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Off the Record (June 10, 2020)

A FEDERAL LAWSUIT has been filed in San Francisco against the Ukiah Police Department by the eminent SoCo attorney, Izaak Swagger, who specializes in police brutality cases. Swagger is representing a Ukiah man badly injured in an incident in Ukiah in October of 2018. This suit alleges that Officer Murray of the Ukiah PD deployed such force against a man uninvolved in the incident that brought the police to the injured man's apartment that he had to be airlifted to Santa Rosa for treatment. The Ukiah PD subsequently filed assault charges against the injured man, charges dismissed by Superior Court Judge Anne Moorman. A video tape of the incident introduced on behalf of the injured man by Public Defender Mary LeClair was at severe visual odds with the police version of the event. 


I have received several calls and emails regarding my position on the death of George Floyd. First, I offer my condolences to, and truly feel for the family of George Floyd. I have seen the video of this incident. I would ask, we all take an honest look at what we saw. Look as human beings, not as a conservative, liberal, red state or blue, and honestly ask ourselves if we agreed with what we saw. Based on what I saw I believe it violated the ethics of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office as well as my personal ethics. The video actually caused me to feel ill. 

I would never want to be thrust into a similar situation, or cause anyone in our communities to be. I am a father, son, brother and husband. Many of us are parents or someday will be. I always think of how I would want to see my child, siblings, parents or friends treated. I believe most American’s are viewing this situation from a similar point of view. 

Prior to making this statement, I wanted to address personnel at the Sheriff’s Office. I was able to do this and let them know the directions we would be moving from here. I encouraged all of my deputies to look at this from a human perspective.

I believe it is important to reassure the public. I also believe I would much rather speak about what we are doing than to speak empty words. Speaking and doing are two different things. That is why it was important I speak with my deputies and command staff first. I can easily condemn actions and make statements, however I best serve by working to ensure human rights are protected. 

Our response will be to provide our employees with updated and ongoing training focusing on such areas as use of force, de-escalation of force and racial relations. This will better prepare our employees in interacting with the public as time goes on and will give them additional tools to keep them serving the public with a high level of professionalism.

Normally I am not a person who would jump to conclusions regarding guilt or innocence. This is because I believe in our system and truly believe justice must be served in the courtroom, not on social media or the nightly news. Our system is not perfect, however I think with enough work it could be. We all have to work together on this to make it happen. With the Police and the District Attorney we have public safety, however without our judges and defense, we will never have justice.

AN IMPLAUSIBLE conversation between Rush Limbaugh and Charlamagne tha God last week perfectly illustrated the great racial divide we suffer in this country. Limbaugh said he doesn't believe that white privilege exists, that it is a "construct" of the Democratic party "to get people to admit they're guilty of doing things they haven't done."

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD pointed out that "the powers that be don't want to change this system,” and said that Limbaugh, the dirigible of drivel, as Alexander Cockburn memorably described him, was “delusional.”

UNDETERRED, LIMBAUGH went on to say, “I don't think I'm a white supremacist and I don't think there's a lot of white supremacy going on out there. This is one of the divides. Look at you [Charlamagne]. How did you do it? What did you have to overcome to become the Breakfast Club? What did you have to do to become dominant in morning drive and American radio? Who held you back or what were you able to overcome to do it? The opportunity is there is the only thing I'm saying.”

CHARLAMAGNE: “This is a country that denies black people plain decency and then acts like we're supposed to be happy to be here because it allows a few of us to make a few dollars while the majority of us are out.”

LIMBAUGH, talking past his debate partner, claimed that if George Floyd had been a white man, “We never would have heard of his death.”

TO WHICH Charlamagne replied that was because the police officer “would have been arrested, charged with murder before this all happened, before the video hit social media. As long as there's a system of white supremacy, there will always be these types of situations. As long as that person is not willing to dismantle the white supremacy. We've seen this a million times. We need to stop pretending was isn't done by design. It's damn hard to get any 80-year-old man to change a system that has been working for him and his family for years. I don't care if it's Biden or Trump.”

LIMBAUGH asked why black people would continue voting for Democrats if “they haven't done a damn thing or haven't even punished the people you claim have been doing the same thing?”

“I’m not letting anybody politicize black pain,' Charlamagne said.

SO FAR, the insurrection lacks revolutionary direction, by which I mean the intellectual framework that (1) points out that the nut of the prob is systemic, not merely a matter of persuading white people to be nicer, (2) the black intellectuals who agitate for meaningful, fundamental social-economic change are kept off stage. Have you heard from Cornel West, or Adolph Reed or Glen Ford on CNN or any other major media platform? No. But to do what’s necessary to beat back racism means a total reorganization of predatory capitalism that gives everyone an inalienable right to decent housing, education, real equality of opportunity, none of which exist now. And the three named are among a number of intellectuals (white ones, too) who can articulate a big picture strategy. Kumbaya rallies are swell, but the ante has to be upped to tangible economic-social goals which, if achieved, would benefit us all.

THIS NOTICE wafted in out of cyber-space this morning: “Mendocino Indivisible— Hello All! Local students have called for a Black Lives Matter gathering today at 4:30 at Town Hall in Fort Bragg. Wear a mask, bring a sign, and be prepared to let the youth and people of color lead. Our role is to support and protect them if necessary. Please tell your friends and SHOW UP.”

UH, can we dial down the drama, please? A bunch of BLM kids are in danger of being bull-rushed by the magas? “Yes, you sir, the elderly white man in the back there waving his palsied, liver-spotted paw, you have something to say, gramps?” Yes, my dear, I want to know how it has come to be that I'm required to listen to cossetted teenagers on any subject, let alone subjects this weighty? Your credentials, punk?

TRUMP, continuing to fuel the insurrection he claims he wants to put down, got off this delusional statement last week: "My Admin has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln. Passed Opportunity Zones with Sen. Tim Scott, guaranteed funding for HBCU's, School Choice, passed Criminal Justice Reform, lowest Black unemployment, poverty, and crime rates in history." This remark isn't fuel so much as it's delusion, and further proof that the guy is unwell. Even the Magas are starting to jump ship as Trump-inspired chaos, on top of virus and economic chaos, daily adds to the turmoil.

TOO WILDLY IMPOSSIBLE? It seems from here — our Boonville bunker — that our national Humpty Dumpty has fallen and shattered into so many social pieces that it can never be put back together again. When you count up the divisions, they're so many and so irreconcilably various, it's obvious we're headed for a violent balkanization. 

OFFICER CHAUVIN'S co-conspirators have been belatedly charged as accessories in the George Floyd murder, but is anyone surprised it took so long? Cops seldom interfere with other cops, let alone testify against other cops. A guy with Chauvin's history of excessive force complaints indicates major probs with the command structure of the Minneapolis PD. If the top cop is a wink and a nod type, you get Chauvins.

GIVEN the magnitude of the insurrection, there haven't been that many complaints about police misbehavior. (Do the math!) Say what you will about the police, and when you say it imagine yourself in the job — I'd shoot someone every shift — the huge majority of them do a reputable job in the impossible context of an imploding society.

I WAS ABOUT twenty when I logged my first arrest in, of all places, Pismo Beach. I'd gone out for a night of funnsies with some of my Cal Poly jock dorm pals, a couple of football players and a hoopster. So we're in this dive bar and, natch, the football players get in a fight with the local boys who, in my dim memory, had actually started the fists flying. So four of us get arrested, and at the police station, handcuffed to metal chairs, one of my friends is loudly complaining that we weren't the aggressors when a pudgy cop suddenly says, pointing at me but warning my friend, "Every time you open your mouth I'm going to hit this guy." I got smacked twice more on top of taking several punches at the bar where I'd given a Pismo gladiator the old one-two, but he gave me the three, four, five, and six. The whole adventure cost me $500 in fines, which was most of the National Defense Loan of a thou per semester students got in the early '60s. I remember being seriously depressed for several days. 

MSP ran a clip of a large white woman delivering an emotional speech urging a small group of Fort Bragg liberals to "do the work" of beating back racism. I found her presentation off-putting to say the least, and more than slightly unhinged and, in a large sense, untrue. It is not true that police departments are deliberately killing black people as a matter of policy. It is not true that race relations haven't improved radically over the past sixty years. It's not even true that "most" white people are racists. Most white people, like people everywhere, try to do the right thing. Are there white racists in the sense of hating and, as a way of life, trying to harm black people? Yes, but they are confined to small, isolated groups. If they weren't small in numbers and isolated they would be in our faces all the time. As is, they're invisible, and not growing in numbers. Are there racist practices? Yes, especially at the institutional level, and that's where the prob is in this country, esp in economic policy. 

VETERANS of Bay Area civil rights and Vietnam War protests will recall the handful of nazis who always showed up to shout insults at the marchers. Inevitably, though, a marcher would punch one of them, there'd be a brief brawl, and the cops would haul the nazis away.

FROM RONNIE JAMES: Nuisance animals under the house or in the attic: This is baby season. Both those animals have a nest of babies under your house. it is also illegal to trap and remove. If you wait four weeks the babies will grow up and follow their mom outside in the night. Then when you're sure they are out, just put in a little one-way door (can be one hinge at the top and a scrap piece of plywood) so they can't get back in and your problem will be solved. If you board it up now, the mother will rip your house apart trying to get back to her babies, or if she's locked in, she'll do the same trying to get out. Much easier to just let them move out on their own. Also, contact Wildcare about their humane exclusion program. They have lots of answers as they specialize in that sort of thing, information is free, they only charge if they send people to do the work.

THE POLICE FATALLY SHOT nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines “unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer. (WSJ)

CORNEL WEST: “It looks like the system can’t reform itself. We’ve tried black faces in high places… BLM emerged under a black president, a black attorney general and a black homeland security director and they could not deliver.”

ANOTHER GAFFE from Biden? “Do we really think this is as good as we can be as a nation? I don’t think the vast majority of people think that,” Biden said during the on-line event aimed at his black supporters. "There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people, but that’s not who we are. The vast majority of the people are decent, and we have to appeal to that and we have to unite people—bring them together.” 

SEEMS TO ME not so much a gaffe as a reasonable guesstimate at the number of opportunists among the crowds of demonstrators. But more closely considered, the arsonists and looters would be a much smaller percentage of demonstrators and, generally, arrive later in the evening to do their thing.

IN OUR CONSUMER paradise, with bright, shiny things dangled constantly before the envious eyes of millions unable to afford them, looting isn't surprising, although I was surprised at the brazen theft of 74 "premium cars" from a San Leandro dealership. Those guys were organized! And the lesson learned is how quickly things can fall apart and how overwhelmed the police have been over the last two weeks. (Another startling visual was a forty-foot cherry picker being lowered to use as a battering ram to break through the front doors of a chain store.)

WITH SO MANY clear-headed people in the streets, how about staying out in the streets until Biden agrees to a reform platform consisting of UBI, Medicare for All, a federal jobs program, subsidized housing, free college for anybody who wants to attend. Go for it, America, or the lives of us all will continue not to matter. You can't eat righteousness.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL is a reliable guide to Big Money's thinking. The mass protests have them nervous, so nervous that on Saturday the venerable paper published the craziest article this casual reader has seen there, and I would have missed it if a reader hadn't sent it to me.

CALLED "Violent Protest and the Intelligentsia" one of the paper's editors interviews "scholar Gary Saul Morson" who "sees disturbing parallels between Russia before the Revolution and contemporary America." The scholar's scholarship seems pretty far off, but his specialty is Russian literature, not Russian history, but all this demonstrating he sees on tv has rattled his teacup. The prof's analogy is off, I'd say, way off. The only resemblance between the demos underway in the tottering USA and the uprising that brought down the Russian czar is their popularity. Lenin, genius that he was, seized the Russian day in 1917, although as it turned out the Bolsheviks, post-Lenin, would become more efficiently murderous than the Czar's apparatus had ever been. And if the Czar hadn't hanged Lenin's brother, and if Trotsky had succeeded Lenin as Lenin wished rather than Stalin… Russia might not have evolved into Putin.

THE WSJ and the prof veer off into total unreality: "Perhaps the most striking difference is the rationalization, and sometimes full-throated defense, of violence from left-wing elites: the glorification of havoc, the vilification of cops and their middle-class admirers, highfalutin defenses of vandalism. The sense of revolution and class warfare was everywhere this week: the cognoscenti and underclass arrayed against the petty bourgeois shop owners; the elite and those they claim to represent against everybody else." 

LEFT WING ELITES? Who's that? And where are they to be found? CounterPunch, I guess, and a few other places un-read by 99 percent of Americans, and all the left analyses I've seen simply explain this mildest of historical uprisings, so mild that so far there isn't even a program, a list of demands of the Or Else type have stated the obvious — American society is economically unfair. And there are sure as hell no Lenins out there. As our oligarchy has looted US for years, waging economic war on the large majority of us, and never so relentlessly as the last decade, the faintest whisper that it isn't fair, the obscenely rich and their media start screaming "class warfare." 

PROFESSOR Gary Saul Morson says "he has no special insight regarding police actions and the death of George Floyd. But he does have a provocative thesis about America’s current political moment: “To me it’s astonishingly like late 19th-, early 20th-century Russia, when basically the entire educated class felt you simply had to be against the regime or some sort of revolutionary." 

"IF THERE'S one word that characterizes the present demonstrations it would have to be “kumbaya,” not “kill the bastards and burn their mansions down." There is little to no similarity between the Russian educated classes of 1917 and our educated classes; it is another characterization that doesn't work because the two societies are unlike to the max. It's probably true that most literate Americans would agree that black people have a legit beef, and that some serious re-tooling of our society is long overdue. But the only way our "intelligentsia" would become revolutionary is if college tenure were eliminated. The barricades would go up the next day. As it is, American left-intellectuals of the revolutionary type are so zealously kept off stage by the oligarch-owned media that even if they were pumping for revolution they'd only be talking to each other.

THE ONLY TRUE paragraph in the WSJ fantasy was this brief one: "Of course we have freedom of speech. We just don't allow people to lie." The professor's little joke certainly applies to any lib-controlled venue in Mendocino County. 

BY THE WAY, and speaking of Lenin and Marxism, which Lenin modified to deploy as, basically, the idea that a "vanguard" of Marxist revolutionaries like himself would run the society in the best interests of everyone else because everyone else was too stupid, too irresponsible to be entrusted with the controls, is hardly even a remote possibility in this country. The criminal class — the people who show up to loot and burn after the Nice People have called it a night — are what Lenin called the "lumpen-proletariat." They are not typical of the demonstrations underway. The lumps are either shot outright or locked permanently away in the communist society as organized along Leninist lines. When the communists took over Shanghai in '49, then considered among the most corrupt and criminal city in the world, the communists gave the criminals one warning to stop being criminals. The warning was largely ignored and many thousands of criminals were simply executed. Even today, persons found guilty of major crimes in China are jogged out back and shot, their organs harvested for sale abroad, which is a recurring allegation but, I believe, unsubstantiated. 

TELEVISION COVERAGE of the demonstrations is often so heavy on the mawk it's embarrassing to watch. This morning on Good Morning America one of the happy faces broke down completely as he described how he explained the upheaval to his two small children. The same ABC affiliate featured a long news segment on small children lecturing on race relations. As of Monday morning still no signs of specific reform suggestions other than the demand to disband police departments as suggested by several Minneapolis hysterics, and vaguely seconded by, of all people, the mayor of Los Angeles. Police departments, though, like most bureaucracies, could stand severe audits to de-fat them.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION'S identification of Antifa as a major subversive force is laughable, and much like the identification of Earth First! was as a major threat to extractive capitalism. Of course there are young people breaking stuff as "left" expressions, just as there were young people inspired by Earth First! to decommission logging equipment, in both cases isolated instances, and in neither case of any tangible significance.


(1) Relationships with the police starting going downhill once they started getting all the military goodies. Folks picked up these dudes were going to war in serious way. With who? Why that would be you. That spelled the end of community policing in a big way.

The current crop of looters and budding arsonists is exactly what you get when the rule of law has taken a vacation. Why should they worry? Much bigger crimes happen without much of a penalty. Corporations pay a small fraction of their ill-gotten gains in fines and of course, nobody ever goes to jail.

(2) Within a couple weeks, the news cycle gets back in gear and focuses on some other thing.. maybe back to Wuhan hysteria, or climate change, or if its slow— shark attacks then lo & behold in maybe 3-4 weeks there will be another video of some cop somewhere doing something violent to somebody– and the whole cycle restarts again– fires & looting & more violence. Then it’ll die down again for a couple weeks yet again… until maybe a week or two later yet another cop, in some other town, does something violent to someone.. and the looting & violence, etc. starts again.. and over and over.. 

I think this is just the beginning. Overlaying all this, you have the possibility of extremist groups fighting each other, or fighting the police, or fighting the police together.

(3) I expected an all-out mob assault on the White House tonite [Sat] but so far it hasn’t happened. I think with the right leadership they could pull it off because if they could breach the fence I doubt if the Secret Service or the Marines would fire into the crowd with live .223 rounds. Security details could be overrun. I wouldn’t compare it to the British assault on the White House in 1814. Oh the Brits burned the White House and the rabble in DC tonite would burn the White House to the ground if they could. More like in 403 AD when Barbarians from the east breached the walls of Rome, which was essentially the end of the Roman empire. The city was stripped clean, and it was the beginning of the end for the City of Rome itself as the imperial city. I don’t see any leadership emerging here, no Spartacus, Robespierre, or Trotsky, just a lot of cardboard signs, stupid slogans, looting of luxury goods, senseless destruction and unfocused rage. ‘We are marching for change’, WTF does that mean?

(4) Here's a very straightforward study demonstrating white privilege beyond any reasonable doubt: "Job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback." White privilege does not mean that every white person has had it easier than every black person. It does not mean that a white person has not had to work hard to get everything they have. It means that, in our society, people with white skin are not handicapped by their skin color in the same way that black people are handicapped by their skin color.”

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