Wow, what a lot of changes are happening. I don’t remember seeing so many changes happening at once. I think I’ll start with the changes going on with me and my blog.

I have decided to cancel the payment for my website and blog. As I currently understand it I can continue with the hosting now being free but the URL will become much longer and you as a reader may start getting ads from my hosting company. There have been very few people visiting the site so I couldn’t justify paying the nominal fee to keep the domain, or the not so nominal fee for the email addresses and site hosting linked to the domain. I had some surgery in May and though my insurance covered most of it my deductible is high enough that it would have derailed some plans for late 2021. Those plans have already been postponed a couple of times so I felt if I could put the money I was paying for the website to those plans to keep them going, it was worth the change. I actually thought I would have to take the site down but today found a way to keep it alive without costing me money.

So now, if COVID doesn’t derail plans that far out, I may be able to do at least some of what I had planned for retirement.

There are also some changes going on in my family. My son-in-law is a member of the armed forces. Just as COVID was starting up he had been given a transfer out of country. This isn’t a deployment, this is a three year assignment. My daughter and grandson have gone with him. I’m not sure what is important about him doing the job, but he received permission to travel for some training involved with it during the DOD travel ban. There were only two people from his previous base who were just starting the process of making changes that received permission to carry through with those plans. They are now at the overseas location in quarantine until they will be permitted to set things up for them to live there for a few years while he does this job. My daughter and grandson spent much of the social distancing time living with some of his family within 15 miles of us. We did get to visit with them from time to time recently, since we probably won’t be seeing them in person for the next three years, I’m glad for the visits.

Now to talk about the changes based on the elephant in the room. I’ve taken a little grief about trying to give my opinion on this on social media, so I’ve just backed off as I tried to find ways to get it on this blog instead. I just can’t get my ideas across in the limits placed by some social platforms. Some of the changes I never thought I would see.

I never thought I would see federal officers pushing protestors from Lafayette Square to make a photo op possible. I remember when I was in high school a news program taking a look back at some of the unrest in the 1960’s where some White House staff mentioned they would daily hear protestors from The Ellipse while they were doing their work. As I understand it, even though it is a bit farther away from the White House than Lafayette Square, it is on the side of the building that most of the offices are on, especially the President’s office, so the Ellipse was the place to protest in order to be heard. I don’t know if the current closure of The Ellipse is why the protests were happening in Lafayette Square or not.

You have to remember, I’m old enough I remember watching news reports of students being killed at Kent State University. They were near an anti war protest. At least some of them had not been participating in the protest. They were shot by National Guard troops. Recently I’ve seen reports of Federal Officers shooting a protestor standing across the street from a building the officers were supposedly protecting. The video I saw showed him standing there holding a sign or something above his head. This has been long enough ago I would have expected there to be release of more video if the one I saw had been carefully edited to show things very different from what actually happened. The reports I can find say he has a skull fracture. What would be going on now had it not been a “less-lethal” round that hit him. Would it have been Kent State all over again? One big difference, this time it was a Federal Officer who pulled the trigger. I’ve never seen Federal Officers called on in this manner. National Guard is the state militia. Local and state officers face protestors. If the police can’t handle a situation, then the Guard is called in to help. This using Federal Officers is a change I don’t like. I won’t even talk about reports of Feds taking people off the street without due process or apparently any probable cause.

With so many changes I don’t want to see, or thought I would never see, let me talk about where I hope we can take society during the coming months.

I don’t really watch a lot of “First Amendment Auditor” types of videos. For some reason some platforms keep suggesting them to me, especially YouTube. There is one channel I will watch occasionally if the title happens to catch my interest. The channel is about interactions between citizens and police. The creator will give a grade at the end. Sometimes the citizen gets a good grade and sometimes a bad grade. Sometimes the police officer(s) get a good grade and sometimes a bad grade. One that recently caught my attention said something about the Sargent telling them we don’t do things that way.

A man is walking with a gun in view. Since we don’t see the civilian as it is his video being shown for this episode, I don’t know if it was a long gun on his back, or a handgun in a holster. All that is mentioned is he is open carrying, and taking video. The story starts with an officer approaching and asking what the man is doing. The man says just walking on the street outside his house. The officer asks a few questions which the man refuses to answer as he has not been detained or arrested. The two continue to talk in what would be a voluntary interaction. Then another officer from a different agency rolls up and starts barking orders to the man. The man asks for a supervisor. There is a very big difference between the way the first officer approaches the “investigation” and the way the back-up approaches the interaction. The second office seems to feel the man on the street has to prove he is not a criminal of some kind. Once the sergeant from the first officer’s department arrives, he is advised a radio call came about a person with a gun. He asks his officer what he determined. He said the man was walking in front of his house with a gun, he wasn’t brandishing it. The gun was just visible. This is what makes me think it was a handgun in a holster. The supervisor asks if there was a determination of a crime. The officer answered, “no.” The boss then says that is where it should end, and ends the encounter. The guy from the other agency was basically dismissed.

The first office got a good grade but not the best. The grader felt he tried to keep the man on the street longer than needed. The second officer got a failing grade for an attitude that would have escalated a peaceful encounter into something bad had the first officer not been in charge basically by arriving first. The Sargent got an A+ for seeing there had been an investigation that did not determine a crime was being committed and ending the encounter. This is how our system is supposed to work. The police do not need to prove there is no crime, they need to prove a suspicion based on facts that there is a crime. If they have the probable cause then they act on that and let the courts sort out if there was a crime or not. Someone across the street holding a sign or something above their head isn’t probable cause of a crime. It definitely isn’t cause for a skull fracture.

Are there some protestors who are doing things out of line. Yes. Are there police doing things out of line. Yes. Are there some peaceful protestors who are exercising rights granted in the Constitution. Yes. Are there police there to make sure the protests stay peaceful and protect protestors from those that don’t want peace. Yes. One change I would like to see is ways to keep the protests peaceful. I know the more officers like the second one in the audit I mentioned above, the less likely for the protests to remain peaceful. I would like to see political leaders doing things to earn the trust of the protestors and showing good faith in dealing with the situations they are protesting about. We have some places where thugs in uniform are being told to basically end the protests. They are being told the person across the street with no weapon is a threat to them. We need more officers like the first one in the audit. It would be better if they were to just watch and interact when necessary but he at least tried to talk with the man.

Why am I writing so much about this here. Well, I need to get some of it off my chest. I also want to provide some insight.

When the protests become about the response from officers instead of about the systemic bigotry that sparked the protests, then those that don’t want the change sought by protestors, win. I mentioned the shootings at Kent State which happened when I was in junior high. As I remember there were some protests about the shootings but things got back to protests against the war. Eventually that war was ended. It’s too bad those who were protesting against all war didn’t win, but I think that will take changes bigger than what protests can bring about.

Yes, protests against systemic bigotry need to continue. It will take time to achieve getting those things out of the political, governmental, and business systems. They need to be taken out of every level of those systems. Don’t shop at a store if you know them to discriminate against people of certain colors, or who express their sexuality differently than the business owner. Vote with your dollars. In the elections, cast your votes for those at every level that stand for preserving the dignity and rights of all people. When the systemic bigotry is in government, hopefully the political leaders will help remove it. Sometimes just because it is in the rules they can’t be bigots, they do it anyway. That is where protests and/or lawsuits will hopefully get the politicians to abide by and enforce those rules.

Notice I used words like bigotry and discrimination. I cannot think of any form of discrimination based on bigotry that is good of society. The current protests deal with bigotry based on skin color, and we need to do what we can to eliminate that. We also need to eliminate bigotry based on other things like sexual preference. Our laws are supposedly established to help provide for the basic rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These were the basic rights all the rest, including the Constitution, are supposed to try to help us enjoy.

So, to quote David Bowie


(Turn and face the strange)

In our case hopefully the strange we turn to face and possibly enter, will be a society that respects the dignity and rights of all people.

©2018 Michael Yocom 

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