Saturday, August 27, 2005
Examination: Southwest unrest
Starting early this year with the Devin Brown incident, which I dissected in this post, Los Angeles has been coming under increasing pressure from groups that specialize in mayhem. The communist group ANSWER has really taken the lead, and has been working behind the scenes in order to stir-up all sorts of trouble, a great deal of which can be read about in this post concerning the near-violent protests held for Jose Pena, the man who held his daughter and used her as a human shield in his shootout with the police. Another group, Indymedia, who has been investigated multiple times by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, posts editorials blaming the police for virtually everything in Los Angeles.
I'm not going to stand in the way of anyone who wants to be heard. The First Amendment of the Constitution allows for anyone standing on our soil to speak their mind, which is undoubtedly one of the greatest rights and freedoms available anywhere in the world. However, with freedom comes great responsibility; you cannot shout "fire" in a crowded theater, verbally threaten to harm someone, or dial 9-1-1 and shout explicitives to the operator because you're looking for attention. At the same time, you cannot demand that others take violent means in order to achieve a goal that you desire. That is known as inciting a riot, and it's exactly what the Nation of Islam's Tony Muhammad did on Friday, August 26th, when he encouraged his followers to take matters into their own hands, days after claiming that ..." we will shut this city down," referring to the investigation into the Devin Brown incident.
Muhammad claimed that he was beaten, kicked, and sprayed with pepper spray by Los Angeles Police officers for no apparent reason, although a transcript of the incident clearly states otherwise.
As the transcript begins, an officer says, "Don't walk behind me, don't walk behind me."
Muhammad replies, "I'm not doing nothing, I'm not going nowhere."
After the officer tells him to "back up," Muhammad responds, "Make me."
The officer again says, "Back up," to Muhammad, who responds by shouting, "Make me."
The transcript ends with the officer calling for "additional units" and the dispatcher asking for clarification on what kind of help is needed. Police, who also played the recording from which the transcript was made, did not explain what happened next and are still investigating who instigated the violence that ensued.
During the Thursday incident in Hyde Park, Muhammad was arrested on suspicion of resisting or obstructing an officer. With his head and lip swollen, he held a news conference the next day. His supporters say police beat him without provocation.
If you take notice of the last line, it states that his supporters believe, even after evidence that is on tape, and in transcript for that clearly depicts his guilt, that the LAPD beat him just for the sake of beating him. What we're dealing with here does not have the makings of people who want to listen and work out their problems within their own communities, but it does have the makings of people who are looking to shift blame and make the Los Angeles Police Department scapegoats in their own internal struggles.
This situation began with paramedics responding to a scene where a drive-by shooting occurred. One of the victims, Nahum Beaird, was pronounced dead by paramedics, who covered him with a sheet and quickly moved to the next victim. While the dead body of Beaird was covered, it experienced a "cadaveric spasm," which is the sudden twitching or movements that dead bodies have as the muscles that were tense at the time of death gradually relax. The medical section of the Academic Database explains this in detail.
Cadaveric Spasm (instantaneous rigor, instantaneous rigidity) is a form of muscular stiffening which occurs at the moment of death and which persists into the period of rigor mortis. Its cause is unknown but it is usually associated with violent deaths in circumstances of intense emotion. It has medico-legal importance because it records the last act of life. Cadaveric spasm may affect all the muscles of the body but it most commonly involves groups of muscles only, such as the muscles of the forearms and hands. Should an object be held in the hand, then cadaveric spasm should only be
diagnosed if the object is firmly held and considerable force is required to break the grip.
Beaird, being a victim of a gang shooting, was most likely under a heavy amount of emotion as he saw his life flash before his eyes as his arch-rivals gunned him down. His body clenched onto life, but eventually lost the battle. However, the community did not understand this, and immediately began to blame the paramedics for not saving his life. LAPD officers responded, and the community eventually blamed the paramedics and the LAPD for what they believed was another case of them not responding fast enough, or not caring enough to save the life of Beaird. What they saw as a proof of life of him still being alive was actually a cadaveric spasm, something the paramedics are quite used to. They believed he was dead, and moved onto another victim who might have a chance at life.
What will become of the events of this situation, which is almost a week in the making? An off-the-books guess is as good as a well researched answer, as the chances of predicting what will happen tomorrow morning as the week begins are impossible. Only time will tell, due to the fact that the community is looking for a reason to blame everyone but themselves, and incidents like this fuel their fire. The best, and possibly the most peaceful outcome to this entire situation would involve self-reflection by the community, and a well defined tactic to relieve themselves of gang violence instead of blaming the LAPD who are doing their best to protect them from it.
UPDATE: The members of the internet community Democratic Underground are already comparing the LAPD to the Ku Klux Klan, complete with photo comparisons. What they fail to realize is that the LAPD is comprised of a majority black, Hispanic, and female base, thus making their comparison more propaganda-based, versus reality-based.