Tag Archive | violence

Justice Has Finally Prevailed

 

Proano

Marco Proano, the Chicago Police officer who fired 16 shots into a car full of unarmed teens, was found guilty of two federal civil rights violations -using unreasonable force and causing bodily injury.  Though it is a small step of victory for supporters of criminal justice reform, it was not a clean victory nor was it without it’s shadows of impropriety.

A vehicle carrying 6 teens was pulled over at 95th and LaSalle by 2 other officers.  Dash cam footage shows Proano arriving minutes later to the scene.  Proano, upon exiting his vehicle, quickly withdrew his weapon (pointing it sideways into the teen’s stolen vehicle) and firing as the driver reverses away from him. The December 2013 shooting left two teens shot and another otherwise injured but no one was killed.

In the aftermath of the shooting, supporters of Proano claimed that it was a ‘split-second’ decision and that his actions were justified although I can’t imagine anyone watching the video believing that he felt there was an immediate danger. This incident didn’t fall through the cracks because the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) launched an investigation into the shooting.  Initially, they barely investigated because, ironically, IPRA is just another cog in the rusty wheel of the criminal justice system.

IPRA was created in 2007 when complaints about how investigations against police officers were being conducted became unavoidable. Comprised of independent investigators, it replaced the Office of Professional Standards (OPS) which, was basically a group of police “investigating” police.  IPRA was tasked to deliver unbiased and unfiltered investigations of complaints lodged against officers. It was not a secret, however, that OPS investigators simply moved over to IPRA.  So much for transparency and accountability.

Ex-FBI Special Agent Larissa Camancho testified in court that in 2015 IPRA was contemplating clearing Proano in the shooting.  After speaking with the investigator on the case, she went to the head of IPRA and told him she believed that the officer should be investigated.  Not surprising because it’s been found that because IPRA has a less than 2% sustainability of complaints against officers, it was not as independent as the public was led to believe and moving forward, in September 2017, they will be replaced by a more rigorously independent agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).

When black people say the criminal justice system is broken and skewed heavily away from the rights of blacks, it is not an understatement.  We’ve seen proof of this when IPRA tried to clear officer Jason Van Dyke who, about a year after Proano’s crime, heinously shot and killed 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald.  It wasn’t until that video was released that Van Dyke was charged with murder.

Marco Proano faces up to 20 years in prison for his crime.  I will wait to see, with bated breath, how many years he’ll receive.  In the meantime we will celebrate because today there is one less volatile officer on the street slaughtering black people with impunity.  This conviction sends at the very least a whisper that the status quo is no longer going to fly.

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We Just Don’t Get It

Air JordanA story recently broke in Houston as police were called to the Willowbrook mall to ward off a potential riot. There was also a report of 4 arrested in New York for fighting in a crowd. This chaos wasn’t created because of a protest in the name of justice. Windows on the mall weren’t broken due to angry looters. No, these events occurred because of a shoe: The Air Jordan 11 Retro “Legend Blue”, to be exact.

Today, as Demario Bailey’s twin brother, Demarcio, celebrates his 16th birthday without his brother and, as the family struggles to pay for his funeral, I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with the Black Community’s priorities?

Barely three weeks ago, riots and protests surged following the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson- accused of shooting unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. As the Black Community reeled with disappointment and anger many people began to seek ways create to solidarity and get justice. Then about a week later, in early December, NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted on the chokehold death of Eric Holder.

As anger spilled into streets all over the country, a movement to keep black dollars in the community began. There was the ‘Boycott Black Friday’ Movement, which, wasn’t very successful. There were posts on Facebook from black businesses asking for support of their products. There was even a call to not purchase on Cyber Monday. Today, seeing the news clip of the hordes of black people lined up to receive a purchase voucher to buy the $200.00 shoes made me angry. Once again, we just don’t get it.

First, let’s talk about the fact that for years- dating back to the late 80s, people have been dying after being robbed of Air Jordans. When Nike releases a ‘specialty’ shoe (as they did last year as well), people become violent in crowded lines just to purchase them. Now, in December 2014 we are still stepping over each other to purchase a $200.00 tennis shoe.

Second, let’s talk about money. According to the Neilson Company, Black spending power is expected to reach 1.1 trillion dollars in 2015. The lifespan of a dollar in the Black community is 6 hours compared to 20 days for Jews, a month for Asians, and 17 days for whites. How can we have that much buying power and have no wealth?

It’s very surreal to be reeling from yet another senseless death of a child – this one a robbery victim, witness weeks of “Justice for Mike Brown” and “I Can’t Breathe”, to witnessing this spectacle of materialistic spending – and the violence that it created. We have to get our priorities straight. Michael Jordan has more money than he will ever spend in his lifetime and Nike (and other companies) is going to use him (and other ‘celebrities’) to milk the Black Community until we wake up and stop trying to outspend each other.

Instead of standing for hours pushing and shoving each other, we need to focus on the real problems in our community. I’m sure Demarcio Bailey would appreciate the effort.

©2014 Kim R. Woods
All rights reserved

On The Issue of Race…

racismhands

This will probably not be the last time I post this particular blog because I believe it’s that important. I know that eventually there will be misconceptions about many of the stories, new clips, etc. that I post so I wanted to provide clarity for my readers:

  1. The goal is to not sweep the victims under a rug as just another news story. People are dying for no reason. They mattered because it could you or me tomorrow.
  2. The goal is to make us think about our individual roles in how we can make a difference to stop the violence as it pertains to our own close-knit circles and, what we can do to help change the tide. Let’s stop ignoring the signs we DO see.
  3. The goal is to put a spot light on law enforcement’s unnecessary violence and killing of our Black men– in terms of racial profiling.
  4. The goal is to stop denying that racism exists and acknowledge the “elephant in the room” that unfortunately, our white friends sometimes won’t admit.

That being said, this blog will NOT be a tool to tear down Blacks and paint Whites as racist.  Racism exists in this country and will probably be around beyond my lifetime.  I am a Black woman who cares about the plight of my people and who is tired of seeing anyone being brutalized and murdered.  I am a Black woman who has loving relationships with white friends.  I am a Black woman who spent 10 years of my life with—and married to—a White man.  I am a Black woman who has a Black son who has been the victim of police brutality and harassment, has been shot at, and actually shot by a child who didn’t know why he did it!  I am a woman who is Black. I am a woman who has experienced violence first hand and this blog is to say enough is enough. My logo is black, white, and red for a reason. Why?  It’s because we look different on the outside but the same red color courses through our veins.

The Civil rights act didn’t become successful until ALL people—regardless of color—stood up and said enough is enough.  This blog asks the question: is that you?

Don’t Take Your Existence for Granted

 

Social Conscience

  

One of my favorite quotes is “Every life touches a life”.  I’ve been telling my son that since he was a child.  In my own perhaps naïve way, I drank the cool-aid of “do unto others…’ that my parents fed me. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make a difference to me as I came of age.  After all, no one wants to be on the receiving end of someone else’s selfish or cruel actions.  But the violence in Chicago and elsewhere in the US go beyond simple selfishness.  We (especially Black people) are killing each other.

In my finite mind, this is a crazy phenomenon – man gets angry, man picks up gun, man shoots gun, someone falls dead, man walks away.  Murder is as old as time itself but lately, it’s out of control.  Of course, there are a myriad of reasons.  Examples of this are absent fathers and negligent mothers, lack of jobs and education, physical and sexual abuse, gangs, and drugs/alcohol.  But even with all the obstacles we face in our society, there has to be a way to the basic “do unto others” creed.

Each of us, by our very existence, can affect someone else on the other side of the world.  How can this be so?  I had a friend once who was going through a tough time.  We talked things over and at the end of the call I told her “no matter what you’re going through just know that I love you and tomorrow is another chance to turn it around.”  She called me a week later and told me that she was talking to her cousin who was stationed overseas.  She told him the same thing and he told her that he needed to hear that because he was contemplating suicide.  A word of encouragement to ONE person made its way across the ocean to another person who needed to hear the same thing.

We take our place in this world for granted– myself included. Let’s change that.