Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I've decided to dust off the bog for this one.

For some deeply masochistic reason, I've been doing something I don't usually do – read comments on public Facebook posts. Not every detail of the Mike Brown case is entirely clear, but the facts as we have them make it very difficult to see the cop as anything but guilty. Guilty, I'm pretty sure, of murder in the first degree but at least manslaughter. The actions of the the Ferguson PD – leaving the body in the sun for hours, smearing Mike Brown's character with information that is questionable and is certainly not pertinent to the case – have been clearly despicable. Still there are a number of people that have their own set of dubious "facts" and a passionate, if sick, conclusion.

First, they take it as gospel truth that Mike Brown attacked the Darren Wilson, although there is absolutely no evidence for that except for the testimony of the killer himself.

Second, they have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the Ferguson PD's race baiting and proclaim to the high heavens that Brown was a "thief," "thug," and weirdly, a "felon."

Third, They are deeply attached to the idea that a white policeman could not kill a black youth even mistakenly, let alone murderously. Even if Mike Brown had committed a crime and attacked the cop, there is still no justification for his killing (unless you accept the fantasy, against several eyewitnesses, that a wounded kid would charge an armed cop). Usually though, they leap directly from the alleged theft or the alleged attack to a simple justification for the killing: "He was a thief..." "That's what you get when you're a thug..." "Did he think he could just attack a cop and get away with it?" In the end, there is a simple process that goes like this: black kid + alleged crime + alleged marijuana use  + rap, "gang signs," etc. = an irredeemable criminal who deserves nothing better than to be shot dead on the street.

All this about an eighteen-year-old kid.

This is what racism is about and this is what the protests in Ferguson are about. The Mike Brown murder is just another element in a long line of devaluing the citizenship and the very lives of African-Americans, something that apparently is a regular occurrence in Ferguson. It seems that a substantial sector of white America is complicit in this process, the deep, dark dismissal of the humanity of millions of their fellow citizens.

A couple of links: This series of tweets explains why the case against Wilson is s strong, and how the appeals to racism work. Ta-Nahisi Coates on Ferguson.


Garpu said...

Nice to see you posting, even if it's such a dire subject.

I grew up in Illinois. Granted, it was a good 3-4 hours north of St. Louis, but once you got outside of Chicago (although that city has its own troubles), things got scary quickly. Sundown towns are still common. St. Louis/south-central IL had a huge problem with racism when I was living there. I can't imagine it's gotten much better in the 20 years since I've moved.

I wish I could say I'm at all surprised by the racism shown by the supporters of the ferguson police and Darren Wilson.

Jeff said...

I'm so glad to see a blog post, Liam. I miss the heyday of blogging myself. I fucking hate Facebook for serious topics.

It's so hard for white Americans to understand and recognize their own privilege, and I lament that the enmity between the African-American community and the police has gone on so long and has become so cast in cement that there is a defiance built into every confrontation, and neither side listens to the other. If a white cop says "get out of the middle of the street" or "drop the weapon," the young black man is not inclined to listen. By the same token, if a young black man being held in a choke-hold says "I can't breathe," the white cop is not inclined to listen either.

I think the Twitter feed that you linked to presents a nearly irrefutable case. In any case, we do have video of the Powell shooting, which occurred four miles away a few days after and as you can see:

1) The initial police account of what happened was not true.


2) The way these police are trained led them to an excessive use of force.

Anonymous said...

The cop was shot in the hand, proving the heroic dope dealing thief was trying to kill him!So white cops can't defend their own lives because black men are morally superior? I don't understand what this blog has to do with the facts of this case!

Liam said...

"Anonymous" – apparently you neither read my blog post nor the news reports carefully. There were no reports that Michael Brown sold drugs and Brown was shot in the hand, not Wilson. As far as referring to Brown as a "theif," read my blog post.