More Ferguson, MO and militarization of the police

One of Missouri’s top newspapers is under fire.  

The Columbia Daily Tribune recently published what many consider to be a racist cartoon:

The Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune is facing a bit of heat today after running the above cartoon by Gary McCoy on Wednesday’s editorial page, with people pointing out, “Dudes, that some real racist bullshit you got there.”

Of course it didn’t help that the Trib ran it in conjunction with the buttoned-down racism of Rich Lowry from National Review, who wants the blacks to quit making the normally super-nice police officers — who punish jaywalking with summary execution in the street — become even meaner and try to kill them in larger numbers which would be much harder for conservatives to defend.

Not that they wouldn’t try.

Yup. Racist.
It’s characterizing {largely BLACK} protesters as looters and rioters, instead of people with a long standing series of legitimate grievances against the government (this is racist for a variety of reasons, one of which is that this is a prejudicial view of black people that many Americans hold-that they’re thugs, thieves, scoundrels, and criminals with little redeeming value-this view is held not based on reality, but based on biases and prejudices held by people which they refuse to confront and examine; it’s also racist for the art-specifically the way black people are rendered in the cartoon). The cartoon makes the same mistake a lot of people have made-treating the looters (the people rioting have been the police) as if they represent the community of Ferguson, when in actuality a great many of them are from out of the St. Louis area, and there aren’t that many of them. Shifting the story to “Mike Brown stole stuff” or “Mike Brown was a threat to Officer Wilson” or “People stole tvs” moves the focus away from the violations of civil rights perpetrated against a community for a very long time, up to and including the execution of Michael Brown, and continuing through the brutal tactics of the police in response to protesters. On top of that, it ignores the role the police have played in denying reporters their constitutional rights. The people of Ferguson want, and deserve justice and accountability from the police as well as the government and they haven’t gotten that. This shit about rioting and looting is a smokescreen. A diversion from the story that matters-the denial of the constitutional and civil rights of African-Americans (and the press).

 

Elementary teacher suspended for asking white student ‘cops’ to shoot black ‘Michael Browns’

A Gun Happy toon:

The case of Michael Brown: Missing police reports, anonymous sources and shoddy journalism

Tiffany Mitchell was a witness to the killing of Michael Brown.  

Donors Choose Drive for #Ferguson

Officer Is Suspended After Telling Media in Ferguson: ‘I Will F*cking Kill You’

A police officer has been removed from his post after he pointed his gun at a group of people documenting events in Ferguson on Tuesday night and threatened to kill them, St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman told Mashable.

“On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, shortly before midnight, an incident occurred wherein a St. Ann police officer pointed a semi-automatic assault rifle at a peaceful protestor after a verbal exchange,” Schellman wrote in an email. (St. Ann is a St. Louis suburb not far from Ferguson.) “It was at this time a St. Louis County police sergeant walked over and immediately took action, forcing the officer to lower the weapon, and escorting him away from the area.”

 

The St. Ann police officer involved in the incident has been relieved of duty and suspended indefinitely, Schellman added, satisfying a request the ACLU sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Wednesday afternoon requesting they do just that.

 

Facebook talk on #Ferguson, race causing a friend fallout, chilling relationships

The end of childhood: How the violence in Ferguson will change its children:

Angela Mitchell-Phillips’ predominantly white church had a “come to Jesus” moment on race last weekend.

Her minister leaned over the pulpit and said something like: As God is my witness, I better not ever hear of anybody in this parish calling another human being an animal.

The congregation turned pin-drop silent. Mitchell-Phillips looked around the pews.

“I bet somebody did it,” she thought. “I bet he saw it on Facebook. And I bet he was pissed.”

The moment points to how raw and tense the issue of race has become in St. Louis, and around the country, since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown and the volatile days of protests since.

 

The end of childhood: How the violence in Ferguson will change its children

There’s a moment when a child confronts an unfairness so big it changes the way he or she looks at world.

It could be a significant trauma − abuse, a loss − or a simple awareness that the rules don’t apply to everyone the same way. There’s a moment when we question what we’ve been taught or assumed to be true in a way that shakes the ground underneath us.

For the past several days, some children in Ferguson have seen a slain teenager on the street, killed by a police officer, a childhood symbol of protection. They’ve witnessed police in riot gear in clouds of tear gas, night after night, heard barking dogs used to try to control the unrest, angry shouts from protesters and police. Th
ey have heard shots fired and seen a building burned, glass shattered.

“I know that in the coming days, weeks and months children will continue to re-experience this,” said Marva Robinson, president of the St. Louis chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. It’s not just those living nearby, but also those who have been watching the news with their parents. Children could have nightmares for years to come. They may be hypersensitve or hypervigilant around law enforcement, Robinson said.

 

From their parents, they may be hearing about how their community is treated unfairly, targeted or hated. Instead of new backpacks, they may carry a sense of devaluation, anxiety, fear with them too as they head back to school.

What is the eventual impact of being exposed at a young age to violence and a feeling that the police can’t or won’t protect you? You build up a wall of mistrust. You are closed off to persons of authority. You find it hard to trust the guidance of school professionals or others who may want to help you. You see them as part of a system that killed someone who looks like you or doesn’t care about children who look like you.

“If they were innocent before this, the seeds are being planted in them of feeling dehumanized,” Robinson said. Those seeds bloom into a cycle that perpetuates scenes like what we are seeing in Ferguson.

Isn’t the loss of this innocence yet another injustice, which should outrage us and motivate us to do something?

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Holder’s stop in Ferguson is deeply person:

Attorney General Eric Holder flew to Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer leading an investigation into a police shooting.

He also arrived as an African-American who said he understands the racial tensions that have fueled days of protests that have been marred by violence and mass arrests since the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

“I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man,” Holder told Ferguson residents at a community meeting. “I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding. Pulled over. … ‘Let me search your car’ … Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”

Holder was here primarily for briefings on the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into possible civil rights violations related to the fatal shooting. He offered perhaps his most forceful and personal assessment yet of how the 18-year-old man’s shooting has reignited a long history of racial “mistrust and mutual suspicion.”

As protests unfold, dad tells son racism lives:

Darius Pikes’ 10-year-old wants to know why black men are harassed.

Pikes tells his son the answer is racism.

“My son has asked me: Why is it that black males are harassed? He’s asking why is it, the police are supposed to protect and serve the citizens, then why does it seem like they’re bullying the citizens? He actually used that word,” Pikes said. “He said, can the principals of the schools, can they come and talk to the people about bullying because they talk about it in school.”

Pikes has been teaching for 13 years, currently as a music teacher in Ferguson, Mo. The death of Michael Brown, a black teenager, has sparked protests here for more than a week. Brown, who was unarmed, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. For Pikes, the incident is a chance to have important conversations.

“A lot of the kids are confused about what’s going on, but I think this is a really good opportunity to talk to them about racism because racism is alive and well,” Pikes said.

The situation in Ferguson presents an opportunity for parents to speak with children about issues of fairness, said Jennifer Baker, director of the Robert J. Murney clinic in Springfield, Mo., which offers counseling and psychological services.

Parents should acknowledge to their children that bad things happen, but added that they should not unnecessarily expose their children to violence. Parents should also tell children they do everything they can to keep them safe.

Baker said parents can ask children questions about how they respond when they think situations are unfair or whether they have ever treated someone different because they were not like them. For children older than 10 or so, more specific conversations about racism may be appropriate, she said.

 

Petition asking cops to wear body cameras passes 100K:

A petition asking the White House to look into requiring all state, county and local police to wear lapel cameras has reached 100,000 signatures.

Obama administration officials have said they will respond to petitions that reach that threshold.

Late Tuesday, the petition, created by “J.C.” of Hephzibah, Ga., reached the required number. As of noon Wednesday, it had more than 128,000 signatures.

 

Mike Brown Law. Requires all state, county, and local police to wear a camera.

Create a bill, sign into law, and set aside funds to require all state, county and local police to wear a camera. Due to the latest accounts of deadly encounters with police, We the People, petition for the Mike Brown Law. The law shall be made in an effort to not only detour police misconduct (i.e. brutality, profiling, abuse of power) but to ensure that all police are following procedure and to remove all question from normally questionable police encounters as well as help to hold all parties within a police investigation accountable for their actions.

 

While the White House’s We the People Web page allows anyone 13 and older to create and sign a petition to the government, it doesn’t guarantee any action.

If a petition reaches 150 signatures within 30 days, it becomes searchable on the site. If it reaches 100,000 signatures within another 30 days, administration officials say they will respond to the petition. The police camera petition was created Aug. 13.

For a law to be passed, a Congress member would have to create a bill, have it pass committees within the House and Senate, have it pass votes of the full House and Senate and have the president sign it. Any initiative that has a cost associated with it would need to have a funding source.

ME:  I wish this stood a chance of becoming a reality.  Sadly, given our government,
this probably has no likelihood of passing, even if it became a bill.

St. Louis Police Release Video, Calls From City Shooting:

On Tuesday, two officers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department shot and killed Kajieme Powell, who was 25 years old.

Powell was suspected of shoplifting energy drinks and donuts from a convenience store. The shop owner, believing that Powell was carrying a weapon, contacted police. Another witness, Ald. Dionne Flowers, who represents the area and owns a beauty salon in the same block, noticed that Powell was acting erratically and also called police. Flowers told police she saw a second knife, though only one was recovered at the scene.

Powell approached the officers when they arrived, yelling at them to shoot him already. When he ignored commands to drop the knife, the two officers fired a total of 12 shots. Chief Sam Dotson said the knife was like a steak knife.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said it will act with complete transparency. It has released the 911 calls, dispatch audio, video of the shoplifting, as well as cell phone video of the police shooting taken by a witness.

Documenting the Arrests of Journalists in Ferguson:

On Aug. 13, 2014, police in Ferguson, Missouri, assaulted and arrested two journalists for allegedly failing to exit a McDonald’s quickly enough while on a break from covering the protests. Since then, police actions against journalists in Ferguson have escalated in severity and frequency. Many have been tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets and at least nine more have been arrested.

It should go without saying that these arrests are a gross violation of the reporters’ First Amendment rights, and attempts to prevent journalists from lawfully doing their job on the streets of Ferguson are downright illegal. We will be documenting each journalist arrest below and are filing public records requests for the arrest records of the journalists who have been assaulted, detained, and arrested in Ferguson. All requests are publicly available on MuckRock.

Lessons from Ferguson: Police Militarization is Now a Press Freedom Issue:

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri—where four days ago the police killed an unarmed teenager—took another disturbing turn yesterday as cops decked out in riot gear arrested and assaulted two reporters covering the protests, Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly, as they were sitting in a McDonald’s, quietly charging their phones.

The arrests were undoubtedly a gross violation of the reporters’ First Amendment rights, and both the attempts to stop them from filming and their assault by police officers were downright illegal. But there’s another issue at play here, an issue which has led to the environment in which cops think they can get away with these acts: the militarization of local police.

The public has been gripped these last few days by disturbing photographs of police with automatic assault rifles, snipers, tear gas, body armor, tanks, LRADs(Long Range Acoustic Devices) facing peaceful, unarmed protesters in Ferguson. As managing editor Ryan Grim noted in Huffington Post’s statement their reporter’s arrest, “Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom.”

As folks who have closely followed criminal justice issues (or the Occupy Wall Street protests from two years ago) know, this is a problem that has been brewing for years. The quintessential book on the issue was written last year by journalist Radley Balko, who now covers criminal justice issues at the Washington Post. The ACLU also released a comprehensive report about police militarization earlier this year.

 

Joe Biggs, Reporter Threatened By Cop In Ferguson, Speaks Out

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More Ferguson, MO and militarization of the police
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