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What if the Las Vegas Killer was Black, Muslim or God Forbid Both

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

las-vegas-The Las Vegas mass shooting and killing by Stephen Paddock resulting in 58 deaths and hundreds of injured individuals is a horrific event in our history.  The media’s focus on the motive of the killer and the whitewashing of Paddock committing the crime loses the point.  There are no good motives for killing anyone—let alone over 50 persons.  Any killer who kills innocent persons while perched from a high-rise luxury hotel shooting them down as if he were playing a video game, is not a good person. Much of the media has gone out of the way to paint Paddock as a regular white guy.  I can’t but help to think how the media would have addressed the killer if he or she were Black, Muslim or both.

Every possible good trait known about Paddock has been mentioned.   From being prescribed Valium to being a high stakes gambler and an apparently wealthy individual with a girlfriend, the media has struggled to make sense out of his killing rage.  Contrasting the depictions of a good white male figure with how the media describes Black or Muslim killers and victims makes me what to scream out loud.

Assumptions of a bad actor are the routine media response when describing even Black victims, particularly when shot and killed by whites.  Trayvon Martin was said to be “up to no good;” Ditto for Michael Brown who was shot and killed in Ferguson.  The media went out of its way to find anything bad associated with Michael Brown. Media accused Brown of a robbery before police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed him. The alleged robbery had nothing to do with Darren Wilson shooting Brown.  Freddie Gray was portrayed as a criminal instead of the six officers who were on trial for his murder.  Eric Garner was portrayed as a criminal selling loose cigarettes illegally instead of a victim gasping for air while being unlawfully choked to death.

And for Muslims who are involved in killings, there is never any semblance of the media looking into the individual’s life for anything good.  Media almost always looks for everything that a Muslim did wrong, any association with ISIS and coming to this country illegally, if they immigrated here.

But when the white mainstream media looks at a white guy killer, like Paddock, they see themselves and wonder how it could happen.   As a former prosecutor, there is never a good reason for a murder or why someone kills and plans a vicious attack on hundreds of innocent individuals.  So, please stop trying to find out why or how a good white guy went bad.  Or in the reverse, look for the same good traits when reporting about Black and Muslim victims and killers.  It is a two-way street—if you care to look both ways.

 

And while you’re looking down the two-way black and white street, make sure that Black history is not erased in the coverage.  First, the killing of 58 persons in Las Vegas was not the largest mass killing in modern U. S. history—as inaccurately rolled on many network chyrons and stated by anchors.   The largest U.S. killing occurred on the early morning hours of June 1, 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  White Tulsa police officers deputized other whites to attack innocent Blacks for what they believed was an attack on a white woman by a black man. In the vicious killing, burning and raping that followed of an entire town of 10,000 Blacks, 300 Black persons were killed; 4000 were captured and placed in jail and thousands more left and never returned.  The area was known as the “Negro Wall Street” in 1921 due to wealthy Blacks residing there. And while some may ask, why is this important at a time like the Vegas shooting?  It is always important to never forget history—and particularly to refrain from erasing Black history.

And lastly let’s remember that all Black is not bad and all white is not good.   And Stephen Paddock was not good—at all.  He was pure evil.  He was a domestic terrorist. So please let’s stop trying to make him out to be a very good white guy gone bad.  He was rotten to the core—his white skin and all.

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She frequently appears on MSNBC, CBS News, PBS, Fox 5 DC and Al Jazeera.  Her opinion articles appear in the Washington Post Huffington Post and Baltimore Sun.

 

Trump Travel Ban 2.0 is Dead on Arrival

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

UnionRallyGroupOn Monday, March 6, Donald Trump signed another executive travel ban.  Instead of pursuing a likely dead end in lengthy litigation on the first ban which affected seven primarily Muslim countries— and also banned those person holding visas and green cards, the Trump Administration decided to start anew.  The second round ban exempted Iraq—still including the same six other Muslim countries. It further made provisions for those with Green cards and visas to be exempted.   However, not much else changed in the real sense of showing a need for a travel ban to Muslim countries.

 

And before the ban took effect, it was shut down by federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland.  Nothing had really changed from the first ban. The first one was shut down in federal court in the State of Washington placing a hold on the ban.  One day after announcing the new travel ban, Hawaii wasted no time at all in filing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii—much like the earlier one filed in the State of Washington last month.

 

 

I give the Trump Administration an “A” on persistence and a “F” on execution.  The most recent travel ban met the similar fate as the first one for the very same reasons.  The earlier ban met its fate as the Trump administration and Justice Department failed to articulate any real security concerns for a travel ban to seven Muslim countries.

 

Removing Iraq from the list was done at the request of apparently the State Department due to its Iraqi translators.   And the travel ban’s exemption of Green cards and visas still does not address if there is any real security reason or threat for a Muslim country travel ban.  The Administration failed to be able to effectively address those security concerns last month.  And courts work on evidence and not campaign promises.

 

These federal courts wasted no time in showing the Trump administration how the three branches of government work.  Both courts recognized the ban was solely against Muslims and therefore violated our constitution.  The judiciary branch shut down the ban as unconstitutional.  And the executive branch of government, a la Mr. Trump, has no alternative but to either further appeal its case in court or attempt yet another travel ban.

 

Mr. Trump is learning a lesson that many litigants learn once in court.  One’s prior words can be used against you in both civil and criminal court. And Mr. Trump’s prior tweets, speeches and words on needing a ban to expel Muslims from our country and prevent Muslims from entering was the reason for the ban.  In one press release issued during the campaign, Trump called for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims.  His own words caused his defeat. There is no national need for security concerns.

 

An unlawful travel ban by any other words is still unlawful.   Mr. Trump’s actions are unconstitutional, against the first amendment on freedom of religion and quite frankly, un- American.  If he wants to make America great again, which many persons seriously doubt, he can start by upholding the US Constitutional in his executive orders.

Freedom of religion is what democracy  and America looks like.  Mr. Trump has yet to learn this civics lesson.

 

DebbieFox5DC2017Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, member of the Supreme Court bar, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor.  She is often seen in the media addressing legal  and political issues.

No Trump, No Way, No How

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThe presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 now seem like a century ago in terms of where the country is now headed.  In 2008 and 2012, President Obama campaigned on hope and change which resonated with voters.  In 2016, we see an extreme form of racism, xenophobia and misogynist campaigning by Donald Trump appealing to many voters.  And with a little of over a month until the election, there appears to be a growing trend leaning now towards Donald Trump.  In November, we could be calling Donald Trump our next president.

 

In the eight years of President Obama’s two terms, I came to realize that racism is alive and well in the U.S.  In fact, it never really went anywhere. While many persons speak of patriotism towards the U.S. and against protests during the playing of the national anthem, there was often little patriotism shown towards our Commander in Chief with many persons, including Republican members of Congress and the GOP Senate disrespecting President Obama throughout his term in unprecedented ways.  Donald Trump capitalized on that disrespect with his Birther movement theories. He has now broadened his attacks.

 

Now Donald Trump’s comments take on attacking women, Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, LGBT and anyone else that appears to attack him or be a perceived threat against him.  Present polls, at least those this week, show the Presidential race is in a statistical dead heat.

 

Some missteps by Hillary Clinton, including how she handled her pneumonia, only added to the surge by Donald Trump.  After the Democratic convention, Hillary Clinton should have been easily able to coast to November and an easy victory.  Her attitude of inevitability is what caused her the Presidential primary in 2008.  This year, Clinton’s attitude of avoiding primary debates along with no press conferences for over 275 days, while Trump commands the airwaves like he owns all of the networks, is working to an extreme disadvantage for her.

 

We are currently on a 24/7 news cycle.  While Clinton and her team may believe that she is better off avoiding press conferences, it is inconsistent with her taunts to Trump to release his tax records.  She avoids transparency albeit in a different way—the result is the same.  The American voter is left without a transparent picture of Clinton or Trump.

 

All is at stake in the November election for Millennials, women, Hispanics, African Americans, Muslims, working families, single parents, LGBT community, unions and even the working and poor white folks who believe their country must be taken back.   Trump regularly spreads vicious stereotypes about communities of color.

 

Trump thinks all black people live in ghettoes with nothing to lose by voting for him. Trump’s appeal to African Americans includes describing   Blacks as having no jobs and living in poverty. His pitch was: “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed.” “What the hell do you have to lose?”  Trump has threatened to change the U.S. Constitution to get rid of birthright citizenship which grants citizenship to all persons born in the U.S.  Birthright citizenship in the 14th amendment is what made all African Americans born into slavery U.S. citizens.  And he still thinks President Obama is not an American citizen—although his campaign representatives differ. So what do African Americans have to lose with Trump? Everything for starters.

 

And remember Trump kicked off his campaign by calling those of Mexican heritage criminals and rapists.  He stated a Muslim judge was not capable of handling a lawsuit against him—due to the judge’s religion. And the centerpiece of his campaign is building a wall on our southern border and making Mexico pay for it. He proposes to ban Muslims along with Mexicans. Trump has suggested appointing judges to turn back LGBT same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights and supports legislation discriminating against transgender people.

 

Polls show Trump and Clinton are not trustworthy in the eyes of voters. The choice between an untrustworthy and aloof Hillary Clinton and a downright racist, ignorant Donald Trump is not a good choice for me.  But it is the only choice I have. Yes, I have discounted out the third party candidates, Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

 

After eight years of President Obama, it’s difficult to realize that our only choices boil down to these two candidates.  I recall Hillary Clinton saying to her supporters who might have wanted to stay home and not vote back in 2008, “No Way, No How, No McCain” in supporting then Senator Barack Obama.  And now we’ve got to say to those voters who might want to stay home in November, 2016, Dump Trump, Ditch Trump and Drop Trump and support Hillary Clinton.  There is no other way.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines, trial lawyer, legal/political commentator and former prosecutor often appears on Al Jazeera, BET, CBS, Fox 5 DC, PBS, MSNBC, NPR among others. She also writes opinion pieces for the Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.