Showing posts with label law enforcement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law enforcement. Show all posts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

It is quite rare, in this day and age, that I get to see a movie with an original story line that is so well written and directed, that I find myself truly forgetting that I am sitting in a movie theater. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is exactly the type of cinematic experience I recommend every movie lover and story lover enjoy.

This movie will drag you out of your seat and make you to empathize with people who are completely unlikable, laugh at things that are tragic, and make you want to hope where there is hopelessness.

Frances McDormand gives a remarkable performance of a grieving mother who cannot reconcile the past without justice. Unable to find peace, she approaches the problem just like she has approached everything else in her life - through confrontation. Her son, ex-husband, the chief of police, and an admirer; all bear the brunt of her abrasive and determined crusade to get a measure of revenge.

Woody Harrelson plays the Chief of local Police. A career lawman who has done well for himself, he is terminally ill, which is apparently the town's worst kept secret. He brings to the story the thematically relevant issue of racism among some police officers, where he shelters a deputy accused of wrongdoing. Butt he is a man of law, giving Frances McDormand's character all the latitude she is legally entitled to, despite her attack that is aimed at him.

Sam Rockwell plays the deputy who is rough around the edges. He is a brute force individual, who has been accused of racism in the past. He attempts to uphold the law and protect his boss, the chief of police at every step; even when it means pushing the envelope of what is legally allowed. He is a foul mouthed, disorganized, and nasty individual that doesn't evoke anyone's sympathy in the beginning. Yet he is key to the unfolding of the story's final chapter.

The theme of the story centers on justice and a measure of revenge. Whether it is revenge for a lost daughter, a fallen co-worker, or any other wrongdoing that a person has been subjected to; the exposure to hatred and anger are key. Throughout the entire movie, the carefully woven undertones show that if you hold on to the hatred and anger, you ultimately become the instrument of injustice - the very opposite of your initial intent.

Judging by the reaction of the theater's audience, it is my understanding that a lot of people didn't get the ending. The problem is that we, the audience, have been often exposed to movies that process everything for us right down the final meaning. It is far rarer to experience a move that leads you down the path to the finale, where all parts are aligned, and leave the finale up to the viewer's interpretation.


My interpretation of the ending is that it doesn't particularly matter whether the suspect is guilty of this particular crime or another crime. It doesn't matter whether the suspect dies or not. What matters is that Sam Rockwell's character finally found his ability to be a detective, guided by a letter from his late chief. What matters is that Frances McDormand's character knows she is not alone and that she finally has hope due to the work of a dedicated police officer. Here is what we know before the screen fades to black:

1) Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell know that the man they are chasing is not the man responsible for the death and rape of Frances McDormand's daughter.

2) They have reconciled themselves that the man they are chasing is evil because he has committed a crime.

3) They have not finalized the decision to kill the suspect. They agree to see how things play out, to determine if he will pay for his crime with his life.

The moral of the story is that the aspect of anger and vengeance that both of these characters live with is a destructive force. It made them both chase down a man who is not responsible for the specific crime at the center of the story. Just because the man must be "guilty of something", forces both main characters to come to the brink of becoming the Judge, the Jury, and the Executioner.

The only plausible poetic unwinding version of this story leads me to believe that the execution will not occur. Whether it is Rockwell's character realizing that it is wrong to take a man's life for another crime, or McDormand's character understanding that killing a man for a different crime will not bring back her daughter; the leading towards this path ultimately is foreshadowed by the doubt in their dialogue as the screen fades to black.

A highly enjoyable cinematic experience. Highly recommended.

I give it 5 out of 5 gummy bears!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Real Crime

Media Madness
Due to the profit-first nature of the modern news era, the real crime committed is by the news media, both conventional and internet-based. This crime manifests itself as a tidal wave of suggestive reports that tend to focus on the worst sensationalist aspects of our society, even when they're untrue. As a result, majority of the population's minds are already set, before any real allegation is put forth. In the world of modern news, everything that glitters is ratings gold.

The problem with Law Enforcement is that it rarely receives the accolades for getting the difficult job done right on a daily basis. However, it always gets crucified in the media when there is even a hint of wrongdoing. It is especially lucrative for the media ratings if that wrongdoing could be made to look racially motivated.

Don't get me wrong - sometimes criticism against the Police is well deserved and there certainly is a history of racial profiling such as traffic stops and searches. However, more often than not, the perceived notion of wrongdoing is promoted by the media for the sake of ratings. Furthermore, if you can get a connotation of a Racially motivated crime by the Police, the ratings will be off the charts. You can get a lot more viewers to tune into the news later in the evening if you pitch a racially motivated crime by the Police, than you can just by simply presenting the news objectively. The concept of a sensationalist story that has no conclusive evidence, just the perception of wrongdoing, is the trademark template of the top prostitute in the 21st century - the news media. 

Recently, we have had two decisions by grand jury not to indict Police Officers in separate and distinctly different cases. I am talking about the tragic deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.

Both cases have been sensationalized by the media with suggestion of white Police Officer misconduct that lead to the deaths of black males. However, upon further review these cases are more about decisions made by individual police officers, rather than a racism epidemic suggested by the mainstream media and Al Sharptonians - (those who seek personal gain through false championing of civil rights). 

Michael Brown and Darren Wilson
The Ferguson Missouri case involved Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson, who robbed a convenience store and were on their way back. The officer, Darren Wilson, initially told the two men to walk on the sidewalk, as opposed to the path of moving vehicles. He then remembered about the convenience store robbery and decided to confront the two men, pulling his vehicle across the path of Michael and Dorian. At this point, Michael Brown approached the vehicle and began and altercation with the Darren Wilson, which led the the first discharge of the officer's firearm. Michael ran away from the vehicle after the first shot was fired. When Darren Wilson called Michael Brown back to the vehicle, Michael Brown proceeded to charge at the officer presenting a threat to his well being. This is the point at which Darren Wilson discharged his firearm in the direction of Michael Brown, mortally wounding him in the process.

As soon as this story broke out, the news outlets focused on statistics about black and white, about perceived prejudice and racial inequality that had nothing to do with the key factors in this incident. As a result, in the minds of many young adults who seek out perceived injustice, Darren Wilson was already tried and convicted of a murder and a hate crime. While it is certainly true that the deceased in this case was black and the police officer was white, this information is secondary and inconsequential to the sequence of events here.

Matter of fact is that Michael Brown committed a crime and Darren Wilson attempted to apprehend him in connection with that crime, when Michael Brown resorted to violence striking the police officer in the process and wrestling for his firearm. In this country, when someone resorts to violence, everyone has the right to self-defense. There's almost no doubt that Darren Wilson protected himself and the community by using his firearm to stop a criminal in his tracks. It is tragic and unfortunate, but Darren Wilson was doing his job fairly and justly. The grand jury also reached the correct decision in this case. While the assistant District Attorney's conduct was inappropriate in presenting the grand jury with an inactive law, it simply did not apply in this case. At the end of the day, in this case justice was served.

Eric Garner and Daniel Pantaleo
The Staten Island New York case involved Eric Garner who was previously sighted selling loosies (loose cigarettes), which is considered a petty crime. Eric Garner was visibly upset at the officers approaching him repeatedly and went on a rant pleading to Police Officers to leave him alone. When he refused to be taken in to custody, the Police Officers approached him and Eric Garner came up behind him, putting him into a choke-hold (which is a technique that has been prohibited by the NYPD since 1993). Eric Garner was then seen on the ground saying "I can't breathe". He was pronounced dead at the hospital. The coroner's report read the cause of death as the compression of the neck and chest. There is no doubt that other health issues contributed to the cardiac arrest and death of Eric Garner, but the main catalyst was the illegal choke-hold by Daniel Pantaleo.

Once again, the news media was salivating at the prospect of disseminating toxic and divisive perceived racism in this case. It was all in the name of ratings, it usually always is these days. The news outlets and online publications became awash with opinions as facts that were so inflammatory, it sparked protests. In this case, however, as opposed to the Ferguson Missouri case, the officer Daniel Pantaleo has been summoned to court before on racial profiling charges and misconduct with respect to minorities.

Regardless of any real or perceived racism, let's proceed to the matter at hand. The video reveals the entire incident, which leaves very little to no room for any ambiguity. There was more than enough manpower available to apprehend Eric Garner without the use of an illegal choke-hold. The tape shows Daniel Pantaleo using the choke-hold to take down Eric Garner, as  Eric Garner notes he has difficulty breathing. In this case, the grand jury decision is the highest forms of injustice toward Eric Garner and his family. There is more than enough evidence in this case to proceed to trial and level a conviction.

What we have learned
Regardless of whether any misconduct occurred, the news media puts forth a highly suggestive case of racism any chance that presents itself, because it is good for the ratings and ultimately the news company's bottom line. This kind of reporting makes the public conduct it's own trial based on suggestive misrepresentation, feelings and public opinion, and not all of the facts at hand. It is a dangerous phenomenon that must be dealt with by education and tolerance.

Focus on the case, not the race. In both cases, just by dealing with the matter at hand and how the law enforcement representatives conducted themselves, you could reach the correct decision without getting the racial aspect involved. Would it have mattered if Michael Brown or Eric Garner were white? No! Law enforcement misconduct is the same across the board and must be treated as a failure in terms of conduct, without racial connotation.

If it's not black versus white, the mainstream media doesn't care. Nobody in the mainstream media even blinked at the death of Dillon Taylor in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 1st of this year. He was a white youth shot and killed by the police outside of a convenience store. However, the news outlets mostly did not pick up this story as it wasn't relevant to their agenda of higher ratings and internet traffic. If the story doesn't evoke raw emotion and spirited opinions, it's simply not newsworthy in the 21st century drowned by sensationalist news norm

My Hope for the Future
One of my greatest desires is that the general population will become a little smarter and more skeptical of the information which the news outlets feed them. It is important to take the news media with a grain of salt these days, realizing that in the end these are corporations that need to make a profit. This leads to them being more of an entertainment news machine, rather than real journalists that report genuine news that have to undergo sufficient scrutiny before being presented to the public as factual information.

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