The sun had yet to come up when the SWAT team in masks and helmets burst in throwing flash grenades and shouting. It was 5 am and Amir Worship a twelve year old boy who lives in a suburb of Chicago was awoken from sleep by the noise and the police who had barged into his bedroom. One of them was standing at the foot of the bed with an automatic rifle pointed at him he later said. Dozens of police had stormed the home.
Here’s how local news station CBS Chicago set it up: “A police raid went horribly wrong in south suburban Markham back in May – with a 12-year-old boy ending up getting shot in the knee.”
Ending up getting shot in the knee.
Amir’s mother Crystal was in bed with her boyfriend and her other sons were sleeping as well she said. They were looking for her boyfriend Mitchell Thurman who was charged with drug possession and having a gun with an expired license although the charges were later dropped so I guess they weren’t that urgent after all not so urgent you’d have to go shoot a kid in his pajamas over it.
A second cop reportedly came into Amir’s room and one thing led to another and next thing a bullet appeared in his kneecap. He will probably never play sports and will have difficulty walking or running for the rest of his life.
“Amir’s mother, Crystal Worship, is suing the city of Country Club Hills, Ill., the village of Richton Park and several police officers for damages in excess of $50,000, alleging negligence, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and emotional distress,” according to the Washington Post.
“There is a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated upon the children and families of color by Chicago and South Suburban police barreling into the wrong homes, handcuffing innocent adults, holding guns on children, handcuffing children, trashing their homes, refusing to show warrants, and screaming dehumanizing commands,” the family’s lawyer, Al Hofeld Jr. said to the press last week. “Now, children are being shot in their beds.”
As I was writing this I just saw a tweet thread from Ijeoma Oluo author of the best-selling book So You Want to Talk About Race and she said she was on a plane and she got a call from police saying there were reports of gunshots at her home. “My older son is there alone. I called him and woke him up. There were no gunshots. These hateful white supremacists are trying to get my family killed.”
“Someone apparently called and said there were two dead bodies in my house,” she wrote. “These monsters.”
One of my editors forwarded me a note from the newspaper’s internet security team or whatever a few weeks ago and it was like just a heads up looks like your information has been posted on some website where they like to SWAT journalists and celebrities and shit and it made my stomach sink as you can imagine so after a while of fretting about it I called the local police and said hey just as a sort of courtesy if you ever get a call that there’s a shooting at my address could you call me first because it’s very likely not me and that felt real weird to have to say it I felt sort of ashamed for a minute like here I am this guy who criticizes the police all the time and as the common critique from the right goes I was still nonetheless calling them for help when I needed it but then I realized I wasn’t calling them to come and save me I was asking them politely to please hesitate for a minute or two before coming to kill me.
A little before that another old friend I hadn’t talked to in like twenty years who works in cyber security or something messaged me saying ah this is weird we haven’t talked in a long time but just so you know someone posted you information on this forum.
“Our biggest challenge is figuring out if the rhetoric they post on these sites are legitimate threats or just the musings of a keyboard warrior,” she said of what she does for a living and that is the question at hand isn’t it.
In any case please do not arrange to have me killed by the police I don’t want anyone to be killed I just want fewer guns everywhere in the country which I think will help achieve that goal of less killing. I don’t know if that’s something offensive enough to be killed over but maybe it is I don’t know anything.
A couple of years ago I interviewed my congresswoman Katherine Clark after she herself had been Swatted.
It was a Sunday night late in January, and Congresswoman Katherine Clark and her husband were winding down from a busy weekend, watching television at their home in Melrose, a city just outside of Boston, when they noticed all the police lights outside. Her children had gone to bed, so Clark assumed something must be going on at one of her neighbors' homes. She went outside to investigate and saw two cruisers cutting off the street, and a heavy police presence, some with long guns drawn, swarming over her lawn. A police officer approached and explained there had been a call saying there were multiple gun shot victims at her address, and an active shooter still in the house.
If Clark hadn't already been invested in the problem of online abuse, this certainly would have been enough to push her over the edge. She believes she was a victim that night of what is known as "swatting," a form of harassment in which hoax calls are made to police in order to trigger an emergency response to the home of an intended target. While the FBI doesn't keep statistics on the number of incidences of swatting, it seems to have become an increasingly common form of abuse in recent years, with numerous high profile cases, including the targeting of celebrities, and in particular, members of the online-gaming community.
The reason Clark seems to have been singled out was precisely because she has been such a vocal opponent of such tactics. One of her initiatives, the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act of 2015, co-sponsored by Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, aims to prohibit falsely reporting an emergency using telecommunications systems.
She was lucky, Clark says, because she was familiar with the tactic, "but it was nonetheless a frightening experience in those first few minutes when I thought something had happened to our neighbors, or that somebody might be loose in our neighborhood.
"Your mind races through lots of scenarios," she continues. "I can only imagine if you were not familiar with swatting, and if the police hadn't known they were responding to my house. It certainly has given me a new perspective on just how serious and dangerous this is."
Around that time she introduced Interstate Swatting Hoax Act but it has languished in Congress since 2015.
I just read a story about a Los Angeles man that had arranged a Swatting attack that resulted in a man in Kansas being murdered by police. He was just sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Tyler Barriss was recruited to make the bogus call to police by one gamer who had had an argument with another over a $1.50 wager in Call of Duty I guess and the really fucked up thing is when Barriss sent the police to go kill the one guy over the video game argument he didn’t even have the right address so they killed some other random guy who had no idea what was going on.
The two gamers have also been charged as co-conspirators but none of the police were charged with anything.
I don’t know none of that seems worth it to me.
In any case if anyone wants to arrange to have me killed at home I would appreciate it if you could schedule it for this week while my wife is out of town or for a year or two ago when I actually wanted to be dead.
I don’t want to be dead anymore in case that isn’t clear!!! That feels real weird to have to say it feels like I am putting myself on the radar as some sort of troublemaker. I don’t want anyone to die for that matter not the police and not even the nazis I just want everyone to stop killing each other.
I don’t want to be dead anymore in fact I am fucking pissed off out of my mind that any of us have to die. The fact that we have to die has animated every single act and thought throughout the entirety of human history and somehow I still feel like we aren’t talking about it enough. Have you heard about this? Have you heard about the universality of death Kev? Jay Leno would say and then Kev would play a little jaunty lick on the guitar with his hat on.
Here’s some good news about all the dying going on though it turns out sales of bulletproof backpacks for children are spiking big time so congrats to the bulletproof backpack companies. I wrote a bit more about that in the Guardian the other day.
The Hell World book is coming soon I swear just got an email from my publisher saying “Typesetter messed up the poems, asked them to fix--should have it to you very shortly,” and the phrase Typesetter messed up the poems is making me laugh for some reason right now. Fucking Typesetters messing up the fucking poems that classic scenario. I guess what it meant here is like the layout of the poems I quote throughout the book weren’t aligned correctly.
After the Hell World post about David Berman’s death and poems the other day a friend messaged me to ask if I’d ever read any Charles Simic and I had indeed. I had and I have I should say. In fact I am reading one right now as we speak.
Eyes Fastened With Pins
How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.
I guess Death getting the address wrong is what happened to that poor son of a bitch in Kansas the Swatters sent the police to kill. The police were not charged in that killing due to they said the guy had reached for his waistband and they got scared.
Another friend called me yesterday to explain a situation he was going through with his extended family. His cousin and his cousin’s wife are both police of one kind or another and they have cut him and his children out of their lives and stopped inviting them to holidays because he posts anti-police violence things on Facebook and they pulled his mother aside recently to explain that their son is an Antifa terrorist who wants cops to be hurt but what this kind peaceful guy I know really wants is for no one to be hurt especially by the police and that doesn’t sound like a terrorist to me.
I just read another story about how extreme climate change has already arrived in the United States and it’s dutifully frightening but here’s one thing it said:
The only part of the United States that has not warmed significantly since the late 1800s is the South, especially Mississippi and Alabama, where data in some cases shows modest cooling. Scientists have attributed this “warming hole” to atmospheric cycles driven by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, along with particles of soot from smokestacks and tailpipes, which have damaging health effects but can block some of the sun’s intensity. Those types of pollutants were curtailed by environmental policies, while carbon dioxide remained unregulated for decades.
“This is so depressing,” a friend on Twitter pointed out. “The only places in the country that haven’t gotten warmer are places *where the pollution is so bad it helps block the sun.*”
As I mentioned to the nazis earlier in this newsletter my wife has been out of town for the week visiting her sister in the San Francisco area and it looks like they’re having a lovely time! I didn’t go because I didn’t want to be on a plane for that long with some of the pain stuff I’ve been dealing with lately. My best friend is currently in Iceland and it looks like he’s having a lovely time too! My one single other friend is in Buffalo which isn’t as scenic as those two other places admittedly but I hope he’s having fun there also. I hope everyone everywhere is having fun.
The result is I’ve sort of just been haunting my apartment alone for days barely speaking a word out loud to anyone unless I go buy cigarettes and a Polar Ruby Red Grapefruit soda water which is the best flavor and I’m already cultivating a really bleak Divorce Guy energy like there are beer cans in the toilet and I own a sword now somehow. Speaking of toilets something is wrong with ours like it has started swallowing weird like when you’re about to swallow a big vitamin or pill or something and you have to think about how to swallow it something that had always previously been an involuntary reflex or like when a snake devours an entire chicken whole or a guy in a cartoon gets tricked into eating a lit firecracker and it sticks out of the side of his neck and he gets a look on his face like ah shit this isn’t going to be good.
Anyway that’s how my toilet has been swallowing lately.
One thing I managed to do just now in between breaks of writing this is take out the trash and while it’s something I regularly do there are times when you’re taking out the trash and you are very much aware that it’s a thing you are doing and whenever I have to think about taking out the trash while I’m taking out the trash I think about this song.
So you don't wanna hear about my good day?
You have better things to do than to hear me say
God, it's been a lovely day, everything's been going my way
I took out the trash today and I'm on fire
Sometimes I think fuck it I’ll get a gun just in case these assholes want to hurt me and that is how it works right you get scared so you want to feel less scared so you get a gun but tbh I’d probably be more likely to use it on myself at some point according to the statistics.
Here’s some stuff from Every Town:
- Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides.5 The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times that of other high-income countries.6
- Access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.7 Gun suicides are concentrated in states with high rates of gun ownership.8
- Most people who attempt suicide do not die—unless they use a gun. Across all suicide attempts not involving a firearm, less than five percent will result in death.9 But for gun suicides, those statistics are flipped: approximately 85 percent of gun suicide attempts end in death.10
- White men represent 74 percent of firearm suicide victims in America.11
Anyway I don’t want to die but still probably better not to tempt fate.
There’s an hour or so every morning when I wake up before any sort of pain settles into my body where I wonder if it might not happen at all today maybe I’ll get lucky. It’s mostly pointless though it’s like getting up before dawn and hoping today will be the day the sun finally doesn’t rise.
It doesn’t shine with the same strength every day of course it could be cloudy and overcast for example and even if it does come out there are things you can do to mitigate it somewhat such as you could put sunglasses on your pain or go to sleep a place where the sun can’t get you.