If MLK was an activist today

50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. It wasn’t with an AR-15, but, it was a gun, protected by the 2nd Amendment.

My father told me he used to have lunch with King while they were both students at Boston University, on Thursdays. They’d argue. Dad was Malcom, Martin was Martin. They disagreed in the methods of effective change.

Being an activist then was hard, getting the word out required a lot more leg work, coordination, organization. There was no twitter, no Facebook, no meetups, no YouTube, no gofundme.

When King died, there wasn’t much of an estate, he’d even donated the money from his Nobel Peace Prize to the cause.

The following is fiction. What if MLK was magically 39 today, and still fighting the same battles, or slightly different ones. But, hadn’t won the Nobel, or gained a following. The scene is at the King household in Atlanta. Gathered around the table are his wife Coretta, Ralph, Jesse, Hosea, Joseph and Fred. They’re discussing their next move.

Coretta: Here’s some chicken from Popeye’s, fellas, dig in. Sorry, it’s the best we could do- money’s a bit tight right now.

MLK: It’s OK honey, the cause is more important than having a big fat bank account.

Coretta: I don’t know Martin, I’m looking at Brother Creflo, across town and he’s rollin in the dollars. You ought to spend more time in your church than out in the streets.

Fred: You know, that time you spent down in jail in Birmingham, maybe we should have setup a gofundme and taken that money and bought us a few new video cameras and a Sling- so we could broadcast live at every event.

Jesse: Video is so important these days. It’s not just the broadcast, but, if your channel has over 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours, you can monetize it on Youtube.

Coretta: He doesn’t even have 1000 followers on Twitter, it’s hard cutting through all that mess. Maybe you ought to antagonize the president and get him to tweet about you.

Hosea: I wouldn’t want to be associated with that fool. Porn stars, bankruptcies, walls, that revolving door on his office, how the hell did that fool get elected president. And why can’t we get our last president to come out and march with us?

Jesse: You know no one likes to march. It’s easier to hit the like button, or sign an online petition. Someone has to get shot these days to get people out in the streets- like those kids in Florida. Martyrs are in, marchers are out.

Fred: Maybe we should go back to just preaching, and politicking from the pulpit. The IRS is so overwhelmed with all those tax cuts they are never going to come after us for the Johnson Amendment- hell, they almost cut it out of the tax code last December.

Joseph: I keep looking at TD Jakes and think, dang, that guy could pay his people to march. We’re doing it all wrong.

Fred: Yep, aligning with the democrats and being their lapdogs, delivering black voters to the polls, why are we still doing that anyway? Lincoln was a Republican and he freed us. What has the democratic party done for us lately?

Coretta: Not a thing brother Fred, not a thing.

Jesse: I asked for their support when I tried to run for office. I didn’t get any help.

Coretta: Preach! You know there’s money to be made out there. You know how it works, the golden rule, he who has the gold, makes the rules. You brothers best get busy bringing in the Franklins.

Hosea: You know all those big time preachers have a book. Maybe we ought to write one together?

MLK: I wrote 5 already, had to self-publish. Amazon made money, I’ve got diddly. Money ain’t flowing in publishing these days. It’s almost as bad as the newspaper business, but not quite.

Fred: I’m telling you, we need to start our own TV channel. Those cameras would come in handy. Look, someone has to tell our story to the masses.

Joseph: I don’t think people really care that much. Half the countries got their noses buried in their phone all the time, half the countries high on medical mary jane, and their all watching Netflix or Hulu.

Fred: See, video is the key. I keep telling you.

Coretta: who gave you guys the torch anyway? Why should anyone listen to any of you. What makes you special? Nobody elected you to “lead the movement.” When am I going to be able to buy a G-Wagon like Mrs. Dollar? I wish you’d focus on your parish instead of on all this protestin and stuff. Ain’t no money in that.

MLK: If we can get a universal basic income everything changes. Then everyone can afford to put a little extra on the collection plate on Sundays honey. I’m telling you, for an old white Jewish dude, that Sanders guy was my choice for just that reason. Plus, with our four kids- college would be paid for. Instead we got this whack job.

Hosea: How many times we going to talk about the same thing? Ain’t going to change nothing. 50 years ago, it was the Klan killing brothers, now it’s overzealous cops. Maybe we should have listened to Malcom X instead of this peaceful route. We can go buy AR-15’s too. They aren’t that expensive.

Joseph: (laughing) Y’all now if we start showing up with AR-15’s in the street, they’ll start banning them in two seconds flat.

Coretta: Now you guys are just plum crazy. Stop all this nonsense about guns, protests and what you’re going to change. Nothing changes without the almighty dollar and between all six of you, you don’t have enough to buy this here chicken. Whoever heard of a political activist in the 1%. You hear about “activist investors” all the time. Now get outta my kitchen, so I can clean up. Martin, you best be hitting the streets tomorrow to find a real job that puts money in the bank account. Cell phone bill is due on Friday and we don’t have the money to pay it.

~fini

I don’t know how many times I’ve been told to either just leave town, or leave the politics alone. That making money matters more than following your principles. Monday, I lost a long time client over my politics. My friend Shepard Fairey wrote me about the post “Good post! A clear conscience is not possible with a purely capitalist mindset. The market creates as many problems as it solves. I’m very glad that you wrestle with that like I do.-S”

Yesterday I landed a new client that will bill considerably more.

And today, I found out that I’m the lead quote for the discussion of the media on the “Make me smart” podcast from American Public Media with Molly Wood and Kai Ryssdal; 56: “The best cure for hatred and ignorance”

Sometimes it’s just dumb luck who becomes the leader who is remembered in the history books. And sometimes, it only happened because they were too stupid to join the herd.

If there is one good reason to change the 2nd amendment, it happened 50 years ago today.

I can’t imagine what MLK might have achieved had he just lived to see 50, or what he’d say today about the shooting of Stephon Clark or John Crawford.

Stepping up for your principles has a cost. MLK paid the ultimate one for all of us.

 

Arresting teachers at school board meetings? DPS did that last century.

On Wed. Feb 28, 1996 I went to the Dayton City Commission meeting to protest their illegal secret meetings on Mondays (they called them “work sessions” and did them using the “emergency media notification” system of faxing to the media outlets on Friday evenings). The previous Monday, they had discussed ways to limit citizens from speaking, or at least being on camera, so they could make sure that I didn’t show how AFSCME trash collectors were getting paid for 56 hours while actually working around 30. I had shown up the previous week with my giant time card, and it was too clear how screwed up things were.

Since they didn’t want to see the face of the people they represent, I donned a black balaclava as the meeting started. The rest is history- and I ended up in the Montgomery County Jail that morning. The same place where Charles Alexander Wade was pepper sprayed while in a restraining chair.

But as I went to get my mug shot taken, I heard a voice call out “Mr. Esrati, Mr. Esrati” -and I look over, and there is Loretta Cephus, sitting in the mugshot area. She had been arrested the previous night while she was questioning the school board under Superintendent James Williams.

So when I was writing on Tuesday morning about how I’d shut down the illegal meeting of the school closure task force by protesting and refusing to leave or shut of my camera- because they were violating the Ohio Sunshine Laws, it was far from my first rodeo. And considering there were more than a few people who should know the Sunshine laws inside out- like Commissioner Jeff Mims, or City Manager Shelly Dickstein, or former county Administrator Deb Feldman or even Mr. Lawyer/school board member to be Mohamed Al-Hamdani- it’s pretty amazing that this collection of highly paid “leaders” didn’t know that what they were trying to do wasn’t legal.

When a reader sent me the link to the school teacher who was taken out of the school board meeting in Vermillion LA, and then cuffed- I did a quick facebook post thinking it was Vermillion Ohio (later corrected) as more and more people picked up the story in outrage. When I had viewed the video at noonish- it was at 250K views- it now has 2.7m views and counting:

The difference? Social media. What the DPS board got away with in its persecution of Loretta, wouldn’t have happened today. Her claims of #MeToo against Williams would have been taken seriously. People would have had first hand evidence of the horrible way the board handled things.

Loretta struggled for years, and was constantly pushed into a corner. Many have tried to do the same to me- “Esrati is crazy” – “Esrati is just a troublemaker”- “Esrati…”

It’s easy for them to do- to make themselves feel more comfortable with their ignorance of the laws that are there to protect them. It’s hard in a town that feels so strongly about putting the square pegs in the square holes and the round pegs in the round holes- that we often forget that pegs don’t have to go into holes at all…. in other words- we don’t have to be victimized by a system of laws and order that has been perverted for a long time. Back room deals on who should run, who should be on the ballot, and who should be allowed to talk or not talk for more than three minutes.

No, Vermillion LA, you putting a teacher in cuffs is nothing to this old hand of Dayton Ohio politics- you chickened out by not hauling her off to jail and charging her. In Dayton- we were doing that 22 years ago… and now, we’ve even upped the bar, by pepper spraying inmates in restraints, throwing old ladies to the floor and breaking their shoulder- and even letting people in medical distress die in the jail because, well, our Sheriff is beyond reproach and now running for State rep.

To all my supporters who called or wrote to thank me for standing up to the powers that think they can break the law, thank you. If you really want to help, consider making a donation to support my efforts to keep this blog as the source for the informed of Dayton. And, last but not least- run for precinct captain to stop these political power hungry members of the monarchy of Montgomery County from continuing to fail us in protecting our rights.

 

Flags, anthems, patriotism and “American Values”

Suppose NFL owners just fired 90% of the players for refusing to stand for the National Anthem today? What would happen? Their moneymaking machine would be in a world of serious hurt. Fans would be incredibly upset, with many taking sides and dividing us even more than the old football rivalries. There would be a lot of misplaced anger, against players, owners, and our “dotard” in chief- Donald Trump.

Colin Kaepernick would still be unemployed, America would still a place where police kill citizens almost without any repercussion, and we’d still have more people in prisons than any other “free country.”

Not to mention, we’re the only industrialized country to have its citizens turn to GoFundMe when they get cancer, instead of just working with their doctors to beat it. The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is still caused by health emergencies, not bad financial decisions.

After 9/11 it became fashionable and politically popular to wear a flag pin. I did it. Veterans started to gain a new respect, long overdue, but still for the wrong reasons. We live in a country where we still allow our wars to be fought by the poor, minorities and volunteers, instead of because of universal duty. This means when those in Congress send our young people to risk their lives, few have to worry about their own children or grandchildren going to meet an uncertain future.

Donald J. Trump went to a private military academy for high school, yet, didn’t enlist. His kids didn’t enlist. Yet, here he stands, picking fights like a high school bully on an elementary school playground with a country so poor that most of its people are living in poverty, and many face food insecurity (take your pick, his country or N. Korea, unfortunately the same statement applies to both).

He blames everyone for what he sees as our problems, from Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama to NAFTA and immigrants. Now, he’s calling Colin Kaepernick’s mom a bitch. This is not the leader of the country I stood up and swore an oath to defend, this is a mockery of it.

But, this is what happens when we, as a country, elect a game show host to the highest office. Of course, he’s questioned the validity of our journalists, our election results, and the integrity of even those he’s hired and fired in record time.

We can’t place the blame solely on Trump, there are 435 in the “House of Representatives” and 100 in the Senate, that have stood by and failed to act as a check and balance on a man so obviously unfit to be our president going back to his recorded “grab them right in the pussy” “locker room talk” and his statement that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” back in January of 2016- at a campaign rally in Iowa.  Whatever happened to the “never Trump” republicans?

They sat on their hands when he blamed both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. Being a Nazi is apparently OK with this president, and even some of his Jewish cabinet. Even the idiots in Israel who preferred him over Clinton in the election sat by mute. It’s as if common sense has taken a vacation.

Now, some of the people who gave him millions, NFL owners, are twisting in their seats, hoping that they aren’t about to regret it. Because, unfortunately, in America today, it’s not about freedom, or constitutional rights, or even democracy- it’s absolutely clear, it’s only about the money.

Always wrapped in the flag.

When I see a “flag” covering an entire football field as I saw at the beginning of the Browns v Colts game today, and look back at the photos of the president at the Alabama rally where he decided that those who protest are “sons of bitches”- I see the flag being used to cover for our sins instead of representing our values. And I can’t stop being reminded of how important the swastika was to the last party that rose out of hate, bigotry and powerlessness- the Nazis in Germany.

There are no winners in nuclear war, and never has this country had a president who didn’t understand this.

Backgrounds are important for leaders with small hands

His speech at the U. N. should have been enough for someone to raise the question of impeachment.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more… The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

He even contradicts himself: “In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.” Just don’t take a knee at a football game.

Congress impeached Bill Clinton over his “lies” about a blowjob.

How they fail to act now, is incomprehensible.

It is up to all of us, to call for an end to this madness, before his madness ends with a nuclear exclamation point. It is not OK to defend his actions, to take his side, to threaten NFL players for making a political statement.

It is patriotic to demand he leave office, and take his supporters with him. Anything less, may lead to the fall of our republic. Don’t confuse our flag, anthem or standing or sitting with patriotism. Patriotism is taking action to end the rule of this infidel.

Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Say no to Amazon HQ 2, sad amazon logo

Just say No to Amazon HQ2

If your city thinks it should offer incentives for Amazon to come to town, it’s time to reevaluate your leadership.

Sure, landing an HQ for a corporate behemoth is prestigious, and  can put any city on the map, but, to offer incentives to one of the richest companies in the world, that has been stealing from local coffers from its inception?

If you are looking at empty retail developments, a hollowed out downtown, declining sales tax receipts in the last 15 years- thank Amazon. It’s not that they did anything wrong, it’s that they did almost everything right- including putting pressure on every small business (the true job creators in America) to cut margins and compete on an uneven playing field.

An uneven playing field that is just made more uneven when our leaders are willing to bend over and offer their rear ends for a reaming with a smile. There is a reason Amazon has to make more room outside Seattle- they can’t afford to stay there. They’ve already driven the housing and office markets into the stratosphere, they’ve pushed the limits of infrastructure, they’ve caused more troubles than they’ve solved- all in the name of “winning” at the capitalist trough.

Don’t worry, they aren’t alone. We’ve seen it time and time again- as companies that don’t pay taxes like General Electric leverage their “job creation” into tax free offices in places like poverty stricken Dayton Ohio. Or watched companies like Boeing move their HQ from  Seattle to Chicago. NCR did the same to Dayton- and now their stock is worth less and their CEO makes more.

It’s not governments job to subsidize and coddle business- it’s governments job to provide a safe, healthy, clean, secure and well organized platform for communities to thrive. Business is only one part of that equation. It’s time to put a stop to corporate welfare.

What’s laughable is that despite not clicking on any of the boxes of Amazon’s dream list- Dayton thinks it should be in the running. This coming from a city manager who has repeatedly failed at “economic development” projects- the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where years and millions of tax dollars went into actually devaluing a community, in order to lure a store that was supposed to come- however, she’d forgotten to get that in writing. On the other- the hole on Ludlow- City Manager Shelly Dickstein gave millions to developers who didn’t do anything but promise to do something- even stiffing the demolition company that ended up owning one of the historic gems of Downtown. And then she had the nerve to insist any developer of the vacant space which the city still owns- has to buy the demolition companies building as entry to the deal (how this isn’t illegal is beyond reason).

Let’s see- Dayton doesn’t have over a million people, it doesn’t have an airport with the connections, it’s lacking in quality education (no, you can’t move 50,000 people into the Oakwood School district), we don’t have a highly educated workforce ready to switch jobs (counting the base is laughable- many of those people have contracts with the US Government that aren’t really negotiable). The list goes on.

Only the Dayton Daily news would even write about this pipe dream without laughing. The New York Times did an analysis and came up with Denver, other smart publications have also done their filtering and come up with other communities- none in Ohio.

The attraction of jobs that pay six figures landing in your city with an income tax is mouth watering, however, the chances of landing them in a city with a 2.5% income tax on top of a state income tax is slim. Especially when Denver does it without any income tax.

At some point, Ohio needs to grow up and realize that allowing this state to be a ridiculous patchwork of local fiefdoms all trying to stay in power and support the friends and family plan of the Ohio Political Caste is keeping us from competing. You can’t have 28 jurisdictions in one county, and 88 counties in a state that’s losing population and clout at an alarming rate without thinking “we’re doing something wrong.”

Nationally, this country needs to just put an end to “economic development” incentives that support big companies over small ones, and make the playing field uneven and unfair. Did the residents of Georgia even get their $100 Million they invested to lure NCR there back, before NCR asked for another handout to move within the State? Doubtful.

If you read George Orwell’s “Animal farm”- this line should come to mind: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Kettering cop assassinates passenger in traffic stop

Kettering police Chief Chip Protsman tried to justify a murder by suggesting that Officer Jonathon McCoy was ok in spending 69 seconds telling a passenger in a car what to do at gunpoint.

It was Philando Castile all over, without the facebook live video from the driver of the car.

Kettering police officer Jonathon McCoy gave nearly 30 commands to the occupants of a gray Ford van last Sunday once he saw the front-seat passenger had a gun in his right front pocket.

What started as a traffic stop of the woman driver for not signaling while changing lanes and malfunctioning brake lights escalated into an officer firing nine shots at Jason Hoops.

Source: Officer warned suspect before fatal shooting

I watched the video, and wonder where the “to serve and protect” part comes in.

Officer McCoy was on a traffic stop. He approached the car on the passenger side and started asking for license and registration. He also started asking who everyone in the vehicle is- on a traffic stop. Last I checked, police don’t have the right to start asking people why they are in a neighborhood, or what they are doing.

(added 3 Sept) Ohio is a stop and identify state, however, even in this case, the cop was beyond his rights:

“Stop and identify” statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally obtain the identification of someone whom they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in “Stop and ID” states.  (end addition)

We have a fourth amendment that protects us from this kind of harassment- well, maybe not in Kettering. If you need a refresher:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Then when McCoy saw the butt of a gun sticking out of the passengers pocket he panicked and pulled his gun, pointed it at the passengers head and said “You reach for that gun, I will blow your brains out, do you (expletive) understand me?”

My question is if it is legal to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio, what gives an officer the right to pull a weapon out, point it at someones head and threaten to blow their brains out?

Police apologists will say, he was an ex-felon and didn’t have a right to have a weapon. How did Officer McCoy know Jason Hoops was a felon?

They will say that Jason didn’t comply with the orders. I can tell you from experience that when guns are pointed at you, people are screaming at you, not everyone reacts rationally or normally.

They will say they had  “a signed statement from someone who said Hoops said was not going to go back to prison and “was willing to take out any cop that he had to.”” Yet, McCoy couldn’t have known that either.

And of course, the kicker, “Protsman said that what called “pipe bomb” making materials found at Hoops’ residence were still being investigated.”

So, according to Chief Protsman, “What I’ve seen in this video, I’m pretty confident in saying that this officer did a very good job on this stop,”

Excuse me? A man is dead, without judge, jury or anything but the judgement of one cop who over-reacted. If this is a “good job” he needs to find a new job.

“Stand your ground” is not for cops.

The moment Officer McCoy saw the gun, he should have said, to the driver, “can you please shut the car off, and put the keys on the roof for me” as he backed away from the vehicle, “I’m going to check something and I’ll be right back.” Going back to his cruiser, he should have asked for assistance.  At no point, should he have felt threatened by a gun in the vehicle, or in the pocket of a passenger. At no time, should he have pulled his weapon and pointed it at someone, it was a traffic stop. Mr. Hoops didn’t have a warrant, wasn’t suspected of committing a violent crime, he was a passenger in the car of a bad driver.

How big a threat was Hoops? Watch the woman walk into her house from the car with her dog. Did she seem scared? The driver pleads to Officer McCoy “please don’t do that” after McCoy says he’ll blow Hoops brains out. She wants to get out of the car- before he goes full Sgt. York on Hoops. Can you blame her? Obviously she understands she’s in danger with a rabid cop- and that bullets go through bodies.

Instead, because Officer McCoy was poorly trained, scared and over-reacted, we have a dead citizen. Even if Hoops had the gun in his hands, if he hadn’t pointed it at anyone, he wasn’t a threat when the officer came to the car. Hell, McCoy has to ask the rear seat passenger after unloading his weapon on Hoops- if the gun was real. So, toy guns in your pocket is a threat too? Did anyone study the Tamir Rice shooting? Another case where the cops could have stayed out of harms way and deescalated the situation.

““We know there was a physical confrontation where the officer reached in and grabbed hold of Mr. Hoops’ right arm, trying to stop him from reaching down towards the gun,” Protsman said. “This continues for a little bit.” Did Protsman, or McCoy learn anything from the Samuel Dubose murder in Cincinnati- that officers don’t reach into vehicles? Experts testified that this is a dangerous move by an officer. Why didn’t McCoy back away, and seek cover?

Because McCoy shouldn’t be a police officer.

Chief Protsman shouldn’t be defending McCoy’s actions.  And, the investigation of officer shootings should no longer be trusted to local authorities. It’s time for a federal investigation team, similar to what happens when a plane crashes. Bring professional, unbiased, detectives to discern the facts from the fiction. This is the proposal being made by the parents of man killed by a cop in Kenosha Wisconsin.

When a plane crashes, experts pick through the wreckage to determine the cause and make recommendations to prevent the next accident. The process is so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. But no comparable system exists in policing — and that may help explain why you are far more likely to die at the hands of a cop than to perish in an plane crash. Police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000 every year.

Of course, no independent team arrived to perform a forensic analysis of the younger Mr. Bell’s death. Instead, the Kenosha police department spent two days investigating its own officers before ruling that the shooting was justified.

Source: Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airplanes? – The New York Times

Even the way the Dayton Daily news frames this story, it’s as if the cop had a right to pull his weapon on a traffic stop. Have we forgotten the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston N.C. where Officer Michael Slager might have gotten away with murder if not for a passerby video taping him shoot Scott in the back.

If you don’t think this pattern is getting out of hand, you aren’t paying attention.

If McCoy is the kind of cop Kettering and Protsman want to defend, I retract all my statements about Kettering being the best run community in the region.

If this is “to serve and protect” we’re safer without police.