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See you at the next funeral


Image result for casket

Ain’t no drama, like family drama, cause family drama, don’t stop!

Color me hopeful.

My father died when I was six years old and my brother is nearly a generation older and didn’t appreciate my existence. There was one man in the family who took me under his wing, my Uncle. He would take me fishing and camping and include me in his family events.

This was nine billion years ago when fake wood Station Wagons roamed the earth. It was back in the day, when department stores had a husky department for chubbinel or fat boys. My uncle had a bushel of kids all near my age. They were like my sisters and brothers. I would take the bus, some 17 miles away to his home, a place I felt welcome. My cousins and I would dance to the latest 45’s records on their Sears Silvertone Stereo.

Image result for sears silvertone stereo cabinet

He was the most important male in my life. I wanted to be like him, have a house full of loving children. I think my love for station wagons and minivans today is due to my admiration of this man . As I grew older, cracks appears in the relationship with my uncle.

Whisper’s from family members hundreds of miles away. He would interview me about the cost of my clothes and this news made its way to the Pacific Northwest. I learned that I was spoiled,took advantage of my mother. At thirteen, I was larger and taller than my uncle. When I was 18, he did something unthinkable to my side of the family. When I challenged him, he hit me in the chest. (my body didn’t move) I didn’t hit him, but I think this scared him.

From this moment forward, I became a pariah.

All contract between me and my grown cousins ended. It was like a death. Then the rumors began…….. My uncle created a number of false stories about my life. It didn’t matter he didn’t know I where I lived or what was actually happening in my life.

From that point forward, my cousins and I only saw each others at funerals. At the meetings, I always felt a spark of days gone by at the sad events, leaving me hopeful . But it wasn’t meant to be.

Days, years, decades. Marriages, Divorces, Children, Grand Children.and of course Death. None of our parents are alive.

Last summer, I learned about the death of one my cousins. The last time we’ve seen each other was at the funeral of her mother. I called her older sister to get the date and time of the funeral. She said, she didn’t know. Other relatives from out of state asked if I had information, because they wanted to attend. After a couple of un-returned calls, I Googled her name.

I learned the services was being held at Funeral home less than three miles from where I live. We actually lived an hour from each other. The downside, the services was taking place the very next day. I contacted my niece and and asked her if she would join me. A grandmother, she was a teenager the last time she’d seen this side of the family.

While it was a sad occasion, I was actually looking forward to seeing this side of my family, my niece brought her son.

Entering the building, I noticed the elder sibling. As children she and I were close and I was greeted with a smile. From there it was downhill. Our reception was chilly. Nice to see you and why are you here!

Although, the services began at two. Most of the people arrived after three. I could feel the divisions within the family. Children, and Grandchildren. Not the loving family, I remembered. Perhaps it was all in my mind back then or perhaps we all too young to develop resentments. Even though I was an unwanted guest, I was happy being with my family.

Forever hopeful, I exchanged telephone numbers with the family and announced that we should make an attempt to stay in touch. I could feel my niece and her son giving me the side eye, like please!! The two of them teased me in the car! A couple of weeks later, I contacted a couple of the cousins and Melba Toast had more moisture than the conversation. It takes two people to have a relationship so…….

Guess, I’ll see you next funeral.

I think its normal to hold on to those special times/memories. However, those memories, moments in time that can cloud our realities. Forever hopeful, we sometines stay in fruitless and sometimes painful relationships too long because of a memory .

If my uncle was alive, I would tell him about the positive impact he had on my life. Those memories make me smile today. At the end of day, we have to accept what is. Not what could be. It takes two to build a relationship. Angry, I’m not and resentments are a waste of time.

My uncle was highly regarded by his children which is to be expected. What he said about me may have irreparably damaged any possibility of relationship with my cousins. My love for them is there and that has to be enough.

CityFella

Japan: Dancing robots replace fans at baseball game


Dancing Robots Japan| 'Scary but brilliant': 'Dancing robots ...

By:Jack Tarrent/Reuters

With their stadium devoid of fans due to coronavirus restrictions, Japanese baseball team Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have come up with an imaginative replacement: dancing robots.

Before their most recent Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) game against Rakuten Eagles on Tuesday, over 20 robots danced to the team’s fight song on a podium in the otherwise empty stand.

 

Two different robots, including SoftBank’s humaniod robot ‘Pepper’ and others on four legs like a dog, stamped and shimmied in a choreographed dance that is usually performed by the Hawks’ fans before games in the 40,000 capacity Fukuoka Dome.

Some of the robots wore Hawks caps and waved flags supporting the team.

Fans on social media had mixed reactions.

“I think this is like a dystopia,” wrote one Twitter user.

Another called the performance “insanely beautiful.

 

SoftBank Corp’s humanoid robots Pepper and Boston Dynamics’ robots SPOT in baseball uniforms cheer the team next to empty spectator seats at a baseball game between
SoftBank Hawks and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles as Nippon Professional Baseball league behind closed doors due to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Boosted by the supportive robots, the Hawks won 4-3 as they look to defend their 2019 NPB title.

The NPB season began three months late on June 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic and currently no supporters are allowed to attend games.

However, from Friday, up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend professional baseball and soccer games in Japan due to an easing of restrictions.

 

Kevin Hart defends Ellen DeGeneres against workplace accusations


Kevin Hart Defends Ellen DeGeneres | PEOPLE.com

The comedian took to social media to fire back at accusations that the talk show host abuses her staff.

Kevin Hart has come to the defense of Ellen DeGeneres amid criticism that she fosters a toxic workplace environment on her daytime talk show.

The Jumanji took to social media to fire back at accusations that DeGeneres  mistreats and abuses her staff, Entertainment Weekly reports. Comedian Kevin Porter and TV writer Ben Simeon are among those to publicly speak out in recent weeks about her alleged rude and diva-like antics as host of The Ellen Show.

“It’s crazy to see my friend go thru what she’s going thru publicly. I have known Ellen for years and I can honestly say that she’s one of the dopest people on the f—ing planet,” Hart wrote in a lengthy Instagram message. “She has treated my family and my team with love and respect from day 1.”

Read More: Ellen DeGeneres responds to allegations of toxic work environment

WarnerMedia is conducting an internal investigation into claims of an “abusive” work environment on the nationally syndicated program, including allegations of sexual misconduct against top producers.

The investigation was launched following a bombshell Buzzfeed report, in which current and former employees dish about the bullying behavior behind the scenes of the Emmy-winning talk show.

DeGeneres is not the focus of WarnerMedia’s ongoing investigation, but staffers reportedly want her to be held accountable since it’s her show.

She issued a statement last week claiming she was completely unaware of the problems on set, but she accepts overall responsibility.

“As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done,” she said. “Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

DeGeneres said she’s “glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention” and that she and her team are “taking steps … to correct them.”

Hart, meanwhile, made time to call out the negativity that permeates social media in his statement about the controversy.

“The internet has become a crazy world of negativity….we are falling in love with people’s downfall. It’s honestly sad…When did we get here? I stand by the ones that I know and that I love,” he wrote on IG.

“Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another….this hate s— has to stop. Hopefully, it goes out of style soon….This post is not meant to disregard the feelings of others and their experiences….It’s simply to show what my experiences have been with my friend. Love you for life Ellen,” Hart added.

Meanwhile, Ellen DeGeneres will return to host season 18 of her talk show, despite speculation that she is stepping back when the show returns in the fall.

A production insider has confirmed that “no one is stepping in or taking over.”

Lyft Driver attacked, he said, he said and the dashcam


 

Its was late night, early Sunday Morning in Palm Coast, Florida.  a Lyft driver was called to pick up three passengers, two adults one 7 year old child.

His Side

One passenger, 36 year old Travis Smith attacked the Lyft driver from the backseat while the car was in motion.  Smith said the Lyft driver was wreckless, blowing through red lights and he feared his life was in danger and he forced the Lyft driver to pull over.

Deputies were alerted just after midnight that two males were fighting in an intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Royal Palm Parkway. Deputies arrived to find Smith on top of another man and restricting his movement..  The Deputies ordered Smith to get off the driver, Smith reportedly told the Deputies “You Ready for him”?

The Other Side

The 43 year old Lyft driver said as Mr Smith and party entered the car.  Mr Smith, asked about the plastic particion in the car. At one point the interior light came on indicating a door was open.     Mr Smith became upset and ripped the partician down and grabbed the driver putting him in a chokehold, striking the driver in the eye causing the car to almost crash and go accross the median into the southbound lanes. The driver said Smith spit on him and the Deputy noticed spit under his eye.

Dashcam

The video footage revealed, Mr Smith was dishonest and was high intoxicated. While the passenger,  35 year old Andrew Kastl, was not involved in the fight, he could be heard saying ” Get That MotherFucker”.

The Video

Jail?

Andrew Kastl and his son are from Maine, they were staying with Travis Smith.  When the Deputy asked Mr Smith for a key to his residence he stated ” Go Fuck yourselves” the Deputies took Mr Kastl and Son to a nearby hotel.

Meanwhile, Travis Smith was taken to the BIG HOUSE without insident. Where he was charged with Battery and child abuse (placing the child in danger).

Mr Smith is free on a $7500 bond.  Wonder if his friend is still in the hotel….

News at Noon (check out)

 

 

Uganda: When God’s men started biting President Museveni


In Summary

  • You can teach hygiene to tactically get past the authorities before spreading theories of corona demons, enhanced by ‘tongues’. The devotees will probably forget the science and go home dizzy with the demons. Sweet music to the virus.
By Alan Tacca/Daily Monitor 

 

Back in March, when President Museveni was confidently in (the lockdown) command, and not many people could foresee how complicated the reasoning and decisions involved in opening up would be, the President made the kind of diplomatic gesture that inflates subordinates with self-importance; payment for their co-operation.

 

After some Inter-Religious Council people complained that religious worship had been put at the bottom on the list of priorities during the ‘war’ on Covid-19, the President ‘corrected’ the anomaly, casually promoting religious worship to the top.

 

Wow… From bottom to top position! A harmless joke, until some religious leaders took it too seriously and started using it to flog Museveni. If some ‘lower’ priorities are opening, they demand, why are the houses of God still closed?

 

The reasoning is strange, considering that schools and universities, a far greater priority in any nation’s development, and sports centres, where health benefits have been scientifically proven, are still closed, not to mention so many serious economic activities that are still locked, or are only very cautiously being allowed to open, and could be abruptly locked again.

 

Long before Covid-19, I have maintained that our most self-righteous religious leaders are in actuality merchants, using the good name of Jesus. The Covid-19 lockdown has exposed them further.

 

The way scientists and socio-political decision makers attempt to deal with Covid-19 problems is often at variance with established religious beliefs and practices.

 

Meanwhile, different religious operators sometimes exploit these differences to undermine each other.

Take a simple example: When Muslims gather for prayers, they take positions close to one another. Wider spaces between them would provide passages for the devil and other evil spirits to infiltrate the congregation.

 

I do not believe in the literal existence of the devil or of evil spirits; so there would be nothing to take advantage of any ‘social distance’ between the believers.

On the other hand, when they stand, bow, kneel and recite their prayers close to one another, they approach Allah as many in number, but united as ‘one’ in purpose, inaccessible to the devil.

 

Many of our noisy Christian groups mock Muslims for this seemingly irrational practice. They taunt the Muslims that observing the social distance rule would mean praying with the devil roaming in their midst.

 

However, the same Christian groups have a practice that predates Covid-19 and may have now become more pronounced. Pastors who broadcast their services ask listeners to place their hands over their radio/TV loudspeakers. Then the pastor commands diseases and demons to leave the listeners.

 

The power of Jesus (or the pastor?) supposedly rides on the transmission, passes from the loudspeaker, and through the listener’s arm to the afflicted area; a belief more ridiculous than that of the Muslims. As they struggle to remain relevant, Covid-19 should have taught them some humility. But they don’t learn.

 

One of their new claims goes that people take politicians (and their scientists?) to be liars, serving ulterior interests; that the churches are the best places to teach about masks, hand-washing and so on, because people believe the men of God.

But to be believed is different from being honest. At all their mega crusades and prayer exhibitions, they claim miraculous healings that are not there. They exorcise evil spirits that do not exist.

 

You can teach hygiene to tactically get past the authorities before spreading theories of corona demons, enhanced by ‘tongues’. The devotees will probably forget the science and go home dizzy with the demons. Sweet music to the virus.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
altaccaone@gmail.com

UK seeks ‘tougher action’ from France on Channel migrants


UK seeks 'tougher action' from France on Channel migrants
Police officers stand next to migrants in Calais’ harbour. Photo: BERNARD BARRON / AFP
Britain on Saturday urged France to get tougher on stopping migrants using the Channel to reach the UK, with one minister saying the crossings were “unacceptably high”.

The call came after Border Force figures showed 96 migrants were intercepted by police on Friday. Twenty four hours earlier, official figures showed at least 202 migrants managed to cross to Britain in 20 boats, a single-day record.

“The number of illegal small boat crossings we are seeing from France is unacceptably high,” said immigration compliance minister Chris Philp “And migrants continue to arrive in Calais to make the crossing. The French have to take tougher action.”

Earlier this month, the interior ministers of France and Britain signed an agreement to create a new joint police intelligence unit to combat migrant traffickers and reduce the number of illegal Channel crossings.

Reports claim that more than 3,400 people have made the crossing so far this year.

In 2019, 2,758 migrants were rescued by the French and British authorities while trying to make the crossing — four times more than in 2018, according to French officials.

Kanye West’s 2020 apology, Kim Kardashian’s plea and a harsh truth about mental health


Society now encourages people to be open about their mental health struggles, but the world remains confused and disgusted by people with severe mental illness. People like me.

Image: Severe mental illness stigma

As West himself said, pushing on severely mentally ill people only makes the situation worse.Adrian Lam / NBC News

By Nylah Burton, freelance writer/NBC NEWS

Iconic rapper Kanye West, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017, shocked, disappointed and enraged many when he expressed his support for President Donald Trump in 2018.  Such pronouncements marked the beginning of what would become a somewhat erratic few years for the musician, culminating recently in what is almost assuredly a doomed presidential bid.

Throughout his time dabbling in conservative politics, West has made a series of confusing and often offensive statements — recently claiming that venerated freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, a Black woman, “didn’t really free the slaves, ” for example — amid what appear to be severe bipolar manic episodes.

The star has since apologized  to wife Kim Kardashian West, saying “To Kim, I want to say I know I hurt you. Please forgive me. Thank you for always being there for me.” Kim Kardashian has also asked  for compassion for her husband, noting that “those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions.”

But compassion hasn’t been the default response. Kanye West has been heavily mocked and criticized — one person even admitted that she went to one of his campaign rallies only to “check out the circus ” — with little understanding of how much bipolar disorder affects your life. (Consider, for example, that the rate of suicide for people with mostly undiagnosed bipolar disorder is 10 to 30 times higher  than the rate for the general population.) Much has been done in recent years to “destigmatize mental illness.” But for people who experience anything beyond mild to moderate anxiety, depression or burnout, the stigma seems to remain just as potent.

When I see the world relentlessly make ableist statements about West, I am reminded once more how it is both confused and often disgusted by people with severe mental illness like bipolar disorder — which I was diagnosed with seven years ago — as well as people with schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, dissociative identity disorder, complex post-traumatic disorder and more.

As a society, we’ve encouraged people to be open about their mental health struggles, especially after difficult life events like the loss of loved ones, career instability or relationship problems. We’ve encouraged people to take time off for self-care. This is an important cultural shift, especially in a society that often sees such struggles as signs of weakness.

However, we haven’t yet begun to discuss how to support those who are dealing with hallucinations, who experience different personality states or who experience mania or suicidal ideation.

How to help a loved one cope with a mental illness

It’s important to stress that although West may be experiencing bipolar symptoms, he is still accountable. His anti-Black, misogynist commentary is harmful, and he should respond to those criticisms when he is able to. But hyperfocusing on him and demanding a mea culpa while he’s in crisis is harmful. So is dismissing him as a mere bigot or a manipulative person exaggerating his symptoms.

Britney Spears’ struggle with mental health is well documented. But while her illness was initially mocked, it now is often framed sympathetically, likely because it presents as innocuous and nonthreatening. This is often not the case for Black people with severe mental illnesses, who experience more stigma and violence because of how they exist at the intersection of racial marginalization and severe mental illness. Whether we are making offensive statements or not, we are inherently seen as dangerous by many.

Britney Spears’ struggle with mental health is well documented. But while her illness was initially mocked, it now is often framed sympathetically.

This perception of danger often ends in tragedy.

Pamela Turner, a Black woman with schizophrenia, was shot and killed by a Texas cop who knew of her condition last year. Before she was killed, Turner begged for her life, telling the officer that she was pregnant, which an autopsy revealed she wasn’t.

Despite the horrifying ableism, racism and misogyny that Turner faced that night, the streets didn’t burn for her. Her story didn’t ignite a movement.

West is obviously more privileged than most severely mentally ill people like Turner, some of whom experience violence or homelessness  because of a lack of resources. But his privilege is exactly why it’s important to speak about him with intention. He is arguably the most visible person with a bipolar diagnosis in the world, and what society says about him has the potential to further the stigma against all people with bipolar or other severe mental illness.

 

During a conversation with David Letterman in 2018, the rapper addressed this issue directly. Bipolar disorder “is a health issue that has a strong stigma on it, and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way,” West told Letterman. “This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more.”

In his own words, during a more stable moment, West told us all exactly why it’s so dangerous for us to heavily and publicly criticize severely mentally ill people when they are in crisis. We’re pushing on them more.

So much of the stigma against those with severe mental illness stems from a lack of education, which is caused by our unwillingness to acknowledge the more painful, confusing parts of mental illness. The public simply doesn’t know enough about how these conditions often cause hallucinations, mania, suicide attempts, delusions and incoherent and rapid speech. As a result, people don’t see these behaviors just as socially unacceptable, but sometimes as dangerous or even immoral.

Italian woman makes stuffed olives while having brain surgery


Italian woman preps 90 stuffed olives, a regional specialty ...

A 60-year-old woman from the Italian region of Abruzzo prepared 90 olive all’ascolana – Ascoli-style stuffed olives – in less than an hour while having an operation to remove a brain tumour.

“It all went very well,” neurosurgeon Roberto Trignani told the Italian news agency Ansa after the two-and-a-half-hour procedure in a hospital in Ancona on Tuesday.

The tumor was removed from her left temporal lobe, the area of the brain which controls language, as well as movements of the right side of the body.

Trignani has performed some 60 operations over the last five years with patients conscious and engaged in other activities – which depend on their usual habits, as well as the part of the brain being operated on – including playing the violin or trumpet.

He said it was “a method that enables us to monitor the patient while we are intervening on brain functions and to calibrate our action”.

The woman quickly became a culinary hero in Italy, with many social media users expressing their admiration for her kitchen skills.

The olives, a speciality of the Marche region of central Italy, are notoriously fiddly to prepare: they’re made by wrapping pitted green olives around balls of seasoned meat, which are then coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs before being fried.

 

Italian woman makes stuffed olives while having brain surgery
Olive all’ascolana are notoriously tricky to prepare. Photo: Stijn Nieuwend/Flickr

Wayback Machine (2013) When Ok Cupid Introduces you to people you know


(2013) If you’ve been in a long term relationship of ten years or more, you have discovered the world has changed.  No more meetings at the malt shop after the sox hop and meeting the love of your life sitting in the booth to your left.

Wait, that’s not my life, I just finished watching an old black and white MGM pic with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney (who?)

But you get the point…. The world is chainged.   I was married for more than two decades. It was back in the day, when the Disco is where you went on a Friday night and when two or more people did the bump on the dance floor.

A lot of people believe the net is better than the time tested, social based traditional dating.   All you need is the right picture and profile and the world is yours……..

Not quite….

If found the net challenging,  unlike traditional dating, there are more places for people to hide. The net has more twist and turns than a mystery novel.    My first encounters were a series of no-shows, old pictures, Instant love scary (I will love you FOREVAH-just add water and stir) and misrepresentations.  I soon learned  monogamy meant “sex tonight with me only”

Ok Cupid

Said, they were different, you are asked a gillion questions.  That would eventually lead me to the love of my life.    It was different, like the other sites there were still quite afew insecure persons, but the discussions were different..  Only one person asked me for a nude photo (sorry not sorry, don’t have one, wont take one.)   I actually went on a few dates. Years later, I returned to old school, traditional dating, I found it to be easier than online dating.

 

 Click on the link below for the Full Story

https://sacratomatovillepost.com/2013/06/04/when-ok-cupid-introduces-you-to-people-you-know/

“The front door blew off the hinges”: What happens when police raid your home without knocking first “When your black, the cops don’t stop to knock”


 

BREAKING: Eight Arrested In Midnight Raid on Chicago Apartment | I ...

Photo: Google

By: D. Watkins/Salon.com

It was 1995, and we were scheduled to leave the east side of Baltimore for Kings Dominion the next morning. I had big plans: to ride all the rides, eat funnel cake, crack jokes on the three-hour bus ride with my classmates to the theme park, and sleep on the ride home. And to debut my new Nikes on this school trip — the Air Max 95s — with the top strings undone, like my boy JT from West Baltimore showed me. “I don’t know why, but the girls love when I don’t tie my shoes alla way up!” he’d say. “Wear them string loose, D!”

“Yo, stay the night at my spot. I got the house to myself — mom on a church trip,” my homie Larry told me as we shot jumpers in front of the rec center. “We can get up early and be the first ones on the bus in the morning. I want to sit next to Shannon, and you should sit with her sister.”

I packed my bag and headed to Larry’s. We ordered Chinese food and sat in the front of his house, laughing, joking, calling girls from school, and eating shrimp fried rice and Beef Yat Gaw Mein — we pronounced it yak-a-me, and Larry could finish a family size order on his own — until two o’clock in the morning. I laid my trip clothes across the top of his couch, noticing how my new white shirt enhanced the texture of my those Nikes, and then dozed off to reruns of “Def Comedy Jam.”

Pop! Pop pop! I woke up. Gunshots in movies sound like BOOOM! but in real life they go, Pop! Pop pop!

Larry was asleep in another room. I peeked out of the window and saw cop cars swarming the front of the projects outside. Sometimes people get shot in Baltimore. I laid back down to go to sleep.

The front door blew off the hinges.

 

“Yoooooo, who the fuck is that!” I heard Larry yell from upstairs.

I climbed over the couch and hid, but someone picked me up by my neck, flipped me back over the couch, slammed me on the floor, and buried my face into the carpet. It was the police. A cop dragged Larry down the stairs, his head hitting every step like a rag doll.

 

We were minors, but we were taken downtown without our parents’ consent to homicide, where we were held for hours and questioned. No food, no phone calls to our parents or anyone else. We missed the bus to Kings Dominion, and with it the trip we had waited the whole school year to go on. (The crazy thing about it? That wasn’t even the first time I had been trapped down in homicide as a minor for no reason at all.)

Being caught up in a violent sweep for an active shooter at large sounds like a dramatic outlier, but the experience of having the cops bust into your home without knocking or even announcing themselves is on the rise. The use of no knock warrants has grown expeditiously over the past 40 years — from 1,500 issued annually in the early 1980s to more than 45,000 in 2010, according to Peter Kraska, an expert on the militarization of police and Eastern Kentucky University professor.

On March 13, three police officers executing a no knock search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment in the South End of Louisville were in the process of banging down her door when her boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired a shot at what he thought was an unlawful home invasion — he and neighbors say the police didn’t identify themselves, though the cops claim otherwise. The police broke down the door and fired a barrage of gunshots, more than 20, into the apartment. One fired 10 rounds “wantonly and blindly,” in the words of the acting police chief when he fired the officer in question, who remains the only cop present that evening to be terminated for his actions. Five bullets struck Breonna, an emergency medical technician with no record of criminal activity or involvement, and she died on the floor of her apartment. The investigation into her death remains open.

The logic of no knock warrants rests on the belief that cops should be allowed to retain the upper hand via the element of surprise when searching for illegal substances or when looking for suspects. They give police the power to locate their targets at their most vulnerable, and they are supposed to help avoid shootouts between police and armed criminals, along with other dangers. The problem is the power that the element of surprise allows police. When police abuse that power, they’re often protected from consequences by the system, even when these searches turn up nothing.

And if these so-called criminals whose homes are being searched aren’t even dangerous? Or even criminals at all? Do those families’ lives deserve to be disrupted? Do they deserve to be put in the position that Walker was put in — to defend himself and his partner against what he thought were dangerous criminals? Did Breonna Taylor deserve to die as a result?

This is a result of poor policing combined with the unchecked power of a no knock warrant, and the cops who killed Breonna Taylor should be arrested and charged.

In reaction to the public outrage over the death of Breonna Taylor in combination with my own experience in house raids, I had a series of conversations with people caught up in house raids in different parts of the country where no knocks are still taking place. The results were uniformly terrible.

Cheyanne and Ezekiel, Westside Baltimore, 2009

The Baltimore City Police Department busted down Cheyanne’s front door.

Cheyanne, who lived with her parents at the time, came home to discover her things scattered all over the place. The sight came as a shock; Cheyanne comes from a church family.

“The police picked a pair of your Nikes up and asked if you sold drugs,” her dad told her. “I told them you were home visiting from college.”

Cheyanne’s brother Ezekiel, who lived next door, returned from a trip to Chicago to find his place raided too: his front door broken, his mattresses slit open, and all of his work identification cards and other job-related documents spread out across his kitchen table.

The police didn’t leave a copy of a search warrant at Ezekiel’s house, so he grabbed the copy left at his parents’ and headed to the police station to demand answers. The officer who conducted the search started an unnecessary argument with Ezekiel before forking over a copy of the warrant.

According to the warrant, a confidential informant claimed without proof that drugs were being sold out of the two residences. The cops found nothing in their search and filed no charges. What they did do was leave behind busted furniture and a door they

Ezekiel reached out to a lawyer for help, but was told that since nobody was hurt in the raid, there was really nothing that he could do to get reimbursed for the property damages, let alone obtain any information about the source who made the false claim. Forget about an apology from anyone.

Eleven years have passed. That door is still messed up.

Unnamed State Prosecutor, 2019

“I watched body-worn camera footage of a group of officers busting into a house. On the other side of the door was a woman being treated by her Hospice nurse. The police searched the house, and detained the nurse with little to no regard. As if she wasn’t at work, doing her job. It was one of the most disgusting acts I ever saw during my career.”

 

La Tonya Green, Eastside Baltimore, 2001

It was cold, it was February, and everybody had slid through her house to watch the NBA All Star game — the one where Iverson went crazy, hitting all types of wild shots and snagging the MVP.

Pizza, wings, macaroni salad, and caesar salad were on the menu. Her guests ate it all, but luckily, she had thought to stash an extra plate for herself before they arrived, carefully wrapped in foil and tucked in the back of the refrigerator. After she finished cleaning, long after the party ended, she checked on that plate to make sure nobody had strolled out of the door with it. Then she made sure her son was sleeping, pecked him on the cheek, and went to bed.

“Get on the floor! Get on the floor!” Screams, bright lights, and aimed guns woke her up some time before sunrise. Police were in her home looking for a guy they say she was dating — her “lil dope-dealing boyfriend,” the cops called him. She had never even heard of this guy. Her actual boyfriend — now her husband — is in the military, and he was away at the time serving our country.

Almost 20 years have passed since that night. La Tonya still has no idea who the man was that they were looking for. She does remember that the police trashed her home, knocked family pictures off the wall, tossed all of her belongings and broke her dishes. They threw that plate of food she had saved on the floor of her kitchen, and stepped on it as they left her home.

Her son still has nightmares about it.

 

Lance Ramirez, Harlem, New York, 1999

Ramirez says up front that he was guilty.

“Yeah, I had plug on the [heroin],” he tells me. “It was good, it was pure. I was that guy, feel me!”

Ramirez stepped on it — which means he cut it with other chemicals to increase his quantity — and slanged all over New York. From the white boys in SoHo to the Wall Street coke-hounds, he served everybody. Eventually Ramirez had a dispute with one of his workers who felt like he should be paid more.

That guy sold Ramirez out to NYPD, and cops kicked in his mother’s door at the crack of dawn.

There was a problem: Ramirez hadn’t lived with his mom for at least three years at that point. He wasn’t even talking to her at the time. If he had, he wouldn’t have brought drugs into her home, he tells me, because “she was a real woman of the Lord.”

The ashes of Ramirez’s World War 2 veteran grandfather were stored in an urn kept inside of a locked wooden box on a shelf in his mother’s living room. The cops cracked the box open and poured the ashes out onto the carpet — looking for drugs or drug paraphernalia, they said. They found nothing.

Even though eventually Ramirez was incarcerated, his mother’s house never had anything to do with the three grams of heroin that earned him his charges and time at Rikers.

 

Kondwani Fidel, Eastside Baltimore, 2016

Cops bum-rushed Fidel’s grandma’s house like wild cowboys in the middle of the night, splitting the door in half — yelling, screaming, waving pistols, like they were raiding Pablo Escobar’s compound.

Once inside, the officers lined Fidel, his baby brother and a young woman he had just started dating next each other on the couch as they rummaged through all of their things. The cops busted open closed cereal boxes and dumped the flakes on the floor. They punched holes in the wall. They broke a dresser. Fidel’s a writer with important work on his laptop; the cops bagged it up.

“I just started dating this girl,” Fidel says he thought at the time. “She finally felt comfortable coming to my place and this BS happens. Man, I know she won’t go out with me anymore.”

The young woman’s phone kept ringing — because she was supposed to take her little brother to school — so one of the police officers answered it, told her mom what was going on, and made light of the fact that he was holding innocent kids hostage.

“Now her mom knows!” Fidel thought. “She is really never going to see me again.”

The cops found nothing, and left Fidel behind to clean up the mess they made of his house and his new relationship.

He never got his laptop, or the writing he’d saved on it, back.

 

Ms. Green, Camden, New Jersey, 2008

“My son was in jail for drugs, two years or so, but he passed in 2001,” Ms. Green told me. “I been in this house for 35 years and I never, ever, ever been so terrified!”

Ms. Green is a homeowner. She and her late husband had scrimped and saved up for a steel door that Mr. Green had installed himself. The door was for keeping criminals out, after their home had been burglarized two or three times in the past, and and it worked well. “Our neighborhood had become known for break-ins,” Ms. Green told me.

That steel door, along with a piece of the wall, ended up shattered — bulldozed to the ground and trampled over by big white police officers who, Ms. Green says, “smelled like all kinds of beer and mess.”

“They didn’t knock one bit, show us any ID, or tell us why they were there,” Ms. Green tells me. “They just put us in a room and fished through our belongings, until they realized that we had nothing for them.”

The police spent an hour or so looking for whatever they were looking for, but found nothing. “They was mad when they left,” Ms. Green says. “And the city never paid to fix my door.”

 

D Watkins, Eastside Baltimore, 2003 (again) 

Durham Street was wild, and cops played that section of east Baltimore all day. My friend Big Bo owned 1020 Durham, and that house functioned as a kind of hangout spot where we’d drink liquor, talk trash and play NBA 2K all day. Because Bo owned a few homes, some of our friends even lived at 1020 Durham when they were in between places of their own.

One day the cops busted the doors off the hinges and made about 12 of us lie on the ground. One particularly ambitious officer yanked the video game console out of the wall and knocked the television over. They pulled down pieces of the drop ceiling, cleared out the refrigerator and the cabinets, dug through a ton of empty Nike boxes, and sent a couple who were in the middle of having sex downstairs naked. They allowed the woman to cover herself with a sheet, but slapped the dude on his naked butt cheek as he tripped down the stairs

“Aw, man! We were supposed to be running up in 1024, not 1020!” a cop shouted. The other officers just laughed it off as they all left to head over to 1024, maybe.

If I had had a gun on me the day the cops busted into 1020 Durham without warning, I might have shot at the door. For all any of us knew in that moment, we were being attacked — the police certainly acted like criminals when they broke in while we were playing video games.

All of the victims listed above are Black. I did to talk to three white people who were caught up in house raids as well. Strangely, in every case, the cops knocked on their doors first like civilized people. 

 

D. WATKINS

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a professor at the University of Baltimore and founder of the BMORE Writers Project. Watkins is the author of the New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America” and “The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir.” His latest book, “We Speak For Ourselves: A Word From Forgotten Black America,” is out now.

Star of David taken down by Twitter, citing ‘hateful imagery’


Twitter users found themselves locked out of their accounts after using the Star of David in their profile images.

Burning Jewish star anti semitism magen david 311 (photo credit: Umit Bektas/Reuters)
Burning Jewish star anti semitism magen david 311 (photo credit: Umit Bektas/Reuters)
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