Response to Peggy Hubbard

Peggy Hubbard, a black woman from the Belleville, IL area, posted a video on her Facebook account that went viral. She expressed outrage that people were protesting for a “thug” instead of a nine year old girl that was killed.

In a follow up video post, Ms. Hubbard mentioned that people were saying she wasn’t black enough, calling her a sellout, and a house nigger. Although, I strongly disagree with some of the tone and sentiments expressed by Ms. Hubbard, I certainly do not think she’s a sell out. She has been brainwashed by a lifetime of racial conditioning that we have all been subjected to. A sellout is someone who purposefully tries to improve their condition at the expense of others. I believe she was genuinely concerned about the state of black America, but simply misguided.

It’s natural to be upset about the senseless murder of an innocent nine year old girl. I am outraged myself! But simply because there are multiple problems and one seems greater than the other, you don’t ignore the lessor problem simply because it’s not as important as the other.

For example, let us assume that a person with diabetes has a heart attack, unrelated to the diabetes and is rushed to the hospital. The doctors at the hospital won’t ignore the diabetes simply because the heart attack is the more pressing issue. Additionally, those doctors will seek to discover the reason or cause of the heart attack and instruct the patient what he needs to do to improve his chances of avoiding additional heart attacks.

Just like the heart attack is a symptom of something going wrong in the body; the protest, riots and reactions to real or imagined police excessive force is a symptom of a much larger problem, maybe a problem that Ms. Hubbard escaped, but currently an issue for those still trapped.

There’s a certain amount of compromise that has to be made for achievement by black people in this country. There’s an ancient saying, “when in Rome do as the Roman’s”. Success requires a certain amount of assimilation. Most black people in this country speak and think using a European language, English. I don’t know many brothers that speak languages indigenous of Africa. 

Even people that consider themselves extremely Afro Centric drive cars manufactured by white companies and live in a home built by a white builder. You may not want to work for the man, but you must use the man’s monetary system to purchase goods and services within the man’s capitalistic system. As a group of people we don’t print money, own major manufacturing, water purification or electric generation facilities. We don’t even control any means to communicate on a mass scale with one another. We are unfortunately dependent on others who control the means of production, including durable goods and food. However, with that said, a person still needs to know when something runs counter to their best interest or the group of people that they most closely identify with. 

When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.  –  Bayard Rustin quotes


Below is the transcript of Peggy Hubbard’s video with commentary made in bold.

Hi, I’m Peggy Hubbard. By now you guys probably already know, what happened in St. Louis last night. Police officers went to go; ah pretty much what they did was they went to execute a warrant for an arrest for a very very bad guy. When they came to get him, instead of going peacefully, having his day in court, he decides to pull out another stolen gun, shoot at the police, police shot back and he was killed.

Mansur Ball-Bey, an 18 year old recent graduate of McCluer South-Berkeley High School,  was killed by police who were serving a search warrant (not an arrest warrant) at a relatives home, Ball-Bey did not live there. According to a relative Ball-Bey worked part-time for FedEx and was in his uniform at the time of his death and was headed to college in the fall and planned to become an engineer. Police alleged Mansur Ball-Bey pointed a gun at them, but did not shoot. An autopsy later revealed that Ball-Bey died from a single gunshot wound to the back.

Within the same timeframe, news broke out about a nine year old girl in Ferguson, died in drive by shooting, in her room, doing her homework; she dies by a stray bullet to the chest.

Jamyla Bolden was a nine year old girl killed while she was doing homework on her mother’s bed. This was a senseless, cowardly act.

“Last night, who do you think they protested for? The thug, the criminal, because they’re howling, ‘police brutality.’ Are you fucking kidding me? Police brutality? How about black brutality.

The goal of a protests is to create awareness of an issue so that it can be the catalyst of real change. From that perspective, nonviolent protest or resistance is a broad concept encompassing education, organizing, alternative social structures, personal-witness, noncooperation — and, of course, direct action protests. 

As Dr Martin Luther King Jr. wrote during the Letter from Birmingham Jail,  “The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation”. 

Protesters may organize a protest as a way of publicly making their opinions heard in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action in an attempt to directly enact desired changes themselves. 

Protest usually involve a known target such as, changing an unjust law, the indictment of a particular person or persons, complaining about the practices of an institution or industry such as banking reform. In the case of Mansur Ball-Bey, the targets were the individual police officers, police brutality, racial profiling and unnecessary killing by police officers.

A vigil attended by more than two hundred people was held for Jamyla Bolden. However, as far as a protest, who are the targets? Are they neighborhood thugs? Are they white supremacist drawn to Ferguson who randomly picked a shooting target? Was that home targeted by mistake? Was someone harboring a grudge against Jamyla’s family? At this time, no one knows.

The universal expectation is that once the killer is identified, they will be brought to justice. There is no expectation that once identified that they will suffer no consequences as is often the case with police who have killed unarmed and sometimes innocent people. Remember Amadou Diallo​? I suppose you could protest near the police station for more resources to be aimed at this investigation. However, unknown murderers and criminals will not respond to protest. Vigils, however, will encourage solidarity, empathy and may move someone with information about the murder to come forward.

When a police officer who is supposed to protect and serve, while exercising government sanctioned lethal power, abuses that power, and then not held accountable, that is cause for protest. There is certainly probable cause to scrutinize the police officer’s version of events. The Ferguson Protest resulted in real measureable change. The municipal court system of the entire state of Missouri will undergo reform this week. Hundreds of thousands of bench warrants for minor offenses have been recalled. Judges have been removed. The amount of traffic ticket revenue that a municipality can retain has been reduced. People’s eyes have been opened.

You black people, my black people, are the fucking most violent motherfuckers I have ever seen in my life.

There were 391,467 violent crime arrests in 2013 of which 228,782 were white and 151,627 where black. In just about every other category of crime, whites were arrested at rates almost three times that of blacks, but somehow we see a majority of black mugshots displayed in the news. 

The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, shows that 83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders and 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders. Black offenders usually don’t randomly target schools, federal buildings, churches or movie theaters. The genocidial slaughter of natives was not caused by black people. The vast majority of domestic terrorism in this country including lynchings and other atrocities committed by Klan members and other supremacist groups were not committed by blacks. 

A little girl is dead. You say black lives matter? Her life mattered. Her dreams mattered. Her future mattered. Her promises mattered. It mattered.

Yet, you trifling motherfuckers are out there tearing up the neighborhood I grew up in. I was born and raised, I was raise by a single mother, eight kids. This woman raised eight kids by herself she lost one, one. Because that boy did not listen and he died by the gun.

The protesters were peaceful. The people looting and destroying property were criminals and possibly infiltrators or spies using the peaceful protest as a cover.

You want to be upset about black lives? You want to be upset about police brutality? There is real police brutality out there. I will give you that. But night, after night, after night on Channel 4, Channel 2, Channel 5, Channel 30, Channel 11 and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: murder, murder, murder, murder. Black on black murder.

ProPublica analysis of federal data from 2010 to 2012 found young black males were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts. Racially biased media reporting consistently over-represent Black people as perpetrators of crime. They are unfairly and disproportionately focusing their crime reporting on Black suspects, and inaccurately exaggerating the proportion of Black people involved in crime.

The FBI reports 12,253 murder victims in 2013, of which 51.7 percent of the victims were black, 45.7 percent were white; 53.6 percent of the murderers were black, 43.9 percent were white. The sad fact is that their are more black murders than white murders. Oppression and systemic racism prevents opportunity which helps fuel the conditions that results in murder. Inequalities lead to unemployment, poverty and crime.

But yet you ass holes are out there tear up your own shit, it’s not your shit other people’s shit for a criminal, for a thug. Bailing out criminals and thugs.

The two police officers allege Ball-Bey pointed a gun at them, but he was shot in the back. The thug label until more facts are known is premature. 

Let me tell you something. I got a kid locked up. Oh yeah, I put him there. I turned his ass in. Yes I did because I’m a strong black woman. I am a black mother. I told my children that if you fuck up, if you go to jail, I am not getting you out. You will stay there. You will do the time. I’m not putting nothing on your books. I ain’t coming to visit you. I ain’t sending you magazines. I’m not doing shit for you because I did everything I could for you out here and yet you chose to go in there; fuck you. I’m from the Madea school of hard knocks, fuck you. If you don’t care about me and your father working and putting in time and effort to raise you and be there for you. To go to every function, everything that your were interested in. We took note of, we nurtured, encouraged and yet your stupid ass ends up in jail. You belong exactly where your are; don’t drop the soap. That is what I told my son, don’t drop the soap.

Seems a little harsh, especially the comment about the soap. I don’t know the circumstances here so I won’t comment further.

You guys need to stop. You’re hollering this black lives matters bullshit. It don’t matter. You’re killing each other. The fuck, white people don’t care. They don’t care. Save us some tax dollars. I need new parts for my Harley. If you want to die, die. Go ahead and knock yourself out. Your life does not matter. If it doesn’t matter to you it sure in the fuck doesn’t matter to us. That just the truth of the reality. If you don’t care we don’t care.

The media pundits have spun the “Black Lives Matter” motto out of context. The sentiment expressed by “Black Lives Matter”, means that black lives matter “also“, in addition to other lives; not that black lives matter more than anyone else’s.

If you don’t give a damn about your life, why in the fuck should we care. Why should we go out and protest for your ass? You broke the law. You’re carrying another stolen gun. You’re yelling fuck the police; fuck you. You’re shooting at the police. Police drops your ass. Oh, poor ‘so and so’ he died due to police brutality. 127 homicides later… Y’all want to holler ‘police brutality’? Black people, you’re a fucking joke. You’re tearing up communities over thugs and criminals. You’re putting plaques in the ground over somebody that would not stop. He had a chance to stop. How may times is somebody going to tell you to stop doing that shit before they do something to you?

It is a tragedy when a person’s life is violently taken away. Unfortunately, in large metropolitan areas, crimes occur including murder. The sad reality is that, St. Louis, with the exception of only one year, has seen at least 111 murders every year since 1963.

1963 was the pivotal year for civil rights, when MLK penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail; Bull Connor turned fire hoses and dogs on black demonstrator; Medgar Evers was assassinated; the March on Washington where King delivered  the “I have a Dream” speech, and four little girls were killed when their church was bombed. Before 1963, only 4% of Americans thought civil rights was the country’s most pressing issue; afterwards it was 52%.

In 1963 there were 138 murders in St. Louis. By 1970, the year I enrolled in kindergarten, the number increased to 309. During my junior year in high school there were 265 murders and by the birth of my first son in 1993, the murder rate peaked at 69.9% with 267 murders.

Many of the 127 people you mentioned were innocent murder victims, and I wouldn’t assume that they didn’t care about their lives. Your assumption that all those victims being criminals and thugs is offensive. I’m certain the lives of those victims mattered not only to themselve and their families, even if they didn’t matter to the murders

Do you think the police are out here for fun? Do you think they’re out here for games? They’re not going to tuck you in. They’re not going to give you a cookie and sing you a lullaby and tuck you in. No, they’re going to pop a cap in your ass. You shoot at them and they’re going to shoot at you. That’s just the realism of it. If you try to kill them, their job is serve and protect, not serve and die.”

Mansur Ball-Bey did not shoot at the police, some of your details were wrong.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.- Elie Wiesel quotes


Ms. Hubbard’s follow up video is below:

Ms. Hubbart, please consider the possibility that the racially biased media picked up on your message and used it as propaganda to create negative imagery of black Americans. It’s ironic that you mentioned in your first video that you have a son in prison, but you find fault in the parenting skills of others if one of their children gets caught up in the system. I won’t comment any further, not sure that if would do much good anyway.

Take at look at the documentary White Like Me, produced by a white man about Race, Racism & White Privilege in America. Hopefully, it will educate you about some realities you may not have known about and provide some clarity for you to better use you platform.

 

18 Year Old Shot In Back by Police

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that an autopsy performed on Mansur Ball-Bey, showed that he died from a single wound in the back, police officials said.  The black 18 year old’s death by a white police officer’s gunfire this week stirred protests, Mansur Ball-Bey was killed during a raid upon an aunt’s residence near Fountain Park on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. 

According to family accounts, Ball-Bey stopped by an aunt’s house to meet up with his cousins on his way home from his part-time job at FedEx. They were met by police in an unmarked car and Ball-Bey “got caught up in some bs being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Cotton-Booker said. 

He was still in his FedEx uniform when he got shot, family said. The distraught family said they could not believe the police account because Ball-Bey, who went by Man Man, was not capable of those crimes: he had just graduated from high school, held a steady job and was heading to college, according to the New York Daily News

His family belonged to Moorish Science Temple of America, at 2918 Sarah Avenue. Members wear a hat called a fez, and many include Bey or El in their last names.

St. Louis Police vigorously opposed body cameras, which could have easily proven the police’s version of events. I live near the Fountain Park area and rode through there the day before this incident. It’s hard to understand how you shoot someone pointing a gun and hit them in the back. “I understand people’s skepticism,” Police Chief Sam Dotson said Thursday. “But don’t let social media and innuendo drive what you believe to be true. You have to let the facts speak.”

It’s been over a year since the national debate about police body cams began. Had the officers involved been wearing body cams, those “facts” would have spoke volumes. People usually get shot in the back when they are running away. Just last month, it was body cam footage that revealed the truth in the unjustified killing of a black man by a University of Cincinnati police office. That video is included on the racial bias in media page.

Police have cited privacy concerns over body cams, however, the Missouri Supreme Court recently affirmed that Police officers have no constitutional ‘right of privacy’ in records of their official misconduct, when it denied the final appeal of police officers who wanted to block release of department records in the 2006 World Series ticket scandal.

Maybe some St. Louis police officers are afraid body cameras will reveal the darker side of policing as in this video below from last year.

Millions of people including retail, bank, casino, school employees and even office workers perform their duties under constant video surveillance. I’m certain many of those employees do not like it, but it’s part of the job. As Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey stated on Meet the Press, “we can’t afford to have that sort of thing in policing, the role we play in a democratic society is just too important”.

If the police routinely profile black people, then it’s only fair those same people profile police when there are so many senseless police killings. The St. Louis Police Department has lost the benefit of doubt in these types of cases until they implement the mandatory use of body cams. Write or call your alderman and tell them you demand body cams for police officers.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that David Klinger, an UMSL criminologist said the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional for police to shoot someone in the back if they believe that person could be a threat. However, under U.S. law, the fleeing felon rule was limited in 1985 to non-lethal force in most cases by Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S.

The Supreme Court of the United States held that, under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer is pursuing a fleeing suspect, he or she may not use deadly force to prevent escape unless “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

So far in 2015 police in the United States have shot dead at least 626 people, almost 10% of them were unarmed according to the Washington Post.  Another sources, KilledByPolice.net list 751 people killed by police this year as of August 20, 2015. Police in the US Kill Citizens at Over 70 Times the Rate of Other First-World Nations. One area in which the U.S. is unquestionably exceptional is the level of state violence directed against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and working and poor people of all nationalities, according to GlobalResearch. U.S. police killings outnumber those in other developed capitalist countries by as much as 100-1! It would be ridiculous to believe that all of these killings are justified, but I assume most are

Elkhart, TX

I believe most cops are good cops and many go their entire career without firing their gun or killing anyone. Police should embrace body cams for the evidence record they provide and they are certainly the best tool to remove doubt about an officer’s version of events. The May 31, 2015 fatal police shooting of James Bushey, 47, of Elkhart, TX is a perfect example. The videos are taken from the body cameras of two officers with the Palestine, TX., police department. Bushey was suspected of stealing some alcohol from a local Wal-Mart. In the videos Sgt. Gabriel Green confronts Bushey in the bathroom of an Applebee’s restaurant. Green and Officer Kaylynn Griffin escort him outside then and then asked about identification, Bushey pulls a out what turns out to be a BB gun; and the officers open fire killing Bushey. I doubt that anyone watching these videos could argue that the officers were not justified. Any reasonable person would have feared for their lives in that situation. Warning, the video is graphic!

Sgt. Green Camera Footage

Officer Griffen Camera Footage

The two videos above demonstrate why police should embrace the use of body cameras. Those videos completely vindicate Green and Griffin and points out how professionally the officers handled the entire situation without escalation.

Municipal Court Reform or Sneaky Maneuver?

The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. – John Adams

About 200 municipal judges, prosecutors and court administrators met in secret Friday, August 14, 2015, at UMSL to plan for Missouri court reform changes forced by Senate Bill 5, the legislation that takes effect Aug. 28.

Meetings held by public officials, especially when they concern issues as important as municipal court reform which has been the subject of public outcry and protest which gained national attention invites suspicion. It has already been well documented that St. Louis area municipal courts have been used to generate revenue and abuse rights. However, this is nothing new, municipal courts have operated this way for decades. Professor T.E. Lauer, a law professor at the University of Missouri published, "Prolegomenon to Municipal Court Reform in Missouri" a stinging indictment of the municipal courts in 1966. Professor Lauer stated in his argument:

"It must be recognized, however, that in bringing about this reform it may be necessary to overcome substantial resistance on the part of municipalities which will be reluctant to lose their power over offenses defined by state law. Not only would this reform diminish the importance of the municipal court, but more importantly it would cause a loss of revenue to municipalities, in that municipal fines, which are now paid into the municipal treasury, would become state fines to be paid to the school fund."

Missouri lawyers, judges and court personnel certainly knew the greater St. Louis municipal court system was an issue. I'm certain some Missouri Circuit Court, Missouri Court of Appeals and Missouri Supreme Court judges were at one-time municipal court judges or represented clients in municipal court and saw first hand the problems. The fact that constitutional rights of poor and minority defendants were routinely violated was known to most lawyers who after all are officers of the court. However, the vast majority of those court officers remained silent instead of bringing it to the public's attention. It appears that very few lawyers lodged formal complaints, and many attorneys profited from an unfair court system resulting in an increase in clients and fees. It's unfortunate that it took a protest movement and international attention before anyone took serious action.

In 2013, the municipal courts of St. Louis City and County collected $61,152,087 in fines and fees. During that same time, the combined total of court fines and fees collected by Missouri municipal courts was $132,032,351.63. This means that the municipal courts in the St. Louis region accounted for 46% of all fines and fees collected statewide, despite being home to only 22% of Missourians.

St. Louis area municipalities have most certainly become dependent upon the revenue generated by their municipal courts. The judges, prosecutors, and court administrators mostly likely, directly or indirectly, receive their pay, raises or bonuses based on the amount of revenue generate. Reduced municipal court revenue would probably result in job losses, which of course those in attendance at the closed meeting, would not want to fall victim to. St. Louis area municipalities have a vested interest to keep their courts because municipal courts can generate revenue in others ways besides traffic tickets. Municipalities have already stepped up enforcement of tall grass, housing code, and various other types of municipal ordinance violations.

Holding a closed meeting naturally makes people wonder if this was a strategy session to exchange ideas how to keep the revenue from municipal courts flowing. After August 28th, there will certainly be increasing municipal court revenue from fines other than traffic violations. Even if a municipality does not increase the number of violation citations, they could simply increase the standard fine from say $100 to $500.

Until people educate themselves and become familiar and active within our "justice" system, justice will remain a concept unavailable to many. If you have not already done so, become familiar with the ordinances of your municipality. Browse around this site to learn how you can help yourself with certain legal issues without having to pay for an attorney.

White Middle Class Fatigue

As I watched the August 6, 2015, episode of DonnyBrook, the phrase, "white middle-class fatigue" was mentioned at about 2:30 in the timeline. Evidently, many people are tired of hearing about injustices, discrimination, and oppression endured by people of color. A quote by Barbara Smith – "For those of you who are tired of hearing about racism, imagine how much more tired we are constantly experiencing it", which summarizes how I felt when I heard the then unfamiliar phrase, white middle-class fatigue. 

It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you that you should forget about the oppression that they inflicted upon you. I am not indicting people for the sins or acts of their ancestors, but many people today benefit from those sins. Land that was stolen and wealth that was accumulated was passed down and provided advantages to succeeding generations of European Americans; while decimating native, enslaved and oppressed populations. See The Unequal Opportunity Race.

 

I assume white middle-class fatigue is one of the contributing factors why comments from Donald Trump stating he doesn't have the time to be politically correct resonates with so many people. White privilege allows Trump to make statements such as, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.….They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”  Many of the Mexicans crossing the borders are actually crossing land that had previous been stolen by the U.S. during the Mexican Session of 1848. 

 

So when Trump calls Mexicans crossing the border are mostly criminals, he should take a closer look at U.S. history and consider one of history's greatest land thefts of First Nation Peoples. This country was built on the theft of human lives, resources, and land. The success that our country enjoys today is based upon that theft. Trump's statements reminded me of an ad campaign about discrimination of another people native to their land which was stolen by new settlers. The subject of the ad campaign was discrimination of Australia's indigenous population, however, the theme could just as easily be applied to any group that is discriminated against. 

Political correctness is a term used to criticize language, actions, or policies seen as being excessively calculated to not offend or disadvantage any particular group of people in society. When objectionable language is directed toward you, it is considered offensive, but when it's directed toward others, I guess that's when it's considered an issue of political correctness. 

Many people seem to think that the past has no effect upon the present or the future. The past is foundational and effects people and communities just as the quality of a building's foundation effects how well it endures over time. If a person's grandfather was relatively well off, not rich, but firmly part of the middle class, he most likely provided a decent education for his son and the son stood a good chance of going to college. That son would then most likely surpass his father in economic status and the grandchild would possibly get an even better education than both the parent and grandparent. In addition, when the grandparents and parents die, their accumulation of property passes down, enriching the grandson even more. Multiply this by 350 years of slavery, then by another 90 years of Jim Crow plus factor in the destruction of black wealth and discriminatory legislation and it's easy to see how white families are worth 20 times that of black families. A cartoon, "The Unequal Opportunity Race" does an excellent job of expressing this point.

 

Dr. Claud Anderson discusses the sentiments expressed by The Unequal Opportunity Race cartoon in his lecture, The Truth About Slavery.

It's unfortunate that when people who have been oppressed both socially and within statutory codes of law, that others feel fatigue by their efforts to secure better circumstances for themselves. 

St. Louis Municipalities Weaponized Ignorance

On the one year anniversary of Michael Brown's killing, keep in mind that before the militarized response to the Ferguson Protesters occurred, ignorance was weaponized in and around the St. Louis area. Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge) and is not used here as an insult to anyone. Various police departments and municipal courts used people's ignorance of their rights and how to properly defend those rights in court as weapons against the very people they were sworn to protect and serve. 

As the discussions about Michael Brown's death continued, the fact that people were being victimized not only by the police but by the municipal courts began to be reported. After I lost my job and ran into my own legal issues, I was shocked to see how blatant rights were being violated within our local courts. The new municipal court reforms put in place are a good start, but it's just a matter of time before municipalities start implementing new strategies. As time passes, new issues will dominate the headlines and memories of specific details about police and municipal courts will begin to fade. The remedies normally available through the courts are usually too expensive because of the high cost of attorneys, but you don't need an attorney to make the court system work for you. 

Policing has changed and the reactions to excessive force by police has changed dramatically. Prior to Mike Brown's killing, police departments almost always stood by the side and defended cops accused of brutal acts and unjustified killing. That has now changed, at least when a video exists. Hopefully, there will come a day when a video is not required to bring justice against rogue cops. I am certain the vast majority of police are decent, honest and hard-working, but there are some that are not and that factor coupled with the blue code of silence wreak havoc on certain communities. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, responding to comments about a University of Cincinnati Police Officer, during a conversation about with Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd conceded police do protect each other from criticism no matter what, as do other professions.

Americans have short attention spans and memories. Municipalities will most likely start violating rights again using new creative unfamiliar methods and ignorance will once again be weaponized and used against people. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. However, most people are only vaguely familiar with the law; even lawyers only know a small portion of the law. There is a principle which is sometimes put in the form of a rule of evidence, that everyone is presumed to know the law. That principal is based on the difficulty to prove that a person did, in fact, know the law. Additionally, many people would purposefully not make themselves aware of particular laws to preserve their ignorance. As long as people remain ignorant about their rights and how to invoke and protect them, that ignorance of the law will certainly be taken advantage of and weaponized not only by unscrupulous governments but by predatory businesses and institutions. 

Just as slavemasters used ignorance against slaves to exploit them, St. Louis area municipalities have used ignorance of state law, legal procedure and constitutional protections to exploit and oppress people. Many St. Louis municipalities created illegal laws with the sole purpose of creating revenue. Just because an ordinance exists doesn't mean it's valid; ordinances and other laws sometimes get struck down as being void, illegal or unconstitutional. Most municipalities know that many people won't even bother to read or research the law

You don't need a lawyer to discover what the law says, the law is available for everyone to read. Prior to my job loss, I made a pretty decent salary and could easily afford to pay an attorney to take care of traffic tickets. For example, I paid attorneys as little as $30 to handle traffic violations. Bellefontaine Neighbors has a speed trap on eastbound Lewis & Clark (Hwy 367) just past Hwy 270 overpass, where the speed drops from 55 to 45. There's a sign posted with the reduced speed limit about halfway on the overpass. A truck in the right lane blocked the posted 45mph sign from my view. A traffic cop was positioned just past the overpass and I got caught by that trap. I found an attorney on Craigslist, paid that attorney $30 to have the violation reduced to a moving violation, but I had to pay the City of Bellefontaine a fine of about $200. 

However, even a $100 red light ticket fine became a major burden after my steady income was gone. There are a lot of organizations that provide free legal assistance, their resources are limited and they can only help so many people. When my legal issues arose, I could not afford an attorney, and the legal assistance agencies I contacted couldn't help. I was facing the loss of tens of thousands of dollars, so I learned how to effectively defend myself. This site contains valuable free information for you to help yourself and additional information is constantly being added. No one will ever fight as hard for you as you will, don't get caught in the trap of being dependent on someone else to do for you what you can learn to do for yourself. Even if you can currently afford to pay for legal services; keep in mind that may not always be the case. During the very time when I was most vulnerable and need assistance the most was when I could not afford legal services. Fortunately, I was able to research the law for myself, but most people I witnessed in court on their own lost; your ignorance is their power. 

Skewed statics, policial, institutional and media spin all contribute to confusing the issues and create or increase ignorance. One of Adolf Hilter's closest advisers, Joseph Goebbels, stated; If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself. To overcome ignorance, you must first learn to see through the layers of lies to first understand what the actual issues are and then formulate a strategy to overcome them.

Phillip Agnew, with Dream Defenders, gives a near perfect response to the systematic oppression of black people during the PBS program America After Ferguson and exemplifies what can happen when a person is no longer held captive to ignorance.

 

See the full-length PBS program America After Ferguson, which includes additional statements by Phillip Agnew not shown in the brief clip above. Tim Wise during his lecture on the Legacy of Institutionalized Racism addresses the topic of responsibility brought up in America After Ferguson.

Is Bill Cosby a Rapist?

Originally, I had not planned to comment on this issue. I included a video featuring Bill Cosby on the history page, that I decided not to remove. Additionally, after attending many social events where the subject has come up repeatedly and the fact that the national press and media inaccurately reported that the released deposition testimony was in effect Bill Cosby's "confession" of "drugging" and raping women, I decided to comment.

The fact that so many women are now coming forward after the statutes of limitations has expired is troubling to me. The purpose of statute of limitation laws is to facilitate resolution in a reasonable length of time. As time goes on, the evidence of an offense (criminal or civil) fades. People's memories become weaker and less reliable; physical evidence is destroyed or otherwise lost in the normal process; witnesses move or die. At a certain point, bringing charges (or filing civil suit) is unfair to the defendant and denies them Due Process because they weren't on notice to preserve evidence of their innocence.

It's amazing to me that out of so many alleged victims, not one came forward. Supposedly they were all scared because of the supposed power of Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby was only an entertainer; regardless how powerful he was, surely some of his many alleged victims should have come forward. However, men's power often makes them targets rather than shields them from allegations. During the same period of time that Cosby is alleged to have sexually assaulted or raped some of these women, another powerful man was being accused of sex crimes. In 1994, Paula Jones sued President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. As president, Bill Clinton was then widely considered the most powerful man in the world. However, other women including Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey alleged sex crimes committed by Clinton while Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Gennifer Flowers, and Monica Lewinsky admitted to affairs with the President.

If three women were brave enough to accuse the most powerful man in the world of sexual crimes, certainly some of Bill Cosby's accusers should have come forward. Even if some of them were genuinely afraid of Bill Cosby's power, the example of women accusing Bill Clinton should have encouraged at least some of them to come forward before the statute of limitations. If allegations against Cosby are true, it would suggest he is a serial rapist. So far more than 40 women have come forward, which suggest that there are probably hundreds of other victims. These allegations are spread over 40 years. The number coming forward so far suggest one sexual assault or rape per year. However, if we assume two per year, over 80 victims; three per year, over 120; and if we assume four, that's over 160 victims; but do we believe that a serial rapist traveling all over the world enjoying fame and wealth would limit himself to four conquests per year? It seems unlikely that out a pool of so many victims, that every one of them remained silent until the statute of limitations had passed. Did Bill Cosby suddenly stop? Were some of these women ex-lovers with a grudge? Were some motivated by the attention they would receive or a possible pay day by telling their story? Maybe some actually were victims and others simply jumped on the band wagon? Obviously, the answer to those questions and the rape question is, I don't know and may never know. Cosby may very well be guilty, but there is reasonable doubt in my mind.

The fact that all those women allowed the statute of limitations to expire is unfortunate and Bill Cosby will never have his day in court. Courts are designed and intended to be impartial and fair and what matters most are the facts and the laws. One woman, Barbara Bowman in a 2006 People Article claimed that she was raped twice (first in Reno, then Manhattan) by Cosby and she was able to prevent his third rape attempt in Atlantic City. Another woman, Joan Tarshis also claims to have been raped twice.

Unfortunately, money can buy justice and the traditional court system is increasingly viewed as unfair. When courts are unfair — when judges can be bribed, when the powerful are treated better, when more expensive lawyers produce more favorable outcomes — an ancient and sacred trust is lost.

The court of public opinion is an alternative system of justice. The court of public opinion is often about revenge or mob justice and results in ruined reputations. It’s very different from the traditional court system: This court is based on public shaming, the spin of the reporter and the perception of the mob. Having a good story is more important than having the law on your side. Being attractive or charismatic is more important than being fair. Facts matter, but there are no rules of evidence or standards of accuracy.

The court of public opinion does not seem to favor black people or issues. When 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was being stalked while walking back to his father's house from the store, many jurors in the court of public opinion seemed to believe his death was justified. During the Ferguson unrest after Michael Brown was killed, many people claimed his hands were up and he posed no threat to Darren Wilson, the officer who shot him. Even after questionable and unusual grand jury tactics by the prosecutor, the court of public opinion seemed to rule the killing was justified. After Eric Gardner was killed by police, the court of public opinion decided his arrest was justified, even though the video clearly showed he posed no threat. When cops were acquitted in the Rodney King beating, America's first video capture of excessive police force, the court of public opinion seemed to side with the cops. However, although O.J. Simpson was acquited in a court of law, the court of public opinion ruled he was guilty.

Both traditional courts and the court of public opinion can be unfair, but at least traditional courts offer an opportunity for an appeal that the court of public opinion does not. When a person is unfairly judged guilty in the court of public opinion, there is not a remedy. If Cosby is guilty, it's regrettable some victims didn't come forward earlier, which may have prevented others from being victimized.

Being unfaithful to your spouse is considered by most to be morally wrong, however, it is not a crime. Regardless of Bill Cosby's guilt or innocense, he has certainly betrayed his wife's trust and has acted hypocritically preaching morality to others while performing immoral acts. As People Magazine points out, just because Bill Cosby admitted he gave Quaaludes to a woman he was in a consensual sexual relationship with in the 1970s does not mean he gave other women the drugs "without their knowledge or consent". Simply because a number of women made accusations that Bill Cosby laced their drink with drugs thirty years ago, does not make them true. 

False allegations of rape, especially the alleged rape of white women have historically devasted black communities all across America. The myth of black rapists was often expressed by white men who were often worried about black political and economic power and used rape allegations to justify violence. “We of the South have never recognized the right of the Negro to govern white men, and we never will and we have never believed him to be equal to the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him.” Stated by Sen. Benjamin Tillman on the Senate floor in 1900. The Tulsa race riot of 1921; The Rosewood massacre of 1923 and the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till all occurred because allegations of rape or unwanted sexual advances were made against black men. 

The Washington Post points out that while minorities make up 36% percent of the population, only 10% of the lead characters are minority, which by definition means a much smaller percentage are black since some are Hispanic, Asian or others. However, many of America's biggest black stars are disproportionately routine targets of rape and other sex-related charges including: Mike Tyson, R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Mystikal, Tupac Shakur, Chuck Berry, Darren Sharper, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Ceelo Green, Shane Sparks, Sean Kingston, Kobe Bryant, Rev Run (Run-D.M.C.). Other high profile black celebrities that seem to be disproportionately charged with crimes include: Chris Brown, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Michael Vick, Will Smith, Lil Kim, James Brown, Wesley Snipes, T.I., Allen Iverson, O.J. Simpson, Darryl Strawberry, Flavor Flav, Barry Bonds, Remy Ma, Donté Stallworth, and others; the question of racial media bias must be raised.

Watch any of the major entertainment awards shows: Emmys, Grammy's, Oscars, Golden Globe, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Country Music Awards, Video Music Awards, Tonys or the People's Choice, and you'll notice a sea of white entertainers. Black entertainers may be prominently featured on stage, but they represent only a tiny fraction of the entertainers in attendance. Since white entertainers outnumber us about thirteen times, I should be able to rattle off a large number of white stars being charged with sex and other crimes. Once I get past Roman Polanski, I can't think of any other notable white celebrity actually charged with a sex crime. Some including Woody Allen, David Copperfield and Ben Roethlisberger are rumored or alleged but not charged by a prosecutor; usually, the worst sex charges white celebrities seem to get is indecent exposure. So when I see many of our high profile black entertainers, sports figures and even politicians constantly charged with crimes; I can't help but remember how the government and F.B.I. targeted black leaders in the past and wonder if black entertainers are being similarly targeted.

However, I believe statute of limitation laws are important features of our criminal justice and court systems. Over time people's memory fades, evidence is lost or destroyed. When a person is not provided notice that he is suspected or accused of a crime, they may not preserve evidence that may exonerate them. If faced with an unlimited amount of time to answer charges, how could anyone reasonable be expected to defend themselves against charges brought decades later?

Although our court system is imperfect, it does offer an opportunity to correct mistakes. However, the court of public opinion has judged Bill Cosby, guilty as charged, with no right of appeal!

UPDATE 8-6-2015Bill Cosby Ordered to Give Deposition in Judy Huth Lawsuit – Bill Cosby may have his day in court after all. Hopefully, some of the many women making allegations against Cosby will be called as witnesses where the credibility of their testimony can be determined by a judge or jury under the rules of evidence.

UPDATE 12-30-2015: Bill Cosby charged with sexual assault in Pennsylvania

UPDATE 1-22-2016: Bill Cosby wins in Pennsylvania court; defamation lawsuit dismissed