Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hands up and head down, Raoul returns to the table

The kids are back in school, and the chill in the air tells me it's time to cover the tomato plants and return to the blogosphere. (By the way, I'm looking into taking Rockford Rhetoric to the Internet airwaves in a talk radio format for interaction with live callers, but I want to be careful about disguising my real voice. Suggestions from techies are most welcome).

We had our first (indoor) fire of the season tonight, and the usual suspects began arriving for City Council debauchery around 4 this afternoon, after I sent notice that some of them were welcome in my home once again. The others are barred until they make good on bets from the general election. You know who you are, you Irish bastards.

Some folks are only able to endure summer months with the promise of football season in September. The derelicts that come around here, however, are junkies of a different sort. We call the cabin fever months "political season."

Right on time, things are heating up.

Mayor Morrissey and Chief Epperson have got their hands full after a couple of white officers may have stepped in a tall, steaming pile a week ago.

Some cops work their entire careers without ever drawing their service firearm on an individual. The two officers in question, however, have (justifiably, according to grand juries) employed deadly force before; in the case of officer Oda Poole, several times.

I might be mistaken, but as I recall, the mayor isn't typically part of press conferences related to use of force issues. The exception to that rule in this case suggests either an acknowledgment of potential wrongdoing on the part of officers, or that the mayor immediately understood the gravity of the situation, regardless of whether officers were justified in their actions.

Mark Anthony Barmore, who had a notable criminal history, led police to the House of Grace church as he reportedly tried to elude them. The officers didn't find God there, but Barmore did meet his maker, unfortunately.

From what I understand, "Prophetess" Sheila Brown was acquainted with Barmore and let him into the building, where a day care and pre-school were in session.

Can you imagine the shit that would have hit the fan if this had been a public school that offered refuge to an alleged criminal while children were present? Keep this aspect in mind. It will become an issue at some point as this unfolds.

Prophetess Brown, wife of "Apostle" Melvin Brown, the church's pastor, is reported to have witnessed the shooting, along with the couple's teenage daughter.

As I understand it, from their story, Barmore cooperated when police tried to take him into custody, allegedly emerging from a closet with his hands up and head down.

Unconfirmed rumors, however, suggest the Browns have reason to dislike the police. One source acquainted with the Browns said it is common knowledge at the House of Grace that Pastor Brown is/was what a number of my brethren would call an "O.G."

It is alleged Brown found God while serving a prison sentence, possibly for murder or attempted murder, according to the source's tentative recollection. The source further speculated the House of Grace hasn't been staying afloat on the passing of the meager collection plate alone.

While the day care/school portion of the ministry implies some form of state funding, the source suspects Brown has other means of income, about which he would not speculate. This is where the nature of the Browns' relationship with Barmore will become a facet of the investigation.

This is also where deeper legal questions could arise. In the eyes of the law, a relationship between the clergy and a parishioner is subject to the same privacy afforded to an attorney-client or doctor-patient relationship.

Also, it wasn't so long ago that a Mexican illegal alien took the world stage as she successfully sought refuge from deportation for months within the confines of a church not so far from Rockford.

As Linda McNeely deftly noted tonight, the church is an especially sacred place among the African-American culture. The fact that officers pursued their unarmed suspect to the point of shooting him to death in proximity to children does not bode well with the black community, nor should it. This is where my black brothers and sisters may have a legal leg to stand on.

There is really no reason for the situation to have escalated to this point, and I think Morrissey and Epperson are doing their best to acknowledge this. Chances are, the actions of the officers will be ruled justified, regardless of what transpired, but the powers that be must also be aware that the black community has them by the balls in any case.

When Jesse Jackson came to town over the weekend, he was apparently able to walk right into the mortuary and view Barmore's body. He claimed the only wounds on the corpse were three bullet holes in the back and a grazed neck. The wounds will be major evidence in the investigation, and they'll be consistent with both versions of what transpired, I suspect. Those whose minds are already made up won't be burdened by factual details, and that's why Jackson's visits may be unfortunate for our city.

Assuming Jackson did view the front and back of the body, eliminating the possibility of the bullets holes in the back as actually being exit wounds, this could be significant detail, however.

Nevertheless, according to witness reports, as many as 9 shots were fired at Barmore. Initial reports from police indicate Barmore tried to wrestle a gun away from one of the cops, leading to the use of lethal force.

"The suspect resisted:" I've seen enough movies and TV shows to know that's the excuse that's always given when a suspect winds up dead. But what if it's true? Would anyone in the African- American community believe it? This is where the situation becomes hopeless.

In the early 1990s, the world was witness to the savage beating of Rodney King at the hands of the notorious LA police. The resulting furor (the largest urban disturbance in American history) serves as a reminder of the power of hopelessness over fear. One need only look at Russia as an example of this principle.

For this reason, I suspect, Epperson and Morrissey are taking a decidedly sensitive approach, promising that justice will prevail.

But if the verdict in the OJ Simpson murder case in the 1990s is any indication, the black community will side with the black man over "the man," regardless of what an outside independent investigation learns about the circumstances.

I'll be the first to say I have more in common with a poor black woman than with a rich white man, but I suspect Rev. Jackson's appearances aren't going to help matters, but rather unnecessarily deepen the racial divide that's inappropriately been attached to this case.

It's a case of whether officers had no other choice but to open fire. Frankly, it's hard to imagine how it came to that, but it's probably best to keep an open mind. Let's see what "the system" decides, and then determine whether it is just.

Stay tuned, fellow Patriots, and love your neighbor 'til it hurts.


  1. ...shit. 'Bout time you got your ass back to the keyboard.

  2. I ditto Dude... "'Bout time you got your ass back to the keyboard."
    Subject-at-hand....I see LarryBoy and ChiefChet,regardless of the outcome, sacrificing one (or both)of the officers on the altar of political/public relations....
    We shall see.

  3. Stumbled upon your site while looking up something else...never been so entertained..it is like "Vanity Fair" for Rockford..Please keep blogging..