DOGMA AND TOWN: Eight out of eight said Taylor was armed!

THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2021

The Post's idea of evidence: Henry Reed wrote a famous antiwar poem during World War II. 

The poem is called "Naming of Parts." As it starts, a bunch of World War II recruits are being taught the names of various parts of their guns. 

"To-day we have naming of parts." That's how the poem begins.

At this site, on this very day, we're going to start with the naming of an obvious insinuation. The insinuation was published, with high visibility, in last Friday's Washington Post.

In an essay in last Friday's Post, DeVitta Briscoe made it seem that her brother, the late Che Taylor, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by two Seattle police officers. The fatal shooting occurred in February 2016.

Briscoe's insinuation—the insinuation that her brother was unarmed—would seem to be  plain as day. Once again, this is the way her essay began, with a high-visibility placement in the Washington Post:

BRISCOE (3/5/21): I’ve gotten the worst call of a lifetime three times in my life. The first one came in 2001, when I was told that Himey—my best friend and the man I wish I’d married—had been shot and killed. The second came in 2010, when my son Donald—a great student who dreamed of being a film producer—had been fatally shot in the head. The most recent was in 2016, when Che—my big brother and protector—was shot seven times by police, handcuffed, and left to bleed out for six and a half minutes before aid was administered or paramedics arrived. When aid finally came, it was too late. Another person I loved, killed by a gun.

The aftermath of each of those shootings was remarkably similar: the pain, the loss, the stigma. And yet, there was one important difference: how justice was, or was not, done.

Himey and Donald’s killers were convicted and are in jail, paying their debt to society. Che’s killers can still be paid to protect and serve us, despite the fact that they shot him within nine seconds of approaching him, while he complied with orders, and then blamed it on him reaching for a gun in his waistband. There was no gun in his waistband.

"There was no gun in his waistband," Briscoe says. The insinuation is clear:

Briscoe seems to be saying that her brother was unarmed when he was shot and killed. Based upon clear insinuation, that made this yet another case in which police officers were allowed to stay on the job, even after they shot and killed an unarmed man.

As she continues, Briscoe seems to make her point more clear—or does she? As she continues, she explicitly uses the term "unarmed." She also mentions race:

BRISCOE (continuing directly): This is a familiar scenario in police killings. There were no murder or manslaughter charges when Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police while sleeping in her own bed. No charges when Stephon Clark was killed in his grandmother’s backyard for the crime of using his cellphone. No charges when police shot and killed Tamir Rice, a child playing with a toy gun. No charges when police shot and killed Marcus-David Peters while he had a mental health crisis. You ought to know the names by now, and if you do, you also know that there are many more.

The lack of charges in these cases wasn’t the only thing they had in common. All the victims were Black. All unarmed. All shot and killed by police officers. And all young—Breonna was the only one of them to make it to the age of 26. Tamir was just 12. If you add up all their lifetimes, they don’t even make it to 100.

In this passage, Briscoe names four people who were shot and killed by police in spite of being unarmed. Somewhat oddly, she never explicitly says that her own brother was unarmed. 

Even so, we'd have to say that the insinuation is clear.

Tomorrow, we may offer a few points about the other cases Briscoe mentions. For today, we're going to show you what we found when we clicked Briscoe's links—when we clicked the links, or more accurately on the (one) link, that she and the Washington Post provided, apparently to support her account of her brother's death.

As we noted yesterday, the paragraph describing her brother's death is festooned with links. At three separate points, a link appears, apparently offering support of the claims she makes about that fatal shooting. 

The passage offers three links. But all three links lead back to one source—a news report by KING5, a Seattle TV station.

In a rational world, that news report would offer evidence in support of Briscoe's extremely important claim. That said, did anyone at the Washington Post click those links and read that report? Because the news report to which Briscoe links tilts strongly the other way!

Let's be clear. That news report can't settle the question of what happened that day. But is that news report really the Post's idea of evidence in support of Briscoe's very important claim? Because the news report strongly suggest that Briscoe's brother was in fact armed that day, on the day he was shot and killed.

The news report to which the Post links describes the findings of an eight-member "inquest jury"—an inquest jury which had been assembled to investigate the facts in the matter of Che Taylor's death. 

The assessments of those eight inquest jurors can't establish the ultimate truth about what happened that day. But good grief! Below, you see some of the inquest jury's "key decisions," as described by the KING5 report. 

For clarity's sake, the names of the officers involved in this shooting are Miller and Spaulding:

KING5 (2/10/17): The majority of people serving on an inquest jury on Friday said they agreed two Seattle police officers felt their lives were in danger when they shot and killed convicted felon Che Taylor last February.

[...]

Key Decisions

[...]

• Six jurors agreed [that Officer] Miller thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun from a holster on his right hip. Two said "unknown." All eight agreed [that Officer] Spaulding thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun.

All eight jurors agreed a handgun was recovered from the front seat of the sedan Taylor was next to.

The assessments of these inquest jurors can't establish the ultimate truth of what happened that day. But good grief! 

All eight jurors agreed that a handgun was recovered that day. The KING5 report also said this: 

"Some of the jurors who spoke to reporters after the decisions were read said none of the jurors believed the gun was planted."

According to the report the Washington Post presented as evidence, all eight jurors believed that a handgun had been recovered. None of the jurors thought the gun had been planted.

The minute facts of what happened that day are too complex to present in a report of this length. But, as seen in the KING5 report, here are some other statements by these eight inquest jurors in response to the long list of questions they were asked to assess:

QUESTION: Did Officer Michael Spaulding think that Mr. Taylor was drawing a handgun from a holster on Mr. Taylor's right hip?

All eight jurors checked the box marked "yes." 

QUESTION: At the time he fired his service weapon, did Officer Michael Spaulding think Che Taylor posed a threat of serious bodily injury to Officer Spaulding, Officer Miller or others?

Seven jurors answered "yes." One juror checked the box marked "unknown."

As you can see from the KING5 report, the inquest jurors were asked to respond to a long list of detailed, nuanced questions about what happened that day. 

That said, nothing in this news report supports the idea that Che Taylor was unarmed when he was shot and killed And yet, this is the sole source the Washington Post provided in support of Briscoe's rather obvious insinuation—her insinuation that her brother was unarmed that day.

We've clicked a lot of links in our many years at this site—links designed to offer support for the claims in some news report or essay.

We've clicked a lot of links in our time! Sadly, a lot of funny things can happen when you click mainstream press corps links.

All too often, you'll find that you've clicked a "link to nowhere." That is, the link will take you to a source which offers no evidence, one way or the other, concerning the matter at hand.

At the New York Times, something else will sometimes happen, especially in reports about "segregation" in Gotham's public schools:

A reporter may offer a link in support of a certain dramatic claim. If you click the link, you'll find yourself taken to an earlier report in which the same reporter made the same unsupported claim!  

In some cases, that seems to be the New York Times' idea of "supporting evidence!" But so it goes as we struggling humans continue to "beat on, boats against the current."

We frequently find that mainstream press corps links aren't worth the pixels they feed on. But we don't think we've ever seen a link as transparently phony as the one the Washington Post provided last Friday morning with respect a very serious claim  in an essay given a prominent placement in its print editions.

What actually happened five years ago when Che Taylor was shot and killed? We weren't present at the scene. We can't tell you what happened.

We can tell you this:

Five years later, the Washington Post published an essay which plainly implied that two Seattle police officers shot and killed an unarmed man, apparently for no earthly reason (except perhaps his race). And good God:

Five years later, the best source the Post could provide in support of that very serious claim was that (informative) news report by KING5. Unfortunately, the KING5 report presented no evidence in support of that inflammatory if thoroughly standard claim. Indeed, the news report actually seems to contradict the inflammatory if thoroughly mandated modern-day mainstream claim.

Do the dogmas of Woke Belief  constitute a new religion here in the streets of Our Town? We can't necessarily help you with that searching question.

But it's stunning to think that the Washington Post would publish Briscoe's very serious claim, then pretend that the claim could be supported by that KING5 report.

Question: Did anyone at the Washington Post actually click that link? Or has our faith in dogma become so strong that some editor simply knew that Briscoe's claim simply had to be accurate?

As we ponder the Post's behavior, we'll give you Woody Guthrie again:

As through this world I've wandered, I've seen lots of funny men.
Some rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.

As through the years we've trundled, we've seen lots of shaky links. That said, we don't think we've ever seen a link as blatantly phony as the one the Washington Post waved into print last week.

It's amazing to think that the Post did this. It's amazing, and yet no surprise.

Tomorrow: When misstatement becomes a town's norm 



28 comments:

  1. Dear Bob, we're sick and tired of your DeVitta Briscoe.

    Instead of your usual meek criticism of your cult's blue-anon bullshit, why don't you talk about things tabooed by your liberal-zombie cult. For a change.

    Like Liberal Demigod Andrew Mario's Son Cuomo killing tens of thousands of people, for example. Or about apparent advanced dementia in certain leaders of your zombie cult. Or things happening along the southern border. Many, oh so many tabooed subjects.

    Just a suggestion, dear Bob.

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  2. "Six jurors agreed [that Officer] Miller thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun from a holster on his right hip. "

    Those 6 jurors did not agree that Taylor WAS trying to pull a gun from a holster -- they agreed that the officer thought he was doing so.

    The gun was under the seat in the car. It was not in a position where Taylor could have reached it. That means that he WAS unarmed. That means that Briscoe was not lying when she said her brother was unarmed.

    Most of all, this means that Somerby is misleading his readers and maligning Briscoe when he says she was making a misleading implication (by not saying her brother was armed and by that omission implying that he was unarmed, which is TRUE, he was UNARMED).

    What the officer thought and what was actually the case, are two different things. Taylor WAS unarmed. The officer thought he had a gun. This has happened many times before and is the primary defense used by police officers who shoot unarmed people. They claim that they feared for their lives (or that the suspect may have been about to injure someone else).

    Here we have Somerby who refuses to accept that Trump is lying because he says we cannot know what is in Trump's mind. Those 8 grant jurors cannot know what was in that officer's mind either. Because no one can know what was in another person's mind definitively, these officers always claim to have been afraid, and their fear is assumed to justify their actions, even when the person they shoot is unarmed.

    Briscoe didn't lie and she didn't mislead anyone. Her brother was actually unarmed, just as many others have been. It is beyond belief that Somerby would make up such an accusation against her in order to justify his defense of the officers who shot Che Taylor! Blurring the truth about these situations helps nothing.

    We, as a society, need to decide whether fear is a sufficient justification for police to shoot citizens. Attacking the grieving relatives as part of that discussion is an example of bad faith argument in that ongoing debate.

    Somerby should be ashamed, but as we have learned with Trump and the Republicans, shame plays no part in their thinking. So too with Somerby.

    ReplyDelete
  3. De-funding the police is too good for them.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Who needs Tucker Carlson when we have our own Somerby to defend these gallant officers?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "That said, we don't think we've ever seen a link as blatantly phony as the one the Washington Post waved into print last week."

    This is not about a supposedly phony link in the Post. It is about whether you think someone is armed if their gun is in their car under the seat and they are standing outside that car with their arms raised.

    I think the link showed that Taylor was unarmed. Somerby disagrees, but he never addresses that point directly. Instead, he spends his whole column calling Briscoe and the Post liars. That isn't how grown-ups discuss a point of disagreement. It is how propagandists work.

    Woody Guthrie was not talking about police shootings or newspapers when he made that statement. He was talking about wealthy businessmen who take advantage of the working guy. We all know that Woody Guthrie was a part of the radical labor movement. If he were alive today, he would most likely support BLM, not Somerby. Use of his lyrics in a manner inconsistent with the man's own politics is an abuse of Guthrie's memory. The only relevant words are "rob you with a six-gun", but in this case, Taylor was dealing drugs and was unarmed. So there is no reason to be thinking of Woody Guthrie's song at all, except this is Somerby's link to an actual armed person, used in a highly misleading way to make his own case more plausible. The very thing he accuses Briscoe of doing.

    Somerby has no shame.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Somerby says: "It's amazing to think that the Post did this. It's amazing, and yet no surprise."

    Amazing means surprising.

    Definition of amazing (Oxford Languages Dictionary):

    causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing

    I don't think I've ever seen a statement so fatuous from anyone, and yet I'm not surprised either.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a strong hunch that Bob is wrong about this.

    It might have to do with what I call my "1 in 11" rule. I try to limit things I believe but cannot prove to 1/11 of my beliefs. But when it involves race, that fraction is more like 1/5.

    We have testimony here about an ongoing race war that's being fought almost entirely on one side. The testimony is rather straightforward, but defending an unlikable person. The testimony also accuses a beacon of white hope for order in the world. Which side of the scale you put your finger on says more about you than the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "DOGMA AND TOWN: Eight out of eight said Taylor was armed!"

    Eight out of ten did not say Taylor was armed. They said the officers thought he was armed. The gun was found in the car, not his holster, so he was not armed.

    Talk about dogma and misleading headlines!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Somerby claims that we are supposed to be using persuasion by trying to understand The Other. I do not see him using any effort whatsoever to try to understand the concerns of BLM. I don't see him trying to understand why the Washington Post thought Briscoe had enough of a point to publish her opinion piece. Somerby professes to admire empathy when exhibited by MLK or Malala, but he won't try to understand why BLM is upset about these deaths of unarmed (yes, unarmed) black men and women.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Some people have a political agenda to push that says that when blacks are killed by the police, it is the fault of the police. Sometimes it is, more often it is not. She never asks why so many people in some communities attract the attention of the police. She also never brings up why people in her community are killing other people in her community. In fact this accounts for 90% of the violent deaths in her community, but we dare not discuss this.

    ReplyDelete
  11. “Eight out of eight said Taylor was armed!”

    I have never seen Somerby so dishonest. That isn’t what the jury said, nor were they asked that question.

    Here is his version of the King5 report:

    “Six jurors agreed [that Officer] Miller thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun from a holster on his right hip. Two said "unknown." All eight agreed [that Officer] Spaulding thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun.
    • All eight jurors agreed a handgun was recovered from the front seat of the sedan Taylor was next to.”

    Here is the actual text of the report:

    “Six jurors agreed Miller thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun from a holster on his right hip. Two said "unknown." All eight agreed Spaulding thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun.
    • All eight jurors agreed officers did not see Taylor holding a gun after the shooting happened, and agreed officers did not see a gun in a holster on Taylor's hip after the shooting.
    • All eight jurors agreed a handgun was recovered from the front seat of the sedan Taylor was next to.

    Reader, can you spot the difference?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Lauren Boebert has been caught fudging her resume during her past election, including her volunteer activities and whether she has been arrested or not. This hasn't been reported nationally (to my knowledge), but is known in Colorado, her home state:

    https://coloradonewsline.com/2021/03/08/inconsistencies-in-rep-boeberts-accounts-of-volunteer-work-arrest-history-revealed-in-county-records/

    Why do so many conservatives lie about easily verifiable things?

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is an important matter, says Somerby. So why is he so badly misstating what the jury said?

    His concern that reporters can’t “know” whether Trump is lying doesn’t carry over here to a concern with the questions the jury was asked.

    They were asked to decide what the police officers “thought.” How would the jury know that? One might ask if the jurors thought it was reasonable for the officers to assume Taylor was armed at the time he stepped out of the vehicle, but that’s a different question. In the absence of body cam video, and an obscured dash cam, the jury had no visual evidence to corroborate the officers’ assertions about what they “thought.”

    Another issue: the jury agreed that “Miller thought Taylor was trying to pull a gun from a holster on his right hip”, and yet the gun was found in the car. That ... seems inconsistent. No?

    Somerby also ignores the fact that it was later revealed that this statement , that the “handgun was recovered from the front seat of the sedan Taylor was next to” turned out to be misleading (it was actually recovered underneath the front seat), but Somerby won’t admit this later evidence because it wasn’t specifically linked to in Briscoe’s opinion column.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Washington Post: "Racial disparity in police shootings unchanged over 5 years. Half of the people shot and killed by police are White."

    About 500 whites killed each year compared to 250-300 blacks. They are overwhelming people who are armed.

    These numbers are tiny compared to the population.

    Not getting killed by police is not a problem for 42,000,000 blacks, but it is for 200-300 armed blacks. They're nothing that can change this other than banning guns like many other countries have done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And yet, the BLM protests are getting results:

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/killings-by-police-declined-after-black-lives-matter-protests1/

      Delete
    2. All the attention generated by the protests probably caused some portion of this tiny fraction of violent thugs to think twice and to lay down their arms to avoid death.

      Delete
    3. When you say "violent thugs," you are referring to the police, right? There were 300 fewer deaths. That suggests the fraction is not so tiny. Use of body cams and community policing also increased.

      Delete
    4. Glaucon X,
      Neither of us is going to get everything we want. Let's meet halfway and de-fund police departments together.

      Delete
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