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The Michael Brown Shooting And The Militarization Of American Police

Ferguson

On Saturday, an 18 year old African-American man named Michael Brown, who was just days away from starting college, was shot to death by police on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a predominantly African-American suburb of St. Louis. As often the case in these situations, the story about what actually happened has been conflicted and there has been little in the way of a public discussion of the facts of the events of August 9th. The police have released one statement about what happened, apparently based on what the officer involved in shooting said in which they claim that Brown, who everyone agrees was unarmed, got into an altercation with the officer, that Brown reached for his gun, and that’s when the shooting started. A friend who was with Brown at the time claims that the altercation started when the officer told the two of them to stop walking in the street, and then quickly escalated into a physical altercation during which the officer pulled his gun, and fired. Then, in what may be the most explosive part of the incident if it turns out to be accurate, Brown’s friend says this is what happened:

Brown and Johnson took off running together. There were three cars lined up along the side of the street. Johnson says he ducked behind the first car, whose two passengers were screaming. Crouching down a bit, he watched Brown run past.

“Keep running, bro!,” he said Brown yelled. Then Brown yelled it a second time. Those would be the last words Johnson’s friend, “Big Mike,” would ever say to him.

Brown made it past the third car. Then, “blam!” the officer took his second shot, striking Brown in the back. At that point, Johnson says Brown stopped, turned with his hands up and said “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

By that point, Johnson says the officer and Brown were face-to-face. The officer then fired several more shots. Johnson described watching Brown go from standing with his hands up to crumbling to the ground and curling into a fetal position.

“After seeing my friend get gunned down, my body just ran,” he said. He ran to his apartment nearby. Out of breath, shocked and afraid, Johnson says he went into the bathroom and vomited. Then he checked to make sure that he hadn’t also been shot.

Johnson and his attorney appeared on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes on Monday:

To date, Dorin Johnson has apparently not been questioned by investigators.

While the crisis in Iraq, the events in Ukraine, and the death of Robin Williams have dominated the news over the past several days, Ferguson has been in turmoil. There have been protests every day since Brown was killed and, perhaps inevitably, these protests have resulted in looting and damage to local businesses. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has responded to the events in Missouri by announcing that the FBI would be investigating the event, and local officials have essentially handed the matter over to the country for investigation at this point, although they are refusing to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting, citing safety concerns. They have also taken steps such as getting the FAA to declare a no-fly zone over the riot area, restrict journalists access to the area of town where the shooting occurred, and engaged in the kind of militarization that has become all too familiar in American law enforcement. At this point, it seems clear that the local law enforcement agency has lost the trust of the public and has little credibility in this matter. So, if the truth is ever going to come out about what happened on the afternoon of August it is going to have to come from other agencies.

As we sit here today we don’t know the truth about what happened on Saturday, but it does strike me that the police departments version of events doesn’t seem to add up. Other reports indicate that Brown was shot multiple times, and that he was shot while fleeing as Johnson’s account states, and that simply doesn’t add up if this really was a scuffle where Brown tried to reach for the officer’s gun as department claims. Indeed, if the account that Johnson gave is correct, then it would seem as though charges against this officer would be not only appropriate but absolutely necessary. Shooting an unarmed suspect who was trying to flee is generally not considered an acceptable use of force by a police officer, and that seems to be exactly what happened if Johnson’s version of events is accurate.  Well beyond Brown’s shooting, though, this incident seems to have ignited something in the African-American community in Ferguson that has been brewing for a long time. Given the fact that 67% of the town is African-American, while 94% of the police force is white and African-Americans account for the vast majority of arrests, this is perhaps not surprising. This goes far beyond what happened to Michael Brown, and it’s not going to be solved merely by determining what happened in that case.

On a final note, this case and the public and police response to it has provided yet another example of the problems that have been created by the militarization of American police forces. The photograph above, for example, was taken during one of the daytime protests in Ferguson as an African-American man encountered police decked out in full riot gear. If I didn’t know the context, though, I could just as easily have assumed that it depicted something happening in Iraq, or Gaza, or Ukraine. Instead, it is yet another example of something that has become far too common in the United States. When the police come to view the public not as people the serve but as potential adversaries, then its inevitable that things like the Michael Brown shooting will happen. Add in the undeniable role that race plays in incidents like this, and you’ve got all the makings for the kind of conflagration that Ferguson has been dealing with for the past several days. In the end, fixing this will require a lot of work, but it can start with an independent investigation of the shooting and, if appropriate, prosecution of the officer involved. Justice would demand nothing less.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Shaun McDonnell says:

    You know, I can understand this argument if it were being made about the aftermath of the Boston bombings; however, in this Ferguson case I don’t think it plays as well.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 36

  2. KM says:

    Releasing the name of the officer involved is NOT an unreasonable request. You pull your weapon out, you better be able to stand by your actions. If you are ashamed, worried or afraid of what you did so much that your name as a public official needs to be censored out “for safety concerns”, it’s a pretty good sign you effed up royal. The officer needs to take responsibility – whether or not it is was a clean shoot, he did shoot someone and should be man enough to stand up and face the criticism.

    Instead, we’re seeing the circling of the wagons that’s only exacerbating the situation. The department is trying to protect its own and the absurdity of how they’re doing it (a no-fly zone really?!) is only going to make things worse in the long run for everyone.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 3

  3. Mu says:

    Reminder that the posse comittatus act was enacted to protect state governments from federal military, not citizens from state military. Maybe a review is in order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    Shooting an unarmed suspect who was trying to flee is generally not considered an acceptable use of force by a police officer, and that seems to be exactly what happened if Johnson’s version of events is accurate.

    A “suspect” for what? Every report I’ve seen basically has stated that he was suspect of “walking while black.” He was a block from his home, and (according to the witness accounts I’ve read) doing nothing illegal or untoward.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 57 Thumb down 1

  5. Dave D says:

    Vox has been doing a pretty good job covering it, Radley Balko’s twitter is pretty good as well. If there were a clearer indication that the police view the public as the enemy in this case it was this quote “One family was standing in their backyard, which borders West Florissant, while holding their hands up in protest. Police fired a tear gas canister at them, into the backyard.”
    When getting tear gassed protesting the actions of an increasingly militarized and aggressive police force on your own property, there is something seriously wrong. Just more proof that the War on Drugs not only failed but continues to destroy families, communities and kill our young people. This is the obvious conclusion from too much federal drug money and the plethora of cheap war machines produced during the last 10 years.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 56 Thumb down 1

  6. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    ” they are refusing to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting, citing safety concerns. They have also taken steps such as getting the FAA to declare a no-fly zone over the riot area, restrict journalists access to the area of town where the shooting occurred, ”

    This is what happens when there are no consequences for, say, torture, lies into wars that kill hundreds of thousands of people… it tells law enforcement the rules really don’t apply to them. And, oh, by the way, here’s some “old” armored military assault vehicles to deal with people in small towns daring to walk on the grass.

    Ferguson, we will find, is the beginning of the pushback. No fly zones? Really? What, is this, Iraq FFS?

    “At this point, it seems clear that the local law enforcement agency has lost the trust of the public and has little credibility in this matter.”

    The next step is mass resignation of police, followed by unholy and relentless litigation against the department. The police have gotten utterly out of control.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 3

  7. Dave D says:

    I got a comment flagged for spam.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. anjin-san says:

    Walking while black – it’s a crime

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    This to some extent is nothing new except for all the military gear. I grew up in a middle to upper middle class neighborhood in Portland on the west side of the Willamette River. About the only time we saw the police is when we called them. On the east side of the river where the Afro Americans they were patrolling constantly and even back in the 50s the police in that area were considered adversary’s rather than protectors. I think things have improved now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  10. Tyrell says:

    What is needed is to take a whole new look at methods, tactics, equipment, and training of police. Not every police officer is, or should be a swat team member. Gone are the days when the police on the beat were mainly foot patrol, carried a few, simple weapons, interacted with the citizens, knew many by name, and was a part of the community as much as a barber, doctor, teacher, and milk man. We need to get back to those days. One answer would be more local police stations where the citizens would come in for information, education (personal safety, drugs, teen advice, gun safety classes, self defense-martial arts, and block parties).The citizens and police would get to know each other better. Street police training should emphasize the police as educators and community workers.
    These riots serve no purpose and they are most likely being plannned and carried out by outside instigators. Outsiders should stay out and not come in stirring up trouble. Let the investigators do their work. And no one should be able to profit from this type of tragedy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 17

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    The “militarization” of U. S. police is hardly a surprise. Here in Chicago, for example, to become a policy requires either:

    – the equivalent of a four year college degree
    – four years of military service
    – a year of military service and the equivalent of an associates degree

    It used to be that nearly all Chicago police officers were veterans with four or more years of service. Nowadays I believe that most new officers have elected the third option.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    Gone are the days when the police on the beat were mainly foot patrol, carried a few, simple weapons, interacted with the citizens, knew many by name, and was a part of the community as much as a barber, doctor, teacher, and milk man.

    This has some merit. Many cities have moved away from “beat” policing, and have gone to something akin to “whackamole,” with more centralized stations responding to increasingly far flung neighborhoods.

    I moved into a neighborhood that is ran in the previous fashion, with police officers having neighborhoods they regularly patrol. Citizens get to know which police officer is “theirs”, and the police officers learn the names and lives of the people they are protecting and serving. For a low-income, racially diverse neighborhood, we have surprisingly low crime rates compared to other, similar neighborhoods in the city.

    That said, I think there’s much more at play here than just institutional methods.

    These riots serve no purpose and they are most likely being plannned and carried out by outside instigators

    Horsesh!t.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  13. Gavrilo says:

    Here’s a thought. How about the good people of Ferguson stop looting and damaging businesses. Then, maybe the police won’t have to break out the military gear. By other accounts, the “peaceful” protests turned into a riot with looting the day after the shooting. Exactly what would you have the police do?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 53

  14. beth says:

    @Gavrilo: The police pulled out the military gear before the looting started. But nice try deflecting the story from an unarmed kid being gunned down for no apparent reason. Why don’t you try posting some photos of him flashing gang signs while you’re at it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 3

  15. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: I doubt it was outside instigators. I know a few people who would do that sort of thing, and while they have the basic “**** the police” mentality, this developed way too fast for there to have been an organized provocation behind it. What we’re seeing is a community tested to the breaking point.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  16. Janis Gore says:

    @KM: Ah, yes. “The Thin Blue Line.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  17. Tillman says:

    @Gavrilo: Honestly, the few accounts I’d read of what happened didn’t even describe the shooting as Doug does above from the police’s perspective. The account I heard had Brown and the officer wrestling in the back of the officer’s car (for the gun, presumably).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Back in ’99- 02 I lived in Jennings (next door to Ferguson) and spent more than a little time in Ferguson. It was, and I would bet still is, a really nice place to live. This is just sad, so sad on so many levels. I wish I had something to say that would shed light on what is happening there, but I don’t.

    I will say that this, Releasing the name of the officer involved is NOT an unreasonable request. in light of the death threats they have recieved shows a certain disconnect from reality.

    And that, You pull your weapon out, you better be able to stand by your actions. If you are ashamed, worried or afraid of what you did so much that your name as a public official needs to be censored out “for safety concerns”, it’s a pretty good sign you effed up royal. is just stupid as the only thing it is a sign of is the lynch mob mentality many people are now exhibiting.

    The officer needs to take responsibility – whether or not it is was a clean shoot, he did shoot someone and should be man enough to stand up and face the criticism.
    Maybe he will, if charges are brought up, assuredly he will have to “stand up and face the criticism.” and maybe even face the consequences. That is what courts are for.

    Personally, I will wait for the end of the investigations and whatever trials may result before I get a rope.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 12

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tillman: I have heard at least a half dozen different stories. The one of them wrestling in the back of the car is the fishiest of them. Why is the cop in the back of the car with an unrestrained individual? That sentence alone says at least a dozen standard police procedures were broken. The one I have heard the most is some variation of them walking in the street with the cop telling them to get out of the street.

    Hopefully in time the truth will come out.

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  20. KM says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    in light of the death threats they have recieved

    So all those tough-looking guys in riot gear are just for show? Good to know….

    Seriously though, no one should be making threats – that’s completely uncalled for. This officer has rights, including the right to safety and security in his home for himself and his family.

    I will point out that when he is eventually identified (and he will be), this will still be a problem considering the situation so I’m not sure what they’re hoping to accomplish by holding off other then stonewalling. In fact, it seems to be making it worse in terms of how angry people are getting (which leads to more crazy people making death threats) so he may just be compounding his problems later on.

    just stupid as the only thing it is a sign of is the lynch mob mentality many people are now exhibiting.

    Asking for someone’s name is lynch mob mentality? Are you serious right now? Something that’s on the damn police report as a matter of course and therefore a public record. I know you’re trying to be fair to the officer but that’s a real stretch you’re pulling here – more siege mentality then mob. It’s not stupid to want to know who one of the key players in a situation that’s lead to rioting.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  21. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Don’t be ridiculous. Walking while black is not a crime. There have been no prosecutions for it.

    It’s probable cause. At least in some jurisdictions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  22. @Gavrilo:

    Exactly what would you have the police do?

    Stop inciting riots?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  23. JKB says:

    Authorities said the shooting occurred around noon Saturday, when a Ferguson police officer encountered two men in the street. When the officer tried to exit his vehicle, Chief Belmar said one of the two pushed the officer back into the cruiser. The suspect allegedly assaulted the officer in the car and the two struggled over his gun. At least one shot was fired inside the vehicle. A few moments later, Chief Belmar said, the officer allegedly fired multiple shots outside the vehicle that killed the suspect, about 35 feet from the cruiser.

    That does not sound good for the officer. The first shot probably justifiable but the ones away from the cruiser might be a bit hard to show imminent threat. As such, even without the riot, the withholding the officer’s name right now might be prudent to avoid mucking up the investigation or prosecution.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  24. al-Ameda says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Here’s a thought. How about the good people of Ferguson stop looting and damaging businesses. Then, maybe the police won’t have to break out the military gear. By other accounts, the “peaceful” protests turned into a riot with looting the day after the shooting. Exactly what would you have the police do?

    Here’s a thought: Perhaps the police should be far more conservative in exercising deadly force, and should use it as a last resort, and not a first option?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  25. bandit says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever read

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

  26. Tyrell says:

    That too. Tit for tat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. Gavrilo says:

    @al-Ameda: @al-Ameda:

    No doubt. It’s certainly possible that the cop made a horrible, awful, tragic mistake. Hell, it’s possible that he’s Robert Byrd with a badge. However, it’s also possible that there is more to this story than is presently known.

    Again, the shooting happened on Saturday. On Sunday, people were rioting and looting. What are the police supposed to do? Let the city burn?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 17

  28. PJ says:

    @bandit:

    @Stormy Dragon: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever read

    So, you have never read anything you’ve written then?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  29. John Cole says:

    They are also refusing to release the autopsy report.

    Apparently it is embarrassing when you get caught shooting an unarmed teen 7 times in the back.

    Is there any precedent to the feds simply taking over a police department? What else do you do with a unit riddled with rogue cops?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 2

  30. PJ says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Hell, it’s possible that he’s Robert Byrd with a badge.

    He was a racist decades ago? But has since understood that he was wrong and has apologized for his former views? Is that what you meant?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  31. Neil Hudelson says:

    @PJ:

    It must be. If he didn’t mean that, then Jesse Helms (R) would’ve been a better analogy–an unrepentant racist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  32. John Cole says:

    @Gavrilo: This is for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  33. bill says:

    @PJ: awesome, so if the cop that shot this guy “apologizes” will everyone be happy? And will the community, that quickly decided to loot and burn down unrelated businesses, band together and help rebuild the places
    they destroyed ?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 19

  34. PJ says:

    @bill:
    Didn’t say that.
    But for me to stop inciting riots would be for the police to stop harassing citizens for ‘doing X while black’, and then also to stop shooting them in the back numerous times.

    As a starter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM:

    I will point out that when he is eventually identified (and he will be), this will still be a problem considering the situation so I’m not sure what they’re hoping to accomplish by holding off other then stonewalling.

    They are waiting for tempers to cool off. Isn’t that obvious?

    I said: is just stupid as the only thing it is a sign of is the lynch mob mentality many people are now exhibiting.

    You replied:

    Asking for someone’s name is lynch mob mentality? Are you serious right now?

    Did you read the part of your post I was replying to? You know, especially the highlighted part? Here, I’ll post it again for you:

    You pull your weapon out, you better be able to stand by your actions. If you are ashamed, worried or afraid of what you did so much that your name as a public official needs to be censored out “for safety concerns”, it’s a pretty good sign you effed up royal.

    Here let me repeat it for you; it’s a pretty good sign you effed up royal.

    The lynch mob mentality is the part where you have already found him guilty.

    I know you’re trying to be fair to the officer but that’s a real stretch you’re pulling here – more siege mentality then mob.

    Yeah, I am trying to be fair, and waiting for the evidence to come in and let the process work itself out. That is not a siege mentality, and you know it.

    I know cops aren’t real popular right now but most of the people commenting on this situation have never lived in a place where a cop was anything more than some a$$hole who gave them a ticket once. I have lived in some pretty sketchy neighborhoods over the years and there have been a few times where I needed a cop to pull my d!ck out of the dirt because sh!t got weak real quick and sudden and nobody else was going to help me out. (It’s kinda funny how quiet a city street gets when the sh!t is about to hit the fan.) I have also been on the receiving end of some world class a$$holery in blue. I am smart enough to recognize that there are good cops, and there are bad cops, and sometimes they are one and the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  36. Nick says:

    How can at town with a 67% black population agree to be policed by a practically all white police force? I assume they have the vote in Missouri, despite the best efforts of Republicans there, and that with that vote they can elect people who will ensure a more diverse police force?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  37. Tyrell says:

    One solution to some of these urban crime problems is to authorize certain parts of the city to organize their own police force and courts. The police, judges, and district attorneys would have to be residents of the area.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  38. Grewgills says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    If it weren’t a police officer who did this the name would be released. The police should have more responsibility to the public, not less.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  39. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Janis Gore: Except in this case, we call it “the big blue wall” where I live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. stonetools says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Exactly what would you have the police do?

    I would have the police not shoot an 18 year old dead for no good reason. How about they try that?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  41. stonetools says:

    @bill:

    awesome, so if the cop that shot this guy “apologizes” will everyone be happy?

    So if a police officer murders somebody, all they should have to do is apologize? Wow, you have a strange idea of justice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  42. stonetools says:

    @Nick:

    How can at town with a 67% black population agree to be policed by a practically all white police force? I assume they have the vote in Missouri, despite the best efforts of Republicans there, and that with that vote they can elect people who will ensure a more diverse police force?

    Yes, I find that surprising. Folks have to vote. Something is rotten in the state of Misery, maybe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  43. ElizaJane says:

    @anjin-san:

    Although walking while black is not necessarily a crime, jaywalking while black is generally a capital offense. According to the guy with Brown (full version of interview excerpted above) they were walking in the street; a policeman told them to “Get the f*** on the sidewalk” and, well, they failed to comply with sufficient deference. Hence death. Makes perfect sense.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Grewgills: If it wasn’t a police officer who did this, there wouldn’t be rioting in the streets. In truth, you never would have noticed because the story would have buried on page 17A. Black kids die every day and nobody cares unless a cop does it.

    For the record, I fear, truly fear, that this is a situation where a cop fucked up, let his anger get out of hand and did something reprehensible. To be honest, part of the reason I fear that is because I lived there 12 years ago and there didn’t seem to be all of this racial sh!t a decade ago. I fully suspect I was shielded from it by my (semi) whiteness. I also fully suspect it wasn’t that bad back then. But things change, and a decade can be a long time. The actions of the mob say things are no longer what I thought they were (whether my perceptions were accurate or not).

    The kid Mike Brown was with has given a very credible story. I will not be surprised at all if it proves to be true. And nobody is more sickened by the death of yet another unarmed black man while white men walk around with guns with impunity.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I have a comment in moderation. I used a variation of the f word w/o disguising it. I apologize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. You’re out of moderation now OzarkHillbilly

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. bill says:

    @PJ: yet when a black kills a white or black kills a black you don’t see riots and looting. the investigation into this killing has just started, yet looting businesses is just a side note already- that says a lot about the people involved. where does the “black” community stand on black on black killing anyways? we already know where they stand on black on white crime…..pitiful as that is.
    @stonetools: read what i replied to for the analogy. and then read above for more insight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  48. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    You may be right. It looks like the officer may be very close or on the wrong side of acceptable use of deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect. There’s a SCOTUS case that set the standard. On its face, the officer seems to have gone to far but there is a debatable part about attack on a police officer. Also, the kid stopped and turned so the fatal shots will depend on whether the officer had a reasonable belief of an imminent threat (nothing articulated in the reports).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. Dave D says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I had two go into moderation because I don’t think it liked my deadspin link to the article “America is not for Black People” which I strongly encourage.

    That said those swat cops arresting reporters for not leaving McDonalds fast enough, and firing tear gas on crowds will do wonders for their public image. As many people have pointed out elsewhere, where are the Libertarians loudly decrying the police state and government overreach. Because they sure as hell backed that welfare queen in Nevada quickly and loudly, but sure are silent on this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  50. neil hudelson says:

    @Dave D:

    Balko and Ackerman are doing good work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  51. Dave D says:

    They teargassed Al Jazeera’s tv crew, and they arrested STL alderman Antonio French another PR win for Ferguson’s finest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  52. Xenos says:

    @Gavrilo:

    By other accounts, the “peaceful” protests turned into a riot with looting the day after the shooting. Exactly what would you have the police do?

    In other words, the riot was more in response to the military invasion following the murder, rather than the murder itself.

    Am I the only one who looks at these pictures and concludes that the cops are all juiced up? I think we need mandatory drug testing of these guys, and the ones using T need to take a long vacation and get their heads together before they hurt someone.

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  53. Barry says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “If it wasn’t a police officer who did this, there wouldn’t be rioting in the streets. In truth, you never would have noticed because the story would have buried on page 17A. Black kids die every day and nobody cares unless a cop does it. ”

    And in many cases, the killer is sent to prison for a loooooooooooooong period of time.

    This is a case of somebody with immunity from the law murdering, and nobody being able to do anything about it.

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  54. Pharoah Narim says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: What the heck does intracommunity violence have to do with the expectation that PAID PUBLIC SERVANTs not respond with deadly force at the drop of a hat? Why would anyone demonstrate a feature of violent crime–you’re most likely to kill or be killed by acquaintances. Are white people going to start protesting white on white killing? It happens at almost a 90% clip. Why are white people killing one another?!?!?!?

    Its a ridiculous analogy that advances subconscious suggestions of innate Black criminality.

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  55. Pharoah Narim says:

    @bill: Same to you as to OzarkHillbilly– When are you going to speak out against white on white murder? How many more white people have to die at white hands before you speak out and take to the streets in Protest? I suspect never– because your goal is to frame intra-racial violence in the AA community as a unique phenomenon that validates your beliefs of innate AA criminality.

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