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Vallejo Calif police assault eleven-year-old boy

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 05-12-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Race, Vallejo, Government,

Vallejo Calif. police assaulted a boy of eleven then dropped him at school. Police spokespersons deny the mother's charge her son was the victim of police racial profiling. However, the news report of police conduct, not disputed by them, supports this conclusion.

Usually, I support police actions during crime emergencies especially when my only information is a news report. However, neither side disputes the facts of this incident. Police conduct during and after this incident is troubling. It victimized a child innocent of any misconduct. It shows an attitude by police officers and their superiors oblivious to the racial bias that may have influenced their decisions that day. If not racial profiling, police rationalization of their conduct reveals their opinion of Vallejo residents mainly as a criminal threat and only secondarily as a citizenry, they serve and protect.

Ktvu.com reports, "Vallejo Police Lt. Kevin Bartlett explained the 11-year-old was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He said police received a call from the homeowner saying shots had been fired and that a woman in a hoodie was waving a gun." 

True, the child was at the right place at the wrong time of a reported crime in the area. Nevertheless, the concern of responding police officers should have been to remove him from danger. After all, they had the duty besides identifying and arresting the perpetrator to protect the safety of innocent people at the scene of a crime. Instead, they surrounded Mims with guns drawn, ordered him to put his hands in the air, get on the ground, and threatened to shoot him if he moved.

Romie Mims was a boy in the sixth grade whose gender did not match the female suspect described in the police call. Clearly, he was not waving a gun. Therefore, what about Mims' appearance prompted police to treat him as a criminal and not as an innocent party? Even if they mistook him for a female, they had the same duty to treat a woman on the scene as an innocent bystander unless her actions or evidence suggested a different role. Instead, their hasty actions placed this child at unnecessary risk. This discussion would be about police shooting an unarmed child if Mims' body had reacted involuntarily with jerky spasms of fear instead of with tears.

Police dismissive attitude of Mims' basic rights of human dignity continued after they decided he was not their suspect. After assaulting Mims emotionally and physically, one of them patronizingly placed him in a police car and drove him to school. Anybody, adult or child, not a habitual criminal would suffer shock having faced abrupt threat of death by police officers or by criminals. Mims must have experienced extreme stress hearing police officers, his asserted protectors, threatening to shoot him for reasons unknown to him. I empathize with what must have been Mims' frightened, conflicted feeling entering the police car and continuing under authority of someone that recently threatened to shoot him. The police driving Mims to school rather than contacting his parents or other agency to provide comfort and counseling from his harrowing experience is more evidence of their disregard for his feelings. It did not occur to them that someone like him, young black-labeled male, would experience distress above feelings of inconvenience from the police assault that they addressed by driving him to school.

Lt. Bartlett's remark was self-serving and untrue, "It's part of stuff we have to deal with in Vallejo and unfortunately he got caught in the middle of it."  The police do not deal with Mims' experience in Vallejo of being racial profiled by police as a criminal while reporting a crime. According to Bartlett's rationalization, any black-labeled American near a reported crime is at the wrong place at the wrong time and rightfully presumed an armed criminal whom police can assault and threaten with death.

Misunderstanding about Free Speech Rights

Written By Kenneth Brooks on 04-23-2014 | in Freedom, Critical Thinking, Human Relations, Race, Government,

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) misinterpreted free speech principles. St. Anthony High School in South Huntington, N.Y. suspended two students for displaying the flag of the Southern Confederacy at an after-hours school event according to CBS New York. St. Anthony is a private school. Therefore, the First Amendment prohibitions of federal government authority over speech do not apply here.  

Despite the school's private status, NYCLU objected that, "All people should be able to express their views freely, even the offensive ones." "Our motto is more speech, not censorship, or punishment,"  said NYCLU director Donna Lieberman. "Helping children understand the impact of this patently offensive expressive activity." Lieberman's illogical conclusion shows a misunderstanding about speech rights."

The ability to communicate is an inborn human trait of survival. However, each person must exercise the ability responsibly or lose its usefulness. The First Amendment to the Constitution denied government authority over the people's speech to prevent its ability to censor their speech about government operation. The First Amendment did not create freedom of speech rights, as many Americans believe. Instead, it protected existing free speech rights of the people from government restrictions. Therefore, each person's right of free speech includes the power to restrict offensive speech to him or her in areas he or she controls. Illogically, Lieberman concludes that people should surrender this personal component of their free speech rights to provide forum for people with speech goals to offend them.   

Individuals, family, friends, business associates, and strangers censor the speech of one another all the time. They ignore or object to speech they find offensive, uninteresting, or unworthy of their time. The power of choice provides each person an independent vote which speech is most valuable to him or her and to society. People harm themselves and society if from ignorance they persistently provide a forum for illogical, abusive, destructive, or vacuous speech. Each forum allowed for vacuous or intentionally offensive speech displaces the opportunity for positive speech and ideas. Therefore, nobody has a duty to provide a forum and the use of his or her time for speech designed to offend him or her.

Remarks by St. Anthony officials and others presumed the students' display of the rebel flag was mostly offensive to black-labeled Americans. It is true that some descendants of Freed Americans believe they should take special offense to displays of the Rebel flag. However, the flag represents the poorly reasoned plan of some slave states to withdraw from the Union and establish a slave nation. It represents the crushing and humiliating defeat the Union Army of free white-labeled and black-labeled Americans and escaped slaves inflicted on the Rebels. No doubt, this Rebel plan and defeat at Civil War advanced approval of the 13th Amendment and ending of slavery in the United States by a century or more. Therefore, descendants of Freed Americans have reason to cheer displays of the rebel flag symbolizing those events and their ancestors' role in them.      

On the other hand, all Americans should disapprove any current support for the traitorous rebels that killed around three-hundred thousand Union soldiers. Nevertheless, we should respond to this type provocation with care and restraint. St. Anthony school officials overreacted to the students' conduct by assigning indefinite suspensions. This overreaction suggests that those children had power and influence over targeted people to devastate them emotionally merely by displaying the Rebel flag. If so, then the people that feel especially victimized need to evaluate their values and self-worth.

Society must stop overreacting to antisocial conduct by young people seeking attention by offensive conduct. This is true whether they display the flag of the defeated Rebel cause at inappropriate times or places or they spew self-belittling racist slurs and degrading sexist language in music. We should discipline them for disruptive conduct, if it is disruptive, and move on. St. Anthony High officials should assign those two students the task of writing an essay comparing the living conditions of free workers in the rebel states before, doing and after the Civil War with those of wealthy slave and property owners in those states during those same periods. This will teach them about the inappropriate timing and location of their speech while educating them of the true circumstances of conditions symbolized by the Rebel flag.


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