Archive for the ‘police state’ Category
NB Commentary: Guess folks was loving Muhammed Ali, a professed Muslim too much, they needed to demonise the Muslims for the sake of balance. Did anyone see the video of the beautiful Jenazah prayer service for him? Oh yeah, and they love doing stuff right around or right at the beginning of Ramadan. The cowards, love to get them when they are vulnerable. How many folks remember that the Shock & Awe campaign of the Iraq war was right at the beginning of Ramadan that year? Yeah, they are really brave to drop bombs on fasting folks, weak, thirsty and hungry.. But we know, the warriors are NOT fasting, but it’s just the blatant disrespect for the Holiest Month of the Islamic faith. SMDH.
Mass shooting in Orlando gay nightclub: 50 dead, 53 injured, ‘act of domestic terrorism’
where a blockade was place upon them, no food or water was allowed to get to them and no one could interact with them or be arrested. This stand off ended with them firehousing the house till its collapse and the members were forced to leave. Delbert Africa was brutally beaten.
Jason Osder spent ten years making Let the Fire Burn, a harrowing documentary account of the confrontation – and ensuing conflagration – between members of MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department, resulting in the death of six adult members of the Afrocentric back-to-nature organization, and five children. Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/entertainment/movies/MOVE-doc-gets-theatrical-distribution-Will-open-in-fall.html
“I took a cab to the 6200 block of Osage Avenue this week, to the block where
the City of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on a rowhouse in 1985. I had been at work that day, in my office which is also in West Philadelphia and I wanted to see for myself what the location looks like now. While the driver waited, I walked up and down the sidewalks with my cellphone camera and my small Cannon PowerShoot A2500. The street was narrower than I had imagined. I was shocked by the townhouses that had been built to replace the homes destroyed in the bombing and fire. At most they were a step off the ground. No stairs to sit on, no porches. Small areas for a chair or two are enclosed with black wrought iron fencing. Many houses are boarded up. Others appear occupied but look unfinished. There are flowers and other signs of life where people are living. I tried to be discrete as I took snapshots. I failed. A man came up from the western end of the block … grumbling. He pointed out 6221, the location of the MOVE house; maybe he assumed that was what I was looking for. I introduced myself to a woman sitting in front of her property. She expressed mild dissatisfaction with visitors/voyeurs like me. She said that all she wants is for the city to fix up the vacant properties and allow the neighbors to live in peace. Thirty years and the MOVE fiasco is not over yet for either of us.” Source: https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/news/5657-collective-trauma-transitional-justice-and-two
In reality, when folks are connected to that which is around them, they are less likely to tear it up. But when you have disenfranchised people who are neither cared about or engaged and encouraged to be apart of what is around them in their environment, but instead are told to walk here, be there, leave this and don’t interfere with that, they are alienated. How many of those who riot are gainfully employed by the establishments that surround them? How many of them own the property? How many of them are even co-owners? How many of them care and how many of them are “unaware” that these establishments have insurance to cover damages.
By Monica Alba
“The Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the Rodney King riots 22 years ago could provide a blueprint for what happens in the coming months and years in Ferguson, Missouri, as police work to repair their reputation in the wake of Michael Brown’s fatal shooting, according to experts on the LAPD’s transformation.” READ MORE
When people are policed and restrained, ordered and separated, they will not feel attached to their environment. They will see the environment as much of the enemy as they will see the Police or the so-called “Authority that Polices them”. They will not see or feel a connection to their environment but will feel caged and imprisoned by it.
Systemic racism and re-gentrification alienates the inhabitants of the community, particularly as business and corporations set up shop in the communities they do not live in. They are more representative of the oppressors than they are considered neighbors. The businesses set up in these communities have an ingrained attitude about the inhabitants of the communities that they are financially benefited by. They do not see them as humans but more as commodities. They are as alienated from those whom they depend on to support them financially as those who spend their money there.
EXCERPT: “There was an uprising on social media calling for a violent protest to take place, and resultantly things exploded yesterday afternoon in northwestern Baltimore around the area where Gray’s funeral had taken place that morning. Images of looting, destruction, arson, and violence have since streamed from the area as the city was placed under a state of emergency.”
It may appear reckless to riot but rioting is a deeper sign of an even deeper chasm between the haves and the have-nots. When people are actively involved in their own communities that they feel an ownership of and an ability to control, they are less likely to be destructive. It’s simply human nature, and to expect what happened in Baltimore to fall outside of the confines of human nature is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is denial of what is truly the cause of what is happening when people riot.
By Evette D. Champion
EXCERPT: In the midst of the rioting that is going on in Baltimore, many people are thinking that rioting and looting is something that has only been done within the past 50 years to show civil unrest. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Did you know that this country was founded on looting and riots?
During the 1760s in Boston, Massachusetts, there was a lot of political activity going on that rose a lot of eyebrows and ruffled a few feathers. The early settlers were in the midst of constant and violent protests against the British. A lot of the credit for the Revolution belongs to Sam Adams and the group called “Sons of Liberty.” READ MORE
EXCERPT: “A local militia, believed to be a terrorist organization, attacked the property of private citizens today at our nation’s busiest port,” the part of the curriculum pertaining to the Boston Tea Party reads, according to CBS Houston. “Although no one was injured in the attack, a large quantity of merchandise, considered to be valuable to its owners and loathsome to the perpetrators, was destroyed. The terrorists, dressed in disguise and apparently intoxicated, were able to escape into the night with the help of local citizens who harbor these fugitives and conceal their identities from the authorities.” READ MORE
Cop Killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley Had Pocket Full of $100 Bills – But No Job or Home
Saturday, December 20th, was a big day for movement news. While Minnesota’s Mall of America protest had people occupying space in the US’s largest mall to demand an end to police violence, half way across the country in Brooklyn, two police officers were shot and killed by a young black man who had ostensibly posted on social media before the shootings about his intention to “put wings on pigs”, citing revenge for the deaths of Brown and Garner as motive. The accused shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, shot himself dead on a nearby subway platform after shooting the officers. As of Sunday afternoon, there is little information and much speculation about the accused murderer’s life (including that the murders were part of a counter-intelligence plot to discredit the movement and justify extreme force). Much is uncertain, but it’s certain that the NYPD is already using this to suppress protest, repress entire communities, and further foment divisive public relations–especially with NYC Mayor deBlasio. How can recent police union behavior and statements be considered anything but a naked admission of a police force’s own extra-legal/ paramilitary ambitions?
At this writing we do know a few things for certain: the corporate state’s policing apparatus will do everything in its power to use this event as a further call to arms against protesting U.S. residents and communities of color. They will attempt not only to discredit a growing direct action-based movement, but also to aggressively attack protest groups and individuals they have been trying to get their hands on anyway. If Ismaaiyl Brinsley had been arrested and charged with the killing of two police officers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, clearly the anti-policing movement would be having very different debates and discussions. Now, in his death, many people righteously struggle to contextualize his motives or opportunistically use his actions for their own political reasons.
Not that probing Brinsley’s motives is entirely irrelevant–he shot a woman, possibly an ex-girlfriend, before the officers, for example– but the movement can hurt itself by participating in the posthumous quasi-legalistic media charade of “nailing down” his motives or state of mind. (This activity already inculcates participants in the state’s judgmental logic of condemnation/ exoneration–echoing media character assassinations of murder by police victims like Brown and Martin.) What if he was acting in concert with counter-intelligence forces? What if Mao’s little red book was in Brinsley’s pocket? What if he was an active member of a local Cop Watch group? What if he was a well-known local homeless man struggling with mental illness and addiction?
Initial activist reactions offer a range of responses: some grapple with the delicate issue of expressing compassion about the shooter’s life, death, and family; some timidly, or not so timidly, tiptoe around self-defense concepts and a deep understanding of the extreme nature of “revolutionary suicide”; some routinely denounce Brinsley’s actions–acting as guardians of the “real non-violent movement” against “unstable violent outsiders”; some have decided that was a police action he got entangled in. Then there’s those (new to the issue white activists, I am talking to you) who may have been active and supportive of the anti-police brutality movement, but will use this as an excuse to pull back. (Controversial events function as a movement’s filtering process, losing people who are too challenged to keep fighting and were just waiting for a chance to fold anyway.)
If there’s anything I am reminded of by this event, it’s the power of social movements, and anti-racist struggles in particular. For me, there is a connection between the cop murders and the movement. Before you jump down my throat insisting that I am “feeding the cops’ ideology” by saying this–hear me out, please, and don’t take my statements out of context. Since the drug war and mass incarceration/ deportation practices, many black and brown lives have been destroyed. You don’t have to be a front lines long term activist to have strong opinions about policing and institutional racism in America, and feel hopeless in the face of it, too. Frustration and anger is woven into the everyday fabric of people’s lives, and this includes individual consciousness, rhetoric, and self-understanding. Add to this an endless flow of social media, news commentary, and live feeds of protests and demonstrations all over the U.S. Some people may not be able to attend protests for various reasons (work, childcare, transportation, not living close to one, or a shy demeanor) but social media offers a strong way to feel emotionally connected to events since Ferguson began.
This access and ability to connect is both reason for the movement’s effectiveness and a reason to prepare for more controversial actions taken up by individuals in the name of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, or against violent police generally. (And then there’s always police counterinsurgency activities…) In a large, multifaceted, international movement such that the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!/ anti-policing movement has become, no one can ultimately judge who’s a protestor or a non-protestor, who cares or doesn’t care, about “the issues”. (Who has an authentic political consciousness gauge and where can I get one?) We can only state if we support certain actions as part of strategies our organizations or ideologies endorse.
I believe, from what I understand about Brinsley’s biographical facts and his presumed state of mind before the murders, he understood himself as a target of racist policing. Go figure: young, black, and male in the U.S. A. But, As Dr. Johanna Fernandez wrote in CounterPunch, he could have also been acting in concert with authorities to execute a state plot to discredit the movement. We will never know the facts here, and it shouldn’t deflect from our understanding of institutionalized racism, anyway.
Whether or not Brinsley acted alone or in concert with the state, his life had a truly tragic end. If we admit understanding or empathy with people espousing extreme tactics — even cop murder — to express oppositional feelings, are we only throwing the police state, and its rabid NYPD, another reason for street level preemptive attack? (As if it ever needed a reason. We’ve clearly seen over the decades, if the state doesn’t have a reason to justify aggression it’ll make one up.) What about attempts to understand how social pressures like racist policing and mass incarceration damage people–like Ismaaiyl Brinsley? If we deny a careful consideration of the incalculable impacts movements can have, which include tapping into very real frustrations/ psychological dynamics leading individuals to act alone or as police agents, we sacrifice any potential unity than can be derived in a process of self-reflection and greater political awareness. Collective analysis may not lead to the unity of a shared position, but it could lead to an “agree to disagree” unity or a commitment to explore unpopular perspectives. Something beyond simple condemnation or exultation is called for here.
It’s a daunting situation and the corporate state wins again if we play into the terms of engagement it always sets by the very nature of its power. If Ismaaiyl Brinsley had survived and faced his accusers in court, we would see the movement split around “just” court procedures and outcomes. Some would want him evaluated to qualify for mental health rehabilitation services, some would want him routinely punished, and some would call for his freedom, with an understanding his actions were committed under extreme duress due to the pernicious police state apparatus (a kind of “black rage” defense– if you will.) From the looks of his social media posts, he knew he was probably going to die Saturday.
I shudder to think about what the state would do to Brinsley, and how the movement would split around his “just” punishment and desirable “rehabilitation.” (How are we going to rehabilitate psychotic racist police? Any ideas?) We would have to painfully endure a real trial of the Left’s anti-policing/ abolitionist positions. Instead, we are left to grapple with three dead bodies, many unanswered questions, and a big question mark about our ability to buoy the turbulence of building and sustaining a mass movement, focused specifically on the deep and festering wound of racist police violence, in the age of social media activism.
On Tuesday police Commissioner William Bratton said Ismaaiyl was carrying $100 bills in his pocket.
But he had no job or home.The Yeshiva World reported:
If we are going to posthumously speculate on Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s life, dare I suggest we use the very commitment to institutional analysis and human compassion that has served as a foundation of the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!/ anti-policing movement–and previous anti-racist movements– since its inception? As the saying goes, let’s “keep our eyes on the prize.”
Michelle Renee Matisons, Ph.D. has written for Counterpunch, Black Agenda Report, Z Magazine, Mint News Press, the NJ Decarcerator, Rethinking Schools, Alternet, and other publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John W. Whitehead
If you dress police officers up as soldiers and you put them in military vehicles and you give them military weapons, they adopt a warrior mentality. We fight wars against enemies, and the enemies are the people who live in our cities — particularly in communities of color. — Thomas Nolan, criminology professor and former police officer.
Ferguson matters because it provides us with a foretaste of what is to come. It is the shot across the bow, so to speak, a warning that this is how we will all be treated if we do not tread cautiously in challenging the police state, and it won’t matter whether we’re black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat. In the eyes of the corporate state, we are all the enemy.
This is the lesson of Ferguson.
Remember that in the wake of the shooting, Ferguson police officers clad in body armor, their faces covered with masks, equipped with assault rifles and snipers and riding armored vehicles, showed up in force to deal with protesters. Describing that show of force by police in Ferguson, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, stated, “This was a military force, and they were facing down an enemy.”
Yes, we are the enemy. As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, since those first towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process.
There was a moment of hope after Ferguson that perhaps things might change. Perhaps the balance would be restored between the citizenry and their supposed guardians, the police. Perhaps our elected officials would take our side for a change and oppose the militarization of the police. Perhaps warfare would take a backseat to more pressing national concerns.
That hope was short-lived.
It wasn’t long before the media moved on to other, more titillating stories. The disappearance of a University of Virginia college student and the search for her alleged abductor, the weeks-long man-hunt for an accused cop killer, the Republican electoral upset, a Rolling Stone expose on gang rapes at fraternity parties, Obama’s immigration amnesty plan, and the rape charges against Bill Cosby are just a few of the stories that have dominated the news cycle since the Ferguson standoff between police and protesters.
It wasn’t long before the American public, easily acclimated to news of government wrongdoing (case in point: the national yawn over the NSA’s ongoing domestic surveillance), ceased to be shocked, outraged or alarmed by reports of police shootings. In fact, the issue was nowhere to be found in this year’s run-up to Election Day, which was largely devoid of any pressing matters of national concern.
And with nary a hiccup, the police state marched steadily forth. In fact, aided and abetted by the citizenry’s short attention span, its easily distracted nature, and its desensitization to anything that occupies the news cycle for too long, it has been business as usual in terms of police shootings, the amassing of military weapons, and the government’s sanctioning of police misconduct. Most recently, Ohio police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy who was seen waving a toy gun at a playground.
Rubbing salt in our wounds, in the wake of Ferguson, police agencies not only continued to ramp up their military arsenals but have used them whenever possible. In fact, in anticipation of the grand jury’s ruling, St. Louis police actually purchased more equipment for its officers, including “civil disobedience equipment.”
Just a few weeks after the Ferguson showdown, law enforcement agencies took part in an $11 million manhunt in Pennsylvania for alleged cop killer Eric Frein. Without batting an eye, the news media switched from outraged “shock” over the military arsenal employed by police in Ferguson to respectful “awe” of the 48-day operation that cost taxpayers $1.4 million per week in order to carry out a round-the-clock dragnet search of an area with a 5-mile-radius.
The Frein operation brought together 1,000 officers from local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as SWAT teams and cutting edge military equipment (high-powered rifles, body armor, infrared sensors, armored trucks, helicopters and unmanned, silent surveillance blimps) — some of the very same weapons and tactics employed in Ferguson and, a year earlier, in Boston in the wake of the marathon bombing.
The manhunt was a well-timed, perfectly choreographed exercise in why Americans should welcome the police state: for our safety, of course, and to save the lives of police officers.
Opposed to any attempt to demilitarize America’s police forces, the Dept. of Homeland Security has been chanting this safety mantra in testimony before Congress: Remember 9/11. Remember Boston. Remember how unsafe the world was before police were equipped with automatic weapons, heavily armored trucks, night-vision goggles, and aircraft donated by the DHS.
Contrary to DHS rhetoric, however, militarized police — twitchy over perceived dangers, hyped up on their authority, and protected by their agencies, the legislatures and the courts — have actually made communities less safe at a time when violent crime is at an all-time low and lumberjacks, fishermen, airline pilots, roofers, construction workers, trash collectors, electricians and truck drivers all have a higher risk of on-the-job fatalities than police officers.
Moreover, as Senator Tom Coburn points out, the militarization of America’s police forces has actually “created some problems that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.” Among those problems: a rise in the use of SWAT team raids for routine law enforcement activities (averaging 80,000 a year), a rise in the use and abuse of asset forfeiture laws by police agencies, a profit-driven incentive to criminalize lawful activities and treat Americans as suspects, and a transformation of the nation’s citizenry into suspects.
Ferguson provided us with an opportunity to engage in a much-needed national dialogue over how police are trained, what authority they are given, what weaponry they are provided, and how they treat those whom they are entrusted with protecting.
Caught up in our personal politics, prejudices and class warfare, we have failed to answer that call. In so doing, we have played right into the hands of all those corporations who profit from turning America into a battlefield by selling the government mine-resistant vehicles, assault rifles, grenade launchers, and drones.
As long as we remain steeped in ignorance, there will be no reform.
As long as we remain divided by our irrational fear of each other, there will be no overhaul in the nation’s law enforcement system or institution of an oversight process whereby communities can ensure that local police departments are acting in accordance with their wishes and values.
And as long as we remain distracted by misguided loyalties to military operatives who are paid to play the part of the government’s henchmen, there will be no saving us when the events of Ferguson unfold in our own backyards.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter whose “side” you’re on as far as what transpired in Ferguson, whether you believe that Michael Brown was a victim or that Darren Wilson was justified in shooting first and asking questions later.
What matters is that we not allow politics and deep-rooted prejudices of any sort to divert our efforts to restore some level of safety, sanity and constitutional balance to the role that police officers play in our communities. If we fail to do so, we will have done a disservice to ourselves and every man, woman and child in this country who have become casualties of the American police state.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute where this article first appeared. He is the author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and The Change Manifesto.
The Sandy Hook School Massacre: Unanswered Questions and Missing Information
Inconsistencies and anomalies abound when one turns an analytical eye to news of the Newtown school massacre. The public’s general acceptance of the event’s validity and faith in its resolution suggests a deepened credulousness borne from a world where almost all news and information is electronically mediated and controlled. The condition is reinforced through the corporate media’s unwillingness to push hard questions vis-à-vis Connecticut and federal authorities who together bottlenecked information while invoking prior restraint through threats of prosecutorial action against journalists and the broader citizenry seeking to interpret the event on social media.
Along these lines on December 19 the Connecticut State Police assigned individual personnel to each of the 26 families who lost a loved one at Sandy Hook Elementary. “The families have requested no press interviews,” State Police assert on their behalf, “and we are asking that this request be honored. The de facto gag order will be in effect until the investigation concludes—now forecast to be “several months away” even though lone gunman Adam Lanza has been confirmed as the sole culprit.
With the exception of an unusual and apparently contrived appearance by Emilie Parker’s alleged father, victims’ family members have been almost wholly absent from public scrutiny. What can be gleaned from this and similar coverage raises many more questions and glaring inconsistencies than answers. While it sounds like an outrageous claim, one is left to inquire whether the Sandy Hook shooting ever took place—at least in the way law enforcement authorities and the nation’s news media have described.
The Accidental Medical Examiner
An especially important yet greatly underreported feature of the Sandy Hook affair is the wholly bizarre performance of Connecticut’s top medical examiner H. Wayne Carver II at a December 15 press conference. Carver’s unusual remarks and behavior warrant close consideration because in light of his professional notoriety they appear remarkably amateurish and out of character.
H. Wayne Carver II has an extremely self-assured, almost swaggering presence in Connecticut state administration. In early 2012 Carver threatened to vacate his position because of state budget cuts and streamlining measures that threatened his professional autonomy over the projects and personnel he oversaw.
Along these lines the pathologist has gone to excessive lengths to demonstrate his findings and expert opinion in court proceedings. For example, in a famous criminal case Carver “put a euthanized pig through a wood chipper so jurors could match striations on the bone fragments with the few ounces of evidence that prosecutors said were on the remains of the victim.” One would therefore expect Carver to be in his element while identifying and verifying the exact ways in which Sandy Hook’s children and teachers met their violent demise.
Yet the H. Wayne Carver who showed up to the December 15 press conference is an almost entirely different man, appearing apprehensive and uncertain, as if he is at a significant remove from the postmortem operation he had overseen. The multiple gaffes, discrepancies, and hedges in response to reporters’ astute questions suggest that he is either under coercion or an imposter. While the latter sounds untenable it would go a long way in explaining his sub-pedestrian grasp of medical procedures and terminology.
With this in mind extended excerpts from this exchange are worthy of recounting here in print. Carver is accompanied by Connecticut State Police Lieutenant H. Paul Vance and additional Connecticut State Police personnel. The reporters are off-screen and thus unidentified so I have assigned them simple numerical identification based on what can be discerned of their voices.
Reporter #1: So the rifle was the primary weapon?
H. Wayne Carver: Yes.
Reporter #1: [Inaudible]
Carver: Uh (pause). Question was what caliber were these bullets. And I know—I probably know more about firearms than most pathologists but if I say it in court they yell at me and don’t make me answer [sic]—so [nervous laughter]. I’ll let the police do that for you.
Reporter #2: Doctor can you tell us about the nature of the wounds. Were they at very close range? Were the children shot at from across the room?
Carver: Uhm, I only did seven of the autopsies. The victims I had ranged from three to eleven wounds apiece and I only saw two of them with close range shooting. Uh, but that’s, uh y’know, a sample. Uh, I really don’t have detailed information on the rest of the injuries.
[Given that Carver is Connecticut’s top coroner and in charge of the entire postmortem this is a startling admission.-JT]
Reporter #3: But you said that the long rifle was used?
Reporter #3: But the long rifle was discovered in the car.
State Police Lieutenant Vance: That’s not correct, sir.
Unidentified reporter #4: How many bullets or bullet fragments did you find in the autopsy. Can you tell us that?
Carver: Oh. I’m lucky I can tell you how many I found. I don’t know. There were lots of them, OK? This type of weapon is not, uh … the bullets are designed in such a fashion that the energy—this is very clinical. I shouldn’t be saying this. But the energy is deposited in the tissue so the bullet stays in [the tissue].
[In fact, the Bushmaster .223 Connecticut police finally claimed was used in the shooting is designed for long range field use and utilizes high velocity bullets averaging 3,000 feet-per-second, the energy of which even at considerable distance would penetrate several bodies before finally coming to rest in tissue.]
Reporter #5: How close were the injuries?
Carver: Uh, all the ones (pause). I believe say, yes [sic].
Reporter #6: In what shape were the bodies when the families were brought to check [inaudible].
Carver: Uh, we did not bring the bodies and the families into contact. We took pictures of them, uhm, of their facial features. We have, uh, uh—it’s easier on the families when you do that. Un, there is, uh, a time and place for the up close and personal in the grieving process, but to accomplish this we thought it would be best to do it this way and, uh, you can sort of, uh … You can control a situation depending on the photographer, and I have very good photographers. Uh, but uh—
Reporter #7: Do you know the difference of the time of death between the mother in the house and the bodies recovered [in the school].
Carver: Uh, no, I don’t. Sorry [shakes head excitedly] I don’t! [embarrassed laugh]
Reporter #8: Did the gunman kill himself with the rifle?
Carver: No. I—I don’t know yet. I’ll-I’ll examine him tomorrow morning. But, but I don’t think so.
[Why has Carver left arguably the most important specimen for last? And why doesn’t he think Lanza didn’t commit suicide with the rifle?]
Reporter #9: In terms of the children, were they all found in one classroom or—
Carver: Uhm … [inaudible] [Turns to Lieutenant Vance] Paul and company will deal with that.
Reporter #9: What?
Carver: Paul and company will deal with that. Lieutenant Vance is going to handle that one.
Reporter #10: Was there any evidence of a struggle? Any bruises?
Reporter #11: The nature of the shooting; is there any sense that there was a lot of care taken with precision [inaudible] or randomly?
Carver: [Exhales while glancing upward, as if frustrated] Both. It’s a very difficult question to answer … You’d think after thousands of people I’ve seen shot but I … It’s … If I attempted to answer it in court there’d be an objection and then they’d win—[nervous laughter].
[Who would win? Why does an expert whose routine job as a public employee is to provide impartial medical opinion concerned with winning and losing in court? Further, Carver is not in court but rather at a press conference.]
Reporter #12: Doctor, can you discuss the fatal injuries to the adults?
Carver: Ah, they were similar to those of the children.
Reporter #13: Doctor, the children you had autopsied, where in the bodies were they hit?
Carver: Uhm [pause]. All over. All over.
Reporter #14: Were [the students] sitting at their desks or were they running away when this happened?
Carver: I’ll let the guys who—the scene guys talk—address that issue. I, uh, obviously I was at the scene. Obviously I’m very experienced in that. But there are people who are, uh, the number one professionals in that. I’ll let them—let that [voice trails off].
Reporter [#15]: How many boys and how many girls [were killed]?
Carver: [Slowly shaking his head] I don’t know.
More Unanswered Questions and Inconsistencies
In addition to Carver’s remarks several additional chronological and evidentiary contradictions in the official version of the Sandy Hook shooting are cause for serious consideration and leave doubt in terms of how the event transpired vis-à-vis the way authorities and major media outlets have presented it. It is now well known that early on journalists reported that Adam Lanza’s brother Ryan Lanza was reported to be the gunman, and that pistols were used in the shooting rather than a rifle. Yet these are merely the tip of the iceberg.
- When Did the Gunman Arrive?
After Adam Lanza fatally shot and killed his mother at his residence, he drove himself to the elementary school campus, arriving one half hour after classes had commenced. Dressed in black, Lanza proceeds completely unnoticed through an oddly vacant parking lot with a military style rifle and shoots his way through double glass doors and a brand new yet apparently poorly engineered security system.
Further, initial press accounts suggest how no school personnel or students heard gunshots and no 911 calls are made until after Lanza begins firing inside the facility. “It was a lovely day,” Sandy Hook fourth grade teacher Theodore Varga said. And then, suddenly and unfathomably, gunshots rang out. “I can’t even remember how many,” Varga said.
The recollection contrasts sharply with an updated version of Lanza’s arrival where at 9:30AM he
walked up to the front entrance and fired at least a half dozen rounds into the glass doors. The thunderous sound of Lanza blowing an opening big enough to walk through the locked school door caused Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Scherlach to bolt from a nearby meeting room to investigate. He shot and killed them both as they ran toward him.
Breaching the school’s security system in such a way would have likely triggered some automatic alert of school personnel. Further, why would the school’s administrators run toward an armed man who has just noisily blasted his way into the building?
Two other staff members attending the meeting with Hocksprung and Scherlach sustained injuries “in the hail of bullets” but returned to the aforementioned meeting room and managed a call to 911. This contrasted with earlier reports where the first 911 call claimed students “were trapped in a classroom with the adult shooter who had two guns.” Recordings of the first police dispatch following the 911 call at 9:35:50 indicate that someone “thinks there’s someone shooting in the building.” There is a clear distinction between potentially hearing shots somewhere in the building and being almost mortally caught in a “hail of bullets.”
- How did the gunman fire so many shots in such little time?
According to Dr. Carver and State Police, Lanza shot each victim between 3 and 11 times during a 5 to 7 minute span. If one is to average this out to 7 bullets per individual—excluding misses—Lanza shot 182 times, or once every two seconds. Yet according to the official story Lanza was the sole assassin and armed with only one weapon. Thus if misses and changing the gun’s 30-shot magazine at least 6 times are added to the equation Lanza must have been averaging about one shot per second—extremely skilled use of a single firearm for a young man with absolutely no military training and who was on the verge of being institutionalized. Still, an accurate rendering of the event is even more difficult to arrive at because the chief medical examiner admittedly has no idea exactly how the children were shot or whether a struggle ensued.
- Where is the Photo and Video Evidence?
Photographic and video evidence is at once profuse yet lacking in terms of its capacity to demonstrate that a mass shooting took place on the scale described by authorities. For example, in an era of ubiquitous video surveillance of public buildings especially no visual evidence of Lanza’s violent entry has emerged. And while studio snapshots of the Sandy Hook victims abound there is little if any eyewitness testimony of anyone who’s observed the corpses except for Carver and his staff, and they appear almost as confused about the conditions of the deceased as any layperson watching televised coverage of the event. Nor are there any routine eyewitness, photo or video evidence of the crime scene’s aftermath—broken glass, blasted security locks and doors, bullet casings and holes, bloodied walls and floors—all of which are common in such investigations and reportage.
- Why Were Medical Personnel Turned Away From the Crime Scene?
Oddly enough medical personnel are forced to set up their operation not at the school where the dead and injured lay, but rather at the fire station several hundred feet away. This flies in the face of standard medical operating procedure where personnel are situated as close to the scene as possible. There is no doubt that the school had ample room to accommodate such personnel. Yet medical responders who rushed to Sandy Hill Elementary upon receiving word of the tragedy were denied entry to the school and forced to set up primary and secondary triages off school grounds and wait for the injured to be brought to them.
Shortly after the shooting “as other ambulances from neighboring communities rolled up, sirens blaring, the first responders slowly realized that their training would be tragically underutilized on this horrible day. ‘You may not be able to save everybody, but you damn well try,’” 44 year old emergency medical technician James Wolff told NBC News. “’And when (we) didn’t have the opportunity to put our skills into action, it’s difficult.’”
In light of this, who were the qualified medical practitioners pronounced the 20 children and 7 adults dead? Who decided that none could be revived? Carver and his staff are apparently the only medical personnel to have attended to the victims—yet this was in the postmortem conducted several hours later. Such slipshod handling of the crime scene leaves the State of Connecticut open to a potential array of hefty civil claims by families of the slain.
- Did a mass evacuation of the school take place?
Sandy Hook Elementary is attended by 600 students. Yet there is no photographic or video evidence of an evacuation on this scale. Instead, limited video and photographic imagery suggest that a limited evacuation of perhaps at most several dozen students occurred.
A highly circulated photo depicts students walking in a single file formation with their hands on each others’ shoulders and eyes shut. Yet this was the image of a drill that took place prior to the event itself. Most other photos are portraits of individual children. Despite aerial video footage of the event documenting law enforcement scouring the scene and apprehending one or more suspects in the wooded area nearby the school, there is no such evidence that a mass exodus of children from the school transpired once law enforcement pronounced Sandy Hook secure. Nor are there videos or photos of several hundred students and their parents at the oft-referenced fire station nearby where students were routed for parent pick up.
Sound Bite Prism and the Will to Believe
Outside of a handful of citizen journalists and alternative media commentators Sandy Hill’s dramatically shifting factual and circumstantial terrain has escaped serious critique because it is presented through major media’s carefully constructed prism of select sound bites alongside a widespread and longstanding cultural impulse to accept the pronouncements of experts, be they bemused physicians, high ranking law enforcement officers, or political leaders demonstrating emotionally-grounded concern.
Political scientist W. Lance Bennett calls this the news media’s “authority-disorder bias.” “Whether the world is returned to a safe, normal place,” Bennett writes, “or whether the very idea of a normal world is called into question, the news is preoccupied with order, along with related questions of whether authorities are capable of establishing or restoring it.”
Despite Carver’s bizarre performance and law enforcement authorities’ inability to settle on and relay simple facts, media management’s impulse to assure audiences and readerships of the Newtown community’s inevitable adjustment to its trauma and loss with the aid of the government’s protective oversight—however incompetent that may be—far surpasses a willingness to undermine this now almost universal news media narrative with messy questions and suggestions of intrigue. This well-worn script is one the public has been conditioned to accept. If few people relied on such media to develop their world view this would hardly be a concern. Yet this is regrettably not the case.
The Sandy Hook tragedy was on a far larger scale than the past year’s numerous slaughters, including the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting and the Batman theater shooting in Colorado. It also included glaringly illogical exercises and pronouncements by authorities alongside remarkably unusual evidentiary fissures indistinguishable by an American political imagination cultivated to believe that the corporate, government and military’s sophisticated system of organized crime is largely confined to Hollywood-style storylines while really existing malfeasance and crises are without exception returned to normalcy.
If recent history is a prelude the likelihood of citizens collectively assessing and questioning Sandy Hook is limited even given the event’s overtly superficial trappings. While the incident is ostensibly being handled by Connecticut law enforcement, early reports indicate how federal authorities were on the scene as the 911 call was received. Regardless of where one stands on the Second Amendment and gun control, it is not unreasonable to suggest the Obama administration complicity or direct oversight of an incident that has in very short order sparked a national debate on the very topic—and not coincidentally remains a key piece of Obama’s political platform.
The move to railroad this program through with the aid of major media and an irrefutable barrage of children’s portraits, “heartfelt” platitudes and ostensible tears neutralizes a quest for genuine evidence, reasoned observation and in the case of Newtown honest and responsible law enforcement. Moreover, to suggest that Obama is not capable of deploying such techniques to achieve political ends is to similarly place ones faith in image and interpretation above substance and established fact, the exact inclination that in sum has brought America to such an impasse.
Andrew Whooley provided suggestions and research for this article.