Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


 We have been told there is no longer racism in America. Or if there is, minorities are as guilty of it as 'whites' (nobody is really white so maybe that should be pinks). But the Trayvon murder began it; but since, there have been a lot of stories adding to the information. There has been a lot going on and not being publicized. Worse, the racism is not just in individuals but also in our system.  Something like the following is hard to explain on any other basis.

This one should worry us all as (unless you only watch Fox) you have probably heard the story of what this man went through. His wife was speeding. They had a four year old son in the backseat. The police officer checked the ID of the husband, who was a passenger, and found an old arrest warrant. The man had dealt with this issue but to be safe had with him a notarized letter explaining that the fine had been paid meaning the warrant was not valid. He was arrested anyway, spent nearly a week in jail, and due to their changing which jail he was in was strip-searched twice.

In the news interview I saw, he said the strip searches were extremely humiliating especially since he was being wrongly held. They couldn't find the truth of it sooner? His wife could not reach him for days. The experience of his arrest, his son witnessing it, then his not being with them for days added to the humiliation. So he sued. That's what we do when we have been wrongfully treated.

It went to the Supreme Court who just ruled (by the usual 5 to 4 majority) that the police can strip search anyone they arrest even for such a minor offense as not raking the leaves off their lawn. Remember when you are arrested, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. That's not how this makes it appear when they can order you to remove all your clothing and go through some humiliating examinations.

This one has particular meaning to me as I had an experience a few years ago, that had I been a minority, likely could have seen me arrested. Farm Boss had made a right turn onto a city street, gone immediately into the next lane to make a left turn in the next block. It was safe, nobody was coming, but on a side street, an officer had watched him do it. When we turned into a parking lot for the video rental store, we both saw the police car behind us.

Now I was totally ignorant of the rule that when someone is pulled over by a police officer, everybody must remain in the car. We had driven into where we were going. Frankly I didn't think there had been an infraction. I got out of the car and walked toward the video store.

The officer evidently hollered at me to stop. I did not hear him and went on into the store. He let it go, took Farm Boss's ID, gave him a verbal warning on the lane change. End of story but I realize now that I could have been arrested as resisting an officer or unruly conduct or whatever they wanted to call it, and today that could lead to a trip to jail and a strip search. Do you think the story back then would have been the same if I had not been an old white woman?

I don't think any of us should feel secure that such a thing might be different depending on our race. When one group is not treated the same as another, does that make any of us as safe? Since Trayvon's death we have heard of many shootings and incidents where race clearly played a part in the approach the officers took or how the court saw the shooter. This plain is wrong.
Then there is the irony (at least to me) as to how the shooting of Trayvon has been used as a political issue, turned from one of wrongful killing into another right/left battle. I was not happy when Biden brought up gun laws should be examined because that's what the right is trying to protect and why they tried to bury this issue. This situation was more about giving someone with a gun the right to go hunting than whether people have guns. The right wants a right to carry assault rifles anywhere they wish.

Then the media blew it by clipping the 911 calls to make what was said sound worse than it was. It was bad enough but when they do that, they deserve the Palin epithet of lamestream media. This wasn't a case that needed to be hyped. It's bad enough as is.

Instead of being a cultural issue, it become another of liberal versus conservative. How the heck did that happen?  I would have thought this was something that would bring us all together. Instead first the Foxies ignored it. When they could not do that any longer, they began to attack the teen rather than the shooter. They attacked the president for saying anything about it. The rest of us could say it could have been our son but how dare he add that his son would have looked like Trayvon. It was the simple truth.

Frankly if the right thinks the outrage from the left is against Zimmerman, it's not. He was a wantabe tough guy with a gun and that kind have always been with us. It's the system that enabled him to patrol his neighborhood, and then when he shot an innocent man, the Florida system did all they could do to protect him even to telling the police to not do their job which would have meant ballistic tests, drug and alcohol tests on Zimmerman. From what I understand, we can lay that one directly on the city attorney who told the police not to charge Zimmerman. Was that racial or good old boys? Although, the stories on who wanted him arrested and who blocked that seem to change day by day. What doesn't change is a youth is dead--  

You know, Zimmerman claimed he was so badly beaten by Trayvon that he had to shoot to save his life. Except surely the police also noticed what the undertaker saw on the youth's body-- no bruised knuckles, no damaged face, and only one wound-- the shot that killed him. Some deadly knock down drag out fight. You know, a fistfight, even if you are on the losing end, doesn't warrant killing another.

Zimmerman claimed he was the one who cried for help. That's not what experts said-- Voice not Zimmerman's

To me more rational righties should be ashamed of belonging to a party that would be so destructive. Over and over the pundits and leaders on the right show their true nature.You real conservatives, you need to clean house. It won't be easy though as your party has been hijacked and it's not by conservatives.

The other day I got an email alert and went looking into this story-- The killing of Kenneth Chamberlain by Police.  Explain that one away.

Or try this one -- Joe Horn Shooting Controversy. That one bothered me on several levels as it's not just that he went hunting and got his game. It's that he was cheered by some for doing it.

This reminds me of the ones who cheered the idea of letting some die because they don't have health insurance. What is going on here? Who are some of us turning into as a people? Most amazing is those cheering would call themselves Christians and yet you can almost hear their type also cheering as Jesus was executed-- that commie, socialist who was upsetting the political order of their time.

Whose fault is it that laws like Florida's and other states are encouraging slaughters and allowing someone to hunt another as Zimmerman did Trayvon Martin? Isn't something badly wrong when a people condone and praise such events? It's our fault if we let it go on.  We should demand safety and fairness for everyone-- regardless of race or connection to the powerful. They used to say if you ignore this unfairness to minorities, they will come for you next, well guess what.

If you have followed what has been going on around the country with the police assaults on the Occupy demonstrators, who usually have been middle class people and totally unprepared to think police would use violent crowd control; and often, as evidently in St. Louis, with no provocation. This is happening around the country with a police force being trained in more and more violent control of the populace.

They came for them and we said nothing. We were next. I have often thought when swat teams break into someone's home on a supposed drug raid, only it was the wrong house, with the occupants being killed when they resist, that could be me. Police who come like that would seem like a threat to most of us when we are in our own home. Wouldn't they to you?

Somebody must benefit from this kind of mentality. I am just not sure who it is.


Ingineer66 said...

I agree with them being able to strip search anybody that is arrested. Because 99% of whom they arrest are dangerous dirt-bags. In this case the cops that actually arrested the man with the notarized copy of the paid warrant should be suspended or fired.

A friend of mine was taken to jail for an old warrant from when he was a college student that he was in the process of making payments on, because he got stopped by University Police and they decided they had a real criminal on their hands and it the biggest case they had seen in a while. The original warrant was for $500 for a traffic citation. Something that even if it was not being taken care of probably should not have resulted in him being taken to county jail (which is in another city). But my friend was white so no protest marches or even an apology.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, that could have been almost any of us. I don't have a clue where all of these inter-racial fears begin. The shooters don't seem to be among the most stable people in the world. Grrrrr!
Cop Car

Rain Trueax said...

the issue is here that they had him in jail and moved him and then did it again. If they did it the first time, why should they need to do it again? And why is it okay to arrest someone for something so minor? As you said, in this case, it was the arrest that was wrong first. AND there were no demonstrations on this either-- not until Trayvon did a lot of these links even come out.

Today I saw where a group of kids, mixed white and black beat up an old man because they said of Trayvon. Excuses are all some need. We should not give it to them by treating one color differently than another!

Ingineer66 said...

I think you are reaching with your personal story that if you would have been a minority, you might have been arrested. No, if you would have gotten out of the car and told the cop to go f- himself and then walked off you might have been arrested. Most cops know that most women have a problem with being stopped by the police. He probably didn't want to deal with you any more than you wanted to deal with him.

My ex wife almost got hauled off the jail one night in my hometown, a very small town, for getting lippy with the young police officer that stopped to talk to us while we were walking to a restaurant. It is not always about race. It is about attitude of the police and the public. I ended telling my wife to shut her mouth and not talk to the police that way and the assistant chief ended up calling me a few days later to apologize for his rookie officer's behavior.

Another friend of mine was surrounded by police in a McDonald's parking lot as he was getting out of his car. He was told to lay down on the ground and had a guy standing over him with an UZI type rifle in his back. After a few minutes all the cops told him to get up and they all got back in their cars and sped off. No explanation no nothing. He is white too. So minorities are not the only ones with these stories, but they are the only ones that say it is racially motivated.

helena said...

Frightening decision by the Supreme Court. I do not believe I have ever experienced such a socially activist court as the current majority of the Supreme Court. This Supreme Court has forgotten the role of the judiciary to protect its citizens and uphold constitutional laws and precedence re: innocent until proven guilty.

Rain Trueax said...

Ingineer, did you read all those links? Yesterday there was a piece in Daily Beast on more killings of unarmed blacks by police.

And as for my case, the officer was irked by it and told my husband but he did let it go. He probably assumed I hadn't known. Frankly I hadn't known he thought there was an infraction at that point. If there is reincarnation, may all who look away when a minority is grabbed get their chance to experience it.

What I had not known is it is against the law to leave a vehicle when it's being stopped which means he could have gone after me had he chosen to do so and I've heard of a lot less than that leading to an arrest-- officer's discretion.

One of my books is about a police officer and the tough job they have but it's not as though I don't know there are those who abuse their power and it happens more frequently to minorities than you or me. Read the links and tell me how often they would push their way into a white man's home when he had called for medical assistance but then got it and didn't want to admit the law? Would they force their way in, taser and then shoot him in the chest? Maybe in some communities but nowhere I know.

Rain Trueax said...

And since I do not know what the police officer did in your situation, I cannot say but strange they called you if they had offended her, isn't it?

Hattie said...

If you had been black, you could have been shot. I'm always very careful and wary around cops, even (or maybe now especially) the rent-a-cops I see all over the place these days.
A friend of mine appalled me when she was stopped for speeding and hopped out of the car. But she is not a city-wise girl. She got into a big chat with the cop about how it was a new car and she wasn't used to it yet, and mentioned the name of her husband, a doctor. He let her off.
Wonder what could have happened if we had been a car full of local teenagers.
Stay in the car. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do not remove them from same unless requested to do so, and then move very slowly and carefully. Be safe.
If you do end up in detention, try to stay in public as much as possible and not let them (if at all possible) get you in a room alone.
I think this ruling is going to be used a lot against demonstrators.

Rain Trueax said...

I thought I was careful also, but I was ignorant at the time. Ignorance is no excuse. I think most of us are clueless and have no idea what it's like for minorities. If minorities become the majority, we might find out! I think we should fix this first. I keep remembering the black Congresswoman in Arizona who got stopped because she was driving too nice a car for her neighborhood according to the policeman who pulled her over. This is not okay. And I have heard our police are getting Swat training which means they are preparing for a lot of violent responses if Americans decide they don't like what has been happening.

Ingineer66 said...

The militarization of our police is an entirely different topic Rain. In most cases we don't need a bunch of camo clad wanna be soldiers patrolling our streets.

joared said...

Some years ago my car was stopped on a busy blvd. I knew I had done nothing illegal. The officer walked to the sidewalk out of traffic, so I just hopped out and walked over to him figuring he didn't want to stand in the street with cars whizzing by. Seems he saw me rapidly pull out of the gas station and now a mile later he decided to pull me over. I think it was because a young distant relative wearing a cowboy hat was in the front seat with me which may have aroused the officer's concern -- big hat not common in Southern Calif. In Texas or AZ would have been the norm. Anyway, there was nothing to warrant a ticket or even a caution -- maybe he thought I was being kidnapped or had robbed the station. Officer didn't seem to mind I got out of the car -- he never said anything. I simply didn't stop to think, but it's a mistake I shouldn't have made I realized later and wouldn't do in the future.

I think state laws that allow everyone to carry guns are just asking for trouble. The situation in Fla. is a prime example of what can happen with or without overt or covert racism. Just because someone knows how to shoot and clean a gun (I can do that) doesn't mean they also will exercise the judgement to use it safely under certain circumstances. Like many, I might well shoot and think later in some situations. Even the best trained law enforcement officers and our military personnel shoot and it turns out to be wrong.

When it comes to concern about our rights, if you've watched Frontline, we really should be concerned about the scope of Homeland Security information gathering through our local law enforcement i.e. SARS - Suspicious Activity Reports -- and records being kept. Who's supervising that dept.? How's their budget being controlled?

Rain Trueax said...

My theory on the following article is that we probably waited too long as Americans to be concerned about police overreach. We can't totally blame the police because they do have a scary job but are they making it even more scary by these kinds of actions? If I had a son