MATENS: The Police Killed Ta’Kiya Young. This Shouldn’t Happen Again.

Comply. That’s all she had to do. Get out of the car. Follow the officers [sic] directions. If guilty, you’ll be arrested. If innocent, you won’t. Either way, you’ll have access to lawyers, processes, etc.

Not a .0000000000000001% chance she was innocent. 

Sounds like a real winner. The Left/Media [sic] will make her out to be the next Mother Theresa.

It’s become an entitled race that more and more sees what’s happening in the cities and believe [sic] they don’t have to follow police orders or even follow the law. Their community needs leadership in a bad way.

Just follow police instructions. How are people so uneducated about police? At the time police engage you is not the time to argue. If you get arrested you will have your day in court. MIND BOGGLING!

21 and has two kids, one a 6 year old. So she was 15 when he was born, possibly still 14 when conceived. Not hard to see where the problems start is it. And now these kids with no mom and almost certainly no dad to speak of, the cycle begins again in a few short years.

Right or wrong, the cop has the gun. 

Cop: Get out of the car.

Driver: Why?

Driver is already wrong and should understand that a tragic ending is now closer to being possible. 

Not tragic. More like public service.

All of the above are straight from the comments section of a September 1 New York Post piece on the shooting deaths of 21 year old, 7 month pregnant, Ta’Kiya Young and her unborn daughter by a police officer in Ohio.

Whether you are black or white, Democrat or Republican, male or female, Christian or agnostic . . . Those comments—which attach to actual members of society, though certainly keyboard warriors at their worst—should turn your stomach.

A 21 year old young pregnant mother and her fully formed unborn daughter were killed in cold blood over the alleged shoplifting of a few bottles of liquor. A police officer, paid with taxpayer dollars to Protect and Serve, declared himself judge, jury, and executioner by wantonly escalating an accusation of a misdemeanor as he placed himself in front of Ta’Kiya Young’s car and pointed a gun at her chest.

Have you heard the story? I am sad to say I first heard of the incident on September 9, more than 10 days after Ta’Kiya and her baby were killed. And I read the news every day. Why isn’t this the story everybody everywhere is talking about? Because trust me—whatever your knee jerk reaction to this situation, even if you are a hardcore LEO supporter and feel the NY Post commenters got it right—you need to hear what I have to say. Not one of us can afford to ignore the wake up call.

And if you happen to be libertarian, please read on so you can enjoy the part where you get to say, “We told you so.”

From Jordan Laird, of the Columbus Dispatch: Young and her unborn daughter died Aug. 24 after a Blendon Township police officer shot Young through the windshield of her car in the Kroger parking lot at 5991 S. Sunbury Road. Based on a report from a store employee that Young allegedly shoplifted, police approached her four-door Lexus sedan and told her repeatedly to get out.

One officer stood next to the driver’s side window, speaking with Young, while the other officer, identified by Young’s family and their attorney as Connor Grubb, pulled his gun and stood in front of the vehicle. Body camera footage shows Young turned the steering wheel and the car moved forward, hitting the officer, who fired one fatal shot through the front windshield.

According to Michael Rubinkam and Samantha Henderson with the Associated Press, featured in the Northern Virginia Daily, TaKiya Young had big plans for her growing family before police killed her in an Ohio parking lot: Before her death, Ta’Kiya Young had bounced around a bit, staying with her father in Sandusky and working as a ticket taker at Cedar Point amusement park. More recently, she’d been staying with her grandmother in the Columbus area, a few hours from Sandusky, to celebrate the family’s summer birthdays and participate in a remembrance of her mother, Dan’neka Hope, who’d died a year earlier.

Ta’Kiya’s mother’s death had “kind of messed with her,” Nadine Young said, and she urged her to get counseling. Ta’Kiya and her grandmother—both of them strong-willed—clashed at times. But their bond remained unshakable, and they spoke every day.

Ta’Kiya also struggled with housing insecurity but had not been in much serious trouble in her short life.

In 2021, she was arrested following a traffic stop in Whitehall, Ohio, in which police said she refused to get out of her car when ordered. Court records indicate Ta’Kiya was jailed briefly before pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. But she moved past that incident relatively quickly, according to her grandmother and the family lawyer. Court records also said she had open charges for petty theft in which her address was listed as “homeless.”

Despite Ta’Kiya’s struggles, a bright future seemed on the horizon for her. She intended to go back to school after the birth of the baby this fall. She had her sights set on a house.

“The struggle was going to be over once she got into the house,” Nadine Young said. “Her and the kids having this nice place, knowing it was theirs, and not having to stay with other people. That was the biggest thing in the world for her. She would’ve been set.”

This week [a few days after La’Kiya and her daughter were shot and killed], a notification from the public housing authority came in the mail.

She’d been approved.

“That hurt me to my core,” said Nadine Young, “because she was waiting for that letter.”

[Ta’Kiya’s grandmother Nadine] Young said the video of Ta’Kiya’s violent death was heart-wrenching to watch, the shooting void of any humanity or decency at all.

In the video, an officer at the driver’s side window tells Ta’Kiya she’s been accused of shoplifting and orders her out of the car, while a second officer stands in front of the car. Young protests, both officers curse at her and yell at her to get out, and Young can be heard asking them, “Are you going to shoot me?”

Seconds later, she turns the steering wheel to the right, the car rolls slowly toward the officer standing in front of it, and the officer fires his gun through the windshield.

Nadine Young said she believes her granddaughter feared for her safety.

“I believe he was a bully,” she told a news conference on Wednesday, referring to the officer who shot Ta’Kiya. He came at her like a bully, and that scared her with that baby in her stomach. She’s like scared, just a man walking up to her, cussing at her, and she not really knowing why.”

Now, if you struggle to believe Ta’Kiya was too scared to “just comply,” consider that data shared by NPR on Morning Edition by Cheryl W. Thompson in 2021 reveals that Since 2015, police officers have fatally shot at least 135 unarmed Black men and women nationwide.

So, those of you still with me . . . If you are white, if you are middle class or wealthy, if you have a village of LEO and politicians as connections, or if you were afforded the privilege of living to grow older and wiser, then you may be looking at the situation through tinted lens (or better yet, rose colored glasses). Don’t. Think about being 21 years old, being killed over the mere accusation of a misdemeanor, and being judged by the masses for the minor mistakes of your youth—forever. Ta’Kiya Young is gone; a police officer violently ended her life because he set out to, and he thought no one of any significance would care or hold him accountable. He chose to intentionally escalate a simple situation by right from the jump threatening a 21 year old pregnant Black woman—accused of misdemeanor shoplifting—with a gun aimed at her chest ready to take her life and that of her daughter. And he did exactly as he set out to do; he executed Ta’Kiya Young and her unborn child who was grown enough to survive outside the womb. If you are an American citizen, this officer betrayed you, stole from you, and told you police are to be feared and obeyed at all costs while your constitutional rights mean nothing.

We cannot let this officer be right. The United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave, is a constitutional republic governed by the Constitution of the United States of America; it is not a totalitarian police state. But if people like you and me don’t stand up for Ta’Kiya Young today, we may well wake up in George Orwell’s nightmare vision 1984 tomorrow.

Libertarians have for decades been vocal about concerns with police overreach.

J.D. Tuccille in 2020 wrote for The Rattler and published on ReasonDotCom, Where Are Libertarians on Police Reform? Right Where We’ve Always Been: After the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, America is finally embracing police reform. As is so often the case in matters of personal freedom, libertarians were here long before mainstream political counterparts and fought a frequently lonely battle against abusive government power. Now, just as they did with same-sex relationships, drug reform, and the ongoing battle against the surveillance state, people across the political spectrum seem ready to concede that a little more freedom could be a good thing. If the effort succeeds, we may not get the credit—newly converted reformers are already trying to separate the cause from its long-time promoters —but at least we’ll live in a better world.

Going beyond window-dressing, libertarians favor minimizing opportunities for police to act against the public and making any interactions as non-confrontational as possible.

In 1971, the fledgling Libertarian Party (L.P.) called for “the repeal of all ‘crimes without victims’ now incorporated in federal and state laws,” such as the prohibitions on drug use that have driven so much of the escalation in aggressive police tactics. The same platform declared itself opposed to “so-called ‘no-knock laws'” of the sort that got Breonna Taylor killed by cops this year when they crashed through her door at night, unannounced, looking for illegal drugs.

In cases of police misconduct, libertarians favor holding government agencies and their employees accountable for their actions.

That police agencies too often foster abusive conduct was no secret to libertarians long before the Minneapolis Police Department failed to implement reforms that might have saved George Floyd’s life.

“Civil libertarians need to recognize that federal prosecution of law-enforcement officers who use excessive force often provides the only check on such unrestrained state power,” Dirk G. Roggeveen urged in the pages of Reason as Americans reacted to the 1991 police beating of Rodney King.

Through these years, police not only misbehaved but also came to act like an occupying army lording it over a hostile populace.

“Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work,” Radley Balko cautioned for the Cato Institute in 2006. He expanded his argument in his 2013 book, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the only Libertarian in Congress, literally wrote the bill that would eliminate qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that makes it so difficult to hold police accountable for their bad behavior unless courts in the same jurisdiction have already ruled that such conduct is wrong.

If Congress doesn’t rise to the occasion, the Supreme Court could. Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor both look eager to revisit the mess the court created when it invented qualified immunity.

No-knock raids, which so often end in tragedy when police kick-in the wrong door, or when suddenly awakened residents try to defend against intruders, are also getting a second look. Louisville, Kentucky is considering banning such warrants, a half-century after the Libertarian Party proposed exactly that.

City council members in Minneapolis are even talking about disbanding the police department amidst a national, though ill-defined, movement to defund police. Whether or not that’s an improvement depends on what comes next. Retaining harsh enforcement by another name will continue the abuses, the intrusiveness, and the disproportionate use of state violence against disfavored communities under nothing more than different branding.

Maybe that’s why it’s taken so long for people to seriously consider police reform, and why they’re so resistant to giving libertarians credit on the issue. Real change requires not just dropping the word police but reducing the opportunity for government agents to use violence against the public. That means fewer laws to be enforced and less intrusive enforcement of those laws. That’s a hard pill to swallow for ideologues who are committed to forcing people to do what they don’t want to do, or to forcibly stopping them from exercising their own preferences.

Libertarians should be happy that Americans are ready to discuss police reform. But we’ll have to see if the country is actually prepared for less policing.

Retired officer Jeff Wenninger, a lieutenant with 30 years with the Los Angeles Police Department and  a background in the investigation and adjudication of lethal force incidents, tells us in a guest column (Ta’Kiya Young shooting video shows incompetent, “potentially criminal” acts) for the Columbus Dispatch: I would not characterize the actions of the officer who fired the round, killing the 21-year-old pregnant mother and her unborn daughter, as an excessive use of force, because at no point in this encounter was force justified.

What I observed was nothing short of a violent, potentially criminal act, perpetrated on nothing more than an uncooperative individual.

An officer’s decision to use lethal force must be “reasonable,” and consider the severity of the crime; the extent of the actual threat posed; and the availability of less severe alternatives.

And in this instance the questionable decision to draw a firearm and stand in front of a vehicle, an act that precipitated the shooting, must be considered when determining whether the use of deadly force gives rise to negligent liability.

We as a nation condemn these seemingly endless acts of police brutality to the point that law enforcement has become an institutional outlier, disconnected from the belief system of society.

Now is the time to establish how best to become more integrated with society. And we know what needs to be done.

President Joe Biden invited the parents of Tyre Nichols, the young man beaten to death by the Memphis police, to his State of the Union address, to represent those who have been victims of the police.

The optics were powerful, but missing was a plan to effect change in our 18,000 police agencies that currently have no national standards to uphold . . .

Also, he [President Biden] must pursue bipartisan measures to modify the legal principle of qualified immunity. I support the original premise to protect officers from frivolous lawsuits, but it must not preclude one’s ability to hold an officer accountable for substantial misconduct, excessive use of force, and other violations of law.

We know policing is broken. And now is the time to fix it. But if we continue to do nothing, there will be more needless deaths at the hands of the police, and more police pain inflicted upon us all.

Seriously, this issue is not white versus Black. And it’s not citizens versus police. If you can’t seem to care about Ta’Kiya Young, surely you can muster a little righteous indignation at the overarching thought of bad police officers running roughshod over American citizens to the point of beating, torturing, raping, and killing the people they are paid by citizens to Protect and Serve. Because we let them. Because Ta’Kiya Young’s story isn’t our story. Because we are comfortable in whatever form of privilege we enjoy and don’t think unchecked police brutality will reach us or our families.

You’d do well to remember If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

And if Desmond Tutu isn’t your jam, then how do you feel about Jesus? Because you cannot truly be a Christian if you lack love for God’s children, your brothers and sisters in Christ—even those who don’t look like you, who disagree with you, who make mistakes and sin differently than you . . . The Scriptures have a lot to say about loving like the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, e.g.: Romans 5:8—But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:12—This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

Leviticus 19:18—Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.

And finally, Micah 6:8—He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Back to the 135 unarmed Black men and women fatally shot by police between 2015 and 2020 . . . Cheryl Thompson told us on NPR’s Morning Edition: Those who study deadly force by police say it’s unusual for officers to be involved in any shootings.

“Many officers will go their entire career without shooting—sometimes without pulling their gun out at all,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist and professor in the School of Public Health at Louisiana State University and co-author of The Badge and the Bullet: Police Use of Deadly Force.

NPR reviewed thousands of pages of job applications, personnel records, use-of-force reports, citizen complaints, court records, lawsuits, news releases, witness statements and local and state police investigative reports to examine the backgrounds of the officers [involved in the 135 fatal shootings] and analyze details of each shooting [including those that were in response to mental health calls]. We also interviewed use of force experts, criminologists, police, lawyers, prosecutors and relatives of victims.

Among NPR’s other findings:

At least six officers had troubled pasts before being hired onto police departments, including drug use and domestic violence. One officer had been fired from another law enforcement agency, and at least two others were forced out.

Several officers were convicted of crimes while on the force, such as battery, and resisting and obstructing, but kept their jobs. In one instance, officials in a tiny Louisiana parish repeatedly fired and rehired a deputy who got into trouble with the law: three times over 30 years, records show.

Nineteen of the officers involved in deadly shootings were rookies, with less than a year on the force. One was on the job for four hours, another for four days. More than a quarter of the killings occurred during traffic stops, and 24 of the dead — 18% — suffered from mental illness. The youngest person shot was a 15-year-old Balch Springs, Texas, high school freshman who played on the football team. The oldest was a 62-year-old man killed in his Los Angeles County home. Nearly 60% of the shootings occurred in the South, with more than a quarter in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana, NPR found.

The killings have led to at least 30 judgments and settlements totaling more than $142 million, records show. Dozens of lawsuits and claims are pending.

Unnecessary and unreasonable:

Nathaniel Pickett II was walking back to his $18-a-night room at the El Rancho, a seen-better-days bungalow motel along historic Route 66 in Barstow, Calif. It was shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2015, and Nate, as his family called him, often took evening walks. As the 29-year-old former engineering student crossed the street, he caught the eye of Kyle Woods, a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy. Woods made a U-turn into the motel parking lot, jumped out of his cruiser and approached Pickett, police records show.

He demanded Pickett’s name and birthdate. Pickett complied. In fact, he did everything Woods asked of him, including taking his hands out of his pockets. When Woods asked him if he lived at the motel and where he was from, Pickett said he didn’t know. When Pickett asked if he had done something wrong, the deputy said he just wanted to talk to him.

“What’s the problem?” Pickett asked Woods nine times as the deputy peppered him with questions about whether he had ever been arrested (yes), if he had lived in Barstow all of his life and where he was going.

“There is no problem,” Woods responded.

Pickett asked if he could go to his room where he had lived since moving to Barstow seven weeks earlier. Woods would later admit under oath that he knew he had no probable cause to arrest him and that Pickett had the right to walk away. But when he tried, Woods grabbed him and told him “to stop resisting.” Woods threatened to use a Taser on him. Pickett put his arms up and was running toward his room—Room 45—when he tripped and fell in the breezeway. As he scooted backward from Woods, the deputy caught him. The two scuffled while a male citizen volunteer on patrol with Woods watched from a few feet away. Woods punched Pickett 15 to 20 times before pulling out his service weapon and threatening to shoot him. He fired, hitting Pickett twice in the chest—once with the barrel of the gun pressed against the man’s chest.

“Ow,” Pickett moaned. One of the bullets pierced his heart and left lung. Pickett was pronounced dead at the scene.

Woods, on the force for two years at the time but on the street for just a few months, said he shot him because he feared for his life.

Woods, who is Black, didn’t give a statement to police about the incident for 28 days. And when he did, he said that he stopped Pickett after seeing him hop the motel fence. He thought Pickett was trespassing, and he was fidgety, like he might be under the influence, Woods said. Pickett had marijuana in his system, and his blood alcohol level was 0.01%, far below the level to be considered legally impaired, records show.

The deputy never faced criminal charges in Pickett’s death, but the victim’s family filed civil charges. And when he testified under oath at the civil trial, Woods told a different story: He said he never saw Pickett jump over the fence and that the gate actually was open. He also said it never occurred to him that Pickett could be mentally ill. Pickett was diagnosed with mental illness during his freshman year at Hampton University in Virginia and had been treated through the Mental Health Court in San Bernardino in 2012 after a conviction for resisting a peace officer and “false personation,” records show.

Scott DeFoe, who spent two decades with the Los Angeles Police Department, testified as an expert witness at the civil trial. He said that Woods’ use of force was “unnecessary and unreasonable.”

“This is probably one of the worst cases I have looked at because of the mental health component,” DeFoe testified. “There was no crime. … He ran as he had a lawful right to do.”

Woods later shot another unarmed man in the chest 3 times after tasing him (supposedly because of an alleged gun that was never found at the scene), who woods pursued to the point of a car crash because the driver’s license plate was not illuminated . . .

“Each case is different,” said Ramos, who was the district attorney from 2003 to 2018, when he lost his reelection bid for a fifth term.But when you apply the facts to the law, that’s what you look at.”


Ramos defended officers, saying that they have an impossible job.

Taking someone’s life is not easy,” he said. “It’s not something they brag about or high-five each other about. It’s the last thing they want to do.”

Is that true, though?

Here in Louisiana, we should remember Ronald Greene and the fact that Louisiana Master Trooper Chris Hollingsworth, according to multiple sources, bragged about beating the ever-living f—  [out] of Ronald Greene in 2019.

According to Oliver Laughland in New Orleans, as published in The Guardian: The US Department of Justice has announced a federal civil rights investigation into the Louisiana State Police following a series of brutality cases and the fatal beating of a Black motorist, Ronald Greene, in 2019.

The sweeping investigation will examine whether the police force has engaged in a “pattern or practice” of excessive force and racial discrimination. It marks the first time in more than two decades America’s justice department has investigated a statewide law enforcement agency.

“Based on an extensive review of publicly available information provided to us, we find significant justification to open this investigation now,” said assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke at a press conference in Baton Rouge.

The justice department received information related to excessive force used against individuals suspected of minor traffic violations, those already handcuffed or not resisting, Clarke said.

Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, and the state police superintendent, Lamar Davis, were briefed on the investigation shortly before it was announced and promised “support and cooperation,” Clarke said.

The state police force came under sharp focus after the in-custody death of Greene, an unarmed 49-year-old, who was arrested by six white officers. Body camera footage of the incident, obtained years later by the Associated Press, revealed he had been punched, tasered and placed in a chokehold and later dragged face down in handcuffs and left prone for more than nine minutes.

A separate federal criminal investigation into Greene’s death is under way.

Police initially claimed Greene had died from injuries sustained after crashing his car into a tree, and a local coroner’s report later determined the death to be accidental. It was not until a federal criminal investigation into the incident began that the finding was challenged by re-examining the autopsy.

The incident is being investigated in the Louisiana state legislature, which is examining an alleged cover-up instigated by senior members of the state police. Greene’s death is one of a number of recent brutality cases, uncovered by the Associated Press, which found at least a dozen cases in the past decade where troopers or their superiors are alleged to have concealed evidence of brutality or blocked investigations.

If the investigation finds patterns or practices of constitutional violations the justice department can pursue a legal settlement forcing reforms to the department through federal court.

Further, from Nyamekye Daniel and the Atlanta Black Star: Hollingsworth was among a group of troopers captured on body camera video beating and dragging a bloodied Greene until he went limp.

State police initially told Greene’s family that he died in a car crash until state police released the footage in 2020. During the violent arrest, Greene pleaded with the troopers, “I’m your brother! I’m scared! I am scared.”

Greene’s family has accused authorities of repeated cover-ups.

“I wasn’t trying to use deadly force against him,” Hollingsworth told investigators in an edited AP video featuring snippets of the interview. “I only wanted to free my arm.”

That was a far cry from what Hollingsworth told another officer on the phone after the arrest. The call [that] was answered picked up on his body camera that he reportedly tried to withhold from investigators. At some point, Hollingsworth also turned off the camera.

“I beat the ever-living f— out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control,” Hollingsworth said with his uniform dappled with Greene’s blood. “All of a sudden he just went limp. … I thought he was dead.”

Greene reportedly died en route to the hospital.

Internal affairs questioned Hollingsworth about his use of a flashlight and stun gun during the arrest.

“Chris, did you have an object in your hand,” one of the investigators asked the trooper.

“Can we rewind the video and look,” Hollingsworth said. I could’ve [had] my flashlight in my hand.”

The investigators also asked the trooper his reason for using force in the first place.

“According to this video, at least according to us, it doesn’t appear that you never [sic] gave him a chance to get out of the car,” one of the detectives said. “I mean, you pretty much run up to the window, and within a second or two, you tase him. How come?”

“I was in fear that he was going to hurt myself or Trooper [Dakota] DeMoss,” Hollingsworth said.

“Was he doing anything to indicate that he was going to fight you, gonna try to punch you?” the detective asked.

“He was in control of the vehicle,” Hollingsworth said.

Greene’s sister, Dinelle Hardin, told CNN the new developments made her angry.

“It pisses me off to know that we have the video of him stating those words, beating Ron senselessly,” she said. “No one stepped in to stop him and three years later, no arrests have been made.”

The trooper’s death [suspected suicide] has reportedly prolonged the investigations into Greene’s in-custody death. It has made Greene’s mother leery about finding justice for her son. Mona Hardin told a legislative panel on March 17 that she has not been able to grieve her son while she waits for closure in the case.

Hollingsworth is considered to be the trooper most responsible for the fatal incident [though five other Louisiana LEOs were reportedly involved and later charged, pleading not guilty].

“It hurts me to the core that Hollingsworth isn’t here,” Hardin told reporters. “He was front and center, and they gave him all the bells and whistles on his burial . . . They overlooked what he did, what he confessed to.”

Are you starting to understand why 21 year old pregnant Black Ta’Kiya Young might have been afraid to comply?

According to Bethany Bruner of the Columbia Dispatch: On Friday [September 9, upon the release of additional body cam footage], Sean Walton, who is representing Young’s family, said the video is “more evidence of murder” and that Blendon Township’s lack of comment regarding the officer’s conduct, including “numerous crimes committed against Ta’Kiya” egregious. Walton also reiterated that he and Young’s family believe the officer violated Blendon Township policy by standing in front of Young’s vehicle and having his weapon drawn.

“If he believes that a petty theft and a slow-moving vehicle warrant the killing of an unarmed pregnant woman, then it is clear that Grubb’s actions that day are directly related to his training and supervision,” Walton said . . . Ta’Kiya’s constitutional rights were violated and her due process continues to be violated as a victim of crime, who is now being villainized by the same department that murdered her.”

More body camera video released Friday shows one of the officers moving the tote bag, which was on Young’s left arm when she was shot. Glass bottles can be heard clinking against each other when the bag is moved.

“What is clear is that petty theft does not justify murder, and comply or die is not the rule of law in this country,” Walton said. “The fact that an unarmed woman was dragged from her car and handcuffed after being shot unjustifiably should shock the conscious of everyone who watches the video, and raise further questions about Grubb’s intent that day. He intended to kill Ta’Kiya and that is exactly what he did.”

Young’s family has called for the arrest, prosecution and firing of the officer who fired the shot. Blendon Township has not confirmed the identity of the officer, citing Marsy’s Law, a law enacted to protect the rights of crime victims.

The case will be presented to a Franklin County grand jury after the conclusion of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s probe into the shooting, in accordance with Franklin County Prosecutor’s office policy.

Someone who has of late received much more media attention than Ta’Kiya Young and her daughter would be musical performer Oliver Anthony, for his song Rich Men North of Richmond, in which he passionately belts out, “Lord, we got folks in the street; Ain’t got nothin’ to eat; And the obese milkin’ welfare; But God if you’re five foot three; And you’re three hundred pounds; Taxes ought not to pay; For your bags of fudge rounds.”

That brings us to A Singer-Activist’s Advice for “Rich Men North of Richmond” Singer Oliver Anthony: “As Long as We Are Divided, We Will Fail” written by Stephen Said for Variety: Over the past couple of weeks, friends (and strangers) who know my peculiar musical career history have asked my thoughts on Chris Lunsford, aka Oliver Anthony, and his song “Rich Men North of Richmond.”

Anthony is the first unknown, unsigned American artist to break into the charts and the national news with a viral people’s anthem—since I did the same thing 25 years ago. And, though our stories differ in important ways, they are also astonishingly similar.

In 1997 (performing as Stephan Smith), I self-released my anti-police brutality anthem, “The Ballad of Abner Louima.” In the days before the internet made “viral” a word, “release” meant hand-burning 100 CDs and individually mailing them to radio stations. Airplay for the song started on pirate and college stations, but within a week it had spread to national networks and programs including “The Howard Stern Show.”

Cut to 2023: A Virginia boy with the same accent, from the same stomping grounds, accompanied only by a guitar, expresses the same urgency about the state of the world. Like me, he also refuses to be categorized as politically right or left, and he communicates with an unadorned, straight-talking style harkening back to Appalachian roots. Add to that a shared mistrust of the media and entertainment industries.

This is where the parallels get interesting. I was trying to ignite a movement for justice that would unite people across political lines and the world. The Oklahoma City Bombing, first Iraq war, Rodney King beating and first attempt on the World Trade Center had all recently happened. Just as Chris seems to feel today, it was clear to me then that our world was falling apart.

But “Rich Men North of Richmond,” with its click-baitable lines to which it arguably owes its virality, has excited the very divisiveness that Chris, in his own words, has since said he would prefer to transcend.

I suspect that this is where Chris and I probably agree:

Divisiveness is now the greatest crisis we face in this country as well as the world. As long as we are divided, we will fail to respond as one to all the mounting crises we face as a human race: rising inequality, climate change, pandemics, mass refugees, youth disillusionment, school shootings, drug epidemics, poverty and war.

I have walked down the roads Chris is on, both literally and figuratively.

When Chris was a boy, I was as likely to be writing a song in the doorstep where Amadou Diallo was shot in New York as I was to be in Farmville off Route 15 at the Mahan’s junkyard among the Joe Pye weed and timber rattlesnakes, snagging a big block 390 out of a ’64 Galaxy for the ‘62 T-bird I was driving.

Like Chris is now, I got invitations from TV shows, politicians and record labels. I signed with a premiere Americana/country label, with a top manager, booking agent and publicist, and did shows before tens of thousands of people with Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews and more.

But I wasn’t happy. I wanted out. Like most of my peers, I felt the world was going off a cliff while our world was becoming more divided when it needed to come together. In my efforts to reach across divides and genres to people of all colors and income brackets, I realized that the entertainment industry had become just as much a part of the problem as Washington.

Oliver, we need songs that help us understand each other across boundaries, whether we’re on a farm in Appalachia or in a welfare line on Chicago’s south side. But, most importantly, we will need to rebuild our connections to each other, going directly into our communities, schools, firehouses, town halls, churches, mosques and synagogues, not only from Harlem to the heartland, but from the U.S. to Africa, South America to the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

I will be in Farmville again soon and maybe we’ll get to make some music together that cuts across all these dividing lines when I’m there.

Here are some lyrics from The Ballad of Abner Louima, quite relevant today:


Volpe grabbed Louima why

Said he was just standing by

Beat him in the car to the seven-o

Put him in a cell for an hour or so

Then grab him from his holding cell

And do to him what no tongue can tell

I asked Louima how he feels

All he says is time to heal

So Abner in the hospital for a while

Four policemen bound for trial

Near ten thousand marched today

Some set to fight and some to pray

So I asked my mama here’s what she says

All one people on the judgment day

Hey ho there ain’t no foe

All one body got to heal and grow . . .

If you check out the story about Justin Volpe, ex cop from Staten Island who—unprovoked—tortured, beat, and raped Haitian American Abner Louima, you will see that Volpe was about a decade older at the time of his crime than Ta’Kiya Young was when she and her baby girl were killed when Ta’Kiya was accused of misdemeanor shoplifting. Justin Volpe’s frontal lobe was fully developed, particularly his pre frontal cortex, which regulates our thoughts, actions and emotions through extensive connections with other brain regions. The officer was just blessed to live to see his day in court, I guess.

In A better path forward for criminal justice: Police reform, published at BrookingsDotEDU, Rashawn Ray and Clark Neily tell us: States and localities are also presenting and passing a slew of police reforms, such as in Maryland where the state legislature passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. We are not here to debate the merits of these legislations, though we support much of the components, nor are we here to simply highlight low-hanging fruit such as banning no-knock warrants, creating national databases, or requiring body-worn cameras. People across the political aisle largely agree on these reforms. Instead, we aim to provide policy recommendations on larger-scale reforms, which scholars and practitioners across the political aisle agree needs to occur, in order to transform law enforcement in America and take us well into the twenty-first century. Our main themes include accountability, training, and culture.

Accordingly, our recommendations include:

Short-Term Reforms

Reform Qualified Immunity

Create National Standards for Training and De-escalation

Medium-Term Reforms

Restructure Civilian Payouts for Police Misconduct

Address Officer Wellness

Long-Term Reforms

Restructure Regulations for Fraternal Order of Police Contracts

Change Police Culture to Protect Civilians and Police

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die.

My brothers and sisters, it is indeed time—past time— to transform law enforcement in America and take us well into the twenty-first century. The snake of police brutality and unaccountability must shed its skin.



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