Thursday, February 27, 2014

President Launches Initiative - No Charges For Milton Hall's Killers

The President greets a Cub Scout-(Photo-Uptown Magazine)
It's welcome news that President Obama is actively reaching out to use the power and influence of the White House to encourage leaders of foundations, business, education, the judicial system, volunteers and others to help kick-start a long-term national campaign called My Brother's Keeper to try and bring greater focus to some of the socioeconomic factors that keep such a large percentage of young African-American and Hispanic men marginalized from opportunity here in the US.

Disparities in graduation, income, employment, access to health care and incarceration rates based on race are just some of the topics this ambitious program will seek to address.

 The bold initiative was outlined in a White House memorandum released earlier today, one that's keeping with his promise made at the recent 2014 State of the Union address to forge ahead with a progressive agenda to improve the lives of those Americans who don't count themselves in the 1%; with or without the cooperation of the current Republican Congress - which seems content to sit on the sidelines and obstruct and oppose rather than legislate and lead.

The growing gap between rich and poor, educated and uneducated combined with the devastating lingering effects of the Great Recession on savings, home ownership and unemployment for the poor and middle class in this nation make this an ideal time to launch such an initiative.

But none of this is going to work unless the President uses some of his remaining 2nd term to do something about the gun violence that is wreaking havoc in the same communities where many of the young men of color he wants to help actually live their lives.

No one needs me to repeat statistics in the wake of incidents like George Zimmerman's stalk-and murder of Trayvon Martin who was walking home with a bag of Skittles and a drink, or Michael Dunn's shooting of Jordan Davis for playing loud music; to say nothing of the ongoing horrific plague of black-on-black killings around the nation.

But consider this one stat: According to The Gun Crisis Reporting Project a staggering fourteen women and girls have been shot in the city of Philadelphia in the first seven weeks of 2014 - so it's not just young men that need our attention.

The prevalence of guns in this society and their use in senseless indiscriminate killings isn't just a black or a Hispanic thing; Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sandy Hook and countless other shootings makes that clear to all of us. The gun violence is an American-thing, period.

If the President wants an initiative like My Brother's Keeper to really work; the widespread manufacturing and availability of guns and the NRA's "guns at any cost" culture must be addressed.

The trigger-happy gun thing isn't limited to young knuckleheads on the street or ex-police chiefs in Florida movie theaters who really don't like people texting during the movie either - there's an awful lot of cops getting away with ending confrontations with suspects by emptying their clips into them then claiming they "felt threatened."

Did you hear about Milton Hall, the homeless man in Saginaw, Michigan? Yesterday it was announced six police officers who responded to a convenience store back on July 1st, 2012 after Hall stole a cup of coffee, will not face any Federal charges after they shot and killed the mentally ill homeless man 11 times - 47 total shots were fired by the officers who also menaced Hall with a police dog during the confrontation.

The 49 year-old homeless man with a history of mental illness was armed with a pocket knife and even called the police dispatcher during the incident to say he was surrounded by gun-wielding police and was afraid for his life - but he was shot and killed not long after and the state prosecutor declined to press charges against the officers.

A narrative that's become just a little too familiar in this country.

Anyway, let's hope Obama's initiative has more success than defense lawyers who try to hold police accountable for excessive use of force that results in loss of life. It's painfully obvious that judges and prosecutors in this nation have decided that James Bond isn't the only one who's licensed to kill; especially when the victim seems "threatening".   

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