Home > General > The Ferguson message…has the focus been lost?

The Ferguson message…has the focus been lost?

August 18th, 2014

Thanks thugs.  I now have to fight with Mr. Moonhowler over some issues that I consider fairly important.  I have had to defend Al Sharpton, I have had to explain why the teen death rate in Chicago is a separate issue from Ferguson.  I have had to talk about proportion–why your life isn’t an even exchange for a box of cigars.

I am not sure who all is rioting, looting, and shooting in Ferguson.  It might not even be local folks.  All I know is, when rioting, looting and shooting starts, the city of Ferguson loses.  People stop listening to real problems and focus on behaviors that have become icons of “otherness.”  Seriously, we shouldn’t be talking about the murder rate in Chicago among black youths, why Al Sharpton is down there or any of those things.  We should be talking about process.

Do cops make mistakes?  Yes.  They are human beings.  However, the problem seems to be how this tragic situation was handled.  I am still not ready, in my own mind, to declare guilt or innocence to any of the parties involved.  I need more information.  Why the hell is it taking so long?

We now have the highway patrol, (I am assuming the equivalence of the Virginia State Police.) and the national guard called out.  This situation is serious and there will be NO winners.

What have the protests done to advance Michael Brown’s “cause?”  Can violence and looting EVER help a situation?  I say no.  It does quite the opposite.  It makes us lose focus on the real problem and all to quickly focus on race and “other.”

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  1. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 11:31 | #1

    “I am not sure who all is rioting, looting, and shooting in Ferguson. ”

    It’s nihilistic, angry, self-destructive young black men. They talk openly about it on social media.

    It’s true that the police over there haven’t handled every aspect of this perfectly. But that’s hardly the root cause here.

    The root cause is that thugs are living in Ferguson, the same guys who make East St. Louis a bad place to live year-in, year-out. They’re angry and nihilistic and self-destructive – like Michael Brown himself was. Let’s not pretend that if someone had done this or that a little bit differently than this problem wouldn’t exist. Let’s not pretend that someone who lives to throw molotav cocktails and loot and burn is someone who can actually be handled well.

  2. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 11:37 | #2

    The “peaceful protesters” need to give it a rest for a while, given their infiltration by criminals and terrorists. Let the DOJ work the case.

    • August 18th, 2014 at 14:07 | #3

      Rick, I am sure there are people out there whose every intention is to be peaceful. Past that, I agree with you. They aren
      t even sure whaqt they are protesting at this point. They protested. They were heard. DOJ and the governor of the state are involved. Right now, we all need facts, not emotion.

  3. Starry flights
    August 18th, 2014 at 14:13 | #4

    Everything was settling down until the local cops released the store video. What purpose did hat serve? The local police cannot be trusted

  4. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 14:27 | #5

    Starry, the general sentiment in your post is what I’m trying to argue against. You’re trying to explain this behavior as if it’s the fault of the local police department. As if the release of a store robbery video – a commonplace thing – explains people destroying their own community. It’s as if you’re trying to make sense of this by looking for a white villain to blame.

    The police in Ferguson may be bad, may be racist. That doesn’t explain a lot of what goes on there, though. The self-destructive behavior in general has little to do with police brutaility or mistreatment.

    The idea of kids destroying their own community in the East St. Louis area happens day by day. What you’re seeing now is a more intense version of it, like time lapse photography of a plant’s growth that makes it easier to see what is happening.

  5. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 14:34 | #6

    On a conciliatory note, I do agree with you that the local police leadership appears untrustworthy. But their officers are going through hell down there right now, risking their lives to protect hostile people from themselves …

  6. blue
    August 18th, 2014 at 15:50 | #7

    I’m with Starry. Hang him now and things will settle down. We don’t need no legal system here – its too slow – just hang him now. There were witnesses, one of whom was with him at the robbery and by the way, what the heck was a police officer doing telling a kid – a very big kid- to get out of the road for anyway. Police do not need to hassle kids in their own community. And if somebody disrespects an officer – well, so what. We don’t need no cross examinations or foresnsics – we have the race baiter lawyers for the family already making the case in public and – and then complaining about the lack of a city response – that can only come out in a courtroom. I say arrest him even if they believe him- like they did Zimerman. I say riot before they make it sound like the kid had issues in the community and with the police. No, Ferguson does not need a police Dept to protect stores, they are all going to leave now anyway. I mean really, shooting anybody 6 times – he had is hands up while coming at that officer, what would you have done. If he would just say he was sorry sort of like if only Zimerman had thanked Trayvon for bashing his head in.

    • August 18th, 2014 at 19:31 | #8

      what a freaking stupid thing to say.

      Why are we still talking about Zimmerman and Martin? The only thing in common with the Ferguson case is a dead black kid. I guess we treat all situations with dead black kids the same?

      Blue, you do win the prize.

  7. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 16:50 | #9

    Let’s remember that the officer almost surely violated protocol. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where it makes sense for him to be shooting out of his car at an unarmed person.

    What happened may not have been premeditated murder. But it’s something that the officer has got to be accountable for. I feel bad about that; I wouldn’t want to do his job, and if (this is speculation) some kid grabbed for my gun, I’d possibly unload on him. But that’s not what officers are allowed to do. And when they kill someone in anger, there has to be a price to be paid.

    I don’t agree with much of the rhetoric the protesters use, but on the base issue of whether there’s a coverup attempt going on, it seems likely that there is.

    • August 18th, 2014 at 19:37 | #10

      I agree, Rick. Yes, there does seem to be an attempted cover up. There often is in these kinds of cases. The idea of “we take care of our own” is powerful and not unusual.

  8. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:43 | #11

    I see now the the officer’s story is out in some detail. Says Brown reached through his window and tried to get his gun, they struggled, the gun went off once in the car, and Brown ran away. The officer says he then got out and pursued. Says Brown then turned around, said something like “you won’t arrest me”, and ran at him. he shot him dead, and by all accounts the body came to rest two to three feet in front of the officer.

    I would hope that ballistics could indicate whether – given that the body ends up 2 to 3 feet away – Brown was moving rapidly when shot, or standing in place?

    It seems to me that if the officer was shooting while chasing him, that violates protocol and is actionable.

    As to whether this is murder, I’d want to gather all witness statements and then measure them against the objective evidence before I made a decision.

    If Brown really ran at an officer who had a gun drawn at him, that is fairly bizarre behavior and bears some explanation.

  9. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:45 | #12

    Anyway, no one is happier than the good folks at CNN. This type of black-white murder mystery is a proven ratings grabber.

  10. Rick Bentley
    August 18th, 2014 at 17:47 | #13

    This reminds me of Martin-Zimmerman in that there are no heros.

    At best, the officer (Wilson) was reckless to the point of criminal liability.

    At best, Brown is a thug with a death wish.

  11. Starryflights
    August 18th, 2014 at 21:41 | #14

    Rick Bentley :
    Anyway, no one is happier than the good folks at CNN. This type of black-white murder mystery is a proven ratings grabber.

    Except maybe Fox News

    • August 19th, 2014 at 05:42 | #15

      Oh God yes. Faux News is orgasmic over this. Can’t you hear the great, loud, “newsy” moans of delight from over at Rockerfeller Center?

  12. Wolve
    August 18th, 2014 at 21:54 | #16

    Ferguson is nothing like East St. Louis. Use your Google Maps street view and look at the Canfield Green Apartments where Brown was living. And take a look at the rest of the town. Blue collar and lower middle class. Most of it decently kept up at all economic levels. A long-time typical bedroom burb for St. Louis with strip malls for shopping and entertainment. I’ll posit many Blacks moved here to escape the crime and decay in North St. Louis city. Ferguson is hardly a ghetto slum. On the other hand, the old downtown of East St. Louis, Illinois, looks sort of like it was bombed in a war. The last time we were there a couple of years ago there were actually mature trees growing out of the upper windows of some of the old buildings still standing.

    The problem I see in Ferguson is that politics have not caught up to demographics. The mayor, the city council, and the police force are almost all white in a town where 68% of the people are Black. The last municipal election had only 12% voting. For some reason, Black participation has not responded. Some say it is because there are so many renters and because of the current economy. That town needs some Blacks with true civic dedication and political organizational smarts. Good to see that, in the middle of all the riots and protests, there was a Black Ferguson girl with the good sense to set up a voter registration table. What we do not need is some radical outsider newsperson writing about the old-time racist divide in St. Louis and pulling up a photo from a youthful racial clash way back in 1949. Seems like some of these media cats are trying to throw oil on the fire.

    Yes, you guessed it. A big part of Mrs. W’s family tree has been in St. Louis and Metro St. Louis for nearly 200 years.
    as been in St. Louis and Metro St. Louis for nearly 200 years.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 05:50 | #17

      This Ferguson situation has moved far beyond Michael Brown. First off, No one knows yet what really happened, even though they think they do.

      However, each day there are protests, my support wanes. I think what pushed me over the edge was seeing protestors pelting MSNBC reporter Chris Hayes with rocks. No one person is more fair than Chris Hayes. Sorry, unacceptable. It also didn’t help that some of the protestors had scarfs over their faces a la Gaza strip style. 500 giant step backwards.

  13. Wolve
    August 18th, 2014 at 21:55 | #18

    Excuse the unintended coda.

  14. Starry flights
    August 19th, 2014 at 08:43 | #19

    There better be a damn good reason for a cop shooting an unarmed man six times!

  15. Cargosquid
    August 19th, 2014 at 11:54 | #20

    Reports are coming in.
    The officer in question suffered facial fractures in his ….interaction…… with Brown.

    More witnesses are confirming the officer’s side of the story.

    The news people should retract the story put out by Brown’s accomplice.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 12:46 | #21

      Why should they retract it? Its important that the story is out there. All the stories should be out there. How else can it be sorted out?

    • August 19th, 2014 at 12:48 | #22

      You also have to ask youself why “stories” are just coming in. It happened a week ago.

  16. Cargosquid
    August 19th, 2014 at 11:57 | #23

    Hit submit too soon….

    Also… Let me state that I think that the Ferguson cops are incompetent and corrupt. Corrupt as in that they have decided that they are above the law.

    Their reactions to being recorded and their militarizing of their police force show that they are no a community police force any longer.

    Mark Steyn also has an interesting point. Where’s the Dashcam?
    http://www.steynonline.com/6524/cigars-but-not-close

    • August 19th, 2014 at 12:44 | #24

      We don’t have dashcams in PWC either. We should but we don’t. Apparently the powers that be don’t think there is enough money.

  17. Rick Bentley
    August 19th, 2014 at 14:07 | #25

    “Ferguson is hardly a ghetto slum. ”

    Well, I know someone who drives in there for work once a week; they say it’s scary in places. Some of the pictures and videos that I’ve seen look pretty bad. There does appear to be an underside to it that is ghetto slum.

  18. Cargosquid
    August 19th, 2014 at 14:35 | #26

    @Moon-howler
    Funny how they have money for all sorts of other goodies for the cops…but a 1500 dollar dash cam isn’t one of them.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 15:26 | #27

      Not sure that we have a lot of goodies for our cops. The old chief believed in hiring personnel over toys. Supposedly that is what the cops wanted but who knows.

  19. ed myers
    August 19th, 2014 at 18:48 | #28

    I’m curious how all those stand-your-ground folks reconcile people bringing guns to the Ferguson protest. The citizens feel their lives are threatened by police so there should be no complaints about shooting back when police attack the protestor’s position to force them to retreat, right? That’s the basic premise of SYG….you don’t have to retreat in the face of illegal force.

    This is a a good case study for the 2A zealots to show how arms in the hands of people resisting a tyrannical government have made Ferguson a better place to be in the past 10 days. The ability to riot and loot with guns and firebombs is why we can’t let the government disarm us! More guns for everyone!

    Seriously, the non-violent protesters were doing a great job raising their concerns and collecting political goodwill until gun owners showed up and started shooting and immediately drowned out sympathy for their message. Too bad.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 20:16 | #29

      Violence is turning a lot of people off. My sympathies are now …well…almost non-existent I think watching Chris Hayes have rocks thrown at him pushed me over the edge.

  20. Emma
    August 19th, 2014 at 21:27 | #30

    @Cargosquid My LEO child would love a camera. It would weed out the bad cops really quick, and protect and keep the good ones good. Win-win for the police force and for the citizens they serve.

    Nope, better to just leave them hamstrung. I guess that makes us all safer. You can’t imagine my anxiety level these days with so much cop hatred flying around before all the facts are known.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 22:23 | #31

      That cop hatred is also affecting people who don’t usually have bad feelings about cops.

      In fact, I said to someone tonight that yes, there are bad cops. Every occupation has bad members. However, PWC cops are a cut above in training and recruitment standards. Charlie Deane saw to that and I expect Chief Hudson is continuing that tradition. Standards are much tougher/

      Not every place has professional police officers like we do. I consider us lucky. Maybe having dashcams should be an election issue this next cycle.

      Emma is right. Win/win.

  21. blue
    August 19th, 2014 at 21:51 | #32

    It has been suggested that if Brown would have just stepped to the curb as appropriately requested by officer Wilson NONE OF THIS WOULD BE GOING ON!

    Nope, he robbed a store and unless you believe that officer Wilson fractured his own face assulted that officer. It has also been suggested that the riots are due to the fact that Mike Brown – based on 4 witnesses – one of whom was a part of the robbery was (a) shot in the back and (b) was shot with his hands up. Nope. 13 witnesses say different and the forensics support them- not that CNN, who is culpable for this whole thing, want to report that.

    They will arrest Wilson within two days – they have to. It will be another Zimmerman political trial. Only this time they have to convict.

    • August 19th, 2014 at 22:14 | #33

      If Officer Wilson is innocent, and I am not so sure he isn’t, then it is simply immoral to convict him. He should leave now and go live on the French Riviera.

  22. Starryflights
    August 19th, 2014 at 22:09 | #34

    @blue
    If that’s the case, then why didn’t the police simply state all these facts 11 days ago? Why did the police leave his body in the street for five hours, then rolled in with armored vehicles, body armor, automatic weapons and gassed people in their homes? Ferguson isn’t Fallujah, buddy.

  23. blue
    August 19th, 2014 at 22:32 | #35

    @Starryflights
    Clearly you know less about law enforcement and crime scene protection than most other things.
    That said, no lawyer would let him talk now. In the heat of the lynch mob, they need to get it right.

    But I stand with my prediction. He will be charged and incarcerated – like Zimmerman was – as a cost of peace. That is Holder’s mission to Ferguson. They will then argue that the one shot in the arm could have been while Brown was walking away – even as the forensics folks say it does not show that and they will then charge him with a violation of protocol to convict.

    • August 20th, 2014 at 02:17 | #36

      You are certainly more cynical than I am. @Blue

      Zimmerman was not a sworn officer. He couldn’t make the grade. He wasn’t “on duty.”

      Actually, Starry asks some good questions.

      Cut the put-downs. Clearly he didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

  24. Rick Bentley
    August 20th, 2014 at 11:38 | #37

    Holder’s statement yesterday was measured and excellent. Not a big fan of Eric Holder but he did inspire confidence with his statement.

  25. Rick Bentley
    August 20th, 2014 at 14:51 | #39

    He wrote this and it ran in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch :

    Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.

    At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened.

    Today, I will be in Ferguson to be briefed on the federal civil rights investigation that I have closely monitored since I launched it more than one week ago. I will meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case.

    The full resources of the Department of Justice have been committed to the investigation into Michael Brown’s death. This inquiry will take time to complete, but we have already taken significant steps. Approximately 40 FBI agents and some of the Civil Rights Division’s most experienced prosecutors have been deployed to lead this process, with the assistance of the United States Attorney in St. Louis. Hundreds of people have already been interviewed in connection with this matter. On Monday, at my direction, a team of federal medical examiners conducted an independent autopsy.

    We understand the need for an independent investigation, and we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson. In order to begin the healing process, however, we must first see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Although these acts have been committed by a very small minority — and, in many cases, by individuals from outside Ferguson — they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice. And they interrupt the deeper conversation that the legitimate demonstrators are trying to advance.

    The Justice Department will defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told. But violence cannot be condoned. I urge the citizens of Ferguson who have been peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters, vandals and others seeking to inflame tensions and sow discord.

    Law enforcement has a role to play in reducing tensions, as well. As the brother of a retired law enforcement officer, I know firsthand that our men and women in uniform perform their duties in the face of tremendous threats and significant personal risk. They put their lives on the line every day, and they often have to make split-second decisions.

    At the same time, good law enforcement requires forging bonds of trust between the police and the public. This trust is all-important, but it is also fragile. It requires that force be used in appropriate ways. Enforcement priorities and arrest patterns must not lead to disparate treatment under the law, even if such treatment is unintended. And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

    Over the years, we have made significant progress in ensuring that this is the case. But progress is not an endpoint; it is a measure of effort and of commitment. Constructive dialogue should continue — but it must also be converted into concrete action. And it is painfully clear, in cities and circumstances across our great nation, that more progress, more dialogue, and more action is needed.

    This is my pledge to the people of Ferguson: Our investigation into this matter will be full, it will be fair, and it will be independent. And beyond the investigation itself, we will work with the police, civil rights leaders, and members of the public to ensure that this tragedy can give rise to new understanding — and robust action — aimed at bridging persistent gaps between law enforcement officials and the communities we serve. Long after the events of Aug. 9 have receded from the headlines, the Justice Department will continue to stand with this community.

    As we move forward together, I ask for the public’s cooperation and patience. And I urge anyone with information related to the shooting to contact the FBI by dialing 800-CALL-FBI, option 4.

  26. Wendy
    August 21st, 2014 at 06:47 | #40

    Cargosquid :
    @Moon-howler
    Funny how they have money for all sorts of other goodies for the cops…but a 1500 dollar dash cam isn’t one of them.

    It’s not just the camera it’s the infrastructure needed to collect, maintain, review and release the data collected. All video has to be reviewed by someone at the end of each shift, catalogued and stored on some server. Then the FOIAS, lawyer requests…. TASER offers a nice option with cloud storage and maintenance all court “certified” but quite expensive. And there’s the security aspects of putting this on the cloud.

    Buying and mounting the camera is the easy part.

    • August 21st, 2014 at 07:49 | #41

      It is beginning to sound like a million per car for those webcams. Slap one on an officer and double that?

  27. Second Alamo
    August 21st, 2014 at 07:28 | #42

    Why is it that all the video clips I’ve seen from witnesses only catch the scene after Brown was dead in the road? So no one felt it interesting enough to hit the record button when the first shots went off? No one has an image of where Brown was when he stopped running away versus where he fell dead? Two photos would explain a lot, but may not back up the robber/witness story that instigated this demonstration.

    • August 21st, 2014 at 07:55 | #43

      Dunno. Maybe no one thought there was anything newsworthy before hand?

  28. Rick Bentley
    August 21st, 2014 at 08:38 | #44

    “Why is it that all the video clips I’ve seen from witnesses only catch the scene after Brown was dead in the road?”

    Supposedly police were going door-to-door immediately after, trying to gather up any video footage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some.

    With or without it, we have a lot of witnesses that say the officer was firing his gun while running after Brown. I don’t think any narrative can hold here that makes this a justified shooting.

  29. Cargosquid
    August 21st, 2014 at 14:41 | #45

    Holder met with Brown’s family.
    I wonder if Holder will meet with the cop’s family.

  30. Lyssa
    August 21st, 2014 at 15:44 | #46

    Since they are in hiding they are unlikely to want the media following Holder? Just a guess.

  31. Furby McPhee
    August 22nd, 2014 at 15:24 | #47

    Much like the George Zimmerman case, these stories are always fun to watch people run wild with their own theories and “facts”. Wiser heads will wait until more facts are available and make up their minds from there.

    I will say that Officer “Go F- yourself” should be relieved of duty. (ie. the cop that pointed his gun at protesters because they were filming him.) It’s hard to see how there’s another side to that story, especially when you see how fast his boss runs over to get him to raise his weapon and get off the line.

    • August 22nd, 2014 at 19:46 | #48

      There are good cops and bad cops. Most are good people. We need to remember though that they are people. People have their limitations. Probably most of them wanted to say ” go F yourself.” I wanted to from my own living room. (and I confess, I did say that.)

  32. middleman
    August 25th, 2014 at 17:56 | #49

    Cargosquid :
    Holder met with Brown’s family.
    I wonder if Holder will meet with the cop’s family.

    Wow. Maybe Holder met with Brown’s family because their son is dead? Just a guess.

  33. middleman
    August 25th, 2014 at 18:10 | #50

    We all need to wait for the federal investigation to see what the facts are- you’re not going to get them from the local police. They will protect their officer no matter what. I’m not saying the officer is guilty of anything, just that we can’t depend on the local police to investigate this.

    Of course, there’s a larger issue here that has been coming to a head for years. Many African- Americans still feel that American justice is unequal, from drug sentencing to stop and frisk to stand your ground to driving while black. Just like with the death of Martin Luther King, the death Trayvon Martin, the beating of Rodney King, etc., this incident caused the pot to boil over once again. Until we. as a country, deal with the underlying issues we will continue to be divided and deal with the riots and unrest. Sure, there are bad actors that take advantage of the situation to burn and loot, but a lot of honest, hard working Americans still feel that their country doesn’t treat them equally.

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