Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Chad Robertson, The DOJ's "Pull Back" & Trump's Blind Eye

Shot in the back: Chad Robertson with his family
With each day, it seems as if the Republican politicians frantically tugging at the strings of power in Washington are turning the clock backwards to a darker place.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions has already indicated that the Justice Department under the Trump administration will "pull back" on using the power of the federal government to hold members of law enforcement responsible for the unjustified killing of innocent unarmed U.S. citizens.

While that is reflective of Session's history as an opponent of civil rights activists and voting rights (for people of color and immigrants), it certainly doesn't bode well for Chad Roberston's family to obtain justice from the legal system.

Amidst all the confusing clutter of mainstream media attention focused upon America's resident Deporter-in-Chief over the past few weeks, the deadly shooting of Chad Robertson by Amtrak police in Chicago did not garner the level of media attention it probably merited.

You certainly haven't heard Sean Spicer whining about "under reporting" over THAT particular case in any of his contentious, invitation-only White House briefings lately.

(But it's a safe bet that Spicey won't be complaining about the media "under reporting" tonight's bombshell Washington Post story about records showing Sessions lied under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings about his having been in contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential race...)

Any number of local Chicago and midwestern media outlets ran the AP text of the story about Robertson's death, but it felt like the questionable circumstances warranted more extensive mainstream media attention given the ongoing epidemic of members of law enforcement making the decision to shoot at unarmed African-American and Hispanic men for no justifiable reason.

Sadly, Robertson's death was yet another case of a member of law enforcement making a deadly decision to fire a handgun at a person based on a false allegation of the victim having a weapon that never actually existed.

Amtrak transit officer LaRoyce Tankson
According to an article posted two weeks ago on the Chicago Sun-Times Website, Robertson, 25, and two travelling companions were on a one-hour layover stop at Chicago's Union Station during a February 8th Megabus trip from Memphis to Robertson's home town of Minneapolis.

As the three of them were walking around inside Union Station, they were approached in what the Robertson family attorney Douglas Hopson called an "aggressive" manner by two Amtrak transit officers.

Robertson and his friends then exited Union Station to walk to a nearby restaurant to get something to eat.

When the two Amtrak transit officers followed the three men to the restaurant, they continued to harass the three passengers and demanded to search them - when Robertson, who feared for his life, began to run away at about 8:45pm, officer LaRoyce Tankson dropped to one knee and fired a shot and missed.

He fired a second shot that struck Robertson in the back, the bullet lodged in his spine and left the father of two a quadriplegic.

He died in the hospital seven days later.

Tankson was subsequently charged with first-degree murder by Cook County prosecutors and was held on $250,000 bail - but he was released pending a March 9th court appearance.

Now Tankson's attorney claims Robertson and his two friends were confronted by Tankson and his partner for smoking some marijuana in public - and a small amount was found on him after he was shot.

But does that really justify shooting the guy in the back while he was running away?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions
But remarkably, yesterday, as the New York Times reported, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would begin to pull back from efforts to monitor police departments and officers accused of the excessive use of deadly force.  

Despite the Justice Department's own report that identified racially biased policing as widespread and systematic in Chicago.

And despite unarmed 25-year-old Chad Robertson having been shot in the back by a federal transit officer while running away less than a month ago, Sessions, now the nation's top law enforcement official, reasons that:

"We need (to), so far as we can, in my view, help police departments get better, not diminish their effectiveness."

So in Sessions' mind, decreasing Justice Department scrutiny of overt cases of unarmed people being shot by police is the way to help them "get better"?

Does that make sense to you?

In the hermetically-sealed ideological bubble of Trump-world, that kind of asinine thinking, codified by the unapologetically white supremacist worldview held by the White House's top domestic policy advisers including Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, it does makes sense.

In the real world it doesn't.

Jewish tombstones overturned in Philadelphia [Getty]
In the real world that kind of thinking essentially condones criminal conduct by some members of law enforcement.

And worse, it also reassures them that if they "make a mistake" and shoot and kill an unarmed person for no real reason at all, the Department of Justice under Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions won't hold them accountable for their actions.

Sound absurd?

It is, but it's part of the Republican vision for the American landscape.

And remember folks, that's the approach to police reform of a president who yesterday actually had the gall to publicly insinuate that the horrifying wave of recent bomb threats to Jewish schools and community centers, and the heinous and offensive desecration of Jewish cemeteries were the fault of Trump's "opponents".

Not the cowardly devotees of Breitbart News who openly play footsies with anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs like some kind of sick religion.

Nope. The delusional ass-clown who currently occupies the Oval Office would have you believe that his "opponents" were the ones who entered a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia the other night and spent hours toppling over hundreds of tombstones.

 The same president who last night asked the members of Congress and the American people to "embrace this renewal of the American spirit." willfully turns a blind eye to the anti-Semitism his own campaign brought out of the shadows.

Repulsive acts of hate that are taking place around the country in front of our own eyes.

Sadly, we can also expect the current attorney general to turn a blind eye towards the epidemic of racially biased policing in America which violently and unfairly condemned Chad Robertson to the unfortunate ranks of The Counted.

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