“I wonder which is preferable, to walk around all your life swollen up with your own secrets until you burst from the pressure of them, or to have them sucked out of you, every paragraph, every sentence, every word of them, so at the end you’re depleted of all that was once as precious to you as hoarded gold, as close to you as your skin - everything that was of the deepest importance to you, everything that made you cringe and wish to conceal, everything that belonged to you alone - and must spend the rest of your days like an empty sack flapping in the wind, an empty sack branded with a bright fluorescent label so that everyone will know what sort of secrets used to be inside you?”—Margaret Atwood (via larmoyante)
True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going.
Those who earn tens of millions of dollars a year but pay less than 14 percent of their incomes in taxes, and argue the rich should pay even less, are not true patriots.
Those who defend indefensible tax loopholes, such as the “carried interest” loophole that allows private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains even if they risk no income of their own, are not true patriots.
Those who avoid taxes by putting huge amounts of their earnings into IRAs via foreign tax shelters are not true patriots.
Those who want to cut programs that benefit the poor — Food stamps, child nutrition, Pell grants, Medicaid — so that they can get a tax cut for themselves and their affluent friends— are not true patriots.
Alan DeWayne Blueford, born December 20,was an 18 year old Senior at Skyline High School, preparing to graduate in June. He was the youngest son of Adam Blueford, Sr. and Jeralynn Brown Blueford.
During the early morning hours of May 6, 2012 Alan was murdered by an officer (whose name has yet to be released) with Oakland Police Department. His family is now seeking justice for his death.
Here is what we know:
At or about midnight, May 6, 2012, Alan and 2 friends were standing on the corner of 90 th and Birch Street waiting for “some girls in a white chevy,” Alan described to his father, Alan Blueford, during a phone call. After the phone call, police officers approached Alan and his friends, with guns drawn. The police officers had been called to respond to another incident, but decided to stop Alan and his friends when they saw them because they “believed the young men had a concealed weapon.”
Alan ran down Birch Street, away from the police officers.
Approximately two blocks down Birch Street on the 9200 Block the officer chasing Alan murdered him by shooting him 3 times. The officer also shot himself.
Although, Alan had his brown wallet with his ID, Oakland Police Department never called to tell his parents he was shot and killed.
Alan’s two friends were detained for over 6 hours. After their release, one of the young men had the traumatic task of calling Alan’s parents and telling them Alan was shot and killed by an Oakland Police Officer.
Initial reports put out by OPD, stated that “a suspect” (Alan) and a police officer exchanged gun fire and the officer was shot in the stomach by the suspect and the suspect was shot by the officer. Both were said to have been rushed to Highland Hospital where Alan died and the police officer was expected to recover. OPD also included in their reports witness statements who said they saw Alan shooting. OPD reported that they retrieved Alan’s firearm at the scene.
Later OPD changed their story to state that the officer was shot in the leg and an investigation was in process to determine whether the officer was wounded by “friendly fire.”
Only one of the officers chased Alan.
What we now know is that Alan Blueford never shot the police officer, at the police officer, or anyone else. OPD changed their story yet again, admitting and confirming that THE OFFICER SHOT HIMSELF.
We also know that Alan was never rushed to Highland Hospital. Only the police officer. Alan’s body lied in the streets for approximately 4 hours.
Alan was shot multiple times by the police officer.
The family has reason to believe that Alan never had a firearm. The family has reason to believe that Alan never caused the officer to be threatened. Alan’s body can be described as a shorter stature (approximately 5 ft 6 ½ inches) and thin built (140 lbs).
IT’S USUALLY TOUGH to get kicked out of Philadelphia’s Fraternal Order of Police.
You really have to screw up.
Worse than, say, the cop who allegedly beat his girlfriend with a closed fist and left her a voice mail threatening to “stomp your f—-ing heart out.” Or the officer convicted of child endangerment for pointing a loaded Glock at a kid who changed the radio station in his truck at the Police Academy.
Or the cop who allegedly forced a suspect to perform oral sex on him in his police cruiser.
The local FOP, which represents about 14,600 current and retired officers, went to bat for all three of those guys in arbitration hearings. In recent years, the union also has stood by cops accused or convicted of other transgressions, including drunken driving, assault, sleeping on the job and lying during a police investigation.
But not Ray Lewis.
The retired Philadelphia police captain committed an act so heinous, so unforgivable in the eyes of the FOP, that union president John McNesby filed a rare grievance that could result in Lewis being permanently expelled from the FOP and stripped of union benefits such as life insurance and free legal assistance.
“It’s quite unusual. We had to dig into the books to see what we could do and couldn’t do,” said FOP pension director Henry Vannelli, who made the motion to refer Lewis’ case to the union’s grievance committee. “We don’t want that guy around.”
Lewis’ inexcusable offense?
He wore his police uniform to the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park last year. He wanted to show the world that the economic-equality movement is not just the pink-haired potheads and scatterbrained anarchists that some media outlets tend to focus on. He makes sure to tell people he’s retired.
“They thought everyone thought of them as dirty hippies. I made their concerns legitimate to the masses,” said Lewis, 60, explaining how he was greeted by the protesters last year. “Their gratitude was overwhelming.”
Lewis, who wore his police uniform to Southwest Philadelphia’s Elmwood Park on Tuesday for a May Day rally with Occupy Philly and labor leaders, became somewhat of an Occupy celebrity, appearing in Time magazine and on cable news.
All of which continues to infuriate McNesby and other FOP officials. The grievance committee could complete its Lewis investigation by the end of the month.
“He’s not respecting the uniform,” McNesby said. “People died for that uniform. It’s not Halloween.”
Not only should Lewis be punished by the union, McNesby said, he “absolutely” should be locked up every time he sets foot in Philly with his uniform on.
Thing is, Lewis isn’t breaking the law.
In November, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey sent Lewis a cease-and-desist letter, saying wearing the uniform could be “improper and/or illegal.” But, as Ramsey acknowledged in an interview with the Daily News this week, Lewis isn’t impersonating an officer because he’s not pretending to be a cop.
“There’s no basis to arrest him,” Ramsey said.
That’s not enough for Lewis, who worked in the department for 24 years before retiring to New York’s Catskill region eight years ago.
On Thursday, with two documentarians in tow, he was protesting outside the Police Administration Building and FOP headquarters, asking Ramsey to answer for his “thug letter” and McNesby to explain why he wants to infringe on his First Amendment rights. A retired police captain stopped by to offer his support, he said.
“Would you want me arrested if I was protesting cops losing their health care?” Lewis asked. “If I wore this uniform to a cop’s funeral or my mother’s funeral, would they want to arrest me for impersonating an officer? No, it’s because I want to hold corporations accountable.”
Ramsey and McNesby say Lewis’ message is irrelevant; they just don’t want him giving the impression that the Police Department is taking sides in the Occupy debate.
“Police officers are supposed to be impartial,” Ramsey said. “What if he was wearing his uniform to a Ku Klux Klan rally?”
But if it’s all about the uniform, why doesn’t the FOP take issue with Philadelphia lawyer Jimmy Binns? The wannabe cop has been photographed with a Glock on his hip in a look-alike Philadelphia police uniform on a Harley-Davidson that says “police” on the side and is nearly identical to those ridden by city cops.
Binns, through his CopWheels nonprofit, has donated dozens of Harley-Davidsons, bicycles and shotguns to the Police Department.
“It’s two different things altogether. You’re talking about charity work,” McNesby said of the difference between Binns and Lewis.
Nor does McNesby see a double standard in the FOP’s ostracizing a retired captain with no blemishes on his record while the union defends cops with disciplinary problems or criminal convictions.
“You’re talking about guys that are fired and get their jobs back,” McNesby said. “While they’re fired, they’re not out there wearing a uniform.”
Last month, the FOP’s grievance committee held a hearing and invited Lewis to make his case. He ignored them.
“He’s the epitome of a bully,” Lewis said of McNesby. “I was not even going to give that hearing any legitimacy by appearing. To me, it’s a disgrace.”