The (Not so) Thin Blue Line

So, have seen the video from DC yesterday?

Reports say the driver crashed the barricade at the beginning and then led police on a pursuit toward the capitol. Well, OK. But it looks to me as if she didn’t crash that barricade very hard, given that I see little damage to the car. Not as much, in fact as hitting a deer at 20 mi/hr would cause, and the airbags didn’t go off either, which would put the speed at <5 mph.


Here’s the driver. She was the lady on the right of the picture. She was a 34 year old dental hygienist, with a history of mental issues. The one-year-old child in her backseat was unharmed. That’s all I know. I doubt we’ll ever know much more.

But to tell you the truth, I see little in that video that couldn’t be someone who took a wrong turn in DC, which is a maze of security barricades any more and bumped one of them. And perhaps panicked when no less than half a dozen police officers pointed guns at her. The pursuit didn’t look all that proficient either, by the way. Not that I’m any expert, mind you, it’s not my field. But it did look to me that if one of those officers had sauntered over and talked to her, they might have been able to defuse it, but I could easily be wrong.

At the end of the chase they ran her off the road, and as she was exiting the vehicle (I presume against orders) they shot her dead. As far as I can tell from the reports she wasn’t armed, for whatever that’s worth. I’m inclined to think they could have waited a second or two before firing the volley but, it seems American police don’t do that any more. They seem to be quicker on the trigger than Wyatt Earp on one of his nasty days.

And another thing

Just how many thousands of police are on duty any given day in Washington, I mean, I know there are a bunch of different police departments and all but, that short video showed at least two dozen cruisers. Every time a story like this happens it looks like enough police to shut down the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. Seems to me Washington has some crime that some of these officers could be working on when the aren’t chasing dental hygienists across town.

Nor does it really say anything good to me about our government that this incident shut down the entire capital city for at least an hour, including the Congress, which got to “shelter-in-place” . While I don’t think Congress should be out fighting crime in the street, it seems a bit extreme to shut the whole place down for what was pretty quickly shown to be a fairly minor incident. But that’s just what I think.

On the other hand

This is completely nuts, from Fox News

A police officer who dropped off his daughter at her Phoenix elementary school was asked by the school’s principal not to wear his uniform to the school because other parents were concerned that he was carrying a gun, reported.

Scott Urkov is a police officer for the Coolidge Police Department. The department told him not to comment to media inquiries, but immediately after he received the no-uniform request, he posted on Facebook.

“Nothing like your kids school calling and asking if I could not come to pick up my daughter in uniform cause parents were concerned when their kids came home telling them there was a man at school with a gun, “ he posted. “Are you freaking kidding me?”

A district spokeswoman told the station that “some parents” voiced concern about seeing a fully armed police officer on the school’s campus. The spokeswoman apologized that Urkov perhaps took the discussion the wrong way.

“It was not the intent of the principal to offend him,” the spokeswoman said.

It may or may not have been the intent of the principal to offend him but, he did, and he offended me as well.

Some day we are going to have to figure out that police officers are people, not automatons, they have a very tough job, and mostly (overwhelmingly, really) they do a very good job. Like anything else, we talk about it when they do something wrong, or stupid, and somebody gets hurt. And often, like all of us, they are simply doing what they have been trained to do, if it not the right thing, it’s not their fault but the fault of their leaders, and us.

And speaking of defective training

Yep, it’s that time again, when cops start holstering and unholstering Glocks, and bad things happen.

Let’s see, 1 century of training police to keep their finger on the trigger (on DA/SA revolvers and pistols), plus 1 “trigger-safety” or Save Action™ (meaning, “no safety”) pistol, plus 1 retention holster that expects the user to keep his or her finger in or near the trigger, plus,  one cop who failed to pay attention in safety briefings = about 1200 feet per second you can’t call back.

Coatesville, PA (Valley Township PD): Do I wrestle the suspect, or draw?

The police officer decided the answer was “both,” and learned to her pain and suffering why that is not the “school solution”. The original headline of the story said “Police officer shot,” and now it has been updated to reflect that she shot herself.

Continue reading  Cops and Cauterization

Just another day in law enforcement: Some good, some bad, and some who knows.




Heroes-70 Years Ago

Warsaw Ghetto monument in Poland

Warsaw Ghetto monument in Poland Photo: Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

70  years ago today, a forlorn and belated bid for freedom and human dignity started. On 18 January 1943 German troops entered the Warsaw Ghetto to round-up 8000 Jews for transport. For the first time they met armed resistance. To say they were surprised would be an understatement, in four days they manged to round-up only between 5 and 6000. The difference in the Ghetto was marked, once resistance began, so did unarmed resistance and hiding as well as many refusing to leave even forcing the Germans to kill them in place.

This self-induced to return to human dignity and the right of resistance was the direct precursor and cause of the much more famous uprising (more like urban warfare) that we remember as the Warsaw Uprising in April when the troops again entered the Ghetto to set about its ultimate dissolution.

The following article is an op-ed from the Jerusalem Post.

The January 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising teaches us a great deal about the human spirit, about resilience and about courage.

In January 1943 there were only 60,000 Jews left in the Warsaw Ghetto.They were what remained of the approximately 440,000 Jews who had been confined there. One-fifth had died of disease and starvation during the past two years, and the previous summer some 265,000 had been deported to the Treblinka extermination camp, and over 30,000 to other camps.

At the start of the great deportation, the head of the Jewish Council, Adam Czerniakow, had committed suicide rather than comply with German demands to provide census information about the ghetto, realizing the Germans would use it for the coming Aktion. His death, however, did nothing to stop the trains from rolling out of Warsaw.

With Czerniakow dead, in the wake of the deportations a new de facto leadership emerged in the ghetto – the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB), headed by Mordecai Anielewicz. The ZOB was a coalition primarily of various Zionist youth movements and the Jewish socialist Bund.

Alongside it there was a smaller armed underground group, the Jewish Military Union (ZZW) which represented the Revisionist Zionists.

ON MONDAY, January 18, 1943, 70 years ago, German forces entered the ghetto to round up Jews for transport.

They planned to take about 8,000 people, but the ghetto population believed the final destruction of the ghetto was at hand. To the great surprise of the German forces, they met armed resistance.

A group of Hashomer Hatsair members, led by Anielewicz and armed with pistols they had received from the Polish Home Army, intercepted a column of Jews being led by a German force and fired upon the solders. In a nose-to-nose battle, most of the underground contingent was killed, but Anielewicz managed to overpower the soldier with whom he was struggling and he escaped unharmed.

The news of the clash spread quickly to other cells of the underground and they too began to resist. Yitzhak Zuckerman, with a party from the Dror Youth Movement, lay in wait for the German force on Zamenhof Street, and when they approached fired a volley at them.

During four days the Germans tried to round up Jews and were met by armed resistance. The ghetto inhabitants went through a swift change.

With the news of the first incident of fighting they stopped responding to the Germans’ calls that they gather in the Umschlagplatz. They began devising hiding places, and the Germans had to enter many buildings and ruthlessly pull out Jews. Many were killed in their homes when they refused to be taken.

On the fourth day, having only managed to seize between 5,000 to 6,000 Jews, the Germans withdrew from the ghetto. The remaining inhabitants believed that the armed resistance, combined with the difficulties in finding Jews in hiding, had led to the end of the Aktion. As a result, over the next months the armed under-grounds sought to strengthen themselves and the vast majority of ghetto residents zealously built more and better bunkers in which to hide.

All of this would be put to the test on April 19, 1943, when the Germans reentered the ghetto, this time to liquidate it completely.

Again they met armed resistance. The fighting would continue for three weeks before the ghetto was razed, and it would come to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

THE FOUR days of Jewish armed resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in January 1943 is much less known than the April uprising, but its significance was great at the time and remains consequential.

At the time, it showed the Jews of Warsaw that offering resistance to the German machinery of murder was possible, even if most realized that fighting had little or no chance to bring salvation.

Nonetheless, this first uprising provided a glimmer of hope, and was an enormous source of pride – tremendously important to people who had been profoundly traumatized by preceding events and had a good idea what was in the offing for them.

Ultimately only a small percentage of Jews survived the Warsaw Ghetto and deportations to the Nazi camp system. We would be hard pressed to say they survived directly because of the armed resistance in the ghetto, but unquestionably, that resistance was crucial in helping the few survivors maintain their pride, dignity and motivation to survive, and ultimately rebuild their shattered lives.

The January 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising teaches us a great deal about the human spirit, about resilience and about courage. It demonstrates that the very act of resistance against oppression can inspire further resistance.

In taking up arms against those who considered them less than human, the men and women in the Warsaw Ghetto on January 18, 1943, issued a resounding clarion call asserting their humanity.

It is this, above all, that we must remember and hold dear.

The writer is the director of the Yad Vashem Libraries, author of Approaching the Holocaust, Texts and Contexts, Vallentine Mitchell, 2005 and Conscripted Slaves: Hungarian Jewish Forced Laborers on the Eastern Front, soon to be published by Yad Vashem and University of Nebraska Press.

And so today we mark a day that should be commemorated by free men as well as those willing to pay the ultimate price for freedom

When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;

when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

Thomas Jefferson


The little-known uprising: Warsaw Ghe… JPost – Opinion – Op-Eds.

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