Tuesday Reads: Ferguson Updates

ferguson photos

Good Morning!!

I can’t stop thinking about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and flashing back to similar iconic events in the 1960s. How far have we really come since the days of the Civil Rights Movement? Clearly, racism is alive and well in 2014, particularly in police departments around the country–and not just in the South. Will the disease of racism ever be wiped out in this country, or can we only hope to control it through great effort–with laws, education, organizing, and public demonstrations?

Ferguson citizens were forced to live through another night of chaos last night, and I’m convinced at this point that deliberate police actions are making things much worse. The man in charge, Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Police is clearly being used as a pawn. He was set up to fail, and at this point he is simply putting a friendly face on an ugly show of force intended to intimidate protesters and media alike. And he’s lying to make excuses for what has basically become a nightly police riot. I’ve been watching the live feed from Ferguson night after night, and I have yet to see any evidence of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails or attacking police (UPDATE: Dakinikat says there is one in the NYT video at this link.

Perhaps we’d know more about what is happening on the ground if new helicopters could fly over Ferguson, but police have ordered them not to, saying that only police helicopter can do so. Reporters and news photographers have been arrested and threatened with being maced or shot. Yesterday, as everyone here knows, police in St. Louis arrested 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. From The Independent UK:

Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, was reportedly among those arrested during protests in downtown St Louis as tensions flared over the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Eight protesters were arrested for “failure to disperse” on Monday after marching from the Kiener Plaza to the Wainwright building where Governor Jay Nixon has an office, St Louis police confirmed on Twitter.

Ms Epstein was pictured being led away in handcuffs during demonstrations against the National Guard’s presence on the streets where clashes between protesters and authorities have been the most severe.

Ms Epstein, a resident of St Louis, is a political activist and speaker widely known for her vocal support of the Free Gaza Movement.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was ninety,” Ms Epstein told The Nation as she was led away by police. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

Yes, the protests have spread to St. Louis proper now, and people are gathering in many other cities to show solidarity with Ferguson. Also arrested yesterday was Getty Images photojournalist Scott Olson, who is responsible for many of the most dramatic photos from Ferguson since the protests began.

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

But I want to return to the subject of racism and dishonesty in the Ferguson Police Department. I think most people who have been paying attention to this story will agree that the Ferguson cops cannot be trusted at this point. Some history, from Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Missouri Cops’ License to Kill.

The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is not the first time an officer supervised by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson has killed an unarmed man….

Back in 2000, two unarmed young men were shot and killed in a Jack in the Box parking lot in the suburban town of Berkeley adjacent to Ferguson by a pair of officers assigned to a county-wide drug task force where Jackson was deputy commander.

Early reports suggested that a vehicle occupied by Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley moved toward Officers Robert Piekutowski and Keith Kierzkowski, causing them to fear being pinned against another car.

Jackson, then a lieutenant with the St. Louis County Police, told reporters, “I am convinced that the officers were in fear of their lives, that they were in immediate danger.” ….

Subsequently, investigators decided that the car occupied by the two men had not in fact begun to move in their direction when the fatal shots were fired. The officers insisted they were in fear for their lives nonetheless, essentially arguing that the car was itself a deadly weapon pointed their way. That was enough for the shooting to be ruled justified under Missouri state law. The cops were not indicted.

Read more about it at the link. It’s high time Jackson was removed as Ferguson Police Chief.

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

And then there was the “other Michael Brown.” From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Michael Brown, 23, of Troy, Mo., who was shot and killed along with a friend in October 2005.

Authorities said that Lincoln County sheriff’s Deputy Nic Forler fired through the back window of a pickup, killing Brown and the driver, Tyler Teasley, 22. No one in the truck was armed.

Police said Forler tried to stop Teasley’s truck for speeding but was led on a short chase. When the truck finally stopped, Forler pulled behind it, got out of his patrol car and stood between the vehicles.

Witnesses said Teasley was “freaking out” because he had been drinking, there was alcohol in the car and several passengers were under 21. In his panic, they said, Teasley left the truck in neutral. As the truck rolled backward, Forler fired the fatal shots that struck both victims in the head.

Family and friends demonstrated regularly outside the sheriff’s office. Forler was dismissed from the force and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In a trial in 2007, moved to Boone County because of the controversy caused in Lincoln County, Forler testified that he believed Teasley was trying to run him over, and he feared for his life. The jury took only three hours to find Forler not guilty.

Read the Post-Dispatch article to learn about two more such incidents in Missouri.

Now let’s take a look at the case that Ferguson Chief Jackson has been building in order to blame Michael Brown for his own death. According to Jackson, Brown committed a “strong-arm robbery” at a gas station convenience store shortly before he was accosted by Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager. But did that really happen? I don’t think so.

A couple of days ago people from Ferguson began posting on Twitter that the owners of the store denied reporting any robbery. Then KSDK learned from the owners’ attorney that they never reported any robbery involving Michael Brown and that perhaps a customer had called 911. But did that even happen?

I can’t prove it, but I think what may have happened is that police took surveillance videos from a number of locations and just happened to find the video of Brown in buying cigars. A Ferguson resident on Twitter told me yesterday that the store owners are saying the Ferguson police didn’t pick up the store video until last Friday, not too long before Jackson gave his press conference. And the St. Louis News confirms the tweeter was right.

The owner[s] of the store dispute the claim that they or an employee called 911, saying a customer inside the store made the call.  They also say St. Louis County issues the warrants for the hard drive of surveillance video Friday.

When asked how Ferguson police ended up with the video that the Ferguson police chief issued Friday morning.  The attorney said during the course of Ferguson’s investigation they came to the store and asked to review the tape. But it wasn’t until Friday that St. Louis County investigators issued a warrant for the video many of you have already seen.

Therefore, there is no way that Darren Wilson could have known anything about the “robbery” or that Michael Brown was a suspect.

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

A couple of days ago, Joy Reid of The Grio and MSNBC posted on Twitter that the store video appeared to show that Brown had actually paid for the cigars he took from the store.

Then last night Crooks and Liars put up a detailed post about it, Ferguson Cops Busted? New Video Seems To Show Brown Paying For Cigarillos (Video), by John Prager. Crooks and Liars doesn’t allow copy and paste anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article, but Prager it looks like Brown buys some cigarillos, then tries to by more, but doesn’t have enough money and so replaces them. Brown did reach across the counter, and that may be why the clerk tried to confront him.

Here’s the video.

Will the Ferguson police get away with murder once again? I think it’s likely unless the DOJ finds that the shooting of Michael Brown is a Civil Rights case. U.S. News today posted an article quoting attorneys who have defended police shooters, Police Attorneys: Brown Head Wounds Not Fatal to Officer’s Defense.

Pathologists said they found a bullet wound at the apex of the 6-foot-4 Brown’s head and what appeared to be a bullet entry above his right eye that continued downward into his jaw and then shoulder. The wounds appear to show Brown was not standing upright at the time he was shot.

“Just because he was shot somewhere near the top of his head, I don’t think that’s indicative of anything at this point,” says New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler, who defended officers involved in the 2005 post-Hurricane Katrina shooting deaths of two people on the Danziger Bridge and another person outside a convention center.

“There are scenarios that I can envision where a police officer would be justified in using deadly force in that situation,” Hessler says of the Brown case. “It depends on what the individual was doing while he was shot.”

Several officers were convicted of crimes in the post-Katrina cases, but the bridge shooting verdicts were vacated and the case is not resolved.

Attorney James Culleton, who defended New York City police officers who shot and killed unarmed black men Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006, agrees with Hessler that the bullet trajectory isn’t necessarily game-changing.

“If the person is facing you, he’s charging at you, he could have put down his head,” Culleton says. “His head could have just slumped like he was falling forward. It doesn’t mean it’s devastating [evidence].”

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, it’s high time for Chief Jackson to be fired and for Darren Wilson to be arrested. This murderer is still receiving his salary!

civil-rights-museum-m

I’ll end with some recent headlines about Ferguson.

LA Times: Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson becomes an international incident.

Reuters: U.S. police come under gunfire, arrest 31 in Missouri racial unrest.

The Guardian: Ferguson: 31 arrested as huge show of force fails to quell unrest.

WaPo: Ferguson protesters: The peaceful, the elders, the looters, and the ‘militants’

NYT: Not Just Ferguson: National Guard Has a Long History With Civil Unrest.

Business Insider Australia: Police Captain Blames ‘A Lot’ Of The Press For ‘Glamorizing’ Ferguson Protests.

The Daily Mail: ‘He’s quiet and respectful’: Second friend of cop who shot dead Michael Brown comes to his defense as ‘more than a dozen people have backed up Ferguson officer’s story’.

WaPo: Holder headed to Ferguson on Wednesday, will oversee federal response to shooting.

Jonathan Capehart: Probe into Michael Brown shooting goes to pot.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.


56 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Ferguson Updates”

    • bostonboomer says:

      I saw one object thrown. Maybe it was a Molotov cocktail, maybe the was throwing back one of the slam bang flares the cops threw. Whatever. I still think the law enforcement reaction is way over the top. They have incited much of the violence with their behavior and their secrecy. They have even tear gassed people in braod daylight who were nothing more violent than holding signs and drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. That video is from the 14th, btw.

      I’ll go look at Zerlina’s feed.

      But what did you think of my post?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Zerlina Maxwell seems to agree with me that the “Molotov cocktail” meme is overblown.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yes. That’s why I sent you to her tweets. You were still in draft mode when I posted that comment so I am now just settling in to reading the entire post now since I fell back asleep before it posted! I think that the Molotov cocktails are coming from the anarchist groups that tend to pop up at these kinds of rallies and not the citizenry. We have them down here since we’re home to a nest of leftist anarchists. There’s not a lot of them–unlike the rightwing paramilitaries–but enough to create havoc. Their reason d’etre is to egg on the police. It’s dismaying to see the police mount a war zone over so few and stamp out the rights of a community in the process. I think you’re right. We’re seeing a full scale police riot,

          • bostonboomer says:

            Thanks Kat. Sorry for getting so defensive. Racism and injustice tend to get me really upset, as you can see.

          • dakinikat says:

            np. I was mostly asleep at the time but since you had brought up the topic I thought you might want to see all that discussion and the pic.

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The lastest revelations beg even more questions: for instance, if the store had been robbed why was this not reported to the police? If accurate, a crime surely did take place with a young man using his sizable body to intimidate a smaller man as shown on the video? Why did the store owner not report the theft?

    Second, why have we not heard more about the interior of the police car? Reports have stated that there was a scuffle between the police officer and Brown that produced a gunshot inside the car. Why have we not heard more about what was discovered one way or the other?

    That fact alone might offer some credence into the officer’s account since he may have justifiably felt threatened but so far nothing.

    At this stage I feel that the officer was “pissed off” at a loud mouth, arrogant kid who refused to obey his orders and let loose a barrage of gunfire to show who was boss.

    And the cover up began from there.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The store didn’t report the “theft,” because Brown paid for his cigars. Read the Crooks and Liars post for speculation on the interaction with the clerk. If the clerk was upset, why didn’t he call police? Brown was a regular customer and everyone there knew who he was. I don’t believe the cops knew about the incident until after Brown was dead.

      As for Darren Wilson’s story, think about it. Brown lived in a community where police regularly harassed and intimidated black youths–even a young woman reported being mistreated by Wilson. I posted the link a couple of days ago. Why would Brown do anything more than argue briefly with a cop? He knew what could happen. Witnesses said Wilson tried to pull Brown’s head into the car, and Brown struggled to get free. I can believe that.

      • bostonboomer says:

        As for the “scuffle inside the car,” the preliminary autopsy showed no signs of struggle on Brown’s body.

        • dakinikat says:

          The police chief said that the officer was treated at hospital for multiple injuries. I can’t wait to see the explanation for that!

          • bostonboomer says:

            Maybe he hit his face on the door when he tried to slam it into the two kids walking alongside?

          • NW Luna says:

            Multiple inconsequential scratches, if that. There was no evidence that Mike Brown had engaged in a scuffle, as several accounts have told us.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I think I’ll just be quiet for now, because I’m too angry to be able to comment calmly about these events. I said what I have to say in my post, and I’ll leave it there.

    I hope everyone has a great day!

    • RalphB says:

      Great post BB. I feel the same way, just too angry to keep up for awhile.

    • Fannie says:

      I need to speak to you, and need your feedback BB. We need your voice, because I can tell you there are lots women not speaking up. Including men. Let me give you an example, I have a brother living in St. Louis, he served three tours in Vietnam. Came home and settle in what he thought was a fairly cheap state to live in with taxes, etc. that being in St. Louis, 20 years ago. So I called him, asked him how he was doing, and asked about Ferguson. He point blank said the cops screwed up, and he didn’t want to talk about that situation, and hoped that those cops stay on their side of town, and not to come to his streets. He had nothing good to say about the police department, and all the military equipment they have.

      A day or so ago I said the stage has been set for some time. It’s not as though we didn’t think this would happen, because the problem of killing young blacks and police brutality have been with us for decades now. Going back to lynching, going back to 1960’s, and here in this 21st century, it’s been on the FRONT Lines for sometime. I mentioned earlier that Ferguson, like the rest of the cities, towns across this country, has not changed. Blacks, latinos, and women are for a large part not represented on the police forces, in government, and businesses in our country. What we are still dealing with is just how they have all the stats on people of color and women, but do nothing to solve that problem. As a matter of fact they are pushing back on blacks, latinos and women. Even as we are more visiable we seem to be less able to serve in positions of power to help bring that change. I said we were reduced to stats, and that it was psychological. You can better help us understand those psychological ROOTS, cause it is so embedded in our society to the point that you bring up about being “diseased”. Please respond.

      • Fannie says:

        I was watching CNN this morning, and Carol Costello had a segment on about why Pres. Obama should go to Ferguson. She brought up all kinds of reasons why/why not. And of course, he’s sending DOJ, Eric Holder to handle it, as he should. That is why we have that office. But here is what gets me pissed off. She goes on to say how Obama gave several great speeches on race relations before he was elected, and that he brought tears to everybody eyes. And how he, because of his blackness, his experiences, would lend more emotional support to those in Ferguson to clam down. Isn’t she a woman, a human being? Isn’t she a mother, a sister, an Aunt, a cousin, can’t she relate to a young son being gunned down in the streets? Why are people putting this off on the President, when it is those who have the camera and the microphone in front of them to make the changes and stand with other humans who are suffering, and who need to see CHANGE. What the hell is that all about, why do people do this? The other thing that getting to me, is how politicians, like Rand Paul and few others are using this situation, as though they want to keep the explosion alive for his own purpose of getting elected.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Sorry Fannie,

        I’m just so enraged about what’s happening in Missouri that I feel like yelling at people. I don’t know how to channel it. Usually writing about something helps me put it in perspective, but this thing is so awful there is just no way to make sense of it. It makes me sick that the cops have been running wild in Ferguson for more than a week now, and no one seems to want to deal with it. It just goes on.

        I don’t think Obama should go there, because it would just require a lot of security and take away attention from the real issues. I do think he could speak out more explicitly about racism, but he’s probably concerned that if he did, the wingnuts would make this all about him. As president, I think he has to be somewhat even-handed and to speak against the violence on both sides.

        It’s just that the power differential between the protesters and police is so great that no matter how many “molotov cocktails” they threw the cops could still crush them. I was so angry yesterday wne for some reason the cops said everyone had to keep moving every minute and never stand still. WTF?! That harks back to the days when loitering laws were used to throw black people and poor people into jail. The insensitivity of the media about the obvious racism is beyond belief.

        I really appreciate your saying you want to hear what I think. Thanks.

  3. RalphB says:

    Texas Observer: What the Pundits Don’t Get About the Rick Perry Indictment

    Judging from the reaction of national pundits and journalists, the verdict in the case of State of Texas vs. James Richard “Rick” Perry is already in: Rick Perry is not just innocent, he’s being railroaded by liberal Democrats in a vindictive, politically motivated prosecution. …

    National pundits are absurd idiots. In this story, people who know explain why the prosecution of Perry is worthwhile and has a good chance to succeed.

  4. Fannie says:

    BB has asked the most important question: How far have we really come since the days of civil rights movement? We are having this race explosion not because of some little thing, but a lot of big things, like killing children, like police brutality, and denying people their rights. When you see the police officer pacing back and forth, while the 18 year old is dying/dead, you must wonder why isn’t his fingers aren’t feeling for a pulse. Because he knows he killed him. Just like his fingers aren’t on the pulse, the police department, the government, etc. hasn’t really had their finger on the pulse, and it’s explosive. The police department was the first to bring out the military equipment because they saw blacks as being lawless. And they continue to treat them like a lawless mob. Which has gotten everybody pissed off.

    What I want to see is the community organizing to get Chief Thomas Jackson to step down. Remove him from office. Go picket the police department, I know they have zone laws that keep protestors away (like the Supreme Court does). They need to demand that Darren Wilson does not get paid while he is suspended. What are those laws that allow for a officer to
    receive pay, what are they codes in relation to military equipment, and when someone give out their opinion of guilt, or hints, or distorts the facts when they are giving out conferences with the community. Something is wrong with the codes. These are unfair practices from the police department. What does qualify for an officer being arrested?

    Racism is not a place, it’s a state of mind, very much like sexism.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Politicus: Obama Speaks Carefully So That He Doesn’t Prejudice The Federal Ferguson Investigation

      Because of the DoJ investigation, the president can’t publicly reveal his true feelings on the death of Michael Brown and the actions of the Ferguson Police. A fair and just process is one of the keys to restoring peace to Ferguson. A feeling of injustice is the driving force behind people taking to the streets. Stability and peace will return to the community when the residents believe that justice is being done.

      The local authorities have demonstrated that they have an agenda. They are actively trying to smear Michael Brown in order to justify the actions of their police department. This is a case that has to be handled by the federal government because officials in Ferguson have proven that they can’t be trusted. President Obama will someday be free to speak his mind, but that time is not now.

  5. dakinikat says:

    If the mayor and city council of Ferguson don’t fire that damned police chief for that damned “robbery” allegation they all should be thrown out of office. The most heartening thing I’ve seen all week is the voter registration tent by the murder scene. I hope that the community can get some better candidates and GOTV.

  6. dakinikat says:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/profits-at-high-wages-at-low-2014-8

    Why Does The Economy Stink? Because America’s Owners Are Greedier Now Than Ever Before

  7. dakinikat says:

    TBogg ‏@tbogg 3m
    For sake of accuracy “Anglo-American civilization” https://twitter.com/brassiest/status/501783178768809984 … Not like those dusky people civilizations
    Evan Avery Birch @brassiest
    HOLY. SHIT. RT @husanioakley: MO lieutenant gov on anglo-american civilization. Wut? https://vine.co/v/M329uLhv2QJ
    Expand

  8. dakinikat says:

    The Economist ‏@TheEconomist 20h
    Civilians are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country http://econ.st/1oZm2R6

  9. dakinikat says:

    Slate ‏@Slate 2m
    A planned 24-hour cease-fire extension after five days of calm has broken down in Gaza: http://slate.me/1oNLHNG

  10. bostonboomer says:
  11. Fannie says:

    Another fucking police shooting……….BB, you don’t ever have to say you are sorry. Right now, I got to get out of the house, and walk among the trees.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He was a 23-year-old black male. He yelled “Shoot me now!” Didn’t it occur to the officers he might be mentally ill? So they suicided him. Onlookers have begun chanting “Hand up; don’t shoot.”

      (Heard on MSNBC)

  12. dakinikat says:

    Jonathan Turley @JonathanTurley · 6h
    New Orleans Police Officer Turns Off Body Camera Minutes Before Shooting Suspect In Forehead http://wp.me/p6sYP-loF

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Five Children Murdered After They Were Deported Back To Honduras

    http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2014/08/19/3472301/five-children-killed-after-deportation-honduras/?elq=~~eloqua..type–emailfield..syntax–recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type–campaign..campaignid–0..fieldname–id

  14. dakinikat says:

    ACLU National ‏@ACLU 2m
    #SWAT injures baby during raid & won’t pay for med bills. End militarization of the police!
    https://www.aclu.org/secure/limit-abusive-use-swat?ms=web_140624_crimjustice_militarization … pic.twitter.com/1HhpxMttFC

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Paul Waldman at The American Prospect

    The Ferguson Police Department’s Top 10 Tips For Protester Relations

    1. If there’s any chance that there might be violence, it’s best to have your officers put on all the military gear they’ve got, including their body armor and camouflage outfits, because that’s totally badass. Being decked out like that won’t at all affect the way they think about their primary mission (to protect and serve the people of the community), and when protesters see it, they’ll know that the officers are trained professionals who take their jobs seriously.

    2. Park your armored personnel carriers in the middle of the street. That sight will let everyone know that you mean business, and won’t in any way contribute to an atmosphere of tension.

    3. When a protester approaches you with his hands up, it’s best to point your rifle in his face. Round here, we call it the “Ferguson howdyado.” It’s a friendly way of saying, “I respect your First Amendment rights, but I’m also thinking about killing you.”

    4. Don’t forget to position snipers with their guns trained on the crowd. That gives protesters a gentle reminder that remaining quiet and polite is the best way to avoid getting a high-velocity bullet through your skull, which, let’s face it, nobody really wants.

    Read the rest at the link.

  16. bostonboomer says:

    ISIS has beheaded US Journalist James Foley in Iraq. There’s a video, but I’m not watching it. They’re threatening to behead Steven Sotloff next.

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/isis-reportedly-beheads-u-s-journalist-james-wright-foley-on-camera/

  17. bostonboomer says:

    AP:

    MISSISSIPPI MAN SHOT AFTER CROSS BURNING IN YARD

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/miss-man-shot-2-weeks-after-cross-burning-yard

  18. bostonboomer says:

    Ferguson Hired Officer With History Of Allegedly Hitting Children

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/19/ferguson-eddie-boyd_n_5682454.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

  19. RalphB says:

    Fuck this, I would like to expatriate. Don’t know to where but out of here.