Quick Links for July 29th

Some heavy shit’s been going down, let’s make some inappropriate jokes about it in today’s Quick Links!

Don’t call it a comeback (Non-paywalled here)

Just two-weeks after the 1-year anniversary of last year’s summer circus kickoff, Ralph Lee White and Bobby Bivens decided to get the band back together for a reunion tour of City Hall. They’re playing their hits AND trotting out new material as they call for an independant investigation into the James Rivera shooting while sprinking in classics continuing to campaign for the firing/resignation of any city employees who took tickets like Johnny Ford did (Even though nobody took tickets quite like Ford did). Fortunately they were smart enough to not do an encore performance of “You’re a dirty racist!” That didn’t stop a couple of white dudes from doing this analogy’s version of shouting “Freebird!” by trying to play the race card themselves. Note to them, white people aren’t allowed to play that card. Sure, that in itself is kind of racist, but only white people will complain about it. For a reference on that, read the sentence before last.

Regardless, they’re all there to protest the police shooting death of 16-year-old fugitive James Rivera and to allegedly to promote PD accountability. I’m skeptical of that last one, but we’ll get to that in a second. First, some history/back story/catch up.

James Rivera escaped from Camp Peterson  sometime in “late Spring”. I use quotations because late spring is pretty much the most accurate record of when Rivera essentially escaped from jail. Ok, so it was Juvenile Hall, but that’s just a jail for kids (Even if a Goolge search for “Peterson Juvenile Facility” and “Camp Peterson” calls it a school). Yes, a kid as violent as SPD is trying so desperately to make  him out to be left his unlocked(!) dormitory and hopped a 6-foot barbed wire fence on his way to freedom.  In early May police issued a warrant for his arrest. Yet we heard nothing about it until he was shot and killed by the boys in blue on July 22nd. Hell, 19 inmates have escaped from Camp Peterson this year. 8 in May alone! (Note to Camp Peterson: That program isn’t working. Might be time to lock some doors) If Rivera was truly as dangerous as PD tried to make him out to be after they killed him, then someone failed on a horrific level to inform the public about the threat he posed to the community.

(Apologies in advance for all the “allegedly”s. I’m pretty sure I can’t libel the dead, but I’m covering my ass.)

Like Eric Hu before him, Rivera opted to escape to Stockton. Because why not hide out in the place where the most possible people are on the lookout for you? While on the lam he allegedly committed a few felonies. Again, an escaped criminal (who apparently had torture on his rap sheet) was on the loose in Stockton committing felonies and we weren’t hearing about it. Anybody claiming The Record only reports negative news can shut the hell up now. Eventually he allegedly committed the felony that would end him when he allegedly hijacked a minivan at gunpoint and (not allegedly!) led police on a high speed chase through a residential neighborhood in a van matching the description of a stolen minivan.

By now you’ve probably caught on to the rest of the story. PD was given authorization to take action to end the pursuit, bump him, and he crashes into a garage. At this point, details get fuzzy. PD claims he revved the engine as if he was preparing to go at them and they opened fire out of self-defense, eyewitnesses claim they just shot him. On top of all of that, they didn’t find the shotgun he allegedly used to acquire the mini-van. Hooray complications!

Ready for more complications? His mom and legal guardian (two separate people) tried to take him back to Juvie and they wouldn’t take him back because of an ankle injury (which he suffered escaping from the facility they were attempting to return him to). His legal guardian claims to have even worked out a deal with PD to turn him in, but a day before his 17th birthday Rivera saw some cops and flipped out. This is where the story his friends and family are presenting gets incredibly fuzzy/sketchy.

His guardian claims he was learning disabled and couldn’t tell right from wrong. If I can be so blunt, very few 16 year old boys can discern right from wrong. My teen years (and, let’s face it, beyond) were mostly dominated by the never-ending quest to see/touch boobs. I’m pretty sure I would have punched my mom to see the right set of cans.  That being said, if James Rivera was so learning disabled that he couldn’t figure out that stealing a van was wrong, they probably shouldn’t have let him go out by himself. If you’re going to position him as a defenseless kid, then someone has to be responsible for that defenseless kid.

So yeah, there are 2 very distinct sides of the coin. On one side you have PD chasing down a kid they believe is armed in a stolen vehicle driving at high speeds in a residential neighborhood, on the other side you have people asking “why couldn’t you just tase him?” You can see why I’m a bit more skeptical of one side’s argument.

Look, I’m not advocating the murder of every escaped criminal possibly on the loose in Stockton, but when you break out of jail that’s a risk you take. The blame can’t be shouldered solely by Rivera and his family though. Camp Peterson royally fucked up by turning him away because of an injury. “The system” failed James Rivera in the absolute worst way possible, but the last people we should be blaming is Stockton PD. Trust me, I’m am in no way a fan of Stockton PD. For as much shit as I gave the fire department for their bullshit labor negotiations, at least they negotiated. PD outright refused to and erected a bunch of “fuck you” billboards (billboards which included a death toll that I highly doubt Rivera will be added to despite another PD-assisted death being included in the count). Looking past all that bullshit (which the Rivera protesters aren’t doing, but again, we’ll get to that shortly), PD made the only decision they could have. They were pursuing a stolen vehicle at high speeds in a residential neighborhood. As far as they knew, Rivera was armed with a shotgun. Rivera had already shown a disregard for innocent lives by driving at freeway speeds on surface streets, who knows what he would have done had he actually had the shotgun reporting officers were told he had. With the information they had, opening fire was on the very short list of available options. The tenants of the building Rivera crashed into didn’t like PD shooting into their occupied dwelling, but they probably would have hated being hostages more.

So yeah, based on the info PD had to go off of, there’s a more than good chance this independent investigation is going to declare Rivera’s shooting justified. That begs the question, is that the justice protesters are searching for when they chant “No justice, no peace”? Probably not. I really want to think it will be. I would love to believe Andy Pinasco (who has his own dog in this fight), who says that all these protesters want is a transparent investigation, but when I see signs that say “reclaim the city” (note: Their reclamation project is separate from our own. Keep the city, we’re just after championships) I don’ t think of accountability. I think about people who have already made up their mind and decided what’s going on is wrong. Frankly, I’m afraid of what will happen when their told what went on was technically right (even though it was tragic). There are already folks trying to lump this in with the Oscar Grant shooting, despite being entirely different scenarios. This was not a case of “I thought I grabbed my taser”. PD made the only decision they could make with the information available. I hate backing PD so staunchly because of their lame labor deal, and if credible info comes out disputing their claims I will be the first to take myself to task for being such a dumbass, but they get paid so much because they have to make tough decisions like these often. I honestly can’t say what I would do in a similar situation, I’ve never endangered my life on a daily basis like they do, but I sure as shit would have had my gun drawn as PD did just in case something went down. If James Rivera made any sort of threatening motion, whether it be charging the cops or reaching for a non-existent shotgun that they were led to believe he had, than this was a justified shooting. They only have a split second to make a decision, nobody’s thinking “maybe I should grab my taser” because switching from firearm to taser takes more than a split second. PD didn’t put themselves in that escalated situation, James Rivera did. Had he pulled over, he could have theoretically hopped the exact same fence he escaped over a week later. Instead he decided to run and endanger innocent lives. Sure, he was technically a minor, but any dumbass 16-year-old (including a learning disabled one) can look away from a set of tits long enough to realize that you pull over when the red and blue lights come on. Even if you’re a fugitive, and even if it’s almost your birthday. Trust me, it’s better than the alternative.

When too close to call becomes a success in just one short day!

Remember Mike Klocke’s live chat from a couple weeks ago? In addition to questions about 80s rock bands, I also asked semi-serious journalism questions! The initial one being “How’s that paywall thing going?” Yes, it was kind of a snarky question, but he actually answered it! Here’s what he said:

Paywall: There are positives and negatives, and that was to be expected. From a business standpoint, it has worked out well. Traffic is down, which I also expected. I think it would be myopic to call it a success or failure at this time, but signs are promising.

The very next day Klocke’s boss, Record Publisher Roger Coover, took to the airwaves of Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio (which I continually mistake for NPR) claiming the paywall was a success after 7 months.

What changed from July 15th to July 16th? No clue, but I’m guessing a varied definition of “success” is to blame. Klocke didn’t define success, but for Coover success apparently is the website paying for itself. Which is kind of funny because I’m pretty sure it was doing that pre-paywall. Of course, that in itself is a fishy claim since the website’s main purpose is to be another medium for articles that appeared in print. The writers of those articles probably didn’t get paid out of the website’s budget. Shit, if I could get content paid for out of an entirely different budget I’d do so in a second. This one post a week shit just isn’t cutting it. Alas, my threshold for success is probably higher than Roger Coover’s.

As always, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is the stats. Here’s the stats via Roger Coover: 10,000 registered users (“Registered” differs from paying. Registered users can only view 10 stories a month.), 66% of print subscribers pay for the additional online access (rubes!), and 300 users pay solely for online access. Notice the key stat missing? The total  number of people paying for the Record’s online service! Instead, we get percentages that mean nothing since we don’t know the initial numbers those percentages are based upon.

Also, those percentages are misleading since, as I called back when it was announced, the paywall has shitloads of holes that make it ineffective and those stats are based on pageviews. Pageviews that still count when you bypass the paywall through numerous easy methods. Incredibly easy methods like opening any Record article in incognito mode using Google Chrome (which is how I researched this entire post). The paywall’s success was never meant to be measured in how the website performs on its own, it was meant to deter people from cancelling their print subscriptions in favor of free, online-only news. According to Roger Coover’s own numbers, only 300 people subscribe online-only. That’s decidedly not a success…yet. I hear from a reliable source that 7 months isn’t nearly enough time to call it one way or another.

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~ by Slick Diaz on July 28, 2010.

One Response to “Quick Links for July 29th”

  1. Nice post. I agree with your sentiment in regards to the mob of angry people and their polarized view of law enforcement. My issue lies in the fact that law enforcement’s main objective is to serve and protect the public. This, in some unfortunate situations, leads to the use of deadly force. I understand this. I support law enforcement and don’t lump them all into the “trigger happy psychopath” pile.

    I do however think it would be in the best interest of the departments that upon an officer involved shooting resulting in the death of a citizen that the case be presented to the criminal grand jury. The criminal grand jury is a tool that can be utilized by the cash strapped District Attorney office to determine if the case should be heard by a jury. In my humble opinion it is only fair, and truthfully how many officer involved fatal shootings are there.

    I fear giving the law enforcement agencies “oversight” over one another. No matter what they say, cops stick together. I witness this each year at an awards ceremony that I am involved with in which we honor their most accomplished officers. The fear that I harbor about absolute power is the very reason that the grand jury was formed. At the very least, the public could rest a touch easier knowing that a group of peers listened to the testimony and made an educated judgment.

    Or we can continue to draw the line in the sand until it becomes a canyon. I don’t claim to have the answers, only opinions.

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