From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin -- and now Mike Brown
November 24, 2014 8:33 PM   Subscribe

59 years after an all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted Emmett Till's murderers, a majority-white grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the man who killed Mike Brown.

FiveThirtyEight analyzes grand jury indictments, citing experts who say, "If the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong." That is, unless the case involves a police shooting.

This case brings back echoes of Trayvon Martin's murder two years ago in Florida: "The point is that justice was always going to elude Trayvon Martin, not because the system failed, but because it worked. Martin died and Zimmerman walked because our entire political and legal foundations were built on an ideology of settler colonialism -- an ideology in which the protection of white property rights was always sacrosanct; predators and threats to those privileges were almost always black, brown, and red; and where the very purpose of police power was to discipline, monitor, and contain populations rendered a threat to white property and privilege."

Less than an hour after the decision, President Obama addressed the nation, saying:
"We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades. I have witnessed that in my own life, and to deny that progress, I think is to deny America's capacity for change. But what is also true is that there are still problems — and communities of color aren't just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in a discriminatory fashion."
NPR has a timeline of events in Ferguson.

And in case you have room for radical poetry in what might be a difficult night, I leave you with some Lorna Dee Cervantes: "These bullets bury deeper than logic. / Racism is not intellectual. / I can not reason these scars away."
posted by Ragini (1889 comments total) 132 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just have to say, it was a damned strange grand jury.

A prosecutor who wants to prosecute doesn't just present a case to a grand jury. S/he seeks an indictment from a grand jury. And, since they don't have to present the defense side of the case, unless they're a fool, they get it. Because what a grand jury is supposed to decide is just whether or not there's enough evidence to send it on to real trial.

A prosecutor who presents both sides of the case and leaves it to the grand jury to argue it out is a prosecutor who doesn't want to try the case, but wants cover for not doing so.
posted by tyllwin at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [256 favorites]


So, that ham sandwich that you can indict. Let's talk about that.
posted by ryoshu at 8:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” ― Zora Neale Hurston
posted by mynameisluka at 8:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [110 favorites]


From what I hear, the jury was 9:3 white to black, and nine votes was the minimum to either indict or not.

That's some talented voir dire right there.
posted by fifthrider at 8:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [46 favorites]


Well, shit.
posted by zardoz at 8:37 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2014


I no longer wonder why things burn. I wonder why they're not burnt every day.
posted by phearlez at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [170 favorites]


America is capable of such ugliness, at times.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Obama's statement was pathetic.
posted by rhizome at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2014 [24 favorites]


I have a Twitter list of activists and reporters on the ground in Ferguson. As you can imagine, it's pretty active right now.
posted by desjardins at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2014 [17 favorites]


You'd never have known from MuCulloch's press conference that the indictment was allegedly sought against Wilson, rather than Micheal Brown.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:41 PM on November 24, 2014 [78 favorites]


Talking to all my black friends and pretty much nothing is and should be a surprise here. We never expected Officer Darren Wilson to be indicted. The fact that the lives of us black people in this country doesn't mean much should not come as any real surprise to anyone who even pays a little attention. What I'm really interested in is seeing whether this galvanizes this generation of black kids. I really hope they wake up from the delusional haze of all tht MLK I have a dream stuff and smell the fresh coffee of reality, this is but a small taste of what it's like to be 3/5th. Get used to it.
posted by RedShrek at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2014 [44 favorites]


Photo from Reuters, like the villains in a holiday movie.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


The Langston Hughes Twitter feed tonight is... well. It's relevant.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I am so very sad right now.
posted by dry white toast at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'd like to slightly revise the comment I posted after the first Michael Dunn verdict last year:

Really, I think it's getting to the point where a white person cop could murder a black person onstage during the Superbowl halftime show and be acquitted not charged with any crime.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2014


It makes me so fucking mad that they waited until nightfall to make this announcement. They knew exactly what they were doing, and exactly what a group of angry, angry teenagers would do. This is more than just a failure of policing, this is active PR to support that bullshit non-indictment.
posted by codacorolla at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2014 [186 favorites]


@desjardins

Great collection. Thanks!
posted by RedShrek at 8:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plus, most people would be watching Dancing with the Stars instead of the news.
posted by desjardins at 8:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not to mention the "preemptive state of emergency." It's disgraceful.
posted by mynameisluka at 8:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [18 favorites]


And right before Thanksgiving to boot.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


In Defense of the Ferguson Riots:

From the Boston Tea Party to Shays’ Rebellion, riots made America, for better or worse. In the past, white rioters have had access to institutional power, which allowed some of their grievances to be legitimized and politically resolved ... The key for the Ferguson uprising, as with any unsustainable political moment, is to transition outrage and disruption into constructive political organization. Easier said than done — but it’s a better reaction than dismissing the riots and only making it more difficult for the people to accomplish this herculean task.

Malcolm X reminds us that media is a key instrument of subjugation because it determines which acts are respectable and which are extreme and thus illegitimate. Instead of following that familiar script, let’s push back against narratives about rioters being devoid of politics. Let’s find ways to honestly observe and discuss their political needs, rather than simply criticize the nature of their response to social violence.

posted by airing nerdy laundry at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [22 favorites]


Poetry via Twitter: "I never saw his futurefall. / But I have known this Boy." - Gwendolyn Brooks
posted by nicebookrack at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


You don't have voir dire for a grand jury, only a petit jury.
posted by raysmj at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


If you have a strong stomach, start digging into the GJ documents. For instance, this was found by Jennifer Pagliaro of the Toronto Star. "Just 30 pages into #Ferguson grand jury testimony, the first witness, a medical legal examiner, on doing their job: "

It's a screen cap. Just go look.
posted by maudlin at 8:47 PM on November 24, 2014 [40 favorites]


Predictably, soon after this announcement the cops started teargassing the protestors in Ferguson. On Twitter, they flat out lied and claimed they were just smoke bombs, despite there being live streams and hordes of reporters going on record in real time that it was tear gas.

Motherfuckers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [61 favorites]


Why It's Impossible To Indict A Cop - from The Nation, a look at how the laws work to favor police.
posted by mediareport at 8:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


It makes me so fucking mad that they waited until nightfall to make this announcement. They knew exactly what they were doing, and exactly what a group of angry, angry teenagers would do. This is more than just a failure of policing, this is active PR to support that bullshit non-indictment.

You can tell what the official PR message is by the timing and who wanted the cameras in place ahead of time. "They're all thugs anyway, see?"
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [11 favorites]




Probably one of the best things any well-educated person who is not directly involved with protests can do here is to read through the grand jury documents themselves, and look for shenanigans. I'm on page 35 or so.
posted by zug at 8:49 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Somebody shot somebody." Another dead black dude, everybody can go home early.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Photo from Reuters, like the villains in a holiday movie.

There're several angles of another photo making the rounds of a man standing alone in front of a several police vehicles.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments removed, let's maybe try to not go straight into an argument here.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


That press conference was explicitly designed to provoke a riot. That was the most egregious thing I've ever seen.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [36 favorites]


Why was this decision announced at 9:00 PM rather than 9:00 AM or 4:00 PM or noon? The time was apparently chosen by the prosecutor. He should be charged with inciting a riot, because that is what he has done.
posted by alms at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [137 favorites]


I can't imagine how black Americans feel right now. I can't. What are you supposed to do when you're so overwhelmed and angry and heartsick that all you can do is scream and cry? I'm lucky; I can turn the TV off.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [33 favorites]


This NBC story from August about McCulloch's family ties to the police turned up on my twitter feed.
posted by immlass at 8:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


FAA has instituted a no-fly zone over Ferguson.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


A wider angle of the photo.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Whoever runs the Library of Aleph Twitter account is normally content doing infrequent posts of the titles of interesting images from the Library of Congress' collection.

Tonight that account is on fire:
  • [Unidentified male African American homicide victim, Mineola, N.Y.]
  • [Martin Luther King, Jr., pulls up cross that was burned on lawn of his home, as his son stands next to him, Atlanta, Georgia]
  • Mamie Bradley (mother of Emmett Till) meeting Till's casket in Chicago
  • and many more
posted by metaquarry at 8:54 PM on November 24, 2014 [58 favorites]


Goddamnit. I knew this was coming but I'm still shocked. Fuck.
posted by rtha at 8:54 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


A wider angle of the photo.

Our Tiananmen Square, perhaps.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:55 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I am so sad right now.
posted by agregoli at 8:56 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


This case was decided by some of the public before the vast majority of the evidence was made public.
posted by jsonic at 8:56 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


About a half hour ago, a dozen police cars screamed east on 125th Street, and a chopper is hovering nearby. I have to wonder what's going on in Harlem tonight.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


This case was decided by the police before Michael Brown's body went cold.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [112 favorites]


Between this shit and their ongoing anti-drone nonsense it is hard to see the FAA as anything but a willing tool of hiding truth from the citizenry. I'm not sure how you effectively deal with it. Those chopper pilots need their licenses to make their living, so violating the order to gather news potentially puts them out of work while they fight a probably ineffective battle against an administrative process.
posted by phearlez at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


.


#blacklivesmatter is the hashtag I'm seeing going around Facebook. No one should have to die for being black, for stealing petty items, for being a black child in America.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


American apartheid.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:58 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


Clearly, the big issue here is how people rush to judgment, not the killing of an armed black teen by the state.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:58 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


What are you supposed to do when you're so overwhelmed and angry and heartsick that all you can do is scream and cry?

You scream and cry and rage, and then you fight. You organize. You seek solidarity. You commit your time and energy and money. You do the work, because no one else will.

But that is only my answer, and I am also not black.

I also ask that people ignore and disengage with incendiary comments, at least for tonight, but I know that that is not my call to make. Once you make a post, set it free, etc.
posted by Ragini at 8:59 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Government officials can either start seriously dealing with our deep-seated institutional and cultural racism or they can continue to stand by while that racism destroys lives.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:59 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I burst into tears when it was announced, which surprised both me and my kids. I guess some part of me was still hopeful.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [17 favorites]


Government officials can either start seriously dealing with our deep-seated institutional and cultural racism or they can continue to stand by while that racism destroys lives.

They are going with option 3: Actively support and perpetuate the racism.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [24 favorites]


This isn't justice.
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


Clearly, the big issue here is how people rush to judgment, not the killing of an armed black teen by the state.

Determining what actually happened is actually a big issue. Rushing to judgement without the facts is detrimental to accomplishing this.
posted by jsonic at 9:01 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


After Ferguson
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:01 PM on November 24, 2014


No justice, no peace, no words.
posted by chicainthecity at 9:03 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Darren Wilson: Mike Brown "looked like a demon".
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:03 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


ACAB. FIght back.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:03 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


ugh.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:04 PM on November 24, 2014


Rushing to judgement without the facts is detrimental to accomplishing this.

The difficulty here is that there is no way to find "the facts" or trust "the facts" in a racist system. This is a point I have had a very hard time getting across to the "wait and see" crowd. When we wait, we tend to see only one thing. That's because from the very moment this system grinds into motion with every new investigation, its structures, traditions, methods, and messages reproduce oppressive outcomes.
posted by Miko at 9:04 PM on November 24, 2014 [138 favorites]


Yet another failure of the american justice system. It is a farce and every time I think it can't get worse, it does. I am beyond disappointed. This happens over and over and over again. This should have gone to trial. Why do the police have zero accountability? Why do we let this happen again and again? This has become so common place that we expect a cop to be immediately exonerated. I want to scream.

Even IF the shooting was justified, the way that this was handled and all of the back peddling and lies negates any semblance of an attempt to get at the truth. I feel ill.
posted by futz at 9:04 PM on November 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


If only we had a system by which evidence about an incident could be weighed and presented by parties involved in order to arrive at a reasonably informed conclusion about what happened and the culpabilities involved.

Oh right, it's that thing that they decided not to go with tonight.
posted by Phire at 9:05 PM on November 24, 2014 [62 favorites]




When I turned on the TV to watch the (impotent, unsatisfying) Obama speech, this performance was playing on Classic Arts Showcase. Not a mistake, I'd reckon.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:06 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems absolutely crazy that this would get a pass from grand jury. Grand Juries hear one side: the prosecution's. They exist to weed out completely meritless cases in which the prosecutor can't even produce enough evidence to convince the jury that there could be a case. I have no idea how this didn't meet that standard.
posted by the jam at 9:07 PM on November 24, 2014 [16 favorites]


The rarity of not indicting, visualized.

0.00603% of times.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:07 PM on November 24, 2014 [35 favorites]


It doesn't even matter* anymore whether Darren Wilson murdered Mike Brown; the official handling of the case and everything around it afterward have been such blatant closing-ranks fear-mongering racist bullshit that it deserves to provoke rioting in its own right.

Did France need to prove Alfred Dreyfus was a spy or not for the Dreyfus Affair to still be important in exposing racist bullshit?


*except for the part where IT FUCKING MATTERS
posted by nicebookrack at 9:07 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


I don't even live in the States anymore, and this makes me so goddamned angry.
posted by snwod at 9:07 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just waiting for Wilson to team up with Zimmerman for a new Fox News panel show.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:08 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


Dear business owners and shopkeeps in Ferguson,

If you had been more proactive in using your power as a member of the community’s commerce, perhaps the police would have felt reigned in rather than untouchable. Saying “I had nothing to do with this” is rather insincere. You upheld the status quo by not doing anything.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:08 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


The Judge does not make the Law. It is the People that make the Law. Therefore if a Law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the Law, that is justice, even if it is not just.
It is the duty of the Judge to do justice, but it is only the People that can be just.
- Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:08 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


WidgetAlley: The Langston Hughes Twitter feed tonight is... well. It's relevant.
I thought of this one.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:08 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Darren Wilson: Mike Brown "looked like a demon".

No, he said 'it looks like a demon'.

It. Not 'he'.

IT.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [73 favorites]


From somewhere
"Unfriendly reminder that in America its reasonable to say that an unarmed black kid deserved to be shot six times because he might have robbed a convenience store but a white kid shouldn't be kicked off the high school football team just because he violently raped a girl."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [199 favorites]


[jsonic, seriously, read the room a little bit and cut it out.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am so very sad right now.

Yeah. And angry. I am so. Fucking. Angry. This is not right. This is not justice.

I want to wrap Lesley McSpadden up in my arms and hold her and cry with her. Jesus fuck.

I hope every one of those grand jurors spontaneously combusts.
posted by MissySedai at 9:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


The narrative of an unarmed teenager stealing cigars from a convenience store and ending up shot dead by police only makes sense if that teenager is not white.

I mean really, I dare you to imagine it otherwise.

This world this world this world.
posted by allthinky at 9:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [29 favorites]


It didn't meet the standard because the prosecutor didn't PROSECUTE. He just had all the evidence dumped on the grand jury, context-free, and left it up to them to decide. There was nobody advocating for an indictment, hell, the prosecutors had the defense present evidence! In a grand jury!

I am so angry I could spit.
posted by zug at 9:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [58 favorites]


What are you supposed to do when you're so overwhelmed and angry and heartsick that all you can do is scream and cry?

Speaking just for myself, I scream and cry. Then I plan. I need a smartphone for video in case I'm pulled over by the cops. I need to talk to my cousins, nephews, nieces about staying alive long enough not to become a hashtag. I have to get through work tomorrow without bursting into tears.

I didn't think they'd indict. But I really, really hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
posted by Nyakasikana at 9:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


jsonic: here is a link to the grand jury documents as they're being released. Read them and weep, literally. I know I did.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:12 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


If you have a few drinks and then kill somebody with your car, it's possible that the drinking didn't contribute to that person's death. Maybe they were jaywalking and your brakes failed and you have an astonishing tolerance for alcohol and weren't really impaired.

Nevertheless, if you have a few drinks and then kill somebody with your car, at the very least you should expect to end up explaining yourself in court.

America has had a few drinks. We have massive problems with police powers and oversight and we have MASSIVE fucking problems with race. That means if you're a cop and you shoot and kill an unarmed black teenager, you should expect to end up explaining yourself in court.

Anything else--this, specifically--is indecent and disgraceful.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:13 PM on November 24, 2014 [67 favorites]


And this:

Wilson: "He comes back toward me with his hands up"...

Prosecutor: "Er, you, I mean, his hands were up, like a fist, right? A FIST?"

Wilson: "Oh, I don't even know. Whatevs. Hands up. Face like a demon. End of story."
posted by allthinky at 9:13 PM on November 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


Thank you for including that poem.
posted by jaguar at 9:14 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wilson: "Oh, I don't even know. Whatevs. Hands up. Face like a demon. End of story."

I shot that demon. I'm like a demon hunter. I do what I want. Whatevs.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:16 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


There's always going to be someone willing to parse events and find a nuance, a principled stand to take, a common-sense just-the-"facts" view that just so happens to reinforce the dominance of the already dominant. There's always a pat reason why despite it seeming like justice wasn't served, we're to believe it really was. This is as unsurprising as it is heartbreaking. Will we ever overcome our tribalism? Days like today, one really wonders.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:19 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


I watched Obama's speech on MSNBC and for most of it they had a splitscreen with Ferguson coverage, complete with audio. Hearing him talk over that chatter was some serious history documentary stuff. Totally unreal.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:20 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


My heart breaks for Mike Brown's family, of course, but I also feel sad for the low wage workers who won't be able to go to work tomorrow (or for awhile) due to the looting and burning. I hope people are able to help them too.
posted by desjardins at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


My heart hurts.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Artw at 9:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is that it for Darren Wilson, legally? He's 100% off the hook?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


You gotta read Wilson's testimony. Starts on page 209. It's unreal - Wilson is claiming that Brown charged him and basically dared him to shoot. He makes it sound like Michael Brown is the Hulk on PCP.
posted by zug at 9:24 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


I saw someone on twitter saying that it's tough to expect Obama to be too critical of a system he's the head of, and it made me think of how for years everyone's been saying "I can't wait til Obama doesn't have any elections left and really says what he thinks." Now I'm worried that for decades to come we'll get to hear him offer these weak speeches about race relations every time something awful like this happens while people say "I can't wait til he's a little older and really says what he thinks."
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:25 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


I wish we could just disarm the police force entirely. It'd probably be safer for everyone. But, police are supposed to be brave and heroic and willing to risk their lives in the line of duty. So let them be a little more brave and risk a little more.

Generic patrolmen shouldn't be doing things that require guns, and people with guns shouldn't be doing generic police work.

It doesn't seem like a reachable goal from here, and it wouldn't help with what's happening now. But if we had it, maybe it would make a lot of things easier.

A police officer escaping legal consequences, that's not really surprising. It's a deeper problem. But the rest of what's going on is just so far beyond, so sharp and open -- how are we letting -- how is there any way we can stop -- this police force and the adjacent government, in the spotlight even, act like this, a hostile occupying force, against a community?
posted by solitary dancer at 9:25 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


There will likely be a civil case, and the feds (as I understand it) could bring charges.
posted by desjardins at 9:25 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Have listened to Nina Simone "Mississippi God-Damn" three times now and counting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [18 favorites]


Is that it for Darren Wilson, legally? He's 100% off the hook?

Better than that he punched his wingnut welfare ticket for a lifetime of speaking engagements.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [30 favorites]


I'm not holding my breath. TBH I wasn't holding my breath for this either - it's just a sad marker of the passage of time.
posted by Artw at 9:27 PM on November 24, 2014


Missouri compromised.
posted by clavdivs at 9:28 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


There will likely be a civil case, and the feds (as I understand it) could bring charges.

Feds have pretty much said they've got nothing, unfortunately, and the fact that the grand jury came back without an indictment probably ends any hope for a miracle there.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:28 PM on November 24, 2014


(I know this is Missouri and not Mississippi. Talk to Nina Simone about not being clairvoyant.)

Also - on PBS they were showing a documentary on Muscle Shoals studio and had a clip of George McGovern's "segregation now, segregation tomorrow..." Speech, and I had the thought - dammit, did the segregationists win after all?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's always going to be someone willing to parse events and find a nuance, a principled stand to take, a common-sense just-the-"facts" view that just so happens to reinforce the dominance of the already dominant.

Of course, we all know that had Mike Brown been a white kid, the "principled stand" would be totally different. I just don't know what to say to these wait and see/justice has spoken/just the facts type of people. I'm at a loss.

This is a horrible and sad thing and even more fucking appalling that it wasn't a surprise to anyone. I mean my god.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:29 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I bet the Darren Wilson media tour will be starting soon, now he doesn't have to worry about keeping his story straight/actually telling anyone his story.
posted by Artw at 9:31 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


A police officer escaping legal consequences, that's not really surprising.

That is the damn problem!
posted by futz at 9:31 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I like to remember even South Africa had a Truth & Reconcilliation Commission. I mean for some value of like.
posted by dame at 9:31 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was flipping through Facebook on my phone during a commercial break and saw this. All I could say was "Fuck."

And now... protests in cities across the USA--sizeable ones, it seems from the pictures--stores in Ferguson are burning, and Darren Wilson walks away with what, half a million already? To say nothing of the inevitable book deal, wingnut welfare panel circuit, and probably a fucking reality show.

I wish the looting wasn't happening. I totally understand why it's happening--impotent rage tends to come out in not entirely constructive ways and I am not judging, plus any crowd is going to have opportunists in it--but it's just handing their own dismissal in the public eye over on a silver platter.

It's been instructive watching pictures of white kids destroying vehicles and setting things on fire come up on my Twitter feed and note the total lack of tear gas.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


538 has some sound analysis when it talks about how sometimes in these high profile police shootings, prosecutors don't have the kind of evidence they'd usually wait to be sure of, because the push to indict is a political one. Most prosecutors don't bring cases they don't think they can win - this is one of the problems with rape prosecutions for example.

But we need to stop making the trials of individuals a stand in for larger societal crimes. That kind of thing is exactly what keeps this cycle continuing.
posted by corb at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Every cop in America should be wearing a body cam full time, but let's not delude ourselves. Wilson wouldn't have been indicted even with that.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:33 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:33 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, you meant George Wallace, and they totally did win, away back in 1877.
posted by allthinky at 9:33 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


But what about when the patterns that victimized that individual are caused by larger societal crimes?

I mean, when are "larger societal crimes" ever held accountable, if not in trials of individuals?
posted by Miko at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


A letter from the forensic pathologist (who presented to the GJ) to the prosecution, noting that they haven't received a bunch of standard forensic information.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [18 favorites]


Most prosecutors also don't allow the bloody defence to testify to the grand jury, FFS.

McCulloch punted this, hard, and used the GJ's verdict as cover.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [26 favorites]


But we need to stop making the trials of individuals a stand in for larger societal crimes. That kind of thing is exactly what keeps this cycle continuing.

Well, the problem could also be the law as it stands.
posted by ageispolis at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


BREAKING: Thousands storm the streets of #Chicago in collective rage. pic.twitter.com/uCsEFTSWLu— Bipartisan Report (@Bipartisanism) November 25, 2014
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Waiting until nightfall, opening the press conference with a condemnation of social media and every witness, bringing in police from all over the state... This was designed to provoke a riot. Mission accomplished!

Also, Obama talking about how one needs to accept the decision and just move along with a split screen of the police launching tear gas for no reason, it reminded me of the Iraqi information minister. "Everything's fine! Move along! Nothing to see here!"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2014 [38 favorites]


And once again, all over social media it is time for white people to explain how poorly people who live a reality they can't possibly conceive of deal with living in that reality.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


We're in front of LAPD's Southwest Division where demonstrators have gathered. #FergusonVerdict #LosAngeles https://t.co/a25FYpNkXT— Ruben Vives (@LATvives) November 25, 2014
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Every cop in America should be wearing a body cam full time, but let's not delude ourselves. Wilson wouldn't have been indicted even with that.
Well, sure, I mean those darn cameras are always cutting out at the strangest times...
posted by xedrik at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


McCulloch punted this, hard, and used the GJ's verdict as cover.

I find it difficult to think of a higher-level instance of circling the wagons.
posted by rhizome at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm not remotely surprised by the decision but there was still that tiny part of me, deep down, that wanted to believe there was hope. Alas, no.
posted by skycrashesdown at 9:39 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


#OAKLAND NOW: Protesters Blocking Traffic on 580 Freeway. #ferguson @dennisaprice pic.twitter.com/znDN4ENPD3— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) November 25, 2014
Some American cites standing with #Ferguson and #MikeBrown... pic.twitter.com/YTNYoBMsP7— Abbas Sarsour (@iFalasteen) November 25, 2014
...you get my point, I'll stop. Across the USA people are chanting "Hands Up Don't Shoot."

Well, sure, I mean those darn cameras are always cutting out at the strangest times...

In my ideal universe bodycams for cops would be like black boxes on airplanes--essentially unbreakable and un-tamper-withable. And if yours can't account for your full shift (and on forensic investigation it's not a tech error), you lose your badge, your benefits, your pension, everything.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2014 [44 favorites]


But we need to stop making the trials of individuals a stand in for larger societal crimes. That kind of thing is exactly what keeps this cycle continuing.

The racial bias that exists within the larger society is what led Darren Wilson to believe that an unarmed black man posed a threat that needed to be addressed with a dozen bullets. At that point, the "larger societal crime" became an individual crime against a citizen that officer Wilson swore to serve and protect.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2014 [37 favorites]


the push to indict is a political one.

So is the push not to indict.
posted by escabeche at 9:43 PM on November 24, 2014 [59 favorites]


Amazing. Who could have predicted that the grand jury would fail to indict? I mean, there wasn't even probable cause to try the case in front of a judge and jury. We're talking about an indictment, not a conviction, but nope, nothing to see here...
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Twitter is breaking my heart. Here's a pertinent one, from a picture of a protest sign:

"The system worked. That's the problem."
posted by Miko at 9:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [43 favorites]


Who could have predicted that the grand jury would fail to indict?

I called it. I called it as soon as the media circus started to be about the convenience store video and the "rioters." I knew for sure when they declared a state of emergency ahead of the announcement.

Probable cause is one hell of a low bar, yes, but finding probable cause against Darren Wilson would have required nine people to agree that a cop shooting an unarmed teenager is suspicious, when it's pretty much business as usual these days.
posted by fifthrider at 9:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


At the St Louis protest on Grand, all the non-police folk were peaceful and nonviolent. The cops were lined up clad in armor and brandishing weapons. Kudos to the skinny younger black guy with the megaphone who kept the crowd calm and peaceful and free from bodily injury while the cops called the peaceful assembly "unlawful".
posted by Greg Nog at 9:50 PM on November 24, 2014 [50 favorites]


From the Vox link:
All along, legal experts have said that it was unlikely that Wilson would be charged with first-degree murder. That would have required evidence that he maliciously set out to kill Brown.
It was first degree murder the second Brown put his hands up and Wilson pulled the trigger.
posted by Talez at 9:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just heartbreaking. Honestly? I've never been as disappointed to be white as I am tonight.

My friends on Facebook has also responded surprisingly racist/dismissive. I guess it's time to re-elevate my friends.
posted by dubious_dude at 9:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


On Twitter is the great John Lewis, who says "You can't become lost in a sea of despair. You have to keep pushing and pulling, you have to keep moving forward." He's one who would know.
posted by Miko at 9:53 PM on November 24, 2014 [24 favorites]


But I think the truly worst part of this is the powerlessness I feel. Utterly powerless. What happened to the great America I grew up in, the America I knew would protect me, my rights, and that in the end, justice would prevail?
posted by dubious_dude at 9:56 PM on November 24, 2014


This grand jury evidence is pretty interesting and I'm glad they released it - Wilson's testimony is that he saw Brown reach towards his waist and had tunnel vision about what was going on - prosecutor speculates he could have bent in pain. If Wilson actually had injuries - I haven't gotten to the neck/face hospital photos yet, on a table - it might explain the tunnel vision.
posted by corb at 9:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is a bunch of shittiness on twitter, including this self-described "advocate for the oppressed" reporter and this Comic-Con board member (I mean, that's what they claim to do; for all I know they just sit around and spew on the internet). And that's just stuff I ran across. I didn't go looking.
posted by wintersweet at 9:59 PM on November 24, 2014


I haven't gotten to the neck/face hospital photos yet, on a table - it might explain the tunnel vision.

http://www.businessinsider.com/darren-wilson-injuries-grand-jury-2014-11
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [10 favorites]


What happened to the great America I grew up in, the America I knew would protect me, my rights, and that in the end, justice would prevail?

What year was that, exactly?
posted by Dip Flash at 10:01 PM on November 24, 2014 [33 favorites]


But I think the truly worst part of this is the powerlessness I feel. Utterly powerless. What happened to the great America I grew up in, the America I knew would protect me, my rights, and that in the end, justice would prevail?

I just posted this on Facebook, and it's relevant here:
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

- Langston Hughes, Let America Be America Again
posted by Ragini at 10:02 PM on November 24, 2014 [32 favorites]


What happened to the great America I grew up in

For me, one of the hard lessons of studying American history is that this never existed. Every great moral movement, every step toward progress, was opposed and attacked. Anything we have gained, we gained in the face of hatred and recalcitrance. We have moved forward toward justice in the long game, but not without painful and significant punishments for that boldness all along the way. The "great America" has always been a seductive narrative, an ideal we want to believe in - but it never existed in reality. All we have of America is what we make of America, today, in the past, and in the future. It is what we are - what we are willing to be and do in our own lives.
posted by Miko at 10:02 PM on November 24, 2014 [158 favorites]


Looks like I picked the wrong week decade to quit drinking.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:03 PM on November 24, 2014 [23 favorites]


Wilson's uncorroborated testimony. Also testimony that doesn't line up with the audio recording of the actual shooting.

Also racist white cop shot black kid please remember that part.

ps, protesters have shut down the Triboro bridge (I don't know NYC geography so I don't know if that's significant) in NYC.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


The press conference made me furious, and sick to my stomach. It was so clear that the decision had been made before the grand jury even convened, and that the prosecutor was dismissing anything that didn't fit with the "the cop was right" story. And I wish I was surprised by the decision not to press charges, but I'm not. Heartsick, but not surprised.
posted by sarcasticah at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


Skimming through the grand jury testimony transcripts (>2,000 pages!), I see that personal information has been redacted, as it probably should be. However, this is not just a matter of search-and-replacing names of witnesses. Things like addresses and even the number of years someone has lived somewhere are redacted (e.g.: page 8 from volume 10). This doesn't seem like a quick thing to me. Is this something that's done as a matter of course? Since grand jury testimony doesn't come out so often (because they almost always return an indictment), it's hard for me to know if this is just standard practice or if this was special preparation for the document dump when the grand jury inevitably returned no indictment.
posted by mhum at 10:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]




If Wilson actually had injuries - I haven't gotten to the neck/face hospital photos yet, on a table - it might explain the tunnel vision.

The pictures have been available for hours, why did you post this before looking at them?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:09 PM on November 24, 2014 [28 favorites]


I know that I am shouting into the wind by saying this but there should be no such thing as a "high profile police shooting". All police shootings (hell, all crimes) should be treated the same. There should be no situation in our legal system that grants any accused individual more or less lenience/scrutibility based upon their occupation, race, wealth, or political ties.

I know, i am a fool.
posted by futz at 10:10 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


What happened to the great America I grew up in?

The same thing that happened to Santa Claus, or God. You've realized it's a fiction we tell our children to help them sleep at night. It never existed.
posted by karst at 10:16 PM on November 24, 2014 [71 favorites]


Just watched a CNN reporter get hit in the head with an object (rock?) tossed at her pretty hard. About five minutes before that, some men were telling her how fiiine she is. I don't envy her that job. Good grief.
posted by heyho at 10:17 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


To answer what year, etc. to my question about what happened to the America I knew, in a literal sense, the 90s (born 1986, was a 90s kid). I could have been sheltered, part of it being Deaf and not exactly aware of what's going on around me in the world, part of it growing up in a small town, but I always felt safe and from what I saw, everything seemed fair, police officers were nice people, I was continually told in school that the law was designed to benefit those who followed it.

Nowadays? All I see is bullshit. My personal experiences, what I see, what I see others going through, what I see entities doing (Social Security/the IRS/private companies being examples, screwing people over even if they're honest and did nothing wrong), last year with Ty, and now this. Those are only a few examples. Also, people lying, betraying you, backstabbing, etc.

I think part of what makes this hard is I didn't grow up being exposed to this. I grew up reading the Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley, somewhat sheltered, so I didn't see cruelty in the world. I question if things has always been this bad, this cruel, because I don't remember it being that way in the 90s. Can anyone see this happening in the 90s? But, I didn't see the USA/world from lens that were unobstructed. So, was the world I supposedly saw an illusion?
posted by dubious_dude at 10:18 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


it's a fiction we tell our children to help them sleep at night

Well, for me, it's something I tell myself and we tell each other so as to advance toward greater human rights and justice. It's more than a comforting story, to me, it's an ideal. Getting reality to get closer to that ideal is tough. But I don't think there was a time in the past that we were closer, as far as racial justice or police violence goes.

In my youth, I don't think shootings like this made national news. I don't think suspicious deaths at the hands of police were widely watched events. But I don't kid myself they didn't happen.
posted by Miko at 10:22 PM on November 24, 2014 [11 favorites]


dubious_dude ... you don't remember Rodney King?
posted by allthinky at 10:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [17 favorites]


I just don't get how someone can be shot and killed and there isn't a hearing of some kind into the circumstances of the death.
posted by awfurby at 10:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can anyone see this happening in the 90s? But, I didn't see the USA/world from lens that were unobstructed. So, was the world I supposedly saw an illusion?

You might find this essay interesting: What Black Parents Tell Their Sons About the Police.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


I told my wife tonight to be careful tomorrow; she's black and she gets misgendered. I sent out emails to my mostly black classes asking folks to be careful over the break; I'm terrified that one of my students is going to be on the 6:00 news. I shouldn't be telling any these folks to be careful; it's not their damned job to be careful. But I'm fucking terrified for them.
posted by joycehealy at 10:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [32 favorites]


Police now using pepper spray and flashbangs on protesters in Seattle.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 PM on November 24, 2014


dubious_dude, you made me realize that probably, part of why people so often buy into the "decline narrative" is that their own lives usually feel like a decline, as we leave childhood and enter the adult world. People go from order to chaos, from safety to uncertainty, from kindness and nurturing to realms in which they encounter ugliness and antagonism, from shelteredness to exposure. No wonder it seems like we're going downhill. When we're really just going up and out into the world.

And being in the adult world, understanding the serious complexities and pain of it, having to actually be the ones to take care of it, is a great responsibility.
posted by Miko at 10:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [100 favorites]


...and protesters lighting things on fire in the streets of Oakland.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 PM on November 24, 2014


Watching a live stream and the police keep announcing "THIS IS AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY. PLEASE DISPERSE." Like, what, it's unlawful because the cops decided so just then? What happened to the right to peaceably assemble? The stream I 'm watching has been nothing but peaceful for the past hour, and the cops keep making threatening advancements and repeating the UNLAWFUL/DISPERSE line. And they don't even care that it's all on camera. Just now, the camera operator was asking a cop, "One policeman is saying to clear the street, another is saying to disperse completely, which is it?" And despite repeating the question, the cop he's addressing refuses to answer.

Serve and protect whom?
posted by xedrik at 10:27 PM on November 24, 2014 [16 favorites]


allthinky: dubious_dude ... you don't remember Rodney King?

Rodney King and the LA riots were kind of an isolated thing, though. Of course there were other instances of police violence throughout the last few decades, but I think with social media and the 24 hour news cycle, we're getting a much more comprehensive view of what's really going on. I think it's probably a combination of seeing what was always there and a genuine trend toward more racial anxiety and suspicion on the part of the cops.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:28 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


So much depends on... so much. Folks said that the only thing isolated about the Rodney King case was that the beating was caught on tape.

Police have always killed people of color. Always.
posted by allthinky at 10:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [19 favorites]


Rodney King wasn't so isolated that we weren't having protests 400 miles north.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Part of it is having been sheltered from the daily injustice that occured - which is part of the deliberate design of how this country and its racial caste system operate - and part of it is the drastically different lens we have now - the way news is disseminated on social media now, the ubiquity of cameras, the way we have new insight into places that the country previously had no access/exposure to. We are witness to the bad stuff in a way that was never possible. The whole world is watching the whole world.
posted by naju at 10:30 PM on November 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


Can anyone see this happening in the 90s? But, I didn't see the USA/world from lens that were unobstructed. So, was the world I supposedly saw an illusion?

Basically? Yes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:31 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering if Holder stepped down because he was involved in this, saw where it was going/not going, and finally had enough.
posted by localhuman at 10:32 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


The tweet that really got to me tonight: "My 7 year old son just said: "Don't worry mom. If we want to live, we just have to stay home". I'm turning off my tv. My heart just broke" Link
posted by wuwei at 10:34 PM on November 24, 2014 [21 favorites]


A few calls on Twitter to respond by funding the 11 Ferguson classrooms on DonorsChoose, and the Ferguson Public Library, which will be open and offering kids'programs tomorrow since schools are closed.
posted by Miko at 10:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [30 favorites]


As Lemurrhea already pointed out upthread, most GJ's indict by a huge margin. If the statistics i have read are accurate, this is a major anomaly.
posted by futz at 10:37 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been predicting for years that an oppressed population in the United States would eventually decide they no longer gave a fuck and would essentially declare war on the police state.

I hope it is not the case because of this lack of indictment (I'd understand, I just seriously hope it isn't.)

Because even with all the military toys the police have, there are several hundred million guns in this country and more than several dozen million who want to extract their pound of flesh for decades of systemic injustice. For every unwarranted stop and frisk to every time an officer walked after raiding the wrong house, or killing a minority under questionable circumstances, the local law enforcement of this country has set a smoldering fire and been kicking kindling in. It's only a matter of time before it lights.

Even if the armed forces got involved, they'd be hard pressed to subdue people who were actively staging a hot war against law enforcement. America could be the new Afghanistan in this regard.

I sincerely hope this isn't that spark, but if things like this keep happening, that spark will eventually light, and a lot of lives will be lost and a lot will burn.

That the people in power don't seem to think this is an issue is a testament to their willful blindness, because eventually an oppressed group, lacking any other option, will turn to violence.
posted by quin at 10:39 PM on November 24, 2014 [18 favorites]


As Lemurrhea already pointed out upthread, most GJ's indict by a huge margin. If the statistics i have read are accurate, this is a major anomaly.

Yes and no.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2014


dubious_dude ... you don't remember Rodney King?

Of course I do. I'm aware of what happened. I learned about that when I was in high school, IIRC. The point I was trying to make was that the world just seemed much more peaceful back then.

Others has made good points, though - social media has really helped to fuel the fire, so to speak, and makes otherwise ordinary events noticeable. We're exposed to a 24/7, ADD, "let me just tweet this real quick!" world, which we didn't have in the 90s.

The cruel comments I see, however, just bother and perturb me to no end. Makes me wonder if people were this cruel in the 90s, in terms of putting people down like that. An example from my oh-so-bright "friend" on Facebook, who commented on my status:

----
Uh, okay, ignore all the facts. Officer Wilson shouldn't have defended himself? He should have died instead? I really don't get you people, if you're being assaulted by someone else, just lay there and accept the beating because...?

----

...yeah, no. I smell an unfriend coming real quick. Completely irrelevant. It may be part of that above-mentioned "decline narrative", but more and more people don't seem to hold much empathy these days.

I guess in a way, tonight, I grew up a bit. I've been long aware the world is a cruel place, etc. I guess at the root of it all, I really had a little hope, a little optimism in me, that this would prevail, that our elected officials/lawmakers would see the crime and wrongness in this, and fix it. Nail the man. But, no.

It's definitely a sad feeling, and (excuse my language) a mindfuck. Obama's speech didn't exactly inspire confidence, either.

Gosh, I hate getting older sometimes.
posted by dubious_dude at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


We as a country are more integrated and have made more progress than nights like tonight would have you think, I doubt a race war is imminent.

The problem is that were not as integrated and have made much less progress than we tell ourselves, as nights like tonight prove, and the levels of equality vary wildly between relative utopias like NYC or Miami and apartheid shitholes like rural Mississippi and St. Louis.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:46 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


small_ruminant, I meant isolated chronologically, not geographically. Of course the LA riots spawned protests elsewhere, but I do maintain that there wasn't as much widespread knowledge of the scale of police brutality at that time, and the last couple of years really feels like an escalation.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bill Bratton, the head of the NYPD, was spattered with fake blood in Times Square.

Out here in Brooklyn, I can hear police helicopters passing overhead.

And here I am, at home, in an otherwise quiet neighborhood, wondering why I feel exhausted instead of enraged. Maybe it's because I didn't expect any better, either from the grand jury verdict, or from Obama's speech, or from the police on the streets tonight. Maybe it's because it's been less than a week since the last time my city's police gunned down an unarmed black man.

Relative utopia it ain't.

I wish I felt like there was something I could do, or like anything will change. I am so fucking tired.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:51 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]




I yearn for the simpler times of the 1970's (when I was a child) and I shudder to think how cruel and inhumane the apartheid shitholes (excellent descriptor) had become by the 1990's (when I was in my 20's). My father yearned for the 1950's, the world had become so cruel by the 70's. My grandfather ...well he had a good time all along.

Our chidhood perceptions aren't a great measure of social progress. It's headed in the right direction, overall. Meaning, the world is getting less cruel, not more. It's just that it is still very, very cruel.
posted by The Noble Goofy Elk at 10:57 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


Wow, anemone of the state, I never ever want to see that again.

shudder
posted by ChrisR at 10:59 PM on November 24, 2014 [9 favorites]


I doubt a race war is imminent.

Me too. I don't think a race war has been realistic for the past twenty years. But a fight between people being systemically oppressed and the specific and visible hand of their oppressors? That's a fight I can see starting.
posted by quin at 11:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


the levels of equality vary wildly between relative utopias like NYC or Miami and apartheid shitholes like rural Mississippi and St. Louis

St. Louis is far more integrated than either New York or Miami. I think "integrated" is not quite the word you're looking for.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:00 PM on November 24, 2014 [12 favorites]


So the prosecutors (not McCulloch) actually directly running the case in the grand jury trial were two non-white women - an African-American, and the lead, a Persian-American.
I wonder if that actually helped make it easier for the grand jury to reject the indictment - "Looks like the govt. isn't very keen to indict, and their lawyers talking to us are non-white women, so there's not much chance this will be or seem racist or harsh!"
posted by Bwithh at 11:02 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Some of the breathtaking bigotry on Twitter today, curated by @YesYoureRacist

These are just amazing. Several of the accounts called out are now either set to private or tweeting things like "Keep your heart on Jesus."
posted by mochapickle at 11:02 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: the one and only real lawyers' hangout.
posted by bokononito at 11:04 PM on November 24, 2014


there wasn't as much widespread knowledge of the scale of police brutality at that time

You might be right, but I grew up very very aware of it. (And I'm white, but we were counter-culture, and "dirty hippies" got harassed/beat up/framed/etc all the time.)
posted by small_ruminant at 11:04 PM on November 24, 2014 [3 favorites]


Protests in front of SCOTUS.

Also it appears as though there's a burning car at a gas station (dangerous, eek) and several cars on fire at a car dealership, both in Ferguson.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:06 PM on November 24, 2014


Governor Nixon has ordered more National Guard units to Ferguson; tear gas used again, at a coffee shop described as a 'safe house' by @WesleyLowery.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:11 PM on November 24, 2014 [1 favorite]




For all his strengths and for all his weaknesses, Obama's--and by extension, his administration's-- reaction to the original incident and the resulting, ongoing illegal war against the United States citizens who live in Ferguson are, by far, the most disappointing incident of his tenure. I no longer believe the man is anything but an automaton.

Sigh. I still wouldn't want a Typical Republican Fuckwit as President (or a Blue Dog Democrat Fuckwit like the Governor of Missouri), but Obama's lack of action on this, his mealy-mouthed indifference, have told police throughout the country what they already knew: they are above the law, and there is fuck-all anyone can do about it.

Our society is fundamentally sexist, fundamentally racist, authoritarian, theocratic, unfair and corrupt. I don't even know how you begin to fix it.
posted by maxwelton at 11:17 PM on November 24, 2014 [16 favorites]


(the hashtag on twitter for the 'safe house' cafe that was tear-gassed is #Shaw)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:17 PM on November 24, 2014


dubious_dude ... you don't remember Rodney King?

Of course I do. I'm aware of what happened. I learned about that when I was in high school, IIRC. The point I was trying to make was that the world just seemed much more peaceful back then.


d_d, I lived in LA when that happened. I was in high school then, and I'm a high school history teacher (among other things) now. That perception of the world being more peaceful back then was largely fueled by a much more selective and controlled media. The 1950s were not the peaceful utopia many in this country would have you believe them to be, either.

The Rodney King beating was 23 years ago, and yet it wasn't that long ago at all.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:23 PM on November 24, 2014 [25 favorites]


I don't think a race war has been realistic for the past twenty years.

Are we really going to talk about the concept of "race war" as if it's a real thing that happens on the planet earth?

"Race war" is a made-up term used by the likes of Alex Jones and Charles Manson. There's a reason that you can't rattle off a list of The Great Race Wars of History: it is a fake idea peddled by paranoiacs, usually in the service of terrifying and recruiting white people for terrible causes.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2014 [97 favorites]


Copied from a comment on Salon:

This is the one situation where right-wingers will celebrate a government employee escaping punishment for on-the-job misconduct because he belongs to a powerful public sector union.

Because the government employee shot a black person. Basically.

posted by PenDevil at 11:26 PM on November 24, 2014 [51 favorites]


Darren Wilson: Mike Brown "looked like a demon".

No, he said 'it looks like a demon'.


Wilson literally describes Michael Brown as some kind of Negro Sebastian Shaw, who gets stronger with every bullet.
posted by homunculus at 11:27 PM on November 24, 2014 [28 favorites]


The testimony is straight out of the "black brute" caricature playbook. As insane as the kind of shit that passed muster a century ago.
posted by naju at 11:36 PM on November 24, 2014 [17 favorites]


Ferguson Legal Defense Fund cofounded by Talib Kweli

Self-link: Dystopia USA: Ferguson
posted by divabat at 11:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [4 favorites]


Can we drop "race war" memes, please?

All the grand jury needed to do was indict and then the trial could drag on for years.
posted by bad grammar at 11:38 PM on November 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Last week a couple of guys I know got married. This was not really feasible ten years ago. If that change can be made, couldn't the police also be reined in?

Because this is not the way a civil society should work.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:39 PM on November 24, 2014 [13 favorites]


To be fair (and uuurrrrgh I hate giving Wilson any benefit of the doubt), in context of the words spoken 'it' seems to refer to Brown's face: "...he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that's how angry he looked." (p224-225, here)

(pls note I am not excusing anything here, and certainly not excusing the Big Scary Black Guy thing when Wilson is a not-exactly-Lilliputian 6'4")

Cops on the rampage in Ferguson.. people were trying to leave the cafe and the cops teargassed the back alley.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:39 PM on November 24, 2014 [15 favorites]


Some guy on Twitter responded to me sharing links to donate to the schools/library with "why should we donate? They have insurance, right?" GAAAAHHHHHHH WHITE PEOPLE HONESTLY
posted by divabat at 11:44 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


My Twitter feed is filling up with photos of people from Seattle, LA... all sitting or kneeling in the streets with their hands up.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:47 PM on November 24, 2014


Last week a couple of guys I know got married. This was not really feasible ten years ago. If that change can be made, couldn't the police also be reined in?

The difference is that the police and justice system actively generate revenue with their treatment of African-Americans. Their profiling generates a huge percentage of the municipal budget in some towns. It's like the War on Terror, if soldiers were bringing loot home as well.

With so many dollars on the line, that's going to be a hard one.
posted by anemone of the state at 11:47 PM on November 24, 2014 [8 favorites]


Right now I'm thinking the Thanksgiving dinner conversations actually might be really necessary and important this time. Let's have it all out. Let's do the fights and meltdowns. It'll be ugly, but I can't help but feel like this timing has to be used for really getting this stuff out. Your racist family members will be there; it will be on the table for discussion, whether you like it or not. So prepare. White people: talk to your white people.
posted by naju at 11:48 PM on November 24, 2014 [77 favorites]


Ever since it became clear that Obama would not be the Great Progressive Hope for America, I've mostly tuned out all the Really Bad Events. Everything is so depressing. I figured I'd just wait it out and move to Denmark someday (or at least Canada or Australia).

I don't really know why, but this Really Bad Event feels different. I'm glued to twitter and feel like I can't just ignore it, watch the new episode of Bob's Burgers, and drift off to sleep.

This enormous, beautiful, wealthy, diverse nation of ours is rotting from within. It has yet to properly deal with problems that are centuries old. Other parts of the world are leaving us behind, and we remain fundamentally broken.

The most distressing part is that 50% of the country (maybe more than that) don't even see a problem.
posted by R.F.Simpson at 11:52 PM on November 24, 2014 [16 favorites]


The difference is that the police and justice system actively generate revenue with their treatment of African-Americans.

Call me ill-informed, but how?
posted by dubious_dude at 11:54 PM on November 24, 2014


The prison system is privatized in a lot of places, and they're basically paid by how many inmates there are. So that's one profit motive.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:55 PM on November 24, 2014 [6 favorites]




Attn: STLPD

You are gassing fucking Amnesty Int'l observers. How stupid are you?

And National Guard now arriving.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:03 AM on November 25, 2014


dubious_dude, Here's one part of your answer.

Fallout from the shooting of Mike Brown and the protests that followed have forced Ferguson to scale back this practice, but consider the implications of that: it took a high-profile police shooting and weeks of protests for such practices to get serious attention in the media, and only then has the practice been scaled back.

Sort of.

From the NYT article: Residents and experts said that while the actions were significant, the problems many drivers face across St. Louis County, where a patchwork of municipal courts enforce an array of ordinances, were so widespread that Ferguson alone could not fix them. Many African-Americans, who are pulled over at higher rates than whites, face traffic fines that, if not paid, can land them in jail.

This sort of thing is what I find really chilling. I've been through a small amount of police training. I tend to sympathize with the dangers of the job. From what I've read (no expert), I do not believe that Brown's death was a justified shooting, but even on the pathetically slim argument that it was, there's still so much more to be angry over that it's hard to even know where to begin.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 12:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


dubious_dude look up "civil asset forfeiture" for another troubling issue.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Call me ill-informed, but how?

Racial profiling followed by fines, for starters. One town in a VICE video had 10x more outstanding warrants than they have citizens. The police just park roadside and wait for black people to drive by.

Civil forfeiture is a big one, too: "drug seizure funds" often means "Some kids were smoking pot so we stole and sold their parents' car". Replace with house when necessary.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


You're a fucking disgrace, America.
posted by steganographia at 12:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


The difference is that the police and justice system actively generate revenue with their treatment of African-Americans

In addition to the fines and forfeiture, there's also the matter of equipment. The Department of Defense's 1033 program, through which local police agencies can request all that free military equipment that's been showing up on city streets, requires police agencies to use said equipment within one year of receiving it. Otherwise they have to return it.

When that equipment is dragged out, it's often used in SWAT raids. And strangely enough, those dangerous raids tend to take place in minority neighbohoods.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:13 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


one would think that in a country founded on slavery and genocide there would be nowhere to go but up

you'd be wrong
posted by poffin boffin at 12:13 AM on November 25, 2014 [67 favorites]


Someday I'd like to audit the police academy class where cadets are taught how to properly use a sidearm to exorcise demons from a teenager.
posted by item at 12:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


Let's assume for a moment that his testimony was coached and scripted out the wazoo. I think that's a reasonable assumption to make. Given that, I kind of think that there are specific choices in there made for a reason--'demon' being one of them.

Unless I'm mistaken--please correct me if I'm wrong--church attendance is generally higher in the South, and is going to skew more under the evangelical/fundamentalist umbrella, where 'demon' is an extremely potent word. He says demon, and it's not unreasonable to think that for a percentage of the grand jury anyway, that's going to set up "He was just fighting Satan!" as a more or maybe less conscious thought. I think.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


> Prosecutor: "Er, you, I mean, his hands were up, like a fist, right? A FIST?"

Wait, what in the ever loving fuck?

Am I reading this right, the prosecutor, who is supposed to be *prosecuting* the case — that is, making a case *against* Wilson — is basically coaching Wilson to make an exculpatory statement?

And Wilson is like, "Whatever, fuck it, I am never going to trial."

Welp.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:23 AM on November 25, 2014 [65 favorites]


Yeah that was kind of totally transparent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:24 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Apparently Arabs are tweeting under the hashtag "America is revolting" - #امريكا_تنتفض.

Let's hope so?
posted by naju at 12:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true. His gun, the thing that would keep him safe, first twisted so that there was a muzzling problem on his leg, then misfired, and then bullets not following the cinematic "person shot immediately falls down" narrative. I don't think you need to look to racism for someone to find something unholy in the face of someone who, if shot, was probably running on pure adrenaline.

At the same time, Wilson's fear seems total. He does not feel at all comfortable in the neighborhood he polices. He feels it's an environment hostile to police - and honestly, it'd be understandable if it were. What reason do the people of Ferguson have to love police?
posted by corb at 12:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


We need to eliminate that fear and the reasons for the fear, on a macro level.
posted by corb at 12:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]




I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true.

What about Mike Brown's hysterical terror?
posted by dialetheia at 12:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [42 favorites]


I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true.

I don't see how I could possibly get past the "if his story is true" part. Even on charitable read. How'd you manage?
posted by naju at 12:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]




CNN: 29 people have been arrested near Ferguson so far.
posted by mochapickle at 12:40 AM on November 25, 2014


I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true.

That's a really big if.

His gun, the thing that would keep him safe

No. It is his brain that would keep him safe.

What reason do the people of Ferguson have to love police?

None. Because racist laws enable racist cops to not only throw them in jail for bullshit traffic tickets, but also to shoot and kill them with impunity.

Darren Wilson operated in an environment of unadulterated racism. It seems implausible in the extreme that he's the one shining beacon of race relations here. His own testimony indicates racist thoughts and behaviours--go read it yourself.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


This is why Andy hid Barneys' bullets.



ليس ثورة #
posted by clavdivs at 12:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


VIDEO: Police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at group with injured woman begging for help. #Ferguson http://t.co/KLYJuCGJmO— Tim Pool (@Timcast) November 25, 2014
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


A relevant book that user naju recommended in another thread, possibly the original Ferguson one IIRC:

The New Jim Crow
posted by Shouraku at 12:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, comment from a defence attorney making it really clear that McCulloch wasn't actually after an indictment at all. It's on reddit, sorry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:58 AM on November 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


"America is revolting"

Really, either sense of the word "revolting" works here.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 12:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [27 favorites]


That was a really good link, fffm, even if it was on Reddit. Thanks for that.
posted by Shouraku at 1:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


A relevant book that user naju recommended in another thread, possibly the original Ferguson one IIRC:

The New Jim Crow


Full PDF
posted by naju at 1:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Goddamn. Killer Mike's pre-show Ferguson Grand Jury speech.
posted by naju at 1:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [28 favorites]


I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true.

Yes, the poor 6'4" 210 pound, uniformed, trained, armed police officer in a squad car.

He must have been so scared, with just his gun and his baton and his ability to radio for armed backup at any point, against that unarmed teenager.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:16 AM on November 25, 2014 [131 favorites]


The point I was trying to make was that the world just seemed much more peaceful back then.

This is the lens of history as written by the victors/oppressors. It was, if anything, a much less peaceful time. There just weren't so many people walking around with miniature wireless computer-cameras in their pockets to document it from all angles and tweet about it 24/7.

During the era that culminated in the Rodney King beating, lack of verdict and indictment and resulting riots LA was in the grips of an epidemic of crack cocaine and ongoing gang turf war, which it turns out was directly or partially fueled by the Iran/Contra "scandal" and the direct or indirect role of the CIA providing cocaine for sale to buy arms to give to anti-communist forces in Central America.

Did you actually learn about Iran/Contra in high school? That the CIA helped move/sell cocaine right here in the US to fight commies? That unleashing an economic class war and drug addiction epidemic was considered to be the right, American answer to encroaching Communism in Central America?

(No, really. I wish that this statement was actually tinfoil hat paranoid conspiracy, but this is now (whitewashed) public record.)

People of all colors were getting harassed, beaten and raided by LAPD for, well, decades at that point in time, particularly badly throughout the 80s and early 90s, particularly people of color.

The now infamous Rampart Division scandal was taking root and forming, as well, basically overtly gang-like activity within the LAPD itself and full on graft, corruption and shit that defied the fiction of even bad cop movies.

My personal experience with this era of the LAPD involved the very early rave/house/techno scene, where getting busted for an illicit or illegal party of kids dancing in abandoned warehouses involved police responses of hundreds of officers in full riot gear cracking skulls with batons, firing less-than-lethal rounds out of real guns and deploying tear gas like confetti at a circus parade.

None of this ever made the news. Ever. Well, at least not for almost a full decade, until LAPD started trying the same tactics at legit venues involving permitted events apparently over aesthetic and lifestyle differences.

At one early 90s party it was unprovable but common knowledge that the LAPD (possibly Rampart Division) straight up executed someone with gunshots to the back of a small time promoter's head outside one of these (admittedly illicitly used) warehouses, presumably due to failing to pay graft/bribes or something.

This is just one facet of what LA was like, then. My small viewpoint of a much larger problem.

As others have commented - the singularly remarkable thing about Rodney King is not only did it get caught on tape, but it was so un-ignorably violent and over the top that it actually made it to mainstream media and got airplay.

What you don't see in the lens of history is how the Rodney King riots actually started. At the Parker Center, LAPD's headquarters.

Where people of all ages and colors from all over LA protesting in complete anguish and sorrow at the verdict. That there were mothers and grandmothers there. Of all colors and races, not just black, not that it should even validate it more or less if the protests were all black. There were Koreans, and white Europeans, Latino, and Hispanic, and... well, everyone. There were kids and the elderly and everyone in between.

But most tellingly, most were probably poor or of lower economic classes, tired of being unable to fight back in a legal system too expensive to engage, while upper economic classes got away with literal murder, or drug possession charges, and so on.

The LAPDs violent response to these protests, their stonewalling and protecting their own with their own legal system combined with the lack of a convicting were the flames that lit the fuse on a powderkeg that had been slowly been being filled one heaping teaspoon of criminal abuse of a people at a time.

The Rodney King riots weren't ever about Rodney King. It was always about an oppressed economic class that was being actively, systemically abused.

This is why people rioted and looted. Because they no longer had anything to lose. Sure, there's videos of people stealing athletic shoes, TVs, electronics. There were also people looting food, and baby diapers, and formula.

Because LA had been stripped economically dry through colluding forces so improbably twisted and violent that even when presented with the facts as they read, on the official record, that they seem like fiction, like a bad exploitation movie.
posted by loquacious at 1:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [163 favorites]


As usual, I deeply appreciate the thoughtful and informed commentary and links here on MetaFilter about difficult, breaking news events and this thread is yet another example.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


.

How I wish this surprised me.

Is that it for Darren Wilson, legally? He's 100% off the hook?

Better than that he punched his wingnut welfare ticket for a lifetime of speaking engagements.


Don't cry for Darren Wilson, for he has a bright future ahead of him as a Fox News contributor. And McCulloch was definitely auditioning for a Fox legal analyst position during his press conference.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Vox: Why Obama won’t give the Ferguson speech his supporters want.
America, you have unrealistic expectations of your presidents; doubly so in the present circumstances thanks to the psychotically toxic game played by republicans over these last 6 years. Best not to potentially ignite a hot civil war on your watch by going all ranty-angry in a speech when half the country believes you are largely responsible for the majority of political, economic and cultural divisions across the land.
posted by peacay at 1:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


What I find remarkable about these cases, where an unarmed person has been shot, is even in the narrative where we believe the person doing the shooting, they come across as a person who, at the very least, should never have access to a firearm ever again. If you are the sort of person who can be panicked into shooting someone who has no weapons of any kind, then you should not be allowed to have a gun.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:06 AM on November 25, 2014 [58 favorites]


I heard about this on the news this morning, and the first thing I thought was how sad and angry but unsurprised the US MeFites must be. There is little coverage of this in the UK, nothing I've heard about the rioting for example, so this is the place I find out about what's going on on the ground. I'm so sorry for Mike Brown's family and friends today, who have been told that his life didn't matter and his killing wasn't a crime. But I'm also sad for you guys, and how powerless it must feel to have to watch this happen again and again and again.
posted by billiebee at 2:13 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Not indicting wasn't surprising. Annoucning that decision in the evening was. That's just incredibly stupid or incredibly hostile.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


Or both!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Reading the testimony, I' m still honestly staggered that - even if you take the fairly garbled testimony as sacrosanct, that shooting is at all defensible.

The contrast between the testimony - where a man described as large as Hulk Hogan is repeatedly wailing on and hitting a man in the face - a man so strong this 200 pound 6, 4" officer felt like a child holding his arm - and the fucking photos of his non-swollen, non-bruised face from the hands of this enraged behemoth, with the magical disappearing and reappearing cigarillos that never fell in the car or on the officer or on the ground during this sustained pounding, is jaw dropping.

I also loved the fact that he couldn't use the mace - it wouldn't have made a difference on the demon - whilst in the very next sentence he says he was also worried that the tiniest amount of mace landing on him would take him completely out of action.

FFS.
posted by smoke at 2:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [33 favorites]


These fools seem to actively enjoy maximizing violence. If they don't then there's not a one of them at any level that isn't massively incompetent.
posted by Artw at 2:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's something that I read about after I first Obama's race speech in 2008.
"We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People" is a document accusing the United States government of genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention. This document was created by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) and presented to the United Nations in December 1951.

The document pointed out that the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defined genocide as any acts committed with "intent to destroy" a group, "in whole or in part."[1] To build its case for black genocide the document cited many instances of lynching in the United States, as well as legal discrimination, a series of incidents of police brutality dating to the present, and systematic inequalities in health and quality of life. The central argument: the US government is both complicit with and responsible for a genocidal situation based on the UN's own definition of genocide.
Emphasis mine.
posted by the cydonian at 2:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


What sane world do people sit around when presented with this bald fact:

Unarmed teenager shot umpty times by cop

And think:

Well, odds are he had it coming to him.

Let's be honest: If you say "we need all the facts," or "I need to hear both sides," or "do you know how scary it is to be a cop?" that's just window dressing on the above statement, given just that single fact. There is literally no scenario where the killing an unarmed teen by a cop is a justifiable outcome. None. There is no other additional fact or facts which could come to light which would make it OK.

(If your world view allows a scenario where shooting unarmed kids by the people we specifically empower to protect them, you're a piece of shit. There is no sugar-coating it.)

Making that kind of weak sauce weaker is another fact:

Cops kill black kids at alarming rates, with no consequences and no conscience

Even if Mike Brown was an isolated incident, it would be awful and unconscionable. But context matters, and the context of cops and black people in America is that one murders the other at an alarming rate. It isn't the black folk killing the police.
posted by maxwelton at 2:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [71 favorites]


Is that it for Darren Wilson, legally? He's 100% off the hook?

no, another grand jury, or another prosecutor can always indict, although i wouldn't hold my breath for that

and seeing as there's no statute of limitations for murder, a case could be brought for as long as darren wilson lives
posted by pyramid termite at 2:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ugh, the grand jury documents are in a terrible format, hopefully people are converting them to html or epub dormat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:02 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here is what the BBC is reporting:

Michael Brown killing - Darren Wilson's testimony

Mr Wilson says he tried to block Mr Brown and his friend with his police vehicle in connection with a robbery.

When he tried to open the car door, Mr Wilson says Mr Brown slammed it back shut. The officer says he then pushed Mr Brown with the door but was hit in the face by Mr Brown

When he drew his gun, he says, Mr Brown grabbed it and insulted him

A shot went through the police car window and Mr Brown stepped back, he says, but looked at him with the "most intense, aggressive face"

He fired two more shots in the car before Mr Brown ran off, he says

Mr Brown stopped, the officer says, and was told to get on the ground. Instead he advanced on Mr Wilson, putting his right hand under his shirt in the waistband of his trousers

Mr Wilson opened fire on Mr Brown.


Is that really what he said? I've been trying to verify it using the grand jury documents but they're very poorly formatted.
posted by Shouraku at 3:09 AM on November 25, 2014


Is that really what he said?

Yeah, that's an accurate summary. Wilson's testimony starts on page 197 of this part of the evidence, if that helps. Dorian Johnson's account starts on page 16 here.

I haven't made it through much of the other witness testimony, but there is this eye-popping journal entry. I guess it supports Wilson's account of what happened but jesus, I'd like to hear the background on that witness because it's hard to believe it's for real.
posted by torticat at 3:50 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I haven't made it through much of the other witness testimony, but there is this eye-popping journal entry. I guess it supports Wilson's account of what happened but jesus, I'd like to hear the background on that witness because it's hard to believe it's for real.

Hey can you clarify who's journal entry that is? It's not immediately obvious when I started reading it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:55 AM on November 25, 2014


Last nigh, police shot and killed a man 150m from my door while I was out at dinner. Today I know his age, that he was recently released from prison and his name. I know that police in my state have killed 4 people this year. I don't know what colour those people were, but - Australia is different - if they were indigenous, they would have been less likely to have been perceived as presenting deadly force. For Australian black people, the risk of death with law enforcement increases phenomenally after they are incarcerated, and very often, there is no reasonable explanation.

I started with that because I found myself inclined to accuse the US of living within the pages of "to kill a mockingbird". I thought, initially, that I could say that I could trust our justice system to examine the circumstances of this death. But I can't.

I have watched the Internet conversations about street harassment of women, and Bill Cosby. I don't know if I am surprised anymore, but I am still shocked, by the people who refuse to listen to stories many of us know so intimately. I am surprised and shocked that the world (not only the US justice system) continues to pretend that racism got off the bus with Rosa Parks. But I am also surprised and shocked that world leaders (particular my country's prime minister) deny the effects of climate change.

Has it always be like this? Am I smug and pompous in my assumed understanding that minorities get a raw deal, that women are second class citizens, that we are destroying our planet when there are viable energy alternatives? I feel so stupid that some things seem so incredibly in your face and obvious and yet, they keep happening, and there is a lot of people dedicated to seeing this is the result. How is this even a thing? Are the power brokers so corrupt?

My post is not entirely on topic, I'm sorry, and I don't pretend that my experiences as a woman are anything like the tragedy and injustice that this man, his family and friends, his community, and anyone with a skin colour that is not white faces. I just don't - how can this be? Are we not civilised?
posted by b33j at 3:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


Plus, most people would be watching Dancing with the Stars instead of the news.
posted by desjardins at 11:45 PM on November 24 [2 favorites +] [!]

The most awful part of last night was that there was a solid 90% of twitter devoted to the outrage of the events surrounding Ferguson and then 10% of my time-line was filled with people talking about Doctor Who or Dancing with the Stars or whatever. It felt jarring to see such normalcy alongside of such injustice.
posted by Fizz at 4:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I do not know, BB! Like I said I haven't made it through everything & I'm looking for some other reference to "witness 40" besides that exhibit, but haven't seen anything. It's totally nuts, though. Some person just randomly decides to drive to Florissant that day on a mission to become less of a racist shithead, happens to see the whole Michael Brown shooting firsthand, then writes an account down in all that detail?
posted by torticat at 4:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]




It sucks to be so flippant, but police getting away with killing people is normality - and I say that as a non-American. I dread to think what it must be like to live with American police - particularly having the wrong skin colour.

The thing about this incident that horrifies me (with all sympathy to the victim and his family), is the obviously pre-prepared military-style crackdown on any protest. I'm astonished that there haven't been more martyrs at this point.
posted by pompomtom at 4:22 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plus, most people would be watching Dancing with the Stars instead of the news.

Also this happened.
posted by winna at 4:28 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Unbelievable. They have released pictures of Wilson's 'injuries' from the incident and I shit you not, this is one of the photos...
posted by colie at 4:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [37 favorites]


There are several hundred million guns in this country and more than several dozen million who want to extract their pound of flesh for decades of systemic injustice.

While I wont quibble with the numbers, I think it's important to understand that most of those guns are in the hands of people who probably applauded this decision, and the "systemic injustice" they would take-up arms against pretty much revolves around there being a black man in the White House, and liberalism in general.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


USA Today Accidentally Ran Article Announcing ‘No Indictment’ Well Before Verdict Was Announced

I'm sure that "accidentally" is used in the same way the AP "predicts" election results.
posted by mikelieman at 4:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Americans of conscience need to choose one major Missouri-based business and boycott it on a national basis until it fails. Then another. And keep going. No favoritism, pick consumer-driven businesses that are important to the state's tax base. And just pick them off.

No justice, no money. It's a language the fuckers understand well.
posted by spitbull at 4:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


I just read that the Justice Dept. is still investigating the case, so maybe there might be federal charges down the line. I don't think Wilson is celebrating just yet.
posted by Renoroc at 4:51 AM on November 25, 2014


jeffburdges:"Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides"

"In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members.
Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.
And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives — 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan — than has violence between spouses and dating partners."


Wow. Just... wow. To serve and protect, no doubt.
posted by RedOrGreen at 4:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Hit the streets tonight, y'all!
posted by oceanjesse at 4:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


No justice, no money. It's a language the fuckers understand well.

No offence, and this whole thing makes me feel utterly ill, but this scheme seems like another way to inflict collateral damage. (Lovely expression!)

I suppose it worked in South Africa. I'll shut up and mourn now.

.
posted by Wolof at 5:11 AM on November 25, 2014


God.... Those pictures. My ten year old, eleven pound poodle mix leaves more visible damage on me when she does her good morning love and wrestle on my head everyday. Wow. This whole thing is so unbelievable. Is the majority of the country really buying this shit? I just can't.
posted by pearlybob at 5:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


This is coming from a community that put up a "Pants up, don't loot" signs.
Yeah, take the last words of a dead kid and mock the clothing of the young people in the community, that's really fuckin wise.
posted by angrycat at 5:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Why it's Impossible to Indict a Cop (The Nation). Briefer overview from the Boston Globe: There Will Be More Fegusons.

Related commentary: Ferguson Feeds Off the Poor: Three Warrants a Year Per Household (Daily Beast), All Eyes on Ferguson (Bitch Magazine), Police in Ferguson Committed Human Rights Abuses: Amnesty Report (Reuters).

(A couple of those links are from August or September.)
posted by eviemath at 5:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


That pic of the "injury".... Is that a shaving cut? Or a rash? I've injured myself more visibly by playing with a friendly cat.
posted by sio42 at 5:36 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I just read that the Justice Dept. is still investigating the case, so maybe there might be federal charges down the line.

It is unlikely that Wilson will see any criminal charges as a result of the DOJ investigation.

What's more likely, I think, is that DOJ investigations of St. Louis County and Ferguson Police Departments will result in the DOJ releasing letters of finding that outline systemic problems, and the police departments will enter into a court-enforced settlement intended to address those issues.

You can get a general idea of what the process and results look like based on this transcript from a speech describing the settlement agreement between the DOJ and Albuquerque Police Department.

Just to be clear, I don't think that these settlements are perfect fixes, but I do think that they can be very important improvements. The DOJ findings letter from a recent investigation into the Miami PD describes an earlier investigation of the same department begun in May 2002. Between December 2002 and September 2004, MPD officers shot at zero human beings. Not only did they not kill anyone, they didn't even shoot at anyone.

I believe that the pressure brought by that investigation saved lives. But because of the perceived progress, the investigation was closed without formal agreement in 2006. Over an 8-month period in 2010 and 2011, MPD fatally shot seven black men. The DOJ then opened a new investigation that resulted in the 2013 findings letter linked above.

In a better world, we would see successful criminal prosecutions for civil rights violations. In a much better world, there would be no such crimes to prosecute. In the world we have, we need to push for increased use of the life-saving tools that are already available to us. It shouldn't take a victim like Mike Brown to focus scrutiny on these police departments.

If you believe that your local law enforcement agencies have engaged in civil rights violations, write to every elected official who represents you. Cite example cases. Tell them that you want to see a fair and transparent DOJ investigation that results in prosecutions, or failing that, concrete and court-enforced changes. Tell your friends to write.

These investigations and settlements are not a perfect tool, and their availability should not distract us from the promise of better solutions. But they are available.
posted by compartment at 5:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [28 favorites]


For those in the Twin Cities with the time today, the Coalition for Critical Change, Communities United Against Police Brutality and other groups who work on related issues have organized a protest at 4:30 at Lake and Minnehaha in S Minneapolis. If you are coming from downtown, you can take the light rail to Lake.

There is a student demonstration at 3pm at the UMN outside of Coffman.

https://www.facebook.com/events/399508266871199/?ref=22

I would say that even if you can't get there on the nose at 4:30, it is likely to be relatively large and thus slower getting off the ground, so don't be afraid to show up a bit later. If you are driving, probably the easiest way to park is to park several blocks south of Lake (since N. of Lake is basically commercial stuff) and walk. If you have never been to a demonstration and are uncertain of the protocol or are nervous about showing up alone and not knowing anyone, you can memail me - I will, I hope, be there, although probably a little late due to work. I may not have access to memail after about 3pm though.

If you have not been to a lot of demos - dress warmly, carry a lightweight bag if possible and bring a bottle of water.
posted by Frowner at 5:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


That pic of the "injury".... Is that a shaving cut? Or a rash? I've injured myself more visibly by playing with a friendly cat.

It looks to me like ol' boy was savagely attacked by a pimple or an ingrown hair. Those fiends! How dare they assault our brave men in blue who keep us safe by shooting children.
posted by winna at 5:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's the most amazing photo. The area of the image that is in focus actually contains fewer incidences of anything remotely reddened than the area out of focus, and all of it simply shows a baseline normal level of skin abrasion that might be caused by a shirt collar or perhaps washing detergent.
posted by colie at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2014


I was watching Sleepy Hollow last night, when Fox News broke in with the event (as an aside, I've noticed Fox News bleeding over onto regular Fox TV more and more lately) and I could have sworn Shepherd Smith, in setting up the story, said "a white officer shot an armed black man". Now...he may have said unarmed, but I sure didn't hear it like that. Maybe he said it like "anunarmed"? I any case, it really jumped out at me.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2014


Statement from Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
We know that racism wears many faces in today’s society, some of them subtle and some of them blatant. We know that whatever happened in Ferguson is but symptomatic of larger stresses that face all of our communities. And we know that good people of any race who are prepared to recognize the fragility of all life; the common woe of all injustice; and the need to reach out loving hands to all who suffer that good people like that can eventually change the world. As we react to the decision of the grand jury not to indict officer Darren Wilson, may we remember these eternal truths and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Ferguson and across this country who seek to dissolve the boundaries that divide our hearts.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


BBC article, which seems slightly biased (see the annotations on the map). Warning: Contains hospital pic of Darren Wilson, and Mike "demonic" Brown.
posted by marienbad at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2014


It may be part of that above-mentioned "decline narrative", but more and more people don't seem to hold much empathy these days.

On this, I agree with you. I think people are more brittle, nastier, than at any time in my entire life. I have also heard my mom, who witnessed the schisms over civil rights, Vietnam, etc., from pretty close up, say the same. I have theories about this, but I think the most basic factor is that everyone is quite afraid. We have been manipulated politically, very adeptly, to channel our reasonable fears over the dim forecast for our personal security, the stagnation of income levels, the shrinking of the job market (which will only continue with further automation), and the nearly wholesale signover of our welfare to the whims of the marketplace into a self-centered set of philosophies that denies any obligation to one another and even the need to participate together with each other in social decisions. Combine this with the perceived threat of loss of status for previously privileged groups, and you get an epidemic of assholishness of massive proportions. I've been noting it for a while - the smug, sneering, shrugging response that seems alien to empathy. It's pretty poisonous. 'Look out for number one and fuck the other guy': the defensibleness of this as a public positon has definitely risen in my lifetime.

He does not feel at all comfortable in the neighborhood he polices. He feels it's an environment hostile to police - and honestly, it'd be understandable if it were.

Whether or not it is subjectively "understandable," Wilson's lack of "comfort" does not serve as any kind of mitigrating factor or excuse. It is the responsibility of police departments to develop good relationships with the people they serve. He failed and his department failed. For that they should be held accountable.
posted by Miko at 6:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [87 favorites]


The CNN frontpage right now is disgusting. 100% riot-porn, a buried admission somewhere in paragraph 5 that the demonstrators are "mostly peaceful" (so let's show that burning police car!!!) and nowhere, fucking nowhere, any sort of thought or prayer or reflection for a young, dead, unarmed black man.

The media (and the public??) truly does not give a shit how many black people die as long as they can still say "look, maybe a black person set that police car on fire, THAT'S SO WRONG! SHOW SOME RESPECT!"
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


We have been manipulated politically, very adeptly, to channel our reasonable fears over the dim forecast for our personal security, the stagnation of income levels, the shrinking of the job market (which will only continue with further automation), and the nearly wholesale signover of our welfare to the whims of the marketplace into a self-centered set of philosophies that denies any obligation to one another and even the need to participate together with each other in social decisions.

So...Mission Accomplished?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Even NPR. I'm about tired of hearing every story open with the lead line "Riots erupt in Ferguson last night...." instead of talking about the content of the grand jury, context, next steps in the investigation of the police department, civil charges, or, you know, the larger issue. This isn't coverage that educates and enlightens, Details of thrown rocks and broken windows are not going to help us figure out where we need to go next. I wrote to tell them so.
posted by Miko at 6:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [48 favorites]


I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson had, if his story is true.

I don't think it's easy to convey the probably hysterical terror that Wilson Jonathan Harker had, if his story is true.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


nakedmolerats: "The media (and the public??) truly does not give a shit how many black people die as long as they can still say "look, maybe a black person set that police car on fire, THAT'S SO WRONG! SHOW SOME RESPECT!""

There are awful people shitting their pants over pictures of protestors burning flags, too. Apparently even non-violent acts of protest are beyond the pale.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


That was my thought on my, blessedly short, commute this morning. The leads are all wrong. The public has been horribly underserved by the press in this event. Context matters. Not page views. And not tweets. Spend a few minutes getting things right, and helping some people make sense of the world. Build something that lives longer than a homepage refresh.
posted by DigDoug at 6:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I though burning the flag was always like the biggest big deal in America?
posted by colie at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


"But what is also true is that there are still problems — and communities of color aren't just making these problems up. Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in a discriminatory fashion." -Barack OBAMA

Way to stoke the flames. I know his intent, but these words are not helping.
posted by Gungho at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2014


Maybe I'm just feeling extra cynical, but it seems to me the police leadership and judicial apparatus behind this failure to indict can plausibly be accused of terrorism. Is it not obvious that this incident and the related trends of profiling, police militarization, asset forfeiture, covert operations, and regulatory impotence amount to a perfect incubator for ISIL or something like it in the US?

It is beyond dispute that the best antidote against terrorism is civility. The consistent failure to deliver justice to ISIL's prime recruiting demographic—not just blacks, but generally those on the lower rungs of a contracting economic system—sure looks like treason to me.

But violence is the only major growth industry we have left, and it looks like we're going to feed it so we don't have to face up to some uncomfortable facts about our society's future. Sure wish I could be prouder of my nation.
posted by maniabug at 6:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Twin Citians: In addition to the info Frowner posted above, I also heard on the news this morning that there will be a demonstration at the MN Capitol tonight at (I think) 7pm. Trying to find a link or event page now.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:32 AM on November 25, 2014


While the mainstream media perpetuate racism, social media have been dynamic sites for both the transmission of information & for counter-narratives that expose and oppose racism, McCulloch's blaming social media notwithstanding.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


In addition to bodycams, put 360-degree always-on cameras (w/ mics) on police car light-bars, and a car interior cam/mic. Cars should be able to carry enough storage for a month's worth of recordings.
posted by fings at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would like to take those people upset about burning the flag and shove some empathy into their heads. Do we have that technology yet?
posted by angrycat at 6:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I just feel sad. Sad, sad, sad. I can't even muster up anger. I used to live in St. Louis and I drove through that part of town every day. Sadness times a thousand.
posted by something something at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


My FB feed is already full of pearl-clutching about "how these people could destroy their own neighborhoods." This is coming barely two days after a white, anti-government wing-nut in the neighborhood right next to ours (and across the street from a close friend's house) set his house on fire, ambushed the first responders, and started shooting randomly at people in the neighborhood.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


From twitter, link to Ferguson Public Library. A donation to the community's library to commemerate Brown seems like a fine thing to do.
posted by angrycat at 6:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Corb, please do not start with the "what-if" scenarios in which it's okay to shoot an unarmed teen/person.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2014 [54 favorites]


There's a reason that you can't rattle off a list of The Great Race Wars of History: it is a fake idea peddled by paranoiacs
Can I move to your planet? Mine appears to be grossly defective.
posted by roystgnr at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


While the mainstream media perpetuate racism, social media have been dynamic sites for both the transmission of information & for counter-narratives that expose and oppose racism, McCulloch's blaming social media notwithstanding.

I rarely tweet, but I often re-tweet. After following and re-tweeting some of the major Ferguson twitter people over the past few months, I've noticed that people who follow me are more engaged in person and online on Ferguson. Exposure to other perspectives DOES make a difference.
posted by sallybrown at 6:50 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


My niece and her friends were targeted by police a few weeks ago for no other reason than because they were Aboriginal and out at night in suburbia. Four people in a car, one of whom was visiting his kids briefly and all of a sudden 12! police were there, questioning what they were doing. One 'wrong' word and whilst they most likely would not have been shot, this being Australia (although, as b33j mentioned above, such a thing is not completely off the cards) things could have escalated dreadfully. And for no other reason than because their ethnicity put them on the cards as suspicious. It's disgusting and it's happening everywhere. And everywhere you'll hear the same fuckwits blaming those in the firing line and not those doing the firing. Shame on bad cops everywhere.
posted by h00py at 6:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I am stunned and angry and like so many other folks, I was hoping for an indictment despite it being unlikely. I won't say that I am disappointed in America because the America that is the land of the free and the home of the brave only ever existed for white people.

Just...fuck this racist bullshit and fuck cops who kill kids.
posted by Kitteh at 6:53 AM on November 25, 2014


Out of the countless unfolding tragedies of this, I think one of the saddest things was the expectation among the community that they were never going to receive justice through the legal system in the first place. A prosecutor who presents defense evidence and media that treats an indictment as if it were the trial itself is some Twilight Zone level madness that exists right before our very eyes.

If the "bikes and cars" metaphor doesn't work for you, the "sea of despair" extends well:
Many White people live in a land of despair, but when they grow weary, most of them can stop and rest. Black people live in a sea of despair. Even when they grow weary, they can't stop moving or they will surely drown. And they must accomplish miraculous feats to be noticed by those living on the land. And don't even get me started on the underwater breathing techniques Native Americans have to learn.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 7:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


if darren wilson gets hysterically frightened intereacting with a single unarmed individual in broad daylight, maybe he should rethink his career choice. kind of like how surgeons can't get squeamish around blood and first responders need to keep their shit together.

ugh. this whole thing makes me sick.
posted by sio42 at 7:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [47 favorites]


In addition to bodycams, put 360-degree always-on cameras (w/ mics) on police car light-bars, and a car interior cam/mic. Cars should be able to carry enough storage for a month's worth of recordings.

I'm sorry, but I can't even bring myself to believe that any of that will change things in any significant way.

The music will always be too loud, the candy and soda the ingredients for some super drug. They must have moved too quick and spooked the officer, otherwise they must not have moved fast enough. The drugs are always detectable by cops and vigilantes in ways that no actual human will ever be capable of. The cops will always be more "justifiably" terrified than the citizens. The victim will never show the proper amount of respect, of deference, of humility, of submission. They will always be too angry, too unreasonable, too wild, too uppity. They will be too big or dark or around too many people who look like them. There will always be something that looks like a weapon. They will always have the wrong kind of jacket, the wrong kind of shoes, and wear their pants the wrong way. They will always be resisting, no matter how restrained they may be. They will always be or about to be thugs, drug dealers, lowlifes. They will always be animals.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [56 favorites]


>Wilson admits that he shot at Brown from inside the police car, Brown ran away, and Wilson got out of the car and chased him.

Your use of the word "admits" implies that Wilson's actions above were unjustified or improper -- can you elaborate?
posted by BurntHombre at 7:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's revolting, but par for the course, that anyone would try to act as Darren Wilson's counsel in the court of public opinion after he was spared even the inconvenience of a trial in a court of law.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Sarah Kenzior: Darren Wilson will never be on trial. Black St. Louis always was. "Letter from St. Louis" in politico.
posted by nangar at 7:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't see how I could possibly get past the "if his story is true" part. Even on charitable read. How'd you manage?

I think of this situation as a tragedy of misunderstanding and fear. So the first thing to do is to try to look from each viewpoint and see: is it possible for both people involved to be acting from within their own worldview, understandably, but each tragically wrong about the other? If yes, then a charitable view requires us to at least briefly look at that world. I think in general, it's more likely that most people try to do what they think is right within their world view, rather than that they do what is wrong. From the beginning, the idea that Wilson just shot Brown "because he was black" was incomprehensible to me.

But the grand jury documents seem to show a world in which this is true. Where Brown, perhaps having experienced racism and prejudice in his life, perhaps having good reason to dislike the police in a neighborhood where it seems police have no reason to be loved, gives a smart ass profane answer to a cop - one that is common and normative in the society he sees. Wilson, living a quieter, more middle class white existence, is not culturally aware of normative dislike of the police. He thinks (and this is clear from the testimony) that people who are cursing at police or staring at them with hatred are abnormal, that there is something wrong, something criminal, about them. Wilson clearly believes that all law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the police - an ignorant belief, but not a malicious one.

From this point the tragic stage is set. Wilson thinks Brown is a criminal - if for nothing else, for assaulting a police officer - and those of us who protest know how thin that line needs to be. (If you even touch a police officer, much less touch his gun, as the GSR seems to suggest, you can be charged with assault). Brown likely thinks - as many here have thought - that Wilson is a racist and he just needs to get away to be safe. Wilson believes that only criminals run and he has been told about a "force triangle" where he is allowed to respond with one level of force above the force he is receiving. (That part is a real training thing, I have heard from cops elsewhere)

I think what's honestly needed is cultural competency classes, like soldiers have to do when they are deployed to a foreign country. What do these actions mean? What is normative in the territory you are assigned? What are actual signals of potential criminal activity, and what is just generic resentment being expressed?
posted by corb at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


What really pissed me off last night, watching the various live streams, is that the riot cops were laughing as they got back onto the buses. Like it was just one grand night out, where some of the lucky ones got to shoot rubber bullets and tear gas at a bunch of black people.
posted by xedrik at 7:13 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Like, I think there are absolutely two or more Americas, and we don't do anyone any services by pretending they are the same, pretending that people from different communities all act as middle class white norms demand.
posted by corb at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Even NPR. I'm about tired of hearing every story open with the lead line "Riots erupt in Ferguson last night...." instead of talking about the content of the grand jury, context, next steps in the investigation of the police department, civil charges, or, you know, the larger issue. This isn't coverage that educates and enlightens, Details of thrown rocks and broken windows are not going to help us figure out where we need to go next. I wrote to tell them so.

And this right here is exactly why they make the announcement in the dark at 8:30 last night. They knew what they were doing, and so did we. If you make that announcement in the morning there are 12 hours of peaceful protests throughout the city sparking nuanced discussion and criticism, with a chance for some violence and looting at night. If you make that announcement at night the rage bubbles over immediately and you get maybe 1 or 2 shots of pain and peaceful protest, but plenty of shots of fire to put on the papers the next day. And now that's the story.
posted by DynamiteToast at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [35 favorites]


Corb, you're working surprisingly hard to create a relatable narrative for a racist murder by a racist murderer.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [60 favorites]


Americans of conscience need to choose one major Missouri-based business and boycott it on a national basis until it fails. Then another. And keep going. No favoritism, pick consumer-driven businesses that are important to the state's tax base. And just pick them off.

May I propose McCormick Distilling Company as the first target? They're probably looking forward to a business bump from all the people planning holiday parties over the next couple weeks...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Surprisingly?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]


Wilson, living a quieter, more middle class white existence, is not culturally aware of normative dislike of the police.

You'd only have to be a police officer for about an hour to pick up on this. You are reaching here, and it isn't working.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [42 favorites]


In most protests I've taken part in, people chant slogans that are in some way aspirational, hoping for something better. In that context, it's startlingly depressing to hear people chant: "Black lives matter." We live in a world where people still have to aspire to their lives having value.
posted by Kattullus at 7:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [46 favorites]


I really hate how the actions of a minority of fuckwits who turn to violence becomes the story that the media gloms on to, and the movement which is about bringing light to the fact that a young man was killed by a cop but because he was big and black his life meant nothing is diminished by that media spotlight which is only concerned with getting pictures of mayhem. It's not only bad cops, but bad journalists, who should be ashamed.
posted by h00py at 7:18 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


> Like, I think there are absolutely two or more Americas, and we don't do anyone any services by pretending they are the same, pretending that people from different communities all act as middle class white norms demand.

Despite the extended metaphor, there is only one America; the difference in communities being that only some of them are able or allowed to act as "middle class White norms" demand.

I was really saying that people on the land need to start pulling people out of the water.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


You'd only have to be a police officer for about an hour to pick up on this.

To pick up on the dislike? Absolutely. To understand that the dislike itself is understandable and reasonable and rational? No, that's not normal at all and certainly does not occur your first hour on the force. It is really easy for us as humans to separate the world into enemies and non enemies. It has to be actively worked against. Understanding and empathizing with opposing viewpoints is sadly not something that comes naturally.
posted by corb at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is what people are talking about when they deride the politics of respectability. Those in power can always move you from the respectable group to the other category, and nothing about you - not your age, not your background, not your personality, not your achievements, not the truth of what you did or how you behaved - will ever outweigh their thumb on the scale. You're respectable until you're shot, and once you're shot, they can explain how dangerous you were, how violent, how you frightened them. The illusory protections of being respectable vanish. "We won't kill you if you act right" is a lie, because it's those in power who determine the label you get. There is a lot of focus on whether or not Michael Brown was toeing the line of respectability or not - did he steal from a convenience store? Is he a pure enough victim? It's a red herring. There's always one more invisible line to cross or another unwritten rule to break that justifies the shooting. Now the protestors are not being respectable enough. It's every tone argument you've ever had. "We might take our boot off your neck if you ask nicely." You can never ask nicely enough.
posted by prefpara at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [73 favorites]


Wilson, living a quieter, more middle class white existence, is not culturally aware of normative dislike of the police.

He's the son of a con artist. Are you kidding me?
posted by asockpuppet at 7:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Deadly force can be used against a suspect who is fleeing" is not an opposing viewpoint that can be justified with armchair psychoanalysis.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]




[Corb, if you cannot tell that this is not the time for you to be trying to drum up sympathy for Darren Wilson, and Taz's mod comment also didn't penetrate, I will use blunter terms: knock it off or it will be knocked for you. Thank you. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:24 AM on November 25, 2014 [70 favorites]


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
posted by tivalasvegas at 7:26 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


re: "the facts" : the most basic facts about the crime scene, distances and locations of people and things, were lied about by the police to the media less than a day after the shooting. If the police are not collecting evidence, not interviewing witnesses, and propagandizing false evidence, then the official facts are worse than useless to 'wait for'to come out'.
posted by anthill at 7:26 AM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I can't even bring myself to believe that any of that will change things in any significant way.

I don't know how bad the Rialto CA police were to start with. But they did a randomized controlled study there, sending some shifts out with body cameras and others without, and the ones with body cameras saw an 88% reduction in complaints from the public and a 60% reduction in use of force. Still a small study in a single area.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think what's honestly needed is cultural competency classes, like soldiers have to do when they are deployed to a foreign country.

Alternately, police forces across America are viciously racist, and view the type of cultural training you're talking about as a joke.

I'm not just hypothesizing here, though: Seattle (the city I know best) does something like the cultural training for police officers that you're talking about as part of the race and social justice initiative there, and the police show absolutely nothing but contempt for it, referring to it in their union newspaper (a journal with the complexly ironic name "The Guardian") as a socialist conspiracy / creeping communism.

It's not about exposing the police to education. They've been exposed. And they've decided they don't care.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [44 favorites]


> Why Obama won’t give the Ferguson speech his supporters want.

For a long time (but not forever!) there's always a Good Reason why the President cannot be effectual for the people, and there's always a Good Reason why the President "must" push his efforts toward the right.

But it's BS. Perhaps the President can't directly say, "This ruling was a miscarriage of justice." He certainly can say, "The people who waited to announce this until the evening, guaranteeing a riot, need to lose their jobs" - because that's true even if you agree with the ruling. He could announce a federal investigation; he could announce a Justice Department focus against the militarization of the police; he could say and do a ton of things that weren't vacuous.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


I actually do think police obviously need some kind of adrenaline inoculation. Like, they need to undergo repeated impact inoculation drills (a self-defense thing where a small group of people with boxing gloves on beat on you for a few minutes while you try to shield yourself but don't fight back) and have regular firefight drills with rubber bullets and minimal safety gear (face shields, maybe). It won't solve racism but it will make them less slaves to their glands and help remove the "but he was scared!" defense.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Frustration at the grand jury decision is completely understandable. Looting the stores of innocent store owners is absolutely unacceptable.
posted by shivohum at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


He thinks (and this is clear from the testimony) that people who are cursing at police or staring at them with hatred are abnormal, that there is something wrong, something criminal, about them.

It strains my credulity to imagine that an experienced police officer in that area would not understand that hatred of the cops is utterly common.

Wilson clearly believes that all law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from the police - an ignorant belief, but not a malicious one.


This picture of Wilson as a babe in the woods does not seem to me to square with his grand jury testimony.

I can construct scenarios in which Wilson actually feared for his life, and should have been found not guilty (albeit unsuited to police work) at the trial he should have had. But such stunning naivete on his part isn't one of them.
posted by tyllwin at 7:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Corb's post was fine. Attempting to understand the psychology behind the shooting is not the same thing as trying to drum up sympathy. There are a lot of similarities with the Zimmerman case, outsized fear of young black men leading to panic. It wasn't cross burning racism, it's the subtle background racism that leads to a fist fight being seen as a life or death situation when it doesn't necessarily have to be.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [33 favorites]


OH BRAVE SOUL YOU STOOD UP TO THOSE LOOTERS!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Looting the stores of innocent store owners is absolutely unacceptable.

The "tut tut" heard round the world.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [26 favorites]


Corb's post was fine.

Take it to the gray house down the street, droog.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Here's a thought: if you think that looting is a more pressing concern than murdering unarmed black youths, then well fix your fucking priorities.

Also, if you denounce looting now but didn't every time a whole bunch of white people riot after a sports team wins/loses a game, then you are a racist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [98 favorites]


I'm all for looking at the systemic problems in policing and the ways we need to force compliance with an attitude of protect & serve the public, but at this time Darren Wilson faces no significant consequences for his actions and Mike Brown continues to be dead. Vocalizing a narrative where two "sides" created this circumstance in equal measure is offensive, particularly considering that one of those sides has demonstrated reduced culpability and all the weapons and authority. You want to talk reality that's fine. Equal culpability here is not reality.
posted by phearlez at 7:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Corb's post was fine. Attempting to understand the psychology behind the shooting is not the same thing as trying to drum up sympathy.

Her posts in these sorts of things are always way long on "things she thinks might be true" and way short on "evidence". Always couched in reasonable-sounding language, mind.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [36 favorites]


Langston Hughes is really good poetry to read right now. He was able to articulate rage in a way that was so simple and powerful.
posted by angrycat at 7:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


I deplore violence, but social unrest like this and the police ambush in my backyard over the weekend are just going to get worse and become more and more frequent until our political leaders stop self-serving and start making serious progress on addressing the deeper social, political, and economic issues effecting people's daily lives in America today. It's horrible, but it isn't like people in the US don't "destroy their own neighborhoods" over dumber things. People rioted on behalf of Jerry Sandusky, FFS!

Frustration at the grand jury decision is completely understandable. Looting the stores of innocent store owners is absolutely unacceptable.

Unacceptable, sure, but also inevitable given human nature. All of this is unnecessary. All it would take to end it is for authorities to genuinely see the community they serve in Ferguson as people with a right to exercise some influence over how they are governed, as people with the ability to judge for themselves when they're being given a fair shake. It would be one thing if the Michael Brown incident were the first time we'd heard complaints of problems in the relationship between the Ferguson community and their police force. But this stuff goes back further than that.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Absolutely unacceptable.
posted by theodolite at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2014 [65 favorites]


Yes, let's talk about the looting. Looting looting looting. Looters! Looting looting! Looting! Thank god for the looting. What a relief. As long as those black people are doing something wrong, it's not clearly wrong to deny them their human and civil rights, to oppress them, to shoot them, to gas them, to insult them, to spit in their faces. Not clearly. We can just wait for the moment when they demonstrate perfect peace and submission and then we will definitely start helping right away and changing the system, definitely. Maybe the system still won't need to change, though? Because once those black people stop being so bad all the time, you know, then the violence and oppression will stop too? Because it's just happening in reaction to how badly black people are behaving. They're causing it. They're looting. Let's just wait for the looting to stop. Shh. I am watching the news, it's reporting that there is looting.
posted by prefpara at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [171 favorites]


I think what's honestly needed is cultural competency classes, like soldiers have to do when they are deployed to a foreign country. What do these actions mean? What is normative in the territory you are assigned? What are actual signals of potential criminal activity, and what is just generic resentment being expressed?

I think at the point where we are training white police officers in black neighborhoods as if they were an occupying army in a conquered territory that we have bigger problems to solve than how to get them to stop murdering teenagers.
posted by empath at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [53 favorites]


>...long on "things she thinks might be true" and way short on "evidence"

A good description of most of the passionate opinions I've heard on this topic, frankly.
posted by BurntHombre at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


The idea that this was all just a cultural misunderstanding is especially bizarre given the history of brutality and investigations that Wilson, his fellow officers, and his superiors have faced in Ferguson and neighboring police forces. Wilson lost his first job when the force was disbanded due to racial discrimination.
posted by mbrubeck at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [24 favorites]


>...long on "things she thinks might be true" and way short on "evidence"

A good description of most of the passionate opinions I've heard on this topic, frankly.


Yep. Corb is far from alone on that score.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Seems like what happened at the shooting, and what people think happened, are very different.
posted by stbalbach at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


It is really easy for us as humans to separate the world into enemies and non enemies.

I will go ahead and say that yes it is reasonable to consider someone an "enemy" if they shoot an unarmed teenager several times and the law says that's dandy
posted by Greg Nog at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [51 favorites]


Darren Wilson got almost half a million dollars in donations, got married while on paid leave, and was not indicted. Like Zimmerman, he's gotten the most definitive charitable reading of his actions possible, and I don't think he needs any benefit of the doubt from me (or anyone else).
posted by rtha at 7:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [85 favorites]


Here's a thought: if you think that looting is a more pressing concern than murdering unarmed black youths, then well fix your fucking priorities.

Is looting is going to prevent further killings of unarmed black youths? Or is widespread, nationally televised looting going to make them more likely?

A small set of opportunistic looters are taking advantage of the situation and obscuring and hurting the larger issue at stake.
posted by shivohum at 7:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


A small set of opportunistic looters are taking advantage of the situation and obscuring and hurting the larger issue at stake.

As is your focus on that small set of opportunistic looters.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [62 favorites]


An attorney friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I offer it here: The old saying in the law is that you can indict a ham sandwich. But apparently not if it's on white bread.
posted by Ber at 7:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [82 favorites]


A large set of opportunistic racists are taking advantage of the looting and obscuring and hurting the larger issue at stake.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2014 [22 favorites]


help remove the "but he was scared!" defense.

Speaking of, why do we let so many cowards be part of our police force? Why can't we get rid of this cowardice?

(trick question, being scared of black people is actually called "racism" and we apparently have no interest in getting rid of that)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Darren Wilson got almost half a million dollars in donations, got married while on paid leave, and was not indicted. Like Zimmerman, he's gotten the most definitive charitable reading of his actions possible, and I don't think he needs any benefit of the doubt from me (or anyone else).

Last night KSDK had this super weird segment afterward where a disguised member of his support group read a thank you letter from him and he's just totes chuffed about the support you guys.

Not a word of sympathy, apology, or any acknowledgement at all of the Brown family. Video is here. Looks like they aren't showing the supporter reading it though.
posted by asockpuppet at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


They still can indict that ham sandwich, they just chose not to.

I'm not sure what part of this makes me most angry, but McCulloch's slimy indignation that he was forced to pretend to care about Michael Brown's life is very high on the list.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Is looting is going to prevent further killings of unarmed black youths? Or is widespread, nationally televised looting going to make them more likely?

I am hard pressed to think of how they get more likely.

At this point I am perfectly comfortable with the culture thinking that shit is going to burn if cops shoot unarmed black kids. I'd rather they didn't shoot them because it's the right thing to do. But if "don't murder" isn't sufficient motivation and we have to get financial interests pushing government to keep law enforcement from shooting unarmed black kids because otherwise their shit is going to be burned down... I'll take that.

Killing citizens is an act against civil society. I completely understand why a group of people respond to being told "you don't get to benefit from a stable society" might decide that they shouldn't have to play by any rules either. "Hey, play by the rules, don't harm shit" is something you ask of your fellow citizens. The violence and the endless punitive fines have communicated very clearly to the people of Ferguson they're the property, not participants. What's the motivation to keep from harming the machine grinding them up?

All that said - there's a lot of good reason to believe a sizable portion of the bad actors out on the street aren't motivated locals but random opportunists who see a chance to raise hell. The person setting cop cars on fire was some white guy. But boo-hoo-property-crime is playing into the oppressive narrative and I, for one, am done with it.
posted by phearlez at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [45 favorites]


A white man with a mask over his face sets fire to a car and no-one notices,* but all the news channels have pictures of the burning car five minutes later.

*except a lot of people on social media, but who cares about them?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


I didn't find out about the verdict until this morning. I burst into tears, and then had to explain to my 11 year old why I was crying. He's been paying attention to the story too. His outrage was so much stronger than I thought it would be. He wanted to know if we could go to the protest. We're way too far away to travel to Ferguson to be there, but we are bundling up and going to our local protest. There may be one near you.

And speaking of cops who kill kids of color and get away with it: let's not forget 12 year old Tamir Rice, who was gunned down in a playground last week by a cop. A cop who hasn't even had to make a statement, much less worry about being prosecuted.
posted by dejah420 at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


Or, to put it more bluntly, rights aren't something you earn by being perfect. Michael Brown didn't lose his right to life when he (if he) said something rude to a cop. The citizens of Ferguson didn't lose their right to justice when members of a crowd engaged in looting. Those who want to talk about looting are contributing to a narrative where you make one wrong move and you are no longer entitled or protected. Only, it never seems to work that way when it comes to the rights that those in power claim for themselves. Do you lose your gun license by doing one thing wrong, for example? Not if you're white.

Stop talking about the wrong things black people have done. There is only one question. Are black Americans full citizens with all the same rights and liberties as white Americans? And the answer is, based on what I see in the world around me, no. So talk about that. Talk about whether the Constitution has moral authority, or the government legitimacy, as long as its paper promises are dust and ash in the mouths of our neighbors of color.
posted by prefpara at 7:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [148 favorites]


A large set of opportunistic racists are taking advantage of the looting and obscuring and hurting the larger issue at stake.

Yes, I'm hearing a lot of people complaining about "them burning down their city, then getting federal aid to rebuild it."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think in general, it's more likely that most people try to do what they think is right within their world view, rather than that they do what is wrong.

A white police officer killing an unarmed black teenager in cold blood, describing him as "like a demon" in grand jury testimony, and getting off without a single criminal charge, and indeed becoming the heroic subject of triumphantly mocking billboards and posters and "I AM DARREN WILSON" T-shirts, followed by a press conference called at 8 at night by a smarmy, dismissive prosecutor whose condescension spills from his lips as he virtually indicts the victim in front of a nationwide audience, are not indicators of people, or a society, or a justice system, that has the remotest sight of the meaning of the difference between right and wrong anymore.
posted by blucevalo at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [89 favorites]


I've been reading through the testimony of Dorian Johnson, the guy who was with Mike Brown through the whole day and was standing literally inches from the initial shot. As he is describing where everybody's hands are when the first shot goes off, one of the jurors steps in to say:

"I don't see that you can have as much vision as you say. I don't think that you are lying, I think that you don't have as much of a good vision as you say." (Page 110)

So as the key eyewitness is testifying, one the the jurors apparently felt the need to speak up and state for the record that what this person was saying could not possibly be true. I don't imagine a different decision ever had a chance of coming out of that courtroom.
posted by parallellines at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [62 favorites]


The thing I'm finding most depressing this morning is Wilson's statement, through his lawyer, which basically just says "I did what I was supposed to do and everything turned out great for me." Can he not apologize to Michael Brown's parents for taking away their son's life, even if he genuinely believes he had no other choice than to do what he did? What kind of person doesn't feel remorse for killing an unarmed teenager? For killing someone's child?

I don't ever remember losing sleep over a news story like this. I lay in bed for a long time last night just feeling sad. There are a lot of things broken about the way America operates.
posted by something something at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [22 favorites]


EmpressCallipygios: Can I ask why not Budweiser, instead, which is actually a St. Louis-based company (ok, well, technically Belgian now, but...), rather than McCormick, which is over here on the other end of the state, and (as far as I know) is not a terribly objectionable company, aside from the dubious quality of their alcohol?
posted by jferg at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can I ask why not Budweiser, instead, which is actually a St. Louis-based company (ok, well, technically Belgian now, but...), rather than McCormick, which is over here on the other end of the state, and (as far as I know) is not a terribly objectionable company, aside from the dubious quality of their alcohol?

I didn't know about Budweiser, and that is a much worthier candidate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe I misread Obama's speech as he was giving it because it was split-screen with the start of the violence (the cops shooting tear gas), but I thought his face and his tone belied his true feelings. He seemed so angry and disappointed, pissed-off, even. And he started strong, but it dragged on and then came the platitudes and it undercut that anger I thought I saw at the beginning of his address. Maybe he was pissed at what he was about to say and how much of a shortfall it was from what we all needed to hear.

Oh, and seconding the belief that McCulloch's speech was insidiously condescending. It's like he wrote it weeks ago, showed it to Gov. Nixon, and then Nixon was like oh shit we better get the troops mobilized.

We need a culture where black kids want to grow up to become cops, not be afraid of them from day one. I would love to see all the black protesters, young, old, whatever show up at the police station tomorrow and demand applications. That would truly scare the shit out of the police force.
posted by GrapeApiary at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


parallellines: So as the key eyewitness is testifying, one the the jurors apparently felt the need to speak up and state for the record that what this person was saying could not possibly be true.

I don't have a problem in principle with people serving on grand juries asking questions that challenge each witness' version of events. The problem here is that the case was put to a grand jury in the first place where there was clearly probable cause, and that the prosecutor didn't instruct the jury to be equal opportunity interrogators.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield has a good post, "The Ferguson Lie," up at the Simple Justice blog:

“All the evidence” is a phrase that applies to a trial. A trial is a procedure that happens in an open courtroom, where adversaries zealously present their case and challenge the other side’s case. It is transparent because we can watch it unfold, develop, happen before our eyes. We hear the questions and answers, the objections and rulings. We hear the request to admit evidence and the voir dire and challenge to its admission. We hear the opening arguments and summations.

McCulloch put on a play in Ferguson. His press conference announcing the foregone conclusion was remarkably in many ways, not the least of which was how he sold the argument for “no true bill” rather than the position he, as prosecutor, was duty-bound to champion. The man charged with prosecuting killers argued the case for not indicting Wilson.

McCulloch didn’t have to go to the grand jury at all. He could have prosecuted Wilson by fiat had he wanted to do so. He did not. He was not going to be the person who charged Wilson with any variation of homicide. But in deciding to take the case to the grand jury, the lie was born...

The grand jury transcript offers little comfort. Those who explain that it’s transparency are lying to you. It’s all part of the Ferguson Lie. While it tells us what was presented, it doesn’t tell us what was not. It’s unchallenged, unquestioned and unquestionable evidence. There is no adversary in the grand jury to roar against its one-sided presentation.

That it ended without the prosecutor asking the grand jury for an indictment is unheard of. By this omission, it ended with the prosecutor telling the grand jury that a close call goes to the defendant. It ended as it was meant to end, as the foregone conclusion demanded it end...l

Had the prosecution desired an indictment against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, the presentment would have taken an hour, maybe two, and there would have been a true bill by close of business the next day, well before Michael Brown had been laid to rest. The grand jury isn’t the venue to present “all the evidence.” That’s what trials are for. The grand jury serves a very limited function, to determine whether sufficient evidence exists so that there is probable cause to proceed to trial.

In Ferguson, the grand jury served a very different purpose. It was the mechanism by which the guardians of the status quo protect the American dream of an orderly society, where the appearance of challenge is preserved so that lazy and ignorant Americans can sleep well at night, secure in the belief that their officials and institutions are doing the job of protecting their comfort against the unsavory and the malcontents.

posted by mediareport at 8:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [130 favorites]


That would truly scare the shit out of the police force.

Why? A rubber stamp with "DENIED" isn't that expensive to produce and then replace.
posted by Talez at 8:15 AM on November 25, 2014


I wonder how this is going to inform the apparent ongoing power struggle between NYPD and the mayor's office.
posted by angrycat at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2014


There are awful people shitting their pants over pictures of protestors burning flags, too.

Oh, Lord, some Irish-American Center in Washington was tweeting "Never burn American flags, never on American soil" nonsense last night, and I wanted to tweet back HOW DARE YOU. The Irish have burned so many flags -- Union Jack, Tricolour -- that it might as well be the way they warm their houses in the winter. But no, some angry person of color in the US burns a flag in protest and suddenly NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
posted by maxsparber at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]


Yeah, those crazy Irish.
posted by clavdivs at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


unlike black lives, they think a flag actually means something.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [23 favorites]


Maybe he was pissed at what he was about to say and how much of a shortfall it was from what we all needed to hear.

Or maybe he's just an ineffectual chickenshit of a president.
posted by item at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Speaking of, why do we let so many cowards be part of our police force? Why can't we get rid of this cowardice?

Or, to put it more bluntly, rights aren't something you earn by being perfect. Michael Brown didn't lose his right to life when he (if he) said something rude to a cop. The citizens of Ferguson didn't lose their right to justice when members of a crowd engaged in looting. Only, it never seems to work that way when it comes to the rights that those in power claim for themselves. Do you lose your gun license by doing one thing wrong, for example? Not if you're white.


This is a script that I absolutely agree should be COMPLETELY flipped. We are told ALL THE TIME about how deferential and cautious we should be around the police FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE POLICE. Like, when I was growing up, my parents taught me to cooperate ABSOLUTELY with the police, entirely. That if you get pulled over, you must do a b and c because traffic stops are unpredictable and frightening FOR COPS. And I'm white. I had no idea there was an entirely separate course for black people about deference to police (which doesn't work) that included what clothes you could wear and whether or not you could run in public (no, never).

Cops expect absolute deference and immediate compliance at all times and if they don't get it, they apparently shit themselves before killing people immediately. I had more stones as a waitress than cops apparently have. Why is this seen as totally normal and reasonable? Darren Wilson couldn't control a routine apprehension for misdemeanor shoplifting (charitably) for 90 seconds. I can hold my fucking breath for longer than that. Why is Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old boy, held to a higher standard of impulse control and civility than Darren Wilson, a paid peacekeeping professional? Why isn't the standard substantially higher for Wilson? Why is it acceptable for cops to have absolutely no distress tolerance in uncomfortable situations?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2014 [154 favorites]


I didn't know about Budweiser, and that is a much worthier candidate.

Then again, I've technically been boycotting Budweiser for years, thanks to the easy and fairly cheap availability of higher-quality beer. So I don't know how I could possibly hurt them more than I already am. I suppose I could just double my Yuengling consumption, but my liver might start its own boycott of my digestive system.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ezra Klein: Officer Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally.
Why did Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid headed to college, refuse to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk? Why would he curse out a police officer? Why would he attack a police officer? Why would he dare a police officer to shoot him? Why would he charge a police officer holding a gun? Why would he put his hand in his waistband while charging, even though he was unarmed?

None of this fits with what we know of Michael Brown. Brown wasn't a hardened felon. He didn't have a death wish. And while he might have been stoned, this isn't how stoned people act. The toxicology report did not indicate he was on PCP or something that would've led to suicidal aggression.

Which doesn't mean Wilson is a liar. Unbelievable things happen every day. The fact that his story raises more questions than it answers doesn't mean it isn't true.

But the point of a trial would have been to try to answer these questions. We would have either found out if everything we thought we knew about Brown was wrong, or if Wilson's story was flawed in important ways. But now we're not going to get that chance. We're just left with Wilson's unbelievable story.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [44 favorites]


Please stop with the boycotting STL companies idea; it will not do anything to fix systemic injustice, and if it somehow succeeds in drawing money away from STL, it's only going to make the city and its counties an underfunded nightmare. No one at Budweiser is going to say "wow, our profits are down by 5 percent... maybe it's time we FIX RACISM"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [37 favorites]


Yeah, those crazy Irish.

Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile.
posted by maxsparber at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess the thing that depresses me the most about the whole Ferguson saga is that even if I were to take every word Officer Wilson has said as gospel, I would be unhappy with his actions and the outcome they led to. The values dissonance is that great for me.
So even if I ignored everything except a narrative that said a kid robbed a store, a cop responded, the kid started a fight, then ran, then turned and charged the officer, my assumption would be that the officer should have used the nonlethal measures available to him, backed off, and called for backup. Yes this would have made it much more likely that the "suspect" would have gotten away, but how is that a worse outcome than somebody being shot dead? That's the values dissonance that depresses me most. The racism and structural socioeconomic inequality is more abstract for me, but how do we bridge that fundamental gap where shooting a teenager is preferable to him potentially getting away with stealing some merchandise?
posted by Wretch729 at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2014 [37 favorites]


Because of the fast pace of muzzle velocity?
posted by clavdivs at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can he not apologize to Michael Brown's parents for taking away their son's life, even if he genuinely believes he had no other choice than to do what he did? What kind of person doesn't feel remorse for killing an unarmed teenager? For killing someone's child?

I bet it was Darren Wilson's lawyers who insisted that he not apologize publicly to the parents who have said they'll be filing a civil rights lawsuit against him. I agree he should have said *something* but I can see lawyers quickly vetoing that idea.
posted by mediareport at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why did Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid headed to college, refuse to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk? Why would he curse out a police officer? Why would he attack a police officer? Why would he dare a police officer to shoot him? Why would he charge a police officer holding a gun? Why would he put his hand in his waistband while charging, even though he was unarmed?

The "hand in the waistband" detail is the "fuck you" boilerplate icing on the rancid lie-cake. Every time a cop kills somebody, armed or unarmed, they were reaching for the waistband of their pants. Someday somebody's going to screw up and insert that into the account of his shooting of a woman wearing a dress, or a naked guy, and the courts still won't fucking care because cops are allowed to shoot people and lie about it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:28 AM on November 25, 2014 [71 favorites]


yeah i was thinking about how unbelievable the account was too. this is not how stoners headed to college act, unless they've mistakenly smoked wets as opposed to regular weed. and the toxicology report says that he didn't, so -- not how a stoner would behave.
posted by angrycat at 8:29 AM on November 25, 2014


I bet it was Darren Wilson's lawyers who insisted that he not apologize publicly to the parents who have said they'll be filing a civil rights lawsuit against him.

Right, but at some point you need to show the strength of character to tell your lawyers to go shove it. Everything we know about Darren Wilson tells us that he has no such strength of character.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Someday somebody's going to screw up and insert that into the account of his shooting of a woman wearing a dress, or a naked guy, and the courts still won't fucking care because cops are allowed to shoot people and lie about it.

You don't even need to look for imagined scenarios to make it a ridiculous assertion, since plenty of openly, visibly, heavily armed white mass murderers are taken into police custody peacefully.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [50 favorites]


and I think only a white person would believe the account of Brown's behavior, a white person who, even if they've smoked weed, would not, statistically speaking, be likely to be busted for it.
posted by angrycat at 8:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


plenty of openly, visibly, heavily armed white mass murderers are taken into police custody peacefully.

But I bet they didn't look like "demons."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


The "hand in the waistband" detail is the "fuck you" boilerplate icing on the rancid lie-cake. Every time a cop kills somebody, armed or unarmed, they were reaching for the waistband of their pants.

“Man, that ain’t my fuckin’ knife,” the wounded man declared, then pointed to another switchblade a few feet away. “That’s my knife.”
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]



a thógáil sráidbhaile?
posted by clavdivs at 8:34 AM on November 25, 2014


"But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention."

-Dr Martin Luther King, The Other America

Unfortunately, this seems as applicable as it was in 1967. Though I'm at risk of misrepresenting the speech in its entirety by pulling out that paragraph--the whole thing can be found here.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [23 favorites]


Yes this would have made it much more likely that the "suspect" would have gotten away, but how is that a worse outcome than somebody being shot dead?

Better that ten innocents are killed than one guilty man go free.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I bet they didn't look like "demons."

Yeah, not even the one who fucking dressed up as a comic book villain.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


mediareport: Why It's Impossible To Indict A Cop - from The Nation, a look at how the laws work to favor police.
Police shootings in America

First, the big picture. Last year, the FBI tallied 461 "justifiable homicides" committed by law enforcement—justifiable because the Bureau assumes so, and the nation's courts have not found otherwise. This is the highest number in two decades, even as the nation's overall homicide rate continues to drop. Homicides committed by on-duty law enforcement make up 3 percent of the 14,196 homicides committed in the United States in 2013. A USA Today analysis of the FBI database found an average of about ninety-six police homicides a year in which a white officer kills a black person.
audi alteram partem: Government officials can either start seriously dealing with our deep-seated institutional and cultural racism or they can continue to stand by while that racism destroys lives.

QFT. But it has to be more than The Government, because the feds come down on a local police force with a terrible track record of killing individuals, an excessive use of force (this is in New Mexico, FWIW - this issue is pretty wide-spread), but it's only window dressing if the police themselves don't internalize the fact that it's not an Us vs Them scenario every time.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Witness #40:
Well I’m gonna take my random drive to Florissant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and start calling them People. Like dad always said you cant fear or hate an entire race cause of what one man did 40 yrs ago.
...
The cop just stood there dang if that kid didnt start running right at the cop like a football player. Head down.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


The front page of reddit is basically stormfront today.
posted by empath at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton: Just waiting for Wilson to team up with Zimmerman for a new Fox News panel show.

Except Zimmerman's celebrity status comes with some well-deserved paranoia, for him and his family.
Soon after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin more than two years ago, George's loyal family learned that sharing his name meant sharing the blame. It also meant a surreal new life filled with constant paranoia, get- rich-quick schemes, and lots and lots of guns.
'Guns will get you into more trouble than they will ever get you out of' (previously on MetaFilter).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2014


Steely-eyed Missile Man: Better that ten innocents are killed than one guilty man go free.

Yeah that sarcastic reversal is just making me more depressed, since Blackstone's formulation dates from the 1760s. It's been 250 years and we still can't seem to get it through our heads.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Nobody ever gave me nothin except for good schools, a stable home life, a safe neighborhood, and an environment perfectly calibrated to allow myself to imagine the world as a strict meritocracy.
And since I can't imagine a place that isn't like the one I grew up in and inhabit, everyone else must have been on the same playing field as I am and if I could do it why can't they?"
— A quote I just made up that I learned last night can be attributed to so. many. people.
Like

posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2014 [31 favorites]


Greg Nog: I agree fully. Boycotts of corporations are an ineffective method of making a case for something like this. I suppose I should have been looking at the forest instead of the trees when I responded to EC. :-)
posted by jferg at 8:44 AM on November 25, 2014


So I'm reading the testimony Dorian Johnson gave to the grand jury. Johnson was the guy who was with MIke Brown when Officer Wilson stopped his car by them. This shit is fucking crazy. Why, you ask?

Johnson is describing how he and Mike was walking in the street when there was not traffic around and the Officer Wilson drives by and tells them to "get the fuck on the sidewalk". Johnson says, paraphrasing "ok ok, we're almost home, no biggie" and they keep walking. Jurors still questioning Johnson about why they didn't do as the Officer said. If that's their biggest problem with this exchange, then yeah, Wilson was never going to be indicted.

Seriously, there's repeated questions from the jurors about why weren't on the sidewalk in the first place and why they didn't just immediately follow the cop's orders. This jurors had their head so far up their ass, it's unfucking real.

Here's a link to Johnson's testimony, the exchange's I'm describing start on page 66
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


Yes this would have made it much more likely that the "suspect" would have gotten away, but how is that a worse outcome than somebody being shot dead? That's the values dissonance that depresses me most.

Our society's movement towards excusing everyone - not just cops, but citizens WRT "stand your ground" - from needing to make an effort to de-escalate a situation is probably what I would consider the number one thing keeping us from reducing violence. Not that cop culture doesn't have a million other problems, but this attitude that they never have to back off and let a situation end isn't unique to them. It was taught to me a decade ago as "duty to retreat," and I don't know how we come back from this ego-driven attitude that it's better someone get dead than someone have to back away from a possible confrontation.

Continuing the discussion - it's yet another gross respectability politics item. "Hey young black men, don't get into a confrontation because someone scuffed your Pumas" was the comedy routine. But when someone driven by their racist perceptions comes after you and your skittles they have every right to keep escalating till you're dead.
posted by phearlez at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Obama could not have said more than he said without seriously jeopardizing a potential Federal civil rights prosecution. A federal indictment will need to withstand a motion to dismiss -- and federal judges are rightly skeptical of "re-prosecutions" of charges dismissed at the state level -- and the jury pool for a federal trial is going to be heavily exurban / rural and not very racially diverse. The perception that a civil rights indictment was the result of political pressure from the White House, not the professional judgment of the FBI agents and Assistant US Attorneys in St. Louis, would be a death blow to actually obtaining a conviction.

I think that the odds of a Federal indictment are reasonably high. In the case of police officer intentionally shooting a person he did not know to be armed, the federal civil rights statutes, and the precedents of their interpretation, do a fair job of shifting the burden of proof to the officer that his conduct did not violate that person's civil rights.
posted by MattD at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


You don't even need to look for imagined scenarios to make it a ridiculous assertion, since plenty of openly, visibly, heavily armed white mass murderers are taken into police custody peacefully.

Oh, yeah, it's already ridiculous, both that it supposedly happened and that Wilson was scared for his life (as terrified as that Ohio cop was of a 12-year-old with a toy gun, or as fearful for his life as that other Ohio cop was of a man on his phone in Wal-Mart), but I'm perversely looking forward to a case where it's not just conceptually unbelievable but physically impossible and the cop still skates, because it would show that they don't just get the benefit of the doubt, but are fully exempted from any and all rules (other than the rules against arresting or snitching on cops).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking of, why do we let so many cowards be part of our police force? Why can't we get rid of this cowardice?

Trick question, I know, but it's still one of the things that's most troubling to me about this (obviously behind "white cops shooting black people is deemed totally fine").

There are dozens of jobs that are more dangerous than being a police officer, and yet all we ever hear from the police is how dangerous it is, and how scared they are. This is, frankly, bullshit. You can't have it both ways. You cannot simultaneously ask to be lauded as heroes who put their lives on the line for the good of the people, and yet also claim that you cannot be asked to even stop for a millisecond to consider a situation before you start firing.

Right now, we go much too far to try to protect cops, at the expense of our civil liberties. Being a cop should be dangerous -- not because I want cops to be hurt, but because it's a job that gives the authority to exert lethal force, and that authority should come with a concomitant expectation that police safety comes second to public safety and the rule of law.

More succinctly: fuck the "hero cop" narrative.
posted by tocts at 8:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [51 favorites]


This makes me so unbelievably sad. I realise how privileged I am because I just read about shit like this or watch it on television but I don't have to experience it. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to have to live with institutional racism as your everyday reality you can't just 'step out of'.
How anyone can be so capable of racism and hatred is beyond me.
posted by Vulpix91 at 8:47 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


solitary dancer: I wish we could just disarm the police force entirely. It'd probably be safer for everyone. But, police are supposed to be brave and heroic and willing to risk their lives in the line of duty. So let them be a little more brave and risk a little more.

Or teach them to learn their neighborhoods, and learn how to talk to people like people. Alaskan village public safety officers (VPSOs) work alone, without guns, and instead must rely on their words to talk people into coming with them, or calming down in tense situations. If things get rough, they have pepper spray and a Taser, but no gun. I've dropped the link before, but it's a really, really important idea to me now, especially after hearing NPR this morning, where they included comments from Wilson's testimony that his gun was the most comfortable, convenient tool he had (not quite in those words, but he had "reasons" for not using a taser or pepper spray).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


Seriously, it's almost criminal how jurors keep asking about why they were walking in the middle of the street. Several openly call it an act of defiance, to look strong or tough. Yes, they defined what it meant, didn't ask Johnson to what it meant. Johnson didn't seem to think it was issue at all, just something people did when walking sometimes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


I think the reasons I'm going for a boycott are:

1. In these days where corporations have the same rights as people, it seems to be an effective weapon against the major corporations who are probably buying the politicians who then turn around and put people like Darren Wilson in office, and

2. I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Witness #40 account is like something out of a fantastical Chappelle Show sketch and not something from the real, nonfictional universe. Holy goddamn cow.
posted by item at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


Johnson didn't seem to think it was issue at all, just something people did when walking sometimes.

I...sometimes walk in the middle of street, when there are no cars around. It's an interesting feeling, to be occupying this space that isn't really for you. I move when there are cars, though, just because I don't want to get hit.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO.

This is not a good reason to anything, except maybe masturbate.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


People in my neighborhood walk in the street because the sidewalks are chewed up and covered with cars, and yards are full of dogs that lunge at you through the fences. The middle of the street is in better shape, is an actual thoroughfare (no parked cars) and you can see what's going on, because you're not in a corridor/maze of giant SUVs and trucks.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


The National Bar Association responds. "The National Bar Association stands firm and will be calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal charges against officer Darren Wilson... Over the last couple of months, the National Bar Association has hosted Town Hall meetings informing attendees of their Fourth Amendment (Search & Seizure) constitutional rights, whether it is legal to record police activity, and how citizens should behave/respond if and when they interface with police officers."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [31 favorites]


Seriously, how is the Witness #40 document not faked? My only question right now is whether Darren did it himself or got a buddy to write it for him. How the HELL did that get into the evidence presented to the grand jury?
posted by sallybrown at 9:07 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


The National Bar Association responds.

The National Bar Association is not the American Bar association, btw.
posted by empath at 9:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


> a thógáil sráidbhaile

If you're making a joke by posting in a language other than the one the rest of the thread is in, this is an odd time to choose. If you're trying to communicate something, a translation would be helpful.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Before the shooting, there was a 15-point gap between the attitudes of white and non-white Americans: 44 percent of whites agreed that blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment in the criminal-justice system, compared to 29 percent of non-whites. In six days of interviews conducted immediately after Brown's shooting (from August 10 to 15), the gap had doubled to 32 points, with 48 percent of whites, compared to just 16 percent of non-whites, agreeing that the criminal-justice systems treats blacks and other minorities fairly.

Self-Segregation: Why It's So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson
posted by tracicle at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just to give everyone an update from St Louis's Grand Blvd protest last night (not Ferguson, which is like 45 minutes' drive away), it was entirely nonviolent and extremely tightly-organized the entire time I was there.

There were two or three random people who called for violence a few times, but each time I looked for who said it, I saw that it had been a young white person who didn't really appear to be affiliated with any particular group (there were Black Bloc anarchists and Anonymous-Fawkes-mask-wearing white people too, but they generally marched without trying to incite anything violent).

The leaders of the protest appeared to be a group of about 10 or so young (like late-teens-early-twenties) black people. They addressed the crowd with directions on where we were going, what the consequences might be of our various nonviolent actions (such as the blocking of the highway), and what to do in case the police began arrests or gassing. They repeatedly stressed to all participants that we should feel free to leave at any time. Whatever their training in peaceful resistance was, it was very good.

I was there from about 8:30 to 11:30, at which point the crowd pretty much dispersed per police instructions. At this point, the crowd became less of an organized focused mass, more just wisps of groups spreading across the streets. This is apparently what the police wanted, since they had ordered dispersal at the corner of Grand and 44, calling the crowd an "unlawful assembly". I got on my bike and headed home (a police car called out for me to stop on the way, but I didn't trust them, so I just kept biking, and they didn't follow me).

After I got home, I got a text from another protester who said that a few windows had been smashed on South Grand late in the night. I think that without the focus and intentionality provided by the single mass led by the megaphone crew, the individual bad actors (who'd otherwise been subsumed into the peaceful resistance) started feeling more free to cause property damage. (The protest had previously gone down to the business corridor at South Grand, and while that might have been an opportunity to turn destructive, the megaphone crew had instead taken the opportunity to have a 4.5-min moment of silence in honor of Mike Brown, then led us back north and away from the business corridor again).

It's worth noting that, prior to the order to disperse - which was marked by the sudden appearance of lines of police wielding batons, covered by shields and body armor - the STL city police had been just as peaceful as the protestors; they stayed at least a block away, using squad cars and regular-joe-looking cops on foot to redirect traffic away from Grand Blvd, letting the protest take up the entirety of the road. Up until the armored cops appeared at the end, I felt like the city police were behaving in probably the most ideal way possible, acknowledging the right for a group of citizens to peaceably assemble and routing car traffic to let that happen.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [56 favorites]


Still reading the Dorian Johnson testimony and the jurors want to know why Johnson didn't try to pay for the Cigarillos that Mike Brown stole. Then they still want to know why Johnson and Brown were so brazenly walking in the middle of the street if they had just committed a crime. The mindset of these jurors is completely clueless.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Steely-eyed Missile Man: It's an interesting feeling, to be occupying this space that isn't really for you.

"Roads are for cars" is a modern invention, and bicycles are considered road-suitable vehicles. Cars are just bigger and faster, and most drivers incorrectly assume roads are for motorized vehicles alone.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: The mindset of these jurors is completely clueless.

Isn't it the role of the defense to field those questions, and bring the jurors back into reality?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:12 AM on November 25, 2014


Do we have records of interactions between McCulloch and the grand jury? Seems like they were on his leash the whole time.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:13 AM on November 25, 2014


Well, except that Mike Brown wasn't on trial. Theoretically at least this was an indictment of Darren Wilson, so the prosecution should have been correcting these misunderstandings, and in fact the defense (who would have been defending Wilson, not Brown) shouldn't have been a party to the proceedings at all, since it wasn't a trial.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [53 favorites]


prefpara:
Or, to put it more bluntly, rights aren't something you earn by being perfect. Michael Brown didn't lose his right to life when he (if he) said something rude to a cop. The citizens of Ferguson didn't lose their right to justice when members of a crowd engaged in looting. Those who want to talk about looting are contributing to a narrative where you make one wrong move and you are no longer entitled or protected. Only, it never seems to work that way when it comes to the rights that those in power claim for themselves. Do you lose your gun license by doing one thing wrong, for example? Not if you're white.
I wish I could favourite this more than once. Prefpara's comment perfectly articulates the kind of attitudes that are a reflection of and a method of perpetuating oppression. This idea that if you are a member of an oppressed group (people of colour, women) you must act perfectly or else you somehow get what's coming to you--it's the same thinking that drives people to immediately question women who report sexual assault. "Well did she go home with him? What was she wearing? Where was she walking?" And of course the reality is, it doesn't matter if you do act "perfectly"--those in power can do heinous things like shoot unarmed teenagers or drug and rape multiple women, and, as we have seen, get away with it with no consequence.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


There was a recent incident in Florida where cops harrassed and tased black residents for walking in the street. These were narrow streets that everyone walked in, but cops (much like an occupying army) didn't bother much to engage with residents on their own terms.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Charles Pierce last night: Dead Of Night: The Ferguson Decision
posted by homunculus at 9:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't think McCulloch presented, but Alizadeh (prosecution) does seem somewhat conflicted at the very least in her prosecutorial role. Per the Johnson testimony
(p86) Ms. Alizadeh: But it is clearly very much macho, I'm going to take these Cigarillos, I know he's not saying that, but that was kind of his demeanor, like what are you going to do, stop me? I'm taking them, right?

(p87) Ms. Alizadeh: And you see cop cars coming by oh my God, you know, but Big Mike doesn't really care, does he?
posted by corb at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


I hate to ask, but do we know anything about which jurors voted not to indict?
posted by mmiddle at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2014


Isn't it the role of the defense to field those questions, and bring the jurors back into reality?

Why would they, when the prosecutor is doing a better job of it than they could possibly imagine?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


The really interesting part of the Johnson testimony so far is that just as he was getting to the part where Brown and Wilson had their hands on each other and were tugging at each other, the questions about walking in the middle of the street started up. So odd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


This idea that if you are a member of an oppressed group (people of colour, women) you must act perfectly or else you somehow get what's coming to you--it's the same thinking that drives people to immediately question women who report sexual assault. "Well did she go home with him? What was she wearing? Where was she walking?" And of course the reality is, it doesn't matter if you do act "perfectly"--those in power can do heinous things like shoot unarmed teenagers or drug and rape multiple women, and, as we have seen, get away with it with no consequence.

And this is just fundamentally inhumane. Perfection is literally inhuman. It's the only thing that unites us, that we are imperfect. People can not act perfectly. It is impossible. Demanding that black Americans (or any oppressed groups, but specifically black Americans) behave perfectly is to deny them their humanity.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]


I think that the odds of a Federal indictment are reasonably high.

Against Officer Wilson? Chances are actually pretty low. The DOJ leaked that a bit ago. Now a prosecution of Ferguson for its discrimination against black individuals in terms of stops and arrests is far more likely. But probably not for a while.
posted by learnsome at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2014


I hate to ask, but do we know anything about which jurors voted not to indict?

They don't record a poll. According to McCulloch last night they just hand over the final decision.

Caveat 'According to McCulloch'...
posted by asockpuppet at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2014


I hate to ask, but do we know anything about which jurors voted not to indict?

At the press conference McCullough kept stressing that this was secret and would not be released to anyone outside the jury, so unless someone on the jury names names (which probably has some penalties associated with it), the closest we may be able to get is reading the stuff from the trial and divining which way they voted SCOTUS style.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2014


I don't think McCulloch presented, but Alizadeh (prosecution) does seem somewhat conflicted at the very least in her prosecutorial role. Per the Johnson testimony
(p86) Ms. Alizadeh: But it is clearly very much macho, I'm going to take these Cigarillos, I know he's not saying that, but that was kind of his demeanor, like what are you going to do, stop me? I'm taking them, right?

(p87) Ms. Alizadeh: And you see cop cars coming by oh my God, you know, but Big Mike doesn't really care, does he?


I'm not seeing the conflict here. What are you referring to?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hate to ask, but do we know anything about which jurors voted not to indict?

From reading the Johnson testimony and the questions by the juror, they felt Brown and Johnson were clearly guilty from the very beginning and that Wilson was in the right.

This idea that if you are a member of an oppressed group (people of colour, women) you must act perfectly or else you somehow get what's coming to you--it's the same thinking that drives people to immediately question women who report sexual assault.

Yep, this is exactly what I'm getting from the jury's questioning. Because Johnson and Brown were walking in the middle of the street, because Brown stole the Cigarillos and Johnson didn't even try to pay for them and they didn't immediately follow the cop's order to get on the sidewalk, Brown deserved what happened to him. Wilson's strong arm tactics and shitty police work in instigating the encounter just don't seem to matter at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:23 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Not that this matters much, but Michael Brown wasn't headed to college, he was headed to Vatterott "College," a for-profit trade school to get a likely worthless HVAC certification and rack up some student debt.

You're incorrect - the exact nature of Michael Brown's educational aspirations doesn't matter AT ALL.

I know you didn't mean it this way, but by even bringing up the nature of his future plans it sounds like "oh, if he were heading to a real college it'd be an even bigger tragedy", and it's a tragedy no matter what.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2014 [45 favorites]


I'm not seeing the conflict here. What are you referring to?

Maybe it's me, it just seems that Alizadeh is kind of framing things against Brown in a way that is very sympathetic to Wilson, which is not necessarily her job as prosecutor of Wilson. "It's very clearly very much macho" and "What are you going to do, stop me?" seems like something a defense attorney would say in an attempt to demonstrate mindset for the later confrontation with Wilson. Same with "Big Mike doesn't really care" - it seems to me at least like Alizadeh is trying to demonstrate that Brown is nonresponsive to police authority, fear, conscience, guilt, etc. I could be reading too much into her choice of words, but it just seems a curious way to frame things from a prosecuting attorney with a friendly witness.
posted by corb at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


McCullough kept stressing that this was secret

At one point he said that it was against the law to even ask about the vote, which I'll attribute to a Freudian slip that further reveals his privileged, authoritarian mindset that can condemn people talking on social media and remain silent on racism.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why the last stand on this issue was with this case and this set of facts. The set of facts in this case indicated no indictment was going to lie.

(1) Missouri Law:
Law enforcement officer's use of force in making an arrest.
563.046. 1. A law enforcement officer need not retreat or desist from efforts to effect the arrest, or from efforts to prevent the escape from custody, of a person he reasonably believes to have committed an offense because of resistance or threatened resistance of the arrestee. In addition to the use of physical force authorized under other sections of this chapter, he is, subject to the provisions of subsections 2 and 3, justified in the use of such physical force as he reasonably believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or to prevent the escape from custody.

2. The use of any physical force in making an arrest is not justified under this section unless the arrest is lawful or the law enforcement officer reasonably believes the arrest is lawful.

3. A law enforcement officer in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody is justified in using deadly force only

(1) When such is authorized under other sections of this chapter; or

(2) When he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested

(a) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony; or

(b) Is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon; or

(c) May otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.

4. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section.
(2) The facts:
At 11:45 a.m. CT on Aug. 9, Wilson responded to a call at an apartment complex about an infant who was having trouble breathing. At 11:53 a.m. CT, Wilson heard a police radio broadcast about a convenience store robbery in progress.

Wilson left the apartment complex around that time and heard a description of the suspect, who was Brown. As Wilson was driving down the street, he encountered Brown and his friend. Wilson slowed or stopped his car and told them to move to the sidewalk. "Words were exchanged," as McCulloch put it Monday, and Brown and his friend continued to walk down the street.

Wilson then radioed that he needed his assistance and backed up his car to block their path. An altercation then took place at the police car with Wilson seated inside and Brown standing outside the driver's side window. Two shots were fired during that initial part of the altercation. The altercation was described as a "tussle" or "tug-of-war" by witnesses. Some said that Brown had punched Wilson. Wilson had some swelling and redness to his face after the shooting, McCulloch said.

Brown ran and Wilson chased him. Brown then stopped and moved toward Wilson, several more shots were fired and Brown was fatally injured. What happened between the altercation and the fatal shots varied some depending on the witness, McCulloch said.

Some witnesses said that Wilson fired at Brown as he chased him. Others said that Wilson did not fire until Brown turned to face him and moved toward him. One witness said that Brown went at Wilson at "full charge." Most said that Wilson shot at Brown as Brown moved toward him.
So Brown committed two felonies. First he strong-arm robbed the convenience store, then assaulted a police officer. Under Missouri Revised Statutes 563.046.3(2)(a) that's enough.

There are giant problems with race and the law in this country. So why are we fighting this case, when there is undisputed video evidence Brown committed a strong arm felony robbery minutes before and then assaulted a police officer (there is no right to struggle with a police officer during arrest) before running at the officer and getting shot?

I've done 4 of these cases in my career. I had to look long and hard at this one for a media appearance when it first happened. The witnesses Brown's family were putting out there showed that Brown engaged the officer physically, either punching him or "wrestling" with him. The doctor the family hired to do the autopsy said all bullets went through the front.

I really do not see why this case was picked. It was bad. The decedent had (on video) robbed an convenience store moments before the shooting. Witnesses put forward by the family had him engaging the officer physically. The officer had heard a 911 call regarding the convenience store, called for backup and went to affect an arrest. Brown fought him. He was leaving the scene of a felony.

These facts make for a very poor case to start the national conversation because, frankly, the shooting was justified. There's not much there that says anything else. Even the family's preferred witnesses described a justified shooting.

It is a tragedy Mike Brown died. But this was a justified shooting.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm not seeing the conflict here. What are you referring to?

Conflict: being a person who is supposed to be trying to convince a jury that Darren Wilson should be indicted, while simultaneously painting a picture where maybe Mike Brown did things that warranted being killed
posted by 23skidoo at 9:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Huh. Apparently what happened in re smashed windows was that the because the police were concentrating all their armored cops at the organized nonviolent protest on 44 & Grand, some criminals took the opportunity to smash a bunch of windows in the business corridor and do some looting. So the police's decision to focus a large squad of armed cops on a nonviolent resistance kept them from actually protecting the community from thieves. Priorities!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [24 favorites]


I've been on the other side of this from most other Mefites. From very early on, it looked like the facts just didn't support a prosecution (facts, not the statements of people who likely didn't even see what happened or who actually participated in the underlying struggle -- I'm looking at you, Dorian Johnson). Now that the evidence is out there, it seems pretty clear that I was right to ask folks to wait to learn what actually happened, rather than letting their priors fill in the blanks. So, yes, I feel gratified about that and believe justice was done.

BUT witness no. 40. Just wow. The press really needs to figure out who that was and how the heck that happened. Maybe it's harmless, but if I were on the other side of this issue, I would be screaming about this at the top of my lungs. And, for good reason.
posted by learnsome at 9:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, I agree with you on a lot of stuff and value your legal-minded input a lot of the time, but this:

when there is undisputed video evidence Brown committed a strong arm felony robbery minutes before and then assaulted a police officer (there is no right to struggle with a police officer during arrest) before running at the officer and getting shot?

is factually incorrect and really, really not-cool.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


I really do not see why this case was picked.

No one "picking" anything, idiot, they're angry that an unarmed teenager was shot to death
posted by Greg Nog at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [67 favorites]


So Brown committed two felonies. First he strong-arm robbed the convenience store, then assaulted a police officer. Under Missouri Revised Statutes 563.046.3(2)(a) that's enough.

It's enough if the witnesses are reliable. And Witness #40 is giving me doubts about the veracity of the others.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not that this matters much, but Michael Brown wasn't headed to college, he was headed to Vatterott "College," a for-profit trade school to get a likely worthless HVAC certification and rack up some student debt.

You're incorrect - the exact nature of Michael Brown's educational aspirations doesn't matter AT ALL.

I know you didn't mean it this way, but by even bringing up the nature of his future plans it sounds like "oh, if he were heading to a real college it'd be an even bigger tragedy", and it's a tragedy no matter what.


It matters optically only if it wasn't true. And it wasn't. When I did a TV appearance on this issue months ago, the two African-American lawyers told me in the green room that Brown's lawyers should not have put that out there and one said he had gotten a case after a similar situation and the fact that the kid actually wasn't going to college hurt the case because it wasn't true. He was pretty dismissive of the attorneys the Browns had handling the matter for that very fact. Both were also appalled that Brown's lawyers had witnesses saying he was shot in the back, because a day later their own doctor said all of the shots came from the front.

there were a lot of problems in this case that people didn't see because they didn't look close enough.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


a very poor case to start the national conversation

This "conversation" was going on long before Mike Brown's death and will continue to go on so long as people insist on focusing on "facts" without reference to the racist context in which they occur and are interpreted.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [27 favorites]


There is absolutely NOT "undisputed video evidence" that Brown was "running at the officer" before getting shot. There are numerous witnesses who say Brown was running away from the officer before getting shot with the bullet(s) that killed him. In other words, if Officer Wilson had ceased firing his weapon after Brown fled, Brown would be alive today.

There is also conflicting evidence about whether Office Wilson knew at the time of the incident that the theft even occurred, let alone whether Brown was connected to it.
posted by sallybrown at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


Oh, thank god a lawyer set us straight here.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


Not that this matters much, but Michael Brown wasn't headed to college, he was headed to Vatterott "College," a for-profit trade school to get a likely worthless HVAC certification and rack up some student debt.

You're incorrect - the exact nature of Michael Brown's educational aspirations doesn't matter AT ALL.

I know you didn't mean it this way, but by even bringing up the nature of his future plans it sounds like "oh, if he were heading to a real college it'd be an even bigger tragedy", and it's a tragedy no matter what.



I know. The original quote is from Ezra Klein. the Wesley Crusher of professional journalists.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:30 AM on November 25, 2014


I had to look long and hard at this one for a media appearance when it first happened.

Why do you always feel the need to mention your media appearances?
posted by futz at 9:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [28 favorites]


oh cool, the Staunch Establishment Democrat is here to show us why Staunch Establishment Democrats are never to be trusted
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [34 favorites]


Ironmouth, I agree with you on a lot of stuff and value your legal-minded input a lot of the time, but this:

when there is undisputed video evidence Brown committed a strong arm felony robbery minutes before and then assaulted a police officer (there is no right to struggle with a police officer during arrest) before running at the officer and getting shot?

is factually incorrect and really, really not-cool.


This is a video of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store moments before the shooting.

Its factually accurate. You can wish all you want that Brown did not do that but he did.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is also conflicting evidence about whether Office Wilson knew at the time of the incident that the theft even occurred, let alone whether Brown was connected to it.

Actually, no. There's no conflicting evidence on this score. There was an opinion offered by the chief of police early on (which was not based on personal knowledge). The only evidence we really have is the radio traffic and Officer Wilson's own testimony, both of which support his knowing that Mike and Dorian were possible suspects.
posted by learnsome at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's okay that the kid died he was only going to be an HVAC technician instead of a lawyer (who has APPEARED ON TV) like me
posted by Greg Nog at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [68 favorites]


This is a video of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store moments before the shooting.

Where is the video of Brown running at Officer Wilson? Even McCulloch denied last night that such evidence existed, so I'd be really interested to see it.
posted by sallybrown at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


there were a lot of problems in this case that people didn't see because they didn't look close enough.

Speaking of not looking close enough, you must not have looked close enough at my comment, because I was speaking about the lack of difference between "he was going to a college" vs. "he was going to a trade school" and you were so busy bustling in with your boast about "well I was on TV about this" credentials you didn't even bother to address the point I was making.

There aren't any cameras here, Ironmouth, you don't have to try that hard.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


We should probably just ignore Ironmouth or take it to meta. You're not going to get good faith engagement here.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


So why are we fighting this case, when there is undisputed video evidence Brown committed a strong arm felony robbery minutes before and then assaulted a police officer (there is no right to struggle with a police officer during arrest) before running at the officer and getting shot?

As a lawyer, you should really choose your words more carefully. The only video is of Brown stealing the Cigarillos.

Frankly, from everything I've read so far, Mike Brown was assaulted by a police officer and then he tried to pull away, he was shot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [25 favorites]


[Folks, let's keep this away from personal attacks as much as possible here. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think what Ironmouth is getting at is that as the law stands the shooting was "justified" and Wilson was not going to be indicted. Change the laws regarding when an officer can shoot an unarmed suspect and then we can talk. But like Florida with its "stand your ground" law, things are presently stacked in favour of non-black people who shoot black people.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


As a lawyer, you should really choose your words more carefully.

When Ironmouth says he tried several of these cases, lets be clear that he did it as a defense attorney for the police, not a prosecutor. And I can assure you, that he is choosing his words carefully. He just has different motivations than most of us.
posted by empath at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [34 favorites]


there were a lot of problems in this case that people didn't see because they didn't look close enough.

But that's the thing about this grand jury. Anyone could see that there was little chance of Wilson being convicted on anything at trial. But, McCullogh was so afraid of getting on the wrong side of his police buddies and their friends that he had to turn the grand jury into a trial and have his prosecutors defend WIlson in front of the jurors.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I had to look long and hard at this one for a media appearance when it first happened.

Why do you always feel the need to mention your media appearances?


other than this case, when have I mentioned a media appearance? Plus I got feedback there from other lawyers who were sympathetic to the Brown family. I thought their criticisms pretty prescient.

Listen, I do use of force cases from time to time. I'm the only one I'm aware of on the entire site who has. I do think that anotherpanacea has some experience as a CCRB investigator in NYC, but nobody else here has been at the scene of one of these shootings and represented a person involved. So I know a lot about them. I know the law, I've written appellate briefs in these cases, and done just about everything you can do regarding a shooting incident.

So I have some things to offer here that others do not. I have looked long and hard at this case. And from the first, I saw a justified shooting and when I looked at it, I had a copy of the statutes in hand and I read every article so I would not get embarrassed on TV. So I think I have a lot better view than the vast majority of the general public on this matter.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


"Corb, you're working surprisingly hard to create a relatable narrative for a racist murder by a racist murderer."

I think corb makes a good point, though, in that no one ever sees themselves as the villain. Understanding what drives some people who think they are in the right to commit villainous acts does more to help us figure out how to prevent such acts in the future than just writing someone off as evil does.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


3. A law enforcement officer in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody is justified in using deadly force only

(1) When such is authorized under other sections of this chapter; or

(2) When he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested

(a) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony


It's fucking UNreasonable to believe that the use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest of someone who stole some cigarillos. This isn't justified.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


It's okay that the kid died he was only going to be an HVAC technician instead of a lawyer (who has APPEARED ON TV) like me

oh jesus. that's what shit-heels like Ezra Klein think, which is why he had to append the "going to college" to his shitty little clickbait stub, trying to be sympathetic.

whether Brown was going to college has nothing to do with whether WIlson's conduct was implausible for a cop just following procedure in questioning an unarmed teen-ager.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's me, it just seems that Alizadeh is kind of framing things against Brown in a way that is very sympathetic to Wilson, which is not necessarily her job as prosecutor of Wilson.

Conflict: being a person who is supposed to be trying to convince a jury that Darren Wilson should be indicted, while simultaneously painting a picture where maybe Mike Brown did things that warranted being killed


Oof, my goodness. My view of these people is so skewed that I honestly didn't see her role as trying to get an indictment of Wilson at all. Holy crap.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:43 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


As a lawyer, you should really choose your words more carefully. The only video is of Brown stealing the Cigarillos.

Review this video. At 0:15 seconds, Brown puts his hand around the throat of the shop keeper attempting to stop the robbery and shoves him out of the way. That's a strong arm robbery. Its a felony.

Please do not ignore the facts of this case. They are what they are. Why do people deny the assault? Its on tape. You can't deny it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, the good news is that you have exactly the same view of her job that she does!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, I can't help but conflate this with the recent news that the US has killed over 1,000 bystanders in order to kill 40 targets with drones. Both seem to be cases of weighing the lives of "heroes" (be they cops or soldiers) as much more important than those of civilians. To me this is an inversion of how things should be, but who am I.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I didn't know that robbery (which btw Wilson admits he didn't even know about) was grounds for summary execution thanks Mr. Lawyer
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2014 [38 favorites]


[Keep in mind that conflating "moral" and "legal", especially while discussing things with lawyers, usually leads to confusion and anger all around. Please be really clear about what you're talking about, on both sides. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Please do not ignore the facts of this case. They are what they are. Why do people deny the assault? Its on tape. You can't deny it.

People are not quibbling with you about the robbery, but rather your conflation of the robbery and the encounter with Officer Wilson as as a series of events we have "video evidence" of. As I'm sure you learned in preparing for your media appearances, we do not have any video evidence of the confrontation between Wilson and Brown.
posted by sallybrown at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


I don't understand why you're ignoring your own quote.

4. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section.

The burden of raising an affirmative defense is appropriate for a situation where a defense is raised. Not at the grand jury, where there is no defense.

If Wilson's team wanted to request dismissal based on this they were free to do so but it's not a get-out-of-indictment free card. Further, the fact that the state law says it's all fair and good when attempting to arrest a felony suspect doesn't change the Supreme Court's decision that the inclusion of the word "felony" doesn't mean statute can let law enforcement off the hook for using deadly force.

You want to assert that a conviction was impossible, woo on you - plenty agree. Asserting that it would never fly to indict and let a trial sort out the facts is BS. Maybe you don't think it should be done, but the idea that it couldn't isn't true, doesn't reflect how every other non-cop citizen gets treated in society, and is widely disagreed with.
posted by phearlez at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Apologists for police violence should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by RogerB at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are trying to argue with Ironmouth, it's not like he's actually confused about your point, just ignoring it.
posted by smackfu at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


It's fucking UNreasonable to believe that the use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest of someone who stole some cigarillos. This isn't justified.


Yes it is justified. Brown choked the store owner while stealing the cigarillos and left, creating the felony arrest situation that Wilson encountered. Brown committed a second felony of assaulting an officer. Wilson called for back up. These facts are undisputed. Wilson then attempted to arrest Brown, again an undisputed fact put out there by witnesses Brown's attorneys were putting out there as sympathetic to the case. A second felony. And everyone said Brown was shot from the front, the witnesses, three medical examiners, the whole lot.

This is why I do not get this desire to make this particular case the last stand for this issue. Because the facts are terrible for that. The guy in New York a week earlier was a much better and more important case.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I didn't know that robbery (which btw Wilson admits he didn't even know about) was grounds for summary execution thanks Mr. Lawyer

Technically, it's "not being a police officer" that's grounds for summary execution. Melanin is an exacerbating factor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:50 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


This case became the face of the issue because it pushed the local community to the breaking point and led to months of protest.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:50 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


I didn't know that robbery (which btw Wilson admits he didn't even know about) was grounds for summary execution thanks Mr. Lawyer

Actually, no. Wilson testified before the grand jury that he did know about the hunt for suspects in the robbery and that Michael and Dorian fit the bill. The radio traffic supports his testimony (though it is not dispositive).

I understand the vitriol, but it would be nice if folks actually knew the facts before accusing others of such a vile belief.
posted by learnsome at 9:51 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth: Please do not ignore the facts of this case. They are what they are. Why do people deny the assault? Its on tape. You can't deny it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, what with not being an American lawyer or even an American, but the case in question here was the possibility of an unlawful shooting by a police officer of an unarmed black teenager, and not anything to do with whether said teenager had prior to being killed been involved with committing a robbery.

You're a lawyer, and an American one at that. You know this. Which means you're dissembling for some reason. I'd be interested to know exactly why.

You're also very quick to assert that the facts are both all in and incontrovertible, for someone who is usually so keen on saying that in the absence of a trial in front of a jury we shouldn't be making any declarations on facts, what with that being the jury's job. Again, I'd be interested to know why.
posted by Len at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [32 favorites]


creating the felony arrest situation that Wilson encountered.

What a weasel worded thing to do. Wilson had no idea that Brown was in any way connected to the incident at the convenience store.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is why I do not get this desire to make this particular case the last stand for this issue. Because the facts are terrible for that. The guy in New York a week earlier was a much better and more important case.

So to be clear, I'm not arguing to convince you, because you're not being an honest participant in the conversation, but the reason this became a flashpoint is not because of the specific circumstances of Michael Brown's execution, but because the people of Ferguson are essentially living under a police state governed by outsiders who fund their extortion racket via police fines.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [25 favorites]


You want to assert that a conviction was impossible, woo on you - plenty agree. Asserting that it would never fly to indict and let a trial sort out the facts is BS. Maybe you don't think it should be done, but the idea that it couldn't isn't true, doesn't reflect how every other non-cop citizen gets treated in society, and is widely disagreed with.

Citizens made this call. They viewed more evidence than any of us did. By far. But they're wrong, even though none of us have seen a 100th of what they've seen. They saw the witnesses testifying in front of them in person. They heard the 911 calls. They heard Wilson testify right in front of them, in person. The robbery was on tape. Literally video we can all see has the robbery taking place.

I don't get it. This is a justified shooting with a lot of media hype. The guy in NYC? That was police misconduct. Yet no one cares about that one and everyone cares about this one.

Look at the differences. In NYC the suspect is not committing a felony and not physically engaging the police officers. They engage him. The Brown family's own witnesses have him fighting or wrestling with a police officer attempting to arrest him. I simply do not see how this is anything other than a justified shooting.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, it would be helpful if you would differentiate between "legally justified" and "ethically justified," because this thread is not constrained to the legal contexts and continually saying the shooting was "justified" is really coming across as tone-deaf.
posted by jaguar at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [47 favorites]


I do think this is bullshit and that citizens should have the right to self-defense against police officers, but the law very strongly disagrees. I have a friend that was being beaten up with a police baton and took the baton away from the police officer so he would stop being beaten up, and he was jailed and tried for assault. The law is really clear that between the police officer and the citizen, only one person has the right of self defense. I think this is morally wrong, and applaud the few states who are creating "right to self defense against cop" laws, but this is how it stands in most states.
posted by corb at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Brown committed a second felony of assaulting an officer.

Evidence, please. So far we've got none backing up this one.

Unless you mean that photo of something smaller than a shaving nick on Wilson's chin.
posted by grubi at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


Brown choked the store owner while stealing the cigarillos and left,

That is bullshit based on the four still frames illegally released in lieu of a bloody incident report. Which they never did release. OR even wrote up.
posted by Trochanter at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


creating the felony arrest situation that Wilson encountered.

What a weasel worded thing to do. Wilson had no idea that Brown was in any way connected to the incident at the convenience store.


That's factually not true. In fact, Wilson was responding to the convenience store robbery. Brown had the cigarillos in his hand. Read the prosecutor's words from the link up there.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is why I do not get this desire to make this particular case the last stand for this issue.

Is this one of those carnival games where I guess your race and socioeconomic status
posted by Greg Nog at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2014 [63 favorites]


Yes it is justified. Brown choked the store owner while stealing the cigarillos and left, creating the felony arrest situation that Wilson encountered. Brown committed a second felony of assaulting an officer. Wilson called for back up. These facts are undisputed. Wilson then attempted to arrest Brown, again an undisputed fact put out there by witnesses Brown's attorneys were putting out there as sympathetic to the case. A second felony. And everyone said Brown was shot from the front, the witnesses, three medical examiners, the whole lot.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah, could you read what I wrote, though? Why is it a "reasonable" belief (instead of an unreasonable belief) that deadly force was necessary to effect the arrest? Could you answer that question instead of not answering it?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


>I didn't know that robbery (which btw Wilson admits he didn't even know about)...

Is that right? On page 8 of Wilson's testimony transcript, he says he heard the call about the convenience store robbery prior to the run-in with Brown.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is clear from last night that it has been months, if ever, since the prosecutors believed that they had a case against Wilson which could produce a conviction. The grand jury process was very misused here, more to shift political heat to 12 grand jurors to let Wilson off the hook than for the prosecutor to do it himself.
posted by MattD at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


As a lawyer, you should really choose your words more carefully. The only video is of Brown stealing the Cigarillos.


Review this video. At 0:15 seconds, Brown puts his hand around the throat of the shop keeper attempting to stop the robbery and shoves him out of the way. That's a strong arm robbery. Its a felony.


Good lord. Do you honestly expect us to believe that you believe that Brandon Blatcher's statement meant that the video showed no other thing but Brown performing the single act of taking the cigarillos? In that context, replying that the video also shows other aspects of him stealing the cigarillos is no more informative or helpful than noting that the video doesn't just show him stealing the cigarillos, it also shows a car driving by in the background and you can totally see this bug on the counter.

I can't possibly believe that you honestly believe that that was Brandon Blatcher's intent. I really can't believe that any neurotypical native speaker of English could possibly fail to understand in that thread that Brandon Blatcher was noting that there was no video of the altercation with Wilson. At which point, why make replies that require you to hold utterly non-credible beliefs for them to be in good faith?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


You're a lawyer, and an American one at that. You know this. Which means you're dissembling for some reason. I'd be interested to know exactly why.

Because he makes a living defending cops in excessive force cases. He's performing here, not having a conversation.
posted by empath at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2014 [43 favorites]


Wilson then attempted to arrest Brown,

Wait, what? I'm still trying to dig through the testimony and have yet to find where an arrest was attempted.
posted by asockpuppet at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's factually not true. In fact, Wilson was responding to the convenience store robbery. Brown had the cigarillos in his hand. Read the prosecutor's words from the link up there.

Remember when the prosecutor and the FPD specifically said he wasn't doing that? Ah, those were the days.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


If Wilson was pursuing them as robbery suspects, and therefore justified in using force against them, why was he yelling out his car window at them about walking in the street, rather than attempting to arrest them for a supposed robbery that he supposedly knew about?
posted by hydropsyche at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [51 favorites]


That's factually not true. In fact, Wilson was responding to the convenience store robbery. Brown had the cigarillos in his hand.

This does not demonstrate that Wilson knew that Brown had the cigarillos in his hand at the time he approached Brown. Try harder.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is why I do not get this desire to make this particular case the last stand for this issue. Because the facts are terrible for that. The guy in New York a week earlier was a much better and more important case.

Man, if only someone had made a media appearance and called for protests!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Brown committed a second felony of assaulting an officer.

Evidence, please. So far we've got none backing up this one.

Unless you mean that photo of something smaller than a shaving nick on Wilson's chin.


Read the statement of the prosecutor. He summarized the witnesses.

But I will go deeper. (NYT LINK)
A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said in an interview with MSNBC that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2014


If Wilson was pursuing them as robbery suspects, and therefore justified in using force against them, why was he yelling out his car window at them about walking in the street, rather than attempting to arrest them for a supposed robbery that he supposedly knew about?

He's a supercop! He can arrest people without leaving his car!
posted by grubi at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Brown committed a second felony of assaulting an officer. Wilson called for back up. These facts are undisputed. Wilson then attempted to arrest Brown

so, uh, if WIlson was looking for a robbery suspect, why did he only attempt to arrest Brown *after* the supposed assault? and why did he try to block Brown with his car in the street? is this standard procedure for arrests? you tell me...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


> don't get it. This is a justified shooting with a lot of media hype. The guy in NYC? That was police misconduct. Yet no one cares about that one and everyone cares about this one.

Even giving you the benefit of the doubt, the fact that Brown was no angel is precisely why this case should have so much attention. You can continue to bury the fact that using deadly force means blowing brains out and such behind your facile legalese all you want, however.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


So, they wrestled through the car window, Wilson shot Brown, Brown ran away, Wilson shot Brown some more, Brown ran at Wilson with his head down, and Wilson shot some more?

Is that *really* the fucking story? Because that doesn't pass a sniff test.
posted by grubi at 10:00 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oof, my goodness. My view of these people is so skewed that I honestly didn't see her role as trying to get an indictment of Wilson at all. Holy crap.

Yeah, the lawyers in the Dorian Johnson grand jury testimony are framing everything as Mike Brown did something or some such. Even after Johnson tells of Brown being a big guy standing outside the police car and Wilson is inside sitting down, the lawyers asks why Brown didn't just pull away, since he had better leverage, which makes Johnson sound like a liar. Unbelievable. This happens repeatedly during Johnson's testimoney. Can't wait to read Wilson's and compare the two versions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:00 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think corb makes a good point, though, in that no one ever sees themselves as the villain. Understanding what drives some people who think they are in the right to commit villainous acts does more to help us figure out how to prevent such acts in the future than just writing someone off as evil does.

I'd agree with that, and I think it's extremely important, but understanding can come from different places. Some people believe that Wilson's grand jury testimony was partly made up -- that he lied, in his own defense, either through fabrication or omission. To base our knowledge of Wilson primarily on that testimony doesn't, given that presumption, get us any closer to understanding him. Some people would like to take his testimony at face value, and work forward from there. Starting from different sets of evidence, two people can end up with very different conclusions, even if they have the same genuine, good-faith intent.

A few people have noted here his previous work with a different police department or his family history as ways of seeing how Wilson might have been exposed to different frameworks of thought. So it's possible to want to understand where Wilson was coming from but also disagree about the best methods to do that; with his testimony, or with other's testimony surrounding the case?

It's possible, in short, to agree that we should try and understand why people act the way they do, but disagree with someone else's understanding of their actions; to agree with their motive, but not with their methods, their evidence, or their conclusion.
posted by cjelli at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


> don't get it. This is a justified shooting with a lot of media hype. The guy in NYC? That was police misconduct. Yet no one cares about that one and everyone cares about this one.

Even giving you the benefit of the doubt, the fact that Brown was no angel is precisely why this case should have so much attention. You can continue to bury the fact that using deadly force means blowing brains out and such behind your facile legalese all you want, however.


Whether Brown was an angel or not is irrelevant. What is relevant in this case is the legal standards applied. The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

Notice I'm the only one linking to actual reports.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2014


A bit of dark levity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


Try harder.

He couldn't possibly. There's a massive front of popular protest currently happening all over the country, with palpable international solidarity, and public opinion both online and off are turning against the staid, out-of-touch bipartisan establishment calls for "peace" that means the continuation of a racist, violent status quo — and yet here we all are, in the space where that could be discussed and debated and organized, instead engaging with these ceaseless pettifogging disputes of the facts of the legal case. Mission accomplished!
posted by RogerB at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


So, they wrestled through the car window, Wilson shot Brown, Brown ran away, Wilson shot Brown some more, Brown ran at Wilson with his head down, and Wilson shot some more?

Is that *really* the fucking story? Because that doesn't pass a sniff test.


that's not the testimony. Not at all. Read the linked statement in my first comment. Don't make it up.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2014


This is why I do not get this desire to make this particular case the last stand for this issue.

Which issue? That a 90% white police force has been violently repressing a mostly black populace for decades? That's a local issue, and while I'm sure the locals would been keen to hear your opinions on the why it was good and just an unarmed teenager was shot and the police officer not prosecuted, they may not be entirely sympathetic to your analysis, or agree with you about what is in dispute or not. They may not want to wait a single day longer for some other cop in some other city to sit in the dock before letting their government know just how badly they have been failed, systematically.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [21 favorites]


The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

Well, then it's okay, I guess. Good thing actually murdering people doesn't do the same, right?
posted by grubi at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Notice I'm the only one linking to actual reports.

That is factually incorrect.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [30 favorites]


[Ironmouth, you have presented your evidence for the legal side of it. If you're not interested in engaging with the rest of the conversation, please feel free to walk away now.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


Read the linked statement in my first comment. Don't make it up.

I did read it. Did you?

A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said in an interview with MSNBC that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.

According to Ms. Mitchell, “The officer gets out of his vehicle,” she said, pursuing Mr. Brown, then continued to shoot.

Mr. Johnson said that he hid behind a parked car and that Mr. Brown was struck by a bullet in his back as he ran away, an account that Dr. Baden’s autopsy appears to contradict.

“Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Ms. Mitchell said, “and then he put his hands up.” Mr. Brown turned, Mr. Johnson said, raised his hands, and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

Officer Wilson continued to fire and Mr. Brown crumpled to the ground, Mr. Johnson said. Within seconds, confusion and horror swept through Canfield Drive. On that Saturday afternoon, dozens of neighbors were at home and rushed out of their apartments when they heard gunshots.


Now add to that Witness #40 and tell me what exactly I got wrong in my summary.
posted by grubi at 10:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Whether Brown was an angel or not is irrelevant.

You're right. According to his killer's testimony, it mattered instead that he looked like a demon.

What is relevant in this case is the legal standards applied. The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

At the bottom of all this ugly shit, you've found a legal standard to take solace in, but the twist ending you missed is the standard is just a turd if you're not with the police.
posted by dougmoon at 10:06 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


At least SOMEONE here is not afraid to tell the truth: that everything's fine.
posted by Trochanter at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Isn't there a whole Supreme Court decision - Tennessee v. Garner - which says that a police officer can only use deadly force on a fleeing suspect if the cop has reason to believe that the fleeing suspect poses a substantial threat of death or serious injury to the cop or others? I know that there's a great deal of interpretation involved in applying that kind of decision, but the idea that if Mike Brown committed a robbery then the cop had legal justification in shooting him just like that....that doesn't seem to go with Tennessee v. Garner.

(Leaving out moral justification, of course.)
posted by Frowner at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [23 favorites]


The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

When I stole tobacco when I was a teenager a security guard yelled at me and I never stole again. He didn't even take back the cigarettes.

Apparently shooting me was a reasonable alternative.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [42 favorites]


The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

You might want to reconsider that statement - it suggests theft is punishable by ...death?...
Personally I'm anti-death-penalty anyway but still
posted by From Bklyn at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


My outrage has left me ill-suited to comment responsibly about the prosecutor's actions, the grand jury's decision, and the state of justice as it now exists in America.

My thoughts are with Brown's family, the innocent people of Ferguson and the St. Louis area, and all the other victims of this travesty.
posted by The Confessor at 10:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said in an interview with MSNBC that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.

So, a witness sees Brown and Wilson "wrestling". That really doesn't provide evidence that Brown assaulted Wilson at all.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


If Wilson was pursuing them as robbery suspects, and therefore justified in using force against them, why was he yelling out his car window at them about walking in the street, rather than attempting to arrest them for a supposed robbery that he supposedly knew about?

Ask CNN:
Wilson told the grand jury his original goal was to arrest Brown, after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft.
"My main goal was to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there," he testified.
"I knew I had already called for backup and I knew they were already in the area for the stealing that was originally reported. So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car. If I could buy 30 seconds of time, someone else will be here, we can make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good. And it didn't happen that way."
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on November 25, 2014


The robbery created the legal authority to use deadly force.

When I stole tobacco when I was a teenager a security guard yelled at me and I never stole again. He didn't even take back the cigarettes.

Apparently shooting me was a reasonable alternative


Only if you're black! Or maybe just non-white.
posted by emjaybee at 10:11 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, fine, I'll say this instead. There are many, many, many lawyers who disagree that this was a reasonable (or right) decision. You do not get to speak on behalf of the Law.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [64 favorites]


When the prosecutor gave his statement, I just kept waiting for him to talk about Wilson - this whole thing was a judgement call by Wilson. And then in answering questions after the statement, he made it seem like Wilson's views were an afterthought, because he's 'the one at issue'. No - that's the whole problem here - his judgement that Michael Brown was 90 feet tall and made of liquid metal that could form knives and stabbing weapons. If it was a black male officer who gunned down somebody that looked like sharon stone there's no way in hell there isn't at least a trial.

Also, if the officer's account could have come out within days of the shooting, it would have quelled a lot of this mess. I can't speak for all of us, but many in the black community want transparency and information. If something looks bad on its face, you need to explain why in detail that it is not that way. Even if it doesn't end up being a step by step account, give us a plausible scenario for what occurred. I think these guys feel like they can do what they want to do with the information and their authority is supposed to hold us over. Like the mere fact that they are law enforcement is enough - like we're supposed to just hang on their reputation, pun intended. No - share information, share it early, and treat the situation like it was your white mother who just got her face shot open.

After every one of these cases, I feel like I end up saying that same thing.
posted by cashman at 10:13 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


If I could buy 30 seconds of time,

Or steal 60 years of life.
posted by grubi at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, a witness sees Brown and Wilson "wrestling". That really doesn't provide evidence that Brown assaulted Wilson at all.

It does, but only in the shitty way that the law defines assault on a police officer. If you struggle, you're resisting arrest. If you touch the police officer at any time during said struggle, you're assaulting a police officer. It's wrong and crappy and awful, but it is generally the law in most places. The legal response you're supposed to have according to many locales to policemen grabbing you is simple compliance. (and sometimes, even going limp and letting them carry you can be called resisting arrest)

So multiple witnesses saying that they saw Brown and Wilson struggling or wrestling in any way, means that legally, Brown did assault Wilson. That may be a reason to change the law! Many people including myself do think people should have the right to defend themselves against police officers. But currently as it stands, we don't.
posted by corb at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Okay, fine, I'll say this instead. There are many, many, many lawyers who disagree that this was a reasonable (or right) decision. You do not get to speak on behalf of the Law.

Let's see their arguments. That's what I'd like to see. Why don't they step in?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm completely unbiased since I believe Darren Wilson and Mike Brown's testimony equally.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


So, Ironmouth, you still have no evidence of Brown assaulting Wilson. You responded to my call for evidence with an eyewitness interviewed — not by the grand jury, not by a prosecutor — by a television network. And that's in the face of the fact that eyewitness reports are unreliable.

So this evidence thing... you familiar with the term at all?
posted by grubi at 10:16 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Let's see their arguments. That's what I'd like to see. Why don't they step in?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:14 AM on November 25 [+][!]


We can't see their arguments becuase there will be no trial! That is the whole point!
posted by latkes at 10:18 AM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]




Greg Nog: " At this point, the crowd became less of an organized focused mass, more just wisps of groups spreading across the streets. This is apparently what the police wanted, since they had ordered dispersal at the corner of Grand and 44, calling the crowd an "unlawful assembly". "

Riot police are a sunk cost fallacy. We got all jacked up and ready to bash some heads, by golly, we'd best get some head crackin' in, else why put all the effort into getting dressed up?
posted by symbioid at 10:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Let's see their arguments. That's what I'd like to see. Why don't they step in?

Aside from the lawyers in this thread, here's an interview with an expert on constitutional law.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:20 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Ironmouth, do you actually doubt there are lawyers who have a solid argument for believing this should have progressed to trial? You really can't see how that could be possible?
posted by sallybrown at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


So I think I have a lot better view than the vast majority of the general public on this matter.

I think you're right. Legally, the shooting was justified. There was no way, assuming he was indicted, that a jury would convict. They almost never convict cops of anything. I don't think it's right, but is how things are.

The problem here is that there is a failure of process. When a cop has to kill a suspect - instead of arresting, charging and having a trial - it is a failure. The police have failed to keep their citizens - all of them, even the bad ones - safe.

We have here a spectacular failure on the part of the police in a number of ways. But no accountability at all.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think the thing that keeps getting lost in all this talk about whether or not the shooting was "legally justified," is whether or not events would have played out similarly had Mr. Brown been a white teenager.

Many, many white teenagers have made bad decisions, have picked fights with cops, have been arrested, have even been assaulted during those arrests. This black teenager ended up dead.

I mean, seriously. For those of you who are white and are shaking your heads at all the fuss the rest of us are kicking up. Picture your white sibling, cousin, friend -- some person in your life -- who did some stupid shit when they were young. Think of the stories they've told you about their run-ins with cops.

How many of those people are dead?

How many of those people never had the chance to get their lives sorted out, because a cop was so afraid of them that he shot them until they died?

Not until he was no longer threatened. Until they were dead.

I just really....I really want for people like Ironmouth to spend some time honestly thinking about that.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [68 favorites]


Isn't there a whole Supreme Court decision - Tennessee v. Garner - which says that a police officer can only use deadly force on a fleeing suspect if the cop has reason to believe that the fleeing suspect poses a substantial threat of death or serious injury to the cop or others? I know that there's a great deal of interpretation involved in applying that kind of decision, but the idea that if Mike Brown committed a robbery then the cop had legal justification in shooting him just like that....that doesn't seem to go with Tennessee v. Garner.

I'm having trouble finding relevent links, but I have heard at least one legal expert say that Missouri's laws are likely unconstitutional in this regard.
posted by jaguar at 10:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can anyone see this happening in the 90s?

Starting a few years earlier to add context:
- Bernie Goetz
- Willie Horton
- Central Park jogger case
- Bensonhurst riot
- Mount Pleasant riot
- Crown Heights riot
- Rodney King riot
- St. Petersburg riot

So, yes.
posted by Lyme Drop at 10:23 AM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


jaguar: I'm having trouble finding relevent links, but I have heard at least one legal expert say that Missouri's laws are likely unconstitutional in this regard.

Colorado law professor Paul Campos:
On its face, Missouri law still follows the old common law rule that it’s lawful to shoot and kill a fleeing suspected felon, even if the suspect doesn’t pose an immediate danger to the police or the public. That rule was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court nearly 30 years ago, but Missouri hasn’t yet revised its statutes to reflect this.

Because of that Supreme Court ruling, the grand jury in this case was instructed that—under current Missouri law—Wilson could have legally shot and killed Brown only if Wilson “reasonably believed that [Brown] was attempting to escape by the use of a deadly weapon or would endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay, and [Wilson] reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to effect the arrest of the offender,” to quote the standard jury instruction used in the state.
My question is: how the fuck can an unconstitutional law be on the books for thirty years?
posted by tonycpsu at 10:24 AM on November 25, 2014 [51 favorites]


I can't stop thinking about the millions of people all over the country who've already had to spend the duration of their child-rearing years precariously balancing the practice of letting kids be kids with the life-and-death urgency of getting those same kids to understand the fact that so many people, up to and including the American justice system, are going to see and treat them as though they are less than fully human for the rest of their lives.

The heft and weight of that psychological burden, the knowledge that your child will be held responsible for violent acts that are done to him or her because members of the dominant socioeconomic caste are so invested in clinging to and perpetuating a narrative that blames people of color for their own subjugation and victimization -- it's impossible to overstate and impossible to comprehend from the outside. From a blog post at Washington Monthly by Martin Longman, A Grave Injustice:
Officer Darren Wilson should have been given the opportunity to defend his actions in a court of law. He could well have won an acquittal. But what's clear is that the moment after he ended Michael Brown's life, the system went into overdrive to protect him and to justify what he had done. They made sure that killing Michael Brown was not a crime. It wasn't even maybe a crime. It was just what police officers do in America without having to worry that they might have to answer for it in court.

Americans can debate this all they want, but unless they know firsthand how this system feels to those who have to live their lives in terror, their opinions aren't worth much.
posted by divined by radio at 10:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [35 favorites]


I'm having trouble finding relevent links, but I have heard at least one legal expert say that Missouri's laws are likely unconstitutional in this regard.

See mediareport's comment upthread, linking to The Nation's article Why It's Impossible to Indict a Cop, specifically the section titled "SCOTUS and the license to kill"
The Graham analysis essentially prohibits any second-guessing of the officer's decision to use deadly force: no hindsight is permitted, and wide latitude is granted to the officer's account of the situation, even if scientific evidence proves it to be mistaken. Such was the case of Berkeley, Missouri, police officers Robert Piekutowski and Keith Kierzkowski, who in 2000 fatally shot Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley out of fear that the victims' car was rolling towards them. Forensic investigations established that the car had not in fact lurched towards the officers at the time of the shooting—but this was still not enough for the St. Louis County grand jury to indict the two cops of anything.
Police are held above all, because police cannot be asked to pause and question their actions in the heat of the moment.

solitary dancer: I wish we could just disarm the police force entirely. It'd probably be safer for everyone. But, police are supposed to be brave and heroic and willing to risk their lives in the line of duty. So let them be a little more brave and risk a little more.

I've been thinking about this and other examples of police being found to have acted within their right/duty in killing unarmed people, and I come back to the fact that the job of police is assumed to be a dangerous one, but it seems that the police presence escalates many situations, leading to circumstances where police feel endangered. It seems like the worst mix of macho warrior bullshit without any empathy that could help ratchet situations down.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:26 AM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


My question is: how the fuck can an unconstitutional law be on the books for thirty years?

From what I understand of the current process of removing unconstitutional laws, is that in order to have standing to sue to remove it, the person suing has to have been a victim of said law. Even if the law clearly contradicts a constitutional decision, they have to be removed bit by bit in this fashion. It's why we have so many bullshit, unconstitutional laws on the books.
posted by corb at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


So multiple witnesses saying that they saw Brown and Wilson struggling or wrestling in any way, means that legally, Brown did assault Wilson.

Yeah, I'm not so naive as to not understand that an officer can call anything "assault". I'm just suggesting that since an officer can call anything assault, that "I was assaulted" shouldn't be used as a reason for (legally or morally) shooting someone. Because if cops can call anything assault, and assault is enough to justify shooting someone, then the law is basically "A cop can start a fight with whoever, then kill the person, and it's justified".
posted by 23skidoo at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


My argument is that the Supreme Court's interpretations of the Fourth Amendment overrule inconsistent Missouri statutory law regarding when lethal force can be used. There's no evidence that Brown was actually fleeing when the final, lethal shots were fired, so the felony allegedly committed at the convenience store cannot justify the use of lethal force under Tennessee v. Garner.

The only thing that could justify the lethal use of force at that stage is that the officer reasonably feared for his safety. And I think that that's a highly questionable proposition given the testimony that Brown was attempting to surrender before the lethal shots were fired. And since it's the defendant's burden to show that the shooting was justified, it was inappropriate to resolve that contested question in favor of the defendant at the grand jury stage.
posted by burden at 10:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Vol 17th Oct 28th has an interview with a woman who states another woman filmed the shooting but the phone was confiscated by police.

Did this ever resurface?


Also, how can I copy/paste out of a PDF?
posted by asockpuppet at 10:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


the law is basically "A cop can start a fight with whoever, then kill the person, and it's justified".

Isn't it, though? ("it" being the law, not the justification) Isn't that the way it works?
posted by grubi at 10:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Read the statement of the prosecutor. He summarized the witnesses.

You mean the prosecutor that many have pointed out seemed to act more like Wilson's defense attorney?
posted by Gelatin at 10:32 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, how can I copy/paste out of a PDF?

sometimes it's just easier to post a screenshot.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, how can I copy/paste out of a PDF?

Are you looking at the stuff via the DocumentCloud website (as linked by CNN) or...? On the DocumentCloud website, you can click the "Text" tab at the top to get to the plain text version, which can then be copy/pasted.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:34 AM on November 25, 2014


Let's see their arguments. That's what I'd like to see. Why don't they step in?

Maybe if this had been allowed to go to, oh what's it called again, I think they call it a trial? Where all of this evidence could be presented to the public and weighed by some transparent process?

Seriously, can we all just ignore our resident cop apologist lawyer this time? I mean, this is literally how he makes his living, defending cops against brutality claims. He is absolutely not some objective observer here. It would be so much better to straight-up ignore him this time. God knows the police apologist viewpoint has already been fully represented by our completely fucked legal system.
posted by dialetheia at 10:34 AM on November 25, 2014 [54 favorites]


So multiple witnesses saying that they saw Brown and Wilson struggling or wrestling in any way, means that legally, Brown did assault Wilson.

For me, it comes back to the tools selected for the job (of restraining a person/responding to a threat).
In his testimony to the grand jury, Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson said he doesn't typically carry a Taser on him.

"We only have a select amount," Wilson testified. "Usually there is one available, but I usually elect not to carry one. It is not the most comfortable thing. They are very large; I don't have a lot of room in the front for it to be positioned."

Wilson said he's trained to use a Taser and believed he's used one before.
Yes, it's better to give all officers deadly weapons than make non-lethal equipment more available and comfortable. And really, are you complaining that you killed someone because the non-lethal weapon was uncomfortable to carry? I'm sorry, your comfort is nothing next to a dead body.


Also, how can I copy/paste out of a PDF?

You can copy/paste out of a PDF if it is selectable text, but if it is a collection of images, then you can take a screenshot or transcribe a section by hand.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


You can copy/paste out of a PDF if it is selectable text, but if it is a collection of images, then you can take a screenshot or transcribe a section by hand.

Yeah, that's a really terrible way to be posting this information online. I know courts are behind the times, but jesus. Learn some basic html!

Or maybe it's not in there interest to post easily readable and copyable documents.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Disarm the Police
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "Ask CNN:
Wilson told the grand jury his original goal was to arrest Brown, after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft.
"My main goal was to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there," he testified.
"I knew I had already called for backup and I knew they were already in the area for the stealing that was originally reported. So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car. If I could buy 30 seconds of time, someone else will be here, we can make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good. And it didn't happen that way."
All this really continues to reinforce we need to get actual community policing. If Darren Wilson could actually recognize "the perps" as kids in his community - if he knew them by name by recognizing them, instead of just some white guy driving around an area he doesn't know or live in...

He could have let it go - say - I've seen that kid before, I know he frequents X hangout, we can approach him later.

But nope - gotta do it in HOT PURSUIT! The other way just isn't as pumped full of adrenaline.
posted by symbioid at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


R. McCulloch, responsible for indicting #DarrenWilson , was actively raising $$$ for him him #ferguson #MichaelBrown pic.twitter.com/d7OGMLSp8P— Bipartisan Report (@Bipartisanism) November 25, 2014


Evidence: the board of backstoppers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [24 favorites]




Or maybe it's not in there interest to post easily readable and copyable documents.

Just click the Text tab at the top and copy to your heart's content. For example:
Case: State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson

Transcript of: Grand Jury Volume
Date: September 16, 2014

This transcript is printed on 100% recycled paper
I copy/pasted that from the first page using the Text tab.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Frowner - right. That whole Missouri statute is only partially pertinent given that the Supremes weighed in on a statute with the exact same sort of construct. It allows for use of force - not necessarily deadly force - given certain constraints. The Supremes further narrowed it, but there's even issues here that could have been raised in a trial.

Included in the constraints are the need for it to be an arrest the officer reasonably believes is lawful. So the whole question about whether Wilson has altered his testimony to include knowledge of this felony pursuit is pertinent. Something that could, say, be raised in a jury trial. Further, the statute demands this justification be raised by the defendant. Something that doesn't have to happen before a grand jury, and which a prosecutor could choose to attempt to discredit. You know, at trial.

So all of this is just a goalpost-shifting, really, because none of this relates to whether there was sufficient evidence to present to a grand jury (which could have been bypassed and Wilson simply charged) in order to pursue some truth. None of it demanded that there be this putzing around for an extended period of time allowing for the potential defendant to refine his story.

You want input from actual lawyers, I'm happy to share what I shared months ago, from my friend who has defended capital cases and who teaches law. Regarding the delay and grand jury process
It'd be nice if every person charged with murder had the benefit of thorough investigation by the police and the prosecutor before being charged. But our adversarial system doesn't give that benefit to citizens, even those who vehemently claim self-defense in their voluntary statements to the police. I know, I've represented those battered women who killed and were immediately charged, jailed, held, had to make bond, lost their jobs, only for the machinery to spit out a not guilty. If the system is a good one, it should work the same way for everyone.
regarding the level of investigation before deciding to pursue a trial
Unless police officers have a specific statutory privilege that entitles them to more investigation when their conduct (actus reus) demonstrates a provable murder case (with all the inferences which the govt. enjoys from the use of a deadly weapon in that prosecution), then the process is not playing out in a regular manner. Self-defense is an affirmative defense that must be raised by the defendant. The officer here is being treated differently from any other person who shot and killed someone. Put more bluntly, if you shot someone 6'2", 290 lbs., Linda you'd be charged with murder. (In which case, you should call me.) And I would raise your self-defense claim and the jury would assess these facts. You would not be given the benefit of the doubt in the charging and the investigation in my experience. The machinery of the executive would begin to work almost immediately to gather facts and evidence to prove your guilt. And we have an adversarial system, and that's a part of it. This officer is being treated like he's in the France, with an inquisitorial system. Both have strengths and weaknesses. If many of my clients had enjoyed the depth of objective, even suspect-oriented investigation that this officer is getting, I would have never been appointed, fewer tax dollars would have been spent, juries wouldn't have been in service for days, etc.
posted by phearlez at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


The National Bar Association has called for McCulloch to be indicted on federal charges.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2014 [24 favorites]


Just click the Text tab at the top and copy to your heart's content.

Dammit, why didn't you say that earlier. Though that probably doesn't apply to the NYT separated transcripts.
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on November 25, 2014


Evidence: the board of backstoppers.

What am I missing with the support Wilson t-shirt and Backstoppers?

It looks like money for the t-shirts was split between Wilson's gofundme and Backstoppers, an organization that sends support to the families of fallen police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs. It does not look like money from Backstoppers was going to Wilson.

It's not a happy connection but I don't see how it is anything more.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:52 AM on November 25, 2014


It's certainly weird that the eyewitness accounts differ on this extremely significant point! That's why it's important that all charges be dropped and this case never goes to trial.
posted by theodolite at 10:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]




>mountmccabe The prosecuting attorney is the president of Backstoppers. The org he is president of was actively fundraising for Wilson.
posted by waitingtoderail at 10:54 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


From what I understand of the current process of removing unconstitutional laws, is that in order to have standing to sue to remove it, the person suing has to have been a victim of said law.

That just makes the law unenforceable but leaves it on the books, which is to say still part of the text of the state's statutes. The only thing that removes an unconstitutional law's text from the statutes is, as it happens, a bill amending the state's statutes to remove the offending text. Oftentimes that seems to have to wait for the state to do one of their periodic wholesale overhauls of the statutes.

It wouldn't normally be a high priority even for well-meaning legislatures since the act of removing the text of an unenforceable and inoperative law has, by definition, no legal effect whatsoever.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:56 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear: Was the gofundme t-shirt sale run by Backstoppers? Or were they just referenced by the gofundme campaign? It's not clear to me, as the gofundme campaign is no longer active.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering: The National Bar Association has called for McCulloch to be indicted on federal charges.

As mentioned by empath upthread, The National Bar Association (the oldest and largest national association of African-American attorneys and judges in the United States) is not the American Bar association (founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States), btw.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


My question is: how the fuck can an unconstitutional law be on the books for thirty years?

The law is not a recipe which is followed exactly as printed in the codes. It's interpreted, narrowed, amended - sometimes inline, sometimes via other sections - and declared unconstitutional. It's not remotely unusual for a statute that has been found unconstitutional to remain on the books. It typically requires an affirmative effort on the part of a legislature or council to excise it. Until that time it just sits there like a turd under glass, waiting for someone to clean it up or even to try to use it in a way they claim was not excised by judicial ruling.
posted by phearlez at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not a happy connection but I don't see how it is anything more.

See above. The president of Backstoppers was also the prosecuting attorney.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2014


Missouri Police Use of Force Laws: A Turd Under Glass (tm)
posted by tonycpsu at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2014


See above. The president of Backstoppers was also the prosecuting attorney.

But BackStoppers was not running the fundraiser, they were just one of the beneficiaries.
posted by teraflop at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jurors still questioning Johnson about why they didn't do as the Officer said.

Because of the weird formatting with redacted names of jurors, I at first thought that there was counsel for Darren Wilson in the room. It took me a second to realize that it was the jurors. That's when I totally understood why there was no indictment. One of the jurors literally says (there is no question):
In my mind [it's] an act of defiance going down the middle of the street expecting cars to go around you and, you know, pay attention to you. If I see someone in the middle of the street I'd be concerned about hitting them and really slowing down or moving over... I would interpret that they are being defiant to show strength or something.
The Grand Jury spent just as much time chastising Johnson for walking in the street than they did asking about the actual shooting. Wilson's testimony, on the other, was basically his own uninterrupted account.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


Let's see their arguments. That's what I'd like to see. Why don't they step in?

National Bar Association: "We will not rest until Michael Brown and his family has justice."
posted by item at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Citizens made this call. They viewed more evidence than any of us did. By far. But they're wrong, even though none of us have seen a 100th of what they've seen.

They viewed exactly and only the evidence that the district attorney chose to show them. None of it tested by the adversary system or cross examination. How often, in your experience does a prosecutor show a grand jury more supposedly exculpatory evidence than incriminating evidence? How often does a prosecutor show a grand jury any supposedly exculpatory evidence at all?

Even if I were grant that a trail would have ended in a "not guilty" verdict -- which I do not -- that doesn't make it OK to go outside the norms of the system to avoid that trial. It's not enough that you get -- somehow -- to the same answer at the end. Justice also needs to be seen to be done.
posted by tyllwin at 11:02 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


The National Bar Association has called for McCulloch to be indicted on federal charges. But have they ever been on television?
posted by drezdn at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


But BackStoppers was not running the fundraiser, they were just one of the beneficiaries.

You really don't see any problem with the prosecutor's organization raising money on shirts that say "I support Darren Wilson"?
posted by dialetheia at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


They viewed exactly and only the evidence that the district attorney chose to show them. None of it tested by the adversary system or cross examination.

You do realize that in a trial, the jury would also get to see only the evidence the DA chose to present, PLUS the defense attorney, right?
posted by corb at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2014


I guess what I'm saying is that I can imagine the kind of person who would focus on jaywalking during a grand jury hearing where murder is on the table. And there is no way that person would send down an indictment against a white cop who shot a uppity defiant black kid.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


Why is the president of an organization set up expressly to assist police officers allowed to "prosecute" one?
posted by waitingtoderail at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


The prosecutor's organization WASN'T raising money on those shirts. The shirt wasn't from Backstoppers.
posted by mountmccabe at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2014


You do realize that in a trial, the jury would also get to see only the evidence the DA chose to present, PLUS the defense attorney, right?

It's too bad that in this grand jury they seemed to be the same person.
posted by Gelatin at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


But BackStoppers was not running the fundraiser, they were just one of the beneficiaries.

Good call. Looks like this is correct.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:05 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


They will always be or about to be thugs, drug dealers, lowlifes. They will always be animals.

"We're dealing with 4,000 animals in there, & you want to give me attitude?"
posted by homunculus at 11:06 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Good call. Looks like this is correct.

Doesn't matter much to me, this is still super fucked and he should have been aware of the optics of accepting money from an "I support Wilson" fundraiser. He's supposed to have been prosecuting Wilson, for chrissake.
posted by dialetheia at 11:07 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


You saw the press conference, right? If he cared about optics, he would have had an assistant deliver a dispassionate summary of the grand jury results instead of going on a 20-minute tirade against protesters, cable news networks, and social media.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just to clarify something for myself:

If MucCulloch had allowed this to go to trial, presumably the strength of the prosecution's argument would still have been his responsibility. Could he not have tried Wilson with a weak argument, and still gotten the same innocent verdict without all the unseemliness? Or would the very act of bringing the indictment been too controversial to his police ties?
posted by Think_Long at 11:09 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


You do realize that in a trial, the jury would also get to see only the evidence the DA chose to present, PLUS the defense attorney, right?

Yes, I do. I also realize that if the grand jury indicts it's the prosecutor's job to actually attempt to prosecute it.

If your argument is that the DA's office in question is so corrupt that they could not be relied upon to carry out that duty either, I concede that may be a point.
posted by tyllwin at 11:10 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Think_Long: no. A prosecutor grossly violates his ethical duties to bring a prosecution which he does not in good faith believe will result in a conviction.
posted by MattD at 11:12 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


To me, one of the worst parts of this situation outside of the killing itself is that the prosecutor, having taken a dive on the case to protect a police officer as his record suggested he would, went on national TV with the entire world watching and spiked the fucking ball without having a care in the world that it would come back to bite him. He knew he was untouchable, even after failing to recuse himself, and even after taking the unusual step of sending it to a grand jury.

I can't help but wonder if he's put himself on the Vice Presidential short list with that kind of unmitigated gall.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:14 AM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


The silver lining here is the new grand jury system that has emerged. A system where the prosecution acts as an advocate for the defendant. Where all of the evidence is laid out for the grand jury and the prosecuter's office coaxes exculpatory evidence from conflicting testimony. It's amazing that we will have a system where the defendant is allowed to share her side of the story with the grand jury, allowing character testimony to influence the members of the jury. Not only will the prosecutor fail to bring charges against the defendant, they will not even ask for an indictment at the end of the process. Even the normally low bar of probable cause has been raised, and where conflict once demanded a true bill, now conflict grants the light of forgiveness, freeing the defendant from the harrowing process of a trial.

It is tragic that it took the death of Michael Brown to bring these reforms...wait, what? Every defendant isn't going to get this deference?

WTF?
posted by ryoshu at 11:15 AM on November 25, 2014 [41 favorites]


You really don't see any problem with the prosecutor's organization raising money on shirts that say "I support Darren Wilson"?

Please don't put words in my mouth. Did I say I don't see any problem with it?

I'm saying that "R. McCulloch, responsible for indicting #DarrenWilson , was actively raising $$$ for him him" is, apparently, false. He was not actively raising funds; funds were being donated by someone else to his organization.
posted by teraflop at 11:21 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


For people who are trotting out MLK, I have this quote from someone on twitter, h/t another Mefite:

"In these potentially violent times in Ferguson, I think it's important to look at the example MLK set. His quiet dignity. His restraint. How he was able to show compassion even under duress. How he got shot in the fucking face anyway."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2014 [84 favorites]


Ok, I've finished reading the Dorian Johnson testimony and there's a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach. Seriously. I don't recall ever feeling quite so fucking scared about things before.

It's one thing to have Mike Brown shot to death by an overzealous officer. It's quite another to see how utterly stacked the system is. Those repeated from the jurors, where Brown and Johnson were clearly wrong from the start, the leading questions by the attorney who were supposed to be seeking indictments of Officer WIlson. It's just all so fucked up and so blatantly out there, it's genuinely frightening.

Geeze.

Anyone have a link to Wilson's grand jury testimony?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:27 AM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


Motion to be Given the Same Treatment and Protections as White Police Officers. A public defender requests their clients get the same Grand Jury treatment Wilson received.
posted by drezdn at 11:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [46 favorites]


Anyone have a link to Wilson's grand jury testimony?

Volume 5, starts on page 195.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Colorado Springs: A protest parade just marched by right outside my window! Maybe 200-300 people?
posted by mochapickle at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's just all so fucked up and so blatantly out there, it's genuinely frightening.

Indeed.
posted by mikelieman at 11:34 AM on November 25, 2014


The National Bar Association responds to the Grand Jury's decision not to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

...National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes expresses her sincere disappointment with the outcome of the Grand Jury’s decision but has made it abundantly clear that the National Bar Association stands firm and will be calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal charges against officer Darren Wilson. “We will not rest until Michael Brown and his family has justice” states Pamela Meanes
posted by magstheaxe at 11:35 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


A meditation on a different but familiar historical moment, from C. Wright Mills' classic work of political sociology, The Power Elite:

"For the first time in American history, men in authority are talking about an 'emergency' without a foreseeable end... such men as these are crackpot realists: in the name of realism they have constructed a paranoid reality all their own."

This, I think, is a good way of describing this epistemic problem that is used to pretend that justice is being served in America, which we can see in this thread itself. Crackpot realism: the ostensibly hard-headed, reality-principle approach of Serious People which, for all its avowed pragmatism, seems to systematically ignore certain kinds of very pragmatic questions in favor of fatuous assumptions which inevitably privilege the right to domination, in light of crises that seem to come into existence whenever that domination is sought. Here, the "crisis" was the alleged assault of Darren Wilson, but it always gets manufactured one way or the other.

Enough of crackpot realism.
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [23 favorites]


Not sure if this has been posted in this thread yet, but I found it very helpful: What's Different About The Grand Jury Process In The Darren Wilson Case?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:37 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Interesting comment from the Q&A portion of Jacqueline's link:
Is McCulloch’s decision to present all of the evidence to the grand jury controversial?

Yes.

Richard Kuhns, an emeritus professor at Washington University Law School, questioned McCulloch’s approach. “Since he presumably doesn't do this with other cases, the not-so-hidden message must be ‘don't indict.’ One more reason why McCulloch should never have been in charge of the investigation.”
posted by Gelatin at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


New York Times just updated its story. Yikes.
posted by bukvich at 11:42 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Comparing evidence between a grand jury and a trial is inherently flawed because the process and standards aren't the same. This is from the Federal rules of evidence but there's mention of Supremes weighing in so it relates.

(d) Exceptions. These rules — except for those on privilege — do not apply to the following:
(1) the court’s determination, under Rule 104(a), on a preliminary question of fact governing admissibility;
(2) grand-jury proceedings; and


from advisory committee notes:
(2) While some states have statutory requirements that indictments be based on “legal evidence,” and there is some case law to the effect that the rules of evidence apply to grand jury proceedings, 1 Wigmore §4(5), the Supreme Court has not accepted this view. In Costello v. United States, 350 U.S. 359, 76 S.Ct. 406, 100 L.Ed. 397 (1965), the Court refused to allow an indictment to be attacked, for either constitutional or policy reasons, on the ground that only hearsay evidence was presented.

“It would run counter to the whole history of the grand jury institution, in which laymen conduct their inquiries unfettered by technical rules. Neither justice nor the concept of a fair trial requires such a change.” Id. at 364. The rule as drafted does not deal with the evidence required to support an indictment.
So "it would be the same evidence" isn't true; the grand jury process allows for a lot more latitude for the GJ to hear things that could well be excluded at trial. Findlaw puts it more plainly as Under normal courtroom rules of evidence, exhibits and other testimony must adhere to strict rules before admission. However, a grand jury has broad power to see and hear almost anything they would like. - See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/how-does-a-grand-jury-work.html#sthash.gsi86FCV.dpuf

It also wouldn't normally be a big info dump. The latest article from Volkoh hand-waves this off as if it's irrelevant but again, if we're going to even pretend the fiction that this is the same system for everyone, the fact that a cop gets a radically different handling than Joe Schmoe - and a different treatment than when white folks get shot down - it's highly relevant.

If you want to see the rules for grand jury proceedings in MO they're here.
posted by phearlez at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


I should mention the article Jacqueline cited was dated prior to the release of the grand jury's decision. Given that, it shows remarkable foresight.
Who decides whether to indict, the grand jurors, the prosecutor or the presiding judge?

The grand jury, but the prosecutor’s views are extremely influential.
posted by Gelatin at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Richard Kuhns, an emeritus professor at Washington University Law School, questioned McCulloch’s approach. “Since he presumably doesn't do this with other cases, the not-so-hidden message must be ‘don't indict.’

And note that this was a grand jury held over, who had seen the typical presentation from prosecutors, so they were well primed to recognize a difference from tradition.
posted by phearlez at 11:49 AM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


The law is really clear that between the police officer and the citizen, only one person has the right of self defense.

Your right to self-defense against unlawful force is not lessened at all by the fact that your attacker is a police officer. It's just that there's apparently a greater chance that you'll be killed and your attacker will lie and get away with it despite the law being on your side.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:49 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]




"I can't help but wonder if he's put himself on the Vice Presidential short list with that kind of unmitigated gall."
posted by tonycpsu

He could go hunting with Dick Cheney and have an exploratory.
posted by clavdivs at 11:53 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]




Which is shorthand for "we have enough Fifty Shades books already, thanks."
posted by delfin at 11:57 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


"We Are Not Beasts of Burden" is the only book left unfulfilled on this 2nd wishlist (I'd buy it, but it's a little out of my range)
posted by divabat at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2014


"In these potentially violent times in Ferguson, I think it's important to look at the example MLK set. His quiet dignity. His restraint. How he was able to show compassion even under duress. How he got shot in the fucking face anyway."

I found myself coming to the same conclusion, within seconds of pointing to MLK and MKG (Gandhi) in angry African timeline. Both came to the same violent end because of a gun.

This reminds me of a long conversation I had once with a former ANC Spear, now a church leader/reverend, who spoke eloquently on the pros and cons of using violence, and the path to their taking this decision even though they'd started out with Gandhian principles as voiced by Mandela.
posted by infini at 11:59 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, if you denounce looting now but didn't every time a whole bunch of white people riot after a sports team wins/loses a game, then you are a racist.

Some examples, if anyone needs something to post in response to idiot friends and family on Facebook.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:02 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Some more examples.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:03 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Since Wilson was not indicted, but therefore not acquitted, does the concept of double jeopardy apply? Could a future DA declare how obviously in the tank McCulloch was and either return the case to a grand jury or indict Wilson on his or her own directions? Not that any DA who wanted to remain on good terms with the local police establishment necessarily would, of course, but would it be legal?
posted by Gelatin at 12:04 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you want to help the Ferguson Public Library (aside from sending them books which it seems like they already have now!) there is a PayPal button on their site, thanks to Ferguson librarian Scott Bonner.
posted by Ragini at 12:06 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


"In these potentially violent times in Ferguson, I think it's important to look at the example MLK set. His quiet dignity. His restraint. How he was able to show compassion even under duress. How he got shot in the fucking face anyway."

This is great, and a fantastic comeback to all the condescending holier-than-thou white people who have no shame whatsoever lecturing black folks about "what MLK would have done" right now.

Another good tweet that illuminates the incredible amount of benefit of the doubt people would have to grant Wilson to find his justification credible:
David Cochrane @CochraneCBCNL: "The phrase "the final 10 shots" really stands out when only one person was armed."
posted by dialetheia at 12:10 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


clockzero: "Enough of crackpot realism."

Or as I like to call it ...
"Privilege"
posted by symbioid at 12:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's rather notable that, of Darren Wilson's self-nominated public defenders in this thread, nobody's even tried to mount a defense of the decision to punt the case to the grand jury in the first place. If you assume the legitimacy of the venue, and take the word of some witnesses and not others, you can probably make a valid legal argument that casts suspicion on reasonable doubt, but if that purportedly just process comes tacked on to the end of an unjust process, it doesn't remotely resemble equal justice under the law.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Richard Kuhns, an emeritus professor at Washington University Law School, questioned McCulloch’s approach. “Since he presumably doesn't do this with other cases, the not-so-hidden message must be ‘don't indict.’

I thought this was obvious and went without saying? If he wanted an indictment there would have been an indictment.

The whole sideshow he put forward was so he could be a mirror universe Pontius Pilate and wash his hands of the whole thing.
posted by Justinian at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The most recent issue of Today in Tabs is a must-read.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:16 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not attach in a grand jury proceeding, or bar a grand jury from returning an indictment when a prior grand jury has refused to do so
posted by empath at 12:18 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Since Wilson was not indicted, but therefore not acquitted, does the concept of double jeopardy apply?

According to the Supreme Court, it does not:
No doubt in view of the grand jury proceeding's status as other than a constituent element of a "criminal prosecutio[n],"...we have said that certain constitutional protections afforded defendants in criminal proceedings have no application before that body. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not bar a grand jury from returning an indictment when a prior grand jury has refused to do so.
Or at least that's what Wikipedia told me.
posted by cjelli at 12:19 PM on November 25, 2014


In case folks missed it (or I did upthread) on August 15th there was a spate of articles in which the Ferguson police chief stated for the record that Darren Wilson did *not* know about the robbery when he first stopped Michael Brown.

That has now changed.

The lack of any kind of detailed incident reports completed at the time of the shooting may have something to do with the change of narrative. It certainly makes it hard to pin anything down about the initial descriptions of events.
posted by mediareport at 12:19 PM on November 25, 2014 [46 favorites]


I thought this was obvious and went without saying? If he wanted an indictment there would have been an indictment.

Some things are never obvious enough for the Respectability and Rule of Law Brigade.
posted by phearlez at 12:20 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think this case deserves one of those Cracked Magazine essays (if you haven't been on top of things, they often do excellent, enlightening pieces recently). The kind where: You are saying this, but other people are hearing this.

You are saying this: Michael Brown assaulted a convenience store owner in a robbery.

Others are hearing this: "An act that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent, harmful, or offensive contact" is a definition of assault. In other people's heads the word assault means bodily harm. You are using the term to justify a death sentence.

You are saying: Michael Brown was huge.

Others are hearing: Huge black men are WMD.

You are saying: The shooting was justified.

Others are hearing: Justified means you agree it was the right course of action. Justified means you agree with the crappy system.

To some extent, the above is an (argumentative) apology for the supporters of the verdict. Just to make it clear, I do not support the grand jury's decision. It should have been brought to trial and the evidence tested.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


You know, I'm usually a pretty reasonable 42-year-old father of two. I'm also a white guy who has benefited throughout his life from white privilege, from class privilege, the whole schmear.

There's something about this latest incident that has radicalized me like nothing so far in my life, and I am daily filled with a kind of nearly uncontrollable rage about the system I've been coopted into. Where police officers can shoot down innocent kids for walking while black, and not only walk away from it, but get rewarded for it.

I'm managing to mostly keep it under control for the sake of my family, but there's a small part of me that's growing louder and more unreasonable each day. And that part is screaming "THEY CAN'T KILL US ALL", and wants to see open warfare in the streets of America.

Because they can't kill us all. They can try like hell, and they'll get away with it for a while, but the motherfuckers can't kill us all. And maybe it's time for axes in heads. The 1% have built their army right in front of us, they're using it with impunity, and they transparently think that they're going to win.

And that little part of me that's going apeshit knows that none of my votes have mattered. None of my actions matter, because my rights have been coopted, my vote has been neutered, my economic influence is real. So I'm left with the very real question of, how can I best serve to change society?

And the answer is starting to seem more and more like "as a corpse". Fuck it: if the only way I can make change is by making the state kill me in public for saying that they're out of control, then the handwriting's more or less on the wall, isn't it?

I know this is all irrational, and that it's a kind of insane reaction to what's going on. And I am mostly able to keep myself calm and focused on not letting my rage drive my choices.

But if I'm feeling like this, and I'm one of the perpetual victors in life simply by dint of my race and my class, I can't even begin to fathom how a young man of color is feeling at this moment, when his entire existence has been deemed worthless at the moment of his birth.

A reckoning is coming. We all know it's coming. And we're past the point where it can be accomplished peacefully. We will all burn for this, and we deserve to.
posted by scrump at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [56 favorites]


Respectability and Rule of Law Brigade.

The only law they are concerned about is "I am the law."
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The lack of any kind of detailed incident reports completed at the time of the shooting may have something to do with the change of narrative. It certainly makes it hard to pin anything down about the initial descriptions of events.

One might almost think that's on purpose.

A reckoning is coming. We all know it's coming. And we're past the point where it can be accomplished peacefully. We will all burn for this, and we deserve to.

One of the vandals (who, I want to emphasize again, were obviously in the minority last night) apparently quoted The Hunger Games in some graffiti: "If we burn, you burn with us." Chilling, but impossible to ignore.

FYI, peaceful protests are shutting down streets in Ferguson right now. They've just started occupying a bridge after apparently faking out the cops so they ended up on the wrong side of the highway, where the protesters weren't.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]




Things white people can do. a not unreasonable list of suggestions
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


peaceful protesters getting pepper sprayed by cops in riot gear, a few minutes ago

So when Governor Nixon was quoted by the NYT as saying “Violence like we saw last night cannot be repeated,” he obviously wasn't referring to police conduct.
posted by Gelatin at 12:28 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


The most recent issue of Today in Tabs is a must-read.

I had not seen that picture of Mike Brown standing in the snow before. Now I'm crying for a boy who will never see another snowfall, who will never play in the snow again.

There is no justice for any of us if there is no justice for all of us.
posted by winna at 12:29 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


What is Critical Race Theory?
Legal discourse says that the law is neutral and colorblind, however, CRT challenges this legal “truth” by examining liberalism and meritocracy as a vehicle for self-interest, power, and privilege. CRT also recognizes that liberalism and meritocracy are often stories heard from those with wealth, power, and privilege. These stories paint a false picture of meritocracy; everyone who works hard can attain wealth, power, and privilege while ignoring the systemic inequalities that institutional racism provides.
Critical Race Theory
One key focus of critical race theorists is a regime of white supremacy and privilege maintained despite the rule of law and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Agreeing with critical theorists and many feminists that law itself is not a neutral tool but instead part of the problem, critical race scholars identify inadequacies of conventional civil rights litigation.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


>In case folks missed it (or I did upthread) on August 15th there was a spate of articles in which the Ferguson police chief stated for the record that Darren Wilson did *not* know about the robbery when he first stopped Michael Brown.

I opened a few of those links -- they don't quote the chief as saying that Wilson didn't know about the robbery, but that Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in the robbery when Wilson first interacted with Brown. Which is consistent with Wilson's account (see p.209 of Wilson's testimony to the grand jury).
posted by BurntHombre at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2014


If Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in that robbery, then Wilson's use of lethal force is (legally) not justified.

It's not morally justified anyway, and in any case 'stealing a pack of cigarettes' only turns into 'evil death monster Hulk demon who shoots laser beams out of his eyes' when the alleged thief is black.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just in case people here aren't aware: to the best of my knowledge grand juries, no longer exist in other common law jurisdictions; they only survive in the USA. They are mandatory at a Federal level, but there's no reason they couldn't be eliminated in the US States that still retain them. As we have seen, they're basically a tool in the hands of prosecutors; they indict or dismiss prosecutions as desired.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


If Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in that robbery, then Wilson's use of lethal force is (legally) not justified.

If Wilson did know Brown was a suspect in that robbery, then Wilson's accosting them on the grounds of walking in the middle of the street seems utterly bizarre and makes no sense at all.
posted by Gelatin at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


>If Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in that robbery, then Wilson's use of lethal force is (legally) not justified.

Read p. 209 -- it covers Wilson's testimony as to when he realized Brown and his companion were the suspects in the robbery.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2014


That "Witness 40" document really deserves its own hashtag on Twitter...

u guys I was totes there and brown was charging the cop with a sammerai sword no really #witness40
posted by uosuaq at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2014 [27 favorites]


mediareport: The lack of any kind of detailed incident reports completed at the time of the shooting may have something to do with the change of narrative. It certainly makes it hard to pin anything down about the initial descriptions of events.

As does the lack of photographs, due to the mysterious 'dead battery'. Because you definitely couldn't find another camera. Or a phone. Or buy some fresh batteries.

It's quite clear that from the start, the only interest the authorities in Ferguson had was in covering up the murder of Mike Brown.
posted by tavella at 12:37 PM on November 25, 2014 [21 favorites]


The so-called "facts" are not clear at all. That is why you have a trial, to establish the facts.

1. For months, the police chief has stated that Wilson was not aware of the robbery. Suddenly, that story has changed. Why? We will never know.

2. For months, the police chief has stated that Wilson stopped Brown for jaywalking. It had nothing to do with robbery suspects. That story has changed. Why? We will never know.

3. If Wilson believed they were robbery suspects, why did he just tell them to get out of the street. There was no attempt to detain them. Why? We will never know.

4. For months, the police chief has said that Wilson called for backup after the confrontation. Now we hear that he called before the confrontation. Or was it between shots in the confrontation. Why the discrepancies? We will never know.

5. The forensics person testified that they didn't take pictures of the crime scene because of a camera battery. They also testified they didn't take any crime scene measurements. Bloggers have reconstructed the scene from on site videos and goggle maps and determined that Brown died at least 120 feet from Wilson's car. How does that fit into Wilson's theory of eminent threat? We will never know.

6. There is conflicting testimony about the nature of the physical altercation. There will be no trial to test those witnesses.

7. There is conflicting testimony about whether Brown had his hands up or fists up. There will be no trial to test those witnesses.

8. There is conflicting testimony about whether Brown was surrendering or charging Wilson. There will be no trial to test those witnesses.

So with a such uncertainty about crucial elements of the crime, why no trial? The purpose of a trial is to establish the facts. What are claimed to be "facts" are not facts, because they haven't been subjected to trial.

A grand jury proceeding in which you simply dump all of these conflicting "facts" on a jury with no advocacy to test and distinguish them is a sham trial. The strategy of the prosecutor in this case was to simply generate reasonable doubt, which is not the prosecutor's job.
posted by JackFlash at 12:38 PM on November 25, 2014 [130 favorites]


I can't read it right now but is there actual recordings of police radio chatter to back this up or just wilson's word?
posted by futz at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2014


When white people riot, a handy Storify. I guess someone shopped out all the teargas.

Read p. 209 -- it covers Wilson's testimony as to when he realized Brown and his companion were the suspects in the robbery.

Wilson's testimony is fundamentally not credible. Maybe the part where he spelled out his name is accurate.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nancy LeTourneau: “The Most Intense, Aggressive Face I’ve Ever Seen” (i.e., Black)
[Darren Wilson's testimony] sounds an awful lot like South Carolina State Trooper Sean Groubert’s initial testimony about why he started shooting at Levar Jones after pulling him over for a seat belt violation.
Before I could even get out of my car he jumped out, stared at me, and as I jumped out of my car and identified myself, as I approached him, he jumped head-first back into his car … he jumped out of the car. I saw something black in his hands.
The only problem for Groubert is that in that case, there was an actual video of what happened[...]In discussing the Groubert shooting, Leonard Pitts sums up what’s going on in all three of these situations…at minimum.
So let us accord him the benefit of the doubt because in situations like this, people always want to make it a question of character. And the shooter’s friends always feel obliged to defend him with the same tired words: “He is not a racist.”

He probably isn’t, at least not in the way they understand the term.

But what he is, is a citizen of a country where the fear of black men is downright viral. That doesn’t mean he burns crosses on the weekend. It means he’s watched television, seen a movie, used a computer, read a newspaper or magazine. It means he is alive and aware in a nation where one is taught from birth that thug equals black, suspect equals black, danger equals black…

The Groubert video offers an unusually stark image of that fear in action. Viewing it, it seems clear the trooper is not reacting to anything Jones does. In a very real sense, he doesn’t even see him. No, he is reacting to a primal fear of what Jones is, to outsized expectations of what Jones might do, to terrors buried so deep in his breast, he probably doesn’t even know they’re there.
When I read Darren Wilson’s words, it seemed obvious to me that he was also reacting to that primal fear buried deep in his breast. That’s what most racism looks like these days. And that’s why so many unarmed black boys are dying.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2014 [48 favorites]


I know it's been pointed out, but worth mentioning again - the mere existence of reasonable people pointing out apparent holes and weird things all over the Wilson narrative - whether those are actually holes or not! - is proof positive that this should have gone to trial. That supports a finding of probable cause - a low bar to clear, a threshold for the real questions. That's what is so confounding about the decision - it shouldn't even have been a nail-biting debate, not at this stage in the process. There's a lot of lawyering going on to try to disguise that fact. That lawyering is a smokescreen. There are doubts merely present, regardless of how you feel about them - and there are lots of them - and those doubts should have been investigated further. That they weren't is a miscarriage of justice.
posted by naju at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2014 [60 favorites]


Cops in Ferguson have just put on gas masks--at a peaceful protest. Seattle protests are growing. Ferguson cops are carrying large blue canisters of pepper spray.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2014


(@deray is in the Ferguson protests right now, so is @Nettaaaaaaaa)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:44 PM on November 25, 2014


>Wilson's testimony is fundamentally not credible. Maybe the part where he spelled out his name is accurate.

I'm not sure how you can assert that, but, regardless of whether it's credible, it addresses the dilemma you posed.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:45 PM on November 25, 2014


[Another comment deleted. Seriously, folks, this is not the right place to wander in all wide-eyed and say "but what about [x] testimony?" We've had a large number of threads to hash that out, and it's most likely been covered in this very thread already. Please engage with the discussion at hand. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2014


Jack Flash, you only have a trial when the prosecutor believes that the facts suffice beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. You don't just say "person A and person B were involved in a bad thing and person B died, therefore put person A on trial to see whether it was his fault." The prosecutor couldn't have made more clear last night that I believed the facts were entirely the other way, and used the grand jury for political cover.

If the Governor or Attorney General of Missouri believes that the prosecutor plainly overlooked damning evidence (or over-relied upon exculpatory evidence) they may well have the right to appoint a special prosecutor to re-examine the evidence and file charges.
posted by MattD at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]




Tonight at 8pm eastern the Black FreeThinkers online radio show will be on the topic: "Black Lives Matter - Standing in Solidarity with Ferguson Protestors"
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2014


Naju -- my comment above covers your remark as well. Probable cause is what the grand jury or judge (in the absent of a grand jury) requires the prosecutor to prove to move forward; the prosecutor must himself believe the evidence supports conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Which he plainly did not.
posted by MattD at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2014


You're not sure how I can assert that? Possibly the most disingenuous thing I've read today. How about 'like a demon' or that his testimony doesn't line up with audio recording or that for months we've heard he didn't know about the robbery or the lack of an incident report ever being filed or obviously being coached by attorneys or... shall I go on? That's exactly how I am quite comfortable asserting that Wilson's testimony isn't credible.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:49 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


If the Governor or Attorney General of Missouri believes that the prosecutor plainly overlooked damning evidence (or over-relied upon exculpatory evidence) they may well have the right to appoint a special prosecutor to re-examine the evidence and file charges.

The fact that the prosecutor presented exculpatory evidence before the grand jury at all makes a conclusion that justice was not served fairly obvious, but the Governor or Attorney General of Missouri need not only the right but the desire to act, and Governor Nixon, at the very least, has hardly seemed sympathetic to those angered by Brown's killing.
posted by Gelatin at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


The prosecutor sabotaged the possibility of indictment, MattD. He didn't believe a conviction was possible so he very carefully made sure the grand jury didn't think one was possible.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:52 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks for clarifying, feckless. Can you provide a link that shows someone claiming Wilson didn't know about the robbery? I'm not saying it didn't happen, but the links provided by mediareport above don't support it.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:53 PM on November 25, 2014


But grand juries aren't supposed to determine whether a conviction is possible, only whether there is probably cause to believe a crime was committed. It's clear that McCulloch did his best to ensure no indictment was returned, but does it necessarily follow it's because he didn't think he could obtain a conviction?
posted by Gelatin at 12:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


you only have a trial when the prosecutor believes that the facts suffice beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.

The prosecutor determines the likelihood of facts by doing serious investigation to determine which versions of the story are most likely. You don't just dump a truck load of conflicting information on the the grand jury and tell them to sort it out. They don't have the investigative power to sift through conflicting information. That is the prosecutor's job. In this case he didn't do that job because he just dumped everything in the grand jury's lap, no matter how outlandish. They had no choice but to return reasonable doubt, because the prosecutor's intent was to confuse them by not doing his job of investigation and qualifying the evidence.
posted by JackFlash at 12:55 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is anyone posting a compendium of inconsistencies from the testimony documents somewhere?
posted by asockpuppet at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's clear that McCulloch did his best to ensure no indictment was returned, but does it necessarily follow it's because he didn't think he could obtain a conviction?

Of course not. He plainly did not want even the shadow of a chance of a conviction.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2014


BurntHombre, literally five seconds of google: 1, 2.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


MattD, I have no clue what you're on about. In this instance - with a grand jury standard of probable cause - a prosecutor need not believe the evidence supports conviction beyond a reasonable doubt in order to file charges. Reasonable doubt is simply not the standard here. It doesn't matter what the prosecutor believes, and the standard held to prosecutors in other situations is not relevant; the grand jury is at the helm of the decision here.
posted by naju at 12:57 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


It'd be pretty awful if the prosecutor could not only duck responsibility by passing it off to the grand jury and then overrule them anyway if they came back with an indictment.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:01 PM on November 25, 2014


Feckless, you're making the same error mediareport made. Those links say that Wilson didn't know Brown was a suspect in the robbery when he initially interacted with him, not that Wilson wasn't aware of the robbery. The former is consistent with Wilson's grand jury testimony.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:01 PM on November 25, 2014




Wilson not knowing that Brown was a suspect in the robbery means Wilson had no justification to shoot, legally speaking. I'm not sure what is difficult to parse here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:03 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, Wilson not knowing that Brown was a suspect in the robbery makes his statement to the grand jury that he stopped Brown because he matched the description of a suspect in the robbery....odd? Let's say odd.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:06 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Wilson knew Brown was a suspect in the robbery prior to shooting him, but not prior to his first interaction with Brown.

You really, really should read Wilson's testimony. You don't have to believe it, but at least you'll understand the timeline as presented to the grand jury.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:06 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:07 PM on November 25, 2014


>...his statement to the grand jury that he stopped Brown because he matched the description of a suspect in the robbery...

I know it's tricky due to the PDFs, but can you point to where in Wilson's testimony he says that? I'm assuming it's somewhere around pp.209-210, but I'm not seeing it.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:08 PM on November 25, 2014


You really, really should read Wilson's testimony.

I have. It's not credible.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:10 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Top of page 209. He yells at the pair to walk on the sidewalk, but doesn't actually move to stop them until he sees cigarillos in Brown's hand and connects them to the report of a robbery.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:10 PM on November 25, 2014


I think what MattD is getting at is detailed in this reddit comment. (/r/law has a lot of people familiar with the legal system, and has had quite a few insightful comments on the matter). It seems to come down to the idea that the prosecutor has the ethical obligation to not aggressively pursue an indictment, if they believe that they are sending an innocent person to trial, in an attempt to convict as few innocent people as possible.

I think it's another argument entirely that McCulloch believed Wilson to be innocent before even reviewing the evidence, and was an unethical choice for prosecutor.
posted by Skephicles at 1:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this will help clear things up at all, but if you look here at page 52, you will see testimony from the sergeant (Wilson's superior) who arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting. He says explicitly that Wilson did not know about the theft.

There was definitely confusion about this, early on, with public statements from the PD.

Wilson's claim is that he did not immediately recognize Brown as a suspect (when he stopped him for jaywalking) but quickly realized since Brown had cigarillos in his hand and was dressed as the robbery suspect had been described, he was likely the suspect; then he backed up his car and the serious confrontation started.
posted by torticat at 1:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


Chronology is everything.
posted by clavdivs at 1:12 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]




Thanks, torticat -- that's hugely helpful.
posted by BurntHombre at 1:14 PM on November 25, 2014


Nope. Not going to watch the Wilson interview. Not today.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:15 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems to come down to the idea that the prosecutor has the ethical obligation to not aggressively pursue an indictment, if they believe that they are sending an innocent person to trial, in an attempt to convict as few innocent people as possible.

I think it's another argument entirely that McCulloch believed Wilson to be innocent before even reviewing the evidence, and was an unethical choice for prosecutor.


Any U.S. prosecutor who can claim with a straight face that they approach the job with this attitude as a matter of course, and not only when it's a member of a preferred class in the crosshairs, has a future in deadpan comedy if they ever get disbarred.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


It seems to come down to the idea that the prosecutor has the ethical obligation to not aggressively pursue an indictment, if they believe that they are sending an innocent person to trial, in an attempt to convict as few innocent people as possible.

Goodness, then it is surely peculiar that the odds of a grand jury not indicting are so low! in 2010 there were 162,000 federal grand jury prosecutions - the jury declined indictment only 11 times.
posted by winna at 1:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


Darren Wilson says he has a clean conscience.

Of course he does. Thousands of people have told him he's a hero and totally awesome and right. They can't all be wrong, can they? Those other folks? Oh, just tune them out. I have it on good authority that haters gonna hate, after all.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:22 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


Darren Wilson says he has a clean conscience.

Jesus Dude, can you wait a week or so before giving interviews.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:23 PM on November 25, 2014 [14 favorites]


His conscience is so clean, he's at a secret location.
posted by cashman at 1:25 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course he has a clean conscience - to him, he didn't even kill a person, but an "it," a "demon." Fucking gross.
posted by agregoli at 1:25 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


It seems to come down to the idea that the prosecutor has the ethical obligation to not aggressively pursue an indictment, if they believe that they are sending an innocent person to trial, in an attempt to convict as few innocent people as possible.

Goodness, then it is surely peculiar that the odds of a grand jury not indicting are so low! in 2010 there were 162,000 federal grand jury prosecutions - the jury declined indictment only 11 times.


Oof, man, do I ever hate playing devil's advocate in this case, but it's likely that prosecutors generally decline to even bring charges to a grand jury in most cases where they think they won't secure a conviction, but in a case like this, that's not really an option, politically.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. This is a justified shooting with a lot of media hype. The guy in NYC? That was police misconduct. Yet no one cares about that one and everyone cares about this one.

This begs so many questions that I don't know where to begin.

Brown's shooting didn't happen in a vacuum. People aren't merely reacting to the facts of the case, as you see them: the stolen cigarillos and the altercation between Wilson and Brown.

On a local level, people are reacting to the fact that their police department seems more interested in draining them of funds than protecting them. Or the fact that said department is overwhelmingly white—94%—even though the community it represents is mostly black.

People reacted to the the fact that Brown's body was left lying on the street outside their homes for four hours after he was shot. They reacted to a ridiculously outsize and extended police response to protests that turned their neighborhood into something out of a Michael Bay flick for days on end.

And people are reacting to Brown's murder not to the exclusion of other murders, but in light of them. Because in case after case, young black men have been killed, and their killers mistried or exonerated.

And as to Akai Gurley: it's rank bullshit to claim that "no one cares" about his murder, which, again, happened less than a week ago. (I mean, for fuck's sake, the man's body still isn't in the ground.) There will absolutely be people holding signs about his death at the protests in Union Square tonight, even though those gatherings were organized in light of the grand jury verdict.

And people will continue to be mad about Gurley's death, even though his body wasn't left lying in the street, and our medical examiner's office didn't drag its feet about declaring the death a homicide, and Gurley will probably get a full and thorough autopsy, and the NYPD won't have as much leeway to play GI Joe with teargas and MRAPs on the street. Even though crime in poor and urban areas is somehow taken as a given in this country, and New York City is viewed as less than wholly American.

It's not as if we only get to be mad about one murder at a time—as if each time an unarmed civilian is gunned down in the streets, we need to gather a conclave to decide if we should drop the thing we were infuriated about and switch to a new cause célèbre. What people are mad about is all of the murders. All of the injustices. The fact that this keeps fucking happening. The fact that there is a clear and pervasive pattern in which young black lives are not protected or valued and killers aren't held accountable for their actions.

There was some talk upthread about whether the 90s were a kinder or gentler time. I'm just a few years older than dubious_dude, but when I remember the 90s, I think not only of Rodney King, but Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima.

It seems to me that, whether or not Michael Brown's case was perfect, not much has changed.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2014 [77 favorites]


Protests spreading to Philadelphia

'Spreading' is a misnomer -- there were peaceful protests here last night, too.
Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, who heads the Police Department's civil affairs unit, called Monday night's march "completely peaceful."

"People are angry and they need to vent, and it's their right to do so," he said. "It's our job to make sure we do it safely." He called the protests in Philadelphia "a good night in terms of the First Amendment."
...

At a late-night news conference, [Philadelphia's] Mayor Nutter said, "They have botched this entire tragedy so badly from start to finish...I wasn't on the jury. I haven't seen all the evidence, but I am perplexed and astounded that in this case, I did not hear any evidence or, more importantly, justification for why that young man was shot [at] 10 times" after Wilson exited his vehicle and when Brown had no weapon.
posted by cjelli at 1:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]




And as to Akai Gurley: it's rank bullshit to claim that "no one cares"

thank you.

It's not as if we only get to be mad about one murder at a time—as if each time an unarmed civilian is gunned down in the streets, we need to gather a conclave to decide if we should drop the thing we were infuriated about and switch to a new cause célèbre. What people are mad about is all of the murders. All of the injustices. The fact that this keeps fucking happening. The fact that there is a clear and pervasive pattern in which young black lives are not protected or valued and killers aren't held accountable for their actions.

and thank you.
posted by jammy at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Of course he has a clean conscience - to him, he didn't even kill a person, but an "it," a "demon." Fucking gross.

Hey um.. I'm no apologist for Wilson's racist murdering ways, but it's probably a good idea for those of us who are excoriating him to not leave ourselves open by providing other racists fuel to discredit us. As I pointed out above, if you look at what he said in context, it seems pretty clear that 'it' referred to the expression on Michael Brown's face. Wilson used 'he' both immediately before and immediately after that remark.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2014 [24 favorites]


but in a case like this, that's not really an option, politically.

What I can't wrap my head around is why McCulloch thought it was an option politically to release such meticulous documentation that he was in the tank for a "no indictment" result, and then announce it with a press conference that seemed tantamount to incitement to riot into the bargain.
posted by Gelatin at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2014


Making Wilson into a racist caricature makes it too easy to discredit how fucked up everything else is.
posted by Think_Long at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


thanks, I've been thinking media outlets had been leaving that out.
posted by agregoli at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2014




Making Wilson into a racist caricature makes it too easy to discredit how fucked up everything is.

He's not a racist caricature. He's an ordinary, everyday, friendly, neighborhood racist.

*That* is what is fucked up.
posted by jammy at 1:36 PM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]






*That* is what is fucked up.

Racism is not abnormal. It is not "outside of the norm".

Racism is a central tenet of US culture and most of us have been raised to be good racists.

Racism is the system. The system, here, worked. It worked exactly the way it was supposed to work.
posted by jammy at 1:41 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's clear that McCulloch did his best to ensure no indictment was returned, but does it necessarily follow it's because he didn't think he could obtain a conviction?

I think it's extremely likely they couldn't obtain a conviction. And if McCulloch had just come out and said "I can't get a conviction with these facts" at least I'd have respected his honesty. But that's not what he did; he didn't want to take the heat for such a decision so he played up this farce of a grand jury proceeding.
posted by Justinian at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


The "rioting" plays really, really well politically for the Right. It is damaging to local leaders like Antonio French and Brittney Packnett who so effectively limited violence earlier and explained the injustice experienced by the African American community. It is damaging to the growing movement to do something about police violence.

It also feeds the hysterical racist fear-firearms industry complex. The NRA and firearms industry are surely celebrating this. Gun sales are skyrocketing.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:50 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


SCOTUS Blog weighs in on the unusual nature of the Grand Jury proceedings.
posted by Apoch at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


They intentionally incited rioting so that supposedly liberal whites can tut-tut about blacks 'shooting themselves in the foot', so they don't have to actually do anything about their mild disapproval of the grand jury outcome.
posted by empath at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


“I'm all for looking at the systemic problems in policing and the ways we need to force compliance with an attitude of protect & serve the public, but at this time Darren Wilson faces no significant consequences for his actions and Mike Brown continues to be dead.”


From the other side of that equation, until a bit ago, Nicole Brown Simpson continued to be dead and O.J. remained free.
It's vital that we address the systemic problems, not only in policing, but in our socio-economic policies.
Until the systemic problems are addressed, any individual cases can be isolated, rationalized, marginalized, even ceded, so long as they’re not evidence of a larger pattern.

In O.J.’s case, you had a guilty man go free, because he was framed by the police. The Ferguson shooting is similar in that the system acted in a reflexive – and most importantly arbitrary – manner. The guilt or innocence of any given suspect on whatever side of the law is less relevant than the lack of accountability and impartiality in justice that keeps the scales tilted (in O.J.'s case it bit them ironically in the ass, but the idea that arbitrary, unaccountable police power subverts the entire objective of the justice system stands. There it was checked by the jury. And indeed, rightfully so even though he was probably guilty. Police aren't supposed to frame people, full stop.)

From divined by radio’s comment quoting the Martin Longman article:
“Officer Darren Wilson should have been given the opportunity to defend his actions in a court of law. He could well have won an acquittal. But what's clear is that the moment after he ended Michael Brown's life, the system went into overdrive to protect him and to justify what he had done.”

What was missed in Ferguson was an opportunity to at least give the appearance, if not enforce the actuality, of impartial justice.

I despise the violence and the riots in and of themselves, but I can’t fault anyone for it, even if Wilson’s story is entirely true and he’s completely in the right.
It would be ironic if this were the case that got some changes made if that were so, but no more than that, because regardless of the facts, the response by the system is the same as if there were a cover up and as if there were widespread racism and as if there were a lack of accountability built in to the process.

The prosecutor’s office exists as an entity separate from the police as a function of that accountability. Now that could have gone a number of different ways of course, but that’s on just this case – is Officer Wilson a racist? Doesn’t matter.

What matters is institutional racism where you can have someone who is not racist at all – a whole cadre of law enforcement and judiciary who are not racist at all – where policies (and laws) circumscribe certain methods or actions that have a racist effect.

Not just within the culture or community of law enforcement – although that is a facet and that’s why non-racist, by the book police officers have their sphere of action limited to what supports those policies – but all the apparatus of our system is subborned.

As a fr’instance – the mainstream press loves drama. It means sales. It means you don’t have to think much. Ooh, look, violence! Big pictures of masses of people, stuff burning, dramatic quotes, oooh!
That’s the nature of that beast. It in absolutely no way serves the function it should serve. That is, foster an understanding of current events. Understanding and having all the facts typically result in less violence, not more. Without context, all this is just infortainment. Stuff just happening on a screen.

And too it’s easy to make money reinforcing what people already think and presenting “two” “sides” of the “story.”

Well, there ain’t. There’s only one side, that the machine is broken. That’s what happened to Brown. He was killed by a machine. Him and many, many other people.

If the problem were “Officer(s) Wilson” we could just get rid of bad cops. But that’s the problem with seeing this as a dichotomy of “all cops bad” or “this particular case” a police officer can be a good cop and still be an instrument of arbitrary policy.
And any constituent is on the same hook for that. Whether they voted for someone or not. White privilege exists and whether one white guy or another supports it or thoroughly opposes it or not, it’s there and benefit thereby.

Although I don’t think there’s going to be any race explosion (and not because I’m not a fan of the Beatles’ White Album) or mass explosion of any kind.
Just a continuance of this slow-motion thing we’ve seen for decades. And of course, more bloodshed in a small scale, but constantly grinding way.


TLDR: All that to say, it’s the policy and the arbitrary nature of the legal apparatus that allows it that we have to go after. No matter how many cops get prosecuted, jailed, whatever, it won’t stop unless policies are changed. With broad, sweeping strokes.


And indeed, I’d argue the most of the news I’ve read from the big news outfits supports the status quo. Al Sharpton as one bit of evidence (although he seems to have lately got his message more on point. Perhaps Cornell West straightened him out). Framing everything in terms of property damage as another.

Not that they’re racist, but again, sales, the nature of popular media and drama, etc. the focus on the details here regardless of context – for example, myriad other shootings. The Oscar Grant thing off the top of my head at the BART station and the subsequent protests.
And so, this sort of thing is inevitable without sweeping policy change and attention to the root causes. Some black kid will be shot again – the facts of the shooting aside, the situation aside (the Sean Bell case went to trial in contrast to Ferguson) – and the setting and reactions, the whole pattern of the law enforcement response AND the community response will be the same.

But the violence inevitably resulting will be the fault of the systems failure to address the root causes and the cycle of mistrust that gets perpetuated by political factions with a variety of interests, the mainstream press, the same use of that violence as an excuse not to act, etc. etc. all the stuff we’ve seen before. Economic disparity will continue, the disparity in general will continue, unless we fix it.

And that means policy change, not hanging up one, or any number of goats. Legally or otherwise. And violence is a far more complex tool than it seems with solutions only under limited circumstances. It’s not a magic wand. It is, at best, fire. And fire can easily get out of control.

With that stated, even Ghandi said: “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” And MLK said “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

But unless it’s used with the goal of producing the desired change and in a controlled method, it will delegitimize any movement that doesn’t then utilize more violence to quell dissent. Then more violence. And violence is inherently devisive. Again, not to be avoided at ALL costs as an absolute evil, but it can easily get out of control.
The Jacobins as an example.

And Pinochet too. He lost a national referendum. He stepped down. There were some riots yes. And the weight of those changed the mind of some of his support by the military. And too, there were assassination attempts. But those were targeted, not wonton (albeit failures, and those failures strengthened his conviction in his own invincibility). And people in Chile used strikes and slowdowns, days of protest, etc. And that made some headway, but things got violent and this discouraged support, divided the middle class (and some foreign powers) from supporting the movement and justified (ostensibly, in propaganda form) Pinochet’s repressive tactics.

Legitimacy of violence, not superior force is not the issue. Control and focus of that force in support of an ethical, just goal that drives actions (violent or peaceful), not vice versa.

So back to square one: policy change. Making the communities united, safer, etc. Tough to do if you initiate violence.


Michael Brown Sr
. says it better than me: (before the grand jury decision): “My family and I are hurting, our whole region is hurting," Michael Brown Sr. said... "I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation. But hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone… We live here together, this is our home, we are stronger united…Continue to lift your voices with us and let's work together to heal, to creating lasting change for all people regardless of race."


OHenryPacey's link is worth a repeat: Things white people can do

posted by Smedleyman at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2014 [27 favorites]


And as to Akai Gurley: it's rank bullshit to claim that "no one cares" about his murder, which, again, happened less than a week ago.

I think the original comment was referring to Eric Garner rather than the most recent case of murder by cop. But yes, grotesque bullshit either way.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think McCulloch's decision came down to appealing to two sides. One, the social outcry for justice, a fair trial, and (hopefully) a conviction. Two, and more importantly to him, is that he doesn't want Wilson convicted for anything, and an actual trial would be too far out of his hands, and put Wilson in danger of punishment.

So he instead presents a weak case against Wilson to a grand jury, where it's easy for a prosecutor to not get an indictment if they aren't looking for one. It's win-win for him, because on the surface, the public is meant to be appeased because Wilson got a "trial", but Wilson never really had a chance of being indicted.
posted by Skephicles at 1:57 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still find Darren Wilson membership in the KKK interesting. I'd usually imagined the KKK as mostly defunct but perhaps it remains relatively prominent in law enforcement.

Related : Cop slams 22-yr-old girl’s head into concrete, shattering her teeth, after she crossed the street
posted by jeffburdges at 2:06 PM on November 25, 2014


I'm not exactly getting "reputable source" vibes from that Wilson/KKK piece.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


.
posted by fizzix at 2:11 PM on November 25, 2014


If nobody's posted this yet, from Mother Jones, an interactive graphic showing the impact of Ferguson on Twitter. Best is you can scroll around the world, note Africa.
posted by infini at 2:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think the original comment was referring to Eric Garner rather than the most recent case of murder by cop.

Sorry if I misinterpreted that, but even if Ironmouth was referring to Garner, my point stands.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 2:14 PM on November 25, 2014


"Remember that other unarmed black guy who was killed by the cops?"

"No, the one within the last few months."

"No, the one in NYC."

"No, the other one in NYC."

sigh.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:19 PM on November 25, 2014 [72 favorites]


Is it happening more now, or are people just reporting it more now? Because I can't remember it ever having seemed quite this dire.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:24 PM on November 25, 2014


If the problem were “Officer(s) Wilson” we could just get rid of bad cops.

Excellent observations Smedleyman. I'd like to expand on this one point; It's not just the bad cops, those should, if it were a functioning system, get weeded out by internal affairs and prosecutions for gross misconduct when it happens.

It's the otherwise "good" cops who say nothing, or worse, actively defend the thin-blue-line code-of-silence bad-movie-title bullshit. They are the ones I hold most at fault, because their refusal to come forward and provide actual real justice, is what lets the bad cops continue to prowl the streets. That allows the machine to continue unabated.

Personally, I think the entire thing should be taken out of the hands of the police; when there is a question of misconduct, it should be investigated at the federal level by disinterested parties who have nothing invested in keeping a cop on the force. There, through bureaucratic indifference could a modicum of fairness be meted out.
posted by quin at 2:25 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Goddamn. Killer Mike's pre-show Ferguson Grand Jury speech

Worth another link.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


Any U.S. prosecutor who can claim with a straight face that they approach the job with this attitude as a matter of course, and not only when it's a member of a preferred class in the crosshairs, has a future in deadpan comedy if they ever get disbarred.

The idea that a prosecuting attorney will be called to task for misconduct borders on laughable.
posted by phearlez at 2:35 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


If nobody's posted this yet, from Mother Jones, an interactive graphic showing the impact of Ferguson on Twitter. Best is you can scroll around the world, note Africa.

This is amazing! So few people around me care, apparently, that I can actually discern individual tweets in Montana, a few of which are mine (I've gotten nothing but blank stares trying to discuss this with people today, ugh). Also, if you scroll way out, it looks like the entire US is being engulfed by a white-hot cloud of rage, which is about what should be happening so it's rather cathartic (even if half of those tweets are probably execrable).
posted by dialetheia at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


the prosecutor must himself believe the evidence supports conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. [my emphasis]

MattD, you've said this a couple of times here, and it may be entirely correct in Missouri, but where are you getting this from? True, the prosecutor's office generally doesn't go forward unless they think there's a good chance for conviction because it would be a colossal waste of the state's time and money, and lower the conviction rate of the prosecutor. But I've never heard before that they are required by some statute or standard of conduct to refuse to go forward unless the existing evidence is, in their opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt.

And even if that were the case, they already broke the law by convening this grand jury in the first place. In for a penny, in for a pound. They should've pursued the indictment vigorously and then let the facts go before a judge or trial jury. For them to go forward with a cynically desultory effort which was bound to end in failure is making a mockery of the legal system, and is a disrespect to the People whom they are elected or appointed to serve.
posted by xigxag at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can we get an NFL team to draft Wilson?

As an NFL player, he would have a camera documenting his actions as a member of his team. Any time there was a questionable situation that involved the loss of something prized, or involved something that would change things notably, an instant review would be triggered. The video evidence would then be gone over by authorities moments aver the event, and the public would have full access to the same video the authorities were reviewing.

An hour or two after the events, it would be mandatory for him to face reporters and answer questions about the events, or be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

The Rams could probably put him on the practice squad at least. Seems like that's about all he's good for anyway.
posted by cashman at 2:50 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Form for submitting questions about the released evidence to the St. Louis Public Radio team reviewing the documents (@csmcdaniel & @brentajones).
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:53 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think McCulloch's decision came down to appealing to two sides. One, the social outcry for justice, a fair trial, and (hopefully) a conviction. Two, and more importantly to him, is that he doesn't want Wilson convicted for anything, and an actual trial would be too far out of his hands, and put Wilson in danger of punishment.

There's also the issue that a trial requires Wilson to raise the defense of use of force Ironmouth quoted, and then deal with the painstaking parsing of it that a trial would involve. It's clear there's a lot of vested interested in law enforcement and the justice system who don't want to shine a lot of light on the amount of force cops are free to use. When it's all just media they can play the game to paint the dead as No Angel. Once it gets to the courts you have standards of evidence and cross examination, and maybe you end up with something that gets quoted over and over again like no duty to protect.
posted by phearlez at 3:00 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


American Ethical Union Calls for Change after Ferguson Decision
The decision to rely on the grand jury has renewed and deepened the dismay felt by a growing segment of the population that there is a tiered system of justice in the United States. This has aroused distrust, alienation, and rage over the disparities in the treatment of civilians, and especially people of color, compared to police officers, and especially those officers who are white. It has been maintained by government officials and law enforcement leadership that the disparities are due to the higher rates of criminality and violence in the neighborhoods where people of color reside but they fail to see how police actions contribute to problems experienced in those communities.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:05 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Amadou Diallo case is when I learned how carefully crafted jury instructions can determine the verdict.
posted by mikelieman at 3:13 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Car plows through protesters during Ferguson rally in south Minneapolis

The video of this is absolutely horrible. I can't even believe this shit. What the hell is even going on anymore
posted by dialetheia at 3:38 PM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


WTF!
posted by Jacqueline at 3:43 PM on November 25, 2014


Jesus.
posted by brundlefly at 3:45 PM on November 25, 2014


The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment does not attach in a grand jury proceeding, or bar a grand jury from returning an indictment when a prior grand jury has refused to do so

And McCulloch surely knows this, which throws even more shade on McCulloch's decision to release the results at night. The predictable reaction ensures that the riots make headlines everywhere, poisoning the jury pool for any subsequent grand jury.
posted by rhizome at 3:49 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


why are people doing shit like running over protestors
i mean just why
why not pour kerosene over the whole fucking thing
the guy beating the car with his fist -- i say i abhor violence, but i must be lyin', cause damn i wanted to punch that car too
posted by angrycat at 3:54 PM on November 25, 2014


I apologize if this is not the venue for this, but it's T minus 65 minutes till Dallas' protest and I've never been to a one that actually worried me before. Can any experienced Mefites please prep me? Help me know what degree of a thing I'm in for? I'm currently at a Walmart and can buy pretty much anything.
posted by jinjo at 3:55 PM on November 25, 2014


The people who prosecute cases against cops shouldn't be the people who work hand in hand with cops to prosecute other cases.
posted by Flunkie at 3:55 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm currently at a Walmart and can buy pretty much anything.

Get some whole milk to pour in your eyes if you get pepper sprayed or tear gassed.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:58 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Car plows through protesters during Ferguson rally in south Minneapolis

Well, that looks like attempted murder to me - at the very least intent to severely injure.

"The driver, who is male, is cooperating with police and not currently under arrest, Elder said."

You don't say.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:59 PM on November 25, 2014 [41 favorites]


Car plows through protesters during Ferguson rally in south Minneapolis

The video of this is absolutely horrible. I can't even believe this shit. What the hell is even going on anymore
posted by dialetheia at 6:38 PM on November 25 [4 favorites +] [!]


The driver of that car is not under arrest. At first, when I read that, I was shocked and outraged. But then I remembered that the driver merely intentionally drove into several people with a car. It's not like he was walking in the middle of the street while black.
posted by prefpara at 3:59 PM on November 25, 2014 [53 favorites]


They're probably already working on a story that he was attacked by vicious brutes and had no choice but to pump on the gas. No problem.
posted by naju at 4:02 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I... could easily be wrong, but isn't it fairly common and noncontroversial for someone in police custody being questioned to not formally be "arrested" until some later point?
posted by Flunkie at 4:04 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


.


#blacklivesmatter
posted by Deoridhe at 4:04 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm currently at a Walmart and can buy pretty much anything.

Get a few first aid kits. Hide them places for when the police take one from you; they have a solid history of taking field medics' kits from them.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:05 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


The driver observed the pedestrians walking in the middle of the street. He honked his horn at them, communicating a mutually understood request to use the sidewalk. The pedestrians failed to comply with his request.

After the failure to comply, the driver recalled a radio report that he had previously heard, but was not in mind of just moments earlier. He identified the pedestrians as possible participants in the protest over a lawful and justified killing.

At that point, one of the protestors may have reached for his vehicle, which can be used as a deadly weapon. The driver, fearing for his well-being, stepped on the gas until the victims no longer represented a threat.
posted by compartment at 4:06 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm sure this isn't dispositive, but a quick googling revealed that in St. Louis, pedestrians do not have the right of way outside of a sidewalk or crosswalk.
posted by rhizome at 4:07 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I now see that the hit and run driver is in custody. I may have overreacted just now. Who knows why.
posted by prefpara at 4:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


rhizome, if you're talking about the awful "drive through the crowd" thing linked to a moment ago, it was in Minneapolis, not St. Louis. But in any case, "they didn't have the right of way" seems like a pretty weak defense to what happened there.
posted by Flunkie at 4:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


pedestrians do not have the right of way outside of a sidewalk or crosswalk.

Also, let's not forget - let's *not* forget, Dude - that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for uh, domestic, you know, within the city - that ain't legal either.
posted by dialetheia at 4:10 PM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


The driver also noted that the sun was in his eyes, his gas pedal got stuck, that a previous pedestrian seen that day had crossed a street despite a "NO WALK" signal, and that he did not see any pedestrians at all there during the incident.
posted by 0xFCAF at 4:10 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


From comments earlier in the thread: Alizadeh calling him "Big Mike" just drips with contempt. You don't even have to hear her tone of voice to feel it.
posted by orrnyereg at 4:10 PM on November 25, 2014




The zombie pedestrians charging his car looked just like Hulk Hogan and other wrestlemania characters. The driver became hysterically frightened and hit the gas out of fear of his very life. He has no regrets and would have behaved exactly the same if he had it to do all over again.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


[probably best to end this derail about a weird/horrific hit-and-run in another state]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:22 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Those who wish to discuss it could do so at r/Minneapolis.
posted by mr. digits at 4:24 PM on November 25, 2014


We have been manipulated politically, very adeptly, to channel our reasonable fears over the dim forecast for our personal security, the stagnation of income levels, the shrinking of the job market (which will only continue with further automation), and the nearly wholesale signover of our welfare to the whims of the marketplace into a self-centered set of philosophies that denies any obligation to one another and even the need to participate together with each other in social decisions.


All of us are being manipulated by the media and politicians: conservative / liberal, white / black, gamer / feminist, Sunnis and Shiites, it doesn't matter. I know that voice in the back of your head says the good liberal thing to do is support team anti-racism. It's wonderful that the timing of the press conference gives us more opportunity to keep up the good fight!

Meanwhile, the Ferguson Police and thousands like it across the country will continue to receive additional federal funding to equip their "forces" with military weapons. While we watched this beautiful example of justice evolve, Missouri received additional DHS funding for police hardware.

There will be no race wars, or if there are, they will be spectacles of the highest caliber. Buying into that fantasy means we've already loss, because we've already bought into the us vs. them mindset.

So, while you sit at home with your family this Thanksgiving, tearing into your turkeys, just remember there's an armored personnel carrier idling in the dark somewhere across the country, diesel exhaust slowly filling out atmosphere, as the Earth continues to spin. As you give in to that incessant urge to argue with your relatives about why your team is better, know that that APC is looking longingly over the horizon, into your dining room. The temperature is rising, it won't be long now.
posted by formless at 4:26 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was watching this prosecutor with my son last night. My kid is 16, not particularly savvy about the law, and maybe 45 seconds into watching, my kid turned to me and said, "Fuck. He's setting up all the reasons the cop is gonna go free."

It was THAT obvious and sickening.

On behalf of all grownups, I want to apologize but I don't have the words.
posted by kinetic at 4:26 PM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


so i've been away from the internet for a while. i was at the protests in seattle, and afterwards went and drank myself into a stupor and slept all day.

i'm am so fed up with stupid white kids eager to protest and "break shit" and "speak truth to power", this was my experiece:
I usually don't post stuff like this, but fuck seattle "anarchists" kids. Bunch of fucking white kids telling my brown mom "this isn't about you, no one cares what you think, shut up asshole" when she asked them to stop lighting off fireworks at the protest. And she said that on behalf of a group of black kids who were uncomfortable with their stupid ass antics, not just out of her own opinion. Fuck you and your condescending rant about self expression and her opinion not meaning shit. Fuck you, young ski masked girl for getting up in her face and trying to intimidate her and acting like you were even going to swing on her. Fuck your friend for coming up to be intimidating when you realized I was with her and would back her up. And fuck your friends little giddy moment a few minutes later about how "great and powerful" this was before you started lighting off smoke bomb.
The entire damn thing felt like an excuse for a few of a certain type of person to scream fuck the police in a cops face and be "disruptive". And that's just disrespectful and disgusting to me. If you disagree with anything I've said here, please just delete me or even block me.

If everyone reading this takes one thing away from it, I hope it's that if someone goes "hey dude, you're being an asshole" you stop and think about it at least for a second. Not smugly go "well what have YOU done?"
I wasn't the only one who had a shitty experience either. A friend of mine, whose a black lady, posted about smoking in front of a bar and having some of the same kind of stupid white anarchist babies come up and go "oh are you having fun? People are dying".

There's a lot more stupid i could post but just... ugh... fuck. A specific type of young white person seems to have latched on to this and tried to make it their own thing.
posted by emptythought at 4:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [50 favorites]


I'm sorry, but it is naive and the height of white privilege to dismiss this as a distraction for the larger (obviously more important) machinations to come, formless.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry, but it is naive and the height of white privilege to dismiss this as a distraction for the larger (obviously more important) machinations to come, formless.

Is that what that was about? I couldn't make head or tail of it.
posted by winna at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


All of us are being manipulated by the media and politicians: conservative / liberal, white / black, gamer / feminist, Sunnis and Shiites, it doesn't matter. I know that voice in the back of your head says the good liberal thing to do is support team anti-racism.

it's funny - the voice in the back of my head says that it would be nice to live in a country where unarmed people aren't shot to death by police
posted by pyramid termite at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yesterday's grand jury decision was not the least bit surprising to me. I never expected anything from the system and the system gave us nothing. I was pissed off though and crippled by the fact that we, black people, can't do a damn thing to stop anything like this. I went to bed, had 8+ hours of sleep and the anger is gone. Look, Mike Brown is dead and is never coming back. The foundation of this nation is littered with the blood and bones of us black people. Violence against our souls and bodies is as old as this nation and that violence will continue until the end of time so no use getting bent out of shape about it. This is the contract that we as black people have with this nation. We are its original sin, a nation burdened by our very existence. The question for us black folks should be what's next. We are incapable of protected our sons and daughters from this nation so what do we do next? We are not wanted and our lives hold less value than we would like to think so what's next? Marching in the streets and rioting will not change anything. The State has a near monopoly on violence sanctioned by its people so we can't even fight so what next? Mike Brown is dead but life goes on, there will be more black boys and girls, men and women killed at the hands of agents of the state so are we going to have these types of outbursts queued up? I don't know. I guess that's what out lives are in this country, one of many perplexing questions with no clear answers.
posted by RedShrek at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


There's not really a monopoly. The non-state also has plenty of means to kill unarmed black teenagers without consequences.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:40 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Difference being the state actor is empowered by the state through laws sanctioned by the people being served by said state whereas the non-state actor is not.
posted by RedShrek at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2014


So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car.

I've read this alleged testimony from Wilson twice here and I think "man, I've got to catch up with the story because, the last I recall, Wilson told Brown to get off the street..."
posted by workerunit at 4:51 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


The dissembling rhetoric coming out of the racist side of this is effective enough that I'm not sure how many minds will be open to change even in the face of something as brazenly unjust as this, but at the same time, the way this grand jury decision was arrived at seems like a fairly unprecedented behind the scenes look at how modern institutions work. If the announcement of this decision is revelatory in any sense it is that it starkly reveals the bone-deep subversion of purpose that those in power have carried out in the name of personal pet crusades. Government by some people for some people.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:58 PM on November 25, 2014


I was wondering this morning if there might not be a tiny silver lining to the continuing injustice of the situation (that's me, Mr. Pollyanna).

What I mean is just that if Wilson had simply been convicted and sent to prison, people could spin it as "justice was done, the system works, movealongnothingtoseehere".

Whereas the handling of this has been so ridiculously bad from the beginning, through the speech by the alleged "prosecutor" last night, that it's like they're just handing us reams of material to dig into (literally, in the case of the grand jury transcripts). I hope we can look forward to years of incendiary Rolling Stone articles, documentaries, etc.

By which I'm not saying "everybody calm down, it'll work out fine", I'm saying "hey, look at this big heap of kindling".
posted by uosuaq at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's already news articles about white kids killed by cops with the headlines "No riots for $whiteguy"
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:01 PM on November 25, 2014


Periodic reminder: fuck that slimy sack of shit Jay Nixon for his cowardly decision to not appoint a special prosecutor before all of this happened. The store owners on Florissant should send him the bill for their rebuilding costs.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:05 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


Does anyone know if donations to the Ferguson library are tax-deductible? I've seen random people claim it on, say, Twitter, but I haven't seen anything about it on the library's site itself, nor can I find them in the IRS's exempt organization database.
posted by Flunkie at 5:05 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean unprecedented in terms of the view we got into it due to the level of coverage, of course, not unprecedented in the sense that it does not frequently transpire otherwise, because, yeah, obviously it does.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:15 PM on November 25, 2014


Flunkie, I am guessing not; according to the city budget it is tax-funded. I see they have a Friends organization which probably could take tax deductible donations as that's what "friends" groups are usually for, but no website or way to access that from here.

Maybe you could ask that on their Facebook page: they seem to be responsive. Or even just a phone call.
posted by Miko at 5:18 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am very worried about Ferguson protestors tonight.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:18 PM on November 25, 2014


Not that I haven't been worried for months now, but the vines/pictures/reports are of serious, serious National Guard/military equipment/riot police presence, and every livestream I can find is offline -- I believe a couple of the main livestreamers were arrested last night, and most of the rest were badly teargassed. Others were maced earlier today.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:20 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


seems like a fairly unprecedented behind the scenes look at how modern institutions work.

Yeah. It seems like, for a brief moment at least, the layers of fog are being peeled away on the various apparatuses at work that have rigged and/or exploited a deeply unjust racial infrastructure - police, prisons, legislators, courts, prosecutors, media. It's open for everyone to see, provided you want to see. Maybe overly glibly considering the tragedy, I mentioned earlier that this is a bit like watching the Wire: "last season was all about police militarization; this current season is all about the inner workings of the court system."
posted by naju at 5:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder what message will be heard in majority-white churches this Thanksgiving Sunday.
posted by Miko at 5:22 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The other protests. The ones not really being reported.
posted by Miko at 5:23 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


> look up "civil asset forfeiture" for another troubling issue.

Civil forfeiture is a big one, too: "drug seizure funds" often means "Some kids were smoking pot so we stole and sold their parents' car". Replace with house when necessary.


And apparently the nominee for Attorney General is enthusiastic about civil forfeiture, so I wouldn't expect reform to come from the top.
posted by homunculus at 5:28 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wonder what message will be heard in majority-white churches this Thanksgiving Sunday.

I'm not religious, but I've been considering attending the almost-local UU service this Sunday just to connect with other local people who might care. Though now I'm thinking the Episcopal church might be worth looking at. But I am also completely aware that neither service may address Michael Brown's death, and that infuriates me.
posted by jaguar at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


The UU groups have been putting out statements. Our UU minister sent around a message today that the sanctuary was going to be open this morning and he would be there to talk with people. I have a feeling more UU congregations than not will address it. The Christian Left and that universe of Facebook pages has been posting nonstop about it.

But when I mused about it above, I'm not looking to be cynical, I mean I sincerely wonder. I suspect Quakers, UCCs, UUs will have some mention of it. I'm not sure about everyone else. I wish I could somehow see a summary of who does talk about it, who doesn't, where, and what they will say.
posted by Miko at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I occasionally go to a predominantly white non-denominational Church in an affluent area on the east side of Seattle. Not a peep was spoken of Michael Brown and looking at the pastors blog posts, nothing about yesterdays decision either.
posted by RedShrek at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2014


Vincent Assington, member of the Humanist Ethical Society of St. Louis, wrote about his participation in a protest in October. He raises some hard questions about the, currently, mostly white Ethical Society and the tension with its more activist history:
I moved to St. Louis this September, so the city and the Ethical Society are fairly new to me. It has been very strange over the last several weeks to hear people questioning whether the Society should become active with the Ferguson protests while simultaneously wondering why the Society lacks racial diversity and how we can become more appealing to people of color. To me, it seems apparent that one of these questions answers the other. The Society is unappealing to people of color simply because it does not take an active role in advocating for many of the issues that matter to them.

I’m told this wasn’t always the case, and historically, Ethical Societies (including this one) have played important roles in activism for racial equality. I haven’t been around long enough to see this take place. I wasn’t here before the Society moved from a relatively diverse area in downtown St. Louis to the nearly entirely white-populated City of Clayton. We have a beautiful building there, and one to be proud of, but being proud of its location is difficult. While the Society does have a history of standing against racial oppression, I certainly hope we didn’t leave that behind in the move to a more affluent, white neighborhood.
The reverend at my UU Fellowship has discussed Ferguson continuously since August, but it's a very white population in a white area and Assington's concerns about reluctance to discuss institutional racism aren't exactly unfamiliar to my experience.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I suspect Quakers, UCCs, UUs will have some mention of it.

Yesterday the UCC released a statement by United Church of Christ General Minister and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black

Our United Church of Christ Statement of Faith reminds us that God promises to all who trust in God “courage in the struggle for justice and peace.” In the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Wilson and the implication that Michael Brown’s death was justified, the people of Ferguson, of the St. Louis area, and of the nation at large are left with an open wound and no visible means to begin the healing process. Disappointment, frustration and anger abound. Any and all of these responses are understandable.

However, we are also reminded by our statement of faith that we are engaged in a “struggle for justice and peace.” These two concepts are appropriately joined. To engage in the struggle takes courage and a renewed commitment to advocacy and action, to deepening racial awareness by engaging in sacred conversation, and to truthfully examining – then dismantling - the systems of privilege set in place by racism. It requires building God’s beloved community beyond racial divides. That is where true peace abides.


Unfortunately, as I understand it, the mere fact of this statement couple with the color of the skin of Rev. Black resulted in a contentious debate on a UCC mailing list, not dissimilar to this thread. (Today, there was a further call for peaceful protests.)
posted by dhartung at 6:07 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


So I'm reading Officer Darren Wilson's testimony before the grand jury. It starts off the prosecutor asking him what his call was before coming across Mike Brown. It was dealing with a sick infant. After they establish that, they move to make it clear he was dressed an uniformed police offer in a clearly marked and obvious police vehicle. Geeze, are we sure this wasn't trial with defense lawyers? 'Cause that's exactly what it sounds like.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:09 PM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


My local UU church had a special service following the shooting; tonight one of the UU ministers spoke at a vigil (not sure what churches the other ministers were affiliated with).
posted by bunderful at 6:15 PM on November 25, 2014


By which I'm not saying "everybody calm down, it'll work out fine", I'm saying "hey, look at this big heap of kindling".

I dunno about kindling. Now that their Justice Has Been Done the various kill apologists are going after folks who dared to imply that maybe Wilson was clearly wrong. The important target I most recently saw was Mary Engelbreit, who had the touching drawing I found via an earlier thread. The justice warrior, concerned for the put-upon officer who had to go through this lack of indictment, wanted to know whether Mary was now going to make something for the poor oppressed cops. Since she declined, they - and a number of other poor folks - will no longer support her.

So I dunno how fertile a ground these seeds have been planted in.
posted by phearlez at 6:17 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So apparently the Manhattan Bridge is blocked and NYPD is threatening mass arrests?
posted by angrycat at 6:18 PM on November 25, 2014


Unsurprisingly the account of what happened differ between Officer Wilson and Dorian Johnson. Wilson paints a very benign picture, where he was just a cop politely asking two guys to quit walking in the middle of the street and get on the sidewalk. He was instantly met with hostility. Johnson says Wilson cussed at them and was aggressive and telling them what to do and cornering them.

Two different stories, a man is dead and the grand jury decides only one of those stories is true. Shouldn't a trial do that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


Interesting, doing a Google search for "Darren Wilson injuries" shows photos of badly beaten man on a hospital bed who is not Darren Wilson. Only in one photo is there an obvious note that the photos are hoaxes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]




My UU church has not been as vocal as I would like on this. We are mostly white, in a still very-segregated city. One of the things I want to do as a member is keep pushing for action; we do a lot with LGBTQ issues, some with feminist issues, but not nearly enough on race. One person in particular I had to ask the pastor to intervene with; he was posting stuff that was pretty racist about thugs and such on our church message board. Everyone else has just been eerily quiet, except for a few likes on FB posts I make. I think they're afraid, or baffled, or just can't deal. And it's not like there's no history of otherwise-liberal white people being distressingly racist.

I guess what I want is for attention not to go away. It's like, after the 60s all white people became afraid to talk about race again. UUs were abolitionists, were active in 60s civil rights, sitting on the sidelines now is inconsistent with our history and our identity. But there's a lot more timidity and indifference than I like in our local churches.
posted by emjaybee at 6:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


The racism and entrenched opinions on facebook. I can't. I think the shooting caught many people off guard last time around, and some people honestly engaged and debated. And some ever reevaluated their beliefs. Not this time around. They've had time to steel themselves. I just can't look at it anymore.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:45 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, so after the shooting and other police arrive, Wilson is told to sit in his car. He says he can't because things are getting hostile and if he's singled out, it could get dangerous. So the on duty Sergeant tells him to take the Sergeant's cars and drive back to the station. Which Wilson does. Once there he notices he has blood on his hands and since they've been trained that blood can contain infections or what have you, he washes the blood off.

Then goes and finds another cop and starts stripping off his gear, while the other cop (who put on gloves) is putting everyone in evidence bags. EMS personnel and ask if he lost consciousness or needs help. Wilson says no. A few minutes later another high ranking cop comes by and tells Wilson he should go to the hospital, which he does and that's when the photos of Wilson were taken.

Isn't it odd to have evidence leave the crime scene like that? Weird.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on November 25, 2014 [13 favorites]


You may be right, phearlez, I just think it's early days. But I was a bit hopeful about the grand jury verdict (I thought longer deliberation meant a greater chance of a real trial) and I've already been proven wrong on that score.
posted by uosuaq at 6:57 PM on November 25, 2014


It's also odd to have an investigator whose camera needs batteries, and for a body to sit there for four hours without anyone getting batteries. Or, you know, holding up a phone and taking a snapshot.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:08 PM on November 25, 2014 [26 favorites]


quin: I have been predicting for years that an oppressed population in the United States would eventually decide they no longer gave a fuck and would essentially declare war on the police state.

I hope it is not the case because of this lack of indictment (I'd understand, I just seriously hope it isn't.).
Oppressed populations have fought back. With guns and bombs. And it has always ended badly for them. See: most of Native American history, Black Panthers, Waco, southern slave-owning states*...

* I am not expressing sympathy for all on this list, but the list is full of people who believed themselves oppressed by their government and fought back.

It will never, ever threaten the establishment without near-country-wide organization - and even that failed when the agricultural half of the nation rebelled.

It really doesn't matter one whit how pissed off various minorities are, as long as they are mostly concerned with their problems. Hispanic people are focused on immigration, which isn't a rallying point for the African American community. Driving While Black is not nearly as big a problem for Hispanics. Stop and Frisk wasn't a tipping point for muslims. Etc.

"United States". "Divide and conquer".
posted by IAmBroom at 7:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


a thógáil sráidbhaile

If you're making a joke by posting in a language other than the one the rest of the thread is in, this is an odd time to choose. If you're trying to communicate something, a translation would be helpful.


Build a village.

It was a response to Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile (One beetle recognises another).
posted by unliteral at 7:17 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


As for groups that demonstrated how pissed they were, one could also take a look at labor (and associated political movements) from the late nineteenth century through the Great Depression, but production may be what makes a difference...
posted by mr. digits at 7:18 PM on November 25, 2014


Actually I think it was a response to the Google Translate translation of "Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile", which is "It takes another beetle".
posted by Flunkie at 7:19 PM on November 25, 2014


Speaking of incendiary Rolling Stone articles: "Unrest and revolt is 100 percent OK within the right kind of demographic, which is why white dudes can parade around government buildings with AR-15s on their backs in a display of political unrest as 'heritage,' while ACORN registering votes and preventing predatory lending constitutes organized crime. It's the same reason why midwesterners can look at blacks vandalizing police cars — symbols of oppression and murder from an unaccountable overclass — and condemn it while unironically celebrating the political vandalizing and looting of the Boston Tea Party."
posted by mr. digits at 7:33 PM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]


So is there an organized highway shutdown thing, because there's that thing in NYC and then here in Cincinnati they arrested a couple people for shutting down a local interstate.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:40 PM on November 25, 2014


Can anyone tell me if 95 in Providence is still shut down? I'm driving north right now can't find any official word.

Great job tho Protestors seriously. Shutting down highways is a badass statement. Just don't want to get caught in it!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:42 PM on November 25, 2014


Small Dollar on twitter discussion seems to be going on under #shutitdown not sure whether it was just a great idea spread vitally a la Occupy or centrally organized a la Occupy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:45 PM on November 25, 2014


So, what I'm fixated on is how Brown was apparently 153 feet, 9 inches feet away from Wilson's car when fatally shot. How on earth does that constitute a threat to Wilson? Ok, so maybe he's a "demon" who was ready to "charge." But he's also a pretty chunky kid who was wearing socks and flip-flops. It's not like he's gonna run a 40-yard dash in 4 seconds. The distance alone should have been enough for the Grand Jury to question Wilson's judgement.
posted by TwoStride at 7:47 PM on November 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


The hashtag #ShutItDown is really active, so I'm pretty sure the highway shutdowns are organized and coordinated.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


So is there an organized highway shutdown thing, because there's that thing in NYC and then here in Cincinnati they arrested a couple people for shutting down a local interstate.

They arrested two people here in Philadelphia last night (the only reported protest arrests, actually) for trying to get onto I-95. If it is coordinated, it involves -- at least here, so far -- a relatively tiny proportion of protesters overall.
posted by cjelli at 7:54 PM on November 25, 2014


New York is getting rowdy AF right now according to my feed.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:58 PM on November 25, 2014


+ A little more info on that Mary Engelbreit drawing, "In the USA":
As she watched the news of the police shooting in Ferguson, Mo., earlier this month, Engelbreit saw teenager Michael Brown’s mother trying to get to his body, left lying on a city street for more than four hours.

Brown’s mother “looked devastated,” Engelbreit told me. “It was just heartbreaking.”

And it reminded the St. Louis native of the death of her oldest son at 19 from a gunshot wound 14 years ago under still-murky circumstances.

“I started crying, and I don’t cry,” she said. So she did what she does when she’s upset to process events and emotions: She draws.
Facebook originally removed a follow-up post by Engelbreit as "offensive," but later restored it. All sales of the print are being donated to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund. If the August WaPo article is accurate, the print has already raised over $35,000.

I'm usually not much of an Engelbreit fan--I overdosed on her deeply twee calendars and haven't recovered--but damn if I don't respect her for the gesture. IMO Engelbreit isn't as skilled as Norman Rockwell, but the WaPo's comparison with "The Problem We All Live With" is apt.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:00 PM on November 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


We're bumping this Public Enemy song in the car at the moment. (Don't worry I'm not drivin)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:01 PM on November 25, 2014


This one from Davon Magwood (@davonmagwood) has been bouncing around the internet:
Man if this country loved black people like they love black culture we'd all be set.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 PM on November 25, 2014 [25 favorites]


I am playing Hayden. Don't worry, I'm not conducting.
As far as I can tell, flint is very quiet. Perhaps because we like to bust dirty cops and there have been a few.

I suspect most of us are tired.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Stay woke clavdivs
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:18 PM on November 25, 2014






That Engelbreit post enrages me, and this is the reason: I have reported I don't know how many hateful, ignorant, racist, frightening comments on that site to the admins and I always get the same message back - something like "we have reviewed your complaint but the post did not meet our standards for 'offensive' and it was not removed." And I mean some really ugly shit, shit from my xenophobic city's page with its I-hate-immigrants trolls, shit calling people of color horrid names, etc. But this? Mary Englebreit's sweet, kind piece of artwork? THAT qualifies as offensive?

Facebook is part of the problem. Not a small part of it, either.
posted by Miko at 8:30 PM on November 25, 2014 [29 favorites]




Protestors chant FUCK CNN on CNN. Easily the best thing to come out of these protests.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:40 PM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


Does anyone else find it really disturbing that ABC and George Stephanopoulos are looking to cash in with this interview with Darren Wilson tonight and tomorrow morning? I know the idea of a boycott got pooh-poohed up thread, but I would love to get a list of the sponsors for the interview broadcast and pass that around far and wide for a boycott. How disgusting that ABC seeks to profit off further spreading the narrative of this unrepentant, violent bigot. I really don't think this man deserves airtime for his views ever again. I feel like his incoherent, dissembling grand jury testimony should stand as the last I ever need to know about that man and his views.
posted by aiglet at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Does anyone else find it really disturbing that ABC and George Stephanopoulos are looking to cash in with this interview with Darren Wilson tonight and tomorrow morning?

Kinda, but then I get to thinking, the more TV interviews this guy does, the more chances there are for divine retribution to come in the form of a freak green room coffee pot accident.
posted by fifthrider at 8:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or, more to the point, he might just slip up and say something on TV that forces even the Obama DOJ to sit up straight and take that civil rights investigation they've been waffling about more seriously.
posted by fifthrider at 8:56 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Kinda, but then I get to thinking, the more TV interviews this guy does, the more chances there are for divine retribution to come in the form of a freak green room coffee pot accident.

Only if there is a just universe, and well, the Twins in the Tower didn't get to win either.

Anyway, I've been boycotting ABC since I got rid of my TV. What more can be done? The media exist to maintain the status quo. Been that way since MLK was a toddler, at least.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:57 PM on November 25, 2014


Well, I think part of what needs to be done now - for white people - is to have those difficult conversations at Thanksgiving. Tell your family why the media is biased and corrupt.
posted by desjardins at 9:00 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Differences and similarities between Wilson's and Johnson's stories.

Shame there won't a trial to figure what really happened.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Does anyone know where people are getting these fantastic letter signs? I think I've seen them in pictures from multiple cities spelling different things out so they must be fairly widely available. They're a huge improvement in protest imagery - that sign sends a united message, it looks polished and serious, and it makes for some great photos.
posted by dialetheia at 9:03 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know where people are getting these fantastic letter signs?

Overpass Light Brigade (Wikipedia)
Overpass Light Brigade (Facebook)
posted by andoatnp at 9:12 PM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


The organization and branding of these protests is totally amazing. Some very smart and dedicated people have been working behind the scenes planning for just this situation I bet. I wish I knew who they were so I could put them in charge of a political campaign.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:14 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


dialetheia, that's a great question! I have been very pleased to see them in wide use, because they originated with Wisconsin's Overpass Light Brigade, a group of anti-Walker protesters in 2011, who would display them on pedestrian overpasses. Over time, they taught visitors how to build the letters and start their own sign brigades.
posted by dhartung at 9:15 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Overpass Light Brigade

Oh wow that is so cool, thanks! Here are the DIY instructions from the artists, for anyone who wants to make their own. What a brilliant idea.
posted by dialetheia at 9:19 PM on November 25, 2014 [17 favorites]


(from way upthread): We need a culture where black kids want to grow up to become cops, not be afraid of them from day one. I would love to see all the black protesters, young, old, whatever show up at the police station tomorrow and demand applications. That would truly scare the shit out of the police force.

The problem is that you have to pass a background check to be a cop, and black men are being systematically disenfranchised so that fewer of them qualify. I don't believe it's a coincidence.
posted by desjardins at 9:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hundreds of people are marching on 125th Street, escorted by police. It is amazing to watch from here. The cops appear to be keeping a significant distance behind the end of the march. No riot gear on display, from what we can tell. Choppers are overhead. Dozens of marked and unmarked police vehicles at the back.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:23 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not so mobile but Google, under images, flint art project projection.

Saves me linking and boy o' there be some protest ideas in projection.
posted by clavdivs at 9:30 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you're looking for other places to donate in Ferguson, there are a bunch of teachers around Ferguson who have projects on Donors Choose.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Rule of Law is an interesting thing.

For many years (pre 9/11), legal experts around the world consistently pointed to the United States as an excellent example of the rule of law. Inside the United States, we like to talk about how we're a nation of laws and not men. In fact, we make a civil religion out of worshipping the constitution and legal process. In school, most of us learn about Brown v. The Board of Education. We learn that civil rights litigation played an integral part in achieving equal rights for all Americans. At the end of the '70s, as the various radical organizations imploded, the consensus on the mainstream Left came to embrace litigation, courts and prosecution as vital tools in advancing civil rights. We also have raised up police officers to hero status. Inside the courts and legislatures, the legal professional associations pushed for more and more standardization of laws and procedure. The legal academy has become more ethnically diverse. Standards are higher on bar exams, and many states have expanded the requirements for licensing, via additional testing, both mandatory and optional. On the civil side, contracts are more detailed and standardized than in years past -- the era of the handshake deal is over. Also on the civil side, we've created ways for people to seek recompense for violations of their civil rights, whether by employers, landlords or by the police.

Yet in the 40+ years since the 1968 Civil Rights Act, Americans have chosen to incarcerate more and more people (though budget cuts are reducing that some), and built a punitive legal system that strikes far harder than it did in the 1950s. We've also built a massive surveillance state that sucks down all kinds of data, from voice calls, to emails, to forum posts like this one. All of this, we're told, is part of the Rule of Law.

Sometimes I wonder, if in fact it's the Rule of Law that is the problem.
posted by wuwei at 9:37 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


The rule of law is not responsible for those things. Other nations happily embrace the rule of law without a massive surveillance state or for-profit penal institutions.

What you should blame is a country that has increasingly embraced a culture of fear - fear of the other, fear of government, fear of change.
posted by modernnomad at 9:59 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


I don't always unfriend people on facebook for political reasons but when I do it's because they said they were stuck in traffic because police weren't "controlling the animals" [read: protesters] to their satisfaction. /dosequismanmeme

I guess what I'm saying is that the racist dog whistle factor is strong with this issue/case. I can handle intelligent conversation about statues and interpretations of events, even if I think they're pretty much willfully blind, but I'm really saddened to see folks, of my generation even, spouting some blatantly fucked up shit because their politics has told them that's the thing to do.

It's just amazing to see the disconnect, or perhaps it was just really skillfully hidden, whereby an acquaintance I worked on projects in college with and never had an inkling of anything untoward in their manner, beyond perhaps a understated conservative bent, and that I know has/had interactions and perhaps even friendships with individuals of various colors goes full-on-racist in a facebook status.

What makes people flip from reasonable to radical? Was/Is it always there and just lying hidden below the surface as needed and demanded by societal norms? Does aging or [love of] money just make people more likely to jump to circling their wagons in the face of any possible chance of personal inconvenience because "FUCK YOU GOT MINE! WHAT WAS THAT? YOU DISAGREE WITH THE POWERS THAT BE AND FEEL MISTREATED? YOU WANT TO DEMONSTRATE? GET THE HELL OUT OF MY COUNTRY WITH THAT SHIT YOU UNGRATEFUL ANIMALS."?

Sigh, that's not what was said of course, but really it was obvious that was what was lying underneath the surface and I didn't think my faith in humanity could get any lower, whelp better start digging and drinking.

Anyone know the best way to find a local protest to show up to? The Memphis subreddit mentioned a small one that happened a few hours ago but if they're still going on when I get back into town from the holidays then I'd like to turn out if I can. Beyond that I don't know where too look, I'm pretty much twitter inept and we have few local info streams since we only moved here recently.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:08 PM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think I'm going through a grieving process. And I'm not sure what or how. The "Denial" was "Well of course they were gonna not indict..." Then I'm asking like... how worse is it gonna get. What hope is there, politically, for America, right now? Then I say - was there ever hope? Then I think - it's gotten better over the years in many ways. Then I think, it's still fucked up in so many ways. And I think sometimes the "better" is really only "better" for a certain select subset of people. Or "better" is only allowed within so much limits. Class, Race, Gender, Sexual Orientation. All these things oppressed, some more than others.

The hate, though. I just can't stand to think of the hate.

And the "Libertarians" who post all about their nifty anon/snowden/assange/piratebay/legalization/#gg bullshit (it's about ethics in police brutality - but only when it happens to white dudes who flaunt the law with a video camera). I'm not talking Reason/Radley Balko (problematic as he is - he does point out the racial issues involved, and I don't think it's just some attempt to get people of color on "his side")... I'm talking just dudes on the net. Who consider themselves "hip" and "with it" and "young"... Say they're against oppression, except when it comes to a dead black kid by one more whitey in blue. Then all I hear is the fucking chirping of crickets.

Maybe they're scared to face that reality? Maybe they don't want to confront their privilege? I dunno.

I really really really hope my parents say nothing about this during the holidays. I'm laying down the law if any of them speaks of it. "We are not talking about this. All of us will shut our mouths." Because I will get too goddamned angry at them and I don't want to be angry and their old and old-fashioned and I can't change their minds, and it's no use, so may as well play the get-along game to survive. Just like always do in this society. Chug along, smile, pretend, nothing's wrong... We don't want shit to explode. We don't want it to explode.
posted by symbioid at 10:20 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Did anyone else catch the 'legal analyst' on CNN tonight (between 7:30 and 8, Eastern)?

It was very weird to hear the same talking points raised above in the thread (e.g. "strongarm robbery") be repeated. The anchor looked like she was going to strangle the asshat.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:20 PM on November 25, 2014


What makes people flip from reasonable to radical? Was/Is it always there and just lying hidden below the surface as needed and demanded by societal norms? Does aging or [love of] money just make people more likely to jump to circling their wagons in the face of any possible chance of personal inconvenience because "FUCK YOU GOT MINE! WHAT WAS THAT? YOU DISAGREE WITH THE POWERS THAT BE AND FEEL MISTREATED? YOU WANT TO DEMONSTRATE? GET THE HELL OUT OF MY COUNTRY WITH THAT SHIT YOU UNGRATEFUL ANIMALS."?

If you ever figure this out, let me know.

This is going to seem like it's rambling at first, but I'm building to a point that ties into your question and the discussion at hand.

Part of the reason I've struggled with depression for so much of my life is that I've had the curse(?) of being a bitter lefty since my early teens. After lunch in high school in the early 1990s, I'd avoid recess and instead take refuge in the library, reading The Nation and Harper's (amazing to think they subscribed to it in that central Illinois shithole "Real America" town, but I'm so glad they did). Or I'd read books from the stacks, which didn't go past the mid-1970s, which must be when their funding got gutted to the point that they couldn't afford any books of substance. But the stuff from prior to that point — including lots of gems from the the 1960s — was still there.

Radio was always a hobby of mine, especially trying to pull in far-away stations ("DXing," as they called it in the trade), so I could get Pacifica and other far-left stations 200 miles away or so. This also turned out to be an invaluable source of alternate media/radicalization for me while living in a backwoods wilderness in the pre-(mainstreaming-of-the-)Internet era.

I say all that to say that I was aware of how shitty society could be, even as a teenager, when we should (supposedly) still be somewhat naive and optimistic. I was already jaded as hell. By the time I got to college, the stereotype of when young folk suddenly find their eyes opened, it was all old hat to me (but I learned lots of great vocabulary to express what I already knew — words like "hegemony" and phrases like "Washington Consensus" and the like).

I was a voracious journal-keeper back in those days (from 1990 to about 2006, to be exact), and I can recall a specific entry I was writing in my senior year of high school, circa spring 1992, about how nice and kind-hearted the people in my class seemed, even though we were all in this Honors class and they were upper-middle-class white kids who had everything handed to them, and we were in the South (by this time, we'd moved to Wilson, NC), and according to everything I'd seen in society as a whole, these were the perfect candidates to turn into right-wing jackoffs sooner than later. Yet, I knew them somewhat well and they seemed so sweet and kind, so . . . it was discomfiting to think this would change at some point. I felt as if I was sitting at some crucial point in time, just prior to the transformation, knowing it was inevitable, but having no idea how it would come about or how to stop it.

I didn't generally follow these people into the Facebook era, except for one I had a bit of a crush on back then. She even prided herself on being kind of a "90s flower child," dressing the part, always smelling of incense (and probably weed, but I had no idea what that smelled like back then, sheltered as I was), playing the Bob Marley, etc. Found her on Facebook a few years ago, and she's now every stereotype of a Fox News-addled zombie, posting constantly about how Obama is ruining The Real America™ and can't be trusted, blah blah blah.

So take this and multiply by . . . the population of America. I don't know what happens, but it does. Even after college, I started feeling like I was "softening" and becoming more moderate in my position. I made decent money in those days (working in NYC's late-1990s dot-com era bubble), which is probably part of it. Losing my last salaried job in 2001, then 9/11 a couple of months after that, were probably the two things that jerked me right back to the left again.

Not that this is a left/right issue — I think people on the right have valid points that are worth listening to when it comes to, say, fiscal responsibility or raising children to be self-sufficient, respectful, and well-mannered, for instance — but those people died in the 1980s (or are shouted down by what they thought was their own political party). I just think this society is sick from some sort of insidious cancer that it has no interest in fighting. It has no interest in ever addressing its original sin of racism, and that original sin is woven into the fabric of how this country was founded (the systematic genocide of Native Americans), on through slavery, Jim Crow, and on through today.

When those who perpetuate the racism accuse the targets of it of "playing the race card," and think they are now the victims of racism themselves, and are thoroughly unable to comprehend the concept of privilege (let alone acknowledge it), and are so thoroughly invested in NOT ever doing any of the real work involved in working through the tough shit and ultimately moving toward a real solution . . . well, there will never be a solution.

This experiment's over; bricks are going to fly through windows eventually, and the entire 200-year-old "democratic experiment" here in this land that has only five percent of the world's population, but acts like it holds 95%, will end.

I have a daughter due on January 27. I weep for the world she's going to inherit. (Perhaps "be dumped into" would be a better turn of phrase.) We're fucking done.
posted by CommonSense at 10:35 PM on November 25, 2014 [19 favorites]


I don't think we're done. We're finally able to see the mess, because of cell phone cameras and social media.

People honestly didn't know. Or didn't want to know. And now people do, and people know that it's not just them- it's systemic.

Idk- I'm not willing to throw my hands up in despair, whereas if I were living in 1963 I probably would have. Where we are doesn't feel like new territory to me. Things were not better in the 1930s, in the 1950s, in the 1970s, 1980s... we spiral and spiral and though things look the same, they're not exactly the same.

I mentioned way up thread that our counter culture demographic got stomped relatively regularly, with the drug war as the excuse. (marijuana!) You know what changed that the most? The invention of video cameras.

This time around the spiral we the people have it on record.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:04 PM on November 25, 2014 [16 favorites]


We're fucking done.
And yet, tomorrow, breakfast.
posted by valkane at 11:21 PM on November 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


But I've never heard before that they are required by some statute or standard of conduct to refuse to go forward unless the existing evidence is, in their opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt.

From the American Bar Association:
The prosecutor in a criminal case shall:

(a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause
posted by corb at 11:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Probable cause is defined, per at least random online legal dictionaries, as "sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime."

So yeah - if the prosecutor believes that based on the facts, there is not enough reason to think a crime has been committed, it seems that they do actually have an ethical duty not to prosecute it.

That's where the political complications really throw this whole thing.
posted by corb at 11:28 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's already been shown by multiple people--in this thread and out of it--that probable cause is an extremely low bar and the simple discrepancy between witnesses is enough to surmount it. McCulloch intentionally sabotaged this case so it wouldn't go to trial.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:29 PM on November 25, 2014 [12 favorites]


CommonSense,
I've seen something similar as well. My opinion is that it has a lot to do with how people find meaning in their lives. For many people, the way that is done is via white supremacy -- think about what it means , in many places, to be considered respectable. It usually means, whatever it is that white people do, as defined negatively by it's opposite -- what black people do.
posted by wuwei at 11:32 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tonight, my normally pretty lefty boyfriend told me he "couldn't really blame the cop too much." He's white. I shut down and told him I couldn't process it, and I ended the phone call. I'm sure he thinks I'm being melodramatic. But I don't know -- I expected this from my family, who are liberal in some ways and conservative in others, but hearing it from someone who I consider a partner just shook me. I expect that we'll talk about it tomorrow, or the next day, and we'll debate it as we do, and we'll both learn something in the process. It's not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, not when there are protestors being gassed, and civil rights being trampled, and kids being gunned down. But tonight? Tonight, I'm struggling hard. My heart goes out to everyone else who is struggling tonight too.
posted by Ragini at 11:54 PM on November 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


Listen here, CommonSense, my grandmother, who was a smart, educated, worldly woman went into near seclusion during the time of the installation of air raid sirens in our city and the Cuban Missile Crisis and the advice to keep fresh water in your car and in your home and stockpile food and how to do the best you could to protect your home from fallout and friends who were wealthier building bomb shelters in their back yards. We're done, she said.

My mother didn't speak to me for seven whole years because I had a child and the world was so bad it was cruel to bring a child into it. Seven damn years! And I had been married for two years when I had the baby. We're done, she said.

Then, 23 years later, when my daughter had a baby, my mother again stopped speaking to either of us for another seven years! Same reason - it was wrong, wrong, wrong to bring a child into this horrible world. The reasoon she stopped speaking to me at that time was because I was supposed to talk my daughter into an abortion and didn't. There's no hope for this country, she said - we're done.

You have a child on the way and you have a responsibility here - much bigger than just feeding and sheltering her - you have a responsibility to bring this child up to know that she can make it in this f'd up world because she comes from strong, smart people who are teaching her how to make it. Not one word about "We're fucking done," thank you.

When things like Ferguson happen, and they will, sadly, time after time - we have no choice except to stand up and stand tall against the injustice. The choice of crawling away into the dark night and keeping one's head down just doesn't work for anyone except cowards and weasels. As a father, you must show your children that there is right and there is wrong - that this is wrong, and you must do what you can to make it right.

Think about the lives people have in poorer countries around the globe right now - think about how they're living under such severe physical detriments and incredible oppression - but dammit, somehow they keep on going. Think about the way our ancestors lived, either as early settlers in this country or in their homes in other countries - lives of rugged and fearsome hazards - I was just reading about prairie fires in an old book about the settling of South Dakota last night and it was terrifying - but the bios of the families in that book showed the average number of children born to be over ten(!) and - I couldn't believe this - most of them lived to grow up and have at least six kids of their own! Prairie fires, blizzards, cholera and all.

This frickin' life we have will never, ever be right - and it will be "wronger" for some people than for others. The damn racists have resurfaced and seem to have been quietly breeding off in the dark someplace because we stupid white people thought we had them pretty well squelched 50 years ago and here they are again. Well, they need to be beaten back again, their white hats burned, their resources taken away, their positions of prestige eliminated, their hypocrisy and hidden crimes revealed and prosecuted - again - over and over again, if necessary. It would be nice if the next round would have people who paid more attention to what was happening over there in the bushes so they didn't get caught as off guard as we have this round. But - in Lincoln's day there was a huge war right here in this country, a large part of which was about racism - a war that killed more American men than all other wars this country has fought combined!

Bring up your children to know that racism is not okay, nor is any form of discrimination - not against rich people, poor people, fat people, disabled people, homosexual or trans people, women, men, Muslims, Christians, Jews - or ANY group! It's just plain wrong - it's not what any diety would stand still for - and neither will your little girl's Dad.

Bricks have flown through lots of windows before and they will be again. Police have been out of control before right here in this country and will be again - how do you think they got the name "pigs"? But their assumption of unlimited power must be curtailed WAY before the armbands come out. Like now.

Any ideas on how I can contribute to this in my scooter? I already have my camera charged up and ready to film any misbehavior I can find, but there must be something else I can do.
posted by aryma at 12:09 AM on November 26, 2014 [34 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Let's not bring enraging ad propaganda stuff from elsewhere in here, please. If you really just want to know its origins or funding, that's maaaaybe an Ask Me question. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 12:37 AM on November 26, 2014


empath: They intentionally incited rioting so that supposedly liberal whites can tut-tut about blacks 'shooting themselves in the foot', so they don't have to actually do anything about their mild disapproval of the grand jury outcome.

The more i reflect on this, the more it seems like the work of a deft PR team or something. It's one of the most brilliant divide and conquer strategies i've ever seen. Possibly even the most brilliant.

There's a lot of white folks who are ostensibly "good people" in the sense that they're not flagrant racists buying in to the rhino charging crazy negro story necessarily, but have just enough shithead in them that this will work.

Even if it gets them to a "both sides" point, they've been deradicalized and are no longer a threat. It's the final punch in an epic combo that started with the whole ~mysteriously~ released security cam footage, where people on here talked about the light going out of the eyes of their coworkers and friends who had previously been all Fuck The Police about this. The non-committed stragglers that weren't knocked off then, or at any of the intermediate stages, have now at least become serious fence sitters if not shifted straight to the foot-shooting crap mentioned here.
posted by emptythought at 2:41 AM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]




Danez Smith - "Not An Elegy for Mike Brown"
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:39 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]




"The system wasn't made to protect us," said one of the protesters, 17-year-old Naesha Pierce, who stayed up until 3 a.m. watching television coverage from Ferguson. "To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice." #AmericanSpring
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:51 AM on November 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well one good thing has come out of this so far. "Fuck CNN!" has gone viral.

I think it's time to bring back the "Kill your TV" meme too. The sheer propaganda torrent is hideous. And just so obviously concern trolling racist fuckery.

One way Americans really could vote with their wallets is to just stop watching fucking television.
posted by spitbull at 5:20 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


A gallery of white people rioting over stupid shit as a counterweight to the Ferguson imagery.
posted by Harald74 at 5:22 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, I think part of what needs to be done now - for white people - is to have those difficult conversations at Thanksgiving. Tell your family why the media is biased and corrupt.

Does anyone have some good resources on how to do this without starting huge fights or just being dismissed as the Token Liberal in your family? I 100% agree that people need to do this, and I don't want to be a hypocrite, but when you travel for the holidays and don't have a car with you, I just imagine this ending in me storming off to a bedroom and everyone else just tsking that I "caused a scene". Is that useful? Is it better to cause the scene even if they dismiss you anyway?

(yes, I realize how grossly privileged it is for my "problem" to be being afraid of causing a blowup at the dinner table)
posted by nakedmolerats at 5:32 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile...
posted by tracicle at 5:36 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


A black cop was jailed for striking someone on the hand with a baton. What.
posted by rtha at 5:39 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would love to see the Facebook internal graph on unfriendings over the entire network for the past 3 days.
posted by codacorolla at 5:49 AM on November 26, 2014 [31 favorites]


I just think this society is sick from some sort of insidious cancer that it has no interest in fighting.

Well, yes. The longer I live and watch, the more convinced I am that our divisions exist to serve the powerful. WE have all been very successfully distracted from the fact that our government and economy have been handed over to a process of conglomerate-government collusion that determines our reality, and they need us to keep not noticing, and also to decide that our problems are irreconcileable, that we can't listen to one another, and that the problem is the other guy's ideology. My dad just posted a Facebook macro that says "If you are more outraged about poor black folks in Missouri looting stores than rich whites on Wall Street looting your future, you have been duped." Setting aside the specificity of Wall Street and all that, this is a real analysis. An oligarchy remains in power only as long as peoplare are too paralyzed by infighting to take democratic action.

It's deeper than that, of course. The issue of race is part of this because it really pre-existed that economic trajectory, but it was there ripe and ready to be exploited - America's fundamental fear and guilt represented by those it has oppressed. Anger among whites over perceived loss of status underlies much of this discussion - they are desperate for a reason to dismiss blacks, so they take a violent protestor and make him stand in for millions of fellow citizens in order to dismiss all of them at once. I think it is not too crazy to think that we are still living under the most effective Southern Strategy imaginable - that that strategy never went away, just became adopted and so finely refined in the halls of government that it is now integrated into the system itself. In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, many white Americans have been swept up in a self-serving network of knowingly devised cultural messages that has indoctrinated them into the right-wing "mainstream" Americanism described above.

It's not an accident - people work very hard to plant these ideas in the heads of the population. They do it through the media, they do it in the political process, and before long they parrot it and do it for one another, on Facebook and Twitter and in personal conversations. It's like a virus. Something about the "downtrodden hardworking conservative whites vs. everyone else" narrative makes sense to them, explaining problems and patterns they have been unable to perceive or understand in any other way. Their lives aren't going as well as they'd like, they're aware of shakier status, they are looking at their economic ceiling, they feel alienated -and here is this very handy message: the problem is liberals, blacks, freeloaders, whiners, criminals, immigrants, welfare queens, etc., etc., etc. The narrative makes sense to them. It explains things to them. And it connects to things they experience as foundational to their identity, so to change their thinking is to change, or at least question, their entire sense of self and their peer network. This virus - which I think I like as a metaphor better than cancer, because it's infectious - has seated itself pretty deeply within our population. But it didn't arise by accident. It got cooked up in a lab. What's amazing is how freaking effective it is. I am still grieving the missteps of the Occupy movement, which was the only thing I have seen in my lifetime that, in its initally less ideological and more pragmatic approach, took some real steps toward breaking down the divisions proposed by our manipulators.

There's no quick answer. Like everyone, I want to DO something. "What can I DO?" everyone asks. Donating to the school and library are great, maybe donating to other anti-racism organizations, and so on. But I think the main thing we who care about it have to do is just commit to the long slog of a life working toward justice, in little ways and big. As much as anyone, I would love to be huddling in a smoke-filled war room somewhere cooking up new civil rights events with compatriots in the underground. But mostly, I think real change depends on the interpersonal, using our personal presence and example to get people to unplug from the master narrative of white supremacy and economic subjugation.

As far as the rioting narrative, I do see some hope. Hot riots eventually cool. What would be great would be to see that the non-violent protests only continue and swell. The NAACP is working on a long march in Missouri and looking for participants. I hear some more community forums being planned. I think more things need to be put on the calendar, that churches and community groups should pick a day on the agenda to devote to this over the next few months, that people need to book rooms in the local library and invite a public conversation on race and justice. We need to keep it up. If we can show America we are taking part in activism long after any violence has subsisded, we stand some chance of having the real conversation that the violence was carefully orchestrated to prevent. We have to maintain an attention span here - no small task for people today - we have to not go away, and not let the discussion go away.
posted by Miko at 6:14 AM on November 26, 2014 [42 favorites]


Artists paint over the boards covering windows smashed in the protest Tuesday night in South Grand, St. Louis.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:20 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


A black cop was jailed for striking someone on the hand with a baton. What.

How much you wanna bet the passenger he struck was white?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


nakedmolerats - well, first, I wouldn't approach it with the mindset of "causing a scene." If you are in actual danger, physical or emotional, then it's understandable that you just skip the discussion*. I am not advising that anyone puts themselves in a situation where they are risking abuse. If you can't remain calm and discuss this without yelling, I'd advise you not to bring it up or otherwise engage. If you can't do it without making it personal or patronizing, I'd advise you not to engage.

I don't think most people's minds will change over dinner; attitudes are too entrenched. I mean, they couldn't convince you that Obama is Satan or whatever. It's more about planting seeds and showing them that their opinion is not based on anything other than feeling. When they say something outlandish, you can say "hm, that doesn't make sense to me... could you tell me where you got that information... actually I read that ...."

I'm not guaranteeing it will work and I advise against going into it with the mindset that you will change them. But you will be doing something and you will feel better than silently seething. And I think it's valuable to open a door to discussing it further. Slamming the door by telling them they are wrong just makes them dig their heels deeper. They won't risk their ego by evaluating other points of view, and then you're stuck.

* I am privileged in that I know I can have a rational discussion about anything with my family [except for that one cousin] and that while we may have to agree to disagree, there won't be a scene.
posted by desjardins at 6:28 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Reading Wilson's testimony,
When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan....

And then after he did that, he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon ...

At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him. And the face he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn't even there, I wasn't even anything in his way....
It strikes me that, as usual, the brilliant Claudia Rankine is exactly right:

"Black men are dying because white men cannot police their imagination."
posted by AceRock at 6:40 AM on November 26, 2014 [37 favorites]


Rage Against the Minivan is a white mom with adopted black sons, speaking out against the way kids like hers are targeted. It shouldn't matter more that she's white, in terms of the pain any mother of a black son is feeling right now. But it will matter more to some people, just like it matters more to some people when men take up feminist causes and say things that women have been saying already.

Given that, I'm sharing her link on my FB, hoping a white woman speaking truths will reach some people who turn away from a non-white face saying the same things.
posted by emjaybee at 6:48 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]



"Black men are dying because white men cannot police their imagination."


Brutal Imagination is the most brilliant thing I've ever read about this.
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:50 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


I just think this society is sick from some sort of insidious cancer that it has no interest in fighting. It has no interest in ever addressing its original sin of racism, and that original sin is woven into the fabric of how this country was founded (the systematic genocide of Native Americans), on through slavery, Jim Crow, and on through today.

Society is made of people, and there is lots of evidence that many many people are fighting for change. It is hard, and uphill, but some victories have been won, and others could still be won.

I have days of thinking that way too, don't get me wrong. I look at my kiddo and wonder what to tell him. He has been moved to tears more than once when I've had to tell him about terrible things that were happening because he was asking about them. Because we raised him to care about others and that violence in unacceptable. So he literally can't understand why a person would do things like this. And so then we talk about the ways people become prejudiced, how they were raised, what they are afraid of.

It's a strange place you find yourself in, as a parent. Because on the one hand you know you need to raise your kid to be a good person. On the other hand, you wonder if that doesn't just make them more vulnerable. The place we have found ourselves in is to be able to say, yes, some people do bad things, or are just acting like jerks. You might find out the hard way that they are not to be trusted. They might change or they might not. The important thing is to be better than that yourself, and to seek out others who want to be better than that. It's ok to defend yourself. It's ok to be careful. It's ok to be the only one who thinks something, if that something is true.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


To expand on my previous thought... I wish people would get out of the mindset that winning people over is hopeless and why bother. It's been demonstrated that people who are homophobic often change their minds when they know LGB people personally. You can't identify LGB people on sight like you (mostly) can people of color, so how did that happen? When LGB people spoke up and came out to friends and family. It's not ~*magic*~ that same-sex marriage is now legal in much of the country. It's because people have had difficult conversations, because people have taken risks and sometimes paid with their lives.

Race relations are awful but they are still better than they were because it's now socially unacceptable to openly spout racism. All those people complaining that they "can't" say the n-word? That wasn't achieved by ~*magic*~. So when you have the difficult conversations with your family, and they clam up and just don't talk about it around you, you are teaching them that their opinion is socially unacceptable. They may still talk that way around their peers, but over time that becomes a smaller and smaller group.

There are many, many problems to be solved, and many things we have no control over, but we can have the difficult conversations with people we know.
posted by desjardins at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]






corb: So yeah - if the prosecutor believes that based on the facts, there is not enough reason to think a crime has been committed, it seems that they do actually have an ethical duty not to prosecute it.

corb, that's not a "so yeah." That's entirely different from what MattD claimed earlier, that "the prosecutor must himself believe the evidence supports conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."

From a legal standpoint, "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard is much stronger than "probable cause." Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof in our legal system. It means, after having been presented with all the evidence, you feel certain that the defendant is guilty. Probable cause is the same legal standard for a cop to make an arrest and just requires at minimum a suspicion based upon factual evidence. It doesn't require certainty at the pre-grand jury stage, which would be ridiculous because the case hasn't even commenced yet; there's been no testimony and the evidence may be incomplete.

So bottom line, sure, if the prosecuting attorney's office really believes no crime took place, yes, they must decline to prosecute. Which means, not even presenting the case before the grand jury in the first place. The fact that they did present the case before the grand jury means, or should mean, they believed there was probable cause. And if so, they should have properly prosecuted the case and attempted to secure an indictment. You don't point a gun at someone unless you intend to shoot.
posted by xigxag at 7:19 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ferguson: In Defense of Rioting: The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:32 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


So bottom line, sure, if the prosecuting attorney's office really believes no crime took place, yes, they must decline to prosecute. Which means, not even presenting the case before the grand jury in the first place. The fact that they did present the case before the grand jury means, or should mean, they believed there was probable cause.

It's also relevant that there was considerable pressure on Jay Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor, and on McCulloch to recuse himself, neither of which happened. If this was Actually About Ethics in Criminal Prosecutions, McCulloch would have stepped aside and let someone else handle it instead of taking a dive.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


desjardins: " I wish people would get out of the mindset that winning people over is hopeless and why bother."

I personally believe it's never hopeless to turn people toward the light--this high-school daily Limbaugh listener is now to the left of Bernie Sanders.
posted by notsnot at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2014 [23 favorites]


I think it's safe to say at this point that the rioting is pretty small compared to the protests. Is that accurate do you think?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:47 AM on November 26, 2014


Which means, not even presenting the case before the grand jury in the first place. The fact that they did present the case before the grand jury means, or should mean, they believed there was probable cause.

If this article from the Journal of the Missouri Bar from a few years back is accurate, commencing the prosecution of a felony occurs when the grand jury indicts or when the prosecutor files a complaint (that is, indicts without a grand jury, just on his own say-so). Simply presenting a case to the grand jury is not considered commencing a prosecution.

And that makes sense. The grand jury is supposed to determine if there is probable cause to prosecute. Now the prosecutor may stack the deck by essentially presenting only their side of the case, which they almost always do, but that's not necessarily how grand juries are always used.

From the SCOTUSblog link above:

For [Justice Stevens], the idea of the prosecutor withholding known exculpatory evidence was inconsistent with the grand jury’s historic role in preventing “hasty, malicious and oppressive persecution” and its “function in our society of standing between the accuser and the accused.”

So the prosecutor could have believed that the grand jury ought to have been used in this way, and could have presented the case to it even without himself believing there was probable cause, because, in part, from the National District Attorneys Association National Prosecution Standards:

A prosecutor is not a mere advocate and unlike other lawyers, a prosecutor does not represent individuals or entities, but society as a whole. In that capacity, a prosecutor must exercise independent judgment in reaching decisions while taking into account the interest of victims, witnesses, law enforcement officers, suspects, defendants and those members of society who have no direct interest in a particular case, but who are nonetheless affected by its outcome.

So what the prosecutor do if he does not believe there is probable cause, but that there is a societal value in an investigation anyway? He can't commence the prosecution himself because that would be unethical. Perhaps he feels it would be equally unethical to present a lopsidedly pro-prosecution case to a grand jury -- because he does not believe there is probable cause.

So he compromises and gives what he considers to be the entire set of facts to the grand jury, and lets them decide.
posted by shivohum at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


So what the prosecutor do if he does not believe there is probable cause, but that there is a societal value in an investigation anyway? He can't commence the prosecution himself because that would be unethical. Perhaps he feels it would be equally unethical to present a lopsidedly pro-prosecution case to a grand jury -- because he does not believe there is probable cause.

So he compromises and gives what he considers to be the entire set of facts to the grand jury, and lets them decide.


This is precisely what a special prosecutor is for.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:10 AM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


And the "Libertarians" who post all about their nifty anon/snowden/assange/piratebay/legalization/#gg bullshit (it's about ethics in police brutality - but only when it happens to white dudes who flaunt the law with a video camera)

I guess it depends on where you look. The Cop Block folks, for all their flaws, have been very much on the side of the Brown family and vocal about this issue. They've been on the ground at Ferguson and they're not - at least not anywhere online or recorded - fomenting for violence or nonsense and are very vocal about the right to protest peacefully. Are they the most evolved on race issues? No. But they are by no means looking the other way.

Flex Your Rights took a lot of heat yesterday for calling the failure to indict unjust. I thought it was a very reasoned position but there were plenty of angry voices about it. So yes, there are those folks who are all for the liberty till it means you might say shooting a black kid is bad. But there are a lot of voices in that crowd on this.
posted by phearlez at 8:14 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


So what does the prosecutor do [...]?

Well, he probably shouldn't do stuff like this:

In 2001, McCulloch convened another grand jury after a pair of undercover drug officers shot and killed two men, a suspect and his passenger, outside a Jack in the Box in Berkeley, Mo. The officers told the jurors that they had fired only after the suspect tried to run them over with his car, and in his public statements about the secret proceedings, McCulloch himself repeatedly insisted that “every witness” had corroborated the officers’ version of events.

But a subsequent report by the Post-Dispatch revealed that McCulloch had lied. Only three of the 13 detectives who testified said the suspect's car had moved forward. Two of them were the shooters themselves; the third was "a detective who McCulloch later said he considered charging with perjury because his account was so at odds with the facts." According to the grand jury tapes, “four other detectives testified that they never saw the suspect’s car travel toward the officers.” A collision expert working for the Justice Department also determined that the suspect's car had remained in reverse throughout the incident. But McCulloch never brought any of this evidence before the grand jury — and, as a result, the jurors determined that the officers were right to fear for their safety. The case didn't go to trial.

When activists protested, McCulloch snapped back. “These guys were bums,” he said of the suspects. “The print media and self-anointed activists have been portraying the two gentlemen as folk heroes and have been vilifying the police. I think it is important for the public to know that these two and others like them for years have spread destruction in the community dealing crack cocaine and heroin.”

posted by winna at 8:16 AM on November 26, 2014 [52 favorites]


But, you know, if you ignore his history of reflexively siding with police, his decision not to recuse himself, and his virtually unprecedented move to throw the case to a grand jury without any instructions, you can piece together a version of events where he actually wasn't trying to cover his own ass!
posted by tonycpsu at 8:18 AM on November 26, 2014 [17 favorites]


For some reason I woke up this morning thinking of the Tzadikim Nistarim, the 36 righteous people who redeem humanity in the eyes of God and keep the world spinning in Jewish mystic tradition. It's my (very shoddy) lay understanding that they don't know how important they are, and they do not recognize one another: they simply appear in times of oppression and persecution to help those who need them, and then fade away again, returning to their lives as ordinary folk.

My first sleepy hope was that they were out there, somewhere, in the crowds at Ferguson, in Oakland and New York, in Hong Kong and Brazil and Mexico City. Then I thought about the rallies around the nation, the highway shutdowns, the students out in the streets who recognize that this is not a local problem, not a national problem, but a problem for every person who suffers injustice, no matter where they are. My third sleepy thought was no matter how this all turns out, we discovered we have many, many more than just 36 of the humble and righteous on earth.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:20 AM on November 26, 2014 [26 favorites]


McCulloch is a racist and corrupt as fuck. This being the show trial of Mike Brown was entirely to be expect. What's surprising is the relish with which he twists the knife when delivering the guilty verdict - that kind of cruelty says political ambition.
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan....

Five-year-old Wilson is 6-foot 4 and weighs 210 pounds.
posted by JackFlash at 8:24 AM on November 26, 2014 [26 favorites]


Libertarians are voting against the drug war every election while Democrats continue to vote in more drug warriors. The drug war is the biggest driving force behind the antagonistic relationship between police and citizens. The libertarian crickets aren't what I'm worried about. I'm worried that for all this rage nothing is going to be done to actually hold politicians accountable for creating the atmosphere that makes police the enemy.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:25 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]




One of the realities that fuels Al-Queda and ISIS is the number of young men(mostly) with no access to jobs (let alone meaningful/ adequately-paying work) who are angry about injustice. Every time I see a black man throw something through a window, light a fire, riot in the street, I see the expression of injustice. Don't hide it. I remember the race riots of the 60s. Yes, it was horrible that black neighborhoods were devastated, but it sure as hell got the attention of complacent Americans who didn't think race was an issue.

Black Americans living in poverty and injustice are rightfully furious. I recommend non-violent protest, civil disobedience, organizing. But just like the race riots of the 60s, I see this and don't flinch. The Civil Rights movement never ended. People still organize. But there's a concerted effort to keep blacks from voting. There's economic injustice, the courts are systematically unjust, and there's outright murder. Why would you not burn?
posted by theora55 at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


People have got to stop thinking so generally like idiots. Questions like "Do you support the police or the protestors?" are so broad and overly-general, they don't even make sense. I support good police officers (and they do exist) and good protestors (and they do exist). Hell, my own sheriff's department lost an officer over the weekend to an ambush staged by a right-wing nut. Our community supports them fully and has been grieving over the loss. Does that mean I "support the police"? I don't know: which police, where and why? Only idiots could seriously believe all police departments and all police officers are literally the same thing, with approval and criticism of one automatically applying to all.

But some people in our society really seem to want to insist that we have to operate on that level as idiots, yoking our personal fates and identities to every broad generalization that comes along without any regard for all those pesky particulars that really matter most.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:35 AM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Libertarians are voting against the drug war every election while Democrats continue to vote in more drug warriors.

Er, which libertarians are actually doing this versus talking about it? At least at the national level, the Democrats have a much better record on legislation to try to scale back drug laws.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Why would you not burn?

Because destroying the businesses employing people in those communities hurts those communities more than the owners, it gives comfort to racists asshats who can then point to the destruction as backing for their racism, and it ends up undermining the goals that you are working toward. The only good thing about it, if I can use the word good, is that people pay attention when things burn. But there are other non-violent ways to get attention that don't so terribly penalize the people who are most intimately impacted by police racism and violence.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:44 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


theora55: the realities that fuels Al-Queda and ISIS is the number of young men(mostly) with no access to jobs (let alone meaningful/ adequately-paying work) who are angry about injustice.

In an NPR interview with Steve Sullivan, a Ferguson-area resident who runs a network of counseling and crisis centers in the St. Louis area (dear gods, ignore the comments, unless you like to laugh bitterly about people trotting out the same tired tropes about gangsta rap and black-on-black violence), I learned about a few companies that are specifically looking to open facilities in Ferguson. St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article on one in September, and it sounds like there are a few more. Unfortunately, such stories of potential good are not as exciting as people burning businesses down, so the news covers the fires. #FuckCNN
posted by filthy light thief at 8:45 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


But there are other non-violent ways to get attention that don't so terribly penalize the people who are most intimately impacted by police racism and violence.

I am 100% in favor of the #shutitdown movement going on. Nothing gets people's attention like interrupting the constitutional rights of cars.
posted by desjardins at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2014 [22 favorites]


[I swiped a bit of that language from this tweet by Rembert Browne: "my fav anti-protest narrative, while not explicitly said, boils down to this idea that cars have the constitutional right to commute"]
posted by desjardins at 8:59 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


this idea that cars have the constitutional right to commute

Also known as the Rob Ford Postulate.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Only idiots could seriously believe all police departments and all police officers are literally the same thing, with approval and criticism of one automatically applying to all.

I dunno. I feel a little idiotic then I guess. Not that I don't think there are well-intentioned cops, or plenty of cops that would never seriously oppress or harm citizens. But the sheer scale of the crappyness has gotten so large (or just better reported) that it's hard for me to credibly believe there's a cop on the beat who hasn't turned his or her gaze away from a fellow officer's misdeeds. And maybe that's an unfair judgment to level against people who are, after all, people and who have that tribal inclination. It's not as if that phenomenon doesn't appear in every other career path.

But groddammit I expect more from the people who are not only the arm of our government but who have been issued the tools and freedom to deploy deadly force. And all I hear are not only stories of misdeeds but of the few cops who stand up against them... and then get forced out of the job. It feels like there are no good cops - cops who not only don't 'sin' but who stand up against the sins of other cops - because they don't get to stay cops.

So when I see a cop I don't necessarily assume they're bad. But I assume that the best possible thing I could do is avoid interacting with them at all costs. Because there's almost no circumstance I can think of where that interaction doesn't have a greater possible downside than possible reward.

I don't think that skepticism makes me an idiot, I think it just makes me reasonable about the risk-reward tradeoff of any police interaction. And that's as a middle aged and class white guy. Maybe there's irony to the fact that I'm viewing the cops with the same suspicion and pre-judgment that we're criticizing the police for. But then again, I'm not the one operating under color of authority and always given the benefit of the doubt.
posted by phearlez at 9:25 AM on November 26, 2014 [18 favorites]


Er, which libertarians are actually doing this versus talking about it? At least at the national level, the Democrats have a much better record on legislation to try to scale back drug laws.

The progress at the state level has been driven mainly by popular initiative and the progress at the federal level has been woeful. If Libertarians won as many elections as Democrats do, the drug war would already be over.

(We would have a whole heap of bigger problems though!)
posted by Drinky Die at 9:30 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


(Just for mefites' own information about the Minneapolis car thing - it was not quite as bad as it looks on the video and as far as I know, the person who was hit was not injured badly. A friend of mine saw them lying down and waiting for the EMTs and they were resting calmly and fully conscious. We were very, very, very lucky. I don't like to think what would have happened if the car hadn't just run over her legs. It was extremely weird - I've been at protests where cars have sort of nosed through protesters, but I've never seen someone just charge through like that.

The protest as a whole was really big - there had to have been about 1000 people in the end, just judging from the size of the group that went up on the highway. Some students from South High (which had a walk-out, along with four other local high schools) spoke as did Chris Lollie, the guy who was harassed and arrested in the St. Paul skyway earlier this year.

What was most interesting was that the people who are usually very moderate at protests - professional community organizers, etc; the people whose jobs require them to present a moderate viewpoint in order to get stuff done - were urging people out into the street, and people who do not usually go out into the street on a demo were in the street. This means that people are angry, and that professional organizers think that the anger is sustained and widespread enough that it can be useful rather than dangerous. )
posted by Frowner at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I hope all of these organizers link up. It's time for another march on Washington.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's another lawyer critiquing the glaring inconsistencies of Wilson's testimony.
posted by TwoStride at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]






oh Christ I didn't even twig to that.

Not even a travesty. What's worse than a travesty?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:02 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Another cross-exam Q NOT asked of Wilson: how'd Mike Brown punch you w his right hand on right side of your face as you sat in drivers seat?"

Backfist? I don't see that as the reality-defying smoking gun many seem to on that Twitter feed. Also, Christ, Twitter is a terrible medium for that. Write a blog post or something.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh for heaven's sake:

Rep. Peter King Suggests Obama Invite Darren Wilson to the White House (WaPo link)
“I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer or invited him to the White House and said, ‘You’ve gone through four months of smear and slander and the least we can do is tell you that it’s unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job.’"
posted by mochapickle at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2014


But the sheer scale of the crappyness has gotten so large (or just better reported) that it's hard for me to credibly believe there's a cop on the beat who hasn't turned his or her gaze away from a fellow officer's misdeeds.

Really? In every small county police department around the world? Not a single one that on balance isn't doing things the right way more often than the wrong way? I can't believe that. True, knowing human nature, even model police forces will include some flawed individuals. But perfection isn't the goal. The goal should be to make things better, on balance, for most people and at least to do no harm. Some people think our legal system already achieves that result consistently, others think it never does, but the reality has to be more nuanced and complicated.

Nothing real is ever that simple. Only ideas are ever that simple.

Even if the problems in Ferguson are so widespread right now that it might be accurate to see them as pervasive, that doesn't mean there's no possible better future, or that the problems are literally universal. If you've already given up on even the possibility of better policing, then engaging with the problem at all is just setting yourself up to fight a battle without any possibility of victory.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Backfist? I don't see that as the reality-defying smoking gun many seem to on that Twitter feed.

It would require some pretty acrobatic contortions.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2014


Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid by Ta-Nehisi Coates:
“Property damage and looting” is a fairly accurate description of the emancipation of black people in 1865, who only five years earlier constituted some $4 billion in property. The Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement. “We could go into meetings and say, 'Well, either deal with us or you will have Malcolm X coming into here,'” said SNCC organizer Gloria Richardson. “They would get just hysterical. The police chief would say, 'Oh no!'”
posted by yaymukund at 10:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


I was thinking a lot in class today about white privilege.

As a white person with two graduate degrees, I've learned to speak a certain language, to operate within the system. I know how to knock on doors and write letters.

I teach at a community college to students who are primarily people of color. This is a low-income area.

I'm not plugged into the K-12 school system, other than to see the end result. My non-expert opinion is that these students have been starved of educational opportunities. I have a student -- a student I know cares about his grade -- turn in a major paper that used as an intro a passage lifted completely from Wikipedia. It's not an isolated instance. Students come into the college classroom without the basics that I, a middle-class kid who went to school with a lot of rich kids, received.

I have students who meet their bad grades or a request to stop the talking with anger. At times it is hard, as a white person who has been trained to operate within a certain system, to understand this anger. It is also hard to know how to defuse it. I tell them: Being a good writer is important for academic career. Being a good writer opens doors. Let's work together to get you an A.

But there are other times where I need to tell a student that xyz is inappropriate. And I know that I come off as part of the white power structure. I wish I had a way of discarding the gap between my experience in education and that of my students. But the gap is there, and it is not the making of either me or my students.

TLDR: Sometimes I feel like a shitty white person.
posted by angrycat at 10:12 AM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


If you've already given up on even the possibility of better policing, then engaging with the problem at all is just setting yourself up to fight a battle without any possibility of victory.

I don't know that I have given up on the possibility, but I have given up on that change happening without serious pressure from the outside of the police. Possibly even from outside the immediate justice system. I have given up on expecting to see it anytime soon. I have given up such that I expect to be teaching my 2 year old skepticism that will be useful to him past his teen years.

Are there small-town operations that are hunky-dory? Maybe, I guess? Are they possibly less likely to have problems because of community policing and personal accountability? Are the stakes lower? I don't know. As someone in a larger metropolitan area I'm not sure I much care anyway - I don't live there and if there's something intrinsic to small-town policing that avoids the problems in larger areas... that doesn't much do me any good unless it can be identified and translated here.

Even if the problems in Ferguson are so widespread right now that it might be accurate to see them as pervasive

Overall I don't like to have a discussion based on a single word but I think this is important - do you really mean "if" there, saul? Because I don't feel like there's any doubt in my mind that they are. If we differ on that I'm not sure there's really any discussion to be had.
posted by phearlez at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a little old now, but this piece from Cornel West seems extra relevant today: “The state of Black America in the age of Obama has been one of desperation, confusion and capitulation”

His argument in a nutshell:
The leading causes of the decline of the Black prophetic tradition are threefold. First, there is the shift of Black leadership from the voices of social movements to those of elected officials in the mainstream political system. This shift produces voices that are rarely if ever critical of this system. How could we expect the Black caretakers and gatekeepers of the system to be critical of it? This shift is part of a larger structural transformation in the history of mid-twentieth-century capitalism in which neoliberal elites marginalize social movements and prophetic voices in the name of consolidating a rising oligarchy at the top, leaving a devastated working class in the middle, and desperate poor people whose labor is no longer necessary for the system at the bottom.

Second, this neoliberal shift produces a culture of raw ambition and instant success that is seductive to most potential leaders and intellectuals, thereby incorporating them into the neoliberal regime. This culture of superficial spectacle and hyper-visible celebrities highlights the legitimacy of an unjust system that prides itself on upward mobility of the downtrodden. Yet, the truth is that we live in a country that has the least upward mobility of any other modern nation!

Third, the U.S. neoliberal regime contains a vicious repressive apparatus that targets those strong and sacrificial leaders, activists, and prophetic intellectuals who are easily discredited, delegitimated, or even assassinated, including through character assassination. Character assassination becomes systemic and chronic, and it is preferable to literal assassination because dead martyrs tend to command the attention of the sleepwalking masses and thereby elevate the threat to the status quo.
posted by dialetheia at 10:38 AM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


Wilson is either a cowardly [word for coward] armed with a pistol, or he shot Brown because he wanted to shoot Brown

I'd say both.
posted by grubi at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have no doubt that Wilson's testimony is a true and faithful accounting from his own memory. At the very least, he's retelling a retelling of a retelling, and by now it has occupied his memory. What I doubt is whether his memory could have been accurate. A story:

Some years ago, I was in the FATS trainer. It's basically a big FPS-on-rails, only instead of a gamepad or keyboard, you're holding a modified M4 and standing in front of a very large screen. The modifications to the carbine were electromagnetic actuation: trigger pull, bolt cycling, a little recoil. We had to physically change magazines to a 'fresh' one even. So there I was, paired up, and given a scenario. We were part of a patrol that was picking up a suspected militant at his home. While the 'team' went inside, my partner and I were on crowd control and guard duty outside.

Here's what I remember: Crowd gathers, muttering starts, some shouts. We run through use-of-force steps, shouting at them to get back in Arabic, weapons down. A man in a red keffiyeh strolls up through the crowd. He's got an AK. He waves it above his head, the crowd scatters, and he bolts down an alleyway. My parter and I follow, shouting for him to stop and drop the weapon. When he doesn't, we both shoot him as he's running away. 3 shots each, center mass. He dies.

The instructor got in my face. 'What was that!' 'A bad guy.' 'Why'd you shoot him?' 'He ... was a bad guy.' 'Did he fire at you?' 'I don't remember.' 'What do you mean, you don't remember! You just took a man's life, and you don't remember?!' 'It was the right decision!'

My partner and I agreed on the sequence of events. And my instructor relaxed. And here's what he played back for us:

Crowd gathers, muttering, some shouts. We run through use-of-force steps, shouting at them to get back in Arabic, weapons down. A man in a red keffiyeh walks briskly up, we both key on him after seeing he's carrying an AK. He fires at us from within the crowd, but we don't shoot him as the civilians scatter. He runs down an alleyway, and we follow, shouting at him to stop and drop the weapon. He turns, points the AK at us again, and we both shoot him, three shots each, center mass. He dies.

My memories of what I experienced are clear, to this day. They are completely at odds with what actually happened, as the other participants in the exercise, watching, agreed. We saw the same garbled memories and gaps with the rest of the group, in other scenarios.

And that was video game.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:43 AM on November 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


Yeah, and the worst part is that this veteran prosecutor used the fact that so many witnesses had different versions of events as a reason in and of itself to justify the no true bill outcome.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:47 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have no doubt that Wilson's testimony is a true and faithful accounting from his own memory.

Really? I mean, I can understand giving him some benefit of the doubt, I guess, but there is not a single shred of doubt in my mind that his entire testimony was coached. If they had interviewed him right after the incident (possibly for a police report that they should have filed and didn't because they cared so little? just an idea) I could see it, and I agree that your story is instructive in demonstrating how shoddy human memory is when we feel threatened. But given the circumstances and the changing stories, I don't doubt for a second that he was coached and his testimony was carefully planned out.

I didn't watch Wilson's horrible interview last night, but I've heard he's still sticking with their initial story that Brown died 35 feet from the car and not 150 feet, which is what the grand jury "evidence" shows (and which Shaun King had proved before the grand jury stuff was released). What the fuck? I guess this highlights how little anyone in power really cares about the "physical evidence" we heard so much about, but I'm still shocked that he isn't even bothering to adjust his bullshit story.

By the way, in case anyone was worried that there might be any justice in this terrible country at all, the Minneapolis protest hit and run guy not only isn't being charged, but he's being painted as a "victim" by the police: "Here’s the only information the MPD would offer, from a police report (emphasis ours): "The victim‘s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people. While he was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian." I don't care if didn't turn out to be as bad as it looked from the video, he still could have killed several people doing what he did. Reckless endangerment at the least, right? But no, he's the real victim here of course, because that "angry mob" was the real problem.
posted by dialetheia at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


Charles Pierce again: Darren Wilson Speaks
posted by homunculus at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2014


"The victim‘s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people. While he was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian."

Jesus. It doesn't stop, does it.
posted by naju at 11:04 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wilson's target hit the pavement dead 152 feet from where he was firing.

No, Wilson pursued Brown on foot and shot him at close range. This is indicated by the proximity of the spent shell casings near Brown's body.

Here is a PDF that shows the scene. Brown and Johnson were proceeding from left to right. Wilson was driving in the opposite direction from right to left.

The initial confrontation presumably occurred somewhere to the left of the picture. Wilson told Brown and Johnson to get out of the street. They continued past the police car to the right in the picture, but according to accounts, Brown may have said something in passing that infuriated Wilson. So Wilson put the car in reverse and sped backwards to catch up with the two and turned to cut them off so they were again facing the driver's side of the car. That is why the car is parked sideways.

This is when the second confrontation occurred and the struggle in the window of the car. At some point Brown fled for his life, continuing in the direction of their original path towards home. Brown's hat, and two flip-flops were lost as he ran.

Wilson pursued on foot and caught up with Brown when he stopped and turned around. Wilson shot Brown at close range, about 150 feet from the original confrontation at the car. The spent shell casings indicate that Wilson shot Brown near where his body fell.

The whole situation could have been avoided if Wilson has simply driven on after he first spoke to Brown and Johnson about jaywalking. Instead, he backed up, cut them off with his car, and unnecessarily escalated the situation in reaction to something Brown said in passing.
posted by JackFlash at 11:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Here's another obvious instance of the McCulloch being a completely shameless fucking liar despite all the "physical evidence": "Darren Wilson never stood over Mike Brown's body" (via nadawi's retweet)
posted by dialetheia at 11:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just keep hearing over and over in my head, "were you lying then or are you lying now?"

Police chief, prosecutor, officer. Pick one.
posted by ryoshu at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


"The victim‘s vehicle was damaged by a large group of people. While he was attempting to flee from the mob, he struck a pedestrian."

If you look at the video, too, this isn't even true. He hits the girl before people start pounding on the car. There was some confusion even among people who were right there (as I was) as to just what happened because it happened very fast. Even some people who were actually at the march did not realize that the pounding started afterward. People were certainly trying to block the street, which was perfectly reasonable and appropriate.

Honestly, I could see that it would be confusing and frustrating for a driver, but it isn't exactly rocket science or sophisticated morality not to drive into a crowd, even at rush hour on Lake Street. And he did absolutely drive into the crowd, that was all on him. Plenty of people didn't.

Also, it wasn't a mob, unless all large groups are mobs. I have been in a crowd I consider to have been a mob, maybe fifteen years ago now, in the wake of the Seattle protests, and I actually found it very scary even though it was technically "my" mob - it was very different from all the other large demos I have been to (including ones where there was actual violence) it only lasted a little while as part of a longer protest, but there was a feeling in the air that everyone had abrogated responsibility. It was very strange. Nothing bad happened, but I felt like something really could have.

I'm sure it was plenty scary to have people pounding on his car, but again, people weren't pounding on his car until he'd driven into the crowd and hit the girl.
posted by Frowner at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2014 [14 favorites]




By the way, in case anyone was worried that there might be any justice in this terrible country at all, the Minneapolis protest hit and run guy not only isn't being charged, but he's being painted as a "victim" by the police

Are you kidding me? This guy is the authority figure hard-on bifecta: honest citizen vs deadbeat hippie protesters AND car culture vigilante vs pedestrian (or cyclist). I predict he will be given the keys to the city.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


I mean, I can understand giving him some benefit of the doubt, I guess, but there is not a single shred of doubt in my mind that his entire testimony was coached.

You're using too narrow a definition of coached. Coached doesn't have to be - and mostly isn't - someone saying "no, this is what you say instead." It isn't even necessarily someone guiding someone's narrative towards a deliberately false retelling. You can look up all the research on people reinforcing their own biases in things as innocuous as job interviews. In the name of clarity or understanding they get steered.

"I was scared, so I pick up the stick-"
"The bat?"
"the bat, and I hit him."
"In the head?"
"Right."

It's sloppy, but not necessarily malicious. Pair it up with a bias and you're steering a dialog in a certain way. Have the discussion a few dozen times and by the end of it the witness believes what they're telling you, particularly if they're not being checked or challenged. If you do it without recording the variations along the way nobody would ever know.

Someone I know suggested the podcast Criminal based on enjoying Serial. Their second episode talks about all the ways we try to identify when someone is lying. They're talking about deliberate mistruths but I would imagine the things they talk about are related to people creating their own false memories, and I wonder whether it would apply well to this sort of testimony. It's a really interesting discussion of a reliable way to track these things and worth a listen.
posted by phearlez at 11:19 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, it wasn't a mob, unless all large groups are mobs.

Given the casual use of the phrase "unlawful gathering" I think that is indeed the prevailing authority position, yes.
posted by phearlez at 11:21 AM on November 26, 2014


It's sloppy, but not necessarily malicious.

I see where you're coming from, but I still think that in this particular instance, that reading is too generous and it absolutely was malicious. There has been a police cover-up on this thing from the very beginning, starting with the startling lack of police report, crime scene measurements, and medical examiner pictures, and it would basically take an act of god to convince me otherwise at this point.
posted by dialetheia at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


dialethia, nadawi, just to be accurate, McCulloch said:
BEFORE THE RESULT OF AN AUTOPSY WAS RELEASED, WITNESSES CLAIM THEY SAW OFFICER WILSON STAND OVER MICHAEL BROWN AND FIRE MANY ROUNDS INTO HIS BACK.
The photo taken after the shooting that Jay posted doesn't contradict that.

McCulloch of course then went on to imply that witnesses were lying ("once the autopsy came out, no additional witnesses made such a claim"), but there's no proof of that either AFAIK.
posted by anthill at 11:33 AM on November 26, 2014


Oh, I unquestionably think the fix was in on multiple levels. But that isn't incompatible with the idea that Wilson is now completely convinced that the story he's telling is true. And we get into the question of how we define 'malice' too. You and I would certainly agree on it. But I would bet a lot of the people who perpetrated shenanigans in this case really believed, based on othering and us v them and the kind of "he was asking for it" horseshit that Gungho drops above - they surely thought they were protecting someone good, or at least at worst someone who was sloppy.

It's why it's so important that police shootings get examined with the level of skepticism - at bare minimum - that any other crime does. The number of chances for sympathetic folks to just slightly shift perception is tremendous even with what is just slightly sloppy bias.
posted by phearlez at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2014


I'm seeing a lot of people argue that Brown deserved what he got for stealing or not following directions, mostly on twitter but even in more civilized spaces. To be clear, the idea that anybody deserves to be shot for minor infractions like not moving off the sidewalk or stealing $5 of cigarillos is exactly the sentiment that supported lynchings throughout American history. "Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up"

This cartoon really puts a fine point on it.
posted by dialetheia at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


The video of the Tamir Rice shooting has been released. It's... hard to watch. (This is the 12-year-old boy playing with an airsoft gun who was shot by police.)
posted by naju at 11:49 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


I cannot personally bear to watch it, but appear entry there is video of the killing of the 12 year old and the police just pull up and shoot him. That's it - no talking, no attempt to determine if there is a threat, they just turn up and kill a kid.

They'll get medals, no doubt.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me if the Tamir Rice video is super sped up? The entire killing took less than 30 seconds?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:52 AM on November 26, 2014


My dad is a cop. Has been my entire life. He's also a white Southern cop, so if you think I am not going to go head to head with him about this come Christmas, you are mistaken. I mean, I love my dad as much as you can love someone who has never really been present in your life, but I made it clear a long time ago I do not tolerate racist foolishness. I feel I have very little to lose here. You either learn that your mode of thinking black people are only criminals or subservient is dated and sad and pathetic in 2014, or you learn you raised a woman who will eloquently and politely hand your ass to you if you come at her with your bullshit protecting white cops drivel.
posted by Kitteh at 11:53 AM on November 26, 2014 [17 favorites]


From that Guardian article: in the Jim Crow era, a black person was lynched once every four days, on average. Over the last seven years, a black person has been shot by a white police officer every three or four days, on average.

Can someone explain to me if the Tamir Rice video is super sped up? The entire killing took less than 30 seconds?

Doesn't look sped up to me - the kid is moving at normal speed before they show up and shoot him without even the barest minimum attempt at engagement. Jesus christ.
posted by dialetheia at 11:54 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can someone explain to me if the Tamir Rice video is super sped up? The entire killing took less than 30 seconds?

Um, that is part and parcel with at least a couple of other recent police shootings, like that guy who got shot with a knife by a bus shelter in...wherever it was. They zoom in way too close, effectively putting themselves in harm's way (if there ever IS any harm to be in the way of) and fire within 10-15 seconds. Seems to be the new MO.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:55 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Um, that is part and parcel with at least a couple of other recent police shootings, like that guy who got shot with a knife by a bus shelter in...wherever it was.

No, I know. I just... Goddamn.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:56 AM on November 26, 2014


State violence is always rendered invisible in a world where cops and soldiers are heroes, and what they do is always framed as “security,” protection, and self-defense. Police occupy the streets to protect and serve the citizenry from (Black) criminals out of control. This is why, in every instance, there is an effort to depict the victim as assailant – Trayvon Martin used the sidewalk as a weapon, Mike Brown used his big body. A lunge or a glare from a Black person can constitute an imminent threat. When the suburb of Ferguson blew up following Mike Brown’s killing on August 9, the media and mainstream leadership were more concerned with looting and keeping the “peace” than the fact that Darren Wilson was free on paid leave. Or that leaving Brown’s bullet-riddled, lifeless body, on the street for four and a half hours, bleeding, cold, stiff from rigor mortis, constituted a war crime in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It was, after all, an act of collective punishment – the public display of the tortured corpse was intended to terrorize the entire community, to punish everyone into submission, to remind others of their fate if they step out of line. We used to call this “lynching.”
Robin D.G. Kelley: Why We Won't Wait
posted by RogerB at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2014 [17 favorites]


The video of the Tamir Rice shooting has been released. It's... hard to watch. (This is the 12-year-old boy playing with an airsoft gun who was shot by police.)

Jesus christ. This is just a textbook example of unnecessary escalation by the police.

I'm reminded of the video that came out of the earlier Ferguson threads, which showed yet another black man being shot and killed by the police (that one because he had a knife). One of the points that has been made repeatedly is that the police are (apparently) drilled constantly about thread radiuses, and how within certain distances they basically have no option but to shoot to kill.

Putting aside the fact that the radius mentioned for a person with a knife was ludicrous (I think it was basically "if you're less than 20 feet away they will kill you 100% of the time"), the fact is, police seem to take exactly the wrong lesson from this "information". Instead of saying "we believe that within a certain distance, we're forced to escalate to lethal force, therefore let's stop the car outside of that distance and close in on foot", they instead drive up right into that radius and jump out of the car shooting.

Instead of using the distance to a subject as a guideline to prevent escalation, they use it as justification for escalation by intentionally moving within it.

The whole police training apparatus in this country is irreparably broken.
posted by tocts at 11:59 AM on November 26, 2014 [18 favorites]



Waking up to the Washington Post op-eds (Wednesday's) made me angrier at the WP than I have been since the Iraq War. I thought of calling them to cancel my subscription, but newsprint is useful for some messy tasks around the house.

I'm proposing that we name all racist white fuckups who perpetrate violence against non-whites or other forms of racism "wilsons." It has a more satisfying ring than "zimmerman," which has too many syllables.
posted by bad grammar at 12:02 PM on November 26, 2014


You know what this grand jury resembles?

A kangaroo court.

The proceedings were secret.
One side has the lawyers available other doesn't.
The prosecutor is more interested in leading the "jury" to a point of view rather than doing his job.
The reputation of the victim is maligned without being challenged.
Cross-examination by only one side.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


These shootings are not new, though. As long as I have lived here in MPLS, there have been a couple every year. As I've said elsewhere here, I know two people who witnessed police shootings of mentally ill black men, one in front of his pleading family.

The other thing to understand is that cops hate even the most respectable anti-police-brutality activists and black community activists. Those people are stopped and hassled as much as the cops can get away with, even when they are well-off and connected although more often and more seriously when they are not. Particularly if they are black. That too is always ongoing.

The only difference now - and I don't know if it's my little internet bubble - is that unlike in the nineties, many white and/or well-off people actually believe you if you say it happens, whereas unless you were talking to a black or Hmong citizen of Minneapolis back in the nineties, it was like trying to convince people that the sky was chartreuse with lemon spots.
posted by Frowner at 12:06 PM on November 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


Kitteh, that is the best thing. I have a family member I'm not even on speaking terms with because of this stuff, simply because eventually it became better to let a 40-year relationship die than to try (again, patiently) to explain why his views (and the views he is teaching his children) are completely disgusting.

I am pulling for you.
posted by mochapickle at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


One side has the lawyers available other doesn't. [...]

Yeah, the prosecution.

The prosecutor is more interested in leading the "jury" to a point of view rather than doing his job.

That is his job. It's just in this case his point of view was that there should not be an indictment. Which means he shouldn't have brought this before the grand jury in the first place, of course, but still...

Cross-examination by only one side.

Yeah, the prosecution.

You seem to be calling for the defense to have a lawyer present. But the defense here was Wilson, so an attorney would only have been even more pro-Wilson.
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on November 26, 2014


Waking up to the Washington Post op-eds (Wednesday's) made me angrier at the WP than I have been since the Iraq War. I thought of calling them to cancel my subscription, but newsprint is useful for some messy tasks around the house.

Wouldn't help anyway. A month or two ago they got tired of being unsuccessful at convincing me to switch my Sunday-only to daily and just started delivering it every day, unasked and with no additional payment. Just got a notice saying I can keep that for an extra $0.15 a week (WHO doesn't value news again?).

Maybe for $0.25 I can get them to stop.
posted by phearlez at 12:15 PM on November 26, 2014


[a defense] attorney would only have been even more pro-Wilson

Hard to imagine!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:16 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the prosecution.

This would be a good point if the prosecution wasn't actually acting like Wilson's defense lawyers. McCulloch's speech was indistinguishable from the defense's closing arguments.
posted by dialetheia at 12:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think you'll find I've been rather anti-McCulloch. The solution is not to make grand juries even more pro-prosecution. Which is barely even possibly, really.
posted by Justinian at 12:19 PM on November 26, 2014


Overall I don't like to have a discussion based on a single word but I think this is important - do you really mean "if" there, saul? Because I don't feel like there's any doubt in my mind that they are.

Racial bias is pervasive not only in police departments but more generally--not universal, but pervasive. I don't doubt that. What I doubt is the idea that very general statements of very general ideas like "You support the police!" or "You don't support the police!" have enough concrete meaning in them to yield anything other than more confusion and disagreement when taken seriously as subjects of discussion. Abstraction is powerful stuff. It conveniently allows us to talk about a million different things as if they were all a single thing, when that's a useful thing to do. But we should never forget abstraction is also a form of lying by omission.

Maybe it's my background as a programmer speaking, but I know very well from experience that if you over generalize a problem or subject when you're thinking through it, you end up with nonsense and can get confused imagining things that don't exist as anything other than incidental products of the error of thinking at too general a level. I think we're choking on social and political rhetoric that's too vague and imprecise to yield discussions that aren't destined to generate more confusion.

One of the things you learn as a programmer is that abstraction is really just a form of "information hiding". When we abstract, we simplify things from what they are in reality to omit certain details that aren't relevant to the specific thing we're trying to do. Abstracting effectively and appropriately can be very useful for making it possible to work on and solve difficult problems that would otherwise be too complex to even think or talk about. But abstraction deliberately omits some part of the truth from consideration, and only the goals of abstraction determine what details really are irrelevant. That's how it works--that's why in computer science, abstraction is sometimes used synonymously with information hiding. Broad, overly-general claims or statements like "Police are good," "Looting is bad," etc., all hide a lot of information that might actually be important if your goals are different than whoever formulated the statement in that way. We don't generally do this abstraction stuff consciously, so people don't always realize they're thinking about a problem at the wrong level of abstraction. Einstein famously wrote that problems can only be solved by working at a different level of abstraction than the one that gave rise to the original problem. Many apparent problems in philosophy have been "solved" through the eventual realization that they were never really problems to begin with, but only appeared to be because people were asking the questions that seemed to reveal the problem at the wrong level of abstraction.

How is this relevant to Ferguson? When people generalize too much, kids like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin end up dead in error, and public discussion of whether or not that's an acceptable outcome quickly degrades into people fighting imaginary battles over higher abstract principles and vague nonsense about order versus chaos.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:19 PM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


The solution is not to make grand juries even more pro-prosecution.

No one is talking about "grand juries." It's disingenuous to act as if 1) this grand jury were a typical example of grand juries in general and 2) any criticisms of this grand jury are somehow applicable to all grand juries.
posted by prefpara at 12:22 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


"prosecution"

"cross-examination"

Both should be presented in scare quotes.
posted by naju at 12:27 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Protests are being organized for Phoenix and Arizona State University in the next several weeks. Feel free to Memail if you want more info.
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:31 PM on November 26, 2014


You seem to be calling for the defense to have a lawyer present. But the defense here was Wilson, so an attorney would only have been even more pro-Wilson.

No, I think they were calling for a real trial, transparent to the public with appropriate representation. Which is what we should have gotten and what Mike Brown deserved, at the very least. This wasn't a normal grand jury, it was a sham trial conducted behind closed doors with one-sided representation. I'm not saying you're not anti-McCulloch at all, just that criticism of this particular grand jury does not constitute criticism of a normal grand jury used in appropriate circumstances (which this absolutely wasn't).
posted by dialetheia at 12:31 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The drug war is the biggest driving force behind the antagonistic relationship between police and citizens. The libertarian crickets aren't what I'm worried about. I'm worried that for all this rage nothing is going to be done to actually hold politicians accountable for creating the atmosphere that makes police the enemy.

I'm about as anti-War on Drugs as it gets, but I'm pretty sure that the bigger contribution to the "atmosphere that makes police the enemy" is that they keep murdering unarmed black boys.
posted by kagredon at 12:33 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


The "guy with a knife shot by police" was Kajieme Powell. I'm not faulting anyone for not remembering; it's a sad state when there are so many we can't even remember their fucking names.
posted by desjardins at 12:34 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


“Reading Wilson's testimony,
When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan....”

I believe he meant that Brown ripped his shirt off, exposed his 24 inch pythons, and said “Let me tell you something, brother…”

More seriously, it’s interesting – apart from the spot on Claudia Rankine observation – from a conflict style assessment that he cast it in those terms. Not only competitive – staged-sport competitive. And looking at his age, somewhat infantilizing perspective of the fight.

Makes me wonder the last time he’d been in a physical conflict. Or trained for one. And in consideration of that, where’s his overwatch? That speaks volumes about how this came about. It’s as much as a set up as pro-wrasslin’ is.

Let’s get a department, give them no money, put people with little or no community socialization into a black community (not just white, but white on top of it), give him little training in verbal judo or y’know, real judo, and make the ROE such that he’s got no partner in the car (no money, yeah?) and no taser, hes sitting on his asp ... not sure why ... and the flashlight is out of reach (again I'm stymied, taking Wilson at his word, I'd have sacrificed the time to grab a non-lethal weapon, or barrel struck Brown with the Sig...ah, don't get me started... but Wilson is about my size, lighter, maybe he lost the keys to the gym too, but he's a big enough guy to trade with Brown) and pretty much only the gun as his escalation option.

Guy could have been Leo Buscalia and there would have been a shooting. (either guy, really).

I'll dodge the stopping power/shot placement/panic/firearms details derail I'm itchy for....but:

how'd Mike Brown punch you w his right hand on right side of your face as you sat in drivers seat?"


He's got injuries on both sides of his face, his chin, and the back of his neck.

That link (btw is pretty solidly on the cop side) has the transcript from the grand jury itself. The NYT has one. Probably better than twitter for information.

And too, like with most incidents the after-details are more indicative of the situation if not the actual event (e.g. Oswald steal JFK's brain too?).

Such as Brown lying there for four and a half hours. Even if the shoot was totally righteous, that's despicable.

But again, regardless of the details, Wilson and Brown were placed in a no-win situation by circumstances set up long before either of them got there. If it weren't those two, it'd be a cop and a black youth somewhere else. As has been countlessly detailed.

“It's the otherwise "good" cops who say nothing, or worse, actively defend the thin-blue-line code-of-silence bad-movie-title bullshit. They are the ones I hold most at fault, because their refusal to come forward and provide actual real justice”

Quin, I don’t disagree exactly. There is this. But that’s more of a straw vs. oar situation. What one guy, even a very good guy, can do is constrained by law.

Look at Serpico. He came out against police corruption. And, though he was harassed, most of the force backed him up. Most cops want to, y’know, be a cop. Do police work.
It wasn’t until the Knapp commission was appointed that anything got done. Serpico’s actions led to that, and systemized graft is treated as the despicable thing that it is. But that was corruption. An addendum. A parasitic system grafted on to the policing itself. Not the actual laws that police and oversight systems are ruled by. They’re not maintaining silence simply out of loyalty (there is that, but that’s not the dominant force); their role is proscribed from the outset, by definition.

It’s akin, in this sense, to a defense attorney being appointed to defend an accused child molester refusing to provide him a defense because the crime itself is so abhorrent. The defense attorney *has* to defend him. And too, police – or other unions – their role is to defend their cadre regardless of the case.

It’s been called out before that teachers unions defend accused molesters. Well, yeah they do. That’s the system. And it provides for civil liberties for all.
I mean, look, no cop can change how many white officers cover a certain neighborhood, no matter how black he is or how non-racist. And that alienation is by design. And so to is the antagonism, but in contrast to the public defender situation, there’s no systemic support for the opposed.

Were an honest cop, or even an entire department, to come forward and say “we want the system changed” that would threaten their own interests in much the same way the anti-due process arguments run now for prosecutors (e.g. certain individuals, office holders, or classes of people being immune to arrest). Or, say, if the teachers union said we want tenure revoked.

There’s no “other shoe” in that sense. No counterbalancing force that will come to the fore.
So, exactly what you’re saying – taking the matters of misconduct away from parties with compelling interests the way they stand now with (for example) prosecutors.
That wouldn’t automatically happen.

However that’d be the only move you’d really need. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that this is exactly one of, if not the, cornerstone in changing how we do law enforcement.
Even if only the best, most honorable officers were the sole representatives of the police force in the U.S., they could not change the way things stand now. No more than the best, most truthful reporters could alter the way monopolization and concentration of ownership of media outlets affects how the news is slanted. Or teachers change politicization of school funding.

It’s something they can’t reach from inside the system.

And I’m saying, that is by (political/economic collusive) design.

José Saramago (wrote “Blindness”, et.al) wrote: “There are always a few who manage to find a way out, humans are capable of the best as well as the worst, but you can’t change human destiny. We live in a dark age, when freedoms are diminishing, when there is no space for criticism, when totalitarianism — the totalitarianism of multinational corporations, of the marketplace — no longer even needs an ideology, and religious intolerance is on the rise. Orwell’s ‘1984’ is already here.”

That’s sort of the irony. The racism is, in that sense, not racist. It’s just structured totalitarianism. ( I mean, it doesn’t have to be racist. It is. But that’s what makes it all the worse. Kinda like a side dish or a cherry on top. “Yeah, this beating doesn’t have to be racially motivated ….ah, but what the hell: ‘fuck you N**er! Take that!’)

And in any totalitarian system, *someone* has to be the oppressor and someone has to be the oppressed. They may change roles. But they can’t escape them. The most enlightened oppressor, who says “I will not oppress” becomes the oppressed (again, Serpico, Bunny Greenhouse and other whistleblowers – although like him I like the phrase “Lamplighters”)

Even in a “win” situation. Greenhouse a few years back got just short of 1 million in a settlement for being fired (and scathed) for exposing U.S. govt. contractor collusion (because corruption is a whole other thing), and fraud, etc.
Halliburton made at least $1.8 billion, and that’s in the margins, not counting the contracts themselves (almost $3 billion). And were fined 7 and a half million as the result of Greenhouse’s actions. They made more overcharging the Iraqis on gas alone in ONE WEEK than they paid Greenhouse.


If it were a functioning system, that feedback capacity would be built in so officers, and officials themselves, could address the rules they’re governed by in addition to corruption of those rules.
Bit like ‘Nomic’ I suppose. It’s the difference between the substantive and the procedural. A good cop can effect change in the substantive, but not in the procedure. That requires political change, which requires the democratic process which, itself, has been subverted.

And of course, Thomas Jefferson has that: “(Transl) I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery… It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

Quin, otherwise I’d like to explore balancing Federal oversight with local control. The community has to have some input on their own policing. How to keep that process balanced, I dunno. There’s always a way though.

Keeping people interested, volunteering, for the democratic process, that’s the tough part. Humans show a remarkable capacity to throw down in a pinch and risk a beating but not attend to a regularly meeting schedule where they might suffer verbally, but have access to coffee and free donuts.

I’ve often thought there should be a 90%+ / 10% ratio of women to men in government. Not because I think women are less violent (I’m not sure either way) but they apparently, at least according to studies I’ve seen, have the capacity to focus on long term things better and work on something meticulously over a longer period. e.g. why female munitions workers are better, gray vs. white matter, larger hippocampus, etc.

Whatever the case, I think multi-faceted, focused, broad based, and most importantly constant political pressure will lead to more lasting change than the explosive more narrow stuff which leads the press to either ignore, or play up the more salacious/destructive bits and divide support.

On that note, I think Obama has completely dropped the ball here.

I mean: “should we defeat every enemy, should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For with a country as with a person, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
That’s LBJ.
Who used to make people watch him take a crap.

So, yeah. I’d like to see a bit more leadership from the President. At least addressing the scope and number of the protests. Violence is inevitable. If not now, than later. Even if no one particularly wants it on any side, the thing is built that way.

I could live with kicking over people’s tea wagon in the name of justice. I could even live with busting someone who’s looking for any excuse to trash a Starbucks. And I could lead either side into that fray - protecting the community from physical destruction or protecting it from destruction by injustice. There are, if not righteousness, at least consolations for those respective positions in any aftermath. I mean, the reality and the tragedy is that they’re actually on the *same* side. No one wins in a riot.

But sitting on the sidelines and letting it happen, knowing I could have done *something*, man, no way could I live with myself. Even if I screwed up, I could at least say I tried.
Calling for peaceful demonstration … I mean, damn Obama, at least drive an ambulance. What f’ing good is half-white, half-black president if he’s not the guy who can bridge that gap?

Same tired platitudes. A few bad apples among the cops. “A few thugs” on the protesters side. Did the speech in Chicago too. Like we need convincing. Hey, let’s tell the choir all about Jesus! Yeesh.

But perhaps I’m knee-jerk handing him this just because he’s ethnically mixed.

I mean, gee … If only he had some sort of experience in his background of organizing, say, communities or something.
Or knew about leading social efforts to bring attention to stuff.
Or had dealt with law enforcement accountability issues (oh, let’s just pull one out of my ass and say being in first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations).
Or had some expertise in Constitutional rights.

Then, yeah, I’d say here’s a guy who’s tailor made for that job, beyond, y’know, being dead center of either side of the race issue in the U.S. FFS

Man, I get that he can’t raise hell. He’s gotta be “The President” but the goddamned cause is just crying out for a unifying symbol, someone who can unite both sides against the inherent injustice in the system, how the hell is he not that guy? (Is it cause his dad looks like the black Bob Dobbs?)

I dunno. Disappointed in him tho.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]




Since we're mentioning other black men killed by police, back in April in Milwaukee (my city), a policeman murdered an unarmed black man who was peacefully sleeping in a park. Employees of a nearby Starbucks had called police for a welfare check since he appeared to be mentally ill; officers came by and saw that there was no problem with him. Another officer received the request via voicemail and was unaware that the welfare check had already happened. He went to the scene and woke up the victim. This escalated into a fight and the victim was shot and killed. The victim's name is Dontre Hamilton. It took six months for the police department to release the name of the officer - Christopher Manney.

The officer was fired for not following procedure (i.e. escalating the situation unnecessarily) but charges have not been brought. (The firing earned the chief a no-confidence vote from the union.) The DA is still reviewing the case. I do not believe the officer would have been fired were it not for public pressure. There have been regular protests at the park where Dontre was killed, and they have increased in frequency and size since Mike Brown's death. There were sit-ins at police headquarters and city hall, but there has been no violence. This constant pressure works and that's why I'm very supportive of #shutitdown.
posted by desjardins at 12:54 PM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Twelve years old. Two seconds.

.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:57 PM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm proposing that we name all racist white fuckups who perpetrate violence against non-whites or other forms of racism "wilsons."

used in sentence: "That Santorum smear just Wilsoned the guy"
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


because anybody of any race would get shot if they pulled that shit, and probably before the end of my first sentence.

That is incorrect, and if you'd bothered to click any of a number of links in this thread to stories about white people doing stupid and/or violent shit who do not get shot for it then you would have known not to make such an incorrect comment.
posted by rtha at 1:05 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


PSA: there are some people with Arabic usernames posting under Ferguson hashtags... don't click Arabic hashtags unless you read Arabic... they are posting beheading photos. I won't be able to unsee that.
posted by desjardins at 1:05 PM on November 26, 2014


We need a lot more events like this: Boulder forum discusses racism in light of Ferguson case.

And not just for community members. People like Nixon and Knowles have to learn about racism, explain how they see racism operating, and explain what actions they are taking to redress its influence. The media and constituents need to hold them to account. Even getting them to say the damned word would be quite a change from the status quo.

There are still no results for the "racism" on the website of the governor, and there are only two returns for "racism" on the Ferguson city website, both in the meeting notes recording comment from citizens (both post-August).
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:07 PM on November 26, 2014


Smedleyman: "He's got injuries on both sides of his face, his chin, and the back of his neck."

Why believe Wilson's testimony that you linked? The hospital report in the Grand Jury evidence says that while he was brought in for an orbital fracture and broken jaw, a medical inspection found:

* No deformity
* No bleeding
* No laceration
* No bruising
* Minimal palpable pain in the jaw, none in the eye
* X-ray negative, with comment: "UNREMARKABLE STUDY"
posted by anthill at 1:07 PM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


The "hand-up don't shoot" chant was the most stupid part of this whole thing. He was not told to put his hands up. He was told to get on the ground.

Nobody's saying he told to put his hands up. Putting your hands up is what people do, instinctively, when ordered to stop by the police, to show they don't pose a threat.
posted by xigxag at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


How is this relevant to Ferguson? When people generalize too much, kids like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin end up dead in error, and public discussion of whether or not that's an acceptable outcome quickly degrades into people fighting imaginary battles over higher abstract principles and vague nonsense about order versus chaos.

Loved your overall comment, but I think you're drawing the wrong conclusion. From day one, the left has tried to make the killing of Michael Brown some sort of cause celebre and an indictment of the larger criminal justice system. While I agree with them that we need a lot more scrutiny of police and incarceration practices, the effort to "abstract" the killing is all over this thread and every one on the Blue. I would love to see folks stick more to the actual facts (ones that were corroborated by physical evidence, rather than eyewitness testimony that is provably false, like Dorian Johnson's -- the latter being much of what is paraded on this thread). I should note that sticking to the facts still leaves A LOT of questions about the prosecution, the lack of an indictment and the future of Officer Wilson in the Ferguson police department, but it doesn't allow folks to offer their armchair opinions/vitriol about the racism or odiousness of people they've never even met. I would hope that would be enough.
posted by learnsome at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2014


From day one, the left has tried to make the killing of Michael Brown some sort of cause celebre and an indictment of the larger criminal justice system.

Fuck that. All people wanted was a fair trial of his murderer.
posted by dialetheia at 1:10 PM on November 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


rather than eyewitness testimony that is provably false, like Dorian Johnson's

Or Darren Wilson's. Funny that he's credible, but Johnson isn't.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:11 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


I would love to see folks stick more to the actual facts (ones that were corroborated by physical evidence, rather than eyewitness testimony that is provably false, like Dorian Johnson's -- the latter being much of what is paraded on this thread).

I question the assumption that there exist "facts" in this case that are not tainted by a racist, violent, and corrupt system. Facts in the abstract of course exist, but...you know, it's not totally unheard of for police officers, lawyers, and government officials to lie to protect themselves and their friends. It's interesting that the people in power (usually white men) are automatically credible, reliable witnesses, while the people who are not in power (black men and boys in this case, but also women of any color more generally speaking, not to mention trans* folk) don't get the same benefit of the doubt.

If only there were a fact machine that told us the unbiased truth. Barring that, we have to assume that "facts" gathered by people with an agenda are going to reflect that agenda, intentionally or unintentionally.
posted by Ragini at 1:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Or Darren Wilson's. Funny that he's credible, but Johnson isn't.

Well, Johnson is trying to make himself sound like he's a little bothered by a misdemeanor theft and shoving a clerk. He's got serious motivations to lie. All Wilson is trying to do is avoid being charged with murder.
posted by phearlez at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


While I agree with them that we need a lot more scrutiny of police and incarceration practices, the effort to "abstract" the killing is all over this thread and every one on the Blue.

Besides, are you seriously trying to argue that this is some isolated killing? Have you seen the Tamir Rice footage? How about the Kajieme Powell shooting? How about the fact that a black person is killed by a white cop every 3-4 days in this country, on average?
posted by dialetheia at 1:18 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or Darren Wilson's. Funny that he's credible, but Johnson isn't.

I don't personally rely on Wilson's testimony at all (unless it is consistent with the physical evidence). He is, after all, the target of the investigation. Dorian Johnson lied repeatedly (changed his story multiple times, alleged events that could not have occurred, given the physical evidence, etc.).
posted by learnsome at 1:19 PM on November 26, 2014


Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, for NYT: Telling My Son About Ferguson.
My son wants me to reassure him, and tell him that of course Darren Wilson will go to jail. At 10 years old, he can feel deep in his bones how wrong it was for the police to kill Michael Brown. "There will be a trial, at least — right, Mom?" My son is asking me a simple question, and I know the answer.

As a civil rights lawyer, I know all too well that Officer Wilson will not be going to trial or to jail. The system is legally rigged so that poor people guilty of relatively minor crimes are regularly sentenced to decades behind bars while police officers who kill unarmed black men almost never get charged, much less serve time in prison.

I open my mouth to speak, look into my son's eyes, and hear myself begin to lie...
posted by divined by radio at 1:21 PM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


From day one, the left has tried to make the killing of Michael Brown some sort of cause celebre and an indictment of the larger criminal justice system[...]I should note that sticking to the facts still leaves A LOT of questions about the prosecution, the lack of an indictment and the future of Officer Wilson in the Ferguson police department, but it doesn't allow folks to offer their armchair opinions/vitriol about the racism or odiousness of people they've never even met.

So you agree that this case is an indictment of the larger criminal justice system, but heaven forbid anyone mention racism.
posted by kagredon at 1:21 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


How about accounting for the fact that we are missing a lot of key "physical evidence" because the medical examiner's camera mysteriously ran out of batteries that day, or that Wilson was allowed to leave the scene without making a report, or that they didn't even bother measuring things because it was "self-explanatory" what happened?
posted by dialetheia at 1:22 PM on November 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


but it doesn't allow folks to offer their armchair opinions/vitriol about the racism or odiousness of people they've never even met.

There's really no more sure-fire indication that your position is weak than when it's predicated on assigning motive to the unknowable internal lives of other people.

I could give a shit whether the Ferguson brigade completely turfed every aspect of this post-incident because they're racist, stupid, circling the wagons around a coworker, or possessed by satan. I don't need to assign them motivations. I can point to a dozen ways they handled this poorly and with less stringent methods than if it had been a citizen-on-citizen crime. That's enough.
posted by phearlez at 1:26 PM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


[fffm, learnsome dial down the back and forth bickering or take it to MeFi Mail please]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:32 PM on November 26, 2014


The "hand-up don't shoot" chant was the most stupid part of this whole thing. He was not told to put his hands up. He was told to get on the ground.

Nobody's saying he told to put his hands up. Putting your hands up is what people do, instinctively, when ordered to stop by the police, to show they don't pose a threat.


Yes, it obviously is, but as I mentioned in the last thread, "hands up" in American idiom has never to my knowledge been anything but an imperative meaning "put your hands up," (and certainly almost universally in pop culture it is used this way by police) not a declarative meaning "my hands are up". It's all the more jarring because the second half of the chant is also an imperative.

I get that this is a dumb objection, but it still bothers me.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2014


learnsome, what specific physical evidence are you using to decide credibility here? Is it the evidence that Wilson was allowed to handle without supervision? The measurements that the forensic examiner failed to take? Please, do enlighten us.
posted by kagredon at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Re:

the effort to "abstract" the killing is all over this thread and every one on the Blue.

and

but it doesn't allow folks to offer their armchair opinions/vitriol about the racism or odiousness of people they've never even met.

Coates covered this in his piece today: "the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street, but with policies set forth by government at every level."

Systemic and institutional racism exists. Its effects are attested to by both the people harmed by it and by extensive academic study.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:35 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


Frowner: If you look at the video, too, this isn't even true. He hits the girl before people start pounding on the car.

This entire thing, and that retelling of it, make me irrationally monkey rage angry.

It's textbook road rage, of the most basal entitled tiresome type. And he's just going to walk on it?

I mean I get that this is a tiny sideshow to the main issue here, with a slightly bigger chorus in the middle of the cops disgustingly waving it on because they resent the protesters attacking "their team" or whatever, but I've been run over by a stupid road raging driver almost exactly how that video depicted before.

No one should ever get away with that "how DARE you block my car!" shit. It's like this entire situation has a special little interlude to piss off every person watching individually. And it's especially bad because it happened at a protest about this and... I don't know, I just can't even. That's such fucking bullshit. It's like the bullshit horseradish that came with the bullshit sandwich someone ordered at this big 12 top dinner.

And I feel kinda gross even getting mad with the rest of it going on, because it's such minor bullshit in comparison. But it just hits close to home.
posted by emptythought at 1:39 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


What about the provably false assertions from the police department and "prosecutor", like how they claimed for 100+ days that Brown died 35 feet from the car when it was actually 153 feet, which they eventually had to admit because it was an obvious lie? (not that Wilson could keep the story straight on TV last night apparently)

The people you're trusting with the "physical evidence" failed to collect half of the relevant evidence and provably lied about what they did collect.
posted by dialetheia at 1:40 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Riots and Reason
Representatives of the State, of a public that includes black people who are also a public, were defiant when they announced the grand jury results of Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson this week. If I accept the argument of every person who thinks it was a good clean kill, there is still little to explain the anger of those who, by all accounts, won. Why are police advocates, prosecutors, white people in online comments, the white guy who yelled at me to get a job as I crossed the street last night so angry? They won.

Mike Brown was a pest, exterminated by the police.

The officer is uninjured, married, employed and un-charged.

People who believe that these things are right and just and proper won. Yet, I find they are still angry.

It stretches the bounds of reason.

Unless, of course, nothing about this is reasonable.

When the accusation is that looting and riots constitute unacceptable violence, the rest of the statement goes thusly: every life has a price and these lives are cheaper than any property damaged.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:42 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


learnsome, what specific physical evidence are you using to decide credibility here? Is it the evidence that Wilson was allowed to handle without supervision? The measurements that the forensic examiner failed to take? Please, do enlighten us.

You're right to point out that there were a lot of screwups in the investigation, but there are some pieces of physical evidence that served to disprove the grandiose claims of Johnson and others. For instance, the autopsies which proved no shots in the back. The blood on Wilson's clothing which disproved early claims that Brown never tussled with Wilson. Etc. I highly recommend reading the documents for yourself. While I'll say that there are a lot of new questions (Witness no. 40, I'm looking at you), a lot of the media narrative floats away.

Give it a few more days, the media will figure out that they were sold a bill of goods by some "eyewitnesses" (the construction workers being jaw-dropping in this regard) and move on. Unfortunately, they will not hold themselves accountable for fanning the flames with little to no regard for waiting for the facts to emerge.
posted by learnsome at 1:45 PM on November 26, 2014


Speaking of that New Professionalism, the new blog Use of Weapons has an extensive write-up about the Akai Gurley shooting (one of those that Ironmouth asserts "nobody" cares about) and it's worth a read for a good discussion of the systemic problems in an organization and how we assess and talk about cop actions.
Out of air crash investigations came a framework known as human factors analysis and classification (HFACS). Its objective is to identify where errors are made leading up to an event. The officer with gun is the “operator” in HFACS parlance and his errors can include decision errors, perceptual errors and skill-based errors which can include mistakes in the manner or technique a task is performed. This would include opening a door while holding a gun in the same hand. A perceptual error is the classic unarmed shooting where an officer erroneously believes a suspect is armed and blends in decision errors, for example mistakenly perceiving a suspect is threat and using lethal force when none was called for. HFACS, though, also looks at systemic failures and this is where the NYPD had better wake up.
posted by phearlez at 1:47 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


None of that exonerates Wilson from needlessly murdering an unarmed man. All of this disagreement among witnesses is just further evidence that we needed a full and fair public trial of Wilson.
posted by dialetheia at 1:48 PM on November 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


Give it a few more days, the media will figure out that they were sold a bill of goods by some "eyewitnesses" (the construction workers being jaw-dropping in this regard) and move on.

The grand jury was sold a bill of goods by the very person whose job it was to give them the information necessary to secure an indictment. This has been covered at length upthread. The place for credibility of competing claims to be tested is a courtroom in front of a judge and jury, not in front of a grand jury whose only job is to establish probable cause. As has been set out, at length, by both armchair and legal experts in this thread, all over the internet, and on TV, the facts are: Darren Wilson shot someone. There is ambiguity about what exactly happened when. This is probable cause.

McCulloch deliberately sabotaged the grand jury so no indictment would be returned. Analysis of his actions has been posted upthread--multiple analyses by multiple people--and I urge you to go read it, please.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:51 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


Roomthreeseventeen: Can someone explain to me if the Tamir Rice video is super sped up? The entire killing took less than 30 seconds?

Look up John T. Williams. Native guy shot in Seattle. First super fast police shooting like this i had heard of, and it was a friend of my moms. That's when I became aware of this new tactic.

I guess time is money, and those are taxpayer dollars so we can't be wasting them! Or something like that.

It is in no way sped up. They just show up and shoot as if it's crunch time. like fratboys getting to the beer store at 1:58 AM.

There's nothing to conclude but the fact that they arrived already knowing what they were going to do, and didn't want to waste any time getting it done. They seriously act like the fucking slave patrol.

That's the new paradigm. Or I guess, the old one coming home from a brief respite depending on how you look at it. Starting to think it never left, it's just more in the open now again for different reasons.
posted by emptythought at 1:53 PM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Tocts: Instead of using the distance to a subject as a guideline to prevent escalation, they use it as justification for escalation by intentionally moving within it.

The whole police training apparatus in this country is irreparably broken.


This may have been your point, but i don't think it's broken at all. It's broken in the way a carnival ring toss game is. It's working exactly as designed.

Cops are handed a guide that's broken, 3 laws of robotics style. The unspoken statement was "follow these rules and you can shoot anyone you want with impunity, as long as they're also an "undesirable""

This case seems to have proven that only the second part really matters, but the training apparatus was not broken before. Broken is the wrong word. It was meticulously designed to be unfair.
posted by emptythought at 1:59 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Darren Wilson shot someone. There is ambiguity about what exactly happened when. This is probable cause.

Um, no. That is not probable cause. It's been defined earlier in the thread, so I won't repeat it. Again, while I believe that there was no probable cause (based on the physical evidence and the testimony that's consistent with that evidence), I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that there was probable cause. But that probable cause needs more than ambiguity. It's a good thing that you're not a prosecutor, because there would be A LOT more prosecutions.
posted by learnsome at 2:01 PM on November 26, 2014


“Why believe Wilson's testimony that you linked?”

I believe the photos were not doctored. That'd take a conspiracy on the part of the medical examiner's office.
It’s my understanding that the fact there was a struggle is uncontested.

But I’m agnostic as far as his testimony. I couldn’t care less whether Wilson’s testimony is the unmitigated truth or a complete fabrication. Indeed, the way the prosecutor framed the evidence would be the more important element of any testimony to the grand jury.

But my position is that the substance of this particular event is not relevant to changing the ominpresent procedural circumstances that make police shooting young black men an inevitability.

Clear enough?
posted by Smedleyman at 2:02 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't understand what you're trying to accomplish here learnsome. I think you're showing some inconsistency here when you repeatedly shrug at Wilson's testimony by saying oh, you don't believe anything not corroborated by physical evidence but you have adjectives like grandiose for Johnson's testimony. But the drumbeat here, over and over across three threads now, has been lack of proper investigation and thoroughness in response.

So your original comment which seems to be your thesis here:

From day one, the left has tried to make the killing of Michael Brown some sort of cause celebre and an indictment of the larger criminal justice system. While I agree with them that we need a lot more scrutiny of police and incarceration practices, the effort to "abstract" the killing is all over this thread and every one on the Blue.

doesn't hold up against the repeated links above about other incidents where the same sort of shenanigans happen. Just the story of how an assault with a car was reported shows this sort of sloth and neglect. None of them seem to delve into the question of procedure that's allowing these killings of unarmed folks, whether it be triggered by Brown's contempt of cop or being in public with a toy gun or mentally ill and holding a knife and not in reach of anyone.

It's that very well supported abstraction of these neglectful issues across multiple incidents that allow for this non-issue of disputed assertions of Brown being shot in the back. The reason that could be a narrative at all was because of slipshod investigation. Rumors thrive in the absence of information, and the Ferguson authorities cultivated that absence. As have many other jurisdictions, over and over again.
posted by phearlez at 2:02 PM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Here's an example of a different policing approach and outcome (hint: the perp does not appear to be black).
posted by TwoStride at 2:03 PM on November 26, 2014


It really bothers me to see people framing this as being about "the left" and "the media narrative" and dismissing it as a manufactured controversy. This is about black folks having to be afraid for their lives because of state-sponsored violence.

(based on the physical evidence and the testimony that's consistent with that evidence)

Is there some particular reason you refuse to acknowledge that the police failed to collect the "physical evidence" that might contradict their story? Or do you just want to handwave that away as "mistakes were made"?
posted by dialetheia at 2:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


BTW, for those who haven't read the underlying documents, the AP's promising a lengthy story about all the made up testimony later today. See here: http://www.neurope.eu/news/wire/bc-ap-news-coverage-advisory-114.
posted by learnsome at 2:05 PM on November 26, 2014


Is there some particular reason you refuse to acknowledge that the police failed to collect the "physical evidence" that might contradict their story? Or do you just want to handwave that away as "mistakes were made"?

I agreed with that upthread (and favorited that comment for that reason). They definitely did not do a good job here. It's a pretty incompetent PD.
posted by learnsome at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2014


It really bothers me to see people framing this as being about "the left" and "the media narrative" and dismissing it as a manufactured controversy.

People is plural. You mean person.
posted by phearlez at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I agreed with that upthread (and favorited that comment for that reason). They definitely did not do a good job here. It's a pretty incompetent PD.

And yet that doesn't influence your interpretation of their physical evidence?
posted by dialetheia at 2:09 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a pretty incompetent PD.

Structural and Institutional Racism Exists Within Police Forces
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:10 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm going to need a map to the current position of the goalposts before continuing here.
posted by phearlez at 2:10 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


Here's an example of a different policing approach and outcome (hint: the perp does not appear to be black).

/derail

Felony menacing with a banana?

We're doomed.

/
posted by ryoshu at 2:14 PM on November 26, 2014


Ta-Nehisi Coates
‏@tanehisicoates

Racism is an actual tool in American history. It serves real purposes. It is not just "white people being mean to black people."
posted by audi alteram partem at 2:14 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


Um, no. That is not probable cause. It's been defined earlier in the thread, so I won't repeat it.
I know it's been pointed out, but worth mentioning again - the mere existence of reasonable people pointing out apparent holes and weird things all over the Wilson narrative - whether those are actually holes or not! - is proof positive that this should have gone to trial. That supports a finding of probable cause
naju said that. There is absolutely, per many legal experts, probable cause for an indictment here. McCulloch didn't want one, and performed in a totally bizarre way for a prosecutor in front of a grand jury. The STL PD didn't want one, and failed to investigate--not 'mistakes were made,' because 'mistake' implies that it was accidental. They deliberately did not investigate this crime properly.

A grand jury is not the place for evidence to be tested. A grand jury is where a prosecutor stands up and says "I have this evidence supporting this possible range of charges, do you agree?" It is not a place for the prosecutor to present the accused as just doing his job. It is not a place for the prosecutor to plant seeds of doubt about eyewitnesses. It is not a place for arguing--it is to present one side of the story, only, and to ask whether that set of facts supports an indictment.

It is not, in other words, a place for every single thing for McCulloch to have done.

Again, while I believe that there was no probable cause (based on the physical evidence and the testimony that's consistent with that evidence)

The evidence that wasn't collected because the ME's camera's batteries were dead? The physical evidence that Wilson had sole control of when he drove back alone after killing Michael Brown? The evidence from the hospital that shows his injuries weren't noteworthy? The evidence that police officers on the scene didn't even bother collecting? What evidence, exactly, are you talking about?

the AP's promising a lengthy story about all the made up testimony later today

That should make for interesting reading.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


And yet that doesn't influence your interpretation of their physical evidence?

Sure, it gives me pause, but the evidence I'm referring to are things that are unlikely to be fabricated (or have been independently tested). The contra would be to say that they're all lying and it's all made up. I'm just not a conspiracy theorist, so I guess YMMV.
posted by learnsome at 2:15 PM on November 26, 2014


(learnsome: I definitely see the problem I'm trying to describe as one found on all sides of this and many other issues. It's not a tendency I think anyone's completely immune to, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't guilty of doing it myself. But I do also think the tone and quality of public discourse/mass culture in America is especially well-tuned to exacerbate the problem right now, unfortunately.)
posted by saulgoodman at 2:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The contra would be to say that they're all lying and it's all made up.

No, the contra would be to say that they failed to collect evidence that would contradict their story, which is perfectly reasonable considering that they didn't even bother to take pictures or measurements for extremely flimsy reasons.
posted by dialetheia at 2:18 PM on November 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


Disingenuous people being contradictory or playing the other side in some weird Devils advocate way for its own sake seem to be reaching extra hard with this one, damn.

If you applied whatever machinery it is that moves the goalposts that quickly to a rail system, you'd solve transportation and the energy crisis in one shot.
posted by emptythought at 2:19 PM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Disingenuous people being contradictory or playing the other side in some weird Devils advocate way for its own sake seem to be reaching extra hard with this one, damn.

Calling me disingenuous? Or the rest of that? How is that fair argument? I see this over and over on the Blue when folks are challenged, frankly in a reasonable way. It really needs to stop (as FFFM continues to do it in this thread, even though I've abided by the instruction to stop).

And, for the record, I believe everything I've said. I'm out for the common good, just like you. No reaching on this side of the aisle.
posted by learnsome at 2:30 PM on November 26, 2014


Makes me wonder the last time he’d been in a physical conflict. Or trained for one. And in consideration of that, where’s his overwatch? That speaks volumes about how this came about.

That's what I kept seeing in this whole thing. Really really terrible training (which we can assume is force-wide, I bet) plus an Us vs Them internal story that's really easy to do when your population is as segregated as Ferguson's is.

For how to handle things differently, look at where I live, Richmond, California. It went from gang war central to ... well, peaceful is a stretch, but a heck of a lot better.

Did they do it by singing kumbaya? Sort of, yes. The cops showed up at the gang leaders' houses with a mediator and asked them for their help in dialing back the violence. (sort of carrot and stick, the way I see it. We know where you live + we're listening to you)

They train the heck out of their officers. They practice at the shooting range regularly. Their drills are every 6 weeks instead of once or twice a year.

They have neighborhood officers so that people get to know each other. They seem to have a no-aggressive body language rule, because they always take their sunglasses off when they talk to you and they don't cross their arms across their chests. (It's amazing how much difference the no sunglasses thing makes!)

They work really hard to try to get a very diverse police force- different races, men and women both.

They have an "absolutely never chase" policy. You call it in, they cordon off the area and they go slowly, door by door, and find the suspect. The idea is that adrenalin on the part of either the cop or the suspect is dangerous for everyone.

Every time there's a police shooting anywhere in the country (or here at home) they go over it and over it to figure out how it could have been handled differently.

They have at least one mental health expert on duty at all times, to go out with the officers when something seems mental health related (pretty common).

And they try to be as transparent as they can when officer fatalities do happen. One happened 6 weeks ago (the first in years) and the police chief was on the police facebook account immediately to tell as much as he could.

There are still problems but it is nothing like the war zone it used to be, and they did it by de-escalating, not by arming themselves like an occupying force.

As icing on the cake, the police chief is an openly gay man, married to a civil servant of a city a couple of towns away.

I have spent my whole life afraid of the police. This is the first town that this isn't true for, and it's not because the people they're facing aren't armed- they are heavily armed. There is another way to police. I hope the rest of the country takes notice.

EDIT: The link I attached is about a community organization that offers stipends to the most violent people in order to get them to turn their lives away from violence. It's not attached to the police at all. So all this has been a community effort- not just the police.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:30 PM on November 26, 2014 [97 favorites]


I have spent my whole life afraid of the police. This is the first town that this isn't true for, and it's not because the people they're facing aren't armed- they are heavily armed. There is another way to police. I hope the rest of the country takes notice.

That sounds like an AWESOME PD. I too hope that approach spreads across the country.
posted by learnsome at 2:32 PM on November 26, 2014


I know. If you'd told me I'd EVER be a cheerleader for a police department, I'd've told you you were crazy.

They're not perfect, but they're the best I've run into.

Also, they all wear body cameras as of this year.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


They have an "absolutely never chase" policy. You call it in, they cordon off the area and they go slowly, door by door, and find the suspect. The idea is that adrenalin on the part of either the cop or the suspect is dangerous for everyone.

That sounds just incredibly smart. Like, evidence-based policing , maybe. I hope that becomes a model.
posted by Miko at 2:44 PM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Re: probable cause, many legal folks have weighed in on that and I think there's a clear consensus. For one example, Jeffrey Toobin, legal analyst for the New Yorker and CNN, writes: "By submitting all the evidence to the grand jury, [McCulloch] added to the perception that this process represented an independent evaluation of the evidence. But there is little doubt that he remained largely in control of the process; aggressive advocacy by prosecutors could have persuaded the grand jurors to vote for some kind of indictment. The standard for such charges—probable cause, or more probable than not—is generally a very easy hurdle. If McCulloch’s lawyers had simply pared down the evidence to that which incriminated Wilson, they would have easily obtained an indictment." (emphasis mine.)

A bit about probable cause from a law blog: "There’s a reason this blog was started with the name 'Probable Cause,' and the half-joking tagline 'The Legal Blog with the Really Low Standard of Review.' The reason was my disgust, upon going to law school, and particularly upon becoming engaged in the so-called 'criminal justice system' in my second year of law school, when I learned that 'probable cause' actually only meant 'possible reason.' There I learned that 'probable cause' was a 'standard of review' – an approach to evaluating some action – that was so low as to virtually guarantee that the result would be 'there is (nearly always) ‘probable cause’ to pursue the matter further.'... When I explain 'probable cause' to my clients in the context of what California refers to as a 'preliminary hearing,' I explain it to them like this: 'Probable cause' means that a crime might have been committed, and you might be the person who committed the crime. It doesn’t matter if there is also a possibility – even a strong possibility – that you are not guilty of any crime. 'Probable cause' just means you might have committed the crime. The judge will therefore say that we need to have a trial to find out whether, or not, you actually did commit the crime (or crimes) of which you are accused."

A commenter on a public defender blog notes: "In the hundreds of Missouri criminal cases I have handled, ANY evidence supporting each element of an offense was enough to meet the probable cause burden…If that same burden were applied to Wilson he would be sitting in the justice center right now."
posted by naju at 2:51 PM on November 26, 2014 [18 favorites]


So it turns out our awesome police chief is on the board that's doing the Ferguson civil rights probe. I had no idea.

Also, I can't use the word "probe" without my inner 12 year old cackling.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:53 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


It is despicable of McCulloch to take advantage of the fact that many people don't really understand the grand jury process or the probable cause standard in order to create the impression in people's minds that something vaguely like a trial, with attendant legitimacy and authority, took place. When what happened wasn't just unlike a typical or proper grand jury process, but was also a perfect example of everything that is not supposed to happen at trial because when it happens (when the presentation of evidence is one-sided, when there is no adversarial engagement, when there is no control over what evidence is considered and how, when roles are muddled) there is no legitimacy, no authority, and no truth at the end of the process.
posted by prefpara at 2:57 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wow, small_ruminant. If I'd grown up around a PD like that, the idea of becoming a cop wouldn't so totally alien to me. Sounds awesome!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:57 PM on November 26, 2014




I guess I wasn't done. Every single protection, rule, and process that we put in place to try to make trials more likely to result in justice and truth was absent from this grand jury process. There was no judge. There was no one advocating for the victim, or for the people. (The prosecutor speaks for, and represents, the people. Did McCulloch represent and speak for the people of Ferguson at this grand jury?) There was no measure taken to ensure that evidence was presented that was admissible, i.e. reliable, and presented with proper context and explication. Witness testimony was not tested. Improper questions were asked, including leading questions that suggested better answers to the witness. The grand jury was not given adequate instructions. There was no oversight or check. Nothing that happened was consistent with any of the norms or methods we have developed over centuries in our continuing quest to arrive at the truth and to mete out justice. No justice. No peace.
posted by prefpara at 3:01 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


http://bigstory.ap.org/article/078c82ad45ff4ec6aa1c7744dfa7df14/grand-jury-documents-rife-inconsistencies

Here's the AP story I promised earlier. It documents just a few of the outright fabrications of Johnson and others (that fueled the media narrative). It does so by actually reviewing the GJ documents, rather than relying on casual dismissals of the entire power structure. I know it's hard to get into the weeds, but these documents are eye-opening, if all you've heard is the media narrative.
posted by learnsome at 3:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always feel very uncomfortable repeating "no justice no peace" as a white person. The burden of "no peace" does not fall on me. I just want to acknowledge that there is no peace right now for the people of Ferguson or for black Americans. I mean, not in their hearts. But also, literally, no peace because they are being killed and oppressed and discriminated against. How can there be peace for them? "No justice no peace" typically means, to me, if there is no justice for the oppressed, there will be no peace for those in power. Right now it just seems that there is no justice for the people of Ferguson, and also no peace for them. But perhaps too much peace for those in power.
posted by prefpara at 3:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hope this renews interest ing the Tamir Rice case :
Video Released Proving Cops Didn’t Wait One Second Before Shooting 12-Year-Old Holding Toy Gun
posted by jeffburdges at 3:08 PM on November 26, 2014






[the media focus on the riots, grant respectful interviews to Darren Wilson, say Brown was no angel] for those of you deluded by the media narrative, here's a story from the Associated Press
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:15 PM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Tamir, 12 yrs old:

Black. Check
Male. Check
Cop adds 8 years to the black male child's age due to the imagined hulk sized demon that lurks within every white cop's psyche.

Result: all too predictable.

Up next: No accountability. Rinse and repeat.
posted by futz at 3:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


Systemic racism is not a media narrative nor is it a "casual dismissal of the entire power structure." It is a detailed, evidence-based assessment of the way our society works.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:18 PM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm white and I always guess black folks to be younger than they are. Why does every black person I know have such great skin, even at age 50?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:20 PM on November 26, 2014


The PBS link from rhizome is a much more informative and unbiased presentation than the AP story. There's a wide amount of difference in the eyewitness testimony. What we and the jury needed, rather than a big evidence dump followed by prosecutors nudging the jury in one direction, is for competing lawyers in an adversarial process to spend time - months of hard work and additional crucial discovery - corralling this huge amount of conflicting data into narratives that make sense and are backed up by evidence. That's how it works. We were robbed of that.
posted by naju at 3:24 PM on November 26, 2014 [21 favorites]


In addition to the AP story linked above, there's going to be a big CNN story tonight about the fraud behind the private autopsy of Brown too. Anderson Cooper will have that one. Like I said, the media narrative is crumbling quickly.
posted by learnsome at 3:27 PM on November 26, 2014


The AP story doesn't exactly bury the lede, but it fails to highlight it:

An Associated Press review of thousands of pages of grand jury documents reveals numerous examples of statements made during the shooting investigation that were inconsistent, fabricated or provably wrong. Prosecutors exposed these inconsistencies before the jurors, which likely influenced their decision not to indict Wilson in Brown's death.

*Prosecutors* exposed these inconsistencies? Seems to me that if you actually *want* to prosecute, you'd throw out the testimony you already know is "fabricated or provably wrong" and show the jury the credible testimony that supports the case for the prosecution -- that is, the case for having an actual trial.
McCulloch was cynically maniupulating public opinion in his statement. People are meant to take away the idea "oh, well, a lot of witness statements were unreliable, so, not guilty". It's been working pretty well, too.

#witness40
posted by uosuaq at 3:28 PM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's extremely disturbing to see that people can be more concerned about witness inconsistencies, which I imagine happen anytime you have forty people witness a terrifying event, than about an unarmed man being shot without even so much as a proper investigation.
posted by dialetheia at 3:29 PM on November 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


hooray, the police are good after all. now we can focus on the real problem: black people rioting for no reason
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:30 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah most of us lawyers, especially my crim defence friends, are not exactly surprised that a bunch of witnesses exaggerated or falsely remembered or whatever. It is a fact of psychology - people are super-bad at remembering, they get influenced by the story around them. Such is life. Eyewitness testimony is bullshit. It always has been, it always will be.

A prosecutor using that as exculpatory? That's weird.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:33 PM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


This is totally normal. No one is ever indicted (or convicted) on the basis of inconsistent testimony from shady witnesses testifying to get deals on their own criminal charges. Calm down everyone. Unrelated question, when is the next episode of Serial?
posted by prefpara at 3:37 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


*Prosecutors* exposed these inconsistencies?

Seriously, that's the most fucked up thing I've heard yet about this complete sham of a legal process. I thought he just sounded like he was playing Wilson's defense attorney, but no, apparently that's actually what he thought his role was here, and that's exactly how he approached the grand jury proceedings. Absolutely appalling.
posted by dialetheia at 3:42 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


A prosecutor using that as exculpatory? That's weird.

I think it's likely McCulloch and his staff are well aware of the 40+ years of scholarship on the topic. (Related) Given what I've read about prosecutors, I don't think it's beyond question that he would use unreliability when it suits his goals and dance around it when it doesn't.
posted by rhizome at 3:43 PM on November 26, 2014


I've mentioned previously that actuaries have some authority over this problem because police departments must buy insurance.

What if insurance rates for police departments skyrocketed when they got SWAT training, bought armored vehicles, etc. but remained low for good departments, departments with police body cameras that upload to the cloud, etc.

Ideally, we might force police departments to accept weapons that could not be fired until activated by remote legal personnel, like a prosecutor or a judge, with live visual via cameras. We should of course rebuild the legal theory around the Second Amendment, Posse Comitatus Act, etc. to say that police may not exercise force beyond what a normal person maybe use without authorization from remote legal personnel, but sans legal reform efforts financial efforts might work.

Anyways, there is an opportunity now to push the financial costs of running bad police force through the roof, making police departments like Ferguson untenable.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:50 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think it's likely McCulloch and his staff are well aware of the 40+ years of scholarship on the topic.

I figured they were just assholes, but who knows. Could be both.
posted by uosuaq at 3:52 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


What if insurance rates for police departments skyrocketed when they got SWAT training, bought armored vehicles, etc. but remained low for good departments, departments with police body cameras that upload to the cloud, etc.
Then a lot more dangerously unarmed actuaries would hulk out and give fine upstanding police officers no option but to shoot them a dozen times.
posted by Flunkie at 3:53 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Given what I've read about prosecutors, I don't think it's beyond question that he would use unreliability when it suits his goals and dance around it when it doesn't.

But he's the prosecutor! Why should his goal be to *not* prosecute? Why should he be in there making the argument that they *shouldn't* pursue this? My understanding is that if he doesn't believe he should make the case at all, he shouldn't have convened the grand jury in the first place. Once he did, it became his job to present the case for prosecution, right?

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, morally speaking, you shouldn't need much of the witness testimony anyway to make the case for a trial - the facts speak for themselves. He shot an unarmed man SEVEN TIMES and fired 12 bullets. That alone should warrant a full investigation and transparent, public trial regardless of the circumstances.
posted by dialetheia at 3:57 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's beyond question that he would use unreliability when it suits his goals

But his goal is supposed to be to prosecute, not defend. The DA's office should be automatically recused from cases involving police. Police killings should be prosecuted and investigated by a third party. Maybe this needs to be under the Attorney General's office for a while considering the astounding number of people killed by police in the country.
posted by Golden Eternity at 4:00 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]




The Onion's Tips For Being An Unarmed Black Teen:
Shy away from dangerous, heavily policed areas.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 4:14 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


When I was much younger, I remember a conversation with my father in which he told me "the law, like Caesar's wife, must be above reproach." Not understanding his reference at the time, I asked him what he meant by that and his answer is something that I have remembered ever since and been thinking about recently.

It's not enough, he meant, for the system to operate and reach its results, whatever they may be. It is also vital that it be seen to do so in a matter that is open, consistent, and fairly applied because our system is intended to derive its authority from the consent of the governed. When that consent crumbles -- when people feel that the system is rigged, and that they have no recourse through the courts, they look to other solutions and generally the other alternatives are not good ones.

Whatever you think of the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, can we at least all agree that in their actions the Ferguson Police Department, St. Louis County Sheriff's Department, and St. Louis County Prosecutor have utterly failed in their responsibility to conduct the investigation of the events surrounding the death of Michael Brown and the decision whether or not to press criminal charges against his killer in a manner that is publicly seen to be open, consistent, and fairly applied and that it is not any mystery why things like:
  • failing to immediately and thoroughly investigate during the most critical period following the shooting
  • not producing an incident report concerning a officer-involved killing,
  • withholding any coherent explanation of events for weeks and only releasing incomplete and fragmentary information that inflamed public speculation,
  • and most recently this, to say the least, unusual performance in front of the grand jury
have caused many in the community of Ferguson and across the nation to have serious doubts about the course of justice in this case?

I wasn't there and the evidence which would tell us what actually happened the night Michael Brown was killed was never collected and so I am not sure we will ever prove or disprove whether Darren Wilson's actions met the legal standard for justifiable use of deadly force by a police officer. Nearly every irregularity in the investigation can be interpreted as shielding Wilson, and so I have my suspicions, but am open to at least the possibility that I'm wrong and that a person of goodwill can hold a position on the matter with which I disagree.

But I'm 100% convinced that the "investigation" and "prosecution" of the incident were conducted with not even disregard but an actual sneering, bordering on malicious, contempt towards community confidence in the outcome, with 100% predictable results. If you don't at least think that something is very rotten in Ferguson, I have no idea how you can hold that opinion.
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:29 PM on November 26, 2014 [75 favorites]


I was wondering what was the reason for that snarled traffic on I-5 - thankfully there are some side routes.

The thing that really boggles my mind though, is - what's the point of shutting down the highways? If you have anger at the cops, why not try surrounding police stations? All shutting down the highways does is punish random citizens trying to get home to their families.
posted by corb at 4:37 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just how dangerous is fuck, anyway?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 4:38 PM on November 26, 2014


[A few comments removed, please don't start rehashing shit from upthread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:39 PM on November 26, 2014


For a feel good moment I'm sure we could all use...a local Ferguson business owner and WOC whose bakery was smashed up in the rioting posted a gofundme looking for 20K to help repair the damage. It currently stands at 175K.
posted by corb at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


what's the point of shutting down the highways?

As I understand it, one of the reasons is to draw the attention of people who are otherwise so privileged that they could just ignore the whole thing. It's also to demonstrate that the people can still have some meaningful effect on the systems around them. It's an affirmation of societal power from people who feel otherwise powerless, to me.
posted by dialetheia at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2014 [32 favorites]


Maybe sometimes, to some people, it seems like all the cops do is punish random citizens trying to get home to their families?
posted by uosuaq at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


Also for those of you whose eyes are bleeding, PBS has compiled a quick chart of all the witness testimonies and what their commonalities are.
posted by corb at 4:47 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


All shutting down the highways does is punish random citizens trying to get home to their families.

1. There's no such thing as "random citizens" - just citizens with different levels of privilege.

2. Shutting down a highway turns it from "some brown people's problem" into "everyone's problem" - which is exactly what it should be.
posted by jammy at 4:52 PM on November 26, 2014 [17 favorites]


You know, even the coverage of these protests has completely followed the script where everything black people do is terrifying and threatening and violent, but violence by white people is hardly worthy of notice.

You've all heard a LOT about the looting and rioting, right? Well, how much have you heard about the fact that Michael Brown's family's church was burnt to the ground, probably by white supremacists? Or how about DeAndre Joshua, one of Dorian Johnson's friends, who was shot in the head Tuesday night in his car and his body was lit on fire with gasoline and burned mere yards from the site of Michael Brown's death? I find it extremely hard to believe that such a vicious murder would be a mere byproduct of rioting.

So we all wail and gnash our teeth about property damage to Walgreens, and "why are these people destroying their community," while people are being murdered and churches are being burned by racist assholes with hardly any notice at all. It's absolutely shameful.
posted by dialetheia at 5:01 PM on November 26, 2014 [46 favorites]


We shut down Brooklyn Bridge in the nineties when the Giuliani administration began to reveal itself as the breeding ground for all the welfare-dismantlement programs of the Clinton era. I fully support it. Then again, I'm not driving anywhere and I should feel more sympathetic to people who are waylaid by such pr