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Guns and Crime

Was Jason Van Dyke convicted to keep the peace?



Was Jason Van Dyke convicted to keep the peace

Only the twelve men and women on the jury that convicted Jason Van Dyke of 2nd-degree murder will know what motivated their decision. The shooting death of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent release of dashcam video showing the incident has further widened the gap between Chicago police and the people they serve.

There have already been plenty of protests as well as political repercussions. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired shortly after the video was released. Mayor Rahm Emanuel went from being a rising superstar for the Democrats to choosing not to run for reelection. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was voted out of office.

One thing is certain. Had the jury not convicted Van Dyke, Chicago would be a huge riot zone today. Property would be burning. Fights would be breaking out. Guns would be used in a city that’s not supposed to have guns. It would be chaos unlike anything the city has seen in decades.

Did the jury convict to save Chicago?

Compelling video

The two pieces of evidence that made conviction easy were the attempted police coverup of the events and the dashcam video. The coverup will lead to more trials, keeping the wounds from the shooting open in Chicago for a while. But the video was likely all that was needed for jurists to justify their decision.

Here’s the incident itself. Warning: It is graphic.

This appears to be a situation where use of non-lethal force such as a stun gun would seem appropriate. The knife-wielding McDonald was clearly dangerous. He was energized by a false sense of invulnerability by the PCP coursing through his veins. Walking in the middle of the street in a threatening manner meant that he needed to be taken down.

But he could and should have been taken down without 16 bullets being fired at him. He didn’t lunge at the police as was originally reported. He represented a clear and present danger to the police and everyone around, but with multiple officers around and an empty street, the need for lethal force is hard to argue.

A tougher job than most realize

The infamous 21-foot-rule says that a person wielding a knife can kill a person carrying a gun if they’re within 21 feet of their target. This rule applies to holstered weapons with their safety applied. Van Dyke’s and other officers’ guns were out and ready to be fired. Nevertheless, McDonald was much closer than 21 feet when he spun around just prior to being shot.

Did Van Dyke fear for his life? It’s possible. What many citizens do not acknowledge is that situations like the ones police face with assailants like McDonald require extremely difficult split-second decisions. It’s easy to say McDonald was not a real threat for people watching the video, but being tasked with taking him down 14 feet away makes it very difficult to know when to shoot.

Here’s a Mythbusters video that put the 21-foot-rule to the test.

Being a cop is a tough job. I personally support the police and their decision-making the vast majority of the time. This particular incident is challenging to defend. I stand by my assertion that non-lethal force could have been used.

It can be debated whether or not Van Dyke should have been convicted of 2nd degree murder. Chicago is not burning as a result. Should that justify the verdict or did it stand alone on its own merits? Only those in the jury box know for sure.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Gene Ralno

    October 6, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    I wouldn’t want to be a cop in today’s world. It’s riddled by nuts, felons, terrorists, illegal aliens, gangsters and mobsters running wild in the streets. Cops are faced with doing a job that varies according to the conditions and risking their jobs if they take action. The alternative is to ignore the streets, have a donut and look the other way. As citizens, we need to choose for them. That PCP nut would have killed them all if they let him. Stun gun? Rubber bullets? OK but we weren’t there.

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Conspiracy Theory

If Keith Ellison wins his election, #MeToo has officially jumped the shark



If Keith Ellison wins his election MeToo has officially jumped the shark

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) should be a prime target for the #MeToo movement. He’s a powerful man who allegedly abused his ex-girlfriend. She has corroboration and evidence to back her claims. She’s a fellow Democrat, so she’s not a political plant by his opposition. She’s a woman with a story of abuse that, by #MeToo movement standards, should be believed.

The problem is Ellison is a powerful Democrat, a Muslim, a minority, and is in the middle of a tight election. Therefore, he’s protected from the people who would have sunk Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation despite no evidence or corroboration.

The hypocrisy of it all is stunning. The message being sent by the #MeToo movement based on their unwillingness to confront Ellison and call for his removal from offices, current and future, is that women are to be believed if they’re accusing the right people. Keith Ellison isn’t the right person. He’s an ally to the #MeToo movement because he’s a Democrat, a Muslim, a minority, and someone who’s in the middle of an important election in Minnesota.

Despite the #MeToo movement looking away, it seems that voters in Minnesota are starting to look closer.

Domestic abuse charges diminishing Ellison’s lead Keith Ellison’s (D-Minn.) lead in the polls – to become Minnesota’s newest attorney general in the midterm elections – has continued to vanish after his ex-girlfriend’s domestic abuse allegations.

Before the Karen Monahan’s charges were made public, the Democratic Muslim candidate was believed to be a shoe-in in the contest to become the deep-blue state’s top cop, but since then, polls show that his once long-shot Republican competitor, Doug Wardlow, has closed in on him – big time.

Misogyny and abuse of power are real problems in America. This is why the initial iteration of the #MeToo movement was so powerful. It worked. That cannot be denied. But what it has become is a shadow of its original self.

The highest ranking law enforcement official n the state of Minnesota may be a many accused by his ex-girlfriend of physical and mental abuse. Unfortunately, #MeToo doesn’t believe her.

#MeToo will only go after people like Keith Ellison if there’s incontrovertible evidence against them. They’ll go after Brett Kavanaugh no matter what. #MeToo is not the women’s empowerment movement they claim to be. It’s a political activist front.

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Guns and Crime

Why isn’t Katie Brennan’s #MeToo accusation getting national attention?



It’s the type of story that should have received national attention immediately. It was sourced by a respected major news outlet, the Wall Street Journal. Both the accuser and the accused are high-ranking public official in New Jersey’s government. The accused stepped down two weeks ago when approached by WSJ for comment. Katie Brennan’s story is a major newsworthy scandal.

As of Monday morning, a day after the story officially broke and four days after it was leaked to other major news outlets, both mainstream media and the #MeToo movement are essentially silent.

That will change soon, possibly today. Brennan, a prominent volunteer for Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and current Chief of Staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, released this statement:

On April 8th, 2017, Al Alvarez raped me. On April 9th, 2017 I learned that the system is broken.

I have pursued every form of justice available. But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors.

The details of the assault portrayed in reporter Kate King’s Wall Street Journal report published today are accurate. But to date, I have received no justice.

I decided to come forward because I know that Al Alvarez, and all perpetrators, must be held accountable, must never rape again, and the justice system needs a complete change with regard to sexual violence.

New Jersey residents are only given a two-year window to file a civil suit. After spending an entire year pursuing a criminal case before hitting a dead end, I am left with less than one year to pursue civil action.

It is clear that leadership from the Murphy administration is needed to create meaningful policy change on several levels to make sure future victims do not have to endure what I have. I urge Gov. Murphy and the Attorney General’s Office to eliminate the statute of limitations on civil action related to sexual assault, and to direct prosecutors to be more aggressive in taking on these criminal cases. Further, the Murphy administration and the General Assembly should pursue legislation to ensure New Jersey’s police and other first responders are better trained to handle sexual assault victims.

Finally, sexual predators like Al Alvarez are only able to stay in power when those around them do nothing. Several senior level members of the Murphy administration were aware of my assault and failed to take meaningful action. Al Alvarez remained employed at a senior level in the Murphy administration until just a few weeks ago, when he knew the Wall Street Journal article was coming out and opted to resign. The failure of members of Gov. Murphy’s staff to respond in an aggressive, proactive fashion is unacceptable.

To other sexual assault survivors in New Jersey, I urge you to join me in coming forward if you are able. I will stand with you, because when we stand together, we are safer and stronger. Our voice is our power. Together, we can finally receive the justice we all deserve.

Murphy has not commented other than saying Alvarez should not have been hired. He was made aware of a “sensitive matter” that needed to be discussed by Brennan in June and claimed his staff would set up a meeting. That was the last Brennan heard from Murphy.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of aide sex assault allegation questioned accuser, Katie Brennan, was a Murphy campaign volunteer who said she spent more than a year seeking action against Alvarez for the alleged sexual assault before directly emailing Phil and Tammy Murphy in June. Phil Murphy responded within the hour, according to the Journal.

“Hang in,” he wrote. “We are on it.”

But Alvarez remained in his $140,000-a-year position until October. The alleged assault happened in April 2017.

Standards set by the #MeToo movement dictate that credible accusations should be believed. Brennan appears to be extremely credible, having reported her rape immediately after it allegedly occurred. Alvarez offered a $15,000 settlement that would have been attached to a non-disclosure agreement, which Brennan refused.

Where is MSNBC? Where is CNN? Where is Alyssa Milano?

Social media is starting to take notice. In particular, they’re going after Murphy and his wife for speaking out in support of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Katie Brennan

My Take

I am a strong proponent for what the #MeToo movement once promoted and how it started. The original intent was to embolden women who had experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of men in power over them. The goal was to give courage to those who were in very tough situations.

Recently, the #MeToo movement has been weaponized. I’m not going to draw comparisons between accusations against Kavanaugh and Alvarez. That would be unfair to Ford since Brennan’s accusations against Alvarez are much more recent and have the benefit of an immediate report to the authorities. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that as of now, either the story hasn’t reached the right people or the right people have chosen to ignore it.

We can’t let them.

It’s not as if this is a political hit job against Democrats. Brennan’s image was used in Murphy’s campaign handouts and she was outspoken as a “Young Democrat of the Week” in New Jersey as a result.

Katie Brennan NJ Democrat

I don’t like when something as heinous as rape gets politicized, but silence from mainstream media and the #MeToo movement is deafening. Would they be avoiding the story if Brennan had accused a Republican?

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Guns and Crime

Infographic: Opioid overdose deaths in the United States



Infographic Opioid overdose deaths in the United States

The use of opioids in the United States has dramatically risen in recent years, prompting calls for action from both sides of the political aisle. It’s not like the old drug wars on the streets of New York or the suburbs of Dallas. This drug epidemic is affecting all races, economic conditions, and ages.

In this infographic from Visual Capitalist, they examine the death rates county by county. Of note is West Virginia, where in some areas the opioid death rate is approaching the cancer death rates.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

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