- North Charleston
- Ferguson Elections
- Violent Crime
- Pine Lawn Revisited
- Macks Creek Revision
1. North Charleston
A little bit more information has come out in relation to the murder of a suspect in South Carolina by a North Charleston officer. None of it is remotely exonerating toward the officer. The officer should have been brought up on charges, and he has been. In reference to specific charges, there has been some discussion regarding what charges to bring. Most states reference first degree murder as an unlawful killing occurring with “malice and forethought.” For example, I realize my wife is having an affair, so I cut her brake-line resulting in a fatal crash. I committed to killing her and planned to do so.
In contrast, second degree murder is typically indicative of a crime involving spur of the moment decision making and passion. For example, I walk in on my wife cheating on me and shoot her with the gun in the closet. I was reacting out of rage which doesn’t justify the incident but it does mitigate it from a planned, deliberate killing. From this perspective, it is probably the closest option to what happened in North Charleston. It will be supremely unfortunate (and a bit ironic) if the community’s hyper focus for a first degree murder charge ultimately results in an acquittal.
With that said, I have noticed a number of people trying to make the deceased out to be some kind of hero which I find inappropriate, just as it was with Michael Brown. That’s not to degrade the status of the deceased as a victim in any way, but simply recognition that not every victim is a hero. For example, even if Michael Brown had been murdered fitting the false narrative of the Canfield community, his funeral, including horse drawn carriage, was garish and inappropriate. He wasn’t Rosa Parks as much as the Ferguson Twitter Brigade would like to narcissistically believe that they are the neo-civil rights movement.
2. Ferguson Elections
Ferguson elected two new black city council people and one new white city council person. Each seat was vacant due to the resignation of the former position holders. In other words, no one in this election had an incumbent advantage… with one sort of exception relating to one person. The white individual to win a seat was none other than Ferguson’s former mayor, Brian Fletcher. In between making some silly comments about the lack of racial divide in the city, Mr. Fletcher has been responsible for the “I *heart* Ferguson” charity which to this point has donated around $50,000 dollars to the community with supposedly much more on the way.
Mr. Fletcher’s victory in this race was also notable due to the fact that he was being put up against protester supported candidate and live streamer, Bob Hudgins. Hudgins has some interesting footage of the night of the Grand Jury decision all from S. Florissant. However, he includes the same tiresome Ferguson Twitter Brigade commentary track either ignorantly not understanding what is going on or willfully lying about what is going on in order to make the police seem at fault.
In this case, Mr. Hudgins fails to reference molotovs being thrown at the bearcat vehicles moving up the street (someone else off camera references them as bottles) and then trying to pretend the resulting tear gas is somehow unjustified. I say molotovs as evidenced by the smoke appearing behind the vehicles as something has apparently caught fire immediately following the descent of the bottles. Mr. Hudgins also fails to reference the gunfire throughout the area including directly behind Andy Wurm following the announcement. To be fair, he also fails to acknowledge the looting that broke out in the immediate aftermath of the “no true bill” announcement, a lot of which initially took place literally across the street from where he is in this video.
“They haven’t learned a goddamn thing.”
After the night of 11/24/14, only a few people have attempted to continue to pretend that police response caused the violence that night, and Mr. Hudgins is one of them.
Specific council seat races aside, the voter turnout went from like 12-15% to around 29%. Depending on who you ask, this is either a super impressive improvement or a damning condemnation of the political apathy in the community. The fact that 29% is near double the regular turnout is supposed to be impressive, particularly when viewed against the much lower turnouts in many of the surrounding municipalities. However, the surrounding municipalities haven’t been alleging for months that the police, city government, and city courts have been murdering young black boys for no reason. If murder can’t get the vote out higher than 29%, then nothing can.
It is also interesting to note that there has been no discussion of whether the new 15% of voters are newly registered voters or simply registered voters who decided to show up this time. Demographics of the new 15% are also unclear. With the remaining rate of 12-15% even those numbers couldn’t possibly make up the entire white population of Ferguson voters.
3. Violent Crime
The City Police recently put out numbers for the first three months of 2015. Unsurprisingly, violent crime is out of control. Specifically, in comparison to last year at this time:
- Homicide is up 6.1%.
- Robbery is up 51.5%
- Aggravated Assault involving a firearm is up 58.5%
- Total Crime is up 22%
The County is a much more difficult beast to examine due to the mixture of municipal jurisdictions which don’t count toward the County Police stats (excluding those venues which contract with the County for police). Ferguson specifically has had at least three murders confirmed within their city limits since Mike Brown died. A number of others have possibly occurred within the city limits with the body being transported elsewhere. Furthermore, there is still nothing further on the reports of at least two people who supposedly died at the hospital after being transported from Ferguson protests. The names of the confirmed homicides in Ferguson are as follows:
- DeAndre Joshua
- Robin Poindexter
- Gary Denwood
Obviously, focusing on the dead excludes those whose murder was attempted, like the two officers in front of the PD. There is also a community wide (everyone, not just people in North County, or the police) callousness toward those on the receiving end of gunfire not resulting in injury or death. Atlas shrugs and no one cares. We have all become utterly desensitized.
There are a lot of theories for the increase in crime. There appears to be some grain of truth in most speculations that I’ve heard. Lots of people are scared and incidents like what happened in South Carolina cause people to be just as scared of the police as they are of the gangbangers shooting up their neighborhoods. We have to find a balance. Reforms in policing are meaningless if violent crime explodes in the interim or as a result of thoughtless efforts.
4. Pine Lawn Revisited
Meanwhile, in Pine Lawn, embattled Mayor Sylvester Caldwell appeared in Federal Court in reference to his extortion charge alleging that his actions were merely bribery, because they lacked an element of force. If that sounds like a silly defense, that’s because it is. It’s the equivalent of arguing that you stole from someone but didn’t commit robbery because your crime didn’t involve force. Either way you’re still admitting to the commission of a crime.
By fighting the offense in reference to terminology, it seems like Mr. Caldwell’s attorneys are hoping for a Hail Mary acquittal at the Federal level which they can then use to argue double jeopardy protections should the State try to charge him in reference to the numerous admissions to RSMO 576.040 for Official Misconduct, which reads:
“1. A public servant, in such person’s public capacity or under color of such person’s office or employment, commits the offense of official misconduct if he or she:
(2) Knowingly demands or receives any fee or reward for the execution of any official act or the performance of a duty imposed by law or by the terms of his or her employment, that is not due, or that is more than is due, or before it is due;
(3) Knowingly collects taxes when none are due, or exacts or demands more than is due;”
Even if the double jeopardy game worked on the one count of extortion, it seems that there are so many possible counts/incidents of official misconduct that such an action will be inconsequential. Exclude the one where the extortion issue is called into question and charge Mr. Caldwell with the thirty other incidents.
5. Macks Creek Revision
Macks Creek is the law which sets the percentage of revenue a municipality may generate from tickets and court costs. The current percentage is 30%, recently down from 35%. A bill that just passed the state house seeks to lower that number even further to 10%.
While I think percentage based legislation in this area leaves too much leeway as opposed to fine caps in real numbers, this legislation is a step in the right direction. There also seems to be an unstated goal of bleeding out many of the small municipalities most reliant on tickets over other revenue sources.
Unfortunately, Ferguson proved just how spread thin the County Police are. Without a plan for how to suddenly police a large number of venues (many of which have severe crime problems), the result seems to damn the residents of these north county areas to even greater lawlessness than is already being experienced.
My recommendation would be for some prior plan for muni consolidation, but many of these mayors are already attempting to fight Macks Creek as it is already implemented. This is not the behavior of small governments who are willing to disolve without a fight.