Monday, November 24, 2014

No indictment in the killing of Michael Brown (UPDATED)

Here's the WP story. I've just now heard nearly all of Robert McCulloch's statement to the press, and it was utterly unconvincing and downright infuriating. So what if the grand jury heard conflicting testimony about the position of Brown's hands? The guy was unarmed. If I were sitting in a car and I opened fire at an unarmed man coming toward me (at whatever speed), there's no way I could empty a gun into the guy's body and then claim self defense.

McCulloch kept speaking of "physical evidence," as if repeating that magical mantra could disguise the fact that none of the physical evidence he described justified what Officer Wilson did.

Everyone knows that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich if the D.A. really wants an indictment.

And then McCulloch had the audacity to say that his office would never take the grave step of charging someone with a crime unless the preponderance of physical evidence demanded it. I doubt that the black people of Ferguson would say the same.

We all know by now that the police department in that town has been run as a criminal enterprise for a long, long time. Ferguson makes money by profiling black people. The cops are running a major shakedown racket. What has McCulloch done about that?

When I lived in Los Angeles, much of my city burned after the Rodney King verdict -- a miscarriage of justice that, in retrospect, seems rather less outrageous than what happened in Ferguson.

On that night, I went into Simi Valley and decorated telephone poles with a cartoon of the jury in the Rodney King case, depicting them as Nazis and Klansmen. Got a death threat or two.

But what I did was nothing. Nothing. Others in my town took bolder action.

"No justice: No peace," they cried. Good slogan.

Now, I'm not saying that I approved of everything the insurrectionists did. They gutted the 99 Cent Stores. Why? The good stuff was elsewhere. As a friend from the UK told me that night: "Why don't they just go marching into Bel Air?"

Revolution is a terrible thing and should always be used as a last resort. But revolution is not the worst thing in the world. A stupid revolution is worse. As a wise man once said, the first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.

I think that I've made my feelings as clear as I dare.

Added note: Just now, I saw our president speak in calm and folksy tones while, on the other side of the split screen, gas bombs dispersed crowds in Ferguson. We're told that those projectiles were not tear gas, but people seemed to be running away rather rapidly nonetheless. Obama never looked more ineffectual. 

Update: I don't know how many fires have broken out in Ferguson. Television coverage conveys the impression that quite a few buildings are burning, but that impression is probably misleading. One thing is quite clear: There are no firefighters trying to put out those flames. Chris Hayes noted that fact just now on MSNBC.

MSNBC has been doing spectacularly good work in covering this story. All other television news coverage that I've seen has ranged from mediocre to lousy to lousier.

Update 2: Just now on CNN, I saw a particularly ditzy white news anchor decide that she had a right to speak on behalf of the people of Ferguson. She said that they must be angry at the small number of outside agitators who are causing all of the violence now raging.

I got news for you, lady: The agitator who is at fault in this situation is named McCulloch.

And I'm pretty sick of people who insist that the only permissible forms of protest are those forms which don't bring change and don't challenge power.

By the way: It seems clear that the cops must be preventing the fire trucks from getting near the burning buildings and cars.
I've never been so happy to hear someone finally stfu as I did when McCullough ended his hideous drone. That long list of irrelevant hearsay was beyond infuriating. I just drove home thru downtown and it's actions here so far. I'm sure there will be demonstrations. A lone helicopter with a spotlight circled downtown and police were out driving in great numbers...not even stopping a swerving speeding car. I guess they're under orders to give the revenue grubbing a pass while they hunt for unrest...
Sorry, Joseph, but if you were being charged by an unarmed man nearly twice your size who had already assaulted you you might very well be able to claim self-defense. Here's a case from your neck of the woods:

Note that Walker (unlike Wilson) sustained no injuries whatsoever, but was nevertheless acquitted (in a "duty to retreat" state, no less).

Now, I'm not saying that I approved of everything the insurrectionists did. They gutted the 99 Cent Stores.

So, gutting a 99 cent store was bad, but beating Reginald Denny half to death was okay? Nice set of priorities you have there, Joseph.

I will absolutely agree with you that there's every reason to think that corruption and racism are endemic in the Ferguson PD (and the city government, as well).

Frankly, that has absolutely nothing to do with whether the grand jury's decision was justified, although it has certainly factored into the reaction to it.

As for Obama's speech: what, exactly did you want him to say? I actually think he did a pretty good job - and I'm surprised he didn't mention himself once.

Clarification, Firefighers don't fight fires until a location is deemed secured.

Part of what enflamed this event is Mr. Brown's body was left out in the street for hours and one wonders if this was done to send a message, or was it done to make sure all evidence was properly documented.

I haven't followed the Brown death closely enough to have a solid opinion. However, It makes no sense for a community of primarily african american populace to have primarily caucasian police officers.

The assertion that witnesses had wildly different versions of what happened I take seriously and does damage the integrity of the accusations, assuming the assertion is true of course.

Other than the above observations, I stayed out of this one but do wish common sense prevails and the police department more racially reflects the people they are supposed to protect and serve.
in a full scale riot you don't send your firetrucks to ground zero where you will endanger the FF'ers lives and vehicles which may very well be needed to put out fires where people aren't mobbing the streets.

It's funny how Wilson's defenders play up Brown's size and play down Wilson's. Check out the photo of Darren Wilson at a wedding. He towers over the other men. I'm guessing at least 6'3", 270 lbs:
And I noticed that in Wilson's testimony to the grand jury, he claimed Brown was "reaching for his waistband" even as Brown was supposedly charging Wilson.
It makes no sense for a community of primarily african american populace to have primarily caucasian police officers.

Absolutely - and this is the biggest indicator that there are serious problems with institutional racism in Ferguson.

However, that has absolutely nothing to do with whether the grand jury's finding is correct.
Propertius, I've seen pictures of Wilson's "injuries" and I'm not buying that he feared for his life. Police are supposed to use their gun as a last resort. Wilson was the same hight as Brown (both are 6'4"), so hardly twice his size (though Brown was nearly 100 lbs heavier). Also, we have only hearsay that he was "charging" Wilson......basically only Wilson's assertion. Of course, I don't have all the facts the jury had, so there may be more. However, he emptied his clip into an unarmed man. How could that EVER be justified? Joseph is absolutely correct though that McCullogh is corrupt to the core. He has never indicted a police officer for a shooting death, ever. He also had a family member killed by a black man. I'm sure there's no bias there though, uh huh.
Multiculturalism has transparently failed and the US can no longer lecture Russia and China and call itself "indispensable" except maybe to Israel.

American anti-imperialists should support all groups of whatever ethnic/ economic derivation which are also anti-imperialist. The US must solve its own ethnic problems before inflicting its deracinated subculture on the world any longer.
Differing accounts of what happened huh?
That's USUALLY why they have trials.
At the time, the Ferguson police were clear in saying that there was no relationship between the so-called "strong arm robbery" and Wilson's stop of Brown. But in Wilson's Grand Jury testimony he claims to have explicitly identified Brown as the "strong arm" robber and called for backup. Apparently there are no official photographs of the scene because the police photographer's camera battery supposedly had run out, even as Brown was left in the street for some hours. As well, no measurements were taken at the scene because "it was already clear what had happened". The LA Times has run a piece extremely critical of McCullough's approach in context of normal Grand Jury proceedings. As these types of things seep in, this may yet be officially revisited much as the Rodney King case was.
I was in the middle of the L.A. riots in '92, when I was homeless, and now now I'm the middle of the St. Louis riots 22 years later, when I am settled.

In '92, I saw the televised beating of Rodney King and shared the general public's revulsion. Living one day at a time, I looted a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack of beer from a smoldering 7-11 on Santa Monica Blvd. Most of the other looters were local Hispanics who'd never heard of Rodney King.

The next day, on Hollywood Blvd., a carload of black teens screeched to a stop in front of the smoldering Frederick's of Hollywood lingerie store. One of them got out of the car, made a beeline toward my outstretched hand, and punched me in the mouth. As I cupped a bloody tooth in my hand, he returned to the car without saying a word.

A few weeks later, I returned to my hometown of St. Louis.

I am now a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I enter the danger zones of this city on a regular basis. Ferguson is not an especially dicey suburb. Most of the white residents are homeowners; most of the black residents live in subsidized apartments. They were displaced from the north side of St. Louis proper, which has been an empty shell since the auto and shoe industries left town.

Although many of my personal experiences with cops have been negative, I understand they have a tough job in a depressed town like this. I've been mugged at least a half dozen times by young black men, many of whom were armed.

When I read the initial reports that Michael Brown was a “gentle giant,” it set off my bullshit detector. My friends on the crime beat said that Brown was a suspect in a 2013 strong-arm robbery at a hardware store, where a bunch of black teens beat a white clerk with hammers.

When TV aired the video of Michael Brown roughing up an Indian convenience-store clerk, the apologists said it didn't justify Darren Wilson shooting him. Fair enough. But their story kept changing, and the apologies kept piling up. Yes, Michael Brown robbed a store. Yes, he was high. Yes, all the autopsies showed that he tussled with Wilson's gun at close range. But hey, none of that means he deserved to get shot.

Like I said, I'm no fan of cops. But sometimes they are right. If you grab a cop's gun, all bets are off.

When the wounded Brown tried to make a getaway, he didn't obey the reasonable order to freeze. And the number of witnesses—black witnesses—who say Brown actively charged at Wilson is more than the number who say the gentle giant raised his hands to surrender.

MSNBC and the rightly aggrieved black community bet heavily on the wrong horse. If they want to protest against police brutality, I applaud them. There was a good example just a few hours after the Brown shooting, when St. Louis cops killed a psychotic man who was wielding a knife. There's no reason why the cops couldn't tase or out-run that man. If the protesters were rallying behind that cause, I'd be with them on the streets right now.

Instead, Brown's emotional family and friends, as well as outsiders like Al Sharpton and the Revolutionary Communist Party (whose white agitators are very visible with their signage), are steering the discussion away from the evidence. They want to make Mike Brown a poster boy for systemic oppression. He's not. And the white power structure is not cheering while Ferguson burns to the ground.

I live 10 miles from Ferguson. While the businesses burned there, fire trucks in my town and other suburbs were screaming toward the blazes. There were at least 20 major fires. Many of the fires, like the one at the car dealership, were in areas that couldn't be reached because protestors were blocking the streets—and looters with guns were shooting at the fire trucks.

I await the same revolution as you. But I'm from the Show-Me State, which means I don't join a line until I see the evidence.
@Anon 5.41am - "In a full scale riot you don't send your firetrucks to ground zero where you will endanger the FF'ers lives and vehicles which may very well be needed to put out fires where people aren't mobbing the streets."

And where 'you' risk having the firefighters refuse to take sides in the social conflict which has erupted - refuse to take the side of the police, of those whom the police are protecting, of those whose property and order the police are defending. Worse, you may even 'risk' the firefighters going over to the side of the uprising.

I've seen firefighters in fire engines surrounded by rioters, content just to wait while expensive buildings burn, not agitated, not under attack.

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