You all know the story by now: On Monday, 18 year old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Police Officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The teen, who was with a friend was unarmed and walking to his grandmother’s house when the (currently) unidentified officer fatally shot Brown, who was supposed to attend his first day of Collage on Tuesday. In the days since the shooting, one thing has been made clear: The Ferguson Police Department doesn’t want anyone to know what really happened.
Two Washington Post journalists covering the goings-on in Ferguson were minding their own business in a McDonalds when police entered the restaurant and detained them for 45 minutes. Ferguson Police’s heavy-handed responses to demonstrations demanding answers and transparency has attracted the world’s attention. Late Wednesday night, authorities used tear gas to disperse demonstrators. In what I can only call a twist of irony, many Gaza citizens have been giving tips to Ferguson demonstrators on how to avoid the effects of tear gas via social media.
The phrase that has been gaining momentum over the last 48 hours to describe what’s going on in Ferguson is “Police State”. I just call it a poorly covered up killing.
Let’s review the facts as known by the people who witnessed Brown’s death firsthand:
- Michael Brown and his friend were both unarmed when they were approached by police.
- The officer involved in the shooting initiated and escalated the encounter.
- According to Brown’s friend, the officer said to him (Brown) “I’m gonna shoot you.” when he detained him and pointed his gun at him.
- Fearing for his life, Brown got into a physical altercation with the officer, who was still in his car so he could get away.
- The teens attempted to fleed the scene. According to Brown’s friend, Brown said to him “Just keep running.” Another eyewitness said Brown had gone almost 20 feet away before the first shot was fired, hitting him in the chest.
- Realizing he’d been shot, Brown raised his hands above his head and turned around, saying “Don’t shoot!”
- According to the almost 30 people who witnessed the shooting, the officer ignored Brown’s offer to surrender and shot him to death.
That’s a rough outline of the events as currently available to the public. It is interesting to note ALL of this information is based on multiple eyewitness accounts by those who witnessed the shooting. As of this blog’s writinng NONE of the witnesses have been questioned by investigators. They are talking to the media, however. It goes without saying Brown’s friend is the star witness.
One thing I will concede for now is we do not know if Brown’s fingerprints are on the gun that killed him. That’s the giant X-Factor in this. If they are, that changes what the officer could or could not be charged with. If not…well, this will be a slam-dunk court case. CNN is reporting the Internet Vigilante Group known as Anonymous has released the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown. I have seen the name of the officer allegedly involved but for obvious reasons, I’m not going to release that information here. That said, CNN has decided against releasing the name yet until his identity is verified.
If I was the lead investigator, the first thing I’d have done is supoena EVERYONE involved and interview them at the scene. It also seems the police departments in St. Louis and the surrounding communities need to be retrained. No doubt you’ve all seen pictures like this:
And finally this:
Like I said earlier, the term being thrown around is “Police State”. As CNN pundits have been talking about for the last hour this morning, there has been a slow but steady buildup of arms of Police Departments all over America in recent years. This isn’t to say Police shouldn’t be prepared to handle any situation. After all, a well-trained doctor with good intentions can be just as dangerous as a cop worker with bad intentions. It’s all about how they’re trained to use the tools they have at their disposal.
Let me use the Boston Marathon Bombing in my next example. As I reported last year, I went to ground zero the next day to take pictures and see the memorial. What jumped out at me once I got off the train at Back Bay station was the sheer volume of law enforcement. There were police on every corner of the area as well as Humvees most would expect to see in Iraq or Afghanistan. On the night the suspects were hunted down in Watertown, MA images like these revealed to Americans just how well-armed their Police Departments were:
As one Afghanistan Vet tweeted regarding the Police response in Ferguson put it, soldiers don’t roll that deep. The locals over there don’t like it when you come through their neighborhood heavily armed just for show. Neither do American citizens.
The difference between what’s going on in Ferguson and what happened in Boston/Watertown is the way I see it, the police presence was justified in Boston/Watertown. The site of the bombing was technically an international crime scene due to the international citizens who ran the marathon and the fact one of the dead was a Chinese national. We knew the suspects were armed and we knew they weree very dangerous. The facts don’t dispute that.
In the case of Ferguson, what we have is the blatant and systematic infringement of the rights of ordinary citizens. Not even the press is safe as has been reported. If things continue at the rate they’re currently going, we might see the U.S. Military forced to step in to help restore order. I say that because it’s pretty obvious the police are the wrong people for the job.