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Open Thread: The death of Michael Brown and the situation in #Ferguson

Police_Shooting_Missouri-0fe27

Beyond appalling.

Please post useful links, pics, videos. I will update this post with more.

Video of demonstration, police firing teargas and rubber bullets.

Ferguson Is 60 Percent Black. Virtually All Its Cops Are White.

Elon James White Twitter feed

Google News Realtime coverage of Ferguson

 

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weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

I’m flipping between news channels and CNN showed tear gas near the Al Jazeera crew but failed to mention that the police dismantled their gear :/

Luzbelitx
7 years ago

This is so appalling indeed… I’m catching up with all the information, but it makes me so sad… reminds me of the saying “give me a threshold at which you’ll finally fight back”.

Ally S
7 years ago

@Lids

I’m with you on your hatred for cops (although that shouldn’t come as a surprise since you read my Tumblr. =P)

I hate all cops. Even the ones who are less brutal and do nice things occasionally. I’m not saying this to be edgy or act like a True Anarchist (although my view of cops should come as no surprise since I’m an insurrectionary anarchist). I’m saying this because I’m tired of people being overly apologetic towards cops.

They wield far too much power to be trusted. They terrorize oppressed people, reinforce systems of domination through violence and always credible threats of violence, and ultimately are lauded as protectors of society in spite of all of their brutality.

Cops get away with raping my friends, cops get away with killing POC and especially black POC, cops protect rapists and abusers and shame/traumatize survivors of abuse and rape, cops abuse homeless people on the street daily right where I live, and cops protect the ruling class at the expense of everyone else. I know that cops are capable of doing good things, but I really don’t care. Every time I see a cop I fear for my safety. That’s not how anyone should feel around someone who is ostensibly designated to protect citizens.

bunnybunny
bunnybunny
7 years ago

Activists explain why the Mike Brown shooting is a feminist issue and What Is a ‘Women’s Issue’? Women of Color Challenge the Prevailing Narrative. Best read together in my opinion. I’m a little torn between feeling that something should be considered a “feminist issue” versus “an issue to feminists.”

freemage
7 years ago

Ally: There’s one other item I’d suggest putting in your list, when you encounter someone who starts in with Not All Cops. Even those cops who never do any of the other stuff in the list are part of the system that prevents those cops who do from ever facing any sort of corrective action. It is impossible that they are unaware of at least some of these abuses (if they are, I would sincerely suggest that that eliminates their credibility as cops anyway), and yet we are not seeing thousands of police officers refusing to accept unlawful and oppressive orders, nor are we seeing them in situations like this calling for the officer who screwed up in the first place to be removed from the force and face criminal charges.

The “Code of Silence” bullshit is a legit reason to hate ALL cops, even those who never commit any corrupt or oppressive acts themselves.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

RE: Ally/pecunium

Worse, they have doxxed the wrong person.

Goddammit, Anonymous. At least be USEFUL, and not make things worse! What’s so frustrating is they actually could be really handy in this situation if they actually worked properly.

thoushaltbemocked
7 years ago

Damn, this shit is bad. Anyone who believes that black people don’t face racism in modern-day America should read this to get their head pulled out of their ass.

strivingally
7 years ago

Similar to those posted by Robb and mildlymagnificent: Don’t Call The Police Militarized. The Military Is Better Than This.

How, then can anyone say that the police in St. Louis County, and all over America, are not militarized? Because the cops aren’t acting like soldiers. They’re acting like extras in a Michael Bay movie playing soldiers.

Despite their expensive costuming, the police in Ferguson are putting on an unsophisticated, unscripted performance, a copy without an original. If these cops were to take a page out of the Army’s book on crowd control, it would be an improvement. But they seem to be making up tactics to go with the gear they’ve acquired.

strivingally
7 years ago

And an article from Amanda Marcotte on the incredibly awful handling of this situation by police and the undercurrents of paranoid conspiracy theory bullshit that underlie events like those in Ferguson. Context matters:

Time for some blunt talk: Right wing America has spent the past six years passing around paranoid urban legends that push this notion that Obama is trying to organize some secret “takeover” of the country, often involving fears that conservative white people will be rounded up into camps and other such nonsense. The racist paranoia of this is often subtextual but unmistakeable.

[…] a perfect encapsulation of right wing thinking on this issue: Equating the inclusion of black Americans with some kind of “takeover”.

Six years of whipping yourself into a paranoid frenzy is a lot of years. I don’t even know if it’s possible for a mostly white—and with 99% certainty, mostly conservative—police force to meet a crowd of mostly black protesters in a calm, rational state after spending six years wallowing in this kind of paranoid thinking. If you’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for the violent “takeover” that right wing email chains have been predicting for years, is it even possible to see a bunch of peaceful protesters for who they are? I’m guessing not. No, you’re going to think the mythical war has finally come, and you’re going to act like it.

Myoo
Myoo
7 years ago
GrumpyOldMan
7 years ago

I try to stay away from politics on this blog, but this seems to be a good spot for a little bit of politics.
The Republican’t party has long been the party of corporate interests, and has stayed politically viable by pretending to care about the social issues (anti-choice, anti-gay, etc.) of the religious right, who have been persuaded to vote against their economic interests, and also by bringing in a few groups that are usually religiously conservative but have other hot-button issues as well, such as the nativist/anti-immigrant bunch. The election of 2008 tolled the death knell for this coalition, showing how it depended on elderly white people who were not being replaced by younger people, white or otherwise, who are far less conservative on both social and economic issues. This message was confirmed in 2012. However, the Rs find themselves unable to move toward the center on issues like immigration and gay rights, and are actually being pulled farther to the right on issues like contraception, because they organized the Tea Party as a quick fix to the problems of 2008 and now find themselves in bondage to a base that has no tolerance for tolerance.
The result is that they have no ability to create and advance a program of policies that might appeal to people outside their base. Health care? All they can do is hate on and obstruct Obamacare, since they can’t come up with any plausible alternative that the anti-government right won’t hate. Immigration? Any plausible solution to the immigration issue would include a pathway to citizenship for many of the undocumented people who have become integrated into the US society and economy, but the anti-immigrants won’t stand for it — they’d even like to deport the Dreamers. But they remain able to obstruct due to the demographics of House districts, where Democrats tend to be clustered in urban areas while Republican’ts are much more dispersed, and the constitutional composition of the Senate, which favors small states that tend to be rural and thus lean Republican’t (except for the People’s Republic of Vermont). (As to the House, the most striking example is Pennsylvania, where the Democrats won the overall vote for the House but the Republican’ts took 13 of 18 seats.)
Given this situation, the only strategy remaining for the Rs is to play to the anger, hatred, racism and the rest of the negative emotional fears of their elderly white base, who can be persuaded that “They” are trying to take “their” country away from them — and hope to get enough of them to turn out to win the 2014 mid-term elections. I believe (or at least hope) that they will set themselves up for a crushing defeat in 2016, when, in particular, the Senatorial map is strongly skewed against them, and they have no plausible Presidential candidate who can survive the Tea Party dominated primary process.

scarlettpipstrelle
7 years ago

Actually way more unarmed black males have been gunned down by police than we normally hear about. Also, police have misused tasers as well as choke holds. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/taser-an-officers-weapon-of-choice/ And have you noticed all the dog shootings? And the increasing use of SWAT teams for ordinary police activities. And the no-knock raids for all sorts of “reasons.”

And the mass detentions. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/19/colorado_mass_detention_aurora_lawsuit_alleges_constitutional_violations.html And the tear gas and pepper spray.

Someone remarked on the wearing of camouflage uniforms in a place like Ferguson. What did they think they were going to blend in with?

tiko72
tiko72
7 years ago

This is horrific.The murders,the response of the police and the reporting by the mainstream media.I could say more but previous commenter’s have put things far better than I could.

I will just say this.It’s like the police just don’t give a shit what people think,probably because they know that the racist ignorant bigoted section of the public are right behind them cheering them on.

redpoppy
redpoppy
7 years ago

Police seem to be a government sponsored violent gang of angry, reactionary hoodlums if you ask me.

blahlistic (@blahlistic)

Cops really, REALLY seem to forget that a taser is defined as a “less-lethal” weapon. It’s not a “non-lethal” weapon.
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/08/13/taser-death-of-graffiti-artist-israel-hernandez-llach-revives-debate.html

If you can tase someone instead of shooting them, because that person is armed and dangerous, that’s good. You’re way less likely to kill with a taser.

If you are tasing someone multiple times to get them to comply, this in a situation where lethal force wouldn’t otherwise be justified, then you ought not to be using a goddamn taser.

If you’re using a taser in a situation where you could have talked someone down and not had things spiral out of control in the first place, you’re an idiot.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
7 years ago

Of course this is, from a moral perspective, absolutely outrageous. But removing the moral component is revealing, because this is the opposite of effective policing if one’s objective is to reduce crime. However, it is the perfect response if one’s objective is to reduce reported crime without expending many resources over the long run.

By the numbers, the crude and completely non-nuanced numbers, the St. Louis PD may look very, very good for the next 8-10 years as POC, especially black POC, decline to report crime. This is also a great way to support physical and economic segregation between black people and whites, as is all outsized police action against minority persons.

I’m not saying that this is their goal. I have not been privy to the motives of their coordinators. I’m saying that, if the objective were not only born out of racism, but intended to reinforce racism, the actions that have been taken in reality would be fully consistent with that goal. Furthermore, they will have that effect, whether the intention was there or not.

lkeke35
lkeke35
7 years ago

The irony is that pandering to the kinds of people that make up their base, only makes those who are middle line conservative get turned off from them. Which ends up concentrating their constituents into a smaller and tighter circle of paranoia and intolerance.

Also you have to understand that people have been primed by years of television, movies and thriller novels to think of the police as ” the good guys/white hats of America”. The police themselves have watched all these movies and tv shows with fine upstanding, noble white cops fighting the hoards of ” Black and Brown Thugs” and upholding civilization. We’ve all been inundated with the stories of how dangerous their jobs are and how they deal with the dregs of society and how they’re so sensitive, which results in alcoholism, divorce and suicide. Americans have all been as carefully brainwashed to have empathy for the police, no matter what they do as they have been brainwashed to automatically associate the word “criminal” with the word “Black”. Many of the excuses I’ve heard for the police of Ferguson come right out of the movies and tv shows we’ve been listening to for decades.

I think that says a lot about Americans ability to ignore what’s right in front of their eyeballs in favor of platitudes and happy lies. Also a complete inability to question any of the media they consume.

strivingally
7 years ago

A great piece from three years ago by Digby regarding the increasingly unnecessary war-ready hardware the police are sporting:

The United States has never had fully militarised police before, armed with the kind of high-tech surveillance and weaponry that would never be allowed if the National Guard were called up in an emergency. And neither have we ever had such a malleable definition of what constitutes an emergency. At a time of increasing citizen unrest, it’s a volatile combination.

closetpuritan
7 years ago

@mildlymagnificent:

But a fair average quality police officer who’s been _trained_ to keep in touch with the community would use such a golden opportunity to establish or enhance relationships.

Another problem (in addition to the racism) is that in many police departments, police are not being trained in community policing.
So when you arm a cop like a soldier, when you dress ‘em like a soldier, when you tell ‘em to fight in a war and then send ‘em out into a neighborhood that he has no stake in and doesn’t consider himself a part of, you get a very antagonistic, us-versus-them relationship between the officer and that community. I think that is really pervasive, and the rise of the stop-snitchin’ movement, whatever you think of it, shows there are entire communities in this country that are more afraid of police than they are of the people that the police are supposed to be protecting them from. That is a pretty terrible development.

I think that the us-vs-them of racism and the us-vs-them of the warrior cop is a situation where the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and not in a good way. Especially when the entire department is almost all white and the community is not.

Ally & freemage–Between knowing Grace Annam (online, as a regular on Alas) and knowing my uncle (a former cop) I can’t get on board with the “all cops are bad” thing. But I think there is probably not just a difference between the quality of officers, but the quality of departments; I don’t think that a state trooper hearing secondhand or in the news about corruption in a city police department, or a cop in one city hearing about corruption in another city, really has more power to do anything about it than we do.

GrumpyOldMan
7 years ago

There was quite a kerfluffle in the nearby college town of Keene, NH, when the police purchased an armored vehicle with $285,933 in Federal Homeland Security money. Leaving aside the GOOD things you could do with all that money, there is the question of whether having such a vehicle has a psychological effect on the police, making them more aggressive.

But then Keene has a Pumpkin Festival every October, where people do get drunk and rowdy.

strivingally
7 years ago

I know that there’s been plenty of research that shows when a hospital gets a shiny new piece of equipment, a lot more people get sent for tests that use that shiny new piece of equipment, and it usually takes a while for the unnecessary extra tests to settle down because everybody feels the need to justify the shiny new machine and also gets excited about the shiny new machine. And having played a round or two of paintball, I know that just having something gun-shaped in your hands, and an enemy in front of you to fire it at, does definitely do something to change the way you think, at least temporarily. Those two things combine in nasty ways when it comes to people who are meant to serve and protect the community, especially in the context of @closetpuritan’s point about the cops also not having a direct stake in making the engagement with the community peaceful and cooperative.

It’s interesting to see the other side of it now as well – EJW’s twitter feed is suggesting that since the riot teams backed off, the protests have actually settled right down. I guess people feel more antagonistic when they’re having tear gas and rubber bullets fired at ’em by the same people who are protecting someone who killed one of their kids, huh?

lkeke35
lkeke35
7 years ago

While I don’t speak for all WoC, I’d like to give a tearful, heartfelt THANK YOU! To everyone on this forum and a couple of others for proving to me that Black people are not alone in our outrage.

My heart has felt so heavy and I’ve been fighting back my tears and fears all week long. And as usual, every time one of these things happens, there are White people crawling out of the woodwork to hop on any ideological train they believe will run over some Black people. Like cockroaches, they exemplify my every secret and not so secret fear that White people are sociopaths who care nothing for lives that don’t directly affect their own. It makes me doubt my friends and give my co workers the side eye, wondering which one of them is harbor ing this toxic irrationality. It affects my relationships and I hate thinking such things about people I care about.

The past few days has done a lot to dispel a lot of those fears.

The bottom line is: What kind of person do you want to be? Some of the people on these and other forums have shown me that they, at least, try to live according to the “Better Angels of their nature” rather than their lowest impulses.

I thank all of you for the compassion and empathy with which you have approached this topic. ????

blahlistic (@blahlistic)

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/mike-brown-law-requires-all-state-county-and-local-police-wear-camera/8tlS5czf

Petition to require police to wear cameras.
Not a bad idea.
However, not a perfect fix either, because cameras can conveniently malfunction and so forth.

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