Recently, Obama declared an executive action to aid immigrants that are in the US. In his speech he stated that immigrants would be able to have a permission to get a job legally and not fear deportation. There were only certain immigrants that were eligible for this permission and those were the ones who have been living in the U.S for at least five years, they must get a criminal check, and they had to pay all the taxes they hadn’t paid over the years. This permission would only be temporary though it did not guarantee immigrants citizenship. Since his declaration there has been much debate on the issue and in an article by NBC News, Obama is seen giving a speech about the topic again. In this speech he states that he believes that congress will not come into an agreement with a permanent immigration reform until the issues of tax reformation, infrastructure, and trade are resolved first. Obama still stays optimist about the possibility of the Republicans saying yes to an immigration reform. Obama also feels that congress will try to “take a stab” at his executive action but then eventually come to an agreement. The question that many immigrants have now though is whether they should fill out the temporary permission. Some fears are that for the two years that Obama remains in office everything will be okay but what will happen after? Will the new president eliminate the reform? And if so what will they do with the information they acquired from all the immigrants?
This post is in response to Mackenzie’s Change.Org post about ending police brutality. I recently read an article in the New York Times about a federal civil rights investigation of the Cleveland Police department. The Justice Department recently announced that there has been an “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the city’s police department. The findings of the investigation were consistent with the injustices pointed out by (mainly) the black community in protests and calls to action these past few weeks. The abuses extend to how firearms, tasers, chemical sprays and physical force are used on the job. A prime example is the shooting of Tamir Rice.
I know we have talked about Tamir Rice before, but just to reiterate, Tamir was a twelve-year-old boy who was murdered by a (or one could argue two) police officer in Cleveland. Rice was in a local park playing with a toy gun when someone called the police on him. The caller reported that someone who was “probably a juvenile” was waving a gun that was “probably fake.” Two officers, Loehmann and Garmback, arrived at the scene and within two seconds 12-year-old Tamir was lying on the ground bleeding out. The officers supposedly told Tamir to put his hands in the air by yelling to him out of a crack in the passenger window but Tamir instead appeared to reach for his waistband. Loehmann got out of the car and opened fire on the child within two seconds. I think it’s extremely important to note that neither officer performed any life-saving measures on Tamir after he was shot. In other words, Loehmann and Garmback watched as a sixth-grader bled out in front of them. (Let that sink in for a second.)
Back to the DOJ’s investigation. The timing of the conclusion of this case was either lucky or very intentional. What better time to release a report addressing the prevalence of police brutality than during the height of nation-wide civil rights demonstrations following the Garner and Brown verdicts. Other officials in Los Angeles and South Carolina have also ruled this week against cops who committed acts of police brutality. Even higher up on the ladder President Obama met with civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials to address the”simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color.” No shit, Sherlock. (I think some other acceptable ways to phrase it are racial oppression…systemic racism…discriminate policing…but that diplomatic bullshit works too, Obama.)
I hope that increased attention to these issues from the Department of Justice, White House and local governments will be effective. But, as it is said over and over again, how many more innocent black men need to be killed at the hands of white cops before we see big changes?
For some reason there is not an option to leave a comment on Mackenzie’s post, so here is my response to her post called “Operating in a State of Fear” from December 1.
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
When Mackenzie asked, “So why is it that life in America for some is now operated under fear?” I think she was referring to African Americans, specifically males, which find themselves forced to live life in fear of others’ prejudices and the potential for them to become victims of violence as a result of these prejudices. I’d like to suggest an alternative meaning for Mackenzie’s question. It is true that there are many people in American whose lives operate under fear for various reasons. For many women, their life is dictated by a fear of the potential to become a victim of sexual harassment or other forms of assault; for others, their life is characterized by a fear of being mistreated because of their sexual orientation; for many members of racial minorities, they live in fear of those that may judge them and treat them unfairly or even violently because of their race. It also seems that there is a group of individuals that lives in fear of people that they see as a threat simply because of their skin color. I am referring to the police officers that have used unnecessary force against individuals for seemingly no reason besides the fact that they felt threatened, and that threat does not appear to be anything other than a skin color different than the officer’s. Notice, I do not say that all police officers live in fear of minorities. I am not suggesting that all police officers hold prejudices, I am not specifying the race of the police officers I believe to be living in ignorant fear, and I am not saying that the only individuals that become victims of the violence that stems from these prejudices are racial minority members. To answer my own version of Mackenzie’s question of “Why?” I think it is the unknown and the perpetuation of stereotypes by our government’s policies that force certain police officers to operate under fear. I think we need to radically transform the way our country “manages” its minorities. The War on Drugs needs to stop. The outrageous prison sentences designed for African Americans need to go away immediately. The minimum wage that gives people absolutely no chance of ever moving out of the ghetto and improving their quality of life is very overdue for a raise. We need to break out habits of telling children things like “Be careful! Stay right by me and hold me hand!” as we walk past a black man on the sidewalk in the city. Kids are smart. They are constantly learning. They pick up on way more than you and I, so you can bet children are going to pick up on the differences in their parents behavior towards a black person and a white person. They will notice it, and they will imitate it. I believe we have racial prejudice in our country because we are teaching our children how to hold prejudices. If we want the violence to stop and the need for some individuals to live their every day lives in fear, we need to get over our fear of people that are different than us. We need to stop believing everything we hear about “being careful” simply because someone looks different. Black and white people are equally capable of hurting someone. And aside from physical violence, I’d be willing to argue that outward expressions of hatred are just as dangerous as inwardly held prejudices of those that are not like us. Why? Because they are dividing our nation, and a house divided against itself cannot stand. Unless we can learn to stop thinking in terms of “us” and “them”, our nation’s state of self-destruction will reach the point of no return.
Last week, police officers with the Cleveland Police Department filed a federal lawsuit for the racial discrimination against them following a fatal car chase that happened two years ago. “The officers – eight white and one Hispanic – claim the department has a history of treating non-black officers who shoot black residents “more harshly” than black officers involved in shootings” (Shaffer).
The case involved Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams who led police on a high-speed car chase. Apparently more than 90 officers participated in chase and both of the African American individuals were shot more than 20 times while a total of 137 shots were fired. At the end of the chase, no weapon was found in the suspects’ car. Both families of Russell and Williams filed a lawsuit that was settled by the city for $3 million (Shaffer). The nine officers primarily involved in the shooting were immediately placed on administrative leave with full pay.
The officers were ordered to serve a 45-day “cooling-off period” in the department gym where they would perform simple tasks. “Additionally, during this period, officers are not allowed to accrue overtime hours or seek out other employment; they are not compensated for court appearances, nor are they eligible to apply for promotions or transfers of any kind” (Griffin). The officers called the duty “menial” and “unpleasant” in the formal complaint.
I would like to hear your thoughts regarding this issue. Do you think that a longer “treatment” for non-African American officers who shoot black individuals is just over a similar situation that involves African American officers?
Griffin, Tamerra. “Cleveland Police Officers Sue Department For Racial Discrimination.” BuzzFeed. Buzzfeed, 1 Dec. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
Shaffer, Cory. “Cleveland Police Officers Accuse Department of Racial Discrimination in Wake of Deadly Chase.” Cleveland.com. Northeast Ohio Media Group, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
This post relates to something that happened a few weeks ago. There was a lot of media attention (especially in the UK) surrounding the European Space Agency’s mission of landing a probe on a comet 4 billion miles away. But this unprecedented and magnificent achievement was largely overshadowed by the clothing adorned by a British scientist Matt Taylor on the day of the landing. He wore a bowling shirt covered in scantily clad women. This created a debate concerning sexism in science. The two articles above take very different standpoints. The first slates Dr Taylor and the ESA, and the second by London Mayor Boris Johnson argues that the reaction is farcical and full of hypocrisy.
My stance on the issue is somewhere between these two views. I think it is a great shame that such an achievement and advancement of human knowledge has been clouded in a debate regarding sexism. But at the same time there appears to be real barriers to women working in science and shirts that objectify women demonstrate this. Matt Taylor has since apologised where he breaks down in tears. I feel both articles (whilst very extreme is their interpretation of the shirt) make valid points. If there is an inherent gender bias as there appears to be then this is something that certainly needs addressed. It just frustrates me that we are not at a stage where we can embrace the common identity that scientific achievements grant us and instead have focus on the identities that divide us all.
At this point, my one question is: again? Why do these situations keep occurring? Sometimes I think to myself, why do we have a justice system that keeps failing us? Another victim dead, another authority figure left unscathed. But this is not the first time, so that brings into question the system we currently have set up.
I posted a video above but in it you see Eric Garner initially talking to the police. Clearly he is frustrated and feels constantly victimized by the police force that frequents the area, and he has a right to be. Garner repeatedly states, “I am minding my business officer.” Initially there was speculation that the officers were there because Garner had broken up a fight. However, one of the police officers approaches the camera and clearly states that it had nothing to do with the fight. So then the question arises: why did they grab him in a chokehold? Why is he dead? From the sources I read, his apparent crime was selling cigarettes without paying taxes on them. Was that the real reason that they put him in a chokehold? Probably not. This appears to me to be another case of a police officer showing his authority, displaying dominance, instilling fear.
Another big question that arises from this case is the use of the chokehold. The Staten Island police district banned the use of the chokehold! So not only did this officer kill a man, but he also did so using a practice that is not allowed. And yet, the jurors did not believe that the chargers were appropriate. WHAT? I am honestly at a loss for words. Nothing can mask my disappointment.
But really, why again? Why does this keep happening? We need to change our system.
In the article “Number of Migrants Killed while Fleeing Home Countries Soars” author Rick Gladstone outlines the issues migrants have faced this year. The International Organization for Migration stated that the migrants killed this year “while fleeing their home countries in the hope of better lives has more than doubled to nearly 5,000 from the previous year”. I think this article directly reflects upon the ideals of freedom of movement we’ve been discussing in class. Clearly these individuals are willing to risk their lives on “overloaded and unseaworthy vessels” in order to escape the turmoil of their own countries. The International Organization of Migration stated that most of the migrants were Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians that sell their belongings to pay smugglers to take them to safety. These smugglers make migrants pay obscene amounts of money to travel by insufficient methods. The smugglers are obviously taking advantage of people in horrible situations in order to capitalize on their suffering. In 1948 when the United Nations passed Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13 included the following rights 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. 2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The deaths of these immigrants are in direct violation to their rights as humans. In other words freedom of movement in many ways leads to other basic human rights. People born in horrible political situations should not be forced to reside within a country because they did not win the first world lottery when they were born.
This article is incredibly relevant today (December 3rd) because a grand jury in New York decided not to indict white police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July. There is video proof of Garner, a black male, raising his hands in the air and telling police officers not to touch him. It is clear in the video that he did not become violent in any way and that there was no reason to restrain him so forcefully. The police suspected Garner of selling cigarettes illegally. While obviously his actions were illegal, they were not violent actions therefor he should not have be handled with such force. Currently around the country protests are taking place. On Emory’s campus there was a protest going on in Asbury Circle Wednesday night, which is emblematic of the unrest within the minority population of the US. Protestors around the country are chanting “I can’t breathe” as Garner stated multiple times as the officer held him down. These protests demonstrate the state of struggle within the United States currently. Minority communities struggle with their relationship with law enforcement because of issues like these that add to the schism. President Obama released a statement in which the case reflects a longtime “concern on the part of too many minority communities that law enforcement is not working with them, and dealing with them in a fair way”. The fact that the president, and the rest of his administration understand that issues of accountability exist within law enforcement begs the question as to why these issues haven’t been addressed on a grand scale. This case does not illuminate a new issue in current American society. Things like the former “stop-and-frisk” police policy made it systematically “okay” to racial profile. Policies have been set in place for years that either purposely or accidently subjugate minority communities in the United States. The issue is clearly defined, since the Obama administration has recognized it, therefor-legitimate action of reform should be paramount.
The article “For Every Executive Action, There is a Reaction”, published on November 22, 2014, illuminates the implications of Obama’s immigration policies. Last week Obama announced a plan that is “to be enacted by executive order”. The plan that will affect nearly 4 million undocumented individuals caused a rift between Democrats and Republicans. His use of executive order has caused the GOP to think that this is a big abuse of power especially from a president whose party just lost the midterms. Obama claimed that the failure of the House Republicans “to bring up consideration of a Senate passed immigration bill necessitates his executive order”. The House is expected to pass a bill aimed to combat his entire plan that seeks to “provide additional resources for law enforcements to help curb illegal border crossings; make it easier for high-skilled and educated immigrants to stay; and to “deal responsibly” with undocumented immigrants who already live in this country”. The house is well aware that this bill will have no chance of passing but plan on attempting to show their unrest with his order through the bill. Most attacks on Obama have been about him utilizing his executive order powers not necessarily attacks on his proposed plan. Personally from what I know of his proposed plan, I think Obama is making incredible strides in finding practical problems attached to immigration issues. His plan “delays deportation for undocumented individuals who have already been in the United States for more than five years and meet certain other conditions”. This concept captures the fact that his administration is looking at individuals that have spent a sufficient time in the country and have positively contributed to the American economy. In this way immigration is looked at on an individual basis rather then implementing policies that group collectives with diverse situations together. In looking at each individual and their contributions whether positive/negative immigration issues take on a more subjective lens.
I remember seeing this on the news over the summer and was absolutely dumbfounded at how obvious the use of force was. I am so mad that nothing was done and the office who used a chokehold, a move that is not allowed to be used by law enforcement, basically suffocated Eric Garner. No medics even reported to the scene and no one tried to revive him. All of this was over the suspicion that he was selling loose cigarettes. Unlike the Micael Brown case, the altercation never became physical and Garner never charged at police officers, instead the officers came onto him and he said “do not touch me I did nothing wrong.” I thought this would be appropriate to bring up in class at some point especially considering the Grand Jury’s decision.