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1. Ferguson Police Quickly Blame The Dead.What happened before Brown was shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson is not fully known. Eyewitness Dorian Johnson told MSNBC that Brown was walking down the street when police drove up and demanded that Brown get into the vehicle and he ignored the order. St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar said Brown fought Wilson and reached for his gun, justifying the shooting. The police did not initially name the officer, although that detail came out a few days later.
Johnson told MSNBC a very different story. He said Wilson drove up in a police truck and aggressively went after the pair. He first demanded that they get on the sidewalk. When they kept on walking, Johnson said that Wilson nearly hit them with his truck, and then yelled and used the truck door to knock Brown down. Wilson then jumped out and grabbed Brown, who resisted being choked, Johnson said. When the pair started to flee, Wilson shot at Brown, who stopped and yelled he didn’t have a gun. Johnson said he saw Brown shot, while facing Wilson, and then collapsing onto the street.
2. Police Release Video Smearing Brown For Alleged Robbery.Before Ferguson police released Wilson’s identity, they released a video that allegedly showed Brown confronting a convenience store employee and taking a package of cigars. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told NBC’s Meet The Press that neither his office nor the state highway patrol team he deployed to take over local policing were informed beforehand. “Quite frankly, we disagree deeply,” Nixon said. “To attempt to, in essence, disparage the character of this victim in the middle of a process like this is not right. It’s just not right.”
3. Mainstream Media Makes The Video Bigger Than His Death. As the department surely knew, the release of the video would swamp most of the coverage, because any police investigation, whether by that department or outside agencies would take time. The police know the mainstream press will consider them to be an official source, because they are an arm of government, more so than a biased participant. However, as the DailyKos’ Barbara Morrill reported, the video’s release before police identified the shooter meant that much of the media coverage would focus on the robbery.
“Well, that didn’t take long,” she wrote. “Barely two hours after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson named the police officer who gunned down 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday, and the demonization of—you guessed it—Michael Brown is well underway.” She cited half a dozen headlines mixing the officer’s identity with the alleged robbery, and this tweet from @fivefifths: “We officially have more facts about a likely unrelated robbery of a single [pack of] Swisher [cigars] than we do about the execution of Mike Brown.”
4. Police Release Autopsy Detail Saying Brown Had Smoked Pot. The DailyKos’ Morrill concluded, “The victim has become the suspect.” That was before another leak further victimizing Brown—a preliminary autopsy report showing traces of marijuana in his blood. It hardly matters that many scientific studies have found that marijuana doesn’t increase violent behavior. This was more innuendo from police telegraphing that Brown was no angel. Right-wing media took the ball and ran with it. Fox News interviewed the medical examiner who conducted the initial autopsy, who speculated on the air that because of pot, Brown “may have been acting in a crazy way and may have done things to the police officer that normally he would not have done.”
5. Mainstream Media Doesn’t Question Source’s Motives. From a media criticism perspective, what’s incredible is not just that these narratives—the alleged burglary or pot smoking—are far less important than the fact that an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a police officer. The local police aren’t innocent bystanders. They are not a disinterested source. Neither is the local medical examiner who works with the police. But that conflict of interest does not stop certain outlets from quoting this law enforcement community to again smear Brown.
6. Next Smear: Ferguson Called Crime-Filled Community. As MediaMatters noted, “Right-wing media emphasized the supposed prevalence of ‘black-on-black’ violence in response to the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown... Such emphasis takes the crime statistics out of context in order to hype the racial aspect.” Actual crime statistics for Ferguson reveal it is both better and worse than national averages, depending on the crime. Nonetheless, commentators at the Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Fox News and elsewhere are calling it a bastion of bad behavior.
7. Public Defenders Say There’s Nothing New In Police Smears. Public defenders face off in court representing low-income clients against police and prosecutors. Miles Gerety, who recently retired after three decades as a Connecticut public defender specializing in death penalty cases, said he was “not surprised at all” about the Ferguson police. “It’s an unsophisticated albeit primative attempt to justify what seems unjustfiable: ‘The deceased was a bad person and thus deserved to die.’” Gerety also noted that these slurs and character assassinations would not be allowed in a courtrom trial, even though they are getting media play and shape public opinion.
“A crime is a crime. Just because your victim may have been a bad actor at some point, doesn’t make killing that person justifiable,” he said. “In a trial for murder, for instance, the fact that the victim may have committed a crime before being killed would be completely irrelevant unless the defendant knew of the conduct and it somehow related to a self-defense claim. It’s ironic that the Ferguson police resorted to this tactic of blaming the victim when you damn well know they’d blast any defense lawyer who resorted to the same tactic. I’ve found it doesn’t pay to malign the dead.”
The Big Picture: Unchecked Police Brutality
The unrest and protests following Brown’s killing have put the militarization of local police forces in the national spotlight, especially as police who look like soldiers are facing down protesters on Ferguson’s streets. But the most important issue that’s not getting widely discussed transcends the horrible specifics of Michael Brown’s death: the continuing trend of police officers shooting and killing black men, instead of using other tactics to deal with confrontations.
You've probably heard that yesterday afternoon, May 17, some 200 members of five biker gangs in Waco, Texas, had what one NBC News article quaintly describes as "a rumble" in a heavily populated mall.
Gang members were at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in the Central Texas Market Place mall for "a meeting" to "settle their differences," reports ABC News.
Waco police sergeant and spokesman Patrick Swanton didn't immediately name the gangs, the New York Times reports, because police were not "going to give them the privilege at this point of putting their names out there.”
Photographs of gang members arrested wore leather jackets emblazoned with "Bandidos," "Cossacks" and "Scimitars."
The lethal shootout began after rival gang members had a fist fight that exploded into the parking lot. Waco police told NBC News that gang members shot at one another and police. Other alleged gangsters stabbed one another with knives, kicked them, and beat them with clubs, chains and brass knuckles. Nine died, 18 were wounded and about 175 were arrested, mostly for participating in organized crime. No police officers or civilians were harmed. Here's more from the NBC article titled "Waco Shootout: Biker Brawl at Twin Peaks Leaves Nine Dead":
"It progressed very rapidly," Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said. Police — who had been expecting trouble from the gathering — were on the scene when fighting broke out, and they quickly called in reinforcements.
CBS News—which also refers to the deadly melee at a public retail establishment as "a rumble"—reports that "police were on heightened alert" because Twin Peaks hosts a Biker Night on Thursdays that draws rival gangs. According to CBS News, Swanson said police had "attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to cut that back, but to no avail.
After yesterday's deadly shootout Swanson told The New York Times that "there were so many rounds fired from bad-guy weapons" he was amazed that innocent civilians weren't hurt.
“In 34 years of law enforcement, this is the worst crime scene — the most violent crime scene — that I have ever been involved in," he added. "There are dead people still there. There is blood everywhere.”
Despite the horrific official description, photos widely circulated in the aftermath of the gang violence are curiously placid.
For instance, a CBS News photo set shows about 40 unhandcuffed gang members sitting on what appears to be a bench with one officer in front of them; about five unhandcuffed Cossacks standing by a wall; an empty paddy wagon; a row of bikes toppled with a line of unhandcuffed gang members facing police in the background; a police officer walking in the parking lot with his semiautomatic weapon pointed toward the ground; more Cossacks standing around with their hands free; more bikes, this time upright and parked; gang members sitting on the ground surrounded by bottles of water; and an officer in riot gear staring at a burgundy sedan.
As I'm sure you do, I have a few niggling questions about this deadly melee:
Why are police and media calling this a "meeting" rather than, say, "a partnership to 'take out' police officers"?
If police didn't project a hologram of James Dean on the mall wall; didn't find any Sharks, Jets or Outsiders on the scene and didn't apprehend Danny from "Grease," why are they calling this murderous scene "a rumble"?
Why has major media failed to mention the socioeconomic level or race of the bikers?
Did any of the alleged gangsters make eye contact with police?
Police were already on the scene because they suspected there would be trouble. Why weren't any unarmed civilians shot to death?
Police were prepared for five gangs worth of violence. Why weren't they all wearing riot gear?
Do the bikers' poor education, lack of employment and lack of rec center membership heighten their tendency toward violence?
Do the bikers lack education, jobs or rec center membership?
Were Ace Hood, Bobby Smurda, Y.G., Chief Keef, T.I. or 1992-era Snoop Dogg at the shootout in Waco?
Were the bikers playing the music of Ace Hood, Bobby Smurda, Y.G., Chief Keef, T.I. or 1992-era Snoop Dogg during the deadly fight?
Was the violence "senseless"?
Was the violence the result of generations of criminality glorified in bikers' culture?
Did the bikers grow up with fathers in their homes?
Are the bikers married to women and leading households?
Was anybody "unauthorized" or "illegal"?
Was anyone a terrorist?
Was anyone a thug?
Was anyone not white?
keep denying systemic racism even exist and don't want to hear how it affects people of color around the the word.
everything is still being swept under the rug.
we are expected to keep a smile on our faces as our children brothers fathers sisters mother are murdered and slandered for simply existing.