Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, 7PM

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Click for public comment instructions!

How’d it get to be September? Time sure flies when you’re having a pandemic.

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, at 7PM.

Lots of fun in store.

Of interest:

  • A hearing on a Police Dept grant application for $41,000. The dept plans to use the money for computer stuff. Interesting in that recently there’s talk of finding money for additional training, but we haven’t been supplied the parameters of the grantor, so we don’t know what uses are allowed.
  • A hearing on a zoning change to permit a grocery store at the much contested Center and Dewberry corner — Mr. Atiyeh’s latest proposal for that site. The Planning Commission has recommended denying the change.
  • zoning 1
  • Councilman Callahan will move to bring his proposed wage equality ordinance out of committee, where it has stalled. Quite a history here.
  • We hope to hear more about response to the Public Safety meeting, Community Engagement Initiative, etc.

But there’s always the unexpected.

As long as he has flutter in his wings, Gadfly urges “attending” City Council.

Be informed. Be involved.

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The meeting documents are located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/67

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 18, 2020 Meeting, please sign up per the instructions below or call into the meeting when the Council President announces he will take public comment calls.

If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on September 1, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments.

If you are signed up to speak, the City Council President will call you from (610) 997-7963.

After all signed-up speakers talk, the Council President will ask whether anyone else would like to make public comments. If you want to speak at that time, call the Bethlehem City Council public comment phone line at (610) 997-7963.

NOTES. Calls to the public comment phone number will only be accepted during the designated public comment period with a 5 minute time limit. If you call and the line is busy, please call back when the current speaker is finished. As soon as your call begins, please turn off all speakers, computer speakers, televisions, or radios. At the start of your call, please state your name and address. A five minute time limit will apply to any public comments.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

How should Gadfly feel about the Black Lives Matter organization?

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Individual-1’s argument against the reality of systemic racism is largely based in his claim that the notion of systemic racism originates with the Black Lives Matter organization, which he claims is a severely tainted organization.

Can anyone better versed in these matters discuss the kinds of arguments he makes about BLM in such points listed below?

Gadfly feels very comfortable with the idea that black lives matter, but he is not sure what to make of the claims about the nature and roots and goals of the organization.

Does anybody else feel such a conflict?

Is Individual-1 right here? Or partially right?

Would anyone take a crack at that?

Or recommend something to read?

Gadfly just doesn’t know enough about the BLM organization itself to comment on these arguments and statements. And he would like to know more.

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4) “The racism today is coming from politicians on the left and terrorist groups such as BLM and Antifa.”

11) “Police officers are being wrongly portrayed in the media based on the lies of certain politicians and radical terrorist groups like BLM.

22) “The ‘systemic racism’ narrative is a complete lie and that BLM is nothing but a bunch of criminal thugs doing more harm to the black community than good.”

25) “Black Lives Matter or BLM is a criminal group, a domestic terrorist organization.

26) “Any support to BLM is an invitation for chaos and destruction to come to your area. . . . Get ready, because there is one restaurant business in town inviting BLM to come to Bethlehem and they should be condemned for doing so.”

27) “The entire BLM narrative is based on lies and has a long history of violence.

31) “The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else. One BLM leader said in July 2020 that if demands are not met, ‘then we will burn down this system.’ BLM has also openly advocated for the killing of police officers (we all heard pigs in a blanket, what do we want, dead cops). . . . Do any of you have children who are in law enforcement who may be a pig in a blanket someday, killed just because of a bunch of lies?”

32) “Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded by radical extremists who use rioting, looting, vandalism, and violence as tools.

33) “The false narrative politicians and BLM want you to believe is that there are innocent people of color continuously being harassed and murdered by the police ‘every day.’

Some examples of systemic racism

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Gadfly has lived all his working life in a world of words.

Recently new words relevant to our in-process national reckoning with race have entered his world.

defunding the police

systemic racism

Like many new words and maybe like many of you, Gadfly has not always felt comfortable with these new words.

You’ve seen Gadfly whine on these pages two or three times about the way Chair Colon missed the opportunity to alleviate some confusion and give “defunding the police” a precise definition at the top of the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting.

Gadfly’s sense is that “systemic racism” lives also in a state of imprecision.

Gadfly had been looking for a succinct list of examples of what people mean when they use the term “systemic racism,” and he tips his hat to Greg Zahm for the following link.

7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real

Ben and Jerry (Ha! Gadfly loves it!) say systemic racism is “less about violence or burning crosses than it is about everyday decisions made by people who may not even think of themselves as racist. As sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has said, “The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits.”

See if the short discussions of wealth, employment, education, criminal justice, housing, surveillance, and healthcare will help give you a more concrete idea of what people mean when they say systemic racism and see it as a problem.

The reality of “systemic racism” is certainly controversial, certainly questioned, so Gadfly will try to give you a pro and con reference in his next post to further help our understanding of both positions.

Gadfly tries to look at the facts

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Gadfly would like to return to the work of Individual-1 he wrote about yesterday.

Gadfly has called it the most vigorous local attack on systemic racism that he has encountered, and the word reaching his ears shows that Individual-1 may speak for many of our residents.

Since Individual-1’s position is completely contrary to the one about systemic racism that Councilman Reynolds articulated for the Community Engagement Initiative, we must look carefully at it.

Gadfly hopes not to put words in Councilman Reynolds’ mouth, but if there is no systemic racism, there is no need for a Community Engagement Initiative.

Gadfly moves carefully here. He knows 9 uses of the comma, but statistics are definitely not his forte.

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, understands systemic racism to mean that we have structures that produce racially skewed outcomes, that produce statistically skewed outcomes in the area of race.

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, understands systemic racism to not mean that everyone operating the structure or system is racist.

Individual-1 titled his essay (it is really too long and carefully crafted to be called simply an email) “Get The Facts – Systemic Racism Is A Lie,” and Gadfly would like to focus attention here on these specific points:

1) “Statistics do not support the ‘systemic racism’ narrative in policing.”

2) “The systemic racism issue is being created in communities where there currently is not one, a tactic used by many politicians, certain media, and domestic terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) or Antifa.”

3) “There was not one single incident of fact provided at the meeting or in the article to support any claims of systemic racism.”

Gadfly, till he is better instructed, ventures to say that the statistics provided by the Bethlehem Police Department themselves at the August 11 Public Safety meeting show evidence of systemic racism according to the above definition.

Police 13

For instance, in 2019 there were according to the Bethlehem Police Department statistics 143 cases of use of force.

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Use of force involving Blacks, who are 7% of the Bethlehem population, made up 31.5% of the cases.

Use of force involving whites, 58.2% of our population, made up 40.5% of the cases, while POC, who make up 38.4% of the population, made up 59.4% of the cases.

There is significant statistical disparity here.

Here’s how Lehigh’s Prof Holono Ochs charted the statistics showing the disparity over a decade.

Ochs 5

Gadfly thinks this is evidence of systemic racism, but he waits for better instruction and is always grateful for it.

Good conversation builds community.

Sharing what I know about trauma

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Michele Downing is a Social Worker and RN, a grandmother of two, interested in social and environmental justice, a resident of the Lehigh Valley for fifteen years, the last six years a resident of West Bethlehem.

Gadfly:

I’ve been pondering much of the discussion that’s been flying around centering on Black Lives Matter and calls for changes in policing/addressing police brutality. I admit to jumping to the conclusion that people should “Just know” and frustrated at “How could they not know???” So I’m sharing what I know, hoping that when we know better we will all do better.

Yes, Black Lives Matter, and I completely understand “Back the Blue.” I’m not anti-police, and I have never personally had a negative interaction with any Bethlehem police officer. But I know this: police officers can go home, take off their uniform and resume their life. Black and brown folks can not remove their skin.

Let me tell you about a good friend of mine.

She is white, her husband is black. From the outside looking in, they are living the American Dream, and they did it “the right way.” They put each other through school.  They are both hard-working, law-abiding college-educated professionals. They go to church, volunteer in their community, donate copiously.  They waited to plan their baby until they felt they could afford to have a family.

When their child was born, after much agonizing and arguing, they came to the decision that they could not name their baby the name they had chosen because there is just too much evidence proving that schools and employers look at resumes with “ethnic names” differently (see links below for context). They hoped that racism would be a thing of the past when their baby is grown, but they couldn’t count on it.

Sit with yourself a moment and imagine being robbed of the chance to name your own baby.

That feeling you just felt is trauma.

Michele

———

“Are Job Candidates Still Being Penalized For Having ‘Ghetto’ Names?”

“Harvard Study Says Minority Job Candidates Are ‘Whitening’ Their Resumes When Looking for Jobs”

“Study: anti-black hiring discrimination is as prevalent today as it was in 1989”

“The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names”

Why do they run?

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Let’s call the writer of that strong denial of systemic racism individual-1.

Individual-1 poses a long and challenging series of arguments and statements in his denial of systemic racism. Let’s keep the focus on what he says not who he is.

His email is virtually a go-to, one-stop resource for understanding a position completely contrary to the one Councilman Reynolds articulated for the Community Engagement Initiative.

His position must be faced. It must be understood. And, if necessary, it must be answered.

Gadfly has numbered Individual-1’s key arguments and statements for easy focus, and he invites followers to focus, for and agin’, in their replies. Always better to be specific, says the prof.

Because of the theme you’ve seen Gadfly following — that is, Black parents giving “The Talk,” the Black high school student with death at the traffic stop on her mind — these three points in Individual-1’s essay jumped first to his attention.

17) “If only all subjects who interact with police would just follow directions and not resist. When a subject resists, law enforcement officer immediately go into a mind state to defend their life.”

19) “We need to teach our youngsters early on to respect the police. We need to strongly suggest a push to educate all children, just like we do with the DARE program, on what to do when interacting with the police, stressing cooperation and the following of orders. It needs to be stressed during a class that the police officer is in charge at the time of interaction and any issue one may have with the incident or process is not going to be sorted out in the middle of an arrest or police action. There is a process for either a citizen’s complaint or an internal affairs complaint in the following days. Parents need to continually stress this notion to their children.”

34) “Remember, the important admonishment, and one that you all should be repeating to our youngsters, the police are in control of an incident and you should listen to and respect all commands during any encounter. An illegal stop, an illegal arrest, or alleged racism can be sorted out later and there should not be any escalation of the situation. The vast majority of people know this, comply with the police, and there are no issues with the encounter. Blacks however are four times more likely to resist arrest than whites and Hispanics combined.”

Gadfly has a lot of things running around in his mind on this subject begging to be sorted out.

Maybe the question “Why do they run?” will help bring a focus. “They,” meaning the Black males confronting the police.

George Floyd resisted being put in the police car. Claustrophobia, he said. Rayshard Brooks talked calmly to police for about 1/2 hour, but when it came time to put the cuffs on, he fought with immediate vigor — a complete transformation — and ran. Irrationally so. Why the quick, astonishing reversal in attitude? How could he expect that he would ever get away? We don’t know the full story yet, but Jacob Blake was heading to a car. Was he thinking he could drive away? Where did he think he could go? Was he going after a knife? If so, what could he possibly, possibly hope to gain with it? What the hell was he thinking?

Are you with the Gadfly here? There’s a kind of mystery in this “running” behavior, isn’t there?

Why do they run?

Mr. White Gadfly was born lower middle-class. Shanty Irish. Lived in “Tin Town,” near but not on the other side of the tracks. He was taught to respect the police. If Mr. White Gadfly then or now was detained or arrested by the police, he would act just as Individual-1 suggests. In Gadfly’s mind, if he were arrested, rightly or wrongly, he imagines being treated respectfully, being able to secure a lawyer, and eventually sorting things out reasonably if not painlessly in the long run. Mr. White Gadfly has been brought up in and has experienced a criminal justice system he can trust. He could not imagine running. Except in to a system designed to protect his rights. He would expect to trust the whole system even to the police self-policing themselves if he was involved with a bad apple. He has no reason to think otherwise.

Gadfly hopes no one is listening. As a teen, he was once brought home by a policeman who found him around midnight a bit stuporish leaning up against the wall of Novino’s Luncheonette at the corner of Union Ave. and Baltimore Ave., Lansdowne, Pa., put him in the patrol car, walked him to his front door, and ushered him in with a pat on the butt and with advice to be quiet and hit the sack.

Gadfly hopes no one is listening. Gadfly has six sons. He’s had “talks.” He knows about nighttime anxiety, the night sweats. He remembers a “Hello, Dr. Gadfly” phone call and then retrieving one son from a local township police station where he and his wayward son were treated respectfully, though the “feeling-his-oats” son had certainly delivered some imprudent sass. The officer delivered the son from a dangerous situation. For which we can be forever thankful.

Gadfly trusts the police. He can look beyond a traffic stop gone bad and trust in a good outcome. Gadfly can trust the system.

Individual-1 says, “Blacks, however, are four times more likely to resist arrest than whites and Hispanics combined.” And you might remember Chief Di Luzio saying quite clearly August 11 that it’s the resistance that is the reason for the violence. A bit scarily, Individual-1 says that resistance puts “the officer immediately . . . into a mind state to defend their life.”

Ok, it’s a fact that Blacks are four times more likely to resist arrest than whites and Hispanics combined. And violence occurs thereupon and therefrom.

But the conversation shouldn’t stop there.

That fact should naturally lead to this question: “Why are Blacks four times more likely to resist arrest than whites and Hispanics combined?”

Are we to think the answer is that Blacks are by nature ornery, uncontrollable, evil, animal . . . racist?

Please.

So what is the reason Blacks resist, run more than others? Running sometimes right into their deaths or life-long disability.

Perhaps because they have no trust in the system, a lack of trust based on hundreds of years of “tribal” experience.

Perhaps because they know from a kind of collective consciousness, a kind of in-bred instinct that if you go with the police, you may not come back. You might literally disappear.

The back of a police car a black hole.

Perhaps because they know from an oral tradition hundreds of years old that if you go with the police you may not come back. You might literally disappear. The New York Times video a few posts back began with a Black father remembering “My grandfather talked to me as a black man from Augusta, Georgia, growing up in the Deep South.”

From father to son in a long unbroken chain of “talks” reaching back to 1619.

Sound like Gadfly psycho-babble?

Maybe it is, and maybe others can explain it better or differently.

But Gadfly taught literature and film by and about Blacks for fifty years. He’s read their journals, their autobiographies. The white power structure is not to be trusted. You literally might disappear.

Gadfly has seen the data.

The data is there for all to see.

Prof Holona Ochs reminds us that the origin of our modern police forces is in the slave patrols of the South. There is such a thing as cultural memory. Blacks know their history.

There is, frankly, a not so subtle undercurrent in Individual-1’s essay that the Blacks should be helping themselves (the reference to Affirmative Action, for instance), that the charge of systemic racism is an excuse for not succeeding, a crutch.

Certain people blame Blacks for their lowly condition. Justly celebrated Black hero Frederick Douglass (he didn’t have a real name) suffered years of ignominy as a slave but finally courageously risked his life to escape to the “free” states in the north and better himself, only to find that he was subject to the Fugitive Slave Law and could be captured and returned to his “owner” in the South with the blessing of the national government.

Imagine.

That is systemic racism.

And there is plenty of it still in operation today.

Gadfly understands why they run.

Gadfly invites civil and courteous discussion of Individual-1’s challenging statement from any perspective.

Good conversation builds community.

The history of West Broad Street streets

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Jason’s walking along West Broad St. in this installment–

Jason Rehm, “The Streets of Bethlehem — Part Three.” Bethlehem Press, August 25, 2020.

Prospect Avenue

Leibert Street

Calypso Avenue

Shimer Avenue

Mt. Airy Avenue

Nolf Street

Elliott Avenue

Central Boulevard

Allamanda Street

Ritter Street

Central Park Avenue

 

“Get the facts: systemic racism is a lie”

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Over his transom Gadfly received a copy of an email titled “Get the facts: systemic racism is a lie” addressed to various City officials in response to this “Bethlehem City Council Doesn’t Want to Defund the Police. It Wants to Tackle Systemic Racism” article about the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting.

This 4000-word email by a person (Gadfly does not know his or her name) with several decades of law enforcement experience is the most vigorous local attack on systemic racism that Gadfly has encountered. And deserves to be considered.

Gadfly has selected out the major points in the letter for better focus on the manifold arguments.

1) “Statistics do not support the ‘systemic racism’ narrative in policing.”

2) “The systemic racism issue is being created in communities where there currently is not one, a tactic used by many politicians, certain media, and domestic terrorist groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) or Antifa.”

3) “There was not one single incident of fact provided at the meeting or in the article to support any claims of systemic racism.”

4) “The racism today is coming from politicians on the left and terrorist groups such as BLM and Antifa.”

5) “There are incidents of racism committed by all races against each other and that is something that will never go away.”

6) “Yet, when a white person is punched in the face by a black person or a Hispanic person shot by a black person, you don’t see the chaos and anger created as in certain black communities or with black ‘social justice groups’.”

7) “I have been in law enforcement at every level, for over thirty years, I have never experienced any act of racism, or knew of any decision made based on race, with any law enforcement officer I worked with, and I worked with law enforcement officials all over the world.”

8) “Even many black professionals have argued affirmative action hurts their community more so than it helps. When people do not work hard to earn things, they will never reach their full potential.”

9) “Before you go calling me a racist, let me say that I have a lot of black friends and many agree with what I am saying. In fact, several reviewed this letter before I sent it.”

10) “If there was a systemic racism problem in policing, or the ‘criminal justice system,’ I am certain that in my thirty plus years, I would have had at least one instance or indication of it at some point in time.”

11) “Police officers are being wrongly portrayed in the media based on the lies of certain politicians and radical terrorist groups like BLM. It’s a shame that certain media outlets only report one side and use lies to support the false narrative of systemic racism.”

12) “George Floyd died of a heart attack while being arrested by Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Yes, according to the official autopsy report I read in full, George Floyd had advanced and serious heart disease, was under the influence of numerous illegal drugs, which contributed to his heart attack/death, and died primarily of a heart attack.”

13) “George Floyd was a career criminal who did not follow orders and resisted arrest. No, he didn’t deserve to die, but he contributed to his own death.”

14) “The technique used by Officer Chauvin, the knee, was actually taught as a restraint tactic during their police training. The officer used a technique they were all taught and it’s a technique used by law enforcement officers in many jurisdictions. . . . When a police officer is in a struggle for his life, he is going to use whatever means possible to protect himself and others around him from death or bodily harm.

15) “Yes, Floyd’s death was a tragedy and in hindsight, some things could always be handled in a different manner. We all learn from mistakes.”

16) “At any time, things can turn deadly. What is happening today is that we are making law enforcement officers hesitate and second guess split second deadly force options, putting their lives in danger.”

17) “If only all subjects who interact with police would just follow directions and not resist. When a subject resists, law enforcement officer immediately go into a mind state to defend their life.”

18) “To this day, there has not been one single piece of evidence to support the claims of BLM, the politicians, or the media that Officer Chauvin did what he did, while arresting George Floyd, because of Floyd’s skin color.”

19) “We need to teach our youngsters early on to respect the police. We need to strongly suggest a push to educate all children, just like we do with the DARE program, on what to do when interacting with the police, stressing cooperation and the following of orders. It needs to be stressed during a class that the police officer is in charge at the time of interaction and any issue one may have with the incident or process is not going to be sorted out in the middle of an arrest or police action. There is a process for either a citizen’s complaint or an internal affairs complaint in the following days. Parents need to continually stress this notion to their children.”

20) “I can relay all sorts of statistics/facts, which dispel the systemic police racism claims. For example, there are more unarmed whites killed by police each year than blacks and of the approximate 7000 blacks killed in the U.S. each year, the vast majority of those killings are a result of black on black crime. If you look at the number of blacks killed by police each year, compared to blacks killed by other blacks each year, it’s approximately .2% of black homicides at the hands of police.”

21) “Dr. Shelby Steele says: ‘The oppression of blacks is over with’ and ‘blacks are free today.’ Dr. Steele says blacks need to individually pursue what needs to be done in order to excel in their own life and they should not keep falling back on this notion they are being oppressed, killed off by whites, and are victims of white privilege.”

22) “The ‘systemic racism’ narrative is a complete lie and that BLM is nothing but a bunch of criminal thugs doing more harm to the black community than good.”

23) “The censorship by the media and big tech on behalf of the left and certain Democrats is nothing but an attempt to hide the truth and protect their own agenda, and that is alarming.”

24) “Many BLM terrorists . . . as Dr. Steele related, they rather listen to the drug selling gangster ‘brother’ on the street corner instead of the ‘Uncle Tom.’ That’s really intelligent!

25) “Black Lives Matter or BLM is a criminal group, a domestic terrorist organization. . . .  it’s the reason why the Department of Justice currently has over 300 hundred active investigations focusing on these two groups.”

26) “Any person or business in Bethlehem, or anywhere, supporting BLM with signs in their windows or donating money is supporting a domestic terrorism group trying to overthrow our government and destroy people’s lives. Any support to BLM is an invitation for chaos and destruction to come to your area. . . . Get ready, because there is one restaurant business in town inviting BLM to come to Bethlehem and they should be condemned for doing so.”

27) “The entire BLM narrative is based on lies and has a long history of violence. Many of the lies are fueled by the media and politicians. Unfortunately, many people believe these lies because they fail to seek the truth or verify what they are force fed. Many can’t think for themselves and make their own decisions while some just don’t want to believe the truth.”

28) “I watched former First Lady Michelle Obama support the systemic racism narrative with lies. . . . Even the AP called out Michelle Obama’s lies in articles.”

29) “Can anyone tell me the names of unarmed black individuals in Bethlehem that have been ‘preyed upon by police officers’ and killed for no lawful reason? . . . The angry rants by politicians, celebrities, and BLM indicates it has to be occurring in Bethlehem every day.”

30) “There was then the Michael Brown (Ferguson, 2014) and Eric Garner (New York, 2014) cases which also turned out to be lies, as no charges were justified in either case. . . .In the Eric Garner case, we heard the ‘I can’t breathe’ lie and once again no charges warranted.”

31) “The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else. One BLM leader said in July 2020 that if demands are not met, ‘then we will burn down this system.’ BLM has also openly advocated for the killing of police officers (we all heard pigs in a blanket, what do we want, dead cops). . . . Do any of you have children who are in law enforcement who may be a pig in a blanket someday, killed just because of a bunch of lies?”

32) “Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded by radical extremists who use rioting, looting, vandalism, and violence as tools. One of the founders, Patrisse Cullors, was ‘inspired’ and led by her ‘hero’ Assata Shakur. . . . Black Lives Matter (BLM) is also connected to a Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist sentenced in the 1980’s to 58 years in prison for possession of explosives and machine guns. . . . Eric Mann, a convicted felon and member of the Weather Underground back in the day, has also ‘mentored BLM’ according to the founders.”

33) “The false narrative politicians and BLM want you to believe is that there are innocent people of color continuously being harassed and murdered by the police ‘every day.’ They can’t even walk outside or go for a jog without being killed (Lebron James Tweet). The facts don’t support that claim! . . . This is a fear tactic used by BLM. It is this fear, which blacks are led to feel by their own people and politicians, that lead blacks to act irrational and with an attitude during police encounters. Attitude controls outcome.”

34) “Remember, the important admonishment, and one that you all should be repeating to our youngsters, the police are in control of an incident and you should listen to and respect all commands during any encounter. An illegal stop, an illegal arrest, or alleged racism can be sorted out later and there should not be any escalation of the situation. The vast majority of people know this, comply with the police, and there are no issues with the encounter. Blacks however are four times more likely to resist arrest than whites and Hispanics combined.”

35) “Finally, for the white people reading this, stop becoming ‘woke.’ You are only exacerbating the situation for the black community who are looking for anyone but themselves to blame. Have some courage to stand up for the truth. Listen to Dr. Steele who is a well-educated professional who has studied this behavior for a long time. It will go a long way to helping blacks work hard, earn things, and realize they are free from oppression and can do anything if they really try.”

As usual, Gadfly invites responses.

Unable to change the system, the judge quits

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To make her point, Dantos poses a question to white friends: “How often have you been pulled over for driving away from a curb without using your turn signal?”

The judge says most white people would be surprised at how often the police narrative in the arrest of a young black or brown man begins with that offense. The next sentence on the report usually states that the arresting officer smelled marijuana. Handling these cases has left Dantos increasingly frustrated.

———-

Floyd 30

See John Perez case video here.

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Floyd 31

See complete transcript of the Judge’s remarks in the Perez case here.

———-

from Laurie Mason Schroeder, “Backlash to comments about police brutality cements Lehigh County judge’s decision to retire: ‘I felt betrayed’,” Morning Call, August 27, 2020.

Judge Maria L. Dantos is done.

But the judge is, and always has been, a woman who speaks up.

And what she’s said, especially over the last few months, about police brutality and systemic racism in the justice system, has made some people very angry.

“I felt betrayed by people and institutions I had bled for,” Dantos said. “It had become all about me.”

Dantos, who turns 60 next week, said her retirement was on the books long before February, when her post-trial remarks about the prosecution of a Latino man who was accused of fighting with Allentown police officers turned her toxic in many courthouse circles.

John Perez’s violent arrest by Allentown police officers might have gone unnoticed, but for Dantos’ scathing words after his trial.

Moments after she dismissed the jurors who acquitted the 36-year-old Allentown man of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, Dantos went on a 10-minute verbal tear, calling the cops’ conduct “shameful,” saying they lied on the witness stand and chiding them for fist-bumping each other in the courthouse hallway.

A transcript of the judge’s remarks was published in The Morning Call within hours of the verdict, touching off a fight between the judge and the Allentown Police Department that persists to this day.

“The retribution for me personally has been severe, swift, unwarranted and unacceptable, fueled not by the truth, but by an anger at the speaker of the truth,” she said.

Despite the furor, Dantos said she does not regret a single word of her speech. But there is one maddening question she can’t shake:

“Other than coming after me, what did the Allentown Police Department do about a judge telling the chief that four of your officers committed perjury in this courtroom and conducted themselves in a manner that is inappropriate for a police officer?”

Though the controversy over her comments after the Perez trial have made her last six months on the job less comfortable, Dantos said it’s also given her more freedom to discuss topics like systemic racism in the criminal justice system. A close friend of hers calls it “The emancipation of Maria Dantos.”

To make her point, Dantos poses a question to white friends: “How often have you been pulled over for driving away from a curb without using your turn signal?”

The judge says most white people would be surprised at how often the police narrative in the arrest of a young black or brown man begins with that offense. The next sentence on the report usually states that the arresting officer smelled marijuana. Handling these cases has left Dantos increasingly frustrated.

Unable to change the system, Dantos says she’s getting out and making room for the next generation. As she made her final speech in the courthouse last week at the Bar Association ceremony, she urged others to do the same.

“When I started to feel complicit in the flaws in the system that I represent, I could no longer be silent. To quote my man Einstein, if I were to remain silent, I would be guilty of complicity.”

The Kenosha alarm clock

logo Latest in a series of posts responding to the Jacob Blake shooting logo

Kenosha 3

 

 

In a much more happy mood, for a week or two Gadfly suggested that we start our day with a Lehigh Valley anthem. Somber now, and recognizing that possible changes in Bethlehem policing are on our plate, Gadfly suggests we wake up in a different manner. Still more (unofficial) details about events leading up to this moment are starting to come out, but here’s where we still need to focus our attention.

“Antiracism is about action”

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With the country in the midst of a racial reckoning, many Americans are eager to
take a stand against racism. But to truly be an ally, members of the black
community say it’s not enough to simply not be racist. True allies, they say,
are “antiracist,” and there’s a key difference between the two.

CBS News, June 25, 2020

The difference between being not racist and being antiracist
(short video)

Floyd 29

is
action

listen . . . understand . . . act . . . then live your life in a new way

Many thanks to Linda Wiggins-Chavis for this video and other great resources during the Bethlehem Area Public Library 4-part workshop “Dialogues on Racial Justice.” BAPL is doing a great job of providing “educational” materials to help us think through the national reckoning on race that we are experiencing and to prepare us for what we hope will be significant action by City Council and the City Administration on the local level. In addition to the workshops and lectures, see BAPL’s “Antiracist Resources.”

“We need to listen and do our utmost to understand”

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Dana Grubb is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem who worked 27 years for the City of Bethlehem in the department of community and economic development, as sealer of weights and measures, housing rehabilitation finance specialist, grants administrator, acting director of community and economic development, and deputy director of community development.

ref: “The traffic stop as death trap”

Gadfly,

There are some who think that multi millionaire athletes and entertainers should keep their mouths shut, but they enjoy the same freedom and constitutional rights that the rest of us do. And contrary to Charles Barkley’s claim that professional athletes are not role models, many of them are. I look at my own life and the influence that Bill Russell, Willie Mays, and Bart Starr had on me beyond my parents and grandparents.

Doc Rivers is that kind of professional athlete, a one-time star player and now a successful head coach. He once coached the Boston Celtics, so I admit an affinity for him because of that.

However, all of that success and notoriety cannot protect his or any other black athletes’ or entertainers’ sons when they’re out in the world minding their own business. My one black neighbor works at a well known downtown Bethlehem business in a management position. He is ordinarily fun loving, and we joke around a lot when we see each other. His one son is 11 years old, and when we discussed “the talk” his face grew serious. He realizes, because he has been there as well, what his 11-year-old boy is approaching and that eventually his 4-year-old son will as well. Imagine having that hanging over your head. I can’t.

Whether it’s Doc or my neighbor Robert, we need to listen and do our utmost to understand that in our society there are different strokes for different folks, and it’s usually unfairly so. When they speak, it is imperative that we take their words very seriously, just as their sons must.

They are mentoring each of us, just as Russell, Mays, and Starr did this young white kid from afar as he was growing up.

Dana

And Gadfly would add one important element to Dana’s good words: we must listen . . . understand . . . and then act. Act. Do. Gadfly is expecting significant action from City Council and the City Administration. If not now, when?

“My biggest worry was getting the right prom date”

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Michele Downing is a Social Worker and RN, a grandmother of two, interested in social and environmental justice, a resident of the Lehigh Valley for fifteen years, the last six years a resident of West Bethlehem.

ref: “The traffic stop as death trap”

Gadfly:

Wow, sharp comparison to my high school experience in 1987. We did all the same things I am hearing about today’s students. We fought sometimes, cussed out an occasional teacher, cut class, and even sold some marijuana . . . on school property (pearl clutching!). Yet never once was I in fear for my life. As I have jokingly mentioned, my biggest worry was getting the right prom date. I’m not sure how today’s environment is fostering learning — sounds more like surviving.

Michele

The Kenosha alarm clock

logo Latest in a series of posts responding to the Jacob Blake shooting logo

Kenosha 3

 

 

In a much more happy mood, for a week or two Gadfly suggested that we start our day with a Lehigh Valley anthem. Somber now, and recognizing that possible changes in Bethlehem policing are on our plate, Gadfly suggests we wake up in a different manner. More (unofficial) details about events leading up to this moment are starting to come out, but here’s where we still need to focus our attention.

Joey Mutis III, Live from IceHouse Tonight! Tuesday, Sept 1, 7 – 8PM

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Live from IceHouse Tonight!

Mutis 1
photo Paul Willistein

Joey Mutis III of The Electric Farm

Tuesday, September 1, 7 – 8PM

The Electric Farm

The event will stream on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and the IceHouse Tonight YouTube channel.

from Dave Howell, “Up on The Farm: Joey Mutis sows seeds of album in creative fields of The Electric Farm rock band.” Bethlehem Press, August 22, 2020.

Joey Mutis III is best-known as lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the rock band, The Electric Farm, and has rarely done solo gigs, even though his performance and original songs sound great in that format.

When Mutis sings and plays his acoustic guitar, you can concentrate on his sublime melodies and lyrics. His gentle presence and high, wavering voice makes him sound fragile at times, while at other times, his fluid guitar work gives him a power-pop sound. He reaches the goals he sets for his Electric Farm albums: “lots of atmosphere, beautiful and mysterious, that takes you on a journey.”

Mutis has been compared to everyone from Neil Young and Nick Drake to Pink Floyd in their more melodic moments. One producer said he sounded like “Donovan backed by the Alan Parsons Project.”

“I have some folk leanings but I’m not a folk artist,” Mutis says in a phone interview from his Germansville home. “I do what I do naturally. I follow my own path. I’m not trying to sound like somebody. I do what I do to make myself happy.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year.

The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine.

Donations are appreciated:  http://paypal.me/theelectricfarm 
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Greenway Farmers Market open today at 2

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Southside logo

from Lani Goins, “Greenway Farmer’s Market – Produce, fresh bread and more.” Bethlehem Press, August 25, 2020.

Tucked between bustling Third Street and busy Fourth Street on the Southside of Bethlehem is the Greenway. If you visit the Greenway on Friday afternoons, you will find the Greenway Farmers Market on the stretch between Tayor and Polk streets.

A variety of local farms and restaurants are represented. You can buy your lunch and enjoy it on one of the many benches lining the Greenway or take home a variety of produce, fresh bread and more. Have Dinky’s Ice Cream for dessert, and enjoy a post lunch stroll down the Greenway to enjoy beautiful flower gardens. While you’re there, you can even register to vote.

There’s a city parking lot off Taylor Street, or you can hunt out street parking.

The market is organized by the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem (CADCB). Over the next few weeks, the market will feature local businesses that have graduated from the CADCB’s Start Your Business program.

The market does not currently accept EBT/Snap cards, but if you have one, bring it to the produce stand, and show it to receive special discounts on produce.

The market’s offerings will be expanded in the coming weeks. Beyond bringing fresh food to the Southside, another goal of the market is to support small businesses during the pandemic.

The market is open from 2 to 6 p.m. Fridays, weather permitting, through Sept. 25.

The traffic stop as death trap

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“Our Voices Matter! Students from Allentown, Emmaus and
Parkland School District speak their truths!”

What are your thoughts on the funding of police, and
the policing in schools?

(min. 15:09 and min. 59:50)

“School Resource Officers: “They’re not there to help us”

for context and perhaps better sound quality,
go the the link above for the full video and begin at 59:50

Gadfly gasped so loudly at this section of the conversation among students facilitated by Allentown Councilwoman Ce-Ce Gerlach a month or two ago that Mrs. Gadfly came running.

The discussion is about School Resource Officers. The student lack of connection with those officers was not so surprising.

But the way a student’s mind went right to being killed at a traffic stop did.

The value of an SRO, she says, without irony, might be to give advice about how not to be killed at a traffic stop.

Being killed at a traffic stop. Such a reality in her mind that it comes right out in almost casual conversation.

Imagine.

What a way to live.