Jessica Sutherland

Analysis of police bodycams confirms what Black people know: Cops treat white people better

"This is a nice car you're driving. You sure it's yours?" he said, the implication of grand theft auto barely going unsaid. "I pulled you over because I thought you might be lost," she said, in a tone that made it clear she didn't think that at all.

The cops who pulled me over at least once a week in my final years living in northeast Ohio said at least one of those things to me just about every time I saw flashing lights. It took me awhile to realize that even though I had something of a lead foot, it was rare that I was being stopped for an actual traffic infraction when I was constantly being interrupted in my travels by law enforcement. My vehicles weren't particularly "nice" or expensive—a Honda or Toyota supplied by my then-employer, a Nissan I'd bought new—but for those who believe that Black people only come in one trim level (poor), those cars and my Black skin were enough to raise suspicion. I quickly learned to update my licenses with every move, even if they were years from expiring, so that I could quickly prove I had every right to be driving a trunk full of groceries down my own street.

Black people across the United States have long complained that police officers treat us differently than white people, the vast majority of whom chose to deny our lived experiences and give cops the benefit of doubting us—until 17-year-old Darnella Frazier delivered undeniable evidence of how deadly this inequality can be last summer. Frazier bravely filmed the murder of Minneapolis' George Floyd by convicted murderer and ex-cop Derek Chauvin. Suddenly, confronted with the reality that Black people have lamenting for my entire life and beyond, the nation's white people were willing to admit that racism in policing was indeed A Thing.

2020's white outrage over inequality didn't last long, of course; most Black people knew it wouldn't. Of course, we can't afford to get bored with the fight against racism and white supremacy, that's a privilege for others. But new research from the American Psychological Association (APA) confirms what Black people have always known: Cops treat white people differently than Black people—reserving their respect for the former.

The latest research builds upon a landmark 2017 study out of Stanford University, which analyzed nearly 1,000 traffic stops by Oakland, California police officers, recorded in 2014. As The Los Angeles Times reported at the time, the study, which kept the race and gender of the driver out out of recordings presented to participants, noted that regardless of the officers' demographics or the reason for the stop, "when the motorist was Black, police officers were judged to be less respectful, less polite, less friendly, less formal and less impartial than when the motorist was white."

The difference was so stark that in two-thirds of the cases, it was possible to predict whether the motorist was black or white based solely on the words used by officers.
The model gave researchers a chance to test out various theories about why the police treated black citizens less respectfully than white citizens. For instance:
  • Was it because black drivers were pulled over for more serious offenses than white drivers? No.
  • Was it a consequence of officers speaking more formally with white motorists and more colloquially with black motorists? No.
  • Could the actions of a few "bad apple" officers account for the overall trend? No.
  • Did this discrepancy arise only in cases that resulted in a citation or a ticket, but not in "everyday" interactions? No.
"We have found that police officers' interactions with blacks tend to be more fraught … even when no arrest is made and no use of force occurs," the study authors concluded. "The racial disparities in officer respect are clear and consistent, yet the causes of these disparities are less clear."

Sure, wouldn't want to assume the causes for the "racial disparities in officer respect" have anything to do with white supremacy and racism.

Here's some data visualization the researchers made. First, we see some sample exchanges, and how they landed on the study's "Respect" model. Consider which of these sentences more accurately align with your experiences with being pulled over? More importantly, do any of these approaches seem completely foreign to you?

Fig. 3

Next, we see how such factors of the "Respect" model were applied to Black and white drivers.

Fig. 2

Our interactions with law enforcement shape the way we perceive the experiences of others. We've all seen white people rush to back the blue when disparities in policing are discussed, simply because they've only been treated with respect.

Example: I've written of this before, but when I was 22, I got pulled over for a loud muffler around the corner from my house. The cop made me get out of the car for some reason; it was the first time that had ever been asked of me. As I slid out, the officer shouted "WEAPON! WEAPON!" and by the time I was completely out of my car, there was a service pistol inches from my face. The supervising sergeant riding along with this gun-happy guy immediately intervened and ordered him to holster his gun, but it was too late. I shook as I tried to contain my bladder on the busy street, and failed.

I had just finished a bartending shift, and had some pens, a bottle opener, and a wine key in my back pocket. Those were the "weapons" worthy of placing a gun in my face.

I told this story incessantly for the next few weeks, and my white friends were shocked that I was ordered out of the car; like me, it had never been asked of them. My Black male friends, however, were shocked that it was the first time I'd been ordered out of the car—they'd never not been asked to step out of their vehicle, and struggled to understand a world where that wasn't the norm.

Which brings us to 2021, when four of the original researchers returned for a study that asks "how do routine police encounters build or undermine community trust, and how might they contribute to racial gaps in citizen perceptions of the police?" Cheekily called "The Thin Blue Waveform," the new study focuses not on what police say to people, but how they say it.

The scientists note the value that body-worn cameras can provide beyond their current prominence in high-profile cases.

The interpersonal dimension of police encounters is all but invisible in administrative records. Stop data reports can reveal racial disparities in officers' decisions to search or sanction citizens, but they cannot reveal whether officers address community members with respect or contempt. Interactions that are indistinguishable in administrative data may unfold quite differently in the experiences of community members, and have divergent consequences for their trust in law enforcement.
[...]
Body-worn cameras grant access to the interpersonal dimensions of these encounters for the first time. By capturing conversations between officer and citizen, they can reveal how these exchanges differ across race.
[...]
In short, body cameras make the relational aspects of policing visible. This lets us test mechanisms through which police interactions translate to institutional mistrust or trust, alongside the racial dynamics of such encounters. Here, we consider one subtle but socially important channel of communication that can only be accessed from BWC recordings: prosody, or the acoustic features of one's voice.

Discrepancies weren't as glaring as the 2017 research, but one trend was undeniable: Police officers speak to Black men far differently than they do to white men. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The scientists analyzed hundreds of audio clips — each roughly 10 seconds long — from routine traffic stops of Black or white men. The researchers filtered out the high frequencies of the sound clips, which essentially rendered the clips unintelligible but left the tone of voice intact. They also masked the drivers' voices with "brown noise," so that anyone hearing the clip would not be able to guess the motorists' race.
The researchers then asked more than 400 people — a diverse group of white, Latino, Asian and Black volunteers — to listen to the clips and rate the officers' tone of voice.
Across the board, clips of officers speaking to Black men got lower marks for friendliness, respectfulness and ease than those of officers speaking to white men — even though the listeners were not aware of the drivers' race.

For Black Americans, both of these studies just confirm what we already know: Systemic racism rules supreme in law enforcement. But for white Americans, who more easily discard lived experiences that don't mirror their own, who constantly demand data when they find themselves unable to believe Black people, who celebrate this era of prolific video because it gives them proof of that which they previously denied, these studies might actually change minds.

If only this research would lead law enforcement to address the rotten wood at the core of its foundation, we might actually see some improvement on this front.

I haven't been pulled over since I moved to California nearly 14 years ago. Not once, in the Golden State nor while back home. The next time I am, I'll still keep my hands on the dash, but this time, I'll have my phone's video camera running.

Engineer found collapsed Florida condo had 'major structural damage': 2018 report

At least 159 people remain unaccounted for in the Champlain Towers South condo collapse, with four reported dead as of this writing. As hope dwindles, and first responders navigate dangerous conditions as they search for survivors, those personally affected are searching for an answer to one simple question: "Why?" Why did this happen? Could it have been prevented?

Though it will take time to gain certainty about cause of the deadly building collapse, answers are starting to emerge. The town of Surfside, Fla. released a nearly three-year-old inspection report for the collapsed Champlain Towers South high-rise condominium on Friday night. Conducted in October 2018 by Morabito Consulting, the assessment uncovered the need for significant repairs to the building, and identified "systemic" design flaws that were leading to "major structural damage" to the 13-story building.

An attorney for the Chaplain Towers South condo board, which is led by residents of the building, told The New York Times that multi-million-dollar repairs were just about to begin.

Before anyone could put on their hardhat, the building collapsed in the earliest hours of Thursday morning, while most of the community slept.

Champlain Towers South is a beachfront property in the tiny town of Surfside, near Miami. Built in 1981, the building has endured decades of hurricanes and climate change, but according to the newly released 2018 report by Morabito Consultants, the worst and most significant damage to the building was due to "a major error" in the design of the pool deck.

(T)he waterproofing below the Pool Deck & Entrance Drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond [its] useful life and therefore all must be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extenft of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.

[...]
The main issue with this building structure is that the entrance drive/pool deck/planter waterproofing is laid on a flat structure. Since the reinforced concrete slab is not sloped to drain, the water sits on the waterproofing until it evaporates. This is a major error in the development of the original contract documents ...

The report also notes that replacing the existing pool deck waterproofing would be "extremely expensive" and "create a major disturbance to the occupants" of Champlain Towers South.

Surfside's Mayor told The New York Times that he was unaware of the nine-page Morabito report, and wanted to review it before making comment. However, the owners of the building were aware.

Kenneth S. Direktor, a lawyer who represents the resident-led association that operates the building, said this week that the repairs had been set to commence, based on extensive plans drawn up this year.
"They were just about to get started on it," he said in an interview, adding that the process would have been handled much differently if owners had any indication that the corrosion and crumbling — mild instances of which are relatively common in many coastal buildings — were a serious threat.
Eliana Salzhauer, a Surfside commissioner, said that while the cause of the collapse was unknown, it appeared to her that the problems identified by the engineer in the 2018 report could have contributed to the structural failure.
"It's upsetting to see these documents because the condo board was clearly made aware that there were issues," Ms. Salzhauer said. "And it seems from the documents that the issues were not addressed."

As those with loved ones trapped in the rubble begin to let go of their dreams of miracle rescues, the focus on the whys of this tragedy has crept in.

Sergio Lazano, who lived a block away in another Champlain Towers building, told The Daily Beast that "there's no hope" for his parents, and he's moved on to trying to convince himself that they died instantly, in their sleep. He, along with another resident who didn't care to be named, told The Daily Beast that the building had long exhibited signs of damage—signs that were reportedly ignored.

According to them, steel reinforcing bars were protruding from the walls, cracks were forming on supporting beams, chunks of concrete were falling from one balcony to another, and the condo's pool was starting to leak into the parking garage below—evidenced by the white stains on cars left by dripping water that had mixed with concrete powder.
[...]
However, one person told The Daily Beast that years of attempts to have the building's condo board take on expensive repairs was met with stiff resistance from unit owners who were reluctant to spend the funds.
It's still unclear what caused the sudden splintering of the structure, and it could be months before any determination is made. But at least one witness account that the condo's pool had disappeared into a sinkhole is generating theories that the building was pulled down into disintegrating limestone, a natural occurrence that has long plagued Florida.

Here's the sinkhole account, given to The Miami Herald:

Early Thursday morning, Mike Stratton awoke to the sound of his cellphone ringing. It was his wife, Cassie Stratton, on the other end, speaking frantically about their condo building shaking. She told him she saw a sinkhole where the pool out her window used to be. Then the line went dead.
"It was 1:30 a.m., I'll never, never forget that," he said.

Stratton last saw his wife on Monday, just before he left for a business trip in Washington, D.C. They'd lived in the high-rise for about four years.

The wreckage of a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida on June 25, 2021. - Four people are now known to have died in the collapse of an oceanfront apartment building near Miami Beach, officials said Friday, while the number of unaccounted for has risen to 159 -- fueling fears of a much higher death toll. (Photo by Gianrigo MARLETTA / AFP) (Photo by GIANRIGO MARLETTA/AFP via Getty Images)

At least one lawsuit related to the collapse has been filed; it's a class action in the name of the victims and survivors, and asserts that

[Champlain Towers South Condominium Association Inc.]"failed to adequately secure the building, placing the lives and property of its occupants and visitors ... at risk resulting in the collapse of the building."

Further, the lawsuit declares that

"At all relevant times, defendant was aware, or reasonably should have been aware that the plaintiff's and the class's lives and property were at risk due to the lack of precautions taken at Champlain Towers South."

An attorney for the condo association was quick to dismiss the lawsuit.

Donna Berger, another attorney with Becker Lawyers, told NBC News that it was "disappointing" for a lawsuit "to be the focus right now of any owner in Champlain Towers South, when almost 100 of their neighbors are still unaccounted for."
[...]
"I feel as a culture we've become so accustomed from moving from one tragic event to another, and there's often a rush to judgment," she said. "This was a community that was functioning well and doing the right things and just struck with a freak tragedy."
[...]
"How in the span of less than a day could an attorney file a lawsuit alleging anything? Every expert on the site doesn't know what happened, yet some attorney has decided that he has figured this all out," Berger added. "Certainly, if there's culpable parties, they should be held accountable, but first and foremost our focus is on the search and rescue efforts."

Berger also implied that nearby construction of another condo may have been to blame.

It will take weeks, if not months, before a final verdict on the cause of the collapse will come down from teams of investigators and engineers, providing some sort of closure for those who've lost loved ones and their homes in the collapse. Then, perhaps, that question of "why" will finally be answered for those left behind to ask.

Sad! Donald Trump is desperate to regain internet relevance. It's just not working

The Mar-a-Lago Blogger is having a hard time adjusting to his new role in the nation's consciousness. According to an analysis of web traffic by The Washington Post, the worst American president in modern history just doesn't matter as much as he used to. Banned from Twitter (permanently) and Facebook (probably permanently), the Q Anon messiah just can't seem to find a way to dominate the national discourse.

Sure, he launched a shitty little website, where he sells event appearances and publishes carelessly written missives "From the Desk of Donald Trump." Admittedly, certain members of the media race to amplify those missives, often tweeting screenshots ... but that keeps the conversation on Twitter.

Which means there's little reason to visit the Donald's shitty little website.

How irrelevant is the twice-impeached, would-be dictator's online presence? Let's check The Post's analysis.

Online talk about him has plunged to a five-year low. He's banned or ignored on pretty much every major social media venue. In the last week, Trump's website — including his new blog, fundraising page and online storefront ­— attracted fewer estimated visitors than the pet-adoption service Petfinder and the recipe site Delish.
[...]
Social engagement around Trump — a measure of likes, reactions, comments or shares on content about him across Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest — has nosedived 95 percent since January, to its lowest level since 2016.

It's almost like trying to destroy democracy has consequences. Sure, Trump still has a vise-like grip on the Republican Party that still considers him their king. Ever since he lost the popular vote on his way to becoming president in 2016, the GOP hasn't wavered in their adoration.

But the rest of us? We're enjoying the stability and calmness of the Biden-Harris presidency thus far, getting our vaccines, trying to recover from the trauma of this pandemic and the previous administration. And we deserve that, after four years of being unable to turn away from a presidential train wreck, of carrying the constant fear of which American traditions and laws Trump and his handler Mitch McConnell would violate next.

Sure, Trump is destroying the Republican Party, and the impact of his four years in office will likely be felt for generations, unless we do something about the Supreme Court and that pesky 2017 Tax Scam, among other pressing issues. But it's such a relief to know he can't destroy the United States right now.

In fact, Trump can't even go viral right now, as The Post notes.

"He's whistling in the wind," said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing online organizing and reviewed data about Trump's audience. "People just aren't following him to his little desk platform, and we can see that in the numbers. The difference is ridiculous. He doesn't have that same ability anymore to constantly put his content in people's faces the way he did before."

He's desperate to regain the spotlight, of course; after all, he's been chasing it for most of his adult life. Advisers tell The Post that the gold-tinted grifter is eager to start another rally tour this summer, and he'd even consider taking his talents to smaller platforms that essentially serve as right-wing echo chambers—"if he received enough money from the platform and could control the terms."

And there's a part of me, that, like The Atlantic's David Graham noted in April, feels like I'm jinxing Trump's glorious irrelevancy just by writing about how much the country seems to be relishing it.

Again, Trump still has the Republican Party under his thumb. I'm not pretending otherwise, even as I celebrate his growing insignificance.


He's also deeply saturated the right-wing with his Big Lie of a stolen election, to the point that conservatives are willing that delusion into reality, as this fascinating thread (click through to read the whole thing) deftly explains.


But in the end, as The Atlantic's Graham notes, there's just one insurmountable obstacle that Trump can't scream his way through, though damned if he didn't try.

The basic problem for Trump is that, despite his best and most nefarious efforts, he is no longer president. He just doesn't matter that much now.

We'll see what happens when he resumes his white supremacy hangar tour in the coming months, and when the battles for 2022 and 2024 kick into gear. But for now, it's so nice to start my weekend every Saturday afternoon without fearing what he'll do in those precious 60 hours or so that I unplug from the news each week.

When I plug back in every Tuesday morning, it's a relief to only see headlines about Trump's significant and well-deserved legal troubles—like this well-deserved lawsuit recently filed by the Chinese Americans Civil Rights Coalition, or New York's investigation of the Trump Organization entering the criminal sphere—or stories that center the current administration's fight to undo his reign of terror through repeals and reversals and revocations and just plain old better, progressive policy.

It's a relief we earned, as progressives, as Americans, as the electorate, when we came together to unseat him in 2020.

Did Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband commit tax fraud in Georgia?

Another day, another story that confirms what we all know: Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has no business in Congress. This week alone, the freshman conspiracy theorist made headlines for chasing after and screaming at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Capitol, and again after her aide, Nick Dyer, accosted Rep. Eric Swalwell on the House floor, and then again, after an extremely disturbing video showed Greene (R-Karens) and friends harassing the door (yes, a door) of Ocasio-Cortez's congressional office back in 2019.

The old video, of course, was as attention-seeking as anything else Greene does today. The not-quite 47-year-old gym owner feeds on attention. Stripped of every committee assignment by her peers, the easily distracted Greene is bored, with lots of free time on her hands. She may believe the nonsense she spews in her desperation to remain in the public eye, but it's just as likely that she doesn't. Either way, she works hard to ensure that the average person watching her antics despises her. Looking back at her life, this may be her greatest success.

Admittedly, spreading conspiracy theories, worshipping Donald Trump, and yelling at closed doors may not be particularly great choices, or actions one would expect from a member of Congress. They're also not illegal acts.

Tax fraud, however, is very much illegal. Atlanta investigative reporter Justin Gray gave the reviled Georgia representative her worst headline of the week when he revealed Friday that Greene and her husband Perry have been double-dipping in Georgia's tax breaks since at least 2020.

For anyone who doesn't know much of Greene's origin story, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) offers an extensive chronicling of the belligerent blonde's journey to Congress. It's worth a read.

Greene is a construction heiress turned Crossfit competitor and conservative vlogger who only found her way to the House after jurisdiction hopping. As the AJC notes, Greene attempted to rewrite her biography as she pursued a seat, any seat, in Congress, claiming that she's "spent the past two decades running my business alongside my husband."

Taylor Commercial's website does not support this depiction of her role.

The site has been offline for "scheduled maintenance" in recent months, but Marjorie Greene has no significant presence on the company's web pages collected over the past 20 years by the Internet Archive site's Wayback Machine.

She is not listed with other executives on the company's leadership pages. Greene is not featured in the archived pages where her father and husband are the central actors in the company's story.

From "the middle of 2007 to 2010," the AJC reports that Greene was listed as the chief financial officer for the company her daddy built, a company that built much of its wealth by snatching up government contracts for low-income housing. That's right—despite the conspiracy theorist's constant rage against "socialist Democrats" and government safety net programs, she and her family saw fit to make millions from them.

But by 2011, she was no longer listed at CFO. Greene became obsessed with Crossfit that same year. With her apparently nominal efforts to sustain her daddy's business behind her, the tiny fanatic competed in Crossfit competitions. She opened her own Crossfit gym in 2013, even admitting she had no business experience.

By 2017, the AJC reports, the zealot had lost her passion for the cultish fitness craze, and abandoned her gym behind her as she focused on politics under the Donald Trump regime, joining Twitter and doing really fun stuff like visiting the nation's capital to chase a teenager who'd just survived a high school massacre and screaming at AOC's door.

By early 2019, it seemed that the aimless heiress had decided upon her next hobby: running for Congress. From all appearances, it seems that her college sweetheart hubby—who does appear to actually run the construction business—was willing to help Greene fudge a few details to help her get on the ballot.

In May 2019, Taylor Commercial amended its state registration papers to again include Greene as an officer, listing her as secretary of the company.
Two weeks later, Greene announced her candidacy for Congress in the Sixth District, and her profile as a business owner of her family's construction company was central to the campaign's rollout.

By December 2019, Greene had left her Sixth District campaign behind, and in 2020, the couple, who own a home in Fulton County, bought a $610,000 home in the 14th District that ultimately elected her. That very Floyd County, Georgia, home brings us to the alleged tax fraud (finally)!

A Channel 2 Action News investigation has found that Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband have two active homestead exemptions, which is against Georgia law.

A homestead exemption is a big tax break any Georgia homeowner is entitled to for their primary residence. It is against the law to file for more than one.

Yet that's exactly what the Greenes did.

Through open records requests, Channel 2 Action News pulled the Greenes' homestead exemption applications in both Fulton and Floyd counties.

In the Floyd county application, Greene's husband left blank the line that asked if they had another active exemption on any property.

But Fulton County tax officials confirm to (investigative reporter Justin) Gray that Greene never stopped getting the tax break on the Fulton property.

Details on this illegal double-dip are still emerging as both Floyd and Fulton county officials dig in, but Greene and her handlers found themselves at a loss when asked about it. In a statement raging against WSB-TV for doing journalism, Greene's office reduced the fraud to "paperwork, which is being taken care of." That's basically an admission of guilt.

Greene's statement also declared her to be a "proud resident" of her current district, before lashing out at reporter Justin Gray with words that would have found themselves at home on the Twitter page of Greene's messiah, Donald Trump … if he was allowed to have one.

"Justin Gray needs to mind his own business instead of launching yet another pathetic attempt to smear me and my family."

Gray reports that the penalty for the Greenes' alleged crime would amount to about $12,000, or twice the couple's tax bill.

The Greenes are allegedly millionaires, with much of their wealth generated by the very government contracts the missus loves to complain about. A six grand tax dodge seems so utterly unworthy of the risk, particularly since Greene was already running for office at the time. Greene loaned nearly a million dollars to her campaign, after all; $6,000 seems so … insignificant.

Is tax fraud enough to compel the removal of Greene from Congress, once and for all? Not likely. But it's just another reminder of how very unfit she is for public office. As it is, Greene seems to have already moved on from her meager duties in the House, instead touring the nation spewing bile and "America First" nonsense to frothy crowds who believe Donald Trump is still our secret president. And she's doing it with another of the more reviled members of Congress: Matt Gaetz of Florida, who is currently under investigation for sex trafficking.

What. A. Pair.

Black doctor 'shocked' after white North Carolina city official is fired for disrespecting her

Trust me: After the week this Black woman has had, I'm as surprised by the headline as anyone. Not that a mediocre white man disrespected a Black woman with palpable animosity; that's every day for us. No, I'm shocked that there were any consequences for this guy being such a jerk, much less such significant ones.

While Black men are the people white folks claim to fear the most so they can shoot them without consequence, Black women are to many, if not most white people, only here to be of service. We're not here to be treated with dignity, we're here to give their aging, racist fathers a sponge bath while earning pennies over minimum wage. We're mammies and maids, cooks and caregivers. We're welfare queens and whores, until election time, when we're the workhorses white Democrats swear they couldn't do without.

Racist perceptions may fuel those racist stereotypes, but we all know that perception is not reality. And as Greensboro, North Carolina's newest ex-government official Tony Collins just learned, Black women also get doctorates.

It all started with a four-hour slog of a zoning commission meeting, held virtually and televised on Monday. Less than a dozen items were on the agenda, but one concerned the impact of a development "a few hundred feet" from the home of Carrie Rosario, an associate professor at UNC-Greensboro who holds a doctorate in public health. After Dr. Rosario shared her thoughts as a concerned citizen, then-Commissioner Collins, who holds a bachelor's degree and is a partner in a construction company named Collins & Galyon General Contractors, decided it was his time to shine … like a racist fake diamond.

As transcribed by Greensboro's News & Record:

In the video, Collins is seen questioning Rosario about the relevance of her comments and referring to her as "Mrs. Rosario."

"It's Dr. Rosario, thank you," she said.

"If Mrs. Rosario has something ..." Collins said.

"Dr. Rosario," she replied.

"I'm sorry," Collins said. "Your name says on here Carrie Rosario. Hey, Carrie."

"It's Dr. Rosario," she said. "I (wouldn't) call you Tony, so please, sir, call me as I would like to be called. That's how I'm identified."

"It doesn't really matter," Collins said.

"It matters to me," Rosario said. "Out of respect I would like you to call me by the name I'm asking you to call me by."

"Your screen says Carrie Rosario," Collins said.

"My name is Dr. Carrie Rosario and it really speaks very negatively of you as a commissioner to be disrespectful," she said.

"I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but you're negotiating something that happened four years ago," Collins said.

Let's roll the tape. Note that Collins not only rejects her title and uses her first name, but despite multiple corrections, he also refuses to pronounce Dr. Rosario's surname correctly. He also leans on what's on the screen—twice—but "Mrs." is nowhere to be found.


As a preemptive strike against anyone who feels compelled to frame this as a mere mistake with double down sauce, The Charlotte Observer reports that, earlier in the meeting, another commissioner responded quite differently when he received a similar correction.

Before her exchange with Collins, Rosario corrected another commissioner regarding her title and he apologized, saying, "I really don't want to offend you in that regard, so, Dr. Rosario, I do apologize for that."

Given that Collins witnessed the earlier interaction, Rosario said she interpreted his refusal to acknowledge her request as "a personal attack of disrespect."

"I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at first and corrected him, but as the exchange unfolded it was clear that he was intent on disrespecting me," she said.

Multiple people in the meeting apologized to Dr. Rosario immediately. Collins was not one of them.

Council members convened on Tuesday; though the video isn't embeddable here, I encourage you to go watch the full five-minute clip provided by the News & Record. Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, a Black woman, replayed the incident from the day before. She named the four people who apologized to Dr. Rosario before noting that "I get this regularly, from other folk. I know how this feels." Hightower also named the racism and white privilege on display in the moment, and added that the council did not appoint Collins to act like this, before stating that the incident was an example of "history repeating itself."

Next, Councilwoman Goldie Wells, another Black woman with her own doctorate, spoke next, reminding the room that Black women can get multiple degrees, while white women with high school diplomas still enjoy more advantages. She spoke to how much education means to African Americans in general, particularly the journey to a Ph.D.:"That means something. Now this, just was some' bad manners. We know that if somebody pronounces name differently from what you want to be called, they quickly change (the pronunciation)." Dr. Wells then gave examples of previous oustings of appointees before making the case for ousting Collins.

Discussion continued for about a half hour, with Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann, a white woman, offering to have a talk with Collins. The council then voted unanimously to send the weirdo and his racist nonsense packing.

On Wednesday—two days after the incident and one day after he got the boot—Collins decided to apologize, and left a penitent voicemail for Dr. Rosario, who responded with "a gracious message."

"I am so appreciative of her reaching back to me after I called her," Collins told the News & Record on Friday. "She didn't have to and she did."

No, she didn't have to. But she did.

Collins conceded that he behaved badly, but was adamant that his vile behavior had nothing whatsoever to do with race or gender, because "anyone who deals with him" knows that he treats everyone the same!

"I'm not saying that to make an excuse. It wouldn't matter who it is. It was disrespectful."

And though he said he isn't looking to justify his behavior, Collins does think he has learned from the experience.

"I live and work in a world of construction," he said. "We fight and tussle all day long and then we're friends at the end of the day.

"It's a little bit in my nature and I hate to say that. I didn't think. I really had no intent of disrespecting, but I certainly did."

It's an interesting defense to claim that you're an equal opportunity asshole.

On Thursday, Collins sent an email to each member of the council.

Good Morning Members of the Greensboro City Council,

I understand from published reports that you voted Tuesday evening to remove me from the Greensboro Zoning Commission because of my behavior at the Zoning Commission meeting Monday evening. I agree with you that my exchange with Dr. Rosario was out of line and accept your judgment to remove me from the commission. I have telephoned Dr. Rosario and left a message apologizing for my behavior.

I would also like to publicly apologize to Dr. Rosario, the Zoning Commission and to the City Council. There is no good excuse for my interaction with Dr. Rosario so I will not try to offer one. Citizens deserve better. I would never want to bring any harm to the City of Greensboro or to any of our citizens. I failed to live up to my own standards and to yours. I regret that sincerely.

I have appreciated the opportunity to serve Greensboro on the Zoning Commission and wish the other members of the Commission well and thank them for their service.

Thanks,

Tony Collins

Collins claims he sent the email, which doesn't acknowledge the racial dynamics at play, on Wednesday but it didn't go through.

Dr. Rosario, being a Black woman, admitted she was "shocked" that a the council voted to kick Collins to the curb. She held it up as an example of the importance of having diverse elected representation—three of the nine council members are women of color. The outcome is also indicates that in Greensboro, Black women fight for each other.

"Black women, regardless of level of education, are consistently dismissed and overlooked or judged in our society."

She went on to say systemic racism is what "made me even feel like I had to use my title in the first place" and also what compelled her to come well-prepared for her presentation "so as not to appear to be the stereotyped 'angry Black woman.'"

"I cannot judge what is in Mr. Collins' heart, nor would I presume to, but I will say that racism as a system devalues and dismisses Black women — and Mr. Collins' actions were evidence of the microaggressions that we face on a regular basis just trying to go about our daily lives," Rosario said.

A horrible Wall Street Journal op-ed isn't so far behind us—you know the one, where Joseph Epstein orders the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, to drop the Doc because it "feels fraudulent, even comic." In a great interview with The Washington Post's lady vertical, The Lily, Dr. Rosario pays tribute to her late mother, a powerful Black woman named Janet Kennedy; she also further discusses the importance of her title.

Rosario, 38, sees her title as an essential tool. As a Black woman who says she looks young for her age, people are predisposed to dismiss her opinion and expertise, she said. "It adds legitimacy to what I'm saying," Rosario said, especially when she's discussing a matter relevant to public health, as she was on Monday night.

[...]

Women of color "face lots of judgments on their value and what they are capable of doing," Rosario said. After they achieve something big, she said, the question becomes, "Did they actually do it? Is it legitimate?" As a Black woman, Rosario said, these kinds of comments can wear on your health. Sometimes she wonders why people can't just celebrate her success. To Rosario, the "Dr." title is a celebration of her accomplishments — and the people who helped her achieve them.

Dr. Rosario is certain that her mom, who died in February, would have celebrated her viral moment, with tweets shouting "It's Dr. Rosario!" galore. Because, as The Lily's Carole Kirchener notes, "Collins told Rosario that her title 'didn't matter.' It mattered to Rosario … and it would have mattered to her mom."

Dallas man charged for death threat against AOC after his social media 'incriminates' him in Capitol attack

As noted by Law and Crime's Jerry Lambe, Garret Miller essentially wrote his own charging document on social media. Before he went to Washington, D.C. for "this Trump shit," as he called it in a Jan. 2 Facebook post, Miller was expecting, perhaps even hoping, that "some crazy shit (was) going to happen. "Dollar might collapse," Miller predicted, and "civil war could start." Miller, 34, also told his Facebook friends what he planned to bring: "a grappling hook and rope and a level 3 vest. Helmets, mouth guard, and bump cap."

He tweeted video from the Rotunda, mid-riot, and under a handle that included his full name, with the caption "from inside Congress." He posted selfies in real-time, and he engaged with people, joking with one commenter that he wanted to "incriminate" himself "a little" with his photos. While still on Capitol grounds, Miller, apparently scrolling his feed, challenged false "antifa did it" narratives—by taking credit for the assault on Congress. "Nah, we stormed it. We (were) gentle. We (were) unarmed. We knew what had to be done," he tweeted, in addition to telling a member of the clergy to "wake the fuck up." "I charged the east gate myself with an anti-masker," he insisted on Facebook, while noting on Instagram that he and his fellow invaders got in "as peacefully as we could without weapons."

And when Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted "Impeach." from a Capitol safe room, Miller replied, "Assassinate AOC."

In the days after the insurrection, Miller's social media posts threatened the unnamed U.S. Capitol Police officer who shot rioter Ashli Babbitt with death, noting that "'millions' of people agree with him that the officer 'deserve(s) to die' 'so (it's) huntin' season.'" It was only in Donald Trump's final days in office that it seemed that Miller realized that "it might be time for me to ... Be hard to locate."

It was too late. Miller was arrested on Inauguration Day.

On Friday, the Justice Department released four of the charges Miller faces:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted buildings or grounds without lawful authority
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Obstructing or impeding any official proceeding
  • Certain acts during civil disorder

On Saturday, CNN reported that new charges, stemming from the threats against Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and the USCP officer who shot Babbitt, were revealed.

Contrary to sentiments conveyed through his many, many social media posts—including a promise that "next time we bring the guns!"—Miller's lawyer insists that his client feels Very Sad and Didn't Mean Anything By It, and his family totally has his back. Also, he did it for the disgraced orange tyrant.

Clint Broden, a lawyer for Miller, told CNN Saturday that his client "certainly regrets what he did."
    "He did it in support of former President (Donald) Trump, but regrets his actions. He has the support of his family, and a lot of the comments are viewed in context as really sort of misguided political hyperbole. Given the political divide these days, there is a lot of hyperbole," Broden said.
    It's kind of hard to dismiss feverish vows of civil war, hanging a cop by a noose, and murdering a congresswoman as "misguided political hyperbole" when such violent promises and threats were made from within the U.S. Capitol, amid a siege.

    They blew it: Millions will see unemployment benefits delayed — no matter when new relief bill passes

    The outdated, hard-to-staff computer systems used by numerous state unemployment insurance programs made headlines this spring, as those systems were overwhelmed by the first wave of devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent aid ushered in by the CARES Act. Now, as current aid is set to end Dec. 31, Congress continues to battle over the next round of coronavirus relief before adjourning to head to their warm homes for the holidays. Even if they succeed, states are revealing that, thanks to those outdated programs, it's already too late to avoid weeks-long disruptions in unemployment payments for as many as 12 million struggling Americans.

    As POLITICO reported Friday, the systems involved simply aren't able to flip a switch once the Republican Senate finally stops blocking much-needed relief to the nation.

    Worker advocates say it could take weeks for the jobless aid programs to get back online as lags in programming for outdated state systems cause delays in relief checks. "We're already too late," said Michele Evermore, an unemployment insurance expert at the National Employment Law Project. From the time Congress passes an extension of unemployment aid, she said, many states wouldn't be up and running for "three weeks or four weeks" at the fastest.

    [...]
    Anything Congress includes in the next round of aid that is even modestly different from the programs implemented earlier this year "is going to take time to reprogram," said Elizabeth Pancotti, a policy adviser at the pro-worker Employ America. "In some states that might be a week or two; in other states, we've seen it [take] five, six, seven weeks."
    [...]
    Should Congress pass an extension of the programs, states would then have to wait for the U.S. Labor Department to issue guidance before sending out payments — which could be hard to turn around quickly during the holidays.

    The news comes as new unemployment claims ending the week of Dec. 5 soared to 1.28 million. As noted here on Thursday, "it didn't have to be this way."

    Kyle Rittenhouse out on bail after right-wing fans raise millions

    The headline was jarring: "Black Man Who Spent 25 Years Incarcerated for a Murder He Didn't Commit Has Been Exonerated," The Root's homepage shouted at me. The story of 62-year-old Jaythan Kendrick, who was arrested for a crime he did not commit on Thanksgiving Day 1994—when he was just 36—is a familiar one to anyone who's paid attention to the chronic miscarriage of justice Black people face: Had law enforcement and or prosecutors actually done their job, Kendrick could have been home in time for Christmas, or maybe never arrested at all. The evidence was thin—at best. It also was manipulated.

    But this story is not about Jaythan Kendrick.

    With a quick click of the Back button, and I was back to The Root's homepage; just below the Kendrick story I'd just read was the face of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old high schooler who definitely murdered two—almost three—Black Lives Matter protesters in Kenosha, Wisc. with an illegally obtained AR-15 rifle back in August. Rittenhouse was released Friday on a cash bail of $2 million, paid in part by Mike Lindell—the Trump fanatic usually referred to as the My Pillow Guy—and Rick Schroder, an ex-child actor best known for the vapid 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons.

    While both Kendrick and Rittenhouse will be home just in time for Thanksgiving, the justice system journeys for these two men—one guilty, and one innocent, one white, and one Black—couldn't be more different. And so I rage.

    Lin Wood, attorney for the newly-freed yet wholly unrepentant Rittenhouse, posted a photo of the grinning (and maskless) homicidal teenager to Twitter Friday evening.


    Rabid militia enthusiasts, endorsers of white supremacy, and lovers of Donald Trump have all latched on to the murderous teen, elevating him to hero status in their hateful white power fantasies; over half a million dollars has been raised for Rittenhouse beyond the bail money, according to the local CBS affiliate.

    Most of the money came from small donations, and Rittenhouse's attorney took to Twitter thanking donors and saying, "We the people did not let him down."

    Rittenhouse, who again, absolutely killed two people, has a fucking fan base. A rabid one, with deep pockets. The murderer, who has admitted to two murders and one attempted murder, told police "No, I don't regret it" at the time of his arrest, and is currently enjoying some surreal hero's life, admired by the sort of folks who vicariously watched cell phone footage of his cold killings and opened their wallets in support. These folks know exactly what Rittenhouse did and respect it. They consider his actions right and just, even as they smear his victims—all white men—to help justify their cold-blooded murders.

    As Rittenhouse—an admitted killer whose injurious and life-ending acts were caught on video—settles in to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday as a real life Natural Born Killer, his jail time is currently a brief blip in his life's history, despite his night-of fears of being incarcerated for "the rest of (his) life." Army veteran Kendrick, on the other hand, would hardly be considered anybody's hero.


    The former mail carrier was in prison for longer than Rittenhouse has breathed air, yet no six-figure fundraisers have been held in Kendrick's name to help him reclaim some semblance of a life; instead of the My Pillow Guy and a washed up actor, it was only a determined family member and the good folks at the Innocence Project who fought for his freedom.

    "Mr. Kendrick has endured an unimaginable injustice for over 25 years. He has spent decades trying to right this wrong, but the system failed him at every step," said Susan Friedman, Mr. Kendrick's Innocence Project attorney. "This is a textbook case of wrongful conviction exposing the worst flaws in our system – racial profiling, unduly suggestive identification procedures and a lack of police accountability at very least. Thankfully, the new evidence in this case, including DNA, has provided overwhelming proof of Mr. Kendrick's innocence."
    "I never thought this day would materialize. Tomorrow I am going to wake up and go home," said Mr. Kendrick. "I saw so many other people get to leave and I was still here. Finally the truth is out that I didn't commit this crime."

    Rittenhouse's trial—assuming he gets one and doesn't plea out—will be one that both his fervent fans and justice seekers alike will follow in earnest. Whether he walks free for taking the lives of two white men—and shooting another in the arm—remains to be seen. It certainly seems impossible and wrong that a human being who crossed state lines with a illegally-procured device designed to kill as many people as possible might walk free after absolutely using that weapon to create two dead bodies and an injured one.

    But it also seems impossible and wrong that innocent people like Kendrick whither in prisons all day, every day, waiting for justice, while an admitted and lionized killer walks free.

    And so I rage.


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