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Aug 1, 2009

 
The article at the link below shows that there are still rainbows after storms:

Accident of Time and Place
http://www.theroot.com/views/accident-time-and-place


But weather can be different from place to place.  Some who experienced arrests like Prof. Gates' are still in jail.

We solute all the officers who protect and serve society to their utmost ability and do so without violating citizens' rights and unnecessarily depriving citizens of life, liberty, and peaceful existence. Policing is a difficult job, as Professor Gates acknowledged, and we have many more police officers who handle their responsibilities well than those who do not.  Appreciation is in order for good policing.

 

Thank you, officers, for refraining from misusing your positions of trust to vent your personal frustrations. Thank you for stepping in when you see your fellow officers going too far in use of force and stopping them from crossing the line into actual cruelty.

 

Thank you for helping to keep our communities safe and for leaving sentencing for crimes to the courts, while you cause as little harm to people as possible as you apprehend and deliver them to be tried courts of law.

 

Thanks to all police officers who hold your oaths of office and duty to serve and protect the public above your affiliation with the police "brotherhood," especially the few officers who help to prosecute criminals whether or not they wear a badge.

 

TODAY IS THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH OF LARRY NEAL, a lifelong mentally ill heart patient who was secretly arrested in Memphis Shelby County Jail and incarcerated for 18 days while his social worker and family searched for him as a missing person. Police repeatedly denied that Larry was incarcerated, but did nothing to help his social worker or family search for this middle aged African American handicapped man who desperately needed his heart and psychiatric prescription drugs for survival. When Larry died, police immediately went to his home address and reported that he was dead and that he had actually been in jail during the entire period while his family agonized over his whereabouts. Police were apparently tired of their enforced role of caretakers for the harmless mental patient. Decades ago,, chronic mental illness was made a police matter rather than a health matter in the U.S.A.

 

Abuses of power happen, and when they do, oftentimes government does not step in to protect the citizens or their survivors, but to hide the crime, excusing offenses by police officers. Such is the case with the secret arrest and wrongful death of Larry Neal.

 

Despite six years of asking and two lawsuits against the family's wrongful death attorneys who were secretly working with the jail to help the facility and police dodge accountability for Larry's death, Larry's survivors have no records of his arrest, no explanation for his death, and are denied the investigative effort that followed Michael Vick's dog abuse.

 

Larry's case should show the entire world that as much as we need police personnel to keep our society secure, they are capable of great cruelty, and their wrong actions are usually protected in higher levels of government.

 

Taking a stand against police profiling and brutality is NOT the same as being a cop hater. The word "cops" and "brutality" are not synonymous, because there are hopefully many police officers who would never do to anyone what was done to my handicapped brother and to my family as we searched for him, and neither would they participate in the ongoing denial of due process of law that ensued since Larry's demise.

 

Thanks to President Obama for speaking strongly against inappropriate policing.  Thanks to Professor Gates for acknowledging that were he in a different position regarding his socioeconomic status, he would likely still be behind bars today, not sitting on the White House lawn sharing beer with the officer who facilitated his arrest for nothing more than exhibiting what the officer perceived as a bad attitude. Such arrests in the absence of crime occur frequently, but are usually recorded under "disturbing the peace" and "resisting arrest."  Some officers go as far as using the charge of "assault on an officer" to justify grudge arrests.

 

It would behoove us all to be cognizant of the fact that every arrest is expensive in terms of the toil on the lives of those incarcerated and their families as well as public funds, which in today's economic climate frequently subtracts from other needed domestic programs.  The cost of incarceration is up to $50,000 per year per inmate, depending on the state.  That expense is incurred AFTER trials that often require the accused being supplied a public defender, also at taxpayers' expense.  The cost of criminal justice is therefore too great in terms of personal trauma and public resources for police officers to conduct retaliatory arrests in the absence of real crime by those who are deprived of their liberty as a result for failing to address officers in "respectful" tones of voice.

 

On this, the anniversary of the wrongful death of Larry Neal, a classic example of criminalizing of mental illness, let us be mindful of those among us whose mental faculties are such that their behavior is often categorized as being disrespectful, and many suffer arrest and even death in the absence of crime or criminal intent.

 

While we commend the president and professor and officer for mending fences, let us be mindful of the costs of retaliatory arrests.  Economically disadvantaged persons, parolees, probationers, and the mentally ill who are arrested for doing no more than Professor Gates was accused of doing, using a "tumultuous" tone when addressing a police officer, would still be behind bars today - some after beating and/or Tasering.  In fact, many such persons are imprisoned right now.  Whereas these arrests are happening increasingly to white citizens across the country, the rate of incidents continues to be higher among people of color.  It is likely that some of the 1 in 9 young black men presently imprisoned were arrested for little more than “tumultuous” behavior, although charged with something more worthy of incarceration.

 

Crime and punishment, prejudice within the justice system, and protecting citizens' rights are all within the governing scope of the presidency.  President Obama is correct to be concerned about these matters that affect millions of Americans.  All of the parties to the White House conciliatory meeting are right that this should be a teaching moment for our nation, and the lesson to be learned is that retaliatory arrests in the absence of real crime are cruel, costly, and best avoided.

 

May God bless all our law enforcement officers and keep them safe from dangers real and imagined.  May He grant them good discernment while providing for all their needs in Jesus' name.

Mary Neal
WEBSITE --- http://wrongfuldeathoflarryneal.com

 

 

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Posted: Aug 1, 2009 9:43pm

 

 
 
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Mary Neal
, 5, 2 children
Atlanta, GA, USA
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