Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Expecting the Worst, a State of Emergency in Ferguson, Missouri

Around noon on Saturday, August 9th of this year 18 year old Michael Brown and a friend named, Dorian Johnson were walking down the middle of a Ferguson, Missouri street. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis is located on the near north west side of the city, close to Lambert International Airport. It is over 60% black. The police department is almost exclusively white. Officer Darren Wilson, driving alone in his unit, spotted the pair and pulled up next to them. Within a minute of the meeting, Brown, who was unarmed, was shot to death by the six year veteran of the department.

At least two witnesses, one of them Johnson, claim Brown, who was an African American, was shot at a distance as he faced Wilson with his hands raised in the air. Johnson added that Brown had attempted to flee the scene, but after the officer opened fire he stopped and turned. Then, while he was walking back toward Wilson, attempting to surrender, the cop opened up on him. Darren Wilson, who is white, claims Brown came through the window of the car at him and attempted to grab his weapon--that he fired his first shot inside the vehicle during the struggle. Which version you believe depends almost entirely upon your color.

Things began to get ugly the very next night. A candlelight vigil on Sunday and a string of peaceful demonstrations over the next few evenings turned violent and businesses were vandalized and looted. The police didn't help matters when they handled the situation and crowds with all the subtle deftness of the Wehrmacht turned loose in Warsaw. They ran so wild they not only aggressively arrested two reporters as they sat in a local McDonalds for reasons never explained, they tear gassed one television crew as it attempted to film what was happening.

Because they were dressed and equipped more like marines in Kandahar than cops on American streets a national debate began on the "militarization of America's local police." The governor of Missouri finally pulled both the Ferguson and the St. Louis County departments off the streets and put the state highway patrol in charge. They were under the command of Captain Rod Johnson--an African American who grew up in the community.

The feds jumped in to conduct civil rights violations and determine what actually happened that fatal Saturday. As usual they haven't figured out squat.Three separate autopsies were performed on Michael Brown's body. One by the local authorities, another by a federal medical examiner, and the last by a private pathologist hired by the family. The only thing all three determined, at least publicly, is that Brown was hit with six rounds. He took four in the right arm and two in the head. All the entry wounds were in his front.

Later the, police claimed the deceased was the prime suspect in a strong arm robbery committed at a convenience store just before the shooting. Dorian Johnson, through an attorney, admitted both of them were in on the heist. The loot was a box of Swisher Sweet cigars. The family screamed their son's character was being assassinated. A security camera tape was released to the press and it was obvious to everyone he did muscle his way out of the store. Yes, yes, Michael Brown was less than perfect and might have even been a thug, despite having no criminal record whatsoever. However, it  didn't change the reality he was unarmed and at the time of the confrontation, Darren Wilson didn't know he was a suspect in a crime.

Eleven days after the shooting occurred a grand jury was convened. It is still meeting and hasn't rendered a decision on whether to indict, Darren Wilson, or clear him of any wrong doing.

The verdict might not be in, but, Missouri governor Jay Nixon not only thinks the panel is close to one, it's obvious he is expecting the worst. In what could be interpreted as a provocation rather than a precaution he has already declared a state of emergency in Ferguson and activated units of the Missouri National Guard.

No matter what happens, this bad acid trip back to the 1960's has taught us the myth of a post racial America is just that.

As if we didn't know it already.

Obama doesn't look like most of us even though his mother did, so he had to be a foreigner and therefore not eligible for office. You think that wasn't about race? Ted Cruz is a foreigner and no one is ranting about his verified place of birth, not to mention the fact his old man wasn't an American citizen when little Edward came slithering out of the womb.

It appears there will always be a racial divide. George Zimmerman didn't jump out of his car and follow Trayvon Martin just because he was carrying a bag of Skittles. That other deadly goof in Florida--the one who opened fire on a car full of black kids in a convenience store parking lot--didn't do it just because their music was too loud.

Indeed. In all probability if it had been Willie Nelson on that CD he would have been right in the groove no matter how high the volume.

The next time you hear the horse shit argument that racism is dead in this country consider the source. It will almost always come from some right wing screecher trying to justify his hateful bile to black people.

Luckily for all of us the bar is open. And--for a few minutes anyway--we can avoid contemplating such on going tragedies. You know, like the one called the United States of America.

sic vita est


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