Friday, August 22, 2014

The Structural, Institutional, Systemic, and Visceral Dominance of White Supremacy, the Real National History Of the United States, And the Ongoing Ominous Lessons Of Ferguson, Missouri


While the Governor of Missouri, various other local white politicians and officials and the Ferguson police continue to play violent theatrical games for the benefit of the spectacle-starved national media and a large population of virulently racist white American citizens in the metropolitan St, Louis County area and the state of Missouri generally (one of only three midwestern states who voted overwhelmingly for Romney in the 2012 presidential election), the REAL ISSUES of this catastrophe that annihilated the life of an 18 year old boy continue to be largely IGNORED by both the media and the contemptible, opportunist and corrupt politicians from Missouri--and most of the rest of the nation as well.

SO LET'S KEEP OUR EYES FIXED ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS.  A black human being by the name of MICHAEL BROWN was slaughtered like an animal in the street and an armed thug with a badge named DARREN WILSON is responsible for Brown's wanton MURDER. Meanwhile NOTHING has been done about this vicious crime. NOTHING AT ALL. Wilson hasn't even been arrested nor is he in police or juridical custody. He is instead on PAID LEAVE at home while the Ferguson police run wild in the very streets where Wilson's victim was butchered and remained bleeding for over SIX HOURS (!). THINK about what all this really means as far too many people continue to be stupidly SIDETRACKED by the deplorable antics of the white politicians and police (and their clueless black acolytes) who are using guns, batons, tear gas, and military hardware to hide the fact that they are in fact (along with the much of the national media) that they are openly and criminally AIDING AND ABETTING A MURDERER as they continue to attack, assault, and brutalize the African American citizens and human beings of Ferguson, Missouri.

DON'T BE FOOLED PEOPLE. Don't allow the despicable smoke and mirrors show starring the tanks, guns, tear gas, and paternal, patronizing white supremacist rhetoric and idiotic bluster of the white politicians and their simpering black acolytes, or the cynical stupidity and indifference of the media deter you remaining focused on what's really important in this situation. REMEMBER: Our very lives are at stake. If the infuriatingly tragic death of MICHAEL BROWN tells us anything at all, it tells us that...








Stress Is a Growing Way of Life in Ferguson

Life has been hard for residents who are mourning the loss of Michael Brown, as well as for other residents who face daily disruptions to their everyday lives.

August 18 2014
The Root

Kizzie and Charles Davis in the Ferguson Burger Bar & More August 18, 2014   Photo by LYNETTE HOLLOWAY

Friday, Aug. 8, was a big day for Kizzie and Charles Davis. It was the day they opened Ferguson Burger Bar & More on West Florissant Avenue for the first time after taking it over from the previous owner, they told The Root Monday.

But the next day, they were saddened to learn that Michael Brown was gunned down by a police officer, and within hours the streets were catching fire as angry protesters rolled out to call for justice over the shooting. The Davises’ business has closed early nearly every day since the shooting, and they worry about its future, but they are keeping faith. And while saddened by Brown’s death, they see one silver lining. There is new attention on a long-simmering issue in the black community: police brutality and the use of excessive force.

“It’s bittersweet,” Kizzie Davis, 35, of Ferguson, told The Root, taking a break from the lunchtime rush, serving up burgers, catfish and jack-tail dinners and Philly-cheesesteak sandwiches. “Brown’s unfortunate death has turned attention to an important issue of the black community’s relationship with the police. We hope it brings about lasting change.“

Not far from where the 18-year-old was shot by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson,Jesse Burns worked quickly to trim his lawn on Monday afternoon before nightfall. He did not mince words when asked about life in Ferguson. “Terrible,” Burns, 40, told The Root with a nervous laugh during an interview just a stone’s throw from his tidy three-bedroom house off Canfield Drive, which he moved into about three weeks ago. “The police or whatever won’t let me come home if it’s too late [between 3 and 5 p.m.]. The streets are blocked off.”

In fact, Burns, who works for UPS Trucking, said the roadblocks are so bad that he had to sleep at his girlfriend’s house in a different community Sunday night after work because the roads were closed to vehicle traffic. He was off Monday, so he used the time to inspect his home and do a little lawn maintenance, he said.

Schools have shut down because of fear of violence around children walking to or from school, prompting families to make alternate child-care plans or simply stay home from work. Gloria Vann, 65, a retired public school administrative assistant who lives in Ferguson, stepped in to help out by taking care of her great-grandsons, 9 and 12, who were off from school. She declined to give their names.

“I’m happy to be out of school,” the 12-year-old told The Root, but “I’m not happy about the shooting.”

Vann and the boys stood along West Florissant Avenue, a busy commercial strip in Ferguson, observing the scene a little after noon on Monday. “I brought them out so they could see why they can’t go to school today,” she said. “When I get back home, I will review the things we saw. They had a chance to meet Jesse Jackson and took pictures with him.”

The Revs. Jackson and Al Sharpton have made appearances in Ferguson, calling for peace and calm. But the protests continue, taking on a life of their own, marked alternately by violent outbursts and acts of civil disobedience played out on West Florissant Avenue. And after nearly a week of violent clashes between police and protesters, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced early Monday that the National Guard would patrol the streets, increasing anger and resentment among some residents. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to travel to Missouri amid a civil rights investigation into Brown’s shooting, President Obama announced during a news conference Monday.

Indeed, Ferguson at night almost rivals televised news images of some conflicts in the Middle East. Sirens wail against the backdrop of chanting protesters and bottles crashing on the cement, and ribbons of flashing blue and red police lights illuminate the dark sky as hulking armored tanks block off major intersections.

Scores of people, young and old, line both sides of West Florissant Avenue. Some chant, others thrust their hands in the air as if under arrest, while others simply stand by taking in the scene, snapping pictures. The media scrum generates the attention of those who want justice for Brown, as well as some fame seekers and outside agitators, residents, including Burns, have told The Root.

Snaking roadblocks, with scads of officers standing sentinel, aren’t the only problem, according to Burns. He says that noise is generated by police helicopters that begin circling overhead with spotlights at nightfall and continue until daybreak. “I can’t get any sleep around here,” said Burns. “I know I’m right here in the middle of it, and I can’t expect for it to be quiet, but some nights I just don’t stay over here.”

As for the violence, residents hope it will ratchet down soon, especially with Holder planning to make an appearance in the city.

“I believe it’s the people that are not of this area that’s creating all of the havoc,” Vann said. “And the police are instigating this. Why do they need to throw fire or gas bombs at these youths? Why? That’s not the solution, and bringing in the National Guard is not the solution, either. They need to sit and listen to what the people have to say. That’s where they need to start.”

Lynette Holloway is a contributing editor at The Root. The Chicago-based writer is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.

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12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People

Because Ferguson is happening right now, but systemic racism happens every day.vvvv

August 19 2014
The Root

Protesters hold a rally August 18, 2014, in New York City in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo., protesting the death of Michael Brown and the excessive use of force by police.

Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, was shot six times and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, during a stop for jaywalking in Ferguson, Mo. Some facts are uncontroverted: Brown was unarmed when he was shot about 35 feet away from Wilson, who didn’t know that Brown was a suspect in an alleged shoplifting incident that occurred a short time before the shooting. Other facts are disputed: Some people claim that Brown attacked Wilson, and others claim that Brown was running away from Wilson with his hands in the air. Either way, another young black man is dead because of use of excessive force by the police in a situation that did not justify shooting to kill.

Most of us have watched as Ferguson’s black community rose up in outrage against the almost all-white police department, demanding justice and accountability. Our disbelief and heartache turned to collective anger and fear as the response to the protests became more militarized, with the deployment of police dogs, riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets. And we’ve started speaking out in opposition to these developments, all of which have the hallmarks of being rooted in systemic, institutionalized racism.

Yet some people, especially some white people, have not yet become engaged. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or how to say it or are concerned about backlash from other white people. This is understandable but not acceptable when the continuation of white silence and inaction means the oppression and death of black people.

So let’s talk about an active role for white people in the fight against racism, because racism burdens all of us and is destroying our communities. White people have a role in undoing racism because white people created and, for the most part, currently maintain (whether they want to or not) the racist system that benefits white people to the detriment of people of color.

White people who hate racism should work hard to become white allies. Here are some ways for a white person to become engaged, thoughtfully and critically, in examining the crisis in Ferguson and systemic racism in America.

1. Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the racialized history of America. Brown’s killing is not an anomaly or a statistical outlier. It is the direct product of deadly tensions born from decades of housing discrimination, white flight, intergenerational poverty and racial profiling.

2. Reject the “He was a good kid” or “He was a criminal” narrative and lift up the “Black lives matter” narrative. Those who knew him say Brown was a good kid. But that’s not why his death is tragic. His death isn’t tragic because he was on his way to college the following week. His death is tragic because he was a human being and his life mattered. The good-kid narrative might provoke some sympathy, but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior. The good-kid narrative says that this kid didn’t deserve to die because his goodness was an exception to the rule. This is wrong. This kid didn’t deserve to die, period. Similarly, reject the “He was a criminal” narrative surrounding the convenience store robbery because even if Brown did steal some cigars and have a scuffle with the shopkeeper, that is still not a justification for his killing. All black lives matter, not just the ones we deem to be “good.”

3. Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities. Be mindful, and politically and socially aware with your language. Notice how the mainstream news outlets are using words like “riot” and “looting” to describe the uprising in Ferguson. What’s happening is not a riot. The people are protesting with a righteous anger. This is a justified rebellion.

4. Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison-industrial complex. Black people aren’t enslaved on the plantation anymore. Now African Americans are locked up in for-profit prisons at disproportionate rates and for longer sentences for the same crimes committed by white people. And when we’re released we’re second-class citizens, stripped of voting rights in some states and denied access to housing, employment and education. Mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow.

5. Examine the interplay between poverty and racial equity. The twin pillar of racism is economic injustice, but don’t use class issues to trump race issues and avoid the racism conversation. Although racism and class oppression are tangled together in this country, the fact remains that the No. 1 predictor of prosperity and access to opportunity is race.

6. Diversify your media. Be intentional about looking for and paying close attention to diverse voices of color on television, on radio, online and in print to help shape your awareness, understanding and thinking about political, economic and social issues.

7. Adhere to the philosophy of nonviolence as you resist racism and oppression. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for nonviolent conflict reconciliation as the primary strategy of the civil rights movement and the charge of his “final marching orders.” East Point Peace Academy offers online resources and in-person training on nonviolence that is accessible to all people, regardless of ability to pay.

8. Find support from fellow white allies. Challenge and encourage one another to dig deeper, even when it hurts and especially when you feel confused, angry and hopeless, so that you can be more authentic in your shared journey with people of color to protect principles of anti-racism and equity. Go to workshops like Training for Change’s Whites Confronting Racism or the People’s Institute’s European Dissent. Attend the White Privilege Conference or the Facing Race conference. Some organizations offer scholarships or reduced fees to help people attend.

9. If you are a person of faith, look to your Scriptures or other holy texts for guidance. Seek out faith-based organizations like Sojourners, and follow faith leaders who incorporate social justice into their ministry. Ask your clergyperson to address anti-racism in sermons and teachings. If you are not a person of faith, learn how the world’s religions view social-justice issues so that when you have an opportunity to invite people of faith to also become white allies, you can talk with them meaningfully about why being a white ally is supported by their spiritual beliefs.

10. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular. If you start calling out all the racism you witness (and it will be a lot, once you know what you’re seeing), some people might not want to hang out with you as much. But think about it like this: Staying silent when you witness oppression is the same as supporting oppression. So you can be the popular person who stands with oppression, or you can be the (maybe) unpopular person who stands for equality and dignity for all people. Which person would you prefer to be?

11. Be proactive in your own community. As a white ally, you are not limited to reacting only when black people are subjected to violence very visibly and publicly. Moments of crisis do not need to be the catalyst. Taking action against systemic racism is always appropriate because systemic racism permeates this country. Some ideas for action: Organize a community conversation about the state of police-community relations in your neighborhood; support leaders of color by donating your time or money to their campaigns or causes; ask the local library to host a showing of, and discussion group about, the documentary Race—the Power of an Illusion; attend workshops to learn how to transform conflict into opportunity for dialogue. Gather together white allies who represent the diversity of backgrounds in your community. Anti-racism is not a liberals-only cause. Anti-racism is a movement for all people, whether they are conservative, progressive, rich, poor, urban or rural.

12. Don’t give up. We’re 400 years into this racist system, and it’s going to take decades—centuries, probably—to dismantle. The anti-racism movement is a struggle for generations, not simply the hot-button issue of the moment. Transformation of a broken system doesn’t happen quickly or easily. You may not see or feel the positive impact of your white allyship during the next month, the next year, the next decade or even your lifetime. But don’t ever stop. Being a white ally matters because you will be part of what turns the tide someday. Change starts with the individual.

People of color cannot and should not shoulder the burden for dismantling the racist, white-supremacist system that devalues and criminalizes black life without the all-in support, blood, sweat and tears of white people. If you are not already a white ally, now is the time to become one.

Many voiceless black youths find old guard civil rights leaders’ voices indistinguishable from political white noise.

August 18 2014

The Root

Demonstrators raise their hands Aug. 15, 2014, as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was killed in broad daylight on Aug. 9, 2014, with witnesses and law enforcement providing conflicting accounts of how the 18-year-old lost his life. JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This past week’s racial crisis in Ferguson, Mo., has uncovered a divide within the black community—one based on generation, class and the cloudy political vision offered by African-American politics in the Obama age.

When asked who is the leader of the ongoing protests since the killing of Michael Brown—protests that have triggered Missouri’s governor to declare a state of emergency and curfew—one young man from St. Louis answered, “Do we have a leader? No,” and he went on to suggest that the martyred Brown, himself, offered the best example of leadership for Ferguson’s angry and alienated young people.

As last week progressed, protests on the streets of that city operated on two separate tracks: Civil rights leaders have organized effective nonviolent marches even as young protesters, and some would-be outlaws, have descended into violence and looting in parts of the city.

Leaders such as the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have visited Ferguson, but their pleas for calm have been ineffective.

Ironically, the black person who provided arguably the most visible leadership during the Ferguson events has been Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, whose forceful, yet compassionate, presence and policing tactics helped to temporarily defuse the escalating crisis.

That young people in Ferguson refused to heed calls for nonviolence should come as no surprise. Demonstrations at the height of the civil rights era featured sporadic incidents of violence waged by angry black Americans outraged at racism and poverty, but unwilling or unable to commit to the discipline of nonviolence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encountered these episodes in Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis, Tenn., and was famously heckled when he visited Watts in the aftermath of Los Angeles’ 1965 rebellion.

What makes the current situation different from the 1960s is that we have no Stokely Carmichael or Black Panthers who can properly relate to the young people in and outside of Ferguson, who have used the language of violence to convey rage and disappointment.

Make no mistake: Brown’s killing is not the root cause of Ferguson’s violence. It’s merely the spark that triggered it. Poverty, segregation, unemployment and a climate of anti-black racism haunt tiny Ferguson and the wider St. Louis metropolitan area. Riots, King reminded us, are “the language of the unheard” and oppressed.

It’s no wonder, then, that local young black men and women can’t identify a single black leader or organization as the leader of the chaotic demonstrations in which they have participated.

National black political leaders from the civil rights era have tried, through organizational outreach, speeches, media—both traditional and social—marches and demonstrations to reach out to and stay connected with a new generation of young people. But this effort bumps up against the limitations of resources and outreach.

America’s racial underclass, the off-the-grid hustlers and entrepreneurs whom many black elites ignore or demonize, rarely sees political leaders of any color advocating for them.

The divide, while generational on the surface, is also fueled by class, since young people with education, networks and access tend to view politics as a long-term process—one that comes with victories but also compromise and setbacks. Millions of young blacks have no entree to the nuances of American democracy and racial struggle. Their world is more painfully straightforward and wrenching—black folks get shot in the streets with no hope of justice.

The ideal response to this tragedy, one that our national civil rights narrative promotes but, in fact, was never entirely true, is for the entire black population of Ferguson to put on their best church clothes and nonviolently show the world what happened to Michael Brown.

But in the age of Obama, these young people find the lessons of the civil rights era increasingly hard to comprehend. Certainly, the frequency of police killings of black men, the Iraq War-styled police presence in Ferguson, and the numbing persistence of racial segregation and violence make talk of racial progress ring hollow.

Putting civil rights leaders in a tough spot. They’re wary of being too critical of President Barack Obama’s track record on race and poverty, aware that the attorney general is his staunch ally and they’ve been pilloried by conservatives as “race hustlers,” eager to arouse the rabble. But perhaps most importantly, the very constituency they often claim to speak for—the voiceless black youths who have come out in Ferguson over the past week—find these leaders’ voices indistinguishable from the political white noise that only unfettered violence seems capable of breaking through.

Peniel E. Joseph, a contributing editor at The Root, is founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and a professor of history at Tufts University. He is the author of Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama and Stokely: A Life. Follow him on Twitter.

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Autopsy Shows Michael Brown Was Struck at Least 6 Times

AUG. 17, 2014
New York Times

Part of a preliminary private autopsy report by Dr. Baden and Professor Parcells showing wounds on Mr. Brown’s body.
Credit Dr. Michael M. Baden

FERGUSON, Mo. — Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found.

One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family’s request to conduct the separate autopsy. It was likely the last of bullets to hit him, he said.

Mr. Brown, 18, was also shot four times in the right arm, he said, adding that all the bullets were fired into his front.

The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body. However, that determination could change if it turns out that there is gunshot residue on Mr. Brown’s clothing, to which Dr. Baden did not have access.


Dr. Michael Baden, right, and Prof. Shawn Parcells in Ferguson, Mo. Dr. Baden, based in New York, examined Michael Brown.
Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Sunday that the Justice Department would conduct its own autopsy, in addition to the one performed by local officials and this private one because, a department spokesman said, of “the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family.”

The preliminary autopsy results are the first time that some of the critical information resulting in Mr. Brown’s death has been made public. Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets here in rallies that ranged from peaceful to violent.

Mr. Brown died last week in a confrontation with a police officer here in this suburb of St. Louis. The police department has come under harsh criticism for refusing to clarify the circumstances of the shooting and for responding to protests with military-style operational gear.

“People have been asking: How many times was he shot? This information could have been released on Day 1,” Dr. Baden said in an interview after performing the autopsy. “They don’t do that, even as feelings built up among the citizenry that there was a cover-up. We are hoping to alleviate that.”

Dr. Baden said that while Mr. Brown was shot at least six times, only three bullets were recovered from his body. But he has not yet seen the X-rays showing where the bullets were found, which would clarify the autopsy results. Nor has he had access to witness and police statements.

Dr. Baden provided a diagram of the entry wounds, and noted that the six shots produced numerous wounds. Some of the bullets entered and exited several times, including one that left at least five different wounds.

“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” he said, indicating the wound at the very top of Mr. Brown’s head. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”

He stressed that his information does not assign blame or justify the shooting.

“We need more information; for example, the police should be examining the automobile to see if there is gunshot residue in the police car,” he said.

Dr. Baden, 80, is a well-known New York-based medical examiner, who is one of only about 400 board-certified forensic pathologists in the nation. He reviewed the autopsies of both President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has performed more than 20,000 autopsies himself.

He is best known for having hosted the HBO show “Autopsy,” but he rankles when he is called a “celebrity medical examiner,” saying that the vast majority of what he does has nothing to do with celebrities.

Dr. Baden said that because of the tremendous attention to the case, he waived his $10,000 fee.

Prof. Shawn L. Parcells, a pathologist assistant based in Kansas, assisted Dr. Baden.

“You do this for the families,” Mr. Parcells said.

The two medical experts conducted the four-hour examination Sunday at the Austin A. Layne Mortuary in St. Louis. Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Brown’s family who paid their travel expenses, hired them.

“The sheer number of bullets and the way they were scattered all over his body showed this police officer had a brazen disregard for the very people he was supposed to protect in that community,” Mr. Crump said. “We want to make sure people understand what this case is about: This case is about a police officer executing a young unarmed man in broad daylight.”

A spokesman for the Ferguson Police Department, Tim Zoll, said the police had not seen a report of the autopsy and therefore had no comment on it.

Dr. Baden said he consulted with the St. Louis County medical examiner before conducting the autopsy.

One of the bullets shattered Mr. Brown’s right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired.

Mr. Brown, he said, would not have survived the shooting even if he had been taken to a hospital right away. The autopsy indicated that he was otherwise healthy.

Dr. Baden said it was unusual for the federal government to conduct a third autopsy, but dueling examinations often occur when there is so much distrust of the authorities. The county of St. Louis has conducted an autopsy, and the results have not yet been released.

He stressed that his examination was not to determine whether the shooting was justified.

“In my capacity as the forensic examiner for the New York State Police, I would say, ‘You’re not supposed to shoot so many times,’ ” said Dr. Baden, who retired from the state police in 2011. “Right now there is too little information to forensically reconstruct the shooting.”

No matter what conclusions can be drawn from Dr. Baden’s work, Mr. Brown’s death remains marked by shifting and contradictory accounts more than a week after it occurred. The shooting is under investigation by St. Louis County and by the F.B.I., working with the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the office of Attorney General Holder.

According to what has emerged so far, on Saturday, Aug. 9, Mr. Brown, along with a companion, Dorian Johnson, was walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a fistful of cigarillos in Mr. Brown’s hand, police say, which a videotape shows he stole from a liquor store on West Florissant Ave.

At 12:01 p.m., they were stopped by Darren Wilson, a police officer, who ordered them off the road and onto the sidewalk, Mr. Johnson, who is 22, later said.

The police have said that what happened next was a physical struggle between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson that left the officer with a swollen face. Mr. Johnson and others have said that it was a case of racial profiling and police aggression from a white officer toward a black man. Within minutes, Mr. Brown, who was unarmed, was dead of gunshot wounds.

The sequence of events provided by law enforcement officials places Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson at Ferguson Market and Liquors, a store several blocks away on West Florissant Ave., at about 11:50 a.m. After leaving the store with the cigarillos, the two walked north on West Florissant, a busy commercial thoroughfare, toward Canfield Drive, a clerk reported to the police.

Mr. Brown was a big man at 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, though his family and friends described him as quiet and shy, a homebody who lived with his grandmother.

It is about a 10-minute walk from Ferguson Market to the spot where Officer Wilson, 28, with six years’ experience, approached Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson.

The police tell of an officer who was enforcing the minor violation of jaywalking, as Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson ignored the sidewalk and strolled down the middle of the road instead.

The morning after the shooting, Chief Jon Belmar of the St. Louis County police said that Officer Wilson was leaving his police car when Mr. Brown “allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car,” where he “physically assaulted the police officer.”

“Within the police car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon,” Chief Belmar said. “There was at least one shot fired in the car.” At that point, the police said, Officer Wilson left his vehicle and fatally shot Mr. Brown. “More than a few” shell casings were recovered from the scene.

Mr. Johnson, who declined to be interviewed, has described the events differently in television interviews. While he and Mr. Brown walked, he said, Officer Wilson stopped his vehicle and told them to get on the sidewalk. When they refused, Officer Wilson slammed on his brakes and drove in reverse to get closer.

When the officer opened his door, it hit Mr. Brown. With his left hand, Officer Wilson reached out and grabbed Mr. Brown by the neck, Mr. Johnson said.

“It’s like tug-of-war,” Mr. Johnson said. “He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’ ”

A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said in an interview with MSNBC that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.

According to Ms. Mitchell, “The officer gets out of his vehicle,” she said, pursuing Mr. Brown, then continued to shoot.

Mr. Johnson said that he hid behind a parked car and that Mr. Brown was struck by a bullet in his back as he ran away, an account that Dr. Baden’s autopsy appears to contradict.

“Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Ms. Mitchell said, “and then he put his hands up.” Mr. Brown turned, Mr. Johnson said, raised his hands, and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

Officer Wilson continued to fire and Mr. Brown crumpled to the ground, Mr. Johnson said. Within seconds, confusion and horror swept through Canfield Drive. On that Saturday afternoon, dozens of neighbors were at home and rushed out of their apartments when they heard gunshots.

One person who claimed to witness the shooting began posting frantic messages on Twitter, written hastily with shorthand and grammatical errors, only two minutes after Officer Wilson approached Mr. Brown. At 12:03 p.m., the person, identified as @TheePharoah, a St. Louis-area rapper, wrote on Twitter that he had just seen someone die.

That same minute, he wrote, “Im about to hyperventilate.”

At 12:23 p.m., he wrote, “dude was running and the cops just saw him. I saw him die bruh.”

A 10-minute video posted on YouTube appeared to be taken on a cellphone by someone who identified himself as a neighbor. The video, which has collected more than 225,000 views, captures Mr. Brown’s body, the yellow police tape that marked off the crime scene and the residents standing behind it.

“They shot that boy ’cause they wanted to,” said one woman who can be heard on the video.

“They said he had his hands up and everything,” said the man taking the video, speaking to a neighbor.

Mr. Brown’s body remained in the street for several hours, a delay that Chief Jackson said last week made him “uncomfortable.” Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has been active in this case, said on ABC on Sunday that the body had remained in the street for nearly five hours.

At one point, a woman can be heard shouting, “Where is the ambulance? Where is the ambulance?” The man taking the video, who remained off-camera, said, “God rest his soul. He’s gone.”


Violence Flares in Ferguson After Appeals for HarmonyAUG. 17, 2014

Obama Administration Plans Autopsy of Michael Brown in Effort to Keep PeaceAUG. 17, 2014

The Media Equation: View of Ferguson Thrust Michael Brown Shooting to National Attention

Deep Tensions Rise to Surface After Ferguson ShootingAUG. 16, 2014

Lack of Leadership and a Generational Split Hinder Protests in FergusonAUG. 16, 2014

Part of a preliminary private autopsy report by Dr. Baden and Professor Parcells showing wounds on Mr. Brown’s body.
Credit Dr. Michael M. Baden

Here's another powerfully sad image from earlier today, this one from Ferguson. Hope these kids grow up in a safer world.

hystericalblackness @hystericalblkns
This. Breaks. My. Heart.
4:56 PM - 13 Aug 2014


Crime and Justice, Race and Ethnicity, Top Stories
Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?

The killing in Ferguson was one of many such cases. Here's what the data reveals.

By Jaeah Lee
August 15, 2014
Mother Jones
Jeff Roberson/AP

The killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was no anomaly: As we reported yesterday, Brown is one of at least four unarmed black men who died at the hands of police in the last month alone. There are many more cases from years past. As Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Missouri chapter put it in a statement of condolence to Brown's family, "Unarmed African-American men are shot and killed by police at an alarming rate. This pattern must stop."

But quantifying that pattern is difficult. Federal databases that track police use of force or arrest-related deaths paint only a partial picture. Police department data is scattered and fragmented. No agency appears to track the number of police shootings or killings of unarmed victims in a systematic, comprehensive way.

Here's some of what we do know:

Previous attempts to analyze racial bias in police shootings have arrived at similar conclusions. In 2007, ColorLines and the Chicago Reporter investigated fatal police shootings in 10 major cities, and found that there were a disproportionately high number of African Americans among police shooting victims in every one, particularly in New York, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

"We need not look for individual racists to say that we have a culture of policing that is really rubbing salt into longstanding racial wounds," NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks told Mother Jones. It's a culture in which people suspected of minor crimes are met with "overwhelmingly major, often lethal, use of force," he says.

In Oakland, California, the NAACP reported that out of 45 officer-involved shootings in the city between 2004 and 2008, 37 of those shot were black. None were white. One-third of the shootings resulted in fatalities. Although weapons were not found in 40 percent of cases, the NAACP found, no officers were charged. (These numbers don't include 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a transit authority officer at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Day of 2009.)

The New York City Police Department has reported similar trends in its firearms discharge report, which shows that more black people have been shot by NYPD officers between 2000 and 2011 than have Hispanics or whites.

When you look at the racial breakdown of New Yorkers, black people are disproportionately represented among those targeted as criminal shooting suspects, firearms arrestees, and those fired upon or struck by police gunfire.

NYPD Firearms Discharge Report, 2011

Often, the police officers do not get convicted or sentenced. Delores Jones-Brown, a law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Statistics at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, has identified dozens of black men and women who have died at the hands of police going back as far as 1994. She notes that while these incidents happen regularly, it often takes a high-profile case, such as Brown's, to bring other recent incidents to national attention.

"For whatever reason, juries are much less likely to convict" police who kill.
"Unfortunately, the patterns that we've been seeing recently are consistent: The police don't show as much care when they are handling incidents that involve young black men and women, and so they do shoot and kill," says Jones-Brown, a former assistant prosecutor in Monmouth County, New Jersey. "And then for whatever reason, juries and prosecutor's offices are much less likely to indict or convict."

Between 2003 and 2009, the DOJ reported that 4,813 people died while in the process of arrest or in the custody of law enforcement. These include people who died before an officer physically placed him or her under custody or arrest. This data, known as arrest-related deaths, doesn't reveal a significant discrepancy between whites, blacks, or hispanics. It also doesn't specify how many victims were unarmed. According to the FBI, which has tracked justifiable homicides up to 2012, 410 felons died at the hands of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.*

Bureau of Justice Statistics

But black people are more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience a police officer's threat or use of force, according to the Department of Justice's Police Public Contact Survey in 2008, the latest year for which data is available. Of those who felt that police had used or threatened them with force that year, about 74 percent felt those actions were excessive. In another DOJ survey of police behavior during traffic and street stops in 2011, blacks and Hispanics were less likely than whites to believe that the reason for the stop was legitimate.

The Justice Department has investigated possible systemic abuse of power by police in at least 15 cities.

Police shootings of unarmed black people aren't limited to poor or predominantly black communities. Jones-Brown points to examples where police officers have shot unarmed black men and women in Hollywood, Riverside (California), and Prince Georges County—a Maryland suburb known as the most affluent US county with an African-American majority. "Part of the problem is that black people realize that you don't have to be poor, you don't have to be in your own community...and this can happen to you," she says. These killings occur against black people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds: "Actors, professional football players, college students, high school grads. They happen to black cops, too."

"You don't have to be poor, you don't have to be in your own community...and this can happen to you."
Yet, the lack of comprehensive data means that we can't know if there's been an upsurge in such cases, says Samuel Walker, a criminal justice scholar at the University of Nebraska in Omaha and author of The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America. "It's impossible to make any definitive statement on whether there were more incidents in the last 5 to 10 years than in the past," he says. "We just don't have that kind of data." But what is certain, Walker says, is that the fatal shooting in Ferguson "was just the tip of the iceberg."

UPDATE (8/15/14): USA Today reported that on average there were 96 cases of a white police officer killing a black person each year between 2006 and 2012, based on justifiable homicides reported to the FBI by local police. As I reported above, the FBI's justifiable homicides database paints only a partial picture—accounting for cases in which an officer killed a felon. It does not necessarily include cases involving victims like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others who were unarmed when confronted by police. The data in this post has been updated with 2012 numbers, and the map has been updated to reflect that certain cases have been closed.


Ferguson Shooting: Groups Around Country March in Solidarity With Missouri Protesters

From New York's Times Square to Los Angeles and Baltimore Inner Harbor, Residents Demonstrate

by PERVAIZ SHALLWANI in New York, SHEILA V KUMAR in Los Angeles and SCOTT CALVERT in Baltimore

Updated Aug. 15, 2014 
People sit in the middle of an intersection in Times Square as part of a march that sprung from a National Day of Silence in Remembrance of Michael Brown on Thursday. EPA

Groups in cities across the country marched in solidarity Thursday with those in Ferguson, Mo., who have been protesting the killing by a police officer of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown.

In New York City, hundreds gathered in peaceful protests in several locations. More than 500 protesters marched around Union Square early in the evening, at times placing their hands in the air. At one point demonstrators stopped by officers keeping watch and chanted, "I can't breathe."

A crowd of hundreds then moved uptown, settling in Times Square around 8:30 p.m. Many had their arms raised high in the air. Some in the crowds chanted,"Hands up," while others, after a beat, added, "Don't shoot."

Noche Diaz, 26, representing a group called NYC Revolution Club, said through a loudspeaker, "The people in Ferguson are not alone! We are all part of the fight!"

The Times Square protest was stopped at 42nd Street and 9th Avenue, according to witnesses, after marchers were wrapped with what they said was an orange net by police. Witnesses said police then gradually let protesters out of the containment net, about five at a time.

More than 200 people filled Fulton Park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, shouting, crying, and chanting names of those who had died at the hands of law enforcement across the country. Some said the shooting of Mr. Brown made them afraid for their own families. "I've got a brother, and every day I've got to worry about him," said Javana Mundy. "I worry he's going to get shot the way Michael Brown got shot."

At Morningside Park in Harlem on Manhattan's northern edge, about 500 people gathered, including Feminista Jones, 35, who said she organized the massive countrywide moment of silence. "We have to remember the lives that were lost to police brutality, to police violence," she said.

In Los Angeles, hundreds gathered in Leimert Park, many wearing shirts reading "Hands up, don't shoot" and carrying signs saying "I am Mike Brown."

The protest was peaceful, with minimal police presence, said officer Jane Kim a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department. She said the department didn't anticipate any problems with the protest.

Frustration is building among protesters in Ferguson, Mo., over tactics the police are using to calm citizens. John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Robert McCrie discusses police tactics on the News Hub with Sara Murray.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks, who also has served as police chief of Los Angeles, said protests like these are often about more than just one event. Mr. Parks, who didn't attend the protest but said he was monitoring the situation, pointed to the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida and Eric Garner, who died after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold, as other catalysts for the gathering in Los Angeles.

"These things link together because the community realizes the unique circumstances that connect them. Young. Black. Male. Unarmed," Mr. Parks said.

In downtown Baltimore about 300 people marched peacefully to the Inner Harbor after stopping at police headquarters and City Hall, a spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. Many chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot."

A peaceful protest was held in Philadelphia, and there was a vigil and moment of silence at Boston Common, according to local media reports.

—Sonja Sharp, Mark Morales, Daniel Huang and Esteban Roman in New York contributed to this article.

Write to Pervaiz Shallwani at



I have been impressed and also a little worried by what I have noticed about the Black people of Ferguson: they are VERY articulate, intelligent, conscious, and very aware of exactly what is happening to them step by step, day by day, and they are no strangers to resistance and to protest--they have been doing it for years before Michael's death. The world was just not watching until now. That implies to me that things are far worse in Ferguson than they seem to be, bad as they seem. That means that authorities know damn well that this has been a BREAKING POINT in the fabric of repression in America since the devil's legislation, the Patriot Act, was passed and since the Devil's trident, the Defense Authorization Act, was signed by Obama. We have known that the fabric would break sooner or later, because the emperor never had any clothes.

But here is where we see the importance of remembering Natambu's law indeed:

"No matter how bad things are or appear to be one can rest assured upon further investigation that in reality things are FAR WORSE than anything you could possibly imagine."

The very core of the assumptions and presumptions of 'civil rights' and of 'freedom' in America seem to be unraveling at the seams before our eyes, day by day in Ferguson Missouri and in the state capital.. The idea that a 'state of emergency' can be declared at this particular point,\ when 'the eyes of the world are watching', and be declared not to protect the people of Ferguson, but to stop as the governor himself admits, 'a handful of looters', is incredible to me. This point is also the point, and this is the crucial thing, that we are at a clear departure of DEMOCRACY and it DISCONTENTS as well as its DEMANDS from AUTHORITY and POWER and it's prerogatives of CONTROL, is essentially (using the blackface of Ron Johnson, the unveiling of all the worst suspicions I have had and many other journalists and cultural critics and academic social scientists have had since 2003 when I and many others began to suspect that we are NOT ACTUALLY FREE in this country. That our neighborhoods, our streets our very homes are prisons, and at any time, for whatever reasons these authorities claim, any of these tin plated 'authorities' can seal us up inside out communities. Do you think this thing the governor of Missouri. has done will be one of the first of the final sparks to light the fires of actual revolution in this country?

two very telling points: the Governor's voice shook as he was finishing his announcement when a woman in the crowd shouted "Where are the indictments!" and then Ron Johnson's voice shook as he spoke, implying that he feels the historical weight of the obvious charade he has sold his soul to.

Secondly the Reverend pork chop Representative Bledsoe Pierson's bullshit fusing of Church and State with his words, 'We have not restricted any body from coming here" (??) While of course the governor proposes to restrict everyone on the streets after dark, was one of the most alarming, galling aspects of this fiasco in a church of all wrong places.

But the people of Ferguson are not to be hoodwinked, they are not falling for the tricks, the church fetish, for the blackface use of Ron; they are the best of America at this moment in history. I am honored and humbled by them, I fear for them. I fear for all of us. I fear for democracy, but so far, we can see, democracy ain't dead yet--but is may indeed be headed toward asking us all to shed some blood.

"How are you planning to enforce your curfew law?"



It's almost like a scene from "INVISIBLE MAN" how the Nation of Islam is moving into a vacuum of community authority in Ferguson, which though it seems they are a positive that provides safety, is also disturbing because I wonder what function, along with Christian pastors, these people will play in the future in the rest of America in repressing mass democracy, mass demonstrations, and the necessary ANGER that needs to arise. Kofi, I have forty or so of my students and former students calling me in the past week, some of them in fear, some in tears, all of them in the early twenties, shell shocked because this is the first whiff of reality many have lived through and they know damn well this is about THEM and their future, their lives, their humanity, and I have to pull from everything you, Tyrone, Geoffrey, Kaleemah, Aneb, Leonard, and all my mentors, all I've wood shedded with have taught me in bringing me up, to channel these young peoples' rage and their horror into critical analysis and even the thought of organizing. A semester is about to begin here at WCCCD, the 'Black school' and some of them want to do demonstrations that would be confrontational rather than productive, and I've agreed to be their adviser to channel that into efforts to build a student senate instead of ONLY attacking the school's corrupt administration, and to seek real student authority in order to work to give all students a political voice and change the school's curriculum.

But I must say when I comfort them and let them lean on me I have deeper fears than even they can imagine. I am shaken by the realization that we are at a turning point--it may last ten years, it may last a week, but this is a turning point at least for the ongoing bourgeois myth that we are free because we are allowed to go shopping and back and forth between our low wage jobs and our underwater mortgaged homes.








"...The Ferguson chief of police said Wilson has been placed on PAID LEAVE pending the outcome of multiple investigations into the shooting.

Police said Brown, a recent high school graduate, was shot after Wilson encountered him and another man on the street during a routine patrol. The department says a skirmish ensued and that Brown physically assaulted Wilson and tried to take his weapon. According to a brief timeline given by Chief Jackson, the altercation lasted no more than three minutes before Wilson shot Brown multiple times.

But Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend, has told reporters that it was Wilson who was the aggressor and that Brown never went for the weapon. Instead, Johnson says Brown had his hands in the air and was pleading for Wilson not to shoot.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting and the department’s delay in naming the officer fueled a week of turmoil in Ferguson and outcry across the nation. Jackson said he delayed identifying Wilson because the officer fears for his safety.

Wilson, a longtime Missouri resident, has been an officer in Ferguson for four years and served in nearby Jennings for two years prior. Jackson said Wilson has no history of disciplinary action and described him as a “gentle man” and a “quiet officer.”

“He has been an excellent officer for the police department,” Jackson said."




As I (and of course many, many others) have said a trillion times before, the doctrine and practice of White Supremacy (the actual ideological and practically expressive dimension of what most people like to simply and rather too blithely call "racism") is the most powerful, organized, pervasive, and lethally destructive social, economic, and cultural force in American society other than the equally ruthless doctrine of capitalism itself. This has been the case now for four centuries on this continent and it shows absolutely NO SIGNS of "getting better" regardless of what such clueless and utterly opportunist black neoliberals as William Julius Wilson and Barack Obama think...


NATAMBU'S LAW states: "No matter how bad things are or appear to be one can rest assured upon further investigation that in reality things are FAR WORSE than anything you could possibly imagine."

White St. Louis Has Some Awful Things to Say About Ferguson

By Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe
The New Republic

About a 15-minute drive from the Ferguson protest that, by now, feels more like a block party, in the more upscale St. Louis suburb of Olivette, there's a new strip mall with a barbecue joint and a Starbucks and an e-cigarette store. On a mild Thursday evening in August, people sat around tables, sipping coffee, sipping beer, dabbing barbecue sauce off their fingers.

All of these people were white.

It was a stark contrast to Ferguson, which is two-thirds black. Olivette is almost the exact opposite, at over 60 percent white. St. Louis, and the little hamlets that ring it, is one of the most segregated cities in America, and it shows.

Here in Olivette, the people I spoke to showed little sympathy for Michael Brown, or the protesters.

"It's bullshit," said one woman, who declined to give her name. When I asked her to clarify what, specifically, was bullshit, she said, "All of it. I don't even know what they're fighting for."

"It's just a lot of misplaced anger," said one teenage boy, echoing his parents. He wasn't sure where the anger should be, just that there should be no anger at all, and definitely no stealing.

"Our opinion," said the talkative one in a group of six women in their sixties sitting outside the Starbucks, "is the media should just stay out of it because they're riling themselves up even more."

"The protesters like seeing themselves on TV," her friend added.

"It's just a small group of people making trouble," said another.

"The kid wasn't really innocent," chimed in a woman at the other end of the table (they all declined to give their names). "He was struggling with the cop, and he's got a rap sheet already, so he's not that innocent." (While the first point is in dispute, the second isn't: The police have said that Michael Brown had no criminal record.)

If anything, the people here were disdainful and, mostly, scared—of the protesters, and, implicitly, of black people.

"I don't think it's about justice for Michael Brown's family," said the teenage boy. "It's just an excuse for people to do whatever they want to do."

One man I talked to, a stay-at-home dad who is a landlord to three black tenants and one white one in Ferguson ("my black tenants would never do that," he clarified) was more sympathetic to Brown and also had the sense that the police had overdone it a bit. But he was scared of the protests. I told him that the protest that day was entirely peaceful, festive almost. "You know," he said. "I have a wife and three children, and if something were to happen to me, that would be very bad."

As for the protests, well, they weren't about justice; they were just an excuse. "People are just taking the opportunity to satisfy their desire for junk," said one woman, knowingly. As if black people, the lust for theft encoded in their DNA, are just barely kept in line by authority.

"When they kill each other, we never hear about it," one of the Starbucks women said. This, she meant, was a good thing. "When it's black-on-black violence, we never hear about it."

I asked why she thought that was.

"Because, basically, they hate whites!" her friend chimed in. "Prejudice, reverse prejudice. Prejudice goes both ways."

The others signalled their agreement.

"It's not Ferguson people. It's a lot of outside people coming in."

This was a sore subject with several of the people I spoke to. A major problem with the protests—and they very clearly did not mean the militarized police response to the protests—was that they were tarnishing St. Louis's image as a nice place.

"I'm embarrassed to say I'm from St. Louis," the "bullshit" woman grumbled.

"Me, too," said her friend. "I don't tell people I'm from St. Louis anymore."

"This is not representative of St. Louis," said one of the older women, back at Starbucks. "St. Louis is a good place. And Ferguson is a very good place."

"We have never had anything like this in St. Louis!" her friend exclaimed, flustered, as if trying to clear the city's good name. "Ever!"

As the women grew uncomfortable, one of them hit on a way to fight back.

"Where are you from?" she asked me.

"Washington," I said.

"Well," she said, satisfied. "You people have trouble too sometimes."

And they all laughed.

Howard University freshmen pose for class photo with hands in the Air
By Dylan Stableford,
Yahoo News
August 14, 2014
Yahoo News


Powerful picture we took today at Howard University #Ferguson #MikeBrown #MyaWhite #DONTSHOOT

5:29 PM - 13 Aug 2014



Social media users have been sharing many incredible images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, as tensions between police and demonstrators protesting the killing of an unarmed black teenager continue to flare. But one of the most powerful photos making the rounds on Twitter was taken hundreds of miles away at Howard University, the historically black college in Washington, D.C., as incoming freshmen gathered in an auditorium Wednesday for a move-in meeting.

The photo, showing hundreds of students with their hands in the air, was organized by Khalil Saadiq, a member of the Howard University Student Association, and promoted by the school. It pays tribute to 18-year-old Michael Brown, who witnesses said raised his hands in the air when he was shot and killed by police.

"We are proud of our students who have united peacefully to show they will not stand for the senseless violence anymore," the school said in a statement. "Thank you to the Howard University Student Association for leading and organizing this display of solidarity. #HandsUpDontShoot"

Megan Sims, one of the first students to tweet the photo, told Mother Jones magazine that the student body collectively "felt we needed to respond to the Mike Brown issue."

The image was later shared on Twitter by Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, who is now representing Brown's parent

Benjamin Crump, Esq. @attorneycrump
Such a powerful image from the student of Howard University. #MichaelBrown
6:19 PM - 13 Aug 2014



Saadiq posted a larger version of the photo to Instagram.

View Comments (3933)

Hands up: Howard University photograph of students in solidarity goes viral
by Jolie Lee
August 14, 2014

A photo of black students with their hands raised is becoming a symbol of solidarity after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.

The photo was taken after Howard University students heard that alumna, Mya White, was shot in the head while protesting in Ferguson, reports WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.

Twitter | @The_Blackness48

Twitter / The_Blackness48: Powerful picture we took today ...
"Powerful picture we took today at Howard University, " tweeted Megan Sims, or @The_Blackness48, a senior at the historically black college in Washington, D.C.

As of Thursday morning, the photo had been retweeted about 6,400 times.

Witnesses said Brown had raised his arms before he was shot, but police have not confirmed this detail and said there was a scuffle.

Ferguson protests give new meaning to 'hands up' sign

People in the St. Louis suburb have used the symbol of raised arms and the chant "Hands up, don't shoot" in protests over several days.

Sims said about 100 Howard students gathered to take the photo.

"The issue is bigger than Michael Brown. .... I feel like it's become apparent in this country that black men, for the most part, are being targeted by police officers," Sims said.

Al Sharpton called for transparency in the Michael Brown police shooting case. He said he knows people are angry but urged them to throw their arms up instead of turning to violence.

Talking to crowds Tuesday in Ferguson, the Rev. Al Sharpton mentioned "hands up."

"When their hands are up, you don't shoot," Sharpton said. "If you're angry, throw your arms up. If you want justice, throw your arms up."

Ferguson police chief says race relations a 'top priority'
Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.

More related stories

A photo of black students with their hands raised is becoming a symbol of solidarity after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, was shot by a police officer Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.

To Terrify and Occupy: How the Excessive Militarization of the Police Is Turning Cops Into Counterinsurgents
Thursday, 14 August 2014
By Matthew Harwood, TomDispatch | News Analysis
Two officers standing by during a search in a neighborhood. (Photo: Sasha Maksymenko / Flickr)
Jason Westcott was afraid.

One night last fall, he discovered via Facebook that a friend of a friend was planning with some co-conspirators to break in to his home. They were intent on stealing Wescott's handgun and a couple of TV sets. According to the Facebook message, the suspect was planning on “burning” Westcott, who promptly called the Tampa Bay police and reported the plot.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigating officers responding to Westcott’s call had a simple message for him: “If anyone breaks into this house, grab your gun and shoot to kill.”
Around 7:30 pm on May 27th, the intruders arrived. Westcott followed the officers’ advice, grabbed his gun to defend his home, and died pointing it at the intruders. They used a semiautomatic shotgun and handgun to shoot down the 29-year-old motorcycle mechanic. He was hit three times, once in the arm and twice in his side, and pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

The intruders, however, weren’t small-time crooks looking to make a small score. Rather they were members of the Tampa Bay Police Department’s SWAT team, which was executing a search warrant on suspicion that Westcott and his partner were marijuana dealers. They had been tipped off by a confidential informant, whom they drove to Westcott’s home four times between February and May to purchase small amounts of marijuana, at $20-$60 a pop. The informer notified police that he saw two handguns in the home, which was why the Tampa Bay police deployed a SWAT team to execute the search warrant.

In the end, the same police department that told Westcott to protect his home with defensive force killed him when he did. After searching his small rental, the cops indeed found weed, two dollars' worth, and one legal handgun -- the one he was clutching when the bullets ripped into him.

Welcome to a new era of American policing, where cops increasingly see themselves as soldiers occupying enemy territory, often with the help of Uncle Sam’s armory, and where even nonviolent crimes are met with overwhelming force and brutality.

The War on Your Doorstep

The cancer of militarized policing has long been metastasizing in the body politic. It has been growing ever stronger since the first Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were born in the 1960s in response to that decade’s turbulent mix of riots, disturbances, and senseless violence like Charles Whitman’s infamous clock-tower rampage in Austin, Texas.

While SWAT isn’t the only indicator that the militarization of American policing is increasing, it is the most recognizable. The proliferation of SWAT teams across the country and their paramilitary tactics have spread a violent form of policing designed for the extraordinary but in these years made ordinary. When the concept of SWAT arose out of the Philadelphia and Los Angeles Police Departments, it was quickly picked up by big city police officials nationwide. Initially, however, it was an elite force reserved for uniquely dangerous incidents, such as active shooters, hostage situations, or large-scale disturbances.

Nearly a half-century later, that’s no longer true.

In 1984, according to Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop, about 26% of towns with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 had SWAT teams. By 2005, that number had soared to 80% and it’s still rising, though SWAT statistics are notoriously hard to come by.
As the number of SWAT teams has grown nationwide, so have the raids. Every year now, there are approximately 50,000 SWAT raids in the United States, according to Professor Pete Kraska of Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies. In other words, roughly 137 times a day a SWAT team assaults a home and plunges its inhabitants and the surrounding community into terror.

Upping the Racial Profiling Ante

In a recently released report, “War Comes Home,” the American Civil Liberties Union (my employer) discovered that nearly 80% of all SWAT raids it reviewed between 2011 and 2012 were deployed to execute a search warrant.

Pause here a moment and consider that these violent home invasions are routinely used against people who are only suspected of a crime. Up-armored paramilitary teams now regularly bash down doors in search of evidence of a possible crime. In other words, police departments increasingly choose a tactic that often results in injury and property damage as its first option, not the one of last resort. In more than 60% of the raids the ACLU investigated, SWAT members rammed down doors in search of possible drugs, not to save a hostage, respond to a barricade situation, or neutralize an active shooter.

On the other side of that broken-down door, more often than not, are blacks and Latinos. When the ACLU could identify the race of the person or people whose home was being broken into, 68% of the SWAT raids against minorities were for the purpose of executing a warrant in search of drugs. When it came to whites, that figure dropped to 38%, despite the well-known fact that blacks, whites, and Latinos all use drugs at roughly the same rates. SWAT teams, it seems, have a disturbing record of disproportionately applying their specialized skill set within communities of color.

Think of this as racial profiling on steroids in which the humiliation of stop and frisk is raised to a terrifying new level.

Everyday Militarization

Don’t think, however, that the military mentality and equipment associated with SWAT operations are confined to those elite units. Increasingly, they’re permeating all forms of policing.

As Karl Bickel, a senior policy analyst with the Justice Department’s Community Policing Services office, observes, police across America are being trained in a way that emphasizes force and aggression. He notes that recruit training favors a stress-based regimen that’s modeled on military boot camp rather than on the more relaxed academic setting a minority of police departments still employ. The result, he suggests, is young officers who believe policing is about kicking ass rather than working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. Or as comedian Bill Maher reminded officers recently: “The words on your car, ‘protect and serve,’ refer to us, not you.”

This authoritarian streak runs counter to the core philosophy that supposedly dominates twenty-first-century American thinking: community policing. Its emphasis is on a mission of “keeping the peace” by creating and maintaining partnerships of trust with and in the communities served. Under the community model, which happens to be the official policing philosophy of the U.S. government, officers are protectors but also problem solvers who are supposed to care, first and foremost, about how their communities see them. They don’t command respect, the theory goes: they earn it. Fear isn’t supposed to be their currency. Trust is.
Nevertheless, police recruiting videos, as in those from California’s Newport Beach Police Department and New Mexico’s Hobbs Police Department, actively play up not the community angle but militarization as a way of attracting young men with the promise of Army-style adventure and high-tech toys. Policing, according to recruiting videos like these, isn’t about calmly solving problems; it’s about you and your boys breaking down doors in the middle of the night.

SWAT’s influence reaches well beyond that. Take the increasing adoption of battle-dress uniforms (BDUs) for patrol officers. These militaristic, often black, jumpsuits, Bickel fears, make them less approachable and possibly also more aggressive in their interactions with the citizens they’re supposed to protect.

A small project at Johns Hopkins University seemed to bear this out. People were shown pictures of police officers in their traditional uniforms and in BDUs. Respondents, the survey indicated, would much rather have a police officer show up in traditional dress blues. Summarizing its findings, Bickel writes, “The more militaristic look of the BDUs, much like what is seen in news stories of our military in war zones, gives rise to the notion of our police being an occupying force in some inner city neighborhoods, instead of trusted community protectors.”

Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Toys?

“I wonder if I can get in trouble for doing this,” the young man says to his buddy in the passenger seat as they film the Saginaw County Sheriff Office’s new toy: a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. As they film the MRAP from behind, their amateur video has a Red Dawn-esque feel, as if an occupying military were now patrolling this Michigan county’s streets. “This is getting ready for f**king crazy times, dude,” one young man comments. “Why,” his friend replies, “has our city gotten that f**king bad?”

In fact, nothing happening in Saginaw County warranted the deployment of an armored vehicle capable of withstanding bullets and the sort of improvised explosive devices that insurgent forces have regularly planted along roads in America’s recent war zones. Sheriff William Federspiel, however, fears the worst. "As sheriff of the county, I have to put ourselves in the best position to protect our citizens and protect our property," he told a reporter. "I have to prepare for something disastrous."

Lucky for Federspiel, his exercise in paranoid disaster preparedness didn’t cost his office a penny. That $425,000 MRAP came as a gift, courtesy of Uncle Sam, from one of our far-flung counterinsurgency wars. The nasty little secret of policing’s militarization is that taxpayers are subsidizing it through programs overseen by the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department.

Take the 1033 program. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) may be an obscure agency within the Department of Defense, but through the 1033 program, which it oversees, it’s one of the core enablers of American policing’s excessive militarization. Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to transfer its surplus property free of charge to federal, state, and local police departments to wage the war on drugs. In 1997, Congress expanded the purpose of the program to include counterterrorism in section 1033 of the defense authorization bill. In one single page of a 450-page law, Congress helped sow the seeds of today’s warrior cops.

The amount of military hardware transferred through the program has grown astronomically over the years. In 1990, the Pentagon gave $1 million worth of equipment to U.S. law enforcement. That number had jumped to nearly $450 million in 2013. Overall, the program has shipped off more than $4.3 billion worth of materiel to state and local cops, according to the DLA.

In its recent report, the ACLU found a disturbing range of military gear being transferred to civilian police departments nationwide. Police in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for instance, received 34 automatic and semi-automatic rifles, two robots that can be armed, military helmets, and a Mamba tactical vehicle. Police in Gwinnet County, Georgia, received 57 semi-automatic rifles, mostly M-16s and M-14s. The Utah Highway Patrol, according to a Salt Lake City Tribune investigation, got an MRAP from the 1033 program, and Utah police received 1,230 rifles and four grenade launchers. After South Carolina’s Columbia Police Department received its very own MRAP worth $658,000, its SWAT Commander Captain E.M. Marsh noted that 500 similar vehicles had been distributed to law enforcement organizations across the country.

Astoundingly, one-third of all war materiel parceled out to state, local, and tribal police agencies is brand new. This raises further disconcerting questions: Is the Pentagon simply wasteful when it purchases military weapons and equipment with taxpayer dollars? Or could this be another downstream, subsidized market for defense contractors? Whatever the answer, the Pentagon is actively distributing weaponry and equipment made for U.S. counterinsurgency campaigns abroad to police who patrol American streets and this is considered sound policy in Washington. The message seems striking enough: what might be necessary for Kabul might also be necessary for DeKalb County.

In other words, the twenty-first-century war on terror has melded thoroughly with the twentieth-century war on drugs, and the result couldn’t be anymore disturbing: police forces that increasingly look and act like occupying armies.

How the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice Are Up-Armoring the Police

When police departments look to muscle up their arms and tactics, the Pentagon isn’t the only game in town. Civilian agencies are in on it, too.

During a 2011 investigation, reporters Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz discovered that, since 9/11, police departments watching over some of the safest places in America have used $34 billion in grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to militarize in the name of counterterrorism.

In Fargo, North Dakota, for example, the city and its surrounding county went on an $8 million spending spree with federal money, according to Becker and Schulz. Although the area averaged less than two murders a year since 2005, every squad car is now armed with an assault rifle. Police also have access to Kevlar helmets that can stop heavy firepower as well as an armored truck worth approximately $250,000. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1,500 beat cops have been trained to use AR-15 assault rifles with homeland security grant funding.

As with the 1033 program, neither DHS nor state and local governments account for how the equipment, including body armor and drones, is used. While the rationale behind stocking up on these military-grade supplies is invariably the possibility of a terrorist attack, school shooting, or some other horrific event, the gear is normally used to conduct paramilitary drug raids, as Balko notes.

Still, the most startling source of police militarization is the Department of Justice, the very agency officially dedicated to spreading the community policing model through its Community Oriented Policing Services office.

In 1988, Congress authorized the Byrne grant programs in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which gave state and local police federal funds to enlist in the government’s drug war. That grant program, according to Balko, led to the creation of regional and multi-jurisdictional narcotics task forces, which gorged themselves on federal money and, with little federal, state, or local oversight, spent it beefing up their weapons and tactics. In 2011, 585 of these task forces operated off of Byrne grant funding.

The grants, Balko reports, also incentivized the type of policing that has made the war on drugs such a destructive force in American society. The Justice Department doled out Byrne grants based on how many arrests officers made, how much property they seized, and how many warrants they served. The very things these narcotics task forces did very well. “As a result,” Balko writes, “we have roving squads of drug cops, loaded with SWAT gear, who get money if they conduct more raids, make more arrests, and seize more property, and they are virtually immune to accountability if they get out of line.”

Regardless of whether this militarization has occurred due to federal incentives or executive decision-making in police departments or both, police across the nation are up-armoring with little or no public debate. In fact, when the ACLU requested SWAT records from 255 law enforcement agencies as part of its investigation, 114 denied them. The justifications for such denials varied, but included arguments that the documents contained “trade secrets” or that the cost of complying with the request would be prohibitive. Communities have a right to know how the police do their jobs, but more often than not, police departments think otherwise.

Being the Police Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Report by report, evidence is mounting that America’s militarized police are a threat to public safety. But in a country where the cops increasingly look upon themselves as soldiers doing battle day in, day out, there’s no need for public accountability or even an apology when things go grievously wrong.

If community policing rests on mutual trust between the police and the people, militarized policing operates on the assumption of “officer safety” at all costs and contempt for anyone who sees things differently. The result is an “us versus them” mentality.

Just ask the parents of Bou Bou Phonesavanh. Around 3:00 a.m. on May 28th, the Habersham County Special Response Team conducted a no-knock raid at a relative’s home near Cornelia, Georgia, where the family was staying. The officers were looking for the homeowner’s son, whom they suspected of selling $50 worth of drugs to a confidential informant. As it happened, he no longer lived there.

Despite evidence that children were present -- a minivan in the driveway, children’s toys littering the yard, and a Pack ‘n Play next to the door -- a SWAT officer tossed a “flashbang” grenade into the home. It landed in 19-month-old Bou Bou’s crib and exploded, critically wounding the toddler. When his distraught mother tried to reach him, officers screamed at her to sit down and shut up, telling her that her child was fine and had just lost a tooth. In fact, his nose was hanging off his face, his body had been severely burned, and he had a hole in his chest. Rushed to the hospital, Bou Bou had to be put into a medically induced coma.

The police claimed that it was all a mistake and that there had been no evidence children were present. “There was no malicious act performed,” Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen.” The Phonesavanhs have yet to receive an apology from the sheriff’s office. “Nothing. Nothing for our son. No card. No balloon. Not a phone call. Not anything,” Bou Bou’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, told CNN.

Similarly, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor continues to insist that Jay Westcott’s death in the militarized raid on his house was his own fault. "Mr. Westcott lost his life because he aimed a loaded firearm at police officers. You can take the entire marijuana issue out of the picture," Castor said. "If there's an indication that there is armed trafficking going on -- someone selling narcotics while they are armed or have the ability to use a firearm -- then the tactical response team will do the initial entry."

In her defense of the SWAT raid, Castor simply dismissed any responsibility for Westcott’s death. “They did everything they could to serve this warrant in a safe manner,” she wrote the Tampa Bay Times -- “everything,” that is, but find an alternative to storming the home of a man they knew feared for his life.

Almost half of all American households report having a gun, as the ACLU notes in its report. That means the police always have a ready-made excuse for using SWAT teams to execute warrants when less confrontational and less violent alternatives exist.

In other words, if police believe you’re selling drugs, beware. Suspicion is all they need to turn your world upside down. And if they’re wrong, don’t worry; the intent couldn’t have been better.

Voices in the Wilderness

The militarization of the police shouldn’t be surprising. As Hubert Williams, a former police director of Newark, New Jersey, and Patrick V. Murphy, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, put it nearly 25 years ago, police are “barometers of the society in which they operate.” In post-9/11 America, that means police forces imbued with the “hooah” mentality of soldiers and acting as if they are fighting an insurgency in their own backyard.

While the pace of police militarization has quickened, there has at least been some pushback from current and former police officials who see the trend for what it is: the destruction of community policing. In Spokane, Washington, Councilman Mike Fagan, a former police detective, is pushing back against police officers wearing BDUs, calling the get-up “intimidating” to citizens. In Utah, the legislature passed a bill requiring probable cause before police could execute a no-knock raid. Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has been a vocal critic of militarization, telling the local paper, “We’re not the military. Nor should we look like an invading force coming in.” Just recently, Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department agreed with the ACLU and the Los Angeles Times editorial board that “the lines between municipal law enforcement and the U.S. military cannot be blurred.”

Retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper has also become an outspoken critic of militarizing police forces, noting “most of what police are called upon to do, day in and day out, requires patience, diplomacy, and interpersonal skills.” In other words, community policing. Stamper is the chief who green-lighted a militarized response to World Trade Organization protests in his city in 1999 (“The Battle in Seattle”). It’s a decision he would like to take back. “My support for a militaristic solution caused all hell to break loose,” he wrote in the Nation. “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict.”

These former policemen and law enforcement officials understand that police officers shouldn't be breaking down any citizen's door at 3 a.m. armed with AR-15s and flashbang grenades in search of a small amount of drugs, while an MRAP idles in the driveway. The anti-militarists, however, are in the minority right now. And until that changes, violent paramilitary police raids will continue to break down the doors of nearly 1,000 American households a week.

War, once started, can rarely be contained.

Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor at the American Civil Liberties Union and a TomDispatch regular. You can follow him on Twitter @mharwood31.

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Copyright 2014 Matthew Harwood

THU AUG 14, 2014

Rep. Hank Johnson to introduce bill to stop providing military equipment to local police forces
by Meteor Blades
Daily Kos

The Nebraska State Patrol Light Armored Vehicle LAV 150, one of the hundreds of armored vehicles the Pentagon has passed along to local and state police agencies.

As a consequence of the war zone police have turned Ferguson, Missouri, into during the past few days, Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia's 4th Congressional District will introduce a bill to end the federal government's program of providing billions of dollars worth of military equipment free to local police. Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman report:

Rep. Hank Johnson sent a “Dear Colleague” letter Thursday morning alerting lawmakers that he is putting forward the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act. The action comes in the wake of a policeman shooting an unarmed black man that has created an increasingly tense relationship between the police and the city’s largely African-American population. The response of local police, including the use of tear gas on protesters, has been criticized as overly aggressive.

Ko“Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s,” Johnson wrote. “Unfortunately, due to a Department of Defense (DOD) Program that transfers surplus DOD equipment to state and local law enforcement, our local police are quickly beginning to resemble paramilitary forces.”

Further, Johnson said the legislation would “end the free transfers of certain aggressive military equipment to local law enforcement and ensure that all equipment can be accounted for."

The program began as an amendment to the 1996 military spending bill. It's called "1033" for the section of the bill where it is included. It was meant at first to supply basic needs. After the 9/11 attacks and the massive spending by the Pentagon to respond, the military soon had massive amounts of surplus war material. And that meant more to give away. Thanks to 1033, local police agencies—some serving populations as small as 5,000—now have armored vehicles, machine guns, night-vision equipment, tactical vests and bullet-resistant shields, ballistic helmets, silencers, and aircrafts, which includes a pilotless drone in Montgomery County, Texas. Police departments began to look more like invading armies than units designed to serve and protect, as if they were putting down insurrection in Fallujah as opposed to supposedly keeping the peace in Ferguson.

As a consequence, police began acting ever more like invading armies, too. Vast numbers of military-style raids took place. One report cited by Bill Moyers & Co. counted 80,000 of these. When Occupy Wall Street and sister organizations emerged three years ago, some militarized police departments dressed in riot gear and camouflage and deployed aggressive tactics including tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets to control protesters.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which supports Johnson's proposed legislation, published a 97-page report in June this year: "War Comes Home—The Excessive Militarization of American Policing."

You can read about it below the orange tendrils of tear gas smoke.

Among the ACLU's findings:

1. Policing—particularly through the use of paramilitary teams—in the United States today has become excessively militarized, mainly through federal programs that create incentives for state and local police to use unnecessarily aggressive weapons and tactics designed for the battlefield. For example, the ACLU documented a total of 15,054 items of battle uniforms or personal protective equipment received by 63 responding agencies during the relevant time period, and it is estimated that 500 law enforcement agencies have received Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles built to withstand armor-piercing roadside bombs through the Department of Defense’s 1033 Program.

2. The militarization of policing in the United States has occurred with almost no public oversight. Not a single law enforcement agency in this investigation provided records containing all of the information that the ACLU believes is necessary to undertake a thorough examination of police militarization. Some agencies provided records that were nearly totally lacking in important information. Agencies that monitor and provide oversight over the militarization of policing are virtually nonexistent. [...]

4. The use of paramilitary weapons and tactics primarily impacted people of color; when paramilitary tactics were used in drug searches, the primary targets were people of color, whereas when paramilitary tactics were used in hostage or barricade scenarios, the primary targets were white. Overall, 42 percent of people impacted by a SWAT deployment to execute a search warrant were Black and 12 percent were Latino. This means that of the people impacted by deployments for warrants, at least 54 percent were minorities. Of the deployments in which all the people impacted were minorities, 68 percent were in drug cases, and 61 percent of all the people impacted by SWAT raids in drug cases were minorities. In addition, the incidents we studied revealed stark, often extreme, racial disparities in the use of SWAT locally, especially in cases involving search warrants.

Welcome as it is, Johnson's legislation is just a start on what needs to be done.

Timeline:  Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo.

by Aja J. Williams, KSDK-TV, St. Louis
August 15, 2014
USA Today

Photo: family photo

Saturday Aug. 9

Michael Brown is shot to death Saturday afternoon.

The shooting occurred around noon in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, as Brown and a friend walked down a street.

Sunday Aug. 10

10 a.m. – Michael Brown, 18, was unarmed, St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar says in a news conference. Belmar says Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer's gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshots outside of the car.

Brown's parents retain attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, as their counsel.

A candlelight vigil to honor Brown later turns violent. More than a dozen businesses are vandalized and looted. More than 30 people are arrested and two police officers suffered injuries, police said.

Monday Aug. 11

5 a.m. – The first day of school is canceled in Jennings, near Ferguson, for safety of students who could be walking.

7 a.m. – Ferguson police and city leaders say a number of death threats to the police force have been received in relation to the fatal shooting.

10 a.m. – Hundreds gather outside the Ferguson Police Department to demand justice for Brown's death. Police arrest at least seven people.

11 a.m. – The FBI announces the agency will do a parallel investigation into the shooting of Brown.

2 p.m. – St. Louis County Police Department announces it will release the name of the officer who is accused of shooting Brown by noon Tuesday.

4 p.m. – The parents and attorney of Brown hold a press conference where they ask for a stop to violence and demand justice for their son.

6 p.m. – Community members and leaders meet and pray at a meeting hosted by the NAACP

8 p.m. – Several gather again on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, and police use tear gas to disperse crowds that did not protest peacefully.

Tuesday Aug. 12

Early morning, police announce 15 arrests stemming from Ferguson events Monday evening. In addition, St. Louis County Police Chief says the name of the officer involved in the shooting will not be released due to threats on social media.

10 a.m. – Protesters gather at St. Louis County Police Department headquarters for a peaceful protest where a list of demands was given relating to the investigation of Brown's death.

Noon – Rev. Al Sharpton arrives in St. Louis to speak to the family of Brown, and he made his way around the St. Louis area to demand justice in the fatal shooting. Sharpton and the family spoke on the Old Courthouse steps early Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday afternoon, a preliminary autopsy report for Brown is released by St. Louis County Medical Examiner's office. The FAA announces air restrictions over Ferguson to allow for law enforcement helicopters.

3 p.m. – Officials charge nine people in relation to looting in Ferguson Sunday night into Monday morning.

4 p.m. – President Obama releases a statement regarding the Brown incident. The Justice Department announces it will take on reviewing police tactics across the country.

7 p.m. – Gov. Jay Nixon, City of St. Louis Mayor and other area leaders come together to speak on the Brown case. At a separate public meeting, Rev. Al Sharpton and the Brown family urge a peaceful fight toward justice for Michael Brown.

10 p.m. – Tensions rise between protesters and police for the third consecutive night.

KSDK-TV reporter Farrah Fazal speaks to Dorian Johnson, a man who's come forward as an eyewitness to Brown's shooting.

Wednesday Aug. 13

After a third night of protests full of tension, the City of Ferguson asked protests and vigils for Michael Brown to be held during the daytime.

10 a.m. – A number of volunteers gather to help the city start to pick up the pieces after tense and violent episodes in prior days.

KSDK learns Wednesday afternoon that Brown's remains had been turned over to the family.

3 p.m. – The Justice Department opens a federal civil rights investigation related to the Ferguson shooting. Ferguson police say at a news conference that the 911 tape from Saturday would be released soon.

4 p.m. – Brown had no criminal background, the St. Louis County Prosecutor's office discloses.

6 p.m. – Ferguson-Florissant School District postpones the first day of school until Aug. 18 due to safety concerns for its students. School was set to start Aug. 14.

Police detain two reporters — one from the Huffington Post and another from the Washington Post — at a Ferguson McDonald's.

9 p.m. – Police begin to throw tear gas at protesters in Ferguson in order to disperse crowds. During the commotion, police also force media to move back out of the area and throw tear gas at an Al Jazeera America crew.

10 p.m. – Gov. Jay Nixon announces via Twitter that he's cancelling his visit to Missouri State Fair Thursday to visit Ferguson.

City of St. Louis Alderman Antonio French is arrested for unlawful assembly.

Thursday Aug. 14

6 a.m. – Police announce 16 people have been arrested and two officers injured during the fourth night of violence.

7 a.m. – City Alderman Antonio French is released from jail without formal charges and posting bond.

11 a.m. – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon makes his first stop of many through north St. Louis County and Ferguson.

11:40 a.m. – Obama addressed the nation on Ferguson and urges for calm. The president called on local police to be "open and transparent" about their investigation of Brown's death.

3:30 p.m. – Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the Missouri Highway Patrol will take control of security in Ferguson and that the unit in the embattled town would be overseen by Capt. Ron Johnson, who was born and raised near the community.

6 p.m. – Across the country, silent vigils were held to remember and honor the memory of Michael Brown.

Evening, night – Citizens marched peacefully alongside state troopers and no violent clashes were reported for the first time this week.

Friday Aug. 15

8:45 a.m. - Darren Wilson is named as the officer who shot Brown on Aug. 9. Wilson has been on the force for six years and has no disciplinary action against him, the police chief says. The announcement comes three days after police originally said they would name the officer, citing a fear for the officers safety.


Police Identify Officer Who Fatally Shot Teenager as Darren Wilson

AUG. 15, 2014
New York Times

SLIDE SHOW 12 Photos
Protests in Ferguson Spread to Other Cities
Credit:  Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

FERGUSON, Mo. — The police in Ferguson broke their weeklong silence on Friday and identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager.

The Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson, said the officer was Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force who had no disciplinary actions taken against him.

Chief Jackson said Mr. Wilson had been alerted to a robbery at a convenience store shortly before the encounter with the teenager, Michael Brown, 18, who was walking home from a store on Saturday when he was shot.

Mr. Brown’s death had ignited several days of protests that have been quashed by police officers shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at groups of demonstrators.

Earlier, Chief Jackson said the authorities thought that it was an appropriate time to identify the officer.

“A lot of the stakeholders had a big meeting conversation yesterday, and then yesterday evening,” Chief Jackson told a St. Louis television station, “and we made the determination that today is the day.”

“Nothing specific went into that decision, but we feel that there’s a certain calm,” he said. “There’s a huge outcry from the community.”

The initial refusal of Chief Jackson to reveal the officer’s name had galvanized demonstrators and prompted civil rights groups to go to court to force its release. Chief Jackson had said that his unwillingness to disclose the name had been based on safety concerns after death threats against the officer and his family were posted on social media.

Timeline: The Shooting of a Missouri Teenager
On Thursday, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri Highway Patrol to take control of security and crowd control in Ferguson, replacing the St. Louis County Police Department, which has been criticized for its heavy-handed tactics against protesters. Wednesday night’s protests ended with the police firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.

The difference in tactics and tone was apparent almost immediately here. On Thursday night, the armored vehicles and police cars were gone, and the atmosphere was celebratory. A street barricaded on previous nights was filled with slow-moving cars blasting their horns. There were few signs of police officers, let alone a forceful response.

Clashes between the heavily armed police officers and furious protesters in Ferguson have defined the aftermath of Mr. Brown’s death on Saturday, and the latest moves came as federal and state officials scrambled to quell the growing crisis. Alarm had been rising across the country at images of a mostly white police force, in a predominantly African-American community, aiming military-style weapons at protesters.

Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, the highway patrol official appointed by the governor to take over the response, immediately signaled a change in approach. Captain Johnson told reporters he had ordered troopers to remove their tear-gas masks, and in the early evening he accompanied several groups of protesters through the streets, clasping hands, listening to stories and marching alongside them.

“We’re just starting today anew. We’re starting a new partnership today,” said Captain Johnson, who is African-American and grew up in the area. “We’re going to move forward today, to put yesterday and the day before behind us.”

Ferguson seeks answers after fatal police shooting
Associated Press

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Nights of unrest have vied with calls for calm in a St. Louis suburb where an unarmed black teenager was killed by police, while the community is still pressing for answers about the weekend shooting.

Hundreds of residents packed two churches Tuesday evening for community meetings about the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was confronted by a Ferguson officer while walking with a friend in the street near his grandmother's home.

People also gathered in the streets Tuesday night, shouting at police. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that police again fired tear gas into a crowd. One person was injured in a drive-by shooting, although it was not clear if the shooting was related to the protests. The Post-Dispatch also reported that a St. Louis County police officer shot and critically wounded a man who authorities said pulled a handgun on the officer.

The fatal shooting of Brown has exposed deep racial and economic fault lines in the community. At one church gathering with dozens of clergy members and elected officials, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon urged calm "in the face of crisis."

"We stand together tonight, reeling from what feels like an old wound torn open afresh," Nixon said. "A wound that hadn't quite healed right in the first place, and now the pain is just as searing as when the injury first occurred."

The other church rally featured the Rev. Al Sharpton, who earlier in the day pressed police to release the name of the police officer involved — but also pleaded for calm after a night of looting and vandalism and instances of police using tear gas.

"The local authorities have put themselves in a position — hiding names and not being transparent — where people will not trust anything but an objective investigation," Sharpton said at a news conference with Brown's parents.

Ferguson police initially planned to release the name of the officer, who is on administrative leave, on Tuesday. But they said death threats to its officers prompted them to withhold it. . Computer hackers have also targeted the city's website and released details online about individual city employees.

"If we come out and say, 'It was this officer,' then he immediately becomes a target," Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said. "We're taking the threats seriously."

Police have not disclosed the race of the officer, but witnesses said he was white. The Ferguson police force has 53 officers, three of whom are black. Jackson said the city has had trouble recruiting and retaining black officers.

Investigators have released few details about the deadly encounter, saying only that a scuffle unfolded after the officer on a routine patrol asked Brown and another teen to get out of the street on Saturday afternoon. At some point, the officer's weapon fired inside a patrol car, according to the St. Louis County Police Department, which is handling the investigation at the smaller city's request.

Several hundred protesters rallied Tuesday morning in the county seat of Clayton, urging St. Louis County's prosecutor to file criminal charges against the Ferguson officer.

Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., said at the news conference to "come together and do this right ... no violence." President Barack Obama also urged calm, saying people must comfort each other "in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

Ferguson's mayor and police chief were among the speakers at the meeting Nixon attended. Both were welcomed with polite applause.

The forum was intended as an alternative response after two nights of unrest in which crowds had burned stores, vandalized vehicles, assaulted reporters and taunted officers. Organizers shared plans for numerous nonviolent responses, such as a prayer walk planned to mark the one-week anniversary of Brown's death and assembling teams of greeters to welcome back students at the high school from which Brown recently graduated.

The fullest account of Brown's death so far has come from Dorian Johnson, who said he was walking home with Brown when they were approached by an officer in a squad car who ordered them to move to the sidewalk. Johnson told news crews that he and Brown kept walking and the officer then reversed his car "to where it almost hit us."

The officer, Johnson said, tried to open his door, but it "ricocheted" back. Johnson said the officer reached through the window, "grabbed my friend around the neck" and tried to pull him into the car. The officer then reportedly pulled out his weapon and said, "'I'll shoot you,' or 'I'm going to shoot,'" Johnson said.

When the officer opened fire, Brown was hit, said Johnson, who hid behind a car. Brown kept running, Johnson said. Johnson said the officer pursued Brown and fired again. When Brown felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and started to get down on the ground. The officer kept firing, Johnson said.

Police have said there is no security or police video of the confrontation.


Associated Press reporters David Lieb and Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.


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