Oscar Grant and The Indirect Gifts of Technology

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To be honest, I wanted an explanation to present itself. I wanted ex-transit officer Johannes Mehserle to have had some reason for shooting Oscar Grant. Something. ANYTHING to justify pulling his gun out and firing the shot that ended that young man's life.

But as we all know, my eyes were seeing quite clearly.

There was nothing wrong with any of the cell phone videos.

The same thoughts flood through my mind every time I watch the video.

A young black man was shot and killed.

A young black man was shot in the back and killed.

A young black man was restrained and lain on his back by police officers and killed.

A young black man was restrained, lain on his back by police officers, and one of the police officers shot him in the back and killed him.

And now, a mother is left without her son and a tired community picks up its burdens once again and heads out to battle. But, as I try to digest this whole thing one thought keeps floating back through my mind.

What if there hadn't been any cell phones around?

Consider these facts

  • The California Supreme Court has held that displinary and misconduct records of police officers are sealed from media and public scrutiny - See Copley Press, Inc vs. Superior Court
  • Statements to internal affairs investigators can't be used against a cop in criminal or civil proceedings.
  • We are all aware that cops stick together and will rarely go across the line to blow the whistle on another officer.
So, there is really very, very little information that the public can discover about police activity on its own.  Accordingly, numerous incidents involving the police and public can be easily swept under the rug.  

Unless, someone just happens to be recording with their cell phone, digital camera, mini-camcorder, etc.

If it hadn't been for those devices, would we even know about this?  Probably not.  Sure, there would have still been witnesses, but there were witnesses to the Sean Bell execution....oh sorry..."shooting incident."  We all saw how that one ended.

If there was no video, then there would be no shot at justice here.  Fortunately, cameras were rolling that horrible night and the cops actions were filmed for all the world to see.  The cop's arrest and murder charges were a direct result of that video.  The image of him firing that shot into Grant's back is powerful evidence that simply can't be ignored.  

I'm normally very skeptical of these kinds of cases.  It is very hard to successfully prosecute a police officer.  But the videos give me a lot of hope that justice will be done and the officer will be held accountable for murdering Grant.


Quick Hits

Thursday, January 15, 2009

1. Sarah Palin - For the love of everything, will the media please force this woman into the background. Can we at least get, I don't know, a year without having to hear anything about her?

2. Bush's Farewell Speech - "There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions, but there can be little debate about the results," said Bush. Again, just go away man. Go far, far away.

3. Obama's First Senate Win - The Senate has given Obama the green light to tap into the remaining bailout funds. The pressure is on for Obama to turn things around. I'm skeptical that he can do even half as much as is expected of him, but it is beyond critical that he gets off to a good start. This will be the most scrutinized first few months in office ever. On top of that, all the initial efforts to help ease the current economic crisis have pretty much failed. Obama doesn't have to end the crisis in one swoop, but he does need to calm the waters. Wise use of the remaining bailout funds could do just that.

4. US Airways crash - Crazy. Amazing that no one was hurt.

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To Hell and Back

Sunday, January 11, 2009

After what seems like forever, I am back in the land of the employed.

My previous employer had been struggling for the past year. Over the last few months the big partners were pulling out left and right and moving on to literally greener pastures. Everyone else was left bracing for the worst.

Some of us got laid off.

Some of us just quit to cut our losses and try to move on.

At the end of the day, the how and why didn't really matter. All that counted was that we were all amongst that growing number of Americans with no jobs. The news on the job front was beyond grim as each month the ranks of the unemployed have grown.

Despite this, I remained optimistic throughout the ordeal. A combination of family, prayer, blogging, sports, and my Xbox 360 kept my spirits high. It was beyond difficult at times. Each potential opportunity seemed to lead to a dead end. Those once rock solid contacts were now just hollow shells.

Then finally, right around new year's, I broke.

What the Hell was I going to do?

Maybe that was what God was waiting for me to do. To stop trying to figure the whole thing out on my own and put it in His hands.

The phone finally started ringing.

The interviews came through.

And then on Friday afternoon, after countless prayers, phone calls, interviews, lunches, dinners, happy hours, letters, job boards, "give this guy a call"....

I got a job offer.

Praise the Lord.

Things are hectic as I have to scramble up our belongings and move to another town, but that's a much better problem than how am I gonna pay the bills. Blogging will probably still be a bit light as my family makes this transition. Again, small problems.

To all those still looking out there, keep knocking on those doors. Eventually, someone will open it and a better opportunity than the one you left behind will be waiting for you.

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