One For The Good Guys

Armed robber tries to stick up a store in North Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Police responded to a report of an armed robbery just before 9 a.m. at the Handy Stop on the 2600 block of West Broadway Avenue. When officers arrived, they learned an armed suspect entered the store and attempted to rob it at gunpoint.

Armed store owner had a dissenting opinion:

Police said at some point, the suspect and the store owner exchanged gun fire. Nobody was hit as a result of the gun fire, and there were no injuries in the incident. The suspect fled the scene before officers arrived and is still at-large.

There are few news stories in the world that make me happier than criminal scum leaving the premises, in cuffs, on a stretcher or, Heaven forfend, a gurney (let’s not call it “happy” in this case), or even at a dead run with soiled undies as a law-abiding citizen sweeps up shell casings behind him. 

They’ve just got to set Michael Bloomberg spinning in the coffin he sleeps in.

The Kill Cult

Joe Doakes from Como Park emailed me about something Glenn Reynolds wrote, that I wanted to write about anyway:

Libertarian, explained in six sentences:
“So, I’m skeptical of the death penalty’s administration because the criminal justice system is a disaster. But, assuming guilt, I don’t really care much about the morality of killing people. The nation-state is all about killing people. Its sole reason for existing is that it’s better at killing people in large numbers than any other form of human organization. If you don’t like the idea of the state killing people, you don’t like the idea of the state. If you don’t realize this, it’s because your thinking is confused.”

Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, 8:34 a.m. July 25, 2014

Far be it from me to disagree with the esteemed Prof. Reynolds, but I think it’s his thinking that’s confused.

We pay taxes to a state that excels at carrying out violence for the same reason we buy a pistol and get a carry permit; we are responding prudently to a threat by giving ourselves the means to defend ourselves, singularly and collectively, from what the law calls “an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm” or it’s state equivalent, conquest and destruction. Judgment is called for – but not “due process”.

I don’t necessarily trust the state to “get self-defense right”, but where the alternative is being conquered by someone much worse, I’ll accept the risks.

Criminal justice is not self-defense. It’s not about life or death (for the crime victim, anyway) – not anymore. The perp is in custody. It’s about making things right, which involves getting things right.

Except the state can’t get things right – not 100% of the time.

There is no alternative to self-defense – you live if it works, and if it doesn’t you die. There is a reasonable alternative to the state botching executions, or, worse, killing the wrong person entirely (as they have certainly done more than a few times).

I tolerate the idea of the state defending us imperfectly because there is no rational alternative. There are plenty of rational alternatives to the state botching the judicial execution.

There. I hope I’ve settled that once and for all.

The Good Cop

Detroit Police Chief James Craig attributes part of 37% drop in armed robbery to armed homeowners making life a little too, er, “brisk” for the city’s thugs:

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.

Even more notably?  It’s been two months since the last major home-defense incident, the last of a flurry of such incidents in which criminals scampered away from law-abiding homeowners who engaged them.

Sometimes the criminals got hurt.  Other times, merely humiliated – sometimes on camera:

It may not be the acme of Christian charity, but watching homeowners humiliate punks at gunpoint warms my heart.

Anyway – urban police chiefs tend to be toadies, on a policy level, to the liberal Democrats who appoint them.  It’s good to see Craig breaking that particular noxious mold.

Progress!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Population of Chicago in 1930: 3.3 million. Crime_in_Chicago”>Number of homicides: 399. Gun control: none.

Population of Chicago in 2010: 2.7 million. Number of homicides: 436. Gun control: plenty.

Chicago in Al Capone’s day was known for gang violence but modern Chicago gangs kill more victims from a smaller pool.

Chicago gangs doing it better.

Joe Doakes

Who says there’s no such thing as progress?

The Copycat Factory

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

“Hey you, watching this news channel.  That’s not your picture, is it?  They’re not saying Your name or discussing Your Facebook video, are they?   They’re ignoring you.   Acting like you don’t matter. Not giving you the respect you deserve.   They’re like those snotty girls at school who sneer at you when you’re just trying to be nice.  Or those jocks shoving you in the hallway.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  You can get noticed.   You can get Even.  We will give you a million dollars of free publicity for every one of them you shoot at school.  It’d be easy.  It’d be Satisfying.

The more you shoot, the brighter your star will shine.  We can make you Somebody.   We can make you Famous.  We’re CNN.  We make the news.”

When a person already is hearing voices, and then the media gives a 24-7 assist to the Devil on the Left Shoulder, well, I’m no psychiatrist but I gotta wonder . . . .

Joe Doakes

I’m not going to say that the news industry knows and banks on the fact that creating copycat murderers is like storing seed corn for them.

But it would make sense, if you were deeply cynical and worried about your own survival, wouldn’t it?

Margin

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s not strictly speaking a gun-rights case.  But the discussion of the 21-foot rule might be useful to a CCW permittee who finds herself explaining why she shot a person holding a knife, standing a little distance away from her.

The defendant in this case argued with apartment security, went to her car, retrieved a knife, then returned to threaten security with the knife.  The prosecution called the investigating detective, who testified:

“Over defense objection, Detective Ratajczyk testified regarding the continuum of force; the lowest level of force being the presence of a person in uniform, and the level of force then moves from verbal, to physical, to deadly force.  According to Detective Ratajczyk, force in response to a threat is “met with the same force plus one.”  Detective Ratajczyk also testified that he believed a knife is a dangerous weapon, particularly if the knife is within 21 feet of an officer because a distance of 21 feet is the minimum distance an officer with a holstered weapon needs to react to a threat from a knife . . . Even if we were to conclude that the challenged testimony was inadmissible, appellant cannot establish prejudice because there is no reasonable possibility that the verdict would have been different had the challenged testimony not been admitted.  See Post, 512 N.W.2d at 102.  The record reflects that the evidence supporting appellant’s guilt was overwhelming.”

The Court didn’t actually rule on whether the 21-foot rule was valid.  But the court didn’t toss it out, either.  Keep this case in your pocket for the next time somebody claims a knife isn’t a reason to use deadly force.

Joe Doakes

I would love to see the weasel assistant DA who tries to state with a straight face that a knife isn’t a deadly weapon.

Only on Planet Law.

This Is A Spree Killer’s Brain On Lead

Whenever a law-abiding citizen with a legal firearm engages against a criminal bent on a spree killing, the left and media engages in what is at the least misunderstanding and at worst deliberate obfuscation. 

In cases where a citizen kills or apprehends someone bent on a spree-killing – as in the Appalachian Law School and Pearl Mississippi school shootings – in many cases the number of dead is low enough that it doesn’t even qualify as a “spree-kiling”; the average number of dead at mass shootings when a civilian intervenes is two. 

But at other shootings – the New Life Christian Center shooting in Colorado Springs, the Clackamas Mall shooting in Oregon, and this week’s shooting in Las Vegas – it’s a little more complex, and the left and media (ptr) are a little more ignorant, or misleading. 

And so  – purely for educational purposes – I’m going to compare two spree-shootings.  They are for our purposes identical – with one exception. 

Read on:

Step Shooting 1 – Victims Wait For The Police Shooting 2 – A Citizen intervenes
1  Our future perp – a deeply disturbed person – picks a target for their rage.  The target is one that the perp believes will make them a household name, an object of eternal fascination.  The intended victims are people – or associated with people – who the perp believes have wronged him in some way.   Our future perp – a deeply disturbed person – picks a target for their rage. The target is one that the perp believes will make them a household name, an object of eternal fascination. The intended victims are people – or associated with people – who the perp believes have wronged him in some way.
2  Perp spends months, maybe years, planning shooting down to the most infinitesimal detail. It is both fantasy and obsession, occupying every waking and most sleeping hours of the perp’s day. Perp spends months, maybe years, planning shooting down to the most infinitesimal detail. It is both fantasy and obsession, occupying every waking and most sleeping hours of the perp’s day.
3  Perp painstakingly hoards weapons and equipment: maybe an AR/AK, a large-capacity handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, black overalls and ski mask, goggles, gasoline bombs, the works. Absolutely nothing is left to chance.   Perp painstakingly hoards weapons and equipment: maybe an AR/AK, a large-capacity handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, black overalls and ski mask, goggles, gasoline bombs, the works. Absolutely nothing is left to chance.
4  On the day of the attack, the perp painstakingly prepares for the attack, leaving behind video and written manifestos that will later cause experts to wonder what the hell is the matter with humanity.    On the day of the attack, the perp painstakingly prepares for the attack, leaving behind video and written manifestos that will later cause experts to wonder what the hell is the matter with humanity.
5  The perp arrives at the target, yells something vainglorious, and begins shooting. He shoots and kill/wound a few victims before anyone can react.  The perp arrives at the target, yells something vainglorious, and begins shooting. He shoots and kill/wound a few victims before anyone can react.
6  Lost in a reverie – a fantasy, the achievement of that for which they have planned for so long, the shooter saunters through the pandemonium, shooting as people flee, killing and wounding more. The killer is a happy as he has ever been  Lost in a reverie – a fantasy, the achievement of that for which they have planned for so long, the shooter saunters through the pandemonium, shooting as people flee, killing and wounding more.  The killer is a happy as he has ever been
7  Grinning from ear, the shooter blazes away, calmly changing magazines and firing almost at random at fleeting people, grinding his teeth with hatred and contempt as they fall. The police receive several 911 calls about a shooting.  The police start rolling.  The killer notices a sharp “crack” sound by his head.  He turns toward the sound, and sees someone – a middle-aged, middle-class schlub, one of the people he holds in contempt, down the business end of a handgun.  The handgun barks again, and through his adrenaline rush the shooter feels a sharp sting from his left arm.  High on adrenaline, he barely notices the fact that he’s been hit – but he is keenly aware that his plan is off the rails.
8  The killer goes from room to room, calmly slaughtering people at his leisure.  Just has he’s planned.     The killer palpably deflates – not so much from the bullet wound as from the unplanned deviation from the fantasy.  They withdraw into a room just off the main hallway as the citizen – who, pumped on adrenaline, scored no more hits – stands, the slide on his small pocket pistol locked back on an empty magazine, dumbfounded, before remembering his training, shaking it off, reloading and retreating.
9  The killer indulges his caprice, leaving a few people alive in some rooms, calmly finishing off all the wounded in others.  The killer, his reverie thoroughly smashed, falls into a crippling despair, turns his handgun on himself. 
10  More rooms.  More shooting.  More dead.   The killer is dead.  
11  Terrified cell phone calls end with loud bangs, as the killer calmly walks from room to room, killing at his whim.  Survivors – the wounded whom he didn’t finish off, and a few who managed to hide – noted that his expression was calm, serene, almost…happy.   The killer is still dead. 

The civilian, hearing nothing, calls 911 – the lines are jammed, so it takes several tries.  Then, per his training, he calls his lawyer. 

12  The police finally arrive; they engage the shooter as soon as they make contact – following their training  The police arrive – to find few dead and wounded people in a building that echoes with the crying of survivors who are, it is noted, alive and unscratched. 
13  The reverie broken, the shooter returns fire, then withdraws into a room where, after killing a few final victims, he shoots himself.   The police start sorting out the situation, and note that the situation, tragic as it was, was likely saved by the intervention of a law-abiding schmuck with a gun.
14  As a parade of ambulances and satellite trucks howl up to the crime scene, the senior cop shakes his head, and starts securing a very big, gory crime scene.  As his officers cordon off the building, the senior officer meets the citizen.  Although the citizen – per his training – declines to speak until he can talk to a lawyer, the lieutenant tells his sergeant that the guy is the hero of the day. 
15  At the news conference that evening, the chief of police calls the situation a tragedy that they will be investigating for some time.   At the news conference following the incident, the chief calls the civilian a hero who doubtless saved many lives. 
16  The media quietly ponders, on a bunch of “Journo-lists”, how to help this story push the nation toward “meaningful action about gun safety”.  The media buries the story of the mass-shooting that wasn’t. 

For those who aren’t paying attention? The right column is – in broad outline, not actual particulars – what happened in the WalMart in Las Vegas.

Take your pick.

(Bonus:  when the story of the shooting in the right column is discussed in public, the pundits on the left will knowingly smirk and say “the shooter killed himself”, painstakingly ignoring the “why”)

Greater Love Hath No Man…

You’ll search the mainstream media a long time before you find it mentioned, but the hero of the shooting in Las Vegas was…

…a civilian with a carry permit:

…the victim at Wal-Mart was a concealed carry holder who actually successfully confronted the male shooter, but didn’t realize that he had a partner in the crime.
From the report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, police say that the concealed carry holder confronted the male shooter while the female shooter was pushing a shopping cart.

Mr. Wilcox shot the first shooter.  The shooter’s wife then shot Mr. Wilcox in the back.

She then slipped behind the concealed carry holder and shot him at close range, unfortunately.
“He had no idea the wife was walking behind him,” the police official said of the murdered man

This underscores the importance of working on proper shooting drills, especially shaking your head to clear your focus, and maintaining your situational awareness.

But the real point?

. “This guy (Wilcox) was not some idiot with a gun. “He had no idea the wife was walking behind him,” the police official said of the murdered man. “This guy (Wilcox) was not some idiot with a gun. To me, he was a hero. He was trying to stop an active shooter.””

And here’s the important part – while the mainstream media will never report this, Wilcox did precisely what the police are starting to realize is the most important thing to do in mass shootings; get fire on target ASAP.  The psychos who do these shootings carry out their acts in a fantasy, a reverie – and taking return fire breaks the reverie for them.  They then almost inevitably either give up, or shoot themselves (as the killers in Vegas did).

This same exact thing happened three days before Sandy Hook, at the Clackamas Mall in Portland Oregon, when citizen Nick Melo, pointing a pistol at a crazed shooter who’d already killed two, caused the shooter to abandon his carefully-laid plan and kill himself.

Or, for that matter, the New Life Christian Center in Colorado Springs, when return fire from volunteer security wounded a spree killer, causing him to withdraw and, shortly, kill himself.

There is no way of knowing how many lives Joseph Wilcox saved by his action.  Likely many.

And this the example to throw into the fact of the orcs who’d take your right to defend yourself.

They – like the spree killers – live in a fantasy world.

Doakes Sunday: As Evil Does

Joe Doakea from Como Park emails:

I generally agree with Joe Soucheray. He has good common sense, much of the time. Based on what we know now, Joe’s opinion in this column is wrong.

The California killer was not evil. He was psycho. There’s an enormous difference between doing bad things because you enjoy them, versus doing bad things because the voices in your head enjoy them.

And fighting tooth-and-nail to make sure psychos can’t be compelled to take their meds, then blaming innocent gun owners when the inevitable occurs . . . that’s just wicked. I’m looking at you, Liberals.

Joe Doakes

True.

Doakes Sunday: Sprung

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

You can’t keep convicted murderers locked up for life, it’s intolerable.  They must be allowed day passes to stretch their legs, enjoy life a bit.  They generally come back to prison.  Not all of them, but many.

Sheesh, where is this prison, Stalag 13? Monty Python wouldn’t try this skit, nobody would believe it.

Joe Doakes

The good news?  It’s just the Brits.

The bad news?  The Brits are our canary, and we’re down in the same exact coal mine.

So Let Me Get This Straight…

A deeply mentally ill child of immense privilege

…from a family that is very, very likely left of center (given where the father lives and the industry he works in), not that that necessarily should matter…

…who stabbed three victims, shot three (of whom four were men and two were women) and critically injured two more with his car…

…in a gun-free zone…

…in a state that has some of the “toughest” gun controls in the country, and spent the last year ratcheting up restrictions on law-abiding gun buyers…

…is the fault of the NRA and the gun-rights movement?

Somebody Notify MPR

Twenty years of warnings that one of their janitors was an alleged pedophile weren’t enough to spur the Saint Paul Police…

Yesterday, Ramsey County officials announced they’ve hit [former SPPS janitor Walter] Happel with a smorgasboard of new charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and five counts of surreptitious invasion of privacy.

The new charging documents don’t exactly bathe the St. Paul police or Linwood Monroe in glory, as both allegedly ignored credible warnings Happel was a pedophile.

The allegations now facing Happel are Sandusky-esque — there are too many alleged victims to share each and every one of their stories in one report. But with regard to the 1991 case, after news of the initial charge against Happel broke a couple months ago, Happel’s son, identified as “AH” in charging documents, came forward to tell police his father sexually abused him from the time he was four until he was 14 or 15.

…or Saint Paul Public Schools…

As far as the Linwood Monroe allegations are concerned, yet another charging document says that when a parent (“AB”) talked to a school social worker this past winter to share concerns about Happel brandishing his penis in a school bathroom to their child, the social worker said Happel “had been there forever and wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“AB later called the school and spoke with a woman about the incident, but she never got a return call from anyone with the school,” the charging document continues. “AB finally reported the incident to the police.”

Yet another charging document says school officials didn’t tell police about a January 17, 2014 incident where Happel allegedly “lightly slapped a student’s behind” and said, “I told you I was going to do that if you sagged your pants,” even though just a week earlier, the school principal received an email from a parent who was concerned about Happel giving candy to two students who didn’t have father figures in their lives.

…into action.

The story – by the City Pages Aaron Rupar – gets worse.  Much worse. 

So – will local journos start poring over the SPPS’ records, looking to elevate incompetence and institutionalism into a cover-up? 

Or are they too exhausted from all the time they’ve spent going after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul?

Our Oblivious Media

Chicago TV reporter leaves the studio, and The Loop, long enough to absorb a little bit of life in Chicago’s Democrat-addled slum neighborhoods – and is amazed to see signs of a war zone, in a piece entitled with glorious cluelessness “Bulletproof Subways A Sign Of Violent Times?”: 

Just another day at Subway in Chicago

While out on an unrelated assignment, CBS 2 investigative reporter Dave Savini decided to stop by a South Side Subway sandwich shop for a meal.

Savini was struck by the fact that the counter of the store at 116th Street and South Halsted was encased in bullet-proof glass.

Such a sight would be common at crime magnets like gas stations or currency exchanges, but a Subway?

One wonders where these media hamsters have been the past 15 years. 

The first restaurant I saw bullet-proofing its employees’ work area was a White Castle on the 1/9 in Newark (hell yeah, I ordered) back in 2003.

More amazing, perhaps?  The KFC near Abbot Northwestern in south Minneapolis had a completely enclosed bullet-proof counter in 2005. 

No wonder the Chicago bloodbath has gotten so little media coverage; not only do the media lick Rahm Emanuel’s shoes clean, but none of them have the foggiest idea what goes on in their city.

55 Lives

UPDATE:  Some of the commenters (see way below) are right.  It is a little early to be doing the end-zone happy dance. 

So I’m going to park my conclusions until a) the end of summer and b) a year from now.  I am 104% confident I’ll be doing an end-zone happy dance then, and that will be largely attributable to carry  permitting (and focusing law-enforcement on criminals, rather than law-abiding citizens.

Yep, I jumped the, er, gun. 

For now.

———-

The murder rate in Chicago is off this year.

Sharply.

As in, 55 fewer than at this time last year.  That translates into about a 40% reduction in the murder rate.

That’s not just a reduction.  That’s a free-fall.

And while one can expect crime to get worse in the summer, this is a month on month comparison.

So what’s changed in Chicago in the past two years (2012 was horrible, 2013 merely very very bad)?  Was in the police chief?  The police’s methods?  The number of gang-bangers?  A sudden ”come to Jesus” by the gang bangers?

No, nay, nope and uh-uh.

No – the only real change in Chicago’s legal landscape in the past year is that law-abiding citizens can get firearms.

Locked And Loaded: And the difference is drastic:

The first three months of 2014 have seen the fewest number of homicides since 1958 — six fewer than this time in 2013, and 55 fewer than this time in 2012, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The city is on track to have hundreds fewer deaths – perhaps a 30-40% drop – than in 2012.

Emanuel: Firing Blanks From A .25: The city of Chicago is trying to spin things otherwise, claiming it’s gotten illegal guns off the streets and has changed up its training – which reinforces the point Real Americans have been making all along; it’s the criminals, stupid.  Make life complicated for criminals, and stop bothering the law-abiding citizen, and you get less crime.

It’s fun to watch the left – led by Media Matters, a Soros-sponsored attack-PR firm that prefers poor black inner city people to sit down and shut up unless they’re at the polls voting Democrat – try to spin their way out of this.  Here was Media Matters after a particularly bloody weekend in Bear town last summer:

The recent bloody headlines out of Chicago relayed the sad tale of the city’s deadly weekend, where seven people were killed in shootings and more than 50 were victims of gunfire…the Chicago news triggered the usual response from conservative gun advocates, who love to mock the city’s homicide rate…Conservative conspiracists such as Rush Limbaugh even claim Democratic politicians, including Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel, want the city’s murder rate to remain high so they can use the killings to advocate for stronger gun laws.

Call it “satirical but accurate”.

Cut The Crap, Focus On The Results: Not satirical but still accurate is the fact that Media Matters and the entire left were wrong again, as always.  And we – the Real Americans – were right.

And there are 55 families in inner city Chicago right now who are mighty happy about it.  They may not know who they are.  And that’s the way it should be.

Why are white liberals so blasé about dead black children?

Ground Stood

Citizen in Alabama shoots, kills man who was herding customers in a dollar store into a back room at gunpoint. 

It seems like a no-brainer, right? Man with a gun is herding innocent third parties into a back room like a bunch of cattle.

Well, in Alabama it is.  Alabama has a “stand your ground” law, which says a law-abiding citizen has no “duty to retreat” when facing a lethal threat. 

Minnesota, of course, has no such law.  If the same episode happened in Minnesota, what would happen? 

That would depend entirely on the vicissitudes of the county attorney.  In Pennington County, the county attorney would likely buy the citizen a drink.  In Dakota County, Jim Backstrom – who has a long history of lying about law-abiding citizens and their right to self defense – would likely find any excuse he could to file charges. 

What does it say about our legal system when a persons’ freedom, life, liberty and exercise of their Constitutional rights is governed entirely by the whims, prejudices and bigotries of partisan hacks living in sinecures?

Governor Choom Nasty

First, Governor Messinger Dayton says he won’t back a medical marijuana bill that doesn’t have the support of law enforcement – which is a little like saying you won’t back a seat belt bill unless it has the support of realtors. 

Then, Governor Messinger Dayton tells the mother of an epileptic kid to go buy illegal weed while the Legislature muddles through debate on various medical chiba bills.   The penalties, even if she’s caught, would be pretty minimal, after all (unless some cop or prosecutor gets it in her head that mom is dealing, which could result in a SWAT team beating down her door, shooting her dogs, and leaving the family handcuffed on their lawn while their house is ransacked and then forfeited to the police department long before any trial would occur - but let’s not get bogged down in details).

And now, Governor Messinger Dayton is using the DFL’s pals in the media to undercut the parents who went to the media in the first place. 

Or to try to, anyway:

Dayton’s account of the meeting is simply not true, say two activists who were there. One of them, Patrick McClellan, 47, who has muscular dystrophy, told PIM early Friday afternoon, “I was sitting right next to him when he said it. He said that driving back from Colorado is not like going out of the country, there are no checkpoints with drug dogs at state lines.

“I said that bringing the drug back from Colorado would be a federal offense, and he said, ‘I live in the real world, and no one would prosecute someone who was just trying to help their child.’

McClellan continued: “He told me, also, to get it on the street. His logic was, it’s just a petty misdemeanor. I told him that if I had more than an ounce and a half, it would be illegal for me to try to use a medical defense for that possession. He snapped at me that I was just making up hypotheticals.

“I have an uncle who is a retired judge in Fremont, Nebraska, and I told him what the governor said [about transporting marijuana or marijuana derivatives from Colorado]. He said he couldn’t believe that the governor of Minnesota was encouraging me to break the drug laws in his [the uncle's] state.”

Never mind what you think about marijuana laws (I think pot should be legalized, but so should maceing hackey-sack-playing, Dave-Matthews-listening, hemp-wearing stoners) – this is not the behavior of someone who belongs in, er, high office.

Carrying On

A Ramco juidge sentenced CIndarion Butler to 16 years yesterday for the joy-pummeling of Ray Widstrand.   

The mob beating – carried out by self-styled gang members in what happens to be my old neighborhood, out on the lower East Side of Saint Paul near Payne and Minnehaha, which was a “neighborhood with challenges” 25 years ago and not much better now - got national attention last summer for its callous brutality; while five punks were charged with the beating, witnesses say more than a dozen attacked Widstrand, who lived in the neighborhood, beating him nearly to death just, apparently, for kicks. 

Anyway – Butler is going away until he’s in thirties.  The only thing more depressing than  seeing a life gone so badly and stupidly astray this early is taking a drive down Payne Avenue and seeing how many are on the same path.

But to me, the real story is Widstrand.  It’s not a Hollywood ending – but he’s alive, and plugging away…:

Although he has recovered beyond initial expectations, Widstrand told Smith he’ll likely require medical care for the rest of his life. It’s unclear if he’ll ever recover enough to drive regularly, work full time or live on his own.

Widstrand lives with his parents, and continues to receive outpatient care at the Courage Center. He’s scheduled to have a plastic plate screwed, sewn and stapled into his skull on April 3, his fifth brain surgery.

Doctors had removed part of his skull to alleviate pressure and later replaced it. But it was removed due to infection, necessitating the plastic plate, which will be permanent, barring unforeseen problems.

“There is no end in sight,” Widstrand told Smith.

…but he’s alive, and moving under his own power after some of the most gruesome injuries a person can sustain, which defies most expectations.  And in among all that is depressing about this story, that’s something to celebrate. 

 

144

A Louisiana man released from Death Row because…

…he didn’t commit the crime for which he spent 26 years on Death Row:

State District Judge Ramona Emanuel on Monday took the step of voiding Ford’s conviction and sentence based on new information that corroborated his claim that he was not present or involved in Rozeman’s death, Ford’s attorneys said. Ford was tried and convicted of first-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to death.

“We are very pleased to see Glenn Ford finally exonerated, and we are particularly grateful that the prosecution and the court moved ahead so decisively to set Mr. Ford free,” said a statement from Gary Clements and Aaron Novod, the attorneys for Ford from the Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana.

And why did Ford spend over a quarter century on Death Row? 

They said Ford’s trial had been “profoundly compromised by inexperienced counsel and by the unconstitutional suppression of evidence, including information from an informant.” They also cited what they said was a suppressed police report related to the time of the crime and evidence involving the murder weapon.

That may be the second-biggest problem with the death penalty (right behind “it’s irreversible”); since it’s usually involved in intensely emotional cases, and intense emotions mean lots of votes for district attorneys, these cases are often an invitation to cut corners on things like “due process” and stuff. 

The kicker?  This isn’t even rare.

All Those “Jazzy Terms”

In Minnesota, if you are accused of a drug-related crime but not convicted, you can lose any property that the police and prosecutors say was used for the crime.

Seems prone to abuse to you?

It does to a lot of people.  There’s a bill to try to fix that in the Legislature – to require convictions before forfeiting property.

It’s getting flak from “Law Enforcement” and “Prosecutors”.

Guess why (emphasis added)?

Backers say the state’s civil forfeiture laws are long overdue for a little due process. The laws have become a growing source of cash for law enforcement agencies and were famously abused by the now-defunct Metro Gang Strike Force, which paid out $840,000 in settlements to ­victims who had their property illegally seized.

I suspect if you asked a whooooole lot of people on the street what the standard was, they’d say “conviction”.  They’d be wrong.

Under current law, police or sheriffs can keep property, vehicles and cash seized in drug cases or drive-by shootings — regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. If a suspect is found not guilty, they can still lose their property in civil court unless they can prove it was not involved in a crime. The bill would require prosecutors to return the property if there is no criminal conviction associated with the seizure.

And when I explain this to people who don’t follow these sorts of things, they’re non-plussed.  Then, frequently, upset; you’re not actually “innocent until proven guilty”:

 You have a kid who starts dealing a little weed?  And he gets on the County Attorney’s radar to the point where the prosecutor decides to try to squeeze him and those close to him to get to someone else?

Adios, property.

But it’s for the children.  Er, I mean, for law enforcement!

Lee McGrath, executive director of the Institute for Justice’s ­Minnesota chapter, said that between 2003 and 2010, law enforcement agencies supplemented their budgets with $30 million gained through forfeitures. That, McGrath said, represents a 75 percent increase despite a small drop in the crime rate. The bill has received broad bipartisan support.

And who opposes the bill?

[County Attorneys Association] Executive Director John Kingrey said his organization supports fairness and transparency in the state’s forfeiture laws, but that the bill is ripe for abuse.

“Drug dealers are smart people,” Kingrey said. “One of the challenges we have is we walk in the door with cocaine and $10,000 sitting on the table, with five guys saying ‘That’s not mine.’ Four of them get convicted, and the fifth guy says ‘That money was mine, I wasn’t convicted, give me the dough.’ ”

Good heavens.  That might require the county attorneys to do their jobs.

I’m going to emphasize this next bit:

It’s not just money, Kingrey said. Acquittals could also put guns back on the street.

Does anyone need to have this translated?  “Being found not guilty of a crime means people might get their property back?”

Anyway – they’re all lawyers, so the truth will be found under many interlocking layers of bullshit.  And here it is:

“Conviction is a very jazzy term, but it’s more nuanced,” Kingrey said.

“Conviction” may be jazzy.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is an AC/DC riff, plain and loud and unadorned and unmistakeable.  No conviction, no forfeiture.

Cut the weasel words, County Attorneys.  You’re running a licence to print money, and you don’t want the peasants to mess with a good thing.