Up-front, I want to say I wish this was more eloquent on my part. The situation deserves more, but I am very tired. Trying to attend a convention, build a business, and do my part for social activism is quite a challenge.
For those of you who have been paying attention to my social media, I have been…tracking and following the Ferguson story for a little over a week. Normally, I try to leave direct politics out of this blog, for pretty obvious reasons — it is not why you are here. But, so much of what we do is political, to the extent that an individual’s self-determination is subject to their environmental realities.
Personally? I believe in freedom and meritocracy.
Ultimately, that is what Ferguson is about and a lot of people don’t see it. Not just on a racial level, which is clearly important: I’m not going to lie, having never lived a day as a black male I don’t feel qualified to add to that discussion. But, it is also important in the broader sense, raising the question as to what extent we will allow ourselves to be controlled by an external authority. Frankly, all I see from Ferguson is bad parenting from the government. If the citizens were their children, CPS would have taken them all away from their corrupt mommies and daddies long ago.
Folks, we live in the age of NSA spying on citizens and police who are indistinguishable from soldiers, we have a choice to make. Well, I digress…
Here’s the deal — point blank, I leave you to check in and catch up with what is going on, which you really should do. But, I’m going to tell you traditional media is useless for this purpose. Don’t waste your time. The rich owners of the news don’t want this anger to spread, and are burying things in spin. Get yourself on Twitter and check the #Ferguson hashtag. Also, check out the live-streams as they broadcast, such as:
For the past few days, I watch this feed, then get up, drink my coffee and watch mainstream media lie through their teeth like clockwork. You have to experience it to believe it fully.
Sadly, I think I will have more posts to follow on this issue, but in this one, I want to deal with the “charge theory” that is being bandied about by ignorant people who think they are smart. In short, they point to “evidence” which seems to indicate that Brown started to flee, then stopped, turned, and charged the officer. They combine this epic failure of deduction with an even larger fumble on the recently released partial-autopsy, and conclude with their cerebrums and consciences obviously in absentia that the shooting was “justified”.
Conservative media, by and large, has started to parrot this in unison as a “game changer”. Please.
Now, rarely do I call out other blogs. Overall, I feel it is rude. If I disagree, I comment directly and leave it at that. But, I gotta say something here. These people buying into this shit think that they are being “reasonable”, but the reality is it’s a classic case of confirmation bias. They are seeing what they want to see. As soon as they can write off Brown as a dangerous thug, the sooner they can turn a blind eye to what the government is doing, shrug because it will never happen to their community as their neighbors don’t do such things, and go back to getting ready for football season. Total assclowns.
No. Just no.
Not today. Not on my watch. Not when I have a platform to call bullshit.
First, we have to get into the precursors a little, because it becomes important later. It has been obvious that the FPD has tried to assassinate Michael Brown’s character. These people who buy into the “charge theory” are the same people who were screaming at the top of their lungs about Brown’s supposed “rap sheet”. Simple fact, this has been debunked Brown had no priors and the FPD have admitted this without reservation. These people have the brains to google his name, but not the intelligence to know what they are looking at and check the validity of their conclusion. Their credibility is already starting to fade.
Now, you should know that one of the witnesses had captured a video of the entire incident. The Ferguson PD seized it at the scene. They refuse to release it as it is part of an ongoing investigation. This wouldn’t bother me at all, except that they had no problem leaking video of Brown in the convenience store just prior to the shooting. We see him get into some kind of argument with the clerk. He appears to knock a whole mess of things off the counter, then takes one of the packets of cigars and walks out. Truly looks like theft. But, we don’t know what was said — for all we know, the clerk said something particularly nasty. Doesn’t justify theft, but we have no context. Also, if theft was Brown’s objective, why take just that? Grab a whole mess of stuff, right? In for a penny, in for a pound. He seems to put some things back on the counter, and takes what is on the floor.
Which, wouldn’t bother me, except they edited a certain piece out of the footage. In this clip, you see he hands the clerk something. I can’t tell for certain, but it looks like he paid. Now, I don’t doubt this was theft, but it looks like there could have been a disagreement on price or something. My point is: We don’t know for sure. Here’s the thing, let’s assume my opponents are correct and Brown was “just a thug”. In a place like Ferguson, being a big, “intimidating” black boy — if he was the kind of person who was perfectly comfortable to just walk into a store, grab some cigarellos (these are mine now), shove the clerk and walk out — don’t you think someone would have picked him up for something prior to his eighteenth birthday? If that is who he was, the odds of that seem very high. And yet, no priors. Odd. What, was he some sort of fucking criminal genius? If it was a robbery, why did the clerk not file a report? It seems reasonable to me to assume there is missing context here, though I don’t doubt theft.
Yet, I will stipulate as we move forward.
More importantly, if the complete footage of the shooting exhonorates the officer, given that a community is tearing itself apart — why not leak it? If it exhonorates him, then you know you’re going to acquit anyway, so who gives a damn? If you will leak the above, you’d leak that. Seems likely this footage doesn’t do what we would all like it to do…
Now, at this point, these same “charge theory” folks jump all over this, yelling that the officer was responding to a robbery and that Brown was on something and flipping out. Except, that’s just not true. The officer didn’t know about the events at the store. He stopped them for jaywalking. Which, if crime is that rampant, and the neighborhood is full of criminal masterminds, I find it hard to believe this officer is really taking time to stop them for jaywalking. It seems to me he wanted to stop them anyway, and jaywalking was the only thing he could tag them with to warrant the stop. Which, makes me really want to know why he wanted to stop them, and I’m not assuming racism — were his cop spidey senses tingling? But, whatever, ancillary point. Important part is this was known far before CNN, because the central dispatch tapes were leaked. Again, odd. If a scarey black criminal mastermind came into my store, took cigarellos, shoved me, and walked out I’d sure as hell file a report. Unless that would mean bringing up something that I didn’t want to bring up. But, I admit, that’s just conjecture. Now, pay attention to those tapes at approximately 11:00 — that becomes important later.
This is how the police story keeps shifting:
- First, Brown had a shotgun. (That didn’t fly.)
- Then, Brown was a robber and escaped from the car. (This didn’t fly, either.)
- Now, Brown, stopped for jaywalking and with no priors, went for his gun, ran, then turned and charged the officer. (Here’s where we are now.)
So, the first thing that happens with the charge theory folks is that this conversation, “surfaces”. It is somehow a “smoking gun” that exhonorates the officer in combination with the autopsy. Let’s have a look at this lovely little gem, shall we? It sums up the point they are trying to make (Warning: You don’t need to watch the whole video, it may disturb some readers, the transcript is accurate.):
- First, we don’t know who is speaking, here. This person may or may not have been a witness. Perhaps the person is playing telephone, repeating what they have heard for social brownie points. Right now, we don’t know.
- But, let’s assume the person is a witness and is being truthful. So? Look at what he said. He indicated that Brown turned and moved towards the officer. While being shot, he appeared to move forward. The witness appears to be shocked that Brown continued moving after being shot, nothing more. That’s all we can take from this — it doesn’t even indicate an agressive charge. Witnesses universally indicate Brown stumbled forward first then fell. This doesn’t actually inherently contradict other accounts.
- However, if you watch the video more closely: Look in the background while the video is running at about the 0:49 second mark, you see some tenants on the parking lot and one gentleman in a white-T shirt is demonstrating how Brown threw his hands/arms in the air. Then at the 2:42 mark a male witness in the background angrily says, “The police fired on him, he had his hands in the air, he hit the ground and he still fired on him”. Which matches all other witness accounts.
- Finally, if you interpret the statement this way — you are implicitly arguing that ALL other witnesses are lying, across the board. Moreover, that they are lying in unison, even though they were interviewed in separate places at separate times, some having no known contact with each other. First, do you really feel the residents hate police so much as to lie by default in large numbers? Second, is Ferguson, MO somehow waist-high overrun with criminals of a skill-level that would make the mobsters of old tip their hats? I don’t think so.
Which brings us to the federal partial-autopsy which has been released. They argue that, as witnesses have stated he was shot in the back then turned, as all the rounds penetrated from the front, we can write their whole testimony off. Likewise, they state that as they were all from the front and rounds hit him in the head — he must have been charging. Kind of a leap in-and-of-itself even if true, but hold up. Primarily, let’s remember that this is preliminary, and medical examiners have stated they need more access to make definite statements even about entry/exit, trajectory, and the like. So we don’t even know all that, but, again, I will stipulate. And, add the following counters:
- It doesn’t invalidate witness testimony. This shooting happened very quickly. It is entirely possible that the officer did fire while Brown was running away, and missed. These shots could have been what caused him to turn, startled. Witnesses may have easily mistakenly thought he was struck while and/or before turning around.
- If you have the stomach for it, examine the video where Brown is on the ground again. There is a light blood splatter behind him. I had to zoom to see it. I’m not even sure if that’s what I’m looking at. It’s only about two feet long or so. Brown was shot 6 times. The last two are fatal and cause him to drop. That leaves four shots from the officer as he is in a full, bestial, adrenaline-fueled charge. Brown, having such a wide stride, if he was berserker-like charging, would have covered more distance than that. This is incongruent.
- One of the final two rounds struck him in the very top of the head. If charging, that means he was full-boar charging. Beyond football tackle style charging. People keep pointing to Brown’s size as a reason for the officer to be afraid, but then forgetting it here. He was tall. The ground was flat. This puts him at a ridiculous angle to be tilted at while running to receive the round in that manner.
- His wounds are congruent with eyewitness testimony for the arms raised position. It’s hard, especially, to make the argument that he was charging for the round to enter the inside of the right palm. This would paint a picture of him running in football-tackle mode with his chin pulled to his chest and his palms up in the air. Unlikely, but if true, hardly attack mode.
Which brings us to the current police story at this time, as summarized by a friend of the officer on the Dana Show, looking very weak according to the same autopsy these people are trying to use to determine Brown was charging. Granted, incomplete, but some things are conclusive. Again, I will point out:
- He says the officer got a call about the strong-arm robbery and Brown was stopped because the officer saw the cigarellos. Nope. We know that isn’t the case.
- Witnesses report a tire-squeal sound, congruent with the officer backing up rapidly to confront them. But, we now know he didn’t stop them for the robbery. If not, do you normally haul-ass in reverse to rapidly confront jaywalkers? Hardly. What happened there? Witnesses claim the officer threatened them from the car. I find this unlikely, myself. This portion is a mystery in need of more facts.
- They maintain there was a close, within the car struggle (i.e, the window) for the officer’s weapon, and that it went off. Problem: The autopsy revealed that Brown had no gunpowder residue on his hands. Also, this is easy to verify — there should be damage to the holster and more importantly, a bullet hole in the car. But, sadly, I don’t feel we can trust FPD not to alter the car to fit this narrative. We must go with the lack of gunpowder residue. This is congruent with witness testimony, who maintain the first shot was fired while the officer was still in the vehicle.
- Secondly, it doesn’t fit what we know about Brown. He was slated for college, so he wasn’t a moron. Also, he had no priors. At worst, he thinks he is about to get nabbed for what he probably percieves as shoplifting. Though, no report, he probably doesn’t even think that. Why would he go for the gun? Third-strikers panic like that, he had no reason for that. It doesn’t make sense in a way that points to the fact that something is unknown in the exchange between Brown and the officer.
- The autopsy didn’t appear to find anything in his system that he could have been “on” to warrant such erratic and irrational behavior as to full-bore attack the officer and charge. Nor do preliminary analysis of wounds appear to support a charge. I find it more likely that either — the officer threatened him and sent him into a state of panic, or he was startled and didn’t expect to be shot, either way, turning and approaching the officer as witness accounts claim, with a “don’t shoot”.
Now, I’m not unreasonable. I do not believe that officer woke up that morning, drank his coffe like I drink mine, and wrote, “gun down poor, large, black kid” on his to-do list. On the other hand, the officer did not as their story claims, follow protocol. Proper proceedure would have been to call the shooting in immediately. And, he knows that. If he was in the right, that’s the best thing to do. As is the FPD releasing the complete video of the incident, which I strongly suspect will be lost and never seen. Remember where I told you to pay attention at approximately 11:00? The problem is, those dispatch tapes show that, at a significant time-gap after the shooting, central dispatch recieves calls about the shooting from bystanders — and Ferguson PD knows nothing about it. Personally? I think there is a time-lapse because some people are trying to figure out the story, and run out of time trying to make the pieces fit. In addition, I think the gun struggle is likely fabricated, an attempt to explain the gap between the first shot and the later shots. Speculation, I admit, but sound given what we know.
But, let me attempt the coup-de-grace on this whole thing here — even if I suspect it will clang off my opponents minds like celery off the dinner-plate of a fat man. Let’s go ahead and stipulate (even if incongruent), that Brown did show the officer his war-face and charge at him like a rampaging bull. He was unarmed. The officer knew he was unarmed. That makes the shooting not okay, period. It’s not permissible to gun down unarmed suspects who have comitted such minor infractions. Even if he was a “thug”, people keep seeming to forget that this was just a kid. Sure, 18, legally an adult. But, at 18, I did stupid stuff too. Didn’t we all? It’s not like he robbed a bank. Worst case, he took a box of cigars and shoved the clerk out of the way. Bad. Dumb. But worthy of making him a sub-human threat to humanity, with no priors, all by itself? Hardly. By that logic, we would have to lock-up most of the teenagers in suburbia, right now.
The only route you have then is to argue that his size made him a threat. That the officer had reason to believe Brown, being so large, would likely kill him if allowed to close. But, we’ve been here before, haven’t we? If you take that route, then we should gun down all big guys who resist arrest. Yet, we don’t. How many big white bikers, seasoned criminals, do we all think have been arrested in the past few years? Aren’t we willing to bet that some portion of them rampaged at the police? We don’t hear about them being shot, unarmed, and say, “Well yes, the officers were scared”. We don’t hear about that, because, the officers treat them like big, unarmed people resisting arrest, and react with reasonable force. If that’s your logic, gimme a shield and I’m dropping every fat person who looks at me funny, double-tap if they run at me. Okay with you, right? Big, mean, menacing in my direction? They could do some serious damage…
There’s just no getting around the fact that — even if he did charge, he got dropped because he was big, black, and male.
The holy trininty of the blue-line beat-down.
And, you’re arguing that kids don’t get to make dumb mistakes, not even once — not if they’re big, black, and male.
Steep learning curve. Fatally steep.
Are there no teenagers in your world that you care about, where you can see them going into a panic in a similar situation?
Is it okay to shoot them, unarmed, under any circumstances?
I doubt it.
Is that the world you want to live in? Is it really? Is that who you want to be?