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Flashpoint Ferguson: Why There Should Have Been a Trial

Updated on December 10, 2014

Just the facts, ma'am

Date: August 9, 2014


11:51 a.m. A call comes in to dispatch about a robbery at a convenience store.

12:01 p.m.Officer Darren Wilson encounters Michael Brown and his friend as they walk down the street.

12:04 p.m. Michael Brown is dead and a second officer and an ambulance that was nearby showed up on scene.

Brown's testimony of the events will never be heard.

The following is agreed upon by witnesses:

Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking down the street after stealing packs of cigarellos from a convenience store.

Officer Darren Wilson drove past the two walking down the street.

There was a verbal exchange.

At one point, Brown ended up partially inside the officer's vehicle. Whether he went after the officer or whether the officer pulled him into the car depends on who you believe.

The testimony from Dorian Johnson is that Officer Wilson pulled Brown into the vehicle and says Brown was struggling to get way. Johnson was an accomplice in the robbery by association. He was probably high. His testimony was probably partially true.

The testimony from Officer Wilson is that Brown was an enraged aggressor who went after him and was possibly trying to grab his gun.

Most witnesses saw what was happening after Brown was already half inside the vehicle.

A shot was fired.

Brown turned and ran away from the vehicle.

Officer Wilson got out of his vehicle. Brown turned and ran back toward Officer Wilson, who shot Brown multiple times, killing him.

Brown was shot six times.

He died several feet away from the vehicle.

The article link below gives a good side-by-side play-by-play testimony of Officer Wilson and the witnesses whose stories corroborate his version of events next to the testimony given by Dorian Johnson and the stories of witnesses whose recounting of that day agree with Johnson's version.

A vigil for Michael Brown
A vigil for Michael Brown | Source

Attorney: Dorian Johnson didn't lie

The Aftermath of the Shooting

In the time following Michael Brown's execution (it has been officially rule a death by homicide), hundreds gathered at the scene and sixty police officers reported to the scene to preserve order. Brown's body was left in the street for four hours.

From August 10-14, protests in Ferguson range from destructive to peaceful. On the night of the 10th, several businesses are burned and 31 people are arrested. Police use tear gas on protesters the following night and on the 13th.

August 14: Due to reports of heavy-handed police, the Missouri State Police are put in charge under the direction of an African-American officer. Protests become calmer.

August 16: Governor declares state of emergency and sets a curfew.

August 17: Tear gas is again during protests; there are sporadic gunfire reports. U.S. Attorney General declares there will be an autopsy conducted by the U.S. Justice Dept.

August 18: Governor lifts curfew and deploys National Guard.

On the 20th, the Grand Jury first convenes. From the 21st-22nd, the National Guard gradually withdraws from the area. On the 25th, Brown is interred, and eight days later, the governor lifts the state of emergency.

Sept. 4: The U.S. Justice Department announces a civil investigation into Ferguson police.

For three weeks, peaceful protests and vigils continue across the nation. On Sept. 25, Ferguson police chief apologizes on video to Brown's parents.

Oct. 21-23: U.S. Justice Dept. says info leaked to press is "troubling." Amnesty International reports that control tactics used on Ferguson's peaceful protests violated international law, and the Governor announces a special commission to investigate social and economic conditions in Ferguson.

Nov. 11: The Governor says violence will not be tolerated if protests follow announcement of Grand Jury decision.

Nov. 17: Governor once again declares state of emergency, giving him access and authority to call in National Guard if necessary.

Nov. 24: It is announced that the Grand Jury has reached a decision which will be announced later.


Perspectives Shaped By Experience

There has been a lot of talk about how race played a factor in this situation.
For those who deny that, let me get you a lollipop to go with that delusion. ANY person raised in this nation is affected by racism. Black, white, brown, red, yellow, beige, pink, burnt ochre, tattoo-covered walking art pieces--whatever color/colors you are, if you were raised in the United States, then you are affected by racism.

Every single person who has ever lived in this nation was affected by racism. The Europeans came here and committed genocide against indigenous tribes that had been here for thousands of years. Next, those same Europeans traveled across the sea to kidnap and enslave 12.5 million Africans (of that number only 10.7 million survived the voyage).

To claim you were not affected by racism is laughable. The question is, to what extent?

Below is a link of a study from the International Business Times stating that blacks are more likely to perceive race as a factor than whites.

As if that statistic is surprising. When someone is personally affected by something, it gains importance in one's life. A cancer survivor will become an active participant in Race for the Cure. A victim of domestic violence will become an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, and victims of racism are more likely to be aware of prejudice suffered due to race than those unaffected by it. It's human nature. If I tell a white man that we live in a racist patriarchy (and the facts support that claim), the white man is going to be more likely to disbelieve the facts, while a black or Hispanic woman who has been a victim of racism and sexism will be more likely to accept them.

Campus police officer reacts to news that Grand Jury will not indict Wilson
Campus police officer reacts to news that Grand Jury will not indict Wilson | Source

Our society is skewed

Over half of all Americans exhibit racial bias to blacks, and 52 percent of Americans exhibit racial bias towards Hispanics. It is not only in the criminal justice system that we exhibit racism, but that is the system wherein the worst consequences of that bias are suffered.

One in every 31 adults is incarcerated or on some form of supervision. The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration at 724 out of every 100,000 people. Russia is only 581 out of every 100K. The U.S. has five percent of the world population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners. Blacks comprise nearly 1 million of that 2.4 million total. Blacks are five to six times more likely to be arrested than whites.

Other disturbing statistics about American prison.

There are approximately 2.4 million in U.S. incarceration facilities, including more than 720,000 who are awaiting trial. That is about 34% of the total population. Most of them are there because they cannot afford bail. Another 300,000 in local jails adds up to 1.2 million of that total. Over half of the incarcerated are due to drug offenses.

Approximately 688,000 are released each year. Twelve thousand of those incarcerated are children imprisoned for violation of probation or parole. A total of 15,000 children are imprisoned for crimes that most adults would not even classify as crimes.

Forty percent of the prison population is black although blacks account for just 13 percent of the national population.


Police Violence: Why Advertise It?

With the recent unrest in response to police killings in New York, Ohio, and Missouri, I have friends who react harshly when these stories are shared. They point out that "most cops" are "good people." Well, on this point, I disagree, just because most of any group is probably not easily defined as "good" which is so subjective of a term (is it defined by lack of criminal record or what is known generally about the person, or is it defined by the acts of kindness that person has committed during his or her lifetime--but I digress), but let's go with that anyway. Let's say they are.

What is a police officer's job? Is it "To Harass and Annoy" as it read on the side of police cars in the animated comedy "South Park?"


The police motto is to "Protect and Serve." That means the general population, not their own interests. So when a police officer does NOT do that, it's worth taking note. Because police are authorized to use force and are required to arm themselves for the purpose of their jobs, they should receive extensive firearm and safety training. They should carry less lethal weapons, like a tazer or mace. Officer Wilson had mace. He didn't feel comfortable using it. Instead he used his gun and killed an unarmed kid.

Yes, that kid was really big. That doesn't make him a monster. Yes, he moved toward the cop. That doesn't make him a killer. He was probably scared. He was full of testosterone, as all boys are. The officer should have been better able to control the situation, if he had the appropriate training. What he feared was a physical altercation. If he had had a tazer, he could have deescalated the situation immediately. Other officers would be on scene within moments.

There are questions about this investigation.

Where is the testimony from Dorian Johnson's FBI interview?

Where are the missing bullets?

These could be knocked aside as "conspiracy theories." Funny thing about that phrase.The general public has been trained to believe that a conspiracy theorist is bat-shit crazy, They're programmed without being aware of it, and racism is a part of that programming.

So why advertise it? Because it is a cop doing the opposite of what a cop is supposed to do. They are supposed to take out bad guys, not unarmed kids. He was 18. I don't care what color he is or how tall he is--he could be an 8 foot tall purple giant and he's still a fuckin' KID.

I'm a photographer and a writer. If someday I stop doing that and instead use my pen to attack people in random stabbings or I beat someone with my camera, by all means publicize the hell out of it. That's a photog doing what a photog should NOT do, something that would result in physical assault or murder.

There should be better police training.

Using a deadly weapon is a last resort, not a first response.

Michael Brown
Michael Brown | Source

Why there Should have been Trials

There are conflicting accounts of the fatal shooting on August 9th that left Michael Brown dead in the street and Wilson awaiting trial.

There are unanswered questions.

Unfortunately these questions will not be answered in front of a jury. The officer will not receive a trial for a crime that most other people would be required to stand trial for.

This is not uncommon. For New York alone, 179 homicides committed by police in a 15-year period resulted in just three indictments, of which only one was convicted and that officer did not receive a jail sentence. That is about a 2 percent indictment rate. Of the incidents where race of victim was recorded, 86 percent were black or Hispanic. By comparison, almost all civilians are indicted by the grand jury (of 162,000 federal cases in 2011, indictments were filed in all but 11 cases).

In 1989's Graham v. Connor Chief Justice of the Peace William Rehnquist wrote the Supreme Court opinion as follows: The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight." This gives police officers a broad scope to justify killing someone. An officer has to state that at the time of the incident the officer felt his/her life was threatened to the point that it justified the use of deadly force in defense. This law needs to be reviewed.

We need to stop putting the victim on trial and prosecute the perpetrator, regardless of profession or race.

To the department that trained Wilson, I say, you should be ashamed of yourselves. This tragedy could have been avoided.

Ultimately, each of us is accountable for his or her actions. If we commit a crime in this land and are caught doing so, we are given trial to determine the justifications for and explanations of our alleged crimes.

Indicting Officer Wilson should have been a no-brainer. He should have been tried for homicide. After the full course of a trial, his crime may have been exonerated by a jury due to extenuating circumstances, but we will never know.


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