Same shit, different day.
Juanisha C. Brooks was driving home last March on the Capital Beltway when the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle appeared behind her. She thought it was an ambulance, but she wasn't so lucky. When she realized a cop car was pulling her over, she stopped on the first side street. What happened afterward is immediately familiar to most Black people.
Virginia State Police Trooper Robert G. Hindenlang refused to tell Brooks why he'd pulled her over, but instead insisted she leave her car so he could show her, like it's a hidden camera series called "Most Outrageous Traffic Stops." It's late at night and probably safer for everyone involved, especially the woman who isn't armed, that Brooks remain in the car, but Hindenlang was on a power trip.
Hindenlang's dashboard camera video shows the trooper unlocking Brooks's door and dragging her out of the car, while she “loudly pleaded with him to stop." (That's an instinctive human reaction, but honestly, it probably just get cops off.) He pressed her against the car and handcuffed her.
Brooks told the trooper she'd had a single cocktail a couple hours earlier, which was a mistake because you shouldn't tell a cop the weather. When she refused to take a sobriety test, Hindenlang informed her she was "now under arrest for driving under the influence." Virginia has an implied consent law, which means "anyone operating a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia automatically consents to a blood or breath test if they are arrested for a DWI or DUI type of offense." I'm not crazy about these laws because they weaken a citizen's right against self-incrimination, but apparently it was “difficult" to make drunk driving charges stick without sobriety tests because someone's lousy driving is not always proof they're intoxicated.
The issue here, of course, is that Hindenlang didn't pull Brooks over because he had reason to believe she was driving under the influence. She wasn't swerving around the highway, speeding, or otherwise acting recklessly. No, she had a broken tail light, which is a common law enforcement euphemism for “Black."
Brooks didn't even appear impaired when Hindenlang stopped her. He claimed he detected "a fruity smell coming from her person," like this was an impromptu wine tasting. I imagine him saying, “The lingering citrus notes on her breath told me she had a Pinot Grigio, grown in a cooler climate and from the northern end of the vineyard." Brooks said this was just her perfume.
From the Washington Post:
"Why were your eyes so watery when I pulled up?" Hindenlang asked her.
"Why were my eyes watering?" Brooks, who is Black, answered the trooper. "Because people are being shot by the police. I'm freaking nervous."
Don't expect empathy from a cop. That's not part of the training. Your salty discharge will just confuse them.
Brooks took a breathalyzer test twice at the Fairfax County jail. The result was a 0.0 blood alcohol level, so she was either served an extremely watered-down drink or the average human can safely metabolize a single alcoholic beverage within two hours.
Hindenlang wasn't finished lording over Brooks. He charged her with resisting arrest (a classic), eluding police (a stretch), failing to have headlights on and reckless driving (all bullshit). Brooks copped to forgetting to turn on her headlights while on the brightly lit Beltway, but the Democratic-controlled Virginia General Assembly banned cops from pulling people over for dark taillights, on March 1, days before Brooks's arrest.
Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Descano dismissed all charges after reviewing the dashcam video Brooks's attorney provided. He's also requested that the police conduct an internal investigation, which is like asking Fredo Corleone to check up on his brother, Sonny.
In a letter to police, he said that "the stop was without proper legal basis," given the recent change in the law, and that the "dashcam footage does not provide a factual basis to support the warrants."
Corinne Geller, the spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, defended the stop and arrest.
She said Hindenlang observed Brooks driving "without any headlights or taillights, tailgating other vehicles and making unsafe lane changes, which are indicators of an impaired driver and provided reasonable suspicion for the trooper to initiate a traffic stop." Geller said Brooks was taken into custody "due to her persistent refusal to comply with the trooper's requests" and because of the trooper's suspicion that Brooks might have been driving under the influence."
This is all eleventh-hour CYA. Watch the video. Hindenlang doesn't pull over Brooks because he thinks she's drunk. Making “unsafe" lane changes also isn't compelling evidence that a driver's impaired, unless the entire city of Seattle's wasted.
Brooks works for the Defense Department and has top-secret clearance, so her “whole livelihood" was at risk, as well as her actual life. Defense Department employees can't have any charges when they have clearance. Brooks's superiors questioned her about the arrest.
"I'm nervous because I've seen so many of these interactions," Brooks said in an interview. "I was having a panic attack. … I felt to get out, I would be putting myself in danger."
The usual suspects will argue that this could've been avoided if Brooks simply “complied" with her BS stop. This is a Dred Scott sentiment, where a Black person has no rights law enforcement is bound to respect. A woman shouldn't be forced to exit her car late at night on a dark street. Police encounters are high-stress and pose a tremendous risk to civilians. The average carjacker might kill you but more often will just take your vehicle and leave you alone. You won't wind up in jail, facing jacked-up charges.
The police also don't make traffic stops for fun. Even if you behave perfectly, you could still get arrested and charged with whatever's handy. That's often the whole point. Lauren Bonds, legal director of the National Police Accountability Project, said officers who conduct stops about traffic safety are trained to convert them into investigative stops, "looking for drugs, looking for a reason that would justify more of a search." Cops are encouraged to escalate.
Georgetown University law professor Paul Butler recently told an interviewer for NPR that he brings a police officer into his classes who invites students to ride with him to witness his power. "He tells the students, 'Pick any car you want on the street and I'll stop it,' " Butler said. "He's a good cop. He waits until he finds a legal reason, but he says that he can follow any car for four or five minutes and he'll find a reason. There's so many traffic infractions that any time you drive, you commit one. And that gives police an extraordinary amount of power, and we know that they selectively use this power against Black and Brown people."
These stops aren't about preventing traffic accidents or saving lives. It's all about power.
Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
Looking for someone to give that cash to? Why not us?
Come and get your Tabs!
North Carolina police killed Andrew Brown Jr. 12 days ago and his family had to bury him without actually knowing why he was killed. The absurd delay is because of an even more absurd state law. (Vice)
Shantanu Nundy, chief medical officer of Accolade, and Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, argue in this op-ed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should provide guidance sooner rather than later about when companies should bring workers back to the office. (Washington Post)
Remote work is a necessity for most parents as long as children aren't in school full time. President Joe Biden is still shooting for a grand reopening this fall. (CNN)
Hey, look at that, downtown Seattle isn't dead like a common parrot. It was just resting during the pandemic and is now reportedly “roaring back" as the demand for office space increases. (Seattle Times)
Let's take a quick break from the news to honor the 35th anniversary of the late Robert Palmer's hit "Addicted to Love." This video was everywhere when I was a kid. (Variety)
Senate Minority (damn right!) Leader Mitch McConnell claims that Democrat are “stretching out the pandemic" as an excuse to rebuild roads and bridges and offer universal pre-K. As far as diabolical schemes go, it's somewhat lacking. (CNBC)
The current labor shortage in the restaurant industry is real, but it's not because people are too lazy to work. They just want wages that are worth the risk to their health (and their family's). (Eater)
Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio has ordered Columbus police to stop using force including tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets against nonviolent protesters. This will piss off cops who only come to work so they can brutalize people. (NPR)
Uber and Lyft have plans to coerce voters with threats to withhold certain services if they don't let the companies continue exploiting their workers. Classy. (Reuters)
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is launching a COVID-19 vaccine “Shot and a Beer" program that should encourage grown-ass adults to behave responsibly in exchange for a free beer. Whatever it takes to get us to herd immunity. (Forbes)
This feature about car accidents has me scared to get behind the wheel, and I just got my Oregon driver license. (Yes, I held on to my Washington state one for too long but there was a pandemic, damnit.) (The Atlantic)
This is a great profile of one of my favorite authors, Richard Wright, whose lost novel, The Man Who Lived Underground, is set for release. (The Nation)
Madison Kohout, 19, accidentally moved into a senior living complex. Maybe she read senior as “college seniors." Regardless, this is a classic sitcom in the making. I want Ann Hampton Callaway to sing the theme. (New York Times)
May 4 and 5 are days you can GiveBig to the non-profit of your choice. The arts took a beating last year but with your help (and prompt vaccination), they can thrive again. I look forward to seeing all you wonderful people out there in the dark.
Follow Stephen Robinson on Twitter.
Looking for someone to give that cash to? Why not us?
It's your Sunday show rundown!
There is something utterly fascinating about the current state of the Republican Party. Not fascinating in the way you can marvel at the beauty of an Aurora Borealis, but they way you'd stare at an 18-clown-car pile-up.
The GOP is currently separated into two distinct camps: Donald Trump's loyal "we shall rise again" sycophants and the traditional Republicans who refuse to admit they lost their party when they decided "crazy but electable" was better than "principled yet obsolete." A perfect example of this is Maine's Republican Senator, Susan Collins.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Collins explained why President Biden's infrastructure bill should be smaller (it's as expensive as World War II!), then tried to attack Biden for his lack of bipartisanship, assuming he tries to pass the bill through reconciliation and without the help of
obstructionists Republicans. Host Jake Tapper was quick with the hypocrisy check.
Jake Tapper: "Reconciliation used to pass the Trump tax cuts, though, right?" Susan Collins: "I'm sorry?" Tapper:… https://t.co/AkUBtXA1sC— Justin Baragona (@Justin Baragona)1619962134.0
Guess Collins wasn't so concerned about bipartisanship or the deficit when it was time to shovel money to the rich.
Tapper asked Collins about the rift between the factions in her party and she tried some whataboutism, saying it's the Democrats who have gone extreme. Then she was too cowardly to say who she voted for in the presidential race.
Collins says that when she hoped Trump learned a lesson from impeachment, she was just speaking about his dealings… https://t.co/iJILjUMIA9— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1619965700.0
Tapper then asked Collins about DC statehood, and she made the asinine suggestion that DC should just have itself absorbed into Maryland if it wants representation with its taxation, even though Maryland has opposed this before.
Historians noted that by her logic, Collins wouldn't be a senator.
Maine was part of Massachusetts for nearly two centuries — should we put it back there too? https://t.co/NAFIUMuTlb— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1619995996.0
Collins said DC would get a House representative if it became part of Maryland, but also suggested it would "gain" representation in the Senate by merely having Maryland's two senators. Of course, for much of the country, having "representation" in the Senate is really ... not having representation. (Do the many Democrats in Texas have Senate representation from Ted Cruz? Really?)
She also suggested there were some grave constitutional hurdles to DC becoming a state, but as the Washington Post explains, there really aren't. All it really says is that the federal capital shall not be larger than "10 miles square." Nonvoting DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced legislation to fix it by reducing the federal district down to a two-square-mile enclave, which would include the White House, Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and other federal buildings. The rest of DC would become the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth (to honor Frederick Douglass).
But if we are gonna merge states, why stop there? Let's reunite the Carolinas, Dakotas and Virginias! That would solve some of our Kristi Noem, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito, Richard Burr, Tom Tillis and Tim Scott problems. all in one swoop! I mean if we are gonna be strict constitutionalists, then it's our only choice. Of course, Collins wouldn't want that because it would hurt Republicans.
As for other Republicans on Sunday shows, here are some quick hits.
There's the aforementioned South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott, saying on "Face The Nation" that he's been "stopped eighteen times driving while black," and then immediately praising police for donating toys during Christmas.
There's GOP Senator John Barrasso on ABC's "This Week," perpetuating the Republican lie about the infrastructure bill only being "six percent" for infrastructure, and immediately being called on it by host Martha Raddatz.
Martha Raddatz fact-checks Sen. John Barrasso in real time as he lies about Biden's infrastructure proposal https://t.co/tKQOUrxDAA— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1619966279.0
Would Barrasso like more of what he considers infrastructure in the bill? He didn't seem too clear on that.
Louisiana GOP Senator Bill Cassidy got tripped up on "Fox News Sunday," trying to come up with things he'd cut from Biden's infrastructure bill.
Wallace presents Cassidy with receipts showing that the Trump tax cuts he supported disproportionately benefitted t… https://t.co/9d40YClMNe— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1619964941.0
It's Sundays like these when you realize why the Republican Party allowed itself to be taken over by the craziest extremes and why there is no going back for them. They are a party of an ever-shrinking constituency, stale ideas, and whose only "governing" theory is that government shouldn't help the people it was meant to help.
They just don't know what to do with the Biden administration actually, you know, governing.
Have a week.
Wonkette is fully funded by readers like you. If you love Wonkette, FUND WONKETTE.
He would call them fuckers, because he cusses like a Wonkette.
Not long after the January 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol, which was incited by former president Donald Trump, a DC Metro Police officer named Michael Fanone gave a memorable interview where he talked about insurgent rioters who actually listened to his appeals to their humanity and tried to help save him from the rest of the terrorists, saying, "Thank you, but fuck you for being there."
"Thank you, but fuck you for being there.” - D.C. police officer Michael Fanone on his response to the few rioters… https://t.co/Xj8J4UqZmN— Vera Bergengruen (@Vera Bergengruen)1610725579.0
They had "grabbed [his] helmet, pulled him to the ground and dragged him on his stomach down a set of steps." They beat him with a flagpole. A man named Daniel Rodriguez is charged with shooting him with a stun gun, which caused him to have a minor heart attack. They had screamed "We got one!" and "Kill him with his own gun!" He ended up with a brain injury and PTSD.
Fuck you for being there, indeed.
In March, a man named Thomas Sibick was arrested in Buffalo, New York, for brutalizing Fanone at the Capitol, and also stealing Fanone's badge and his radio. The badge was found where Sibick had left it, which was in his backyard, where he buried it.
Fanone gave CNN's Don Lemon an interview last night, and he is still pissed. He's especially pissed at people like Donald Trump and Republicans — to be clear, he didn't name names — who are trying to rewrite the history of January 6. To restate the obvious (these are Wonkette's words), what happened that day was a terrorist attack Trump incited and elected Republicans egged on, as they jerked off to Trump's fascist Big Lie fantasies about winning an election he actually lost.
Now we'll let Fanone speak:
Officer Michael Fanone tells @donlemon it’s been very difficult to see elected officials whitewash what happened on… https://t.co/4fPDtp7eQb— CNN Tonight (@CNN Tonight)1619577621.0
FANONE: It's been very difficult seeing elected officials and other individuals kind of whitewash the events of that day or downplay what happened. Some of the terminology that was used, like 'hugs and kisses' and 'very fine people,' is very different from what I experienced and what my co-workers experienced on the 6th.
Trump said that in March, on Fox News. He said his terrorists "went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards."
FANONE: I think it's dangerous. It is very much not the experience I had on the 6th. I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me to accomplish their goal. And I think that ...
Fanone cut off there, because he was getting emotional. (That happened several times during the interview.) He then continued:
FANONE: I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life, let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades. It was nothing I had ever thought would be a part of my law enforcement career, and nor was I prepared to experience [it].
He says he's a pretty "apolitical person," and that he likes his politics like he likes his Olympics, AKA every four years. He said the rest of the time, "I don't give a fuck." (We like how this guy says "fuck" every time he's on CNN.) But he talked about how during the Trump administration, there was a lot of "pandering towards law enforcement" and said he and a lot of his colleagues were "susceptible to that." So that really made it jarring for him.
FANONE: To have a group of individuals, or someone who espouses to be a law-and-order official or a law-and-order president, and then experience what I experienced on the 6th [...] that was difficult to come to terms with.
Fanone shared his own account of what happened to him and his fellow officers during the Trump attack, saying he thought it was a "distinct possibility" that he was going to die.
Toward the end of the segment, after another emotional moment, Lemon asked him to encapsulate his thoughts:
FANONE: How we managed to make it out of that day without more significant loss of life is a miracle. [...] Again, it was the most brutal combat imaginable.
The second segment was more of the same. He says he "absolutely" wants the police to release his bodycam footage and then try to "deny that January 6 was anything other than violent and brutal."
He also delivered this quote:
FANONE: I want people to understand the significance of January 6. I want people to understand that thousands of rioters came to the Capitol hell-bent on violence and destruction and murder. And that 850 MPD officers responded there and really saved the day. I want people to understand the stories behind those 850 officers. Those officers are moms and dads, they're sons and daughters. They have children and families.
And also this quote:
FANONE: January 6 was real. It didn't happen in a fucking movie studio in California.
Seriously, dude cusses like Wonkette.
In the second half of the second segment, Lemon and Fanone also had an interesting discussion about the state of policing outside of what happened to him, specifically about racism in policing. You should watch it.
“Thousands of rioters came to the Capitol hellbent on violence and destruction and murder” Watch part 2 of… https://t.co/ihdVZ1x3WM— CNN Tonight (@CNN Tonight)1619579021.0
Speaking of Capitol terrorists, the former president is still pushing his fascist Big Lie about winning an election he lost, indeed with more fervor than in the preceding weeks, and Politico reports that judges and prosecutors in cases against accused Capitol terrorists are making that part of their arguments and rulings over why those charged are a continuing danger to society.
"Former President Donald J. Trump continues to make forceful public comments about the 'stolen election,' chastising individuals who did not reject the supposedly illegitimate results that put the current administration in place," Judge Emmet Sullivan wrote in a recent opinion ordering the detention of Jan. 6 defendant Jack Whitton, charged with one of the most brutal assaults that day.
"[S]uch comments reflect the continued threat posed by individuals like Mr. Whitton, who has demonstrated that he is willing and able to engage in extreme and terrifying levels of violence against law enforcement with a chilling disregard for the rule of law … seemingly based on mistaken beliefs about the illegitimacy of the current administration."
Prosecutors have also begun citing and echoing Sullivan's rationale. The latest incarnation came Monday, when assistant U.S. attorney Jessica Arco noted in court that Trump "as recently as today is still talking about this 'rigged' election." Arco was arguing for the pretrial detention of Nathaniel DeGrave, a Trump loyalist charged with assaulting a police officer outside the Senate chamber.
"The defendant is of course entitled to his political preferences," Arco said. "But given his prior acts of traveling across the country with weapons to 'stop the steal' and interfering with the peaceful transition of power on behalf of his idol, and his idol's continued inflammatory rhetoric about a stolen election, the defendant continues to pose a ... threat to the community."
Read the whole thing.
Kinda unsettling on the day the new president is set to give his first joint address to Congress, don't you think?
But please, Republicans, tell us more about how January 6 was no big deal. Tell us more, GOP Senator Ron Johnson, about how you weren't scared that day because the terrorists "were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law," by which you meant they were white, and we know you meant that, because the next words out of your pig mouth were about how you would have been scared if they had been "tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters."
We think Officer Fanone would approve if we just ended this post by telling folks like Johnson to go fuck themselves.
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter RIGHT HERE, DO IT RIGHT HERE!
If you happen to have some extra money right now, we would take it.