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Ferguson’s black community must not be given the same ‘justice’ as Trayvon Martin


The real looting of Ferguson: its black citizens never had a chance to get by


‘We need to communicate. That’s key. But we need justice for Michael Brown’

Ardester Williams is writing to Barack Obama the old-fashioned way, with paper and a postage stamp, to tell the president about the day in June when he shot a man.

“He was swinging at me, and he was much bigger than I was,” said the 73-year-old security guard at a Ferguson clothing store. “I had to draw my gun and shoot him. But I shot him in the foot. I’m writing to the president to tell him that the whole concept of police training is backwards. They should train them to shoot people dead as a last resort, not the first.”

All law enforcement should be trained how to defuse a situation, and lethal force should be a last resort.  Also, if police aren’t skilled enough to shoot to injure, they ought to receive better training.

A little further down West Florissant Avenue, Shiron Hagens is staffing a tent on a part of the street that just a few nights ago was clouded by tear gas and smoke from a burning convenience store, as protesters and the police clashed over the killing of Michael Brown. She is registering local residents to vote, in part to raise support for a petition to recall Ferguson mayor James Knowles, a white Republican, after he said that the upheaval of the past two weeks was not about race.

“There’s a mistrust right now,” she said. “The way to overcome mistrust is to talk. But there’s no way to have a conversation when you have a mayor who says there’s no race issue here. Michael Brown died because he was black.”

This is why it is important for the citizens of Ferguson to exercise their constitutional right to vote.  They need a mayor who represents them, not one that dismisses their concerns.

(read the rest here)


‘Would Michael Brown still be here if we voted for the right people?’

The group of Ferguson residents clumped around the makeshift memorial at the spot where a police officer shot Michael Brown readily admitted that two weeks ago they had little idea who ran their city.

They paid no attention to the fact that, while two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are African American, all but one of the members of the city council is white. Or that the mayor is a Republican. Or who the police chief is.

Brown’s death has changed all that. People who are frequently alienated, largely devoid of leadership and have not bothered to vote, often because they did not believe elections would change anything, are suddenly paying attention to who controls the levers of power in Ferguson.

“I didn’t know the council was white until Mike happened,” said Major Terrell, 29. “There’s a lot of people talking about it now.”

Police Departments Shouldn’t Become Dumping Grounds for Weapons Makers

In a brilliant August 17 segment of Last Week Tonight, HBO host John Oliver ripped into small towns that have equipped their police with war-like military equipment. One town was Keene, New Hampshire, where their military-grade armored personnel truck was acquired to protect critical targets –– like the annual Pumpkin Festival. Another was Doraville, Georgia. Oliver showed a wild video clip from the Doraville Police Department’s website, with a Ninja-dressed SWAT team going for a joyride in a souped-up armored personnel carrier, all set to a heavy metal song called “Die MotherF***er Die.”

In a visit to Doraville last week, I asked Officer Gene Callaway why his sleepy town of 8,000, which hasn’t had a murder since 2009, needed an armored personnel carrier (APC). “The vehicle provides Doraville with a scalable response and ensures the safety of police officers,” he answered. Scalable response? Safety of police officers? Doraville has never been a crime-ridden town. “We at Doraville are proud to be ranked 39th in safest cities in Georgia,” Callaway himself bragged. It seems the most useful task the APC performed was pulling 18-wheelers back onto the salted lanes of Route 285 during snowstorms. Oh, and let’s not forget that “the kids love playing on it” when it rolls up to the county fair, Callaway told me.

Doraville’s armored vehicle is a gift from Uncle Sam, as part of the billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment now flowing from the federal government to state and local police departments. Not only is it an incredible waste of taxpayer money, but it gets people–including children–accustomed to seeing military vehicles on their streets. Worst of all, it is causing police to act like soldiers, especially since one of the stipulations of getting this equipment is that it must be used within one year of receipt.

The Doraville Police, embarrassed by the negative publicity from their video, took it down (they insist that the theme music was unauthorized). Now on their website you can see much more benevolent images, such as three smiling police officers, one dressed as Santa Claus, with two young girls who are the recipients of the “Santa Pop Program” that pairs police with “less-fortunate children.”

But let’s face it. Military toys, constantly dangled before the police at law enforcement exhibits and fairs, are hard to resist. And with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security giving out this stuff for free, why not get some hand-me-downs? Doraville and Keene are just two of thousands of cities and towns throughout the nation that have successfully applied for surplus equipment from a federal government agency.

What Military Gear Your Local Police Department Bought

Since President Obama took office, the Pentagon has transferred to police departments tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.

In May, The New York Times requested and received from the Pentagon its database of transfers since 2006. The data underpinned anarticle in June and helped inform coverage of the police response this month in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer shot Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

The Times is now posting the raw data to GitHub here. With this data, which is being posted as it was received, people can see what gear is being used in their communities. The equipment is as varied as guns, computers and socks.

The Pentagon-to-police transfer program is not new. Congress created it during the drug war, as a way to increase police firepower in the fight against drug gangs. But since 9/11, as the Pentagon geared up to fight two wars, then drew down as those wars ended, the amount of available military surplus has ballooned.

Now, after a week of confrontation between protesters in Ferguson and heavily armed police, members of Congress are criticizing the trickle down of military gear.

The New Authoritarianism in an Age of Manufactured Crises

What is missing in the recurring debates that dominate Washington politics is the recognition that the real issue at stake is neither the debt ceiling nor the state of the economy, but a powerful form of authoritarianism that poses a threat to the very idea of democracy and the institutions, public values, formative cultures, and public spheres that nourish it. The United States nears a critical juncture in its history, one in which the rising forces of market extremism – left unchecked – will recalibrate modes of governance, ideology, and policy to provide fantastic wealth and legal immunity to an untouchable elite. The politics of disconnection is just one of a series of strategies designed to conceal this deeper order of authoritarian politics. In a society that revels in bouts of historical and social amnesia, it has become much easier for the language of politics and community to be appropriated and distorted so as to deplete words such as “democracy,” “freedom,” “justice,” and the “social state” of any viable meaning.

What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

A few days ago, Deadspin’s Kyle Wagner began to compile a list of all police-involved shootings in the U.S. He’s not the only one to undertake such a project: D. Brian Burghart, editor of the Reno News & Review, has been attempting a crowdsourced national database of deadly police violence. We asked Brian to write about what he’s learned from his project.

It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno’s alt-weekly newspaper, theNews & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case,that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn’t help but wonder how often it happened.

I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media.

A few months later I read about the Dec. 6, 2012, killing of a naked and unarmed 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, by University of South Alabama police. The killing had attracted national coverage—The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN—but there was still no context being provided—no figures examining how many people are killed by police.

I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know “best practices” for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I’m still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It’ll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven’t even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale’s information here.


Why the People of Ferguson Can’t Trust the Cops

Several African-American men share with Truthout their stories of abuse at the hands of police, and after 12 days of continuous demonstrations against the shooting of an unarmed teen, Michael Brown, it appears that the community is in it for the long haul.

Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About the Ferguson Protests



WATCH: TX police draw guns on mother and young children they mistook for gun-waving males

Police were responding to a 911 call about a tan-colored Toyota carrying four black males, one of whom was waving a handgun out the window — which is why Kametra Barbour is confused as to why she and her four young children in a burgundy red Nissan Maxima were pulled over.

 Fox host kicks off two black lawyers after they accuse her of ‘distracting’ from Brown’s death

I’m surprised they were brought on in the first place.  This is FOX News we’re talking about.  They’re not exactly friendly to black people.

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