- 1.) Al Jazeera America “Faultlines”
- 2.) How Narcissism killed the Ferguson Protests
- 3.) Comprehending Missouri’s Deadly Force Statute
- 4.) Mandated Offense Reporting
- 5.) The Unity Myth
- 6.) Witness #40 and the lying witnesses
1.) Al Jazeera America “Faultlines.”
I was contacted a week or so ago by a PR person for Al Jazeera America with a link to an advance copy of their program “Faultlines” that had not yet aired. Given the content of the special, either the PR rep had never read this blog before or was hoping that any publicity generated from a correspondingly negative review would be good publicity. Setting aside the double entendre of the title “Faultlines,” which I knew probably presupposed police culpability, I nevertheless held my breath and watched the pre-release anyway.
Long story short, the program had the journalistic integrity of an episode of “Ghost Hunters.” To compare, both shows use a manipulative form of editing made to illicit emotional responses from the audience in contradictory ways to the situation. In Ghost Hunters, scary music will overlay mundane situations to make them seem scarier. In Faultlines, for example, when showing an interview with a cop from Hazelwood who is giving a very sterile description of police training as it pertains to shootings, the music is creepy like the guy is some full-metal jacket sociopathic killer. He’s literally just describing the premise behind shooting center mass in a self defense situation and the music cues are making him out to be a nutcase.
In contrast, the music selection is tragic and sympathetic when showing a poor unfortunate trio of gangbangers, one of which has facial tattoos and is complaining about how he can’t find work because of his felony convictions (which he doesn’t go into further, isn’t questioned about, and naturally chalks up to racism instead of bad decisions). Furthermore, I identify them as “gangbangers” because if you sport red ball caps, red t-shirts, and red bandanas in known gang areas like say, Canfield and W. Florissant, and you’re not a gang member, you will be in intense danger from:
- 1.) Gang members of the same color scheme because you’re misrepresenting yourself.
- 2.) Rival Gang Members of that color scheme because you look like their rival.
The show brings up a variety of uninformed topics I’m going to discuss in this entry, but of most concern is the minimization of the riots both in August and as recently as November 24th. They continue the narrative that the riots back in August were either not that bad or all instigated by the police. In a fifty minute or so special, they allocate about five minutes to discussing the aftermath of the grand jury which is framed through a lens of how we as a society can prevent another Michael Brown from happening. There is a more than slight implication that the riots on 11/24 were justified in light of the fact that a fair portion of the show is spent smearing the grand jury process and Bob McCulloch compared to the five minutes spent on the violence that followed. The minimization of the latest riots is shamefully past the point of cognitive dissonance to the point of giving permission for violence in the face of a cause the filmmakers clearly sympathize with.
2.) How Narcissism Killed the Ferguson Protests
I’ve discussed the overlapping organizational membership of many of the self-proclaimed leaders of the Michael Brown protests in the past. From the beginning in August, the rage and mobilization of the community, whether justified or not, presented an opportunity for some form of change. Unfortunately, a lot of different people saw this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves and gain some level of celebrity. As a result, there was never a central figure to rally everyone together and truly organize those that were available and willing to help the cause. Instead, there were a hundred prima donna wannabes who had to be the president of a hundred organizations far more interested in twitter followers than making Ferguson a better community.
While many of these figures never participated in the violence, they always wanted to imply that due to their leadership status they could dictate or control further violence. They were quick to remind everyone about how bad things were going to get if they didn’t get their way. They cultivated a fear that gripped St. Louis for months only to disappear when the violence erupted again on 11/24. To be fair, a few did show up in Ferguson, (like Masri before his phone was stolen in one of the funniest videos to date) but the live-streaming of W. Florissant in particular was supremely limited compared to the ad nauseum coverage of the Ferguson Police Department for the last several months. They can’t blame police crackdown or tear gas because I was on West Florissant north of Chambers and never once had to put on my gas mask. The National Media managed to obtain plenty of footage from that area as well.
The bottom line is that they were scared just like everyone else. That’s why people like Reb Z were in Shaw instead of Ferguson that night. You know, because Vonderitt Myers has anything to do with a Michael Brown grand jury decision, right? All the threats and rumors the protesters spread about violence and looting in richer West County and St. Charles municipalities were all lies. They never had any operational control of anything and as a result it’s obvious that the widely disseminated threats toward Clayton and westward came from them. The north county gangbangers whose involvement in August that the protesters and media tried to minimize for the last several months did exactly as they always were going to.
What’s more, the violence proved conclusively that the biggest problems in Ferguson came from within (or at least within North County). Violence and looting was perpetrated by people with the ability to run or drive short distances back to their homes. Arrest data and home addresses are irrelevant because the vast majority of criminals present that night were not arrested thus making any sample unrepresentative. Plus just because someone gives you an expired driver’s license or address from a place they lived ten years ago for a booking sheet, it has no bearing on where they actually live today.
3.) Missouri’s Deadly Force Statute.
I’ve addressed this before. Let me state without equivocation that all officers are taught that the “immediately necessary” part of the state statute on deadly force means that I or someone else is in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury. The claims that our law is inconsistent with Tennessee V. Garner is absolutely ridiculous and completely ignores Missouri case law. It would seem that if there was any merit to this claim the law would have been challenged successfully in Federal Court at least once in the 29 years since 1985 when the Supreme Court made that decision.
4.) Mandated Offense Reporting
Faultlines made a claim that I’ve seen pop up once or twice in recent months that there is no obligation for police departments to report officer involved shootings and that only a fraction actually do so. The implication is obviously that the number of shootings is vastly higher and departments are covering them up because the cases are unjustified. There’s a slight problem with this idea and it’s the FBI’s collection of UCR’s or “Uniform Crime Reports.” While there is no federal obligation to report UCR’s, the FBI claims it has near 18,000 agencies in voluntary compliance which is near universal participation.
What’s more, for those few tiny agencies who probably escape reporting scrutiny due to limited size departments and small jurisdictions, every single one of these agencies has some type of overlapping agency who is bound to be in compliance with the FBI. For every little muni, town, small city, or village, there is a county agency with joint jurisdiction. For every county there is a state agency with joint jurisdiction. That’s three potential levels of government that would have to be covering up shootings in order for them to go undocumented by the FBI and the 18,000 figure seems to contradict that claim at face value.
In the case of an officer involved shooting, a justified shooting incident would be reported in reference to the crime of an “assault on a law enforcement officer” or on a third party, or in the case of an unjustified shooting as a “homicide” or “an assault” by the officer on a victim.
Furthermore, UCR compliance is mandated by law in the state of Missouri and regularly audited by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. According to RSMO 43.0503, at minimum, all arrest, charge, and disposition information on all misdemeanor and felony arrests must be reported to the state for the purposes of maintaining accurate criminal history information.
5.) The Unity Myth
Many in the community and the media have tried to paint Bob McCulloch as on the side of the police in reference to the death of his father when he was a child and later on the questionable shooting at Jack-in-the-box back in 2001. He may be pro-law enforcement in principle, but that opinion doesn’t apply to many of the North County municipalities which he represents. He is not above seeing officers charged and convicted when the evidence exists. A quick search revealed the following officers arrested in the last several years (with the exception of Ricky Collins whom I included even though he was merely fired, but didn’t escape prosecution for lack of trying on anyone’s count).
- Charlack Police Chief Tony Umbertino 12/19/14 – Theft from the city, 20k convicted 120 shock time
- St. Louis County Ofc. Dawon Gore 11/27/14 – Assault 2nd
- Ferguson CO Jaris Hayden 11/5/14 – Traded sex for escape
- Flordell Hills Ofc. Jeremy Quate 9/27/14 – Theft of evidence, possession of a controlled substance
- Pine Lawn Reserve Ofc. Rico Frazier 7/31/14 -Burglary, Rape, Felonious restraint
- Hillsdale Lt. Parish Swanson 3/28/14 – Robbery of Heroin
- Hillsdale Ofc. Raymond Stephens 3/28/14 – Robbery of Heroin
- Pine Lawn Police Chief Ricky Collins 5/30/13 – Fired, after numerous investigations including shooting a motorist at a DWI checkpoint in 2011, shooting at and missing a motorist at a different DWI checkpoint, and supposedly raping a coworker in 2006. Police License was suspended in 2006 in ref to rape allegation.
- Pagedale Reserve Ofc. James Little 5/27/13 – Murder
- Wellston Ofc. Reginald Freeman 10/31/12 – Forcible sodomy with a 20 year old student
- Pine Lawn Ofc. Nidal Othman 6/8/11 – DUI and unlawful use of weapons
While McCulloch’s office has a good relationship with some Municipal departments and the County Police, this relationship does not extend to many North County municipalities. Of course, in a lot of cases his distaste for NoCo Muni’s is with good reason as evidenced above. Consequently, there also doesn’t exist a good relationship between the County Police and a number of North County municipalities, especially those east of Lucas and Hunt.
In other words, there might be some Blue Curtain protections, officers looking out for one another and bending rules etc., within one’s own department but outside that, officers don’t tend to get along as well as most people believe. Ironically, because of Ferguson, we all get along a lot better. It’s been a rough few months.
6.) Witness #40 and the Lying Grand Jury Witnesses
Witness #40 clearly suffers from mental illness, is a racist, and a liar. Unfortunately, excluding her for being a liar would mean excluding the vast majority of the witnesses I’ve read who were also clearly lying. There’s a media mischaracterization of Witness #40 that she was somehow the linchpin to exonerating Darren Wilson but having actually read the testimony, it’s clear that the physical evidence and Darren Wilson telling a story consistent with that evidence is what resulted in the failure to return a true bill. Plus like when Dorian got going it was clear from the questions they asked that the Grand Jury was well aware that #40 was lying. In other words it didn’t matter and the whole story is sensational media nonsense.
Allowing her to testify and allowing every piece of evidence to be examined is not common practice in a grand jury to be sure. However, the Ferguson Grand Jury was not a typical event. Rioting in Ferguson lasted for about a week and a half to two weeks after Mike Brown died. Following the downgrade in activity, the threats of further expanded violence throughout the entire St. Louis region in the event that the Grand Jury did not indict were immediate, widespread, and repeated. The only fair thing to do was to present all the facts to the grand jury so that they could make an impartial decision instead of a unilateral prosecutorial decision.
Looking at the physical evidence now, the Grand Jury decision rested on the following:
- -the radio traffic proving that Wilson was aware of the robbery
- -the length of the radio traffic proving that the incident was over in about a minute
- -the blood spatter proof that in that short time frame Brown stopped and returned at least twenty feet in Wilson’s direction.
- -the blood evidence on Wilson’s shirt, pants, and gun from the first bullet confirming the altercation within the car.
- -the injuries to Wilson’s face, further confirming the altercation
- -testimony consistent with the above.
Wilson could be lying for all we know since we weren’t there, but his story is consistent with the above evidence. Most of the supposed eye-witnesses were not consistent with the above. Claiming that #40 should have been excluded simply because she lied in support of Wilson but none of these other liars should have been removed as well because they were in opposition is simply sour grapes. The whiners didn’t get the end result they wanted so now they’re bending to contortionist standards in order to find fault with a fair process that I’m starting to think should be applied to more cases for maximum equality. The argument has largely become that black people don’t get a fair shake from the criminal justice system so Darren Wilson shouldn’t have gotten one either. That fact alone is one of the biggest indicators of a quest for revenge instead of justice.