Ongoing in Ferguson

Recently, in Ferguson, Missouri (in case you’ve missed it):

– Ferguson Chief of Police Thomas Jackson called a press conference Friday morning to release the name of the officer who killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Jackson used the opportunity to release a video and a 19-page report about a convenience store robbery the morning of the shooting, before naming officer Darren Wilson as the killer. It was only admitted in a separate press conference later that afternoon that Wilson hadn’t actually known that Brown was a robbery suspect when he stopped him and that, in fact, he stopped Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson for walking in the street. Jackson released the robbery information that the media had no way of knowing to ask for because, he said, the media asked for it. Jackson did not say whether or not he initially implied a connection between the robbery and the shooting to impugn Brown’s character and distract the public from the fact that Wilson shot an unarmed teenager “more than a couple” of times for the crime of Not Getting on the Fucking Sidewalk When Instructed.

– Later reports said that Wilson didn’t originally know that Brown was a robbery suspect, but then he thought he might have seen cigars in Brown’s hand, and that’s why he stopped him. Further updates as new stories are generated.

– Stealing a box of Swisher Sweets from a convenience store is not, in the U.S., at the time of this writing, punishable by death.

– Neither is being a person who stole a box of Swisher Sweets, rather than a cartoon angel who walks around accompanied by a flock of flower-strewing songbirds.

– Even if he has marijuana in his system.

– As protests kick back into high volatility in the wake of the release of the convenience store video, looting resumed Friday night. The police were, at this point, basically unable to intervene because they’d so thoroughly screwed up any ability to interact peacefully with the public, so protesters were obliged to line up to protect local stores from looting. Major media has largely managed to miss reporting on that part.

– On Saturday, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson, now in charge of security in Ferguson, announced a curfew from midnight to 5:00 a.m. The curfew, he said, would not be enforced with teargas or trucks.

– Sunday night, officers used teargas to push back protesters who remained on the streets three hours before the midnight curfew. Johnson said the teargas was in response to several Molotov cocktails. An eight-year-old boy was among those hit by gas canisters.

Amnesty International is on the ground in Ferguson in their first-ever action on U.S. soil.

– The governor of Missouri is sending in the National Guard to restore order, because a bunch of guys in camo with military-grade equipment has been so helpful so far.

The people of Ferguson are cleaning up their town.

– As of this writing, Darren Wilson has not been taken into custody.

Also, people have things to say:

The Root’s Diamond Sharp has curated a number of striking quotes and comments about Michael Brown’s death and everything that has happened in Ferguson since, including this one from Roxane Gay.

I don’t care if Mike Brown was going to college soon. This should not matter. We should not have to prove Mike Brown was worthy of living. We should not have to account for the ways in which he is suitably respectable. We should not have to prove that his body did not deserve to be riddled with bullets. His community should not have to silence their anger so they won’t be accused of rioting, so they won’t become targets too.

Trudy at Gradient Lair:

State violence occurring here does not have to mirror any other place to be real when this violence has centuries of history in the U.S. and when Black people are dying right now. Not metaphorically. Really dying right now.

And follow Zerlina Maxwell, Antonio French, Wesley Lowery, Imani Gandy, Sydette, and Brittney Cooper (among many others) for commentary, links, and on-the-ground news.


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38 Responses to Ongoing in Ferguson

  1. pheenobarbidoll says:

    I’m just wondering if there ever was a time when the cops were actually our friends. Because that’s never been true in my world.

    • Ally S says:

      Same here. I hate all cops, even the “nice” ones.

    • Niall says:

      I suppose there was a time (long ago) when I believed they were there to help and could be trusted. Not anymore. At best they’re useless, at worst they’re dangerous. Not good for much these days except harassing and intimidating people; especially non-privileged people. That plus eating on the job, writing speeding tickets and bullying people for not wearing their seat belts. If they all disappeared off the face of the earth tomorrow, I wouldn’t feel any less safe. In fact, I’d probably feel a hell of a lot safer.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        The people expressing shock over it are just getting on my nerves. The police and the government are capable of turning on the people on a dime, and don’t actually have a problem killing citizens. They always have been.

      • Echo Zen says:

        Anyone shocked about youth of colour being gunned down must not have heard of Trayvon Martin. Or paid any damn attention to the real world, for that matter.

      • EndlessError says:

        There is the rally against police brutality in response to Eric Garner ‘ s murder on Saturday 8/23 Staten Island 12pm victory Blvd and bay st.

      • EndlessError says:

        Sorry, that was supposed to be in response to PrettyAmiable below. My phone is glitching.

    • BeeGee says:

      This is pretty interesting to look at compared to current behavior of Police in the USA.
      http://kottke.org/14/08/policing-by-consent

  2. PrettyAmiable says:

    Further updates as new stories are generated.

    This entire update is much appreciated and spot on, but that line for me sums up this entire situation.

    I hate to ask this, but does anyone know of any organizing happening in the NYC area? I honestly have no clue what outlet I should plug into for that kind of information. I always find out about rallies that I’d like to attend after they happen.

  3. Echo Zen says:

    I’m thankful for social networks like Twitter being most popular amongst people of colour, communities that traditionally haven’t had access to the tools to control their own messages. Twitter is the biggest reason we’re getting images of injustices in Ferguson that haven’t been butchered by traditional media outlets to fit their own racist narratives.

  4. Fat Steve says:

    I hate the way the expression ‘black on black crime’ has weaseled it’s way into this debate, as in, white pundits saying that’s the major cause of violence against young black men, as if it bore any relevance on the rights or wrongs of this case, simultaneously missing the point that the bottom line is a corollary to this point is the fact that young black men in America are the victims of violence in a larger percentage per capita than any other demographic group in the US.

    Meanwhile white people ponder why ‘black on black crime’ makes up such a percentage of violence against young black men. The unscrupulous people in these communities (there are unscrupulous people in all communities,) are constantly reminded by incidents like this, that the life of a young black man is not considered a priority of law enforcement.

    • Colin says:

      The ‘black-on-black’ crime thing could just be that given the USA’s high level of racial segregation, the average working-class black person doesn’t have a whole lot of white neighbours who might commit crimes against them. It doesn’t mean that black person would be any safer if they moved to a predominately white neighbourhood.

      • Fat Steve says:

        The ‘black-on-black’ crime thing could just be that given the USA’s high level of racial segregation, the average working-class black person doesn’t have a whole lot of white neighbours who might commit crimes against them. It doesn’t mean that black person would be any safer if they moved to a predominately white neighbourhood.

        A white shooter of a black victim is 10 times more likely to have his or her homicide ruled justified compared to the homicide of a black shooter on a white victim.

      • Angel H. says:

        The ‘black-on-black’ crime thing could just be that given the USA’s high level of racial segregation, the average working-class black person doesn’t have a whole lot of white neighbours who might commit crimes against them.

        smh…-_-;

  5. whistlewren says:

    Thanks for the round-up Caperton. This just makes me so sad. We just keep seeing these stories over and over again. The ease with which rhetoric and stereotypes are taken up by the general public is so unbelievably frustrating. Releasing information about the robbery was a cheap trick. It it completely irrelevant and so offensive to Michael Brown’s family. It’s bad enough they have lost their son, let alone to have lost him in this manner and then see him slandered in an effort to distract the public from what is really going on.

    Watching video footage of the protests, the members of the community are acting with such restraint and dignity, while clearly holding huge reservoirs of grief and anger. I am so fucking mad that these people can act so honourably and be portrayed as out-of-control violent rioters.

    • Niall says:

      Watching video footage of the protests, the members of the community are acting with such restraint and dignity, while clearly holding huge reservoirs of grief and anger.

      I remember watching footage of the LA riots following the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King back in 92. We were talking about how the LAPD was totally absent, that they were to scared to go in there. And someone said while that was probably true, the real reason the cops were nowhere to be seen is because they had been sent out to protect places like Beverley Hills and other wealthy neighbourhoods.

      Well at least they lived up to their motto of “to serve and protect.” for once. /snark.

  6. TomSims says:

    This whole affair reminds me of the 60’s starting with the Watts’ riots from 1965. I would hope that the white police officer who did the shooting be given life without parole. I would hope the white police chief be fired and sent to jail for 25 years to life for obstruction of justice and since Ferguson is almost 70% black, it should have a black police chief and 70% of it’s police officers need to be black. And finally at least 70% of business’s should be black owned.

    This is all pie in the sky and wishful thinking on my part, but it is nice to dream sometime.

    • Angel H. says:

      The answer isn’t a quota system because the problem goes deeper than that. (Besides, one of the defenses against more diversity in media is that the majority population in the US in white.) Using the population is a good starting point in identifying that there is a problem, but what they need to do is look at their organization and figure out why POCs aren’t filling those positions. Are POC applying for those positions? If not, what does the organization need to do in order to attract more POC applicants? If they are applying, why are they being turned away?

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Angel- it wouldn’t shock me to discover that poc applicants don’t make it through vetting because they actually want to help, as opposed to oppress the shit out of people with violence.

        But honestly, this country was founded on gleeful genocide and built by slavery, what did people think it would grow into? It began as a monster. It’s never going to be anything else.

      • Asia says:

        “But honestly, this country was founded on gleeful genocide and built by slavery, what did people think it would grow into?”

        There is nothing more american than death of unarmed citizens.

    • Niall says:

      I doubt it would make that much difference. While I think it is a good idea that the racial make up of a police force in any given area reflects the racial demographics of the community in which they “serve”, the reality of internalized racism among officers of colour makes just a tad skeptical.

      • pheenobarbidoll says:

        Racial diversity doesn’t matter when law enforcement officers have no respect for human beings to begin with, and go into the field because it gives them power over everyone. A racially diverse club of psychopaths with power isn’t a problem solver. Both Black and white cops are shooting tear gas into crowds with kids.

      • TimmyTwinkles says:

        Agreed, and the State Police Captain carrying all the water for the police establishment

      • Sharon M says:

        Racial diversity doesn’t matter when law enforcement officers have no respect for human beings to begin with, and go into the field because it gives them power over everyone. A racially diverse club of psychopaths with power isn’t a problem solver. Both Black and white cops are shooting tear gas into crowds with kids.

        I was just gonna say that. I can’t remember where I read it, but there was black St.Louis County cop who allegedly has a terrible record of brutality.

        If you want to join law enforcement b/c you can carry a gun and badge? You don’t belong in law enforcement.

        I’ve been following Radley Balko on Twitter, and he’s one of the few white authors pointing out the same stuff many POC have been saying about Ferguson and law enforcement systemic racism.
        He wrote Rise of the Warrior Cop,

    • Ally S says:

      The whiteness of law enforcement certainly does indicate a concentration of white supremacy. But a balanced representation of POC and white people isn’t going to help dismantle white supremacy. Even if the police in this country consisted entirely of POC, the same brutality committed by the police against POC would continue, and perhaps even further obscure the white supremacist power dynamics under the guise of egalitarian legal reform. Law enforcement in the US is an inherent feature of white supremacy, among other systems of power.

  7. Radfem says:

    Oh the communities are usually the ones with restraint. As for the white anarchists who crash and co-opt protests b/c their race and class make them feel entitled to do so, I wish they’d loot, vandalize and fight with police in their own neighborhoods. When protesting stops and the hard work begins, they’re often long gone but often times the communities become even more militarized by police because of the violence they caused (and then later post on YT as being some sort of victory for their own cause whatever it is).

    • gratuitous_violet says:

      During the Oscar Grant protests in January 2009, we actually started “black bloc guards,” groups of activists who volunteered to try and stop asshole white anarchist kids from UC Santa Cruz from breaking shit in downtown Oakland after a few of them flipped over a fucking police car. Exactly like you say, once the protesting was over and community organizing began, they were long gone. They were oh-so helpful.

    • April says:

      Funny, I hear a lot of my anarchist friends in Ferguson lamenting about the [ableist term redacted ~ mods] white liberal pacifists going into Ferguson pretending that prayer and making nice with the police will actually make some sort of meaningful change. Meanwhile, they’re out there working with the community and actually trying to get shit done and be in solidarity with the black community as much as they can.

      Generalizing is stupid.

  8. Clytemnestra's Sister says:

    – Stealing a box of Swisher Sweets from a convenience store is not, in the U.S., at the time of this writing, punishable by death.

    I still cannot believe that I have to keep telling this to people, over and over and over.

    I still cannot believe that I have to tell people that it does not matter whether or not the guy was black and the cop was white (it does, but bear with me), that it does not matter if the victim was a nice person or not (being an asshole is not illegal), and it does not matter who called 911 or when or if even 911 was called. Petty theft is not an execution-level offence. Petty theft is not an execution-level offence in which punishment will be given without even having time to know the person’s name, let alone whether or not they were innocent.

    This should not be a hard concept, and yet it seems to be more difficult to grasp than outrunning Secretariat at a mile!

  9. whistlewren says:

    The gofundme set up for Officer Wilson is currently at around $200k, and the facebook page I Support Officer Wilson has 60, 000 supporters.

    What the everloving fuck.

    • Sharon M says:

      Shaun King is organizing a boycott Gofundme. Spread the word.
      And yes, I know, my fucking stomach twisted when I saw that.
      Just ignore it, boycott, boycott, boycott

      Also, look at it this way: when Micheal Browns parents sue Darren Willson, and win, they may be getting that money.

  10. Niall says:

    Damn.

    Screwed up the link tags. The last paragraph was supposed to be plain text.

  11. AMM says:

    I’m thinking of the people in my county who were killed by the police, apparently unnecessarily (all black, FWIW.)

    One common thread in the situations I’m thinking was that the cops said they felt threatened — but in each case, the cops also came in aggressively. In one case (Kenneth Chamberlain), the cops were responding to a medical alert (from some device in his apartment), and when he told them he didn’t need them and they should go away, they broke down the door. From what I’ve seen, cops in our area (NYPD in particular) seem to feel it’s their job to intimidate people into obedience. Need I say that that’s a good way to make a dicey situation worse?

    One would (naively) think that since the cops are responsible for keeping the peace, they would be the ones who are trained in conflict resolution and keeping the peace, but in reality, it’s the other way around: it’s the civilians who don’t want to be arrested, beaten, or killed who have to be the experts on conflict resolution and managing the cops’ emotions.

    • TimmyTwinkles says:

      The police need to feel pain. In Ferguson and nationally, they should get exactly what they dish out.

      • AMM says:

        I don’t agree. An eye for an eye means everyone gets blinded. If they get hurt, it will simply confirm their world-view that non-cops are the enemy.

        One thing that would help would be making non-violent and non-escalating strategies for dealing with situations a major part of police training. I get the impression that they are mostly trained in procedures (paperwork) and taking down perps. They have no training in how to deal with, say, mentally disturbed people, people with disabilities, or simply people who are reacting to stress. I was always worried that my aspie son, who kept getting in trouble with authoritarian school officials because he simply didn’t grok authority, would encounter a policeman and get arrested or killed because he wouldn’t know the required submissive behavior (or maybe not know that it was required.)

        The Kenneth Chambers case in particular seems to be a case where the cop simply didn’t know how else to respond. And in situations where you don’t have days to brainstorm things, you tend to either do something stupid or fall back on training. In this case, he responded to a report of an alert from a medical device the same way he would if he’d been going after a dangerous perp or stopping a violent crime — bust down the door, subdue everybody in sight by whatever means necessary. That as far as anyone knew (including the cop) no crime or perp was involved and his job was to check on a possible medical emergency didn’t matter, because he had no training in how to handle a situation like that.

        I’d thought that police in NY had learned from Attica, but evidently it hasn’t affected their training.

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