While no amount of justification is adequate to rationalize away the violence perpetrated by protesters in the days following Mike Brown’s death, it is important to understand where a fair deal of the prerequisite rage originated. The frequent target is racism but when reviewing twitter traffic in the hours and days following August 9th it becomes clear that many of the myths still spread today originated from specific individuals. What follows is an examination of many (though not all) of the important tweets that occurred immediately following Mike Brown’s death. I’ve been using the following website as a source:
- Reality: He was 18. Reducing his age seems like a similar tactic to the “gentle giant” narrative and is consistent with the use of the word “boy.”
Claim #2: Mike Brown was shot ten times.
- Reality: See autopsy report from the Brown Family, St. Louis County, and the Federal Government. All confirm six shots. St. Louis County indicates two graze injuries, one on the arm and one on the hand.
Claim #3: Mike Brown was executed, implying close range shots to the head while surrendering.
- Reality: See Brown Family and St. Louis County Autopsy both of which state that the shots to the head were not believed to be at close range. This story is also contradicted by nearly every eye witness account with the exception of one I’ll review in a moment. Most of the vocal eye witnesses who have appeared in the media have alleged that Mike Brown was shot while surrendering but from a distance. A number have suggested that Mike Brown was shot in the back, which is confirmed false by all three autopsies.
- Mike Brown suffered two shots to the head, two to the chest, and two to the right arm as well as two additional grazing injuries to the right arm and right hand.
Claim #5: Responding officers left Mike Brown uncovered in the street. The later version of this claim attributes the four hour time frame. Later claims attribute four and a half hours. Also see Claim #2 once again.
- Reality: Mike Brown’s body was covered with a blanket as soon as a paramedic arrived on scene minutes later. Once St. Louis County was on-scene, Mike Brown’s body was further covered with dividers. Further confirmed by this interview as well:
Claim #6: Municipal Police responded for an aid call for essentially no reason. This claim would later by used to justify the violence that followed arguing that the “militarized” police presence instigated violence. Also, see Claim #2 again.
- Reality: Gunshots were fired which seems like a fairly good reason to request other jurisdictions to respond when tied up with a homicide investigation and an angry crowd refusing to let official vehicles into the area and threatening death. See Livery Service interview again for further: http://fox2now.com/2014/09/08/medical-transporter-explains-why-michael-browns-body-lay-on-the-ground-for-4-hours/
Furthermore, here is police cars being chased out of Canfield Green Apartments the night of August 9th, 2014:
- Claim #7 is plausible though unconfirmed by Vatterott, which is more aptly called a trade school even if the institution offers degrees. According to Mike Brown’s mother he was set to attend Air Conditioning repair which I don’t believe is a degree program, though I admittedly don’t know. The point of Claim #7 is clearly in line with the “gentle giant” narrative of the early days.
- Reality: St. Louis County’s autopsy confirms that given the trajectory of the wounds to Mike Brown’s arms, his hands were not up at the time of the shooting. The shot to his upper arm has the same general trajectory as the shot to his lower outer (opposite from palm side) arm indicating that both shots were fired at the same time.
Claim #9: There is video of the shooting.
- Reality: So far, this claim seems baseless.
Claim #10: Mike Brown was executed immediately next to Darren Wilson’s car while surrendering on his knees. Mike Brown was shot in the head twice, then shot in two successive volleys of four for a total of ten shots (See Claim #2).
- Reality: Since this video was posted on 8/10/2014, it is possible that this is the source of Claim #2 and Claim #3. Besides the fact that this claim is demonstrably false given the three autopsies, St. Louis County further confirms that most of the shots were not at close range. Furthermore, if this account is true, every witness that says that Mike Brown ran away and then turned to surrender (including the first witness, Dorian Johnson) is either lying or this man is.
There are more claims that can be addressed but these are several of the earliest, most of which are still spouted today as fact. While the people spreading these myths via twitter are perhaps not the initiators of these rumors, they were the earliest examples I could find which certainly makes them responsible for contributing to the lies that have nearly destroyed a community even if the lies did not originate with these Twitter users.