Gail Collins | Our Firearms Problems Just Keep Piling Up – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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” “Lock them up. There are things that you can do,” a Houston assistant police chief said last week after a 3-year-old boy fatally shot his 8-month-old baby brother in the family home.

The assistant chief was talking about guns, not the 3-year-old. Obviously. Although in some parts of the country, the idea of putting kids in prison seems to elicit more enthusiasm than the idea of locking away the weapons.

This kind of disaster happens way, way, way too much. Last year at least 371 children stumbled across a loaded gun and fired, causing 143 deaths and 243 injuries. In one case, a 3-year-old shot himself to death with a pistol that had fallen out of the pocket of a member of his family — apparently while the adults were playing cards.

None of this has led to any significant change in the national attitude toward deadly weapons. Many Americans like to arm themselves to the teeth as protection from crime — and bleep over the danger that comes with all that hardware, especially in the hands of people who aren’t really equipped to use it.  . . . . . “

Charles M. Blow | Rage Is the Only Language I Have Left – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Josh Galemore/Arizona Daily Star, via Associated Press

“One of the first times I wrote about the police killing of an unarmed Black man was when Michael Brown was gunned down in the summer of 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was a Black teenager accused of an infraction in a convenience store just before his life was taken. Last summer, six years on, I wrote about George Floyd, a large Black man accused of an infraction in a convenience store, this time in Minneapolis.

Both men were killed in the street in broad daylight. Brown was shot. An officer knelt on Floyd’s neck. In both cases there were multiple community witnesses to the killings. In both cases there was a massive outcry. In both cases the men were accused of contributing to, or causing, their own deaths, in part because they had illegal drugs in their systems.

Between those two killings there has been a depressing number of others. In January of 2015, The Washington Post began maintaining a database of all known fatal shootings by the police in America. Every year, the police shot and killed roughly 1,000 people. But, as The Post points out, Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than white Americans, and the data revealed that unarmed Black people account for about 40 percent of the unarmed Americans killed by the police, despite making up only about 13 percent of the American population.

Something is horrifyingly wrong. And yet, the killings keep happening. Brown and Floyd are not even the bookends. There were many before them, and there will be many after.   . . . “

Wall Street Is Donating to Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Is That a Problem? – The New York Times

Even had she not raised more money than her rivals, Tali Farhadian Weinstein would be a formidable candidate in the nine-way race to become the Manhattan district attorney, perhaps the most high-profile local prosecutor’s office in the country.

She was a Rhodes scholar, has an elite legal résumé and is the only candidate who has worked for both the Justice Department and a city prosecutor’s office. And while most of the candidates are campaigning as reformers intent on reducing incarceration, Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, 45, has staked out a slightly more conservative position, expressing concerns about guns and gangs.

But what most sets Ms. Farhadian Weinstein apart from the field is her fund-raising. As of January, she had raised $2.2 million, far more than her competitors, hundreds of thousands of it from Wall Street, where her husband is a major hedge fund manager.

Her opponents, legal ethicists and good government advocates have raised questions about that support, pointing out that the Manhattan district attorney, by virtue of geography, has jurisdiction over a large number of financial crimes.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:l

Is there an established mechanism where this talented female lawyer could recuse herself, if a case involves one of her major donors? I just watched the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and it was an eye opener. Gordon Gecko teaches Bud Fox, that only good trade is more or less guaranteed by insider information. But I digress slightly. Ms. Weinstein has much more on her long resume, than just finacial support from a few rich friends who are hedge-fund investors.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Editorial | You’ve Heard About Gerrymandering. What Happens When It Involves Prisons? – The New York Times

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Credit…Illustration by Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times; photograph by Getty Images

“Where do you live? For most people, that’s an easy question to answer when the census comes around. It’s much harder for those locked up in a state or federal prison, often hundreds or even thousands of miles from the place they last called home.

Longstanding Census Bureau policy is to count people as residing wherever they usually eat and sleep, known as the “usual residence” rule. For prisoners, that means being counted in the legislative districts where they are incarcerated.

But that makes no sense, because virtually everyone who goes to prison comes from somewhere else, and almost all will return there after being released. While they are behind bars, they can’t vote, nor do they have any attachment to the local community or its elected officials. They are counted, even though they can’t hold their representatives accountable.

The result is one of the more persistent and pernicious distortions in the redistricting process, known as “prison gerrymandering.” Now that the 2020 census count is over, and the nation begins its decennial struggle over how to draw new congressional and other legislative district lines — and who gains or loses political power as a result — it’s a good time to talk about how we can get rid of prison gerrymandering at last.” . . .

Charles M. Blow | ‘Awful but Lawful’ – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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“Along with many others, I have long argued that the reason so few police officers are ever charged in their killings of unarmed Black people (and few of those charged are ever convicted) is that our legal system has effectively rendered those killings legal. This is the case regardless of how horrendous the killings are or how much evidence, including video, makes clear what took place.

The defense in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd raised this very concept Wednesday when questioning Sgt. Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department use-of-force expert who was a witness for the prosecution.

Eric Nelson, an attorney for Chauvin, asked if Sergeant Stiger had ever had anything to do with a training called “awful but lawful, or lawful but awful.” He said that he had. Nelson continued his questioning: “The general concept is that sometimes the use of force, it looks really bad, right, and sometimes it may be so, it may be caught on video, right, and it looks bad, right?”

Sergeant Stiger responds, “yes.”

Nelson then says, “But, it is still lawful.”

The officer concludes, “Yes, based on that department’s policies or based on that state’s law.” “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Charles Blow. It seems that awful should not be lawful. You stop someone for the equivalent of jay walking, and then, if they try to run, you execute them with your gun. How do we make awful unlawful?

Their Lawsuit Prevented 400,000 Deportations. Now It’s Biden’s Call. – The New York Times

 
 

“Cristina Morales got the news that she was going to lose her legal right to live and work in the United States via text. The news devastated Morales. But the texts from her friends arrived while Morales, who was then 37, was at the Catholic school where she ran the after-school program. She believed that part of her job was to create a safe place for children, so she said nothing about her despair at work. “You need to have a happy face,” she told me. “No matter how bad you feel.”

Morales kept up the pretense in the car with her family on the way home. As her 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter sang in the back seat, she swallowed her tears and tried not to look at her husband. Their children had no idea that Morales was not an American citizen. She and her husband didn’t talk about her status because they didn’t want to taint the kids’ lives with fear. Only a handful of people knew that Morales was a beneficiary of a program called Temporary Protected Status (T.P.S.), which allows some immigrants to reside in the United States while their home countries are in crisis. About 411,000 immigrants had T.P.S. in 2020. More than half of them came from El Salvador, like Morales. The rest emigrated from Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.

Less than a year after President Donald Trump took office, his administration began to dismantle the program. Over the course of eight months in 2017 and 2018, the Department of Homeland Security ordered the departure of 98 percent of T.P.S. recipients by canceling the designation for every country except Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In a January 2018 news release, the Department of Homeland Security announced Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s decision to terminate T.P.S. for El Salvador, stating that “the original conditions” that prompted the designation in 2001 “no longer exist.” That’s when Morales received the life-changing texts.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Marcela Valdes for a complicated and depressing but well reported story. Just yesterday, I called for closing the US border to all illegal immigration, and yet, in this article, you reminded me of all the damage we did in Central America in the last 50 years in the name of anti-communism. There is plenty of blood on our hands, and in many ways, we contributed mightily to the failed states that now push thousands of their people to seek safety here. This story, much of which I once knew, as a young resister to the war in Vietnam and and critic of our support of fascists in Central and South America. The extraordinary problem, is how do you fix such broken countries, when our money and support was often part of the problem, not the solution. We need, perhaps, to set some limit to how many refugees from the south we will accommodate, while making generous, our commitment to restoring order and democracy in these states whose failure we were partly responsible for.

David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

The Editorial Board | Governor Cuomo, End Long-Term Solitary Confinement – The New York Times

By The Editorial BoardThe editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.March 25, 2021The State of New York stands poised to overhaul the use of solitary confinement in its prisons and jails — a practice widely recognized as inhumane, arbitrary and counterproductive.Last week, state legislators passed the HALT (Humane Alternatives to Long-Term) Solitary Confinement Act, aimed at restricting the conditions under which inmates are held in isolation, including limiting confinement to no more than 15 consecutive days. The bill passed both the Senate and the Assembly with a supermajority of support and now awaits action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He should move promptly to sign the reforms into law. The new restrictions would take effect a year after the bill becomes law.Despite piles of research detailing the brutal physical and psychological toll exacted by solitary confinement, it is a common form of discipline. New York correctional employees have wide discretion to throw people into “the box,” as Special Housing Units are known, where inmates spend 23 hours a day in a tiny space cut off from most human contact. Signs that someone belongs to a gang can land them in the box. So can “eyeballing” a guard.

Ian Manuel | I Survived 18 Years in Solitary Confinement – The New York Times

Mr. Manuel is an author, activist and poet. When he was 14 years old, he was sentenced to life in prison with no parole and spent 18 years in solitary confinement. His forthcoming memoir, “My Time Will Come,” details these experiences.

“Imagine living alone in a room the size of a freight elevator for almost two decades.

As a 15-year-old, I was condemned to long-term solitary confinement in the Florida prison system, which ultimately lasted for 18 consecutive years. From 1992 to 2010. From age 15 to 33. From the end of the George H.W. Bush administration to the beginnings of the Obama era.

For 18 years I didn’t have a window in my room to distract myself from the intensity of my confinement. I wasn’t permitted to talk to my fellow prisoners or even to myself. I didn’t have healthy, nutritious food; I was given just enough to not die.

These circumstances made me think about how I ended up in solitary confinement.

In the summer of 1990, shortly after finishing seventh grade, I was directed by a few older kids to commit a robbery. During the botched attempt, I shot a woman. She suffered serious injuries to her jaw and mouth but survived. It was reckless and foolish on my part, the act of a 13-year-old in crisis, and I’m simply grateful no one died.

For this I was arrested and charged as an adult with armed robbery and attempted murder.

My court-appointed lawyer advised me to plead guilty, telling me that the maximum sentence would be 15 years. So I did. But my sentence wasn’t 15 years — it was life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

Nicholas Kristof | How to Reduce Shootings – (regulate gun like cars) -The New York Times

“America has been shaken by new mass shootings, in Georgia and Colorado, with at least 18 people killed. This essay originally ran in 2017, after a shooter killed 26 people in a Texas church, but the issue is still tragically relevant — and will remain so until America tightens its gun safety policies.

America has more guns than any other country

The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns — roughly one for every citizen — and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.”

Opinion | When the Filibuster Turns Deadly – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

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Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

“You may have heard that the House just passed a couple of very, very moderate gun safety bills. They now go to the Senate, where Republicans are hoping to let them molder forever in a closet somewhere.

But hey, maybe not. The mood in Washington is different these days. Spring is in the air! A $1.9 trillion relief program is on the books! If the Senate Democrats overcome a filibuster to tighten our gun laws — even the tiniest bit — we can tell ourselves that nothing is impossible.

The gun bills are part of the Democrats’ post-coronavirus agenda, and the debate began the way most such arguments begin, with opponents claiming that making it more difficult to purchase deadly weapons will lead to more crime. Because, see, you need a weapon in your house to scare off murderous intruders.” . . .