Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology.

Tonight Wednesday Nov. 26, 7p.m. AETN is showing the splendid film “My Life As a Turkey” again.

My blog:   War Department/Peace Department
My Newsletters:
Visit OMNI’s Library.

See Vegetarian Action Newsletters.


Contents #5, Thanksgiving Day Nov. 27, 2014, National Day of Gratitude, Mourning, and Atonement; Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day, Nov. 28.

President Obama’s Proclamation
Chuck Norris’s Criticism: Too Little Christian
    Faith or Pilgrims
Coates, Obama’s Proclamation and Ferguson Police
    and Mob Violence

De Hernandez, Day of Atonement
Day of Mourning and Atonement: Google Search

Turkey’s Point of View
AETN Knows: “My Life As a Turkey”
Tonight Wednesday Nov. 26, 7p.m. AETN is showing this splendid film again.  Did you know wild turkeys can speak a dozen languages?   Don’t miss it.(See Newsletter #3)  Also tonight following that film:  An Original Duckumentary” and “The Private Life of Deer.”
Silvano, Turkey Trouble
Mayr, Run, Turkey, Run!
Yoon, Five Silly Turkeys
Bateman, A Plump and Perky Turkey
Slater, The Best Turkey Ever!

Black Friday/Buy Nothing Day
Rev. Billy
Gift of Peace
Code Pink: 12 Ways to Occupy Black Friday
Recent OMNI Newsletters
Previous Mourning and Atonement Day Newsletters


The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
November 26, 2014
Presidential Proclamation -- Thanksgiving Day, 2014

- - - - - - -


Thanksgiving Day invites us to reflect on the blessings we enjoy and the freedoms we cherish.  As we gather with family and friends to take part in this uniquely American celebration, we give thanks for the extraordinary opportunities we have in a Nation of limitless possibilities, and we pay tribute to all those who defend our Union as members of our Armed Forces.  This holiday reminds us to show compassion and concern for people we have never met and deep gratitude toward those who have sacrificed to help build the most prosperous Nation on earth.  These traditions honor the rich history of our country and hold us together as one American family, no matter who we are or where we come from.

Nearly 400 years ago, a group of Pilgrims left their homeland and sailed across an ocean in pursuit of liberty and prosperity.  With the friendship and kindness of the Wampanoag people, they learned to harvest the rich bounty of a new world. 
Together, they shared a successful crop, celebrating bonds of community during a time of great hardship.  Through times of war and of peace, the example of a Native tribe who extended a hand to a new people has endured.  During the American Revolution and the Civil War, days of thanksgiving drew Americans together in prayer and in the spirit that guides us to better days, and in each year since, our Nation has paused to show our gratitude for our families, communities, and country.

With God's grace, this holiday season we carry forward the legacy of our forebears.  In the company of our loved ones, we give thanks for the people we care about and the joy we share, and we remember those who are less fortunate.  At shelters and soup kitchens, Americans give meaning to the simple truth that binds us together:  we are our brother's and our sister's keepers.  We remember how a determined people set out for a better world -- how through faith and the charity of others, they forged a new life built on freedom and opportunity.

The spirit of Thanksgiving is universal.  It is found in small moments between strangers, reunions shared with friends and loved ones, and in quiet prayers for others.  Within the heart of America's promise burns the inextinguishable belief that together we can advance our common prosperity -- that we can build a more hopeful, more just, and more unified Nation.  This Thanksgiving, let us recall the values that unite our diverse country, and let us resolve to strengthen these lasting ties.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 2014, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.  I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

WorldNetDaily (WND), Chuck Norris’s criticism of President Obama for little attention to God or faith.
Sunday, November 23, 2014 ... In 2013, President Obama's Thanksgiving Address didn't give a single mention of the pilgrims, their Christian ...
[A google search 11-26-14 for President Obama’s Thanksgiving 2014 Proclamation showed a majority of entries on Obama’s lack of reference to faith or God and contrasts to George Washington’s proclamation.  –Dick]

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid.  Violence works. Nonviolence does too. 
Noah Berger/AP
In a recent dispatch from Ferguson, Missouri, Jelani Cobb noted that President Obama's responses to "unpunished racial injustices" constitute "a genre unto themselves." Monday night, when Barack Obama stood before the nation to interpret the non-indictment of Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, he offered a particularly tame specimen. The elements of "the genre" were all on display—an unmitigated optimism, an urge for calm, a fantastic faith in American institutions, an even-handedness exercised to a fault. But if all the limbs of the construct were accounted for, the soul of the thing was not.  CONTINUE

November 24, 2011, By
Thanksgiving as a Day of Atonement
The founding myth of Thanksgiving is the fateful meal shared by the indigenous peoples of Massachusetts with the starving English Pilgrims. The Pilgrims “gave thanks” at that meal for the generosity of their hosts, and thus was born the tradition of a November Thanksgiving feast.
To my way of thinking, Thanksgiving should actually be a day of atonement marked by fasting, in the spirit of Yom Kippur, Lent or Ramadan.
We Euramericans should be reflecting and repenting on this day for the way our ancestors turned on their Native hosts, once the time of starvation was past.
We repaid their kind welcome with a shameful record of stealing, swindling, enslavement, displacement and deliberate infection.
We waged vicious war that slaughtered children and old people along with warriors both male and female.
We occupied their lands without a second thought, and proceeded to cut the primeval forests to make room for our livestock, roads and cities.
This pattern started with the Puritan Pilgrims in Massachusetts, and spread inexorably West, all the way to California and Texas, where indeed the brutal work had already been begun by the Spanish.
I don’t really expect Americans to give up the tradition of the jolly Thanksgiving feast.
But we do need to be mindful of the real historical background behind the custom of gathering to celebrate with family and friends.
American Thanksgiving is a holiday that honors the spirit of sharing the bounty. When we dig into that heaped plate today, we should be giving thanks to the rich Earth that has nourished human beings for millennia, and for the Native peoples of this continent, who learned how to live in harmony with the flora and fauna of this place, cultivating the first corn, beans and squash, and craftily culling the abundant indigenous turkeys.
And we should pause in our feast to reflect on the ignoble history that unfolded after that original Thanksgiving in Plymouth MA, where America repaid her hosts not with honor, but with persecution, scorn and hate.
In the act of repentance springs redemption.  The indigenous people of this continent are not gone–they are alive and well and living among us. Let us raise a glass to them today and give them the honor and thanks they deserve.
Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez teaches comparative literature and gender studies with an activist bent at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA and blogs at Transition Times.

National Museum of the American Indian
Thanksgiving, particularly of the event's Native American participants. ... that are central to understanding both American Indians and the deeper meaning.
National Museum of the American Indian
Nov 26, 2013 - This year, we're including additional readers' thoughts on Thanksgiving, the first lesson about American Indian history most non-Native children ...
The organizers consider the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day as a ... The protest is organized by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE).
THANKSGIVING: A Day of Mourning By Roy Cook. Most school children are taught thatNative Americans helped the Pilgrims and were invited to the first ...
Discover the meaning of Thanksgiving from the Native American Indian side.
UAINE and the history of National Day of Mourning: In 1970, United American Indiansof New England declared US Thanksgiving Day a National Day of ...
Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians. by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro. Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New ...
Teaching Tolerance
For some Native AmericansThanksgiving is no cause for celebration, but rather serves as a reminder of colonization's devastating impact on indigenous ... › ... › Race Relations › History of Race Relations
For many Americans, Thanksgiving means family, food and football. For others, particularly Native Americans, the day is one of mourning. So, should ...

TURKEYS SHOULD BE THE NATIONAL BIRD, BUT INSTEAD: THANKSGIVING.  Let the Children Think about it.   (See Newsletter #3)
See all 2 images
Turkey Trouble 
by Wendi Silvano Lee Harper  (Illustrator)
Get the Kindle Edition for just $0.99 when you buy the new print edition of this book. Learn more about 
Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it's almost Thanksgiving . . . and you're the main course. But Turkey has an idea--what if he doesn't look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead?
After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever!
Wendi Silvano's comical story is perfectly matched by Lee Harper's watercolors.
[See Vegetarian newsletters.]   cite new book on why we eat some animals and not others

Run, Turkey, Run! 
by Diane Mayr Laura Rader (Illustrator)
Thanksgiving is only a day away. Can Turkey find a place to hide from the farmer searching for a plump bird for his feast? If the farmer doesn’t fall for his tricks, there’s only one think left to do . . . run, Turkey, run!

Five Silly Turkeys Board book
by Salina Yoon  (Author, Illustrator)
Toddlers will love the silly Thanksgiving turkeys in this fun counting book full of silly turkeys doing very silly things!  From twirling on a dance floor to being chased by a bee to tanning in the sun, these are no ordinary Thanksgiving turkeys.  And at just $5.99, this shiny fabric–tabbed book is a holiday treat that is sure to be gobbled up quickly.

 Flip to back

A Plump And Perky Turkey 
Turkeys around Squawk Valley just don't jump into pots anymore—they are way too smart for that. So the townspeople hatch a clever plan. They host a turkey-themed arts and crafts fair and lure a vain bird into town by advertising for an artist's model. Peter the Turkey, proud of his well-stuffed form, takes the bait but doesn't fall for the trap.

The Best Thanksgiving Ever! 
by Teddy Slater  (Author), Ethan Long (Illustrator)
A sweet story about the importance of family, being thankful, and love--as told by a family of turkeys, with a hilarious surprise at the end!

"It's late in November, the blue sky is clear,
and Thanksgiving Day is finally here.
So many hugs and so many kisses.
So many 'Happy Thanksgiving' wishes."

A family gathers to celebrate all that they're grateful for. But wait, there's a twist! This funny, rhyming read-aloud story features turkeys who celebrate Thanksgiving! The Turkey clan arrives from all over the world, excited for their annual feast. But what will they eat?


 Give the gift of peace this Black Friday
John Isaacs & Guy Stevens via 
Nov 29

to James

Dear Dick,
It’s Black Friday today, which means that by the time you read this, many will have been out shopping for hours already, braving crowded malls and long lines to get an early start on holiday shopping.
As an alternative to the holiday crush, here’s an opportunity to give a truly special gift this holiday season.
Starting today, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in honor of a loved one. This is a way to “give the gift of peace” – to allow a friend or family member to share in the Center’s efforts to enhance international peace and security.
The Center is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that works to educate the public and members of Congress on national security issues such as nuclear weapons policy, the Pentagon budget, the Iranian nuclear issue, and the war in Afghanistan. Your tax-deductible contribution allows the Center to continue its work to promote smarter national security policy in the 21st century.
To give this special gift, click here and fill out the donation form. Make sure you check “I would like to dedicate this gift,” and follow the instructions from there.
The recipient of your gift will get an e-mail letting them know that a gift has been made in their name.
Thanks for your continued support of our efforts to promote international peace and security. We’d like to wish you a great start to the holiday season.
Best wishes,
John Isaacs & Guy Stevens
Council for a Livable World

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From: David Druding <>
Date: Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 8:50 PM
Subject: rev billy performed credit card exorcisms at Walmart world headquarters in Bentonville
ld & Weird: The Shopocalypse and the Earthalujah Revival
Reverend BillyPreachers thundering out messages of damnation and salvation to passionate crowds have a long, storied history. Theirs is a fire-and-brimstone tradition that lives on in modern America -- for instance, in the wild-eyed sermons of a certain "Reverend Billy."

Accompanied by his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, the good reverend rails against the evils of corporate greed and consumerism and the damage being caused to the planet as a result. He likes to preach to large crowds on Black Friday in order to deliver them out of the "Shopocalypse" and into a more sustainable "life after shopping." Rev. Billy performs credit card exorcisms, connects consumerism to climate change, and asks, "What unsustainably produced sweat-shop items would Jesus buy?"

He's been arrested more than 70 times delivering his message in major shopping centers from Times Square to Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. 

But you don't have to be one of Rev. Billy's congregants to think about boycotting Black Friday this year and saying no to rampant overbuying. Check out his website and watch this interview

Recent OMNI Newsletters
Police Violence   11-25
Investigative Journalism  11-21
UN Children’s Day  11-19
Vegetarian Action  11-12
Armistice Day  11-11

Contents of Mourning and Atonement/Buy Nothing #1 Nov. 25, 2010
Dick Bennett:  Thanksgiving, National Days, Immigrants, Native Americans
Robert Jensen:  Thanksgiving should be Day of Mourning
Thanksgiving Dinner Over the Bones of Native Americans
Rabbi Waskow: Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the Chicago 8, Anti-War Activists
Humane Farm Animal Care:  Finding a Certified Humane Turkey This Thanksgiving

Contents of Mourning and Atonement/Buy Nothing #2 Nov. 24, 2011
Thanksgiving and Native Americans
Thanksgiving and African Americans
Thanksgiving and Genocide
Turkey Holocaust Day
Food Waste During Thanksgiving/Christmas Holidays

Contents of Mourning and Atonement/Buy Nothing #3 2012
President Obama 2012 and 2011
Misc Commentary
Shopping on Thanksgiving
Celebration of Wild Turkeys
Joe Hutto, Turkey Mother, Interview

Black Friday/Buy Nothing

Contents #4 Mourning and Atonement/Buy Nothing Day Nov. 28 and 29, 2013


Tuesday, November 25, 2014



(#1 August 17, 2014; #2 September 3, 2014)

What’s at stake: Those who pay the cost of these policies [racism, poverty, militarization], are disproportionally young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, local police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest such tragedies as the Mike Brown killing. . . . We need to challenge policies – at every level, from the school house to the State House, from Missouri to Washington DC – that disproportionately incarcerate people of color  and boost profits for corporations running jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. We also must challenge media when they stigmatize youth of color instead of acknowledging their humanity.    AFSC (below).

See: Militarism, Nonviolence, Violence,

Contents US Police Newsletter #3
Responses to Ferguson, MO, Police Violence
Ferguson, MO:  OMNI Demonstrates for Justice and Nonviolence
November 25, 2014 at Courthouse, Dickson and College, 12 to 1
OMNI, October 25, 2014, March from UA to Courthouse
ACLU, Ban Racial Profiling
Amnesty International Observers to Ferguson
Dan Cantor, Working Families, Rally and Petition Pres. Obama and AG Holder
Devereux, The Intercept:  Analysis of the Ferguson Shooting
Rothkopf, Georgia Police Shoot Handcuffed Man
AFSC, From Militarization to Ferguson to Peace
Michael Niman, From Reagan to Ferguson
Steinmetz, Veterans for Peace v. Police Militarization
Koebler, Military-Local Police Fusion
Of Schools, 4 plus 64 Reports
Previous Police Newsletters (together they offer an anthology of reports and analyses)


OMNI Center - What to Know
Join Our Mailing List!

Fayetteville For Ferguson No Indictment Response  
Tuesday Nov 25  - 12:00-2:00
Corner of College and Dickson

A profoundly terrible event has been made worse by refusal to hold perpetrators accountable. 

Protesters will gather in front of the Washington County Courthouse to register our support for right to life and dignity for all people, and insistence that police be held accountable for their conduct.  You are invited to attend.

Bring posters that reflect the message that "ALL LIVES MATTER."  

Four courageous and trained protesters will risk arrest at this event. Michael Brown was shot for walking in the road, and they will be blocking College Avenue for a period of time to point out that freedom and democracy can't survive in a police state.  We may be inconvenienced for a few minutes on the road, but all across the country mothers are weeping for children who have died needlessly, by the hands of a police structure that grants immunity for the death of black children, and turns a blind eye to the horrendous pain it causes.

The Civil Rights Roundtable has been working with the Fayetteville Police Department to make this a respectful and effective statement. We want to thank them for their professionalism and cooperation.  We're not perfect, but if Ferguson were lucky enough to have our police force things would be different.  

What is happening right now is shocking, but the anger exploding  is coming from long hurt that has been exacerbated by the foolish responses from decision makers in Missouri.  Let those who believe in freedom never be afraid to defend human rights.

 A good article in the Fayetteville Free Zone explains this well

Join the facebook event here and get more information:

OMNI Center's legal defense fund is accepting donations at their webpage at Use the regular donation button, and be sure to look for the line on the bottom of the donation form to put notes.  Say "legal fund" please.

 Omni Center Invitation to Solidarity March on October 25, 2014
Partnering to Protect Human Rights for All
Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

October 22 is the national day of protest against police brutality. The community of Fayetteville will stand in solidarity with Ferguson and other areas who have suffered from these issues, but we also want to highlight the city of Fayetteville Police Department's and the University of Arkansas Police Department's efforts towards becoming more accountable to the communities they serve.

The program will begin at the University of Arkansas Union at 9:00 AM for a presentation including Tina Gaston of ‪#‎HandsUpNWA. The Solidarity march will follow, beginning at the University of Arkansas courtyard and following the sidewalks of Dickson Street. The march is set to end at the Washington County Court House. 
8:28pm Oct 25
The policeman Daniel who marched with us, and ran ahead to block intersections.... when he got ready to leave he told me "I am really honored to be here."
A guest editorial by Tina Gaston, co-founder of #HandsUpNWA and a key organizer of today's Solidarit...

BREAKING: Decision in Ferguson
Anthony D. Romero, ACLU  Nov. 25, 2014  Action via 

to James

ACLU Action
Please note: If you forward or distribute, the links will open a page with your information filled in.

Dear James,

You've probably already heard the news. The grand jury in Missouri failed to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown.

Events in Ferguson have brought the broader problems we face into painful relief, inspiring profound anger and frustration from communities around the country – I feel it too. We've all heard this story too many times, and it's easy to feel like there's nothing left to be done. But we can't stop here.

This is exactly the right moment to stand together and push for police accountability and systemic change. We can't lose another young Black person at the hands of the police. And we need to end racial profiling, excessive force, and unconstitutional policing practices.

Will you join me in urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release official Guidance that would ban racial profiling by law enforcement officers?

Michael Brown's death is a tragic loss to his family, community, and this nation. But because of this tragedy, and the protests that followed, national leaders are finally paying attention to racial profiling and discriminatory policing.

We must not allow the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed individuals across this nation to be in vain. With enough widespread public pressure we can push our leaders to implement effective structural changes and transform policing across the country. It's about time.

The DOJ should release this racial profiling Guidance immediately – and make it enforceable, not only on the Federal level but also with state and local law enforcement agencies.

We can all carry the Ferguson movement in our hearts. I was inspired by the leadership of young Black men and women who organized peaceful protests in response to Michael Brown's killing, and who stood up and proclaimed: We are not the enemy.

Together we demand mutual respect from law enforcement and elected officials towards communities who are routinely and disproportionately targeted by police violence – particularly Black youth. Too many lives have been lost and too many continue to be endangered.

It's time for the DOJ to finally address the problem of racial profiling by law enforcement agencies – both in policy and practice.

Thank you for taking action,

Anthony for the ACLU Action team

P.S. Participating in peaceful demonstrations against the verdict in your town or city? Know your rights before you leave your home — and share the information with others.
Please note: If you forward or distribute, the links will open a page with your information filled in.
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Amnesty International USA Action Alert   template image        
 We must bring human rights home

 Get Involved
Share for human rights

In August, Police Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death. Today, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Officer Wilson.

The community response leading up to, and likely to follow, the grand jury decision marks a pivotal moment in U.S. history — a moment of passion, frustration, and activism.

Officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must ensure that each individual's human rights — including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest — are respected, protected and fulfilled.

It's time to bring human rights home.

Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter.
Dear James,

Today, a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in August.

The community response to Mike Brown's death, and the response that is likely still to come, mark a pivotal moment in the human rights movement and in U.S. history.

It's a moment of passion, of frustration, and of activism.

It's within this moment that officials in Ferguson and throughout the United States must stand up to ensure that each individual's human rights — including the right to freely express themselves in the form of peaceful protest — are respected, protected and fulfilled.

That's why Amnesty International’s human rights observer delegation is on the ground in Ferguson today: to monitor the protests and law enforcement’s response.

Amnesty is calling upon law enforcement officers to facilitate peaceful protests.

We are calling on them to bear in mind their role as partners and protectors of community, seeking to do no harm.

We are calling on them to protect peaceful assemblies, even if a small minority tries to turn a peaceful protest into a violent one.

That's what human rights looks like.

As I write this, I'm making final preparations to head to Ferguson, representing Amnesty’s commitment to protecting the human rights of all people —  including the one pictured in this email. This little boy reminds us that his life, and all lives, matter.

While we can't all be in Ferguson in this moment, we can stand in solidarity with those exercising their right to peaceful protest today.

As you share this image in support of peaceful protest on Twitter and Facebook, we ask that you remember the human rights of boys like this one.

And as law enforcement officers head to work in the coming days, we ask that they do the same.

In solidarity,
Steven W. Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA
 Donate Now!
Amnesty International USA
© 2014 Amnesty International USA | 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 1

This wasn't justice
Dan Cantor, Working Families via
to me  11-25-14


Police officer Darren Wilson shot a teenage boy -- several times -- and today a grand jury concluded there wasn't enough evidence to indict him of a crime.

The moral logic of this decision would be incomprehensible if it weren't so routine. Another young Black man is killed, and somehow, no one has committed a crime. We must tell the truth about our nation as we see it -- that all lives are not given equal worth. As long as this truth stands, our nation is failing to live up to its promise.

Today we must rededicate ourselves to changing not just hearts and minds, but also laws and public officials. Will you join us? Click here to find a solidarity rally near you and stand for Justice for Mike Brown.

If you can't make it to a rally, then click here to add your name to demand President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder take federal action to secure justice for Mike Brown.

Fifty-nine years ago, a fourteen year old Black boy, Emmett Till was beaten, tortured and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. His mother insisted that his body be in an open casket to allow the world to see the truth of his murder. His mother's decision helped light the spark of the civil rights movement.

Three months ago, Michael Brown's body was left in the street for hours after his death in Ferguson, Missouri. Soon, the eyes of America, and then the world were watching. Let the pain of another needless death catalyze the movement for justice and dignity for all.

Join us as we stand together, across the country, to demand justice. Click here to find a rally near you.

If you can't make it, click here to add your name to our petition and demand Pres. Obama and Attorney General Holder take federal action.

Thank you,
Dan Cantor
National Director
Working Families
Become a Working Families Sustainer! Other political groups have corporate donors. We have you. Just $5 a month supports our fight.

 "Down Outright Murder": A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson 
Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept , Reader Supported News (Nov. 20, 2014).
Devereaux writes: "The nation is on edge, awaiting a grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown - an unarmed African American teen in Ferguson, Missouri - by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson more than three months ago."
Arrested, Handcuffed Man Shot to Death by Georgia Police
Joanna Rothkopf, Salon, Reader Supported News, Sept. 20, 2014.
Rothkopf writes: "Why was he kicking out a cop car's window? Because he had already been arrested. And handcuffed. Then how could he still have a gun? The story remains suspiciously cloudy."

We live in  “a country that seems at once happy to whine about “Big Government” and slam civilian public servants as “government bureaucrats” – all while telling pollsters it holds the biggest appendage of “Big Government” – aka the military – in great esteem. Thanks to such a martial culture, few ever stop to wonder why our politics so often distinguishes between civilian and military public service, and then insinuates that one is to be denigrated and the other venerated.”  David Sirota

American Friends Service  Nov. 25, 2014Committee via 

to James
American Friends Service Committee
Now that the grand jury has refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people across the country are justifiably seeking answers. The American Friends Service Committee also is seeking clarity in this case. We remain committed to addressing the issues of militarization of police, police accountability and systemic racism revealed by the killing and its aftermath. If we are to prevent future tragedies, people everywhere should join us in these efforts.

Those who pay the cost of these policies are disproportionally young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, local police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest such tragedies as the Mike Brown killing.

Weeks before today’s announcement, Missouri police and elected officials began stockpiling riot gear and “less lethal” weapons to respond to public protest. We urge protesters to resist provocations such as armored trucks, dogs, and blockades staffed by officers in military garb. We   urge police officials to seek dialogue with those they swore to protect and serve, to find common ground and peaceful paths forward. Throughout our decades of work on social justice and human rights in the U.S. and around the world, we have witnessed the effectiveness of such dialogue and exchange programs.

We are proud of the young people with whom we work in Missouri, who are using peaceful means to work for fundamental change in systems that perpetuate racism and inequality. They deserve both applause and help for their leadership in healing and organizing their communities. We urge all people of good will to join us in supporting peace-building programs for these young people.

Starting just days after the shooting, AFSC has been helping youth process the killing of one of their peers through our two-year-old Peace Education Programworking in Ferguson and St. Louis. We are standing with teachers and families, with the community organizations protesting, and with the family of Mike Brown.

Most of all we heed and support their vision of what democracy looks like: It looks like police accountability. It looks like equal access. It looks like an end to mass incarceration. It looks like the dismantling of the school-to-prison pipeline. It looks like the demilitarization of police.

As a Quaker organization that believes in the worth of every person, we call on people everywhere to join us in addressing the systemic and structural racism at the roots of Mike Brown’s death – and that of so many others nationwide.

We need to challenge policies – at every level, from the school house to the State House, from Missouri to Washington DC – that disproportionately incarcerate people of color  and boost profits for corporations running jails, prisons and immigration detention centers. We also must challenge media when they stigmatize youth of color instead of acknowledging their humanity.

Our nation will only prosper when we invest in all our children. Join us as we work to end militarized policing and the systemic racism that endangers youth of color and thus threatens our common future. 
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Waging War vs. Keeping the Peace:   Rethinking How We Hire Cops
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One hot, muggy summer day a few years back I was walking with a friend across a public university campus in Buffalo, New York, when we saw a pair of police officers sporting bulletproof vests and “high and tight” military-style hairdos while patrolling the nearly empty campus. “What’s up with the combat costume?” my friend wanted to know. “That’s just how they dress,” I responded. There were no precipitating incidents. No tactical threats. My friend’s concern, however, made me realize that this really was inappropriate dress for a community police force patrolling what has historically been a peaceful, tranquil community. So I asked a veteran of the force to explain. “It’s the young guys,” he responded. “They’ve got a whole different style.”
He went on to describe the aggressive culture among young police recruits, many of whom had returned from overseas combat. This police agency, like most, allowed a bit of leeway in their uniform regulations. Officers had the choice to gear up with Kevlar vests, even in the absence of any threat to them and despite the implied threat that such dress visually communicates to the public. I learned that these officers would regularly wear such attire to meetings with dormitory residents and student leaders, as if they were expecting incoming random fire. The military haircuts were just an extension of the look. Incidentally, beards were banned as somehow projecting the wrong message, as was male officers’ hair that strayed over the ear.
Many of us, especially in the alternative press, have been talking about the creeping militarization of our police forces since at least the Reagan administration. I remember back in the late 1980s when the Broadway Area Business Association in Buffalo asked the local police to stop parking their full-track armored personnel carrier in front of one of their precincts because, like the aforementioned vests and hairdos, it projected the wrong message to the community. The tank-like vehicle in question, which tore apart the street the one and only time the police deployed it in a drug bust, was a gift from the Reagan administration. It was the beginning of the same program that eventually gave us the obscene military display in Ferguson, Missouri, this past year (the response to protests after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown) and at about a dozen Occupy camps before that.
What made Ferguson a historical punctuation mark was the fact that the Ferguson Police Department’s remarkably stupid deployment of military force and aggression was so similar to visuals we were seeing from war zones in Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, and Syria, and because the mainstream press actually began to cover domestic police militarization. Some thirty years later than it should have, the nation is finally discussing the brutal police tactics that communities of color and nonviolent political activists have been falling victim to for decades.
However, the focus has largely been on the military equipment rather than the military culture. This is to be expected from a techno-fetishistic media that has for decades covered U.S. wars in much the same way, marveling at the so-called smart weapons while mostly ignoring the casualties and hatred they create. But what we saw in Ferguson wasn’t just the deployment of inappropriate technology—it was also the deployment of an inappropriate attitude and strategy, one more becoming of an occupation army than a community police force.
And that’s the problem with this myopic focus on military equipment. At the risk of sounding like the National Rifle Association, it’s the military mentality that’s the bigger problem. The toys could have stayed in the garage and rotted.
Looking at the human factor, however, is politically much more dangerous—because it means we have to question the way police officers are recruited and hired. A police officer is essentially a social worker with a gun. Beyond accident and medical response calls, most calls are of a social nature, often defusing a social crisis, be it a robbery, a gang turf war, or a marital dispute. Some police departments require college training in areas such as psychology, criminal justice, or public administration, with criminal justice courses usually administrated by sociology departments since policing is a social function of society. A degree in sociology and social work experience would be ideal, with the arms and martial arts training occurring once a candidate is recruited. To hit the streets, the successful officer needs all of this. Even so, seasoned police officers often point out that a good mediator could avoid using force in all but the most extreme cases. Put simply, you can’t successfully address social problems with brute military force. Historically such strategies, while maintaining despots in power for the short term, ultimately have seeded revolutions, for better or worse. Syria is the latest horrific example.
Much of our current police recruiting, however, is now geared to recruiting warriors over social workers. Let’s look at the Philadelphia Police Department. I start with them since they executed the most grotesque use of military power in modern history—and they did it without the state-of-the-art equipment we saw in Ferguson. In an attempt to end a 1985 SWAT standoff with armed suspects, the Philadelphia PD dropped a crude incendiary bomb from a helicopter onto a row house in a black middle-class neighborhood, killing six adult suspects and five children and destroying approximately sixty neighboring homes. So, almost thirty years later, how have they changed?
Unfortunately, a military culture still dominates the department. In their recruiting material they state, “The Police Department is structured as a paramilitary organization. …This means that we employ a culture and protocols that closely approximate those of the armed forces.” This language is certainly not unique to the Philadelphia PD. In various forms it’s echoed across the country. On the West Coast, the San Jose Police Department describes itself as “having a paramilitary structure,” and police departments across the country post variants on the same language. In truth, the organization of any police department is correctly described as paramilitary as it has rank and officers, a rigid chain of command, and uniforms reflecting rank. This is not where the problem lies.
The problem arises when the Philadelphia and San Jose police departments, and, to various degrees, hundreds of others, go on to explain that because they are paramilitaries, they have found that veterans can transition easily from active military duty into their departments, with some, like the Los Angeles Police Department, actively sending recruiters to military bases around the world. Many, if not most, police departments offer some sort of military preference in hiring, either by adding points to civil service scores, waiving educational requirements, or some combination of the two.
I need to be clear that veterans have a lot to offer. Understanding a military command structure does help with understanding a police bureaucracy, and, more importantly, the discipline and restraint that a successful professional soldier learns and practices are essential to success as a police officer. But it is also important to understand that the skillset and experience needed for successful community policing is extremely different than that which combat veterans acquire deployed as an occupation force in a military theater of operation surrounded by well-trained and well-equipped enemies sworn to their destruction. Waging war and keeping the peace are different jobs and require different skills.
On the blogosphere numerous veterans have articulated their disgust at the paramilitary tactics recently seen in Ferguson. Writing for Business Insider, former U.S. Marine and Afghanistan combat veteran Paul Szoldra points out that his unit wore less military equipment when it rolled in Afghanistan than what he was seeing in Ferguson. He quotes various combat veterans voicing their disapproval of the militarization of a community police force while pointing out how militarization is “counter-productive to domestic policing and has to stop.” Szoldra ends his piece by writing, “If there’s one thing I learned in Afghanistan, it’s this: You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest.”
Veterans tend to be excellent students, and veterans’ benefits often afford them the opportunity to go to school and acquire community policing skills. But fast tracking warriors from the battlefield to police service, as many departments are doing, can be a deadly mistake.
Michael I. Niman is a professor of journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College. His previous columns are, archived at, and available globally through syndication

VFP Newsletter (Fall 2014).
Traces the beginnings of police militarization to Nixon’s War on Drugs, which Reagan escalated and subsequent presidents continued [with failure: the US spent $7 billion vs. opium in Afghanistan, and in 2013 that country produced its largest crop yet].  The military weaponizing of the police accelerated particularly in 1990 when the NDAA, Section 1208, allowed the Pentagon to distribute small weapons, and later legislation expanded the program until now some local police departments look and act like military combat detachments.  –Dick

Navy Routinely Spies on Citizens, Helps Cops Prosecute Them
Jason Koebler, VICE, Reader Supported News, Sept. 20, 2014
Koebler writes: "It's not just the NSA: A Federal Appeals Court has just noted a disturbing and 'extraordinary' trend of the Navy conducting mass surveillance on American civilians, and then using what they find to help local law enforcement prosecute criminals."

Perhaps John’s Hopkins Institute would have something to say about the militarization of schools?
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Contents US Police Newsletter #2
David Sirota: Police, Firemen, Teachers, et al. All Services

Lying Under Oath

Excessive Force
US and UK 2013: US 409 Killed by Police, UK Zero
Derek Flood, Sojourner’s, God’s Politics Blog, History of US Violence

Timm, Why Homeland Security Arming Police Departments
Zeese and Flowers: Ferguson, Militarized, Racist Police
Neff, More Armor than in Afghanistan
Hayes Brown, Congress Must Review Weapons Transfers
Reed, One City Returns Its Armored Truck

Filming and Archiving Abuses on Smart Phones
Goodman and Gonzalez, Democracy Now, Yvonne Ng

Compare Police Practices: Unarmed Police
Unarmed Police Around the World
UK Unarmed Police, Information About Police

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