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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dangerous Minds

There is something wrong with us.  Something wrong that we cannot look away from a person who lies dying in the street. 
“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” – Andy Warhol
(warning: *GRAPHIC*)

I’m no exception.  I watched the video.  I knew what it contained and watched it anyway,  and my first thought was – at least no bystanders were killed, and that’s one less criminal on the street.  

Good grief, I could swear that was Nancy Grace reflected back at me in my monitor just now – judge and jury all in one. 

The 19-year-old suspect of a shooting in San Francisco on July 16th, 2011, Kenneth Harding, was fleeing the scene when detained over not paying for his Muni train fare.  Harding turned and reportedly opened fire on the police, who returned shots and fatally wounded him.  He was a ‘person of interest’ in the killing of a 19-year-old pregnant woman and the wounding of three others in Seattle – all innocent victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a shooting.  He was also recently paroled for the sexual assault of a child.

This is who thousands of people are defending, raging against the police for shooting.  This is the ‘victim.’ 

There are two kinds of anger that are raging across our nation these days, and it seems reminiscent to me of an earlier time:  those on the side of the police, despite their fallacies, and those feeling suppressed by authority, despite their own wrongdoings.  A civil war is afoot, and the blood that should bond us is rapidly thinning as it is shed all over the streets. 

As per usual in our current climate, the blood of this incident was literally captured on video by many witnesses.  The subsequent hate that has spread across the internet like a raging fire in a windstorm is quite disturbing to me.  In a Google search, these are ‘headlines’ that came up:

‘SFPD Shoots Innocent Victim Five Times For Not Paying Bus Fare!’
‘San Francisco Police Shoot And Kill Teenager Over $2 Bus Fare’
San Fran Police Shoot Un-Armed Man Five Times – It Starts A Riot!’
And this is the problem with ‘journalism’ today.  Everyone thinks that their perception of the truth is just that – the almighty Truth.  It’s not.  Nobody knows the difference between opinion and fact anymore despite our cameras that have become extensions of our hands, and we are so bent on creating our own truths that we’ve become quite the distorted society. 
As someone who has a criminal past (albeit never a violent one), has been convicted of a her crimes, who has been poorer than poor, homeless, and angry at the world, there comes a time that everyone faces – time to make a choice.  Spin the wheels of being the victim, or learn, and better ourselves.  I’ve walked in the shoes of both sides, and made my choices. 

Sitting back and watching the many who perpetuate the love for the criminally minded pisses me off.  How about the respect for those who slap on a badge, and in the middle of a routine transit-fare-violation citing are suddenly chasing down an armed suspect and being shot at? 

If the bullets were speeding at you, would you draw your weapon, or stand still while your fellow officers went down?  If it were your loved ones waiting for you to come home that day, their faces in the back of your eyes, what would you do?

Tell yourself all the lies you want to if it will help you sleep better, but my truth is that my life is my priority.  Furthermore, too many officers being shot at actually do take the public’s safety into consideration.  Everyone thanks the soldiers overseas for doing their job to protect us and others, and rightfully so, but nobody wants to thank an officer fighting for our homeland.  Fighting the war that wages on our own streets.

At the end of the day, the loss of a life is a sad affair.  That the priority of people on the scene was to scream at authority and grasp at their 15 minutes of fame with their videos deeply bothers me.  That people refuse to see what is bleeding before them bothers me. 

Everyone else is to blame – never ourselves.  Never those who’ve done wrong.  When street justice takes someone’s life, it’s okay.  Add a badge to the mix and it’s a sudden outcry of injustice. 

A civil war has begun, alright.  Here in our diverse Bay Area, it’s not the blue versus the gray, it’s black and blue all over.  Bruises that discolor the sky over the glorious Golden Gate. 

Tell your truth now – did you watch the video?  And what were your real thoughts as you did?

© Kymberlie Ingalls, July 18, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Too Many Protests Spoil The Pot

Few things scream ‘immature’ to me more than referring to police officers as ‘pigs.’  Especially when screaming it out at a supposed peaceful protest.  Way to get your point across.  Points like “We’re a bunch of uneducated jerks in need of attention – down with The Man!  WhoooooEEEEE!”

It seemed it wasn't a happy-sparkler-waving day for two BART train officers on this 4th of July, when reports came in that a man was "drunk and wobbly" on the platform of the station.  They arrived by train, and within one minute, the belligerent man rushed at them, smashing a bottle that he hurled at them, and waving a knife, all while unsteady on his feet.  One officer shot and fatally wounded the man, who later died at the hospital.

As the protesters gathered at the San Francisco Civic Center station platform, it was obvious to the residents of the Bay Area and anyone familiar with the Oscar Grant shooting last year that ‘peaceful’ is a delusional term when it comes to this issue.  “Three dead in as many years!  Disband the BART Police!”  the fliers proclaimed. 

Only three?  One of which was a criminal with drugs in his possession who resisted arrest, causing the squirmish to begin with.  The shooting itself, accidental – the situation never would have happened, a taser never would have been needed, if he hadn’t resisted. 

And now we have Charles Blair Hill, who, by many accounts, behaved in a way that put every other patron around him in danger.  It doesn’t take much to knock someone from the platform, or to fall himself and cause train wreckage. 

Why is this country so intent on protection of its criminals and the tearing down of authority?  Are we nothing but a bunch of overgrown teenagers who want to take over and let chaos reign?  Who desperately need and want authority but only so as to challenge it every time we don’t want to play by a certain rule?

My husband and I have different opinions on protesting.  He’s more recently begun to value it, encouraging people to make noise and stand up to create change.  I’m for taking a stand as well, but not when it disrupts the lives of those who didn’t sign up for it. 

Thousands of people today just wanted to get home or to work or wherever they needed to be, and because the protesters didn’t keep their word of ‘peaceful demonstration,’ screaming barbaric chants at the security, climbing aboard trains,  they put themselves and passengers in danger, much as Hill had done. 

When will we learn that spreading hate is to our detriment and not conducive to creating the better world we claim to rally for? 

Anger has overtaken our American society.  Somebody else is always to blame for everything, consequences are to be protested, and responsibility is to be claimed by everyone else, but never ourselves.   
Ultimately, it creates an uneducated, disorderly society – one I don’t wish to be a part of.  I don’t have much use for those with closed minds and hypocrisy racing in their veins.  Watching the video from today’s protest, many were almost daring the BART officers to arrest/detain/shoot them.  If an officer did that to a civilian, it’d be called entrapment.

Like a fireball launched from hell, we are headed toward self-destruction at too rapid of a rate.  The breakdown of our culture is becoming swifter every day, and if this isn’t worth protesting, what is?  We can carry our anger up the mountain, but throwing ourselves down the other side won’t improve the view.

Just a short week later, the protesters of San Francisco are at it again, bringing more mayhem and violence to the streets of the Bayview district, ironically to protest the violent death of paroled criminal Kenneth Harding, who was gunned down after allegedly firing his own weapon at officers who returned shots in pursuit.  Harding was also wanted for questioning in the murder of a pregnant woman in Seattle. 

© Kymberlie Ingalls, July 12, 2011

Video: KRON-4 News, San Francisco
KGO-7 News, San Francisco

Friday, July 8, 2011

Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers

What a world we live in today.  The hours I have spent analyzing why we have so much more crime and crazy people on this planet have brought me no answers.  This is why I don't like puzzles.  Putting all the pieces together so painstakingly, then getting to the end and there's one piece missing.  Just one.  But it's that one you need to complete the picture. 

And suddenly, it was all a big, stinking waste of time.

Guns are more accessible today - true.  Violence is much more graphically portrayed in games, movies, television, music - true.  I can't even flip the pages of my TV Guide anymore without some disgusting zombie staring back at me in all their ghoulish glory.  More and more people are being born from drugged up mothers - true.  Results?  More brain damage.  And the population boom increases the odds that much more.  Remember when getting knocked up was a sin, and not a guaranteed check from the government?

Honestly, I don't know if the desensitization to violence is the issue or not.  I'd vehemently argued for this past decade or more that it's parents to blame, who don't talk to their children.  Who don't explain what it means to take the life of another person.  Who don't hold their children responsible for bullying others, or that there are consequences to any of their actions, good or bad. 

Entitlement has become an epidemic in our country.  Natural born killers, homegrown in good old America.  Cult leaders no longer need to work so hard to find followers, it simply takes a few clicks of the mouse and the Kool-Aid drinking begins.  Our children are growing up to see 'stars' such as the Columbine shooters, or Seung-Hui Cho, who tore up Virginia Tech in the name of love.  How about the fame that surrounded John Hinckley, Jr., who attempted an assasination of then-President Reagen to catch the attention of actress Jodie Foster? 

I don't know about you, but I can honestly say that this face sends chills rumbling through my bones.  It is a face of evil, and the face of the up and coming generation of 20somethings invading our society.  Jared Lee Loughner ruthlessly shot at Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, killed half a dozen others, including 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green, and injured more than a dozen other people. 

But to someone out there, he's a hero. 

These are the pied pipers leading the nation. 

Now it is Rodrick Shonte Dantzler's turn in the spotlight.  A shooting spree that took the lives of seven people, and then his own. 

If killings have to happen, the truth is I wish the killer would more often take themselves out.  Save the taxpayers the cost of the trial, and the money to support their life behind bars.  Let them judge themselves, and commence their own executions.  Then we, as a public, don't have to fear that technicalities will place them back on the streets to roam amongst us, to strike again. 

Maybe right now you're thinking how desensitized I am to the value of a human life.  I'll tell you this:  I value my own, and the lives of the innocent, more than I ever will of someone who took the life of another for their own gratification.  I will hero-worship a vigilante any day over the likes of a wannabe star with intent to kill. 

Funny thing is, a vigilante will put more effort into being certain their street justice is validated than most attorneys do in a courtroom. 

Now I wonder who's really to blame?  Society, as a whole?  The makers of video games that exploit the great joy of killing prostitutes while on a crime spree?  Maybe it's even me, with my support of the death penalty, my consumption of television shows that showcase a murder a week.  Maybe.  But I know my rights from my wrongs, even when I'm committing wrong-doings.

The difference is, I'm not out there pulling a trigger.

Adam Lambert - Mad World

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Justice For Caylee

I haven't been following the Casey Anthony trial.  It was a blip on my radar, another mom on trial for a horrendous killing of her child.  If I paid close attention to all of these cases, I'd lose my freakin' mind, and there's already precious little of it left.  So, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be some robo-legal-analyst or anything by dissecting the trial.  What my goal here is.. is to offer a personal reaction to what a friend called "another OJ verdict."

There are things I don't understand about our justice and trial system.  I mean, yes, when someone's life is on the line, regarding life in prison or a capital punishment case, it's imperative that things are done right.  But every system fails at some point, every machine eventually breaks down.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and let's face it - we humans are quite often very weak links. 

In reading the summaries of the case and the trial, I can't help but think - there was duct tape with the remains.  How the hell could this not be evidence enough?  What reason has been given for this?  What was the objection to how it got there?  Only a precious few are going to have the opportunity to sit down with Casey Anthony and ask her why she was out clubbing just a few days after the death of her daughter?  Where is her grief, where has it taken flight to? 

See, I don't believe in heaven nor hell as destinations.  I believe that suffering the 'hell' we see, and experience, on earth is what gets us to a better place, and if we're smart we'll recognize 'heaven' as it comes along.  But suppose I'm wrong.  If there is this heaven that people speak of, what I'd like to know is, where are the angels that I'd imagine have their wings wrapped around little Caylee?  Everything happens for a reason - why this verdict?  Is it that Casey did not, in fact, kill her own daughter for the reasons we assume - this is where the circumstantial judgment comes in - and Caylee's angels guided the jury to their decision so that she wouldn't be watching above and shedding tears upon her mama's imprisonment? 

This is why the idea of God doesn't work for me.  I have too many questions - there is no way on earth that I can just sit idly by and cast it all off as "God knows what He's doing."  Maybe so.  I happen to think my husband is a smart guy and always has a master plan, too, but that doesn't mean I won't ask a lot of questions of him when he pitches ideas to me. 

I... question.. things.  And I suspect I'm not the only one who is wondering why the jury voted the way they did.  I'm sad to say that I just can't imagine little Caylee sleeping peacefully on her cloud tonight, because whether she was brutally murdered by suffocation with that nasty duct tape, or if she innocently drowned but everyone disrespected her memory by covering it up while Mama went out and had herself a good ol' time, something is just wrong. 

“I am happy for Casey,” Defense Attorny Jose Baez said after the verdict. “I am ecstatic for her and I want her to be able to grieve and grow and somehow get her life back together.”  He added that if there was any lesson from the long legal saga it related to the capital punishment. “This case is a perfect example of why the death penalty does not work and why we need to stop and look and think twice about a country that tries to kill its own citizens,” he said. “I think if this case gets any attention it should focus on that issue.”  Baez added: “The best feeling I have today is that when I go home and my daughter asks me what did you do today I can say I saved a life.”

In my line of work, I have no such confidence.  Hence the questions.  I considered a career in law, but there was always a voice that told me "which side would you work for?  What if you tried or defended someone, and were wrong?"  There are no absolutes in this world.  Nobody will ever know the truth - including Mr. Baez - because even in our own minds we bend and twist it into something we can live with.  Casey will do just the same, and likely has from the beginning. The defense team might feel they did their job adequately, but that doesn't prove anyone's innocence.  It just means they sold a hell of a story to the jury.

The truth died with little Caylee as her tiny heart gave its last struggling beat, as the last breath carried her soul from her body. 

Nancy Grace finally may have gotten something right:  "As the defense sits by, and has their champagne toast after that 'not guilty' verdict, somewhere out there the Devil is dancing tonight."

Nancy Grace reacts to the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial

Sarah McLachlan sings "Angel"

On The Flip Side...

So, I've been writing some recently on police and security officers who overstep their bounds and have been caught treating the public they're sworn to protect with an utmost disrespect.  This is a moment I'd like to take to come out in defense of the officers who are doing their duty, and simply trying to make it through another day, and who look at the big picture when dealing with what we see as the small stuff.

It seemed it wasn't a happy-sparkler-waving day for two BART train officers on this 4th of July, when reports came in that a man was "drunk and wobbly" on the platform of the station.  They arrived by train, and within one minute, the belligerent man rushed at them, smashing a bottle that he hurled at them, and waving a knife, all while unsteady on his feet.  One officer shot and fatally wounded the man, who later died at the hospital.

My first question, as was on the minds of many others as we think back on two other shooting incidents in the past eighteen months, is - why did they need to shoot to kill?  I still am questioning why the fatal shot to the torso, rather than the leg or somewhere that would knock him down, but I'm not in their shoes, and perhaps instinct told them "It's him or us."

As one poster said, "Oh, boy, it's Monday morning.  Let the quarterbacking begin!"  As a public, we are quick to judge what sounds like a horrible civil rights violation, but it still keeps coming back to this:  don't do things that are going to require police coming after you, and it reduces your chance of being shot at dramatically. 

When I think about the situation - the man was unsteady on his feet near a dangerously electric rail that isn't hard to fall on, and he was rushing the officers with intent to harm - it does make sense.  This man could easily have knocked any bystander or officer down on the track, or fallen himself and derailed a train, harming innocent passengers.  No matter how you slice the tomato, it's still a tomato.  The man was proving himself to be a menace to society. 

In today's society, I often think there is more empathy for the criminals and the irresponsible than there are for the innocent victims. 

People have been up in arms regarding the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant while he was handcuffed and lying facedown on the ground.  First, the shooting was accidental - no evidence supported the racial claims of the public.  Second, Grant was resisting arrest and carrying drugs.  I don't care how minor the crime, when we attract police attention, we run the risk of such things happening. 

Did Grant deserve to die?  Did this man at the Civic Center station?  I don't know, it's not my place to judge such things.  Did they put themselves in a precarious situation?  Indeed they did, as I have, and have suffered life-changing consequences, so I'm not just talking out of my ass here. 

This may have happened in the Bay Area, but it's not exclusive to San Francisco.  The distrust of authority and government is growing.  The swell is rising a bit more each day amongst the public, until a tidal wave will crash ashore, and it ain't gonna be pretty.  When 'The Man' takes out a civilian, it's not the wrong or right of it that causes the public to roar, it's the strike against one of their own in a battle that's only just the beginning of a new kind of civil war.

KGO -ABC7 News, San Francisco

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old Glory, New Hopes

The debate wages on.  Are we one nation, under God, or just one nation, indivisible?  I'll wager that we are divisible, though, aren't we?

Is God what makes a nation?  Funny, but I thought it was citizenship, and allegiance, as said the original pledge:  I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

God is what makes a religion, which is defined as a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons.  Okay, I guess patriotism is technically considered a religion too then.  I wonder, though, how many Christians would be so tolerant of those who choose to reciteone nation, under Buddha,” or one nation, under Allah.” 

We may be a largely Christian nation, but let us not forget another pledge: 

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Nothin’ in there that if you show up on our shores without a Bible in your hand, it’s a boot to the nearest ship out.  So, for those of you who are passionate about the added (in 1954, to be exact) under God,” – as I see sworn in a very loud declaration frequently on my Facebook page (MY GENERATION GREW UP RECITING THIS EVERY MORNING IN SCHOOL WITH MY HAND ON MY HEART. THEY NO LONGER DO THAT FOR FEAR OF OFFENDING SOMEONE!  LET'S SEE HOW MANY AMERICANS WILL RE-POST THIS AND NOT CARE ABOUT OFFENDING SOMEONE!) – have at it, but please also respect those who still wish to pledge to their nation, but wish to leave God out of it. 

I tell ya though, Red sure makes a compelling argument for the cause:

My ambivelence to religion does not make me less of a citizen.  And on this day of days, Independence Day, I am here alone at 3:04 a.m. and wondering what this day might mean to me.  No holiday of this sort has quite been the same for any of us since 2001, has it?  We went from purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain to we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American Way!”

And the American Way is what we’re really celebrating, isn’t it?  Isn’t this our holiday?  To shout out what we do that keeps our country running, even on its worst day? 

I worked 96 hours last week on the ambulance!

“I drive an 18-wheeler 65 hours a week.”

“I'm at work right now on my 9th straight 12 hour graveyard shift making electricity so everybody out there can stay cool in this heat!!

My husband works every day in a hot, sweaty shop, supplying parts to factories and farmers, with a goal to keep our home and our health.  And he hopes that someday America will find its way back to its independence, and the glory it was built on.

I suppose if I were to preach a sermon from a red, white and blue hilltop, it would be this: 
Let us always learn the lesson of independence. Whether at war with the world, with each other, or ourselves, we should strive for peace, tolerance, forgiveness, and strength in ourselves. For one day, I'm going to celebrate our nation, and hold hope for those in need of home, food and love. When the fireworks have faded, let us remember to reach out our hands to our fellow citizens. Let us rise up, not knock each other down.
“You can see them every morning, working together like spokes inside a wheel, they keep this country turnin’ around.  For everyone who works behind the scenes with a spirit you can’t replace with no machines, let me thank you for your time…”

The Pledge Of Allegiance / Francis Bellamy   
The New Colossus / Emma Lazrus

America The Beautiful / Katherine Lee Bates  
40 Hour Week / Alabama


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