Tag: police shooting

BREAKING NEWS: Police officers shot at Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is a breaking news event. Information may change rapidly.

Multiple members of the Dallas Police Department (Dallas PD) and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) police forces, as well as a 37-year old woman by the name of Shetamia Taylor, were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Texas. Five of the officers who were shot have been killed, and two snipers, whose identities are not known at this time, are believed to be the perpetrators of the attack:

Violence against law enforcement, or, for that matter, any person, is NEVER acceptable. While there is a ton of institutional racism in this country, and it’s true that law enforcement officers have killed black people in situations in which they would not kill a white person (think of the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, LaQuan McDonald, Tony Robinson, Eric Gardner, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castle at the hands of law enforcement), committing acts of violence does not do a damn bit of good to advance the Black Lives Matter cause. The Black Lives Matter cause is a cause that I strongly support, but I absolutely oppose all forms of violence. If you’re going around shooting police officers, you’re just as evil of a person as the police officers who killed people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castle.

While a motive for the shooting of the Dallas police officers is not known at this time, I strongly suspect that someone had every intention of disrupting what, up until the shooting, had been a peaceful protest, in an attempt to make the protesters that did not engage in violence of any form look bad.


The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

(READER DISCRETION ADVISED) Dashcam video of Laquan McDonald shooting shows that McDonald did NOT lunge at officer

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet containing a graphic video depicting a person being shot and killed. Reader discretion is strongly advised.

Earlier today, the police car dashcam video of the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke clearly shows that McDonald did not lunge at Van Dyke or any other police officer. In fact, the video shows that, even if McDonald intended to lunge at Van Dyke or a different officer (which is not 100% clear, although McDonald did turn around to face the squad car that the dashcam footage was recorded from right before being shot), he didn’t have time to do so before Van Dyke repeatedly shot McDonald. Van Dyke was immediately behind a white police van when he opened fire on McDonald, and, from the perspective of the dashcam, Van Dyke was shooting from left to right at McDonald.

Here’s the dashcam video:


McDonald was shot a total of 16 times by Van Drew, and McDonald died as a result of the shooting. Van Drew has been officially charged with first-degree murder, which, in Illinois, is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011), although the case has not yet gone to trial.

Furthermore, Chicago Police have deleted security footage from a Burger King fast food restaurant near the site of the shooting, according to a report from Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV, citing a district manager for Burger King:


It’s clear to me that the Chicago Police Department tried to cover up evidence of one of their officers shooting and killing a black teenager. Whoever deleted the Burger King security camera footage should, if possible, be charged with destroying evidence or whatever applicable criminal charge would apply in this scenario.

Another shooting by law enforcement in Ferguson, yet it wasn’t a trending topic on Facebook for hours

On the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, yet another police shooting has taken place in Ferguson. Details are sketchy at this point, but, at least two shootings, at least one of which was a shooting carried out by law enforcement, occurred last night in Ferguson amid protests. While law enforcement is claiming that they were fired upon by protestors, I’ve not seen any eyewitnesses on social media back up the police’s claim. Based on video that I’ve seen online (due to the graphic nature of the video, I’m not going to repost it on here), the victim of the shooting that was carried out by law enforcement is a black male.

However, for a few hours after the shootings, Ferguson was not a trending topic at all on Facebook, at least on my computer, having only started trending several minutes ago. In contrast, Ferguson has been a trending topic on Twitter since immediately after the shootings took place, if not before then. I’m really suspicious as to why this is the case, to put it mildly.

My thoughts about no charges being filed against the police officer who killed Tony Robinson

Earlier today, Dane County, Wisconsin District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced that he would not file any criminal charges against Matt Kenny, a member of the Madison, Wisconsin Police Department, despite the fact that he shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Here’s my thoughts about this:

Right Decision, Bad Law

Given the description that Ozanne of what led to Kenny’s decision to shoot and kill Robinson, I believe that Ozanne made the right decision, given the current Wisconsin state law regarding law enforcement officers using deadly force. However, I believe that the law gives police officers in Wisconsin too broad of authority to use lethal force, and that many other states have similar laws on the books. Because Wisconsin state law allows law enforcement officers to use deadly force if, for whatever reason, the officer reasonably believes that someone is threatening to either kill or cause great bodily harm to the officer, the police shooting of Robinson was justified in the eyes of the law, but not justified in the eyes of my personal opinion. I believe that deadly force should never be used against an unarmed person like Robinson was at the time he was shot and killed by Kenny, and that deadly force should only be used if the suspect(s) is/are armed, the suspect(s) show(s) intent to use the weapon(s) against law enforcement officer(s) and/or others, and the officer(s) have no other option but to use deadly force.

Madison’s Police Taser Policy is Absurd

If you’re wondering why Kenny did not use a taser in order to stop Robinson without killing him, that’s because of an absurd policy in Madison that prohibits law enforcement officers from using a taser except when another officer is present at the scene. Madison’s taser policy should be amended to allow for officers to use tasers to stop suspects without another officer being present, and similar policies in other jurisdictions should be amended as well.

Racial Disparities are Systemic in Madison

Despite being America’s most progressive city, there’s systemic racial disparities between white people and black people in Madison. If you’re a black person in Madison, you’re anywhere from 8 to 11 times more likely to be arrested than a white person in Madison:

The Race to Equity report also found that black adults in Dane County were more than eight times as likely to be arrested as white adults in 2012, which was higher than the black-white arrest disparity in Wisconsin (4-to-1) and the entire nation (2.5-to-1) in 2010. While black men made up only 4.8 percent of the county’s total adult male population in 2012, they comprised more than 43 percent of all new adult prison placements that year.

Updated numbers for only Madison may be even worse: Erica Nelson, who authored the Race to Equity report, told PolitiFact Wisconsin that black adults are 10.9 times as likely as white adults to be arrested in the city, based on a preliminary analysis of the Madison Police Department’s 2013 annual report.

I Strongly Support a Peaceful, Constructive Movement Against Police Brutality and Systemic Racism

So as long as the protests are peaceful and constructive in nature, I strongly support protests against brutality by law enforcement officers and systemic racism in our society. A lot needs to be done to make America a truly equal place. Protests should be non-violent, raise awareness of the problems of police brutality and systemic racism, and raise awareness of various solutions to hold police officers who engage in brutality accountable and end the systemic racism in this country.

The problems of police brutality and systemic racism in this country go beyond Madison, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Baltimore, New York City, and Ferguson. They are nationwide problems that need to be addressed by the people, the media, and public officials. Most importantly, there needs to be a concerted effort in this country to, through non-violent protests, supporting progressive-minded candidates for public office, and implementing new laws and policies, to end police brutality and systemic racism in this country once and for all.

43 Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin elected officials call for the end of “shameful racial disparities” in letter to the community

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes a letter signed by local elected officials in the City of Madison, the Madison Metropolitan School District, and Dane County in Wisconsin, republished in its entirety with the permission of Dane County Board First Vice-Chair Carousel Bayrd.

A total of 43 members of the Dane County (WI) Board of Supervisors, the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District Board, and the Madison (WI) Common Council signed a letter calling for the end of “shameful racial disparities” in Madison and Dane County in Wisconsin after 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was biracial, was shot and killed by Matt Kenny, a white Madison Police Department officer.

You can view the full letter and list of signatories below:

To the residents of our community:

The death of Tony Robinson is a horrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tony Robinson’s family and friends. We are sorry that we have lost the life of an African American teenager in our community.

Black lives matter. Our history, both nationally and locally, with respect to our African American community is unacceptable. Many of the incidents, shootings, and deaths that we see reported on the news find their root cause in the intolerable disparity present in our community. That disparity and its attendant injustice may have arisen from our history, but we allow it to continue.

This past weekend in Selma, President Barack Obama said “[Our national creed is] the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America.” We thank those community leaders and citizens who enacted those words before they were spoken. It is time we all joined them.

We must do better. We are here to ask each of our constituents to accept along with us the challenge of ending the shameful racial disparities in our community. Every one of us must be a part of the solution. Black lives have to matter to each and every one of us. We must be the City and County where a Black youth, a Latino youth, an Asian youth, a Native American youth, a White youth, where any young man or woman feels that this is a community they belong to, a community full of opportunities. A community where their dreams can happen, not end.

Jointly signed by the following City of Madison Alders, Dane County Supervisors, and Madison Municipal School District Board Members:

Sup. Carousel Bayrd
Ald. Shiva Bidar‐Sielaff
Sup. Jerome Bollig
Ald. Maurice Cheeks
Ald. Joe Clausius
Ald. Mark Clear
Ald. Lauren Cnare
Sup. Sharon Corrigan
Ald. Lucas Dailey
Sup. Patrick Downing
Sup. Jenni Dye
Ald. Denise DeMarb
Sup. Chuck Erickson
Sup. George Gillis
Sup. John Hendrick
Board Member Ed Hughes
Sup. Tim Kiefer
Ald. Steve King
Sup. Mary Kolar
Sup. Dorothy Krause
Board Member Dean Loumos
Sup. Patrick Miles
Ald. Larry Palm
Sup. Leland Pan
Sup. Jeff Pertl
Ald. Matt Phair
Ald. Scott Resnick
Sup. Kyle Richmond
Sup. Michele Ritt
Ald. Marsha Rummel
Sup. Paul Rusk
Sup. Andrew Schauer
Ald. Chris Schmidt
Sup. Robin Schmidt
Board Member Arlene Silveira
Ald. John Strasser
Ald. Lisa Subeck
Ald. Mike Verveer
Sup. Heidi Wegleitner
Ald. Anita Weier
Sup. Abigail Wuest
Ald. Ledell Zellers
Sup. Nick Zweifel

Please note that Lisa Subeck is both a member of the Madison Common Council and a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly; Subeck signed the letter in her capacity as a common council member.

I admire the fact that those elected officials in the Madison/Dane County area of Wisconsin who signed the letter recognize that, despite being one of the most progressive places in the entire country, racial disparities are a systematic problem in Madison and Dane County. If there’s one place in the entire country that can become a model for a more racially equal society, it would be the Madison/Dane County area of Wisconsin, but it will take a large community effort to achieve a more racially equal society there. In fact, it will take a large effort by every person in this country to achieve a more racially equal society all across America.

Conservatives and police unions try to blame Democratic public officials for senseless murder of two NYPD officers

Earlier today, Wenjilan Liu and Raphael Ramos, two New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers, were shot and killed in Brooklyn before the gunman, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, shot himself to death.

Make no mistake about it, the senseless murder of Officers Liu and Ramos is absolutely disgusting. The fact that a NYPD officer, who was not one of the two people murdered, killed Eric Gardner by using a banned chokehold was just as senseless as the murder of Officers Liu and Ramos.

However, many Republicans and conservatives have tried to blame the murder of Officers Liu and Ramos on President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other Democratic public officials, as well as Reverend Al Sharpton and other advocates for increased police accountability and criminal justice reform:

Additionally, the union that represents NYPD officers reportedly put out an extremely divisive statement claiming that de Blasio’s hands “are literally dripping with our blood”, asking NYPD officers to disobey their supervisors, and claiming that the NYPD is operating as a “wartime” police force:

Starting IMMEDIATELY- At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be. IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest. These are precautions that were taken in the 1970’s when Police Officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis. The mayors hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a “wartime” police department. We will act accordingly. FORWARD MESSAGE IN ITS ENTIRETY TO ANY AND ALL MOS.

To blame the senseless murder of Officers Liu and Ramos on Democratic officials and advocates for police and criminal justice reform is absolutely absurd, since A) Ismaaiyl Brinsley murdered the two officers, B) Obama, de Blasio, Holder, and Sharpton have all issued statements strongly condemning the murder of Officers Liu and Ramos, and C) virtually all Democratic public officials in this country and most political activists who support police accountability and criminal justice reform don’t use political rhetoric that is actually “anti-cop” in nature. Right-wingers, racists, and law enforcement unions who are trying to blame this senseless murder on Democratic officials and supporters of police and criminal justice reform are doing absolutely nothing but dividing the country, politicizing the senseless murder of two police officers, and making tensions between law enforcement and the public even worse in order to promote a divisive, far-right political agenda.

Minneapolis (MN) police officer Christopher Guelcher apparently thinks that people who litter or urinate in public should be shot to death

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published one of the most vile op-eds I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The op-ed was written by Christopher Guelcher, a police officer with the Minneapolis, Minnesota police department.

In his op-ed, which he wrote in response to recent police killings in numerous cities across the country, Guelcher strongly implied that he thinks that people who have committed even minor crimes, such as public urination and littering, should be shot to death by police and that police officers should shoot anybody who they see is committing a crime:

Could this be the future of today’s demands for reform and change? Would people be happy and fully support the federal, state or even local governments if they passed laws restricting the police from proactively enforcing low-level misdemeanor crimes committed in an officer’s presence, such as littering or public urination, because the crime does not warrant the possibility of police use of force and possibly death?

People like Christopher Guelcher are the reason why real reform of the police and criminal justice systems in this country are badly needed. Far too many police officers think that their badge gives them a right to hunt and kill people, especially black people, even for minor offenses like pissing in public and throwing trash on the ground in a public place, when, in reality, their badge doesn’t give them that right.

I found Guelcher’s remarks to be downright vile, and he owes the people of Minneapolis an apology and a resignation from the police force.

Here’s my audio blog about Guelcher’s op-ed. Please note that my attempt at speaking in a Minnesota accent sucked badly.

Racism in the Democratic Party: Missouri State Representative Keith English wants to ship anti-racial profiling protesters to Mexico

Protesters calling for an end to racial profiling by police officers in Missouri and elsewhere in the United States who are marching from Ferguson, Missouri, where unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, have been the target of racist attacks.

However, this time, those racist attacks are coming from a Democrat.

Keith English, a Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives from Florissant (located near Ferguson in northern St. Louis County), posted a map to his Facebook page showing a line from somewhere in or near Kansas City, Missouri to somewhere in or near Monterrey, Mexico, located in the Mexican state of Nuevo León. In his Facebook post (which has since been deleted, although a screengrab of the Facebook post was posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website), English remarked that he was giving the map to the protesters to “help in their cause”.

I’m certain that the protesters have zero use for English’s map and view his map and Facebook post as racist. For Keith English to publicly state that he thinks that people who want to eliminate racial profiling by police officers in Missouri and elsewhere in this country, including many of his own constituents, should be shipped to a foreign country is extremely offensive. Racism should not be tolerated in the Democratic Party, and English should be expelled from the Democratic caucus of the Missouri House of Representatives. Should English run for another term in office in 2016 as a Democrat, progressives should run a Democratic primary challenger against him.

Just like how Scott Walker has gotten away with corruption, Darren Wilson gets away with murder

By any reasonable standard, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker should be behind bars and not in public office now. Walker has, among other things, illegally solicited $700,000 from an iron ore mining company to a right-wing political organization and has had public employees campaign for him on government time. Despite that, the justice system in Wisconsin and at the federal level has protected Walker, even allowing his right-wing cronies to argue that corruption is a form of free speech, an absolutely absurd claim.

Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, earlier tonight, quite literally got away with murdering Michael Brown, Jr., an 18-year-old black teenager. That’s because a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri, where the shooting occurred, decided not to press any charges whatsoever (not even for manslaughter) against Wilson. In fact, the St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney, Robert McCulloch, basically gave Darren Wilson’s side of the story to explain why the grand jury decided not to press charges against Wilson.

The reason I’m trying to compare Walker and Wilson is this: If you’re a white man in a position of power in this country, you’re going to get considerably more favorable treatment from the justice system than anyone else. I think that’s wrong, and there needs to be real reform of the justice system in this country.