Tag Archive: shooting

QoTD: Posse Comitatus

Quote of the Day to Dem political operative Mike Premo, alum of NJ and now chief of staff for Ohio Senate Dems. You’ll recognize the quote. “In future, if you’re wondering, ‘Crime. Boy. I dunno’ is when I decided to…
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In Flemington tonight: School security plans leaked, Will there be more calls for resignation?

Tonight 7pm is the first meeting of the Flemington Borough Council since an explosive meeting – one week ago tonight – of the school board that serves the same town. We’ll know by tonight if there’s reverb from last week, and whether Republican members of the Borough Council, some of whom were leaked confidential info and apparently didn’t report it, have anything to say for themselves. Here’s what’s going on:

School security documents leaked: At last Monday’s Flemington-Raritan School Board meeting, we learned that Board member Alan Brewer (Flemington) sent details of the emergency security plan now being drafted for all the district schools to 10 Republicans active in Flemington politics. Board member Anna Fallon, who confirmed this leak via public records request, demanded Brewer’s resignation. Board member Robin Behn also demanded Brewer resign. And that was echoed during the meeting’s public comments, including from me. I am a Flemington resident and Brewer represents me on that Board.

Why is that a big deal? What Brewer leaked are plans that first responders need immediately in an emergency, like what hallway kids are told to run down to escape if there’s a shooter in the building, or where the hidden cameras are placed. Now that info has been leaked past the confidentiality of school officials. That plan was expensive and months in the making. But what is far worse is the risk to the safety of children and staff that Brewer might have caused.

Who did Al Brewer leak to: Erica Edwards (Flemington mayor), Brian Swingle, John Gorman, Phil Greiner and Phil Velella (the Republicans on Flemington Borough Council), Bill Reed (Republican Party municipal chair), Marcia Karrow (former state senator), Bob Hauck (former Flemington councilman), Mary Melfi (Hunterdon Clerk) and Elaine Gorman (Councilman Gorman’s wife, who represents her voting district to the Republican Party).

My question to the 10 Republican he leaked to: Why didn’t you immediately report this breach to the Board?

Store Video Changes Almost Everything in the Brown Controversy

When I first read the story of how the confrontation between Michael Brown and the police of Ferguson, Missouri ‘went down,’ I really found the police story hard to believe.

Yes, there is no video (that we know of) of the shooting. But what we did know a few days ago was this: Brown, a recent high school graduate and college-bound young man, a man with no previous criminal record to speak of, got into some kind of verbal altercation with a police officer and was suddenly gunned down. The police story just didn’t seem credible, that Brown’s defiance turned violent, and that Brown’s killing was justified on the grounds that he was in the process of tackling a police officer and grabbing for his gun. It just didn’t add up. Frankly, it sounded like a classic piece of character assassination to justify an actual assassination in a city where African-American males face constant harassment from local law enforcement.

But then there was the video, and a new set of facts had to be dealt with.

Earlier on that fateful day of his death, Brown and a few friends marched into another nearby convenice store and committed a series of crimes – crimes that I witnessed – that reveal a malevolent, even murderous side. Upon entering the store, Brown proceeded to help himself to several expensive cigars and then started to walk out. He was clearly pursued by an attendant (the owner?) and confronted.

Now up to this point, it was a simple case of shoplifting. Shoplifting is a crime, of course, but that’s not my point. It is what happened next was far more serious. When the middle aged, far smaller attendant spoke to him, Brown began to strangle him. He proceeded to do this for a few seconds. Then, immediately afterward, he casually turned to walk out. But that wasn’t the end. The attendant said something more – we don’t know as there was no recorded sound – and Brown again moved forward towards his victim. At that moment he got distracted – perhaps Brown had noticed the children and others witnessing the event – and again turned around and fled.

We have a word in the law to describe the exact kind of assault Brown committed. It’s called Felony Strangulation. Yes, strong armed robbery it was, but once you put strangulation in with the mix, it’s almost like a ‘special circumstance.’ It creates a far more heinous act, one that, in terms of the law, is almost akin to attempted murder. And he did it. There’s no doubt. I saw it. I replayed it. I saw it again. Brown, in the process of his intimidating tactics, could have very well killed that man, a man far older and weaker than he was. All Brown cared about was getting away. And he did.

Now all of these crimes that I just mentioned are not necessarily capital offenses, and would not justify being gunned down in cold blood by a police officer in any circumstance. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is whether or not the police account of his death has any credibility. Well, judging on what I’ve witnessed, I’d say it went from zero credibility to extreme credibility.

In fact, what the police described in their version of his death was almost the exact same set of circumstances that occurred earlier in the day, except this time Brown faced armed police personnel instead of a helpless middle aged store attendant/owner. So it flipped the equation completely from my perspective.

More information will be forthcoming, of course, with further interviews and ballistic tests, etc. But judging from what I saw, I would not classify the late Mr. Brown as any sort of altruistic fellow, a young man intent on working hard and respecting himself and others. I would classify him as a person who was a thief and a man who would have killed anyone with his bare hands who stood in his way to hold him responsible for his actions.  

THIS: Rush Holt statement on CT school shooting

Congressman Rush Holt on this morning’s school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut:

“We can’t just keep saying, ‘Our hearts ache for the victims and their families.’  We have to bring gun violence under control.

“Of course we are all horrified by today’s violence in Connecticut.   Such tragedies are always senseless, but it is especially sickening to see gunfire turned against children in a place of learning.

“Yet it is not enough to feel sickened.  In the aftermath of these horrific events, there will, as always, be those who will warn us against ‘politicizing’ this tragedy by discussing gun safety.  These claims are ideologically motivated, and they are profoundly wrong.

“When, after a hurricane strikes, we advocate for funding to mitigate future floods, that is not ‘politicizing’ a tragedy.  When, after a terrorist attack, we advocate for better measures to prevent future deaths, that is not ‘politicizing’ a tragedy.  The notion that gun violence is somehow different – that it deserves unique immunity from serious conversation in our political dialogue – is nonsensical.

“Policymakers have an obligation to respond to problems by finding solutions.  The solution to gun violence is, in part, to address gun safety.  Arguments that deny this fact strike me as illogical or blindly ideological.”


Rep. Carolyn McCarthy has words for Chris Christie on guns

Yesterday, Chris Christie said this, about elected people who responded to the movie theater massacre in Colorado by advocating the kind of gun laws that might prevent the next one:

“I am a little bit disturbed by politicians who in the immediate aftermath of this type of tragedy, try to grandstand on it, and I’m not going to be one of those people. I feel awfully for those families. And this is just not the appropriate time to be grandstanding about gun laws. Can we at least get through the initial grief and tragedy for these families before we start making them political pawns?”

It was an insensitive remark, even for him. More importantly, it displays the length to which the rumored Republican convention keynote is willing to go to stand in the way of good ideas that can save lives, that aren’t his ideas.

Today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Diana DeGette of California, both our senators Lautenberg and Menendez, and New York’s Carolyn McCarthy called for a national dialogue on gun violence and sensible gun safety reform. Menendez talked about Alex Teves, who grew up here in New Jersey. Last year, after congressional colleague Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in a shooting spree that killed 6 others and wounded 13, Lautenberg introduced a bill to ban high-capacity gun magazines – the kind that let you shoot many rounds without stopping to reload. He’ll introduce that again now.

Nearly 20 years ago, McCarthy – not in politics at the time –  was widowed when a mass murderer opened fire in a commuter train, killing 6 including her husband and wounding 19, including her son, shot in the head and now partially paralyzed.

At the end of today’s press conference, somebody asked McCarthy what she thought of Christie’s statement about “grandstanding” politicians pushing gun control. Here’s what she said:

This is to thank Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez

This is to thank Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez.

When I was a kid, a cousin of mine was shuttled in and out of mental health institutions. He had a low draft number, and wasn’t in college, so he knew where his government was sending him. And he was terrified of the Vietnam War. It never made any sense to him, and he knew he’d have to kill people he didn’t see as enemies. He would have been called a conscientious objector, had his family not seen his disposition as crazy instead of sane.

But I was a kid, it was a long time ago and this isn’t about my family’s mistakes. Tom was well-known in the little town in Ohio where he grew up; his father was the local doctor. Everybody knew his story; everyone knew he had problems.

And one day, he walked down to the same general store where I got jawbreakers in the summer and bought himself a rifle and a box of bullets. They greeted him by name before they sold him the goods. He walked home, and shot himself in front of his Mom and Dad.  

Words Have Consequences

With the tragic mass murder in Arizona we have to ask the question, was this expected? The only answer can be that yes, it was.

Right wing politicians and pundits have created an atmosphere of hate and intolerance through their words and actions over the last few election cycles and now their words may have become manifest.

With Sarah Palin using a map with rifle scope targets to indicate areas where elections must be “Won at any cost” and using terms like “Don’t Retreat, Reload!” With radio personalities like Rush Limbaugh calling for violent resistance and candidates like Sharon Angle claiming that if the elections don’t swing in the direction of their candidates, that they would be forced to “explore 2nd amendment solutions.”

We watched a campaign cycle following Barack Obama’s election in which many right wing organizations and individuals promoted propaganda and statements that denigrated both him and those who voted for him. They used terms like “Traitor” and “Socialist” or “Nazi” in order to make the impression that they were somehow dangerous to or the enemies of America. At hundreds of rallies and town hall events across the country, people used racially charged images and words to build hatred and anger. They suggested that the violent overthrow of the standing government was somehow a patriotic concept being necessary if the upcoming elections didn’t go in their favor.

Even in New Jersey, the level of anger and vitriol created by Chris Christie can be viewed as beyond civil. Using the bully pulpit to target civil service employees and teachers, berating and belittling people who disagree with him. Having people physically escorted to the stage to be glowered over and then physically removed from events when they have questioned his ideas and actions. This behavior  promotes a perception that those on the other side are somehow insubstantial and less than deserving of respect and their right to be heard.

Listening to the callers into NJ 101.5 seething and raging about state workers and educators or the veiled suggestions by the on air personalities that the state would be better off if they were “Gone”.  All of this has contributed to a level of barely controlled fury that only needs a small spark to become wholesale violence.

Many public workers described a level of fear and uncertainty about their safety following the onset of Chris Christie’s attacks and accusations. As he used terms like “Drug Pushers” to describe teachers and put the pains of New Jersey tax payers squarely on the shoulders of the public sector, how could he not see that he was dividing the people and creating two camps in a war? Listening to the words of his followers on NJ 101.5 defined the atmosphere with a disturbing clarity. He admitted that he was a listener and can’t claim he wasn’t aware of the impact his words were having. Quite the opposite, he relished and nurtured the situation with every town hall gathering and press conference.

There is a message to be discerned in the acts of those like Sarah Palin in the hours following the shootings in Arizona when she started having her images and remarks “Targeting” politicians on the Left with rifle scope icons and violent words scrubbed from her press releases and websites.

It may turn out that the Arizona gunman doesn’t align himself with any political ideology, but that doesn’t matter in regards to the hatred and anger that has become so central in the political discourse of the Right.

This has become our political reality. For the hard Right, it isn’t about who’s right or wrong anymore but rather about who can incubate the anger and hatred to swing the argument in their favor or scare the other side away from the polls.

We have to demand better from our representatives and refute the hatred that is being used to promote campaigns and ideologies.  

Tea Party 2nd Amendment Solutions?

Arizona Democratic Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot at a

constituents town hall meeting,

Arizona Congresswoman Among 12 Shot at Tucson Grocery

She was shot at during her campaign against a Tea Party Candidate in 2010 and

received multiple death threats from rightwing extremists.

It seems that one of these threats has been taken to a horrible end with this

mass shooting.

It should be noted that there were many referrals by Tea Party activists and a

candidate or two about taking "Second Amendment Solutions" to deal with any

democrats that might win the seats they were running for.


Lakewood shooting

NJ.com says authorities are hopeful all four police officers shot today in Lakewood will survive.

I think Governor Corzine’s statement expressed how we all feel:

“This morning, I was saddened to learn that another horrible act of violence was perpetrated against New Jersey law enforcement when four Lakewood police officers were shot and wounded while executing a search warrant,” Governor Corzine said.  “This senseless action underscores the dangers our police officers face every day in the line of duty as they protect New Jerseyans.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Lakewood officers and their families at this critical time.”