James Hood Dies, Robert Chew Dies

Trending in the news this morning are two notable deaths. James Hood was one of two students (along with Vivian Juanita Malone Jonesthat George Wallace faced down at the University of Alabama. I respect James Hood, for his calls of forgiveness and moderation. Like this picture with George Wallace much later in life. Robert Chew was an accomplished actor who played Proposition Joe on the HBO series The Wire. Which I’ve never seen. Although some of the Sailors at an old Navy command (three commands ago, yikes) could not stop talking about it. (Note: old Navy, not Old Navy. My old Navy. Not the clothes store Old Navy. Or the British offshoot Olde Shiver Me Timbers Navy.)

A Policeman Catches His Suspect

Harold House Moore and Leelee Sobieski, two rookie cops on NYC 22.

I’ve never had much of a problem with the police. I’ve never been arrested or spent time in jail, no matter what my blog tagline might say. And I’ve hit an age in life where I appreciate and respect all that they do for society. (It is not that I disrespected them earlier, I merely kept my distance.)

When I read stories like this, from retired policeman CI Roller Dude, I realize we are lucky to have men and women willing to go into harm’s way:

We got through the front door and cleared most of the house.  We were at the last room—the master bed room. The door was old and narrow and it was hard to get 2 cops through at the same time, so I went in.

The suspect was trying to hide in the closet when I saw him.  He had something black in his hand…it was either a gun, or a cordless phone.  I backed up to the door jam and told him to throw whatever was in his hand onto the bed.

And you gotta love how CI Roller described what they did when they caught him:

I didn’t take him to jail, but to the county mental health unit where they counted his marbles and wound up his little spring and let him go after 72 hours on a 5150 hold.  He never knew how close he came to getting a 147 grain 9MM HP round into his center mass.

My favorite cop shows on television all take place in New York City: CSI New York, Blue Bloods, and a new show called NYC 22. (Justified is a show about US Marshals, not coppers.) The scoop on the Robert DeNiro-prodced show, NYC 22:

Judy Marte, Adam Goldberg, NYC 22

This particular batch may be the most diverse and best-looking in New York City history. It includes Ahmad (Tom Reed), who is from Afghanistan; Jayson (Harold House Moore), who is black and once played professional basketball; and Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski), who isn’t nicknamed White House because of how white she is but might as well be.

The show has prominent names behind it. Robert De Niro is an executive producer. Richard Price, whose screenwriting credits include “Clockers” (based on his book) and “Sea of Love” and who logged time as a writer on “The Wire,” is billed as creator.

The article calls the show predicable. I’ll take predictable, it’s how I like my eggs.

Move, Vets Coming Through!

Back when I was stationed in Maryland, my Navy department used to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. We would go into the Baltimore inner-city and work. I remember a cold winter day (it was about 40 degrees) turning to a Chief and saying: I tell you Chief, this is one sketchy neighborhood. He laughed and replied: Hell sir, this actually ain’t bad. For Baltimore. 

Good news for the locals, veterans from our Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are now rehabbing Baltimore’s inner-city:

Earl Johnson’s boots crunch broken glass from liquor bottles as he walks down an alley in East Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood.

Earl Johnson is a war veteran who served in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq as an Army Ranger. He is a board member of Operation Oliver.

He is just blocks from the site of the firebombing of a family who called the police on drug dealers and were killed for it, and just yards from some of the most memorable scenes of urban decay in television’s “The Wire.”

At his side are Rich Blake, 32, a Marine Corps veteran; and Jeremy Johnson, 34a Navy veteran. Like Earl (no relation to Jeremy), they are on a different kind of mission.

They’ve come to this neighborhood once synonymous with the worst of Baltimore to help it become something better. They call this mission Operation Oliver.

As the men walk, they pick up empty Seagram’s gin and Bacardi rum bottles. They point to progress — refurbished homes, a painted playground — and to vacant houses and trash-filled alleys that still need work.

Oliver Neighborhood, Baltimore

You would think the local board members and politicians would be welcoming them with open arms. The reviews are decidedly mixed:

The veterans’ effort hasn’t come without push-back. Their approach — hands on, no community meetings — has made established leaders bristle.

Nina Harper, executive director of the Oliver Community Assn., says she supports the veterans’ work but is critical of what she sees as a lack of communication.

If people see a bunch of veterans working in the neighborhood in their military-green Operation Oliver T-shirts, it could send a bad message to those looking to move in, she says.

“We don’t want it to appear to be a war zone, because it’s not,” she says.

Really? If I lived in that neighborhood, I would vote out the clowns in the community organization. The article does put a positive spin on the story in the end, but inner-city organizers have only perpetuated the downward spiral. And allowed it to become a war zone. As for me, if I were a local, I would happily welcome in the veterans. . .