The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

The Murder of Trayvon Martin and Racist America | Rob Urie

The racist murder of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin as he walked the streets of the Florida town in which his father lived (a/k/a ‘home’) is proving a Rorschach test for race ‘relations’ in the U.S. The acquittal of his murderer, George Zimmerman, who first stalked the young Trayvon and then disregarded police instructions to remain in his car as he proceeded to accost and murder him, is testament to the power of denial of the institutional racism that haunts America. Under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, the product of corporate-state lobbyist ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), it was Mr. Martin who by law had the right to use deadly force to protect himself from Mr. Zimmerman. That Mr. Martin lacked the necessary weapon to do so raises an unproductive conundrum for any black, male youth living in America. And it is deluded to believe Mr. Martin would have been acquitted had he killed George Zimmerman in similar fashion.

As the fate of blacks across American history who have taken up arms to protect themselves from white racists has taught, the ‘right’ of self-defense is the right by whites to murder blacks with impunity. When the original Black Panthers took up arms to protect themselves, their families and communities from racist murder at the hands of the police and white racists they were murdered in their beds, fire-bombed, spied on, infiltrated, and many spent decades in prison on charges the Federal government subsequently admitted were bogus. More broadly, the argument around self-defense in America is a racist canard put forward by privileged whites to maintain race and class hierarchy from which they materially benefit. Put another way, if ‘self defense’ is the right, white America is the greatest threat, and has always been, to the lives and livelihoods of black, brown and indigenous peoples.

How to get away with murder (non-state actor edition) | Charles Davis

If you’re wearing a uniform, murdering someone you don’t like and getting away with it is only marginally harder than shooting a Rubik’s cube with a police-issued Glock. For the rest of us, it can be a real pain in the ass, success depending on a lot more than a blue code of silence. You really have to plan this stuff out! And with this modern life, with all its iPhones and picking Joey up from soccer practice and crushing institutional poverty, who has the time?

If you want to get away with murder while still maintaining a social life, here’s a few helpful tips:

1. Be a cop. I know we’ve covered this already, and this guide explicitly set out to help those that aren’t cops, but it’s really the best way. And if your frenemy lives abroad, be a soldier.

2. Be related to, and on good terms with, a cop or other member of law enforcement. Have a sheriff’s deputy for an uncle? Make him your favorite uncle.

3. This is a good one: Pick a fight – and lose it. Once you start losing, you can do what your favorite uncle does: pull out a gun and murder the target. In many jurisdictions, you are permitted to use lethal force in self defense. This can be tricky, because technically your target may be able to claim the same defense, particularly since you started the fight, so the trick is start losing early and pull your gun first.

As far as the law and any future jury is concerned, the clock starts when the person who pulls the trigger first gets scared they’ll get their ass kicked.

4. This is by far the most important factor in whether you can pull this off: have lighter skin than the victim the thug.

From the Merely Calamitous to the Ungraspably Nauseating | Arthur Silber

Honest to Christ, contemplation of a statement from the Killer-in-Chief — a serial murderer with a goddamned Kill List — that extols “a nation of laws,” asks “if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” and goes on to say, “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence,” goes far beyond nausea and horror. If a significant number of Americans were remotely healthy, they would treat Obama as they would any monster who raises his bloody arms from the open chest of his latest victim, lifts up his hands — which hold his victim’s heart, liver and other organs — twists himself with enormous effort into his most obviously and fundamentally false serious mien and with phonily solemn voice, as blood soaks the scene, implores us all to love one another and embrace tenderness and gentle care for each other as the greatest of virtues. Healthy people would regard such a scene with the monster as insane and horrifying. People should have the identical reaction to such statements from the fucking Killer-in-Chief. But most people assuredly do not, and I am beginning to think that is because this nation as a whole has suffered an irreparable psychotic break. I may exaggerate, but not by much. On some days, and this is one of them, I’m not even certain I’m exaggerating any longer.

Freedom Rider: If George Zimmerman Goes Free | Margaret Kimberly

… In 2012 the Macolm X Grass Roots Movement published a report which detailed the extra judicial killings of black people by the police, security guards and self-appointed law enforcers like Zimmerman. In the first half of that year they reported that 120 black people were murdered in this manner, one death every 36 hours. That report was recently updated to show that modern day lynch law takes place every 28 hours.

If Zimmerman goes free how will black people respond? There will surely be public expressions of anger and anguish, but there is a larger question. As a group, how will we react to the denial of justice for Trayvon Martin and the hundreds of others whose names we don’t even know? It wouldn’t be enough to tell people not to be violent, or to march in silent protest.

There must be very public, very outspoken acknowledgement that our system demands that black people be victimized by those in authority on a regular basis. A volunteer security guard qualifies as an authority if he kills a black person. The songs, parades and kumbayahs should be kept to a minimum. Anyone who speaks about the case should be unafraid to tell the ugly truth about the many ways in which black people are targeted in this country.

The well paid pundits and black misleaders should be called out if they aren’t willing to speak openly about why Trayvon Martin was killed. If the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement is correct, some 300 black people have died in the same manner since the day Trayvon was killed. Their names need to be known and there should be a frank discussion about why they died. Mealy mouthed platitudes urging us to “talk about race” and silly questions about why black and white people see things differently are an affront to intelligence and to justice.

Trayvon Martin is dead because lynch law still lives. If George Zimmerman is acquitted that simple fact ought to be spoken loudly and often. If it isn’t then the injustice is magnified for Trayvon Martin and the hundreds of other unknown victims.

Open season on black boys after a verdict like this | Gary Younge

Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn’t like the look of him.

The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year was tragic. But in the age of Obama the acquittal of George Zimmerman offers at least that clarity. For the salient facts in this case were not in dispute. On 26 February 2012 Martin was on his way home, minding his own business armed only with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman pursued him, armed with a 9mm handgun, believing him to be a criminal. Martin resisted. They fought. Zimmerman shot him dead.

Who screamed. Who was stronger. Who called whom what and when and why are all details to warm the heart of a cable news producer with 24 hours to fill. Strip them all away and the truth remains that Martin’s heart would still be beating if Zimmerman had not chased him down and shot him.

There is no doubt about who the aggressor was here. It appears that the only reason the two interacted at all, physically or otherwise, is that Zimmerman believed it was his civic duty to apprehend an innocent teenager who caused suspicion by his existence alone.

Appeals for calm in the wake of such a verdict raise the question of what calm there can possibly be in a place where such a verdict is possible. Parents of black boys are not likely to feel calm. Partners of black men are not likely to feel calm. Children with black fathers are not likely to feel calm. Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.

But while the acquittal was shameful it was not a shock. It took more than six weeks after Martin’s death for Zimmerman to be arrested and only then after massive pressure both nationally and locally. Those who dismissed this as a political trial (a peculiar accusation in the summer of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden) should bear in mind that it was politics that made this case controversial.

Charging Zimmerman should have been a no-brainer. He was not initially charged because Florida has a “stand your ground” law whereby deadly force is permitted if the person “reasonably believes” it is necessary to protect their own life, the life of another or to prevent a forcible felony.

Since it was Zimmerman who stalked Martin, the question remains: what ground is a young black man entitled to and on what grounds may he defend himself? What version of events is there for that night in which Martin gets away with his life? Or is it open season on black boys after dark?

Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict will be contested for years to come. But he passed judgement on Trayvon that night summarily.

“Fucking punks,” Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that night. “These assholes. They always get away.”

So true it’s painful. And so predictable it hurts.

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:


Today in history: On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17 years old and unarmed, was shot and killed in cold blood in Sanford, Florida by neighborhood watch vigilante George Zimmerman. 
After ignoring an order from the police department, George Zimmerman profiled, followed, confronted and murdered Trayvon. The Sanford police department then proceeded to allow George Zimmerman to go home, a free man, with his murder weapon. A massive wave of outrage followed, with huge protests in Florida and around the country demanding justice for Travyon Martin and an end to racist brutality and killings in the U.S.
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Today in history: On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17 years old and unarmed, was shot and killed in cold blood in Sanford, Florida by neighborhood watch vigilante George Zimmerman.

After ignoring an order from the police department, George Zimmerman profiled, followed, confronted and murdered Trayvon. The Sanford police department then proceeded to allow George Zimmerman to go home, a free man, with his murder weapon. A massive wave of outrage followed, with huge protests in Florida and around the country demanding justice for Travyon Martin and an end to racist brutality and killings in the U.S.

Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)

(via randomactsofchaos)

Aurora, “Whiteness,” and the Double-Standard of Deviance/Social Control | Nancy A. Heitzeg

"The true power of this story becomes clear in juxtaposition of competing systems of social control — the Medicalization of White versus the Criminalization of Black/Brown."

[The] power of white privilege extends beyond individual versus collective accountability and representation. The white racial frame also shapes the labels we attach to aberrant white behavior and the systems we call upon to control the related deviance. Although James Holmes is indeed facing criminal charges of the most extreme sort, it is the medical model that is called on to “understand” him. He isn’t totally “bad” — despite his horrific criminal acts, Holmes is a mutant, an aberration on the trajectory of “normal” white maleness. Even in the context of criminal justice – insanity pleas or no, death penalty or no — he will be viewed as “psychopathic”, ultimately then as “sick”. Someone should have/could have “helped” him before it was too late. Of course, one of the key features of the medical model involves mitigating deviant behavior by attributing it to “sickness rather than badness”, with a particular focus on the condition rather than the behavior and treatment as opposed to punishment.

The white racial frame increasingly sees white “deviants” as sick – and maybe some are — but contrast this with the framing of both offenders and victims of color. They are irredeemably “evil” — no questions asked, guilt assumed, and punishment — in draconian legal systems not posh private treatment centers — is the corresponding response. The collective taint of criminalization is so strong that the actually innocent may be easily swept up, wild racial hoaxes furthered without sufficient doubt, and victims, such as Trayvon Martin, reframed via “white logic” as dangerous hoodie-wearing thugs who ultimately got just what they deserved.

Read more

inothernews:

“Gov. Rick Scott of Florida on Thursday named the members of a task force that will examine the state’s gun’s laws, including the expansive and controversial Stand Your Ground law that has been cited in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The 17-member panel is being led by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll; the vice chairman is the Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, one of the largest churches in Florida. The task force will report back to the governor and the Legislature.

Ms. Carroll said the group includes a mix of law enforcement officials, lawmakers, neighborhood watch leaders, criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors, among others.

“We look forward to hearing from the citizens of our state about their concerns and recommendations for keeping our state safe,” Ms. Carroll said at a news conference with Mr. Scott and Mr. Holmes.

Ms. Carroll said the task force would begin its work on May 1 and hold public meetings around the state. It has set up a Web site and a Twitter account, @FLCitizenSafety, to allow the public to follow its work.

“We are not walking into this with any preconceived notions,” said Governor Scott, a Republican, who announced in March that he would appoint a panel to address concerns raised over how the criminal justice system responded to Mr. Martin’s killing. He said part of the task force’s job would be to examine data that has been gathered since the Stand Your Ground law was enacted in 2005.”

The New York Times, “Task Force Appointed to Look at Florida Gun Laws”

The simple truth is that what happened in Sanford, Florida, is a tragedy law cannot mend. It is a tragedy produced by our culture itself—a culture where racial divides and distrust remain as prevalent as they were when Rodney King, a black man, was beaten by white police officers in 1991, or when Abner Louima, another black man, was beaten and sodomized in 1997 by police officers in a Brooklyn police station. It is the culture itself that needs repair. Maybe putting George Zimmerman on trial will help accomplish that, but a better place to start would be with the Florida law. It’s a law that might well be innocuous or benign in a society truly marked by equality and trust. But in the society we actually have, a law that allows a human being to kill someone else even when no one’s life or safety is at risk is the legal equivalent of stoking a bonfire at a gas station. George Zimmerman’s 2nd-Degree Murder Charge Fixes Nothing (via champagnecandy)

(via champagnecandy)

Orwellian Newspeak and Pre-Emptive “Defence”

A self-appointed vigilante, carrying a loaded gun, decides to look for “danger” in his neighborhood. He begins to follow a 17-year-old boy, who is carrying candy and a soft drink. The boy asks why he is being followed; words are exchanged. The man aims his gun at the boy, fires, and kills the boy dead. The man claims he acted in “self-defense.”

A vigilante Super-State, armed to the teeth with thousands of WMDs, claims to perceive a threat from a small country, still battered and tattered from a war lost over a decade ago. However, international inspectors are allowed to scour the country and find no such threat (i.e., WMDs). Even so, to “prevent” any possibility of such a threat, the vigilante Super-State launches an all-out War on the small country—which is quickly pulverized, incinerated and murdered on a mass scale. Shortly thereafter, it is discovered that the small country was un-armed. “But the small country might still have made war!” the mass-murdering Super-State proclaimed. “We reserve the right to pre-emptively attack in the name of our security and interests!”

(Source: azspot, via odoriferouszephyrs)

BREAKING: George Zimmerman Is In Police Custody, He Is To Be Charged With Second Degree Murder

occupyallstreets:

The AP reports that Trayvon Martin’s shooter George Zimmerman is currently in police custody and will be charged with murder in the second degree, a more serious crime than the manslaughter charge many analysts speculated Zimmerman might face.

Under Florida law, second degree murder is defined as “[t]he unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.” Zimmerman faces life in prison.

Source

(via anarcho-queer)

quickhits:

ALEC, Guns, Prisons, and the Lucrative Business of Fear
The Trayvon Martin case has brought a secretive group to national attention. “The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has traditionally been anonymous, working behind the scenes to advance a far-right agenda far from the public spotlight — which was always the intended plan,” writes Steve Benen. “Shadowy obscurity allowed ALEC to be more effective and made it easier for lawmakers to follow the group’s lead without controversy.”
ALEC is behind many bad ideas at the state level; ultrasound laws, attacks on Planned Parenthood funding, attacks on unions, the Republican War on Voting, and — of course — insanely liberal gun laws like “Stand Your Ground.” The sum total of ALEC-inspired gun laws has turned states like Florida into wild west-style war zones, where one in every fifteen adults has a concealed carry permit. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for the safe society that conservatives tell us it does. If you doubt that, consider how safe a gun saturated community kept Trayvon Martin.
But the purpose of all these gun laws isn’t to keep anyone safe, no matter what you’re told. The purpose is to create fear. Liberal gun laws are great PR for fearmongers. They pretend to decide to “finally get serious” about a problem you had no idea existed. And the reason you were ignorant of the problem is because it doesn’t exist. As they do with voter ID laws and voter fraud, political hacks use a few isolated incidents to create the impression of a massive problem about to overrun the United States. First the argument is that the only way to protect yourself is to get a gun, then it’s that liberals are too strict about how you use that gun. Finally, it reaches the absurd level of “Stand Your Ground,” which — when all is said and done — allows you to shoot anyone you’re afraid of.
Of course, two ALEC member groups benefit greatly from all this. The first and most obvious is the National Rifle Association. Don’t let anyone fool you, the NRA is a corporate lobbying firm, not a grassroots group. Everything the NRA does has one goal in mind; sell more guns and ammo. With the 1:15 concealed carry stat, they’ve been extremely successful in marketing fear to Floridians.
But the other is less obvious — the prison-industrial complex. Private prisons don’t benefit directly from loose gun laws, but they do benefit from the culture of fear used to promote them. The same disproportionate fear of crime that leads to “shoot first, ask questions later” laws also contributes to the criminalization of minor offenses, the continuing (and failing) War on Drugs, increasingly extended sentences, and other laws guaranteed to keep prisons full to overflowing.
And if you think the prison-industrial complex only profits from housing convicts, think again. Last August, a piece in The Nation — “The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor” — described how the private prison industry is basically stealing jobs from non-incarcerated Americans.

Although a wide variety of goods have long been produced by state and federal prisoners for the US government—license plates are the classic example, with more recent contracts including everything from guided missile parts to the solar panels powering government buildings—prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies. But this has changed thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Prison Industries Act, and a little-known federal program known as PIE (the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program). While much has been written about prison labor in the past several years, these forces, which have driven its expansion, remain largely unknown.

“Three strikes” laws, “truth in sentencing” laws, and other ALEC-inspired measures serve only to make it harder to leave prison once you enter it — and to make it easy to go back if you manage to get out. Meanwhile, all those convicts the state is paying you to house are workers who will work for third world wages, taking jobs from other workers. On TV and in the movies, these workers work in the prison laundry. But the Florida Department of Corrections lists jobs as diverse as optical lens grinding to customer service reps, all under the guise of “rehabilitation,” by a private nonprofit called Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc. (PRIDE). It’s a practice called “insourcing” — i.e., instead of outsourcing to cheap overseas labor, you insource to America’s own captive worker population.
Private prisons are hotbeds of human rights abuse. And it’s hard to get people to care about that because of the (incorrect) perception that incarcerated people are treated too well. In the minds of far too many, they’re animals and monsters finally getting what they deserve, not the drug war victim busted under “three strikes” for selling pot to his buddies — mostly because politicians don’t talk about prison populations in realistic ways. In the same way, when you talk about prison labor taking away jobs, it’s dismissed as giving these “animals” a “free ride.”
Even if you accept the argument that everyone in prison richly deserves to be there (and no doubt, many do), it’s hard to justify taking jobs from innocent workers and giving them to these criminals. But there again, fear kicks in. Fear — and the hatred it engenders — is irrational. You say “prison labor” and too many peoples’ brains lock on the word “prison.” Then they define it as “building filled with people I hate because I’m afraid of them.” Make them work, not lie around on their bunk all day watching cable.
Fear is a lucrative business. And ALEC is Fear, Inc.
-Wisco

quickhits:

ALEC, Guns, Prisons, and the Lucrative Business of Fear

The Trayvon Martin case has brought a secretive group to national attention. “The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has traditionally been anonymous, working behind the scenes to advance a far-right agenda far from the public spotlight — which was always the intended plan,” writes Steve Benen. “Shadowy obscurity allowed ALEC to be more effective and made it easier for lawmakers to follow the group’s lead without controversy.”

ALEC is behind many bad ideas at the state level; ultrasound laws, attacks on Planned Parenthood funding, attacks on unions, the Republican War on Voting, and — of course — insanely liberal gun laws like “Stand Your Ground.” The sum total of ALEC-inspired gun laws has turned states like Florida into wild west-style war zones, where one in every fifteen adults has a concealed carry permit. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for the safe society that conservatives tell us it does. If you doubt that, consider how safe a gun saturated community kept Trayvon Martin.

But the purpose of all these gun laws isn’t to keep anyone safe, no matter what you’re told. The purpose is to create fear. Liberal gun laws are great PR for fearmongers. They pretend to decide to “finally get serious” about a problem you had no idea existed. And the reason you were ignorant of the problem is because it doesn’t exist. As they do with voter ID laws and voter fraud, political hacks use a few isolated incidents to create the impression of a massive problem about to overrun the United States. First the argument is that the only way to protect yourself is to get a gun, then it’s that liberals are too strict about how you use that gun. Finally, it reaches the absurd level of “Stand Your Ground,” which — when all is said and done — allows you to shoot anyone you’re afraid of.

Of course, two ALEC member groups benefit greatly from all this. The first and most obvious is the National Rifle Association. Don’t let anyone fool you, the NRA is a corporate lobbying firm, not a grassroots group. Everything the NRA does has one goal in mind; sell more guns and ammo. With the 1:15 concealed carry stat, they’ve been extremely successful in marketing fear to Floridians.

But the other is less obvious — the prison-industrial complex. Private prisons don’t benefit directly from loose gun laws, but they do benefit from the culture of fear used to promote them. The same disproportionate fear of crime that leads to “shoot first, ask questions later” laws also contributes to the criminalization of minor offenses, the continuing (and failing) War on Drugs, increasingly extended sentences, and other laws guaranteed to keep prisons full to overflowing.

And if you think the prison-industrial complex only profits from housing convicts, think again. Last August, a piece in The Nation — “The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor” — described how the private prison industry is basically stealing jobs from non-incarcerated Americans.

Although a wide variety of goods have long been produced by state and federal prisoners for the US government—license plates are the classic example, with more recent contracts including everything from guided missile parts to the solar panels powering government buildings—prison labor for the private sector was legally barred for years, to avoid unfair competition with private companies. But this has changed thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), its Prison Industries Act, and a little-known federal program known as PIE (the Prison Industries Enhancement Certification Program). While much has been written about prison labor in the past several years, these forces, which have driven its expansion, remain largely unknown.

“Three strikes” laws, “truth in sentencing” laws, and other ALEC-inspired measures serve only to make it harder to leave prison once you enter it — and to make it easy to go back if you manage to get out. Meanwhile, all those convicts the state is paying you to house are workers who will work for third world wages, taking jobs from other workers. On TV and in the movies, these workers work in the prison laundry. But the Florida Department of Corrections lists jobs as diverse as optical lens grinding to customer service reps, all under the guise of “rehabilitation,” by a private nonprofit called Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc. (PRIDE). It’s a practice called “insourcing” — i.e., instead of outsourcing to cheap overseas labor, you insource to America’s own captive worker population.

Private prisons are hotbeds of human rights abuse. And it’s hard to get people to care about that because of the (incorrect) perception that incarcerated people are treated too well. In the minds of far too many, they’re animals and monsters finally getting what they deserve, not the drug war victim busted under “three strikes” for selling pot to his buddies — mostly because politicians don’t talk about prison populations in realistic ways. In the same way, when you talk about prison labor taking away jobs, it’s dismissed as giving these “animals” a “free ride.”

Even if you accept the argument that everyone in prison richly deserves to be there (and no doubt, many do), it’s hard to justify taking jobs from innocent workers and giving them to these criminals. But there again, fear kicks in. Fear — and the hatred it engenders — is irrational. You say “prison labor” and too many peoples’ brains lock on the word “prison.” Then they define it as “building filled with people I hate because I’m afraid of them.” Make them work, not lie around on their bunk all day watching cable.

Fear is a lucrative business. And ALEC is Fear, Inc.

-Wisco