Poor Chicagoans complain that their massacre never ends
8/8/22 Violent crime continues to beset Chicago and D.C. Chicago suffered four fatal shootings overnight
Friday. Thru July 31st. it
recorded 379 murders. That’s better than 2021, when there were 452, but 30 percent worse than the 292 in 2019. But robberies,
burglaries and thefts are each substantially worse than last year. D.C.
reports 128 murders thru August 5 versus 114 last year. Robberies are also up (1271 v. 1060.) That, says the Washington Post, reflects “an absence of hope.”
A mid-afternoon Shot-Spotter alert led officers in Chicago’s poor, violence-wracked Englewood area to a parked minivan.
Nearby stood Alexander Podgorny, 29. He had a loaded handgun in his pockets. A loaded shotgun, a loaded AR-15 rifle, two handguns and
writings containing “incoherent rants and references to mass shooting events” were in the front seat. A video from a nearby
camera depicted a shotgun being fired into a park. Podgorny was arrested on weapons charges and a high bail was set. Related posts
During the early morning hours of August
7th. Cincinnati police officers patrolling a “popular nightlife area” observed two quarreling groups exchange handgun fire. An
officer fired at one of the shooters but he apparently got away. Nine citizens were wounded, none fatally. An unrelated shooting nearby left
8/6/22An academic study of prosecutions initiated
in Florida in 2017 confirms that criminal cases adjudicated in jurisdictions with progressive chief prosecutors are less likely to yield
prison sentences and felony convictions. Outcomes also seem more racially equitable. Whether lenient treatment leads to more crime, as many
fear, was not assessed. However, the authors cite one study that
suggests it does not.
Strongly supported by the Justice
Department, a Congressional bill now in the works would expand a current Federal benefits program for officers and families when officers
are permanently disabled from on-the-job injuries to include situations when officers “are permanently and totally disabled due to
particular mental health disorders and/or who die by suicide as a result of exposure to a traumatic event they encounter while on duty.”
Loveland, Co. officer
Austin Hopp, who roughly handled Karen Garner, a 73-year old shoplifter with dementia, then joked about it with colleagues, was sentenced to five years imprisonment in May. For her
failure to intervene, his partner, Daria Jalali, just got 45 days in jail. Loveland settled a suit with the family of Garner, who says the
incident led to the woman to require 24-hour care, for $3 million.
Canada is planning to “cap” the number of
handguns in the country by instituting a “freeze” on any further purchases, sales and transfers. Handgun importation will also be
banned. Handguns must be licensed and will continue to be legal. As it is, most handguns used in crime in Canada were smuggled from the U.S.
Canada banned assault rifles in 2020 following a massacre in Nova Scotia. Related posts
Beset by objections from the police union, which called it make-believe, and civil libertarians, who worry about its civil rights
implications, Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to sue gang members and seize their assets is going nowhere. Instead of the “
Victim’s Justice Ordinance,” one alderman suggested “expanding reach of violence prevention organizations and our summer youth
employment program, increasing the number of detectives, and strengthening our area and regional carjacking task forces.”
During the trial of the defamation
lawsuit filed against him by the parents of six-year old Scarlett Lewis, who was murdered in the Sandy Hook massacre, Infowars host Alex Jones
admitted he was wrong: the massacre did happen. In closing arguments, though, his lawyer denied that Jones’ public rants about
what he long insisted was a made-up event caused real harm. But jurors disagreed, awarding $4.1 million in compensatory and $45.2 million in
punitive damages. Jones still faces two more lawsuits. Related posts
8/5/22Federal authorities indicted former Louisville detective Joshua Jaynes, who obtained the
search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment. LMPD fired Jaynes for falsely asserting that Postal Inspectors confirmed Taylor was
receiving packages for Jamarcus Glover, her drug-dealing former boyfriend. Current LMPD Sgt. Kyle Meany, Jayne’s supervisor, was indicted
for approving the warrant and lying to investigators, and LMPD Det. Kelly Goodlett was charged with helping Jaynes falsify the warrant and
lying to investigators. Also indicted was Det. Brett Hankinson, whose gunfire entered another apartment (he was recently acquitted in State
West,” a busy district with concert venues and official buildings, enjoyed a reprieve from crime as activity decreased during the
pandemic. But as things get back to “normal,” crime and violence have returned with a vengeance. So far this year violent crime is
25 percent higher than in 2021, gunfire is up 40 percent, and property crimes have soared 65 percent. Police staffing, though, is way down;
the downtown precinct has 49 only cops on patrol versus 81 in 2020.
With crime and “quality of
life” violations still higher than pre-pandemic, BART, San Francisco’s transit system, uses uniformed civilian “Transit
Ambassadors” and “Crisis Intervention Specialists” to conduct “welfare contacts” with homeless persons, the
mentally ill and riders suffering from drug overdoses. They work in teams and with transit police to tamp down “quality of life”
issues. While they’re said to be effective, their numbers are few, and one rider says he hardly ever sees them. BART website Related posts
Located just outside of
Minneapolis, “The Mall of America” is the largest in the land, with its own theme park. And on August 4 it was the scene of chaos
as shoppers ran for their lives when a gunman opened fire by the Nike store after a confrontation between two groups. No one was shot, but the
huge complex remained closed through today. On New Year’s eve a shooting at the mall wounded two. At present the mall does not search
patrons or deploy metal detectors.
One month after the Highland Park massacre, Chicago is preparing for the yearly Bud Billiken Parade and accompanying festival, to be held
August 13. In its ninety-third year, the parade, which celebrates Black culture, is billed as the
second largest event of its kind after the Rose Bowl. Organizers have hired a private security firm and are coordinating with police and
local authorities. According to the parade’s Chair, a charity executive, “I haven’t heard anything negative from anybody
worrying about anything happening. I feel the incident in Highland Park was a somewhat isolated situation.”
One evening last May a group of Federal DHS agents drove their marked vehicles into a group of abortion rights protesters who were
dispersing after a demonstration. That encounter, which took place a half mile from the US Courthouse that the agents guard, created a major
confrontation that LAPD had to come in and resolve. Police said they did not call in the Feds, which typically have no authority in such matters.
LAPD Chief Moore recently said he’s contacted DHS to assure “clear coordination” in the future.
A citizen alerted Richmond, Va.
police that two men were planning to stage a massacre on July 4th. Following surveillance, officers seized “two assault rifles,
a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition” at the residence of Julio Alvarado-Dubon and Rolman Alberto Balacarcel. Both came to the
U.S. illegally from Guatemala, and were arrested on Federal charges of gun possession by an illegal alien. Related posts
Elwood, Ind. police officer
Noah Shahnavaz, 24 was shot and killed when a motorist he stopped opened fire with a rifle. His murderer, Carl Boards II, a Marion barber,
was released from parole last year. In 2006 he drew 25 years for an
incident in which he shot at officers with a pistol and an AK-47. He was sentenced as a habitual offender but only served thirteen years.
According to a citizen, he recently recorded a song “making statements that if he was ever caught by police that he would kill
8/3/22Rebelling against progressively-minded D.A. Kim Foxx, Chicago prosecutors continue to resign. Most recently that
includes James Murphy, who headed the prosecution of murder and other serious crimes. He called his boss’s excuse, that the shift away
from prosecuting lower-level crimes was a way to concentrate on serious matters, a lie. “This administration is more concerned with
political narratives and agendas than with victims and prosecuting violent crime. That is why I can’t stay any longer.” Related posts
Amidst a spate of massacres,
Georgia’s permissive gun-carry laws apparently led Atlanta to cancel its yearly Music Midtown Festival. In 2014 Georgia’s “Safe Carry Protection Act” enabled gun carry most everywhere. While a
court decision has enabled long-term leaseholders to regulate gun possession on their premises, that privilege is not extended to short-term
events such as the festival. Related posts
“Three dozen” residents of Washington
D.C. were struck by gunfire in six days. Six died. Men armed with assault rifles twice “sprayed more than 90 bullets into parking
lots,” killing two, and a shooter opened fire into a crowd gathered outside an apartment building, wounding six. D.C. has suffered 127
murders so far this year, eleven percent more than during the same period in 2021. But assaults with dangerous weapons are down eight percent.
8/2/22A scathing editorial in
the Los Angeles Times criticizes President Biden’s plan to hire more police as a wrongheaded re-do of the 1994 crime bill, which
also added 100,000 cops. But according to the Times, “many of the neighborhoods they promised to protect were soon harmed by
excessive force, surveillance and humiliation...We don’t need 100,000 more police to do the same thing all over again. Nor do we need
100,000 Derek Chauvins or 100,000 more cops lurking hesitantly outside classrooms for more than an hour while children die inside....”
(Note: the editors did not volunteer to go on patrol).
Enrollment in public schools declined with the pandemic. And even as schools reopened, large numbers of students stayed away. Some enrolled
in charters, but where many others have gone is unknown. Funding, which is normally based on enrollment, plunged. That’s led fifty
schools to close in Chicago alone, most in impoverished minority neighborhoods. Some Federal Covid relief money is being used to keep remaining
schools open, but it will soon run out. “Luring students back” seems vital. Related posts
In a research study,
86 active-duty FBI forensic examiners compared 44 sets of handwriting samples that were produced by the same person (“mated”), and
56 that were not. Five responses were possible: “written,” “probably written,” “no conclusion,”
“probably not written,” and “not written.” Test subjects assigned “written” to 54% and “probably
written” to 34.3% of the mated sets. “Not written” was assigned to 29.6% and “probably not written” to 47.8% of
the truly diverging sets. Journal articleRelated post
Reffitt, the first Capitol stormer to be convicted at trial, drew the stiffest prison term yet - 87 months. He had brought an assault-type
rifle and .40 cal. pistol to D.C., and on returning home threatened his kids to keep quiet. (See 3/1/22 and 3/5/22 updates.)
8/1/22Four years ago Jake Wagner, a 28-year old
resident of Pike County, Ohio, pled guilty to the murders by shooting, two years earlier, of eight members of the Rhoden family, who lived on
rural land nearby. He was sentenced to life without parole. Wagner’s brother, mother, father and grandfather were also charged and are
pending trial. The motive? Jake Wagner had a child with Hannah Rhoden, but she left him and took the child. So he and his family acquired guns
and silencers and plotted their revenge.
In “stash house stings”
ATF pays informants to tell associates about places where a large quantity of drugs has been “stashed.” When a crew shows up to
rob the premises, ATF agents step in to arrest gun-carrying felons and seize their weapons. But a journal article, a legal decision and
a recent op-ed strongly criticize the stings for luring persons into crimes they would not have otherwise committed.
Toforest Johnson has been on death
row 24 years for murdering a Jefferson Co. (Ala.) deputy. According to his many notable defenders - and that includes a former Alabama Chief
Justice, the former State Attorney General, the current D.A. and a juror - the case against him was made up from whole cloth. Yet
despite requests by the present and former
D.A.’s, no new trial is on the horizon. Website Related posts
School districts across the U.S. have increased the use of
armed teachers. Twenty-eight now allow faculty other than guards to pack guns. Florida’s program, which began after the 2018 Marjory
Stoneman high school massacre, is one of the largest. Spurred by the recent massacre in Uvalde, Ohio changed its law, reducing required
training to 24 hours from the the 700 hours previously mandated. Related posts
7/30/22With two “Reds”
in favor, and five “Blues” opposed, the House narrowly passed an assault weapons ban (217-213). It is slightly stiffer than the
lapsed measure, as it bans rifles with detachable magazines that have only one special feature (a pistol grip, forward grip, folding stock,
grenade launcher, barrel shroud or threaded barrel) instead of two. Semi-auto rifles with fixed magazines that can accept more than 15
rounds are also banned. It is expected to fail in the Senate.
Bill text Related posts
7/29/22George Floyd’s family and their supporters have strongly criticized the perceived leniency in the Federal prison terms
handed out to Derek Chauvin’s colleagues, which were below Federal guidelines and lower than what prosecutors recommended. Judge Paul
Magnuson’s decision was apparently influenced by the fact that Lane and Kueng were rookies, and that Thao, who wasn’t, was
nonetheless “a good police officer, father and husband.” But that, said a local activist, should have had no bearing.
Last year prosecutors charged Long Beach (CA) police officers Dedier Reyes and David Salcedo with lying about a 2018 gun-related
arrest. That case is pending. A judge has now freed another man arrested by Reyes, as doubts have arisen about the officers’
truthfulness in that case. In 2010 Reyes shot ex-con Miguel Vargas in the back after saying that Vargas pointed a gun. But Vargas insisted he
had dropped the gun. Vargas was convicted and imprisoned, but prosecutors have now dismissed the case. A full review of cases in which Reyes
was involved is in progress.
An Oak-Lawn, Ill. teen was hospitalized after three police officers pinned him to the ground and repeatedly punched him. Hadi Abutella,
17 ran off from a car in which he was riding when it was stopped for traffic violations and an odor of marijuana. Officers chased him. They
say he repeatedly reached for a bag slung over his shoulders, and kept at it even after being tackled. “Control tactics” were
used to take the bag from his grasp. Inside the bag officers found a loaded .25 caliber pistol. One officer was injured. Related posts
A Black woman whose 24-year old son was recently
murdered always hated guns. But violence in the D.C. area where she lives has driven her to a gun range, where she is learning how to use a
9mm. pistol. Data shows that gun ownership “spiked” across the U.S. during the pandemic, and remains high. And an increasing
number of gun owners are Black. “I feel a little bit better already,” said Patrice Parker after firing a volley.
7/28/22On July 27, 2022 J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment and Tou Thao drew 42 months on their
Federal convictions for violating George Floyd’s civil
rights. According to DOJ, the sentences serve as a reminder that “every law enforcement officer, whether rookie or senior” has a
Constitutional duty to intervene when colleagues misbehave and to render medical aid. DOJ release Related postSentencing
Shootings marked by large volumes of gunfire plague Southeast Washington D.C. During the afternoon of July 27, an estimated ninety shots were fired in the parking area of an apartment
complex, wounding its manager, who sat in a vehicle. Late that evening, in another Southeast residential area, a man was fatally shot and a man and woman were wounded. “As many
as 90 shell casings” were found.