Chicago Fought to Keep Chilling Police Murder Video Private

It happened on October 20, 2014. A white Chicago police officer,  Jason Van Dyke, pumped 16 bullets into the body of  Laquan McDonald,  a 17 year-old black male, in 15 seconds. Even while he was on the ground dying the officer kept shooting. This was a police execution! Yet, so many Americans (of all backgrounds, maybe except blacks) ask – why don’t black people trust the police more?  There are also other important questions to be addressed.  The history of police abuse of blacks are well known.  What is less well known, or accepted, is that there are consequences of the police treatment of blacks to our society; those consequences take many forms. A lack of trust is only one such consequence.  Here are just a few of the many salient  questions to be addressed about the behavior of police officers towards blacks:

  1. What are the reasons why 99 percent of the time white police officers are allowed to commit murder against Black people without any personal or professional consequences?
  2. How many officers who have killed innocent black men are still in their police uniforms today?
  3. Had not the video existed at all, and word of the video leaked, would officer Van Dyke ever have been charged in this crime?
  4. Why wasn’t this officer charged with murder a year ago?
  5. After first seeing the video, was officer Van Dyke even reprimanded? Why was he still on the force?
  6. Why did it take so long for the City of Chicago to take any action in this matter?
  7. For those who wonder why so many black people (and men in particular) have no confidence in the police, or in the judicial system,  it is exactly because they have seen too many situations such as this.
  • a)  It’s not only black people who realize that they are poorly treated by many white police officers; many foreigners who now live in America (or in other countries) often ask — why are the American white police officers so hostile towards black Americans? 
  • b) Of course, those who are keen observers also notice that white police officers are not the only ones who are hostile towards blacks.
  • c) Years ago, when more affluent Asian students from certain countries were planning to immigrate to the USA they were required to take classes to prepare them to live in America.  In those classes they were often warned to keep away from blacks and not to associate with them because they were dangerous.  One student was told never to accept a ride from a black person.
  • d) This was also true of students coming from other countries.

 After reading the article, and watching the video, what questions come to your mind?

a) If you knew nothing about structural, systemic and institutional racism, what questions would you ask of our judicial system?

b) What is the first thing you would want to know, and why?

Read a NY Times editorial here about “The Violent Legacy of  Chicago’s Police.” 

“The grainy, nighttime dashcam video, which a judge ordered released last week, shows the young man running and then walking past officers in the middle of the street and spinning when he is suddenly struck down by bullets. For a moment, lying on the ground, he moves but then is still after he appears to be shot several more times. An officer kicks an object away from his body.  (The video shows none of the officers on the scene offering assistance to the teenager, Laquan McDonald.) Color change and highlight by OneWorld

“Standing with community leaders before releasing the video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy, the Chicago Police superintendent, said they expected demonstrations in response to the graphic nature of the video, and urged people to avoid violence. “It’s fine to be passionate, but it is essential that it remain peaceful,” Mr. Emanuel said.

Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with the murder of Laquan McDonald, arrived at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Tuesday. Credit Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press

“The criminal charge against the officer, Jason Van Dyke, 37, who has been with the police department here for 14 years, was the first time in decades that a Chicago police officer had been charged with murder in an on-duty shooting. The city had previously fought to keep the video private, citing an ongoing investigation into the incident.

The charge against Officer Van Dyke and the release of the video came just over a year after Mr. McDonald was shot 16 times, even after he had stepped slightly away from the officer, prosecutors said. Witnesses said Mr. McDonald, who was carrying a three-inch folding knife, never spoke to Officer Van Dyke or any of the other officers and did not make threatening moves toward him. None of at least seven other police officers on the scene fired their weapons.

The N.A.A.C.P., on Twitter, called it “unacceptable” that it took over a year for the video of the shooting to be released. 

“A memorial for Laquan McDonald, 17, and other victims at a school in Chicago in April. Credit Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune, via Corbis
















“The family of Mr. McDonald, which had opposed the video’s release, also issued a statement through their lawyers calling for calm. “No one understands the anger more than us, but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful,” the family said. “Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name. Let his legacy be better than that.

In announcing the murder charge, Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state’s attorney, acknowledged that she had pushed to charge the officer before the video became public. “I made a decision to come forward first because I felt like, with the release of this video, that it’s really important for public safety that the citizens of Chicago know that this officer is being held accountable for his actions,” Ms. Alvarez said.

“Since late last year, the shooting has been investigated by a team that included the F.B.I., the United States attorney’s office in Chicago and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. But Ms. Alvarez said she decided to proceed with charges on her own when the videotape was ordered released. Federal charges are still possible, legal experts said, and federal authorities said their investigation was continuing.

“Ms. Alvarez, a two-term Democrat who is seeking re-election in March, defended herself against suggestions that the investigation had taken too long, saying that such investigations into police shootings often take more than a year. And she rejected claims that she had buckled to political pressure by filing the charges before the video came out, saying she had reached a conclusion several weeks ago that charges were warranted.

“Hours before the video’s release, a judge, Donald Panarese Jr., ordered Officer Van Dyke held without bail, indicating that he wanted to see the video before revisiting the question of bond at a hearing on Monday. Officer Van Dyke faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

Dan Herbert, a lawyer for Officer Van Dyke, has said that the officer believed the shooting was justified because he feared for his safety and that of other officers. Mr. Herbert said his client “absolutely” intended to go to trial. Dressed in a beige sweater and jeans, Mr. Van Dyke said little during the brief hearing.

Dan Herbert, a lawyer for the Chicago police officer who fatally shot Laquan McDonald, held a news conference in Chicago on Friday. Mr. Herbert has said Officer Jason Van Dyke feared for his safety. Credit Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press

The charges and the release of the video came amid a national debate over race, police shootings and a growing number of violent encounters with the police captured on video. Chicago’s police force has its own sometimes painful history, which by some estimates includes more than $500 million in settlements and other costs over the last decade tied to police misconduct as well as reparations for black residents who said a group of officers abused and tortured them in the 1970s and ’80s.

“In April, the city agreed to pay $5 million to the McDonald family, even before a suit had formally been filed in the case.

On the evening of Oct. 20, 2014, police officers approached Mr. McDonald on the city’s Southwest Side, prosecutors said, after a resident reported seeing him breaking into trucks and stealing radios and was holding him until the police arrived. Mr. McDonald, who had the folding knife in his hand, walked away as police officers arrived. Someone called for a police unit with a taser, though it was not clear whether anyone with such a weapon ever appeared. At one point, Mr. McDonald “popped” the tire on a police car, apparently with his knife, the prosecutors said.

“With more officers arriving on the scene, Mr. McDonald kept walking and jogging along, not responding to orders to drop the knife, prosecutors said. Near a Burger King along a busy stretch of Pulaski Road, Officer Van Dyke’s marked Chevy Tahoe pulled up alongside other police vehicles, including one containing a dashboard camera. Officer Van Dyke was on the scene for fewer than 30 seconds, prosecutors said, before he began shooting his service weapon, which had a 16-round capacity. The shooting spanned 14 or 15 seconds, and in about 13 of those seconds, prosecutors say, Mr. McDonald was lying on the ground. He was hit 16 times, including in his backside. An autopsy showed the presence of the drug PCP in his system.

For months, the city had refused to release the video. On Thursday, Franklin Valderrama, a Cook County judge, ordered it released. The city initially indicated that it would appeal, but Mr. Emanuel then announced that Chicago would release the video, and issued a statement condemning Officer Van Dyke’s actions and calling for prosecutors to take prompt action.

“In accordance with the judge’s ruling, the city will release the video by Nov. 25, which we hope will provide prosecutors time to expeditiously bring their investigation to a conclusion so Chicago can begin to heal,” Mr. Emanuel said last week. On Monday, he met privately with community leaders and pastors.” 

We encourage visitors to read the complete article and related posts in the New York Times linked below.  Regardless of what substance Jaquan McDonald had in his 17-year-old system, he did not attack the cop, or even made any hostile gesture towards him. VanDyke’s action spoke very loudly, as have the actions of other police officers before him and since: he has the power to do as he pleases when it comes to black people.  So few police officers have ever been held accountable before, why would it not be so in his case? Police officers have gotten away with murder so many times before; why would it change today?

The optics in this news conference video are quite interesting:

OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc., is a small group of committed volunteers who produce community information and education television programs on health literacy, education and civic engagement.  We also find good information and post informative blogs about issues we believe shine light and are beneficial to many in our communities.

Learn more about us at our web site:  and visit our web education section at: We focus on Education and on civic engagement at every level. We try to deal with issues of relevance and we welcome input from the greater New Haven community.

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Maintain Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Or Save Lives?

I like the New York Times.  Why? Because it is one of the few easily accessible, broad coverage news papers still around.  Whether I agree with the articles I read or not is not the point.  In fact, one of the reasons I like it so much is that the coverage is so broad and diverse.  Many of the articles take me completely out of my comfort zone and challenge me to think differently; to examine my assumptions, and to do research; to learn more about a range of topics so that I can make an informed decision on a position, or to keep exploring and learning more about various aspects of the topics and issues.  The NY Times writers are also very competent; some are outstanding.

The article below on patient-doctor confidentiality is one such article; it is engaging.  In fact, one of the things that reading the NY Times articles forces me to do is to be more objective and also practice writing in ways that will encourage readers to be more objective.  Below is the post I made on my Face Book page about the article.   I have real issues with the conclusion reached by the author; I find it difficult to follow his reasoning.  It is such articles that are most beneficial; they take us to other places.  For the conveniece of those who will not take the time to find and read the complete article, I have attached it below.  It is certainly worth reading.  Many years ago I was the Director of Patient Relations at a major inner-city hospital.   It was a challenging job for a variety of reasons; I learned a great deal.  We are all better prepared to deal with crisis issues if we are well informed about such issues before the crisis occurs. 

I am disturbed by aspects of Dr. Jauhar’s reasoning such as:  “Though the murder of innocents is obviously a tragedy, the Washington State Supreme Court should overturn the appeals court’s decision. Not only does that judgment greatly expand the circumstances in which psychiatrists would be required to violate patients’ confidentiality; those violations in the end would also not serve the purpose for which they were intended.”  Based on what exactly is Dr. Jauhar making this argument?  I am particularly concerned about Dr. Jauhar’s reference to a specific part of the Hippocratic oath.  He wrote:

“Throughout history, doctor-patient confidentiality has been a cornerstone of Western medical practice. The duty to keep patients’ information private is written into the codes of ethics of medical organizations, and is even in the Hippocratic oath: “What I may see or hear in the course of treatment,” it says, “I will keep to myself.”  This seems to refer to a patient’s illness or diagnosis; it would certainly refer to not handing the patient’s illicit drug over to the police.  It does not seem to include ignoring the fact that a patient expresses a desire to commit murder; especially when the intended victim really exists.  What happens when keeping what a doctor learns to her- or himself does cause grave harm to others?  While the well-known phrase “first, do no harm” is not in the Hippocratic Oath, in a part of the explanatory preamble it states the following:

  • And these two things in disease are particularly to be attended to, to do good, and not to do harm. The whole art of medicine may be circumscribed in three distinctions, medicine, the sick-man, and the physician who is the minister of the art; and the conflict lies between the sick-person, the physician, and the disease.”

 Clearly, the Oath needs to be updated or refined to more realistically reflect 21st century realities. But here is some of what the Oath does say:

  • “I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:
  •  Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
  • What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.”
    Clearly, Dr. Jauhar is not equating spreading shameful stories about a patient’s diagnosis with saving the lives of people to whom that patient may seek to harm or plan to do harm!

Another disturbing aspect of Dr. Jauhar’s article is this — he quotes the 1976 case University of California Regents:  “This obligation was largely shaped by the seminal 1976 case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, in which the Supreme Court of California ruled that mental health professionals had a responsibility to protect the intended victims of their violent patients through direct warning or by notifying the police. As Justice Matthew Tobriner famously wrote in the majority opinion, “The protective privilege ends where the public peril begins.” The case has served as a basis for law in 33 states obligating physicians to warn or protect third parties.”

That not withstanding, Dr. Jauhar ended his artile by saying: “We are more likely to minimize harm if the confidence of patients at the greatest risk for violence is maintained.” This is truly baffling.  Clearly, I am missing something.

Maintain Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Or Save Lives?

  • If a psychiatrist knows that his mentally ill patient plans to murder others, should those people be warned? Should the police be informed?
  • How far should doctor-patient confidentiality go? What about common sense?
  • Is the doctor’s first responsibility to save the lives of innocent people and serve the greater good?
  • Or is it to maintain the confidentiality of the mentally ill who he knows, or believes plan to kill others?
  • WHEN should a doctor betray a patient’s confidence? How should doctors’ priorities be determined?
  • That was determined in 1976 by the Supreme Court of California ruled that: “The protective privilege ends where the public peril begins.” 
  • This week the Supreme Court of the State of Washington heard arguments on this question in a case that has profound implications for the doctor-patient relationship.

Protect Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc., is a small group of committed volunteers who produce community information and education television programs on health literacy, education and civic engagement.  We also find good information and post informative blogs about issues we believe shine light and are beneficial to many in our communities.  Learn more about us at our web site:  and visit our web health section at:  Please share our information with others.  Watch our informative television programs on your public access channels: Frontier (formerly AT&T), Channel 99, drop down; Charter Communications Chan. 21, and Comcast (Xfinity) Channels 10, 15, 18 & 26. Like OneWorld on Face Book

See segments and full video programs on OneWorld’s YouTube here:

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An American Conversation about Race with Blacks & Whites

RACISM IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF AMERICAN SOCIETY. All of us, regardless of color, race or ethinicity need to do all that is within our power to reduce the incidence of racial escalation and violence.  President Obama has been a model citizen in dealing with some of the obnoxious, racist, disrespect hurled at him.  It started with Mitch McConnell’s statement the day after the president was elected.

Since Barack Hussain Obama has been elected president of the United States we have seen a public escalation of overt racism across America.  Apparently, there were millions of white American who did not think it would ever happen in their life time.  Surely, there were also millions of black Americans who did not think it would happen either.  Of course, it happened.  While blacks went to the voting booth in record numbers in 2008, blacks alone could not have elected Mr. Obama.  This tells us that millions of white Americans defied the expectations of other whites and voted for the most monumental change the American political system has witnessed since the abolition of slavery in 1865.  Many white Americans are so angry they can taste it.  Particularly since the 2012 re-election, the overt and angry racists are coming out in many ways and they are spewing their poison all over the American landscape.  The police seem to be the most widely visible aggressors against blacks; they have badges behind which they can hide their hatred and through which they can exercise their antagonisms.  There are many other haters in every part of American life.  Frighteningly, many are in the churches; they are on social media and over the public airwaves; their reach is phenomenal.

There are the vigilantes like: 1) George Zimmerman  (killer of Trayvon Martin);

2) Theodore Wafer, the 54 year-old white Michigan man who shot and killed Renisha McBride; after a car accident she knocked on his door asking for help.  He shot her dead on his porch.   Thankfully he was found guilty of manslaughter.

3) Michael Dunn, a 47 year-old white male killed black 17 year-old, Jordan Davis  because he was playing his music too loudly.   Dunn fired 10 shots into the car where 4 teens were seated.  It’s only by the grace of a miracle that all four young black men were not killed that night.

There are many others.  Michael Slager, the white police officer charged more than once with using excessive force was allowed to stay on the police force until he did it again; this time the cameras caught him and others saw him.   In picture below Michael Slager checks Walter Scott’s pulse after shooting him in the back.  In 2013 he tased a young black man who was handcuffed. ‘You tased me. Why?’ Cop charged in killing of unarmed black man was cleared in 2013 of using excessive force.’  Such is the power of hatred, the gun and the right to use force against blacks. Michael Slager checks Walter Scott's pulse after shooting him in the back.

 Those who are motivated by hate and racism are also in our schools (at every level), in social service agencies, government and private business offices, private industries; they are everywhere in our society.  How do parents teach theri children to stay safe in the face of such power, aggression and hate? The New York times has come up with an Op-Doc series. 

We strongly encourage you, regardless of your color, race or ethnicity, to please read and watch what we have linked below.  It is important that parents have these conversations with their children.  OneWorld  Progressive Institute has also produced a community information program with a psychologist and a police officer.  We are linking a YouTube segment here titled Youth-At-Risk:

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Share Your Story (In the NY TIMES)

“As part of our (New York Times) ​Op-Docs ​series​ Conversation​s​ ​on Race​,​​ we ​want to hear your​​ ​​experiences ​confronting issues of race in your life. We invite you to share your stories, some of which we will feature on a page of readers’ contributions. NOV. 11, 2015”

#1: A Conversation With My Black Son’

This image represents the series of video conversations presented by the NY times and commented on in this OneWorld blog.  In the first short documentary, parents reveal their struggles with telling their black sons that they may be targets of racial profiling by the police.  In the second video young black men talk about  the FEAR of staying safe.  In the third video there is a conversation with white Americans about Race and racism.  The last video is with retired police officers black and white, males and females.  That one is truly an attention-getter.  Please watch.

By Geeta Gandbhir and Blair Foster on Publish Date March 17, 2015. Watch in Times Video »

For generations, parents of black boys across the United States have rehearsed, dreaded and postponed “The Conversation.” But when their boys become teenagers, parents must choose whether or not to expose their sons to what it means to be a black man here. To keep him safe, they may have to tell the child they love that he risks being targeted by the police, simply because of the color of his skin. How should parents impart this information, while maintaining their child’s pride and sense of self? How does one teach a child to face dangerous racism and ask him to emerge unscathed?

Here a few of the comments posted by Times readers: 

  • “What nonsense. The discussion all parents need to have, indeed the example all parents need to set, is how to be moral, behave properly and…
  • Having to live with the fear that your beloved son is in danger of police brutality every time he goes out must be painful to live with. …
  • And this is the conversation I have to have with my sons, who are half-Pakistani. They’ve been having “special treatment” going through…

This Op-Doc video is our attempt to explore this quandary, by listening to a variety of parents and the different ways they handle these sensitive discussions. In bringing about more public awareness that these conversations exist, we hope that someday they won’t be necessary.

We intendA Conversation With My Black Son to be the first in a series of videos that will foster discussions about the state of race relations in America.

‘A Conversation With White People on Race’

This short documentary features interviews with white people on the challenges of talking about race.  By Michèle Stephenson and Blair Foster on Publish Date July 1, 2015.

Why do so many white people find it extremely uncomfortable to talk about race? Setting out to make the next installment of our Op-Doc video series about race in America, we hoped to address that question. Because we live in New York, where there is no shortage of opinions, we didn’t think it would be too hard to find white people willing to speak publicly on this topic. We were wrong.

The people we ultimately found to start the conversation on this fraught topic were uniformly well-meaning and in favor of equality. Certainly they didn’t consider themselves racists. Racism is something that is perpetrated by other people — the ones complaining about affirmative action, refusing to take down their Confederate flags and sharing racist jokes. But if so few people identify as racist, why are racial tensions so pervasive right now? Subtle racism is harder to confront.

Below are a series of short blog post OneWorld did to Face Book this week:  


INVEST 6:30 in watching this illuminating video interview with retired cops.  In this short documentary, former officers share their thoughts on policing and race in America.

Exercising a “latitude of power” for the good versus a show of power. Listen carefully to what each former officer has to say. Pay close attention to former officers Weatherspoon and Cunningham.

Watch the body language and facial expression of Glenn Cunningham. Imagine encountering this “officer” alone on a dark street where he did not think you belonged! How many Glenn Cunninghams exist in our police forces today?

“Over the past year or so, our nation has been embroiled in a difficult conversation about our history of police brutality and racial profiling. Stories of young black men shot by officers, and footage of police behavior before many of those deaths, have raised hard questions about institutional racism and misconduct within our police force.”

Former officer Weatherspoon provides some hard and illuminating facts.

White DEFENSIVENESS AGAINST RACISM – A Barrier to Progress.  Trying to have meaningful dialogues with many white people about racism is one of the most frustrating experiences progressive thinkers share.   Even those who often seem reasonable and informed on a range of racial issues, get defensive when it comes to personal behavior. Once we try to share the various perspectives on certain situations the anger and defensiveness blocks any meaningful conversation. There is a recitation of “good deeds” done by white people on behalf of black people. And so again and again progress on the racism front is stymied and things actually get worse. After these experiences, blacks and whites who thought they were friends now begin to doubt the depth of that friendship.

This is why in Nov. 2015 a 1971 interview with Muhammad Ali is still potent and relevant. We thank the Huffington Post for making it available.

“There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t want to bite me, I knew they were good… Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?”

“So often reaction to people of color who call out racism, be it police brutality or job discrimination, is the “not all white people” argument. Like “not all men,” this defense is used to derail conversations about racism by reminding people of color that some white people are “good,” and that not all white people are actually racist. It’s a frustrating argument because it completely dismisses the lived experiences of people of color, and oversimplifies how racism actually affects us.” It seems that coordinated efforts against racism is the most potent and reliable action. Goodwill is not very reliable.  

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In America Racism Affects Every Aspect of Our Society

“NEWTON, N.H. — When Courtney Griffin was using heroin, she lied, disappeared, and stole from her parents to support her $400-a-day habit. Her family paid her debts, never filed a police report and kept her addiction secret — until she was found dead last year of an overdose.

At Courtney’s funeral, they decided to acknowledge the reality that redefined their lives: Their bright, beautiful daughter, just 20, who played the French horn in high school and dreamed of living in Hawaii, had been kicked out of the Marines for drugs. Eventually, she overdosed at her boyfriend’s grandmother’s house, where she died alone.”

“When I was a kid, junkies were the worst,” Doug Griffin, 63, Courtney’s father, recalled in their comfortable home here in southeastern New Hampshire. “I used to have an office in New York City. I saw them.”   Noting that “junkies” is a word he would never use now, he said that these days, “they’re working right next to you and you don’t even know it. They’re in my daughter’s bedroomthey are my daughter.”

Read the remainder of this story and the startling details in the New York Times article titled:

“In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs”  KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, OCT. 30, 2015

The Drug Addiction Problem In White America Can No Longer Be Hidden

Now that a large number of regular (white) people are recognized as addicts, white America is asking for a gentler War on Drugs; not the lock them up and throw away the key kind that have been meeted out particularly to blacks, to people of color, and to poor people for the past 35 years.

Not the put them in prison for decades kind; not the kick them out of school and jobs kind of war. White families are asking for kindness, understanding and support; they are asking for treatment.

What about the War on Drug’s historic economic and racist agenda? No, they cannot apply to whites; this is a new era.  Even some in law enforcement say they are opposed to long prison sentences for drug offenders.  Why is that exactly?  Are we now in an era of enlightenment?  We certainly hope so, but given the history and the documentation, it is difficult to have faith in this aspect of the American system.  Drugs have always been a part of the wealthy suburbs; recreational use of drugs has always been integral to white America, but the police never bothered them. The targets of the WAR were always blacks. In the past few years things have gotten out of control in suburbia as is evidence  by the articles below.  These are only a few of the many drug-related articles to be found.

Heroin in New England, More Abundant and Deadly – KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, JULY 18, 2013

PORTLAND, Me. — Heroin, which has long flourished in the nation’s big urban centers, has been making an alarming comeback in the smaller cities and towns of New England.  Watch the 4 mins video below to appreciate what is going on with some of the addicts in our nice, elegant New England towns.  See who they are.  Watch this video: 

Can you imagine what would have happened if these were black people, poor Latinos or other minority groups shooting up in front of these cameras?   Do you think that would ever happen? Criminalizing black people in this country is so implicit in our culture, that they would not even be allowed to talk about past drug use, much less shoot up and get drugs in front of the cameras.  Isn’t it amazing that once white people start dying from drug overdoses America realizes  that drug abuse is a health problem to be treated with medication, not with long prison sentences.  Blacks and Latinos do not get treatment in prison. Read the complete New York Times article linked below.  It is mind-boggling.

A Call to Arms on a Vermont Heroin Epidemic 

  • They now realize that being black, Latino, brown or poor is not about having no ambition;
  • it’s not about being a low-life, or wanting to be a “junkie.”
  • It’s not about choosing to be an addict over getting a job or an education.
  • Becoming an addict is the same as contracting a disease; and given the circumstances under which many people of color live, and the pressures with which they try to cope every day, the possibility of them contracting the disease of addiction (as a way of escaping their situations) is far greater than for those who are privileged. On the other hand, privileged white kids with means are more likely to be able to buy drugs, or get it from their wealthy friends, and try it as a pleasant pass-time.  What they seldom ever count on is the addictive nature of this insidious pass-time; this thief of lives.
  • Drug addicts are in every noble and prestigious corner of white America. They have always been, but they were fewer in numbers than they are today.
  • Their money, access to treatment and white privilege protected them before.
  • They are less protected now. Addiction is no respecter of persons or privilege; it makes a criminal of good people.  Michael Kinney stole his dying father’s prescription pain medication and replaced them with Tylenol! How cruel!
  • The problem has now spilled out into the open. It’s a human problem; it’s not a color problem; it’s not a problem of ethnicity or poor upbringing.

Amanda Jordan with her son Brett Honor outside a meeting for people with addictions and their families in Plaistow, N.H. Her son Christopher died of an overdose. Credit Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

Young white people are dying of drug overdoses all across America. It’s happening in “good” families; it’s happening in families where people love and care about each other. Such is the nature of disease; like cancer, we don’t quite know how addiction selects its victims.

There is an old West Indian saying directed at those who looked down on those who were less fortunate – If you spit in the sky, it will fall in your face.

As long as those dying of overdoses were people of color, and as long as they were the underclass, very few people in our vast society gave a damn.  For the past 35 years, drug addicts of color have been locked away in America’s prisons by the thousands. That was by design; there are also some really ugly, economic and racist under-belly aspects of the “War on Drugs.” There have been several studies that have revealed some of the seedy  sides to it such as:  “POLICING FOR PROFIT: THE DRUG WAR’S HIDDEN ECONOMIC AGENDA.”  By Eric Blumenson* & Eva Nilsen.   Abstract: During the 25 years of its existence, the “War on Drugs” has transformed the criminal justice system, to the point where the imperatives of drug law enforcement now drive many of the broader legislative, law enforcement, and corrections policies in counterproductive ways. One significant impetus for this transformation has been the enactment of forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement agencies to keep the lion’s share of the drug-related assets they seize. Another has been the federal law enforcement aid program, revised a decade ago to focus on assisting state anti-drug efforts. Collectively these financial incentives have left many law enforcement agencies dependent on drug law enforcement to meet their budgetary requirements, at the expense of alternative goals such as the investigation and prosecution of non-drug crimes, crime prevention strategies, and drug education and treatment.

In this article we present a legal and empirical analysis of these laws and their consequences. In so doing, we seek to explain why the drug war continues with such heavy emphasis on law enforcement and incarceration, and show the way to more rational policies.

Although America’s prisons are filled with black and brown people serving long sentences for drug-related crimes, the most drug use and crimes have always been by whites. But blacks and browns have been the ones prosecuted most often and they get the long sentences. This is an integral part of both explicit, implicit and systemic racism.  Read the report and look at the figures published in 2009 in the Stanford Law and Policy Review: Race, Drugs, and Law Enforcement in the United States

Part I: Race Defines the Problem

Part II: Who Engages in Drug Offenses?

     A)  Arrests and Incarceration of Drug Offenders

     B)   Incarceration

     C)  Race, Crime, and Punishment

Part III: A Human Rights Framework For the War on Drugs

     A) United States Law

     B) Racial Discrimination Under International Human Rights Law

Conclusion (A small of the conclusion is listed below) Go to the full article for more.

Since the mid-1980s, the United States has pursued aggressive law enforcement strategies to curtail the use and distribution of illegal drugs. The costs and benefits of this national “war on drugs” remain fiercely debated.[1] What is not debatable, however, is that this ostensibly race-neutral effort has been waged primarily against black Americans. Relative to their numbers in the general population and among drug offenders, black Americans are disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated on drug charges.

Of course, the FACTS have never mattered to those with an ulterior agenda. In an article in the Huffington Post on 4/2/2014, we learned that notwithstanding some positive claims: “Law Enforcement Lobby Quietly Tries To Kill Sentencing Reform.”

WASHINGTON — Several organizations representing state and local law enforcement are quietly trying to kill a bipartisan bill that would roll back tough mandatory sentences for people convicted of federal drug offenses under legislation passed during the height of America’s drug war three decades ago.

These groups include the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, the National Association of Police Organizations and the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, The Huffington Post has learned.

Eric Holder started it; and since he left, the Obama administration has stepped up the fight.  Additionally, there are those who are fighting to STOP THE WAR ON DRUGS through new “Sentencing Guidelines.” Chronicle AM: Thousands of Federal Drug Prisoners to Be Freed, Ohio Early Voting, More (10/6/15)

The most effective results in stopping the WAR on Drugs against addicts will most likely be in response to white suburban and wealthy parents who want to SAVE their addicted children, friends and siblings.  Of course, if the children and grandchildren of leaders of the NRA, and the powerful lobbyists are among those who overdose,  that might also bring a positive response.

In America Racism Affects Every Aspect of Our Society. It is only when whites are adversely affected by policies and pratices that are intended only to disproportionately affect blacks, that we see constructive changes in such policies and practices. Blacks then become beneficiaries as a by-product of the benefits accrued to whites.  It is a sad and disheartening reality. 

OneWorld hopes now that “regular” people are dying from their addictions, all addicts will get the humane and supportive treatment they need, and that poor blacks, Latinos and others will not be locked away in prisons and their families destroyed. Maybe equitable treatment will save a large segment of America– its ADDICTS.  They come is all ages, colors, shapes and sizes; they are from various walks of life.  Racism is like spitting in the sky.  As many, if not more, young white people are dying of drug overdoses than are poor blacks and browns; that might be the catalyst America needs to live out its claim of justice and equity for all.

OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc., is a small group of committed volunteers who produce community information and education television programs on health literacy, education and civic engagement.  We also find good information and post informative blogs about issues we believe shine light and are beneficial to many in our communities.  Learn more about us at our web site; like us on Face Book and visit our YouTube channel at: Watch our informative programs on your public access channel.  Order a 1-hr DVD of any program you see; our web store is at the link above.

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Mental Exercise Might Slow Brain Deterioration Over Age 55

BRAIN SMART: Mental Exercise Might Slow Brain Deterioration for Those Over age  55.  In this post we provide factual information and short videos.

Below is a summary of an interesting article published in the New York Times on October 23, 2015 titledCan You Get Smarter? The article is very interesting and provides much more information than is posted here.  We encourage you to read it.  Also below are two short video segments from OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc. These videos provide first-hand information from local participants.

“YOU can increase the size of your muscles by pumping iron and improve your stamina with aerobic training. Can you get smarter by exercising — or altering — your brain?”

“Starting at age 55, our hippocampus, a brain region critical to memory, shrinks 1 to 2 percent every year.

One in nine people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s disease.

The number afflicted is expected to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation ages.

How can we boost normal mental functioning, or stem its all-too-common decline?

Our brain has remarkable neuroplasticity; that is, it can remodel and change itself in response to various experiences and injuries. So can it be trained to enhance its own cognitive prowess?

The multibillion-dollar brain training industry certainly thinks so and claims that you can increase your memory, attention and reasoning just by playing various mental games. Is this true, or are we being played?

Results of a follow-up study, soon to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, generally show that continued brain training helps older subjects maintain the improvement in verbal reasoning seen in the earlier study. This is good news because it suggests that brain exercise might delay some of the effects of aging on the brain.

Mental scores on a major benchmark test, for which subjects could not train, did not significantly increase at the end of the study. However, there is evidence that teachers, parents, and those with influence over children can affect how children perceive themselves. OneWorld encourages you to read the complete report in the NY Times article linked below. 

We also encourage our visitors to see the two segments of television information programs about Alzheimer’s Disease (Dementia) that are linked below.  The programs provide key pieces of information visitors will find helpful. 

  • Local physicians, assessment officials and family members (including caregivers) joined OneWorld representatives in a local television studio to discuss the impact a diagnosis of dementia has on family members.
  • Assessment officials stress the importance of early diagnosis and adequate planning.  The benefits here cannot be overstated.
  • An elderly man talks about trying to care for his wife after her diagnosis.
  • A granddaughter talks about coming to terms with her grandmother illness at the early age of 52!   She emphasizes the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis, and being able to have honest and open conversations.
  • A wife talks about the importance of getting respite care for caregivers.
  • “This is Dementia” – produced and presented by OneWorld Progressive Institute, Inc

Recognizing & Understanding Alzheimer’s-Part 2: The Role of Caregivers

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