The Saturday Six Pack number six… the episode where Nick and D’Real almost get themselves killed

    There were a lot of firsts this week… This was the first time that we invited random passers-by into the AM 1700 studio to talk. This was the first time that we had a guest text in to say that he wouldn’t be able to join us. And this, to my knowledge, was the first time that a member of The Saturday Six Pack staff has had his life threatened in earnest. And, while I’ve yet to listen to the entire show, I think it could be my favorite so far. There was a lot of serendipity… a lot of lovely, unexpected twists and turns.

    Here, for instance, is Lorenzo… a young man known to cruise around Ypsi late at night on his bike, offering rides to people in the child carrier he often pulls behind him. He dropped by the studio to have his photo taken by our first guest, photographer Nick Azzaro, and, afterward, we chatted a bit about why he does what he does. Here he is outside the studio last night with his bike. [If you’d like to fast forward through the podcast to get to my conversation with Lorenzo, it happens at about 1:30.]

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    It’s kind of beautiful what can unfold when you open your door and welcome people in… unless, of course, one of those people threatens your life. But we’ll get back to that later.

    If you’d like to listen for yourself, you can hear this episode on Soundcloud or iTunes. Or, if you scroll to the end of this post, you’ll find it embedded… Here, though, for those of you who would rather not listen, are my rough notes.

    We started the show off with a new intro created by local musician Jim Cherewick. It has a very submersive quality to it. If you listen, I think you’ll see what I mean. It’s a lovely, incomprehensible jumble of audio sourced from previous episodes of The Saturday Six Pack, kind of layered at different speeds. When I listen to it, I get the sense that I’m being held beneath a babbling brook, but not in a violent way. Or, to put it a different way, if the show were water, this is what it would feel like to drown in it. [If you’re a musician, and you have an idea for an opening theme, let me know. I like the idea of having a lot to rotate through, kind of the same way we do with headers on this site.]

    D’Real Graham requested that he be allowed to purchase this week’s six pack. And, since it was his birthday, I said we’d allow it. He chose Shorts Brewery’s Good Humans. And, at 6:00, we started the show by opening a few, and chatting for a while about the birthday dance party he had planned for later that evening at his apartment, the after-school tutoring program that he manages for 826michigan, and the possibility of getting local kids involved producing segments for The Saturday Six Pack… One of my favorite moments this week, by the way, happened during the segment with D’Real, when thanked me for giving him a beer which he’d himself purchased… Here he is thanking me.

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    Speaking of beer sponsorship, if there’s anyone else out there who would like to supply the six pack that fuels the show, here’s what I’m thinking… In exchange for a six pack of cold, drinkable beer, you would have an opportunity to address the AM 1700 audience for 30 uninterrupted seconds. And, during that time, you could say whatever you liked. If you’d like to complain, as others have, that every guest of The Saturday Six Pack is either my toadie or sycophant, here’s your chance to tell me so to my face. And it’ll only cost you the price of a cold six pack.

    Speaking of toadies and sycophants, I asked D’Real which he was. He responded, “Both.”

    Oh, and, speaking of D’Real, one of my only regrets about this episode is that I didn’t follow through with my threat to call his condo later in the evening to hear how his party was going. (A hologram of 50 Cent was scheduled to perform at 8:00, and I would have loved to have heard it.)

    After my short chat with D’Real, Nick Azzaro took the chair opposite me, and we talked about his recent decision, along with his partner, Yen Azzaro, to relocate their art, design and photography studio from Chicago to Ypsilanti a little over three months ago. Here’s Nick at the beginning of the show, before he went outside barefoot, into the snow, to take photos of people walking past the studio. (Apparently, the AM 1700 toilet overflowed on his feet, leaving him with no choice but to discard his shoes and socks.)

    NickAzzaroSixpacksix

    Nick and I talked about his work teaching photography in the Ypsi public schools, the “free headshot” social events he and Yen had hosted in their studio, their upcoming plans for art shows and panel discussions in their South Washington Street space, and how much easier it is to make things happen in Ypsilanti than in Chicago.

    At some point Yen called in to ask how much Nick had been drinking. (She was at home, celebrating their son’s second birthday, while he was on the air with me, drinking beers, telling us about his favorite bar in Chicago, and running around outside barefoot with his camera.)

    Among other things, Nick and I discussed the old Elbow Room, at which point I related a story I’d heard secondhand about a man observed in the bathroom of the bar one night vomiting into the sink, and then using his hands to ladle said vomit out, and back into his mouth. A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was former Ann Arbor realtor Newcombe Clark calling in from Chicago to say that he’d heard the same story, and thought it likely that drugs and alcohol may have been involved. [You’ll find this conversation near the 30-minute mark, just shortly after D’Real grabbed the mic and told all of the children in the listening audience to go to bed.]

    And then we began pulling people in off the street to have their photos taken by Nick. For the most part, it went well. We talked with Lorenzo, who I mentioned at the top of the post, about his mythical late night bike rides. We met a few women who were out looking for adventure after just having purchased a new belly button ring down the street. And we chatted with a fellow who asked that we not share his photo with the police… And then there was the guy who, I’m pretty sure, threatened to kill both Nick and D’Real. [Listen for yourself at 1:07.]

    Then, at the 51-minute mark, we listened to Pete Larson’s most recent song, recorded that very morning in Kenya, where he studies the transmission of livestock viruses when not writing music for The Saturday Six Pack.

    And, at the 58-mintue mark, Brigid Mooney called in to continue our discussion from last week about her “classy” vagina, among other things. (We asked her to come in and have photos taken to document her current state of classiness. She declined.)

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    Sadly, at 1:23 we discovered that our next guest, David Klingenberger from The Brinery, wouldn’t be coming after all. (He sent me a text.) I worry that perhaps he heard either Brigid’s call about her vagina, or the tense exchange outside the studio, and decided to turn his car around and head back to Ann Arbor. He tells me, however, that it was a family emergency, and says he’d like to come in some other time to talk about fermentation, preservation, and the awesomeness of gut bacteria. We’ll see.

    Thankfully, we were creative and filled the empty space nicely, with things like the hastily-constructed “Wallet Talk with Kristen J. Cuhran” segment, which I’m hoping can become a regular feature. [Listen at 1:12.]

    The episode was not without its disappointments, though. Most notably, the the guy who calls in several times each show to play songs by “The Who,” didn’t even call once. (I’m worried about him.) I also wish that we’d talked more than just a few minutes about Lorenzo Lamas… Live and learn.

    Lastly, I’d like to thank Cre Fuller for stepping in and helping me to finish our last beers and wind the show down, while talking about the possibility of other food-related segments.

    LISTEN TO EPISODE SIX:

    [note: The very first and last photos were taken by Nick Azzaro. All of the others are by Kate de Fuccio.]

    Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

    Michigan’s License to Discriminate invoked as pediatrician turns away the newborn child of a gay couple

    During the Michigan legislature’s lame duck session last December, as you might recall, our elected representatives in the House passed something called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which, if signed into law, would give Michiganders of faith (whatever that means) the freedom to discriminate against those they feel to be unworthy in the eyes of their god. Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, in defense of the bill, said, “This is not a license to discriminate,” and then went on to contradict himself by explaining how good Christians shouldn’t be forced to bake wedding cakes for godless homosexuals. Bolger then added, “People simply want their government to allow them to practice their faith in peace.”

    Well, this week, we’ve been given an opportunity to see how this new legal protection designed to protect our defenseless Christian majority may work in practice, when the six-day old child of a lesbian couple was denied service by a doctor in Roseville, Michigan.

    Married lesbian couple, Krista and Jami Contreras, upon taking their newborn child in for a checkup at Eastlake Pediatrics, were told that the doctor they had planned to see, Vesna Roi, had decided to stay home that day, rather than attend to their child. The doctor, they were told, “had prayed on it, and she won’t be able to care for” their baby.

    Here’s coverage from Fox 2 News in Detroit.

    Fox 2 News Headlines

    It should be noted that another, less bigoted doctor at Eastlake Pediatrics offered to take over for Dr. Roi and look at the six-day old Bay Contreras. It’s my understanding however, that Krista and Jami Contreras chose to take their terrifyingly gay-love-covered child elsewhere.

    Clearly, I would think, this is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, even if Governor Snyder has yet to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, giving us the right to treat the gay like people of color were treated in the South during the Jim Crow era. Leaving all of that aside, though, I’m hoping that maybe one of my more devout readers can help me to understand the Biblical justification for Dr. Roi’s actions.

    My understanding is that Jesus consorted with all types of people, right? I mean, doesn’t it mention in the Bible that he washed the feet of prostitutes and the like? And, if that’s the case, I’m wondering what his modern day followers are basing their desire to have bigotry protected under law on. Is there a passage in the Bible that I’m not aware of where Jesus says, “Let’s not care for that faggot?” or “Let’s leave that child growing up in the household of lesbians to die?”

    [note: I edited the post to make it more clear that that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, while having been passed by the Michigan House, has yet to be signed into law.]

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 99 Comments

      Gut bacteria, in-studio photography and preserved vegetables… on the upcoming Saturday Six Pack

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      This Saturday, I’ll be back on Ypsilanti’s AM 1700, hosting The Saturday Six Pack. I’m still trying to pull everything together, but here’s what I think we’ve got lined up thus far.

      First, I’m not sure if he’ll come through for us, but I’m told that local song and dance man Jim Cherewick, who came in and visited us during last week’s show with his band Best Exes, is, at this very minute, working on a new theme song for The Saturday Six Pack. Having not heard it, I can’t say whether or not, if I were you, I’d cancel my plans for Saturday night just to experience it… however, if you’re on the fence, trying to decide between the free Insane Clown Posse show in Detroit, and the sixth episode of The Saturday Six Pack, maybe, I’m thinking, the promise of a new theme song may be enough to sway you.

      Then, during the 6:00 hour, we’ll be talking with local photographer Nick Azzaro, who, with his partner Yen Azzaro, recently opened the Chin Azzaro studio in downtown Ypsilanti. Nick is one of the first local business people to reach out to me upon hearing The Saturday Six Pack on the radio, asking how he could help out… and, after a little bit of talking about it, we decided that he should come out with his camera and shoot people at the radio station during the show. So, we’ll talk for a while, and then we’ll start pulling into the studio from the sidewalk outside, so that they have have their photos taken, as I drink beer in the background, and talk with callers. Or at least that’s the idea… Who knows what will actually happen. So, if you’re newly engaged, have a new hairdo that you’d like to show off to your friends on Facebook, or need to document an injury for an upcoming court case, come to the corner of Washington and Pearl at around 6:30 and tap on the window.

      Also, I should add, this will be the first episode of The Saturday Six Pack to have an official sponsor. Our friend D’Real Graham has asked, seeing as how he’ll be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, if he could have the privilege of acquiring and presenting this week’s six pack. So, if all goes according to play, I suspect he’ll be there at 6:00 to hand over the beer, before heading across town to attend his birthday party, which I suspect we’ll dial into at some point during the evening. I’m still considering how we should acknowledge six pack donors, and I’m thinking that we should, at the very least, give them 30 seconds at the beginning of the show to say whatever they like (especially if it’s incoherent, rambling criticism of the show).

      Then, at 7:00, Brigid Mooney will be bringing another one of her favorite people from the Wurst Bar down to talk with us for a few minutes. The concept, as we discussed on last week’s show, is pretty simple. Ypsi’s best bartenders bring their favorite, funniest customers into the studio for five minutes, and we see what kind of magic happens. This week, I’m told, it’ll be a little different, as our guest works behind the bar with Brigid, but the idea is still pretty much the same.

      And, next up, unless a blizzard keeps him from the studio, will be David Klingenberger from The Brinery in Ann Arbor, who will be stopping by the AM 1700 studio to talk with us about fermentation, preservation, the awesomeness of gut bacteria, and lots of other stuff, all while chewing on pickles, tempeh and preserved cabbages. And, of course, we’ll be taking your calls. So, if you have questions about the importance of gut bacteria, or you’re just curious about what David may have attempted to brine unsuccessfully, give us a call.

      And, as I don’t want to give too much away, I’ll stop there. Believe me, though… there will be more.

      If you’d like to tell your friends about the show, feel free to share the Facebook event page, where you’ll find information on how to tune in online, etc.

      For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, you can listen to the last five episodes by way of iTunes… Oh, and according to iTunes, The Saturday Six Pack is a “4.5-star” show! So apparently, if you’re a listener, you have good taste.

      And please enter this number in your phone… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. We’d love to hear from you.

      Posted in Agriculture, Ann Arbor, Local Business, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

      My thoughts on today’s article in the Metro Times about Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery

      It wasn’t my intention to address today’s Metro Times piece about Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery. But, as several people have now asked me for my thoughts, I feel as though I’m obligated to say something.

      First, and probably most importantly, in spite of owning half a share, I know next to nothing about the inner workings of the Corner Brewery. I’ve never seen the books. I’ve never been involved in a single business decision. I’ve never even been behind the bar. So, I’m afraid I can’t shed much light on the money side of things, or what might have been said during the staff meetings noted in the Metro Times article, or why certain decisions may have been made. I can however, share a few things with you.

      Before we get into that, though, I should probably tell you how Linette and I came to be involved as investors about a decade ago. (I can remember that Clementine was sleeping in her crib when Matt and Rene came by the house to sign the paperwork, so it must have been about 9 years ago.) I guess I’d heard through the grapevine that Matt and Rene were hoping to open a brewery in Ypsi, and I’d reached out to them to see if I could help in some way. I’d been a fan of their operation in Ann Arbor, and I wanted to see them open something here in Ypsi. Ypsi, I thought, could really use a family-friendly brewery that would be big enough to host the kinds of events I was starting to put together, and I wanted to help make that happen if I could. And, to be honest, I liked their politics. They were big supporters of Howard Dean, and I liked that. (This, of course, was before they threw their support behind Rick Snyder.) So we talked. And, eventually, Linette and I decided to cash in our savings to help make it happen. We thought it was a good gamble, given their success in Ann Arbor, and the fact that Ypsi was desperate for the kind of place that they were wanting to open, so we decided to do it. We weren’t the most savvy of investors, but we liked the vision, and we wanted to help make it happen. And we figured that we’d rather invest our money locally, in Ypsilanti, with people that we trusted, than in the stock market. So we bought half a share, making us the smallest investors in the venture.

      And, aside from no longer having any savings, things were good. The Brewery opened, and we started doing things there. Some friends and I held our first Shadow Art Fair there that summer, and it was a huge success. Thousands of people came. And other events followed. We’d apparently been right about Ypsilanti needing a flexible indoor space where people could do interesting things while drinking beer. And it grew. We thought we’d helped make something good happen in our community, and that made us happy. And we figured that, eventually, we’d get back out what we’d put in, plus some percentage of the profits, which we could channel into other things we were passionate about.

      The money never came, though. According to the initial projections, if I recall correctly, investors would start to see dividends after about three years… It’s now 2015, however, and we’ve yet to see the first dollar distributed.

      In spite of this, no one complained. None of the investors went to the press. No one, to my knowledge, pressured either Matt or Rene. We still loved the Corner, and continued to drink there, host our events there, etc. We figured that, eventually, we’d see something. And we believed Matt and Rene when they said that, in spite of the crowds, and the booming distribution business, the Brewery had yet to turn a profit, as revenue was being funneled back into things like bottling lines, geothermal coolers, and the like… We were resigned to be patient.

      Then came the online fundraising campaign at the heart of the Metro Times article. And that’s when things started to fall apart. I began getting calls from other business owners, who knew of my association, asking why Matt and Rene were trying to raise $75,000 online for a new kitchen instead of just building it themselves. I, of course, couldn’t tell them much… While most folks were satisfied with just whispering and texting, though, there was one local bar owner who felt obligated to confront the Greffs head-on. In a late night private email, written after having consumed a few drinks, this business owner told Matt and Rene that he was pissed about getting messages from them, asking for money, while also seeing photos of them drinking on a beach in his Facebook feed. He told them, among other things, that he’d just built his own kitchen, without asking for contributions, and hadn’t taken a real vacation in three years.

      And this, from my perspective, is where things began going off the rails… Rene copied this private letter to Facebook. And, as you might expect, her friends came to her defense, calling this business owner names, and noting all of the positive things that Matt and Rene had done for the community. Rene, I’m sure, felt vindicated by the outflowing of support from her friends. What she didn’t see, however, is that, at the same time, this other business owner was getting flooded with texts, all thanking him for having said what he said. (Many of them, by the way, came from employees of the Brewery.)

      I wrote to Matt and Rene. It was a long letter, but here’s the gist of it… “You may not like what this other business owner had to say, but you should know that he’s not alone. People are talking, and I’m afraid this campaign may ultimately cost you more than the $75,000 you’re hoping to raise.” I suggested that they remove the letter from Facebook, and offered to set up a meeting between both of them and the other bar owner. They declined. And things, as I predicted, got steadily worse. According to Tom Perkins, who wrote the piece for the Metro Times, one of their employees, shortly after this, reached out to him, asking that he please write about how they, the employees of the Corner Brewery, had been asked to contribute toward the building of the kitchen. And, here we are, several months later, with what someone described to me as, “The worst article ever written about two people not going to prison.”

      And it looks really, really bad. The image painted in the Metro Times piece is one of jet-setting owners vacationing around the world, only to stop back in Michigan in order to ask their employees, who are making $9 an hour, to donate back part of their pay so that they might not have to work in an outside kitchen come winter. It’s truly terrible stuff. And one hopes that it isn’t true. Regardless, though, I feel genuinely sorry for everyone involved.

      Here’s a clip from the article concerning the Indiegogo campaign, that I think should give you a sense for the tone of the piece, and why it is that Matt and Rene’s friends are so upset today.

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      The thing that really bothers me is that this was all so avoidable. If that private letter hadn’t been shared, and if the online fundraising campaign had been quietly suspended, all of this could have been dealt with in private. But, now, the whole thing is going viral, and I’m afraid that it may negatively affect the Corner Brewery, which, in my opinion, is still an incredible asset to our community. And, more importantly, it could affect the staff, who, through all of this, have kept right on going. (If business takes a hit because of this bad press, it’ll be them that suffer the most.)

      As I told Tom Perkins when he called me for a comment last November, when all of this began, the thing that really sucks is the thought of what might have been. The Corner Brewery started in such an incredible place. I’ve never seen a local business open with more goodwill. And who’s to say what they could have accomplished if not for all of this stuff that we’re now talking about. I know my quote in the article wasn’t terribly articulate, but that’s what I was getting at. I was trying to say that I hoped all of this didn’t cause that goodwill and positivity to evaporate. And I meant it.

      The big takeaway for me in all of this, as someone who would one day like to own his own business, is that transparency matters, and it’s important to be aware of how one’s actions are perceived. I know that Tom Perkins, in his piece, used the term “unethical.” From my perspective, though, it has more to do with tone-deafness than ethics. These trips taken by Matt and Rene, I’m sure, weren’t paid for out of the Corner Brewery till. I suspect they were financed by their venture in India, which is a completely separate, and considerably more profitable, entity. It’s difficult, however, to disentwine the two in one’s mind. It’s hard to see the photo of Matt and Rene drinking in first class, on their way back to Paris, and process it alongside their requests for donations. And I’m sure, from an employee’s perspective, it must be infuriating to work for a business owner who asks you to help raise money for a kitchen, so that you don’t have to continue working in the cold, when said owner has just posted photos from a hot tub at a spa on the Indian coast. Maybe something like this would have happened regardless, but I have to think that it could have played out differently, with a much better result for everyone involved, had more thought been given to communications.

      For what it’s worth, I’m still a supporter of the Corner Brewery, and I wish Matt and Rene all the best. As an investor, I’d still like for them to be successful, as I’d like to eventually help my daughter pay for college. More importantly, though, I still think our community needs a space like theirs. Regardless of decisions by management, the place is still important, beautiful and vital. And, thankfully, nothing has been done that cannot be undone. Ypsilanti, if nothing else, is a forgiving community, and this can still be turned around.

      UPDATE: Matt Greff just posted the following response to the piece in the Metro Times.

      Dear FB friends, many of you have reached out to me already regarding the attack piece in the Metro Times. Obviously we, our staff, friends, and supporters were very sad to read the article today that inaccurately portrayed our Indiegogo campaign and our involvement with staff incentives. It is particularly painful for Rene and I because we have put all of ourselves into our businesses for 20 years and this article does not accurately represent our business philosophy, ethos, or even the facts.

      The one true statement in the article is that our investors have not seen a penny since we opened Corner Brewery in 2006. This is something we stress and worry about every day. Rene and I, like our investors, have also not made a penny from Corner Brewery and this is also something we stress and worry about every day. Not only haven’t we made money, we have personally loaned the business $165,000 in order to make improvements (about $60,000 of this was for the kitchen renovation project) and to pay the bills to keep the doors open. This is what small business owners do, we pour everything we have into our business in order to make it work. We’re totally fine doing it but it hurts to have someone without the facts accuse us of building the kitchen on the backs of our employees.

      We were accused of “diverting resources to open a brewery in India”. This could not be further from the truth. The brewery in India is a completely separate venture and absolutely no money or other resources were diverted away from the brewpub or the microbrewery to make it happen. Any and all expenses associated with the India project are borne by Rene and I and our business partner in India.

      The article also said we pink-slipped our kitchen staff after we met our fundraising goal. Laying off our kitchen staff because there wasn’t going to be any work for them for almost two months made the most sense for them because it allowed them to file for unemployment to continue receiving a paycheck while the kitchen was closed. When we had projects to do at the brewery during that time, kitchen staff was given the option of getting some hours to work on projects or not get the hours and file for unemployment. When the kitchen was set to re-open we offered jobs to all laid off employees who were in good-standing.

      Also, although the business grossed $1.7 million dollars the business actually lost over $100,000 in 2014. This is a vast improvement over the over $200,000 losses we showed in 2013. This means that there wasn’t money available to do a $170,000 kitchen improvement so we had to find alternate ways of financing the project. I also want to make it clear that the reason for doing the kitchen improvement was because our staff was working in such harsh conditions. The kitchen grew organically over the years as our very creative kitchen team kept coming up with more food options and unorthodox ways of expanding our kitchen. It became clear during the winter of 2013/2014 that this was not sustainable so we knew we had to find a way to build a “real” kitchen before the winter of 2014/2015.

      As it turns out, we completely botched the public relations end of the Indiegogo campaign. This was not a philanthropic “give” to a charity, this campaign was offering really sweet items for sale at really sweet prices to our customers. We clearly did not communicate that very well. As it turns out, this was a very expensive way to finance half of the kitchen project because we will be paying for the $75,000 we raised over the next several years in lost sales from mug club memberships, etc. that our customers took advantage of. And by the way, we will be forever grateful to those who took advantage of the sweet deals to help us raise the money we needed.

      And finally, there was never any pressure put on our employees to give money nor were they threatened to coerce others into buying any of the items offered. As always, we knew the campaign would be more successful if it were fun for our staff and if we had some excitement around it. Therefore we offered our staff incentives if they chose to participate and those who took advantage of it had a great time and were very happy with their involvement.

      I hope some of you who are skeptical will read this and at least consider the facts that were omitted from the article. We will continue to focus on our customers, employees, and community like we always have and hope to continue to see all of your smiling faces come through the doors. Since our businesses are so very personal to us, we also encourage you to reach out to us personally if you have thoughts, suggestions, and criticisms. Thank you all so much for 20 amazing years and, as scary as it is to say it, we look forward to 20 more.

      Posted in Local Business, Locally Owned Business, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , | 159 Comments

      When police start body slamming Indian grandfathers to the ground for having the audacity to walk slowly down public streets, can we finally agree that enough is enough?

      By now, I suspect you’ve seen the video of Sureshbhai Patel, the 57 year old grandfather from India who was left partially paralyzed after being stopped and slammed to the ground by police officers in Madison, Alabama while going for a walk around his son’s suburban neighborhood on the morning of February 6. (Patel had just arrived in Alabama, where he was intending to help look after his one year old grandson.) Things apparently escalated quickly once police, who had been alerted to the presence of a skinny, dark-skinned man walking slowly down a residential street, became frustrated by Patel’s inability to say more than “India” and “no English.” Well I was thinking about this case, struggling with what I’d like to say about it, when I happened across the following quote from Michigan expatriate Brandon Zwagerman, which I thought summed things up pretty perfectly.

      “Is this now the endgame when suburban landscape and attitudes (simply being a pedestrian is “suspicious” in this community which is the fastest-growing city in Alabama, 75% white, $90,000 median income) intersect with racist attitudes (especially if a pedestrian is “black”) and militarily blunt and aggressive police training? Disgusting.”

      The answer, it would seem, at least judging from this video of the incident, is “Yes.”

      One wonders what it will actually take for us, the people of the United States, to finally start to take the subject of excessive police force seriously. If this most recent incident isn’t enough to bring about serious change, what has to happen to get us to that point? Apparently seeing a 12 year old with a toy gun shot to death by police wasn’t enough. And neither was seeing an unarmed man choked to death by police. So, what will it be? Do we need to see an old woman being stomped to death by riot cops? Do we need to see a child thrown out of a window and killed during a raid? What the fuck has to happen before people take to the streets and demand real, substantive change?

      [Thankfully, it would appear that, due in large part to the outcry from the Indian government, things have taken a positive turn in this case, and Eric Parker, the officer who threw Patel to the ground, has been arrested. Let’s hope that this is just the first step of many.]

      Posted in Civil Liberties, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

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