Gay Is the New Black: limitations of identity politics

By Justin Hill

In 2008, when I first read “Gay is the New Black” on the cover of the Advocate, I CRINGED at its implications.  Even as I write, “Gay is the New Black,” it is unsettling because it elides, obfuscates and erases many tensions and concerns. You may be asking, “Why speak about it now, three years after the article was published?” The answer is simple—I feel the need to talk about my concerns and fears on the matter because of the Obama Administration’s legal/political move to position/add gay people as a protected class of citizens.

F.O.P. – Funds Owed Pittsburgh

By now people all over the country have witnessed the brutal beating of honor student and violist Jordan Miles by Pittsburgh Police officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing. Jordan was walking to his grandmother’s house when he was approached by the officers, who jumped out of an unmarked car in plain clothes demanding “Where’s the gun? Where are the drugs?” Jordan, who has no criminal record and thought he was being robbed, ran. Unfortunately, the “police officers” caught him, and all three beat 5’6’’ 150 pound Jordan until he looked like this. Yep, they even ripped out part of his hair. Of course they found no guns or drugs, but still proceeded to charge Jordan Miles with loitering, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

F.O.P. – Funds Owed Pittsburgh

By now people all over the country have witnessed the brutal beating of honor student and violist Jordan Miles by Pittsburgh Police officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing. Jordan was walking to his grandmother’s house when he was approached by the officers, who jumped out of an unmarked car in plain clothes demanding “Where’s the gun? Where are the drugs?”  Jordan, who has no criminal record and thought he was being robbed, ran. Unfortunately, the “police officers” caught him, and all three beat 5’6’’ 150 pound Jordan until he looked like this. Yep, they even ripped out part of his hair. Of course they found no guns or drugs, but still proceeded to charge Jordan Miles with loitering, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

Those extremely bogus charges were dismissed because officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing basically filed a false police report. They claimed they got a call from a neighbor, Monica Wooding, who said Jordan was loitering on her property. Ms. Wooding not only testified, under oath, that she didn’t make the complaint, but also she has known Jordan, “for years.”


So, how were these officers disciplined? They were suspended with pay, and not just regular pay, but overtime pay as well. While this case has been “under investigation” for over a year those three officers have received over $230,000. And even though 2 of the 3 officers, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak have been accused in a number of complaints before, the Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police have staunchly defended them, lobbied for their overtime, and even made sure the city of Pittsburgh gave the officers awards.

So when recently, some genius decided to create a fake press release, claiming the FOP had switched their position and were no longer blindly supporting  officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing, it “enraged” FOP President Michael O’Hara. In fact he was so angry O’Hara said, “We’re calling the FBI into this. I will make it my personal mission to find out who did this, and I will bring them down.” That’s right he’s not upset that his officers beat an innocent student almost to death and then lied to try to cover it up and send said student to jail, but don’t you dare tamper with the FOP logo or try and copy their letterhead!


Mr. O’Hara and the FOP kept their word when a few days ago the police raided a local business trying to find information about who created and circulated the bogus release. Yes, Pittsburghers, the police used taxpayer money and manpower to temporarily shut down a small business and confiscate its computers, because the FOP was embarrassed.

This is in light of the fact that prosecution of real crimes dropped in 2010.  According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Pittsburgh police bureau’s homicide “clearance rate” dropped from 72 percent in 2009 to about 50 percent in 2010, the second-lowest rate in a decade. Police officials themselves said they suffered a 22 percent drop in gun seizures through November.  And who did the police blame for this drop in arrests? Incredibly, Officer Dan O’Hara, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 blamed…Jordan Miles. O’Hara said, “Other officers see that and might tend to not be so aggressive in going after guns because they are afraid of the backlash just for doing their jobs.”

Backlash? What kinda backlash is being paid your salary plus overtime over a year for doing nothing? O’hara said, “I think it’s safe to say that if they (officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing) were still on the street, they would have made many more arrests and seizures and maybe the city wouldn’t be down more than 100 gun seizures.” Imagine if “they” had been fired and replaced by competent, honest officers? Maybe WE would have a safer community and wouldn’t have to pay salary and overtime for cops that don’t work and raids that don’t matter.

But the cost doesn’t just stop there. According to new reports settlements in police misconduct cases have cost the roughly $300,000, with another $150,000 coming down the pike.  This does not include the eventual settlement the city will have to pay to the Miles family, and guess who foots the bill? In the wake of the savage beating of Jordan Miles the FOP said officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing were simply following the training they were given. I wonder how drastically that training would change if the FOP had to reimburse us taxpayers for its officer’s misconduct?

Mumia Debate turns into a Epic Fail

Mumia Debate turns into a Epic Fail

On Monday November 8th, me and Paradise joined a caravan of Pittsburghers traveling to Philadelphia to support Mumia Abu Jamal. In January, the court vacated a 2008 decision throwing out Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and ordered a new hearing scheduled Tuesday, November 9th. The Philadelphia DA made it clear he wants Mumia dead and was seeking to have Mumia’s death sentence reinstated– regardless of the facts. So, we went to join an international crowd of Mumia supporters rallying outside of the courthouse for Mumia’s freedom.

But, the real fireworks took place Monday night at the premiere of the Tigre Hill’s new film, “The Barrel of a Gun” a “documentary” made to “prove” Mumia’s alleged guilt. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, the showing was meant to garner support for those misguided individuals that want to see Mumia executed. However, longtime Mumia supporter, Pam Africa arranged for a debate after the film specifically regarding the facts of the case. So, even though the police put on the event, Pam and the “Free Mumia” movement made sure the crowd was full of Mumia supporters. Being in the crowd of cops and activists was very surreal and the fact that both men debating for Mumia’s death were black made it even more so.

Yes, the filmmaker Tigre Hill, although obviously self hating, is black, as well as Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams. The two were debating Professor and Filmmaker Dr. Johanna Fernández (who coincidentally has a critically acclaimed documentary about Mumia’s case called Justice on Trial, but is having a hard time getting it shown in Philadelphia) and Criminal Defense Attorney and Activist Michael Coard. If this debate was a football game it would have been 100-0. Dr. Fernández and Attorney Coard time and time again brought up pertinent facts that were subsequently ignored by Williams and Hill. Not only did filmmaker Tigre Hill at one point walk off the stage, but the debate ended with him receiving a Cease and Desist order because he used parts of another film on police brutality in Philadelphia without getting the proper clearances.

All in all, the night was a complete failure for Tigre Hill and even a film critic who thinks Mumia is guilty called his “documentary” “DEEPLY, VISCERALLY BAD”. But, don’t take my word for it, watch the video for yourself. The footage also contains an interview with Attorney Coard, as well as, Tigre Hill’s reaction to “getting served”.

Black Tongues Get Bombs

Would someone please walk with me and ease my fears of fighting giants amused by the sight of my teeth eating dirt? My first experience of Philly left my legs in a sprint running away from a specific street intersection because it occurred to me that there stands land that will never be mine, that will never be ours. Hell burns where one of Philly’s most famous attraction, Geno’s, yells “go back home, this is my country” from its steel belly. How can this be? People with power still think that there’s something wrong with shackles not grabbing my ankles. You are still a nigger, politically.

Hate The Fags…Just Don’t Kill Them? WTF

uganda protest

They said it would make my life better. They said I would find my “purpose.” It was my 8th grade school year. My pastor said I should read this book that would change my life. The name of the book was A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It’s always interesting to reflect back to my pre-teen life and think about the different things I was involved in. Some of my childhood experiences were amazing and shaped who I am today, other experiences—like buying Rick Warren’s book—are just embarrassing. I was reading a book by one of the most divisive and homophobic/anti-gay men in America, at 13.

The author of the very same book, seven years later is now in the limelight being accused of supporting the Uganda Anti-Homosexual Legislation Bill. Proposed on the 13th of October 2009 by Member of Parliament David Bahati, the Bill would criminalize key aspects of comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention education and imprison health-care workers who refuse to report sexually active gay patients to the police. rainbow ugandaIf enacted, it would also broaden the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda, including introducing the death penalty for HIV positive people who have previous convictions, instituting extradition for those engaging in same-sex sexual relations outside Uganda, and penalizing individuals, companies, or media organizations who support LGBT rights.

Judging Life

 

By no means am I a constitutional scholar. I have yet to attend a law school class, and I have never given an oral argument before The Supreme Court. With that said, whatever I may lack in legal acumen, I make up for with “real world knowledge”. Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America heard arguments on whether sentencing juveniles to life without parole violated the eighth amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment”. For the record, I am a staunch opponent of sentencing juveniles to life without parole. It’s not because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal that doesn’t believe in punishment. No, what I do believe in is science and empiricism. A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25. This explains why teens are more likely than any other age group to be in an auto accident, but it also explains the lack of maturity and foresight among adolescents.

Halloween: Battle Between Church and State

Blog #19 Main pic

Growing up in a fairly religious household, I was never allowed to trick or treat. I never got to dress up as a ghost, goblin, or display any type of cute themed cartoon— the innocent ones like Winnie the Pooh or Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (The originals). Unlike my story, most little kids growing up in the 90’s saw Halloween as fun. To me, it meant spending another day of the week in church, which had potential for fun, but not really the same experience as other kids my age. I can remember my grandmother tearing old linen sheets apart, as she created multi-colored robes to dress me and my brother up as what was suppose to be “two out of the three wise men in the bible.” I can’t exactly say those were “good times” but I do recognize that my parents made an active effort to keep us away from what they thought to be this “devil holiday.”

power rangers blog#19

This year, On my 19th Halloween I will be (for the first time) dressing up in a costume. (I know, I know, but better late than never right?)

However, just because I have been liberated from the conservatism of my family’s tradition, does not mean that this personal act is an accurate depiction of religious sects in our country. It’s actually quite the contrary.

The question is now surfacing, is “Halloween off limits in public schools?” Do Ghost, Witches, and Jackolanterns created in a 3rd grade art classes and displayed in elementary school hallways violate a separation of church and state? I believe the answer to be “of course not,” but that doesn’t stop many of these children’s parents across the country from accusing various public schools and libraries of “preaching witchcraft, promoting Satanism and leading children down the path of spiritual darkness.” This controversy finds it home from the consistent popularity of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. One would think that we would be happy that children are reading. We would rejoice that words in books are still keeping a new technology driven generation interested—even when books have to compete with high-def television, state of the art lap tops, and $500 blue chip video games. A school district in Texas requires parental permission before children may read J.K. Rowling’s books.

She's Gotta Have it: What, Exactly, is "Rape Rape"?

I’m still on IR trying to get this chapter draft to semi-embarrassing level.  (Which, frankly, would be a pleasant surprise to my committee since, you know, I rarely have anything to show them–and when I do it’s some incoherent mess about black people and geography. Yes, I mortify the race with every word I type.) So, I have to give you video you’ve probably already seen.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NX_D0Bv9M0