Wednesday, May 09, 2012

It's the Hood not the Hoodie, But.......

Thursday, May 5th, 2012 New Orleans, Louisiana IS IT SAFE TO WEAR MY HOODIE? With summer approaching, I re-arranged my closet last week and put away winter clothes. In the mix was my hoodie. This garment has recently become one on of the most controversial pieces of outerwear in the nation. I wear mine when I exercise outdoors, or when skiing. And yes, depending on when and where it is worn, a hoodie can put you in harm’s way. Just ask the Trayvon Martin family. The death of this Florida teenager was apparently the result of a tragic convergence of events. The facts, at least those that are known, have been repeated continually by the news media and by others with various agendas. Martin, who is a black teenager, was walking in a gated community in the rain, wearing a hoodie. George Zimmerman, a community watcher, who was either on patrol or on his way back home, sighted Martin. Zimmerman felt that Martin looked suspicious and called the police. He was told by the dispatcher that a patrol unit was on the way, and that he should go back to his car and wait. But Zimmerman didn’t, and Trayvon Martin is dead. Four issues need some answers. Is deadly force justified outside the home? The “Castle Doctrine” is the law in most states allowing the use of deadly force to protect oneself inside his or her own home. But what about outside your home? Are you obligated to retreat from an attacker, or can you “stand your ground,” even if it’s safe to get away. In Florida, and in a growing number of states, if you are confronted and feel threatened, but are able to get away, you can go ahead and shoot anyway. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors nationwide, with few exceptions, strongly oppose “stand your ground” laws. They say these laws make it much harder to prosecute those who kill and claim self defense. Killings that are deemed legitimate have skyrocketed in Florida following the enactment of the “justifiable killing” law. But with the law enforcement community strongly opposed to this, should the deadly force rule outside one’s home continue? Should George Zimmerman have backed off? Of course he should have. He was specifically told to do so by the police dispatcher. These instructions, ignored by Zimmerman, would seem to shift the burden to him to prove that he was under attack and in “imminent danger.” He will need a lot of help from the experts analyzing the video that was taken, and by an analysis of the phone message that purports to hear one of the two, either Martin or Zimmerman, crying out for help in order to defend himself. Without some back up evidence in his favor, Zimmerman will face his current criminal charges and certainly a civil lawsuit. Why is there so much press coverage of this particular case? After all, there are killings of young black males every day. If you want to see the worst scenario, just monitor the local New Orleans newspaper down here, where I live in Louisiana. There were 200 killings last year, up 14% from the year before. Those being killed are often young black males. Why is this killing of such extraordinary interest? Is it because of the racial overtones? If the young man killed had been white, and the shooter black, would there be the same outcry? Would California Representative Maxine Waters still be hollering, “hate crime?” Would Reverend Jesse Jackson still be preaching that the young man killed had been “murdered and martyred?” Would Illinois Representative Bobby Rush still go to the microphone in the House chambers wearing a hoodie? Would Florida Congresswoman Federica Wilson still be charging that “this sweet young boy….was hunted down like a dog, shot on the street, and his killer is still at large?” Zimmerman is being vilified by the national news media on a regular basis. I’m not defending Zimmerman’s actions. But why this case? Where is the outrage for the thousands of other murder victims that are barely a blip in the back of the local paper where these killings take place? Is there a difference in the intensity of outrage depending on whether the victim is white, black or Hispanic? Is there a stigma that goes with wearing a hoodie? Read my own personal story and see how you would have reacted. I was in New Orleans last weekend for a birthday celebration at the Blue Room in Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans. I was by myself, and left the party around 9:00 pm for a return to Baton Rouge. I had left my car in a self park garage across from the hotel. I paid the charges, then headed towards the elevator to take me up to the fourth level where my car was parked. As I approached the elevator, a young black man, who was already on the elevator alone, held the door for me to get in. He was wearing jeans, tennis shoes and a hoodie pulled up on his head. The temperature outside was in the 60s. I hesitated. What to do? There was no one else around. Do I get on the elevator with him? Was I in any danger? They say we should not profile. Hogwash. Of course, I profiled. I weighed the odds and felt getting on that elevator was just not the safe thing to do to. I told him: “Just go ahead. I’m waiting for someone.” The elevator closed as he looked me square in the eye. Would I have had the same reaction if the young man had been white or Hispanic? Yes, most definitely. My main concern? It was the hoodie. I just didn’t have a safe feeling. I’m a big basketball fan and follow LeBron James, probably the best player in the NBA. I saw him recently pictured with sun glasses and a hoodie up over his head. If I saw him at night walking down a dark street and not recognizing who he was, my antenna would go up. I would profile and be cautious. Maybe even retreat. An overreaction? Probably. But what’s the saying? “Better safe than sorry.” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie. He’s white and a little guy. But if the hoodie were pulled up around his head, I would keep my guard up. People make assumptions. Yes, they profile. Would Trayvon Martin be alive today if he were wearing a suit? Who’s to say? It may be unfair, but the hoodie didn’t help. Both blacks and whites still have a great divide to cross over. ''There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life,'' Jesse Jackson said several years ago, ''than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- and then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.'' Does such a comment make Jesse Jackson a racist? The press and others with an agenda have turned this whole sordid mess into a black-white face-off. We still have a long, long way to go in reaching a consensus to just get along. So for the time being, I’m putting away my hoodie. ******* Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 AM till 11:00 AM, Central Time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Wasted Security at Airports?

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 Baton Rouge, Louisiana SO THIS TERRORIST WALKS INTO A BAR! I was in the New Orleans airport this week waiting as a family member made her way through airport security with two small babies. Boy, were these guys with the Transportation Security Agency on the job and up to the task of stopping any terrorist threats. They all but strip searched her, opening every baby bottle and jars of baby food. Nothing gets by these guys. Well, except for Arabs loaded down with explosives. No profiling allowed even though terrorist after terrorist fits a similar description. We can’t do that for it would be politically incorrect. Why is it that we profile clothes, but not the person? One guy years ago tries to set off an explosive with his shoe, so every traveler from that time on has to take off the shoes. Two years ago on Christmas day, A Nigerian national boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with his underpants packed with explosives. His frighty whities came with a special pouch to hold the explosives, no doubt sewn by al Qaeda’s finest seamstresses. You can just hear Louisiana’s own Jerry Lee Lewis hollerin’ “Great Balls of Fire.” All to no avail as his crotch bomb failed to ignite, and alert passengers wrestled the terrorist thug to the ground. The Head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was quick to say that “the system worked.” Yeah, right. The attacker’s father, a Nigerian banker, had warned both U.S. and Nigerian authorities that his son had become a religious radical and was dangerous. Britain had refused to grant him a student visa this past May. But his U.S. visa was not revoked and no follow up investigation was undertaken. He almost set off the bomb, but it malfunctioned. And the head of U.S. air security says “the system worked?” So now every week is holiday chaos at airports all over the country. Everyone gets patted down, and detailed questions are asked: “What exactly did you have for lunch?” We live in a world of computer technology where your credit card company knows your shirt size and the brand of deodorant you use. Yet federal officials are not capable of maintaining an updated potential terrorist list. It would seem to be both efficient and prudent to run the passengers’ name though an updated database to flag guys like the crotch bomber. But that would mean we would have to rely on the FBI to do their job and maintain a current system of potential terrorists. Last year, the Inspector general for the Justice Department issued a scathing report highly critical of the FBI for being way to slow in adding terrorist suspects to a national watch list. According to the report: “We believe that the FBI’s failure to consistently nominate subjects of international and domestic terrorism investigations to the terrorist watch list could pose a risk to national security,” the report stated. “The failure to nominate terrorism subjects can also lead to missed opportunities in gathering important intelligence, and it can place front-line law enforcement and screening personnel at increased risk.” And then there is the bungling of the TSA itself. ABC News that: “In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.” Perhaps not the kind of “open government” the White House has in mind. The most sensitive parts of the document include details on how many bags are searched for explosives, which nationalities are subject to extra scrutiny, and other details of airport security that really should remain secret. All in all, a bad year for the TSA, the FBI, and millions of travelers all over the United States. But hey, you can be sure that when a mother travels with her babies, the baby food has been checked and no explosives have been mixed in. Don’t you feel a lot safer? ****** To paraphrase Trotsky in a manner even the most dense can understand: “You may not be interested in man-caused disasters, but man-caused disasters are most certainly interested in you.” Bruno Strozek Peace and Justice Jim Brown Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the nation. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at

Labels: ,