Musings on Aaron Bailey decisions

Decisions have finally come out on the shooting of a black man that used to go to the church I was confirmed at. It was very concerning to me and I did some research over the July 4th weekend which helped me to understand first the procedures which were well explained by our police chief and also why police would shoot before they see a gun.

IMPD announced that there will be a civil rights investigation.

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the police shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man who was killed last month by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said Tuesday that the Police Department asked for the FBI’s assistance because the community wants an independent review. He and Mayor Joe Hogsett have stressed transparency in their own inquiry.

“I have every confidence in our investigation,” Roach said. “At the same time, I understand there are people in our community who don’t.”

Chief Roach also explained the process would involve a homicide investigation which ended up being with a special prosecutor as well as a hearing on procedures by the police department which would happen after the homicide investigation was complete as the men could not testify before it was determined if they had committed a crime first.

When I also saw that IMPD would be looking at changing policies it also encouraged me because regardless of whether the police were right in this situation or not it is important for professionals to be accountable.  As a mental health professional I understand that mistakes can really hurt people and if people are careless lives can be permanently altered in an unfair way.

Now the results have come in.  The special prosecutor decided to not file charges, then five days later a hearing occurred and the police department recommended the two men be fired. 

special prosecutor assigned to the case determined criminal charges against officers Carlton Howard and Michael Dinnsen were not warranted. IMPD conducted an administrative review separate from the prosecutor and determined the officers’ actions didn’t comply with IMPD’s policies.

Aaron Bailey crashed a car after leading police on a brief chase on June 29; officers shot him when he got out of his car and said they thought he’d reached into the vehicle’s center console to retrieve a weapon. There were no weapons found on him or in his car.

The IMPD Firearms Review Board reviewed the materials in the case and the officers appeared in front of the board for questioning. After the hearing, the board voted unanimously that the officers didn’t comply with their training.

After reviewing the facts presented by the board, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach found there was not sufficient reason to believe deadly force was necessary to affect the arrest of Bailey. He does not believe Bailey posed a threat of serious bodily injury to the officer or anyone else.

It was interesting to see the reactions from both sides which were disturbed for various reasons.  The family and protesters did not like the men getting off, and the conservatives felt like this was just a political move, but was it?  There were two hearings with different standards of consequences for behaviors, and they had different results.

This case is not complete yet as it is unsure whether the recommendation for firing was acted on at which time this article will be edited and completed with the final information.

 

Trapped in the mainstream media for a whole weekend…managed to learn something constructive!

OK, getting real here I love looking at multiple media sources from all sides of the aisle and really don’t think I have any media bubbles to burst but I found a way to do this assignment for citizen journalism school (just look at CNN, NBC, CBS on mainstream media for the weekend) as my friend who is going to rock this world with activism could use a kindle fire and that’s the prize.  Seriously I support most of Trumps agenda but I love Jimmy Dore who is progressive, some Alex Jones until the drama gets too boring, Fox for Greg Gutfield’s jokes and Sean Hannity’s cheerleading (glad he’s been called out on that but support his work), and checking out anyone else who might have some intelligent things to say about our current political climate.  Of course I’m pretty much addicted to Faultlines on Sputnik and Lee Stranahan’s periscopes but that’s only because I get the thinking (investigate and do something about it).

Three things that helped me survive were.  One, I have Netflix and can spend time there as this news is painful, two, some of these outlets still show entire sections of Trump speaking so I can see the original source, and three, Jay Sekulow was over there all weekend doing interviews (so I couldn’t check out his site which I love for legal education but learned from what he did there).  One word that will help me explain things even better used by Jay on ABC is conflate, which is to blow 2 stories together and make up a whole new narrative (wonder who does that LOL).  This is one reason I don’t usually watch them as there is nothing for me to use there to really help me get some decent research done and write something to make a positive journalistic impact on my spheres of interest.

One other sad thing I learned is that the Young Turks are joining Breitbart in following the mainstream too much, come on guys that’s disappointing Jimmy Dore can’t do it all!!!

In addition to learning a new word, I saw a great example of how the media omits areas that are important for the public to know in order to spin their narratives.  The Russia narrative is a powerful tool right now, as it hides the Ukraine situation where the US overthrew the government and then worked to interfere in an election and keeps the people from seeing that Russia is vital for us to work with to get peace in Syria (which is not good for business if you’re into elitism and corporations continuing to run everything and make money off the rest of us).

Jay Sekkulow not only “defended” Trump Junior (by the way he would be an excellent defense attorney as long as you’re not trying to work the system),  He brought up the Ukraine on CNN, ABC, and CBS this weekend which really ticked everyone off.  In addition to this he really hacked off CNN by not agreeing that if the New York Times says 17 agencies proved Russia hacked which was horribly offensive (by the way he didn’t argue it, just stated there are no facts to show Russia hacked at all which is even admitted by the New York Times deep down in their articles).

Great lesson learned, even watching the mainstream media can be educational!  Since it’s still Sunday I’m going to continue the assignment by going to Netflix great new mini series on Queen Elizabeth II!

Is a grand jury being fair when they don’t arrest cops after a death?

A man has been killed.  He had no weapon and he went to the parish where I was recently confirmed!  Wow, don’t know this man but this is very sad.  This is hard, but as a citizen journalist I am needing to look at the facts.  Our police chief has explained things that sound very much like this will be an open/transparent process but recently a protester complained that grand juries do not get much needed convictions.  So why use a grand jury?

In the cases of Ferguson and Staten Island, both went to a grand jury because that is standard practice when a case involves a police officer. It’s not the law, just the practice. What is commonly said is that “no one would ever be a police officer if it was otherwise.” I believe these cases went to a grand jury because the accused was a police officer, had qualified immunity and the incident occurred while the police officer was on duty.

So why would no one want to be a police officer without the ability to fully explain why they used force when people are unarmed?  Being new to this field I’m just learning, and there will be more as I learn the facts of this case, in the meantime this video below was very enlightening….

 

Look who’s coming to church!

While it has been exciting working on my new blog, personally I have had some physical challenges with plantar fascitis (good for sitting/writing, lousy for moving AT ALL even walking is exhausting).  Time to “refuel” at my local parish.  What a pleasant surprise to see one of my friends who was ordained right before I decided to become confirmed  in the parking lot of my parish to fill in for our rector who was on vacation.

Rev Whitney Smith used to work for the Indy Star, and as I walked in the door it was too tempting not to get my camera and get a quick selfie as well as documenting some of this service which is his first in a parish this size!  I mentioned we could help him get around and he stated he already had 3 offers, nice as there were only about 3 cars in the parking lot as choir practice was not even started yet!

The message for the Trinity Sunday reminded us about the creation story and how we as Episcopalians can care for the earth, ourselves, and each other.  Thanks so much Whit for being with us at St. Timothy’s!

Trumps travel bans…religious persecution or citizen protection?

This past January, shortly after the inauguration, president Trump issued a travel ban and many in our country were incensed.  Several judges were consulted and within a week this ban had a restraining order on it.  Responding to this restraining order, President Trump fought back against a recent ruling by several courts saying he was discriminating therefore his travel ban was illegal.

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate,” Trump read and periodically paused to add emphasis on certain phrases.

“So, if I find as president that a person or group of people will be detrimental to the interest of the United States, and certainly there are a lot of examples,” said Trump while reading a portion of immigration law 8 U.S. Code 1182.

While the wording of this portion of immigration law is clear, several judges determined this ban is legitimate, and a second ban was drafted leading to another group of judges putting stays on this.  If the above ruling is so simple, why are judges fighting his decision?

In January 2016,  Jim Lichtman wrote an article discussing US Code 1182 and how the courts should respond to any travel bans. In discussing this code he explained that while President Roosevelt banned the Japanse by nationality, Trump was planning to bad by ideology which is an ethical issue.

Would Donald Trump’s plan calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. hold up based on 8 U.S. Code Law 1182? It’s highly doubtful. While President Carter targeted individuals by nationality, Trump’s plan targets individuals by ideology.

So while this law is valid, other laws are also considered by judges to determine the entire scope of US laws.  Currently Trumps Ban is still in court and has been referred to the supreme court with pages of briefs where the majority of judges have ruled that our president has reportedly made it clear he wants to target Muslims, so the bans are based on religious discrimination.

It is understandable that different interpretations of this law can be based on whether it violates other areas of the law, and these decisions can be complicated and require a law degree to fully examine all the details, but the question still remains.  Has our president been trying to fabricate fear of Muslims and discriminate using the power of his office? 

(CNN)Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump called Monday for barring all Muslims from entering the United States.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” a campaign press release said.

Trump, who has previously called for surveillance against mosques and said he was open to establishing a database for all Muslims living in the U.S., made his latest controversial call in a news release. His message comes in the wake of a deadly mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by suspected ISIS sympathizers and the day after President Barack Obama asked the country not to “turn against one another” out of fear.

In reviewing this and other articles with similar wordings a question comes up.  Is Donald Trump really that mean?  Is this article really describing a speech filled with hate?  Rudi Giuliani disagrees, stating Trump called him right after his campaign speech asking for advice as to how he could help protect our country from future terrorist attacks.

Giuliani, an early Trump supporter who once had been rumored for a Cabinet position in the new administration, appeared on Fox News late Saturday night to describe how Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees came together……….

“I’ll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.’ ”

Giuliani said he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).

“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

Donald Trump’s campaign speech in December of 2015 covers this topic in the first 20 minutes (he is introduced and speaking after 2 minutes).  While articles are written emphasizing different points from his speech pulling out sections, as Americans we are responsible to decide for ourselves.  I Invite you to listen to the entire context of these statements and determine for yourself whether Trump was preaching hate or calling for safety….

4 ways a cult got me to stop thinking critically

Right before I graduated from college in 1981 I was looking forward to moving on and out into the world but had many uncertainties about relationships.  My roommate who was also my best friend most likely had a psychotic break and dropped out of school right before Christmas of her senior year.  I was left with a decision to make about whether I wanted to stay in the fog I experienced with her or move on to do something with my life.  I later learned that such experiences with human relationship are to be expected at this age.  I was  studying human growth and development and learned about the stage of development between ages 18-20 called  intimacy vs isolation.

Occurring in young adulthood (ages 18 to 40 yrs), we begin to share ourselves more intimately with others. We explore relationships leading toward longer-term commitments with someone other than a family member.

Successful completion of this stage can result in happy relationships and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship. Avoiding intimacy, fearing commitment and relationships can lead to isolation, loneliness, and sometimes depression. Success in this stage will lead to the virtue of love.

I also learned that  the average age for cult affiliation is 25.

People may get involved with cults at any age. ICSA’s research has found that the average age of affiliation is about 25 years old, although some people become involved as children while others join as senior citizens. (For more information, see  Prevalence and Research.)

I want to discuss 4 specific ways this group convinced me, a 21-year-old college graduate to follow a leader without question.  These 4 ways were recently discussed in a video by Lee Stranahan explaining how headlines, language, repetition, and omission work to trick you!  

These same four methods worked on me as I took a class called Power for Abundant by Victor Paul Wierwille.  I was not totally convinced to give everything at the completion of this class, but was well on my way to full surrender as I had already dropped out of my commitment to go to graduate school and signed up for a one year commitment of moving to another town where I would spend the majority of my time convincing others this was the class for them too.

The first specific thing that grabbed me was the title of the Class.    Power for Abundant Living perfectly describes what my goal was.  There couldn’t have been a better headline (#1) for me!  I wanted to be able to move on from a tough senior year and be able to figure out a purpose in my life.

Before this class could start there had to be a certain number registered but I was hungry to learn.  I read the collateral material given out for the class and was thrilled with the straight forward language used.  I was showed various specific ways the church had lied to me and not been true to the accuracy available in the Bible.  I learned that the Trinity is a lie as it is not in the Bible, abortion is not a problem as a baby is not alive until it breathes, and that there were 4 crucified with Jesus instead of 2! (Language is #2).  This class had 12 nights of lectures with each night lasting about 3 hours.  Every night a new truth would come up and we would remember another great truth that no church knew as they were not studying the Bible right as we were.  This class was later replaced in the 90’s by another one and more “truth” was learned.  Homosexuality was the original sin!  Of course this was not a surprise to me because I had already heard graphic illustrations in a leadership meeting describing homosexual sex in very disgusting terms.

Back to the length of this class, it was long!  There were an average of 6 segments in each class each lasting about 30 minutes.  I don’t remember many of the details and how they were documented in the Bible but I do know there was a lot of repetition (#3)  of the “important facts“ and when I was fresh many scriptures were shown then later in the evening other thoughts about the scripture were brought up without full factual analysis and we all believed it!  So while this class took a long time, important facts were omitted (#4) if they did not fully back up the principle being taught that evening.

A conspiracy theory I believed in 1996.

On April 3, 1996 there was a tragic plane crash.  So why did this happen? According to a leader in a cult group I was in this had nothing to do with Ron Brown but with someone else on the plane.

The above is what was announced at lunch to a room full of members of this group I was actively involved in.  While I was not in the room at that time, I was an active member in that group and if one of “God’s leaders” said it this had to be true!

 

New Beginnings.. changing my views on Trump and an incident in my church

When November 9th came it was a shock for me.  I had not paid much attention to politics being busy in my career and living life.  As a therapist working with severely mentally ill folks I would investigate things that mattered while trying to ignore the drama around politics.  However I did my civic duty and voted.  I actually voted against Trump twice as I had heard so many terrible things about this man and am not a fan of Indiana state legislation from the past several years from Republicans.  Come on, banning gay marriage when it’s not even legal? Voting in daylight savings time?  Reacting to gay marriage becoming legal by passing legislation to protect the religious folks who were against the gays in our state to start with?

Back to the election…I was not happy!  The day after our election a church in my denomination was defaced with anti-gay speech and many of my friends started to get afraid of what would happen, is gay marriage going away?  Is racism going to a new  high?  Are these Trump people that hateful?

At this point I knew my ignorance of policy and politics would have to end. Being an American Citizen I knew this could not mean we really had another Hitler as being president is not king, so I had to check things out for myself!  In my usual fashion I turned to YouTube (never liked being forced to read the paper as a kid).  I started by laughing at Trump jokes then being quickly bored watching jokes.  I started watching campaign speeches and thinking “maybe Trump’s not so bad.” The next part of my journey was anger at the elitist politicians in the democratic party for being more interested in climate change than gay rights and using words like “racist,” “homophobic” and “xenophobic” to describe people they disagree with instead of discussing facts and addressing the issues.  Don’t think that means I’m happy with all republican politicians, this war-mongering has got to stop–my parents wanted to be buried at Arlington but thanks to the Iraq War that cemetery so full there is a long waiting list just to get ashes checked in!

These changes have been strange to several of my friends and I know many family members will not approve but then again I’ve never been one for the status quo!  I now count myself in the ranks of the Trump supporters who I was so against during the election.

As for my church, I have since discovered this was not Trump supporters who did this.  Two articles came out this past week after investigations were concluded finding the culprit in this.  It saddens me that this was done out of fear, but I am happy to say our new bishop spoke against fear.  Her words of wisdom calling for a Christian response are below:

Statement from The Right Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis:

I was saddened to learn this morning that the vandalism of St. David’s Church in Bean Blossom was committed by the church’s organist, Nathan Stang, who has admitted to police that he spray painted hateful graffiti on the church last November in the wake of the presidential election. This was a hurtful, dishonest, and profoundly misguided action that stands against the values of the people of this diocese and the Episcopal Church, and we will continue to cooperate with the authorities who are pursuing this case.

We are living now in a political climate that is so divisive and highly charged that people from all across the political spectrum are making thoughtless and hurtful choices that they believe are justified by the righteousness of their causes. As people who follow Jesus, we must find a different way.

Christians are called to hold one another accountable for our choices and actions, but also to offer one another love and forgiveness. I do not know Nathan, who is not a member of the diocese and has worked at the church for about a year, but media reports indicate that he felt frightened and alone in the wake of last year’s presidential election and that he was attempting to catalyze a movement by instilling a sense of fear in the congregation and community. Many people in our country, particularly members of sexual, religious and racial minorities, have well-founded reasons to be fearful in these difficult times, but this terrible situation illustrates why we must resist the temptation to play to those fears. Our job, as people of God, is to speak the truth in love, admit our own sins, and be ever mindful that seeking justice includes ending fear for all God’s people.

I know that this incident has been deeply painful for many people at St. David’s, in our diocese, in Bean Blossom and surrounding communities, and across the country. As bishop, I want to offer my sincere apology to those who have been hurt both by what happened in November and what is happening today. As this story unfolds in the media and in the courts, I hope that you will join me in praying for St. David’s and its leaders, for Bean Blossom, for Nathan, and for everyone who has found in this incident a reason to be afraid.

 

 

Bishop elect wraps up racism seminar calling for reconciliation

For several decades there has been a rise of concern in our country about issues of racism and segregation in the church.

 

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning is “the most segregated hour in this nation,” going on to call rampant racial segregation in American churches “tragic.”  Decades later, the same issue is on the minds of many pastors who still claim that houses of worship are among the most divided institutions in American society.  And recent poll of pastors conducted by LifeWay Research found that 86 percent of church congregations are, indeed, comprised of mainly one racial group — seemingly affirming this sentiment.

So what about this issue of racism? Despite all the problems in society today can we really work towards impacting our society?  Can we really see our local parishes change in demographics to become as diverse as the neighborhoods in which they reside? Rev Kathy Dwyer of Baltimore wrote about her concerns for the church to do more about racism.

Every time I turned on the TV, I just felt like I was getting punched in the gut from watching the issue of racism just escalate in our country,” said the white pastor of a predominantly white United Church of Christ congregation in Arlington, Va…….some white church leaders say they can no longer check off their racial-justice to-do list by hosting a Black History Month event. Instead, they are holding workshops that address white privilege — not experiencing or knowing the unfair treatment endured by nonwhites

This past March; Trinity Episcopal Church in Indianapolis hosted weekly series on race called REAL TALK, Community conversations on race with weekly topics including “Awakening Community,” “Bias in the Classroom,” “Mass Incarceration,” and “Faith and Action.”  On April 6, 2017 Jennifer Baskerville- Burroughs, Bishop Elect of the diocese of Indianapolis, presented the final seminar on “Fearless and Faithful Conversations.”  She introduced herself and gave a brief history of how her life was negatively impacted as a young child due to segregation and racism in her new community after a move.  For the majority of the session, however, Jennifer challenged everyone in the room to learn techniques for discussing issues one on one addressing the issue of racism utilizing an educational series titled “Fearless Conversations.”  This series teaches participants how to have valuable difficult conversations with others instead of giving into complacency and ignoring issues involving specific members of the church community in order to come to a place of reconciliation.

Collective action is an important part of the church, but individualism is also important as in the church we are all individuals and speak of honoring diversity of beliefs on theology, but as a collective group we can reach out to our community to make a difference when there are social challenges in the church as daunting as the scourge of racism.  We are challenged to individual action while supporting each other in techniques to have those “difficult conversations.” As Episcopalians answer this call to reconcile as individuals, it is possible to work together collectively to make a positive impact on society.

An African American woman from St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church was recently asked what racial reconciliation means to her…..

The closest thing I can say is it would probably look like heaven where we’re all God’s children and he treats us the same, loves us equally, would not hurt one or another because of color or gender identity, or any other differences among people or humanity.