Pentagon wars come home to New York City


This video from the USA says about itself:

Many Vietnam veterans still struggle with PTSD

22 July 2015

New research shows more than a quarter-million Vietnam veterans are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, 40 years after the war ended. Kenneth Craig reports from New York.

By Eric London in the USA:

Veteran drives through crowd in Times Square: The war comes home

20 May 2017

On Thursday, a 26-year-old military veteran named Richard Rojas drove his Honda Accord through a crowded sidewalk in New York City’s Times Square, killing an 18-year-old Michigan woman and wounding 22. Rojas says he was on Phenycylidine (PCP) and that he intended to kill passers-by.

After crashing through the crowd, Rojas ran around screaming and waving his arms. He evidently told police that god told him to commit this horrible act. He had previously reported hearing voices in his head. He allegedly told police, “You were supposed to shoot me!”

At a press conference following the incident, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, “There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism.”

By this, de Blasio meant that Rojas had no association with an organized terrorist group. But, in a larger sense, this tragedy is the product of the terror wreaked by US imperialism across the world, poisoning social relations domestically and breaking the minds of countless young enlisted people.

In an interview with the New York Times, Rojas’ childhood friend, Hansel Guerrero, explained that Rojas joined the Navy as “a journey out of the New York life.” Guerrero and Rojas lived in the same apartment building on Walton Avenue in the working-class neighborhood of Mount Eden, in New York’s Bronx borough.

Guerrero told the Times: “People go and they serve their country and they come back crazy and nobody helps them.”

Rojas, whose mother is Dominican, worked in auto shops and dreamed of graduating from college. He joined the Navy in 2011, working as an electrician’s mate until he was dishonorably discharged in 2014. It is not clear whether he served in a combat zone. While stationed at a Naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, Rojas was arrested in 2012 for threatening violence against police. In 2013, the Navy locked him up for two months in a military jail, though it has not been reported why.

Rojas’ friends explained that he wasn’t the same upon returning from the Navy. On April 15, 2015, he was convicted for driving while intoxicated.

Reuters spoke with another of Rojas’ friends, Harrison Ramos: “Rojas returned from his Navy service with a drinking problem and had posted ‘crazy stuff’ on social media,” the news service reported.

Ramos told Reuters: “Don’t make him out to be a terrorist or something. He served his country and when he came back, nobody helped him. He went through a real rough time. That’s my friend, and it hurts.”

“He finally came home, and it was hard for him to find a job,” Ramos added. “He was having a lot of bad nightmares. He was talking crazy. He was acting strange.”

The Times reported: “His mind was clouded with conspiracy theories. His dreams of opening his own clothing business had wilted. He lashed out at friends who challenged him; some thought his grasp of reality slipped and that he needed psychiatric help.

“During a string of arrests in recent years, Mr. Rojas once threatened to kill police officers, and last week accused a notary of trying to steal his identity and grabbed his neck, the authorities said.”

The sentiments expressed by Rojas’ friends are commonplace in a country where hundreds of thousands of veterans have been broken by the weight of a quarter century of war. There are many young people in the US who know a veteran who “came back crazy” with “nobody to help them,” as Rojas’ friends put it. Some counties have even set up special court programs for veterans convicted of crimes.

Last month, a 23-year-old Army veteran in North Carolina strapped her service dog to a tree and shot it five times before posting a video of the execution to Facebook. The dog was intended to help her with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the episode calls to mind the first line of Phil Klay’s Redeployment, a series of short stories about returning veterans and the ongoing wars: “We shot dogs.”

On May 16, 24-year-old Edwin Fuentes was shot to death by police following a stand-off in Tustin, California. Fuentes was an Afghanistan veteran who suffered from PTSD. His neighbor, another veteran, told the OC Register that Fuentes “was having problems and he wanted other vets to talk to.”

A 2016 study from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) revealed that 20 veterans kill themselves every day—over 116,000 since 2001, roughly the size of the population of Michigan’s state capital, Lansing.

A survey of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans also revealed that a majority of veterans have contemplated suicide. A 2017 VA report found that female veterans are two to five times more likely to kill themselves than civilian women, in part due to the prevalence of rape and sexual abuse within the military.

The reactionary climate of nationalism and brutality engendered by the US military has transformed the social composition of the country.

The US Defense Department is the country’s largest employer, with 3.2 million employees, military and civilian. As the strike force of corporate America, the military exerts an immense power over all of the “official” institutions of American capitalism.

It’s reactionary culture, of idealizing violence and justifying its crimes in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan through hyper-nationalism, permeates into broader sections of society, altering not only the personal lives of millions of veterans, but also the social psychology of the country as a whole. No American is unfamiliar with the nauseating displays of militarism in everyday life: the bomber fly-overs before sporting events, Marine Corps recruiters in high schools, the use of tanks and assault rifles by local police.

In the words of Shakespeare’s Edward IV: “They shall have wars and pay for their presumption.” The personal breakdown of individuals like Richard Rojas exemplifies the breakdown of American society under the weight of US imperialism and capitalism.

Jewish school bus burnt in the USA


This video from New York City in the USA says about itself:

12 May 2017

Police say a man set fire to a Jewish school bus in Williamsburg.

The incident happened last month near Division and Bedford avenues. Police say the suspect got into the parked and unoccupied bus.

through its emergency door and started a fire that caused damage to the front area of the bus. He then took off.

“Our city has zero tolerance for violent acts of anti-Semitism,” the mayor wrote. “We must stand as one against acts of intimidation.”

Police say the suspect was last seen wearing a sweatsuit and dark-colored sneakers. Surveillance video of him was released on Wednesday.

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Racist murders African American in New York City


This video from the USA says about itself:

22 March 2017

A 28-year-old white man from Baltimore accused of stabbing a 66-year-old black man to death traveled by bus to New York City to the “media capital of the world” to make the biggest splash he could, police officials said. James Harris Jackson turned himself in at a Times Square police station Wednesday morning and was arrested on a charge of murder, two days after his victim, Timothy Caughman, staggered into a police precinct bleeding to death, said Assistant Chief William Aubrey.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Sword death of black man is “assault” on diversity, New York officials say

Published March 23, 2017

NEW YORK – New York City officials are calling the death of a black man who they say was repeatedly stabbed with a sword by a white U.S. Army veteran

Maybe infected with racism, or already existing racism reinforced, by nazi fellow soldiers; to whom the gates of the United States armed forces were opened by the George W Bush administration which wanted more recruits for its Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Or maybe a cavalier attitude to ‘foreign’ human lives in the United States occupation armed forces in Afghanistan, in which this murderer served, contributed to this crime.

from Baltimore, “an assault” on the city’s inclusiveness and diversity.

James Harris Jackson took a bus to New York to target black men when he encountered Timothy Caughman, who was collecting bottles from trash cans, and stabbed him in his chest and back with a 26-inch sword, Assistant Chief William Aubrey said. Jackson, 28, had been wandering the streets in a long overcoat, which concealed the sword, Aubrey said.

He turned himself in at a Times Square police station early Wednesday, about 25 hours after the wounded Caughman staggered into a police precinct.

Jackson, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, told police that he had harbored feelings of hatred toward black men for at least 10 years, authorities said. He traveled to New York on March 17 and had been staying in a Manhattan hotel.

“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world and he wanted to make a statement,” Aubrey said.

Caughman, who was 66 years old and lived nearby in a transitional house, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. According to his Twitter page, he was an autograph collector and a music and movie lover who tweeted about John Lennon, Chuck Berry and the best St. Patrick’s Day writing. He said that he wanted to visit California someday.

After the attack, Jackson went to the bathroom of a nearby restaurant and washed off the blood from the killing, authorities said.

Investigators said they believed Jackson was considering other attacks, but surrendered after noticing his photo in media reports. He had two knives and told investigators where they could find the sword, which was later retrieved from a trash can not far from the scene, police said.

Video surveillance captured Jackson in the days leading up to the attack, and investigators said he had walked purposefully toward a black man, but did not attack him.

It was not immediately clear if Jackson had a lawyer who could comment on the case. He said nothing to reporters as he was led from a police station. A call to his family’s home phone rang unanswered.

A former neighbor who tangled with Jackson over an apartment in Baltimore recalled him as “a piece of work” who fell months behind on rent.

“He’s just one of those people that you wish you never met,” said Marcus Dagan, who had been informally managing the building on behalf of its then-owner and took Jackson to court over the rent.

Dagan said Jackson moved out in 2015 without paying.

When Jackson moved in in 2014, he indicated he was a military veteran and was in college, studying toward becoming a lawyer, Dagan said. Jackson left behind a collection of war movies in the apartment, the former neighbor said.

Jackson was in the Army from March 2009 to August 2012 and worked as a military intelligence analyst, the Army said. Deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to November 2011, he earned several medals and attained the rank of specialist.

The circumstances of his discharge are unclear; the Army cites privacy laws that prevent releasing such details.

Bias attacks have more than doubled this year in New York, and there have been nine bias crimes against black people reported, up from five in the same time period last year.

“We are a safe city because we are inclusive. We are a nation of unrivaled strength because we are diverse,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement condemning the attack. “No act of violence can undermine who we are.”

WHITE MAN WHO PROWLED THE STREETS OF NYC ‘TO KILL AS MANY BLACK MEN AS HE COULD’ Before allegedly fatally stabbing a black New Yorker will face terrorism charges. [HuffPost]

White Supremacist Killer Read ‘Alt-Right’ Website Daily Stormer. March 28, 2017. By Sam Kestenbaum: here.

Deborah Danner, 66-year-old, killed by New York police


This video from New York City in the USA says about itself:

NYPD Sergeant Shot And Killed A 66 Year Old Woman Ms Deborah Danner

19 October 2016

Protesters gathered Wednesday night after Deborah Danner was killed by a New York police sergeant on Tuesday in her Bronx apartment: here.

Four years before she was killed, Deborah Danner wrote an essay referencing the mortal dangers the mentally ill face when dealing with police: here.

In a searing, eloquent essay on living with schizophrenia, Deborah Danner agonized over the deaths of mentally ill people like her at the hands of police: here.

NYPD sergeant kills Deborah Danner, a black woman who neighbors say was mentally ill: here.

By Fred Mazelis in the USA:

Police killing of mentally ill 66-year-old Bronx, New York woman sparks outrage

21 October 2016

Protests and widespread outrage followed the police murder of Deborah Danner, an elderly woman afflicted with schizophrenia, on Tuesday, October 18 in the New York City borough of the Bronx.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, newly installed Police Commissioner James O’Neill and other officials, moving to appease public anger, quickly called the killing “unacceptable.” New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Hugh Barry was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty pending an investigation. The case is being sent to the office of the Bronx District Attorney, Darcel Clark.

Barry and other cops arrived at the apartment building in which Ms. Danner lived at about 6 p.m. on October 18, in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, after neighbors reported a problem. One neighbor told the local press that the police had been there many times before, without any difficulty in assisting Danner. This time she was holding a scissors, which she was reportedly convinced to put down, but then she picked up a baseball bat. Barry, 30 years old and an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, discharged two shots from his service revolver, killing the elderly woman. Barry was equipped with a Taser, but did not use it.

“It is hard to imagine why five police officers and a patrol sergeant would need to use deadly force to disarm an elderly woman with a baseball bat,” declared Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Ms. Danner’s neighbors, well aware of her medical problems, were angry over her death, and deeply skeptical that the promised investigation would result in anything more than the usual whitewash of epidemic police abuse and violence directed against the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the working class. Scores of people marched to the 43rd police precinct to protest on Tuesday night, blocking traffic on nearby streets.

The mayor said, “Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period.” He said the police had not followed protocol in dealing with emotionally disturbed people, a conclusion also voiced by Commissioner O’Neill. De Blasio and O’Neill said that Barry should have waited for a specially trained Emergency Service Unit of the NYPD to arrive.

Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, representing Barry, denounced the statements of the mayor and police commissioner as “political expediency.” According to the report in the New York Times, Mullins said that Danner had swung the bat and that Barry was in fear for his life and those of others. He was also reported as saying, “Everyone agrees that this was a good shooting,” adding, “We could be sitting here talking about how a 66-year-old fractured his skull.”

A report in the New York Post revealed that Barry has been named in two lawsuits alleging brutal police beatings of African-American or Latino men. In one of them, 25-year-old Gregory Peters charged that Barry and other cops beat him with their fists, feet or batons in Times Square on August 22, 2010, and that the police displayed racial animus. The suit was settled for $25,000 in 2012.

The death of Ms. Danner was made all the more significant and disturbing by her own statements, in a six-page essay she wrote some four years ago, which she submitted to an attorney for the state’s Mental Hygiene Legal Service who was then representing her in a case involving legal guardianship. “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead,” she wrote at that time, eloquently and also prophetically.

Official statistics put the number of calls for assistance in dealing with the emotionally disturbed in New York City at 128,000 so far in 2016. The huge and growing number is at least partly a reflection of social circumstances, both the hopelessness of the most impoverished and the abysmal shortage of adequate mental health treatment. New York City cops are supposed to receive training in dealing with the mentally ill, but officials acknowledged that only 4,400 out of the 36,000 officers on the New York force had received such instruction.

The killing of Deborah Danner recalled the death in almost identical circumstances of another elderly Bronx woman, Eleanor Bumpurs, 32 years ago. Police were called to the victim’s apartment in the west Bronx after she fell four months behind in her rent and reportedly resisted attempts to evict her. In that case also the cops claimed that they feared for their lives at the hands of a mentally ill woman in her late 60s. The fate of Eleanor Bumpurs provoked anger and protests not only in New York but elsewhere as well. The police officer who was eventually charged with manslaughter was acquitted in 1987.

The rich also have their share of the emotionally disturbed, but only very rarely are they reported as the victims of police shootings. It is not a matter of training, but of the role of the police force itself. It is the lives of the poorest sections of the working class, of all races, that are considered expendable by the capitalist state and its armed men.