On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas.
Are you ready?
An Inconvenient tax: picking people’s pockets
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
Warning, when you check out, be on the lookout for pickpockets.
The latest green movement cause du jour is the banning or taxing of disposable plastic and paper bags. These laws or city ordinances are designed to nudge or coerce customers to bring their own reusable tote bag when they shop for groceries and other merchandise.
A number of United States cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boulder, Austin and now unfortunately Dallas have either banned or taxed disposable plastic and/or paper bags or so-called “single-use carryout bags.” According to the Earth Policy Institute, over 20 million people are currently covered by 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances in the U.S.
For decades most American and European businesses have provided their customers bags, at no additional charge, to carryout and transport their purchase. In the 1980s businesses began to give their customers a choice of paper or plastic.
On March 26, 2014, the Dallas City Council passed an 8 to 6 City Ordinance No. 29307. It requires business establishments that provide their customers “single-use carryout bags” to register with the city annually each location providing these bags and charge their customers an “environment fee” of 5 cents per bag to promote a “culture of clean” and “to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residences.”
Give me a break. It is a new tax to raise millions in new tax revenue for the City of Dallas. Who are the elected Dallas-8 council member watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) that ordained this tax on the people and businesses of Dallas? The names of the Dallas-8 are Tennell Atkins, Carolyn R. Davis, Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Dwaine R. Caraway, Sandy Greyson, Philip T. Kingston, and Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The Dallas-8 are led by council member Caraway, who wanted to completely ban plastic and paper single-use carryout bags. Instead they decided to shake down Dallas businesses and their customers with a new highly regressive tax. Caraway refuses to call it a tax and claims the new ordinance which went in effect on January 1 is “a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States.”
The eight-page ordinance includes the definition and standards that reusable carryout bags must satisfy: “A reusable carryout bag must meet the minimum reuse testing standard of 100 reuses carrying 16 pound.” Reusable bags may be made of cloth, washable fabric, durable materials, recyclable plastic with a minimum thickness of 4.0 mil or recyclable paper that contains a minimum of 40 percent recycled content.
All of the above reusable bags must have handles with the exception of small bags with a height of less than 14 inches and a width of less than 8 inches.
Business establishments can either provide or sell reusable carryout bags to its customer or to any person.
The city ordinance exempts some bags from the single-use carryout definition including:
The Dallas 5 cent paper and plastic bag tax or environment fee applies only to single-use carryout bags defined as bags not meeting the requirements of a reusable bag.
Businesses that violate the ordinance can be fined up to a maximum of $500 per day.
Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a bag manufacturing group, said “This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5 percent of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1 percent of litter in studies conducted across the country;” “Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment: but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small business and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag and recycling industry.”
Stop the shakedown of Dallas businesses and their customers. Repeal the inconvenient tax on paper and plastic disposable bags by voting out of office the Dallas-8 city council members who voted for this tax, Dwaine Caraway. Support your Texas state representatives in passing a new law that would prohibit cities such as Dallas and Austin from banning or taxing paper and plastic carryout bags.
On January 1, 2015, the Carryout Bag Ordinance will start in Dallas.
Are you ready?
Retailers offering only reusable bags, as defined by the ordinance, have different requirements.
All retailers should look at their operations and determine if their bags are single-use, reusable, or exempted from the single-use definition. Consult the full ordinance for all details pertaining to the ordinance and what is expected for each type of bag including thickness, language on the bag, durability, signage, and other considerations.
Customers, you are encouraged to bring your bagand keep your change.Single-use carryout bags have a five-cent per bag environmental fee. A single-use bag can be paper or plastic.Reusable bags do not have the environmental fee, though stores may charge you to offset costs. Reusable bags stores offer can be made from cloth or other washable woven materials, recyclable paper, or recyclable plastic so long as they meet certain requirements. However, any bag you bring with you to use is considered reusable since you are reusing it.There are some bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition:
Remember to recycle the bags you can recycle appropriately.
Many wonder why the City passed this ordinance. The Dallas City Council passed the ordinance to help improve the environment and keep our city clean. The City is currently spending nearly $4 million dollars to remove litter from our community to keep it beautiful and thriving.
The Carryout Bag ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to use reusable bags to carry goods from stores, restaurants, and other locations to reduce the number of bags that can end up loose in the environment as litter.
To help you understand, we have created this list of frequently asked question.
The carryout bag ordinance outlines the City’s “desire to protect the natural environment, the economy and the health of its residents,” and the “negative impact on the environment caused by improper disposal of single-use carryout bags.” The Dallas City Council approved the ordinance on March 26, 2014.
The ordinance takes effect on January 1, 2015.
Retailers and customers should be ready and know all the details. This website and the City’s Code Compliance Services website have details to help retailers prepare. The links to the Code website on DallasCityHall.com are below.
Some are still unclear how the ordinance may impact them.
Businesses will have to register each location with the City in order to offer single-use bags. No registration is necessary if a business is only offering reusable bags or bags that are exempted from the single-use bag definition in the ordinance. Businesses must be registered before distributing single-use carryout bags starting January 1, 2015. Businesses are required to collect a five-cent environmental fee for every single-use bag used by a customer.
Customers will be charged a five-cent environmental fee for each single-use bag, paper or plastic, they receive from retailers. Again, reusable bags and bags exempted from the definition of single-use bags do not carry the environmental fee. You can avoid the environmental fee by bringing your own bags with you. The five cent fee assessed for the single-use bag is not subject to sales tax.
Will I still be able to get plastic carryout bags?
Yes, provided your retailer chooses to offer them and collect the environmental fee.
Can I bring my own reusable bags to carry out items I purchased?
Yes. Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to carry out their items instead of paying the five-cent environmental fee per single-use plastic or paper bag.
If I reuse a single-use carryout bag, will I have to pay the fee again?
Whatever bag you bring — tote bag, golf bag, diaper bag, satchel, purse, or produce bag — if you bring it with you to reuse, you do not have to pay the environmental fee.
Where does the money go?
A portion of the fees will be used to pay for enforcement of the ordinance and for public education efforts. Stores keep 10 percent of the five-cent fee to help offset administrative costs.
Does this ordinance apply to all businesses?
All retailers that offer single-use carryout bags in Dallas are subject to this ordinance.
What about non-profits or charities?
If the non-profit or charity offers food, groceries, clothing, or other household items free of charge to clients, they may still use single-use carryout bags for the specific function of distributing those items. However, the ordinance will apply to any bags used at the point of sale for any goods sold through the non-profit or charity.
Additionally, any non-profit or charity that collects goods for donation from the public or which leaves informational material for the public must be sure any door-hanger bags left for collecting those goods or providing that informational material are biodegradable.
Does the ordinance include all bags?
The ordinance applies to single-use paper or plastic carryout bags used by businesses as defined in the ordinance language.
What if businesses don’t follow the ordinance?
Businesses that violate the ordinance could face fines of up to $500 per day.
How will the ordinance be enforced?
City Code Compliance inspectors will respond to complaints and provide proactive enforcement.
How can the City know if businesses aren’t complying with the law? Will they be doing more inspections?
There will be proactive enforcement and periodic audits. Additionally, the City will respond to complaints from residents.
Will the ban on single-use bags at city facilities apply to retailers at American Airlines Center, city museums, the Omni Dallas Hotel, and Fair Park?
Yes. The City Attorney’s Office will work with Code Enforcement to determine which facilities are affected and how.
Whom should I contact if I have additional questions?
Call 3-1-1, the Office of Environmental Quality, Code Compliance or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW⇒ Where can I find the forms?
Forms and more information are available on the Code Compliance website dedicated to the Carryout Bag Ordinance here.
For months Dwaine Caraway has insisted he had the votes to pass at least a partial ban on the single-use carryout bag. He was right: By a vote of 8-6 the Dallas City Council passed the so-called “environmental fee ordinance,” which bans single-use carryout bags at all city facilities and events while still allowing retailers to use plastic and paper bags.
But beginning January 1 retailers will have to charge customers who want them “an environmental fee” of five cents per bag, and they will get to keep 10 percent of that money. The ordinance also says retailers who want to keep handing out plastic and paper bags will have to register with the city and keep track of bags sold.
The city says the money raised from the bag fees will help go toward funding enforcement and education efforts that assistant city manager Jill Jordan told the council could cost around $250,000 and necessitate the hiring of up to 12 additional staff members.
Wednesday’s vote came a year after council member Dwaine Caraway asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance that completely banned the bag. The council member says the ordinance passed today was a compromise born out of “a fair process” that included environmentalists, bag manufactures and retailers. Several of his colleagues wanted to send the proposed ordinances back to committee for further debate. But Caraway wanted a vote now.
“You get to a point where it’s time to make decisions, decisions that will have a great impact on the city of Dallas and our environmental status … and the beautification of our city,” he said. The process has “been pretty tough. it’s been back and forth. We listened and listened fairly.”
But six of his colleagues disagreed: Sheffie Kadane said the fee-based ban will result in a lawsuit from retailers and manufacturers. Rick Callahan called it a “government intrusion.” Jennifer Staubach Gates said it wouldn’t do any good, because in five years the reusable bags supported by the environmentalists will end up in landfills too. And Jerry Allen said the three options being considered by council, including a full-out ban, represented “a lack of clear conviction,” which he found disappointing.
And then there was Lee Kleinman, who on Friday indicated he supported the fee-based ordinance. Five days later he’d changed his mind and said he no longer cared what happened in his colleagues’ districts.
“I would personally probably stay more focused on my own district, which does not have the same trash problems as others,” he said, to the amazement of some of his southern sector colleagues. “Why should I care if someone is shopping like at Southwest Center Mall and they want a plastic bag? If people in that community are satisfied with the conditions around that mall, why should I utilize my position in North Dallas to improve those conditions? I should just focus my energies on North Dallas redevelopment projects and not help another improve quality of life in other areas of the city.”
That entire speech is above, thanks to my colleague Scott Goldstein.
Vonciel Jones Hill, who has said in the past she opposes any ban or bag tax, was no present for today’s vote. Monica Alonzo also voted against it, but said nothing.
In a statement released following the vote, the American Progressive Bag Alliance said it’s “a move that will fail to accomplish any environmental goals while jeopardizing 4,500 Texas jobs and hurting consumers.”
Its executive director, Lee Califf, said in a statement that “the vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate.”
But it’s not clear if the state will allow Dallas’ new bag “ban” — or bag tax, more appropriately.
Attorney General Greg Abbott is going to weigh in on the legality of bag bans, following a request by state Rep. Dan Flynn of Canton on behalf of the Texas Retailers Association. Jerry Allen asked Dallas City Attorney Warren Ernst if the state allows bag bans.
“We are ready to defend that position,” Ernst said. “If it’s the will of the council to pass the ordinance, we’ll defend that as a legal action by the city.”
Allen was not convinced, insisting “there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty.” Ernst appeared to agree.
Those council members opposed to the ordinance said Dallas needs to do a better job of enforcing its litter laws. Jordan told the council that the city spends $4 million annually on trash pick-up, “and we still have litter.”
In the end, said council member Scott Griggs, “this is just one step. We tackle the bags then we can move on to Styrofoam and other issues that cause trash. This is a large elephant we’ll have to take on as a city and a council.”
Kroger’s Gary Huddleston, also of the Texas Retailers Association, shared a hug with Dwaine Caraway following today’s council vote.
Following the vote, Gary Huddleston, head of the Texas Retailers Association, said he wasn’t sure whether his organization would sue the city. He noted that they are awaiting the attorney general’s ruling on the legality of a fee.
“It will affect the retailers in the city of Dallas and it will affect our customers,” Huddleston said. “They’ll have to pay for their paper and plastic bags or they bring in their reusable bags.”
“We personally believe the solution to litter in the city of Dallas is a strong recycling program and also punishing the people that litter and not punishing the retailer,” Huddleston said.
The fee means that businesses will have to institute additional programming and training in order to enforce ordinance and track the fees. Customers will “have to pay a nickel a bag, whereas maybe they use that nickel to buy more product in my store.”
But Huddleston’s concerns didn’t stop him from hugging Caraway outside chambers. The two men smiled and embraced in front of television cameras.
The council member said he was pleased with the result of more than a year of work. He refused to call the fee a “tax.”
“It’s a ban with a fee, such as other cities are doing across the United States,” Caraway said.
He said it’s important for residents to know the ban does not cover a variety of bags, such as those in the produce section of grocery stores or at restaurants
“Folks need to understand that these are single-use carryout bags,” Caraway said. “These are simply those thin, flimsy bags that take flight and that are undesirable and bad for the environment.”
Staff writer Scott Goldstein contributed to this report.
The City of Dallas has implemented new rules for plastic grocery bags, imposing a 5 cent fee on single-use plastic or paper grocery bags. The rules go into effect in January. (Published Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014)
Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 • Updated at 5:56 AM CST
The Dallas City Council has passed a proposal ordering retailers to charge a fee for one-time use plastic bags while partially banning them from city-owned facilities.
In a 8-6 vote, the council passed the ordinance requiring retailers to charge customers a $0.05 fee if they request single-use plastic or paper bags.
Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday[DFW] Dallas Plastic Bag Ban Vote Wednesday
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote on plastic bag ban issue on Wednesday. (Published Monday, Mar 24, 2014)
Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway accepted the compromise of a bag fee after spending a year fighting for a ban on single-use bags.
“This is an opportunity for us to clean our city, to clean our environment and to move forward, and to be like the other cities across the country and around the world,” Caraway said.
Zac Trahan with Texas Campaign for The Environment said Austin and eight smaller Texas cities have taken stronger action by banning single-use bags, but he still supported the Dallas regulations.
“It’s still a step in the right direction because it will still result in a huge reduction in the number of bags that will be distributed,” he said.
The ordinance also requires those retailers to register with the city and track the number of single-use bags sold.
The retailer would keep 10 percent of the environmental fee with the remainder going to the city to fund enforcement and education efforts.
Lee Califf, the executive director of the bag manufacturers’ group American Progressive Bag Alliance, released the following statement after the ordinance was passed.
“The vote to approve a 5-cent plastic and paper grocery bag fee in Dallas is another example of environmental myths and junk science driving poor policy in the plastic bag debate. This legislation applies to a product that is less than 0.5% of municipal waste in the United States and typically less than 1% of litter in studies conducted across the country. The City Council rushed through a flawed bill to appease its misguided sponsor, despite the fact that 70% of Dallas residents opposed this legislation in a recent poll.
“Placing a fee on a product with such a minuscule contribution to the waste and litter streams will not help the environment; but it will cost Dallas consumers millions more per year on their grocery bills, while hurting small businesses and threatening the livelihoods of the 4,500 Texans who work in the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry. Councilman Caraway may view this vote as a victory for his political career, but there are no winners with today’s outcome.”
Several Council Members opposed any new restrictions.
Rick Callahan said grocery bags are only a small part of the Dallas litter problem and better recycling education is needed.
“Banning something or adding a fee, putting more regulation on business is not the answer,” Callahan said.
The ordinance does ban single-use plastic or paper bags at city-owned facilities and events.
It still allows distributing multi-use, or stronger, paper or plastic bags for free so stores can get around charging the fee by offering better bags.
The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
After more than a year of considering a ban on disposable shopping bags, the Dallas City Council voted instead last week to impose a 5-cent “environmental fee” on each bag.
In previous columns, Steve Blow had opposed a ban, while Jacquielynn Floyd had supported it. Today, they debate the council’s new approach.
Steve: Leave it to the Dallas City Council to take a bad idea and find a way to make it worse. I thought a ban on shopping bags was a bad idea, but slapping a new tax on Dallas shoppers is even more pointless.
This isn’t just a new tax, it’s a new mini-bureaucracy at City Hall. There’s talk of hiring 12 new people to run the program. And I’m sure someone is already writing a job description for a Deputy Junior Assistant City Manager for Retail Packaging Assessment and Oversight.
Good grief. I had little faith that a ban would accomplish much. I’m even more dubious about a bag tax — except as a tool of government growth.
Jacquielynn: Dude, it’s a nickel. Nobody’s getting taxed into bankruptcy here.
I hope, in fact, that this modest 5 cents is enough to assign at least minimal value to these awful bags. The reason they end up on fences, in fields and as tree garbage is that they’re so free and plentiful.
Almost everybody collects them every day — yet they have virtually no value. It’s human nature to take something for free, then toss it or lose track if you don’t need it.
Like it or not, this is the direction cities are headed. Los Angeles has had a ban in effect for more than a year. New York and Chicago are talking about either banning or limiting plastic bags.
I don’t think this is a case of forcing people to bow to the authoritarian rule of government overlords — we’re asking for a very minor change in their habits. It makes environmental sense, like other conservation and recycling measures that have become routine.
Steve: They don’t end up as litter because they’re free and plentiful. They end up as litter because a few dopes among us litter. A nickel is not going to transform those dopes into responsible citizens. Anyone careless with trash is not going to suddenly become careful with 5-cent trash.
On a fundamental level, this issue chaps my inner libertarian. I don’t think “government regulation” is automatically a dirty word. But I firmly believe the need must be obvious and compelling before we add more regulation.
Jack, you may be fixated on plastic bags as you drive around, but I promise they make up a small percentage of the litter that’s out there. I see more cups than anything. Will we be required to carry around reusable cups next? Or pay a cups tax?
Jacquielynn: Steve, I agree that clueless dolts dump all kinds of garbage, from burger wrappers to moldy old sofas.
Plastic bags are a particular problem, though, for the very qualities that make them such a successful consumer product: They’re cheap, durable, lightweight and water-resistant. They’re mobile, easily blown into trees, creeks, fences and even for miles out into rural areas. A farmer who lives outside Dallas told me this week he hates plastic bags because when they land on his property, baby calves can choke on them.
Most of us don’t have calf problems, but the bags’ weightlessness makes them vulnerable to any breeze. Even if they’re responsibly discarded, they’ll blow out of open trash cans, trucks, you name it.
They’re not just a blight — they’re a highly contagious blight.
Steve: Oh, c’mon. How am I supposed to rebut choking baby calves?
I will point out that Washington, D.C., has a real paradox on its hands. It implemented a 5-cent fee on disposable bags in 2010. And in a survey last year, residents reported using 60 percent fewer bags.
But get this: Tax revenue from the bags has been going up, not down as was expected. The city had originally projected to collect $1.05 million in fiscal 2013. Instead, bag fees topped $2 million.
The dollars don’t lie. More bags are being used after four years. Sure, some people will switch to reusable bags. But this sure isn’t going to make plastic bags disappear. Is a regressive new tax really worth it?
Jacquielynn: I’d be happy to sidestep the entire “tax” issue by banning bags outright. If you want groceries, make sure you have a way to get them home.
But if cities aren’t ready to take that step, and they actually see a windfall out of bag taxes, maybe that should be dedicated to cleanup efforts.
Ideally, though, stores wouldn’t have the things at all. They can make boxes available (a la Costco). They can sell heavier plastic multiple-use bags for 25 or 50 cents. Shoppers buying just one or two items could learn to use the flexible appendages at the ends of their arms to carry stuff away.
The mail I’ve received from angry readers makes it plain that a lot of people loathe this plan, whether you call it a ban or a tax.
But I just don’t think we’re asking for a dramatic change in the way we live our lives. If we don’t stop assuming that everything we send to the landfill magically disappears, the landfill is going to start coming to us. Do you really want to live in a city that has garbage in the trees?
Steve: No, it’s not a drastic change. Just a needless one. And I’m looking out my office window at six or seven trees with nary a bag in sight. Except for a few spots, the litter problem has been overblown.
I just wish we had tried a major public-awareness campaign before imposing more taxes and more regulation. 1. Recycle bags where you get them. 2. Try reusable bags. 3. Don’t litter, you dope.
Jacquielynn: On those points, we’re in wholehearted agreement.
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The GOP Senate primary in Mississippi continues to intensify with the surfacing of a robocall aimed at potential voters that strongly criticizes the tea party and urges the listeners to vote against state Sen. Chris McDaniel in Tuesday’s runoff vote.
In the automated message appearing to target black Democrat voters in Mississippi, the female voice on the line claims that tea party challenger Chris McDaniel would lead to more obstruction in Washington and create more “disrespectful treatment” to the nation’s first African-American president.
“The time has come to take a stand and say NO to the tea party,” the message says. “NO to their obstruction. NO to their disrespectful treatment of the first African-American president.”
The robocall, which was first obtained by freelance journalist Charles C. Johnson from a local resident, goes on to urge listeners to go to the next polls Tuesday and vote against McDaniel. The only option in voting against McDaniel is to vote for incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran as they will be the only two names on the ballot.
“If we do nothing, tea party candidate Chris McDaniel wins and causes even more problems for President Obama,” the message continues. “With your help we can stop this. Please commit to voting against tea party candidate Chris McDaniel next Tuesday and say NO to the tea party!”
Some experts have argued that it is technically illegal for voters affiliated with an opposing party to vote in another party’s primary in Mississippi.
The Cochran campaign is denying that they have any connection with the robocall and declared it to be a “stunt” coming from allies of McDaniel.
“It’s an obvious, transparent stunt by McDaniel and his allies,” Jordan Russell, a spokesman for Cochran, told The Daily Caller Sunday.
The McDaniel campaign is claiming otherwise.
“It is clear that Mississippi Republicans have rejected Thad Cochran’s liberal voting record and it’s sad to see Thad Cochran resort to courting Democrats simply to hold onto power,” McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told TheDC.
This isn’t the first allegation that there are efforts to get out Democratic votes for Cochran in Tuesday’s vote.
This is only the latest incident in controversy surrounding efforts to get out Democratic votes for Cochran in the runoff that includes a black preacher — who is a strong supporter of the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat — actively trying to get members of his community to vote for the sitting senator.
CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
A surge of voters showed up on Tuesday in African-American precincts and in Mr. Cochran’s other strongholds to surprise Mr. McDaniel, 41, who just Monday night declared his campaign had gone from impossible to improbable to unstoppable. Early Wednesday, with all but one precinct reporting, Mr. Cochran’s lead over Mr. McDaniel was a little more than 6,000 votes. Recounts are not required under Mississippi law, although Mr. McDaniel could seek to challenge the results through the courts.
Mr. Cochran’s victory was powered in part by African-Americans in areas of north Jackson whose turnout shattered that seen in those precincts in the primary. Turnout jumped fivefold at New Hope Baptist Church, and sevenfold at Green Elementary School, where only 14 voters came out on June 3 but about 100 showed up on Tuesday.
Their high numbers came despite pledges by conservative political action committees to monitor turnout in Democratic areas targeted by Mr. Cochran’s campaign. Both the N.A.A.C.P. — which sent its own poll watchers — and the United States Justice Department expressed concerns about the possible intimidation of black Democrats, but no irregularities were reported to Mississippi election officials. The state has no party registration, and anyone could vote in the Republican runoff who had not voted in the Democratic primary, which was won by former Representative Travis Childers, 56.
It was an extraordinary end to a wild campaign, with a Republican standing up for the rights of black Democrats, and with Tea Party groups from the North, especially the Senate Conservatives Fund, crying foul.
Also sure to inflame the right: a center-right super PAC, Defending Main Street, which contributed over $150,000 to Mr. Cochran during the runoff, received $250,000 from Michael Bloomberg in the same period, according to a source close to the former New York City mayor.
Mr. Bloomberg also contributed $250,000 to Mr Cochran’s super PAC, Mississippi Conservatives, before the primary.
For months, the contest between Mr. Cochran and Mr. McDaniel was viewed as this year’smain event in the six-year clash between conservative activists and Republican incumbents. Money and celebrities poured into Mississippi from all over the country, with the establishment determined to make the state a Tea Party Waterloo. For their part, conservative groups were hoping for one major victory for the season.
But after the surprise primary defeat this month of Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, the Mississippi contest took on greater significance. Outside conservative groups hoped to emerge with a second victory that would propel challenges in Tennessee, where Senator Lamar Alexander was widely expected to win, and perhaps in Kansas, where Senator Pat Roberts appeared to have recovered from an early stumble overwhether he lived in Kansas or the Washington area.
Instead, establishment Republicans and a surprisingly high number of Democrats helped deliver a come-from-behind victory for a senator known for his soft-spoken patrician air and his ability to bring home millions in dollars of federal spending.
Mr. Cochran shifted his campaign message from polishing his conservative credentials to extolling his record of keeping Mississippi flush with federal cash. He also attacked Mr. McDaniel for his vows of austerity, especially in education.
CreditEdmund D. Fountain for The New York Times
Those attacks seemed to work with voters — at least enough to spook Democrats, and even some Republicans, who are accustomed to the protection and seniority of a long line of Congress members going back almost 100 years, including Senators John C. Stennis, James Eastland and Trent Lott and Representatives Sonny Montgomery and Jamie L. Whitten.
Jeanie Munn, who lives in Hattiesburg, said Mr. McDaniel “represents a threat to the state.” She cited a vote he cast in the State Senate against a new nursing school building at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Roger Smith, a black Democrat who said he was being paid to organize for Mr. Cochran, said, “I don’t know too much about McDaniel other than what McDaniel’s saying: that he’s Tea Party, he’s against Obama, he don’t like black people.”
“You’re going to get one of the white guys in there,” he said. “You got to make a choice.”
In downtown Hattiesburg, Democratic voters trickled out of the Court Street United Methodist Church, saying they had voted for a Republican for the first time in their lives — Mr. Cochran. Heath Kleinke, 38, held his 4-month-old baby and said he wanted her to get a good education in Mississippi, something he believed would be made more difficult if Mr. McDaniel were to make good on his proposal to cut federal funding.
Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi celebrated his victory over a Tea Party-backed challenger, Chris McDaniel, at a party in Jackson on Tuesday.
“The fact that he openly criticizes Thad Cochran for talking to Democrats riled me up from the beginning,” added Mr. Kleinke, a graphic designer.
White Democrats also turned out for the senator. Dorothy McGehee, 88, a lifelong Democrat who registered blacks to vote in the civil rights era, found herself putting out Cochran yard signs in Meadville, Miss., and begging her friends to vote.
Kino Sintee, 17, and three black friends waved “Thad” signs on a street corner in a black Hattiesburg neighborhood. They said the preacher from Mount Olive Baptist Church asked them to help out.
“They’re talking about taking everything away from us,” he said. “People still need stuff.”
CreditWilliam Widmer for The New York Times
Michael Davis, 44, said it was his “duty” to stop Mr. McDaniel. “If anyone wants to tell me I’m stealing the election or something ludicrous like that, it doesn’t work that way,” he said.
In Tupelo, Miss., John Armistead, 73, a die-hard Democrat, and his wife, Sandra, 69, a Republican, put aside their differences on Tuesday, and both voted for Mr. Cochran.
“Even though he votes with the Republicans on virtually everything, I’ve never seen Cochran as being so partisan,” Mr. Armistead said. “As a Democrat, that’s important to me. McDaniel is very partisan and will align himself with the right-wing, partisan-type people.”
Those crossover votes from Democrats left many of Mr. McDaniel’s supporters seething.
“Our whole system is corrupt,” said a glum Alicia Holloman of George County as the last results trickled into the McDaniel party at the Hattiesburg Convention Center. “We deserve to be called the most corrupt state in the nation.”
Her husband, Michael, was more circumspect.
“You should be able to vote the way you want to vote. It’s fair,” he said. “But when you’re on the losing side, it stinks.”
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Duck Commander Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty spoke to the congregation of Saddleback church in July on why people need Jesus and why the founders would agree — and I gotta say it was awesome. I watched it last night and knew I had to post it for you guys. Duck Commander’s message is really simple, that people need to love God and love each other and he delivers it beautifully. He really is a fantastic preacher.
Duck Dynasty could very well be done.
Sources connected to the hit A&E show, and the Robertson clan, tell E! News that the family is “very serious” about leaving the reality series, after the network suspended patriarch Phil Robertson for his GQ interview, in which he grouped homosexuality in with bestiality as deviant behavior.
“They’re an extremely tight-knit family and they’re not going to let this get in the way,” a source connected to the family explains. “[Phil] is the reason for their success—they’re not going to abandon him. They’re also not about to let anyone threaten their religious beliefs.”
Says one insider who works on Duck Dynasty, “People who work on the show feel like it’s a big pissing match and there is no way that anyone can win.”
The current plan is to include Robertson in the upcoming fourth season, set to premiere Jan 15 on A&E. Season four had wrapped production before the controversy began. “Phil might be diminished but there’s no way to cut him out altogether,” says a source.
But can the family really walk away? Will a fifth season even happen?
The network owns the series and all of the intellectual property behind it, for at least one more season. But as one source points out, “The family could do appear on another network once their exclusivity is up with A&E. Under a normal contract, that usually means anywhere from six months to a year after the final episode has aired. However, if the family breaks their agreement with the network, the network could hold them for longer.”
It’s also fair to assume that A&E needs the series more than the family does. Duck Dynasty is A&E’s highest-rated show of all time, and has put the cable network on the map. It is the second-biggest cable series of the year, behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, and the Christmas special pulled in nearly 9 million viewers.
Meanwhile, the Robertson family has plenty of financial stability (for, arguably, future generations), thanks to their estimated whopping $400 million fortune. More than half of that comes from their retail brand, currently being sold at Wal-Mart, which could possibly get pulled in the wake of the scandal, as the mega-chain did with Paula Deen in the wake of the N-word controversy. But even still, the family’s Christmas album also hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. They appear to remain a viable brand, for the time being. And they also have a show called Buck Commander on the Outdoor Channel. (A rep for the Outdoor Channel has not responded to request for comment regarding the future of the show.)
A source who works on Duck Dynasty believes the Phil Robertson controversy “can’t end well,” citing that the network has nowhere now to go. And the most likely scenario is that the series will end up being cancelled.
“If the network backs down and they bring Phil back, they look weak,” one insider explains. “If they stand their ground, the family probably won’t move forward and A&E loses their highest rated show.” Not to mention,
“No one can really imagine the show going forward without Phil. It would be too weird.”
A&E has not responded to request for comment.
By Andrea Morabito
Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, is being slammed for controversial comments he made about homosexuality in an interview in the January issue of GQ.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson told the magazine. “I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
When the reporter asked Robertson what he found sinful, he said “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
The self-proclaimed Bible-thumper then went on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
On Wednesday, GLAAD called Robertson’s statements “vile” and “littered with outdated stereotypes.”
“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
“Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
An A&E spokesman had no comment, but Robertson released his own statement responding to the controversy.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior,” he said. “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
“However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
“Duck Dynasty” has been a ratings phenomenon for A&E, drawing 11.8 million viewers to its fourth season premiere last August, the most-watched nonfiction series telecast in cable history.
Its fifth season premieres on Jan. 15.
Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 121-122
Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 118-120
Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 113 -117
Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 108-111
James Edwards, 15, charged with first-degree murder.
Chancey Luna, 16, charged with first-degree murder.
Michael Jones, 17, charged with being an accessory to the killing.
Full interview with Sarah Harper the girlfriend of Australian baseball player Chris Lane who was killed by a drive-by shooting in Oklahoma
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
Murder victim, Christopher Lane, and girlfriend of four-years, Sarah Harper.
What got my attention was three teenagers allegedly in broad daylight in a residential neighbor shot in the back and killed a complete stranger who was out jogging because they were bored.
I was listening to a newscast on one of the talk radio stations in Dallas when I first learned of the death of Australian collegiate baseball player Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne, Australia, by three teenagers in rural Duncan, in south central Oklahoma.
Later that day I was listening to a talk radio show when an Australian called in outraged that the American national media were not mentioning the race of the alleged teenage killers arrested for the murder. The two alleged killers were black and the alleged driver of the car was white. The caller said the homicide was a national news story in Australia where more details of what had happened were being broadcast than in the United States. The caller asked the question, if an Australian Aborigine been shot by three white teenagers, would this not be a national story with the race of the killers disclosed?
Yes, it most certainly would have with the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson leading the parade of outrage in protest of the murder. The national media would be broadcasting every detail of the teenage white killers’ background as well as the innocent black victim.
Lane was attending East Central University in Ada, Okla. on an athletic scholarship. He was a starting catcher on the baseball team and was entering his senior year. Lane was visiting his girlfriend in Duncan, which is about 85 miles east of Ada.
Lane and his girlfriend of four years, Sarah Harper, had just returned from a vacation in Australia. Harper said in an interview with Australia Broadcasting Company, “I’m really thankful I got to do that before this happened. Spent a lot of time with him and with his family in the place that he really loved being. Him being so proud to show everybody and everything off that he loved.”
The Duncan police have arrested and charged 15-year-old James Edwards Jr. and 16-year old Chancey Luna as adults with first degree felony murder. The police also arrested and charged the driver of the car, 17- year old Michael Jones with use of a vehicle in discharge of a weapon and accessor after the fact to murder in the first degree. Edwards and Chancey are black and Jones is white, according to a police affidavit.
The police said it was Jones who told them, “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.”
Harper said of the killers, “Never met them, never heard of them. And the fact that it was just they saw him running and chose him as a target is just unbearable, that it was just pointless. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it and it’s just not fair.”
The murder in Duncan with a population under 25,000 may be a rare event. However, in black neighborhoods in large cities across the United States, black-on black-crime, including homicides, is a very common event. Blacks are the overwhelming majority of the victims of black gang and drug related violence.
The black economist Walter Williams wrote, “between 1976 and 2005, blacks, while 13 percent of the population, committed over 52 percent of the nation’s homicides and were 46 percent of the homicide victims. Ninety-four percent of black homicide victims had a black person as their murderer.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States 2011, there were 12,664 homicide victims in the U.S. of which 6,329 were black, 5,825 were white, 335 other race and 175 unknown race.
When it comes to black-on-black violent crime, especially homicides, the national media is apparently color-blind and treats such crime with benign neglect.
Fifty years ago on Aug. 28, 1963 the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., his now famous I Have a Dream speech with its inspiring ending: “…when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
I hope the dream comes true. This will first require universal respect for all human life and the honesty to face and confront the causes of evil in both black and white neighborhoods—gangs and drugs glorified by gangsta rap music, games and movies. Corrupting culture, entertainment, alcohol and drug use can lead to violence and murder of the innocent.
Until then in the words of singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, sung by his friend and lover, the late Port Arthur born Texas singer-songwriter Janis Joplin, who died at age 27 of a drug overdose of heroin with alcohol in Hollywood:
“…Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
Nothin’ don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, no, no.
And feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know, feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee. ”
Raymond Thomas Pronk presents the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 3-5 p.m. Fridays and authors the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com.
THE girlfriend of slain Melbourne baseball star Chris Lane has posted an emotional tribute, describing their time together as “the most amazing years of my life”.
Sarah Harper, who was with Lane for four years, added to a raft of tributes for the 23-year-old after he was killed in a random drive-by shooting in Oklahoma.
“The past 4 years have been the most amazing years of my life and that’s all because of you babe,” she wrote on Facebook today.
“I love you so much babe. From 2009 until forever you will always be mine and in a very special and protected place in my heart.”
Ms Harper also posted a photo of a flower memorial erected by locals in the town of Duncan on the corner where he was tragically shot.
It comes after a 16-year-old boy confessed to pulling the trigger and killing Lane, according to police chief Danny Ford.
Chief Ford said the 16-year-old was with two other teens aged 15 and 17 when they killed Lane during a random drive-by shooting in the town of Duncan.
He said the three teenagers had no motive other than to make a name for themselves.
All three are facing the charge of first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
Chief Ford told 3AW this morning one of the accused has confessed to pulling the trigger, saying he just wanted to kill someone.
“Lately there has been some pretty weak motives, but I don’t know that I’ve had one that they told us they were just going to kill somebody,” he said.
He said the three teens were on a “killing spree” after , leaving a chilling message on Facebook.
Peter Lane said his son had left his mark and his death was just so pointless.
“There’s not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless,” Mr Lane told reporters in Melbourne this morning.
“There wasn’t anything he did or could have done.
“He was an athlete going for a jog, like he would do five or six days a week in terms of his training schedule.
“It’s happened. It’s wrong and we just try and deal with it the best we can.”
Flowers and a baseball were placed on the home plate at Essendon Baseball Club this morning with a message that summed up the senseless shooting. “A wonderful young man taken too soon,” it read. “Why?”
As family and friends grappled with the unthinkable tragedy, the 22-year-old’s parents paid tribute to their boy at the field where his love for the sport began.
Peter Lane said he could not have been more proud of a remarkable young man.
“He did all the things a kid should have done,” Mr Lane said. “He caused us some grief but he caused us so much joy. He achieved a lot for a 22-year-old.
“He gave up a lot to follow his dream. He gave up 18th birthday parties to be at the Victorian Institute of Sport at 8am the next morning, ready to go.
DUNCAN, Okla. — With the simplest of motives — breaking up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer — three teenagers followed an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the U.S. and killed him with a shot to the back for “the fun of it,” police say.
As authorities prepared to charge the teens with first-degree murder Tuesday, family and friends on two continents mourned Christopher Lane, who gave up pursuit of an Australian football career to pursue his passion for baseball, an American pastime. His girlfriend tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Duncan, while half a world away, an impromptu memorial grew at the home plate he protected as a catcher on his youth team.
“We just thought we’d leave it,” Sarah Harper said as she visited the memorial on Duncan’s north, well-to-do side. “This is his final spot.”
Flowers, photos and an Australian flag already adorned the roadside in a tribute to the 22-year-old.
“I don’t know anybody who’s left this. It means a lot,” Harper said.
Lane played at East Central University in Ada, 85 miles east of Duncan, and had been visiting Harper and her parents after he and his girlfriend returned to the U.S. from Australia about a week ago.
Police Chief Dan Ford said Lane appeared to have been chosen at random, saying in a variety of media interviews since Friday’s killing that a 17-year-old suspect told officers that he and other boys ages 15 and 16 were bored and that they followed Lane and killed him for “the fun of it.”
A former deputy prime minister in Australia called for a tourism boycott of the United States while Lane’s former clubs sought ways to honor their former teammate.
His old team, Essendon, scheduled a memorial game for Sunday to raise funds for Lane’s parents as they worked to have their boy’s remains sent home. The club said it would deliver notes of condolences sent to its headquarters.
At Essendon Catholic School, Lane will be remembered at a November Mass in which all former students who have died are mourned and celebrated, former school captain David Ireland told The Age newspaper in Melbourne.
“He was the sort of guy at school who everyone knew and knew quite well,” Ireland said of Lane. “He loved his footy (Australian football) and his sport and spent a lot of time with mates.”
Lane had attended St. Bernard’s college, where the principal at the time, Frank Fitzgerald, criticized the violence in Lane’s death.
“I think the rest of the countries around the world just look at that country and shake their head,” FitzGerald told The Age. He said Lane could have had a promising career in his country’s football league “but he already had indicated that baseball was what he would concentrate on.”
Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper reported that roses and a baseball were placed Monday on the home plate where Lane played as a youth with the message, “A wonderful young man taken too soon. Why?”
Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer asked Australians to avoid the U.S. as a way to force its Congress to act on gun control.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” Fischer told the Herald Sun. “This is the bitter harvest and legacy of the policies of the NRA that even blocked background checks for people buying guns at gunshows. People should take this into account before going to the United States. I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers (but) it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA. There is a gun for almost every American.”
Tara Harper, Sarah Harper’s cousin, said her family was working with the Lanes on funeral arrangements.
Lane’s girlfriend had no intention of attending the suspects’ court appearance.
“She wants nothing to do with them. She doesn’t want to see them. She doesn’t want to hear them. She won’t be there. She won’t be there,” Tara Harper said. “I don’t think we’ll ever know why it happened. No answer will ever be satisfying, no matter what it is.”
Police say three bored teens killed an Australian collegiate baseball player
DUNCAN, Okla. – With a motive that’s both chilling and simple — to break up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer — three teenagers randomly targeted an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the U.S. and killed him for fun, prosecutors said Tuesday as they charged two of the boys with murder.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks called the boys “thugs” as he described how Christopher Lane, 22, of Melbourne, was shot once in the back and died along a tree-lined road on Duncan’s well-to-do north side. He said the three teens, from the grittier part of town, chose Lane at random and that one of the boys “thinks it’s all a joke.”
Hicks charged Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, of Duncan, with first-degree murder. Under Oklahoma law they will be tried as adults. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, of Duncan, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact. He is considered a youthful offender but will be tried in adult court.
Jones wept in the courtroom after he tried to speak about the incident but was cut off by the judge who said it wasn’t the time to sort out the facts of the case. Jones faces anywhere from two years to life in prison if convicted on the counts he faces.
The two younger teens face life in prison without parole if convicted on the murder charge.
“I’m appalled,” Hicks said after the hearing. “This is not supposed to happen in this community.”
In court, Hicks said Luna was sitting in the back seat of a car when he pulled the trigger on a .22 caliber revolver and shot Lane once in the back. Hicks said Jones was driving the vehicle and Edwards was in the passenger seat.
A recording of an emergency 911 call obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press offers a chilling account of the next moments as a woman identifying herself as Joyce Smith tells the operator she saw Lane fall over into a ditch as she drove by.
“He’s got blood on his back,” the woman says.
Later relaying word from another witness on the scene to the 911 operator, the woman says: “He’s turning blue. He’s making a noise.”
Edwards has had prior run-ins with the law and came to court Friday — apparently after the shooting — to sign documents related to his juvenile probation.
“I believe this man is a threat to the community and should not be let out,” Hicks said as he requested he be held without bail. “He thinks it’s all a joke.”
The two younger boys were held without bail, while bail for Jones was set at $1 million.
Before the hearing, Edwards’ father, James Edwards Sr., said he knew where his son was 95 percent of the time. He said his son was involved in wrestling and football, and was trying to forge the same sort of athletic career as Lane. He was heading into his sophomore year in high school.
Edwards Sr. said Luna was also like a son to him.
Luna’s mother, Jennifer Luna, said her son likes to play basketball at a local court and play on his iPhone and Xbox.
“I know my son. He is a good kid,” she said.
Lane played baseball at East Central University in Ada, 85 miles east of Duncan, and had been visiting his girlfriend and her parents in Duncan after he and his girlfriend returned to the U.S. from Australia about a week ago.
Duncan police Chief Dan Ford has said the boys wanted to overcome a boring end to their summer vacation — classes in Duncan resumed Tuesday — and that Jones told officers they were bored and killed Lane for “the fun of it.”
Family and friends on two continents were mourning Lane, who gave up pursuit of an Australian football career to pursue his passion for baseball, an American pastime. His girlfriend, Sarah Harper, tearfully laid a cross at a streetside memorial in Duncan, while half a world away, an impromptu memorial grew at the home plate he protected as a catcher on his youth team.
“We just thought we’d leave it,” Harper said as she visited the memorial in Duncan. “This is his final spot.”
His old baseball team, Essendon, scheduled a memorial game for Sunday to raise funds for Lane’s parents as they worked to have their boy’s remains sent home.
Tony Cornish, president of the Essendon Baseball Club, said Lane played with the club for 12 years.
“He started out as a T-baller, right from the age of 7, ” said Cornish.
Cornish said Lane was part of the club until he left to attend college in the U.S.
“Chris Lane was a good kid, just a great all-around guy,” Cornish said. “We’re still all in shock here.”
Meanwhile, St. Bernard’s College in Essendon, where Lane was a student, is planning a memorial Mass for Lane in November.
Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper reported that roses and a baseball were placed Monday on the home plate where Lane played as a youth with the message: “A wonderful young man taken too soon. Why?”
Tim Fischer, former Australia deputy prime minister, criticized the National Rifle Association and asked Australians to avoid the U.S. as a way to put pressure on its Congress to act on gun control.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” Fischer told the Herald Sun. “I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers, (but) it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA. There is a gun for almost every American.”
Authorities formally charged three teenagers Tuesday afternoon for mercilessly gunning down Australian student Chris Lane Friday night “for the fun of it.”
James Edwards, 15, and Chancey Luna, 16, were reportedly charged with first degree murder and face life in prison if convicted. They are being held without bond.
Michael Jones, 17, was reportedly charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree. He reportedly said in court “I pulled the trigger” but the judge told him to remain silent. The boy cried and his bond was set at $1 million.
The three teens will be tried as adults, the Herald Sun reports.
A social networking page appearing to belong to Edwards reveals a video of Edwards brandishing a gun as well as multiple photos showing piles of cash he claims belong to him.
“B***h we up dem poles, f**k with me,” James can be heard saying in a newly surfaced Vine video, while brandishing a gun. The New York Post and Daily Mail both report this is authentic video of James.
THE harrowing last seconds of murdered Melbourne man Chris Lane’s life has been recorded on a 911 emergency call.
The seven-minute call, released by the District Attorney’s office in Duncan, Oklahoma, begins with local Joyce Smith telling the operator she was driving her Toyota Corolla and spotted a bloodied man at the side of the road.
“There’s a young man,” Ms Smith tells the operator.
“He’s just fell over in a ditch and he’s got blood on him.”
It is 2.57pm on Friday.
Authorities allege Lane, a 22-year-old baseball player who had a scholarship with a Oklahoma college and was visiting his US girlfriend in Duncan, was jogging along Country Club Road when he was shot in the back in a random drive-by shooting.
Ms Smith, unaware Lane has been shot, has no idea what has happened to him.
“I’m afraid to go over to him,” Ms Smith tells the operator.
“I don’t know him.”
Ms Smith tells the operator Mr Lane was standing at the side of the road, but then fell over in a ditch.
“I’m kind of scared to go over by myself,” Ms Smith tells the operator.
At 1:42 into the call, Richard Rhodes, a building contractor who was working on a house in front of where Mr Lane was shot, on the corner of Country Club Rd and Twilight Beach Rd, came out to investigate.
“The man that has come around the corner off Twilight Beach said, ‘He has been shot. Tell them to hurry’,” Ms Smith, panic in her voice, relays to the operator.
“He said, ‘He heard the shot and he knows what the car looks like’.”
Mr Rhodes will become key to the arrest of the three boys who are accused of the drive-by shooting – James Edwards, 15, Chancey Luna, 16, and Michael Jones, 17.
Mr Rhodes said he was working on the house, heard what sounded like a bullet being fired, looked down the street and saw a black car with a white sticker on the windshield.
Edwards, Luna and Jones were arrested four hours later in a black 2003 Ford Focus with a white sticker on the windshield.
At 2:45 into the 911 call, Mr Rhodes has some alarming news that Ms Smith relays to the operator.
“He’s turning blue,” Ms Smith says.
Mr Lane is struggling to breath.
Mr Rhodes said he believed the bullet went through Lane’s back and punctured his lungs.
At 3:19 into the call, the operator alerts authorities.
“We have a male who said he has been shot and is bleeding in the back,” the operator can be heard saying.
At 3:37 she informs Ms Smith help is on the way.
“OK. We have an ambulance and a PD (police) on the way,” the operator says.
At 3:54 the operator asks: “Is he breathing? Is he conscious? Is he talking to you?”
Ms Smith asks Mr Rhodes and the reply is Lane is not conscious and is “barely breathing”.
There’s extra panic in Ms Smith’s voice.
About 20 seconds later Ms Smith relays some promising news from Mr Rhodes: “He just took a breath.”
At 4:26 an urgent Ms Smith complains to the operator she can’t hear any sirens and at 5:53 she again raises her concerns.
“I hear no sirens. I see no lights. Oh my gosh how long is it going to be?” Ms Smith says.
At 6:06 Ms Smith says: “I finally see some lights coming.”
At 6:20 Ms Smith says an unidentified female passerby was performing CPR on Lane, however the woman delivers an ominous warning.
The ambulance is yet to arrive.
“If you don’t hurry, he’s gone,” Ms Smith, relaying the message, tells the operator.
“Ma’am. They’re coming OK. I can’t make them come any faster,” the operator replies.
At 6:47 Ms Smith says: “Finally I see them coming up the street.”
The operator asks if Lane has stopped breathing.
Mr Rhodes can be heard in the background saying: “Yes.”
“Yes, yes they said he has,” an emotional Ms Smith confirms.
At 7:06 the ambulance pulls up at the scene.
“Stop right here fella,” Ms Smith can be heard telling them.
Lane was taken to Duncan Regional Hospital where exactly 50 minutes after Ms Smith called 911, doctors pronounced the young Australian, who had so much life to live, dead.
Luna, the alleged shooter of a .22 calibre revolver, and Edwards, an alleged passenger in the Focus, were charged with first-degree murder and face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Jones, the alleged driver, was charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree.
He faces a maximum 45-year sentence.
The accused teenagers were dobbed in by a local who claims his son was the trio’s next target.
James Johnson, 52, called the police to tell them that the accused killers were hiding in the car park of the Immauel Baptist Church car park at about 5pm, two hours after they allegedly shot Lane.
“My son called me and said, “They’re saying they’re coming to kill me,” so I called the police and they got here within about three minutes,” Johnson told the Herald Sun.
Mr Johnson claimed that Edwards Jr had threatened the life of his own 17-year-old son Christopher on Facebook. His son was at home with his mother and sisters near the church when he received the death threat.
“They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it and I wouldn’t let him do it.
“I told him he couldn’t run with those boys. He’s a little terrified.”
Mr Johnson said the Crips, a predominantly African American street gang that began in Los Angeles in 1969 and had been in Duncan for the past few years.
He said the group consisted of teenagers who he called “wannabes.”
“I’ve been living here all my life and we never had this, but in the past few years gangs from Lawton have been coming here,” Johnson said of the Crips.
Johnson’s son also attends Duncan High School, where suspect Luna and Edwards Jr. were students. He said he knew both boys, and described them as “troublemakers” and “bullies” who had “no parental supervision.”
“I’m just glad they found the other gun, because they haven’t found the murder weapon yet,” said Johnson.
Meanwhile, the US government says it is “deeply saddened” by the drive-by shooting murder.
“The United States is deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of the death of an Australian citizen in Oklahoma,” Ms Harf said.
“This is clearly a tragic death, and we extend our condolences to the family and the loved ones. We understand that local authorities are focused on bringing those responsible to justice. Clearly, we would support that.”
The State Department’s comments came after former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer urged Australian tourists to stay away from America to protest the need for stricter gun controls in the US.
Prosecutors have promised that the “thugs” charged over the brutal murder “will pay”.
District Attorney Jason Hicks said outside the first court hearing in the Oklahoma town of Duncan that he was “going to do everything I can to ensure these three thugs pay for what they did to Christopher Lane”.
“To those friends of ours in Australia, we would say to you this is not Duncan, Oklahoma,” Mr Hicks said.
“This is not Stephens County, Oklahoma.”
Stephens County Courthouse heard how one of the boys accused of murdering Lane, 22, danced and laughed as he was taken into a police station to be charged after the killing on Friday.
James Edwards, 15, was treating the murder as a joke, Mr Hicks told the hearing.
Mr Hicks told the court that Edwards has previously been in contact with police, and that he had “an attitude of total disregard for law enforcement” when he was being charged over Lane’s death.
“He thinks it’s funny, and it’s all a joke,” Mr Hicks said.
“I believe he is a threat to the community.”
Mr Hicks said Edwards kept a probation appointment for another matter at the courthouse just minutes after Lane was killed.
“He was cold, callous and that was the demeanour that we saw throughout the course of the investigation,” Mr Hicks said.
Edwards and Chancey Luna, 16, are charged with first-degree murder and face life in prison if convicted.
Mr Hicks said that Luna had refused to co-operate with police.
They were both refused bail.
Michael Jones, 17, was charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree.
Bail for Jones, who is assisting prosecutors and police, was set at $US1 million ($A1.1 million).
The three will be tried as adults.
They were dressed in orange prison jumpsuits and had their legs shackled during the brief appearance.
The court was told that the three boys spotted Lane jogging along a road in an upper-class area of Duncan on Friday.
They got into a car driven by Jones, drove behind Lane and then Luna shot him with .22 calibre revolver in the back, the court was told.
“The information we have was this was the person who pulled the trigger,” the prosecutor said of Luna.
Edwards and Luna did not show any emotion, but Jones broke down in tears after Mr Hicks said he was looking at a “very, very lengthy prison sentence”.
“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Jones said.
The courtroom was packed and divided.
In the front row sat about 20 family and friends of Sarah Harper, Lane’s longtime American girlfriend. Ms Harper, 23, was not in court.
Cindy Harper told the Herald Sun her daughter was at home “trying to relax”.
Another Harper family member said “this is surreal” as they were taken out a side door of the court building by sheriffs.
A few rows behind was a distraught Jennifer Luna, coming to grips with a nightmare 12 months that saw the death of her husband in a motorcycle accident and now the prospect her son could spend the rest of his life in prison.
On the right hand side of the courtroom was James Edwards Sr, refusing to believe his son was a killer.
“Yes, I do,” Mr Edwards replied outside court when asked if he believed his son, who hoped to be an Olympic wrestler, was innocent.
In the back left area of the court was Jones’s parents and supporters, including his pregnant girlfriend.
She sobbed in her seat, eventually leaving the court before Jones came in.
Edwards and Luna did not appear to be fazed during their court appearance.
Even when Ms Luna stood up in court to answer an administrative question from Judge Jerry Herberger, her son didn’t acknowledge her.
Edwards didn’t look for family members.
Asked if she had a message for the Lane family outside court, Ms Luna told the Herald Sun: “I feel sorry for them, my heart goes out to them, it really does, but that’s my baby too.
“My boy was a baby too.”
Luna said there were no guns at her house, and her son was at home playing X-Box with her soon-to-be stepson when she came home from work last Friday after finishing at 3pm.
It comes a day after Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said he had secured the confession of Jones who had summoned investigators to his jail cell and claimed they were bored “so they decided to kill somebody”.
Chief Ford said the teens had no motive other than to ”make a name for themselves”.
Lane was staying with Ms Harper in Duncan before going back to Oklahoma’s East Central University where he majored in finance and was the catcher on the team’s baseball team.
Ms Harper yesterday revealed her heartbreak at losing her “best friend”, and parents of the accused protested their innocence.
She also told the Herald Sun that she didn’t know what punishment would be appropriate for the three teens.
Lane, who grew up in Oak Park in Melbourne’s north, had only been back in the US for three days after an eight-week break in Australia with Ms Harper.
“I don’t want them to have any future that Chris wasn’t able to have as well,” Ms Harper said of the accused yesterday.
“It’s been pretty rough. It’s been hard knowing he was taken so close to home, let alone taken in the way he was. To be pointed out like that …”
Ms Harper said she and Lane had joked about America’s soft gun laws before he was shot.
“He wasn’t a fan of guns,” she said.
She fondly described Lane as a smart, kind and curious guy who would “do anything for anybody”.
Ms Harper, also a talented sportswoman, said she and Lane just “meshed together” within weeks of meeting at college in Oklahoma in August 2009.
“It was more of a personality (we had in common), not so much interests. He was intellectual, into world news, and I found that quite boring,” she said.
“He really wanted to travel more. He loved the idea of seeing the world.”
Ms Harper said she would come back to Australia to farewell Lane with his family.
“I’m probably going to go back and say goodbye with the people he loved the most,” she said.
“It was a great time getting back there and seeing him in his element with all his favourite friends.
“It’s going to be hard going back but it’s something I need to do.
“Thank you to everyone who supported and loved Chris. I really appreciated it.”
– with Stephen Drill Andy Burns and AAP
The Crips are a primarily, but not exclusively, African-American gang. They were founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1969 mainly by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. What was once a single alliance between two autonomous gangs is now a loosely connected network of individual sets, often engaged in open warfare with one another.
The Crips are one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States, with an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 members. The gang is known to be involved in murders, robberies, and drug dealing, among many other criminal pursuits. The gang is known for its gang members’ use of the color blue in their clothing. However, this practice has waned due to police crackdowns on gang members.
Stanley Tookie Williams met Raymond Lee Washington in 1969, and the two decided to unite their local gang members from the west and east sides of South Central Los Angeles in order to battle neighboring street gangs. Most of the members were 17 years old. Williams discounted the sometimes cited founding date of 1969 in his memoir, Blue Rage, Black Redemption. Gang activity in South Central Los Angeles has its roots in a variety of factors dating back to the 1950s and ’60s, including post-World War II economic decline leading to joblessness and poverty, racial segregation leading to the formation of black “street clubs” by young African American men who were excluded from organizations such as the Boy Scouts, and the waning of black nationalist organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Black Power Movement.
The original name for the alliance was “Cribs,” a name narrowed down from a list of many options, and chosen unanimously from three final choices, which included the Black Overlords, and the Assassins. Cribs was chosen to reflect the young age of the majority of the gang members. The name “Cribs” evolved into the name “Crips” when gang members began carrying around canes to display their “pimp” status. People in the neighborhood then began calling them cripples, or “Crips” for short. A Los Angeles Sentinel article in February 1972 referred to some members as “Crips” (for cripples). The name had no political, organizational, cryptic, or acronymic meaning, though some have suggested it stands for Common Revolution In Progress, a backronym. Williams, in his memoir, further refuted claims that the group was a spin-off of the Black Panther Party or formed for a community agenda, the name “depicted a fighting alliance against street gangs—nothing more, nothing less.” Washington, who attended Fremont High School, was the leader of the East Side Crips, and Williams, who attended Washington High School, led the West Side Crips.
Williams recalled that a blue bandana was first worn by Crips founding member Buddha, as a part of his color-coordinated clothing of blue Levi’s, a blue shirt, and dark blue suspenders. A blue bandana was worn in tribute to Buddha after he was shot and killed on February 23, 1973, which eventually became the color of blue associated with Crips.
Initially Crips leaders did not occupy leadership positions, but were recognized as leaders because of their personal charisma and influence. These leaders gave priority to expanding the gang’s membership to increase its power. By 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs, called sets, operating in Los Angeles. The gang became increasingly violent as they attempted to expand their turf.
By the early 1980s the gang was heavily involved with drug trade. Some of these Crips sets began to produce and distribute PCP (phencyclidine) within the city. They also began to distribute marijuana and amphetamine in Los Angeles. In the early 1980s Crips sets began distributing crack cocaine in Los Angeles. The huge profits resulting from crack cocaine distribution induced many Crips members to establish new markets in other cities and states. In addition, many young men in other states adopted the Crips name and lifestyle. As a result of these two factors, Crips membership increased throughout the 1980s, making it one of the largest street gang associations in the country. In 1999, there were at least 600 Crips sets with more than 30,000 members transporting drugs in the United States.
Crips has over 800 sets with 30,000 to 35,000 members and associate members, including more than 13,000 members in Los Angeles. The states with the highest estimated number of Crips sets are California, Florida and Illinois . Members typically consist of young African-American men, with some members being white, Hispanic and Asian.
The Crips became popular throughout southern Los Angeles as more youth gangs joined; at one point they outnumbered non-Crip gangs by 3 to 1, sparking disputes with non-Crip gangs, including the L.A. Brims, Athens Park Boys, the Bishops, The Drill Company, and the Denver Lanes. By 1971 the gang’s notoriety had spread across Los Angeles.
By 1971, a gang on Piru Street in Compton, California, known as the Piru Street Boys, was formed and associated themselves with the Crips as a set. After two years of peace, a feud began between the Piru Street Boys and the other Crip sets. It would later turn violent as gang warfare ensued between former allies. This battle continued and by 1973, the Piru Street Boys wanted to end the violence and called a meeting with other gangs that were targeted by the Crips. After a long discussion, the Pirus broke all connections to the Crips and started an organization that would later be called the Bloods, a street gang infamous for its rivalry with the Crips.
Since then, other conflicts and feuds were started between many of the remaining sets of the Crips gang. It is a popular misconception that Crips sets feud only with Bloods. In reality, they fight each other—for example, the Rollin’ 60s and 83rd Street Gangster Crips have been rivals since 1979. In Watts, Los Angeles, the Grape Street Watts Crips and the P Jay Crips have feuded so much that the P Jay Crips even teamed up with the local Bloods set, the Bounty Hunter Bloods, to fight against the Grape Street Crips.
Some practices of Crip gang life generally include rapping, graffiti and substitutions and deletions of particular letters of the alphabet. The letter “b” in the word “blood” will be “disrespected” among certain sets and written with a cross inside it because of its association with the enemy. The letters “CK”, which stand for “Crip killer”, will be avoided and substituted with a double “cc”, and the letter “b” will be replaced. The words “kick back” will instead be written as “kicc bkacc”. Many other letters are also altered due to symbolic associations. Crips traditionally refer to each other as “Cuzz”, which itself is sometimes used as a moniker for Crip. “Crab” is the most disrespectful epithet to call a Crip, and can warrant fatal retaliation. Crips in prison modules during the 1970s and 80s would speak in Kiswahili to maintain privacy among guards and rival gangs.
Like the Bloods, the Crips are made up of gang sets.
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