Sunday, December 28, 2014

Poverty Is Not A Crime


There is a very significant problem in America that very few media outlets are paying attention to. The criminalization of poverty is becoming an issue in America, and no one seems to care. What's disheartening is that this trend  is coinciding with a growing number of Americans falling into poverty.  The increasing inequality in America has been well documented, and the results are more and more people showing up on our cities' streets.  While none of us were looking, state and federal agencies have been waging an undeclared war against the poor and homeless in this country.  Just the basic human biological needs ---like sitting, sleeping, or lying down have been labeled as loitering thus causing persons to be fined or arrested.  Here are some specifics:
 
Homeless Camp In New Jersey
 


  • Over 1/3 of the large American cities have imposed city-wide bans on public homeless camps.  A 60% increase since 2011. These camps often in a metropolitan city are under a bridge, beneath the overpass on the freeway or railroad trestles. 
  • In a growing number of American cities like Tampa, Florida, a person deemed homeless gets thrown in jail.[See Source
  • There have been bans on asking for food in public and giving out food to the homeless in public.[See Article]
Let's put this into perspective. What are the implications of this? Could you envision a police officer walking through a city park or any other common public area, seeing  a white male dressed in a suit and tie taking a lunch time nap on a park bench and arresting him?  No!  No,  those people are seen as hard working and just taking their mid-day power nap before they have to go back to work. The people who aren't permitted this same luxury are the homeless.  For fear of being arrested,  the homeless person must wander around all day long, continuously on the move.  Why?  Because in many cities now, you can be incarcerated for just simply being homeless,  and to take a nap on a park bench with your bags would draw the eye of the authorities.

Even Charity Is Being Banned In Some Cities!






The House of Public Discourse has found through our research one glaring motivation behind all of this legislation by our nation's municipalities regarding the homeless; to legislate the homeless problem out of sight and mind and to punish people who do not comply.  Taking away essential services to assist the homeless will force these needy Americans to go somewhere else with their problems .  One of the many trains of thought is that providing services for the homeless enables them to remain homeless.  Factoring in a political dynamic that caters to the racist and anti-tax crowd that believes these people should be left to fend for themselves, we easily see that idea is not only narrow-minded and wrong, it's un-American. People are homeless for a variety of reasons. Many areas in this country lack affordable housing, jobs, mental and physical health care and a working wage that is not indicative of the cost of living in a particular area.[See Article]

Increasing Need for Food Assistance across the U.S.

The 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, conducted
by the United States Conference of Mayors

•     83% (19 of 25) of cities surveyed, in 2013, reported
an increase in the number of emergency food
requests from the previous year
•     91% reported an increase in persons seeking
food assistance for the first time
•     80% reported an increase in frequency of visits
to food pantries and emergency kitchens each
month

No matter these findings and despite the growing need for food assistance, cities have chosen to target the homeless by prohibiting their access to food sharing programs.

With a growing increase in need:
•     78% of cities had to reduce the number of times
a person could visit the food pantry each month
•     66% had to turn people away due to lack of resources


No Safe Place

As if homelessness was not hard enough on an individual within itself,  turning it into a criminal offense is, in a word, horrific.  For instance, in Bakersfield, CA, it is now against the law to panhandle for money.[See Source] This law is just one example of how communities all across America are clamping down on the plight of homelessness.  In another California city, an ordinance was passed making it a crime to sleep in your car.  That's right, sleeping in the car you own can land you in jail for six months.  The explanation given for this ridiculous ordinance was that it ruined the quality of life for the cities' elitist community.  The end goal for these so-called quality of life laws is to make no safe place for the homeless to rest. These type requirements are expanding nationwide. What all these facts and figures and ordinances amount to is an all out assault on homelessness. Unfortunately, it does not stop with these measures.  The mere act of being a good Samaritan to the homeless can land you in jail.  One of the most bizarre restrictions we uncovered was in New York City.  In that city, it was made illegal to donate food to a homeless shelter based on the fact that the food given could not be accessed for salt, fat, and fiber content!

So with corporate profits soaring to record levels while income inequality falls to record level lows it begs the following question:

When Did The War On Poverty Turn Into A War On The Poor?


Despite the slow but sure economic recovery from Bush II era politics, poverty in the U.S. is on the rise.  Poverty in America is becoming mainstream.  4 out of 5 Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness. Why do we see this downward slope after 50 years of the so-called " War on Poverty?"   One of the main factors that jumps from the page is capitalism.[ See: The American Dream Has Been Hijacked By The Capitalists]  We see an all out assault on every social program to assist the poor, and a total attempt to turn back the hands of time on civil rights legislation passed back in 1964.  There has been a stealing of people's pensions, a living wage that has not kept up with the growing cost of living, the outsourcing of jobs to other countries--- all tenants of the Mitt Romney-style of vulture capitalism.  Unions are being attacked and disbanded.  Even the smallest of measures to help the poor have been cut or done away with while there is an ever increasing trend to subsidize corporations and to sponsor arguably  unconstitutional amendments to make them appear as a person.  The bottom line is that measures that help poor people are being mitigated away while actions to help the rich have been enhanced.

According to a 2013 Census Supplemental ,  almost 50 million in the U.S. are poor.  Food Stamps keep five million out of poverty, and without Social Security,  more than half of America's elderly would be in poverty.[ See Additional Source

How much is the present assault on social services increasing this gap?

We have seen Republicans in every state work to cut food stamps while adding benefits for the wealthy. We have seen Democrats cave on their principles in relevant matters to Republicans who use these cuts to the poor as leverage to enact legislation for their deep-pocket political donors;  The old-Washington two-step.  The reality is these social services that are kicked around like a football on Super Bowl Sunday are a lifeline for a vast amount of American citizens.



What Are The Solutions?

Firstly, we must address the living wage issues in America. Increasing the minimum wage to $15 would be a nice start. Secondly, "We The People," must not lose our rights to organize on all fronts... labor, health care, and education just to name a few. We need to ensure and bring back guaranteed pensions for people who are long time employees and work hard all their lives for an employer.  We need to move away from a system that rewards profits over people. The free-markets have freed a few and enslaved the masses. We need as a collective society to change our priorities to those that put the common welfare of the people ahead of the common welfare of the corporations and their so-called free markets. 

It is the position of the House of Public Discourse that the steps needed to combat this war on the poor and the services they depend on should originate at the local levels of every community in this country. We who care must step up our advocacy for a positive change to make a brighter tomorrow for all Americans. The real unspoken and often under-disclosed fact is that the majority of Americans are, in fact, themselves one paycheck away from poverty and the streets.  Being poor is a condition with many variables.  But the one truism this writer holds close to the heart is " Poverty Is Not A Crime."



Written By: Johnny Hill






Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Discourse Unplugged with Johnny Hill

STOP THE MADNESS!!!!!

From House Member DeAnn Padelo





Saturday, December 20, 2014

We The People Are Paying For Our Peril!

In America, we have seen a materialization  of cops meeting the military. Once upon a time, cops and the military had very different missions. It was widely held to conflate the two wasn't good for a free society. What we have seen happen over the last generation or so, beginning with the " War on Drugs,"  is the military selling weapons to police, including, tanks, armor-coated vehicles, helicopters, guns, and other heavy armaments.....even the old bayonet!  One of the first results of this practice was for police agencies across the country, big and small,  to form S.W.A.T like teams within the police force.

In fact, the number of S.W.A.T teams across the country has risen dramatically. It's this drastic rise that has Americans in every corner of the country in protest mode. Pencil in the NSA and America has a very serious problem. What's totally unfair and evil is " We The People" are paying for our peril with our hard earned tax dollars, .[Buy Source Below]



RISE IN S.W.A.T. RAIDS  ANNUAL FIGURES.

1970-----2005
  • 1970's---Few Hundred
  • 1980's[Early]---3000
  • 2005---50,000

Source: Peter Kraska Easten Kentucky University

Before the Reagan " War on Drugs,"   most towns with 25K individuals who had S.W.A.T teams was about 15% but today that has risen to well over 80%.  What we see now is a domino effect from the 'Military Industrial Complex.' For example, we see Drones being used by police now. This development is problematic. America does not need a militarized police force! The recent events all over the country exhibiting police overkill have enlightened many Americans and motivated them to the point of national protests.

The Root of the Problem?  Under the Justice Department's COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program, 629 of the 800 police jobs funded for the next three years – all the newly hired officers – must go to veterans who served at least 180 days' active duty since 9/11. This is the first time the 18-year-old COPS program has required cities and counties seeking grants to hire veterans exclusively.[See SourceWhy is this a problem one might ask?  Thousands of Vets are getting ' less than honorable' discharges because they have (PTSD). How many of our Vets turned Cop suffer from this disorder in some capacity that, for a variety of reasons have slipped through the cracks?[See Article]

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?[PTSD]




According to a CNN report, the suicide rate among Veterans could be as high as 22 a day. That equates to a suicide every 65 minutes. The point here is that Veterans of wars have known mental issues. How many of these psychological issues have been masked by Vets looking for work in the civilian workplace? How many of these former soldiers turned cop have gone undiagnosed?  What has come to reality is that America has loose cannons running around in a uniform with a gun and, based on the history of police related shootings and the conviction rate thereof, a ' licence to kill' unarmed American citizens with no recompense. This civil injustice has caused millions of Americans to become larrikin, which in turn creates trigger happy police who shoot first and ask questions later.



This Is Not A War, It's a 12 year old kid!!

Earlier this year, the House of Public Discourse also found evidence of our nation's military brainwashing and encouraging our impressionable young soldiers to become " Holy Warriors."  Killing in the name of God was posh in the Dark Ages; are we returning to the Dark Ages in America? Is there a crusade against certain segments of our society?  If these questions seem far-fetched, why are our nation's police forces buying military gear at record levels at the expense of the tax- payer?

WE THE PEOPLE ARE PAYING FOR OUR PERIL!

There are lots of things going on here concerning the militarization of America's police forces. What we don't know is important. What's even more important is why we don't know it. This ambiguity is one reason, in the House view, the Ferguson community reacted in the way they did. For instance, the Ferguson Police Dept. has had cameras their officers could wear. Their cruisers have dash cameras installed. For whatever reason, they decided not to use them. Why? If they did use these devices as they were intended, we would know what transpired on that day Darren Wilson shot an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown dead. We would know a lot more as to who was at fault. In fact, these devices could have justified the action of officer Wilson. In reality, what we got was a grand jury process run amuck.[See Article]

Is America In A State Of Emergency?

What has added fuel to the fire is how America's 

police forces have reacted towards this civil-

disobedience. For example, who can forget the 

nonchalant press conference held by St. Louis County 

Police Chief Jon Belmar.  




In retrospect, there was a peaceful protest shortly after this news conference. Police met this protest with a substantial resistance, including snipers who had guns pointed at unarmed peaceful protesters. This show of force by the Ferguson Police Dept set the stage for this entire travesty of justice. When you show up at a protest expecting violence you, in fact, are self-fulfilling a narrative of seeing the protesters as the enemy.  All the protesters were doing was exercising their rights provided by the U.S. Constitution. When the protesters look at police and see this posture of Robo-cop, the people see these cops not as a protector of the community but the centerpiece of the very institution they are protesting. When you immediately respond in such a manner what you are telling the protesters is you don't have the right to public expression, and we are here to curtail this expression.  

We The People Must Demand Transparency and Accountability from Law-Enforcement. 

One of the significant problems our research found was the demographics of the Ferguson Police Dept, which was a far cry from the demographics of the Ferguson community, and this is prevalent all over the country.  It is critical that the community see itself in the police force they are funding with their tax dollars. Our study into this situation has shown that communities need to see the cops as representations of their ranks; not some ex-military person from who knows where, hired because of some government program to show favoritism over a non-military local applicant from the community. It's imperative that the community sees that the local law-enforcement has a stake in the commonwealth of all the people of the city, town, or nation it is tasked to serve and protect. When a community doesn't see itself reflected in the police force, like in Ferguson, they see these individuals as outsiders imposed upon them. By the same token, when the police officer does not identify with the people from his/her area, it's harder for him to feel a part of that community.

   What human psychology  suggests  is when this situation is self-evident,  people are less likely to see each other as neighbors and more as threats. 

One of the major side-effects of this societal condition is a lack of corporation between citizens and law-enforcement. This situation is dangerous because there is this attitude that if you talk to police you will be labeled a snitch. What is troubling  is that this goes to violent crimes as well as non-violent ones. What is so profound about the fiasco in Ferguson,MO  is that,  not since the killing of students at Kent State University in the 70's,  has the American public witnessed a police show of force that mirrored a military type endeavor on the streets of Baghdad,  by supposedly civic- minded policeman. Throughout our nation's history as a ' rule of thumb,' we have been adverse to using our military for domestic law enforcement. 
      



The business of being a soldier is very different than that of a street cop. What concerns this writer is the fact our military trains soldiers to become killers. What has become evident by the escalating questionable police shootings in America  is that we are putting trained killers on our streets with psychological issues like PTSD, to oversee communities that many do not identify with or relate to, and in some cases loath. A police officer in America is supposed to be a civic-minded civil servant. In fairness, the United States Military has for the longest time held the position of staying out of civil law enforcement and does not want to be involved for the most part. However, this has not stopped them from selling outdated and overstocked military equipment to state and local police agencies. Where the problem festers is with civil law enforcement who have a strong desire to become more like an army. No matter if a cop is an ex-military or a civilian recruit,  when we supply them with war-like equipment, train them in military tactics and tell them they are in some war, it begs the question: what type of mindset are we cultivating?

Our founding fathers were extremely aware of having the military enforce civil law. They got a high dose of it from the British and was one of the main reasons for the American Revolution. This tension came to a head in the Boston Massacre, which ultimately led to the American Rebellion. There are some bottom lines here. Soldiers are trained to kill people,  not protect them. By having individuals with this indoctrination and training now in civilian policing,  what you have is a time bomb and what we see in the here and now is an explosion. What must not get lost is that these killings by cops have become an everyday event, with very few reaching the national media attention as did the Ferguson and New York cases.


In closing, our advocacy here at the House of Public Discourse contends we must reverse these trends we see playing out in our news feeds on a day to day basis. How many more of these police shootings will be tolerated by the American people before the country erupts from civil discourse to civil unrest?  How many more unarmed suspects have to die before we return to some sanity in America where we demand justice for all with a sense of fairness for the everyday citizen? The fact is "We The People" need to take back our government from the corporations who have our elected officials in their hip-pocket. The cops are employees of the people. Our taxes pay for their salaries, equipment, pensions, and in most cases,  health care. I for one,  am sick and tired of my tax dollars going to fund this abhorrent and racist behavior by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. America is in a backward free fall across the board regarding civil rights. America has regressed into a corporation owned fascist government with an attempt to dumb-down this nation by cutting funding for education and having a military police force on stand-by when we as people try to express our rights and express our dissatisfaction through constitutionally protected public discourse. What should make us all emboldened to take action is how "We The People Are Paying For Our Peril!

President Obama Has Taken Some Positive Steps.





Source of Article: Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley Balko


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Civil Injustice Creates Civil Disobedience! ( One Tin-Soldier Time)

We see right now how civil injustice creates civil disobedience. Also associated with social injustice, our nation is spiraling headfirst into civil disobedience. Injustice is opposite to Justice. It can be natural or civil in nature. Natural injustice is acts that do harm to mankind by violating natural rights. Civil Injustice is the unlawful violation of civil rights. [See Source]




The Civil Rights Acts Are Under Attack!


How Soon America Forgets?




America is a nation that was founded on the rule of law. In the Ferguson case, it was a grand jury's to make the right call. Many in America think  the process has run amuck. Civil Disobedience is rising up not only in America but all over the world. People are angry. With the recent events surrounding the killing of unarmed civilians on the rise, to coin a phrase," Houston We Have A Problem."  We have heard calls coming from the White House to please protest peacefully. From day 1 of these incidents becoming front-page news, many in America know these events are routine. There is a given that is undeniable; a deep distrust exists between police and persons of  color in America. This distrust can clearly be linked back to racial discrimination.

Civil Injustice Goes Way Deeper Than Ferguson?  

This issue is about America. We The People have a right to be angry. What has become evident to so many people now, that others who have had encounters with law enforcement before understand, is that the Judicial System is rigged.  What has resulted is a firestorm of civil disobedience across the country. 

We are all for Civil Disobedience at the House of  Public Discourse. On the issues of racism, corruption, and inequality they all equal to the sum of Civil Injustice. 


People Are Mad As Hell And They're Soon Not To Take It Anymore!

  



Thousands of people have protested in our nations' capital. Despite the cold of New York City, thousands showed up for demonstrations. There has been an outcry to change the legislation and process of police related shootings and deaths roaring across America.

According to most reports, the mood of the crowds has been calm but defiant. All sources show there are a plenty of police nearby. 

With all of this activity and protesting, there is one thing that remains paramount, " Cops Almost Always Go Free." Indictment on law-enforcement is rare. 




We Must Have Civil Disobedience or We Have Nothing.

Non-violence does not mean acceptance. However, resistance is necessary and has been throughout American history. Civil Disobedience is not at all passive.  It involves strikes, boycotts, an unwillingness to cooperate, and mass demonstrations.  In fairness in the realm of Civil Disobedience, sabotage is not out of the question.  What is imperative is that your civil cause plays to the conscience of the world. The recent activity of police in America has awakened the conscience of the world to the level of Civil Injustice in America today.  To a point, maybe we can use these tragedies  as a springboard to effect change.  Direct actions do not devalue the use of political rights such as the right to vote, civil liberties; however, Civil Disobedience checks those controlled and now rigged mechanisms. It is important that we recognize just how and who are writing and passing laws these days.  What are the motivations behind these laws?  These factions  include many lobbyists who write the laws and buy the politicians to introduce them. [Laws]   
  



There are and have always been people in America who are troubled by Civil Disobedience. The 1% and Global Elites and their  strings-attached politicians get a little upset when the people raise a voice. The purpose of Civil Disobedience is to do that very thing, to upset the status-quo.  It should be the goal of every person who calls himself an activist, or someone who cares about people or the good-ole concerned citizen to rise up with a loud voice at these troubling recent events in this country.

It should be clear; Civil Disobedience's primary intention is to disturb the stimuli and in this case, the civil injustice in America. It has become evident we have a secret police in this country. Our research at the House of Public Discourse has clearly shown a total regression of civil rights, civil liberties, and other social justice issues on many fronts. The police in this country act as if we are a totalitarian state. Speaking out for injustice has never been a beautiful game in America. Many have lost their lives in this struggle. All of these recent events has brought me back to my junior high school days in the mid 70's and the man with the plan was Billy Jack. With a country out of control and with civil injustice creating civil disobedience America needs that " One Tin-Soldier," more than ever.






Sunday, December 7, 2014

Do We Need Police Reform In America?

Do we need police reform in America? After recent events this past week, is there still any need for this question? The events of Ferguson and the New York killings have set off protests across the nation.

Street View

Following the announcement that a New York grand jury would not indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, D.C. protesters took to Dupont Circle and other parts of the city to demonstrate.



Who Is Policing The Police?

There is a movement happening across this country. The narrative of this campaign asks the question "How do we police the police?" Right now, it has become clear that We The People do not have a proper mechanism in place. Our research has found this to be a problem spanning  several decades. Who will police the police has been a nightmare for the American citizen for decades. There has been some action in the form of citizen's review boards, but they have proven to be ineffective. 

 It's the position of the House that we need to up our standards for police officers and provide better pay as well. We need to push for an independent faction other than the criminal justice system policing cops.What is not working is prosecutors and judges in big and small cities and towns across this nation who work hand-to-hand every day with police being the agency to oversee the cops behaviors in this country. 

There is an apparent bias in the criminal justice system towards cops.

It's  now common knowledge of the total miscarriage of justice in the Michael Brown Ferguson case. 
But surely there will be justice for the Eric Garner family in that  police choking murder case. Wrong! Even with a video that was, in this writers' view,  proof of the homicide by cop, the police officers in this matter were set free. Disappointing!

The Ferguson failures are an enormous eye-opener in the American psyche. This event has shed light on a process run amuck.  It should be clear there was no trial in the Ferguson case. We now know a rigged Grand Jury process has set officer Darren Wilson free and a whole bevy of New York's finest have just been set free as well.  Lest we forget, there was no cross-examining of witnesses in the Ferguson case. In the Ferguson case, there was no sharing of evidence and the bottom-line is that most legal scholars, both left and right, agree this was a  deliberately botched job by the prosecutor. These outcomes are bizarre and are major focal points of the growing tensions in America.  What should be human and justice issues have now become partisan politics, and that cannot continue.

The right-wing of the Republican Party tactics, with their racist dog-whistles, the Nixon southern strategy, a  healthy dose of Reganomics and what we have today is the worst of the Republicans. The party's 1% are pandering to the least common denominator of their base. See Article]  It's evident the Republican machine is stirring up the natives for 2016.

What Does The World Think Of These Events?

Human Rights in America are under attack!

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement that they had "legitimate concerns" over two separate U.S. grand jury decisions not to indict the white officers involved in the deaths of unarmed, black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.[See Source]
"The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have added to our existing concerns over the longstanding prevalence of racial discrimination faced by African-Americans, particularly in relation to access to justice and discriminatory police practices," said Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, the OHCHR’s chairperson of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. 

Black Life Matters! 

Times are testy in America today, maybe worse than ever. We have seen for two straight years a regression in Civil Rights legislation. We are moving backward to what some have called  the "stone-age," to a time when women and minorities had zero rights. 

The Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have become the poster children of police corruption from the streets to the courthouse. 

We are hearing the term " Police State," being bandied about in these times. Just what is a police state and what does it look like?


Part 2



Will Racism Be The End of America?

Taking care not to be hyperbolic, it's imperative America rights its course on human rights, civil rights, and common sense.  Most whites in this country believe in white supremacy and black inferiority even more than they believe in God. Racism is an issue that can no longer be avoided. For those who don't think it's an issue,  answer the question why do lobbyists spend billions to overturn civil rights legislation? There has been an overall simplifying, stereotyping, and distorted view about minorities propagated  in this country.

The House Of Public Discourse Calls for an open dialogue about Racism in America. 

A History.

Racism as we know it originated back in the 16th century when the Europeans were enslaving Africans and offering them to people of the New World for trade. Racism in the Western World is associated with slavery over which a significant Civil War was fought. From the earliest of times, non-Europeans  have been enslaved by Europeans. From day one, racism has been a factor in American culture. It started with the Indians, and we all know how that turned out. However, it was the Europeans having to deal with non-Europeans that facilitated the term "racism." The British Empire used slaves to expand their vast empire. Many of the attitudes about blacks from white people today trace back to the attitude of the British. The engine driving the slave trade was clearly economics.

The Color Of Money!

Africans were a commodity to the British Empire.  Some experts claim as many as 11 million slaves were chained and thrown into the hull of a ship with little food or water. Some estimate 2 million slaves died on the journey and were thrown overboard. Slaves were viewed as sub-human. The master had absolute power over them. The masters had the whips and chains and most of all the weapons to administer punishment for those who stepped out of line.  Because of early fear of a slave revolt slaves were watched  carefully by their masters. When they became too stubborn, they were hung or shot.   It is unknown how many millions of slaves were murdered. 

Christendom Approved of  Slavery.

Much of the torture and capturing of slaves by Spain was done in the name of God, backed by the Catholic church. There are many accounts of  the massacre of the inquisition. In fact, history tells a horrific story. As a writer, one of my primary narratives is that history does repeat itself. We know from our research that religious councils helped to determine even if these slaves were humans. Many were put to death in the name of God.

How Is this behavioral history relative Today? 

What is an underlying question of both the Ferguson and New York cases is how frequently are there occurrences of police involved deaths happening  in America? According to a national statistic that tracks police killings, hundreds of homicides by law enforcement were not included in records kept by the FBI. 

From 2007 To 2012


A Wall Street Journal analysis of the latest data from 105 of the country’s largest police agencies found more than 550 police killings during those years were missing from the national tally or, in a few dozen cases, not attributed to the agency involved. The result: It is nearly impossible to determine how many people are killed by the police each year. [See Source]

There Has Been A Long Standing " Lack of Information," About Killings By Police! 

Jeffery Fagan

 “When cops are killed, there is a very careful account and there’s a national database,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University. “Why not the other side of the ledger?”





According to the Wall Street Journal  
To analyze the accuracy of the FBI data, the Journal requested internal records on killings by officers from the nation’s 110 largest police departments. One-hundred-five of them provided figures.
Those internal figures show at least 1,800 police killings in those 105 departments between 2007 and 2012, about 45% more than the FBI’s tally for justifiable homicides in those departments’ jurisdictions, which was 1,242, according to the Journal’s analysis. Nearly all police killings are deemed by the departments or other authorities to be justifiable.

The System Needs To Be Reformed.

The American Justice System seems to be falling apart. With the Michael Brown and Eric Garner decisions sparking nationwide multi-racial anger and frustration, we are witnessing protests against the legal process run amuck. Our nation is on pins and needles right now, right here, this second. The Trayvon Martin case is not so long ago not to still sting when pondered. It would be an understatement to say everyday American citizens are losing confidence in the Judicial System.  Our Judicial System is supposed to be a pillar of our democracy. The African-American community has been targeted by law enforcement since crime statistics have been kept. The relativity of evil tells us if you have more  white officers in black neighborhoods their arrest rates will be higher than in the white areas. There is a history of a battle between persons of color and law enforcement in America. These recent events are but the tip of the iceberg. 

A Cry From The House: ADDRESS THE ISSUE AMERICA! 

In closing, we will be exploring and addressing the issues of Racism In America. These recent decisions to set murdering cops free is no big surprise for fair-minded people who have been following the overall regressive current our nation is on. Some will argue that the system works, that we just don't like the results. The House of Public Discourse holds a position the system is not broken but, in fact, works just fine for the powers that be, whose agenda is overall control of the population. We call for total and complete reform of how the police in this country are allowed to protect and serve us,  not control us.  












Saturday, December 6, 2014

Voices From The House--One Love!

Voices From The House.

JOBS!!! Where are the JOBS??!!! They're not in Kentucky coal country where #1 unemployed #1 disability rolls are. Still waiting on that coal job to open up are you?
West Virginia has a history of enduring boom and bust cycles. All states do to one degree or another. But the ones who carried on in the state as opposed to those who chased around greener grasses in another state are the ones who cultivated new industries. The rust belt areas of rural NY, PA, & Ohio have the same problems that West Virginia does. This should be an invitation to collaborate and experiment with what works and learn from what does not. Don't alienate yourselves from solutions.
[House Reporter: Kelly Dane]

Time for White People to Wake up...




Voices From The House.

How wrong is this country on the issue of police brutality in the face of racism?

I'm guessing that the majority of American's understand the concept of equality. Equal treatment under the law. When a population is oppressed by government the people throughout History have always upon awakening fought back. I believe we might be witnessing an uprising. The question however, is whether or not we will join together to fight the good fight...regardless of race, sexual preference, or any other difference. The time is now to understand that we are One People, on One Planet with One LOVE![ House Mentor: Diana M Buettner]


One Love!!!! Powerful!!!!!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Patrick Henry 15 Minutes Of Fame!

Patrick Henry


 "Give me liberty, or give me death" 

Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as thefirst and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.
Henry led the opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765 and is remembered for his "Give me liberty, or give me death!" speech. Along withSamuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he is regarded as one of the most influential champions of Republicanism and an invested promoter of the American Revolution and its fight for independence.[ See Source]





Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Ferguson Fail, A Process Run Amuck

What is prosecutorial misconduct? Is the prosecutor in the Michael Brown Ferguson, MO, police shooting case guilty of it? There are many elements that can constitute prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor in this case, Bob McCulloch, according to many renowned legal minds has crossed the line with the Michael Brown Grand Jury. Is the Grand Jury process at fault in this case and other cases across our nation? In a nutshell, recent decisions by courts and juries have left many people in America pondering the answer to these questions.

The Process Is The Issue In Ferguson!

As a rule of thumb, we pride ourselves here at the House of Public Discourse in researching our points for accuracy and with an open-mind. Our research over the last several days has concluded the Grand Jury process in Ferguson as problematic and may have come to the level of misconduct by the prosecutor overseeing this case. Much of this dysfunction stems from witness accounts of the incident. The misconduct in the case primarily revolves around the handling of these eye-witness accounts. For example, we have found stories of so-called anonymous witnesses for the officer in this case who remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the local community. Many well-respected legal minds some who identify themselves as political right thinkers claim this case was a miscarriage of justice.
Officer Darren Wilson

Another problem surrounding this issue is a low bar we have placed on the taking of a human life by a police officer. The judicial process by  court precedent has given police officers a wide latitude in situations like in Ferguson. However, " death by cop," is on the rise in our nation to the point of being an epidemic. Moreover, a large portion of these killings involves " white cop," shooting a " black male." 


As in any situation there are truisms and realities. The justice system in America is adverse. Most of the time,  a cop and a prosecutor are on the same side in this adversarial system. The reality? It is harder to convict a police officer of a crime than a civilian. In most police shooting cases, a police officer will claim his life felt threatened. Unfortunately for the victim's families, proving otherwise has been a high bar to meet. Both the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings attest to this reality. 
More importantly where do the solutions lie? First, cameras on cops make a ton of sense. Second, we need to reform our criminal justice system. Our research on many levels and for many reasons conclude "We The People," need to put a better mechanism in place to ' police the police.' 

Does Our Legal System Sanitize The Behavior Of Police Officers?    




There is one sure thing that has materialized  in the case of Michael Brown. This case has brought an awareness of the need to reform the Grand Jury process. There is no arguing the national media attention in this case created a unique set of challenges for the prosecutor.

But law professors and legal experts had sharply varying views on whether the presentation of the non-indictment and legal procedures were followed appropriately, adequately or fairly. [See Source]

Judge Scalia
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to inquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880).

The Specifics 

In our legal system, a suspect under a grand jury investigation has never been thought to have the right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.[See Source] In this case, the prosecutor McCulloch allowed officer Wilson to give evidence for hours and including every morsel of exculpatory evidence he could muster.  Knowing the basic of exculpatory evidence is vital to understanding the malfunction and misconduct that this case has presented.



The Prosecutors Instructions To The Grand Jury.  

Bob McCulloch

"And you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful self-defense and you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use lawful force in making an arrest. If you find those things, which is kind of like finding a negative, you cannot return an indictment on anything or true bill unless you find both of those things. Because both are complete defenses to any offense and they both have been raised in the evidence." [See Article]
By allowing officer Williams to testify for hours and allowing exculpatory evidence to be presented in support of these above-mentioned " complete defenses," this prosecutor has ignored how grand juries have functioned historically. There were several eye-witness accounts in this matter that suggest officer Wilson did not act in self-defense. This prosecutor could have but did not present these testimonies. Many critics of McCulloch allege he should have and if he would have done so an indictment would have come with a quickness. We here at the House of Public Discourse ask the question Why? What were  McCulloch's motivations for not allowing this testimony. We are not for a second buying the notions that these citizens were not credible. Our gut feelings tell us there are  more deviate motivations behind McCulloch's action or non-action in this grand jury process.

" Lock Them up, and Throw Away The Key," Nancy Grace has a problem with this case.




What happened with this Ferguson grand jury is rare. With all the leaks coming forth from this grand jury, it was reasonable to conclude there was not going to be an indictment in this case. Missouri is known as the " show-me-state." When the National Guard was sent in days before the verdict by that state's governor, it showed this writer all I needed to know or see. Grand Juries in this country almost always indict.

Or at least they nearly always do so in cases that don’t involve police officers.

In 2010, a study was conducted. In 162,000 federal cases brought before a grand jury, only 11 failed to indict.[Federal Bureau StatisticsIn the Wilson case this matter was heard in state courts. In Missouri, like most states, the prosecutor has the option to bring a suspect before a judge as opposed to a grand jury. The fact is many routine cases never go before a grand jury. However, with that said, it is common knowledge that it is very rare for a prosecutor not to get an indictment from a grand jury. Cases involving police shootings is are exception to this factoid. First of all, there is no real good data on police involved shootings. But researching  many newspaper articles on the subject, grand juries more often than not, by an extensive margin decline to indict law-enforcement officials.   

Police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings in Houston and other large cities in recent years. In Harris County, Texas, for example, grand juries haven’t indicted a Houston police officer since 2004[See Source

Our research has led us to some reasons for this. One of the biggest barriers in procuring a conviction of a police officer is juror bias. No matter the evidence, jurors tend to trust the cops and seem to side with the police in their use of violence in police-related cases. There is also a prosecutorial bias. Whether their actions are conscious or unconscious, prosecutors who depend on cops in their work in criminal cases tend to present less compelling cases against police officers. Another reason is prosecutors only bring cases to the grand jury they feel they can win. There was no way the prosecutor in the Michael Brown case was going to drop the charges in this highly publicized case. There was no way this prosecutor could do that because of the many eye-witness accounts of the incident. However, as we have noted, he could change the process and tailor a sheepish grand jury to his privy. In short, there was too much evidence against the officer Wilson to not bring charges.


Beyond Ferguson, We The People Must Answer The Question, Why Are Grand Juries So Reluctant To Indict Police Officers? 

Voices From The House!

"Yes rioting is an extreme expression of anger and frustration. However, the actual issue being ignored is racism. If Michael Brown did everything he's accused of then he was wrong. However, racism is the issue being protested and is the elephant in the middle of the room. It is an issue that has never gone away.
Yes, some of the rioting is about opportunity and group mentality. Yes, I have studied it. The larger issue rears its ugly historical head as opportunity for the corporate rulers. Racism within the ruling class wants us to fight about the details.
There is an old saying that "the devil is in the details." It absolutely applies in terms of the mass media presentation of facts and or commentary. Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book." [House Mentor: Diana M Buettner]

Racism Is The Calling Card Behind The Ferguson, MO, Unrest.

Persons of color are the majority in Ferguson, MO. With one black city council member and three black cops in this town it begs the question, Why? [See:Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering?] Then when a white police officer guns down an unarmed black teen who is a suspect in a shoplifting case by putting six rounds in him, one in the head while on the ground, and there are riots in the streets, people have the audacity to ask, Why? Granted, violence and destruction of property is unproductive. But a peaceful gathering of concerned citizens to protest a perceived injustice is the American way in this writer's view. Moreover, the community reaction [outrage]  to this killing of an unarmed youth regardless of the color of his skin is a predictable outcome. Furthermore, with an ever increasing aggressive police force being fashioned from ex-military personnel all across America are, "We The People," being protected or are we seen as  game for the predatory police officer with an ax to grind?

There has been study after study that has shown inexperienced cops fearful of minorities have resorted to use of force. Often, these confrontations are between white police officers and a minority. There is a growing culture of confrontation between police and communities of color, and the problem is only getting worse.


Many experts argue that police forces that represent the community makeup can ease tensions. But the more systemic problem is the political infrastructure that creates and maintains disproportionately composed  police departments. This historical tension is most evident in towns like Ferguson, MO. When you have a population comprised of 67% blacks who have become non-factors in choosing their elected officials, what you get is Ferguson. 

There are innumerable ways a community can become so disproportionately misrepresented.

Ferguson's Mayor is white. Five of the six city councilmen are white. These members are tasked with recruiting, training, and setting parameters as to how the police functions. This white City Hall produced a 95% white police force. This disparity does not equal discrimination or prejudicial policing, but it does create an atmosphere where white elected officials seem insensitive to police brutality in these minority communities. Whatever the reasons for this dysfunction, gerrymandering, voter apathy, etc  its designers have circumvented the political process that would give people in the community the right to have a say in how that community functions. Ferguson, like many small cities, towns, and communities across this country, appear to be in an apartheid state where a small but influential group of people maintain dominion by discouraging electoral participation and creating a police state environment.

With radical-right wing courts allowing unfettered influence peddling in the form of Citizens United and  liberty being replaced by gerrymandering and U.S. Supreme Court regression of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, these factions have recreated a Jim Crow aura around this country. Ferguson is a case study of just what those policies reap. Moving forward, all Americans left or right should seek to ensure the electorate- no matter its makeup - has full participation, and the elected officials are a mirror of the community. If not, it's the view of the House of Public Discourse, "The Ferguson Fail, A Process Run Amuck," will be more and more commonplace.




Friday, November 28, 2014

Discourse Unplugged with Johnny Hill #2


The day of the bird is history. Great for us, not so great for the turkey. The House of Public Discourse has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend. I have been overwhelmed and overjoyed by the awesome, real, and quality associations I have made this year with all of you. However, as a person where the holiday season was a depressing time of year, let us not forget those who hurt inside no reason the wherefores.

Let's Be Thankful For What We Got. 



Voices From The House?

What is angering me is how many businesses are boarding up in surrounding areas of Ferguson now. I do not blame them, but what this is doing to the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent people is astounding! And of course, with the holidays upon us, timing couldn't be worse. What are people thinking? [HOPD Staff Editior Bev Cowling]

For Some, The Holiday's Are Just Another Day In Paradise.


Voices From The House. 

If you are a Christian and you don’t like the “separation of church and state,” then that means that you are unhappy with the Constitution that you so vehemently defend when it aligns with your beliefs. So let me ask you this: what other parts of the Constitution do you want to change? What else doesn’t align with your beliefs? Because if we start changing it to accommodate you, you can no longer claim that you’re working from the mindset of Constitutionalism and patriotism.
Indeed, the Constitution was created as a living document that could be amended. So when you “take our country back,” what else are you going to change about the fundamental basis upon which our nation was founded?[ Friend of House: Pauline Polly Risteau]

From The Streets Of The House

Everyone meet Marty. He just a man on the streets in my neighborhood. Marty is a proud man. Marty is a smart man. Marty has issues. Marty needs medical attention both physically and mentally. Marty is homeless. But mostly, Marty is a person.
Hi my name is Marty and I am somebody


We Are  Only  Humans Born To Make Mistakes!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fiasco In Ferguson, Makes Ya Wanna Hollar!






Grateful Dead Banjo Player T-Shirt

As an old disc-jockey of mostly classic rock and funky ole soul, I have a tendency to relate current news events with music. As I sit here looking at the live feed [see above] of the unfolding events of the Fiasco In Ferguson, I, m reminded of the Marvin Gaye classic, Makes Me Wanna Hollar! What is ever so shocking is how fore-sighted our musical artist can be.




Violence Is Not The Answer, Make Ya Want To Hollar!!!




Voices From The House

 My heart is bleeding for those business owners who have lost their businesses, and for those who now will have no jobs.  They did nothing to earn this burden.  It was no choice they made, yet the price they have to pay is far higher than most others.
My heart bleeds for those who sincerely wish to silently protest the injustice they feel, without committing a violent act, because the acts of stupidity and vandalism are overshadowing them and their message.My heart bleeds for a town that is being set back when it could have been catapulted forward into a world of understanding, compassion and mutual respect.
And yes, my heart is bleeding for our nation, so caught up in teaching and learning hatred, bigotry and judgment that we can't see the world through the eyes of another.
My heart bleeds for a people that have still not learned that what we really need in this world is, quite simply, love.[HOPD Staff Writer & Editor Bev Cowling] 



 

Children Of The Ghetto, Keep Your Heads To The Stars!





Can We Imagine Peace??




What If Michael Brown Was Your Child??




Voices From The House!

Today my heart breaks for the Brown family and friends. My heart breaks for all the business owners who will have to start over. Its Thanksgiving but as for us we will be so thankful for the little we have that others don't have. How I wish I could just save the world. I'm saddened by the racism, hate and greed in this Country, saddened by the children and adults dying by the hands of those who are supposed to protect us. Our police are out of control, and it saddens me that today in this day and time that we must fear the police as if we were back in the 50's and 60's again. This country is not moving forward, but it is moving backwards. We must stand hand in hand together united to beat this system and work as one. We all bleed red, have the same bodies and hearts. I'm begging for equal justice for all color and origins. Its time for a change, time to fight back and use our minds without violence. I am sad today; I hurt for all who have lost their lives at the hands of haters and racist, ignorant people who have no souls. May God comfort your hearts Mr. and Mrs. Brown and people of Ferguson ......We will never forget Mike Browns life mattered!!! [Susan Collins: Friend of the House]

Be A Ribbon In The Sky



What Does The Law Say In The Matters of Police Shootings, and Moreover Should It Be Revisited By The Courts?


Current law gives police wide latitude to use deadly force.


Here is the Heart of the Matter from a legal standpoint.

Justice Bryon White
“It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape,” wrote Justice Byron White for the majority. “Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. …A police officer may not seize an unarmed, non-dangerous suspect by shooting him dead.”






But the court added that police could use deadly force if the suspect had threatened the life of a police officer.

“If the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape, and if, where feasible, some warning has been given,” said Justice White.

Voices From The House.

The ignorance of reality runs deeply throughout this country. Just as far as the massive corporate owned government and media will allow. Wouldn't it be something if the people actually had a voice that was recognized? You know like the voice of reason.It's called racism.

When our institutions use profiling based on skin color it creates fear on the part of the officers. They act from a place of fear rather than a desire to protect. Thereby supporting the premise that blacks commit more crimes. The poor and the oppressed populations are in fact more likely to steal, but the reasons aren't greed driven like those of the corporate owned government.
 Racism is an absolute reality in the present situation regardless of whether or not the officer Darren Wilson is charged. The idea that one incident has created this situation is in itself ridiculous. This country has work to do. I wish to state proudly that I would like to be a part of the solution and not a problem. One People One LOVE![Mentor of the House: Diana Buettner]

Voices From The House!
Omg!!!! Protest in Greenville* can I go get my groceries & shopping done* I am against racism!! The jury was Not a jury of peers- was NOT equal* I do BELIEVE in fairness & I don't believe in violent riots* I do believe in protest in& rallies & standing up for your beliefs if it can be done in a non- violent fashion* WE ALL DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH KINDNESS & EQUALITY!!! POLICE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE-THEY GET AWAY WITH TOO MUCH SHIT!!
[Lisa Peacock: House Political Administrator & Social Worker]

Voices From The House.

CAN YOU SAY 'CONFLICT OF INTEREST' AND 'PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT'????

If this is true then this matter MUST be investigated by the National Bar Association, the State of Missouri Bar Association, and the Department of Justice, and other related government agencies!!!!!
In addition to his duties as the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch is also the president of The Backstoppers, Inc., an organization used to fund-raise for the men and women in uniform in both Missouri and Illinois. And, in August, his organization was affiliated with a t-shirt drive featuring a picture of Missouri and the statement “I SUPPORT OFFICER D. WILSON” which was set up to raise money for the Darren Wilson Defense Fund as well as The Backstoppers." [ See Source Sharon McGowan Willicome: Friend of the House]

People Do Make This World Go Round.



Final Voice From The House!

Something that has been bothering me lately about the grand jury report, and the statements that have been made from officer Wilson, and various reports made about this shooting. When the shooting first occurred, they did an autopsy, and released the animated drawings with the autopsy report done by Dr. Michael M. Baden, Forensic Examiner for New York State Police. Nothing in the grand jury report, or any media coverage lately, has even mentioned, or shown how the autopsy completely shreds officer Wilsons accounting of the shooting. On the pictures of the autopsy, they show two bullets entering his wrist from his palm side, with an upward trajectory. He would of had his arm raised somewhat to have the bullets travel in that manner. From the autopsy report, they give officer Wilsons height as 6' and Michael Browns height as 6'5. The two bullets that entered his abdomen were in a downward trajectory. The only way those bullets could of entered in that manner, would be if Wilson was above Brown, which would mean that Brown had to be at least falling, and fairly close to Wilson when those bullets entered his body. The two bullets to his head, went in at the very top of his head, and went almost straight down, which again from the trajectory, would mean that Wilson would of had to be practically standing right over him. This wasn't just the report from Dr. Baden, but also Dr. Cyril Wecht, world reknown forensic Pathologist, who also reviewed the autopsy. Why hasn't this been brought up? Furthermore,

 The Civil Rights Federal Investigation will gather all their investigative reports and the findings and actions that were taken, as well as the information from the grand jury. It will be interesting to say the least, what comes of it. After all is said and done, I'm sure that there will be a civil trial, and that should prove to be interesting as well. There are a few people that aren't happy about the questions that I have raised, and think that I am defending what ever Michael Brown did. I'm not defending what ever he may have done, or the way he did it. I just think from what all the evidence and the autopsy report shows, it isn't matching up at all with what the different reports that officer Wilson has said, or the grand jury, and I don't think that what Michael Brown did, warranted lethal action. Especially the way the autopsy shows it. [House Contributor: Edythe Redmann]