No Justice, No Peace to be Found In Ferguson Over A Week After Michael Brown’s Death

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It’s now been over one week since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the level of militarized police activity in Ferguson looks much the same.

On Thursday the 14th, Captain Ron Johnson of St. Louis (and graduate of a high school near Ferguson) was given command of the police in Ferguson. His promise to have officers in the streets without gas masks and his willingness to march with protesters, along with a moving speech about Michael Brown, made some optimistic about a change of climate in Ferguson.

On Friday, the police department released a video that was purported to be evidence of Mike Brown robbing a store of about $50 worth of cigars. At a press conference that followed, many conflicting and confusing narratives were advanced. When angrily questioned about why the video was released at all and whether it was part of a smear campaign to convince the public that Mike Brown “deserved” to be killed, the police claimed the video was released in response to journalists who had been asking for it; so far no journalistic entity has identified themselves as having asked for the video, or even knowing that it existed. Later, the police claimed that the alleged robbery was unrelated to the shooting, and that Officer Darren Wilson was unaware that Brown might have been a robbery suspect, raising further questions about what reason there could possibly have been to release it to the public — a public which was still waiting for an autopsy report or an incident report of the shooting itself. Even later, the story was revised once again, with police now stating that Wilson might have realized Brown was a suspect during the shooting incident. Police incident reports uncovered by the public suggest that police were still on the lookout for a suspect in that robbery well after the shooting of Mike Brown, casting further doubt upon the Ferguson PD’s account.

Governor Jay Nixon declared a midnight curfew for Ferguson on Friday. Despite Johnson’s promises that tear gas would no longer be used — indicated when he literally said “we won’t enforce it with tear gas” — tear gas, armored trucks and other highly militarized methods were used to attempt to enforce a midnight curfew on Saturday.

On Saturday night, protesters deliberately (and nonviolently) challenged the midnight curfew, and were met with tear gas and a very confusing set of conflicting narratives.

Johnson later admitted in a press conference held shortly before 3 a.m. that police had fired both smoke and tear gas, but said that the tear gas was utilized in order to gain access to a man who was shot in the leg by a protester and not as part of the curfew enforcement. Johnson said that another man stepped into the street carrying a handgun and that someone shot at a police car.

In a different report, Johnson said that the tear gas was in response to a possible burglary:

The response by police, Johnson said, was due to reports of a shooting and potential burglary by armed men at Red BBQ. Tear gas was deployed after police heard reports of armed men in the restaurant — the gas was not used to enforce the curfew, Johnson said.

Seven arrests were made, reportedly from the roof of the Red BBQ. It’s unclear whether those arrested were engaged in any criminal activity or were involved with protests. As has consistently been the case, residents of Ferguson maintain that the vast majority of any criminal activity is coming from outsiders who are entering Ferguson to take advantage of the chaos. This is consistent with on-the-ground reports of Ferguson residents taking the initiative to shut down looters and guard local businesses, seemingly in lieu of police.

At least one person was definitely shot Saturday night, a 34-year-old protester who was taken to the hospital by friends in critical condition. Police have argued that the shot came from another protester, although they also say they are “unsure where the shot came from.” The report in the NY Daily News, however, implies that the shooting of the protester was related to the alleged incident at Red BBQ, noting that the protester was shot “near the location.”

On Sunday night, another midnight curfew was set. At 9:30 pm, two and a half hours before the curfew was to start, police deployed armored trucks, tear gas, and riot gear. Allegedly, this was in response to violence from protestors — according to the Washington Post, “police said protesters fired at least 30 gunshots and threw molotov cocktails at officers.” Many reporting from the ground in Ferguson, both citizens and journalists, say this is patently untrue.

Klemko: “Here’s what protesters were doing just before the heavy tear has launch from three armored vehicles:”

There are some reports of gunfire later in the evening, but it’s not clear whether any of them came from before the tear gas and riot gear were employed. At least one of the reports of gunfire were confirmed to be fireworks.

Whatever the impetus (if there was one) for the aggressive display of police force well before the curfew, it definitely escalated quickly into a scene at least as horrifying as the one Wednesday night. Children who were in the streets with their parents — some of whom were not even protesting, but simply walking outside in the neighborhoods in which they live at a very reasonable 9 pm — were injured with tear gas, including at least one eight year old.

Arrests continued, including arrests of journalists. Several journalists reported being arrested for a short period of time, a few minutes to a few hours, and then being released without an explanation or charge, something which is widely being regarded as an intimidation tactic.

Arrests as media intimidation would be consistent with reports of reporters and cameramen having guns pointed in their faces and being physically threatened, especially black journalists. Now-famously, one media cameraperson was threatened with shooting by a policeman on live video. When he refused to turn off his camera and tried to ask for the threatening officer’s identification, he was denied that information and told to stop pointing his finger, ostensibly because the police felt threatened by it.

There are also reports that streetlights were intentionally turned off to discourage or make impossible amateur video recording. Later in the evening, journalists were restricted to small enclosed areas and refused entry to areas where actual police activity was taking place. There are also a number of reports of racially segregated treatment of reporters, with white reporters granted more access than black or other POC reporters.

“Looting” at the local McDonalds was widely reported; documentation from those on the ground makes it clear that while windows of a McDonalds were broken, there was no looting; instead, protesters were trying to escape from tear gas for their own safety, and to find milk to use as topical relief from the painful burning tear gas causes.

Ultimately, Governor Nixon called in the National Guard, a move which was accomplished without the notification or participation of the White House and which many have regarded as a dangerous move which would increase militarization rather than de-escalate. Ultimately, the National Guard operated to build up increased defenses around the Ferguson PD command center, although it’s not clear to what degree it was ever in danger.

In the midst of all this, a second expert was called in by Michael Brown’s family to perform a second autopsy, and the results were released to the public by the New York Times on Sunday night, a few hours after the police’s assault began. Many have pointed out that the injuries Brown sustained, which included two shots to the head, aren’t consistent with how police officers are trained to shoot when in danger from a suspect, which is usually at the chest and torso. Instead, Brown’s entry wounds are generally on the inside/underside of his arms and head, and did not appear to have been fired at close range. So far, the privately performed autopsy reports seem to be very consistent with witness reports, which say that Brown was kneeling and attempting to surrender when shot. Particularly the fact that one bullet seems to have entered through the top of Brown’s head has led many to conclude that he was already on the ground as shooting continued, especially since Brown was 6’4″.

Brown family attorney Daryl Parks says that he feels the autopsy results should be “ample evidence” for Wilson to be arrested. Although this seems objectively true, there are likely to be significant legal and legislative hurdles to seeing any action taken against Wilson. St. Louis Public Radio has helpfully outlined the ways in which, while Governor Nixon has authority over the police force and can be ultimately held responsible for their actions in at least some respect, he doesn’t have any jurisdiction over the judicial process. Only St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch has the power to charge Wilson with a crime, and alarmingly, that seems to be entirely up to his personal preference.

“The prosecutor of any jurisdiction has sole discretion to bring charges against a potential defendant,” said Marcia McCormick, a professor at Saint Louis University Law School. “Nothing can make that prosecutor bring charges when he or she does not want to.”

The fact that McCulloch’s father was a St. Louis police officer killed in the line of duty raises some doubt as to his personal interest in pursuing this case, but “the death of McCulloch’s father does not pose a legal conflict of interest or require him to step aside, lawyers agree.” On the whole, it seems unlikely that the state of Missouri will find Wilson guilty of much — the legal counsel consulted by St. Louis Public Radio seems to agree that prosecution of police officers for line-of-duty shootings is very rare, especially since “while Ferguson is two-thirds African American, the jury that would hear the case would come from St. Louis County as a whole, Goldman notes. The county is 70 percent white.”

However, there is still a federal line of investigation; the Department of Justice is looking into whether the shooting constituted a civil rights violation, which does hold the possibility of prosecution for Williams. For the time being, though, Williams is still on paid leave, and his whereabouts are unknown. It appears possible that his online presence has been scrubbed, since at-home activists have been unable to find any social media accounts attached to him. Journalists have been unable to contact him in any way.

In the meantime, it’s possible to help by donating to the legal fees and bail fund for Ferguson protestors.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 766 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. Thumb up 6

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    Everything about this police investigation just don’t smell right to me. And their actions against the protestors has been extremely excessive.

    I totally believe the guy who talked about even the press being segregated. I’ve been watching the news and CNN especially seems very biased towards the police’s favor. It should surprise no one that the police there have given them quite a bit of access. I saw one reporter covering the violence last night from BEHIND the police barricade, walking with the police.

    Oh, and I was so infuriated when I saw them advertising their upcoming interview special with some random friend of the officer who shot Brown, claiming he had “no choice” but to shot. Who is this guy and why do we fucking care? We’re really just interviewing random friends of the police officer now. Really, CNN? This reminds me of the time they interviewed George Zimmerman’s clearly racist brother who went out of his way to paint Trayvon Martin as a thug responsible for his own death. And the time they interviewed that juror who was after a book deal that ultimately got cancelled because everyone in their right mind knew it was in poor taste to try to profit off of that case so soon afterwards. CNN is less about reporting the actual news and more about sensationalism these days. They are especially bad when it comes to issues of race and sexuality. Then again, all the news outlets are.

  2. Thumb up 2

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    Thank you for continuing to update on this. Where I live (outside the US), all we get are headlines like ‘Stolen goods allegedly found on Mike Brown’ (may he rest in peace) or ‘National Guard called in’, all twisted to make the people of Ferguson look bad.

    It’s so horrid and scary that this murderer has free rein as long as he is in uniform. Is this specific to the state or the entire US?

  3. Thumb up 1

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    All the bias in this article is really unfortunate. The autopsy report (which has already debunked several witnesses claims that Brown was shot in the back) actually is consistent with an individual trying to ‘bum-rush’ another individual. I know an agent who once had to shoot an individual high on PCP 10 times to get him to stop attacking. The only shot that stopped him was a final blow to the top of the head which is consistent with Brown’s autopsy. The autopsy has also indicated that marijuana was in Brown’s system. Drugs like marijuana affect the body by dulling the senses which would have allowed Brown to continue moving toward officer Wilson even after being shot multiple times. In addition, when an individual’s adrenaline is pumping they are able to withstand much more than the average person. This is why there have been numerous cases of women being able to lift cars off their children as well as other accounts of humans exhibiting ‘superhuman’ strength. The wounds to Brown’s arms could indicate his arms were up in surrender, but they are also consistent with the reflex of putting your arms up to protect your face as well as lunging forward (which the author of this article chose not to include). So far, the evidence has actually been more consistent with the officer’s story (as well as witness accounts that Brown was coming towards the officer). Obviously there is still a lot more to this investigation but so far what has been reported lends more credence to the Officer’s account.

    Even if the officer was not aware of the robbery at the time of the incident, Brown certainly was so it wouldn’t be at all surprising that he would try to evade/assault an officer stopping him 10 minutes after robbing a store.

    Your defense of the looters and rioters of Ferguson is also questionable. Frustration/anger does not give a person the right to commit crimes. The curfew was put in place to try and calm the city and prevent more people from being harmed. Which citizens openly defied as they clearly have no respect for the law. Just out of curiosity, would you be writing this article if the officer had been black? Would the people of Ferguson be protesting if the officer had been black? There are several cases of black officers shooting unarmed men and yet this site has not once published an article questioning their actions. Would the people commenting be just as angry if a black cop killed an unarmed white man? Would the media even care?

    I have been a loyal follower of the site since it started but this article as well as the QPOC Speakeasy regarding this incident is really sad to read as they are both completely one sided (as are most other sites so please don’t think I’m singling AS out). And before anyone asks, I am a QPOC. I would love to see an honest discussion representing both sides of this issue at some point as I believe there are a lot of issues this case brings up and I welcome anyone to reply to my comment and disagree with me.

    • Thumb up 6

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      “The autopsy has also indicated that marijuana was in Brown’s system. ”

      Uh, when was this? Link please because I watched Michael Baden’s press conference and read the NY Times article about his findings and he did not mention anything about marijuana being in Brown’s system. In fact, he said that he didn’t have the toxicology report from the first autopsy and didn’t know when it would be released to the public.

      The autopsy report hasn’t really debunked anything yet. I don’t know how you can say it is consistent with Brown “bum-rushing” the officer when Baden himself said in the press conference that he couldn’t definitively say one way or the other how Brown those injuries. He could have been giving up with his hands in the air or he could have been “rushing” the officer.(Love those buzz words the media likes to subliminally throw at us btw). Baden and his assistant, whose name I just forgot, said the trajectory of the bullets say both are possibilities.

      And what does it matter whether it was a black cop or a white cop? Would the citizens of Ferguson still protest? Probably. A teenage kid is dead either way and this more about how the police in Ferguson operate than it is about what color the officer who shot him is. Which is not to say that their isn’t a racial element to this story. The stats the media has been occasionally running about the make up of the Ferguson police department and who gets stopped, frisked and/or arrested based on race kind of speak to that. But also some people out their still believe in the fantasy that police never racially profile and all police officers are never incompetent or overzealous. It also doesn’t help that their have been quite a lot of stories within the last few months about suspects dying in police custody so all those factors have come to the surface with this case.

      And nobody is saying “all police are bad” but their is definitely a problem in Ferguson and not just Ferguson but in many police departments. Their are some bad apples out there. It’s possible this police officer didn’t do his job properly. Maybe he did. All I know is from what I’m seeing IMO the majority in the media(or the major tv news anybody) are quite bias towards the police. And it’s nice for once to come onto a few sites who don’t paint Michael Brown as some big black animal who deserved to be put down and not a human being(a young man)or paint ALL of the protestors as looters and violent criminals who deserved to be pepper sprayed and smoke bombed like they are in fucking Iraqi insurgents.

    • Thumb up 8

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      I absolutely disagree with you and here’s why:

      – No. It’s not consistent with someone trying to “bumrush” another individual as that’s still highly speculative. The whole thing is itself subjective, other than what little has been released, and needs further analysis for anyone to make an objective confirmation. We know that the last bullet (one of the head shots) showcased that his head was bent downward. This can be from charging or as a method of surrender. As mentioned in the article, the inner entry wounds are extremely telling but again, based on opinion until more analysis is conducted. As an aside, you have no merit in saying that the head shot was the only shot that “stopped him” as there is no basis on exact movements prior.

      – I also know many law enforcement agents and while, yes PCP is an extremely volatile drug that causes heightened senses and a feeling of invincibility, which causes the perp to keep going even when shot, it is NOT the same thing as marijuana. Marijuana is not typically correlated with aggression, and although, it does inhibit compensatory mechanisms, to say that it would so on the same level as PCP or prohibit you from feel a gun shot wound is reaching at best.

      – I’ll concede that people do perform significant feats with a rush of adrenaline, however, again this is entirely subjective and there is no viable proof that allows rational for Brown to have been shot so many times and at such a gap of distance. That being said, if this were the case then there were other ways to diffuse the situation. Say, I don’t know, shooting a kneecap as opposed to his head. As far as holding your hands up, seemingly to protect your face, this is somewhat contradictory as that is still a defensive posture.

      – Again, the idea that the evidence aligns with the offer’s story is subjective.

      – How dare you say that they have “no respect for the law?” No free citizen should be essentially put into a pen and have their freedom of speech tarnished because a small handful of protestors are looting. To put it in perspective, that’s equivalent of saying that all Christians are intolerant bigots because of the WBC. One bad group does not, and should not, sully the guaranteed rights of another.

      – I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally feel that in the same situation I would be equally disgusted if the races were reversed.

    • Thumb up 7

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      “Would the people commenting be just as angry if a black cop killed an unarmed white man? Would the media even care?”

      Until the reality of black cops murdering unarmed white men reached endemic levels like white cops murdering black men, then you’re relying on a very weak straw argument. None of this is because of an isolated incident between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson. It’s a representation of the systemic violence of black bodies at the hands of white authority.

    • Thumb up 4

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      @CSIgirl86 – even if your version of events was true — which it isn’t, like it really really isn’t — michael brown was UNARMED. there are so many places to shoot a person to stop them from “bumrushing” you that wouldn’t kill the person, but would stop the assault. it’s a police officer’s job to know where those places are. SIX TIMES. what the fuck.

      • Thumb up 0

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        That fact that you’re insistent that I’m so very very wrong shows you have no idea how evidence works. When a crime or incident occurs and has to be reconstructed no one will ever be able to say with 100% certainty what really happened as ground truth is not known. In any case there will always be missing information and this case will be no different. Rachel offered her interpretation of the events as is completely her right to do. I simply offered an alternate perspective on the incident based on the limited information that has been released so far. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But Rachel’s account could also be wrong. We simply don’t know and I wanted to make sure another side was heard. In science (and in anything really) it is common to reach different conclusions given the same information as there is always an element of subjectivity when humans are asked to interpret information. That’s why you will find two different theories for the same phenomena (creationism vs. evolution for example). The theory that ultimately wins out is the theory that has the most data to support it.

        I respect everyone who has commented on my post (aside from Alaina who implied that I am a “whitey ass whitey troll”) and I hope to continue to have a respectful debate with anyone who disagrees with me. It’s been my experience that the most accurate answer typically falls somewhere in between two extremes.

        • Thumb up 6

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          Autostraddle. That means all of us. What the actual fuck has gotten into us as commenters? This thread is a new low for us.

          @CSIgirl86, please inform yourself about racism. Please also inform yourself about your light-skinned privilege (not the same as white privilege). I am biracial also, but as someone who talks white and dresses white and has been educated white and is otherwise assumed to be “respectable,” I understand that I will NOT experience the racism that black folks experience. I also understand that as a light-skinned person who identifies in equal parts with black and white, that I need to check that white, light-skinned privilege and let others – people who experience more racism than I do – lead the discussion.

          Mike Brown’s murder is not about Mike Brown’s character – it’s about his murder. It is not about whether Mike Brown rushed a cop. It is not about whether Mike Brown was high. It is not about whether Mike Brown robbed a store. It is not about Mike Brown’s character. This is about Mike Brown’s murder. This is about how the murder of Mike Brown fits into a system of violence against black and brown bodies. Mike Brown’s murder is about Ezell Ford’s murder. Mike Brown’s murder is about Omar Abrego’s murder. Mike Brown’s murder is about Trayvon Martin’s murder. Mike Brown’s murder is about the murder of so many too many names to count of innocent black people who have died at the hands of the so-called law enforcement.

          Please, Autostraddle, please please please do not be distracted from what happened here. What happened was the murder of Mike Brown.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    I’m going to take an unfavorable stand on this issue. I can say from first hand experience in dealing with media in my job, most reports are not even close to accurate. It seems unfair that we’re all taking sides when not a single one of us was at that shooting. No one in the media, no one on the internet reporting on this, NO ONE was there and can say with certainty what happened. Was this officers actions justified? We don’t know, we haven’t heard his side of the story. Is it a tragedy that a young man lost his life? Absolutely. But to jump to conclusions and make statements that all cops are racist, powering seeking, hungry animals, is doing nothing but spreading more hate. Several cops have been hospitalized and injured in these protests by citizens who claim they were “peaceful protesting”… Adding more violence to the equation does nothing in solving the problem.

    What I took away from the robbery video, was that the key witness in this case was also the same person who helped Brown rob the convenience store 10 minutes prior to the shooting. Johnson has a bias.. people who commit crimes are typically people who don’t like the police.

    But I think it’s fair to keep an open mind. Things are not always as they seem.

    • Thumb up 0

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      Thank you. I also agree with what you said about the release of the video. I would like to add that what I took away from the video was that Brown had no problems using his size to intimidate a much smaller man. I do question the departments timing in releasing the video though. I think it would have been better to release it at least after the autopsy. Although I don’t believe there is some sort of smear campaign going on since Brown clearly was not the innocent ‘gentle giant’ his family has tried to make him out to be. Brown made himself look bad by engaging in a criminal act.

      I know that there are people trying to protest peacefully but unfortunately they are being drowned out by the more aggressive protestors who are using this as an excuse to commit crimes (sadly crimes against their own community).

      I would like to make it clear that if evidence comes out that shows Brown was not the aggressor and that the officer was not justified in his actions, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Hopefully more evidence is released soon so the city can try and recover.

      • Thumb up 13

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        A police officer should never shoot an unarmed person to begin with. And a police officer does not need to shoot to kill an unarmed person, even if they are attacking them. There is no way of justifying it. There is no way of justifying it. Doesn’t matter what the fuck the other person is doing. It doesn’t matter how it is spun.

        Six times?

        The police are supposed to do everything they can to deal with a situation without killing people. Michael Brown was treated like his life was not important.

        All the stuff about whether Michael Brown was a ‘criminal’, or a ‘gentle giant’ is irrelevant.

        I wonder how normalised the American public must to this kind of police brutality/murdering that all this ‘was he a criminal or was he a nice guy’ narrative is able to distract away from what, to me, is the horrifying fact that a cop shot an unarmed 18 year old 6 times.

        And the ‘Michael Brown= criminal vs nice guy’ question also illuminates this very idea, that the lives of young, black, male, criminals in the US are worth absolutely nothing.

        (I think that in the US there is a different mindset about the level of authority that a cop can have, and even what a cops real job is. Where I am from police don’t even carry guns. The first time I saw a cop with a gun on his holster in the US, I freaked out. It’s not like that everywhere else in the world. It’s a high level of militarisation and power, that the US police force has, from a global stand point)

      • Thumb up 3

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        ” Although I don’t believe there is some sort of smear campaign going on since Brown clearly was not the innocent ‘gentle giant’ his family has tried to make him out to be. Brown made himself look bad by engaging in a criminal act.”

        And you know this how? His parents must not be truthful about what type of person he is based on one act he allegedly committed in his entire life? We are not qualified to make such a judgement about his character or to assume his parents are not being honest about the man they know him to be. I mean what do think a parent is going to realistically say about their kid when interviewed? They are understandably biased seeing as they raised the kid and more importantly he’s dead now. So he allegedly stole from a store. He didn’t shoot up a movie theater or set off a bomb that terrorized a major city*. We don’t know that he was a bad kid in general or that he deserved to be shot 6 times.

        *And yet somehow those guys made it into police custody. Go figure.

      • Thumb up 11

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        Tonight the Ferguson police department forcibly evicted media from the area, and also forced Amnesty International to leave the area as they used live rounds against peaceful protesters in their own neighborhoods. In your clear concern about fairness and criminal behavior, I’m fascinated by why you haven’t brought up the fact that all of the police’s actions have been objectively unconstitutional, and in violation of a court agreement they signed with the ACLU. It isn’t possible to have “bias” in that observation — the right to assembly and the right to the freedom of the process, up to and including recording the behavior of police, is constitutionally assured. Is there a reason you didn’t want to discuss those things in your comment?

        If Wilson’s side of the story is going to be as exculpatory as you seem to believe, is there a reason why they wouldn’t want to give him a day in court rather than hiding him from press on paid leave and refusing to release the autopsy or incident reports from his shooting? If the police are behaving reasonably and defensibly in Ferguson, is there a reason the press and international justice organizations are being prevented from observing their actions? If Michael Brown was such a violent criminal, and considering the incredibly low rates of conviction of police for line-of-duty shootings, why would there be any reason not to take this issue to the courts rather than the streets of Ferguson? I breathlessly await the explanations about everything I’m confused about here.

        • Thumb up 4

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          Not to mention, michael’s body was left in the street unattended. Public execution is what it was.
          I honestly won’t be surprised if this whole situation turns out to be racial, as I have personally experienced police injustice because of my race even tho I haven’t done anything illegal my entire life, not even a parking ticket.

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          Citizens do have the right to peacefully assemble, however what you’ve described in this article, as well as other articles around the internet are not peaceful protests. A peaceful protest does not consist of a person being shot. Once a peaceful protest becomes a place for crime and violence, it is declared an unlawful assembly which by law only requires 3+ people. According to the statue, which may vary from state to state (I don’t live in MO), the people conspiring to commit any illegal activity don’t even have to complete the act for it to be declared an unlawful assembly. In this case, obviously criminal activity was taking place. The peaceful protest is now considered a riot. In which case I can agree with the police using the necessary tools to disperse the crowd for their safety as well as the people who really are there peacefully.

          And in regards to the media…it specifically stated in the ACLU agreement, “unless it obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of others, or physically interferes with the ability of law enforcement officers to perform their duties.” If any of that was happening, then yes, they can evict the media from the area.

    • Thumb up 9

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      KC: That’s so weird how you didn’t want to discuss Darren Wilson’s actions, only Mike Brown’s, even when Wilson was brought up directly. Wonder what that’s about! You don’t mention what “criminal activity” you’re referring to, but you’re right, there has been plenty of trying to get inside buildings like McDonalds to escape from teargas, “trespassing” in public areas, and throwing tear gas canisters in order to get them away from children, so sure. Weirdly, this idea about arresting people who assemble because they’re dangerous, carrying weapons or may “intend” to commit crimes doesn’t seem broadly applicable? I’m interested to see if there’s any evidence of “criminal activity” that’s started BEFORE police have brought out tear gas, and not after as a response — given that there’s a wealth of unedited recorded video and audio from dozens of sources every night in Ferguson, it shouldn’t be hard to find.

      I’m not super interested in arguing with you, because if you don’t want to listen to the people who live in Ferguson then there’s nothing I can really do. But for other people reading, I do want y’all to be aware: this is why crises like Ferguson continue to develop, and why this started last Wednesday night and has been going on for almost a full week unchecked, with no consequences. Because there are always people — a majority of people, even — who are willing to believe that minor actions of individuals justify extreme violence against entire communities, and who are willing to imagine those minor crimes into existence if necessary to explain why institutional violence is occurring. If you’re wondering “how could this still be happening, how are they not in trouble,” here’s why!

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        The evidence will be presented to a grand jury tomorrow which is actually really soon. Investigations can take several years to get to court. Especially in cases where an individual is killed. The officer has not made a public appearance because there have already been threats made to him and his family. It must be really nice to sit behind your computer and judge the actions of an officer when you have no idea the type of lives they lead. Officer’s make a conscious choice every day to put their lives in extreme danger to keep people like you and me safe. They’re work is extremely stressful and they have no way of knowing whether someone is going to try and kill them when they approach (and there are plenty of cases of officers killed in the line of duty). They are trained to protect themselves and surrounding citizens by any means necessary. If the evidence comes out and shows Brown was the aggressor then the officer had every right to defend himself just like any other citizen would have.

        • Thumb up 3

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          Yeah, by excessively using his gun and shooting him 6 times. Good to know it’s totally ok if someone comes at me. That totally makes me feel safer!

          And for what it’s worth, I am judging the police officers actions. What he did was not right. Mike was UNARMED. Police officers are trained to react to all sorts of scenarios, aren’t they? I’m positive the first answer is not always “shoot to kill”.

          I can’t with this trigger-happy nation.

        • Thumb up 0

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          @JP it actually is ok to shoot someone multiple times if they are coming towards you and you can’t stop them. It’s called self defense. My grandmother’s closest friend had to shoot her husband 5 times to get him to stop attacking her. He was unarmed. She was found to have acted in self defense. We have a right to protect ourselves by any means necessary. Cops are human just like anyone else and also have that right.

          You can’t judge the officer’s actions as you have never been in his situation and there is no evidence to suggest he acted unjustly. Police are trained in several tactics for sure but a training environment is controlled and therefore vastly different from real life. For example, I was taught from a very young age that when you are on fire the appropriate response is stop, drop, and roll. However, when I actually caught myself on fire (do not under any circumstances light a lighter after you’ve just filled it with lighter fluid without properly cleaning it) my response was to flail around like an idiot until my mom was able to put out the flames. No matter how much training you receive you cannot expect things to go according to that training exactly once you are put in an extremely stressful situation.

          Now, if the evidence comes out and shows Wilson acted unjustly and maliciously shot at Brown without any provocation I will be the first one to admit that I was wrong. But until that happens, I will give the officer the benefit of the doubt.

          And I am actually a huge proponent of stricter gun laws in this country and am completely against having a gun anywhere near me. Which is why I knew I could never live the life of a cop. So I’m not just some trigger happy person who thinks people should be allowed to go out and fire away for no reason. I just recognize that cops are put into situations that the majority of people will, hopefully, never have to experience and sometimes have to act in a way that may not make sense to the average lay person.

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          You what you are saying is police officers are infallible and never make mistakes. Police officers have rules they have to follow just like everyone else and that includes treating suspects humanely regardless of the crime that has been committed.

          You don’t have to shoot someone who is unarmed 6 times just to take them down. And if you have to shoot at all you aim for non-fatal parts of the body. Aren’t police officers trained in self defense? I could see if Brown had some sort of dangerous weapon and was charging the officer but he didn’t. He was unarmed.

          You seem to be willing to make all sorts of assumptions about what Michael Brown was up to, the content of his character, and the honesty of parents but we shouldn’t judge the officer’s actions? LoL, okay.

          And another thing. What is your justification for the police not letting parametics tend to Brown after the shooting or for leaving his dead body in the street for hours after the fact? Would you say that is any way to treat a human being?

          Oh, and how about that link to your claims that Brown had marijuana in his system. Even if he did(which again I’m waiting for proof because Baden with his own words said he hadn’t seen the toxicology report), marijuana is not the same as PCP. If anything it has the opposite effect. Marijuana does not make you aggressive.

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      This has been hitting me really hard. This has been hitting me really really hard. Really. I have no words. When Mike Brown was shot and Ferguson erupted, I realized something

      I think that
      Before all this
      I must have
      Believed the lie
      (Even though
      I thought
      I knew better)
      That things had changed
      Since Jim Crow
      And Slavery

      In the time since Mike Brown’s murder, I have been slowly and heartbreakingly coming to terms with the Jim Crow that I live in – the Jim Crow that I somehow, in spite of my liberal education and radically-minded thinking, hadn’t noticed in the two decades that I’ve spent in America. It has been one of the most painful revelations of my life.

      I just want to say to you @CSIgirl86 and @KC that your comments here are hurtful. It hurts me to hear you defame the characters of Mike Brown and his friend and to suggest that “we weren’t there, so we don’t know.” People know about Jim Crow. The people who live it, know it. I didn’t know about it, because I haven’t lived it. You don’t know about it, because you haven’t lived it. Please please please just LISTEN to the voices of the people who say that they KNOW what it’s like to be an unarmed black man with absolutely no means of protecting yourself facing a gang of police officers. Because your comments are hurtful. I’m telling you right now that what you’re saying really really hurts me. I can’t even imagine how what you’re saying hurts the family and friends of Mike Brown and the people of Ferguson. I truly cannot imagine. I think I would be numb in the face of rhetoric like yours.

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    I am so sad and so angry all the time and I don’t know how I’m supposed to live. Like, I am literally unsure of how I’m still expected to go work a crappy part time job and go to school and just like, keep on going on like nothing’s wrong. This is so hard. Thanks for the great coverage AS

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    Since AS chose to delete my last comment, I will not repost everything that I had written. I would still like to apologize to Imaani for hurting her feelings as well as anyone else who was hurt by my posts. It was never my intention to hurt anyone and I hope AS will allow this post to stay so that Imaani can at least see my apology.

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      I want to start out by saying I’ve really appreciated Autostraddle’s comprehensive reporting on the death of Mike Brown, the protests in Ferguson, and the broader story of institutional racism and excessive use of state violence in this country. What happened was horrific and the tone deaf response of the Ferguson police and elected officials has continued to add to the horror.

      I have to say though, I don’t understand why the previous comment by CSIgirl86 was deleted. I appreciate the great job Autostraddle generally does at moderating comments to allow for a civil discussion and to create a safe space, but unless I missed something when reading her last comment there was nothing especially offensive in it – mostly she apologized to anyone that was hurt and provided some context for her previous remarks. I wasn’t a fan of the way she framed the issue either, but it bothers me to see a someone, particularly a QPOC, be silenced just for voicing her opinion. I want the comments section to be respectful, but it shouldn’t become an echo chamber.

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        Thank you Dialethia for your comment. I want to add that in my last comment I addressed a lot of the questions that were posed to myself and KC by other members of the AS community and I think it’s unfortunate that the moderators felt that those people didn’t have a right to answers for their very appropriate questions. I have asked that the moderators take down my previous comments as I see no reason to leave them up if I will not be given an opportunity to explain myself fully and I don’t want those posts to continue hurting people. I was not given a reason why my comment was deleted nor did I ask as this is their site and they can delete whatever they want. I would like to also add that I went back through my posts and I also didn’t like the way I framed some of my arguments. In my last post I explained that since I have to separate emotion from evidence in my line of work I can sometimes come off as an asshole who doesn’t care about others feelings in very emotional situations like this and for that I do apologize.

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