Archives May 2021

DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE ABOUT SYSTEMIC RACISM

(Published in the Op-Ed page, Florida Today, 5/24/2021)

 

                                                                                DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE ABOUT SYSTEMIC RACISM

 

                                                                                                                 By Marshall Frank

 

Americans are often made to believe that systemic racism is widespread throughout our nation, particularly on the part of law enforcement agencies. It has become a constant drumbeat. Purveyors want the public to believe that black people, in particular, are the victims of such attitudes.

     Not only is that grossly exaggerated, it’s simply untrue. Not in 2021. If anything, police today go through a plethora of training and education to ensure such biases do not exist. Yet, the media and some leftists relentlessly invoke fervent assertions that cops are programmed as monsters who seek out blacks for unfair treatment or physical abuse. Some holdovers from the old days, may privately harbor ill-feelings toward blacks, (or other minorities). But to allege that police are systemically biased across America is absurd.

     Cops are among the finest public servants in America. I’ve been immersed in law enforcement for sixty years, half that time an active duty cop in Miami-Dade, Florida, where I served for 30 years, working Homicides 16 years. Police officers, white, black, male and female, or whatever, are all breathing, feeling human beings with needs and responsibilities like all citizens, while raising families and caring for the oppressed.

     Number one priority on a cop’s list is to come home every day in one piece from the streets – mentally and physically.  Police officers pray daily hoping they will not have to engage in any violent confrontations. Thirdly, police (for the most part) are immaculately professional, and protective, as they inch closer to a lifelong pension at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

     There are 800,000 cops in America. It is their job to run toward, not away from, the most dangerous of scenarios to save lives and enforce laws to keep us safe. That’s not a choice, it is required. They risk their lives, not just for paychecks, but to protect you and me, and people of all nationalities and colors. On rare occasions, a cop will screw up. But it is not systemic.

     The 911 system reports roughly 240 million calls a year are dispatched for police, fire and medical needs. Of those, 12 million (or five percent) involve potential dangers for police. That’s a huge number of volatile conditions in a single year. In 2020, 119 officers lost their lives in the line of duty, mostly from firearms. This doesn’t include 145 police officers who died from contracting Covid19 on the job.

     The last thing any cop wants to do is participate in any form of violent action. Sometimes, there is no choice.

     I know about systemic racism. It was around me in early childhood growing up in segregated Miami, until well into my police career. When hired, racism prevailed in Miami-Dade. And, it was definitely systemic. Less than one-percent of the department’s police were black. Rest rooms, drinking fountains and restaurants were unwelcoming to blacks. They weren’t the only victims of racism. Some Miami Beach hotels displayed desk signs that printed, “Gentiles Only.”

     But changes occurred. Eventually, many folks worked jobs shoulder to shoulder with others and schools were integrated. Police agencies also changed enormously. The notorious beating death of Arthur McDuffie by a ring of Miami-Dade cops in 1979 ignited the positive changes that followed. The department modernized rules for hiring and training, with emphasis on treatment of minorities. In the early 1980s, blacks became important members of management teams in police agencies throughout America. Today, 44 percent of the police chiefs amid the fifty most populated cities are black. Systemic racism has evolved into a 180 degree turnaround.

     No cop wants to hurt anyone, black, white or purple. But it’s true that blacks, in general, are disproportionately victimized by violence far more than whites or Latinos. According to the FBI, 89 percent of blacks killed in 2018, were killed by other blacks.

     Racists? I don’t think so.

     Better to say: All Lives Matter.

 

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Marshall Frank is a retired police captain and the author of 15 books. www.marshall frank.com

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW – “Those Who Wish Me Dead”  –   8.0

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW

     “Those Who Wish Me Dead”  –   8.0

 

In a word: Captivating

 

If you are a nitpicker about correctness and accuracy, don’t see this movie. There are plenty of opportunities to think “Gotcha” in scenes that were a bit over-the-top for plausibility.

But if you go to movies to be entertained and impressed with spectacular edge-of-your seat visual effects, and some pretty good acting, then this was worth the ten bucks paid at the big screen theater. Actually, it’s worth seeing at the big theater as the 50” home TV screen won’t provide the same spectacular effects.

The first half plods along with scenes that stimulate curiosity. The second half is one death defying action after another. There are many aspects to the story, here’s one synopsis from an on-line viewer:

“Still reeling from the loss of three lives, Hannah (Angelina Jolie) is a smoke jumper who’s perched in a watchtower high above the Montana wilderness. She encounters 13 year-old Connor (played by Australian actor, Finn Little), a skittish boy who’s bloodied, traumatized and on the run all alone in the remote forest after watching a horrible, spectacular murder. As Hannah tries to bring him to safety, she’s unaware of the real dangers to follow: two relentless killers hunting Connor, and a fiery blaze consuming everything in its path.”

The special effects are outstanding. The killers, who are actually dirty cops, are relentless in their goals to kill and kill more, to save their corrupt butts. How the director (Taylor Sheridan) and his staff managed to shoot scenes that are virtually in the heart of massive raging forest fires, is a mystery.

If the “F” word bothers you, don’t see this picture. And yes, there is rampant violence. While Angelina Jolie remains one of Hollywood’s prime beauties, this film shows us she is a seasoned actress as well. But the real surprise is Finn Little, the little boy who faces horrors and challenges one could not conceive of. A great young actor indeed. We’ll see more of him.

Minus over-the-top implausibilities, this was a captivating picture. I would give it an 8.0 out of 10.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (2021) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “Here Today” – 10.0

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW

     “Here Today” –  10.0

 

In a word:  Mah-velous

(as a Billy Crystal might say)

 

     There have been a number of movies of late which address the plight of those who suffer from the onset of dementia. While the undertones of such stories are naturally sad and gut wrenching, Here Today offers a welcome slate of belly-laugh humor that only someone with the gift of comedy like Billy Crystal could offer.

     Crystal plays the role of an aging comedy writer over many years, successful and admired in motion pictures and theater. Events in his early life left him struggling with feelings of guilt and remorse, yet he always managed to have audiences rolling in the aisles (so-to-speak) from his natural gift of humor, even in the worst of times.

     Living alone, a long time widower, he gradually finds himself perplexed by forgetting the right words to say, recalling details about important matters, remembering why he walked into a room, or frequently repeating himself. Finally, he agrees to seek professional attention.

     While Billy Crystal’s character is the primary role, he meets a black songstress who becomes fascinated with his humorous nature, as they eventually evolve into the closest of friends. Played by journeyman performer, Tiffany Haddish, she almost steals the show from Crystal with a powerful, gregarious performance borne of love and compassion. It would not be surprising if she is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

     Crystal is certainly the focus of this film, but there are also several sub-stories that add to the setting that directly and indirectly affects his spirit. But even in the most depressing of moments, this comic genius still keeps the audience undecided whether to laugh or cry. The movie is not meant to be a comedy, but it is anyway…sorta.

     While the acting is excellent among by all the performers, so is the director which happens to be Billy Crystal as well.

     Seniors in the movie theater may likely ponder the possibilities that some of us might one day be in the same situation as Crystal’s character. Yet, we can still continue to enjoy life, if we have our loved ones as part of the package.  

     I give this movie a 10.0 rating. There was nothing to criticize.

      
Here Today (2021) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “Four Good Days” – 9.0

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW

 

     “FOUR GOOD DAYS” – 9.0

 

In a word:  Depressing

     But, not in a bad way, because the messages are clear and powerful, worth a viewing for millions of people in this country whose lives are in constant upheaval burdened with the stark realities of drug addiction. The story not only unveils the pervasive, path of the addict, but moms, dads, sisters, brothers, lovers, employers, doctors, friends, cops and fellow street dwellers. It touches everyone in the addict’s world, and beyond.

     Riveting as it may be, this is also a simple story that will touch the hearts of so many who are seemingly helpless despite the flood of love and assistance that is offered. Glenn Close, eight times a nominee for an Oscar, deftly plays the role of Mom, whose life had its own set of whirlwind struggles, while trying to finally put her 31 year-old daughter’s (Molly) path toward self-destruction behind her as a hopeless endeavor. Regardless, the depth of love and pain is never abandoned.

     Not surprisingly, the movie is based on a true story and deeply motivated by the air of realism  

     The acting, which must have been the toughest of roles, is superb. Molly, the addict, is performed by journeyman actress, Mila Kunis, no newcomer to television and movies, and winner of numerous awards minus the best known: Oscar. This is a wonderful, realistic performance surely worth a nomination for an Academy Award. Movie lovers may remember her as ballet dancer in 2010’s Black Swan, for which she earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.

     The film’s title “Four Good Days” pertains to a special recovery and treatment program from which users had benefitted.

     Warning. This movie can stir deep emotions for parents, spouses, kids, etc. many of whom have lived and lost the battles of addiction. But it is also a learning experience worth viewing, not just by the users, but those who also love them.

     I know. I happen to be one of those.

     I give this movie 9.0 out of 10.

     
Four Good Days (2020) – IMDb