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Here’s How You Deal with Hate

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

anti-muslim rally

Let’s establish this right now.  Nazis are not cool.  The KKK is not okay.  And there is nothing supreme about white supremacists.   I can’t say that any more clearly.  And if your response to the incident in Charlottesville is “but what about” save us both the trouble and stop reading right now.

Yes, I am a big believer in the first amendment and your right to protest and speak your mind.  However that ends when you decide to plow your car into a group of people who disagree with you, and one of them is killed.  

Now, with that said, after some careful review, I’ve found that the best way to deal with these people is the free market.  In fact, it already is.

Bloomberg is reporting today that the nation’s credit card companies are severing ties with groups they believe are reporting violence.  So if you want to buy sheets and gasoline for the next cross burning, you’re going to have to pay cash or use something other than VISA, Mastercard or Discover.

Pay Pal, which I use to process my subscriptions to my political newsletter, the Cheat Sheet, says hate groups need to take their business elsewhere.   

Go Fund Me decided that if someone wants to raise a defense for suspected Charlottesville killer James Fields, they need to find someone else to support their campaign.

Facebook and Reddit have told hate groups to take a hike.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking, “Abdul don’t these groups have free speech and aren’t you advocating censorship?”  Yes, these groups do have freedom of expression.  And no, this is not censorship in the way you probably think it is.  The First Amendment protects you from the government, not the private sector.

Yes, you have the right the speak, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to be heard and a have a right to a platform to spout off.  And once again, here is where the free market and private sector come in.  If Facebook and Amazon won’t help you get your message out, there other websites and companies that will be more than happy to provide you with some assistance.   I’d provide a link, but since I don’t think the K in KKK stands for “kool”,  you’ll have to go look that up yourself.  That’s how you deal with hate.

 

Politics & Politeness

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Abdul & MikeThe other day I had the honor of helping emcee the 10-Point Coalition’s annual luncheon.  It’s an event raise money for programs that tackle issues like urban youth violence and empowering minority communities to help make them self-sufficient.   The keynote Speaker was Vice-President and former Governor Mike Pence.   I covered Pence as a Congressman and later as Governor. And I follow his movements pretty closely as V.P.   

When we saw each other, we had a good chat for a couple of minutes and then took a couple of pictures (including his signature selfie).  I posted a couple of them on social media, and you could have sworn I took a photo with the devil.  Of course, there are some hardcore social conservatives who probably say the same thing about me.   The Vice-President was a called a bigot, racist and just about everything but a child of God.

As I read through the thread, all I could do was shake my head and feel sorry for people.   It’s one thing to dislike a person, it’s another thing to spend that kind of time, energy and effort into hating someone you don’t know; and then go through all the trouble to post your hatred on social media.   

And what’s interesting is the hate wasn’t just directed at Pence.   You would be amazed at how many haters and detractors went after the 10-Point Coalition because they are working with the administration to work on problems of youth violence and urban crime.  I frankly think these guys would rather see more dead black children than 10-Point be successful working with a Republican administration.  

Maybe I’m getting older, but I don’t see how getting worked up over people you don’t know, and situations you have no control over can be healthy, physically, mentally or otherwise.  To disagree with someone’s policies is fine. You can express it and offer alternatives.  But to get personal, it doesn’t solve anything and kind of makes you come across as a feminine hygiene product.

To paraphrase an old saying, if you can’t post anything nice, or at least thoughtful, don’t post anything at all.

 

The Revolution Has Been Gentrified

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Normally when I write my annual post about the Second Saturday night of Indiana Black Expo, it’s about the interaction between law enforcement and the youth in downtown Indy.  Not this year.  As in the past four years, the kids and cops were fine.  There were a couple of minor issues, but no more or less on a Saturday night in downtown Indianapolis.  No, this year the fun was earlier in the day at the Black activist Don’t Sleep rally at the Statehouse.

You know you have gone through the looking glass when you go to a Black Lives Matters rally, and it looks more like a Phillip Phillips (the guy who sings “Home”  and “Gone, Gone, Gone) concert in Fountain Square.

In other words, there were a lot more white people “caring” about Black Lives than Black people.  And there’s a certain amount of irony in that.

Let’s face it, the whole point of Saturday’s rally was to protest the police action shooting of Aaron Bailey by two IMPD officers.  Heck, even the leader of the group, Dominic Dorsey said the officers should have been charged with murder.  If Dorsey and his crowd were hoping to ignite a “black consciousness” they failed miserably.

The rhetoric was typical.  Although I will say putting IMPD and State Police Officers in the same sentence as the slave patrols of the 1800s was a new twist, but otherwise, it was pretty standard stuff.

If they wanted a bigger crowd, they should have bought a booth at Indiana Black Expo down the street at the convention center because that’s where most of the Black people were, indoors and with air conditioning.  They were either checking out the state’s colleges and universities that were there, participating in the health fair, enjoying the rap concert or talking to the hundreds of vendors that were there.

Nope, instead the Don’t Sleep crowd drew the hipsters and people most likely to serve you a tall latte, with skim (or almond milk), and no sweetener.  FYI, there was no food truck with kale sliders (gluten free) and arugula juice.

There’s just a certain amount of irony that just makes you want to chuckle if weren’t so serious.   Albeit it  I did get a little nervous when the white people in the crowd did the raised fist black power salute.  I thought someone was going to start speaking German, but my fears were unfounded.

Maybe these guys will draw bigger, “less diverse” crowds when all the facts come out.  I’m just saying.  But until then, the revolution has culturally appropriated by progressive white privilege.  And when that white privilege drove home, it probably didn’t even have to worry about getting pulled over in a traffic stop.

A Few More Facts About Police Action Shootings

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Last year I did a deep dive into the data regarding police action/officer related shootings as they were very prominent in the headlines.

It looks like this will be an annual event.  

Part of my motivation is today’s rally at the statehouse where, if their past statements are any indication, the 21st century equivalent of a lynch mob is going to call for criminal prosecution of the officers involved in the Aaron Bailey shooting a couple of weeks ago.

The Mayor, trying to placate this crowd, has offered proposals for diversity training and a review of the use of force by IMPD.  It would have been nice to have all the facts first regarding the Bailey incident, but we are where we are.  

So in all the chatter about police action shootings, which by the way, Indianapolis has only had one this year, I decided to take a look at the data so far this year from across the country.  Here’s what I found according to the Washington Post database.

  • There have been 523 police action shootings that resulted in fatalities, ten of which occurred in the state of Indiana.
  • Mental illness played a role in 25 percent of the incidents.
  • 173 were fleeing the scene.
  • 501 of the fatalities were male.
  • 23 percent (120) were African-American, only eight were unarmed.
  • In 427 instances a weapon (gun. Knife, car) was involved.
  • There were no body cams in 469 cases.

There’s a lot more information that you can explore yourself.  Just click here.  There is also data from 2016 and 2015.

I just thought as we go forward with this afternoon’s histrionic gathering, a few facts couldn’t hurt, however, my spider-sense tells me this likely fall on several deaf ears and blind eyes.

 

Let’s Talk Taxes & Fees

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

When I drove to Chicago over the long holiday weekend with my brother, we were worried about how much the increase in the state gas tax was going to cost us. He drove, and I paid for gas, so I  carefully monitored how much gas we put in the car for the trip.   His car usually gets about 30 mpg on the Interstate, and a round trip to Chicago usually runs him about 11 gallons.  So it turns out that dime increase in gas tax costs me a whole whopping $1.10.  Clutch the pearls!!!!

My average cigar costs me $15 and a gin martini, with two olives, $10.   So if I give up two martinis and a cigar I can afford to make the trip to Chicago at least 30 times.  Yes, I’m being facetious.  But I bring that up because of all the gloom and doom coming from the rabid, almost jihadist, anti-tax crowd.

During the entire debate over road funding, these people whined, moaned and gnashed their teeth over the possibility of having to pay for the roads that they use. And it’s not the just roads these people complained about.  By now, you’ve heard the story of Republicans raising 45 taxes and fees in the last session.  Did any of these people bother to look at what exactly those taxes and fees were?  I did.  And guess what, it’s unlikely most of the people complaining about the fee increases will ever pay any of them.

For example, do you own a billboard?  If not you don’t have to worry about paying the transfer ($40), modification ($100) or permit replacement fee $25), much less pay the penalty for failing timely identify the owner of a billboard promptly when it’s sold. ($400)

Unless you’re a teacher, you can breathe easier about not having to pay the $10 fee increase ($30-$40) every five years to cover the cost of your background check.

If you’re going on the Maury Povich Show to find out who your baby’s daddy is, you might have reason to protest the DNA sample processing fee which went from $2 to $3, but somehow I think you have bigger things to worry about right now.

And of course, there’s the most egregious “fee” of them all.  It’s the one that went from $500 to $10,000.  Brace yourself.  It’s the fee increasing the penalty for operating a pyramid scheme in the state of Indiana.

I don’t know about you, but I am just outraged at this government run amok.  What kind of fascist dictatorship do we live in when the government charges you a fee for the service that you are using instead of having it subsidized by the taxpayers for the general fund.  This is a crime against humanity.

It’s almost enough to make me want to get together with other like-minded people, drive down to the Statehouse with our torches and pitchforks and storm the place.  Unfortunately, since no one wants to pay the 10-cent increase in the gas tax, we’ll have to figure out some other way to get there.

 

Get Your Facts, First and Straight

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

You all know by now when it comes to crime,  I have minimal sympathy for people who break the law, and bad things happen to them in the process.

With that said, my legal and journalistic training mandate getting the facts first before making a judgment call.  You can do some informed speculation based on what you know at the time, but getting the facts first and straight tend to resolve a multitude of issues.

Someone needs to tell that to Indy CAN.

The social justice warriors are back, and they are calling for Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry to file criminal charges against two IMPD police officers involved in the shooting death of 45-year old Aaron Bailey Thursday morning on the near north side following a police chase.   

In a statement, Indy CAN said, “Prosecutor Terry Curry must immediately file criminal charges in this matter and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Police Chief Roach should challenge the narrative coming out of his force and do his part to support a fair and impartial investigation into the killing of Aaron Bailey. And everyone must demand accountability and justice for the loss of life.”

First of all, there are two investigations taking place, one criminal and administrative.  So the investigation these guys want is already being done.  Secondly, the call for the immediate filing of criminal charges seems a bit premature, don’t you think?   If the investigation concludes that the officers acted outside the boundaries of the law, I have full faith that Curry will bring the appropriate charges.  But would it really kill anyone to get the facts first?

And while we’re at it, remember that informed speculation concept I mentioned earlier.  Here’s a little of that right now.  Bailey was not unfamiliar with law enforcement.  According to my colleagues at RTV 6, he’d been the subject of 16 police reports since 2014, including being a suspect in cases involving “theft, robbery, auto theft and carjacking.”  And he managed to amass 11 felonies since 1996.

Secondly, from what we know at the moment, this wasn’t an instance where the cops pulled up to a corner, and Bailey started running.   This incident occurred during a traffic stop at 1:45 a.m. at Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive.  During the stop, which was nine minutes long, Bailey thought it would be a good idea to take off.  So he did.  He led police on a two-mile chase, making a couple of turns before crashing near 23rd and Fall Creek.  

Now, this is where we have to do some fact finding because it is believed that when the officers told Bailey to get out of the car and put his hand up, instead of reaching up, he reached down and then multiple shots were fired.  He did not have a weapon, but his passenger was arrested on a drug charge.

Did the officers act appropriately?  That’s what the investigation is for, and this is why we grand juries and finders of fact.  I understand the heightened anxiety between some communities and law enforcement, but Indianapolis is not one of them.  If there were, there would have been a lot more issues surrounding the last 15 fatal police actions shootings since 2014.

So how about we get all the facts first, before forming a lynch mob.  Getting all the facts and basing a decision on that evidence never harmed anyone, except those trying to push a narrative that the facts don’t substantiate.

 

IPS Makes Right Move

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth on social media and conspiracy theories that would make Alex Jones blush, Indianapolis Public Schools is making the right decision by closing Broad Ripple High School and turning Northwest and Arlington into middle schools.  It’s also continuing with its plans to close down John Marshall.

I understand the emotions attached to these institutions, but there is a certain reality that needs to be faced here.   The district has been losing population at the high school and if tough decisions aren’t made now, the state will come in and make them later.  If you don’t believe me, pay a visit to Gary and Muncie.

This is a simple matter where the numbers tell the story.   Where at one point, IPS had 25,000 high school students, today that number is 5,000.   My high school in Chicago in the late 1980s had 2,000 students.   And because of those low numbers, Broad Ripple and Arlington are operating at 25 percent capacity.  Northwest is at 32 percent.   And don’t blame charters and innovation schools.   If there were none in the District, IPS would still have the same issue as it does right now.

Let that sink in for a few minutes.

Now here’s some good news.   The remaining high schools:  Arsenal Tech, Washington, Attucks and Shortridge   (along with Herron and Purdue Polytech) will actually offer students more choices.   Arts, science, engineering, vocational tech, social science, etc.  And students and their parents will have the opportunity to pick which school works best for their child.   The data shows students are more likely to graduate and do well when they have a choice as to where they want to go as opposed to being forced to go to schools within their boundaries.

And not only is the potential there for kids to get a better education that suits their interests, but the district can save on transportation costs since, geographically speaking, the remaining high schools are centrally located.

And speaking of savings, IPS is also going to close down two administrative facilities.

Now, of course, it will behoove the District to properly and effectively communicate with the parents, students and neighborhood groups and businesses in the effect areas.*. I think they can and they will.  They don’t have a choice.  And I truly believe that when you lay out all the facts and put the histrionic emotional displays on the shelf, the public will see that this is the right thing to do.

IPS is like a couple whose children have all moved out and it’s time to downsize.

It’s just that simple.

 

*   The IPS Board of School Commissioners will take their regularly scheduled July and August meetings on the road to each of the schools recommended for closure.  Each meeting will include a period for public comment.  People can go to www.myips.org (Click on the School Board tab) to sign up to speak.  Deadline for sign-ups is noon on the day of each meeting. Those meetings are scheduled for:

Tuesday, July 18                         

6pm                                                    

Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities

115 Broad Ripple Ave.

Indianapolis, Ind.                               

Thursday, July 20                            

6pm                                                                

John Marshall Community High School

10101 E. 38th St.                

Indianapolis, Ind.                               

Tuesday, August 29

6pm

Arlington Community High School

4825 N. Arlington Ave.

Indianapolis, Ind.

Thursday, August 31

6pm

Northwest Community High School

5525 W. 34th St.

Indianapolis, Ind.

 

One Answer to the $240,000 Question

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

This may sound odd, but from a legal perspective, the fact the Jennifer Messer, wife of likely U.S. Senate candidate Luke Messer made $240,000 from the Town of Fishers as a contractual attorney working an average of 26.5 hours a week is not a big deal; from a legal perspective.

Jennifer is a contractual attorney doing work for the Town and records show she was on a $20,000 a month retainer.  And according to Mayor Scott Fadness, she helped with a lot of complicated legal projects.   That $20,000 may seem like a lot, particularly to the layman, but it isn’t when you start breaking it down.

Note, a lot of lawyers bill by the hour, and depending on their area of expertise, status in the firm (i.e. first-year associate or partner)  and the matter at hand so that it can cost anywhere from $50 – $1000 an hour, and that’s a rough estimate.    Let’s assume the 26.5 hours a week average is accurate.  Well first that means some week she works more hours and some weeks less, but that’s still 26.5 hours.  There are 52 weeks in a year, so Jennifer was paid for 1,378 hours.  So $200,000 / 1,378 hours = $174.16 an hour.

Is that a lot?  Like everything else, it’s in the eye of the beholder.  As you know, I’m an attorney (licensed in Illinois and working on getting my Indiana law license this summer as well as becoming a registered mediator), and there have been days when I charged a flat rate for a project, others were by the hour.  And depending on the work, on some matters, I charged more than Jennifer and other issues I charged less.  It depends.  And in some cases I billed by the hour and others I charged a flat rate.  Once again, it depends.

One thing I can say, and this comes from having worked in government in a former life; there’s always the questions of why hire an outside attorney when you have in-house counsel, once again it depends on the matter and expertise that you need.  Also, keep this in mind, when you hire outside counsel on a contractual basis, you don’t have to pay health benefits, vacation or sick time, or retirement.  You just pay them for their services and move on.

So, back to the original point, is Jennifer Messer paid too much?  I doubt it.  Everything I’ve seen so far says there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on when it comes to billing.  But then again, I’m attorney, so I get it.  Will the Republican primary voters think the same thing next May?  We’ll see.

Murder by the Numbers

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

So far this year, the city of Indianapolis is averaging a murder every three days.

Criminal homicide statistics provided by IMPD show 55 murders between January 1 and June 11.

And as in years past,  most of the victims and suspects had criminal records.

Of the 55 murder victims, local adult criminal histories were found for 38 (69%) of the victims. These 38 individuals accounted for 156 adult felony arrests.

Where criminal  histories were found:

  • 12 (32%) had a previous weapons arrest
  • 23 (61%) had a previous drug arrest
  • 18 (47%) had a previous crimes against persons arrest.

Of the 29 suspects where a name was known, prior local adult criminal histories were found for 20 (69%) of the suspects.  These 20 people accounted for 98 adult felony arrests:

  • 10 (50%) had a previous weapons arrest
  • 14 (70%) had a previous drug arrest
  • 13 (65%) had a previous crimes against persons arrest

There have been five juvenile murder victims so far this year and three suspects under the age of 18.

The racial relationship between victims and their suspects was as follows…

  • Black victim – Black assailant = 19
  • Black victim – White assailant = 1
  • Black victim – Hispanic assailant = 0
  • Black victim – Unknown assailant = 20
  • White victim – White assailant = 3
  • White victim – Black assailant = 4
  • White victim – Hispanic assailant = 0
  • White victim – Unknown assailant = 9
  • Hispanic victim – Hispanic assailant =1
  • Hispanic victim – Black assailant = 0
  • Hispanic victim – White assailant = 0
  • Hispanic victim – Unknown assailant = 2
  • Asian victim – Asian assailant = 0
  • Asian victim – Black assailant = 0
  • Asian victim – Unknown assailant – 1
  • Unknown victim – Unknown assailant = 0

Five (9%) of the 55 murders were known to have been motivated by drugs.

Blacks are about 25% of Indy’s population and have been 72% of the murder victims.

The city and IMPD this week announced a new effort to engage the community in order to stem a rising time with crime this summer.

I Love the First Amendment

by Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

This weekend in Indianapolis there were two events that could not be any more different from each other, the Indy Pride parade and a rally against Sharia Law. Although I have to say, the anti-Sharia law crowd was a lot more “colorful” than the Indy Pride folks.

The point of Pride was to celebrate the members of the LGBT community (I apologize if I left out a letter) and the point of the anti-Sharia law rally was to warn Hoosiers of the dangers of something that most people have absolutely no idea what it actually is.

But both events, which literally took place within a mile or so of each other, demonstrate what a beautiful thing that first amendment is. Citizens can gather, as long as they do it peacefully, in a public forum and express their views, without fear of government reprisal.

Some guy can ride on a float wearing nothing but butt floss (i.e., a thong) and dance around to his heart’s content. And a group of people who look like a cross between Hee Haw and the last Mad Max movie can scream about something they have absolutely no clue as to what they’re talking about.

And that’s what makes America awesome. You can go out in the public square and express your opinions, and others who disagree with you can voice their displeasure. I am pretty sure at pride there were people holding the sign with Romans 1:25-27; and a couple of them probably wanted to join the parade or find a hookup. And I know for a fact there were people at the anti-Sharia law rally protesting. In fact, not only were anti-Sharia law protesters there, but they had supporters and then protesters protesting the protesters supporting the protesters. It did get a little confusing because some of the people protesting the anti-Sharia law protesters wore bandanas on their faces to hide their identities, so they really looked like the people they came to protest.

Hey, I didn’t say the first amendment wasn’t messy, but it is fun.  And as insane as we might think some people are, they have the right to express themselves and you have the right to protest their views, as long as nobody gets physical.

America is an awesome place.