Police Terror in America

The officers in Memphis, Tennessee, came into the community to kill.  Like a pack of wild dogs, they were there to satisfy a blood lust and insatiable taste for Black flesh, writes Wilmer Leon.

Protesting at the Ohio State House in Columbus on Jan. 29 after the police killing in Memphis, Tennessee, of Tyre Nichols. (Becker1999, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Wilmer J. Leon, III
Popular Resistance

“It makes it even harder to swallow…because they know what we have to go through.”
RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols – Jan. 28, 2023

Well, they have done it to us again.  What for most White Americans is a simple inconvenience, a traffic stop, became for an African-American another series of frames from a horror movie. 

Instead of being pulled over, given a ticket and sent on his way; Tyre Nichols was pulled out of his car by the police, sadistically beaten and sent to the hospital to die.

The villain or beast from this real-life horror was not Dracula or Frankenstein. The spawns of Satan that beat Tyre Nichols are not made-up characters from the minds of Bram Stoker or Mary Shelley.  This villainous threat to the African-American community is real. They are stalking the streets of American cities and towns for more victims every hour of every day and night.

This threat, these body snatchers don’t need the cover of darkness or need to operate in the shadows.  They conduct their evil in broad daylight under the color of law.  They are the urban army that is sworn to “protect and serve.”

Slave Patrols

They are an integral part of the American empire, descendants of the slave patrols. Their sole mission from inception in the Carolinas in the early 1700s has been to terrorize communities of color, maintain the status quo and ensure that people of color in America clearly understand that no matter what level of status they believe they have attained; at any moment and upon any whim they will lose their natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

(Office of Public Affairs, US Marshals Service, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

This is not an indictment of all officers of the law.  There are good, well-meaning officers walking the beat and putting their lives on the line every day. But on the night of Jan. 7, those good officers were off duty. They were nowhere to be found. 

There were not any “good officers” in the SCORPION unit when now former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith sadistically and for no reason beat the life out of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.

America needs those “good officers” now. America needs those good officers to come forward, stand up and speak up.  America needs those “good officers” to be good and do good and stop protecting the savage predators within their ranks.

We are told that the police are there to protect the community.  Who is protecting the community from the police?  The community needs to start backing elected representatives who will stand up against the police unions and call for citizen review boards with investigative and firing power. 

The community needs to pass legislation holding individual officers who violate training and protocol personally and financially liable for their crimes.  The community needs to go back to the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s play book and “police the police.”  We have to protect ourselves from those who are sworn to “protect and serve.” 

Gil Scott-Heron live at Göta källare, Sweden, 2010. (mikael altemark, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

We call the names of Sandra Bland, Freddie Grey, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond and as Gil Scott Heron said, “An almost endless list; That won’t be missed, When at last America is purged.”

It is easy to fall into the “phenotype” or “skin color” trap. Most of the officers involved in those atrocities were white.  In the killing of Tyre Nichols, his alleged murderers were African-American as were most of those who stood idly by, watched it happen, failed to intervene or render aid.

For many of those in the right-wing media echo chamber, it’s easy to use the often-used tropes, routinely blaming African-American subjects and victims for their plight. On the other side, too many community activists are now struggling to make sense of this apparent inconsistency.

How can African-American cops impose this death and mayhem in their own communities?  As Nichols’ mother said, “It makes it even harder to swallow … because they know what we have to go through.”

The answer to this apparent conundrum is, it’s not about White; it’s not about Black; it’s about Blue.  It’s not about phenotype or skin color; it’s about oppression, fascism and the interests being served.

In 1951, civil rights attorney William L. Patterson edited the book We Charge Genocide – The Crime of Government Against the Negro People.  This book was based upon the historic petition presented to the U.N. in 1951, charging the United States government with genocide against its Negro American citizens.

In this petition he wrote,

“A false brand of criminality is constantly stamped on the brow of black youth by the courts and systematically kept there creating the fiction that blacks are a criminally minded people.”

Unfortunately, this is the same mindset that far too many police officers, Black and White bring into the environments in which they are to serve.

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The SCORPION unit that these alleged murderers belonged to stands for Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. They did not come into the community to restore peace. 

They were there to impose their will upon the residents of that community.  They brought that “false sense of criminality” into the community with them.

They did not see this in the context of black and white; in their warped minds it was blue against Black. Nichols was not the focus of their rage; he was merely the unfortunate victim of it and the opportunistic vessel through which their message of community fear and control was sent.

Patterson wrote,

“We had two aims; to expose the nature and depth of racism in the United States; and to arouse the moral conscience of progressive mankind against the inhuman treatment of black nationals by those in high political places.” 

Will the killing of Tyre Nichols and the suffering of his family and community expose once again the nature and depth of racism in the U.S. or will people be distracted by the phenotype of the officers who are charged with killing him?

Will his killing arouse the moral conscience of “progressive mankind” in the U.S. to the point of bringing about substantive legislation as referenced above to hold those accountable for engaging in such atrocities?

The officers involved came into the community to kill.  Like a pack of wild dogs, they, like so many others were there to satisfy a blood lust and insatiable taste for Black flesh. They were not there as agents of peace. They were there as agents of death; to invade, control and oppress.

As Alonzo Harris (played by Denzel Washington) said to the crowd in Training Day, “I’m the man up in this piece … I’m the police, I run s%!t around here. You just live here. Yeah, that’s right …. Go on and walk away… ’cause I’m gonna’ burn this MF down. King Kong ain’t got s%@!t on me.” 

This is the mentality those spawns of Satan brought into their own community. Unfortunately, unlike those in Training Day, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old father and son was not allowed to walk away.  He had to be carried away on a stretcher and died three days later from “extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating.”

The police officers responsible for his death are Black. But, don’t get distracted, don’t get confused; don’t get it twisted. It’s not about phenotype. It’s about racism and the fascist interests being served by those who are sworn to “protect and serve.”

Dr. Wilmer Leon is a nationally broadcast talk radio host. An adjunct professor of political science. Author of Politics Another Perspective. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: [email protected]. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com © 2023 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

This article is from Popular Resistance.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


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33 comments for “Police Terror in America

  1. Willow
    February 4, 2023 at 17:43

    It’s class warfare of which racism indeed plays a role, but Kelly Thomas was a homeless white man beaten to death by a gang of cops in Fullerton California. The crime of being poor is sometimes enough to enrage the cops on the “beat”
    Overhaul the system by mandatory psychological screening for new hires, emphasis on de-escalation techniques and frequent random drug testing for amphetamines of all law enforcement

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    February 3, 2023 at 11:18

    America = WASP (white/anglo saxon/protestant) Shame, shame, shame!

  3. Dave
    February 2, 2023 at 19:15

    The important thing is the police live in the community they serve. That way they have to answer to their neighbors

    • Vera Gottlieb
      February 3, 2023 at 11:19

      From the looks it seems to me that today police don’t have to answer to no one.

  4. Michael L Falk
    February 2, 2023 at 17:35

    Police in the US are an occupying para-military force supported by the “establishment” to maintain order against those who would demonstrate or standup to protect and advocate for their rights or threaten the ruling class.. The police are purposely intimating to exhibit force. Just look at their uniform of body armor, weapons, ammunition, not to mention their vehicles that, in some instances, resembul tanks. Training academies are known to at least unofficially indoctrinate cadets into believing that instead of enforcing the law, “they are the law” and with that arms them with an overly authoritative attitude. And while the majority of police are “good cops” they still fall into the same category of “bad” ones known as “cowboys” by failing to speak out and not break the code of “the blue wall of silence”. They’re just as complicit and even more so. This country has a long way to go in cleaning up its act.

  5. Joe Wallace
    February 2, 2023 at 17:12

    “Quit resisting! Quit resisting!” That’s the background noise cops voice, more often than not, during these gang beatings. While a couple of officers of the law hold the victim down, two or three others kick, punch and elbow the helpless victim, who, in a frantic bid to escape this phantasmagoria of pain that is raining down on him is . . . well . . . resisting. Resisting would seem to be the one thing he CAN’T stop doing. “Quit resisting” is shouted, not as a command to the victim, who is incapable of complying with it, but as the voiceover ostensibly “justifying” the beating in the video being recorded by the police bodycam.

  6. February 2, 2023 at 17:11

    In all these stories of cops killing a black person I note that training is essentially never mentioned. There are no loud cries for a revision of police training, and I note too that there are no questions about how police are selected to be a policeman. Just because you want to wear the uniform and carry a gun does not seem like an ideal way to hire. Yet I have neither heard nor read any thing about the process of hiring someone to be a policeman and then what training they get. I can’t imagine what training these Memphis cops had to stop someone for a traffic reason and then pull him out of the car and have five people beat him to death. Something is seriously wrong here, and finally it has been shown that whatever it is, it isn’t racism – something else really evil and terrible is going on here and I think we need to get to the bottom of it. I don’t know about the other readers of CN, but the more I think about what happened here, the more I worry about this country and am afraid.

    • Tennegon
      February 2, 2023 at 18:50

      Based on my experience in the military, combined with how militarized police departments are, at all levels of government, the simple answer of where police officers come from is the military. That’s where they receive training, especially in the use of weapons and tactics.

      While in my own training program, early in my military career, instructors often chided us that if we ‘washed out’, we’d wind up as military police or cooks.

      Any time I’ve had an encounter with a ‘civilian’ police officer, it always feels as though I’m dealing with an individual from the military again. They have to be in complete control of the interaction, no matter what.

      I happen to also recall being in England for three years, when beat cops, the famous ‘Bobbies’, did not carry firearms, only a truncheon, handcuffs and a whistle. It was dialogue they used, not intimidation. However, I fear that may have changed considerably, along with so much else in the GWOT environment of ‘full spectrum dominance’.

    • J Anthony
      February 3, 2023 at 09:34

      Another two qualities that ought to be a given before anyone is given such authority: intelligence and decency. George Carlin suggested it first.

  7. shmutzoid
    February 2, 2023 at 13:05

    The racialist narrative dominates ANY discussion about policing. This is quite intentional, as it steers the discourse away from understanding the basic nature and character of policing itself under capitalism. ————- Victims of police violence may be black, brown or white, but, what they practically all have in common is that they’re at the lower end socio-economically.

    ————–Yes, poor people are disproportionally black – as such, the victims of police violence are disproportionally black. Policing itself is an instrument of the state to protect private property and capitalist interests. Poor people are automatically seen as a threat to “the public order”. The wealthier the ‘customer’ is, the more civil/professional the policing is that serves them. None of this has to do with the race of either the police or the victims of police violence.
    ———-Doubtless, there are racist sociopaths infesting police departments across the country who go out of there way to prey on blacks. However, the basic function of policing is that of class control.

    The writer veers away from the racialist narrative just enough to say policing “…..is about oppression, fascism and the interests being served”. AMEN, brother!

  8. Caliman
    February 2, 2023 at 12:11

    Focus is important. Unless a problem is correctly identified, remedies are likely to be ineffective or inefficient, which in the case of murder and violence prevention is utterly tragic.

    Look: approximately 10,000 black Americans are murdered every year. The number killed by police is about 300 a year, or 3%. This is not to minimize the latter … it is a horrific number. But it helps to realize that we have a VIOLENCE problem primarily, with violent and murderous policing a subset of that problem. So, yes, improve police training and stop forming these robocop attack units like the Scorpion nonsense that did this murder; but that’s a start, not the end.

    And things like defunding the police and other claptrap will not only be ineffective, they will likely be highly counterproductive if your aim is to reduce murders and other violence. It’s like taking the top off a pressure cooker at full steam and not expecting a huge scalding … you have to take down the temperature first.

    We need to be kinder to each other. We need to stop dividing into tribes: class tribes, religious tribes, racial tribes, political tribes, sexual tribes, all of it. To paraphrase Rodney King, we need to start getting along better, somehow.

    • Piotr Berman
      February 3, 2023 at 05:41

      Your 10,000 stat of black American murder victims is a bit wrong, because there was a long declining trend followed by ca. 50% jump in COVID years, to this ca. 10,000. I would guess that improved employment opportunities lead to salutary cycle, less desperation, more regular life and so on, while mass layoffs associated with COVID lockdowns disproportionally hit job types of young black men, and the impact was very deep.

      The assumption that 50% of homicide victims are blacks, but only 30% of police killing victims is arbitrary and unjustified. It could easily be 60%. However, the importance of killing and brutality by state, embodied by police, prison guards, and additionally rhetoric of politicians which is increasingly (persistently?) violent should not be underestimated. State influences us all, including the norms of behavior. Is killing another person normal?

      Death penalty is the state saying: sometimes killing is the best solution. We could do something else, but after careful deliberation, we will kill this guy. In short, killing is a normal option.

      Needless to say, police killing has an even larger echo in the minds of the public. Of course, police is part of a wider society and itself is affected by the mentality of the wider society, but the visibility and impact of police is of course much larger than average.

      Morever, make a mental experiment: suppose that every day there are two-three cases of doctors and nurses killing people visiting clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms etc. with a larger number being heavily beaten up, tazed to near death etc. A small percentage of deaths in those institutions … But it kind of ruins the mood when you have some ache, pain etc. and you contemplate if you should see a doctor. Less statistically minded people would get a phobia and die of treatable diseases… Clearly, it would damage an essential type of social interactions.

      • Caliman
        February 4, 2023 at 12:24

        Absolutely agree that the minor %age of killings attributed to the police has a very out of proportion impact and importance socially. Your hospital example is very apt … btw, hundreds of thousands of people do die of medical mistakes by doctors annually and people still go to hospitals. But no doubt about it. State agents deliberately killing citizens they are supposed to serve is the essence of tyranny.

        My point was that the CAUSE of this is not primarily racism or police training etc. but rather these issues are born of our society’s general tolerance and baseline of violence. Other societies with similar violence baselines and histories like Brazil and Central America have similar and worse murder and police violence issues, where other societies similar to us racially and legally but w/o the history and baseline of violence like Britain and Canada do not have nearly the same problems.

        Thus the solution is not so much yelling about racism or patriarchy or whatever but rather getting at the root of the issue … “striking the root” as Thoreau said.

    • Piotr Berman
      February 3, 2023 at 05:59

      Follow-up on the impact of the state on the minds of the public. When COVID restriction started people were frantically buying toilet paper and frozen food. In my supermarket, the aisle with frozen vegetables on one side and toilet paper on the other was empty on both sides. But there was also a rush to buy guns.

      Perhaps rational: layoffs in services like restaurants will lead to increase in crime, so the public rationally and correctly predicted the rise in homicides and prepared. Still, a bit weird.

      But isn’t what American state is doing? Whatever happens, the conclusion is that we have to buy more weapons. This implants the thinking “something happens, I need a weapon”.

  9. Piotr Berman
    February 2, 2023 at 12:07

    “This is the mentality those spawns of Satan brought into their own community.”

    In more impassionate terms, one of the policemen severely injured an inmate on his previous job as a prison guard, with no consequences to himself. The experience of brutality and impunity was either contagious, or this squad was assembled to be “energetic”, i.e. brutal. Perhaps a combination.

  10. Henry Smith
    February 2, 2023 at 10:40

    If we extend the logic that not all police are corrupt, bullies exempted from the laws of the land and protected by the state when they transgress, then we also have to believe there were good, nice members of the Gestapo and also pleasant, cuddly German concentration camp staff. Sorry, but all Police are members of the same organisation and by default condone what it does, as does the Government who funds and supports the corrupt organisation. The Police are a reflection of the criminality that exists throughout government: Biden; Clinton; Trump; Obama; etc. This swamp is undrainable.

    • J Anthony
      February 3, 2023 at 09:58

      I have to agree. Often we hear of all the “good cops” out there, being helpful and respectful to the average citizen. So where are they all when their psychotic colleagues hulk-out? Are they so terrified of reprisal from their upper fraternal order? Is their silence in these matters not akin to complicity?

  11. Blessthebeasts
    February 2, 2023 at 10:39

    Stop this nonsense about “good officers” and “better training.” While some may be less brutal than others, they are all trained to terrorize the population.

    • Piotr Berman
      February 3, 2023 at 01:07

      Manifestly not true. Where I live, typical trouble maker is a drunken student (university town) and while police can make fatal mistakes, it is very rare, and I know no brutality stories. Police academies are local, no uniform standards.

      An important aspect of training that SHOULD be required is about rights of the people. Supreme Court, in its supremely limited wisdom, set a doctrine that cops and similar officials (prison guards, supervisors etc.) cannot be found guilty for violating civil rights when they do not know them. If they have a lecture on the topic and annual quiz cchecking if they did not forget should eliminate such defense, and lacking impunity, police should behave better.

  12. Chris
    February 2, 2023 at 10:37

    No need to demonize wild dogs or use animal behavior as a metaphor for our own behavior. Is it not yet clear that making wanton blood-sport is a singularly human trait?

  13. jamie
    February 2, 2023 at 05:07

    There is no doubt to me that poverty put people in any sort of problems and hardships, often resulting in violence, frustration, more prone to aggressiveness, not only toward others but also toward oneself; suicide is way more common among poor; that not because people living in poverty have something wrong, lack of some intellectual qualities, far from that (actually the opposite) but because when you live in poverty you are inevitably transformed by the lack of a better future, of security and safety, of self-worth, widespread injustice, subject to “being cannibalized”, etc.

    Poverty is an important factor that has been underplayed in accounting for police violence. I don’t buy it that racism is the most important element in this killings. I don’t believe WaPo, NYT, and other “great” medias statistics when they show the disparity of police killing by using the whole racial population, including rich and middle-income section of society; those statistics serves only political games. Have you ever heard about a white/black rich person killed by police? perhaps, but a rarity.
    If you compare the killings to the racial population living in poverty, white and blacks, you see that the proportion is almost the same.
    We tried to get statistics about the socioeconomic background of the people being killed, some lack those data, some said it is too difficult to gather, etc.
    I bet that even among the police, many of them comes from poor background white and blacks. We don’t’ have also to forget that many of the cities in which those killings take places are run by black politicians and democrats.
    The solutions are manifold, eradicated poverty, urban planning and investment in favor of those “neglected areas”, participatory development, better infrastructures, education quality and access, higher education access, political empowerment; better police education, etc
    the amplification of the “racial” component, obscure (purposely or not) the other important factors behind such problem, namely economic investment in those areas; even worse the racial component is then politicized and never solved
    I will welcome the day black people, latinos, and indigenous tribes will unite to form their own party

    • John Ressler
      February 2, 2023 at 09:21

      I like your comment and will add this personal experience. In 1967, my brother (I’m white) Bobby was shot in the back (ten days before his 16th Birthday). He had stolen a NJ state motor-pool vehicle and was pulled over by a white cop. While being frisked the weapon discharged (the officer had pulled back the hammer of the weapon back before sticking it in his lower back) and he was dead. Our family was roasted in the local press (we were a poor and sometimes volatile family). The fact that we were poor seemed to be enough reason to kill him and smear us, as if he / we deserved it. Nothing was done to the shooter except being protected by the Blue shield.

      • jamie
        February 3, 2023 at 05:06

        Thanks for sharing your experience, I am sorry for the tragedy you and your family had gone through. 1967? Then was even worse than today in trying to make the police accountable.
        I grew up in “relative” poverty. My major disappointment with police was that when I was wrongly accused of a serious crime it took the side of people who were more influential, more political/economic/social powerful than myself, even though there were no proofs, no evidence I had committed such crime. Only my persistence and determination turned things around. My only crime was to be “powerless” (and minor crimes). Even more excruciating was that my parents did not believe me, till charges were dropped; that’s what poverty does; it devastates and weakens families, communities, social cohesion, and well-being. In my case it wasn’t racism, it was just being “powerless”; I was lucky, few of my friends became police officers, some other died in car accidents, drugs, suicides. We are in some sort of “chicken pecking order” at times they killed the weak to affirm their status. And in a materialistic/distorted society like ours, wealth determines your value and ranking. We are not much different than animals. And police officers are trying to climb the latter; being themselves pecked by wealthy politicians and interest group, to clean cites, make them attractive for investment, etc.
        To change this, I believe we must give power to the “powerless” and change the values of our society. A new party must emerge in US, blacks, Latinos must create it, incorporate indigenous tribes and whites who had enough of this “pecking order”
        As I see it, pitting police against community is like those rich folks enjoy seeing roosters fight to their death. Whoever says that we all have the same opportunities, that we all start the race at the same starting line is just as dumb and sick as who said poor people are of no value, poor people have tremendous potential and beauty. Even today, in my country, top of the world class, people in welfare and unemployment are scorned, demeaned, and ostracized. We cannot tolerate “the weak” and “powerless”, just as we blame a raped woman for her dress/behavior
        Best of luck

    • Richartd
      February 2, 2023 at 10:49

      Blaming poverty for murders committed by police seems more than a stretch, it seems like an apology for the actions of obviously racist police.
      I think your assessment of the evils of poverty show insight and understanding and I applaud that. But, as the father of a Sheriff and the grandfather of a Detective, I simply cannot follow you into your puzzling defense of the few unfit officers making all those headlines.

      Following your opjnion does not lead to teh obvious and critical need for more training, more psychological testing of officers, and on a regular basis, as well as dealing with the closing of ranks indicative of a paramilitary group which seems anathema to a police force that well serves its community. .

      • jamie
        February 3, 2023 at 05:18

        I am not saying there is no racism, I am just saying that poverty is the real enemy here that need to be fight first, if black improves their social status and power, racism is diminish (not eradicated). I agree with you with “more training, psychological testing”, but to me before testing the officers, we must test psychologically our politicians/leaders (blacks or whites), that’s where everything wrong begins

    • Selina Sweet
      February 2, 2023 at 11:56

      “The solutions are manifold, eradicated poverty, urban planning and investment in favor of those “neglected areas”, participatory development, better infrastructures, education quality and access, higher education access, political empowerment; better police education”…..what do all these have in common? Relationship – that expresses “you matter”. In demonstrable acts and material

    • Reilly Commoss
      February 2, 2023 at 12:04

      It’s a class war, not a race war. It’s in the MSM’s interests to call the class war a race war because it divides and distracts the people from the rampant systemic class discrimination. They would much rather we be fighting each other than us all fight the wealthiest 1% who are running the show.

      If you agree that all people are created equal and judge people by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin, than you’re not a racist, despite what the CRT and equality of outcome fanatics will tell you.

      “It’s easier to fit a camel through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus, Matthew 19:24

      “As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:38-40

      (I am not a Christian, but I take inspiration from these quotes.)

    • Dinos Constantinou
      February 2, 2023 at 13:11

      SCORPION should be dissolved, in my opinion. Even its acronym strikes fear into people going about their everyday business. How about Peace Makers (PM), instead?

    • Afdal
      February 2, 2023 at 16:08

      At the end of the day we simply have to understand that police have an inescapable function in class society: they exist to maintain the social order by protecting the powerful. That is where their dehumanization and animosity towards the poor ultimately stems from, no matter the melanin count of a given poor individual. Police will never be “fixed” until people recognize their fundamental function.

      • shmutzoid
        February 2, 2023 at 19:28

        Well said. In fewer words you’ve mirrored my comment on this thread.

  14. mgr
    February 2, 2023 at 04:49

    Apparently, it is not just Ukraine that needs to be “de-Nazified.” Both domestically and abroad there seems to be a consistency in America’s ideological alignments. Even worse as it hides under the facade of a “liberal democracy” with an odd twist in which ordinary people are considered the least.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      February 2, 2023 at 12:08

      No war but class war.

      • mgr
        February 3, 2023 at 12:48

        Carolyn: Indeed. Plus those who can only justify their malign existence by dominating others.

Comments are closed.