by Jimmy Tee
No political, lobbying or special interest affiliations. Sixty two years old and working for a startup in Milton. Paying close attention to our society and writing poetry at will.
For VT Digger
There is a scene in Robert Altmans 1971 revisionist western McCabe and Mrs Miller that is jolting and disturbing. The movie offers a de-romanticized version of the later settlement of the American West, full of muddy streets, ramshackle shacks, tinhorn lawyers and a rain, like corruption, that never ceases. A village, named after a church, filled with the gritty violence of the pioneers, a violence of desperation that overflows in each character, but for the anti hero role that Warren Beaty has based his career on. If there are brighter days ahead for America’s expansion you will not find it in this movie. Characters resemble pigs in a mud sty. There is no glory or morality anywhere and everyones base behavior is sanctioned by a system that still beats today.
The scene occurs between a punk settler and a younger, more innocent man. Of course, everyone was carrying a gun, it is a western after all, and when the punk repeatedly asked the innocent to show him his fancy handled weapon and the innocent complied, that was reason enough to shoot him dead in the street, the innocent man having ‘ drawn ’ on the punk. An entirely acceptable situation since self defense, despite intense provocation, is somehow a law of nature and the killer will walk free. It all makes sense for some reason. He was looking for an excuse to kill a man legally, in the plain sight of witnesses that would see that this punk was nothing to mess with. You can sense the fear on the screen from the citizens wondering what they have gotten into.
The analogy may not be perfect, but the jolt in my gut felt the same when I read the strictly controlled information allowed to the press after the recent shooting in the North End. A no-knock warrant backed up by a slew of armed law enforcement that ended with a man dead and some pretty terrified neighbors. This guy wasn’t El Chapo. The death seemed so very avoidable but since accountability is extinct during matters like these, and the numbers back this statement up, it appears to me that a raid of this sort serves no other purpose than to send a message. As a society we are big on messages, not so well on following through, unless what we see is the planned result. The authorities seemed to purposely place themselves in a semblance of danger in order fire away, using the fear generated in the local populace as a powerful weapon: “We will come with guns blazing.”
If this sounds like terrorism it is only because it fits the definition.
Add the predictable words from the politicians promising investigation, [ notice there is always a door behind the lectern as they preach the parsed information to the local news, as if they are ready to flee ], the printing of sordid, out of place details by the press [ that’s you VT Digger ] and you have a tiny sliver of the huge news cycle that will get lost in itself, vindicating any act. There is never any reference to justice. Investigations take years to reach unsurprising results, while everyone stares into their hands searching for meaning.
I am a concerned citizen and I wonder how the process of organizing a raid like this occurs and if any countering arguments were allowed between the law enforcement personnel. Most probably not because it appears to be a structure based on strict hierarchy, but who knows? Everything relevant is a secret. Were meetings held one, two or three weeks prior? Perhaps the information supplied by the informant caused the authorities to rush out that very day grabbing guns along the way. What arguments were used to persuade a judge to sign a warrant? Is the judge accountable for the results? What exists in the planning stages right now? Who is next on the list?
Since most anyone, the average Joe and Mary, presented with the facts of this operation before it occurred, [ high powered rifles, crowded neighborhood, a pea shooter gun on the premises ], could tell it would result in violence, most probably fatal, maybe everyday citizens should be included in the decision process from the beginning. We sure cannot trust the judges who easily sign the warrant. There are good, fair minded people available and their silence is only the result of the overbearing power that government is willing to use in an indiscriminate manner. A pre-grand jury so to speak. No one involved in the planning of this raid bothered to remove their jack boots and maybe suggest there was a better way to apprehend a two bit dealer, one taking the safety of the public in mind, one involving less costs and more in tune with due process.
We end our system by trusting the judgement of peers; they need to be involved from the beginning. There is a black stain on Vermont for allowing state sanctioned murder.
How do these guys sleep at night, surrounded by so much mud?