BAPL “courageous conversation” on racism Tuesday

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

BAPL continues its relevant and pertinent programming.
Join in as the City reckons with race.

This is what seems to Gadfly the 3rd or 4th major BAPL program on the African American experience and on racism. BAPL is making a very valuable contribution to the national reckoning with race triggered by the murder of George Floyd. Gadfly is reading the Kendi book now, the first section of which will be discussed Tuesday night. Gadfly taught the early history and literature of America in his other life, but he is still learning much from this major new work of scholarship. Join in and see the construction of, the manufacture of the racist view of African Americans. You won’t be the same.

register here at BAPL

register here at BAPL

“It’s time to stop the war on police”

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

selections from Paul Muschick, “Lancaster shooting riot and LA deputies ambush: Stop war on police.” Morning Call, September 14, 2020.

A man with a knife charged at a cop in Lancaster on Sunday and the officer shot and killed him. Within hours, rioters hurled bottles and bricks at officers and damaged the police station.

Two sheriff’s deputies were shot in the head in an ambush in Los Angeles on Saturday. Protesters gathered outside the hospital where they were being treated, with at least one yelling, “I hope they … die.”

It’s time to stop the war on police.

The police aren’t wrong every time they kill or injure someone. Sometimes, their use of force is justified.

Whether it was justified in the Lancaster shooting will be determined by the district attorney. It’s already clear from the officer’s body camera video, though, that the confrontation differed vastly from others where unarmed Black men were killed by police.

This man, Ricardo Munoz, was armed and was charging at the officer. And the officer was alone at the time, as others hadn’t yet arrived at the home where a woman called for help, saying her brother was reportedly becoming aggressive with his mother and attempting to break into her house.

Critics may question why the officer didn’t wait for backup.

What if he had waited to approach the home and Munoz had stabbed someone inside? Then the officer would be criticized for not doing his job and protecting the public.

What if the officer stumbled and fell as Munoz chased him? Then he might have been killed or injured.

If cities defund their police, as many protesters are demanding, that could make this scenario more common as there may not be backup, or it may not arrive as swiftly. That makes it dangerous for everyone involved in a situation such as this.

In Los Angeles, the sheriff’s department said some protesters blocked entrances and exits at the hospital, though the Los Angeles Times reported that could not be independently verified.

Why were they even protesting there? The deputies didn’t do anything to anyone there. They were in surgery, fighting for their lives after being shot in the head while sitting in their vehicle.

Protesting at the hospital is an endorsement of the shooting. There’s no other way to look at it. If the protest was about the need to reform policing procedures, then it could have been held at the police station or City Hall.

For full disclosure, and as I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I’m the son of a retired police officer. I respect the job they do. It’s difficult, and the vast majority of them do it well.

They don’t deserve to have targets on their backs just because they’re wearing the uniform. They also shouldn’t expect their uniform to shield them when they do something wrong.

Lancaster’s mayor appealed for calm after Sunday’s late-afternoon shooting, but it didn’t work.

But if you want to express your displeasure about how officers have acted, pick better opportunities. The LA protest and Lancaster riot — when you throw bottles and other things at police and break windows, that’s a riot, not a protest — are just undermining the cause.

Police reforms included in the Breonna Taylor settlement

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

Louisville just settled the wrongful death civil suit with the family of Breonna Taylor for a record amount of money, but the settlement was not entirely about money. The Taylor family wanted police reforms. Since we hope that locally we will shortly be publicly discussing possible reforms and new systems of public safety, we are more interested in those “other” terms of the settlement. Here on Gadfly we’ve been trying to open our minds to all good ideas and the pros and cons about them.

What do you think of these reforms negotiated as part of the Taylor settlement?

“These are all the police reforms included in the Breonna Taylor civil suit settlement.” WLKY TV, September 15, 2020.

Community related

  • a housing credit program to encourage officers to live within the community
  • adding social workers
  • encouraging volunteering with community organizations while on duty

Search warrants

  • new request procedures
  • require EMS presence for forced entry warrants


  • new procedures when money is seized
  • an early warning system to flag officers with disciplinary problems
  • random drug testing
  • new policy on records in an officer’s personnel file
  • new policy on cases where officer leaves the department before a personnel investigation is complete

Another episode: officials call for stronger social services to help avoid deadly confrontations with police

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

selections from “Video: Officer running away while shooting man with knife in Lancaster.” Associated Press, September 14, 2020.

A police officer fatally shot a man with a knife in Lancaster after his sister said she called police to get him involuntarily committed, leading to street protests and vandalism in what the city’s mayor called a “heartbreaking day.”

Police posted the officer’s body camera video on social media, showing the man chasing the officer down a sidewalk with a knife before he was fatally shot.

Police eventually used tear gas early Monday to disperse hundreds of protesters who took to the streets of the diverse city of 59,000 people in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country following the shooting death of Ricardo Munoz on Sunday afternoon.

Munoz, 27, was mentally ill — diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — and hadn’t been taking his medications, his sister told Lancaster Online.

Rulennis Munoz, 33, said she had called a crisis intervention organization and a police non-emergency number to get her brother involuntarily committed.

“He had an episode. He was just incoherent and acting out,” she said. “I called to find out what the procedure was to get him some help.”

Authorities did not immediately explain why an officer was dispatched, although Munoz was facing four counts of aggravated assault after he was accused last year of stabbing four people, including a 16-year-old boy in the face, following a fight.

The body camera video posted by police late Sunday showed the officer fire several shots while running away from Munoz, who then falls to the ground.

Protesters gathered outside the police station and, in video posted to social media, they chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “No justice, no peace” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

It was unclear how motivated protesters were by racism, as they have been in other cities where deaths at the hands of police have stoked protest. Court papers list Munoz’s race as white.

The officer who shot Munoz was placed on administrative leave, the mayor’s office said in a statement, calling it “a heartbreaking day for our city.”

“I grieve for the loss of life and know that there are more questions to be answered as the investigation continues,” Mayor Danene Sorace said in the statement.

City officials called for calm and stronger social services to help avoid deadly confrontations with police.

The city council president, Ismail Smith-Wade-El, said that more long-term investments must be made in crucial human services, such as mental health care support for adults, housing, crisis intervention and social workers.

“I cannot help but wonder, if Mr. Munoz got all the care he needed years ago, could we possibly be in a different place, could his family and could that officer all be in a different place,” Smith-Wade-El said in a news conference Monday.

Lawmakers should make it easier for body cam footage to be seen (and some thoughts on a new Chief of Police)

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

One hopes this issue is on the agenda when we discuss possible improvements in the way we do public safety. Perhaps a resolution to the state legislature?

And Gadfly’s been thinking about how Chief DiLuzio’s retirement might affect such discussions about the way we do public safety. Gadfly the Whiner has been looking for quicker action. Will the fact now of an interim chief further delay such discussions? Will some voices want to delay till a new Chief is hired, perhaps making his or her views on changes part of the interview process? Hmmm, let’s think further about a new Chief — hire from inside or outside? Is interim Chief Meixell a “natural” choice for the permanent position, or will we want to go outside the department? And then there’s Capt (“Dr.”) Michelle Kott — female and now leading the professional standards division in the department, certainly an area on which attention needs to be focused these days. Interesting time ahead!

selections from Paul Muschick, “Daniel Prude’s death illustrates why police videos should be public.” Morning Call, September 12, 2020.

The moments that led to the death of Daniel Prude remained a mystery for six months. He died after struggling with police in Rochester.

It turns out, Prude was held to the pavement with a hood over his head. That was revealed this week only after officer body camera video was released.

His final moments may have remained a mystery forever, if he had died after struggling with police in Pennsylvania.

That’s because it’s much more difficult to obtain body cam footage here.

Unlike in New York state, body cam and other police videos are not subject to Pennsylvania’s public records law, the Right-to-Know Law.

Our lawmakers should make it easier for these recordings to be seen by the public.

The release of audio and video recordings are governed by a 2017 law that authorized police to wear body cameras. That law allows police and other law enforcement agencies to withhold recordings for many reasons.

Agencies can deny a request if a recording contains potential evidence in a criminal matter; information pertaining to an investigation; or confidential or victim information, and if “reasonable redaction” wouldn’t remove that information.

Those are broad categories, which makes it rare for footage to be released.

It’s not even easy to ask for a video.

You can’t request one via email, letter or fax. The law requires requests to be made only by “personal delivery” or certified mail. If a video was recorded inside a residence, the request must identify everyone who was present, unless their identities are unknown and aren’t “reasonably ascertainable.”

And you don’t have much time to ask — only 60 days from when the recording occurred.

There is an appeal process if a police department refuses to release a video. But there’s a financial hurdle to take that road. It costs $125 to file an appeal with the county court.

Legislation is pending that could make it easier to obtain police videos in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it has not been considered since it was introduced nearly a year ago.

House Bill 1903 by Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny, would make videos not recorded by body cameras, such as dashboard cameras, subject to the Right-to-Know Law.

Regarding body cam videos, the bill would give people 180 days to request them, and allow requests to be made by regular mail, email and fax. It would change the appeal process, giving jurisdiction to the state Office of Open Records instead of county court.

That’s important, because it removes the matter from the criminal justice system.

Miller said in a legislative memo that allowing body cameras was a positive step toward protecting police and citizens, but the “lack of transparency” undercuts the law’s benefits.

It does. It’s time for Pennsylvania to change that.

Rochester police chief: “I understand that there are certain calls that law enforcement shouldn’t handle alone, and we are looking at ways to reimagine policing surrounding mental health”

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

ref: “According to the police Union, officers following their training in the Rochester case”

No sooner did Gadfly post on the Rochester case involving Daniel Proude yesterday than we see the police department apologize for its actions and initiate, on its own, a reform that we might call “defunding,” a reform that they had already been thinking about. Gadfly notes such action with interest as he gathers as much information as he can about police reform as he prepares for discussions we hope to have locally. (Note the interesting strategy to attempt to control violence at protests.)

selections from Doha Madani and Dennis Romero, “Rochester officials announce police reforms after death of Daniel Prude.” NBC News, September 6, 2020.

The city of Rochester, New York, is moving crisis intervention out of the police department amid outrage and protests over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man with mental health issues who died after officers placed a spit hood over his head and restrained him.

Mayor Lovely Warren announced that the crisis invention department and its budget would be moved to the city’s Department of Youth and Recreation Services during a news conference Sunday. Protests following the release of video of the incident involving Prude in March have continued for days.

“We had a human being in a need of help, in need of compassion. In that moment, we had an opportunity to protect him, to keep him warm, to bring him to safety, to begin the process of healing him and lifting him up,” Warren said. “We have to own the fact that in the moment we did not do that.”

Police Chief La’Ron Singletary told reporters that he recognized the need for reform in his department and that he was working with experts and clinicians to get outpatient services for those who struggle with mental health and are in repeated contact with police.

“I understand that there are certain calls that law enforcement shouldn’t handle alone, and we are looking at ways to reimagine policing surrounding mental health and have been for the last several months,” Singletary said.

Look at this interesting idea

Authorities have established a plan to bus in “elders” from around the city to stand between protesters and police for Sunday night’s demonstrations. The idea came from the Rev. Myra Brown of Spiritus Christi Church.

Brown said Sunday that it is unclear when the protests will end and that it is imperative to ensure the safety of young people who are marching.

“We elders have volunteered to put our bodies on the line to make sure that that happens,” Brown said. “Because this community needs to unrestrictedly be able to walk these streets, be able to make the demands that they want to make and to be able to go home without pepper spray or pepper balls in their eyes.”

CBS “Portraits in Black” series playing right now Sunday afternoon 1-6 — that’s right now!

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

Gadfly just happened on to this series CBS “Portraits in Black” series playing as he writes. There is still time to catch more. The 4-6PM hours look especially pertinent to thinking that we should be doing locally.

Gadfly has been whining about what seems to him slow motion in the City about conversations about police/community relations and possible changes in the way we do public safety. George Floyd died May 25. Since then we have had the Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake, and now Daniel Proude incidents. Recently we have our Police Chief mess. Sports teams have weighed in dramatically. Businesses have weighed in. Protests abound.

We have had one meeting: August 11. And no plan for another.

For Gadfly, the bar is getting higher and higher for us to show that we are doing something. Not only show, do.

The best he could get from the last Council meeting was something about Prof Holona Ochs reporting on her study in the fall. No date set for further discussion.

Gadfly senses no urgency.

Unlike the rest of the country.

And now here’s a major network devoting a holiday Sunday afternoon to getting us to think about racism in America.

See CBS, “Portraits in Black”:

On Sunday of this Labor Day weekend, CBS is devoting five hours of programming to “Portraits In Black” from 1-6 p.m. Eastern, continuing the conversation on racism in sports and society. Hosted by James Brown, there will be stories on Black athletes’ courage in the face of racism and injustice and two hours devoted to furthering dialogue on current events.

“Given what we’re going through in society right now, how divided our country is right now and how divisive the rhetoric is in the public square,” Brown said. “I’m just hoping that this will enable us to come together and that we’re able to sit down at a table, figuratively and literally, and have a conversation where we’re all listening and paying attention. To look our better selves to try to resolve what has been a persistent and unresolved problem in our country.”

The early programming will be about how sporting and societal accomplishments were achieved in the context of difficulties and challenges Black participants had to overcome.

At 4 Eastern, the programming pivots to the present day with a discussion on systemic racism, what it means to be Black in America today, and the progress that still needs to be made. Guests include Grant Hill, Lisa Leslie, Nate Burleson, Brandon Marshall, Swin Cash, Ian Eagle, Tracy Wolfson, Amanda Balionis, and Amy Trask.

The final hour is hosted by Brown, Michelle Miller, and Charles Davis, and not only looks at the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of athletes and coaches, but also includes a powerful interview Brown conducted with Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor. Brown said he couldn’t imagine the pain Palmer feels after losing her child, but he still vividly recalls her talking about how she doesn’t believe in destructiveness, looting or anarchy.

“She wants justice for her daughter, but she wants everything to be done the right way,” Brown said. “It was almost a mantra from the Civil Rights era, where Dr. King was the face of the Civil Rights movement, but advocated non-violence because the overarching aim was love. We can have legislation that may modify behavior, but it doesn’t necessarily change the heart. The heart is what needs to be changed, and we have to care for one another. It’s only when you have a relationship with somebody and see they’re just like you and we’re all to be in this supporting one another. Love is what undergirds significant change. And we’ve gotta embrace it that way.”

The final hour also includes a conversation between Milwaukee Bucks teammates George Hill and Kyle Korver about allyship, Black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace discussing diversity in racing, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich talking about specifically hiring diverse assistants, and Stanford football coach David Shaw discussing continuing the conversation.

“This is not a dainty conversation. It’s not a delicate conversation,” Brown said. “This is a real conversation that’s going to involve pain and hurt, and we need to display patience and understanding of what it is so we know how to go about resolving it.”

What we’re going through as a country and as a society right now is far from new, Brown said, and he hopes that CBS is looking at itself in the mirror and seeing that he and the company are making sure they stay meaningfully involved in the conversation and play a role in moving the social needle forward as it relates to equality.

“It’s not just a societal problem that affects things in business or government or academia. It runs the entire spectrum, and we’re showing it through the lens of sports,” Brown said. “The issue will not be resolved unless it is all of us involved. And I pray that’s the message that comes through on Sunday. I hope I’m playing a meaningful role to be a part of this, to see that I’m not sitting back on the sideline and watching, that I’m actively involved.”

Hold off on the barbecue!

According to the police Union, officers following their training in the Rochester case

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

Gadfly continues his self-inflicted tutorial in police/community relations, taking you along with him. Trying to wrap his mind around all aspects of the subject before us.

Daniel Prude, a Black man, died March 30 in Rochester, NY, after an encounter with police March 23. Prude had mental health episodes traveling by train to Rochester. He had an episode in Rochester March 22. On March 23 he left his brother’s house suffering another episode. His brother, seeking help, called the police, identifying his brother’s problem as a mental health episode. Police located the naked Prude in the middle of a street, handcuffed him, and in attempting to control him, applied a “spit hood.” Officers held his face down on the street. Eventually he was given CPR and taken to the hospital, where he died a week later. The case blew up just a few days ago when video was released. Gadfly feels the best version of the footage is below in the Democrat & Chronicle article. The seven officers involved have just been suspended, and a Grand Jury has been empaneled. The police union says the officers followed their training.

Now ponder this. This was clearly a mental health call. The officers are responding to a mental health call. It was identified as such by the caller. And the officers do not seem at first look by this viewer of the video to engage in any of the obviously bad behavior that we see in the Floyd, Brooks, and Blake incidents. The “spit hood” certainly looks bad, very bad. It evokes lynching images immediately. But it may well be true that the officers were following their training. And that the training failed. Gadfly heard CNN Talking Head Charles Ramsay (chief of police in Philadelphia, Washington, and another big city, I believe) say that he did not particularly see any egregious violation of training in the video. So, you might be naturally led to wonder if training is at fault here. And also you might naturally wonder — given calls to defund the police and divert funds to mental health response teams — if the outcome would have been different if the Prude call were answered by a joint police/mental health team or by a mental health team by itself. For now The City of Rochester’s response was not to defund the police but to add funding to mental health agencies.

Gadfly likes the complete and thorough walk-through of the events and the clean video in this Democrat & Chronicle article:

selections from Steve Orr, “How Daniel Prude suffocated as Rochester police restrained him.” Democrat & Chronicle, September 2, 2020.

A Black man died of asphyxiation earlier this year after Rochester police officers trying to take him into protective custody pinned him to the ground while restraining him. The curtain was lifted on the death of41-year-old Daniel T. Prude at a late-morning news conference Wednesday at which Prude’s family and local activists called his death a murder and demanded that the officers involved be fired and charged in his homicide. “We are in need of accountability for the wrongful death and murder of Daniel Prude. He was treated inhumanely and without dignity,” said Ashley Gantt, a community organizer from Free the People Roc and the New York Civil Liberties Union. “These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community.”

The case also brought calls from activists for changes to policing, including an end to the practice of having police officers respond to mental health calls. “The Rochester Police Department has shown time and again that they are not trained to deal with mental health crises,” Gantt said. “These officers are trained to kill and not to de-escalate. Daniel’s case is the epitome of what is wrong with this system and today we stand firmly seeking justice for Daniel and his family, and for all the victims who have been murdered and terrorized by the Rochester Police Department.” Unlike that and some other recent police-death videos, the one compiled about the Prude case is not a graphic depiction of officers shooting or beating a suspect. Rather, it depicts at least three officers holding Prude prone and forcing his head and chest into the pavement for several minutes until, apparently unnoticed by the officers, he stops breathing.

The events are indicative of how the rules of engagement that police use can result in harm to a suspect or a person in the throes of a mental-health episode.

selections from “Rochester Officers in Daniel Prude arrest followed training, police union president says,” CBS News, September 4, 2020.

The officers involved in the suffocation death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York, were following their training when they put a “spit hood” over his head and pinned him to the ground before noticing that he was no longer breathing, according to the president of the police officers’ union.

[The officers were following their training], “raising serious questions about whether police are best equipped to deal with people suffering from mental illness.”

Prude’s family believes that he was suffering from a mental health crisis.

People with untreated mental illness are 16 x more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached by law enforcement.

“There needs to be an engaged mental health team that goes out for mental health calls.”

The officers were following their training.

“I absolutely believe that we need more help. . . . I don’t have all the answers, I didn’t think anybody does.”

The city has committed more money to mental health partnerships and law enforcement. . . . the first steps toward addressing a long-neglected issue.

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, listening to those seven shots. The news cycle speeds on. We rarely hear George Floyd’s name any more. We’ll forget Blake’s. But I think I will always remember that there were seven shots. Seven.

Allentown officer: “Go back to where the f— you came from”

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

“The Allentown Police Department and the city of Allentown . . . have institutionalized
a policy to cover-up police wrongdoing, or at the very least turn a blind
eye toward the wrongdoing.”

Thinking (hoping) that we will be having some in-depth discussion at some point in the not too distant future, the Gadfly blog has been almost totally devoted to police matters lately. Gadfly posted on this Allentown case a few days ago. Now he calls attention to the language in this suit that shows the allegation of a connection between a “bad apple” and what might be called a systemic problem in the wider department. Allentown is considering some sort of citizen review of discipline cases. Gadfly’s not totally conversant with the pros and cons of such bodies and is not promoting the idea, but he does think such a practice should be among the many ideas on the table.

 from Peter Hall, “Allentown police covered up assault of man later acquitted of resisting officers, lawsuit alleges.” Morning Call, September 4, 2020.

A federal lawsuit against Allentown police alleges the department has a practice of covering up misconduct that shielded officers involved in the 2018 beating of a man who was later acquitted of resisting arrest. The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court on behalf of John Perez, alleges Allentown police internal affairs officers conducted a sham investigation after four officers violently arrested Perez, despite a viral video that helped Perez beat charges of resisting arrest in a February trial in Lehigh County Court.

Perez’s criminal case drew attention in February when then-Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos delivered blistering criticism from the bench of police and prosecutors for bringing the case, telling officers who smirked while on the witness stand and high-fived in the hallway outside her courtroom they had nothing to be proud of. The suit alleges that defects in Allentown’s policies on investigating excessive force complaints and lack of discipline for officers who are the subjects of complaints are proof of deliberate indifference of residents’ rights. “In effect, the Allentown Police Department and the city of Allentown . . . have institutionalized a policy to cover-up police wrongdoing, or at the very least turn a blind eye toward the wrongdoing, sending a message  . . . that constitutional violations will not only go unpunished but will be tolerated, if not encouraged by the city and the police administration,” the suit says.

The suit claims evidence of the city’s indifference to residents’ rights is the lack of any reform after a federal jury last year awarded $270,000 to an Allentown woman who claimed police used excessive force when they arrested her in 2016 for refusing to allow officers to search her home without a warrant. Further supporting that claim is the lack of discipline, with one exception, for officers who have been the subject of complaints and civil rights lawsuits. Officer Jose Lebron, who is a defendant, was previously accused of using excessive force in a 2014 lawsuit that settled for $25,000. Attorney Robert Goldman, who defended Perez in his criminal case and represents him in the civil lawsuit, called the suit a blueprint for city officials to discover what’s inherently wrong in the department and what reforms are needed. “Ignoring the problems will certainly result in future constitutional violations by officers and more lawsuits by those aggrieved,” Goldman said. Since 2015, the city has paid nearly $1.7 million to settle excessive force lawsuits against the police department.

Lebron told Perez to mind his own business and, “Get the f— out of here. Go back to where the f— you came from,” in an apparent reference to Perez’s Dominican heritage, although he is a U.S. citizen. Perez did not respond physically, but continued challenging Lebron’s use of foul language. Lebron responded with “explosive force” pushing Perez to the ground and punching him when Perez regained his footing. Three other officers joined the assault, with officer Neil Battoni striking Perez at least five times in the face. Officers Christopher Matthews and Jonathan Smith restrained Perez, preventing him from shielding himself from the blows, the suit alleges. At least five other officers at the scene had an opportunity to intervene but failed to do so. Some, the suit alleges, were complicit in using flashlights to prevent residents from taking videos. The suit alleges the officers prepared false police reports and a false affidavit supporting charges against Perez, not knowing that there was video of the arrest.

The suit claims the department’s official policies function to under-report and exclude complaints of excessive force from police records. The department’s general order regarding investigations of complaints leaves to the investigator’s discretion whether to interview those complaining, according to the lawsuit. This leaves “abusive officers free to unabashedly manufacture any details which exonerate them, without fear of contradiction,” the suit alleges.

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, listening to those seven shots. Recent events in the Bethlehem police department suggest that we need to keep our eye on the ball.

Councilwoman Negron: “It is no longer time to be asking for a seat at the table”

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

Text of Councilwoman Olga Negron’s speech at the 57th Anniversary of the March on Washington, August 28, on Payrow Plaza organized by Esther Lee and the NAACP.

Good afternoon,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I’m Councilwoman Olga Negron, and I am the first elected woman of color to Bethlehem City Council, and still today in 2020, I am the only woman of color on Council. I am proud of this accomplishment, but it’s appalling that there is just me here. It’s time for us to stand up, to speak out, to be part of history. I implore you, dear brothers and sisters of color, to think about the different ways you can be part of the leadership of our local government. Systemic racism is encrypted in our everyday lives, and we will continue to call it by its name and push for change, but we must stand up and do our part.

It is no longer time to ask for permission; it is no longer time to be asking for a seat at the table. As my favorite congressman, John Lewis, used to say: “When we see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, we have a MORAL OBLIGATION to say something, to do something, to speak up, to speak out and get in GOOD TROUBLE, get in the way, to lead the way!” We have been waiting long enough, and it is no longer time to be patient. It is time for action, real action.

I will continue to fight the good fight, but I can’t do this alone. I need all of you. I need to you to be engaged, I need you to be part of what’s going on in your city. We need your voices to be heard. As loud as my voice is, my voice alone is just not enough — I need yours too. Behind these walls of city hall, decisions are being made every day that affect our communities. Zoning laws, Planning laws, and policing policies should be designed to benefit all of us and not just special interests, and we need to make sure that we are involved in the decision-making process every step of the way.

Your voice needs to be part of the process. You can serve on authorities, boards, and commissions that make decisions that directly affect people of color. If you look at our city’s boards and commissions, they don’t look like us, and this is something I have been pushing this administration to improve on during my time on council. But I need your help. You need to be part of this process in order for your voices to be heard.

I have a dream that our local government will reflect the ethnic and racial composition of our communities. Please, join me, reach out to me, send me an email, I’ll help you out in any way I can. It’s time for people of color to start running for office and getting elected to city council, county council, mayors. It’s time for us to be part of the future of our cites; it is time for us to be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character!

Olga Negron

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, listening to those seven shots.

“Hard times come again no more”

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

Please listen to
“Hard times come again no more”
Arlo Guthrie and Jim Wilson
featuring Vanessa Bryan

Arlo 1

We’re not so different

We all have suffered, have had hard times

We have  all worked our way up or are trying

We’re all in this together

Arlo 2


Tip o’ the hat to Tim Gallagher, who is not too young to feel Arlo Guthrie the way his parents did.

The Kenosha alarm clock

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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, listening to those seven shots. Atty General Barr says Blake was “armed.” Joe Biden in Kenosha today.

Gadfly finishes the interrogation

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Finishing up his interrogation of Individual-1’s essay, Gadfly leaves you with these last few comments.

“Get the facts: Systemic racism is a lie”

7) Never experienced an act of racism in 30 years of law enforcement work: I think Inidividual-1 is confusing personal racism with systemic racism. (see 10 also)

9) I’m not a racist, I have Black friends: nobody said you were a racist. Claiming this is usually thought of as a “tell.”

14) Regarding Chauvin/Floyd, the hold is commonplace and an officer in a struggle for his life will use whatever means necessary: Office Chauvin was not in a struggle for his life.

31) The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’:  Remember Peter C’s comment: “What is the problem if someone is a ‘Marxist’ or ‘socialist’? How is that worse than being a self-proclaimed ‘Christian’ who shoots protesters? Or an ardent capitalist who screws employees and/or customers to enrich themself? Or a ‘law enforcement officer’ who breaks the law (and their oath) by targeting, harassing, or harming minority person or people exercising their Constitutional rights?”

31) The BLM leader who said if demands aren’t met, they’ll burn the system down: That was bad. That’s a member of the New York chapter. BLM works on a fluid, decentralized basis. This kind of thing is not condoned by headquarters. No one will suggest that individuals will not sometimes perform badly.

32) One of the BLM founders, Patrisse Cullors, was “inspired” and led by her “hero” Assata Shakur [a bad person, fugitive from justice]: Cullors was a teen when she watched police handcuff and haul her mentally ill older brother to prison where, later, she learned they kept water from him and tied him up, drugging him until he was incapacitated, beating and choking him until he passed out. She read and found comfort in Shakur’s autobiography. The Shakur line used at the end of BLM rallies came not from direct  contact but Cullors heard it from a friend. It is not clear there is much or any direct contact between Cullors and Shakur.

32) BLM is connected to Susan Rosenberg, a convicted terrorist sentenced in the 1980’s: Rosenberg renounced her terror work 30 years ago, and now she is an officer in the Global division of BLM. It is not clear that she has or had any contact with the BLM co-founders.

33) That Blacks are in fear of harm almost all the time is a false narrative: what about the evidence of the “Talk” videos collected here on Gadfly? Why would a Black artist create the “Target Practice” video?

BLM’s Founding Mothers

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

BLM co-founders

Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi


In March 2020 Cullors, Garza, and Tometi were honored as part of Time’s “100 Women of the Year” project and received their own Time cover.

In the company of the Suffragists, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, Diana Princess of Wales, Toni Morrison, Oprah, Nancy Pelosi . . .

Gadfly could find no substantiation to Individual-1’s claim.

Outrageous, really.

Politifact fact-checks claims about BLM (2)

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

“Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.”

selected clips

Sympathizers of Black Lives Matter have warned the movement to do more to discourage violence at its protests. But Black Lives Matter does not fit the federal definition of a terrorist organization, nor does it appear as a terrorist group in an extensive database that tracks terrorism attacks globally.

“Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization nor a terrorist movement, and no responsible source would describe it as such,” David Sterman, an international security senior policy analyst at  the New America think tank, told PolitiFact.

Black Lives Matter, a domestic group, has not been designated as a terrorist organization on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

When reviewing potential targets for designation, the department “looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and intent to carry out such acts.”

“None of those criteria are descriptive of Black Lives Matter,” Sterman said.

National security experts have told PolitiFact there is no legal process for designating domestic groups as terrorist organizations.

Black Lives Matter is mentioned in four incidents in the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which includes 200,000 terrorist attacks dating back to 1970, but the group is not listed as a perpetrator group in any incidents in the database.

The fact-checking organization Snopes reported in July on a claim that a “convicted terrorist” has served as a leader of an organization that provides fundraising and fiscal sponsorship for the Black Lives Matter Global Movement. . . . “That’s not to suggest that no one associated with BLM — or any particular movement — never engages in some criminal behavior,” Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism and former deputy legal advisor, both at the National Security Council, told PolitiFact. “But the relevant question is whether the organization itself engages in the type of activity laid out by statute. And, on that, there’s been no evidence provided to indicate as much.”

“Not only are Black Lives Matter activists not terrorists, but fundamentally what we are trying to do is point out the failings in the basic premise of the founding of this country, that there would be liberty and justice for all. We are pulling back the curtains on really despicable deeds.”

Black Lives Matter advocates against state-sanctioned violence against Black people. “We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another,” it says in its online statement of beliefs.

A widely shared Facebook post claimed: “Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.”

We didn’t find any evidence of this. Black Lives Matter advocates against police-sanctioned violence against Black people. It does not fit the federal definition of a terrorist organization, nor does it appear as a terrorist group in an extensive database of terrorist attacks.

We rate the statement False.

No, Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist organization

PolitiFact fact-checks claims about BLM (1)

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“The founders of BLM are self-described ‘trained Marxists’ who have called for outrageous demands to be met or else.”

Is Black Lives Matter a Marxist movement?

selected clips

In a recently surfaced 2015 interview, one of the three Black Lives Matter co-founders declared that she and another co-founder “are trained Marxists.”

But the movement has grown and broadened dramatically. Many Americans, few of whom would identify as Marxists, support Black Lives Matter, drawn to its message of anti-racism.

“Regardless of whatever the professed politics of people may be who are prominent in the movement, they don’t represent its breadth,” said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Princeton University African American Studies professor and author of “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.”

“There are definitely socialists within the movement, as there have been in every single social movement in 20th century American history and today. But that does not make those socialist movements, it makes them mass movements,” she said.

It’s important to recognize that movements evolve.

Noting Cullors’ declaration of being Marxist trained, “one has to take that seriously: if the leadership says it is Marxist, then there’s a good chance they are,” said Russell Berman, a professor at Stanford University and a senior fellow at its conservative Hoover Institution who has written critically about Marxism.

But “this does not mean every supporter is Marxist — Marxists often have used ‘useful idiots.’ And a Marxist movement can be more or less radical, at different points in time,” he said.

Black Lives Matter’s “emphatic support for gender identity politics sets it apart from historical Marxism,” and the goals listed on its website “do not appear to be expressly anti-capitalist, which would arguably be a Marxist identifier,” Berman added.

The group’s support is broad.

Meanwhile, 50% of registered voters support Black Lives Matter as of mid-July, up from 37% in April 2017, according to Civiqs, an online survey research firm.

In July, the New York Times reported that Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in U.S. history, as four polls suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of Floyd and others in recent weeks. (That does not account for similar protests overseas.)

“I am fairly convinced these are mostly attempts to smear anti-racist activists. I think in some media, ‘Marxist’ is dog-whistle for something horrible, like ‘Nazi’, and thus enables to delegitimize/dehumanize them,” Miriyam Aouragh, a lecturer at the London-based Westminster School of Media and Communication, told PolitiFact.

Black Lives Matter “is not an organization, but a fluid movement; it doesn’t actually matter if one of its founders was a liberal, Marxist, socialist or capitalist.”

Nosing around in the BLM web site

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Black Lives Matter

Visit the Black Lives Matter web site.

Gadfly comes to the BLM web site with the strenuous negativity of Individual-1 as his immediate point of reference. Refresh yourself on that negativity here, recognizing that those clips are truncated and do not represent all such points that were in Individual-1’s essay.

Before first going to the web site, Gadfly read a BLM critic who said you will be immediately greeted by an image that shows BLM espousing “revolution.” Thus Gadfly was surprised to be greeted by the operative words “transform” and “transformation.” Not revolution.

Look at the August 25 press release on the death of Jacob Blake. Anything objectionable?


Gadfly sees honor the dead, hold those responsible accountable, press for legislation.

Look at the July 18 press release on the deaths of John Lewis and and Rev. C.T. Vivian.


Gadfly sees no Marxist models here.

Look at what BLM is “demanding”: defunding the police.  please play  short video

“Defund.” Poor choice of word, but I guess we’re stuck with it. Gadfly has written several times earlier that defunding the police may not be your cup o’tea, but it is not a hare-brained idea. And he has surveyed several model programs for you. Why defund? The video says because we tried reforms of the system and we’ve tried new ways of training, and the problem has not gone away. Reasonable. It’s a solution to a problem they see. Some, perhaps many, don’t see a problem that needs to be solved and hence do not understand defunding.

 Look at What We Believe, the BLM creed.

Begins with “We acknowledge, respect, and celebrate differences and commonalities.”

Ends with “We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

In between find such tenets as

We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.

We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead.

We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.

We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.

We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

BLM believes in changing racial and sexual roles. Join the club, Gadfly might say.

Of the 15 tenets, the one that critics consistently point to as an indication of BLM’s revolutionary Marxism is

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

Look at BLM’s political agenda: #WhatMatters2020. Please see the short video here.


Far from destructively revolutionary, BLM works within the system and encourages voting.


What are you seeing on the BLM web site?