Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blue-on-Black Crime: Ferguson

Every police department in America needs to have a contest to decide which officers among them are most likely to cost their town big money. Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are today being sought in lawsuits over police misconduct. Officers who tend to abuse their power are a liability that needs to be identified. They need to be retrained or removed.

At the same time, people of color are the most vulnerable victims of such abuse. They often living in poor neighborhoods where people are looked down on. White officers can see people in poor neighborhoods differently than black officers see them. An abusive attitude focused on minorities can, among whites, become habitual. It can become part of a shared culture.

When a mostly-white police department provides order in a mostly-black community, there is potential for major abuse. Blue-on-black crime.

So it was and so it happened, in Ferguson, MO.


On Saturday, August 9th, 2014, a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, shot six bullets into unarmed teen Michael Brown, who had been walking down the middle of the street near his home. He first wounded Brown, then killed him with a shot to the head. Forty days later, Officer Wilson still has not filed a police incident report. Perhaps it would indict him. A grand jury has spent four hours talking to him to see if they should do just that.

Whether or not the grand jury takes Wilson to task for killing Michael Brown depends on what evidence the prosecutor brings before them. If the prosecutor omits salient material, then the federal government will have proof that Michael Brown's civil rights were violated. It may proceed against those who violated them. One can hope.

Multiple witnesses saw Brown's death:

In a video deposition before the court that is the world, Michael Brown's friend
   Dorian Johnson, who was walking with him, describes the shooting.

   “They didn’t even check to see if he was breathing.”---So says a witness interviewed by the NY Times

   Timeline for a Body: 4 Hours in the Middle of a Ferguson Street

   Witness: Michael Brown was 'walking dead guy,' not rushing Ferguson officer

   Video Of Michael Brown Shooting Scene: 'He Had His F**KING HANDS IN THE AIR!'

There was a recording of the gunshots...
    Video messaging service verifies timing of CNN audio recording


On that Saturday evening, there were simple vigils at the scene of the killing.

The police dispersed the mourners.

The community erupted in anger:

The next day, a Sunday, brought vigils and demonstrations:
   Community Angered After Police Fatally Shot Unarmed Missouri Teen 
   Michael Brown Shooting By Police Sparks Vigil, Protest, Looting And Calls For Federal Probe


On Monday the 11th, it was announced that the shooting was now being investigated by the FBI:
    Outrage Over Teenager’s Death Erupts on Social Media

Monday evening, police used massive force to disperse a crowd.
   Ferguson: behind police lines helmet-cam video of tactical team teargassing protesters

The police were now violently suppressing an anti-brutality protest.


By Wednesday the 13th, reporters were being arrested:
    Ferguson PD Embraces Equality by Arresting Reporters of All Races
    Huffington Post Reporter Arrested In Ferguson
    HuffPost Reporter: I Was Arrested By Guys Who 'Like Playing Dress Up'
    In Ferguson, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest
    "Egregious assault on freedom of the press" in Ferguson, Mo.
"According to the Los Angeles Times' Matt Pearce, when Ferguson Police Chief Tim Jackson learned of the arrests he responded, "Oh God," and later instructed his officers to release the two men."
          Well-managed, they were.

     Later, on August 26,  Ferguson cops claim they have no records of arrests of journalists


"Hands Up - Don't Shoot" became the chant. Holding one's hands up in surrender became a statement:
   PHOTO: Howard University Students Respond To Death Of Ferguson Teen

On the evening of Wednesday the 13th,
   Ferguson Police Descend on Protesters with Arrests, Tear Gas, and Martial Law
"Police in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday arrested reporters and activists, launched tear gas at protesters, and used armored tanks and helicopters to force media out as residents continued to demand answers about the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot to death by an officer last weekend. "
"Photos and videos from Wednesday night show chaotic scenes as protesters run from police firing rubber bullets through thick clouds of smoke from tear gas canisters. Police also fired tear gas directly at an Al Jazeera camera crew, who had set up equipment to film the protests; after they ran to escape the fumes, officers broke down their cameras" 
In Ferguson, the police implemented heavy military gear inherited from the Pentagon in an attempt to control the demonstrators:
   Ferguson's Police Got Free Military Gear Straight From The Pentagon
   Ferguson: Militarized police use force against protesters, arrest journalists
   Ferguson Police's Show of Force Highlights Militarization of America's Cops (ABC News)

Not that they knew how or when to use it...
   US veterans:  Ferguson Police Department’s response is a clusterfuck:
      “We went through some pretty bad areas of Afghanistan, but we didn’t wear that much gear,”

   Rep. John Lewis asks Obama to declare martial law in Ferguson
   Attorney General Holder: Situation in Ferguson 'cannot continue'



On Thursday the 14th, the Missouri Highway Patrol took over the policing...
   Cpt. Johnson WALKED in the Ferguson march tonight. "We're all in this together"
   Missouri Police Captain Meets With Protesters In Ferguson
 
The protest became national. On Thursday evening,
   Protestors snarl Times Square   (lots of pix)
   Thousands in Times Square snarl traffic, chanting, "hands up, don't shoot!"
   Anonymous calls for nationwide solidarity protests
   Rand Paul: Demilitarize Police

  The New York Times - and the demonstrators - complained that the name of the killer policeman had not yet been  released. The Police Department was protecting a killer.
   WATCH:  Ferguson Protests In Three Minutes


On Friday morning, August 15th, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, in one fell swoop of a press conference, made two announcements. He first released the name of the officer, Darren Wilson, who had killed Michael Brown.

He then implicated Brown, without naming him, in a petty theft of some cigars from a convenience store that had happened earlier in the day that he died. After making these two announcements, Chief Jackson departed without taking questions. He left behind documentation specifically naming Brown as a suspect in the cigar theft.

Demonizing the victim, he was...
    The demonization of a dead, unarmed teenager is well underway ...
    Michael Brown Family 'Beyond Outraged' at 'Devious' Police Conduct

Jackson released a security videotape of the cigar theft. He claimed that there had been many requests for the tape. It turns out that he was lying. There had been no requests.


"A credible-looking new report on a site called TheBlot by independent journalist Matthew Keys claims that the Ferguson PD cannot produce any record of a member of the media requesting the surveillance tape of the robbery."
Police Chief Jackson later disavowed any connection between the theft and Brown's killing, saying that Wilson did not know at the time of the killing that Brown was a suspect. Whether Jackson blushed or not is unreported.

A further attempt at demonizing the deceased victim was made by Fox News, who falsely reported that Wilson's face had been damaged:
CNN host Rips Fox for ‘sowing doubt’ with baseless report on officer’s fractured eye socket (video)


On Saturday, August 16th, a week after the killing of Michael Brown,
   US Rethinks Giving Surplus Military Gear To Police
 
On Sunday, August 17th,
   AG Holder Ordering Federal Autopsy Be Performed at Request of Michael Brown's Family

They found several shots to the body, and two to the head. He had been wounded, then killed. There was no gunpowder evidence that he had been close to his killer.

   Police Threaten To Shoot, Mace Reporters In Ferguson
"In the most chilling incident on Sunday, police threatened to shoot Mustafa Hussein, a reporter who was filming for local Argus Radio."
John Oliver sums up the whole story with grace, humor and more than a bit of anger:
   An uproarious, moving John Oliver is perfect on Ferguson


On Monday, August 18th,
   Missouri governor lifts Ferguson curfew as National Guard called in

   Not a good sign for media access tonight in Ferguson. . . Getty Images photographer just arrested
   Redskins show solidarity with Ferguson protests:''Hands up, don't shoot'' protest makes way to NFL
"The "Hands up, don't shoot" protest has made its way to the NFL.

The Washington Redskins secondary emerged from the stadium tunnel during pregame introductions Monday night with hands raised and palms forward.

It was a show of solidarity with the people in Ferguson, Missouri, who are protesting the shooting of teenager Michael Brown."

On August 23rd,
   Obama Orders Review Of Police Use Of Military Hardware

   Ferguson fallout: A call for police 'body cams'


On August 24th
    Ferguson Reporter Breaks Down Over Police Abuse: Listen!

On August 27th
   WATCH: The Jon Stewart Ferguson Segment You've Been Waiting For

On August 28th
    Missouri police sued for $40 million over actions in Ferguson protests

On August 29th
   Officers from St. Ann, Glendale no longer employed after actions during Ferguson protests

On August 31st
   Ferguson police are using body cameras
   National March on Ferguson - photos of protestors, lists of demands

On September 3rd
   Missouri governor lifts state of emergency in Ferguson

On September 6th
   Funny Or Die Satirizes Ferguson's Militarized Police In Disturbingly Realistic 'Cops' Parody

... and right on cue, the totally tone-deaf...
   St Louis police offer to fingerprint all the children in Ferguson

Two new witnesses appeared:
    Workers who were witnesses provide new perspective on Michael Brown shooting


September 8th,
   Ferguson Sets Broad Change for City Courts
     The NYT charts dramatically how the Ferguson city government runs on fines and judgements levied on the black community. The city is now announcing reforms intended to correct that injustice. 

September 9th,
   The willingness of the prosecutor to seriously pursue a case against a police officer has come into question:
      Why Civil Rights Groups Are Calling For The Ferguson Prosecutor To Step Down

   Ferguson reforms met with rancor at city meeting
"You've lost your authority to govern this community," said St. Louis activist John Chasnoff. "You're going to have to step aside peacefully if this community is going to heal."
   Ferguson council faces calls for reform at first meeting since teen's shooting
"Wild applause rang out from the crowd as people addressing the council called on Knowles to step down, and complained of ineffective city leadership, police harassment and racial profiling, among other grievances. Several also said that the police chief must be fired. Many warned that civil unrest would continue, and could expand if Wilson was not arrested."
   Cops Start Using Body Cameras [VIDEO]


September 10th,
   More protests in Ferguson over shooting
   - slide show, attempt to shut down Interstate 70

September 11th,
   What More Will It Take to Arrest Darren Wilson?

September 15th,
    Is the Man Tasked with Prosecuting Darren Wilson Actually Raising Money for Him?
    Ferguson protesters call anew to remove prosecutor

September 21st,
   This 11-Year-Old Perfectly Sums Up The Problems In Ferguson
     - an utter genius. With a future.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fs1L8HTY_7o

September 24th,
    Justice Department Investigates Ferguson Police
"There was no public comment period but tables were set up for people to share their concerns privately with DOJ officials. And investigators got an earful.

Brandon Smith, 28, told investigators he moved away from Ferguson four years ago because he was constantly harassed. He said he was once cited for "manner of walking in roadway" and jailed on $1,000 bond for the misdemeanor. He said he posted bond and never got the money back."
Will the city of Ferguson be required to return all the money that has been improperly taken from its residents?

   DC Police to Start Wearing Body Cameras
   
September 25th,
   Ferguson police chief apologizes to Michael Brown's parents



Perspective...

Missouri was a slave state. St. Louis was a slave market. Racism is nothing new in Missouri:
   'Show Me' Missouri racism

Ferguson police have a police record:
   Report: Ferguson Police Beat Up Wrong Suspect Then Charged Him For Getting Blood On Uniforms In 2009
   The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie
   Ferguson Cop Accused Of Hog-Tying And Choking 12-Year-Old
   At least 5 Ferguson officers apart from Brown shooter have been named in lawsuits
   Cop Who Shot Michael Brown Began Career At Racist, Disbanded PD


Police body cams cost as little as $36 on Amazon.

Dashboard cams on police cars, body cams on police officers appear to be the coming solution for police abuse. The fruits of the information age are undoing the machine age's iron fist.


A solution for poverty is still in the works.
- - -

This story will continue. I may append updates now and then, to keep the history of it all together.

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