A week after Michael Brown was shot multiple times and killed for reasons that remain unknown, Ferguson Police Department Police Chief Thomas Jackson held a press conference which accomplished exactly two things:
1. We learned the name of Brown’s shooter was one Officer Darren Wilson.
2. The police released a surveillance video of a man fitting Brown’s description apparently stealing $48 worth of cigars from a convenience store and then turning on and physically confronting a store clerk.
There were two more things wrong with this. The first is is even in Missouri, a “strong-arm robbery” as Jackson described it is not an executable offense. The second, and more important fact is Wilson didn’t know Brown was a suspect when he stopped him and in less than five minutes, shot him dead.
Even if Brown understood the clerk would call the police, he wasn’t running or trotting or making any effort to hide or conceal himself. At worse, Office Wilson stopped Brown for jaywalking or being a hazard to drivers by walking in the street.
Maybe that was dumb behavior. Jerky behavior. Smart-ass behavior. But none of it explains what happened between Wilson and Brown.
No audio recordings. No video recordings. No eyewitnesses testimony. No ballistic reports and no statement about what was found at the crime scene. Jackson didn’t take questions and didn’t offer any new answers.
Why did it take numerous Freedom of Information requests before the Ferguson P.D. finally released the name of the officer involved? Why did the Ferguson P.D. share surveillance photos of what appears to be an altercation between Brown and a store clerk, but have yet to provide a timeline of Brown’s actions or Wilson’s?
Why is it we still don’t know how many times Wilson pulled the trigger and how many shots hit Brown? Even without an autopsy report, don’t the Ferguson P.D. have Wilson’s gun?
Can’t they count?
The chief’s press conference satisfied nobody (except for Fox News talking heads and they don’t count) and actually made things worse. The fragile calm that had settled in after the National Guard replaced the the heavy-handed police presence of the Ferguson and St. Louis police force didn’t hold and the chaos and looting began anew. Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and issued a curfew. It hasn’t helped settle matters much as the Black community in Ferguson remains frustrated by the stonewalling and the slimy attempt by Jackson to smear a dead teenager with allegations of a criminal act. As if that justifies shooting him down in the street.
The Ferguson P.D. gassed and harassed the media until they could come up with a plausible story and reasonable doubt. Now they are attempting to manipulate the media and the public. If Michael Brown can be made to look like a guilty thug, he becomes less of an innocent victim.
The police are public servants. They answer to the public, not the other way around. That’s clearly not happening here and it has turned a local tragedy into a national scandal. The longer the cop’s “account” of what happened goes unshared, the greater the likelihood when it finally does the story will be more about covering asses than uncovering truth.
The protests by the people should continue until they get the answers the authorities have failed to give them. The burning, looting and violence has to stop. It does nothing to help Brown’s family and the community if criminals are exploiting a tragedy to help themselves. Leave the protesters alone. The criminals should be arrested, prosecuted, and if proven guilty, punished and possibly imprisoned.
All the things which Michael Brown was not.
An observation: Brown was 6’4″ and 292 pounds and allegedly stolen cigars from a convenience store before his fatal encounter with a police officer.
In NYC, Eric Garner was 6’3″ and 350 pounds and allegedly was selling illegal cigarettes (or “loosies”) when he had his fatal encounter with police officers.
The conclusion seems to be if you’re a big Black guy, if the tobacco doesn’t kill you, the cops will.
Who’s afraid of a large Black man? Everybody. Or at least the cops seem to be. Any cop who is so scared of a large Black man their only recourse is to kill them, is a coward and has no business with a badge and a gun.
One more thing. I’ve been impressed by how attentive young Black people have been to the goings on in Ferguson. This has engaged them in a way similar killings have not.
How Michael Brown’s met his end is no more heartbreaking than that of Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, or even Trayvon Martin. Unlike Eric Garner’s demise, no video of the last moments of Brown’s life exists, but there are 40 FBI agents in Ferguson knocking on doors just to be sure.
But the image of Brown’s bloodied corpse lying in the street like a dead dog was seen on Instagram, on Twitter, on cell phones and all over the world and it incensed a generation for whom the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the acquittal of the four police officers who beat the hell out of Rodney King happened before many of them were born.
This is their Rodney King moment. Eric Garner was the fuse. Michael Brown was the explosion. They’re angry. They’re engaged. They’re paying attention. If the dreamers stay awake they may take a hard look around and realize they have been living in a nightmare.
What will it take then to put them back to sleep? Quick! Gimme an update on the state of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s marriage! We need to keep these Negroes happy and complacent!
No more civil rights marches should not to be taken to mean nothing is wrong, because as the world watches in horror and fascination, Ferguson 2014 looks a lot like Birmingham 1964.