How "fear" defines Michael Dunn, Grady Judd, and the police faction loyal to the desecrated flag
America desperately needs a (figurative) policing civil war, one that pits courageous, selfless protectors of the common good against the cowardly dominators of the desecrated flag.
This article’s images will likely cause email to truncate it. So be sure to click through into the article itself on Public Enemy Number 1.
May 26, 2022
“The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots.
They are receiving gunshots. At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.” — Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Chris Olivarez, explaining/lying about why officers waited an hour to engage a gunman murdering children and teachers.
May 23, 2022
"I can tell you with 100% certainty that my reaction was based totally out of fear. Without a doubt." — former Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn explaining/lying at his manslaughter sentencing why he executed an addled young man trying to leave his store with a tiny shoplifted hatchet.
Among all its other generation-defining qualities, the Jan. 6th Capitol Lynch Mob created a literal civil war battle among individual police officers — and between two ideas of American policing embodied by the behavior of individual officers.
The Capitol Lynch Mob — full of active or former police officers and self-declared supporters of “blue lives” — violently and mercilessly attacked fellow officers of the “brotherhood.”
They did so while wielding this desecrated version of the American flag — which I’ve updated just a touch after events of the last week.
The hopelessly outnumbered Capitol police officers fought and thought their way into saving countless lives and the very idea of representative government from the desecrated flag horde’s lynch mob coup. They did so while shooting exactly one extraordinarily competent and measured bullet from a simple handgun.
Like Florida Sheriff Peter Hagan in a different American era, Officer Eugene Goodman, Lt. Michael Byrd, and the rest of the brave few Capitol Police are among my heroes of American life and history. They performed perhaps the bravest, most profound act of official patriotism of my lifetime. That’s precisely why so many “blue lives matter” people hate them.
I have no doubt those brave Capitol police officers would have acted far more courageously than Uvalde’s cosplaying SWAT team and the assorted desecrated flag liars of Texas law enforcement.
In fact, the more deeply I observe America’s gun dystopia and broken American police culture, the more clearly I see three crucial points:
Desecrated flag police themselves are the NRA now: A large faction of American police — the faction loyal to that desecrated flag above — has replaced the NRA as the key radical political/commercial gun advocacy force. Without desecrated flag police, the NRA today is nothing. It’s just an empty shell of bankrupt grifters lusting after Vladimir Putin’s concept of manhood. Desecrated flag police, themselves, are the most powerful and effective political thwarters of any serious reform — legal or moral — to our gun dystopia. Nothing changes until they’re defeated or cease to dominate the culture of policing.
Desecrated flag police outnumber professional, apolitical, protector police. This is obvious when one observes how the desecrated flag faction of American police and politics have treated their supposed brothers and sisters who saved the country with righteous violence on Jan. 6. The teeth-grinding resentment is palpable. The absence of praise and modeling is palpable. You can hear it in Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd’s silence and indifference to finding Jonathan Pollock, Polk County’s own Jan. 6 domestic terrorism fugitive. Shame on every cop who refuses to see Eugene Goodman and Michael Byrd as models — and who prefers Jonathan Pollock. If we’re ever going to rebuild and redirect the country in a moral direction, we will have to help professional, apolitical, brave police defeat the culture of the desecrated flag that surrounds them. I am deeply committed to support and empower any officer who wants to do that.
The AR-15 and the desecrated flag are emblems of personal and official cowardice: Police, as a class, are the most heavily, personally armed people in America. I would bet any amount of money that the 19 inert officers who listened to children die behind a locked door collectively own arsenals of personal AR-15s at their own homes. That did not provide them the courage to get through the door and die, if necessary. Indeed, in my observation, in general, the more likely you are to own an arsenal of personal AR-15s, the less likely you are to have the courage to break down a door and die, if necessary, for the public good and the lives of children. No wonder the AR-humpers want to outsource their courage to kindergarten teachers and lunch ladies. That is where the courage to sacrifice actually dwells. The AR is compensation for lack of courage. Those guns are about personal dominance, not protection. And as I have said many times: power is not strength; vulnerability is not weakness; dominance is not bravery.
If Grady’s Tik Tok memes were courage …
Given these three observations, I’m not remotely convinced by Grady Judd’s latest buffoonish press conference about mass school shooting, in which he lambasted the Uvalde police, but insisted his guys would be different.
Watch the absurd clip. Key moment:
"If you come to a school in this county, armed, we're going to do our best through either our guardians, our school resource officers, or our school resource deputy sheriffs to eliminate the threat outside of the school before they ever get to the children. We're trained to do that."
He then held up a picture of a deputy pointing a gun.
"This is the last thing you'll see before we put a bullet through your head if you're trying to hurt our children. We are going to shoot you graveyard dead if you come onto a campus, with a gun, threatening our children or shooting at us."
Here’s the image.
Give me a fucking break with the Tik Tok warrior nonsense. It did nothing to stop the 70 percent Polk County murder rate spike Grady Judd silently oversaw in 2020, the largest of any big county in Florida. See this article.
And is this really the last thing a suicidal, body-armored nihilist, legally armed with our gun dystopia’s most lethal weapons, will see in a Polk County school? Why? Because Sheriff 70 Percent’s magic mouth makes it so? Because there’s something special about the phosphate air? Uvalde PD talked trash about training and memed itself, too. They ran a school shooter drill two months before. They were trained that “innocent lives” come first. How did that work out?
Mike Baker @ByMikeBakerI have spent the past few days researching the training of Uvalde officers, including the tactics they were expected to use to halt school shooters. The documents are jarring. Here’s a thread of our findings so far. 1/9
And if public moral leadership and courage affects operational leadership and courage, well … America’s sheriff Grady Judd is very afraid of many many things:
He’s afraid to tell the public he’s been a leader in seizing guns from people’s homes through risk protection orders — known as “red flag” laws. I wanted to publicly praise him for it while I was an elected School Board member. He asked me not to. I accommodated him until the Tampa Bay Times reported it — because I wanted him to continue. And then I quietly offered my support for his RPO leadership during a public board meeting. I have no idea if the sheriff is still a leader in RPOs now that Ron DeSantis, for whom Grady campaigns in uniform, has said he would have vetoed the so-called “red flag” law that created RPOs. Somebody should ask the sheriff.
Grady’s afraid to tell the public whether he belongs to the NRA or how many AR-15s he has in his personal arsenal. I asked him in 2015 and he politely declined to answer citing his “privacy.” I asked him again, in a public School Board meeting, right after Parkland, when he tried to force the School Board to arm teachers. He less politely told me it was “none of your business” — while he “politicized” Parkland by bringing an angry, grieving Parkland parent to pressure the superintendent and elected School Board.
He’s afraid to confront the Pollock family and the culture of right wing, anti-government mob violence it represents. But he invented a George Floyd riot that didn’t happen in Lakeland and screamed about an “antifa” hoax threat that didn’t exist while ignoring the 70 percent murder rate spike that should have dominated his attention. He’s afraid to account for any of that.
He’s so afraid of physical “threats” that he routinely surrounds himself with a security cordon of deputies at events like Lakeland’s MLK parade. I’ve witnessed it personally. I’ve never ever seen another local law enforcement leader or politician do it. Ever. It’s comical.
He’s afraid to loudly, publicly say if he still opposes “mass shooter carry” now that Ron DeSantis, for whom Grady campaigns in uniform, supports it. DeSantis and other desecrated flag politicians call it “constitutional carry.” The most common usage is “open carry.” And “mass shooter carry” means that every AR-15-armed nihilist acts entirely legally until he (always a he) pulls the trigger. “Open carry” is a mass shooter empowerment act.
And above all, Grady Judd is afraid to tell the public and his own supporters: “I am an integral part and powerful voice of a degenerate gun culture and desecrated flag police culture that must change. And I will lead that change.” No law, no training, nothing would have a greater effect on our gun dystopia than Grady Judd — and his talented mouth — leading its reform. Or, he’s afraid to say: “I love this gun dystopia I’ve built. Suck it.”
Culture of fear
That’s quite a cascade of moral, political, public fear flowing down from the leader of a public safety organization with a gargantuan public platform. It’s hard to expect that fear not to infect the culture of dangerous, violent engagement on the ground.
In addition, “the officer feared for his/her safety or life” is the underpinning of thousands of police killings. Fear for one’s life — blue lives mattering more than anything — gives police the right to kill the unarmed or lightly armed with impunity. It’s the institutional mindset that informs police training in America. Be afraid, Mr. Police Officer, at all times. Key excerpt from the link above:
Now, the other issue that I saw is fear-based models of training. What this leads to is a training of possibility versus probability. And so officers are reacting to things that probably are statistically unlikely to happen. Or if they were to happen, it was very anecdotal. If it's a warrior-based style training, then that implies the rest of us are potential enemy combatants. But it's stressful for the officers themselves. And what we know is, is police officers are far more likely to kill themselves, nearly five times as likely, than to ever be killed in the line of duty. And we think that this kind of fear-based training is contributing to that.
That’s why desecrated flag police see the public primarily as a threat or dangerous chore, not a duty. Listen to how they talk; read what they post; look at what they did to the public will and “blue lives” during the Capitol Lynch Mob.
Why would you expect desecrated flag officers trained to prioritize their own blue lives to stop prioritizing them when the subject killing children on the other side of a door has comparable or stronger firepower?
Mike Baker @ByMikeBakerI have spent the past few days researching the training of Uvalde officers, including the tactics they were expected to use to halt school shooters. The documents are jarring. Here’s a thread of our findings so far. 1/9
You think inserting “innocent” into one sentence that contradicts everything they’re told about prioritizing their own lives makes any difference — at all?
Salvador Ramos wasn’t 13-year-old Tamir Rice holding a toy shooting nobody. That’s why Tamir Rice was dead within seconds of the desecrated flag officer arriving and why Salvador Ramos executed children at his leisure while 19 tough, Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson-loving “monsters” listened. The kids died violently in both situations — while the blue lives went on. That’s not an accident.
Maybe Sheriff Judd’s deputies and the school “guardian” security guards I helped create as a School Board member will overcome that comprehensive culture of fear in the moment of truth. Maybe not. Most likely we’ll never know because that moment of truth never comes. Here’s hoping. That’s the thing with spectacle mass school shootings — they’re common enough to terrorize and feel ritualistic, rare enough that most of us will never have to test our theories of action.
If I were in charge of the Polk Sheriff’s Office, I would be very quietly and somberly reminding deputies and guardians: “You are expected to die if that 1 in a million moment comes. That comes with the health insurance and the gun.”
Even then, no one knows how they’ll respond until they respond. Some humility is called for.
Pity the well-mannered executioner’s gunsickness
Former Lakeland City Commissioner and convicted felon killer Michael Dunn might as well have been a desecrated flag police officer, culturally. He could not have been more deeply committed to the American gun dystopia. Police officers hung out and bought gear and guns from his Army-Navy store for many many years.
Grady Judd called him a “good guy” and “level-headed” in the first-day newspaper article describing Dunn’s execution of homeless shoplifter Cristobal Lopez. In fairness to the sheriff, he said that before anybody had seen the video of Dunn’s ice cold, successful effort to discipline the retreating Lopez with deadly gunfire.
To his credit, the sheriff was not among the dozens of Polk County luminaries — including Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz — who embarrassed themselves by speaking up for an executioner and, presumably, helping him get a comically light sentence. More on that, and what it says about Lakeland power’s deference to class and status above all things, in a later article.
When not under the influence of guns, Michael Dunn is an interesting and pleasant person to talk to. I like him, when his brain isn’t gunsick.
But what he does under the influence of gunsickness truly defines him — as does the behavior of any addict.
While under the influence of guns, Dunn once carelessly, incompetently shot a young man in the elbow while playing quick draw in his house. Only blind luck avoided death. And nothing happened to Dunn to discipline his behavior — or his right to incompetently bear arms in the American gun dystopia.
A “fear” of not dominating
Then, in 2018, again under the influence of guns, having just achieved his life-long dream to win an election, with a business and family and freedom to lose, Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn executed a mentally ill, homeless shoplifter who tried to leave his store with a tiny hatchet. Lakeland police were on their way to arrest the guy when it happened.
In carrying out this execution, Dunn fired without any thought from the doorway of his store, which opens onto a sidewalk and South Florida Avenue, the main north-south thoroughfare of downtown Lakeland.
Had Lopez’s body not caught the gunfire, it might have slammed into a family car on the way to one of two nearby schools. My family and I drive on that street daily.
But Lopez’s body did catch the gunfire — and Dunn stood coldly stood over him offering no medical attention, eventually declaring him “expired” on a call with police.
Why did he do this? This is what Michael Dunn said at sentencing:
"I can tell you with 100% certainty that my reaction was based totally out of fear. Without a doubt."
Anyone who watched the video and saw how long Dunn had the man, who never threatened him, at gunpoint inside the store knows this is complete bullshit. At least if we use “fear” in its common usage. That includes Judge Donald Jacobsen, who made a point of saying he had scrutinized the video. Watch for yourself if you haven’t had enough death for the week. If Jacobsen actually watched this, he knew Dunn was lying about “fear” and just wanted Dunn to get off easy with a light sentence.
Late update: I just discovered Dunn told police this, shortly after the killing:
It might be fair to say, that if I just stepped back and let somebody come in and take what they want, that there would be no issue!
Bill Mutz’s bizarre and disappointing attestation of Dunn’s character for his sentencing echoes Dunn’s own words, before he faced prison. Mutz knew as well as Dunn — and anybody else — the shooting had nothing to do with actual “fear.” Note the part in bold — and the chilling, icy coldness of how Bill describes it:
Michael is a moral person with a firm resolve and expects from others what he would provide himself. The regrettable shoplifting event and deeply resulting tragic fatality are uncharacteristic of Michael’s typically sacrificing and supportive behavior. Yet, it is aligned with the expectation to have had the customer put down the stolen item before leaving his store, and he requested several times for him to do so.
As to his character, Michael Dunn is a man typified by caring, kindness, and dedication to making the right choices.
Now ask yourself how similar that dynamic sounds to classroom discipline. The teacher asked Johnny several times to put down his cell phone. Then think about the wisdom of arming teachers, when an upstanding, yet gun-sick citizen like Michael Dunn could easily have become a teacher. I wrote about how the Dunn case argues powerfully against arming teachers here, some time ago.
To be clear, Bill Mutz isn’t advocating for arming teachers or for guns at all. That’s not his angle. Honestly, I have no idea what angle Bill thought he was pursuing. The legal act he describes is clearly second degree murder (and maybe first.) Apparently, he thought that was helpful to share with a judge eager to go soft on crime. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But Bill’s letter does make usefully clear the obvious: Dunn had certain “expectations” of behavior with a gun in his hand. He had certain “expectations” of dominance. The only thing Michael Dunn feared was losing the dominance to which his gun entitled him. He feared a shoplifter defying him for a minute or two before the cops got him. Maybe he thought somebody would laugh at him.
So he executed an addled drifter, risked countless other lives, and destroyed his own life and his family life for that “fear.” Yes, that’s great character.
Failure to comply justified not just execution, but endangering the lives and property of everyone nearby. Dunn’s phallic gun entitled him to take that safety and property from you and me as surely as entitled him to Lopez’s life — as surely as Salvador Ramos’ unmolested AR-15 entitled him to blow children and teacher apart while desecrated flag police loitered, restraining and harassing and handcuffing unarmed parents.
A gun grants astonishing entitlement; and it’s worth noting that so many of the men who love that entitlement, and whine about their gun “privacy,” can’t wait to force women to give birth to their rapists’ fetuses — at the state’s gunpoint.
The “own the libs” mass shooter alliance
Nothing “owns the libs” quite like a mass school shooting — the same way nothing owns a fleeing wife like a gunsick husband’s murder-suicide.
It combines education, guns, extreme anti-social irrationality, and lost men killing innocent women and children. It strikes at the heart of everything “libs” value. And then the aftermath rubs our faces in powerlessness.
Evil people like Sandy Hook-troll and Capitol Lynch Mob organizer Alex Jones — quite popular with Publix billionaire Julie Fancelli, as folks may remember — feed like dementors off the pain and sorrow and despair of “libs” after a school shooting. The desecrated flag cop tribe gets off on the social media misery of libs after the murder of children. Do not kid yourself about that.
Indeed, no faction of powerful people in America wants to “own the libs” as hard as the desecrated flag police and tribe. Listen to them. They’ll be seeking vengeance for “black lives matter” and Colin Kaepernick and the George Floyd summer for a generation, at least. That’s why so many of them showed up to Jones’ Capitol Lynch Mob, which started with a rally financed by Julie Fancelli. [Full disclosure on my complex, friendly relationship with Gregory Fancelli, Julie Fancelli’s son, here.]
Desecrated flag police are in a hideous, tacit alliance with mass shooters over the absolute right of both to fully indulge their “fear” with gunsickness — and then bask in the “lib” misery it leaves behind. Just listen to what they say. And be honest with yourself about it.
Mass shooters want to impose suffering and misery on everything. The desecrated flag tribe just wants to impose it on “the libs” — but they’re willing to accept endless collateral damage of their own people, from a cowardly abstract distance, to bask in lib tears.
There will be no gun dystopia reform as long as that tacit alliance between the desecrated flag and the mass shooter exists through careful silence and refusal to act. Grady Judd could break that alliance with one press conference. That’s why his public moral cowardice matters so much. He’s a shit-talking hero of the desecrated flag, whose quiet real world deeds suggest he knows much better, but just can’t find his courage.
That’s why I’ve relentlessly, publicly critiqued him since the Capitol Lynch Mob, when he had to arrest one of his own desecrated flag deputies for cheering on the mob and threatening the public. If I thought he was a fully-committed desecrated flag waver, rather than a preening talk show host deeply sensitive to public opinion, I wouldn’t bother.
If Grady — and what he represents — ever moves, any number of paths to reform become possible. (I prefer treating guns like cars. I think it’s the only way to deal with reality that 300 million or so guns already exist in this country.) Until then, his people will just keep chugging lib tears as children die and he makes more excuses and memes for dystopia.
That’s why I will continue until he shuts me up by joining me or by declaring: Hell yes, I love this graphic and the American gun dystopia I built (with lots of help). Suck it libs. Yes, this is a national murder-suicide attempt; and no I don’t care.
Sheriff Judd’s unwillingness to say that is exploitable weakness and cowardice. He wants everybody to like him — libs included. As long as Grady wants everybody to like him — and pretends to represent and protect everybody — libs included — I’m going to play along and attack the weak vaccuum his selective trash talk creates.
Powerful, gunsick cowards are the worst
Publicly attacking someone else’s cowardice puts scrutiny on your own courage. I fully understand that.
And I live in a constant relationship with my own fear — debating it, mocking it, negotiating with it, trying to use it — and my fear of dishonor — to commit myself to that which I might not really want to do. Hopefully, I never surrender to my fear.
But I might. I’m as subject to cowardice as anybody. I know that. I hope knowing makes it less likely to happen.
I feel reasonably good about my moral, political, and public courage thus far in my life. But that could always change. My physical courage hasn’t been tested to any extreme. I’ve never been in a hallway outside the AR-15-armed, suicidal nihilist. I certainly hope I could make myself push inside and die if necessary. But hoping does not make it so. So again, we’ll see. Or, most likely, we won’t.
All that’s prelude for this: desecrated flag police and their tribe are the worst kinds of cowards — cowards with great power. You can measure their cowardice in how they’d respond to this critique: with silence or “well, what about … ?” or “stupid lib.”
I’ll show you coward. Come get your ass beat.
My AR will show you coward.
Come take it.
Grady Judd went and “took it” from 425 gun-loving Polk County households in the year after Parkland. And you desecrated flag cowards surrendered them like the meek little worshipers of power you are.
So spare me your “come take it” bullshit. If the combined might of American policing and military power ever concludes it makes sense to end the American gun dystopia, you won’t do anything but submit. You’ll no more have the courage to die for your weapons than the Uvalde SWAT meme had the courage to die for its community’s kids.
And if you’re a lib looking for gun dystopia reform, you have understand that only great power — the power of the gun itself — can deliver it.
We “libs” must help good, brave police stop the desecrated flag police from *indulging* their fear
I revere good, brave, civic-defender police officers. They are, perhaps, per capita, the most valuable citizens in our society. The responsible, problem-solving, brave use of awesome power is a unit of civic behavior likely unmatched in its benefit. Fund that, all day long.
As I’ve said, Sheriff Peter Hagan, who likely did more to crush lynching as a hideous, mass-shooting-esque social custom than any other American is my historical hero. He’s joined now by the civic police warriors of Jan. 6.
I was such a public cheerleader for the Lakeland Police Department that former Chief Larry Giddens reformed (while vastly reducing Lakeland shootings) after a massive scandal that Larry actually tried to recruit me as a public information officer. (I politely declined, thinking it was probably a bad idea for everybody involved.) I remain generally pleased with LPD under Chief Ruben Garcia. It performed light years better and more responsibly, from the top down, than Grady Judd’s Sheriff’s Office during the George Floyd summer of 2020. My wife works very productively with LPD in addressing downtown safety; and there are individual officers (who I won’t name) who are truly outstanding, assertive, problem solving protectors of the public good.
So spare me your “anti-cop” nonsense.
I’m anti-you, desecrated flaggers, not anti-good police.
But I fear that the police I revere remain outnumbered in their field and outliers of their culture. For instance, LPD’s police union recently disgraced itself by backing desecrated flag waver and Capitol Lynch Mob supporter Saga Stevin in the Lakeland mayor’s election. (And Grady Judd showed his cowardice again by meekly letting Saga pretend he endorsed her.)
We libs crushed all of them in what was something of a policing civil war, which makes Bill Mutz’s Michael Dunn letter all the more appalling.
But it also shows it can be done.
So I want to conclude this with an appeal to the libs — which is really anybody, regardless of party or politics, who values shared civil society.
We can waterboard ourselves with our lib tears while Alex Jones cashes in and the desecrated flag waves and Grady Judd flashes useless memes; or we can recognize that we’re fighting to survive their miserable, collective national murder-suicide attempt. I, for one, don’t want to give the miserable mob of the desecrated flag what it wants. I want to survive and win the future of the American idea.
In a world that sometimes seems devoid of purpose, surviving and defeating the desecrated flag murder-suicide attempt provides one. Making our gun dystopia less dystopic is a noble pursuit. There are many ways to do it — but defeating cowardly power always requires bravery, honesty, and sacrifice.
We need to find our courage; and demand that Grady Judd find his. If we do, if he does, the gun sick Michael Dunns of the world, the cowards of the desecrated flag, are no match.