Tuesday, July 20, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle propaganda article on Oscar Grant case

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle there was an article on the front page of the local news section about some protests regarding the Oscar Grant killing. The protesters who claim Oscar Grant was murdered were claiming to be imitating Grant's position when he was shot, lying face down with their hands behind their backs. The reporter, Demian Bulwa, accepted that this was in fact how Grant was positioned, stating in the article:
they lay in the street mimicking Grant's position when he was shot - prone with his hands behind his back.

And one of the two featured photos was captioned:
Counterprotesters lie in the street with their hands behind their backs to illustrate the unarmed Grant's position when Mehserle shot him.

The problem with this is that the BART officer, Mehserle, testified Grant did not have both hands available to be handcuffed and that is why he decided to Tase Grant:
But when attempting to arrest Grant, the former officer testified that it turned into a brief struggle for the man’s hands.

“His hands were underneath him,” he said. “I wasn’t paying attention to his left hand, I was trying to get his right hand.”

Mehserle said he saw Grant’s right hand reach into his pocket.

“It made me question what his intentions were…I knew the right front pocket was a place where people kept–,” Mehserle then paused.


It was at this point the former officer said he decided to Tase Grant.

The attorney prosecuting the case (who wanted Mehserle charged with murder), Stein, also says that Grant didn't have his hand available to be handcuffed and explained why in this San Francisco Chronicle article (by the same reporter Demian Bulwa):
Stein said that before Mehserle fired his single shot, the prone Grant had tried to get his right hand behind his back to be handcuffed. However, the prosecutor said, officers had pinned him against the outstretched left leg of a friend, Carlos Reyes, who was also detained.

He referred to the TV screens, where footage of the shooting showed Reyes' leg moving a split second before the gunshot, and Grant's right arm coming back at about the same time.

The San Francisco Chronicle is treating as fact something that seems clearly false to me. It is inserting this propaganda in what is presented as a straight news story. Clearly, the judge, having heard the evidence, believed that the decision to Tase was appropriate under the circumstances when he ruled out murder as an option for the jury. And clearly the jury believed that the decision to Tase was appropriate under the circumstances when they convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Here is the court's compilation of the eyewitness videos from cell phones. You can see from various vantage points and it is clear Grant was resisting being handcuffed.

I wonder if the attorney for the civil suit by Grant's family, Burris, is behind the attempts to create the belief that Grant was not resisting arrest. But why is the San Francisco Chronicle playing along?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

California: July Field Poll Wrong on Arizona Law

The new July Field Poll of California registered voters shows that the majority support the new Arizona law on illegal immigration -- even though the Field Poll question misstates the law. The Field Poll results were that 49% support the law and 44% oppose. Here is how the Field Poll phrased the question:
The state of Arizona recently passed a new law that gives police the right to question anyone who they think may be in the country illegally and ask them to produce documents to verify their legal status. Do you approve or disapprove of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law? Do you feel this way strongly or somewhat?

In fact, the law says police may only investigate immigration status incident to a "lawful stop, detention, or arrest". The police are also not allowed to stop someone based on suspicion about their immigration status. And even after a lawful stop, detention, or arrest" the police may not question someone about immigration status simply based on their race or national origin.

So, I think the Field Poll was asking a false and biased question. But still they found the majority support the law.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are they Muslim Terrorists motivated by politics or Islamic Terrorists?

Over at the Washington Post at On Religion, there are some posts on whether we should use the phrase Islamic Terrorist. John Esposito has argued that they may be Muslim terrorists, but it is wrong to call them Islamic. He argues that they are really motivated by politics and not religion. So, I'm posting the Times Square Bomber's video where he explains his motivation.

I think Ronald Rychlak got it right:
I don't know how we are going to resolve issues that surround our very different world views, but I am quite certain that restricting what we say - whether that means barring topics from textbooks or rejecting the use of terms like 'Islamic terrorist' and 'jihad' - is not a good start. Let's first be honest in our language and our discussions. That will be hard, but it is the surest way to the truth. If we get to the truth, let's hope that we can also find peace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oakland: charge white outside agitators instigating riot

Like many in the Bay Area, I was worried about a possible riot in Oakland when the verdict came out in the trial of the Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who killed the young African-American Oscar Grant. There had been riots the previous year over this case, and as Zombie documented, some communists and anarchists were seeking to use the verdict to promote a riot.

Well, the verdict came out last Thursday night and we only had a mini-riot. And the really good news is the police caught the white communists and anarchists who were trying to instigate rioting. These were young white people from outside of Oakland who were coming into Oakland to incite the local African-American youths to violence. Matier and Ross are reporting today:

Throw the book: Oakland City Attorney John Russo says he's exploring suing some of the dozens of "outside agitators" who came looking for trouble in downtown Oakland after Thursday's verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial.

"I want to throw the book at them, and see if we can hold them civilly liable for some of the city's cost," Russo said Friday.

He says he'll talk about the idea first with District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, who must decide whether to file criminal charges against the 78 people arrested Thursday night.

At the very least, Russo said he'd like to get a stay-away order to keep some of the troublemakers from returning to the city.

"People have the complete right to protest," he said. "But that is different than using the tragedy to act out your own personal psychodrama.

"I wouldn't even dignify these clowns with the name 'anarchists,' because that would suggest they actually had a philosophy," Russo said.

"I just can't follow how a bunch of young white people come into a city that is two-thirds people of color and start trashing it because they are supposedly mad about racism," he said. "Why don't they wear swastikas and be skinheads?"

Some of these whites had even painted their faces black:

One group tore through the metal gate protecting a Footlocker shoe store on Broadway near 14th Street, shattered a window and emptied the shelves. Soon there were shoe boxes on the street.

Afterward, the group moved across the street and smashed a window at the Far East National Bank building and rampaged inside. Graffiti was sprayed on the bank wall reading "Riot for Oscar." Up and down Broadway within the police lines, skirmishes broke out between officers and small groups of protesters, some wearing black face paint.

Rioters ran down the street with officers in pursuit, and some were tackled as other protesters tossed debris at the police. The BART stations at 12th and 19th streets were closed down at times to avoid problems, and at one point officers used smoke bombs to disperse crowds.

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the people causing trouble did not seem to be Oakland residents bent on voicing displeasure at the Mehserle verdict. He described them as outsiders "who are almost professional people who go into crowds like this and cause problems."