Saturday, July 09, 2016

Army Veteran Was Lone Dallas Gunman

Officers killed in Dallas, Texas
The tragedy in Dallas ought to be a wake up call to America in a number of ways.  The first message, that we have received over and over again is that it ought to be impossible for civilians to purchase military style weapons.   Newtown, Orlando - the list is far too long - all have involve military grade weapons that have one purpose : killing numerous people quickly.  Despite this obvious threat to the majority of Americans and godsend to would be terrorists, thanks to the NRA and prostitute like politicians the sale of such weapons continues unabated, if not at a more rapid rate.  If Ronald Reagan could support a ban on assault rifles, why the Hell can't today's Republicans?  The Washington Post has these details on the Dallas shooter:
“At this time, there appears to have been one gunman with no known links to or inspiration from any international terrorist organization,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday afternoon.
Police said Friday that Micah Xavier Johnson, a black 25-year-old believed to be from the Dallas area, was the attacker. Dallas Mayor S. Mike Rawlings told the Associated Press Johnson used an AR-15 assault weapon in the ambush.
Johnson, who had no criminal history, deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army from November 2013 through July 2014 and was in the Army Reserve from 2009 until last year. Army records show that Johnson, whose home was listed as Mesquite, Tex., had served with an engineering brigade before he was sent to Afghanistan. He did not have a combat job and was listed as a carpentry and masonry specialist.
The Dallas Police Department said Friday that during a search of Johnson’s home, they found “bomb making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics.” Authorities said they were still investigating the journal’s contents.
Texas law allows people to openly carry long firearms.
Johnson’s Facebook page, confirmed by a federal law enforcement official, shows that Johnson made his primary picture an image of himself raising a single fist in the air, a symbol associated with the Black Power movement of the 1960s. He also posted a similar image of a fist with the text, “Black Power.”
The profile also contains a picture of him and Richard Griffin, of the rap group Public Enemy — a point police noted in a statement they released Friday about the case. “The suspect’s Facebook account included the following names and information: Fahed Hassen, Richard GRIFFIN aka Professor Griff, GRIFFIN embraces a radical form of Afrocentrism, and GRIFFIN wrote a book A Warriors Tapestry,” police wrote. They also said others had told them Johnson was a “loner.”
An AR-15 and no criminal record.  The same story we hear over and over again, making it clear that background checks are not enough.  Such rifles need to be banned and those in circulation surrendered as was done in Australia.  No one needs to have such weapons.  For those who like to target shoot, get something else - which requires skill and not just a barrage of bullets.

The second message is that something must be done to address the excessive use of force by police - especially against black Americans.  I have black friends - one is even in law enforcement - who live in fear of being pulled over for something trivial and ending up dead.  Law abiding citizens should not have to live with that kind of constant fear. Yes, the majority of police are good people seeking to do their jobs.  But using arrests and court fees to fund city operations - locally, Norfolk is horrendous in this regard - which drives up the number of needless stops must stop.  Likewise, the "bad apples" need to be weeded out and, in my view, much more psychological screening done before individuals are hired by police forces.  Bullies, authoritarians, and racists have no place on police departments.  Over my life time I have met too many police who were brutish assholes.  If I white attorney can have such experiences, imagine what a young black male experiences.  It needs to stop!!!

To me a third message is that America needs to do more for its military veterans, especially in the area of mental health.  Republicans are always only too quick to send men and women to war, but then don't want to properly fund and equip the troops - making me want to vomit when I hear them lie and claim that they "support our troops.  But the abuse continues once these men and women leave active duty.  Funding is far to low for medical and other care for veterans, especially in the mental health realm in the wake of horrible wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan.   If GOP blowhards in Congress will not properly fund all aspects of the wars they love to launch, then they need to shut up and never mutter a word about wanting "boots on the ground."  They need a boot of their asses and, ideally, a defeat in the next election cycle.

OK, my rant is over.

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