Tags: Ferguson

Dissension in the Ranks at the Post-Ferguson Protests


From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Organizational Meeting for Anarchists Ends in Chaos

Let’s start with a fascinating story about division in the ranks in the post-Ferguson protests, flaring up at the “Justice for All” March in Washington, D.C., this weekend:

Though there were moments of great emotion during Saturday’s Justice For All March — particularly when the families of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Jonathan Crawford, III, Amadou Diallo, Brown and Garner, voiced their gratitude for [Al] Sharpton and the sea of supporters who have kept their loved ones names alive — the criticism that has followed the event largely proved to be true and young protesters all the way from Ferguson, Mo., made sure to let the world know it.

Johnetta Elzie, 25, an activist on the ground in Ferguson and St. Louis who has emerged as a leading voice in the movement, stormed the stage with other young organizers after [National Action Network] officials reportedly denied them access.

When I caught up with Elzie via phone after the march she said that they came to participate in a protest, not be denied access to a “VIP section.”

“When we first got there, two people from NAN told us that we needed a VIP pass or a press pass to sit on the ledge,” said Elzie in disbelief, the frustration still resonating in her voice. “If it is a protest, why do you need to have a VIP pass?”

According to Elzie, once she finally did get a chance to speak, they cut her microphone.

“I was glad to get the support of the some in the crowd who chanted, ‘Let them speak, let them speak.’ One lady in the crowd said that I was being disrespectful. I think it’s disrespectful that black people are being killed every 28 hours. So what they’re telling me does not matter. It’s not our job to convince them that all black lives matter.”

>Does this complaint represent Al Sharpton taking credit for the work of younger activists and refusing to share the spotlight? Or are the young activists presumptuously claiming the right to address the crowd at a rally that Sharpton and his organization organized? We’re always hearing the chant, “The people . . . united . . . will never be defeated” — but who really speaks for “the people”?

To score a point for the young protesters, they’re starting to explicitly make the case that Al Sharpton is not an authentic, convincing, or idealistic representative of their cause, as this spectacular Tweet from one of the young protesters illustrates:

On the other hand, at a rally or protest with speakers, somebody’s got to decide who holds the microphone and when. Otherwise, the privilege of addressing the assembled is dominated by whoever can grab the microphone first and hold off everyone else the longest.

Most large, organized protests target those in positions of authority (politicians, police, business owners) and a key element of their argument is that those who are in power do not have legitimate authority over others. Now the young post-Ferguson protesters are starting to regard the self-appointed or self-proclaimed leaders of the movement with the same skepticism and lack of trust or respect previously reserved for official authorities. Either one of two things will happen: a leader with the trust of the young protesters will emerge, or the movement will try to advance without anyone in any position of authority and capable of deciding who speaks and how. The last movement to so explicitly reject the notion of a leader with authority over others was . . . Occupy Wall Street?

Tags: Al Sharpton , Ferguson , protests

Did ‘Narrative Journalism’ Help Ferguson Store Owners or UVA Women?


From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

‘Narrative Journalism,’ Leaving Wreckage, Pain and Tragedy in Its Wake

I appeared on “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren last night, discussing my contention that “narrative journalism” ends up hurting the causes it claims to support. I’m not so sure how well I laid out my points in the limited time, so if you saw it, pretend I said this instead . . . 

What makes “narrative journalism” different from, say, factual journalism is that narrative journalism is determined to tell you a very simple, one-sided morality tale with a hero and a villain, or a victim and a villain.

Trayvon Martin was a good kid walking home with Skittles, and George Zimmerman was Yosemite Sam.

Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” and Darren Wilson was a racist, trigger-happy cop.

The Rolling Stone story featured a young girl and these monsters at a fraternity, and those callous, heartless university administrators.

And anything that gets in the way of that narrative gets ignored or downplayed. And the audience or readership comes to believe that this is a slam dunk, that it’s obvious what happened.

The difference is that life isn’t a one-sided narrative. At some point, that other side of the story either comes to light or impacts events. Inside a jury room, all of those contrary pieces of evidence get aired. Grand jurors see a very different story than the folks who watch Al Sharpton’s show. And thus they come to a decision that to that audience is absolutely unthinkable.

(Is this what happened in the Garner case on Staten Island? Perhaps. But because anyone can see what happened at the time on video, the public at large may be more skeptical of the grand jury’s decision to not indict.)

The Rolling Stone article portrayed University of Virginia administrators as unbelievably unconcerned about a series of organized ritualistic gang rapes by fraternities. Doesn’t that look a little different now? If indeed the victim’s story has changed and doesn’t align with available evidence, doesn’t the fact that no one has been arrested make a little more sense?

By the way, in the middle of what is indisputably a shoddy piece of journalistic work, that Rolling Stone article raises a key question that’s being echoed left, right, and center, and probably deserves more discussion: Why on earth are universities being trusted to investigate and prosecute major crimes like rape?

Like many schools, UVA has taken to emphasizing that in matters of sexual assault, it caters to victim choice. “If students feel that we are forcing them into a criminal or disciplinary process that they don’t want to be part of, frankly, we’d be concerned that we would get fewer reports,” says associate VP for student affairs Susan Davis. Which in theory makes sense: Being forced into an unwanted choice is a sensitive point for the victims. But in practice, that utter lack of guidance can be counterproductive to a 19-year-old so traumatized as Jackie was that she was contemplating suicide. Setting aside for a moment the absurdity of a school offering to handle the investigation and adjudication of a felony sex crime — something Title IX requires, but which no university on Earth is equipped to do — the sheer menu of choices, paired with the reassurance that any choice is the right one, often has the end result of coddling the victim into doing nothing.

I’m sure MSNBC would tell you their “narrative journalism” was meant to serve the interests of the African-Americans in Ferguson . . . and then some members of that community had their businesses looted and burned down. Rolling Stone would tell you their “narrative journalism” was meant to serve the interests of young women at the University of Virginia . . . and now those women will probably encounter even greater skepticism and doubt after reporting a sexual assault.

Tags: Journalism , Media , Ferguson , Higher Education

What If the Media’s ‘Narrative Journalism’ Harms Their Own Causes?


From the midweek Morning Jolt:

What If the Media’s ‘Narrative Journalism’ Harms Their Own Causes?

Allow me to play devil’s advocate…

What if the mainstream media’s increasing devotion to “narrative journalism” – preconceived storylines that fit a particular agenda or political or ideological view, almost always progressive –  as opposed to say, “factual journalism” — is actually harmful to the causes they seek to advance?

We’ve seen the media’s “narrative journalism” insisting that Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown represented a vivid, awful example of racist police forces recklessly using deadly force against defenseless black men. The grand jury remained unconvinced. They saw too many pieces of evidence and witness testimonies that contracted that simple morality play.

The media’s “narrative journalism” contended that George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin represented a brutal crime, revealing a reckless, gun-toting vigilantism loose on the streets of America, preying upon innocent young black men. The jury looked at the available evidence and acquitted Zimmerman. All that one-sided “narrative journalism” left a portion of their audience completely unprepared for the jury’s decision, because it seemed so contrary to everything they had been told.

You may recall similar examples of juries rejecting a convenient narrative embraced by the media’s most powerful voices, such as the case against the Duke Lacrosse players. Jurors aren’t like most news viewers. For the purposes of the decision before them, they’re not “low-information voters.” They don’t have the option of tuning out the story when it gets boring. They have to pay attention – or at least appear to pay attention – to all of the facts, and hear both the prosecution’s side and the defense’s side.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions, are furious and are publicly demanding a result that is extremely unlikely to happen: federal charges and a conviction of Darren Wilson.

You may have missed this story back in October:

The Justice Department is not expected to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to three law enforcement officials, despite allegations that the killing was racially motivated.

The federal investigation of Zimmerman was opened two years ago by the department’s civil rights division, but officials said there is insufficient evidence to bring federal charges. The investigation technically remains open, but it is all but certain the department will close it.

Not even Eric Holder’s politicized Department of Justice wanted to step up and try Zimmerman on federal charges; the burden of proof is just too high and the odds of a successful conviction are just too low.

As in the Trayvon Martin case, all of the agitation and drum-beating and fury-feeding has created an expectation that the Obama administration is unlikely to meet.

You see the phenomenon outside of criminal cases, as well.

The media’s “narrative journalism” did pro forma coverage of Jonathan Gruber’s comments about Obamacare and an ill-informed electorate… but that left a juicy story for the alternative media. And it’s not like ignoring Gruber’s comments has made Obamacare any more popular. All the puff pieces in the world dissipate as soon as somebody gets that policy cancelation letter in the mail. All the “narrative journalism” cheerleading for Obamacare, clashing with the harsh real-life experiences, has discredited the traditional progressive view on the health care system:

For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans (52%) agree with the position that it is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to the start of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, a majority of Americans consistently took the opposite view.

Yes, the media’s “narrative journalism” can certainly set the terms of discussion, bring issues to prominence, downplay inconvenient stories, and so on. And yet that approach generates the opposite results they want pretty regularly, doesn’t it?

Tags: Obamacare , Ferguson , George Zimmerman , Eric Holder

The Ferguson Protesters Aren’t Interested in Persuading Other People.


From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

The Ferguson Protesters Aren’t Interested in Persuading Other People.

Hey you. Fawker. 

I’m going to grant you a courtesy you don’t always extend to others and take you seriously for a bit.

I assume you want me to agree with you. You want to persuade me that you’re not just some hooligan, idolizing a terrorist because of a hackneyed, heavy-handed Wachowski Brothers film. You want to convince me that you’re not just looking for an excuse to loot and steal stuff and then use the death of a young man as an ex post facto justification for your own criminal inclination to take the property of other people by force. You want to persuade me to agree with your perspective that there is a national epidemic of cops using excessive force and deadly force without cause against young black men.

If you want someone to listen to your argument… you do not win people over by making them late for work:

Protesters blocked D.C. traffic during a busy post-holiday rush hour to protest a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury’s decision not to charge police officer Darren Wilson with shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown.

The group of about 20 people formed a human chain across the 14th Street Bridge at D Street NW Monday, shutting the bridge down at the heart of rush hour. Police stood by, giving the protesters time to peacefully share their message.

After staging a die-in, the group moved on, shutting down traffic at the 12th Street Tunnel. The rolling closures continued through Downtown to 7th Street NW and Constitution Avenue.

The rally broke up around Chinatown, News4’s Molette Green reported. No arrests were made.

Hey, D.C. Police: Why weren’t any arrests made? Isn’t this a serious public safety issue? How long until some irate commuter has a Tony Stewart moment with some particularly obstinate protester?

One muddle-headed protester told NBC4, “That’s the point, we want people to know what’s going on.”

People already know what’s going on. They just don’t agree with you in the numbers you would like. And a big reason is the way you’ve chosen to showcase your argument.


If you want me to agree with you, a good first step is to show you respect me. Blocking traffic and making me late doesn’t make me think that you respect me. It suggests you feel either utter disregard for what I consider important – i.e., getting to work on time – or you feel contempt for me – after all, I’m some bourgeoisie drone worrying about a time-clock and paying the mortgage, who’s insufficiently down with the struggle.

The Ferguson protesters claim they want empathy. They want us to put ourselves in the shoes of young black males and to know what it feels like to be treated like a criminal suspect in public places, by shopkeepers and police officers, and to know that the consequences of a misunderstanding, hostile look, or dumb teenage mistake are much higher than for other people. They may very well have a point.

But they refuse to demonstrate empathy for anyone else – not the cops who have the tough job of working in dangerous neighborhoods, not the shopkeepers of Ferguson, nor even the people of Washington D.C. who have the misfortune of trying to drive into work on I-395 on a Monday morning.

Tags: Ferguson , Liberals

Will the Violence in Ferguson Have Any Lasting Impact?


With violence breaking out on Monday of Thanksgiving week, amidst a busy news cycle, it’s possible that most of the rest of the country moves on and forgets about the events in Ferguson, Mo.

How much does the community of Ferguson get tainted with the actions of the violent protesters, even though, initial arrest reports indicate, most of those arrested didn’t live in Ferguson?

President Obama weighed in on the grand jury’s decision last night. Will other key political figures feel the need to do the same — or to say anything beyond platitudes — or will they prefer to let the events fade into history? Hillary Clinton didn’t address Michael Brown’s shooting until 19 days after the event. Kentucky senator (and potential presidential candidate) Rand Paul has made extensive efforts to reach out to the African-American community, including emphasizing their concerns that the criminal-justice sentencing guidelines are biased against members of that community.

One thing we should not expect from these events is a change in how Americans view relations between blacks and whites in the United States; polling on race relations has remained remarkably stable for the past decade:

The time period in the above chart includes Hurricane Katrina, Obama’s election and reelection, the Trayvon Martin case, the coverage of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and high rates of unemployment among all groups, but particularly African Americans, during the Great Recession. And yet, views on race relations seem pretty positive and pretty stable.

Tags: Ferguson

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations


From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The Protesters in Ferguson, Living Down to Your Worst Expectations

Awful, predictable, and awfully predictable:

Shortly after 1:30 a.m., St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar spoke with reporters at a press conference after a night of looting and burned-out businesses after the grand jury announcement. He said he was grateful nobody was killed but disappointed at the amount of damage in the Ferguson area.

“What I’ve seen tonight is probably much worse than the worst night we ever had in August, and that’s truly unfortunate,” he said.

He said that there was basically “nothing left” along West Florissant between Solway Avenue and Chambers Road. “Frankly, I’m heartbroken about that,” he said.

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said, “We talked about peaceful protest, and that did not happen tonight. We definitely have done something here that’s going to impact our community for a long time . . . that’s not how we create change.”

Belmar said that officers did deploy tear gas near West Florissant and Chambers roads and a highway patrol lieutenant was hit by a glass bottle. He said as far as he knew police did not fire shots but there was plenty of gunfire in the area. He said he personally heard at least 150 shots.

Crazy thought here; next time you have a controversial announcement to make, do it at 7 a.m.; the hooligans are still sleeping.

For all of the people who see the events in Ferguson, Mo., as deeply symbolic, an example of giant, pressing national problems and deep-rooted injustices and discrimination against the African-American community, particularly in poorer communities . . . I cannot help but suspect that millions of Americans don’t find it symbolic of much of anything at all. Correction; if it symbolizes anything, it reflects the media’s appetite for a preconceived storyline involving a “gentle giant” and a villainous cop:

Teachers described Brown as a “gentle giant,” a student who loomed large and didn’t cause trouble. Friends describe him as a quiet person with a wicked sense of humor, one who loved music and had begun to rap. He fought an uphill battle to graduate.

Above: The “gentle giant” assaulting a convenience-store worker.

Liberals struggle with this as well; Daily Kos commenters turned on each other in discussing whether the convenience-store video revealed something meaningful about Brown. At issue is the inability to simultaneously rectify the notion that Brown wasn’t a “gentle giant” and was in fact a bully and a thief and the notion that whatever Brown did, it’s an awful tragedy for an 18-year-old to get shot and killed. Maybe the shooting was justified, but that doesn’t mean it was a good thing.


Greg Gutfeld mentioned a New York Times reporter who seemed to object to reporting that the coroner’s report that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of death, by asking, “Why does it matter that he had marijuana in his system?”

Gutfeld answered: It matters because it’s a fact.

He further noted that the media seemed very interested in a “clean narrative” — not accurate reporting, but a clean, Aesop’s Fable-like tight little narrative that proved a particular point in an ongoing Morality Play called “the news.”

He’s right: The “narrative-makers” of the media are interested in writing Aesop’s Fables with a political agenda item, and not so interested in reporting the facts of incidents and events, which are often messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson” — Because life itself is messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play “lesson.”

Life is complicated — when the New York Times reports on progressive agenda items, less so.

Reporting used to be about real life.

But it’s not about real life anymore. It’s about simplified, sharp-corners-sanded-down fables — like children’s stories.

The media is writing their reports like Children’s Stories because they conceive of their audience as essentially children, whom you must protect from jarring facts which might teach “the wrong lessons.”

People were willing to set strangers’ cars on fire because they were absolutely certain what happened, in a sequence of events they did not personally witness.

Tags: Ferguson

I Have a Feeling This Officer Is About to Become Very Famous


I think the anti-police narrative in Ferguson is over-blown, but unless there’s some exculpatory context that’s missing, this seems pretty appalling (language warning):

Tags: Ferguson

Ferguson Prosecutor Tells Governor Nixon to ‘Man Up’


Governor Jay Nixon is undermining the process and further aggravating the situation in Ferguson, Mo., with his comments regarding who should prosecute the Brown case, according to the man at the center of the latest controversy in the death of Michael Brown.

On Tuesday, Nixon released a videotaped statement in which he said he would not remove St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch from the case and that it was up to McCulloch to recuse himself if he thought it necessary. Critics have taken issue with McCulloch’s involvement because his family serves on the police force, and his father was killed on the job as an officer by a black man in the 1960s.

McCulloch said in a radio interview that aired on CNN that the governor’s comments were “typical Nixon doublespeak” and “a distraction,” which hampered the process from moving forward.

“The Brown family deserves that, and the rest of the community deserves it, so just make a decision,” he said. “He said absolutely nothing last night that is any way, shape, or form meaningful, and it only aggravates the situation.”

He said he will continue to proceed with the investigation at this point, but fears the “most devastating” situation would be if he is later removed and the process has to start over again.

“Stand up, man up — stand up and say, ‘I have this authority — I am not removing McCulloch,’ [or] ‘I am removing McCulloch,’ and move on with this,” he continued.

Via Mediaite.

Tags: Ferguson

Mo. Dem Senator: Controversial County Prosecutor Will Be ‘Fair’ in Brown Case


Senator Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) gave St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch a forceful vote of confidence amid calls from within her own party that he not be involved in the case of the shooting death of Ferguson, Mo., man Michael Brown.

Critics question McCulloch’s objectivity, and suggest that he will be sympathetic to Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown, because McCulloch’s family has served on the police force and his father was killed on the job by a black man in the 1960s. On Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, refused to remove McCulloch from the case, saying McCulloch can recuse himself if he feels compelled to do so.

McCaskill, who has known McCulloch for decades, said he has one of the best county prosecutor’s offices in the country and suggestions that he cannot be objective are unfounded. “I know he is fair,” she told MSNBC.

“We have a process in the country where people are elected,” McCaskill said. “You don’t come along and just remove someone from that job unless it is under the powers of an emergency.”

Ultimately, Nixon can remove McCulloch if he chooses to by using state-of-emergency powers, and his refusal to do so shows he too has confidence in McCulloch, McCaskill added.

McCaskill’s support is likely to rankle some of her fellow Democrats in the state, as well as left-leaning commentators following the situation. For example, state senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has said McCulloch should not be involved in the case. Ferguson Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes has also questioned his capacity to fairly prosecute the case.

Tags: Ferguson

Not That He Favors Racial Quotas or Anything


From Eric Holder’s “open letter” to the people of Ferguson: “And police forces should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.”

Hiring with an eye on race and ethnicity violates the civil-rights laws that Mr. Holder is supposedly enforcing. And such discrimination is not only unfair and divisive; it also means that the less qualified will be hired over the more qualified, which is in no one’s interest, including of course the general public’s interest in being protected.  

Should an all-white jurisdiction avoid hiring nonwhites? Do most nonwhites insist on having a sub-optimum police force because of their racial preferences? If they do, should those preferences be catered to? Can and should a police force be trusted only if it has a melanin content that approximates the melanin content of the jurisdiction’s general population? The answers are no, no, no, and no. And it is certainly not a good thing for the attorney general of the United States to encourage, apparently, the answers of yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Tags: Ferguson

Tempers Flared between Police and Protesters in Ferguson Tuesday Night, 47 Arrested


After a night of non-violent protests along West Florissant Street yesterday, police officers attempted to clear the parking lots people had been standing and sitting in. The police had been pushing people away from the street and towards the sidewalk before making the decision to push people in the opposite direction — away from the parking lots. Protesters grew angry quickly.

A protester talked to police as they attempted to clear a parking lot:


Some protesters shouted at police, as the police moved through the lot:

Police stopped moving in the McDonald’s parking lot, where protesters had grown frustrated. Some protesters attempted to calm down others who had grown angry with police:

Protesters did not engage police at this time and appeared to regain their composure. After a vehicle that resembled Thomas the Tank Engine rolled through the street and protesters gathered in prayer, an officer could be heard shouting that some unruly protesters had begun throwing bottles. Cops and protesters alike started sprinting in the direction of the QuikTrip convenience store. Police apprehended several men and handcuffed them on the ground.

Police then prepared a response to the protesters’ actions. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told media, “I cannot ensure your safety,” and instructed media to move to the command post.

Police officers advanced on the protesters in armored vehicles and on foot in riot gear. Using a loud speaker, the cops asked everyone to disperse immediately. In an early-morning press conference, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said 47 people were arrested, mainly for failure to disperse. 

Tags: Ferguson

Thomas the Tank Engine Showed Up in Ferguson Last Night


When police left the street to remove protesters from the parking lots last night in Ferguson, something rather bizarre happened: A miniature Thomas the Tank Engine rolled down West Florissant Street.

Blasting what sounded like Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me,” the train made a full lap around the street that protesters had marched along. The train headed towards McDonald’s, and pulled over to the sidewalk when instructed to do so by police.

The train arrived just before protesters gathered in prayer. Soon after the prayer, some protesters allegedly threw bottles at police.

Tags: Ferguson

Al Sharpton to Deliver Eulogy at Michael Brown’s Funeral


The Reverend Al Sharpton will give the eulogy at the funeral of Michael Brown on Monday, according to the family’s attorney.

Tags: Ferguson

Megyn Kelly Blasts Mo. Gov’s Premature Call for Prosecution in Brown Case


Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly ripped Missouri governor Jay Nixon for getting ahead of the prosecutor in calling for a “vigorous prosecution” in response to the killing of Ferguson, Mo. man Michael Brown. Nixon, who also served as the state’s attorney general for 16 years, should know better, she said.

​”That is not the way our justice system works, and he knows damn well that’s the case,” Kelly said on Tuesday night shortly after Nixon released a video message in which he made the remarks. “Is he that worried about his own political hide that he’s going to endanger this officer’s life further, and other people’s life for that matter?”

Nixon has come under pressure to remove St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who critics say would be too sympathetic to Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Brown; McCulloch’s father, a police officer, was killed on the job by a black man in the 1960s. In his video, Nixon refused to remove the prosecutor, but said McCulloch could also recuse himself if he wanted.

But for Kelly, Nixon was interfering with the judicial process and essentially siding with protesters who have vowed to continue demonstrating if Wilson was not indicted.

“I will say, as somebody who practiced law for nearly a decade, that was an irresponsible and outrageous statement to make on the eve of the grand jury convening and he needs to walk it back and apologize for getting out ahead of his skis,” she said.

Tags: Ferguson

MSNBC Reporter: Ferguson ‘Almost Like an Apartheid State’


Pulitzer Prize–winning MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee, who has been on the ground in Ferguson, Mo., for most of the unrest, said on Tuesday the city’s governmental structure is similar to apartheid. 

Referring to remarks by the town’s mayor that the community didn’t have a racial divide, Lee said, “It’s one thing to say there’s no racial undertone here, but then in practice it’s almost like an apartheid state.”

Making the comments during an appearance on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Lee pointed to the small number of black officers on the city’s police force and the zero black members on the school board in the 70 percent black community. Lee also pointed out that Ferguson’s schools perofrm poorly and that he believes white St. Louis residents blame the community of Ferguson for its own problems.

Via Weasel Zippers.

Tags: Ferguson

Spike Lee: ‘There Is a War on the Black Male’


Filmmaker Spike Lee weighed in on the death of Michael Brown and said the “uprising” in Ferguson, Mo., is in response to years of racial tension and mistreatment towards the black community in the United States. “When people get to a point — to that tipping point — they can’t take it anymore,” Lee said on CNN on Tuesday, listing the tragedies involving Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Rodney King, and others.

While he seemed to disapprove of looting and burning property, Lee also said that he “just hope[s] that things will really blow up if people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

The deaths of Brown, Martin, Garner, and others are extreme examples of a growing trend in America, he continued.

“I just think there is a war on the black male, and it’s tearing the country apart, in my opinion,” Lee said. “It’s not just killing us — it’s educational system, it’s the prison system, it’s these young black men growing up with no hope. It’s systematic.”

Earlier in the interview, Lee also questioned the validity of the account of a friend of Officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown, which was substantially more favorable to the officer than other witnesses’ accounts. Lee said the timing of the friend’s statement was orchestrated and said she’d been reading from a script.

Lee infamously involved himself in the media frenzy surrounding the 2012 Trayvon Martin case, at one point distributing to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers what he thought was the address to the house of Martin’s killer. (The address ended up belonging to an elderly Florida couple, who received a series of death threats in the subsequent months.)

Via Breitbart.

Tags: Ferguson

From Ferguson: Armored Trucks at a Car Wash


As daylight fades in Ferguson, police have moved armored vehicles down West Florissant Street and stationed them at a car wash. Police are preventing people from walking in the street but are still allowing them to walk past the car wash where the vehicles are stationed. The car wash is located directly across from the QuikMart, a destroyed convenience store, that has been fenced off and guarded by police.

Tags: Ferguson

Protesters in Ferguson Are Registering Voters


A man walking down West Florissant Street is carrying water bottles in a wheelbarrow with a sign that reads “Voter Forms and Water.” Elad Gross, president of the Education Exchange Corps, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth, is soliciting protesters and other residents walking down the road. “The idea is empowerment, but also to make sure that no one passes out today,” he says.

On Sunday, a woman with a clipboard was registering voters in the aisles of a church before a rally led by Al Sharpton.

Tags: Ferguson

From Ferguson: No More Large Crowds


The festive atmosphere that characterized Ferguson, Mo., this past weekend no longer exists. Police have fenced off the QuikTrip, which formerly functioned as the center of the protest. Chipotle workers passed out free burritos and chips, a drummer played, and large crowds gathered at the QuikTrip throughout the weekend, but now it is empty.

Elsewhere in Ferguson, residents appear to be trying to remove the international embarrassment created by many unruly protesters. Since the protests began, graffiti has spread all over Ferguson. The building below used to have the message Class War Now! written on it.

Now someone has covered over the graffiti and replaced the incendiary language with posters, including one that reads Hands up, don’t shoot.

A larger poster encouraging people to write the things they want to do before they die rests just next to the smaller posters. Bags of chalk hang next to the poster, so that people may write their own message. Some people have written that they want to “graduate high school” and “finish college” before they die.

Tags: Ferguson

Captain Ron Johnson: I’m ‘Embarrassed’


Captain Ron Johnson is “embarrassed” by the events in Ferguson, Mo., and not just in his role of overseeing the policing efforts in the embattled city, but as a man and a citizen.

“I wear this uniform, but this defines me at a low level,” Johnson told CNN on Tuesday. “I’m a man first, a black man second, I’m a husband, I’m a father, I’m a son. A trooper? There’s a lot of things I am before I’m a trooper.”

“One thing I am is an honest man, and I have my integrity, and I’ll stand with what’s right,” he continued. “Even if this uniform is wrong, I’ll tell you we’re wrong, but if we’re right, I’m going to tell you we’re right.”

While a vast majority of protesters want peaceful demonstrations, Johnson said, instigators are peeling off demonstrators to join in the violent behavior, which has come to mark Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown. He said he joins others in being embarrassed by what has taken place over the past week and a half.

“I think everyone that’s a great citizen of this community, and great citizens of this state, and great citizens of this nation are embarrassed,” Johnson said.

Tags: Ferguson


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