(Dear Reader; As we were writing these closing thoughts and feelings, about the book, it would seem that somewhere in Texas, the assassination of a number of Dallas Police Officers was being carefully planned. We can only reiterate the sentiments articulated in “Ashley’s Dove’s”, a tribute to a fallen officer written to honor the sacrifice of Officer Ashley Guindon. It resides on our website, moviesforyourmind.net. The sheer magnitude of people that this sniper’s act of carnage will impact, and the heartbreak that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives, is simply beyond words. Beyond imagining. All that said, the events that took place in Dallas on July 7th, 2016, seem to live in some strange synchronicity with the epilogue to this book. We mourn with a stunned nation. Our hearts are broken.)
It has been a long journey, starting from the century-old lynching deaths of Henry Smith and Jesse Washington and Mary Turner, all carried out in front of a thrill seeking, bloodthirsty mob. A long journey to the evil and ugly forum comments and social media rants of today, where it feels eerily as though many with a mob mentality would happily watch a modern lynching, if such atrocities were still around—failing that, they will spew their bile onto the world wide web. It has been a morbid and dreary series of sad stories, as we have gone from one tragic killing to another, starting in “The Little Book of Lynching, Part One” to “The Little Book of Lynching, Part Two.”
And for what it is worth, I think you can make a valid argument that this second book could be more aptly named, “An Examination of Police Brutality in America” or “Excessive Force: Deadly Epidemic or Necessary Evil?”—or some other annoyingly academic sounding moniker.
But we are sticking with “The Little Book of Lynching, Part Two”. Why? Because there is a common thread here: that vengeance, masking itself as justice, has been running rampant in this country since we became a country—long before, in fact--and all too often, law enforcement and some perversion of the judicial system is either involved, or hovering on the fringes of tragedy, but choosing to look the other way. Just as a bunch of thugs associated with local law enforcement orchestrated the killing of three civil rights workers back in the turbulent 1960’s, so now we have police officers who choose to ignore the most important parts of their training, and escalate situations until someone is needlessly shot, or, just as chillingly, Tased to death. And just as there was precious little effort put towards bringing justice to Emmett Till’s killers, or the mob that lynched Mary Turner, so current law enforcement officers who should know better choose to be unconscionably casual when it comes to investigating the homicide of an innocent human being. The 2014 death of young Lennon Lacy, of Bladenboro, North Carolina, who was found hanging from a swing in an all-white trailer park in a way that the medical examiner said he could not possibly have engineered himself, was a joke to local cops: they took the coroner’s camera when he tried to document the crime scene, and threatened him with the direst of consequences if he even took one picture for the evidence files.
So, to quote Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr, “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.” Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Except for the cellphone and its ability to record events. Old Jean Baptist may have invented the dahlia and been ahead of his time in his campaign to abolish capital punishment, but he didn’t see smart phones in the future.
So, for all of these reasons, this book remains stubbornly titled, “The Little Book of Lynching”, with the most compelling reason of all remaining as sadly true as it was a few hundred pages ago: There are only a couple of dozen names of the dead here. There should be thousands.
Until the day I die, I will remember coming across one long list of lynching victims, one of which was only known as “JOHN THE SLAVE.” Here was a human being who lived, laughed, loved, but more than anything else, he suffered. He may have been dragged from his home across an ocean to a strange and frightening place. He probably had a wife and children. He no doubt had hopes and dreams and prayers, which pushed hopelessly against a wall of greed and cruelty that he just could not overcome. And that is all that will ever be known of his life. He was John. And he had been purchased by another human being.
So yes. This is “The Little Book of Lynching.”
AN OPEN LETTER TO POLICE OFFICERS EVERYWHERE
Stop it. Just stop it.
Stop saying that YOU “FEARED FOR YOUR LIFE”, when you were clearly in no danger. And no, I am not vilifying officers for using that defense when they really did have reason to fear for their lives. That is precisely why examples of officers who employed deadly force when clearly threatened have not been included in this book.
I am talking about cops who use “I feared for my life” as an excuse to engage in the worst kind of brutality:
--Officer Michael Slager claimed he feared for his life when he shot Walter Scott, and will surely testify that there was a small portion of the interaction that we did not see: the fight which took place after the first dash cam footage, and before the covertly documented murder in which Slager shot eight times at a fleeing Walter Scott. Only one problem with that: virtually everything in Michael Slager’s statement is a lie, so why should we believe his excuse? He did the unthinkable when he planted a Taser at Scott’s body, and neither he nor his fellow officers attempted CPR, as they claimed they did. Of course, Officer Slager could not possibly have known when he spewed his pack of lies called an “Officer Statement” that the truth was being covertly taped by a terrified bystander—imagine what might have happened if Slager had looked over and realized that a stranger was recording the entire incident? Lastly, regarding Slager’s aiming at a fleeing man and firing eight times, nothing that had happened justifies shooting into a crowded neighborhood, especially when three of your bullets have missed their intended target and flown off into suburbia.
--“I feared for my life?" I don’t believe that Tamir Rice’s killers feared for their lives, because if you really did fear for your life, driving up to within two feet of a maniac wielding a gun is the last thing a couple of cops would do. They would instead barricade themselves behind safe cover and start negotiating. Or shooting. But never, never if they truly feared for their lives from a maniac wielding a rifle would they speed right up to his line of fire.
--The man who gunned down Bernard Bailey can’t have feared for his life. Bernard Bailey was a well-known fixture in the teeny tiny town of Eutawville, population 300, where Bernard, fifty years old and patriarch to a large and loving family, served the state as a prison guard for twenty years and attended the local church every Sunday. He just stopped by the courthouse to pay his daughter’s broken taillight ticket. Five minutes later, he would be dead. Because a weasely little man named Chief Richard Combs (who had just been fired from his last policing job, by the way), would later claim that he “feared for his life.”
Oh, and here’s another thing that the citizenry would like to see changed immediately:
Stop being so casual about investigating the deaths of young black men. As in the case of Keith Warren. Where officers waited five hours before notifying his parents after they found him hanging from a tree. And to make matters worse, they sent his body for embalming before the family could say goodbye, choose a funeral home, and most importantly, before an autopsy could be conducted. Officers, stop being so casual about the death of young black men like Feraris Golden, where you literally drove over the crime scene, then changed the official description of the noose from “a blue work shirt” to “a green sheet.” Officers, stop being so casual about the death of young black men, like in the case of Kendrick Johnson, where you stupidly and inexcusably waited for a week to take possession of the crucial security footage, and months … months …before you interviewed the witnesses. And when CIA consultants noted strange evidence of footage missing from all relevant cameras, your response was to claim that the investigation was closed, and then you literally slammed the door.
And Officers, stop this immediately: stop ignoring the procedures in which you have been so carefully trained, at my expense, at the taxpayer’s expense, just because you have some kind of Rambo fixation. And stop shooting so quickly, so cavalierly, that under questioning, when seeing the actual video actions of your evidence, you are forced to say “We may have told him to drop the gun while we were firing.” As was the case with the officers who gunned down Michael Crawford III, for casually carrying a weapon in public, in an open carry state—the definition of which meaning that you can casually carry weapons in public. But, maybe not if you are black.
Oh, and while this may not seem as earthshaking as the other items on my list, stop killing dogs. Stop murdering people’s pets. Like poor Geist, of Utah. Dozens of police were combing the neighborhood searching for a missing toddler that ended up being right where he belonged, in his own home, sleeping. But in the process of searching the area, cops entered several city blocks' worth of backyards, calling for the child. When two-year old puppy Geist approach a cop who stepped into Geist’s backyard, the cop just shot him. And in Oklahoma: When a cop was giving his brother in law a ride-a-long, they got lost and stopped at a family home to ask directions. When the family dog, Bruiser, came out wagging its tail and barking, they shot it dead. And in Baltimore: When Nala, a domesticated sharp Pei with a nametag, was grabbed by Officer Jeffrey Bolger, his best plan was to slit her throat. It didn’t help that witnesses nearby heard the officer say “I’m going to gut this fucking thing.” And here’s something else, with the dog killing--this “wrong address” business is getting old. Your excuse often sounds something like this: you showed up at the wrong address, and then felt threatened by this innocent family’s pet, so you shot it. FIRSTLY, when a person makes a complaint on a neighbor, such as domestic violence, you should start out with the assumption that you might have the wrong address, since the person calling in the complaint could very well have gotten the address wrong. So when you show up at a place that you think might be the location, nobody at the house, including the dog, deserves to be treated badly from the get-go. It is one thing to take care for your own safety as an officer, it is quite another to assume when you knock on the door that whoever is on the other side of the door is guilty of something. Including the family dog. Secondly, carry a little seven dollar bottle of mace. That way, if the family dog does act in an aggressively protective way, the beloved family pet experiences a few moments of pain, instead of eternal death. Thirdly, if you can’t handle most of these dogs without putting a bullet through their brain, you are pussies. Some police in Ohio felt so terrified of the family dog that they first Tased poor Jack, then shot him three times. The family came home, slipped in the dog’s blood on their front porch, and found his lifeless corpse along with a note to call the police. What you should know about Jack is that he was a five pound Chihuahua. And yes, I called them pussies. What other word could possibly apply in examples like these? There are dozens of such stories on the internet. It is heartbreaking.
And oh, Officers? since you are so hung up on obedience to the law, how about respecting people’s First Amendment rights to say what they want, even if it offends you. So when an all-around great guy like Cleveland Browns Receiver Andrew Hawkins wears a shirt pleading for “JUSTICE FOR TAMIR RICE, JUSTICE FOR JOHN CRAWFORD”, how about if the local Union beefhead not retort with some twaddle about how the entire Browns team owes the local cops an apology, just because Hawkins wants justice? How can anybody have read the full chapter on Tamir Rice in this book and not see what a gross miscarriage a justice was perpetrated from the moment Loehmann was hired, till the last hurrah, when the prosecutor chose to parade a mentally unstable witness in front of the grand jury.
And here’s another thing about the First Amendment: the people of this country have a right to peaceful protest. Yes, matters do get out of control, and when they do, arrests should be made. But they only tend to get out of control when the powers-that-be ignore peaceful protests and reasonable requests, as authorities did in Baltimore for an entire week, after Freddie Grey died of his injuries at the hands of cops who again, ignored procedures. Dear police: you don’t get to celebrate the American Revolution, and all the protests and upheaval our Founding Fathers engaged in, and then refer to every gathering of dark skinned people as “uppity thugs”. Or worse. And when it comes to how you deal with peaceful protests, how about NOT acting like cop Ray Albers who, for no reason, began pointing his high powered rifle at protestors who, it can clearly be seen in the video, are just milling around. That didn’t stop this cop from raising his assault rifle and pointing it at people who were doing nothing wrong, just days after Darren Wilson had shot Michael Brown. Albers, when respectfully asked to identify himself, gave his name and badge numbers as “Officer Go Fuck Yourself.” And they wonder why we have trouble respecting them?
And here’s something else about which we feel very, very strongly:
STOP TAZING CHILDREN. It can kill them, and you know it. In fact, stop Tazing anybody unnecessarily--for example, when they are already handcuffed and subdued. And stop Tazing them many, many times over the prescribed limit. Because if you do, as “Officer” Scott Nugent Tased Baron “Scooter” Pikes nine times in fourteen minutes (that’s 9 X 50,000 volts, interrupting the heart’s electrical activity), you might kill someone, as Nugent killed Pike. Pike was acquitted though, of course, even though there is irrefutable evidence that he violated a number of rules and procedures.
Or, if you are an officer who is “Tase-Crazy”, you might cause brain damage to an innocent young boy, as did Independence, Missouri Officer Timothy Runnel when he made a conscious choice to torture seventeen year old Bryce Masters, not once, but four times, the Tazer pressed cloth against Bryce’s chest, effectively destroying the boy’s mental health, along with his entire future. “Officer” Runnels, you Tased the boy for 23 seconds, then lifted him up several feet and dropped his face and skull hard, on the concrete sidewalk. You left him medically dead for eight minutes, and caused permanent brain damage. This is not the action of a policeman. This is the behavior of a sadistic psychopath. And no, like millions of other Americans, I don’t believe that you are sorry. Why? Because a person capable of that kind of torture is not capable of remorse. That is, in essence, the definition of a psychopath. Oh, and to the Independence, Missouri Police Department. You had a chance to condemn this torture, caught on video for the world to see, but instead, your first words about the incident were flat out lies. So I guess that makes the officials in charge and the spokesholes at the Inde-Mo police departments a bunch of dirt bags as well.
Oh, and Officers, STOP RAPING. STOP SODOMIZING. Stop sexually assaulting trusting citizens, and prisoners who are under your watch. And yes, although we touched on those who use the power of the badge to prey on innocent victims for their sexual gratification in an earlier chapter, it is worth noting a few more, if for no other reason, because these crimes are almost impossible to believe.
A partial list of the damned:
Foster “Pete” Bowen, Huntington West Virginia Police Captain, sentenced to between three and six centuries in prison for the known rape of seven boys, although according to evidence that came out in his trial, to quote the judge, “You may have committed more acts of child rape and abuse than any person in the history of West Virginia, sir,” Judge Farrell said. "In fact, you may have committed more crimes against persons than anybody in the history of West Virginia."
Christopher Bowersox, a Bakersfield police officer sentenced for possessing child pornography, according to federal prosecutors. The FBI case against him alleged he had child pornography images on his home computer and took part in online chats in which he discussed raping, mutilating and killing, and eating young boys and infants. He got just 48 months.
Columbia County Oregon Sheriff’s Deputy John Lawrence Hinckle. Initially indicted on more than thirty counts, he was eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sodomy, one count of first-degree sex abuse and one count of incest. 75 months. The victim was his daughter. He molested her from the time she was ten, to the time she was seventeen. Perhaps he was losing interest as she got older.
Once head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in South Florida, Special Agent Anthony Mangione led a double life, fighting child pornographers even as he was building his own special collection of brutal child porn, some of the victims as young as three. He was busted when he stupidly emailed some to a school bus driver (chilling thought, that), and feds linked the emails back to Mangione. Who only got six years for his evil.
“Officer” Gary Dale Baker, who raped a seventy five year old woman who had trouble communicating to her family what had happened because of a stroke which had severely debilitated her speech. And he didn’t just do it once. He did it four times, the first time while she was actually having the stroke—and the fourth time under the watchful eye of a hidden camera her family had installed. His charged included not only rape but also sexual battery, forced oral copulation, and robbery.
Wichita Kansas Police Officer Greg T. Nicks was given four life sentences for sexually abusing a fifteen month old, and sending the pictures to his girlfriend, who, horrifically enough, did not turn him in. She is in jail on similar charges.
Chief Deputy of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office Clyde Franklin Sanders Jr., pleaded no contest to raping a three year old. Twice. She was his daughter.
Boyce Officer Stephen Young purposely engineered positions that would put him in close proximity with children, where he spent years and years sexually abusing them. Officials investigating the case believe that he raped about twenty toddlers, five of them being mere infants.
Benton County, Washington Deputy Sheriff Kenneth John Freeman enjoyed the dubious distinction of being the most wanted man on the U.S. Marshall’s list. He was finally found in China, and brought home to face trial for raping his daughter from the age of ten to the age of fifteen. Deputy Sheriff Freeman (ironic name) got fifty years, and also has a second dubious distinction: the film he uploaded to the internet, of him raping his own daughter, is the most downloaded and viewed piece of child pornography every tracked.
This is just a partial list of the long, long scroll of the damned.
And let me make this crystal clear: I do not list this long litany of crimes and horrors so that we can somehow learn to hate and distrust the police even more. I said that I believe the vast majority of officers to be good, brave, and honest, and I believe that those officers are smart, ethical, and noble enough to finally admit that there are cops worthy of condemnation.
And most importantly, officers, if the above manifesto does not apply to you, then don’t get angry at an increasingly outraged populus; don’t claim you have the Blue Flu and fail to show up, to do your duty. That isn’t showing fellow officers loyalty. That is aligning yourselves with cops who have turned criminal. And to stand by them would betray everything you claim to believe. Everything you have sworn to uphold.
It’s very simple, officers: if none of these grim and ghastly charges apply to you, then don’t take it personally. What you should take personally is how seriously officers who violate procedures, engage in police brutality, and commit heinous crimes threaten to put you in a bad light, and make your job infinitely more dangerous. Direct your rage and righteous indignation where it belongs—at them, not at the concerned citizen.
And finally, officers, for God’s sake, in the name of all that is sacred, stand up loud and proud, and repudiate these actions on the part of rogue officers. Distance yourself; call out and criticize and condemn these men: officers who use excessive force are breaking the law just as much as the criminals you arrest, and officers who body slam, who punch and pummel the handcuffed suspect, officers who torture through Tazing, and who rape, are sadists who are not worthy of wearing the uniform.
Think about it.
We expect conservatives and right-to-lifers to clearly repudiate people who bomb abortion clinics.
We expect people who believe in free speech to draw the line at the likes of Fred Phelps, especially if his ilk shows up at a soldier’s funeral.
We expect the Muslim community to stand up and loudly repudiate people who commit violence in the name of Islam.
So here’s the thing, officers--you don’t get a pass.
The thin Blue line needs to be erased now, and the tall Blue wall needs to come down today, with all the same drama and outrageous indignation that brought down the Berlin Wall.
Because to all of the hundreds of thousands of good, brave, honest cops out there—if you don’t name these vile violations of proper procedure and egregious engagements in police brutality for what they are …acts of war, committed by a mercenary band of Storm Troopers--then mark my words:
It sure as hell feels like you have declared war on us, the citizens of these United States..
And boys in blue—you just know that is not going to end happily.
Declaring war on the citizens of these United States? That has never gone well for anybody.
(During the time that we were putting together this final epilogue to the book, two more black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, were killed at the hands of white police officers. Whether or not those two men needed to be shot will no doubt be at the center of heated debate and intense investigation for months, perhaps years. We had to end the book at some point, and commit these stories to history, since clearly there is no natural end point to the project. It seems as though the killings will never end.)