Ferguson Erupts

Four days ago, Michael Brown was shot dead by police in the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Accounts of what happened differ dramatically. The police officer claims that he told Brown and his friend to get off the street and onto the sidewalk. They confronted him, attacked him in his vehicle and tried to take his gun. Brown was shot in the ensuing fracas. Other witnesses, including Brown’s companion (who has yet to be interview by police), claim that the officer initiated the physical confrontation, then shot Brown as he fled. The most explosive allegation, corroborated by several witness, is that the fatal shots were delivered while Brown was standing still with his hands over his head, having already been wounded. Ferguson police do not have dash cams installed so it is unlikely we will get video (which has frequently contradicted officer reports).

Protests began to erupt almost immediately. On Sunday night, some thugs took advantage of the situation to engage in a bit of recreational looting and criminality. Since the beginning, however, Ferguson police have responded to both looting and non-violent protests in full military gear and there are allegations that they’ve blocked the press from entering the scene (including a ban on aircraft flying over the area) and fired tear gas at peaceful protesters in their own backyards. You can view images from the events here. Note that many of these confrontations between protesters and fully armored cops are taking place in broad daylight with no rioting going on.

The militarized response to the looting and protests is not surprising, as libertarians have been noting for years:

Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors? Why are the authorities in Ferguson, Mo. so given to quasi-martial crowd control methods (such as bans on walking on the street) and, per the reporting of Riverfront Times, the firing of tear gas at people in their own yards? (“‘This my property!’ he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face.”) Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone“?

In fact, little of this situation is surprising if you’ve been paying attention. Every week or so, we hear a story of law enforcement violence, from firing flash grenades into cribs in Georgia to using illegal choke holds in New York. Every week seems to bring yet another incident of this violence being excused or ignored by those in authority. Every protest brings out the full riot gear and MRAPs. And every week, we hear about new military hardware given to smaller and smaller towns to deal with … whatever.

Part of this is because we live in the era of social media. Everyone has a camera on them so incidents of police violence are almost immediately documented and disseminated all over the world. But part of it also the increasing militarization of law enforcement. Radley Balko gets into this in detail in his book Rise of the Warrior Cop. Interviews with police chiefs and officers indicate that the use of militarized gear gives cops a warrior mentality that can lead to violence. If we dress our cops up like soldiers, tell them our cities our war zones and the the public is the enemy, we can’t pretend to be surprised when bad things happen. Balko even notes that the use of military gear can provoke violence from protesters. One former chief talks about how he avoided violent protests by keeping his riot police around a corner — out of sight, but ready to be used if it became necessary.

I don’t know what happened in this case. The fact that Brown was killed a ways down to the street makes the officer’s story seem unlikely. Any local investigation would be pointless not only given the “thin blue line” tendency of such investigations to exonerate cops, but the heavy racial tensions that already exist in the area. The FBI has said they will investigate and I think that is entirely appropriate given what has happened.

I do think the people using this as an excuse for criminality and looting are despicable. Not only are they confounding an already difficult case, they are only further antagonizing the cops and their supporters. No matter what has happened — and this could be pretty bad — burning your own house down is never the answer.

I don’t see that this ends well for Ferguson, though. The situation remains tense and the mutual distrust between citizens and police is only going to get worse. Even if this particular situation eventually calms down, the long-term impact is going to be very bad.

  1. 1) End the “war on drugs”

    2) Release everyone in jail on a possession charge

    3) Toss every SWAT member in prison immediately

    4) Don’t forget to include the police chief of every town/city that has a SWAT team when you are filling up all those recently vacated prison cells

    5) While you’re at it, any federal agent with a gun that isn’t FBI, Air Marshal, etc, can fucking join them

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  2. I would say I am shocked (I don’t oppose shooting rioters or looters, especially after the recent London riots) but there may be a cultural difference in that your population of looters and rioters are armed, and previous history.

    Even in the recent London riots someone took a shot or two at the police.

    Anyway, I thought these stories of Obama buffing up the police was all blown out of proportion eh? That’s what was claimed…. Doesn’t look like it to me. Then again, your population is armed, unlike Brits, so one must appreciate the differences and not judge instantly.

    Just curious, are the police in America heavily unionised etc? What kind of leftist infiltration is there?

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  3. http://boingboing.net/2014/08/14/video-of-ferguson-police-gassi.html

    A news crew, clearly no threat or impediment to the cops, films from a verge in Ferguson, Missouri. A pop and a cloud of white smoke marks the arrival of a tear gas canister at their feet, and the newscrew is forced to flee. Moments later, police pull up in an armored van and hurriedly try to break down the film equipment–until they notice that another crew is still filming them from across the street.

    Woah.

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  4. It’s not just he SWAT teams that need to go away, the mentality that created, encouraged and allows them to get worse needs to go away as well.

    Failure to cut away all the cancer just means the cancer is still present and ready to come back.

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  5. Yes, the police are heavily unionized. To the point that getting a cop fired is nearly impossible, even when they should be up on murder charges.

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  6. “Then again, your population is armed, unlike Brits, so one must appreciate the differences and not judge instantly.”

    Our population has always been armed and this kind of shit was never necessary before. and isn’t necessary now.

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  7. Last night was appalling. Reporters arrested. An alderman arrested. Rubber bullets and teargas, including some fired into people’s homes. Looks like the governor made a good call by bringing in Highway Patrol Captain Rob Johnson. He’s massively de-escalated the situation.

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  8. Don’t piss of the establishment or else…

    These serfs don’t know how to behave properly towards agents of the state, and need some schooling.

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  9. I’m of the opinion that this and the Clive Bundy incident are trial balloons to gauge public opinion and response.

    There is something really fucking evil going on in the minds of some people in DC, and we are at the verge of becoming an armed police state with a standing army to be used against the citizenry.

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  10. Not to burst the conspiracy bubble, but who in DC told the Officer to shoot the unarmed kid, and then had people riot so that the police would be called so that they could have their trial balloon?

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  11. “The fact that Brown was killed a ways down to the street makes the officer’s story seem unlikely.”

    Are we sure that’s a fact? Looks like a little more data coming in that this guy wasn’t just some small youngster taking a stroll down the street discussing how he’s going to graduate summa cum laude. Yeah some cops do lie, unfortunately so do some of those and their friends who get into altercations with cops, so we should wait a bit before doing yet another human sacrifice to the PC gods. Agree the feds should investigate and hopefully it will be a fair one, and then punishment should be handed down accordingly, whether it’s severe, moderate, or none at all once the evidence and full story from both sides comes out.

    Anyhow, yeah the tanks, guns and gear was certainly overdone. On the flip side, it’s really hard to gauge what should be done when people start rioting. In LA with Rodney King the cops bolted, and it didn’t seem to calm the crowd much. And what the hell is recreational looting? Is that like recreational rape as long as one member of the party is having a good time?

    As for the town itself, perhaps we should wait a bit to see what kind of town it is and the people’s feelings toward each other. Is it bad because they have a white mayor and too many white cops per your link? Was the Mayor put in by decree or was he voted in? Is that what has made Ferguson headline news for all these years about the struggle? Funny how the press, bloggers, and everyone at the virtual water cooler suddenly becomes an expert on a town they’ve never heard of up until a couple of days ago, but holy shit you read the articles and have to laugh. One even mentioned there’s no rail going through the town as part of the problem. What is it with liberals and their choo choo trains?

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  12. “Our population has always been armed and this kind of shit was never necessary before. and isn’t necessary now.”

    From my loose knowledge of some of America’s history, including past riots, it seems it was indeed necessary then. Whether or not it was necessary now I don’t think we can quite say.

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  13. Not to burst the conspiracy bubble, but who in DC told the Officer to shoot the unarmed kid, and then had people riot so that the police would be called so that they could have their trial balloon?

    More like, who’s been supplying the police with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment and telling them that “returning veterans” will be making IEDs and engaging in guerrilla tactics against the police and federal government? Oh that’s right, the Obama administration, which characterizes everyone critical of them as a terrorist.

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  14. Yes it also says he was never shot in the back. Reread your MSNBC article and see if you can now find all of Johnson’s discrepancies, such as

    “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!”

    “About 20 minutes before the shooting, Johnson said he saw Brown walking down the street and decided to catch up with him. The two walked and talked. That’s when Johnson says they saw the police car rolling up to them.”

    Wasn’t Johnson also in the store prior when Brown was doing some recreational shoplifting and some recreational shoving of a store employee and then some recreational intimidation? I guess we’ll have to wait for more details on that too.

    Look, I’m not saying the cop is clear here we just don’t know all the facts yet, and if Brown is an asshole that doesn’t justify getting shot for that reason alone, but we don’t know the whole story nor EXACTLY what happened. Maybe some wait time would be in order, but at least be honest and maybe list all the details as they come in instead of ignoring some of them.

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  15. Look, I’m not saying the cop is clear here we just don’t know all the facts yet, and if Brown is an asshole that doesn’t justify getting shot for that reason alone, but we don’t know the whole story nor EXACTLY what happened. Maybe some wait time would be in order, but at least be honest and maybe list all the details as they come in instead of ignoring some of them.

    Agreed that we don’t know exactly what happened yet. It’s likely that we never will because of the lack of a dash or body cam. I’ve been away this weekend so haven’t had time to look at the video of the convenience store robbery. But the Ferguson PD have been all over the map on that one, first claiming it was related to the shooting, then claiming it wasn’t, then claiming that maybe the officer realized Brown was a suspect.

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  16. “I’ve been away this weekend so haven’t had time to look at the video of the convenience store robbery.”

    Fair enough I suppose you’re allowed to take a weekend off from time to time.

    As far as Brown being a suspect in this thing and the cop knew about it, I won’t argue that he knew, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t for me it’s more of the following:

    1) Brown doesn’t appear to be the gentle giant just taking a stroll that was first promoted. It is possible this is the first time he’s ever behaved this way, but to me it looks like he was already being aggressive not too long before the confrontation with the cop.

    2) Johnson’s credibility goes way down in my opinion

    As for what the PD was saying, that reflects on the PD. It does appear they had other agencies butting in telling them what to say and not to say, so it could have just been disorganization, or they’re playing games, but at this point unless the video they put out regarding Brown is fake, I guess I’m just not inclined to buy Johnson’s story right out of the gate simply because other cops who have no relation to this case have lied before.

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  17. According to reports Wilson chased Brown a short distance from the squad car, when brown turned.
    No one seems to have pinned down when all the shots took place, was he shooting at a fleeing Brown?.. oh in MO that is legal for cops to do to make a felony arrest… BS but its onthe books i geuss… or only when he changed direction. scoring 4 hots to the arm area, if held above his head! that was some way high shooting…
    Scoring a shot on the apex of the head, as the autopsy shoes would require Brown being already on the ground on his knees, or bent over in a charging position like in football. Scoring a shot while he was falling over…………. naw most cops are no where near that good of a shot.
    as far as i know ,no one, not even the Browns, are claiming now, anyway, that the officer shot him while he was down.

    To me it sounds like this cop having confronted Brown and having a fight with him discharged his weapon possibly grazing him in the arm, Brown turned and tried to rush him and revived 2 fatal shots to the skull. He was not shot in the back as Witnesses claim, nor on the ground..
    BTW, WHY oh Fucking Why do the Fergson PD do not have Dash Cams, or Tasers?

    Oh and more irony, The citizens protesting were abused by the PD using military gear and tactics the State kicks them off the street bring inthe state police and things quiet down for one day, then when more violence erupts, the Gov, calls in the Nation Guard! oh yeah thats gonna work out well..

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  18. “Yes. His body was at least 30 feet away from the car and tonight’s autopsy results indicate he was shot at medium range, including twice in the head.”

    Anyone know how many shots the cop fired? If he hit him six times and only fired six shots they were closer than 30 feet.

    If the top of the head shot was the last in sequence, then it is likely the cop was firing as Brown was falling (or diving?) forward.

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  19. I think we have 2 distinct stories coming out here as some of the details come out. The first one is that we have a problem with an over militarized police force that for some reason seems too trigger happy. This has been happening for a while, and we need to push back now to end this trend. A militarized police force is what dictatorships need to control the serfs, and we already have a whole bunch of dictator wanna-bes in charge these days. Let’s not make it all easier for them to steal our liberties and property than they have been doing. Especially since there is zero correlation between the militarized police forces and less crime. In fact, the push has been to disarm the people – an armed populous actually reducing crime – while ramping up the militarization of the police force, which serves only to allow the state to abuse its people.

    The second issue, and as I suspected would end up being the case, is that this is yet another instance of a thug doing his thing and the media and the left using the story to create racial tensions by pretending this was racially motivated. As facts emerge we find out the kid was no saint, was not shot in the back, had a history of problems, and that there has been some “White Hispanicing” by the LSM again. There must be an election this year again or something, and the democrats need a distraction from their abysmal performance and abuses to get their people out to vote for some perceived injustice.

    We should not let the second issue hide the problem with the first, but we shouldn’t let the liars in the LSM make this about race again either.

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  20. I am dubious of anything that Gateway Pundit says. As Allahpundit pointed out, Wilson didn’t show any distress at the scene, the caller to the radio show never made this claim and you’d think the Ferguson PD would have made a bigger deal about this.

    We’ll see what comes out. That would change the story significantly. I do think it’s becoming clear that Brown as not the angel that they tried to make him out to be (not that this necessarily justifies the shooting).

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  21. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/20/missouri-cop-was-badly-beaten-before-shooting-michael-brown-says-source/

    Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department’s top brass told FoxNews.com.

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  22. If the eye fracture is true or just a heavy beating in general, and it’s looking more and more like it is, if they go after this cop it’s a public lynching to appease a mob and nothing more. There are other cases I’ve seen discussed on this blog over the years where a cop deserved to be prosecuted. This one is looking less and less like one of those.

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  23. If the beating story is true, the police should have said that immediately. It would have defused the situation significantly. Until someone goes on record — as the people who claim Brown surrendered have — I’ll remain open to new information but skeptical.

    We should not let the second issue hide the problem with the first, but we shouldn’t let the liars in the LSM make this about race again either.

    Good point. Even if Brown was a thug, we still have a problem with police turning out like they’re about to take on ISIS.

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  24. That’s fine, but CNN ceased being a reliable news organization during the Clinton administration, marginally better than MSNBC or HuffPo.

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  25. “And Section8 – nice use of the word ‘lynching’ to describe the possible prosecution of a white police officer for shooting dead an unarmed black 18-year-old”

    Trial by mob is the correct use for this term, and I don’t think it was right then, and unlike you, I don’t think it’s right now regardless of race. If you’re so concerned about race, you should focus on the 50 years of the white leftist oppression scheme in the black community that even the Klan would be jealous of. It’s been a disaster and is why you guys do your best to avoid discussion of it, and instead opt to pretend we still live in 1820.

    As far as unarmed, irrelevant. Would unarmed rape of your wife be OK? It’s the actions that I’m concerned about both by the cop and by Brown, which like the mob you seem to want to completely ignore the actions of one party. Unarmed does not mean he wasn’t threatened with his life. It doesn’t mean he was either, but the trial needs to be fair, and the we’re going to get’em regardless attitude by both the mob and some in our government is disgusting.

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