Wednesday, November 3rd, 2014
Alright, here it is. I've seen plenty of talk about Ferguson and Michael Brown, and it's looking like if I don't say it nobody will.
They'll surely say a lot of other things, but not what I have to say: Having read about the witness accounts, having seen the tape of Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson robbing a store, having seen the photos of Darren Wilson after the shooting, and having read about the forensic evidence (Brown's blood and DNA inside the passenger door, the graze wound on his thumb), I cannot possibly claim that I hold the exact same view I held the day this story broke. Michael Brown was not shot for nabbing a few cigarillos. He wasn't shot for playing in traffic. Michael Brown was shot because he assaulted a police officer, and judging by forensics may very well have tried to take his gun.
Now, get this: I also think Darren Wilson should have been indicted for something. However, considering that the jury had an exceptional amount of time to look over the actual evidence, and this evidence does not exactly make Brown look like a particularly savoury character, their verdict is actually not that surprising. I don't think that instant death is an appropriate sentence for robbery and multiple assault, so I think that Darren Wilson ought to be liable to be indicted on excessive force (6 bullets!) and whatever charges come with killing a person as a result of it. However, it's my understanding that that's a very hard thing to accomplish when the victim punched a parked police officer in the face beforehand.
What's more, contrary to the narrative I believed before reading about the eyewitness accounts, Brown was still standing at the time of the final shots and was facing the officer. Even whether or not he had appeared to surrender apparently varies among the eyewitnesses. Dorian Johnson quickly was revealed to be more an accomplice than a friend to Brown, and his narrative of the events that day largely fabricated start to finish. Wilson's narrative is not without its flaws, but he at least appears to have saved the ass-saving make believe for the finish. Where his story most contradicts what I've seen of other accounts and forensics is in his description of the distance from his car and Brown's supposedly charging him and reaching for something. Many people may take sides, but I believe that the two closest living witnesses have both trivialized the truth for selfish reasons. I think that's pretty believable.
It's also pretty believable that earlier this year in North Carolina, a schizophrenic male, Brown's age (albeit almost 200 pounds lighter and with no accomplice, though he had been armed with a screwdriver), was subdued by police and then shot to death anyway to the dismay of his family who'd called the police in in the first place. It's believable, as well, that in Georgia in May a baby sleeping in a crib was disfigured by a flash grenade thrown in by cops during a "no knock" drug raid. It's believable, too, that police choked a man to death in New York this year for selling loose cigarettes. That last one even got a little of Wilson's limelight.
I think that Mike Brown should not have ended up dead that day. However, it's extraordinarily believable that he did. Given all the things that can precipitate a cop killing you, punching said cop in the face while he's in his car on his way to the store (he doesn't even know) that you just robbed has to be somewhere in the top 200. His ethnicity could easily have played some ultimate part in his fate, but Mike Brown took a gamble with his life regardless of the colour of his skin. The best that could possibly have been in store for Mike Brown that day was jail, and he'd have been far from the least deserving African-American man in a cell in the USA. I think that chances are high that if you're reading this today, you have never attacked a lone, armed police officer.
As real as racial discrimination in law enforcement is in the US, Mike Brown's case is an abnormally ill-suited case to demonstrate it. Even his mother has recently been indicated by the victims as a suspect in an assault and theft carried out against a woman selling pro-Mike Brown tee shirts. I don't think you can go around shooting people, but I also don't think you can go around hitting people. With symbols like these, it's believable that the news from Ferguson has gone from bad to a frothing cesspool of the worst America has to offer. Arsony and looting by violent opportunists hijacking the (increasingly ambiguous) cause, police in military gear arresting reporters, the KKK, the New Black Panthers (not to be confused with the actual, original Black Panthers), and to top it off rhetoric from two "sides," neither concerned so much with the facts of the case as what they'd like the facts of the case to be. What's worse, it seems like there's no shortage of bizarre leftist rationales invoking something not unlike an awkward, well-intentioned proposal for institutional segregation. Who needs O'Reilly's wholesale denial of an existing problem when you can just step on over to the other side and get to see non-existent solutions being pushed with deception?
I don't like Darren Wilson, and I don't like Mike Brown. I don't think that riots ought to affect the results of trials, and I don't believe that the current riots would have been prevented had the outcome been different. If you are more concerned with being pissed off than you are with keeping up with the facts, what you're accomplishing is deceit and it doesn't matter a bit how much I want to agree with you.
Since, you know, what I have to say on this is so goddamn important, apparently.