I picked the pseudonym “Winston Smith” as an obvious reference to the character with the same name from George Orwell’s famous novel 1984. In the novel, Mr. Smith is a member of the governmental agency known as the Ministry of Truth. Despite the positive sounding name, the agency is in actuality more aptly called the ministry of propaganda. The character longs for the ability tell the truth. In reference to Ferguson, I knew that my accounts of an officer on the ground would largely be dismissed as propaganda and so with a dose of tongue-in-cheek irony, I decided to name my internet persona after a character known for spreading lies at the behest of the government.
As we near the end of the year, I’ve had some time to reflect on the events of Ferguson and all the communities it has touched in some way. Berkeley has proven that from here on out any officer involved shooting in North St. Louis County will result in localized rioting. Ironically, in the Post-Ferguson climate of the region (and abroad), officer involved shootings are more likely to occur due to a police agencies that are stretched thin, overworked, and stressed to the breaking point while facing a criminal element empowered by vitriolic, punitive, anti-police sentiment and by protesters who continue to court and indoctrinate mentally ill or violent individuals. Just a few hours ago, there were reports (that I can’t confirm) that a Ferguson officer took gunfire on W. Florissant about halfway between Canfield and Ferguson Ave.
How many times do I have to post twitter feeds of various protesters, like Jamell Spann, claiming that they want to die and take officers with them? I guarantee that if one of them goes and kills an officer tomorrow, their involvement would be minimized and the victim officer blamed for being a part of some nebulous evil blue conspiracy just by virtue of their job title. It’s really easy to throw your hands up and claim that you’re non-violent while bringing in people who are on the edge, talking to them about how evil the police are and how it would be great if SOMEONE did SOMETHING to hurt them like they hurt the community. Speaking of which:
By now, I’m sure most of my readers have heard that Joshua Williams, AKA Josh95, was arrested for dousing part of the QT in Berkeley with lighter fluid and trying to burn it down. For the record, a number of prominent protesters, like Shaun King, claim that the fires set at the gas station were put out by other protesters which is just utter nonsense.
Now look at the response from other peaceful protesters in reference to Joshua’s arrest: FYI, this is why the Ferguson Protester movement is responsible for the extremists. Stuff like that and like this:
Furthermore, the latest unrest in Berkeley has also been a reminder that at the end of the day, the facts don’t actually matter. All that matters is the home team. The rush to judgment in the Mike Brown case demonstrated this. The absolute denial about the events leading up to the deaths of Vonderitt Myers and now Antonio Martin solidify the concept. I feel that what I’m about to say is so insultingly obvious that it goes without saying but here I go anyway:
The mere fact that a black person is shot by a police officer is not evidence of officer guilt or misconduct.
In fact, assuming that an officer killed a black person without justification simply because the officer was white, is about as ironically textbook racist as you can get. Saying that anyone is a certain way because of the color of their skin is racist. On a related note, there are some who have attempted to co-op the word “racism” by arguing that the definition of racism requires a position of power. Fittingly, this tends to absolve the speaker from being accused of racism for whatever supremely racist statement is about to come out of their mouths. It’s essentially a higher brow version of the prefix phrase, “I’m not racist, but…”
However, any objective definition of racism makes no reference to a position of power, but to a feeling of racial supremacy, typically tied to one’s own race, which allows for the degradation of another racial group. In other words, an individual believes that another group is a certain way, typically negative, as differentiated from the way they perceive their own group is characterized. Hatred and racism are tied so closely together because racist opinions are more often than not used as justification for preconceived hatred.
Furthermore, one of the most racist organizations in the entire United States, the KKK, has almost no actual power over the government (which isn’t by any means to discount their many atrocities). Taking this a step further, if the KKK has no governing power and if we follow the “power” definition, they’re not actually racist under that reasoning. The notion of which is mind-numbingly stupid.
The bottom line is that people don’t like hating other people without a reason. This extends far beyond race to political party, or religion, or sexual orientation, or that co-worker who just rubs you the wrong way. It’s just not polite to hate them simply because they’re breathing. It’s a lot easier to rationalize hatred if you consider them a bad person or subhuman. This is the role of racism in justifying hatred. Consequently, this is also the role in certain people hating white people or white policemen and trying to justify their murder (New York) or their attempted murder (Berkeley).
Some other items to address:
1.) The explosion in the gas station parking lot from Berkeley featured in the image from my second to last entry was in fact an improvised explosive of some kind and not an officer less lethal weapon as I initially suspected.
2.) I heard Bassem Masri called, “Blossom Masri” the other day in a nickname I can’t take credit for but will start using exclusively on this blog.
3.) The crime rate for the City of St. Louis and the near 160 murders this year does not tell the entire story of crime in the region. For one, if discussing violent crime or even gun crime, the murder rate does not account for those injured who did not die, or those shot at and not injured. Furthermore, the St. Louis County Crime statistics also only apparently account for unincorporated regions and any municipalities in those areas of the county assume the stats for those areas, making the county stats look better. According to the UCR’s Jennings alone had 7 murders or non-negligent homicides in 2013. This rate is going to be drastically worse for 2014.
Along these same lines, the discussion of on-duty dangers that officers face only ever covers officers killed. No one ever discusses the tens of thousands injured or those who are the victims of attempts to kill or injure. The stats of assaults on officers for 2014, particularly in reference to Ferguson will be vastly under-reported in this regard. The reports of shots fired and bottles/molotovs being thrown have been so numerous overall that there’s just no way to accurately keep track of all of them, particularly in the moment, at the time while everything was on-going. Each incident represents a crime stat in and of itself. We don’t get a #justice hash-tag, nor do the other victims of violent crime in St. Louis who far outnumber those shot by police, let alone unjustly shot by police.