Imbalance in the system

Perhaps you have heard of the fatal shooting that occurred here in Oakland on New Years. Perhaps not though, as I hear that mainstream media outside of the Bay Area is not covering the story. I’ll give some links at the bottom if you are interested, but they are crucial to this post so I’m not quoting any of the stories here.

The short story is that there was a fight on a BART train. BART police arrived and broke up the fight. The BART police had the participants of the fight face down on the station floor, and were in the process of handcuffing them. For unknown reasons, one of the officers drew his side-arm and shot one of the suspects in the back, from point blank range, as he lay there face down on the floor. The bullet passed through his abdomen and ricocheted off the concrete back up into his lungs. He died. Those are the established facts.

Why? That part of the investigation is at a stand still. Five days later, and the officer in question has not made a statement to investigators.

Before I go any further, I want to say that in principle I believe VERY strongly in the Bill of Rights. They are the foundation of our relatively free society. I also understand that there are limitations to those rights, and that there are circumstances where rights can be lost. As an example of this, a person can lose their second amendment right to bear arms for a whole range of reasons with the most commonly known reason being convicted of a felony. So, while I believe in the Bill of Rights, I do understand and agree with some reasons where those rights can be lost.

The officer has not been required to make a statement because he has a fifth amendment right against self incrimination. This is something that bothers me. We are not talking about an average citizen here. We are talking about an officer of the law, whose actions that evening were on the job, paid for by the people of Oakland and California to serve the law. This is my personal opinion, but if we already agree that some rights can be lost by the choices people make, then I propose that a police officer who is on duty must be required to make a full accounting of their actions even if such statement could be considered incriminating. If you chose to put yourself in a position of enforcing the law, you should have to accept that your actions while on duty are 100% the business of those who entrusted you with their safety.

We need, as a society, to be sure that our police enforce the law, and are not above the law. Perhaps my idea isn’t the best way to accomplish that, but I’m open to your thoughts if you have a better idea.


BART officer has yet to give account in shooting
As BART shooting videos go viral, experts try to figure out what went wrong
BART shooting victim’s family files $25 million claim
M&R: Death threats against BART officer
A shot in the dark

Carbon <cough> <cough> Bullshit

For anyone even thinking about buying ‘Carbon Credits’, I highly recommend watching Penn & Teller’s Bullshit!, Season 6, Episode 6. Carbon Credits may ease your conscience, but they do nothing for Earth’s ecology. Not saying you should or should not buy them; just suggesting you know what you are buying in the first place and that you make an informed decision.

S.F. fliers may pay their way in carbon usage
Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Environmentally conscious travelers flying out of San Francisco International Airport will soon be able to assuage their guilt and minimize the impact of their air travel by buying certified carbon offsets at airport kiosks.


Dellums in Denial

Once again, it appears that Ron Dellums lives in an alternate universe. I’d love to live in the same parallel universe that Dellums sees when he looks out the window of his limo. Dellums is offended that HBO wants to film a show, based on a real life documentary, about an ex-pimp in Oakland. He says “this project goes our vision of Oakland as a 'model city' “. I feel sorry for poor clueless Dellums, for Oakland is no ‘model city’. Here are some facts for him:

  • 2007 – 127 homicides
  • 2008 – 120 homicides (as of 12/22/08, with a few more days left…)
  • 2008 – Unofficially the “Year of Restaurant Take-Over Robberies”
  • SF Gate has an interactive murder map for Oakland.

With all due respect, Mayor Dellums can’t make Oakland a ‘model city’ by putting his head in the sand and wishing it would all go away. You know what I mean: like the way he failed to handle the Edgerly situation until the breaking point was long past. Frankly, he needs to do something more than whine. He can’t hope Oakland into a better place. He can’t fight crime with inspirational statements.

Personally, I welcome an HBO series about an ex-pimp trying to get his life back together. It might be good for there to be a show about people getting their lives together, rather than the plethora of shows where people’s lives are falling apart. It’s a wonder that the mayor of murder town, who can’t see the positive in this, somehow sees Oakland as a ‘model city’ that has “come too far to have our city's name trampled upon in the name of entertainment”. I’ll take this form of entertainment any day over the alternatives of street races, gang shootings, and reading about what our mayor is doing while visiting another city far away from here.

Dellums unhappy HBO drama about pimp set in Oakland – Inside Bay Area
By Kelly Rayburn
Oakland Tribune
Posted: 12/20/2008 08:01:26 PM PST

Updated: 12/22/2008 01:46:41 PM PST

OAKLAND — An HBO drama that would examine the world of prostitution in Oakland has come under fire from Mayor Ron Dellums and other city officials even before filming has started.

The show, called “Gentlemen of Leisure” and based on the 1999 documentary “American Pimp,” would be set in Oakland and would focus on a pimp in his 40s and his attempts to get out of the business.

The show's production, slated to begin in 2009, could be an economic boon for the city, which has made efforts to bring in more filmmakers, but officials such as Dellums worry about what impact the show would have on Oakland's image.

“It is the mayor's view that this project goes against our vision of Oakland as a 'model city' and does a disservice to residents and visitors alike,” Dellums' chief of staff, David Chai, said Saturday. “While the mayor understands that there are certain benefits to having a major film project in our city, he is not willing to support this project at this time. The people of Oakland have come too far to have our city's name trampled upon in the name of entertainment.”

The mayor's office is open to further talks between the city and HBO, Chai said.


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