A Few Thoughts on Ferguson…And Wait Until October?

Officer Friendly?

The unrest of the past week is likely a prelude of what’s coming in America. Our police have been increasingly militarized and are not “serving and protecting” as they are sworn to do. Instead, because of seizure laws and revenue scams they are largely extorting and intimidating the general populace, black, white, red, brown or any color of skin.

While there is an overwhelming amount of information and footage out there about this incident, it still looks like we have to wait for all of the evidence to be correlated, and for the forensics to be complete and interpreted and rebutted before we can know the facts behind the clinical evidence of the death of Michael Brown.

A few things deeply bother me, and I’m going to go ahead and put them out there for whatever it’s worth. Not much, I know, but these are truly aggravating things to me, and it simply seems like we could very well be being played because of them.

First of all, according to the original report, Michael Brown was pulled into the car by the cop? That, as Judge Judy would say, doesn’t make any sense at all. If you’re 6′ 4″ and someone reaches out to pull you into a car, they aren’t going to be able to it. Your instinct, unless you want to hug the person, is to pull back. And if you’re a police officer, the last thing you’re going to do is try to pull a big guy into the car on top of you, especially by the neck. If the officer was pulling him, he could possibly have pulled his arm and tried to use the door as a lever to subdue Brown, but that is the only potential I can see for the officer pulling Brown into the car.

Then the delay in releasing information in at least two areas, but more likely three. Not releasing the shooting officer’s name for days only adds to the distrust of the system and to the intimation that the police are covering things up. Not releasing the convenience store strong arm robbery tape for SIX days while the city is blowing up is simply unconscionable. And again, it leads to deeper distrust. While I can’t do it, I know that there are people who are completely capable of creating video that looks like the real thing when it isn’t. Is it possible that this is the case with the strong arm robbery video? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

One has to wonder, why was this officer in a car alone? In the earliest video immediately following the shooting that I can find, there is another officer on the scene. It reportedly begins about 30 seconds after the shooting occurred. There is a cut in the video and then there is crime scene tape up, but when did the other officer arrive on the scene? And Wilson, who was reportedly hit hard enough to break the orbital socket under his eye during the struggle in the car, doesn’t make any move to indicate that his head is hurting in any way. Does this make any sense? It took ten days to get the orbital socket injury out. Three days to report that the officer was treated at a hospital after the shooting. Just who is the other officer with Wilson in this video? Was he Wilson’s partner? If so, where was he during all this and who is he? Likely, he isn’t Wilson’s partner, but then how did he get there so quickly? Or was that 30 second assertion inaccurate and it’s more like 2 to 5 minutes? It’s messed up.

The thing that I find most distressing is that people refer to a caller on a local radio show that says she is a friend of Darren Wilson as a “witness”. I even heard media refer to “Josie” as a witness. That is deeply disturbing. A friend of someone who was present at a scene can only relate hearsay, and giving an attitude of import to that person’s account is beyond irresponsible. And then a tweet from someone saying 12 witnesses have confirmed the officer’s side of the story becomes proof that the officer was justified in his actions? What kind of critical thinking is being employed by the media here?

Now, a grand jury has been convened to decide whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. But the Prosecutor is saying there won’t be any decision made until October. How is that timely? More importantly, how is it justified? What exactly are the officials trying to accomplish by releasing information in a very slow fashion and only reacting in quick and decisive ways with shows of force? It looks to me like holding off the decision of the grand jury is only going to increase tensions and create more distrust.

Clearly, the issues brought to light by this shooting are deep seated and far reaching. The police are way over militarized. People are more than angry at the entire system, and largely, they have a perfect right to be angry. How they express it and deal with it is another issue entirely. Destroying other people and their property is actually criminal and not a path that we should follow. Yet that is too often what the police are seen doing as well in their position as revenue collectors and enforcers. Just do a search on youtube for police brutality videos and you will be stunned and unhappy with the results.

It’s clear that many in America simply view police as government sanctioned rival gangs. Now they have MRAPs and tanks and more. You can see what your county has acquired by clicking on this New York Times article and the interactive map included there.

To sum up most of America’s feelings on police, it isn’t that we don’t like cops, we just feel better when they aren’t around.

In case anyone is wondering, we also feel better when there isn’t rioting and looting.

Reporters Arrested in Ferguson

This is an incredible indictment of the “law enforcement” separation from the reality of community that causes things like the shooting initiating the uproar and the continued rioting to occur. When you have a bunch of people who are outraged,  and then you treat people who are outwardly identified as reporters treated in the manner described below, it’s pretty difficult to expect things to get better any time soon. I just hope this doesn’t spill over across the country and end up as some kind of repeat of the 1960’s race riots.

Please read the article below. It clearly illustrates the level of disconnection held by entirely too many police across this country.


Reporters arrested in Ferguson

Close By DYLAN BYERS and HADAS GOLD | 8/13/14 8:53 PM EDT
Reporters from The Washington Post and the Huffington Post were arrested in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday night while covering the protests that have rocked the St. Louis suburb.

Wesley Lowery, a Washington Post political reporter, and Ryan Reilly, a Huffington Post justice reporter, were arrested in a McDonalds shortly before 8 p.m. ET. Police entered the restaurant and told patrons there to leave, the reporters wrote on Twitter after their release. The police then asked Lowery and Reilly for their identification and, according to the reporters, arrested them because they weren’t packing their bags fast enough.

Lowery also said the police officers “assaulted” him. “Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,” he wrote on Twitter. Lowery also said that he and Reilly were released without paperwork or charges, and that the officers refused to provide the reporters with their names.
Ferguson has been the site of protests since the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American who was shot several times by an officer. The chief of police there has refused to disclose the identity of the officer in question, citing safety concerns. According to The Associated Press, the officer “has received numerous death threats, and the chief worries that disclosing his name would endanger [him].”

Both Lowery and Reilly have not responded to requests for email.

Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, said late Wednesday night that “there was absolutely no justification for [Lowery’s] arrest.”

“He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed,” Baron said in a statement. “That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.”

“After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation,” Baron continued. “He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him. We are relieved that Wesley is going to be OK. We are appalled by the conduct of police officers involved.”

According to the Washington Post, both reporters were taken to a police car where a member of the clergy was also being held, and then transported to a holding cell at the Ferguson police station. The Ferguson police chief was reportedly alerted to their arrests by Matt Pearce, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Pearce tweeted that when he informed the police chief of the reporters’ arrest, the chief answered “Oh God” and said the riot police were from St. Louis County and likely “didn’t know any better.”

About a half an hour after arriving at the holding cell, Lowery and Reilly were released without any charges filed, the Post reports.

In an article, the Huffington Post confirmed that Reilly “was arrested Wednesday while covering the protests in Ferguson.”

“Reilly tweeted at around 8:00 P.M. EDT that SWAT officers invaded the McDonald’s at which he was working, requesting his identification after he took a photo of them,” the statement read. “The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery was also working at the fast food restaurant.”

Reached by phone, an operator for the Ferguson Police Department would neither confirm nor deny Lowery and Reilly’s arrest.

“I have no information,” the operator said several times.

In an interview with MSNBC following his release, Reilly called the police officers’ mentality “extremely disturbing.”

“It was madness,” Reilly said. “[The officers] asked us to begin packing up our stuff. Evidently I was not moving quickly enough for their liking, at which point I was given a countdown, I was told I had 45 seconds, 30 seconds, pack up all my stuff and leave, at which point the officer in question… held me back, grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag, and basically he then arrested me. He hancuffed me… he used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck.”

“He would not tell me what I was under arrest for…he was in complete SWAT gear,” Reilly continued. “The most frustrating thing…I repeatedly asked over a dozen times for his name or ID number was never given it… The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposely on the way out of the McDonalds then sarcastically apologized for it.”

“It was just a terrible experience,” he continued. “I recognize I’m in sort of a place of privilege here both as a journalist and as a white person frankly, in that evidently the police chief made the decision to not hold us. … The mentality of the officers was extremely disturbing. They essentially acted as a military force.”

Reilly told MSNBC he was “not 100 percent sure” whether he identified himself as a reporter, but said he identified himself as a journalist after being handcuffed.

Lowery also appeared on MSNBC shortly after Reilly and provided an account of the arrest.

“As I was packing my bag videotaping with one hand, he was angry I wasn’t moving fast enough or what not, I put my backpack on tried to walk out, from the corner I could see Ryan having the same type of interaction,” Lowery said. “As I turned the corner I tried to ask him… ‘Am I going to be able to move my car?’ They didn’t want to answer that question. They directed me toward one door where I encountered another officer who directed me to another door, I said, ‘Officers, where would you like me to go.’ As I turned to follow their instructions, my bag slipped off my shoulder. I said. ‘Officers, I’m going to need to stop to adjust my bag, give me one second,’ at which point they said ‘Let’s take him,’ slammed me into the soda machine, grabbed my bag, grabbed my phone and put me in temporary restraints and took me outside.”

Lowery said he was wearing his Washington Post credentials on his neck at the time of the arrest.

On Twitter, Lowery wrote, “Apparently, in America, in 2014, police can manhandle you, take you into custody, put you in cell & then open the door like it didn’t happen.”