Why the Oregon Terrorist May Go Free

A Washington Post headline says it all; “Why aren’t we calling the Oregon occupiers ‘terrorists’?

The FBI definition of terrorism certainly applies to this Oregon group, however, I doubt if they are charged under the terrorism statutes, including 18 U.S.C. § 2332b. We have a double standard in this country that is not only obvious but sickening!

The Washington Post article raised many of the same questions I had about this group of armed men who took over a federal building at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. Instead of ‘terrorist’, this group was called “occupiers”, “armed activists”, “militia men” and “even protesters”.

Ammon Bundy (R), talks with Wes Kjar in an office at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, January 6, 2016.

I heard harsher terms hurled at the Ferguson Protesters than the media seems to be using for the Oregon Terrorist. These terrorist weren’t demonstrating the loss of life or civil rights, they were making a claim to land owned by the government.

I can’t imagine any situation where a group of armed black men taking over anything for any reason wouldn’t be called terrorist.

Even with these type of examples, many would argue ‘white privilege‘ does not exist.

Ammon Bundy, the terrorist’s leader, and another 15 defendants pleaded not guilty Wednesday, February 24, 2016, to federal conspiracy charges related to the 41-day occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge. Several of the accused, however, expressed doubt that they enjoy the presumption of innocence.

Armed terrorist Ammond Bundy and a federal agent shaking hands and bonding over white privilege.

These terrorists seemingly had support from others in their community, so if they request jury trials, which they most likely will, and just one person on that jury votes not guilty, they walk.

The world knows these guys broke the law, they’ve made statements admitting their actions, however, this is one of those instances where jury nullification may overrule the law.

Unfortunately, black folks don’t often get the benefit of jury nullification. Far too many bargain away their freedom through plea agreements.  Many people are unaware about jury nullification. Others fail to exercise their right to participate on juries and get out of jury duty. When black people don’t serve on juries, we allow the biases of others to decide the fate of black defendants. Black jury participation may have had some impact on mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders.

Slave Mentality

I’m not a very religious person, but my father told me about a recent Joel Osteen sermon about the mental attitudes of Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt.

From JoelOsteen.com

When the Israelites were in slavery, they were forced to make bricks all day long. They were given quotas that were almost impossible to meet. And at one point, Pharaoh got upset and had the supervisors take away all the straw they needed for bricks. They had the same quota, but they had to go find their own straw.

No doubt they prayed, “God, please give us straw. God, You know these supervisors are going to get upset. We’re not going to make our quotas.”

They had been pushed down for so long. They had such a limited vision when they were praying for more straw. In effect, they were praying to become a better slave. God said, “That’s too small. I don’t want to make you a better slave. I want to take you totally out of that bondage. I created you as the head and not the tail, the victor and not the victim.”

Today, don’t just pray for improvement in your difficult situation, pray for deliverance from it! See beyond your circumstances and let Him lead you out into the place of victory and abundance!

Joel Osteen starts speaking about abundance at 1:25 and mentions the Israelites near the 2:30 time mark.

Break Free of Mental Slavery

Black folks in America had a similar mental conditioning. After 350 years of slavery and 90 years of Jim Crow and another 50 plus years of institutionalized racism, as a group, many of us still suffer from post traumatic slave syndrome.

All our rights and privileges are defined within the law. You owe it to yourself to learn how to exercise your rights and the rights of your children. Use this site to educate yourself more about the principles of the law, participate in the jury system and political process and fight back against oppression for yourself and your children.

Stop accepting double standards! Until we fight back against double standards that criminalize certain behaviors to mass incarcerate and hold us back economically, we are doomed.

A Dose of Heroin Reality

A West Virginia television news station ran a segment, “WSAZ Investigates: A Dose of Reality,” showing an EMS supervisor, Chad Ward, responding to a heroin overdose, while wearing a body cam depicting the devastating effect Heroin is having in West Virginia.

This same sort of tragedy is playing out all over the country, including Missouri. I saw many people, including classmates, friends and family members suffer from the effects of drug addiction. Criminalizing drug use and mass incarceration  of drug users and addicts compounded the negative effects.

Narcan (Naloxone) is a drug that reverses an overdose, it is creating more concern than comfort according to an EMS professional because “it gives drug users a false sense of security.” They are concerned that people who are using or abusing these drugs are going to get into the mindset of “well somebody’s going to have Norcan.”

Rising Overdose Deaths

Deaths from overdoses of narcotic prescription painkillers more than tripled in the U.S. from 2000 to 2014. These drugs now kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined.

Years ago, many people believed that drugs was a black or brown problem and didn’t care as long as their community was not negatively affected. The same was true when crime and murders seemly occurred only in certain areas. However, as mentioned in a previous post, the fastest growing demographic of drug addiction is in white communities. Within the last two years, there have been at least 767 overdose deaths in the St. Louis area. With increasing drug use comes increasing crime.

I was raised in North St. Louis during the seventies and literally saw the decline. During the early 70’s, just about any service or product was available in the neighborhood. First there was white flight, then a reduction in city services, then businesses left, drug use increased (some government sanctioned), crime increased, and now the North Side is a shell of it’s former self.

Just about all major manufacturing left North City and moved to predominately white communities, often rural areas, far removed from the city. For example, GM manufactured Corvettes at Union and Natural Bridge until 1981, two years later in 1983, GM opened a manufacturing plant in Wentzville, MO.

When manufacturers began leaving black urban areas, no one cared. Once that pattern was established, corporations realized they could “flight” the country and move manufacturing to China and Mexico with little or no repercussions. Now many of the same jobs that left urban areas are now moving out of predominately white areas to other countries. As Martin Luther King once stated, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Carrier Corporation is the latest example of this trend, earlier this week, Carrier announced the closure of manufacturing plants in Indiana. Those jobs will be moving to Mexico.

Trump and others have been proposing closing the border, so I guess corporations figure if those workers can not longer come here, they will go there. Remember, closing the borders can work both ways. If the best manufacturing jobs end up in Mexico in the next decade, Americans may not be able to cross the border to get those jobs. Just food for thought. It’s easy to be insensitive to economic suffering, when that suffering is not your own.

Economic Predictions

It has been estimate that computerization and robotics will eliminate half of all jobs in the U.S. in less than ten years. That doesn’t include the number of jobs lost to other countries.

As economic conditions worsen, drug use will most likely continue to skyrocket. If an ultra conservative candidate gets elected as president, many of the safety nets that currently exist could be reduced or eliminated completely.

West Virginia’s coal economy has been devastated because of clean coal regulation and alternative energy. Like most other states, West Virginia, over time reduced social programs and now many people there, in mostly white communities, lack adequate food, housing and health care.  Some of these people who now need social services may have been among the very ones who argued for reductions. West Virginia is a window into the future.

Since World War II, the dominant or reserve currency of the world has been the U.S. dollar, but that is changing. Around the time I was born, GM, U.S. Steel, General Electric, Goodyear and AT&T were among the nation’s largest employers. Those companies provided good paying jobs and firmly established the middle class. Today, Wal-Mart is the nation’s largest private employer; Target, Kroger and Sears are among the top ten largest employers in the country and many of those jobs are part-time low wage positions.

In 1945, there were 41.9 workers supporting each social security retiree; by 2010 there were just 2.9 workers per retiree and as baby boomers continue to age, the numbers will only get worse. This is not a sustainable system. The private pension system is not much better off, that’s why some union retirees will see their pensions reduced, some more than half starting in July 2016.

I suspect one of the reasons union organizers were trying so hard to unionize fast food workers and get them pay increases, was to have a fresh supply of dues paying members to shore up union pension funds for existing union retirees.

When the great recession hit, I had a managerial position and reported directly to the company president. I owned four homes and I was the last person worried about a job loss. Things changed! Hopefully you’ll use the information presented on this website to prepare yourself in case things also change for you. If you’re not prepared for change, the consequence could be devastating.

Cleveland Sues Tamir Rice’s Family for Ambulance Bill

The City of Cleveland has filed a creditor’s claim against the estate of 12 year old Tamir Rice. The level of insult to Tamir’s family is beyond belief. I can’t imagine even the Ku Klux Klan being callous enough to send a bill after lynching a family member!

After the Cleveland police shot Tamir Rice in a park while holding a toy gun, the officers stood around him for four minutes, until an FBI agent arrived at the scene and gave the boy first aid.

In response to a lawsuit filed by the Rice family against Cleveland, the city claimed that Tamir and his family were responsible for his death and being shot by police when they filed the following responses in court:

“Plaintiffs’ decedent’s injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the failure of Plaintiffs’ decedent to exercise due care to avoid injury.”…  “injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by the acts of Plaintiffs’ decedent, not this Defendant” … “Plaintiffs’ injuries, losses, and damages complained of, were directly and proximately caused by their own acts” …. “Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the legal doctrines of comparative and contributory negligence. Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the legal doctrine of assumption of risk.”

How does a twelve year old child assume the risk of his own death by playing with a toy gun? That response was so repulsive and generated such a negative response, Cleveland Mayor, Frank Jackson, apologized.

As insensitive as the lawsuit response was, it pales in comparison to sending this family a bill for murdering their child! Cleveland’s actions are unconscionable. The citizens of Cleveland need to removed any leader or administrator associated with this travesty of justice.  Hopefully, Lebron James, will find inspiration from Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance and finally speak up concerning the Tamir Rice incident.

Last month, people in Cleveland were calling on Lebron James to speak on the Tamir Rice situation, however, James responded that he was not up on the situation. This could have just as easily been Lebron’s son, brother or nephew. Police killed 223 unarmed people last year. As stated in our post, “First They Came,” when you don’t speak up for others, there may not be anyone to speak up for you.

City of St. Louis Continues to Harass

Court.rchp.com was created mostly in response to my personal experience with municipal harassment from the City of St. Louis. This harassment occurred after a job loss when I was most vulnerable and least able to afford legal representation. "Kick a man when he's down," is a bully tactic, used by cowards and predators. One of the methods of harassment involved fining me for failure to respond or correct violations for which I was never given notice.

The City of St. Louis has either lost or dismissed every action against me, except one, which is currently before the Missouri Court of Appeals. That case originated during 2013, in St. Louis municipal court, where I lost (just about every case I've won against the city, I first lost in municipal court). I then filed trial de novo, the case was heard in St. Louis Circuit Court by a judge who had previously  worked for the St. Louis Convention and Visitor's Commission, I lost. The irony is that the judge was black, personable and I actually liked him, although I didn't like his decision. Many judges appear biased against self-represented (pro se) litigants and this judge had worked for the city. That's why I requested a jury trial, but that request was denied, which is one of my points of appeal. The court of appeals has had the case since early 2015 and the case was recently docketed and submitted on briefs, so I expect a decided soon.

Yesterday, I received a fine assessment of $200 concerning this property for violations that I again received no notices for. Some of the violations appear to be among those being appealed. I am certain that the city must be illegally targeting others. The City of St. Louis has just intensified my desire to spread legal knowledge to everyone. If you believe the city of St. Louis has targeted you unfairly, please contact us and share your story. We may also plan a series of informational pickets at St. Louis Municipal Court, please let us know if you would like to participate.

Fortunately, there is proposed legislation to limit non-traffic municipal ordinance revenue, however, that legislation won't have much effect on St. Louis City, since their budget is over a billion dollars. A ten or twenty percent cap on fines would still allow the City of St. Louis to collect $100 or $200 million in fines.  There could also be a $200 fine limit imposed on future municipal violations. My alleged violations, which included failure to paint a fence, were each assessed fines of $500.

Abusive Tactics

The City of St. Louis uses abusive tactics, including stalling, to drag cases out. Their  actions force people to repeatedly attend court proceedings for minor violations unless of course they plead guilty and pay the fine. Because this tactic was used against me and I was forced to appear many times in St. Louis municipal court, I was able to witness a pattern of disrespect, abuse and disregard for people's rights that became obvious to not only myself but many others in attendance.

One woman was treated so badly by the judge, she broke down in tears. She was chastised because she didn't have money to pay the fine. It was difficult to watch. If you dare to exercise your rights, you are threatened with increased fines and court costs. Fines are being used not only as revenue generators but also as scare tactics to force people to relinquish their rights. This only works because people allow themselves to be intimated by the system.

I could at least competently assert my rights and defend myself. But as I witnessed people, some who were obviously overwhelmed and seemed desperate,  being abused by the courts; I couldn't help but wonder if the city's harsh treatment might create another Cookie Thornton type situation.

Cookie Thornton

Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, was a lifelong resident of Meacham Park, an unincorporated, mostly African American community. In 1992, Kirkwood annexed the Meacham Park area. Upon annexation, the municipal codes of Kirkwood became the law for Meacham Park, which had previously lacked municipal codes.

On February 7, 2008, Cookie Thornton fired shots during a Kirkwood city council meeting, that killed five , including two police officers, and wounded two others; one of the two wounded victims, the mayor, later died. Thornton was then shot and killed by police. SuperBowl Sunday will be the eighth anniversary of Thornton's Kirkwood shooting.

St. Louis Magazine published a four-part series about the Kirkwood Shootings, part one of the series, "Why did Cookie Kill?" starts off with:

"In the initial shock, it seemed simple: Cookie Thornton had gone crazy. Then people started commenting, and it seemed even simpler: A black man had gotten fed up with bigotry and taken revenge. Then explanations started coming, and nothing was simple at all"

The complaints that surfaced during the Ferguson Protest about municipal courts were the same sort of things Cookie Thornton complained about. I didn't know Mr. Thornton, so I can't speak to his mental state, but every person has their breaking point. Mr. Thornton pleaded for help for years including at city council meetings about tickets and felt he was being treated unfairly, but it appears he was ignored. If someone had simply helped him better understand the rules of court, his trial de novo appeal rights, and the right to a jury trial, I wonder if he would have had a better outcome.

In 1996, Thornton had begun receiving citations from Kirkwood for violations of city codes. In June 1998, he pleaded guilty to six violations; and agreed to a five-phase plan to bring his property and his paving business into conformance with city codes within two years.

Thornton filed for bankruptcy in December 1999. During the bankruptcy process, he was put on a plan to get out of debt: he would pay $4,425 a month for five years. But Thornton stopped making the payments within four months and moved the portion of his business that had for a while occupied a rental property in a nearby commercially zoned area, back into his residentially zoned neighborhood.

Thornton never paid any of the fines from the 2001 and 2002 Kirkwood code violation cases. Thornton, despite having no education, training or experience in the practice of law, acted as his own attorney. The City of Kirkwood said in a state court memorandum in 2003, that by May 2002, Thornton had pled or was found guilty of more than 100 of 114 charges.

In 2005, the Missouri Court of Appeals opinion dismissing his suit against Kirkwood and Ken Yost for malicious prosecution and civil rights violations termed his brief "largely incomprehensible". After several years of the lawsuits, he declined an offer from the city to let his fines remain unpaid in exchange for dropping his last lawsuit against the city and no longer disrupting council meetings.

The Meacham Park Neighborhood Association (MPNA) met the afternoon following the shooting, February 8. More than 100 people, including Thornton's mother, and a "procession of ministers" who spoke at the meeting. Many spoke sympathetically of Thornton. Elder Harry Jones of Men and Women of Faith Ministries said

"This is something that took place over time, and perhaps it could have been avoided. There always has been a great divide between Kirkwood and Meacham Park."

Thornton's mother spoke last, saying

"We've got to do things the Bible way. I'm sad that this happened."

A blog entry that same day from a minister who used to live and work in Kirkwood provides some background about the relationship between Meacham Park and Kirkwood:

People who had lived in [Meacham Park] for generations were paid to move out so that Wal Mart could move in. [They] were made promises about how the money the city made from Wal Mart would be given to improve the living conditions in Meacham Park. When I met with the MPNA, there were residents who had been organizing and feeling frustrated for quite a while. They felt that the city officials were not following through on their promises and that the Meacham Park residents made a grave mistake in trusting the city officials….we were able to get our hands on some financial documents that flat out proved that the city promised money that they had not paid but there were legal loopholes that seemed insurmountable without a sea of money to devote to legal fees. When I stepped down from my work with Meacham Park, I knew that the frustrations were far from resolved.

In the end, it's always about the money, isn't it? It looks like the only reason Kirkwood was interested in annexing Meacham Park was to profit from  a Wal-Mart development that certainly came with other developments. They displaced poor black residents from Meacham Park seemingly without any inconvenience to Kirkwood residents.