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My thanks to Twitter Users plus more on Ferguson

I’m not on Twitter, but I have a lot of people to thank who are.

Thank you, Twitter users! You’re too numerous for me to try naming, and I would not want to forget anyone, but suffice to say, if you were Tweeting the events of Ferguson, you have my thanks.  Also, the people who were retweeting  deserve a round of thanks as well.

Twitter users were on the ground, reporting what was going on in Ferguson before the Mainstream Media was. They were giving accurate reporting (despite the vast majority of people not being reporters) from the start. Much of the information we have about what has happened in Ferguson has been the result of Tweets, both from reporters and civilians. These Tweets are evidence and should not be dismissed. In the court of public opinion-which is not the same as a court of law, where higher standards exist for determining guilt-Tweets very much qualify as valid evidence in coming to a reasonable conclusion about a given situation.

Please pay attention to the 5 facts that we know that are not in dispute in the following collection of Tweets (note that all these facts can be verified if one takes the time to verify them. The mainstream media should, by now have compiled a timeline of events to further verify.)
My point with all this is that this shitty “Let’s wait till we know all the facts” is preventing people from reaching *any* conclusion about the events in Ferguson and in fact is used by racist assholes who wish to support Officer Wilson’s murder of Mike Brown.

https://storify.com/miniver/mike-brown-facts-and-dog-whistles-from-shaunking
I have some 5 essential FACTS about the Mike Brown case. These are not in dispute & agreed upon by all sides.

1. According to the Police Chief Officer Darren Wilson DID NOT know about the stolen cigars & all agree the stop was just about jaywalking.

2. A struggle ensued at the window of the car. Dorian Johnson & 4 eyewitnesses saw it ONE way. We can assume Officer Johnson sees it another

3. Mike Brown fled on foot and got about 35 feet away from the truck. His body was found 35 feet away from the truck. So key.

4. Mike Brown was unarmed from start to finish. This is never in dispute.

5. Officer did not file a report and almost no witnesses were interviewed the day of the murder. This was well before DOJ intervention.

 (thanks to Shaun King for compiling this list)

My thanks to Twitter Users plus more on Ferguson
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If you thought events in Ferguson were going to settle down

…you were wrong. 

Violence has erupted again.  Reports at the moment are unclear, but a short time ago, Gawker put up this article:

Reporters on the scene in Ferguson say the protests erupted into chaos as police began firing tear gas at crowds of protestors Sunday night—well before the official curfew time was set to begin—hitting media and children in the abrupt offensive.

It’s not clear what sparked the sudden violent turn just after 10 pm on Sunday. The St. Louis Police Department posted on Twitter around the same time that molotov cocktails had been thrown at officers, but reporters on the scene described a peaceful protest. Sports Illustrated’sRobert Klemko—who was also briefly arrested Sunday night— suggested on Twitter that police may have been responding to a march past a southern barricade.

He also writes that police are claiming their command center was attacked.

 

Information has been revealed about the autopsy of Michael Brown:

A private autopsy conducted on Michael Brown shows the 18-year-old was shot at least six times in the head, torso and arm, the New York Times reports.

According to the autopsy, Brown was shot at least three times in the face. At least two of those shots “would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired.”

According to the New York Times, Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner in New York, found a gunshot wound at the top of Brown’s skull “suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury.”

“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” he explained to the Times. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”

Baden—who conducted the autopsy at the family’s request and was not allowed to examine Brown’s clothing—said no gunpowder was found on Brown’s body, suggesting he was not shot at close range.

Baden told reporters Brown—who was not given medical attention—likely would not have survived the shooting

More Tweets coming out of Ferguson:

Police scanner eavesdroppers say cops requesting reinforcements from wherever they can get them.

Rory Carroll

Police just widened cordon outside , threatening to arrest anyone within a mile.

Rory Carroll

Cop just told photog to “back the fuck up or ill shot.”

Akilah Johnson

Police pointed weapon and me and Capt Johnson has threatened me with arrest. He has called squad car. V jumpy

Rob Crilly

Windows broken at Public Storage, some protestors yelling at guy who did it

Steph Lecci

Just spoke with Capt Johnson. They’ve quarantined me and two other journos. Not allowed to view Florissant. “They tried to take the command”

Robert Klemko

Cops stopped us. We explained ourselves. They said to walk away. We said why. They said command center was attacked. I said no it wasn’t.

Robert Klemko

Capt Johnson said walk away or be arrested. I started walking away. They followed and arrested us.

Robert Klemko

When they cut cuffs off minutes later, I held onto it. Johnson tried to take it. I said “it’s a ferguson souvenir.”

Robert Klemko

Entire goal was to document police action towards protesters. Johnson wouldn’t let us enter a visibly secured area.

Robert Klemko

Here is Ferguson news as reported in Australia:

On the ground in Ferguson

For days now, this community has been see-sawing between a fairly festive atmosphere in the street … when you have this outpouring of love and support for the family of Mike Brown and then down at the scene of the actual shooting, you have a completely different feeling of grief and prayer and shock.

Around town, there is graffiti on the walls, things like “The only good cop is a dead cop”, so there is still a lot of anger but at the same time, that graffiti was actually painted over within a day, I suspect by the community itself.

Protesters themselves have stopped the looters, this is a community that has no faith left in the police officers but are effectively now policing themselves.

[But] we have certainly seen a heavy FBI presence at the scene. Agents wanting to interview witnesses for this investigation will run in tandem to the investigations of the local police. All of this is just a sign of the extremely bad state of the relationship between the police here and this community.

Every person you talk to here feels personally affected by what has happened, they are painfully aware that even though it is Mike Brown who bore the brunt of it this time, it could have just as easily been any one of them lying dead in the street, they say.

They say it is part
of the reality of being a black man in America, that you are targeted and that you are the subject of heavy-handed treatment in a way that they just don’t see white members of this community being treated.

– US correspondent Jane Cowan

 

 Here is Robert McCulloch saying that the level of force deployed by the police is not excessive:

The show of force by police in Ferguson was not excessive. That’s what St. Louis County’s top prosecutor is saying the morning after a night of calm in Ferguson.

Robert McCulloch spoke to Kay Quinn this morning, about the violence in Ferguson, and about his strong feelings after St. Louis County’s police chief was removed from heading up the security detail there.

McCulloch says St. Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, already had plans to scale back the security operation in Ferguson on Thursday, when in his words, Missouri governor Jay Nixon pops into town and takes over.

“The problem I had with the governor’s action is the manner it came about,” says McCulloch.

He’s been St. Louis county prosecutor for 17 years, and he knows Missouri governor Jay Nixon well.

McCulloch is offended Nixon replaced County Police Chief Jon Belmar as the commander of the security detail in Ferguson without even telling Belmar first.

“That was what really annoyed me about the governor’s action yesterday, aside from the fact that there was absolutely no legal authority for him to do that,” says McCulloch.

He says Belmar and Johnson had been working closely on the security detail from the start of the violence, that that the two had already decided to scale back the operation Wednesday night, when the governor arrived.

“So to come into town and not to talk to, certainly didn’t talk to me, certainly didn’t talk to Chief Belmar, didn’t bother to ask what is going on, what happened last night, where does it go from here, who’s doing what, the sort of things you would expect somebody to ask,” says McCulloch.

We also asked him about the militarization of the police presence.

Quinn: “Was the police response excessive in Ferguson?”

Prosecutor McCulloch: “No, I don’t think it was excessive at all.”

He says there’s a big difference between a show of force and the use of force. He also said officers on the front lines did a professional job.

“The abuse that they took on that line was incredible,” McCulloch said. “The show of force, by the time Thursday got around, was certainly above,” McCulloch added, “even though it was a show of force, even that it was the same show of force that it was Monday morning. It was certainly more than was necessary by Wednesday.” says McCulloch.

“But then again nobody knows what to expect until it happens, and when you see what happens, you say we don’t need it, let’s get it out of here,” says McCulloch.

He says he’s pleased the situation in Ferguson is calm again, and well aware of the national conversation about the police response. McCulloch adds the fact that no one was seriously hurt in the days and nights right after the Brown shooting proves the approach was appropriate.

“I know people for blocks around were affected by the tear gas,” McCulloch said. “But no serious injuries to the protestors that were out there, to law enforcement to residents in the area, and I think that’s something that kind of gets lost in the shuffle here.”

“But the use of force, while they were doing it under the circumstances, I don’t think was excessive,” says McCulloch.

As for the release of the name of the Ferguson officer involved in Mike Brown shooting, McCulloch said there are legitimate arguments for both releasing and withholding it.

He says he’d rather the officer’s name be withheld, but he understands the decision to release it.

 

 

If you thought events in Ferguson were going to settle down

Ferguson, MO

Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri, declared a state of emergency in Ferguson, and instituted a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m.  

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in Ferguson, Mo., on Saturday, following nights of protests after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer.

“If we’re going to have justice, we must first have and maintain peace,” Nixon said at a Saturday afternoon press conference. “The eyes of the world are watching.”

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol says the curfew will run from midnight to 5 a.m. local time Sunday and will be enforced through conversations, not tear gas and tanks.

A curfew.  As if adults are children and need to be told to go home at a certain time.  Or maybe the Governor is treating them like a potential public safety issue.  Maybe he thinks it’s ‘for their own good’.  I don’t know what the reasoning is, but I disagree with it.  The citizens of Ferguson want to read the autopsy report on Michael Brown’s body.  They want to hear that Officer Wilson has been taken into custody.  They want to hear that his vehicle has been impounded. They want to hear an apology from the Ferguson Police Department.  They want answers about why they were treated like terrorists.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t ask for a curfew, and I’m pretty damn sure they don’t need one.  They want their concerns to be heard and actually listened to.  

Margaret Huang, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, disagrees with the curfew.

“It’s clear that the community doesn’t feel heard,” Huang says. “It’s hard to build trust when the governor won’t meet with community members and restricts their movements with a curfew. The people of Ferguson should not have their rights further restricted.”

The Governor is treating the citizens of Ferguson like they have done something wrong.  They are the ones that have been acting peacefully.  The Ferguson PD are the ones who have acted aggressively, unnecessarily deploying force and treating protesters like criminals (which I doubt they’d have done if it were a group of white people).  This curfew will accomplish nothing more than to inflame tensions between the community of Ferguson and government officials.

The curfew was apparently enforced by the use of smoke gas, though some reports claim tear gas was used.  Speaking of tear gas, it is a chemical weapon and has been banned in war:

Despite its ubiquity across the globe and in United States, tear gas is a chemical agent banned in warfare per the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, which set forth agreements signed by nearly every nation in the world — including the United States. The catch, however, is that while it’s illegal in war, it’s legal in domestic riot control. That means Turkey got to use it on its protesters last year. That meant Bahrain got to the do the same. And now, in Ferguson, cops are likewise blasting residents protesting the police for the killing of an unarmed teen named Michael Brown.

“I was just trying to get to my sister’s house,” one 23-year-old sobbed on his lawn, according to this harrowing report by The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, who was arrested by police Wednesday. The man said police had pelted him with rubber bullets and sprayed his face with tear gas.

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson has defended the use of tear gas. “There are complaints about the response from some people,” he said, “but to me, nobody got hurt seriously, and I’m happy about that.”

While that appears to have held true as of Thursday morning, some scientists and international observers contend the tactic of spraying people with tear gas, which commonly uses the chemical agent 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), can pose serious dangers. “Tear gas under the Geneva Convention is characterized as a chemical warfare agent, and so it is precluded for use in warfare, but it is used very frequently against civilians,” Sven-Eric Jordt, a nerve gas expert at Yale University School of Medicine, explained to National Geographic. “That’s very illogical.”

Technically not a gas, Jordt said, tear gas is an aerosol. “Tear gases are nerve gases that specifically activate pain-sensing nerves,” Jordt told National Geographic. And when used properly, in lower doses and deployed in open spaces, its effects are more or less harmless. Those affected sneeze and cough and panic — and may even temporarily go blind — but those symptoms subside after several hours. A 2003 study found there “is no evidence that a healthy individual will experience long-term health effects from open-air exposures to CS or CR, although contamination with CR is less easy to remove.”

But sometimes things don’t go as planned. “The use of tear gas in … situations of civil unrest, however, demonstrates that exposure to the weapon is difficult to control and indiscriminate, and the weapon is often not used correctly,” wrote Howard Hu in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1989. “Severe traumatic injury from exploding tear gas bombs as well as lethal toxic injury have been documented.” Hu found that if exposed to “high levels of CS,” some victims experienced heart failure or even death. “An infant exposed to CS in a house into which police had fired CS canisters to subdue a mentally disturbed adult developed severe pneumonitis requiring therapy with steroids, oxygen, antibiotics, and 29 days of hospitalization.”

I’m sorry, but if tear gas has been banned in war, it should not be used in conditions that are less extreme than wartime, like say, during non violent protests (for that matter, even if it were a violent protest, tear gas still shouldn’t be used).

Unfortunately, law enforcement was needed after the curfew went into effect.  One person was shot and seven people were arrested.  

Gun violence, tear gas and armored vehicles marked the first night of a controversial curfew imposed in this St. Louis suburb where the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager has kicked over a cauldron of frustration and anger.

What some hoped would be an evening of calm was instead one of chaos that ended with a shooting victim, seven arrests and an early morning heavy rain that finally helped clear the streets.

Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol said early Sunday that a large force was deployed amid a curfew and protests in Ferguson after police received a report that an unknown assailant shot a person.

More Twitter comments and updates:

Very angry young man w face confronts Ron Johnson, screaming, demanding answers. “You deserve answers,” Johnson says. “You will get them.”

Alex Altman

 

Malik Shabazz, worki
ng w/New Black Panther Party: “At 11:30 when I say move out, move out. They have 3,000 men ready. I don’t want you hurt”

Trymaine Lee

 

Very thin numbers as the curfew nears. Community leaders have been talking to the young guys. Many have already left.

Antonio French

 

BREAKING: One person shot and seven arrested in after curfew, officials say

NBC News

 

Police defend use of tear gas as “proper response” to their car being shot at in , Missouri

BBC News US

 

Here are the faces of the people of , cleaning up their community this morning

Ryan J. Reilly

 

 

 

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Ferguson, MO

Ferguson and the larger problems with race in the US

Despite today’s good news, I’m still not happy with the situation in Ferguson, nor the overall situation facing African-Americans and other minorities in the United States.  I’m going to copy my status update on Facebook:

I thought having a good nights sleep would refresh me. I thought I’d wake up energized and rebooted, so to speak. That hasn’t happened. I’m still feeling the fear and anger I felt last night. This country is scaring me. Mike Brown was killed for doing nothing. He was shot multiple times, despite having no weapon and posing no threat. The levels of police brutality in this country, especially as directed towards women and men of color are horrifying. People see examples in the media, but they see them as isolated incidents, rather than an ongoing problem. Racism is not gone in the US. The militarization of the police in Ferguson in response to almost overwhelmingly peaceful protests is scary. Living in Florida-the state that was home to Trayvon Martin and that scuzzbucket George Zimmerman, I’m acutely aware that there are people-citizens, law enforcement officials, politicians, and more-that do not value the life of people of color. Add to that the fact that I’m gay. And I’m an atheist (yeah, this is the official coming out of the closet on FB about that), and that’s a virtual trifecta of goodness there. Any number of people would love for me to be dead for any of those three things. The media barely covers the tragedy in Ferguson, overwhelming us with other images and stories. When the media does cover such horrible events, they do it without connecting the dots to all the other horrible occurrences in the country, which leads people to thinking it’s not connected. It leads people to see things in isolation, rather than a larger pattern of systemic discrimination and oppression of a minority group. It’s horrible feeling like your concerns don’t matter to the public. It’s horrible to think that people want you dead for nothing more than the color of your skin, who you find yourself attracted to, or the fact that you see no evidence for the existence of any deity and choose not to believe in fairy tales. But that’s the country we live in. I’m at a loss what to do, and that both scares and angers me. It also angers me that more people aren’t angry. It angers me that media outlets let ongoing civil rights violations go unnoticed…unreported. And our politicians…I don’t even want to talk about the disappointment that is our politicians. Yeah, the GOP and libertarians are skidmarks on the underwear of humanity, but the Democrats are only marginally better. I despair sometimes. And don’t anyone worry-this isn’t the type of despair where I’m contemplating something foolish like suicide. It’s a realization of how horrible this country is, and a wish for it to be better. A wish for the people to be better. There are still many things I want to do in life. I just wish I had the same opportunities to do them, and was accorded the same respect that white, heterosexual, theistic people have. Don’t fool yourself for one second-this country does not have a level playing field for all the players.

 

Ferguson and the larger problems with race in the US

We just want a few slices of the pie

Among the many panels at the recent San Diego Comic Con was a ‘Gender in Comics’ panel.  It was hosted by Janelle Asselin, and covered a good bit of ground.  Comic Book Resources reveals a bit about the panel:

The panelists quickly dispelled counterarguments claiming that important topics such as gender have no place being discussed in comics. None of the panelists thought comics should get a pass because they are “just comics.” “We express ourselves and articulate our own identity through works we consume or works we produce,” said Pleban. “It’s also the stuff we subconsciously get affected by and don’t realize. When you’re an adolescent and you find this thing that speaks to you and don’t know why it speaks to you just yet at that age, and then you get older and look back and go, ‘That’s why I was really into that thing! I recognized part of myself in this character!’ Data, Data’s the character.”

“It’s the thing we’re most consuming at young ages,” added Tynion. “It’s how we build the world around us. It’s our understanding through these comics and representation in there. If you don’t see yourself reflected in the world you’re building through fiction, whether in comics or entertainment, you start feeling like you don’t belong in the world. You find your little connections and latch onto that.”

Yes.  This.  People of all backgrounds read comic books, and deserve to see themselves represented therein.   Of course for a segment of the comic book readership, they view this as an assault on them.  They think that women asking to be better represented in comics (and requesting an end to sexual objectification) somehow means “no more men in comics” or “no more male creators”.  That’s the furthest from the truth.  The panelists touch on this as well:

The panel turned their attention towards the kneejerk reactions expressed by the male fans — fans that have been catered to by comics for decades. “If you’ve grown up in a situation where everything is about you and is catered to you, I think there is a degree to which equality can be perceived as oppression,” said Hudson. “If you’re used to having everything be about you, to some degree, and then suddenly it’s not, I guess in a way you perceive that as oppression.”

“Instead of opening up the pie,” Gaydos quickly added. “People are going to feel like it’s exclusionary.”

“But you have all the slices!” said Pleban. “Let me just have five of all the slices. That’s enough slices. You can’t be mad that you don’t have the whole pie. You can have three fourths of the pie, is that cool?”

Gaydos added a deliciously inclusive solution: “Make a bigger pie, it’ll be awesome!”

I like the pie analogy.  White male readers have had almost the whole pie for the entire history of comics.  Women, People of Color, LGBT people, and others would like a few slices too.  They’d also like to have the opportunity to create their own pies and see them get distributed equally.

We just want a few slices of the pie

They can lie and distort all they want

Politics.

What an ugly beast.

It has only been in recent years that I’ve become interested in politics.  Once I began to see how political officials shape the country and how laws or proposed legislation can impact people, I started paying more attention to politics.  I’m still far from immersed in the political world, but I keep up to a degree.  I regularly read news from sources like:  BBC, Daily KOS, Al Jazeera, Mother Jones, Guardian, PolitiFact, Media Matters, Think Progress, and Raw Story.  I learned to avoid news from network television as they often don’t present enough information to develop an informed opinion on a given subject.  Nowhere is this more evident than FOX News.  The channel  churns out information that is misleading at best, and outright lies more often than not.  The “facts” that FOX News presents are very often easy to counter.  The accurate information is out there.  For a years I thought they were just spinning and twisting the truth, but I did not know they deliberately lie and distort.  At least not until today:

In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.

Back in December of 1996, Jane Akre and her husband, Steve Wilson, were hired by FOX as a part of the Fox “Investigators” team at WTVT in Tampa Bay, Florida. In 1997 the team began work on a story about bovine growth hormone (BGH), a controversial substance manufactured by Monsanto Corporation. The couple produced a four-part series revealing that there were many health risks related to BGH and that Florida supermarket chains did little to avoid selling milk from cows treated with the hormone, despite assuring customers otherwise.

According to Akre and Wilson, the station was initially very excited about the series. But within a week, Fox executives and their attorneys wanted the reporters to use statements from Monsanto representatives that the reporters knew were false and to make other revisions to the story that were in direct conflict with the facts. Fox editors then tried to force Akre and Wilson to continue to produce the distorted story. When they refused and threatened to report Fox’s actions to the FCC, they were both fired.(Project Censored #12 1997)

Akre and Wilson sued the Fox station and on August 18, 2000, a Florida jury unanimously decided that Akre was wrongfully fired by Fox Television when she refused to broadcast (in the jury’s words) “a false, distorted or slanted story” about the widespread use of BGH in dairy cows. They further maintained that she deserved protection under Florida’s whistle blower law. Akre was awarded a $425,000 settlement. Inexplicably, however, the court decided that Steve Wilson, her partner in the case, was ruled not wronged by the same actions taken by FOX.

FOX appealed the case, and on February 14, 2003 the Florida Second District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the settlement awarded to Akre. The Court held that Akre’s threat to report the station’s actions to the FCC did not deserve protection under Florida’s whistle blower statute, because Florida’s whistle blower law states that an employer must violate an adopted “law, rule, or regulation.” In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a “law, rule, or regulation,” it was simply a “policy.” Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly. (Anybody surprised this happened in Florida?)

During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves. Fox attorneys did not dispute Akre’s claim that they pressured her to broadcast a false story, they simply maintained that it was their right to do so.

FOX News argued-successfully-that they have to right to present information in any manner they choose.  They are not responsible for accurate reporting or factual information.  They can mislead viewers all they want, and they do that.  Over and over and over again.

I live in the panhandle of Florida.  I’ve worked in many establishments with conservative guests.  So many of them listen to the lies of FOX News and treat them as fact.  I’m disgusted that FOX is able to do this.  That they have no obligation to report accurately is a travesty of journalism.   They’ve deliberately lied and deceived the public and continue to do so today.  They’ve helped cause strife and dissent in the US to a fantastic degree.  This is shameful.

 

They can lie and distort all they want