Program break: There is some news that I simply have to cover this week. A massive change to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been proposed in the State legislature, and it will make legit cases of self-defense incredibly difficult to bring to trial a la the Zimmerman case.
For more on that, please check on the notes of the one and only Andrew Branca. Branca is the only voice on self-defense law that matters.
Regarding this week, if you haven’t read this week’s primer, go read this week’s primer before you get blindsided by misdirected anger.
This was previously discussed by Catty Conservative, but it bears bringing back up before this week’s Run.
Let me be crystal clear before we go anywhere. This week’s Run is about attacks on law enforcement physically, and the biased media that helps stir those tensions. It is not about Facebook posts or Tweets from random people nobody knows. Outrage and “make them famous” mob scenes are antithetical to a clinical examination of a topic, so it has no place here, nor on any future Midnight Run. I do not believe that getting a low-level employee fired is a “victory” for anybody. It is the definition of harassment.
What does one stand to gain from it? The way to win hearts and minds is not through harassment and getting people fired. That only makes one side or the other look petty. Additionally, it is hypocritical to torch someone in a company while implying that said person is indicative of the values the rest of the company holds, while simultaneously claiming “all organizations have bad apples” when one of those bad apples show up in your favored organizations.
http://www.cracked.com/blog/cecil-lion-made-you-moron-5-stages-facebook-rage/ — Even Cracked has been able to point out the more asinine parts of social media outrage by way of the Cecil the Lion controversy.
http://www.vox.com/2015/7/30/9074865/cecil-lion-palmer-mob-justice — Vox followed this line of reasoning as well with an incredible piece on out of control “mob justice.”
Death threats are criminal. The courts should handle them if they are legitimate. That’s what courts are for.
Blue Blood will focus on attacks on Law Enforcement. Acts motivated by an anti-police mindset, and the leaders of the groups behind them. It will not focus on some repugnant Tweet or Facebook post from somebody with no influence to speak of.
The Run has been and always will be clinical, especially when putting the news on hold to cover a topic in detail.
Mob justice never ends well, and it’s just as easy to be in the mob as it is to be the mob’s primary target.
Excellent. Now we can get back to being clinical about the topic and put our emotions away.
Last week painted a pretty bleak picture for Law Enforcement. While this was not the direction I had originally intended, facts are facts and I can’t change that. Budget cutbacks, collapsing morale, and dropping numbers have already painted a bleak picture for law enforcement. Rising anti-cop sentiment, movements that are outright hostile to police, and a slanted media have only made that situation worse.
This week, we look at recent attacks, statistics on Line of Duty deaths, and we hear from Andrew Branca on how the media narrative collides with both self-defense law and the facts of the respective case.
Again, we are looking at internet movements generally, stats on police casualties, and media narrative.
This is not about emotion. It’s not about outrage. Period.
1.) Attacks. Back in 2009, a man lured 2 Pittsburgh police officers to a house in the Stanton Heights neighborhood with a domestic disturbance call. When 2 officers arrived, the shooter opened fire on them. The suspect was wearing body armor and had 2 rifles, according to local sources. Backup officers arrived, one of which was shot and killed almost instantly upon arriving. A four-hour standoff ended with the shooter being arrested, and two other officers injured.
The point of bringing up something from 2009 is to establish two points as we move along. The first is that anti-police sentiment isn’t particularly anything new. The second is to illustrate that, like the baseline set up last week, the increased profile of these recent ambushes is essentially the culmination of everything we have discussed up to this point. Nothing on this scale develops out of nowhere; police have been battling budgets, falling morale/staff, openly hostile actors for a number of years. What has changed is the profile, frequency, and in some cases the brutality of these acts with the advent of social media and every phone being a camera. (We’ll discuss the issues with those two in a moment.)
Ambushes have occurred in Fox Lake, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia this year. An officer in Abilene, Texas was bound and then strangled, sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth was killed at a gas station this year by a man who had been found mentally incompetent three years ago. An officer in West Penn, PA was assaulted and thrown over an embankment during what was a “routine” traffic stop (if there is such a thing). All of this has occurred in this year alone.
2.) Statistical data. Interestingly, however, the Officer Down Memorial Page reports that overall Line of Duty deaths are down about 2% versus last year. This has led some outlets to denounce the claims of a “war on cops” as a media narrative that simply doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny.
What is difficult to objectively measure is the level of anti-cop material that has come to the Internet. The best barometer we have for that is perhaps the coverage of the Black Lives Matter and Fuck Your Flag movements. The former is famous for chanting “pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon,” which was later somehow said to be merely playful.
One of the motivating factors of the BLM movement, however, is the idea that police are trigger-happy and their use of force racially motivated. This narrative has been picked up by numerous media outlets, although Legal Insurrection/Law of Self Defense’s Andrew Branca points out that the narrative doesn’t survive any sort of statistical scrutiny. Branca points out that the vast majority of people shot by police were themselves armed with some form of weapon. (As we have discussed, anything can be a weapon.)
3,) Media. It is the media narrative of “cop shoots unarmed black man” that we need to focus on, and Branca’s work helps us do this brilliantly. Mr. Branca is a lawyer with 30 years of experience, specializing in use-of-force law (in other words, the laws governing when lethal force may be used against an actor.) He is known for his legendarily in-depth coverage of the Zimmerman trial, and is generally seen as the foremost authority on use-of-force law.
We’ll start with the Stand Your Ground law, and the media’s incredible ignorance on what it does, and how it is applied. Put bluntly, Stand Your Ground merely removes (in most cases) a defender’s duty to retreat from someone who is actively attacking you. This is especially so when retreating can only increase the danger you are in at the time. It is not the sole element of self-defense law.
There is perhaps no better display of media bias against police than the Freddie Gray case. Gray died while in police custody. The prosecution (led by a woman who it was later revealed had way too much invested in the case to be prosecuting it), argued that the police officers had a deliberate role in his death because of the nature of his injuries. The prosecution’s arguments were undermined by an autopsy report that released shortly after the case began. Six police officers are being held accused of murder. For its part, the city has settled a civil case with Gray’s family, agreeing to pay $6.4 million to settle the claims. The city stresses that the settlement is for the civil case and has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the officers involved.
4.) Bottom line. While it is extremely difficult to objectively state that there is a full-blown war on police, it is impossible to say that a perfect storm of problems facing law enforcement hasn’t finally come to the surface after brewing for several years. A mix of a police force that is decreasing in every possible way (from raw numbers, to financially, to morale) has met head-on with an extreme anti-authority bent, increased racial tensions (and salespeople like Al Sharpton making money off said tensions), and social media used to organize protests and broadcast extremely slanted video of police.
We’ve spent this week looking at the people out to demean, slander, and in some cases outright kill police. Next week, we will look at the backblast those people have caused. We will look at support for police, including a movement on the part of average people to make police feel safe in some neighborhoods (and directly support them in those neighborhoods).
And we will link back to Midnight Run: Debt, with an ex-convict who turned his life around, and is now close friends with the officer who arrested him.
We spent this week looking at the attacks, next week, we look at the much stronger response.
Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.