Standing Ovation

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out –
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me –
And there was no one left to speak for me” (Martin Niemuller)

“The practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world” (Hannah Arendt, 1906-1975)

Our duly elected Members of Congress, having recently voted to shut down our government, soon turned their attention to an enthusiastic, unexamined, 30 minute standing ovation to Capitol Police after dealing with a “security situation”. Police were hailed as “heroic” as our predictably pandering politicians lined up for a carefully scripted opportunity to publicly praise heroic police dedication and bravery. What this means in the real world is that they were openly celebrating their mindless execution of a defenseless mother for her crime of driving erratically after encountering a temporary barrier, set up at a check point in the vicinity of the White House, during a martial law drill. Capitol Shield 14 was underway and coordinated by Joint force Headquarters – National Capitol Region. Perhaps you are aware of how many of these high profile, so-called terrorist incidents happen during these national security “drills” in densely populated areas. Officials from agencies involved in the incident declined to provide any explanation other than praising the officers in glowing terms. (Adam Gabbatt, UK Guardian, October 4, 2013)

It appears that 34 year old, Miriam Carey, a woman of color, college graduate, and dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut was driving in DC, together with her 18 month old daughter, when she became upset and confused as she drove too close to a hastily set up temporary barrier. Her mistake could very well have tagged her as a legitimate suspect for apprehension, questioning and possibly even arrest. Nevertheless, when confronted by a heavily armed phalanx of militarized police attempting to detain her, she panicked and tried to escape and remove her child from perceived danger. Was this young mother really crazy to be afraid?

This young woman’s flight response is not so surprising given the increasingly frequent accounts of law enforcement personnel using their authority to harass people of color; to Taser and otherwise brutalize the elderly, mentally challenged, deaf, pregnant, disabled, inebriated, foreign visitors, or otherwise injured citizens involved in any kind of accident or altercation. In our current situation, failure to immediately comply with the demands of any number of uniformed personnel can result in children removed to protective custody, deliberate humiliation, violence, arrest, confinement, or even death for those unfortunates who do not understand or cannot comply with what exactly is being asked of them.

Information provided by mainstream media outlets in the immediate aftermath of these shooting incidents is often erroneous and so caution is needed before accepting any of these early reports as truth. Apparently Ms. Carey’s attempt to evade law enforcement personnel led to a bullet spraying car chase which resulted in her death and the removal of Baby Erica to “protective custody”. Questions remain as to why officers did not employ less lethal means of stopping her car; by shooting out her tires or calling for back up to block the streets toward which she was heading. When her car was finally stopped, witnesses report that prior to any command to surrender, this unarmed, clearly terrified, single mother was immediately shot dead as she was attempting to emerge from her vehicle. In an all too frequent spasm of deadly violence, police brutality and extra-judicial killing, Miriam Cary’s body was riddled with at least 17 bullets right in full view of her small child. Media reports that this child was “unharmed”, fail to take into account that after witnessing the terrifying murder of her mother she was seized by uniformed strangers who then denied her access to her Grandmother or any of her 5 aunts. The coroner’s office also denied family access when they arrived to identify their loved one. Apparently the excessive firepower had obliterated her face and bloodied her body beyond recognition. NY Times, October 4, 2013)

Miriam Cary’s mother said that her daughter had suffered from post-partum depression and was also recovering from a closed head injury resulting from a fall. Elsewhere it was alleged that she was in possession of anti-psychotic SSRI medications which have also been a common factor in many recent high profile shooting incidents. The family denies that Miriam was delusional despite reports that she was concerned that “Obama was stalking her by electronic means”. This is not all that far-fetched given recent disclosures by whistleblowers and others that Obama supposedly oversees several federal agencies that are in fact monitoring all of us by electronic and many other means. Strangely enough, Obama actually was in Stamford on August 6th, 2012 and as a result there were police and secret service everywhere; roads were blocked off and a state beach and public parks were closed. (Tom Alciere, UK Guardian, October 8, 2013)

Soon after the fatal shooting, militarized police cordoned off the area surrounding Ms. Carey’s condo, accompanied by hazardous material teams, bomb squads and a robot. Police meticulously decontaminated people who went in and out of her unit looking for drugs, weapons and anti-government literature. In the end, they found “nothing out of the ordinary”. (“Culture of Fear”, Rick Perlstein, The Nation, October 4, 2013)

Here we are faced with yet another depressing reminder of what Andrew Sullivan calls, “our collective PTSD” 11 years after the events of 9/11. Now in the grips of our “Security State” Americans still allow themselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the “threat” of terrorism. (Washington Post, April 23, 2013). Ironically enough, we now have the frightening spectacle of our political leaders, from both parties, not only endorsing but even celebrating, what has become state-sponsored terrorism. As the time-worn saying warns, sooner or later you will become exactly that which you resist.

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