Monthly Archives: August 2016

When Should ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the American Criminal Justice System?

It is unfortunate that death on our streets has become the catalyst for our “angry” national conversation about the value of life in American communities. For any future policy changes addressing street violence, there’s always the tired and out-of-touch political non-leadership resigned to the misinformed position that by “fixing the police” the problem will be fixed.

 

Photo Credit: Gerry Lauzon/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Gerry Lauzon/Flickr Creative Commons

 

No other shallow posturing could be less accurate, carelessly shortsighted, or a more harmful to the desperate need for a meaningful overhaul of the criminal justice system. Political pandering about ‘reform’  is nothing more than dangerous inaction. This inaction continues to threaten the safety of everyday-life in American communities in the short term, and erodes public trust in the long term.

The criminal justice “system” that impacts equity and fairness is a system, less dependent on the actions of ethical cops on the street, than on outdated public safety policies and ‘broken-record’ political practices.

Think of it as a pyramidal maze where the marble gets dropped into the top and then through a series of twist and turns comes to the end and drops out of the bottom. The sound of the police making an lawful arrest places a person at the top of the pyramid. From there the roll through to bottom is the remainder of the criminal system.

Photo Credit: YouTube
Photo Credit: YouTube

 

The undeniable truth, however, is that the perception is cops control the system. As if the entire system falls to the police who have little control of the maze.  The police unquestionably are the most visible part of the system. Yet, they often lose all influence after that life is subject to individual state and federal bail requirements, criminal charging practices, and court determined release decisions.
Sworn to protect and serve goes only so far.
Yes, policing in many communities in this country is in crisis of confidence. The most dangerous part for all, however, is when police lack community confidence and fear the loss of public trust. Without both there is a great risk to act not fairly and ethically at all.

Improvement is needed:

Yes, there needs to be a clear and renewed focus on accountability on a number of levels within police agencies and is an urgent priority.

Yes, policing leadership and the quality of many police administrations desperately require a complete overhaul

Yes, the failure of police agencies should be understood to be a clear failure of the unintelligent political leadership.  The real failure to Black Lives Matter and all lives begins long before a police contact drops that life into the maze of the criminal justice system.  

Sadly and unfairly, any resulting anger gets targeted directly at the police.

Really, the fix is in often before the police come into the picture. They’re the first decision-maker by virtue of the arrest, but have so little effect on the final disposition of a case. They’re left out on a the limb by themselves to absorb the anger of a system (that works better when you have money than when you don’t).

 

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

We need to completely overhaul the bail system in this country. States need to legislate new bail laws that focus equal access to justice. The net effect now is that a poor person is in jail longer than a rich one because they can’t make bail.

Here’s what that might look like. Crimes-against-persons wouldn’t qualify for no-bail, but property crimes without a criminal history might. Drug crimes for possession and low level sales would be a ‘yes’ for no bail.

We should also do away with certain charging enhancements, such as higher penalties for most drug sales within 1000 ft of a school as the sole reason for enhanced bail. 

We might agree crimes need to be referred to the criminal justice system. But the system doesn’t guarantee justice will be better served when those arrested remain in jail only because they don’t have a bank account that matches.

Yes, our poor excuse for political leaders need to shoulder their share of the responsibility for not only Black Lives but for all economically underprivileged lives.  

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

 

Yes, we need to recognize that there will be no end to the guaranteed downward spiral of ‘stay in jail, lose my job, lose my car, lose my family and lose my hope for justice’ in a system that is perceived to be stacked against them.

Anger boils over at police because access to equal justice and a return to a productive life depends on the size of a law breaker’s bank account. Does that excuse the individual responsibility to respect the rule of law? Of course not. However, that is not the argument here. The point is, that the rule of law is not only about being arrested, it is about equal access to it.

 

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

 

If we have devolved to a discussion of “Cops” versus “Color”, don’t blame the cops  and dont’t blame our communities of color. The fault, and there is fault, falls squarely on those who should be smart enough and committed enough to demonstrate Black Lives Matter long before the two find themselves again with deadly irreconcilable differences –differences not always of their own making.

 

Strickland Indicted on Gun Charges; Ham Sandwich Next In Line

Mike Strickland was indicted by Multnomah County grand jury on Thursday. The 21 count indictment alleges he “unlawfully used a” firearm and “menaced” when he unholstered his weapon and pointed it toward people on July 7th, the day of the Black Lives Matter protest. Another count of second degree disorderly conduct was added.

The indictment claims there were ten victims.

The Oregonian points out:

“Strickland was released from custody on July 19, after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bail. He’s among 18 people who testified before the grand jury, according to the indictment.”

Victims are variously described as “a man wearing jeans, green cloth on his face,” “man in blue hooded top with messenger bag,” “man with tan pants … carrying an orange bottle,” “a man with tan pants … wearing a scarf around his neck,”  “green top, dark backpack, white mask on his face,” “a female with a black skirt, black skirt and black cloth over her mouth.”

A person has a right to face his accusers, but it seems in Multnomah County you can neither know their names nor see their faces — literally. I say that only half jokingly. There’s a reason their faces are covered. They don’t want to be recognized by the cops.

More on point, however, is that there are ten unnamed people at whom the District Attorneys believe Strickland pointed his gun. They watched the video tapes out there — probably right here on this website — to come up with their victim list.

I’ll be going through the video tapes as well to see exactly which victims we’re talking about and whether they were among the ones advancing on Strickland, causing him to pull out his gun because — obviously –you won’t hear that from prosecutors.

Prosecutors are trying to make an example out of Strickland, using him as an abject lesson on how you can’t defend yourself — even if you feel in fear of your safety from advancing — by using a gun. They’re trying to move the goal posts for that law to further clamp down on gun ownership and use in Oregon’s largest city.

As one of his attorneys Jason Short told VictoriaTaft.com, the burden of proof at grand jury is much lower — it’s a prosecutor’s world:

“This isn’t a matter of whether the state can prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That high standard doesn’t apply at the grand jury level. The DA has 100% control over what evidence is presented before that “secret” grand jury. The witnesses are not subject to cross examination. If the witness or “victim” has a criminal history, that may not be discussed.

“These charges themselves mean nothing without evidence being brought forward before a judge or jury under  a burden of proving that evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Keep in mind, evidence that is “clear and convincing” is not even close to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

They’re throwing everything they’ve got against the wall to see what sticks and hoping that Strickland will cop a plea. I pray he doesn’t. He’s innocent.

On his innocence, Short told VictoriaTaft.com:

“I’m very much looking forward to taking this case to trial. I don’t just believe, I know, that police officers believe he acted correctly and did nothing wrong. They won’t come forward for fear or being fired. We won’t have any problem finding use-of-force experts to testify that Michael acted in self-defense.”

These are serious charges carrying serious jail time should he be found guilty. Prosecutors are playing with a man’s life to further an anti-gun agenda.

Strickland’s in court today to answer to the charges.

Watch This Guy Advance on Mike Strickland Right Before He Pulled Gun At BLM Protest

People have come forward to identify the man whom we believe uttered these words the day of the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Portland:

“I Was There! I’m the reason why he pulled the gun.”

The gun to which he refers is the gun pulled by citizen journalist Mike Strickland in an attempt to stop an onslaught of people who were bearing down on him — even as he backed away in fear.

Image Credit: Multnomah County
Image Credit: Multnomah County

Strickland spent several days in Multnomah County jail on $250,000 bail all because he pulled his weapon in self defense against thugs, anarchists and black bloc rabble. They were the ones who acted illegally and Strickland paid the price for legally defending himself.

Strickland will be back in a Portland courtroom on August 5th to face four charges — two of them felonies — for unholstering his weapon in self defense.

And we have yet more proof of self defense.

Now. Who is this guy?

Photo Credit: Screenshots/Google
Photo Credit: Screenshots/Google

We believe we know his name.

Story continues below.

See my posts on the background of this story:

Strickland Self Defense: Will #PDX Media Change False Narrative on Gun Case?

Strickland’s Gun Case Similar to Portland Case That Just Ended In Not-Guilty Verdict

“Self Defense”: Lefty Videographer at BLM Protest Told Cops Twice That PDX Reporter Mike Strickland Drew Gun In Self Defense

The Exoneration of Portland Citizen Journalist Mike Strickland, ‘Laughing at Liberals.’

Portland Citizen Journalist Banned From Portland Campuses That Frequently Welcomed Radicals & Even Domestic Terrorists

Citizen Journalist James O’Keefe Spotlights Mike Strickland Case

Strickland Isn’t the Only Reporter Threatened & Assaulted by Black Lives Matter Protesters

Protester Going After Mike Strickland Was “Black Panther” Calling for Violence & Gun Play Before #BLM March

Here’s What 4 Cops & a 2-A Activist Saw When They Watched ‘Man Pulls Gun on PDX Protesters’ Video

The story continues.

I heard one name independently from at least five different people.

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Google
Photo Credit: Screenshot/Google

One name.

Benjamin Kerensa.

One person just sent me this link via email as an identifier: https://www.google.com/search?q=benjamin+kerensa+portland&sa=X&biw=1680&bih=941&tbm=isch&imgil=eISn7sIKw2rfCM%253A%253B-OcIOEKMtZ4GzM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Ftwitter.com%25252Fbkerensa&source=iu&pf=m&fir=eISn7sIKw2rfCM%253A%252C-OcIOEKMtZ4GzM%252C_&usg=__MwZRm00xBnCTMtArGA31ms8MjkM%3D&ved=0ahUKEwj-_8TeqPbNAhVY2mMKHRY8DA4QyjcIPw&ei=2UiJV74v2LSPA5b4sHA#imgdii=eISn7sIKw2rfCM%3A%3BeISn7sIKw2rfCM%3A%3B21j9mRwFhWq-rM%3A&imgrc=eISn7sIKw2rfCM%3A

Another person just sent me an email with his name. A website commenter wrote his name in a comment. Two others from Facebook identified him.

Kerensa is an open source tech acolyte who, when he’s not sitting in front of computer screens, apparently rushes people he doesn’t like at protests.

Here is the man, identified by people as Benjamin Kerensa, bearing down on Mike Strickland as he tries to back away from the smaller group that broke off from the main BLM protest. This was in an apparent attempt to hurt him and keep him from filming. Watch the man believed to be Kerensa at the top right of this GIF.

Photo Credit: Screengrab/Oregonian/Periscope
Photo Credit: Screengrab/Oregonian/Periscope

This video has been out there for all to see on The Oregonian website. The paper stripped this video off periscope and youtube accounts of the incident. But it wasn’t until I heard from people who identified Ka

Kerensa and told me he was in this video that I was able to connect the dots. See the part I isolated at :17:

Notice that the very second he saw the man identified as Kerensa coming, he immediately tensed and pointed his gun in his direction.

Why? Because the “big guy” roughed up Mike just minutes before. Read about that part of it here.

 

Here it is in slo-mo:

Photo Credit: Screengrab/Oregonian
Photo Credit: Screengrab/Oregonian

And they were all converging on him. As Mike told me:

“I’m watching the guys with masks with the sticks …they’re beelining for me…and they’ve got the sticks…and yelling, ‘Get the fuck out of here!!’ They keep coming at me screaming, ‘Get the fuck out of here!!’”

And then the man identified as Kerensa is seen moving around to come at Strickland perhaps from another direction:

Photo Credit: Screengrab/The Oregonian/YouTube
Photo Credit: Screengrab/The Oregonian/YouTube

Here’s another angle which shows the man identified as Kerensa waiting on the sidewalk:

I’ve held this post in hopes of receiving a reply to the email I sent to Kerensa July 24th:

Hello Benjamin,

Based on photos from that day, I see that you were there when Mike Strickland pulled his gun at the BLM event recently in Portland.

I had some questions:

Where were you in relation to Strickland when he pulled his gun?
What were you doing at the event?
Have you gone to protests in Portland before?
What’s your relationship with the protesters at the event that day?
Did you file a police report that day?
Had you seen Mike Strickland before that day?
Were you in fear for your life?
Did you exchange words with Strickland before he pulled his gun that day?
Did you talk with Strickland after he pulled his gun?
What did you think about the incident?
Did you think he was within his rights of self defense to pull his gun?
Did you hear anyone threaten him?
Did you see anyone threaten him?

What were your general observations about that day?

Thank you so much for your help.

 

He hasn’t responded.

Strickland has a court date on August 5th. If the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office doesn’t drop charges after all of the evidence showing Strickland moved in self defense, well, then the ‘rule of law’ isn’t really a ‘rule’ is it? In fact, it would be closer to a goal-line-moving enterprise solely dependent upon the political whims of whoever’s in charge.

It’s sure looking that way.