By Matthew Rothschild on May 30, 2013

This story always smelled a little fishy to me.

I'm talking about the FBI's killing of Ibragim Todashev, the Chechen down in Florida who was a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. When he was fatally shot by an FBI agent on May 22 while being questioned by several law enforcement officers, we were told that he had lunged at an agent with a knife or tried to grab the agent's weapon.

Well, now it turns out he didn't have a knife, according to the Washington Post. (And the excuse "he lunged for my weapon" is one of the most common police lies in the book.)

Now I'm prepared to believe that Todashev was no angel. The FBI said he confessed to involvement with Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a triple murder in Waltham, Massachussets, on September 11, 2011.

But Todashev, like everyone here in the United States, was supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet he was never charged and never faced trial. Instead, he was fatally shot seven times while unarmed.

And now we'll never know for sure what involvement he had, or Tsarnaev had, in that triple murder or whether he, too, was involved somehow in the Boston marathon bombings.

But the larger point is simply this: Too many people in our country die at the hands of law enforcement every year.

And the excuses are often lame, as they appear to be in this case.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story Obama Gets Slippery on Killing U.S. Citizens.

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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