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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) — Arizona police released video showing an officer using his cruiser to intentionally run over a suspect, triggering new questions about what critics call excessive use of force by officers in the U.S.

In the dashcam video released Tuesday, a gunshot is heard before suspect Mario Valencia is seen walking down a street in the town of Marana on February 19 with a rifle.

He is seen firing a shot in the air and then proceeding down the street as police slowly trail him in their vehicles.

Then a police car driven by officer Michael Rapiejko is caught on the dashcam rushing past and slamming into Valencia from the back before plowing into a cinderblock wall.

Valencia survived the collision.

Marana police chief Terry Rozema defended the action, saying Valencia had refused to obey officers’ commands to put down the rifle and was approaching an office building.

“We can’t allow him to get to the point where he enters the office complex. We can’t allow him the opportunity to take somebody in the parking lot hostage to do a carjacking.”

“It’s graphic, it’s violent, but at the same token it warranted deadly force given all of the circumstances,” he said, adding that the police officer “would have been completely justified in shooting this individual.”

The dramatic incident capped a crosstown crime spree, according to police, which say Valencia was fleeing from a Walmart store where he had stolen the rifle.

An investigation is underway to see whether he is also linked to earlier crimes in Tucson.

But the violent encounter was only the latest in a series of incidents that critics say demonstrates a pattern of police brutality and racism across the United States.

Hundreds of people in two dozen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, on Tuesday protested fresh police killings of unarmed black men.

Rally organizers say U.S. police have shot more than 90 unarmed people since January.

On Monday, a white volunteer deputy sheriff in Oklahoma was charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting dead Eric Harris, 44, a suspect in an undercover gun-sale operation. He is now free on bail.

Last week, a South Carolina police officer was charged with murder after being filmed on video killing Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, as he fled a routine traffic stop on April 4.

The cellphone video shows the officer firing eight times as Scott was running away.

A series of killings last year of unarmed black men by mainly white police officers have sparked nationwide protests and raised charges of racism, reviving a national debate about the excessive use of police force.

The demonstrations were galvanized by the August 2014 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in bitterly disputed circumstances. The officer involved in that case was not charged.

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]