Friday, July 24, 2015

Just Another Typical American Week: One More Loon With a Gun, Going All Slasher Movie Dysfunctional in Oklahoma, and Profiling Sandra Bland in Texas

According to the latest reports, a number of years ago, Mr. John Russell Houser, had been a frequent caller to a Columbus, GA television talk show. During those calls, he'd  rant about the need to commit violence against people who participated in abortion procedures and women in the work place. The host of the show, Calvin Floyd was quoted as saying  Houser was, "an angry man who made wild accusations." Floyd told the media he put him on the air, "because he could make the phones ring."

When he wasn't improving Mr. Floyd's ratings by entertaining the audiences in Columbus, it appears Rusty Houser was busy scaring the living bejeezus out of his spouse and family. In fact he was so violently bat shit crazy the AP says his wife, who just recently filed for divorce, hid his guns from him. In addition his family kept him locked away in a mental hospital against his will for a while. He was let out only after they had secured a court order instructing him to stay away from them.

The court order looks to have worked, although the whole hiding the guns thing might not have been nearly as successful. Last night, Brother Houser strolled into a Lafayette, LA theater and 20 minutes into the movie "Trainwreck," he stood and  opened fire with a .40 caliber semi automatic hand gun. He was able to pull off at least 13 shots--just because it is so easy to do--killing two and wounding nine, one of them critically.

Police and witnesses say he was apparently planning more mayhem somewhere down the line. After the shooting he tried to blend in with the fleeing crowd in order to escape. However, when he got outside he saw the cops had already arrived, so he retreated back into the theater where he did everyone a favor by blowing his brains out.

A search of his hotel room uncovered wigs and pairs of glasses, but no concrete motive for the shooting, which occurred three years and three days after James Holmes murdered 12 people in a Colorado theater. At this time it is unclear if the weapon Houser used was part of the collection his wife hid, one he bought recently, or a piece he picked up illegally. This being America his options were, for all practical purposes, limitless.

Late, Wednesday, up the road in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, David Bever, his wife, April and three of their kids were murdered in their home. A fourth child was seriously wounded and a fifth--a two year old--was left unharmed.

It didn't take long for the Broken Arrow police to find a couple of prime suspects. As they were going in the front door in response to what is called an open 911 call, the Bever's oldest two sons were slipping out the back. About an hour later they were tracked down by a police dog in some nearby woods and both now await charges.

According to a report in, The Oklahoman, police found, "knives, a hatchet, and other bladed weapons," in the home. A Broken Arrow police spokesperson said of the scene, "It's almost impossible to get your head around it."

Neighbors report all the children were home schooled and were rarely seen outside of their yard. According to one resident they didn't appear to play with any of the other kids in the solidly middle class housing area.

Finally it looks as if Sandra Bland, the African American woman who may, or may not have committed suicide, in a Waller County, TX jail, ended up there because she was black and smoking a cigarette.

The dashcam of Texas Highway patrolman, Brian Encina, shows him approaching her car after he wrote, Ms. Bland up for not signaling a lane change. As she sits at the wheel he asks her if anything is wrong, then tells her she looks irritated. Ms. Bland admits that she is, because he's giving her a ticket for a lane change she made to simply get out of his way.

Then, for reasons known only to himself, Officer Encina asks her to put out the cigarette she's smoking. When Bland refuses, things spin out of control so incredibly fast it takes the breath away. By the time it is over, Sandra Bland is in cuffs and headed off to the local slammer where her bond was set at $5,000. Three days later she was found dead in her cell.

At first glance the incident, while having the trappings of some sort of surrealist tragedy, doesn't seem to carry any overtly racial overtones. But there might be more to it. The Daily Kos uncovered dashcam footage shot prior to the stop. In the extended video, Encina is driving down a road, as Ms. Bland turns right onto it from a cross street. She is headed in the opposite direction. Encina immediately pulls a U turn and begins to follow her.

The trooper speeds up as he trails, Bland's car, quickly closing the gap between the two vehicles. She changes lanes, apparently in order to let him by. As soon as she does he hits his lights and pulls her over. There is no mention in any report, official, or otherwise, explaining why Encina made the sudden U turn. All that's certain is the only violation he could initially come up with is the lane change which happened after he began to tail her.

It doesn't take a great leap of faith to believe Encina saw a black woman behind the wheel of a car with out of state plates and in an instant decided he wanted find out what she was up to, because--you know--she was black. Her not signaling the lane change was simply an excuse of convenience. Even if she had executed it perfectly he would have found another reason to pull her over within a block, or two. The terrible truth is she had been profiled by a white cop because of her race and there was no way she could have avoided being stopped.

And so, there we have it, just another typical American week--one more loon with a loaded gun, an affluent, yet strangely isolated, family gone all slasher movie dysfunctional, and a Texas cop making sure black folks aren't up to some sort of hanky-panky.

Luckily, for the rest of us, the bar is now open.


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