Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: Confusion, Anger, and Chaos

Confusion, anger, and chaos still reign in Ferguson, Missouri because of the August 9th shooting of an unarmed African American teenager named Michael Brown. He was, on that day, killed by a white cop and at this moment no one knows exactly why.

Today, the state's governor, Jay Nixon lifted a midnight to five am curfew, which no one was paying any attention to anyway, while at the same time calling up units of the national guard. According to Nixon, the NG's will be under the command of the highway patrol, who, in theory, is in charge of security in the St. Louis suburb,

Nixon says the guard is primarily there to keep the "unified command center," safe. He claims it came under a "coordinated attack" during last nights violence. During his presentation to the media, the governer failed to identify who was in charge of the military style tactics used by those nefarious persons who mounted the assault, but you have to realize in situations such as these everything is, a tad foggy.

In the mean time the Ferguson Police Department looks to be completely out of the picture now and the St. Louis County police, after they appeared to be having far too much fun gassing retreating crowds, TV camera crews, and strong arming journalists have been placed in reserve.

Much to the dismay and disgust of the majority of protesters, sporadic looting continued last night. It was perpetrated by people who seem to have found the perfect excuse to throw bricks through windows and score bottles of top shelf vodka and scotch. Yes, for some, tragedy is the ultimate opportunity. All you have to do is seize the night and get into and out of a smashed store front as quickly as you can.

Meanwhile, Brown's family hired forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells and former New York City Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Baden to perform an independent autopsy of their son's body. It is one of three. The county either has, or will perform one and the U.S. Justice Department has said it will conduct a third.

Given the initial findings of the independent team the word "overkill" seems to be an appropriate description of the shooting. Baden and Parcells found Michael Brown had been shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson. Four of the rounds hit him in the right arm, while two struck him in the head. One shot, the fatal one, was to the very top of Brown's skull, which, according to Baden and Parcells indicates his head was leaning forward when it struck him.

The two men said they didn't find any powder residue on Brown's skin, which is an indicator he was shot from a distance. However, both added, since they didn't have access to the clothes Brown was wearing, such a finding couldn't be conclusive. In addition the wounds didn't provide any proof one way or the other if Brown was actually holding his arms up in the air when he turned to face Wilson as at least two witnesses have said.

Three people in total, Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, and Piaget Crenshaw dispute the police version of events which maintains Brown lunged into Wilson's car in an attempt to get his gun. According to all three, the officer grabbed Brown through the window of the vehicle and Brown broke free of his grip and attempted to run away. Wilson then exited his vehicle and pursued him down the street. As he did he pulled off at least one round. Brown then turned to face him. According to Mitchell and Johnson, he raised his hands in order to surrender. Crenshaw, in a television interview, didn't say if he did, or didn't. All three agreed though that after Brown stopped and turned, Wilson continued to fire until the young man collapsed face first onto the pavement.

Besides hiring Baden and Parcells, Michael Brown's parents have enlisted the help of Benjamin Crump. He was last seen, nationally, representing the family of Trayvon Martin--another unarmed black kid shot to death for reasons no sane person can understand.

Was Michael Brown a saint? No. Was Michael Brown headed off to college. Yeah, but only if you count a for profit trade school like Vatterott College as one. Did he lift a box of cigars from a convenience store prior to the shooting? Maybe, but at the time of his death, he certainly wasn't charged with a crime, let alone convicted of it and Wilson didn't have any idea he might be a suspect. Did he deserve to be shot six times on a street in Ferguson, Missouri by a cop whose life was not in imminent danger at the moment he began pulling the trigger? The answer to that question depends on whether or not you're a racist coward, frightened by every African American kid who is simply walking down the road.

As always, my next stop is the bar. We can talk about it there..

sic vita est


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