Christie: McGlockton shooting pushes limits on ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense

The Rev. Al Sharpton led Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidates in a rally at a Clearwater church on Sunday calling for the repeal of Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.

Is it right for someone who initiates a confrontation to then hide behind “Stand Your Ground” as a defense when they shoot and kill the other person?

That’s the basic question that seems to be coming out of the latest high-profile shooting of an unarmed back man in Clearwater, Fla.

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You’ve heard the story or seen the dramatic video by now: On July 19, Michael Drejka, 47, shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, 28, in a convenience store parking lot. According to Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies, Drejka confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, about parking in a handicap space without a permit.

McGlockton went up to Drejka and “slammed him to the ground,” the sheriff’s office said. Drejka, seconds later while still on the ground, pulled out his handgun and shot McGlockton in the chest. The father of three was pronounced dead soon after.

It should come as no surprise, with all of the national attention on such shootings, that debate over the incident has entered the realm of politics. To be sure, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri first lit that debate fire by announcing the day after the shooting that he would not charge Drejka because the changes in the stand your ground law signed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 muddied the waters too much.

But lawmakers and candidates on both sides of the political aisle disagree. Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidates joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at a Clearwater church on Sunday to call for the repeal of the state’s controversial stand your ground law. And on Friday, Democrats in the Florida Legislature reached the 20 percent goal to force a poll of members on the question of an unusual election-year special session to change the “stand your ground” self-defense law.

Meanwhile, the Republican frontrunner for governor, Rep. Ron DeSantis, is joining Democratic and Republican critics alike in believing that Drejka should not have Stand Your Ground immunity: “I support the right of Floridians to defend themselves by standing their ground against aggressors. That said, it doesn’t seem to me that the law is even applicable in the case of Markeis McGlockton, and I don’t think the Pinellas County sheriff analyzed the law properly.”

Markeis MCGlockton

Jacobs, 25, has called McGlockton’s shooting a wrongful death, and has hired civil rights attorney Benjamin L. Crump Jr., who also represented the family of Travyon Martin after he was shot and killed by wanna-be cop George Zimmerman.

While Zimmerman didn’t end up using stand your ground as a defense, police didn’t arrest him at first because of it.

At a recent news conference, Crump pointed out that, like Drejka, whom he labeled a “self-appointed, wannabe cop,” Zimmerman pursued Martin instead of letting law enforcement take over.

“It’s still ludicrous how you can claim that you have fear of your life but yet you approach and start the confrontation with the individual,” he told reporters.

Closer to home, you may remember that Crump also represents the family of Corey Jones Jr., the Delray Beach drummer who was gunned down in October 2015 by then-undercover Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja. Raja has been charged in Jones death, and is attempting to use a stand your ground defense.

Jacobs says McGlockton was her high-school sweetheart. The pair had been together since 2009, when she met him at a friend’s house while attending Dunedin High School.

They stopped at the Circle A Food Store at 1201 Sunset Point Road on the way home from picking Jacobs up from her job as a certified nursing assistant to grab chips and drinks. Jacobs parked in the handicap spot, she said, because the parking lot was busy and they were just stopping for a minute.

The couple’s 4-month-old and 3-year-old were in the car. Their 5-year-old, named after McGlockton, was in the store.

Drejka then shot McGlockton, later telling Pinellas deputies he was in fear of further attack.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri discuss the controversial shooting of Markeis McGlockton during a news conference discussing the Stand Your Ground Law at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Administration Building in Largo on July 31. (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times/TNS)

According to legal experts, it generally doesn’t apply when the confrontation is just verbal, barring any threats of violence.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who again has said the stand your ground law precludes his agency from arresting Drejka, has taken a similar stance. At a recent news conference, the sheriff, who is a lawyer, said what was “merely a discussion about why she’s parked there … didn’t provoke the attack.” His agency has forwarded the case to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office to decide whether to press charges.

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment and taking our poll.

Goodman: Trump tells Philadelphia Eagles to stay off his White House lawn

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots on Feb. 4.  (AJ Mast/The New York Times)

When have you ever heard of the president of the United States telling the Super Bowl champions that they’re not welcome at the White House? But, then, when have we had a dis-uniting presidency like Donald Trump’s?

Last night, amid reports that fewer than 10 of the Philadelphia Eagles planned to attend a South Lawn ceremony this afternoon in the team’s honor, Trump abruptly canceled the event.

Trump, keeping up the drum beat he started last fall, said the players “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

However, not one player on the Eagles took a knee during the playing of national anthem during this year’s regular season or playoffs.

That fact didn’t stop Fox News from airing images of several Eagles players kneeling, as if to illustrate the president’s point about unpatriotic players. In reality, the players were not kneeling in protest, nor during the national anthem. They were praying.

One of those kneeling Eagles players, Zach Ertz, denounced the Fox News segment as “propaganda.” Teammate Chris Long also slammed the network:

Fox News later apologized for “the error.”

While the Eagles player may not have taken a knee, it’s true that many strongly side with the protests against racial injustice and police brutality that were sparked by former San Francisco QB Colin Kapaernick — which Trump soon twisted into a purported test of patriotism. And many objected to the recently announced NFL policy to fine teams whose players who kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner,” which was followed by Trump saying that if you “don’t stand proudly for the national anthem,” then “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

In Philadelphia, a city that voted 82 percent for Hillary Clinton, many heaped scorn on Trump for his handling of the situation.

Mayor Jim Kenney said that disinviting the Eagles from the White House “only proves that our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”

Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Marcus Hayes wrote that size-obsessed Trump cancelled the event because, “in the end, he couldn’t stand the thought of another tiny crowd.”

The NFL protests have stirred no end of controversy. On Sunday, the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page devoted its entire letters column to letters taking passionate positions on all sides of the issue.

In my view, Trump has repeatedly and intentionally inflamed the situation by ignoring the players’ intent to protest police shootings of unarmed black men, and painting the players as unpatriotic pariahs.

He has had plenty of opportunity to try to find common ground and heal the divisions among us. A greater man might have sought out the players who balked at coming to the White House, and invited them to sit down together to talk out their differences.

But no. He pouts. He cancels. Telling the team to stay off his White House lawn is just his latest way of saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field!”

Poll: Did the NFL make the right call regarding kneeling players?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

The National Football League, under pressure from many fans and the man in the White House, announced rules meant to remove the spectacle of players kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem.

Team owners voted Wednesday to require all team and league personnel who are on the field during the anthem to “stand and show respect” for the flag and the song. Those who choose not to stand for the anthem can stay in the locker room or away from the field, although each club can adopt its own additional rules.

Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post’s Editorial Page, says the owners are ordering players to subdue their protests against racial injustice: “In other words: Don’t demonstrate downtown, I have shopping to do. Don’t demonstrate at a sporting event because you take away from my entertainment. Why can’t you all just shut up and dribble?”

What do you think? Take our poll:

Christie: Philly Starbucks arrests brew bitter cup over social justice

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, the two men arrested at a Starbucks, tell their story on “Good Morning America” on April 20. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC)

It would be easy — even tempting — to simply dismiss the the recent arrest of two black men who were waiting for friend in a downtown Philadelphia Starbucks as just another racial incident in America.

But that would be a cop out.

RELATED: Philadelphia Starbucks arrest: Men say manager called 911 minutes after they arrived

We could try to explain away an experienced Starbucks store manager over-reacting and calling 911 when those two black men — Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, both 23 — asked to use the restroom while sitting and waiting for friend.

But that would be denial.

There are some who may choose to believe that the decision by police to handcuff and arrest the two men was justified.

But any rational person viewing knows it wasn’t.

Instead, we have a new hashtag blowing up social media: #WaitingWhileBlack.

We’re left shaking our heads in frustration. (Hell, many folks are just pissed off.) What happens when otherwise good people who work for an otherwise socially conscience company show as much racial bias as the worst of us?

There’s a lot to unpack here. Starbucks, as a corporate citizen, has not only sought to force us as a society to face the race issue head on — and flubbed the effort — but has also redefined the term “public space” by inviting us to come in and meet with folks over an over-priced cup of coffee. It’s not unusual for folks to linger at a Starbucks for hours.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, under heavy criticism for the arrests of two 23-year-old Philadelphia men at a Starbucks near Rittenhouse Square a week ago and his defense of the police action, apologized to the men on April 19, and said he had made the situation worse. (David Swanson/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

That’s what the two young black men were attempting to do, by the way, when the store manager called 911. Well, they hadn’t bought a cup of coffee yet. They were waiting on a white local businessman to talk over a potential real estate opportunity.

But after a couple of police arrived, the two men calmly, and respectfully answered their questions. Then, a few more cops arrived. They continued to calmly, and respectfully answer questions. They were arrested anyway for trespass. They were not charged.

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Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, a black man who at first staunchly defended his officers’ handling of the encounter, is now backtracking. “I should have said the officers acted within the scope of the law, and not that they didn’t do anything wrong,” Ross said. “Words are very important.”

At a news conference, a somber Ross said he “failed miserably” in addressing the arrests.

Yeah, he did.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson during a Bloomberg Television interview. (Bloomberg photo by Mike Kane.)

For their part, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson stepped up and owned the incident. After apologizing publicly, he met with the Nelson and Robinson to apologize personally. The two men have accepted the company’s apology.

Meanwhile, the store manager has reportedly left the company or been moved to another location.

Perhaps, more significantly, Johnson brought out the big gun, founder and executive board Chairman Howard Schultz, to announce plans to close more than 8,000 of the company’s U.S. stores for several hours on May 29 to conduct racial bias training for nearly 175,000 workers.

The training is “designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks feels safe and welcome,” according to a Starbucks news release. The curriculum, being developed with civil rights groups, will be made available to other companies — including businesses that license the Starbucks brand to operate stores, like Barnes & Noble.

Starbucks has never been shy about touting its values, or its belief in corporate responsibility. It created a corporate responsibility department in 1999, has been outspoken on a range of issues, and in 2015 started an ill-fated “race together” movement in response to police shootings of black men. (Bloomberg photo by Victor J. Blue.)

Starbucks responded quickly, communicating remorse and a commitment to social justice. Ross, the Philadelphia police commissioner, can learn a lot from them, starting with whether bias played a role in how police responded to the complaint. After all, police do have some discretion in these situations.

But what about the rest of us?

Take out poll here:

Christie: Should the Austin serial bomber be considered a ‘terrorist’?

The suspect in a string of bombings in Austin is dead, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley confirms March 21. Manley stirred controversy when he called serial bomber Mark Conditt “a very challenged young man” instead of a “terrorist”. (Ricardo B. Braziell/Austin American Stateman/TNS)

UPDATE: According to the Daily Beast, Chief Manley Thursday morning told an audience in Austin that he now feels comfortable calling the Austin bomber “a domestic terrorist,” according to reporters at a panel discussion on the bombings. “When I look at what he did to our community—and as your police chief—I actually agree now, that he was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us,” Manley said. Read more…

To some degree, interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley probably wishes he could take it back. But it’s far too late for that.

After Austin police, ATF,  FBI and other law-enforcement finally caught up to 23-year-old serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt earlier last week, after he terrorized the Texas capital for three weeks, killing and maiming several people with homemade bombs, the unemployed college dropout took himself out by detonating one of his own devices.

RELATED: Inside the 20 hours that led to Austin bomber Mark Conditt’s downfall

The authorities viewed a 25-minute cellphone video left behind by Conditt that detailed the differences among the weapons he built and amounted to a confession. It seemed to indicate that he knew he was about to get caught; in fact, Austin SWAT was closing in on him when the device detonated and killed him.

Chief Manley, possibly a bit punch drunk from weeks with little sleep and continued stress, felt compelled to give an arguably unqualified and politically unwise assessment of Conditt based on the cellphone recording.

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“It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his own life,” Manley said of the recording, which authorities still have not released amid the ongoing investigation.

Mark Anthony Conditt

Hold up. The “outcry of a very challenged young man”? people asked.

Let’s recap: This “very challenged young man” just held an entire city in a grip of fear for weeks with bombs he made from materials bought at Home Depot.

Isn’t that the definition of a “terrorist”? That’s the question that blew up quickly all over social media after Manley statement — what many criticized as just the latest example in which a white suspect seemed to receive an injection of humanity that is less often extended to blacks, Muslims and others.

“Remember how they talked about innocent black children” like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice or Freddie Gray, tweeted Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“I believe passionately in acknowledging the humanity of those who commit even terrible crimes. Reading this police chief’s empathy for this young white man highlights the awfulness — the plain awfulness — of the persistent refusal to extend this empathy to young black people,” Ifill added.

Those young black males were described as “thugs” by some authorities and in popular discourse. Another case often cited is that of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old fatally shot by a white officer in August 2014 in Ferguson, Mo. The New York Times described Brown as “no angel” in a profile, a phrase that drew an angry response from readers and was criticized by its own public editor.

Beginning March 2, police say Conditt planted bombs in different parts of Austin, killing two people and severely wounding four others. He began by placing explosives in packages left overnight on doorsteps, killing 39-year-old father Anthony Stephan House and 17-year-old musician Draylen Mason and critically injuring 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera. He then rigged an explosive to a tripwire along a public trail, injuring two young men who crossed it. Finally, he sent two parcels with bombs via FedEx. One exploded and injured a worker at a distribution center near San Antonio.

Police are still trying to figure out Conditt’s motivations. The recording is only one piece to figuring out that puzzle.

RELATED: Who is Mark Anthony Conditt, the suspected Austin bomber?

After Manley drew fire for calling Conditt “a challenged young man,” he struck a different note Saturday, saying: “The suspect in this incident rained terror on our community for almost three weeks.”

That’s not an apology; nor does it come right out and label Conditt a terrorist.

The same can now be said for U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who after hearing the recording called Conditt a “sick individual,” but not a terrorist, according to the Associated Press.

McCaul, a former federal prosecutor who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, chose instead to use his news conference to heap praise on law enforcement officials for bringing the three-week spree to an end. He called the investigation, which included more than 800 officers, a textbook example of how local, state and federal agencies should work together, the AP reported.

Of Conditt, McCaul said: “He did refer to himself as a psychopath. He did not show any remorse, in fact questioning himself for why he didn’t feel any remorse for what he did.”

Conditt makes no mention of a racial motivation on the recording, but investigators are still looking into that as a possibility, McCaul said. The first three victims were minorities.

In the days and weeks to come, as law enforcement officials look into what motivated Conditt, it will be interesting to see whether or not they move away from this kinder, gentler description of the bomber.

Take our poll here and tell us what you think:

Goodman: Florida’s system on ex-felon voting not just massively unfair. It’s ‘unconstitutional’

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press via AP)

In 2010, an ex-convict in Florida named Steven Warner cast a ballot in an election. This is illegal, because unless felons jump through the hoops of a lengthy clemency process, felons in Florida are barred from voting for life.

Warner wanted his rights restored, and, after waiting the required five to seven years after completing all the terms of his sentence (prison, parole, probation, fines), he found himself three years later in front of the state’s Executive Clemency Board.

Gov. Rick Scott, who sits on the board along with his cabinet, asked Warner about his illegal voting.

“Actually, I voted for you,” Warner said.

Scott laughed, then said, “I probably shouldn’t respond to that.” A few seconds passed. Then Scott granted the former felon his voting rights.

Warner is white. But the board rejected five other former felons who had cast illegal ballots on that basis. Will it surprise anyone that four of those five were African-American?

This is the sort of arbitrary, imperious and no doubt politically motivated decision-making that U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker cited in the stunning ruling he issued on Thursday evening, declaring Florida’s method of restoring felons’ rights unconstitutional.

The federal judge’s decision is an explosive truth-bomb aimed squarely at a system which gives the governor, much like a medieval king, “unfettered discretion to deny clemency at any time, for any reason.” Or as Scott himself said at one hearing, according to the ruling: “We can do whatever we want.”

“In Florida, elected partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines or standards,” Walker wrote. “The question…is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It doesn’t.”

His powerhouse ruling comes, coincidentally, nine days after state judges approved a measure for November’s ballot which, if approved by voters, will automatically restore voting rights of felons after they’ve served their sentences, except for murderers and sex offenders. It gives the drive for the much-needed Amendment 4 an incalculable boost.

And it is a withering attack on Scott, just as the two-term Republican is expected to announce a run for Senate against Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent.

For it is the miserly system that Scott established in 2011 to enable a few lucky ex-cons to have their rights restored that is flayed in Walker’s blistering decision.

Unlike the Voting Restoration Amendment drive — which has focused on the inequity of denying some 1.7 million Floridians their rights — Walker zeroes in on the extremely arbitrary way in which they might get those rights returned.

“To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority,” Walker writes. “No standards guide the panel.”

To be clear, the judge said it is constitutional for Florida to bar felons from voting for life, if the state wants to continue to be one of the three or four states in the nation to do so. “But once a state provides for restoration,” he writes, “its process cannot offend the Constitution.”

It is decidedly unconstitutional to have a system based on race, he writes. Or a system that’s so arbitrary that the governor can decide whether to grant the right to vote depending on whether that ex-felon is going to vote Republican or a Democrat. It’s unconstitutional to make ex-convicts meet standards of behavior that are never really defined — or as Walker scorchingly calls them — “frankly, mythical.”

The results of Scott’s mean-spirited system are perfectly clear. When Charlie Crist was governor, the then-Republican tried to end the state’s backwardness with executive clemency rules in 2007 that automatically restored voting rights for those who served sentences for lesser felonies. More than 155,000 felons got their rights back.

Scott overturned that, and then some. His 2011 rules, with their five- to seven-year waiting periods and demands for unspecified sterling behavior, are now often cited as the toughest in the nation. In the last seven years, just 3,000  people have received restorations.

And more than 10,000 people are on a backlog of cases waiting for hearings to have their rights restored.

“The context of these numbers is not lost on this court,” Walker writes. “More than one-tenth of Florida’s voting population — nearly 1.7 million as of 2016 — cannot vote because they have been decimated from the body politic. More than one in five of Florida’s African American voting age population cannot vote.

“If any of these citizens wishes to earn back their fundamental right to vote,” he adds, “they must plod through a gauntlet of constitutionally infirm hurdles. No more.”

Walker did not impose a solution — yet. He ordered lawyers for ex-cons and the state to file briefs related to remedies before Feb. 12.

So this ruling makes the second big development within two weeks with the potential to demolish Florida’s shameful status quo that prevents most ex-felons from reentering civil society despite having served their sentences.

On Friday came a third. The Constitution Revision Commission decided to consider the issue after Warner’s explosive ruling. The commission, which meets every 20 years to recommend possible amendments to the state constitution, had already considered several proposals aimed at automatically restoring rights for ex-felons. But members withdrew them after the voting-restoration petition drive got Amendment 4 onto the ballot, fearing that too many similar-sounding ballot initiatives would confuse voters and dilute all of the initiatives’ chances.

Would the same thing happen with a new ballot proposal aimed not at automatic restoration but at fixing the clemency process? That’s one of the next things to watch as the energy for reforming this long-stultified system gains unexpected momentum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodman: In Boynton, tempers flare as the Trump Effect takes hold

Boynton Beach Commissioner Christina Romelus. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

The Trump Effect is playing out in Boynton Beach, and it’s not pretty.

With fears of deportation on the rise in immigrant communities, first-term city commissioner, Christina Romelus, suggested that Boynton declare itself a sanctuary city. The idea was quickly shot down by the City Commission.

But some residents were so incensed at Romelus for suggesting the idea, they demanded that she resign, be voted out or be impeached.

Romelus, who was born in Haiti, has a better grasp of what being an American means than the self-proclaimed patriots demanding her ouster.

“Having differing opinions and working through those to reach a common goal is how this country was founded,” Romelus told The Post’s Alexandra Seltzer. “Asking for my resignation simply because I had the audacity to bring up a controversial issue is testament to this day and age in which we live. I think it is sad.”

She added that the “grotesque behavior” of those who have been “spewing blind hatred at me for wanting to have a discussion about this issue is alarming and merits attention.”

Romelus said she has no intention of resigning.

Good. She offers a point of view that needs to be heard.

And yes, this subject does merit attention. Let’s put the attention where it belongs: on President Donald J. Trump and the animosities and vitriol he has unleashed with his appeals to racism and xenophobia, ugly currents of American life that are usually held in check by a general sense of restraint, respect and decency.

Take sanctuary cities. This is a concept that’s been around since the 1980s, most famously when San Francisco declared itself a “City of Refuge,” claiming the moral high ground with the argument that asylum-seekers should be shielded from shortsighted federal law enforcement. Some 300 cities, states and counties now consider themselves sanctuary cities, largely on practical grounds: they don’t want immigrants and their families to be scared of relying on local police. And so they limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

The republic has seemed to get along well enough with this state of affairs, despite efforts in the 2008 primaries by Republican candidates Rep. Tom Tancredo, of Colorado, and Mitt Romney to crank it into a campaign issue.

But these politicians didn’t have Trump’s gifts for drawing attention, slinging invective, devising phrases that stick in the brain, and using a single horrifying fatal shooting in San Francisco by an undocumented Mexican to represent the whole of cities’ tolerance for illegal immigration.

Take a look at how the phrase “sanctuary city” spiked in Google searches after Trump made it a campaign issue. The chart’s timeline starts in 2004. Curiosity about the subject was minimal until June 2015. That’s the month when the billionaire real estate developer/showman declared for the presidency, telling us about the Mexican “rapists” sneaking over the border.

Since winning the White House, Trump and his attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, have placed a crackdown on sanctuary cities high on their agenda. And now it’s a boiling issue, the very mention of which is seen as grounds for impeaching a city commissioner.

Such are the heightened animosities in the United States under a president who speaks of “fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville, Virginia, confrontation between neo-Nazis and people protesting neo-Nazis. Now, reprehensible views are free to roam — such as those of Cindy Falco-DiCorrado, one of the Boynton Beachers who called for Romelus to resign.

Cindy Falco-DiCorrado at the Dec. 5 Boynton Beach City Commission meeting. (Photo handout: Adam Wasserman)

According to resident Mathi Mulligan, Falco-DiCorrado told him at a meeting this month to speak “better English,” and allegedly told black residents “you’re lucky we brought you over as slaves or else you’d be deported, too.”

Falco-DiCorrado says she was misconstrued, explaining that she always tells her son and husband, who speak with accents, to improve their English. And whatever anyone heard her say about black people, she meant that “out of hardships you can rebuild again and there are blessings.”

Her denials would be more convincing if she didn’t have a Facebook page that, according to Post columnist Frank Cerabino, is filled with tripe, including a post that reads: “If you agree that racism is no longer an actual threat in this country, but a strategy that the Democrats and Liberals use to secure black votes = SHARE!!”

And her attitudes would be less significant if she weren’t a member of Boynton’s Community Redevelopment Agency advisory board.

Now it’s being asked why someone with her views should advise an agency that aims to improve neighborhoods with large minority populations. Vice Mayor Justin Katz asked her this week to resign. She returned his email with a no.

The City Commission seems sure to take up the question at its meeting next Tuesday. Mulligan says, “We will keep pressing on until the City Commission fires this white supremacist from a job that gives her direct power over the lives of people of color.”

Falco-DiCorrado insists she’s no racist but is now, herself, the victim of a “lynch mob” that’s harassing her with emails.

And so, welcome to Boynton Beach, where nerves are frayed, tensions are rising, and in no way can it be said that Boynton Beach is winning. Or being made great again.

What we need is a way to talk about these differences with a whole lot less anger. But we’re not going to have that with a president who sets a tone of disparagement toward minorities and pushes the buttons of white resentment every time he talks to his “base.”

The bully pulpit has become a pulpit that bolsters bullies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christie: No surprise Spencer speech at UF raising safety concerns

White Nationalist leader Richard Spence speaks at the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of Spencer’s planned speech at the University of Florida. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

I hate to say we told you so… but we told you so.

Back in August, the Post Editorial Board sided with University of Florida President Kent Fuchs when he denied a request by white supremacist leader Richard Spencer to use a university facility for a speech.

RELATED: Editorial: UF made the right call denying ‘alt-right’ leader’s rally

It was a tough call given the editorial board’s strong stance in support of free speech. But at that time, the safety and security of UF’s student population outweighed the heavy principles ensconced in the First Amendment.

We were just coming off the terrible tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., where a 34-year-old woman was mowed down and killed by a neo-Nazi sympathizer as she counter-protested against Spencer and his cohort on the University of Virginia campus.

In this Aug. 12 photo, DeAndre Harris, bottom is assaulted in a parking garage beside the Charlottesville police station after a white nationalist rally was disbursed by police, in Charlottesville, Va. Harris turned himself into police after being charged in the incident. Charlottesville police said in a statement that Harris turned himself on Oct. 12, and was served a warrant charging him with unlawful wounding. (Zach D. Roberts via AP)

And in Charlottesville, Spencer’s group was chanting things like, “The South will rise again” and “Russia is our friend.”

It was just too soon.

We welcomed a lawsuit that was eventually filed by Spencer’s group to hold the rally. After consulting with them, UF acquiesced — as expected, and as it should. Surely, enough time had passed that the tensions wrought by Charlottesville would have calmed down. The rally was on.

But on Monday came news that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County ahead of Thursday’s planned event at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Scott declared the state of emergency in UF’s home county, noting that Spencer’s speeches in other states have in the past “sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests.”

RELATED: State of emergency declared ahead of UF white nationalist speech

“I find that the threat of a potential emergency is imminent,” Scott said in a seven-page executive order.

Although Scott, in a statement, said he supports everyone’s right to voice their opinions, “we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority.”

Hmmm… sound familiar?

“I have been in constant contact with Sheriff [Sadie] Darnell who has requested this Executive Order to ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource,” Scott said in the statement, adding that the order is an additional step to ensure that “the entire community is prepared so everyone can stay safe.”

Gainesville, Fla. — University of Florida officials are planning to spend at least $500,000 for heightened security for a Thursday speech by white nationalist leader Richard Spencer. (DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun)

Indeed, UF is expecting to spend upwards of $500,000 for beefed-up security for the event. The university said it will charge “allowable” costs of $10,564 to the Spencer-led National Policy Institute to rent the Phillips Center and for security inside the venue.

And as a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, the university set up a webpage providing detailed information about the event — and saying the school’s decision was based on First Amendment grounds.

“As a state entity, UF must allow the free expression of speech,” the university webpage said. “We cannot prohibit groups or individuals from speaking in our public forums except for limited exceptions, which include safety and security. Our decision to disallow the September event was based on specific threats and a date that fell soon after the Charlottesville event. Allowing Spencer to speak in October provided additional time to make significant security arrangements.”

“We understand that this event and possible protest provokes fear, especially for members of our Gator family who are targets of messages of hate and violence simply because of their skin color, religion, culture, sexual orientation or beliefs,” the webpage said. “Faculty have been asked to be understanding with students on a case-by-case basis. However, faculty should not cancel classes without consulting with their dean.”

The university also indicated it is preparing for protesters.

“Protesters are expected to assemble near the Phillips Center, but we will have security across campus and in the community,” the webpage said. “Law enforcement will closely monitor groups marching into other areas of campus. The safety of our campus and community is our top priority.”

Yep… told ya.

Christie: Trump, fans have lost sight of Kaepernick’s real NFL protest

Most Americans have lost sight of why former San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick (right) decided to kneel during the national anthem before NFL games. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Arguably, the most disappointing thing about the amped-up debate over National Football League players taking a knee during the national anthem is the subject of the debate.

Thousands of American citizens, and not just NFL fans, are taking the time to let it be known that they are offended by players disrespecting the anthem and the nation’s flag by not standing when the anthem is played ahead of a game.

Players and those who support them are being castigated as unpatriotic and disrespectful to our U.S. military that defends the very freedom of speech they are exercising. And, yes, I know the last part sounds hypocritical.

But more importantly, patriotism had nothing to do with the original intent of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s reason for at first sitting on the bench, and later kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner.”

To be sure, many of the high school, college and NFL players who are taking a knee during the anthem are doing so mainly in support of Kaepernick, not to highlight the issue of race. For NFL players, in particular, last Sunday’s broad defiance had more to do with defending themselves — and the league — from President Donald Trump than calling attention to racial injustice.

RELATED: Trump continues railing against protesting NFL, NBA players

But the president’s comments and tweets fired up the feelings of many Americans who’ve regarded Kaepernick’s protests as an increasingly annoying distraction.

That was reflected in the Post’s Letters to the Editor on Thursday. For example:

Unpatriotic players can count me out

The unpatriotic behavior of football players who have been exposed to brain trauma playing the game is understandable. Condoning this behavior by Miami Dolphins team owner Stephen Ross is not.

This pathetic patronage to players will only accelerate the already declining viewership of NFL fans. I am proud to count myself as a patriotic former fan.

CHARLES LYDAY, BOCA RATON

Lest we forget, however, Kaepernick declined to stand during the anthem last NFL season to draw attention to our nation’s intractable issue of racial injustice. He acted when there seemed to be a rash of shootings (some fatal) of unarmed black men by law enforcement officers around the country.

You may remember that we had one such tragedy right here in Palm Beach County involving former Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja, and a Delray Housing Department employee and part-time drummer named Corey Jones. The 31-year-old Jones is dead after Raja pumped six bullets into him. Raja is now headed to trial on, among other things, attempted first-degree murder charges.

You may remember also, at the time, that a number of law enforcement officers involved in these shootings were either not being prosecuted or not being convicted.

Kaepernick, riding a wave of popularity after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl, was frustrated by this perceived injustice and the lack of discussion in our communities that could help bring an end to it all.

Sure, many Americans know racism and racial inequality exist in this country, but talking about it is a whole other issue. It’s either not their problem because they’re not racist, or black people need to stop complaining and appreciate the fact they live in a great country.

To bring attention to this lack of will to talk about race, Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem for a country that would allow any of its citizens to be treated this way. He believed, strongly, that we needed to talk about it.

Was it the best venue for a protest? That’s certainly debatable.

But that shouldn’t be the crux of the debate. From Kaepernick’s standpoint, what good would another press conference do? Who would listen? Wouldn’t most folks be tempted to write him off as just another privileged, million-dollar black athlete who lives better than 90 percent of the people in this country? So who would care?

Because he chose this venue and the national anthem, however, rather than seize on the difficult issue of racial inequality, detractors took the opportunity to wrap themselves in the flag and patriotism.

When President Donald Trump went on his rant at an Alabama rally last week saying “get that son of a b—- off the field” if an NFL player kneels during the anthem, Kaepernick’s concern about racial injustice never passed the president’s lips. From Trump, it was all about disrespecting the flag and our troops. (Yes, this coming from a man who sought, and got five waivers to avoid serving during the Vietnam War.)

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast also weighed in on Facebook criticizing NFL players who kneel in a show of solidarity for Kaepernick. Mast, a Stuart Republican, lost both of his legs while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Again, no mention of racial injustice.

RELATED: Rep. Brian Mast: NFL anthem kneelers ‘should already be gone’

I have a sister who is a Marine Corps veteran. I have a brother who is an Army veteran.

I have three uncles who are Army vets; two of them wounded. I also have two uncles who are Navy vets, and a father who is a 20-year Air Force vet. All were poor black kids from the wrong side of the tracks in Stuart, Fla., who served their country honorably during the Vietnam War.

And I have numerous other relatives who have served, or are still serving in different branches of our military.

I don’t know one that agrees with Mast and Trump.

Maybe because they haven’t lost sight of what Kaepernick’s protest was really about.

Goodman: On opposing Trump on bigotry, Marco Rubio sets an example

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks to reporters as he walks toward the Senate floor on July 18 (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

I’m usually quick to slam Marco Rubio for a lack of spine, so it’s only fair to applaud him when he shows some.

On Wednesday, he became the first Republican member of the Senate to slam President Donald Trump, blazing on Twitter:

-@marcorubio: “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons. 1/6

 Rubio: “They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin. 2/6”

 Rubio: “When entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you,it justifies & ultimately leads to violence against them 3/6”

 Rubio: “These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever 4/6”

 Rubio: “Mr. President,you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain 5/6”

 Rubio: “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected 6/6”

I particularly like Number 3.

To watch an American president all but side with armed, torch-bearing punks shouting Klan and neo-Nazi slogans was sickening. For many people in Palm Beach County, the home of his oh-so-precious Mar-a-Lago, this is personal.

This county has one of the densest Jewish populations in America. It’s been home for generations to many black people. It’s an important destination for immigrants from Haiti, Guatemala and other countries poor in political tolerance.

The Palm Beach Post editorial board warned about Donald Trump’s softness on bigotry as early as March 2016, during the primaries when there was still plenty of time for Republicans to repudiate the man and derail his candidacy. They didn’t.

And now this great nation is headed by a president who refuses to stand up for the most fundamental of American principles.

It is a time for everyone else — particularly other leaders — to do the standing up.

Be like Marco.