Quianna Canada

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy

U.S. leaders are becoming more cruel, vicious and unhinged, and are drifting into a leadership style that I call Kreeseism. This style of leadership is an eponymy of John Kreese, the main antagonist of The Karate Kid franchise.[1] Kreese instilled a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” in his students and encouraged generations of bullies.[2] Today, toxic leaders use Kreeseism and their legitimate power to harm human rights defenders.

What is Kreeseism?

Kreeseism is a toxic leadership style that is cruel, vicious and unhinged. Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism instill a dangerous philosophy of “no mercy” and fear in conformers, and create a generation of bullies out of colluders.

Kreeseism Leaders “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders

One of the most common tactics of Kreeseism is to “throw rocks” at human rights defenders while hiding their hands. This metaphorical expression refers to a toxic leader’s use of covert and indirect methods to instigate harms against human rights defenders, while secretly provoking them.

With these methods, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism hope human rights defenders will react to their cloak-and-danger tactics. A situation as this is often advantageous for toxic leaders, as it gives them the opportunity to say, “See, I told you they are the problem.” It also allow these leaders to persecute human rights defenders while the toxic leader makes the argument that particular human rights defenders are “the problem.”

Toxic leaders, such as those who engage in Kreeseism, know others may be light on the human rights defenders’ biography and the causes they support. Therefore, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism will misuse their legitimate power to inveigle others to assail human rights defenders—playing on the sheer ignorance of the ill-informed and impressionable—to stoke their fear of making waves, along with their need to feel protected.

What Does it Mean to “Throw Rocks” at Human Rights Defenders?

To “throw rocks” at human rights defenders means to use a range of tactics to undermine our work, reputation and credibility. These tactics can include:

1. Smear campaigns: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism often use their media and propaganda machinery to launch smear campaigns against activists, portraying us as “trouble makers” and “menace to societies.” 

These campaigns can be particularly effective in situations where groups, NGOs and grassroots organizations have little time to elaborate on the facts, making decisions on heuristic factors, such as mugshots, unflattering pictures and 2-second sound bites.

2. Legal harassment: Toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism use legal channels to intimidate human rights defenders. For example, these leaders use their legitimate power to influence court personnel, tribunal members and judges to make decisions in their favor. They also file baseless criminal charges against us for exercising our human rights. These tactics are often used to tie us up in lengthy legal battles, drain our resources, and discourage us from continuing our work.

3. Surveillance and monitoring: Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use sophisticated surveillance technologies to monitor human rights defenders’ communications, movements, and activities. This can include intercepting our phone calls and emails, tracking our social media posts, and even using drones to monitor our physical movements.

4. Violence and intimidation: In some cases, toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism may use violence and intimidation to silence human rights defenders. This can include excessive use of force by police, incommunicado detention and even exposure to torture. These tactics are increasing in democracies, where human rights are thought to be respected.

The Kreeseism of Contemporary Democracy: Why do governments use these tactics?

Toxic leaders that practice Kreeseism use these tactics to maintain their power and control over society. Human rights defenders are seen as a threat to the status quo, and toxic leaders often see us as adversaries rather than partners in building a better society. By hiding their hands, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can discredit us, undermine our work, and discourage others from joining our cause for peace and human rights.

By engaging in ad hominem attacks, rather than challenging us on the issues we are raising, toxic leaders who practice Kreeseism can divert attention away from their own ill-treatment, human rights violations and international crimes in the State.

[1] John Kreese. The Karate Kid Wiki. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2023, from https://thekaratekid.fandom.com/wiki/John_Kreese

[2] Id.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester.

Texas Govenor, Gregg Abbott, says that he is swiftly working to pardon Daniel Perry, a U.S. Army sergeant in Austin, who a jury convicted of murdering Garrett Foster in 2020. Foster was a Black Lives Matter protester. Abbott has since directed the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to consider a pardon for Perry on an expedited basis. For instance, Abbott stated, “I look forward to approving the Board’s pardon recommendation as soon as it hits my desk.

 Cristina Ramirez criticizes Greg Abbott's Decision to Pardon Officer who Shot BLM Protestor
Courtesy of Cristina Ramirez

Abbotts’ move has been highly criticized by underrepresented groups in Texas. First, Cristina Ramirez Tweeted, “It’s time for Governor Abbott to listen to the people of Texas.” Ramirez went on to say Abbott should listen to the people “rather than to the voices of extreme conservatives and media personalities.” Joe Porter also Tweeted, “The racist governor of Texas is letting you know that murdering protesters is OK.” There were other voices, such as Black Aziz, who likened Abbotts’ move to Nazism, claiming that “Pardoning people who murder your political enemies is def something that the Nazis would do.”

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor  Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester
Courtesy of Joe Porter
Black Aziz said, "Pardoning people who murder your political enemies is def something that the Nazis would do."
Courtesy of Black Aziz aNANsi

Abbotts’ pledge to pardon Perry comes on the heels of evidence which showed Perry made numerous posts and direct messages on social media expressing his desire to shoot protesters in Austin, Texas. Irrespective of this evidence, Abbott is swiftly working to pardon the police officer.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester. How Did Texans Get Here?

In 2021, Abbott Tweeted that he “signed SEVEN pieces of legislation into law protecting #2A rights in Texas — including constitutional carry & making Texas a #2A sanctuary state.” In other words, Texas is now the Gun State of the nation.

Abbott gloats over giving guns more protection in Texas
Courtesy of Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott

As attorney general, Abbott opposed gun-control legislation. Moreover, in 2013, Abbott criticized New York State legislators for expanding an assault weapons ban and creating a high-capacity magazine ban. During the same year, he articulated that he would sue if Congress enacted a new gun-control bill.

Well-founded Fear: Freedom of Expression Under Threat as Texas Governor  Seeks to Pardon Police Convicted of Murdering BLM Protester
Courtesy of Texas Governor, Gregg Abbott

In 2015, Abbott signed into law the right of Texans to carry firearms on campus, which may have spawned the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting and the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Nearly 95% of individuals who quoted Abbott’s Tweet either thanked or congratulated his move, or requested that the Texas Governor pardon more police officers who murder protesters.

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture

International law jurists have struggled to define torture. One of the earliest attempts to define it was in the 1500s, where it was described as an “infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion.”[1]

Then in 1612, Italian jurist Sebastian Guazzini defined torture “as the distress of body devised for extracting truth.”[2]

When populations thinks of torture, their mind often travels to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba or some unknown top secret military site in the middle of nowhere.

But what if these acts—instead of occurring in some unknown black site across the world—are happening right in your own backyard?

Direct Provision was introduced by the Irish government as an emergency measure in 1999 to provide international protection applicants or asylum seekers with ‘…a range of State services, including food and accommodation.’ Its initial goal was to offer short-term accommodation for asylum seekers who were arriving in the country at the time. However, it has received averse publicity and has been a source of controversy over the years.

For instance, asylum seekers have mysteriously died in the institution, with the coroner’s office declaring the cause of death of these unknown. How are some of the most vulnerable persons, who have travelled miles over sea and land to achieve safety, dying in an institution that is supposed to protect them?

Reports continue to surface from tormented voices within direct provision that Officials are punishing individuals for seeking asylum in Ireland. It’s not quite like the Trump Administration—foil blanket for asylum seekers within detention centres punishment…it’s worse.

Testimony from the voices within Direct Provision, include but are not limited to, the alleged force feeding of asylum seekers, eviction of asylums seekers who complain about housing conditions, theft of an asylum seekers personal property by staff, and most surprisingly….torture.

One specific incident of torture is the use of high-technology noise. One of the earliest accounts of its use was in 1977, which was used on two Israeli prisoners who described the incident as strange noises that “disturbed their sleep.”[3] Although no reports of this kind of torture have been documented in decades, asylum seekers in Direct Provision are coming forward with claims of being subjected noises like those heard in the Frigidaire.

Although there have been marches in Ireland in recent weeks that over the presumption that asylum seekers are not being vetted, some argue the torture experienced in Direct Provision is being secretly used to vet particular asylum seekers or to forcibly repatriate them, and drive them out of Ireland.

Presently, the UN Declaration against Torture defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed, or intimidating him or other persons.”

But what does an individual do when (1) they have experienced persecution in their country of origin and cannot return, and (2) are being subjected to torture just for seeking asylum?

Want to learn more about the making of Unusual Treatment: Direct Provision and the Practice of Torture? Email me here.


[1] Humanterm. (n.d.). Torture. Universidad Europea. Available at: https://humantermuem.es/content/torture-en/?lang=en

[2] Rejali, D. M. (2009). Torture and democracy. Princeton University Press.

[3] Id.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Must Investigate Ireland's Coercive Repatriation Practices

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Should Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Should Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices before its too late.

MARCH 24, 2023

To the esteemed members of the United Nations:
I, the undersigned, write to draw your attention to the pressing issue of coercive repatriation in Ireland, a practice that violates the fundamental rights of asylum seekers in the State. I urge the United Nations to undertake a comprehensive investigation into this practice in Ireland, and to take necessary steps to ensure that it is eliminated.

Coercive Repatriation in Ireland

Coercive repatriation refers to the forced return of asylum seekers to their home countries, often in violation of the principles of non-refoulement and the right to seek asylum. Despite the contentions of those involved, some asylum seekers in Ireland have fled their country due to police violence and brutality, gun violence, racism, or discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.  I further submit that some asylum seekers are at risk of real harm if they are returned. Despite the risks faced, the International Protection Office in Ireland and staff in Direct Provision continue to engage in this coercive practice, which disregards an asylum seekers basic human rights under international and human rights law. It is essential that the United Nations investigate this issue and take action to put an end to Ireland’s effort to coercively repatriate asylum seekers, on account that it has formed diplomatic relations with an asylum seeker’s country of origin. Moreover, it is settled law that any repatriation through coercive means is a breach of Art. 33 of the Refugee Convention.

Responsibility of the United Nations to Investigate

The United Nations has a responsibility to uphold human rights of all individuals, regardless of their nationality and race. By investigating this practice and working to eliminate it, the United Nations can help protect my rights, and the rights of other asylum seekers, ensuring that we are all treated with dignity and respect.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Must Investigate Ireland’s Coercive Repatriation Practices! Comprehensive Investigated Required.

In conclusion, I call on the United Nations to act without delay on this important matter. I also urge the United Nations to launch a comprehensive investigation into Ireland’s coercive repatriation and to take strong actions to ensure that this practice is stopped once and for all. I believe that this is a critical matter that demands immediate attention, and I stand ready to support the United Nations in any way possible, with any evidence and documentation I have complied over the last two years, to achieve a just and humane solution.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Quianna Canada

Why the Biden Administration’s New Executive Action Won’t Reduce Gun Violence

Why the Biden Administration’s New Executive Action Won’t Reduce Gun Violence

Why the Biden Administration’s New Executive Action Won’t Reduce Gun Violence

On March 14, 2023, the Biden Administration announced a new executive action to reduce gun violence and to make our communities safe. But Americans have seen this before, haven’t we? Our government proposes a solution that will prevent gun violence in the nation and gun violence continues. After reading the new action, I am saddened to say our government is exposing us to another “Groundhog Gun Day.”

Connecticut was one of the first states to enact red flag laws. Yet this “Provision State” has experienced one of the most horrific mass-shootings in history. What Connecticuter can forget Adam Peter Lanza, who shot and killed 28 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School? I know I cannot.

America’s undivided attention on the purchaser’s background is a Gadarene decision to make it appear as if the U.S. is tackling the gun epidemic in the nation, when in reality, its action have little to no effect.

While red flag laws are beneficial in preventing gun-related suicide deaths, there is little evidence to show the efficacy against mass-shootings.

Another important point to make is how the Biden Administration has changed its language regarding domestic terrorism. For instance, the Biden Administration has now cleped these individuals: “domestic abusers.” However, it is important to call these acts what they are: domestic terrorism. What is more, many of these individuals have little to no criminal record. Indeed, Payton S. Gendron, Salvador Rolando Ramos, Adam Peter Lanza, DeWayne Antonio Craddock and Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa all had little or no criminal record at the time they committed their shootings.

Why the Biden Administration’s New Executive Action Won’t Reduce Gun Violence: Because Red Flag Systems Are Triggered by Criminal Records

Another important point to make is that red flag systems are triggered by criminal records. If an individual wants to commit a mass-shooting but does not have a criminal record, their purchase will not be red flagged. This means an individual with no criminal record who seeks to commit a mass-shooting can purchase a gun. Therefore, red flag systems are ineffective.

Even if this method closes the loophole for people with felony convictions and domestic terrorists and prevents them from purchasing a firearm legally, it does not avert the illegal purchase of a firearm. In light of these facts, it’s safe to say—or unsafe to say depending on how you look at it—that the Biden Administration’s new executive action will not reduce gun violence.

The Poetic Injustice of the Non-Ideal Victim

The Poetic Injustice of the Non-Ideal Victim 

The Poetic Injustice of the Non-Ideal Victim

In 2015, the American Broadcasting Company aired an anthology crime drama called American Crime. The second season takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the co-captains of a private school’s basketball team are accused of sexually assaulting a male classmate and posting photographs of the incident online. In the beginning of episode four, we hear Kevin Kantor, a non-binary rape survivor delivering “I Am Sure,” in which they speak poetically about their treatment as a non-ideal rape victim in the United States.

The central theme of “I Am Sure” is the critical victimology of the “ideal victim.” According to Nils Christie’s concept, the ideal victim is a young female who is perceived by Society as being weak. She is further perceived as being in the “right place” at the “wrong time” of her victimization. A female jogger who is overpowered by an unknown male victim on a trail at night and raped is an example of the ideal victim. One should note here that biological women who find themselves in these scenarios are more likely to receive sympathetic responses from law enforcement officers and Society as a whole.

Kantor is clearly excluded from this typology because (1) they are not a biological female, and (2) they do not remember how much they had to drink. What Kantor does remember is how Society downplayed their vulnerability based on the stereotype that biological males are not weak. One should not forget that American law enforcement officers have a history of holding trans and non-binary victims in low regard, and disregard the rape complaints they make. Society has also shown an intolerance for people who get drunk. Indeed, Kantor divulged when they reported being raped the responding officers rolled their eyes. A journalist also asked them if they were sure about being raped (Kantor 0:35-0:45). The officers’ non-verbal actions and the journalists’ insensitivity to Kantor’s experience is often thought of as “secondary rape” because the victim is disbelieved rather than treated as a human who was injured. As can be seen, Kantor is the non-ideal victim.

Although Kantor does not say to us “they didn’t believe me,” their disclosure “Remember how busy you were trying to figure out how they got in…” leads us into the psyche of a rape survivor. It also illustrates how law enforcement officers’ style their investigations around the inconsistencies and mistakes trans and non-binary victims made before their attacker raped them. By doing this, law enforcement officers can justify their hostility and lack of support for trans and non-binary rape victims.

It is quite likely there is a sub-theme in “I Am Sure,” one I found nestled in the following paragraph:

 “I am sure I remember it feeling like every room of my home being broken into at the same time…remember how I told you that it felt like every room of my home being broken into at the same time? Remember how busy you were trying to figure out how they got in that you forgot all about the person living there” (Kantor).

The Poetic Injustice of the Non-Ideal Victim – Robbery of the Body

I get the sense that Kantor felt as if their body was robbed, as they disclosed that “every room of [their] home being broken into at the same time.” The breaking into their rooms is an allegory for the stealing of consent. This is discernible from Kantor’s “the trauma of someone trying to take their body from them.” I would even go so far as to say this disclosure reveals how trans and non-binary victims are robbed of their autonomy and the authority of their body. This is what I refer to as “Robbery of the Body.”

Kantor’s soliloquy that law enforcement “forgot all about the person living there” is the bleak emptiness one feels after sexual trauma. This soliloquy also reveals how law enforcement officers raid the non-ideal victim’s thoughts by manufacturing a case against them in order to discredit them. This is done by re-creating the crime scene and fabricating a narrative that harms victims like Kantor. A narrative that individuals like Kantor cannot be raped disregards the traumatic experience, which frequently turns the non-ideal victim’s body against them. This piece screams: trans and non-binary individuals must approach all of their physical or sexual experiences with apprehension! When these human experiences are approached with apprehension, they are snavelled of their enjoyment. This invasion of the human body and self is undoubtedly an experience of emptiness that robs one of bodily autonomy. It is clear from the poem that Kantor was unable to protect those boundaries to secure their bodily integrity (Bernstein 144).

As attested by Bernstein, being raped is traumatic and devastating for victims like Kantor because it means the rape remains imprinted on the body-psyche of the survivor. If we refer back to the soliloquy that law enforcement “forgot all about the person living there,” we hear an immeasurable void within Kantor. We also see how Kantor may be unable to replace what has been taken from the rooms in their home. This replacement would be obsolete for Kantor, had they never been raped.

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Bernstein, J. M. “The Harm of Rape, the Harm of Torture.” Bernstein, J. M. Torture and Dignity: An Essay on Moral Injury. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 116-172. Print.

Christie, Nils. “The Ideal Victim.” Duggan, Marian. Revisiting the Ideal Victim: Developments in Critical Victimology. Bristol University Press, 2018. 11-24. Print.

Kantor, Kevin. I Am Sure. Ed. Stanley Thai. 29 January 2016. Web. 02 February 2023.

Kantor, Kevin. I Am Sure. Ed. Button Poetry. 15 March 2020. Web. 22 February 2023.

Wikipedia. “American Crime (TV series).” n.d. Wikipedia. Web. 22 February 2023.

Direct Provision Manager Calls Gardai on Asylum Seeker After Served With Environmental Complaint

Direct Provision Manager Calls Gardai on Asylum Seeker After Served With Environmental Complaint

Direct Provision Manager Calls Gardai on Asylum Seeker After Served With Environmental Complaint.

Breda Keane Shortt, the manager at a Direct Provision centre in Cork, called the Gardai on an asylum seeker after they served her with a complaint for a violation of the Environmental Protection Act 1992, on 06 March 2023.

The Complaint alleges “Despite several attempts to resolve the dispute with Keane Shortt, she failed to take adequate measures to remedy the situation,” which has rendered their space at night “virtually uninhabitable.” When the Complainant made attempts to hand the Complaint to Keane Shortt, she refused. The Complainant then politely asked Keane Shortt’s son, who works at the Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre, if he would accept service for her on her behalf, and he refused. When this failed, the Complainant gently placed the Complaint on Keane Shortt’s car. Keane Shortt then demanded that security remove the Complaint. When the Complainant removed the Complaint from Keane Shortt’s car, she called the Gardai. She later retaliated against the Complainant—using her authoritative position with International Protection Accommodation Service—to issue them a disciplinary notice.

Direct Provision Manager Calls Gardai on Asylum Seeker After Served With Environmental Complaint. Asylum seekers are afraid of Breda Keane.
Courtesy of the Irish Examiner

Toxic Management at Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre

A group of asylum seekers further allege Keane Shortt’s management style is toxic. A few months ago, asylum seekers gathered together to complain about the lack of parking space at Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre, and requested to have a meeting with Keane Shortt. Asylum seekers allege Keane Shortt intercepted the petition and refused to have discussion. Some of those whose names were on the petition were evicted from Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre under mysterious circumstances.

Direct Provision Manager Calls Gardai on Asylum Seeker After Served With Environmental Complaint. Other Asylum Seekers Are Afriad of Keane Shortt’s Toxic Leadership.

I interviewed a group of female asylum seekers who said, “We are afraid of her.” When asked to come forward, they said “We are afraid she will evict us. She has done it to our friends. We have children. We need to keep them safe.” Asylum seekers in the past have alleged that Keane Shortt opened private letters and shared their content with the International Protection Office.

Repatriation through coercive means is a breach of Art. 33 of the Refugee Convention. In MSS v. Belgium and Greece, the Belgian authorities engaged in coercive repatriation efforts to force the applicant back to Greece, where he lived in permanent fear of being attacked and robbed.  The ECtHR found State’s efforts amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The District Court will hear the case on 24 March 2023.

Shoplifting Now Punishable By Death in the U.S.?

Shoplifting Now Punishable By Death in the U.S.?

Is shoplifting now punishable by death in the U.S.?

Shoplifting is the act of knowingly taking goods from an establishment in which they are displayed for sale, without paying for them.[1] In the U.S., store employees have certain powers of arrest. For instance, store employees may detain suspects outside of and inside the store premises if they believe an individual is attempting to take or, has unlawfully taken merchandise.[2]

Store employees also have a certain level of citizen’s arrest powers. However, this power only extends to felony offenses and not misdemeanors.[3] In the U.S., shoplifting is a misdemeanor not a felony. Therefore, the crime should not be punishable by death.

The Penalty for Shoplifting in the U.S.

In 2012, an off duty police officer shot a woman who he suspected was shoplifting at Wal-Mart. At the time he shot her, two children were seated in the back of the car. Six years after this particular incident, a security guard opened fire on a homeless man that he suspected was shoplifting at a Hollywood Walgreens.

Then in 2019, reports surfaced that four individuals rushed into a Pine Hills Wal-Mart and attempted to steal baby diapers. A Wal-Mart employee approached the suspected shoplifters, while they were loading the merchandise in the back of a car. After he approached the suspected shoplifters, an armed customer shot one of them with a gun. During the same year, a Walgreens’ clerk suspected a woman of shoplifting and called a friend for assistance. The friend arrived with a gun—confronted the woman—and shot her.

There is more. In 2022, a sergeant shot and killed a man who Dollar General employees suspected was shoplifting. While law enforcement officers contend the man had a criminal history, witnesses assert the man was a friendly regular in the neighborhood who should not have been shot.

The most recent shoplifting case that appears to be punishable by death in the U.S. is the Tysons Corner Mall incident. Employees at the Tysons Corner Mall suspected a Virginia man of shoplifting designer sunglasses. Loss prevention staff then called Virginia police officers, who chased the man into the forest. The policer officers shot and killed him. Despite conflicting reports, Chief Kevin Davis admits that officers found no weapon at the scene.

Should a Suspected Shoplifter be Shot Based on their Criminal Background?

According to Davis, the suspect in the February 2023 incident was well known to police in Virginia and had a “significant violent criminal history.” With this statement, Davis seems to be suggesting that law enforcement’s shooting of the suspect was justified.

The first thing that needs to be said is that I do not condone criminality despite the argument I will now present. The suspect’s alleged criminal record does not justify the shooting. First, it is unlikely that Macy’s Department store employees knew the suspect’s identity at the time of the incident or had access to his criminal history. Second, it is unlikely that law enforcement knew or had access to the same. To identify an individual, law enforcement officers would need to ask for the individual’s government vitals and then run it through their police system. It is unlikely Virginia police carried out this step before the suspect fled the scene. Indeed, Davis admits that when officers approached the suspect he fled.

Third, the suspect was running away from police officers. This is an indication that the suspect was in flight not fight mode. During the flight response to threat, the brain signals to the individual that there is danger. It then alerts the body to escape and flee to safety. This response is quite different from the fight response, where the body may experience a rush of adrenaline. In this response, an individual may resort to physical violence and aggression, which we can agree, did not happen during this incident. To reiterate, law enforcement officers found no weapon at the scene. Even if they thought the suspect would become violent, it was clear that he was out-numbered by two police officers. In other words, the police officers had the potential to overpower the suspect. This leads me to believe the shooting was not justified.

Shoplifting now punishable by death in the U.S.? Are We Following in the Footsteps of Non-democratic Regimes?

Afghanistan, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and North Korea impose a death penalty for theft, which leads me to believe we are following in the footsteps of these non-democratic regimes.

Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibits arbitrary deprivation of life. It also provides for specific conditions for the imposition of the death penalty with respect to countries that have not yet abolished it. Although the U.S. ratified the Covenant on June 08, 1992, individual citizens cannot bring a complaint under the protocol.

The Human Rights Committee has articulated that countries such as the U.S.—that have not abolished the death penalty—only may impose the death penalty for the most serious crimes.[4] This means the U.S. must interpret the term “most serious crimes” restrictively and should appertain only to crimes of extreme gravity, involving intentional killing.[5] Crimes not resulting directly and intentionally in death, such as economic crimes, can never serve as the basis for the imposition of the death penalty under Article 6.[6]


[1] Wikipedia. (n.d.). Shoplifting. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoplifting

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] HRC (2019). Capital punishment and the implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty. A/HRC/42/28, at para. 8. Available at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/42/28

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

All the Easter Eggs in ‘Two Distant Strangers’ You Missed

All the Easter Eggs in ‘Two Distant Strangers’ You Missed

All the Easter Eggs in ‘Two Distant Strangers’ You Missed

The film ‘Two Distant Strangers’ takes place in the fast-moving city of New York and is inspired by Cynthia Koa’s Groundhog Day for a Black Man. The protagonist is Carter James, who is trapped in a time loop, where he re-enacts several high-profile fatal encounters that Black Americans had with police officers in the United States.

In the opening scene, we see a statute of a dog, and eventually, James’ rottweiler. While one could interpret this as dogs are loyal and friendly, another interpretation is the symbolism of how authorities and the mean-spirited have used dogs as a tool of oppression against Black Americans. According to Shontel Stewart, this idea has its origins in slavery and manifests itself in a variety of oppressive acts that target Black Americans—such as extrajudicial killings—a persistent theme in this film.

Symbolism of the WhiteCycle and Noose

We see two memorials inside James’ apartment: a white bike and a white rope tied like a noose. WhiteCycles (or ghost bikes) are often placed where the driver of a motor vehicle ended a cyclist’s life. They have also been placed in areas where a cyclist was severely injured. The WhiteCycle pays homage to Dijon Kizzee, who Los Angeles sheriffs stopped and fatally shot while riding his bicycle in 2020.

All the Easter Eggs in ‘Two Distant Strangers You Missed’ – The Encounters

Carter James’ First Encounter with New York Police

James steps out Perri’s apartment, a girl he wants to start a relationship with and adores. As James makes an effort to get home, he collides with a White man who is wearing a white shirt with blue stripes. The collision causes the White man to spill his coffee; and James to drop a wad of cash. Historically, the color white has symbolized innocence. The color blue has often symbolized trust and truth.

The incident captures the attention of a White police officer named Merk, who accuses James of smoking something other than a cigarette. James refers to Merk by his name. When James does, Merk commands him to call him sir. Although James complies, Merk snatches him and pins him against the wall. A White woman records the police brutality incident and screams, “He didn’t do anything!” which depicts allied voices—especially female voices—that carry no weight in a White patriarchal society.

Merk throws James to the ground and places him in a choke-hold. Although James pleads “I can’t breathe” several times, Merk continues to choke him. This scene observes the death of Eric Garner, who New York police officers placed in a choke-hold in 2014.[1]

The Symbology of ‘The Way It Is’ Song

James plays Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” — a track about “a law passed in 1964,” which was remixed by Tupac Shakur in 1998. According to SMF, the law is likely a reference to a couple of statutes passed that year—the Civil Rights Act and Economic Opportunity Act—which were meant to counteract the self-same “rules” mentioned in the second verse.[2] Based on SMF’s interpretation, the song appears to be saying this: even though such laws were passed which make people change how they behave on the surface, internally their thinking remains the same.[3]

James’ Second Encounter with New York Police

In James’ second encounter, he doesn’t drop cash nor does he collide with the White male. Nonetheless, Merk still approaches James and demands to conduct an illegal search of his bag. James does not consent, stating “I know my rights.” James’ self-preservation angers Merk who then retaliates by throwing James to the ground. Merk then yells, “Do not resist!”, “Comply!” and “Let go of my gun!” American police often yell these commands during fatal encounters to justify their misconduct against Black Americans, even when Blacks have complied, are not resisting and have not reached for a weapon. In this scenario, James is shot several times. The scene observes the death of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old Black male who LAPD officers shot several times on August 11, 2014.

James’ Third Encounter with New York Police

James continues to have dreams where Merk kills him, a frightening harbinger and glimpse at a short-lived future in New York. These premonitions induces James to take a different course of action to stay alive. For example, James elects not to leave the apartment, hoping this will stop the manifestation of his death.

All seems to go well until James and Perri get an unexpected visit from New York Police, who aggressively commands they “open up!” In what seems like a second, New York Police is inside their apartment pointing their AK-47 shot guns at both James and Perri. James jolts awake after Merk shoots him several times, discovering its just another nightmare. This scene observes the death of Amir Locke, who Minneapolis police killed during a no-knock warrant search.[4]

James’ Fourth Encounter with New York Police

To escape death, James tries a different course of action. This time, James does not wear his jacket outside. But he still encounters Merk. Regardless of the direction James decides to go—whether it’s the left or right—his premonitions are the same: Merk shoots him.

James’ Fifth Encounter with New York Police

James tries a different strategy: being cordial to Merk. This strategy fails, as Merk orders James to display identification and to “keep your hands where I can see them.” They both say, “That’s a lotta money for a guy with a not-so cigarette smelling cigarette.” James explains to Merk how both of them are stuck in a time-lapse, pointing to the couple who would soon share a kiss; the girl who takes a selfie, and the boy on the skateboard who would fall. Merk asks James if he shoots him, will the cycle repeat itself. To which James replies, “Yes.”

James survives the encounter and proceeds walks down the alley. When two teens run pass him, New York police automatically assume James is affiliated with them. For example, New York police demand to know, “Where did your friends go?” which frightens James to the point he awakens from the nightmare.

James’ Sixth Encounter with New York Police

James converses with Merk, where he discloses that Merk shot him 99 times. It appears Merk is sympathetic and asks, “What do you want?” James asks Merk to drive him home. Merk’s license plate reads 1488, which symbolises hate. According to Anti-Defamation League, the first symbol is 14, which is shorthand for the “14 Words” slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”[5] The second is 88, which stands for “Heil Hitler.”

Although Merk agrees to give James a ride home, Merk places him in the back of the police vehicle. This illustrates law enforcement’s perception that Blackness equals criminality. Indeed, James finds it odd that he must ride in the back of Merk’s police car.

James then inquires, “Why you become a cop?” to which Merk claims that people “Lost respect for rule of law; lost respect for order.” Not believing Merk’s answer, James asks him for the real reason. Merk and James deeply dive into being a product of one’s environment—and it is here we learn that Merk was bullied.

The decal on the police cruiser reads: Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect. This is a signpost of how relations between law enforcement and Black Americans should/could be. While James believes that he has reached common ground with Merk, he is condescended to by Merk, who claps and says “Bravo!” Merk then reaches for his gun and shoots James in the back. This scene reveals no matter how polite Black Americans are with police, they still risk losing their life in some of the most mundane encounters. It also observes the shooting of Walter Lamar Scott, a 50-year-old man South Carolina police shot in the back.

Travon Free’s ‘Two Distant Strangers’ Explained – Ending

James lies dead in a puddle of blood that is shaped like the continent of Africa, which illustrates the genocide of African descendants in the United States. In the end, James awakens for the 100th time. Undeterred, James leaves Perri’s apartment to make yet another effort to get home.[6] And that’s All the Easter Eggs in ‘Two Distant Strangers’ You Missed.

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[1] History.com Editors. (2020, July 15). Eric Garner dies in NYPD Chokehold. History. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eric-garner-dies-nypd-chokehold

[2] SMF, & (Optional), N. (2019, August 2). “The way it is” by Bruce Hornsby and The Range. Song Meanings and Facts. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://www.songmeaningsandfacts.com/the-way-it-is-by-bruce-hornsby-and-the-range/

[3] Id.

[4] Canada, Q. (2022). Why America Must Knock the Habit of No-Knock Warrants. Jurist. Available at: https://www.jurist.org/features/2022/03/28/explainer-why-america-must-knock-the-habit-of-no-knock-warrants/

[5] ADL (n.d.). 1488. Anti-Defamation League. Available at: https://www.adl.org/resources/hate-symbol/1488

[6] Wikipedia. (n.d.).Two Distant Strangers. Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Distant_Strangers

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