Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Charlie Pierce on the Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision


"There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we'd all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse. Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people, especially in the case of young men who are black or brown, but this is not About Race because nothing ever is About Race. Even the potential of a threat requires a deadly response, Dick Cheney's one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers. This is how you wind up with Darren Wilson. This is how you wind up with Michael Brown, dead in the middle of the road. This is how Darren Wilson walks, tonight, for the killing of Michael Brown. This is how you end up with an American horror story."


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Bar Association November 24, 2014 


 WASHINGTON, DC – The National Bar Association is questioning how the Grand Jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted and tried for the shooting death of Michael Brown. National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes expresses her sincere disappointment with the outcome of the Grand Jury’s decision but has made it abundantly clear that the National Bar Association stands firm and will be calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue federal charges against officer Darren Wilson. “We will not rest until Michael Brown and his family has justice” states Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association. 

President Meanes is requesting that the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri not allow this decision to cause an unnecessary uproar in the community that could lead to arrests, injuries or even deaths of innocent people. “I am asking for everyone to remain as calm as possible and to join in solidarity as we continue to support the family of Michael Brown and put our legal plan into full effect” says President Meanes “I feel the magnitude of the grand jury’s ruling as Ferguson, Missouri is only minutes from where I reside”, adds President Meanes. 

Over the last couple of months, the National Bar Association has hosted Town Hall meetings informing attendees of their Fourth Amendment (Search & Seizure) constitutional rights, whether it is legal to record police activity, and how citizens should behave/respond if and when they interface with police officers. “The death of Michael Brown was the last straw and the catalyst for addressing issues of inequality and racial bias in policing, the justice system, and violence against members of minority communities,” states Pamela Meanes. 

 The family of Michael Brown requested that District Attorney McCullough step aside and allow a special prosecutor be assigned to the investigation to give the community confidence that the grand jury would conduct a complete and thorough investigation into the tragic shooting death of 18 year old Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision confirms the fear that many expressed months ago — that a fair and impartial investigation would not happen. 

“The National Bar Association is adamant about our desire for transformative justice. While we are disappointed with the grand jury’s ruling, we are promoting peace on every street corner around the world. The only way to foster systemic change is to organize, educate, and mobilize. We are imploring everyone to fight against the injustice in Ferguson, Missouri and throughout the United States by banding together and working within the confines of the law,” states President Meanes. 


The Truth Will Set You Free said...

Rule of law = 0
Anarchy = 1

Greatest danger lurks within.

Charlie Pierce feeds anarchy.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

In the months since the Ferguson incident, I have read news accounts and followed the commentary - but assiduously avoided expressing a viewpoint on the subject. Bad news travels faster than the speed of light – especially sensationalized news or inflammatory news whose purpose is to bring out the pitchfork brigade. So I have adopted this attitude: Read but refrain from commentary until all facts are known.

Nevertheless, with respect to the Ferguson incident, we did learn that the black Community had been harassed for years by local police – with numerous documented abuses ranging from speed traps to racial profiling. Add political under-representation, and you have community with little voice in their own affairs. We need not determine the guilt or innocence of subject officer or subject victim to understand community resentments that had been smoldering for years.

Furthermore, we need not determine guilt or innocence to know that some citizens are marginalized and treated with callous disregard or with depraved indifference compared to other citizens and their respective communities. For me, the Ferguson story is not about a specific incident but about pent up rage far removed from the incident that ignited it.

Virtually every week, there are suspicious accounts of law enforcement officers all too often making tragic mistakes. As recently as yesterday, a 12-year old boy was killed in Cleveland for carrying a toy gun on a playground. A chokehold - banned under official police policy – caused the death of a Staten Island man. A swat team mistakenly shot a 911 caller in Vancouver during a manhunt. Innocent lives lost due to momentary lapses of forethought and self-restraint. We read accounts of citizens living under siege - not due to crime - but due to the occupying force of an “over-militarized” police. Clearly, a review of law enforcement procedures is long overdue.

These days, the default condition – on the part of police officers, the news media, and the general public - is to “shoot first, ask questions later.” It appears this national tendency to react instantaneously without forethought pervades every corner of society and runs counter to the priorities of law and common sense. This is not merely a Ferguson problem but a national problem.

Howard Brazee said...

We shouldn't have cowards in our police forces. And anybody who is so scared of young men of color that the response is killing is a coward.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Charlie Pierce does NOT promote anarchy. Charlie Pierce tells us what precipitated Ferguson.

And (O)CT(O)PUS enlightens us even more about this tragic time in our nation's history.

To ignore the racism that pervades this country is to ignore reality.

“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.”
― Howard Zinn

Our own American patriots practiced what Howard Zinn said in the above quote. It's only considered anarchy when you agree with the repression of a certain group of people.

Ducky's here said...

I think this might finally come to a tipping point with the case in NYC of an unarmed boy shot in a high rise stairwell by police on patrol. It's been ruled a homicide.

There has to be substantive change.

This was judged a legitimate shooting

Rational Nation USA said...

Howard Zinn?

Time to buy tickets on a different cruise.

Anonymous said...

maybe if kid's parents policed them,the police wouldn't have to

Rational Nation USA said...

And Shaw, you just told me I'm in agreement with the repression of minorities. I likely won't be visiting much. Oh, and I have no belief it matters.

African American Woman said...

"That 12 year old that was shot in Cleveland was sitting on a swing playing with a fake gun. Two things happened due purely to his Blackness: police were called and he was murdered. Full stop. The Black man shot in the stairwell of his building in NYC for just existing while Black because a cop got scared. And that’s just since Monday.

Clive Bundy assails and threatens federal officers and gets invited on Fox News. Eric Frein plans and carries out an attack on state trooper barracks, killing one and seriously wounding another – again brought in alive. Ted Nugent scares the shit out of me with his racism, misogyny, anti-government and gun-humping ways, but yet he’s a hero to many White people and no one seems to have shot him yet either. White people have feared, reviled and vilified Blackness since they first laid eyes upon us. The codification and justification of our enslavement, disenfranchisement and murder is beyond primordial; it is part and parcel of what has made America and the Western world. Ferguson is just another eruption in this racist legacy and reality."

Stupid things Conservatives say said...

What do “poor black people” deserve? They deserve whatever they work for, whatever they earn for themselves … just like other people in this country. A man who makes something of himself deserves respect. People like Michael Brown, Treyvon Martin, their parents, the race hustlers … they deserve nothing.

Rusty Old Ford said...

Just to sum up:

Conservatives tell black America to shut up and accept Ferguson decision.

And begin 9th investigation into Benghazi.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Rational Nation USA said...
And Shaw, you just told me I'm in agreement with the repression of minorities. I likely won't be visiting much. Oh, and I have no belief it matters."

Could you show me exactly where I said that about you? Thanks.

Rational Nation USA said...

Reference the last sentence of the final paragraph of your first comment.

Shaw Kenawe said...

The "you" referenced in that last sentence is the collective "you," not anyone specifically.

I probably should have written that "it's only considered anarchy when one agrees with the repression of certain groups of people."

Rational Nation USA said...


Simply put I abhor repression of any person or people.

I also view the lawlessness, destruction of businesses and the property of innocent people to be despicable and akin to anarchy.

It very simply is the way I see it.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Almost one year ago (December 12, 2013), there was another news story that captured national attention:

The Affluenza Defense:

A 16-year old teen, Ethan Couch, was the drunk driver in a fatal car accident that killed four (4) people. The boy did not receive the maximum 20-year prison sentence sought by the prosecutor. Instead, the boy received 10 years probation based on an “affluenza defense” - plus a short stay in a posh rehab center.

Here are the facts of the case: “Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to trial testimony. His truck slammed into the four pedestrians, killing Brian Jennings, 43, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52.

The term, ‘affluenza,’ describes a condition in which the children of rich families are irresponsible, dabble in alcohol or drugs, and suffer from an impaired sense of right and wrong due to their entitlement and privilege. The more simplified term is “spoiled brat.”

Is there a similar defense for poor black kids living in inner cities? A defense that takes into account the harsh conditions of growing up in violent neighborhoods, raised by a single mother, and surrounded by crack addicts, drug dealers, and criminal gangs? Would a judge make allowances for how these kids are raised?

Hardly! There is a double standard depending upon whether you are rich and poor. A white kid steals two cases of beer; a black kid steals a box of cigars. The white kid, driving while intoxicated, kills four people and serves a posh rehab sentence but no jail time; unarmed black kids are shot dead on the street, walking through the wrong neighborhoods, in a stairwell, on a playground.

This Apartheid is neither imaginary nor invisible.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"The number of police officers killed by what the FBI classifies as "felonious acts" dropped nearly in half between 2012 and 2013. The statistics from the FBI were just released today. For 2013, 27 officers were killed (all shot except for one struck by a car) as a result of criminal acts. For 2012, 48 officers died in similar circumstances. In 2012 that was a decline, again significantly from 2011, where 72 were killed. So we went from 72 officers killed as a result of criminal activity a year to 27 over the course of three years.

Assaults against police officers dropped a couple of thousand from about 53,000 to 50,000. Officer deaths due to vehicle crashes remained about the same from year to year (48 versus 47). This seems to go along with the national trend of violent crimes dropping in general. But it goes against the trend of how many people officers themselves have killed. Police fatally shot 461 people in 2013, a trend that's been increasing for the past three years and has reached a two-decade high."

skudrunner said...

Consider that one of the reasons the drop in police being shot and crime rates down is the number of police shootings.

I know it goes against the grain but not every cop is a bad guy and not every criminal deserves another chance. Almost all police shootings are done to protect lives of innocent people.

Frank T. said...

Racial fear mongering has long been used to legitimize violence against African-Americans.

Before the Civil War, black slaves were commonly depicted as savages who needed to be tamed by the white race.

That "depiction" is always on display at extremist Tea Party blogs where the radical dregs of human society gather to degrade anyone, but especially Black people, and to promote partisan and racial hatred.

Howard Brazee said...

When we are a terrified nation, is it any surprise to find cowards in the police ranks?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Howard, you're correct.

skud: "I know it goes against the grain but not every cop is a bad guy and not every criminal deserves another chance. Almost all police shootings are done to protect lives of innocent people."

Those are sweeping generalizations backed up by no evidence.

And what you imply with your first observation is that if the cops would only shoot more people, innocent or not, the cops would be safer, because people would then fear them? What a great concept, if you love totalitarian police states.

Shaw Kenawe said...

From Business Insider, August 2014:

The FBI reports that in 2011, cops in America killed 404 suspects in acts of "justifiable homicide." Astonishingly, though, as FiveThirtyEight reports, this number likely doesn't include every civilian fatality that year since it relies on voluntary reporting and doesn't include police homicides that aren't justifiable.

Still, 404 is a large number. By comparison, just six people were killed by police in Australia over the same period. Police in England and Wales killed only two people, and German police killed six.

Last year, police in England did not record a single shooting fatality, with officers across the country only firing weapons on three occasions.

Cops on the street in England do not carry firearms.

In Australia, where police do carry handguns, gun control is relatively tight. Police in some states receive special training for dealing with mentally ill suspects.

At least I provide some evidence. Where's yours?

Rational Nation USA said...

skud: "I know it goes against the grain but not every cop is a bad guy and not every criminal deserves another chance. Almost all police shootings are done to protect lives of innocent people."

Those are sweeping generalizations backed up by no evidence.

A) Are all cops bad?

B) Do all criminals deserve a second chance?

Do you think Answers would be appropriate?

Your conclusion Shaw with respect to skudrunner's comments and what he implies are conjecture. It is nothing more than your interpretation of what you think he is saying or implying. perhaps you should ask skud for clarification? I for one read his comment a bit differently.

Shaw Kenawe said...

All cops are not bad; all criminals do not deserve a second chance.

The "generalization" I meant is this one: "Almost all police shootings are done to protect lives of innocent people."

What is "almost all." Does skud have the stats on the number of cop shootings committed each year, justified or unjustified? Also would he be sure that ALL shootings are reported. How can he or anyone know this? Could it be that skud may be interpreting according to his biases as well?

I provided some evidence to show that this country has a high incidence of shootings by police when compared with other western democracies. Yes, I know we are more populous than the countries cited, but as a percentage of population, we still beat all other western democracies when it comes to shootings, black or white.

okjimm made a good point over at The Swash Zone. When everyone in the country, including criminals, is armed, the police WILL BE scared poopless when a demonized Hulk approaches them and starts acting inappropriately.

How do you deal with a kid playing with a toy gun in a playground? How do you deal with a demonized Hulk selling cigarettes on the street corner? How do you deal with a kid walking in a stairwell?

We all know what happened in those cases. Shoot first, ask questions later. Civil rights be damned.

Christina Zuniga said...

I live in Kansas and a couple of months ago there was a situation where a white adult male was pointing a real rifle at passing cars. The police talked this man down even though his gun was pulled out and real. Apparently he had the complexion for protection. There is something very wrong with our society.

Rational Nation USA said...

Paralysis by analysis is what America is approaching. I've long believed this to be so.

Your points of clarification are appreciated and they hold water.

My fear is this, numbers and data can be massaged by capable people and then sold as factual data whether it is true or not. Since it seems to be human nature to believe what one wants to believe there is never a shortage of ill informed people ready to buy from the first snake oil salesman that comes their way. This creates a fertile environment for manipulators to thrive.

Given the present political and social environment today I'm sure you see my point.

Rusty Old Ford said...

As I wrote in my email, you live rent-free in their heads, Shaw!

They don't know how to quit you!


Shaw Kenawe said...

"This creates a fertile environment for manipulators to thrive."

Further to that point, the only things we know about the Ferguson tragedy is what media have reported. Neither you nor I, nor the people on blogs that you or I frequent were there or were in the grand jury to hear the facts.

My guess then is that it's a good bet we've all been "sold data."

The rioting is the result of lies, mistrust, and frustration, with a good amount of hooliganism thrown into the mix, just enough to make everyone cynical about everything connected with this tragedy.

None of this changes the fact that we've (our country) failed each other horribly where racial understanding is concerned.

Rational Nation USA said...

None of this changes the fact that we've (our country) failed each other horribly where racial understanding is concerned.

Was anybody trying to change that fact?

Shaw Kenawe said...

Yes. Not everyone is as hateful and racist as people like, say, Radical Redass and his ilk. He's a dying breed that is gasping its last gasp while spitting venom--like a cornered snake.

There are people who work toward understanding each other; and even when there are horrible set-backs, like in Ferguson, things will move forward, inch by inch.

Hatred and depravity, like the kind you see at the Porn Queen's blog, are aberrations. Normal people don't engage in that sort of thing.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Rusty O.F.,

Weird. Only their therapists understand why they do that. LOL!

Shaw Kenawe said...

Christina Z., thank you for that story. How do you explain the difference in handling a situation like the one you described and what happened between Wilson and Brown?

Let me guess...

dmarks said...

Why would I not "finger wag" at any idiots who trash their community, as in the pictures? Not sure of your point.

Rational Nation USA said...

Be sure to receive the approved sensitivity training before "wagging your finger."

Jerry Critter said...

Perhaps it depends on which finger you are wagging.