Amidst COVID-19 pandemic: ‘I can’t Breathe’ - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Amidst COVID-19 pandemic: ‘I can’t Breathe’

Los Angeles is no stranger to riots. There’s a long history, including in 1992 (Rodney King), and 1968 all over America after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was murdered, 1965 (Watts) The Zoot Suit Riot of 1943. In that one members of the military were walking around the streets beating on Pachucos for the crime of wearing suits mainstream America though were unpatriotic during World War II.

It was the Pachucos, by the way, who invented lowriders. Now we can see them all over Southern California, celebrated in song and as a branch of custom and classic car culture. Why can’t we be friends?

Los Angeles protests
(YouTube)

There is rioting all over America, from Los Angeles to New York, in places like Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Texas, I think Dallas, Austin and San Antonio too. Boston, Mass., Chicago, Illinois, Bakersfield, CA, Des Moines, Iowa, a mile high in Denver, Colorado, the Motor City, Detroit, which still has scars from the riots in the 1960s, Louisville, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, Miami, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., even Sandy Eggo, San Diego, CA, in La Mesa just to the east.

Then of course St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Look at the sky turn a hell fire red
Somebody’s house is burning down down, down down”

“So I stood on my horse’s back and I screamed without a crack
I say, ‘Oh baby why’d you burn your brother’s house down?’”

That was Jimi Hendrix, from his 1968 album, Electric Ladyland and the song is “House Burning Down.” He was singing primarily about the Watts Riots, but it is still relevant today.

Why indeed are you burning the businesses of your brothers and sisters, ending the jobs of others? The saying is, “No good can come of it.” You might crash into the broken windows of the Target or Walmart and run out with a 65-inch flat screen TV — but then what?

Rioting, looting and arson don’t bring about a change in the law enforcement culture, history has proven that. Hell, not even in America culture. Donald Trump as president — the murder of Ahmaud Arberry by two white vigilantes — proves that. Going back to the Pachucos, the 1960s, 1992, Hispanic men and women, Black men and women, are still being oppressed and victimized today.

For a moment there I thought I would say sports has transcended the oppression. Possibly in the NBA, professional tennis maybe, MLB, who knows? The NFL released a statement in support of the peaceful protests and solidarity with those seeking change to the culture — but wait motherfuckers. No team in the NFL will hire quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the man who sparked a peaceful movement, first by sitting during the National Anthem and then by kneeling, at the suggestion of a war veteran.

Former Niners QB Colin Kaepernick
Claudia Gestro)

Many of his colleagues around the league followed his lead and there, for a season, we had football players kneeling during the National Anthem, or not coming out of the locker room until it was over. Then the orange guy in the White House started tweeting that players, like Kaepernick, should be banned from the NFL and changed the message from one of peaceful protest against the oppression of black and brown people to dishonoring the flag and the men and women in the military.

Voila! Colin Kaepernick is blackballed, despite the fact he’s a better QB then some of the starters today and better than every second string QB today. That man sacrificed his career, his livelihood, his reason for getting up at ungodly hours every morning to train and prepare … he gave all of that up to kneel for a higher purpose. He put the greater good above his personal ambition.

People can argue about his abilities, whether he’s good enough to be a starter and could he lead a team to a Super Bowl championship — we do that with all star athletes in every sport. But the fact is the NFL took away that one thing he loves, playing football, because he took a knee and the orange president didn’t like it. And I’m sure Colin Kaepernick loves other things besides playing football.

Nike honored him with those commercials, along with Serena Williams, LeBron James and a few others. But the commercials were meant to honor the guy who put everything on the line and paid the price.

Angels CF Mike Trout signing autographs at Angel Stadium in 2017 (Claudia Gestro)

So, when we talk about the GOATS, the Greatest Of All Time; Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Bill Russell, Sandy Koufax, Mike Trout, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, and the names of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Johnny Unitas and Dan Marino come up, we have to put in that conversation Colin Kaepernick. None of the greats listed sacrificed what Kaepernick did. Granted the NFL paid him a settlement of $80 million, but do you really think that makes up for not being allowed to compete for a championship?

As for the NBA, Adam Silver was quite clear, when he spoke with our sports reporter Claudia Gestro during the All-Star Weekend in 2018 and said the league was all for players and coaches speaking their minds when it came to political and social issues. So, LeBron James, Lou Williams and the other NBA players don’t have the same steep hill to climb when it comes to social justice. Being black in America is hard enough as it is without some crazy Fox News host telling people to shut up and dribble.

You can watch the interview here.

As the protests grow and continue, there are over a dozen cities around the nation under curfew again, Sunday Night. Los Angeles is one of them. The protests continue, on Melrose, on Beverly Blvd, at The Grove and even a small protest in Beverly Hills. The Grove and the Farmers Market, where the fancy people like to shop, drink and watch movies. It’s a nice place that puts on a great display of Christmas decorations.

(Carlos Briceño)

In the coverage from Minneapolis we saw a message spray painted on the top of a roof: “Can you hear us now?” With the protests messing up the real estate around the Grove and Farmers Market, the protestors in Los Angeles are asking their fellow Angelinos, “Can you hear us now?”

They were in Santa Monica and Long Beach, where protestors were shouting at looters to stop. The I-10 freeway was closed to stop traffic going into Santa Monica. C’mon man! Santa Monica is cool! Liberals live there! The protests in Los Angeles and Huntington Beach stayed peaceful for the most part.

And there were National Gard Humvees rolling through the streets of DTLA, with the burned out and looted stores, the streets scarred from the effects of rocks, bottles, and other projectiles, some causing fires. Used canisters of pepper spray and tear gas and flash bang grenades. The detritus of unrest.

A week ago about this time of the morning, George Floyd was going about his business, like anyone else trying to get by on too little in this already difficult times. Then he was accused of passing a bad check, or was it a counterfeit $20 bill? It doesn’t fucking matter anymore. He peacefully went along with the police that stopped him and then, for whatever reason, one of those cops knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, over two minutes after Floyd passed out. Other cops knelt on his back and still other stood there watching, along with the mobile phone users who were recording George Floyd’s death live.

President Trump had the White House lights turned off, the first time the White House has been dark in decades (Douglas Christian

One fucking week, and there are still demonstrations across America. Someone was murdered in Baltimore during the protests/riots there. Freddie Gray is still an open and festering wound in the city of Edgar Allen Poe. Unarmed black men die in police custody with unwavering regularity in the United States of America.

The right wants us to remember the good old days when it looked like everyone was getting along and black folk were content with the oppression. Except for those trouble makers like Medgar Evers, John Lewis and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve always been bothered when seeing or hearing people refer to MLK as just Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The man was also an ordained minister so please, give the man his full honors. As an atheist, it shouldn’t bother me, but as a human being who respects the achievements of others — well, most others — Martin Luther King, Jr. earned both titles of Reverend and Doctor. Show him that respect.

Sorry about the tangent.

Back before home video cameras (Rodney King) and video cameras in our mobile phones, cops could say every suspect they killed was trying to do harm to the police. Even with video cops still get away with it. Juries don’t like to convict cops of murder, or manslaughter. Review boards don’t like to do more than fire bad cops that have killed black men. And grand juries — the bane of cop on black man killing — rarely come back with indictments.

Yeah, Derek Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. The family doesn’t believe that’s enough. They (and millions of others) see first degree murder and three other police officers that need to be charged. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar had a shot at charging Chauvin 2006 when she was the Hennepin County Attorney in 2006. She left it to a grand jury — that didn’t indict — and became one of Minnesota’s senators instead of prosecuting Chauvin.

Smashed glass in a burned out store on Melrose Ave (Carlos Briceño)

She can’t hide behind the story that it was out of her hands because it was in her grasp and she punted. Yay Amy! If she ever had any dreams of being on the ticket with Joe Biden, they are over now. She has insurmountable baggage with the African American community and right now that vast, vast majority of white moderates, liberals and ultra-progressives are standing with the black community.

“I understand that I will never understand, but I will stand with you.” Was the message all over social media for the past week. White people don’t know what it means to be black in America and never will, but they are standing with the black community today. Did you see the police officers in Texas kneeling in prayer with the protestors? They understand enough to stand on the side of righteousness.

“Don’t ask us what we think Dr. King would say about all this rioting. We’ll never know ‘cause you killed him too.” Yeah, that’s another social media meme question I’ve seen, and maybe you have as well. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood why people riot and loot and burn down neighborhoods. He called it “The language of the unheard.”

The public servants in city, state and federal governments better start hearing them now. They are, after all, not our leaders, they are our public servants. They serve the public.

Except for that orange douchebag in the White House. He only serves himself and occasionally his family and friends.

Social media meme

He’s been tweeting maniacally for the past week, especially over the weekend, as he hides out in the White House bunker. He’s claiming all the rioting and looting is due to antifa and he wants to declare the group a terrorist organization. “The violence and vandalism is being led by antifa and other radical left-wing groups who are terrorizing the innocent, destroying jobs, hurting businesses and burning down buildings,” he told people at the Kennedy Space Center, at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mayors and governors are reporting they have found evidence white supremacist organizations are taking advantage of the protests to foment a racial civil war.

Trump was at Cape C for the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 that took Crew Dragon, with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, to the International Space Station (ISS). That would be really big news right now, if it wasn’t for the murder of George Floyd and this pandemic that has been steadily killing a couple thousand people every day

Trump isn’t concerned enough to try and solve any of the problems with inequality in the justice system and law enforcement, nor the COVID-19 pandemic. He just tweets stupid shit and says stupid shit. Here’s one example of the incredibly stupid tweets he’s been tap-tap-tapping out all weekend, from his hardened bunker. “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!”

In reality: Denver area police pulled over a car on its way to the riots in downtown Denver to take part in the protests that had ended. In the trunk police found assault weapons, ammunition and a variety of weaponry. They weren’t antifa. They belong to a white supremacist organization called, “Boogaloo Bois.” Law enforcement is finding this group and other little Nazi groups trying to take advantage of the situation.

If you change a couple of letters in the acronym POTUS, it becomes POUTS. Yeah, the coward hides, and tweets, rages and pouts — but he doesn’t lead. He doesn’t even serve the public. He actually hid in that bunker … If the issues weren’t so serious and urgent, we could laugh at it.

Police protecting heavy equipment on Melrose Ave (Carlos Briceño)

With the pandemic killing over 100,000, the country with 40 million unemployed, and now the rage over police misconduct towards people of color — systemic, institutionalized racism — is Trump done making America great again?

We can’t blame Trump for the centuries of institutional racism or the rise of COVID-19, but Trump did nearly everything in his power to help the coronavirus spread. He lied about it, ignored the warnings from the experts in his own administration and tried to coerce governors into saying nice things about him in exchange for equipment. He’s flaunted his own administration’s guidelines about social distancing and wearing masks, claimed credit for things he didn’t do, like closing down the various state economies. Now he’s pushing for states to fully reopen their economies, despite the public’s lack of confidence that it is safe to do so. He mocked a reporter who wouldn’t remove his mask when he asked a question.

Now, with demonstrators in the streets, not to mention people going to beaches and other crowded locations — and Trump encouraging people to do it — a second wave will not only hit us, it will be here sooner than the flu season.

Over and over I tell myself don’t respond to the nonsense, the conspiracy theories and the insanity on Facebook — but I do anyway. One of the latest was about the media (of course) being in on some grand scheme to draw our attention away from the pandemic by reporting on the demonstrations going on across the nation. Wait, reporting on the news is somehow a conspiracy between the government and media … ahh, to do what?

A paper from the CIA, brought to the public in 1976 proves everything …

(Carlos Briceño)

Totally off topic, but another guy had a post that claimed the Theory of Evolution is really a racist plot … and then uses a bunch of quotes from the Bible that have nothing to do with racism to back up his claim.

There are some people that should not have a license to drive a car or own firearms.  On the other hand, the Darwin Awards were made for people like that.

Getting back to COVID-19: Soon the United States will have over two million confirmed cases; there are more than 1.83 million with 106,605 deaths. By the time you read this it will be over 107,000 deaths. In California we have 90,631 confirmed cases and some sources say the state has reached over 4,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Over half of those deaths are in L.A. County.

No, there is no vast conspiracy by the media to manipulate the populace by turning our attention away from the coronavirus and to the protests going on across the nation. The newspapers here in Southern California are reporting on both pretty well, same with the local news.

Governor Gavin Newsom is walking a tightrope as churches across the state have vowed to disregard the COVID rules and open up their services. They need the money. Mayor Eric Garcetti is walking an even thinner, tighter rope as he balances the needs of opening the city’s economy with the continuing spread of the disease, on top of handling protests that have become violent in some places.

You know, these white people who claim they are oppressed because they can’t get their nails done and get a haircut have no clue what oppression is. They need to talk to an average Black American about living in fear of the police every day. As we found out in Louisville, KY, African Americans aren’t even safe sleeping in their own beds. That’s oppression, you punks. Now get back in your shiny SUV’s and pickups and go home. Watch some Netflix or something.

And how is it the police keep their distance when white folks, decked out in body armor and carrying assault weapons, take over a state capital and threaten lawmakers, but when people gather to peacefully protest they attack with tear gas, flash bangs and billy clubs? That’s some white privilege there.

This has to end … this post, the pandemic, the protests, and especially the oppression of black and brown people by law enforcement and society. None of us are safe until it does.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

#BlackOutTuesday
#BlackLivesMatter

UPDATE June 2: Just minutes after this was posted the Orange douchebag announced he would be giving brief remarks in the White House Rose Garden. Shortly thereafter U.S. Park Police, Secret Service and local D.C. police began aggressively clearing Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, using pepper spray, tear gas and flash bang grenades. We can see some of the protestors received at least minor injuries watching the report from MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake as he and his crew covered the assault on the protestors.

All so the Orange Douchebag could have this photo op in front of the church many presidents have used in the past — not the current occupant of course. There he is, holding up a Bible — that is upside down — as if he actually knows what’s in the book. He didn’t even walk into the church, he just waddled back to the White House with his security team.

Apparently Trump wanted to show the nation’s governors he knows how to get tough with protestors, showing them liberal, pro-Black people progressives what’s what and who is in charge! Donald J. Trump, dammit!

So, the Orange Douchebag (yes, I’ve decided to capitalize this new title) had a phone call with the nation’s governors, in which he insulted many of them and threatened to go full on dictator and order the military to take over the localities with protests with a dominant show of force. He told the governors, “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said. He also decided that with his new Supreme Court it was time to address other issues. “Flag burning is a disgrace. We have a different court. It’s time to review that again.”

Nothing will ensure an uptick in demonstrations, looting and rioting as promising to go dictator on the protests. The Orange Douchebag ought to check the history of Richard Nixon’s first term and see how well that strategy worked then. Yeah, the government killed a few people, at Kent State and Jackson State universities in particular, but it didn’t slow down any of the demonstrations and clashes between protestors and law enforcement.

Protests and riots continued — continue— through Monday evening across America. Here in Los Angeles included. Military vehicles can still be seen in the streets. To support the Orange Douchebag Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) labeled the demonstrations an “insurrection”! That would allow the president to invoke the Posse Comitatus Act which disallows the use of the military in domestic affairs, except in times of insurrection.

We slightly modified this YouTube screenshot of President Trump holding a Bible upside down in front of a church he never attends

There you go.

Two autopsies were done on George Floyd and both said his death was the result of homicide, although they differed on underlying conditions. The family’s independent autopsy said it was due to Floyd being knelt on, the government’s autopsy said he had alcohol in him and a heart condition that led to his death. Which one of those is more in line with the conclusion of “Homicide”? Rhetorical question.

As soon as this is posted the Orange Douchebag is going to say or do something noteworthy. It will just have to wait until my next post. This one is already over 3,500 words.

As for the COVID-19 pandemic — it keeps racking up the body count. There were over 21,000 new cases reported in the United States June 1, bringing the total to 1,866,070 cases with 107,478 deaths.

Stay home and stay safe. If you are demonstrating, wear protective gear and try to abide by social distancing guidelines.

To read my previous posts on COVID-19, click here.

Top photo of Melrose Avenue by Carlos Briceño

 

 


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
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