Two Police Officers Shot Amid Breonna Taylor Protests

Louisville, Kentucky 

Cristal M Clark 

As curfew hit just minutes ago in Louisville, Kentucky, it was met with two officers being shot amid the decision not to charge any of the officers in the senseless killing at the hands of police of Breonna Taylor. 

The pain, anguish and suffering the community and our nation are feeling is insurmountable.  

Today the new heated protests broke out after the public learned that not a single police officer will be charged directly in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. 

Only one police officer faces 3 counts over shooting into neighboring apartments. That’s all that came out of the investigation according to a tearful Attorney General Daniel Cameron who announced the Louisville grand jury’s decision at a news conference today, as protesters against racial injustice and police brutality massed in the streets of Kentucky’s largest city.

Once again I am feeling let down and disheartened by a criminal justice system that is clearly designed to just fucking trash and kill black men and women. I am utterly without any words that could truly convey the heaviness that I feel in both my heart and my soul over today’s decision.

The message that has been sent is that Breonna Taylor, an innocent bystander was nothing more than collateral damage. 

A human being, an innocent human being is simply just collateral damage? Was a war going on in Kentucky that we somehow missed because the last time I heard the words “collateral damage,” used as a way to explain the killing of innocent human beings was during a fucking war, that was in another fucking country. 

What a way to dehumanize Breonna Taylor’s entire life.

Cities nationwide are bracing for more protests, riots, looting, violence and the potential to turn deadly because we have so many twisted minds and sides that aim to create confusion and chaos, cause harm and pain, and sway a public amid an even more sickening presidential election. 

The shooting to two police officers today is not the way to turn these protests into power, and at this moment no one knows who did the shooting nor do we know the condition of the officers who were shot this evening. The police must also remain as vigilant as ever, with these agitators crossing state lines more and more, this is the perfect time for them to capitalize whatever story, belief or cause they hold by causing more problems for law enforcement and peaceful protesters. 

It is time to fix our severely broken, poorly designed criminal justice system, our judicial system. It was made to punish and kill those who are black and those who are poor. We are not the archaic individuals our ancestors were. It’s time to create change and to evolve. 

Cristal M Clark

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Criminal Justice Reform – How Do We Tackle That?

Broken Criminal Justice System of the United States of America 

Cristal M Clark 

As we face racial bias at the hands of the police we must also face Judicial Reform along with Criminal Justice reform. Both our Judicial System and  Criminal Justice System in the United States happens to be two of the most broken, outdated and lopsided systems in the world. 

In terms of Criminal Justice, in the past few months I have worked with prosecutors and victims of crime and continue to hear about DA’s offering deferred sentences as if they are candy to the wealthy, affluent and the white. On the flip side should someone be black, brown or poor well they are not afforded the same opportunity as their white counterpart who committed similar crimes. 

That is completely inexcusable, disgraceful, disgusting and highlights how those that working in the Criminal Justice System, make a mockery of it. I am not sure how many of you advocate for the rights of those who were punished to fullest extent but that maybe did not deserve that, victims or family members of victims, but if you do are not sick of hearing defense lawyers argue that defendants due to status, education or race deserve more of an opportunity than someone less fortunate or who is black or brown?

When you look at reforming the Criminal Justice System, you also have to look at Judicial reform as a whole which is part political, and that is a much more difficult feat to actually accomplish but it can be done. 

We need to take away the ability to offer plea deals based off of race, social standing, class and sex. That needs to be taken away right away. Deferred sentencing should only be allowed for minor infractions, deferred sentencing should never be allowed or offered when an act of criminal violence has been committed. 

Deferred sentencing in recent years has widely been abused by prosecutors nationwide, leaving victims, revictimized, disrespected and unheard through the process. What is deeply more concerning is the rate at which a deferred sentence is offered to white, affluent males as opposed to black or hispanic males who commit like crimes. What that ends up doing to an offender, if they finish the deferred sentence and comply with everything, that record vanishes from a public records search. I don’t need to tell what that does to someone’s chances of being employed, who was not offered the same grace.

We as a society need to push for reform and change within that system, one of our best opportunities to do that is to vote, Judges are voted for not appointed. Do your homework on Judges in your city or municipality and get out and vote. Another crucial step is having each other’s backs. Seek out victim advocates in your community that don’t work for the DA’s office, most of us will offer our services for free which I know a lot of people do not know about. Your assigned victims advocate through the Criminal Justice System works for the prosecution, the prosecution cares only for a guilty plea, not you, not what you want or what you need much less actually seeking justice as per the guidelines of the law. Seems like that is too quickly forgotten once an offender is in the Criminal Justice System. And, we can push to defund cities, counties and municipalities when the courts in each continually fail at upholding the law and continue to make a mockery of our Criminal Justice System.

Those of us that go into courtrooms are a strong reminder and a powerful one of precisely where the system abuses and misuses its power, how deals are being offered that should not be and how Judges just preside and go along with things forgetting just what our Criminal Justice System is here for. Advocates like myself also fight for those that are facing having the book thrown at them when that simply is not warranted or those that have been abused by the very system they are facing for some type of criminal activity.  

We also need to address DA’s and prosecutors who both abuse and misuse their power to offer a deal. We the people, have the right and the power to remove any DA or prosecutor who has a history of giving too many deals to one class or race, who offer deals just to get a conviction, and who are handing out deferred sentences like candy. One of the worst acts of a DA is to give a deferred sentence to someone who commits an act of violence whether it is beating up a neighbor or an act of domestic violence. Too many times later down the road the offender ends up murdering or severely hurting someone else. Yet DA’s in recent years are handing out deferred sentences left and right. DA’s are here to represent the law and it’s victims, not themselves. 

We also have to start looking at every law written on the books, many are antiquated and outdated, they make no sense when one looks at the sentencing phase. Laws need to be overhauled and rewritten along with sentencing guidelines. 

How deals are handed out and offered need to be handled with strict, constructive and fair guidelines. As Reverend Al Sharpton put it, we need a Criminal Justice System that is a Criminal Justice System for all – not just one race, not just the white race or just black race. Taking that a step further we need a system that no longer offers better deals to the wealthy and affluent over those that are not. No more holding down people just because of race or social and financial class. 

Protesting gets the cause noticed but we also need to follow that through with action and a strong commitment to be heard, to have conversations with those we need to, to show up and not put up with injustice and racial bias through our Criminal Justice System and to offer our help in making the necessary and long overdue changes this country needs, most importantly we need to advocate for each other through the process when needed. 

Together we are the best chance of making change happen but we have to fight for each other here too without any bias whatsoever. 

It’s now a time for action across the board here, we’ve talked on the news and in the streets long enough, now it’s time to start sitting with leaders, prosecutors, attorneys and Judges and make change happen. 

Cristal M Clark

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Donald Trump Presidency – the criminal justice system doesn’t need fixing?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington

Donald Trump – Judicial Reform – Police Reform

Some are already thinking that the Donald Trump Presidency will reinforce the idea the criminal justice system doesn’t need fixing.

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When Trump won the election I believe police across the nation let out a heavy sigh of relief collectively.

Many departments felt that the Obama administration was hell bent on having an all out war with departments across the nation.

According to fears now, from those that support judicial reform overall, they seem to insist that Donald Trump’s presidency will reinforce the idea that the criminal justice system as a whole does not need to be fixed.

In fact some feel that if Donald Trump continues to act as if racism is not a real thing here in the US, that it could have some dire consequences for individuals of color.

Many also worry that the next administration will empower the Justice Department to be less willing to investigate civil rights violations by local police departments.

In looking back, the Obama administration did make heavy use of the Justice Department’s power to threaten lawsuits to force departments to reform themselves.

But did that really end up working?

I have posted articles about this before, it never worked. Nothing the Justice Department has done worked when you look at the long term.

When change was imposed it ended up costing communities more while departments did not lose the grants which they apply for each year.

The departments that were forced to change, never paid, the communities that they serve did.

Many also feel that police reform under the Obama administration initially started off by being more or less an iron fist against police departments that really bordered on being vengeful at times.

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So what will judicial reform look like after Trump and his team step up to the plate?

It is important to highlight, that a lot of fear does come directly from Donald Trump’s past verbal assaults, behaviors and actions.

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For instance right off the top, you have Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general.

The guy was basically denied a federal judgeship in the 80’s because of accusations of racism.

And people do have grounds to fear him being attorney general based off of that fact.

Either way, presidents only have limited power over police departments as it is and in many states, cities and municipalities change is already underway with regards to police and judicial reform.

Many police departments understand the need to create a more cohesive relationships within the communities that they serve.

DA’s and judges with poor histories in terms of racism are being voted out.

I personally, have never thought that all police and all police departments are corrupt, racist or wayward and I also feel that some Judges, courts and the like are not all that bad either.

Despite Trump’s past indiscretions during the campaign, this is what I sense is coming in Trump’s America in terms of judicial reform.  

I believe that Trump and his administration actually do realize that need for reform is needed but not on the scale the media has led the public to believe.

Basically, the numbers do not back it up because we have yet to see any actual numbers.

I also believe that they will pull from departments, states, cities, and municipalities that have been successful at building solid relationships within the communities that each serves so they can help make departments in need of change, better.

Furthermore, I do believe that they will take a less heavy handed approach and sit down and work with problem departments, cities, municipalities and states to help create change when needed.

I base that off of the fact that, when push comes to shove Trump does take a realistic approach in terms of what would be successful and what would not be successful.

And in Trump’s world it has always been about striving for long term success, like him or not, agree with him or not, he has a pretty solid history of building long term success.

If Sessions works against that grain, Trump will, with no issue what so ever rid himself of that problem.

Trump and his team likewise will not cave to a media frenzy, making a mountain out of molehill philosophy.

Meaning, that they will base the decision of judicial reform off of numbers and in cases where it’s clearly misconduct, not off of being gorged and fattened with a media frenzy.

Judicial reform is an area if Trump and his team have time to deal with it, they could be quite successful at it by creating and fostering successful relationships with communities and the justice system as a whole.

Cristal M Clark

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Black Lives Matter Movement – Gaining support from an unlikely source 

the-crime-shop-black-lives-matter

Young white American adults support The Black Lives Matter Movement and because of that, the movement is growing a recent poll showed.

In fact, the poll showed that not only are young white Americans supporting the movement so are young Hispanics who showed that 62% support the movement and young Asian’s who showed that 67% support the movement.

Some of you may scoff at that and think that it simply does not matter, or that it’s a fad and will pass as all fads do..the fact is, it does matter as confusing at may seem.

According to the poll that was conducted by GenForward, 51% of young white adults that are between 18-30 said they strongly or somewhat support The Black Lives Matter Movement.

That said, most young whites also tend to believe that the movement does in fact encourage violence against police while the young black Americans who support the movement disagree with that…

Here’s what it boils down to, many Americans not just the youth feel that police do in fact target black’s more often than not and cover for each other when things were not conducted let’s say, exactly by the book.

While conducting the poll, many that participated did feel rather strongly that the recent police shootings were part of a bigger problem with police in this country, that the shootings are part of a patterned behavior police have towards anyone who isn’t a cop.

Impressionable minds are easily shaped…

What many see on TV with regards to police targeting of young Black American’s is truly just a handful of incidents when compared to the number of police departments and police in this country.

Bias does exist however, yet it does also depend on where you are. Police in communities that are predominantly African American do tend to have some degree of bias because the criminals they typically encounter are from the very communities they police.

Police have also been known to be bias when dealing with poor white Americans as well. If you are dirty and appear to be poor and just hanging out, you are more likely to have a run in with a cop.

The perceived problem with police is exactly that, it is a perceived problem. It does not exist in every state, in every city or community in this country. The truth about every news story you see is that you truly do only get one side of it and it’s usually the side that will sell the most advertising.

It doesn’t make it the full truth of the matter.

In fact, the media has done a rather fine job of making cops look like a militant group of guerrillas waiting to wage war on us, when that really isn’t what police want to look like not to mention the vast majority are not like that at all.

Does something need to be done with police and departments that are running wild? Yes absolutely. When police are caught targeting more blacks than whites in communities that are pretty evenly mixed, then we need to address that and put an end to that.

Still the same, making it sound like all police and all police departments are a problem, that is not exactly honest, let alone the truth.

Part of the reason police are given things like tanks and are outfitted with things that are from the military is because they are our front line when shit goes down in this country like Mass Shootings and Bombings.

Love them or hate them, they are here to protect and serve and to ensure that we abide by the laws of our country.

The police don’t make the laws, they take an oath to enforce them

I am not so sure that I believe that police are entirely the reason movements like Black Lives Matter and their supporters are unhappy.

Overall Angst plays a large role in all of the unhappiness.

In the private industry, businesses have this saying about bad customer reviews, well they actually have more than just the one but, just one bad customer review will reach twice as many potential customers than customers who praise the business.

In today’s world of policing that is exactly what is happening.

Bias, oppression, abuse and discrimination all happen to many individuals regardless of race, everywhere, at shops, restaurants, gas stations, everywhere.

Women encounter oppression and targeted bias, abusive behaviors regardless of race, as do the poor, anyone who is LGBTQ, handicapped, anyone suffering a mental or physical illness, even the way you dress or the color of your hair can make one a target for targeted bias and oppressive, abusive behavior.

You do not have to be black to experience it. Yet this is one of the many reasons people are beginning to get on board with The Black Lives Matter Movement.

The movement means something to people who are tired of being treated with bias because of who they are on all fronts. Black Lives Matter helped shape Campaign Zero and speaks volumes to young impressionable minds, because campaign zero, didn’t make it’s list of demands an entirely black or white thing.

They made is more of a this makes sense to end type of thing.

It’s called conquering, you win one battle then you move on to the next.

The movement has potential and people are starting to see that and until our Government can find a bridge for the gap, they stand to be on the losing end because it is only a small matter of time before the citizens realize that asking for the DOJ’s help ended up costing them millions.

Cristal M Clark

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@thecrimeshop

 

Police unions holding police reform hostage 

police_unions-the-crime-shop

At least that’s how it’s being sold

While they say they support reform, in many cities the police unions which represent the officers in those cities are holding reform hostage until they can gain monetarily from the reform.

This this month in Cincinnati, a local Police Union attorney sent a “cease and desist” letter to the city that said that officers should only use body cameras if the city was willing to pay them more.

Basically, unions are using the reform as a bargaining chip and are holding it hostage which is so very wrong. I can see something like, well the department needs more funds in order to purchase the body camera’s but, the unions are blatantly using reform as a way to increase police paychecks.

They are asking for money for officers from taxpayers to ensure officers are doing an effective and fair job.

According to a report at the Huffington Post, Daniel Hils, who is the president of one of Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police lodges had this to say with regards to suggesting that police be paid more for the reforms:

“We recognize [body cameras are] the direction we’re going, but I believe this is a game changer, as far as complexity of the job. And this level of monitoring will result in positives and negatives about what it’s like to be a policeman. Because of that, I think it does require some additional compensation or at least bargaining for that.”

The argument is being presented in such a way by the unions that they are suggesting that adding the camera’s adds additional expectations, responsibilities and/or enhances the job of the officers.

Those have to be some of the weakest reason’s to be asking for an increase in police pay that I have ever seen.

Many police departments, not the unions that represent them are for the camera’s, from the top brass to the rookies. They want them, they support them and are willing to wear them. It’s the unions who are pushing back.

Boston just went down this road when the Patrolman’s Association fought the use of body cameras on a voluntary basis. The police in Boston are not being forced to wear them, so now the volunteers were selected by some third party, and the now forced volunteers are wearing the cameras for some time then an evaluation will be done by said third party who I assume is not associated with the department itself or the Patrolman’s Association.

Understanding

Who wants to be under constant surveillance while at work, anyone? The answer is that none of us want that, you may say you don’t care but when push comes to shove, no one really wants that. The idea is uncomfortable for most us, we don’t want it and don’t like the idea of it.

Some think that police have been granted this enormous, great power to be above and over us, they have authority over us, they can abuse us, use unnecessary force against us, be unfair, racist, biased, kill us without reason etc.

The assumption is that police have been give this great power over all of us little people and it needs to be monitored, seen and it has to have this check and balance process.

I agree with that to an extent however…

I personally do not believe that all police departments or police believe that they have been granted this great power over us.

Sure, the ones for instance that we see splashed all over the news have this power and control issue. Except for the Commerce City, Colorado Police Department, those guys are just playing Pokémon Go while on the job. By the way does anyone know how many Pokémon they captured before they were busted?

pokemon-go-the-crime-shop

I do know several police departments who don’t feel that way at all.

Denver-Police-the-crime-shop

Both the Denver, Colorado Police Department and the Arvada, Colorado Police Department just to name a couple feel a sense of responsibility to the communities they serve and protect.

Arvada-Police-Department-the-crime-shop

Sure they may have had at one time or another a bad apple or two, many of the officers that work for those departments do not truly feel that they have been handed this enormous power over the people.

I’ve had the privilege to work with many of them and to also know some on a personal level. They don’t feel over us in anyway, they feel a greater sense of responsibility the each citizen and the communities that they serve.

The sense of power over someone and the sense of responsibility to someone are two vastly different things.

All people are asking for are transparency and accountability, this requires nothing more out of police than what they should already be doing today.

Until the Fed’s can think of a way to prevent unions from holding reform hostage, this will continue to be a problem. I don’t know it feels like the unions are now pimping out the police.

The unions need to carefully consider that having the ability to see what it’s like being a cop just might clear up a lot of misconceptions the general public has about police and what they do while on duty… not all of them are playing Pokémon Go while on the clock.

Cristal M Clark

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Department of Justice enacting national policing reforms

doj

Is that the answer we need?

Some are asking for it, some say we don’t need and somewhere in the middle of the argument is the DOJ.

It is not as easy or timely as one might think. We live in an age where we want instant gratification and when we sit back and look at cases of police misconduct we tend to become frustrated that the process is taking too long.

In the wake of officer Brendan O’Brien’s suicide, the Oakland, CA Police Bureau has been rocked by a scandal involving Brendan and several of its officers as well as neighboring police agencies.

Oakland by the way is currently and has been under a consent to decree for 13 years which is costly, but it imposes court oversight of reforms. Oakland was once considered one of the most corrupt police departments in the country.

The city of Oakland, CA has spent more than $13 million to pay for officer monitoring, equipment like body cameras, court fee’s, auditors and training.

Yes you read that right the city paid for it, meaning it was paid for by taxpayer dollars.

It works and then it doesn’t work as Oakland has shown us with it’s most recent scandal. While policing in the city has improved, for instance use of force has dropped significantly, clearly sexual misconduct somehow slipped through the cracks. Still however, according to some the reforms flopped.

According to the Guardian as I type this 586 individuals have been shot and killed by police in 2016 in the United States. Not all of them are black.

If we look at Chicago, over 100 people showed up at Truman College on Tuesday to share stories of shootings, beatings and even robberies by officers of the Chicago Police Department. The are begging the Justice Department to do something about the abuse by the Chicago Police.

Some of the people asking for help would describe the police in Chicago as ruthless killers, mobsters and predators.

Yet when we look at Chicago as a whole, it is riddled with crime that seems to run out of control at times. In some cases it is easy to understand why the police might overreact and shoot someone, however when you hear stories like Theodore Daffin’s you wonder.

Theodore’s run in with police left him with a deep scar in the shape of a vagina that was cut into his belly, by police.

Other stories reveal that people were shot and killed simply for opening the door to police.

But investigations like these that are conducted by the DOJ could take months if not years to conclude, then if the DOJ has enough evidence to prove systematic civil rights violations to take the Chicago Police Department to court, well it would take even more time in terms of years before anyone saw any type of reform within the police department.

Again, it would be costly as well.

So that begs the question, should the DOJ enact national police reforms which would affect all of our nation’s police departments?

IF you said yes, riddle me this, is the DOJ even capable of doing that?

Right now it takes years just for the DOJ to do it’s job and that is simply just not good enough.

The other part of that when I look at places like Chicago, I have to stop and wonder, why did it take the DOJ this long to get involved? Seeing over 100 people who managed to travel in sweltering heat to show up and tell stories of abuse at the hands of Chicago police, it amazes me that this has gone on so long. 

Then, I wonder why they weren’t heard before Tuesday. Why did it take so long for anyone to hear these people?

National reforms are a good idea but not a well thought out idea because not all police agencies are a problem. Not all police within a department are a problem. Not even racial bias is always a problem with departments, but other issues of police misconduct are.

Then we have departments that seem to be able to walk on water, they may not always be able to solve the case but they try, they are not abusing criminals or law abiding citizens.

One place to start would be getting the DOJ involved sooner. The big question is, does the DOJ have the staff or time to handle getting on board sooner rather than waiting until over 100 people show up after years of systematic abuse at the hands of a police department?

Another really good place to start, begin isolating departments that tend to show racial bias more than other departments, which is really quite simple when it comes down to it.

Besides, most legal experts agree that a national reform plan is highly unlikely because it would have no political will.

One thing a lot of people may not know or understand is that a large part of the DOJ’s budget goes to the War on Drugs through the Bureau of Prisons and the FBI. That means only a small fraction of it goes to investigations of police misconduct.

Changing the budget for the DOJ requires action from Congress to re-appropriate funds. Congress isn’t doing a lot in terms of action right now in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

Some would argue that the bigger issues are:

Politics, in that our nation’s politics do not have a strong enough commitment to its public as of today. And we unfortunately need them in order to make changes with things like police reform.

And the biggest issue of all, many would argue is that large amounts of money designated to fight the war on drugs have allowed police departments to militarize and become more aggressive in their approach.

Ahh but another solution does exist and it’s one that a lot of people are eyeing as a possible solution .

The DOJ could make some of the grants offered to police departments contingent upon departments being in compliance with the Civil Rights Act as well as other Federal laws…

Here is a small break down of what some of that looks like:

Since around 94 the DOJ has allotted something like $15 Billion to police departments around the country in community oriented policing service grants. And that my friends, well it’s just one of the types of grants the DOJ offers to police departments.

The DOJ says that in 2015 the Chicago police department received over $3.1 million just to hire 25 new officers.

The Chicago police department has received at least, a cool $5 million in grants from 2007-2013.

No one likes to talk about it but the threat to take that kind of money away from police departments might just help resolve a lot of issues with police misconduct.

That would certainly entice Chicago to clean up much faster than the DOJ’s ongoing investigation will.

In Oakland even with the consent to decree, the department was able to keep its internal investigation of sexual misconduct from the court ordered auditor for months.  I wrote about it before if you missed it. 

By withholding Federal funds from police agencies and departments rife with problems, it would bring about the much needed change many are calling for in certain communities.

Taking that money or the possibility of the ability to even qualify for a grant would hurt police departments and it would in turn force them to act much more quickly to reform than the DOJ’s investigation and possible outcome.

In order to do even that however, well we’d need politics, and right now the political will to change things is pretty much stalled out somewhere.

Maybe someone playing Pokémon Go can manage to find our political leaders political will somewhere along the way??? pokemon-go

Our answer is that we need our nation’s political leaders to find the political will it needs to make the right kinds of changes instead of just play around and not give a shit.

We can go about this the long way or the short way. It’s taking money away from departments who are problems or letting the DOJ have years to investigate then wait even more years and years to see change.

As much as I hate to admit this again, but this is yet another reason voters are swinging towards Trump. In business if you don’t take swift action it can be costly, business leaders don’t wait they act.

Political leaders, they tend not to act quickly enough. They have the wait and see approach when instead they should be reciting “Founded on the Principles of Right,” until it sinks in and they get it.

Sadly, this is another time where we have to ask our leaders if they are even listening and then hearing us?

Cristal M Clark

@thecrimeshop

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