An Extralegal Execution in Aurora

Very early Monday morning in Aurora, Colorado, 73-year-old Richard “Gary” Black woke up to find a woman on his porch attempting to retrieve her 26-year-old son, who she said was on drugs and not likely in control of his actions. Black raced upstairs, where he found that a nude man, later identified as the 26-year-old Dajon Harper, had dragged his 11-year-old grandson from the living room into a bathroom, where he was strangling and attempting to drown the boy. Black, a Vietnam combat veteran, started to beat the man and reportedly tried to gouge out one of his eyes in an effort to free his grandson to no avail, went and retrieved a handgun, and shot Harper dead.

Black’s wife had been on the phone with 911 and police reported hearing gunshots as they approached the house. Black walked into his living room, where police shot him dead through a window from outside the house. Police reportedly didn’t identify themselves but claimed for “around thirteen seconds” they screamed at Black five times to drop his weapon. The whereabouts of Harper’s mother during the incident are presently unknown. Black reportedly suffered hearing damage from his time in Vietnam, as well as further degradation due to old age, and also likely had very little auditory function after firing a handgun inside of a bathroom. Aurora Chief of Police Nick Metz has blamed Mr. Black’s actions for his death, despite the as-of-yet unnamed police officer being involved in a fatal shooting in June and recently returned to duty.

The same police department that took in Aurora theater shooter James Holmes into custody alive murdered a man defending his family in his own home, from outside the house, who was an entirely different ethnicity and wearing specifically described clothing than the suspect detailed during the emergency phone call. That’s an indictment of incompetence and poor training that underscores the “fearful”, wanton bloodlust of police culture in America, where academies constantly drill a shoot-first-ask-question-later mentality with phrases like “better to be judged by twelve than carried out by six.” Anyone paying attention in the last thirty years knows that phrase is far accurately “better to get several weeks of ‘paid administrative leave’ and no charges.”

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The Highwaymen Are Now Boarding

high·way·man 

/ˈhīˌwāmən/

noun historical

noun: highwayman; plural noun: highwaymen
a man, typically on horseback, who held up travelers at gunpoint in order to rob them.

 

When you get back on a sub-par metropolitan public transit system, especially after a brief respite, there’s sometimes new nuances and customs to learn. I’ve detailed the bad taste in my mouth Colorado’s Regional Transportation District has left after thirteen years of residency and service before, but my most recent return to this town’s buses and trains during arguably the hottest summer this city has ever seen has left me shaking my head in a puzzled, Kafkaesque bewilderment. As the city pushes more and more poor and working class people out, forcing longer commutes, RTD is pushing another fare hike and aggressively pursuing so-called “fare dodgers” on the light rail lines. I don’t know why I even let myself be surprised anymore.

meta-chart

I’ve prepared a graph.

Anecdotally speaking, the vast majority of people I’ve seen ticketed are either underage kids with expired transfers who would be riding on economically negligible fares anyhow, commuters who chanced it instead of missing a train because of slow ticket kiosks and validation processes, and regular, every day people who paid for the “wrong fare.” Armed men, sometimes uniformed security contractors and sometimes plainclothes city police, will board the trains from “random” stops and like hall monitors checking to make sure you’re allowed to be going to the bathroom, pace the aisles checking tickets. If you’re not squared away, they take your identification, take your picture, and put you in a database with a warning. If you’re already in there, you’ll get a ticket for more than $100.

Of course this happened to me.

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Hickenlooper Dithers On The Great Sand Dunes Oil & Gas Lease, Navajo Nation Vows to Protect Land

Bruce Finley at The Denver Post has some great reporting on an upcoming move by the Bureau of Land Management to open up some of Colorado’s wildest land near the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness and The Great Sand Dune National Park to oil and gas interests. Part of a larger effort by the BLM under the Trump administration to open up protected, preserved lands to corporate energy entities, similar fights have also opened up in Utah’s Zion National Park and the Bear Ears National Monument. Despicably but predictably, much of the BLM’s moves directly target sites sacred to indigenous communities, untouched by industry, and in many cases, previously surveyed and determined that the potential wealth extracted isn’t worth the environmental consequences. The 18,000 acres of public lands slated for oil and gas industrialization in Colorado is home to two spiritually important mountains for the Navajo people and residents in the area overwhelmingly want to preserve the area for future tourism, one of Colorado’s largest revenue generators.

Governor Hickenlooper, characteristically wishy-washy, responded to the issues raised by conservationist groups and tribal leaders in a fashion fit for a typical soulless buisnessman:

“We take the concerns regarding mineral leasing seriously and will address new concerns as they are raised.”

The article further notes that Hickenlooper, in contrast to his Utah Republican counterpart Gary Herbert who has barred BLM efforts to drill on protected land, is declining to intervene on the sale despite having the power to do so. State lawmakers opposed to the development are relying on Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Corey Gardner (R), to protect vulnerable fauna as well as crucial watersheds, which is a little like hoping your crackhead neighbors talk their own friends out of burglarizing your apartment and shitting in your bathtub. Continue reading →