Monday, July 18, 2016

Sunday Bloody Sunday In Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge PD officer Markell Morris
Yet another shocking act of terror committed by another disturbed lone gunman armed with an assault rifle and a twisted personal agenda.

Another bloody consequence of the almost unrestricted access to firearms in America.

On Saturday I had to work so yesterday, Sunday, was my one day off - but it didn't really feel like a day off.

The news that a disgruntled former Marine murdered three law enforcement officers on Sunday morning left me feeling numb.

While Gavin Long left a slew of social media posts that offer a glimpse into his anger and frustration over the killing of Alton Sterling by two Baton Rouge PD officers, his violent response cannot simply be pinned on a legitimate protest movement.

Long's incomprehensible decision to shoot six members of the law enforcement community took the lives of three innocent people and forever altered the lives of family, friends and associates who knew them.

His actions on Sunday morning didn't vindicate anyone, or right a wrong, it marked him as a ruthless killer, dishonored his service in the Marine Corps, and did a disservice to the millions of people who are using peaceful means to demand an end to the disproportional use of deadly force against people of color by some members of the police community.

His actions also undermine the legitimate protest movement against police brutality and excessive use of force and the apparent unwillingness of local, municipal and state justice systems to hold officers who use unjustified force accountable for their actions - just today we learn that a fourth Baltimore PD officer was acquitted of the heinous death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of the BPD.

Baton Rouge police killer Gavin Long 
What was going on in the mind of Gavin Long?

Since this just happened yesterday, results from the investigation will take time obviously, but knowing that he was a decorated Marine begs the question: 

Did undiagnosed, or untreated, Post Traumatic  Stress Disorder from his time as a Marine serving abroad in Iraq play a part?

Some of his associations certainly raise questions.

He's allegedly been linked to anti-government "sovereign citizen" groups that refuse to pay taxes or recognize the authority of police or courts; not unlike another paranoid ex-soldier who took the lives of innocent people, convicted Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.
CNN reports that an email linked to the shooter Gavin Long shows he was associated with a group called 'Freedom From Covert Harassment and Surveillance'. 

The group's mission statement describes their elusive purpose to help people who've been, "Marginalized and abused by...Remote Brain Experimentation, Remote Neural Monitoring, of an entire humans body.

Despite Long's fragile mental state and association with fringe groups prone to a radically distorted view of reality, conservatives have been quick to use the demented act of a single individual to try and score cheap political points on the eve of the start of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Why? Open carry activist outside the convention
Trump immediately took to Twitter to blame the actions of an unbalanced lone gunman to try and cast blame for the incident on President Obama, childishly admonishing a two-term president with a law degree from Harvard for not having "a clue." 

The Republican candidate tried to fan the flames of hysteria by suggesting the "our country is a divided crime scene, and it will only get worse!"

Sage observations from the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House.

Trump's divisive Twitter posts made no mention of how Gavin Long was able to acquire at least two assault rifles and a hand gun in the first place; and carry them across state lines from Missouri to Louisiana.

No, Trump's political advisers likely encouraged him to "go Benghazi" and try and seize on a frustrated and dismayed American populace by trying to make the post-shooting narrative about the president and Hillary Clinton, in part to appease the NRA by not making the issue about the loaded assault rifle that Long used to kill three police officers and wound three others.

According to the latest statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, this (latest) heinous act in Baton Rouge is one of 29,113 gun incidents in the United States in 2016, and one of 7,503 deaths caused by guns this year.

The outrage over this incident is shared by most Americans, including the family of Alton Sterling who was gunned down on video recently by two members of the Baton Rouge PD, but the fiery rhetoric by some conservatives has been toxic and divisive.

I'm listening to NPR's coverage of the Republican convention and earlier they mentioned that a group of armed militia types were seen marching outside the convention center in single file, and Republican Governor John Kasich ignored a call from Cleveland's largest police union to place a temporary ban on Ohio's open-carry laws during the RNC event - he said there was nothing he could do about it even though he's the governor.

So Republican open carry activists are walking around public places in downtown Cleveland with loaded weapons; it's a reflection of a distorted view of reality in which Trump and his supporters seem to exist.

No question that recent high profile incidents of violence have shocked us all.

But the Brennan Center for Justice reports that crime rates in America are at a 30 year low, meanwhile inside the Quicken Loans Arena, the theme of tonight's RNC event?

"Make America Safe Again."

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