the very communities in which they are sworn to protect. And this too shall end…

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