All Around the U.S. of A. – Rapid Responses

Robert Bob Bates of the Tulsa Sheriff's Department

slept extremely well last night. This is the day The Lord has made – I will rejoice and be glad in it. As I reflect on the new mercies He has blessed us all with today, I feel compelled to smile and say “thank you” aloud. Now that I’ve had a delicious breakfast and I’ve tidied up my kitchen, I can get down to business. I have some rapid responses to share with you.


Allow me to revisit the ending of “Again?” – my op-ed column entry from last week: “This has to stop. It’s officially out of hand. Armed police officers cannot kill unarmed people who are either far away from their proximity, running away from them, or haven’t at least verbally threatened to attack them. This must be the platinum standard for all Americans: young or old, rich or poor, male or female, black or white, and Republican or Democrat. If necessary, make this the next Constitutional Amendment. The issue isn’t political, it’s ethical… I believe in God, His people, and in America. Sadly, I also believe what happened to Walter Scott is bound to reoccur. Again.”


Unfortunately, my words turned out to be prophetic. This past Monday, media reports nationwide emerged from a troubling police shooting which took place on April 2nd in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eric Courtney Harris – an unarmed, black suspect in a sting operation who had already been handcuffed and was being held on the ground by two Tulsa Sheriff’s deputies – was shot at near point-blank range by Robert Bates – a 74 year old insurance agent/broker serving as a reserve Sheriff’s deputy.


Bates had generously donated vehicles, equipment, and financial contributions to the Sheriff’s office for years. Bates claims he meant to use his Taser on Harris, but accidentally fired his personal .357 handgun instead. While the obvious question would be how a properly trained reserve law enforcement officer could confuse a hand cannon with a stun gun, the bigger mystery is why/how a 74 year old  volunteer deputy was made a member of Tulsa’s Drug & Crime Task Force – a position filled with extremely dangerous and unpredictable scenarios. Reporters taking a closer look at Bates quickly discovered that his training records had been forged. Journalists also found that at least three supervisors who had been ordered to falsify Bates’s personnel file, but refused, had each been demoted. Eric Harris is dead – killed by a man who conceivably should never have been there. Harris cannot defend himself. He will never have his day in court. Bates, meanwhile, is the inspiration for the phrase “pay for play policing.”


Consider this Associated Press report from Wednesday: “Victims of police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge would share $5.5 million, receive an apology, and see their story taught in school under a reparations package proposed Tuesday. More than 100 people have accused Burge and officers under his command of shocking them with cattle prods, beating them with phone books and suffocating them with bags until they gave false confessions over nearly two decades ending in 1991. While some have already settled for thousands or millions of dollars, the dozens left can each receive up to $100,000 under the proposed ordinance. ‘My goal is to both close this book… on the city’s history, and bring closure for the victims and make sure that we take this as a city and learn from it about what we have to do going forward because a police department is about public safety, community policing and building trust,’ Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.” As I wrote recently, there will always be that small number of police officers who ignore their training in lieu of their own violent tendencies, self-righteous behaviors, and prejudices.


I like Chris Christie. Having said that, I cannot fathom how he thinks slashing Social Security is a viable platform upon which to launch his 2016 presidential campaign.


How embarrassed must the Republican-led Tennessee legislature feel right now?


It failed on Thursday in its attempt to make the holy Bible the state’s official book – which would have been a clear violation of laws separating church and state. Yikes.


I don’t know what’s worse: Atlanta’s standardized test cheating scandal, the students who were victimized, the national spotlight the scandal generated, or the preposterous jail sentences the teachers received. What they did was absolutely wrong, but it wasn’t racketeering.


It’s a national embarrassment that Loretta Lynch hasn’t been confirmed as America’s next Attorney General.


The House voted Thursday to give a tax break worth $269 billion to the richest few thousand estates in the country, and add that cost to the federal debt. Tone-deaf.


I gently but firmly remind my critics that just because you disagree with my viewpoint(s), it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. It simply means we disagree.


Please have yourselves a superb day! God willing, I surely will.

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