BREAKING: Sacramento Sheriff Run Down Protester With SUV At Vigil for Stephon Clark

At a vigil for Stephon Clark on Saturday March 31, 2018 at approximately 9pm a local activist was run down by a Sacramento Sheriff SUV. The protester has been rushed to the local trauma center for treatment.

As of 11pm protesters are still gathering. Black Lives Matter Sacramento is encouraging people to show up to the intersection of Florin and 65th Street.

The victim has been positively identified as a well known and befriended local activist, a white female between the ages of 50-60. Details of her current condition are yet unknown but friends of the victim have confirmed her identity.

The SUV made no attempt to stop after the incident.

This comes barely 24 hours after the Clark family released the results of a private autopsy they commissioned for Stephon. The autopsy revealed that Stephon had been hit 8 times out of the 20 shots which Officers Terrence Mercadal and Jared Robinet had fired. 6 of the 8 shots hit Stephon Clark in the back.

A picture of the plates on the SUV were taken and video of the incident went viral within minutes.

This marks the second straight week of protests where the City of Sacramento has demanded justice for Stephon Clark.

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Stephon Clark Autopsy Defeats Police Narrative of the Killing

An independent autopsy paid for by the Clark family revealed that of the 20 shots fired by the police 8 hit Stephon Clark. Six bullets landed in his back with two more hitting him in the upper and lower body.

The fact he was shot in the back defeats the police narrative that he brandished a weapon, or what they thought was a weapon, at them. For him to be shot six times in the back means he was either fleeing or already down on the ground.

Clark’s family was then interrogated by the police as he bled to death, the officers did not alert them that Stephon needed medical attention at any point.

In the videos of the shooting, before even bothering to check his pulse, the officers handcuffed Stephon.

The names of the officers who shot Stephon Clark are TERRENCE MERCADAL and JARED ROBINET.

Hundreds have been attending daily vigils and protests in Sacramento demanding justice. Protesters have denied people access to two Sacramento Kings games and three days of protests outside of District Attorney Schubert’s office have taken place demanding Mercadal and Robinet be fired and jailed.

More protests and vigils are being arranged in the coming days. Sacramento does not seem to be taking this death lightly nor do they seem to be slowing down until the Clark family has justice.

My Recent Car Wreck; Trauma Will Not Win

Like many young writers who play the professional game I picked up a part time job for some extra cash and experience to keep my resume flowing while I still look for the door to kick in and put my foot. I started canvassing for rent control in the city of Sacramento and felt wonderful about it. The hours were flexible, I was working with friends from the DSA, BLM and the other organizations as a part of a cause I whole heartedly believe in. I was getting a work out from walking door to door, it was everything a young writer needed.

Then, on Wednesday March 21, 2018 at approximately 945pm, as I drove home from a normal shift, it all happened.

A sedan in front of me was going 30 mph in a 40mph zone, both of us were in the right hand lane. I merged into the left lane and raised my speed to somewhere between 40-50 mph to pass the car, who I see in my mirror has slowed down because they were texting. I merge back into the right lane, then within ten seconds my windshield shatters, my airbags explode, and a loud series of thuds batters my car into a circle off the road like the Hell’s Angles stomping a narc.

Somehow I had lost control, spun out, and hit a tree on the side of the road. Within ten seconds, my leisurely drive home was to turn into one of the most traumatic ordeals of my life. Within ten seconds my right hand was full of glass, my neck throbbing with whiplash, and my legs trapped under the dash.

Yet I never hit my head, I never lost consciousness, I never went into a panic, at least not until I realized I was trapped and my door would not open.

The impact had shattered my drivers side window, when I realized I was stuck and that the smoke from the engine was growing I bellowed out onto the street. “Help! I was just in a major car accident and I’m trapped! Can somebody help me, please!?”

Within seconds, a man in a blue sweatshirt caring the mascot of a sports team, I cannot remember if it was pro or college, was by my window.

“Hey, are you okay?” he said.

“I think so.” I knew it was only because of the shock, but at this point I felt no pain, and could not think about anything else except getting out of that car.

He proceeded to ask me what happened and while trying to suppress my panic I told him the details as I told you. He assured me I was okay, and he also assured me that I seem pretty cognizant so he didn’t think I was drunk, which I wasn’t. He kept me calm, and called the paramedics, and stayed with me until they arrived.

While we waited he introduced himself to me, “What is your name?”

“James,” I told him, my voice cracking because I felt like a frightened child who just needed an adult, any adult.

“Hi James, I’m Philipe, you’re going to be okay, I’m right here and the paramedics are on their way.”

Philipe, you are a total stranger and you might have saved my life. If you are reading this, contact me. Needless to say I owe you one.

Soon after three cars had stopped and pulled over. One stayed on the corner by the street with flashers on to keep other cars from hitting me. The two other people stayed by me to keep me calm. I never screamed in agony or hyperventilated, I never did anything accept breath and trust my life to these strangers, I felt there was no other way I could survive the situation.

The paramedics and fire department arrived. They shattered the glass on the passenger side to get the car unlocked, but still the jaws of life were needed to pry open the door to get me out.

Once out, I realized I could put no weight on my ankle, so I was immediately put on the gurney and taken to UC Davis Trauma Center. Of course once your on the gurney they could be taking you to Mexico for all you know.

Once you are on the gurney, all you can do is look up, you can see nothing from side to side or even your own feet. I have no idea what roads they took to get me to the trauma center and once there I had no idea where I was going when escorted from room to room. The blood on my hands had dried to a horror film prop crust. The neck brace was chaffing to say the least. I had no control over anything, I do not like that.

The intake nurse made an insulting joke about how I was lucky I only had one beer, and next time I should “use uber.” The paramedics reassured me that I was fine, that they knew I wasn’t drunk, and that nurse was an asshole. I do not want to obsess over it, but I will say that I hope this nurse gets fired, you do not make jokes to patients in the trauma intake center.

I do not want to relive the rest of that night, I do not want to go into all the details because the details are the hell that traumatized me and I just don’t want to relive it, not now or ever again. I will say that all the other staff at UC Davis trauma center were very kind, very understanding, very tender, all of which I needed at the time.

The night was a series of tests, and waiting, and tests, and waiting. Waiting, alone in cold sterile rooms warmed only by a set of blankets haphazardly stacked on me. Waiting. Locked in a position unable to sit up because you aren’t allowed. Waiting, stuck looking only at the lights and ceiling tile because of a neck brace, then more x-rays and tests. All getting wheeled to an from, never knowing exactly where or for what test. Waiting.

When I first arrived and the doctors started their first tests, just after stripping me of my clothes, a social worker asked who they should call. I gave them my mother’s name and both phone numbers. I did everything I could to share every detail I could whenever I was asked a question, no matter what the question was.

I went into detail with the paramedics about Sacramento’s Rent Control Movement that I had been working on when they asked about my job in the ambulance. I told the nurses about the Irish Socialist themed birthday party I had on St. Patrick’s day when they asked me about what I did on St Patty’s, and when it came to the important stuff, my name my address and phone number I made sure to give as stringently and calmly as I could. I think I was doing that to prove that I was still cognizant, still aware of the situation, still myself. I do not know if it was to prove it to them or myself, but I think maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I was still here, as if knowing that I was conscious would remind me that I can get better. That I will get better.

My parents arrived after my first x-rays, all I could do was cry when I saw my mother. A cry like a child cries when he wants his mom to make all the pain go away. “I just want to go home.” I told her as she took my hand with tears flooding my face, “I just want to go home.”

I was not released until 5am. My poor mother had to call in a substitute teacher for her class that morning and my father was passed out until 10am the next morning. My poor father, a disabled person himself and he compensates his nerves with humor, he is the kind of person to laugh when he is anxious. The whole time in the ER where he had a lot of time just waiting he was fidgety, making comments he should not have, but he knew no other way to process the situation. He has a bad history with car wrecks, at my age he was in a similar situation, he was hit on his motorcycle by a drunk driver near Torrance, CA. He almost lost his leg and because it was poor working class hippie versus rich Cadillac drunk driving estate agent, CHP wanted to cite my dad for being in his way. Not twenty years later, my father lost his own father in an auto accident that is shrouded in mystery. My grandfather had issues, so many issues that some of us wonder if this death was actually an accident. The point is between my grandpa, my dad, and myself we are three for three for car wrecks. I do not think that was an easy thing to process and a legacy I hope ends with me.

My mother has been in Mom-mode ever since. Like when I was sick as a boy, she has been doing everything to make me comfortable, but not only that, she is keeping my father grounded because I know this traumatizes him in a way the rest of the family just will never get.

Then there was my sister, my poor sister. She loves and supports me so dearly, for her to see me in that state in the ER, for her to think she might have lost me that night, I cannot imagine what she felt. My sister is an Empath, yes like in Star Trek, she can just look at someone and feel what they are feeling, I know she felt my pain that night and I wish I wasn’t in pain, because then she wouldn’t be either. Later, she was not pleased because the day after the accident I made a point of showing up to city hall and the outskirts of the Golden 1 arena for the Stephon Clark protest. Yes, I was there even with a broken ankle, a bruised lung, and whiplash. We all have our own ways to heal, mine is to keep going. My wounds will heal, Stephon Clark won’t.

My road to recovery could be long or short, I am still not sure. All I know is that in a matter of seconds everything about who I was was taken from me, and that I never realized how dependent on being an able bodied person I was for my identity. I know I will recover, be it weeks or months I will walk again and march again. I did not get the word “Invictus” tattooed on my arm just because it looks cool, I got it to remind myself that I am strong, that I am unconquerable. Yes, I am traumatized. When I am alone for too long I have flashbacks to the accident, to the total loss of control and the moment that the thuds came thundering onto my van. But I will not let this trauma define me. I know this passage has been mostly about pain, fear, and a loss of control that I had never experienced before, but I am not despairing over a few boo boos. I will not let a simple twist of sad and painful fate rob me of who I am. I will recover, I will be fine. But what I will never understand is the how, or the why I survived.

All the paramedics said I was lucky. That when they saw the car they “expected the worst,” and were amazed I was conscious. The doctors and nurses all said the same thing. I do feel lucky. I don’t when the cast on my ankle itches or when the pain meds where off and it throbs but I do feel lucky, and curious.

How the hell did I survive that? How the hell did I not hit my head on the air bag? And why? Is there a why to my survival? Is the God that I do not believe in telling me my life really does have a purpose? Do I just have enough good karma that when the bad things happen to me they aren’t as bad as they could be? Or am I just so lucky that I ought to take a road trip to Reno or Vegas when I recover? I do not know, and to be honest I do not want to care. I do not want to care about the, “Why did I survive?” but I do. Every time I close my eyes and relive the crash, whether I want to think about it or not, I always come back to that question, “Why the hell did I live? Is there even a why?”

I firmly believe in Occam’s razor, that the simplest solution is probably the correct one. What is the simplest answer to my question, “Why did I survive?” Well in my opinion it’s “Because you still have work to do.” I will not trifle myself with questions about meaning or God, the way I see it I survived. Yes, I need to slow down, to recover, but I survived, so I can keep going, because like I said I have work to do.

A Poem for Stephon Clark

Stephon Clark,

A Daddy of two,

Was shot twenty times,

Or was it twenty two?

You see, it’s so easy to get the little things mixed up,

Maybe that is why the cops

Told us three stories that were made up.

Sac PD, here our cries

You will continue to hear them,

The more that you spew lies.

SacPD, we do not want you.

SacPD, we do not need you.

These are the word of BLM

And they ring true.

To all our police, I say

We do not want or need you.

We will block you and scream,

You won’t see your favorite team,

Which by the way hasn’t even been good

Since 2000 and 3.

Have you seen the pictures of Stephon Clark?

With his baby clinging to his arms?

Have you seen the pictures of Stephon Clark?

With his children right next to his heart?

This could have been prevented,

This is true,

And the ones who could have prevented it,

Are not just me and you.

Did not the public demand some oversight

Of our callous police?

If I remember right,

They gave that job to the police?

Who watches the watchmen?

The question of our day.

Who watches out for Stephon Clark?

All of us.

We must do all that we may.

We must love and support one another,

The words of BLM again ring true.

These to me are more than just chants,

They will be the words to make evil finally rue.

Stephon Clark,

I will say your name.

Stephon Clark,

Sacramento will never be the same.

Rest in Peace, dear child, father, and neighbor,

Your death will not be in vain,

It may perhaps be our savior.

The public want’s justice, this is a fact,

But sadly we all know,

This still won’t bring you back.

Dear Stephon, please rest well.

For tomorrow we fight on,

Until your killers are locked in hell.

Rest well Stephon, for you are loved.

Rest well Stephon Clark, your smile will guide us up above.

Sacramento County Supervisor Has Questionable Connections

Unknown to many, Susan Peters of District 3 on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, has been fined just short of $10,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Her crime? She voted on property development that she had an invested interest in.

The Mather Air Force Base closed for operations in the early 1990s and has since provided an economic boom for Sacramento developers, especially McCuen Properties. McCuen is the company started by Peters’ late husband Peter Mcuen and has been recipient of numerous landmark development projects, including the Ziggurat Office building pyramid and US Bank Plaza, now known as Park Tower Plaza.

The FPPC found that Peters was in violation of conflict of interest laws because she voted on the development of Mather projects. Apparently Peters owns property effected directly by her votes on the county board.

Case documents for FPPC No. 14/611 describes the nature of the charges as such;

COUNT 1: Abatement and Demolition: Direct Effect

Peters violated the Act by voting in favor of demolishing buildings within 500 feet of property she owned.

COUNT 2: Conveyance of Land from U.S. Air Force; Direct and Indirect Effects

Peters violated the Act by voting twice regarding the conveyance of land also within 500 feet of her realty properties.

Now, neither of these charges sound very exciting and clearly not much came from them considering the fact that Peters is still in office and that the most exposure this case received was a single story in The Sacramento Bee in 2016. There was also an incredibly short follow-up by The Bee in November of the same year when the fine was paid and the matter closed.

However, what is interesting about the situation is how much of Susan Peters’ investments have gone unscrutinized.

Though Peters has paid her fine, questions about her ethics record remain. For example, the case does not go into detail about the amount of money that McCuen Properties has made on the Mather Air Force Base Project, nor on other projects for which they have received contracts during Peters’ tenure with the county board. Now, why should we care about one property company profiting off of county board decisions? Because, according to FPPC case documents, Peters was still a partner to the business as late as 2015. There is also no info on how many other pieces of land Peters owns within the county. Peters did not admit to any intentional wrongdoing and has recused herself from voting on issues regarding redevelopment of Mather’s Air Force Base but has said little about her current stake in McCuen Properties.

In other words, Peters might be lying about how much of a financial interest she has in Sacramento County. Peters disclosed her financial holdings at the time of the investigation to the FPPC, which can be reviewed easily online. Aside from her personal holdings in McCuen, in 2015 she held stock in numerous corporations, including; ADT Security, Apple Inc. Costco, Ford, International Papers, Marriott Hotels, Lowes, McDonalds, 20th Century Fox, Oracle, Pepsico. The records also show stakes in insurance pharmaceutical companies Bristol Myers Squibb and Cardinal Healthcare.

This list is not even remotely comprehensive. I do not want to imagine how many deals have come before the county board that either directly or indirectly benefited these corporations and the others she holds stock in.

So, what is to be gathered from the fact Susan Peters paid nearly $10,000 in ethics fines to the FPPC?

Well, for one thing, McCuen Properties, which according to FPPC records she was still a partner of as late as 2015, receives millions of dollars from development contracts from Sacramento city and county. Peters has since claimed that she recused herself from votes regarding the redevelopment of the Mather Air Force Base, but is this enough? Can someone who clearly has invested interests in so many corporations be trusted to recuse themselves completely? How many other times have there been votes by the county that directly affect the profits of McCuen properties? How much property does she own personally? There is no way to tell.

What this whole case means is that a capitalist property developer can be caught in an ethics violation, arguably effective in the range of millions of dollars, and only be charged a few dollars in fines while never being forced to publicly admit to wrongdoing.

When asked if she was still a shareholder, no one from McCuen Properties responded. When Peters’ office was contacted with the same question via email her chief of staff, Howard Schmidt, referred me to the same FPPC documents I had already read.

Sources Cited

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/form700/2012/County/N-Z/R_Peters_Susan.pdf

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/form700/2015/County/sub1/R_Peters_Susan.pdf

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/documents/Stipulations/2016/November/09%20Susan%20Peters%20-%20Stip%20and%20Exh.pdf

http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article76322172.html

http://www.fppc.ca.gov/news/political-watchdog-approves-fines-against-Sacramento-County-officials.html

Against Personality Cults

The largest obstacle to creating a united radical left in the United States is the ongoing perpetuation of personality cults. Personality cults inevitably lead to revisionism when we discuss popular socialist thinkers or leaders and this revisionism fuels the sectarianism of the True Left. This sectarianism keeps us from accomplishing things like stopping reactionary state policies and inevitably prevents the liberation of the working class, leaving us at the mercy of the capitalist masters. We can see this sectarianism through personality cults especially when we see comrades make excuses for the shortcomings or problematic stances of famous socialists instead of holding them to scrutiny.

First a few points of clarification; 1. the “True Left” is the body of the communists, socialists, and anarchists who are organizing and growing in numbers as we speak. This has nothing to do with liberals or corporate democrats. Further I must state I am not talking about anything except the theories and policies of popular socialists, this is not about the actions of socialists like Lenin, Fidel, or Mao when they actually came into power but rather this is about the ideas them and other socialists have put forward that both have validity and shortcomings.

2. A personality cult can be described as loyalty to the point of putting the thinker before the thought. The thinker is either infallible or their mistakes are excusable somehow. It is noticeable throughout the left, from loyal Stalinists to diehard Berniecrats. Personality cults are when people are more interested in the personality of the individual rather than the theory or structure of organizing they are proposing. These manifest in some of the oldest cliche arguments that we have seen fill our Leftist twitter feeds.

“Stalin did nothing wrong.”

“Trotsky was right about everything.”

“The DSA killed Rosa.” Etc.

3. Identity politics is when the identity of an individual comes before anything else, in other words who you are as a person is the only thing that dictates your political decisions. Dedications to personality cults on the Left are a form of identity politics, it becomes about the individual versus the individual and prevents a genuine discussion about the ideologies. “I am a Maoist and so you are wrong because you are a Trotskyite!” A simplistic example but one that demonstrates the point that when personality cults manifest in this form of identity politics genuine discussions become difficult. If we on the True Left can’t have a civil dialogue about differing ideologies, both of which agree that capitalism is the central problem, we cannot expect to ever live in a leftist world.

This is not a thesis against any of the great socialist thinkers and leaders. This is not an article discouraging people from supporting Bernie, nor is it discouraging people from enjoying the works of people like Rosa, Lenin, Mao, or Trotsky. I enjoy the work of all these people very much, however I am not about to make excuses for the shortcomings in their theory, praxis, or ideologies. The easiest example to use is Bernie Sanders, he is the politician who I agree the most with out of any other, he factually and numerically has the most policies I agree with than any other politician I can think of. This does not mean I agree with him on everything. Bernie Sanders has some horrifically problematic international policies, especially about Israel, an issue he has flip flopped on. We must not make excuses for these shortcomings, we must acknowledge them and hold him to proper scrutiny so that the policies and rhetoric can be corrected. Excuses play into the fodder of sectarians where as internal scrutiny and self reflection can only help the socialist movement grow, especially if we are able to take away the fodder from the opposition.

When someone loyal to one ideology or thinker finds the excuses made by their opposing ideology, the rift between the two groups continues because as stated above one group now has fodder against the other. This goes back and forth because both sides inevitably are making excuses for their thinkers and leaders instead of listening to the scrutiny of the other side, thus a united radical Left in the United States doesn’t happen.

This is also not an equally distributed problem, I do believe certain schools of socialist ideologies loan themselves to the personality cult more than others, however while the entirety of the True Left is not responsible it is a problem for the entirety of the Left that must be answered.

The answer to the problem is simple, we must be critical and scrutinizing to all sides, ideas, theories, and policies put forward by any public figure, even when they are ones who we agree with or represent our own ideas. Self scrutiny is the key to ending the fodder that can be exploited to derail socialist organizing. We must hold our own to scrutiny, but this does not mean we must think less of our thinkers or leaders. Leftism is still the only true alternative we have in this capitalist world, but what prevents differing True Left ideologies from uniting on a common anti-capitalist platform is the dedication to the person before the theory. We must not let the fact we like certain theorists more than others affect our judgement about the movement and its future.