A Tale of Two Snowballs

by Corey Robin on February 1, 2015

I grew up in Chappaqua, New York, which is 20 miles northwest of New Rochelle. Both towns are in Westchester County, but they’re different.

Chappaqua’s population is 81% white, 12% Asian, and 2% black. Its median household income is $100,000. Its poverty rate is less than 4%. New Rochelle’s population is 47% white, 19% black, and 28% Latino/a. Its poverty rate is more than 12%. Its median household income is $67,000.

But here’s how I really know the difference between the two towns.

When I was growing up, my friend Mario, who’s no longer alive, came over to play. It was a snowy day. We decided to throw snowballs at cars. Our position protected by a tall hedge, we packed the snowballs tight and started hurling them onto the street. We did it for a while, till we heard a car screech and stop. And then we ran like hell.

About five or ten minutes later, my dad called out for us. The police were in the driveway. We got a stern talking-to, my parents yelled at us, and that was that.

Last Wednesday, a group of kids (it’s hard to say for sure, but they seem to be black; they’re definitely not white) were having a snowball fight in New Rochelle, somewhere near Lincoln Avenue and Hemingway Avenue. A snowball fight with each other.

A cop showed up, the kids dropped to their knees, and as this video shows, the cop drew his gun, shouting, “Don’t fucking move, guys.” He proceeded to frisk one of them, while keeping his gun on him, and then another.

There’s a report that the cops were responding to a call about a gun, but no one has confirmed it. The person taking the video, a woman, says, “They were having a snowball fight. This group of guys was having a snowball fight and now a cop has a gun on them.”

Update (8:30 pm)

I just found a Daily News report on the incident, which came out after I posted this. According to the News, the cops are claiming they responded to a 911 call about a teenager pointing a gun, in a group of teenagers, at someone else. They also claim that they have a transcript confirming the call, which they may release. As soon as the cops arrived, they claim, the kid with the gun took off. That is the point, they say, where the video begins. They also say there was no snowball fight going on prior to their arrival. I have no idea what the basis of that claim is.


Sunday photoblogging: Rue de Vaugirard

by Chris Bertram on February 1, 2015

Queensland election

by John Q on February 1, 2015

We just had an election in my home state of Queensland, and the outcomes will be of some broader interest, I hope. The governing Liberal National (= conservative) Party has (almost certainly) gone down to a surprise defeat, going from 78 of 89 seats at the last election to a probable 40 or 41 this time. The key issues were broken promises (particularly regarding job cuts) and government proposals for privatisation.

This can be seen either as a reversal or a repeat of the last election when the governing Labor Party went from 51 seats to 7. That election was also fought on broken promises and privatisation, but with the roles of the parties reversed (Labor had won an election opposing privatisation, then immediately announced it would go ahead).

Among the actual or potential ramifications

* The first instance of a woman Opposition Leader defeating an incumbent government at state or national level in Australia (there have been examples in the much smaller territory governments, but I think this is the first case at State level. The more common pattern has been for a woman to get a “hospital pass” when it is clear that the government is on the way out.
* At the national level, the replacement of the current conservative prime minister Tony Abbott
* The abandonment of the biggest coal mine project in Australia

Looking internationally, the outcome can be seen as a defeat for the politics of austerity and maybe as an example to suggest that Pasokification can be reversed, under the right circumstances.

Finally, I’ll link to my analysis of the asset sales, which got a reasonably prominent run during the campaign. It probably didn’t change many minds, but it helped to counter the barrage of pro-privatisation propaganda.