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Member since: 2002
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If Trayvon Martin had lived: Meet Monroe Bird. Shot, paralyzed by his own neighborhood security

Excerpt: Meet Monroe Bird III below the fold.

Monroe Bird, now a quadriplegic, before and after being shot in his own neighborhood

On February 4, sitting in his own car in his own neighborhood, talking to a female passenger, Monroe Bird was shot in the neck by a security guard, Ricky Stone, a 52-year-old white man. The bullet pierced the C3 vertebrae in his neck. Standing 6 feet, 8 inches, Bird, a gifted athlete, is now unable to move his arms or legs and relies on a ventilator to breathe. Beloved by his family and friends, Monroe had a larger-than-life personality and was really a model citizen. His parents pastor a church outside of Tulsa, Okla., and actually serve on the city council of their hometown.
Below we will dig into exactly how this happened and identify some very troubling aspects of the story.

1. The security guard who shot Bird possessed marijuana at the time of the shooting. He told the Tulsa police that he hadn't smoked it in a few weeks, and they didn't even give him a citation. This is the definition of white privilege. In Oklahoma, possession of marijuana is an automatic misdemeanor. Why was Ricky Stone not cited?

Mind you, Tulsa was quick to test Eric Harris for drugs after they killed him and then released the results widely—even though he never acted violently toward officers.

2. The security guard went to the tired, age-old excuse and claimed that he saw Bird reach into his glove compartment. According to the police report, no weapons were found in or near the car, and no items that even seemed to belong in the glove compartment were found out or about in the car. Yet, in a hurry to leave, we are expected to believe that Bird randomly fidgeted in the glove compartment just for the hell of it.

3. The security guard claimed he thought Monroe and his female passenger were having sex in the car and that he only approached them because of this.

She's white. Bird is black.

Both she and Bird have adamantly denied any such thing was happening and denied it when the security guard confronted them. What role did race play in this confrontation?

The security guard has claimed that Bird, who has no criminal record, attempted to run him over and basically kill him there on the spot—a preposterous claim—and that is when the guard says he began firing his weapon into the car.

Both the female passenger and Bird denied the guard's account and stated that they were driving away when Stone began recklessly firing his gun into the car.

4. The security guard who shot Bird worked for Benjy D. Smith, who owns Smith & Son Security Company. This important to know because Smith is a reserve deputy for the same Tulsa Sheriff's Office that is currently under national scrutiny for its unethical practices with Reserve Deputy Bob Bates, who shot and killed Eric Harris earlier this year.


Why White Americans Don’t Believe in ‘Personal Accountability’ For Police

Do the nation’s police suffer from the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’?


By a margin of 41 percent to 34 percent, white Americans say police treat African Americans and white people equally, according to a YouGov poll conducted 11 days after Freddy Gray’s death. African Americans, however, overwhelmingly—76 percent to 13 percent—said that cops treat them unfairly.

The responses of white Americans are unsettling in light of the seemingly endless video accounts of racially tinged police violence circulating online, the millions of dollars cities have paid to settle police brutality lawsuits, and the many studies that have demonstrated a racial bias in policing.

A disturbingly large number of white Americans, it seems, willfully dismiss the evidence. Perhaps their own relatively uneventful contact with police provides comfortable distance and deniability. Or maybe white America has been swayed by persuasive and powerful counternarratives, especially from conservative media.

Whatever the explanation, there is a bewildering disconnect between white tolerance of police misconduct—including homicides—and the call for “personal accountability” that has long permeated our national policy discussions. Championed by conservatives and furthered by liberal elites wary of social justice, “personal accountability” has been elevated to a national religion. In the 1990s, with full cooperation by the Clinton administration, this rhetoric was used as a cudgel against the poor in order to pave the way for draconian welfare reforms, packaged as “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.” The same dogma helped justify the “three strikes you’re out” and “mandatory minimums” policies that fueled the country’s racist and expensive incarceration frenzy. Today, politicians brandish the term to demand drug testing for poor recipients of public aid and to cut social programs that help the needy.

To me, besides the tragic nature of the AMTRAK crash...

Is the fact that a train in this country derailed because it was going 100 miles an hour. Compared to Japan, France and just about anywhere else where passenger trains don't derail when they're going 100 miles an hour, this pretty much spells out the myth of American Exceptionalism.

American Exceptionism basically gives this country the impetus to sit on its collective asses and forget about improving its own general condition. American Exceptionism gives us a failing infrastructure, crumbling airports, busted water mains, falling bridges, broken levees, an unreliable electrical grid and pot holes that you can lose your Buick in.

American Exceptionalism makes us think it necessary to spend billions of tax dollars propping up the weapons industry on white elephant aircraft that can't fly just because they might get wet.

American Exceptionalism makes people think that it's alright to defund our passenger rail after a train only going a 100 miles an hour jumped the track.

American Exceptionalism makes us think that it's OK to be stupid and regressive, that it's just fine to export our own industrial base, allow our cities to crumble into ruins and dismantle our public education system.

American Exceptional costs lives as well. Not just the lives lost after a passenger train going only 100 miles an hour jumped the tracks, but also in lives lost because we think it alright to commoditize human pain, illness and misery. To create prisons for profit and police forces that behave like occupying armies.

American Exceptionism is a roadmap to decline and even self-destruction. Because, why bother improving our banking system, reversing income inequality, abolishing all forms of discrimination, providing affordable housing, advancing renewable energy sources, promoting global peace over profit-driven war and building, maintaining and operating a modern passenger rail system where the trains can travel at 100 miles an hour without jumping the tracks?

We don't need to do any of that because we're "exceptional," right?

So, since when did we need an exception from improving our own general lot?

Edit: I understand the point that several folks have made here, that the train derailed because 100 miles an hour exceeded that portion of the track's capacity. There's no question here that train was going too fast. However, the rhetorical point that I was making was the fact that nothing had been done to prevent something that was wholly preventable. Whether it be fixing that portion of the track to accommodate a higher rate of speed, our installing some form of automated limiter to slow the train down in order to transverse that particular area safely.

But most of all, I wanted to tie those obvious remedies to the actual reaction of Congressional Republicans to DEFUND AMTRAK. This is the exact same mindset which prevents ourselves from improving our own lot in all of the other ways I've mentioned and more. This mindset is rooted in American Exceptionalism, which is merely resting on our own laurels.

Yes, the train went too fast for the track. But it didn't have to.

The "I'm Determined" Piano Tutorial

"ALL at the same time."

Wasted Talent...

Way the go, Cotton...

About That Life...

About time...

Who forgot to turn the HAARP off?

Happy Mother's Day

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