Posts tagged Cleveland

The Police Beat: The first sign of a sociopath is torturing animals

Patrolman Terry Lowther. Lakewood Division of Police. Lakewood, Ohio. Otis, a white boxer, got loose from his owner’s house in Lakewood, Ohio early in the morning about a month ago. Now a loose dog can be a problem — for the owner, for the dog, and for innocent bystanders. So when responsible people see a loose dog in their neighborhood, they’ll usually keep their distance, try to keep an eye on it, keep it out of the road, shoo it away from anyone who passes by, and, while they have an eye on it, find the owner to get them to bring the dog to heel and take it back to its home.

Unfortunately for Otis, the first people to encounter him were not responsible people but rather a couple of heavily-armed police officers working for the Lakewood city government, who had made their way into the neighborhood on an unrelated call. So, instead of trying to keep anyone from getting hurt, the cops decided that the situation needed controllin’. They surrounded the dog and started yelling at it and waving their weapons around. After being surrounded by these complete strangers barging into his neighborhood, Otis started barking and backing up defensively. A couple times he tried to run off. The dog posed a threat to exactly nobody, but since it wouldn’t stop barking, and since twitchy government cops have been trained not to consider themselves safe as long as anyone or anything in the vicinity is moving without their permission, rather than waiting the literal 90 seconds that it took for the dog’s owner to get out there, they decided instead to close in on the dog and try to get a noose around its neck. When the dog barked and bristled at the complete strangers moving in to grab it, Patrolman Terry Lowther decided to blast Otis with a 50,000-volt electrical charge from his taser. After the dog tried to stagger to its feet — while it already had a noose around its neck — they blasted him again with a second 50,000-volt electrical charge. Just to be sure, I guess. Then they dragged the senseless dog along the ground over to their patrol car.

Trigger warning. Graphic footage of a dog being tortured and dragged by police officers.

When Otis’s owner showed up — a whole 90 seconds or so after the first taser blast — they hollered at him and gave him a citation for having a dangerous animal and for letting the dog run loose. I guess he’s lucky they just tortured his dog instead of killing it; according to the police report, the only reason consummate professional Patrolman Terry P. Lowther Jr. didn’t just whip out his handgun and shoot Otis dead is that he was afraid that the bullet might ricochet off the blacktop and harm a bystander.

When the story hit the local news, the cops tried to defend this electrical torture of a helpless animal that was already surrounded, did nothing more than bark, and posed no physical danger to anyone, in two ways. First, they made up lies about the dog’s breed — first they claimed it was a pit bull; when the owner contradicted their claim and put out photos of the dog, they claimed that it kinda looked like a pit bull and musta had some pit bull in ’im. Then they tried to spin the story back their way by releasing the video from Patrolman Terry Lowther’s taser-cam — video which they claimed showed the dog acting aggressively and threatening the cops. This seems to have been a serious miscalculation on the city government’s part — since the ideas that twitchy government cops have about what counts as aggressive and threatening is very different from the ideas that civilized people have, and the video didn’t show the dog doing much of anything more than barking. Also, presumably, since most people react poorly to hearing a helpless animal howl in agony and seeing it writhe on the ground while a cop shocks it twice in rapid succession. After the police released the film, it quickly spread through the Internet, and public outrage over the case intensified rather than petering out.

In any case, the city government responded to the situation by using the vicious animal charges to exile Otis and his owner, Daniel Kier, from the city: the city agreed to drop the utterly bogus vicious animal charges against Kier only in exchange for an agreement that he would not sue the Lakewood city government for torturing his dog, and that he would move with Otis out of the city limits (to the city of Cleveland, as it happens). None of the news stories I’ve read on this case have mentioned it, but the vicious animal charge is just a misdemeanor rap for Kier; but since the same law also provides for the impounded vicious animal to be humanely destroyed, I suspect that the reason he was so ready to get it dropped, even if it meant moving out of the city, is because the city government was effectively threatening to kill his dog if he didn’t shut up and accept their terms.

So who are the real vicious animals running loose here? I’m pretty sure it’s not the poor son of a bitch that got tasered.

(Via Brad Taylor 2009-08-04.)

See also:

Well, thank God #10: Got Milk? edition

A while back in comments on GT 2008-05-14: Well, thank God #9: Income Taxi edition, John Markley said:

I’m disturbed by the whole idea that there are actually undercover agents hunting for unlicensed taxi drivers. The whole concept sounds like a wacky satire of Stalinist Russia.

But since when has a collapse into obviously inane self-parody ever stopped a government busybody from doing what they do best?

Meet Millersburg [Ohio] farmer Arlie Stutzman, who’s had a Grade B dairy license for 12 years, allowing him to sell milk to local cheese factories. On September 20, an undercover ag agent visited his farm and asked to buy a gallon of milk.

It’s a no-no for a farmer to sell milk directly, so Stutzman offered to just give it to the man if he were truly in need. But the guy insisted on leaving two bucks. The agent then fetched an unmarked container from his car and had Stutzman’s son fill it with milk. . . .

For the sin of selling in an unlabeled container, Stutzman had his license yanked. At an administrative hearing, he argued that the Amish faith taught him to share food with anybody in need, and asked that his penalty be reduced to a 60-day license suspension. His plea was rejected by department director Fred Dailey, who’s also mean to baby deer and people in wheelchairs. Stutzman now faces additional fines if convicted at an April 17 hearing.

I never realized that being generous and sharing food is a crime in Ohio, says Stutzman.

— Cleveland Scene (2006-03-08): Got bullshit?

Stutzman eventually got his license back after public uproar forced the Ohio Department of Agriculture to back down. But though in this case justice may have been tempered by mercy, I have to say thank God that the Ohio Department of Agriculture was there to bust Stutzman in the first place. If state agriculture departments weren’t out there every day making sure that customers have to patronize the right corporate milk distributors and retailers, who would? How could anyone be sure that customers are being forced to go through the proper agribusiness channels for their dairy products? Without state bureaucracies and their professional snitches to do the centralizing and the regulating, why, Amish farmers might be out there just giving out raw milk willy-nilly to odd passers-by. God, it’d be Anarchy!

It should never be forgotten that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is the thin blue line that keeps Ohioan customers away from the agricultural products that they are willing to pay for.

(Via Jeffrey Quick’s Blog 2006-03-09, via Mental Militia Forums 2006-03-09, via FSK 2008-07-04.)

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Yet another isolated incident: blackface in Ohio pee wee football

(Story thanks to Rachel S. @ Alas, a blog (2006-10-26).)

Say, did you ever wonder where all these white college kids come from who are so wilfully stupid, or so openly malicious, that they think that minstrel-show blackface is a great party gag?

The answer is they come from white suburban families who are so wilfully stupid, or so openly malicious, that they think that minstrel-show blackface is an appropriate way to root for their kids’ pee-wee football team and rib the (mostly black) opposing team.

Here’s the story from WKYC Cleveland:

HUDSON — A pee-wee football game between Hudson and Shaker Heights turned into a lesson on racism.

Shaker parents say that Hudson fans, took their team spirit too far. They say those fans became offensive, even racist, because they wore black face and afro wigs.

The parents also claim the Hudson fans beat on frying pans on the sidelines.

Some of the kids on the Shaker team even say they used racial slurs.

It was supposed to be about fun building skills and teamwork. To the seven eight and nine year olds on the Shaker team, the game ended up being about our country’s racist past.

They were calling us ns — the n word, is what one nine year old said.

They shouldn’t say that to other people because they don’t know what it means to us, another player said.

The racial slur was enough to bother these kids but it wasn’t all they faced on the field. There were Hudson fans dressed in black face.

— WKYC (2006-10-25): Pee Wee football game marred by alleged racism

Alleged racism? Whoa, look out there, some fire-eating demagogue has gone so far as to allege that ordinary white people with Midwestern accents and middle-class incomes might be doing something racist when they put on blackface and shout nigger at grade-school black children. Quick, activate the White Denial!

But many parents of the Hudson players told Channel 3’s Mike O’Mara that there was absolutely no intent for any of their fans to be offensive.

Kelly Dine is a parent of a Hudson player.

It was two little boys, not the entire fans, that happened to wear part of the Halloween costume, Dine said. They thought they were supporting their brother on the team.

— WKYC (2006-10-26): More controversy over alleged racism at pee-wee football game; Hudson mayor apologizes

Oh, O.K. I mean, this doesn’t explain away everything. But hey, you’ve got to admit that if it was part of a Halloween costume, then minstrel-show blackface is totally appropriate. Right?

And besides which, we can hardly expect children to have parents, who might have explained to them that racist caricature might not go over so well with a mostly-black football team or their families.

Clearly there is no racism involved here. Didn’t they get rid of that in the sixties, anyway?

O.K., so this isn’t working so well. Better try the Insincere White Apology instead:

Meanwhile, in downtown Hudson, residents are deeply upset about the perception of insensitivity. The banners in the business district proclaim a history of excellence.

… Dine said that she feels very badly if the Shaker parents felt like they were offended.

If two little boys had these wigs on and they perceived that somehow it was an insult against them, it wasn’t. It was truly to support our 8, 9 and 10 year old boys.

— WKYC (2006-10-26): More controversy over alleged racism at pee-wee football game; Hudson mayor apologizes

Oh, man, that I’m sorry you’re offended apology just never gets old. Here’s more from the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Alas, a blog (2006-10-26)):

[Coach Jeffrey Saffold] said after Sunday’s game, he complained to John Elffers, president of the Hudson Hawks Youth Football Association, who sent him a letter apologizing for the fans’ actions.

Elffers, however, said the first complaint he heard came Monday when Saffold called him and said parents of Shaker players were offended. Elffers said he doubted supporters meant to be offensive.

Their actions, albeit unwise, foolish and insensitive, were meant to be totally supportive and not intended to insult or offend anyone in any way, Elffers wrote in his letter to Saffold. We regret what occurred and apologize for any righteous indignation these actions may have caused to the coaches, players, parents and family members of the Shaker football organization.

Just out of curiosity, if the blackface and afro wigs weren’t intended to insult or offend anyone in any way, what exactly were they intended to do?

O.K., so maybe that one didn’t work out so well either. Better fire up the White Dissociation, quick:

Liz Murphy has owned the bookstore in downtown Hudson for 23 years.

I want to tell them that we’re not like that, Murphy said. I was horrified.

— WKYC (2006-10-26): More controversy over alleged racism at pee-wee football game; Hudson mayor apologizes

I’m sure that Liz Murphy doesn’t personally feel like that. You might wonder, in light of what just happened, what could entitle her to invoke the royal we, here. But I’ll bet the people who are like that don’t have anything to do with all the good white folk of Hudson. They probably don’t even come from Hudson. I hear they fell into the football game through a wormhole that leads back to their Evil Racist Dimension, where everyone wears a mullet, where everyone speaks in funny accents, and where this sort of things is enjoyed or at least quietly tolerated. Certainly this has nothing to do with the sort of community that the white majority in Hudson, Ohio has built, or the assumptions they share, or the customs they indulge in, or the habits of thought they have fallen into. Nothing to see here, citizen; move along.

The mayor of Hudson, William Currin, said personally I am appalled and saddened by the reported acts. I don’t condone nor will I tolerate such actions. I will be investigating this incident and working with all interested parties to try to prevent this sort of thing from ever happening again. Please know that this is an isolated incident and in NO WAY represents the vast majority of the upstanding citizens of Hudson.

— WKYC (2006-10-26): More controversy over alleged racism at pee-wee football game; Hudson mayor apologizes

Sure it’s an isolated incident. Just like all the others.

Further reading:

Free Carol Fischer! State of Ohio puts a political dissident into psychiatric confinement

Please let as many people know about this as you can.

Cleveland antiwar activist Carol Fischer is being held incommunicado in the psychiatric of the Cuyahoga County jail in on the orders of Judge Timothy McGinty. Fischer, who at 53 years old stands 5’4” and weighs 130 pounds, was convicted of a felonious assault she allegedly committed against two Cleveland Heights police officers last year. The cops claim that Fischer bit and tried to hit them when they arrested her for posting Bush Step Down posters in violation of the city sign ordinance; Fischer and her supporters claim that she was cooperating and the police attacked her without cause:

According to her statements, Fisher was hanging posters announcing the World Can’t Wait Cleveland action during the State of the Union, when a passing officer told her it was a $100 fine if she didn’t take it down.

Fisher turned and walked toward the poster, in compliance with the officer’s warning. But instead of allowing her to take it down or just issuing a citation, Downey and Frinzl were on top of her grinding his knee into [Fisher’s] back and [her] face into the sidewalk.

Fisher said she told the officers she could not breathe. That didn’t matter. Two more officers showed up, and they dragged her to a bench, shackled her legs, and handcuffed her tight enough to cause serious bruising.

Fisher objected to her arrest, telling the officers that as citizens we have the responsibility to stop the crimes of the Bush regime.

According to her statements, this inflamed the officers. One told her, I am sick of this anti-Bush shit, and they threatened to kill her. You are definitely going to the psych ward, said another. And that’s where she ended up, incommunicado, even to her Power of Attorney for health care. University Hospitals personnel were forbidden by the police to allow visitors or for Fisher to make a phone call.

— Eric Resnick, Cleveland Independent Media Center (2006-02-16): Not Guilty, Carol Fisher arraigned this morning

Fischer was found guilty on all charges after a controversial trial in which the judge repeatedly blocked defense testimony. Now, I don’t have any particular knowledge of Carol Fischer, or the cops, or the case, so I have no particular way of knowing whether she is innocent or guilty. What I do know is that this is obscene:

According to World Can’t Wait, Judge Timothy McGinty has forcibly incarcerated Carol Fisher in the psych unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, for an undetermined period of time. McGinty is forcing Fisher to undergo a state psychological exam as part of her pre-sentencing investigation. During yesterday’s hearing, McGinty stated that Fisher’s opposition to the Bush regime indicates to him that she is delusional.

At the hearing held yesterday, McGinty wore a t-shirt which read: Wanted for Illegally Crossing Borders: The Bush Regime If you are going to insist that crossing borders illegally is a crime which cannot be tolerated, how about George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice (and yes, Colin Powell) and the rest of that gang, with their highly illegal, and violent, crossing of the border — into Iraq, among other places?! McGinty stated that Fisher’s t-shirt evidenced her delusion. When Fisher began to explain her opposition to psychological testing, McGinty stated: I do not negotiate with felons. World Can’t Wait reports that in a telephone conversation with Fisher yesterday, she stated she had inexplicably been put on suicide watch and her eyeglasses had been taken from her. If she continues to refuse the psych exam, she will be forcibly sent to North Coast Mental Institute for a 20-day evaluation.

— Heart, Women’s Space / The Margins (2006-05-11): Free Carol Fisher! Judge Orders Peace Activist to Jail Psych Unit

Hey, McGinty, Comrade Brezhnev sends his fraternal greetings. Lest we forget:

Thanks to [Vladimir] Bukovsky’s efforts, we know, among other things, what happened at the 1967 Politburo meeting which took place just before his own arrest. Bukovsky in particular was struck by how many of those present felt that bringing criminal charges against him would cause a certain reaction inside the country and abroad. It would be a mistake, they concluded, simply to arrest Bukovsky—so they proposed to put him in a psychiatric hospital instead. The era of the psikhushka—the special mental hospital—had begun.

… In the aftermath of the Thaw, the authorities began once again to use psychiatric hospitals to incarcerate dissidents—a policy which had many advantages for the KGB. Above all, it helped discredit the dissidents, both in the West and in the USSR, and deflected attention away from them. If these were not serious political opponents of the regime, but merely crazy people, who could object to their hospitalization?

With great enthusiasm, the Soviet psychiatric establishment participated in the farce. To explain the phenomenon of dissidence, they came up with the definition of sluggish schizophrenia or creeping schizophrenia. This, scientists explained, was a form of schizophrenia which left no mark on the intellect or outward behavior, yet could encompass nearly any form of behavior deemed asocial or abnormal. Most frequently, ideas about a struggle for truth and justice are formed by personalities with a paranoid structure, wrote two Soviet professors, both of the Serbsky Institute:

A characteristic feature of overvalued ideas in the patient’s conviction of his own rectitude, an obsession with asserting his trampled rights, and the significance of these feelings for the patient’s personality. They tend to explit judicial proceedings as a platform for making speeches and appeals.

And, by this definition, just about all of the dissidents qualified as crazy. … In one report sent up to the Central Committee, a local KGB commander also complained that he had on his hands a group of citizens with a very particular form of mental illness: they try to found new parties, organizations, and councils, preparing and distributing plans for new laws and programs.

… If diagnosed as mentally ill, patients were condemned to a term in a hospital, sometimes for a few months, sometimes for many years. … In both the ordinary and the special hospitals, the doctors aimed, again, at recantation. Patients who agreed to renounce their convictions, who admitted that mental illness had caused them to criticize the Soviet system, could be declared healthy and set free. Those who did not recant were considered still ill, and could be given treatment. As Soviet psychiatrists did not believe in psychoanalysis, this treatment consisted largely of drugs, electric shocks, and various forms of restraint. Drugs abandoned in the West in the 1930s were administered routinely forcing patients’ body temperatures above 40 degrees centigrade, causing pain and discomfort. Prison doctors also prescribed tranquilizers [antipsychotic neuroleptics, such as Thorazine and Haldol —R.G.] which caused a range of side effects, including physical rigidity, slowness, and involuntary tics and movements, not to mention apathy and indifference.

… Eventually, the issue galvanized scientists in the Soviet Union. When Zhores Medvedev was condemned to a psychiatric hospital, many of them wrote letters of protest to the Soviet Academy of Scientists. Andrei Sakharov, the nuclear physicist who was, by the late 1960s, emerging as the moral leader of the dissident movement, made a public statement on Medvedev’s behalf at an international symposium at the Institute of Genetics. Solzhenitsyn, by now in the West, wrote an open letter to the Soviet authorities protesting Medvedev’s incarceration. After all, he wrote, it is time to think clearly: the incarceration of free-thinking healthy people is SPIRITUAL MURDER.

— Anne Applebaum, GULAG: A History (2003), pp. 547–550.

Here’s what World Can’t Wait suggests you can do to support Carol Fischer:

  • Donate to Carol’s legal defense. It costs a lot of money to get transcripts, file appeals, etc. Make checks payable to Carol Fisher Defense Fund and mail to NION/WCW PO Box 609034 Cleveland, OH 44109.

  • Call Judge Timothy McGinty and express your outrage: 216-443-8758

  • Join us at a Speak Out! for Carol Fisher — Saturday, May 13 at 7pm at the corner of Coventry and Euclid Heights Blvd in Cleveland Heights.

  • Get your legal organization to be part of Carol’s defense: make statements, file friend of the court briefs, etc.

  • Have your church group, school group, organization or club join this battle by sending statements of support, donating funds, etc.

  • Request radio stations play any of the following songs, dedicate it to Carol Fisher and explain what is going on with her case:

    • Tom Petty’s Won’t Back Down
    • Pearl Jam’s World Wide Suicide
    • Pink’s Dear Mr President
    • Neil Young’s Let’s Impeach the President
  • Write letters to the editor of:

  • Send this article to your list serves and post to blogs.

Of course, WCW also wants you to join up with World Can’t Wait. I wouldn’t advise it, unless you like hanging out with well-intentioned peaceniks being steered by creepy Maoist cultists. But McGinty’s efforts to build his own psychoprison system must not stand. Free Carol Fischer! Free all psychiatric prisoners!

Well, thank God #3

You can rest easier tonight knowing that our august solons have taken it upon themselves to warn us about one of the great dangers threatening our nation:

City of Shaker Heights, OHIO - ( Jan 17, 2006 ) Following a health trend that appears to be brewing up all over the nation, Mayor Judith Rawson has signed a proclamation for the City of Shaker Heights that addresses the issues regarding caffeine intoxication and dependency.

In the proclamation the Mayor is calling upon all Shaker Heights citizens, public and private institutions, business and schools to increase awareness and understanding of the consequences of caffeine consumption.

The proclamation also spells out many dangers of caffeine abuse such as heart disease, pancreas and bladder cancer, hypoglycemia, and central nervous system disorders. By getting the word out about the serious dangers of caffeine, Mayor Rawson hopes to prevent a substance that can pose a significant hazard to health and longevity.

— I-Newswire (2006-01-18): Mayor Judith Rawson Declares March National Caffeine Awareness Month

Well, thank God, says I. Now that we have a bipartisan caucus of legislators running behind us all, shouting You’ll put out an eye with that thing!, what better follow-up than for the Executive branch in our great republican experiment yelling, You’ll stunt your growth! at us all from across the kitchen?

(Hat tip: Matthew Bryan (2006-02-20): What, No Appeal for The Children?)