Tag Archives: Ferguson

Standing Rock: A Moment of Clarity for Progressive Activists

By Rev. Billy Talen. Published 11-26-2016 by Common Dreams

"The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight," writes Talen. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)

“The force that upsets entrenched power the most is this compassionate living, this community in plain sight,” writes Talen. (Photo: Dark Sevier/flickr/cc)

Earth-force meets money-force at Standing Rock. I’m so relieved I’m here. It scares me to think that I might have missed this.

We get up at dawn. Four hundred people walk slowly in a light snow to the river by the camp. A teacher is talking. His headdress is a crisscrossing of long, narrow feathers. He is of the Havasupai, the people who live by the blue-green waterfalls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He calls out across the river. “Water is life! Take me! My heart beats with you!”

It’s cold at 7am. The children don’t seem cold though. They run around in the mud and ice. There are 80 tribes here. Some say many more. As we stand on the shore with a slow drum beating, the people shout “water” in many languages.  Continue reading

Share

5 Times the National Guard Was Used (& What It Means for the Pipeline Protesters)

By Carey Wedler. Published 9-9-2016 by The Anti-Media

A Maryland Army National Guard Soldier keeps watch in front of City Hall in Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Maryland Army National Guard Soldier keeps watch in front of City Hall in Baltimore, April 28, 2015. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple called on the state’s National Guard to contain contentious protests against the Keystone pipeline, which threatens Native lands and water supplies. The decision comes after private security guards unleashed attack dogs on protesters this weekend, sparking further violence authorities predictably blamed on demonstrators.

A summons of National Guard services usually indicates a growing tide of opposition to government policies and the established order. It is almost always accompanied by inordinate numbers of police officers.

Governors often activate National Guard when violence erupts amid tense societal and political rifts. But while calling in troops may be effective at stopping superficial violence (by threatening or using violence), doing so provides a reliable excuse for the authorities to ignore the original reasons for that “unrest.” Continue reading

Share

Justice Department Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against the City of Ferguson

By Jake Anderson. Published 2-11-2016 at The AntiMedia

Photo: Paul Sableman (Ferguson City Hall) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Paul Sableman (Ferguson City Hall) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In response to Ferguson City Council requesting amendments to a consent decree, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday that it will “aggressively” prosecute a civil rights lawsuit against the city. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that the lawsuit alleges a pattern and practice of unconstitutional police conduct.

“The residents of Ferguson have suffered the deprivation of their Constitutional rights, the rights guaranteed to all Americans, for decades. They have waited decades for justice,” Lynch said. “They should not be forced to wait any longer.” Continue reading

Share

Police Arrest 50 Demonstrators as State of Emergency Declared in Ferguson

Under Moral Monday banner, protesters marking one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death take part in civil disobedience outside Ferguson courthouse

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-10-2015

Protesters blocking I-70 in St, Louis, 8-10-15. Photo via Facebook

Protesters blocking I-70 in St, Louis, 8-10-15. Photo via Facebook

At least 50 people were arrested outside the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday, where they were demanding the dissolution of the Ferguson Police Department.

Meanwhile, despite mostly peaceful protests marred by an officer-involved shooting overnight that left a teenager in critical condition, the St. Louis County declared a state of emergency for Ferguson on Monday. Demonstrators are marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown, who was killed by white police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. Continue reading

Share

The Legacy of Michael Brown: Why America should weep with Ferguson

One year following the flashpoint unleashed in Ferguson after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson, Ferguson may look somewhat different, but their reality has been dismal compared to the promises made in order to bring about an end to the protests that gripped the community.

Mother of Michael Brown, Lesley McSpadden. Image via flickr.

Mother of Michael Brown, Lesley McSpadden. Image via flickr.

As a nation, we watched the news. The majority of whites (80%) still do not see why these protests happen. They do not understand that, in contrast, nearly 78% of the national black community sees police forces in their communities in much the same light as those in Ferguson did one year ago. We have seen the growth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the backlash for that advocacy. We have listened to a national conversation that has ended in the deafening roar of silence rather than the changes the people recognized were needed.

We now watch as police forces reluctantly pass new rules and policies, slow to introduce new tactics and unwilling to open real conversation with those they are charged with “protecting and serving.” A prime example comes from Ferguson itself, where the city council has reviewed the proposal from the Department of Justice following their investigation that found evidence of a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias by police. A recent report stated, “Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell described the Justice Department’s plan as a typical bargaining tactic. “The DOJ didn’t expect us to accept their first proposal. This is just part of the negotiations,” said Bell, elected to the council in April. “That’s all. You want $200. You ask for $400.” With this attitude being prevalent among the predominately white city council, how are the people of Ferguson expected to believe change is coming?

According to The Counted, 695 people have been killed by police or law enforcement agencies since the beginning of 2015 alone (as of August 7, 2015). On average, that is more than 3 people per day. If any other organization or group ran around killing 3 American civilians per day without accountability and with a seemingly all-but spotless record of no wrong doing, we would demand action. (The Counted is a project working to count the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.)

Sandra Bland. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Sandra Bland. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Most recently, the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell defies explanation. It has led to attention of black women being abused and violated by police on a regular basis, yet going unreported. As a result, a demand to force those responsible to “Say Her Name” when there are victims has given rise to the movement #SayHerName.

Ferguson continues to weep. Deserving of every tear, these people have endured what most communities will never experience. Any mother, any parent, that can not take pause at the grief and sorrow of Michael’s mother is as heartless as his killer. Ferguson’s new police Lieutenant proudly says things are better, because she sees officers talking to each other and smiling more. Does she see that on the streets of the community they serve? Has anyone from the department looked?

Photo NLM Coalition via Twitter

Photo NLM Coalition via Twitter

Most Americans are unaware that the community that sees more abuse and violence from police and law enforcement agencies throughout America is the Native American community. Vastly under-reported and swept under the rugs in our halls of “justice”, these people have no where to turn for help. “It is a tribal issue,” they are told, if they are able to complain at all. As such, we are finally beginning to see the rise of #NativeLivesMatter.

When the international community looks at America and sees the treatment of our most marginalized citizens as human rights abuses and calls us on the carpet for it, shouldn’t we look more carefully within our own shores before starting up our war machines to invade countries we charge with human rights abuses?

We have a long way to go, America. You can not close the book on the chapter of Ferguson and assume Michael Brown’s story has ended, unless you also close the book on all the other lives that will be lost if we do not confront these issues as a population, and stop waiting for our government to do what it has failed miserably at doing up to this point.

May Michael Brown be able to Rest in Peace – some day.

Share

The New Face Of Judicial Extortion

Protest at Ferguson police Department, August 2014. Photo by Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Protest at Ferguson police Department, August 2014. Photo by Jamelle Bouie [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday evening, on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown, a group of civil rights lawyers filed a pair of lawsuits on behalf of 11 residents of Ferguson and 9 residents of Jennings; two suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri.

The lawsuits claim the cities involved have pursued the “policy and practice … to jail people when they cannot afford to pay money owed to the city resulting from prior traffic tickets and other minor offenses without conducting any inquiry into the person’s ability to pay and without considering alternatives to imprisonment as required by federal and Missouri law.” Continue reading

Share

Demanding Power to Concede

The Case for Withdrawing the Police and Winning Community Control of our Communities

By Manuel Barrera

U.S. “America” has seen the rise of a new civil rights movement. . . One is tempted immediately to conjure the connections between the movement that has emerged in response to the murder by police in Ferguson, Missouri of Michael Brown and the movement led by M.L. KingMalcolm X and associated civil rights and black nationalist organizations of the 1950’s to the end of the 1960’s. It seems fair to say that given the emergence of Black youth and Black communities everywhere beginning to organize against what has come to be known as a police occupation within communities and spaces inhabited by Blacks in particular, but among people of color in general. Indeed, many sectors among young White youth, women, and other social forces have begun to be involved, some with more engagement than even the actual communities being victimized. Continue reading

Share

Another Week, Another Grand Jury, Another Travesty Of Justice

Last Monday, a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on charges related to his killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager. Yesterday afternoon, a Staten Island grand jury voted not to indict NYPD officer David Pantaleo on any charges related to the death of Eric Garner.

In both cases, the blame can be laid directly at the feet of the prosecuting attorneys. It’s a well known (and true) adage that “a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.” All a prosecutor has to do is show that there’s enough evidence to warrant a charge and a trial; it’s supposed to be up to a full jury trial to determine innocence or guilt. A prosecutor can get a grand jury to do anything they want; in these two cases, the prosecutor didn’t want the officers to go to trial, so that’s what they got. Continue reading

Share

A Recap Before The Storm

A little over three months ago was the first time we wrote about what would become the biggest story in America over the following days; Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer. With the grand jury verdict due any day, this last week had more than its share of troubling news about what might happen in the aftermath.

First, the grand jury. In the Wilson case, it’s been more like an in camera trial, and not a grand jury. The person who’s the focus of the charges rarely if ever gets to testify in front of the grand jury; the grand jury’s job is to see if there’s enough evidence to bring the case to trial, and not to decide innocence or guilt. Continue reading

Share

More Questions Than Answers

Ferguson protests. Photo by Loavesofbread (own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Ferguson protests. Photo by Loavesofbread (own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, we wrote about what’s been happening in Ferguson, Missouri. Later during the day (we publish our posts very early in the morning as a rule), Thomas Jackson, Ferguson’s chief of police, had numerous press conferences which we feel raised more questions than they answered.

In the first press conference, Jackson announced the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown; a four year veteran of the force named Darren Wilson. At the same time, he said that Michael Brown was suspected of stealing a box of cigars and assaulting a convenience store clerk. He then produced a surveillance tape that appears to show Brown assaulting the clerk. Seems pretty straight forward, right? Well, no – not really.

When Jackson was asked later why he released the tape at the press conference, he said because he “had to,” based on several formal requests from media organizations. Now, as far as we know from reading and listening to the media over the last few days, the media had no idea that such a tape existed. What we do know is that the media had been requesting the officer who killed Brown’s report on the incident, as well as any dash camera video if any existed. Did Jackson produce either of those things? Of course not. And, of course, Officer Wilson is conveniently out of town “for his own protection.”

At this press conference, it was implied that Officer Wilson had been responding to the convenience store incident when he stopped Brown. However, in a later press conference, Jackson stated that the “initial contact was not related to the robbery,” and that Brown had been stopped for walking down the middle of the street. We have to wonder when jaywalking became a legitimate reason to use deadly force, but we digress as usual.

Captain Ron Johnson. Photo by Loavesofbread (own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Captain Ron Johnson. Photo by Loavesofbread (own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Captain Ron Johnson, the Missouri state patrol officer who took command of the various police forces in Ferguson on Thursday, said that he “would have liked to have been consulted” about the simultaneous release of the officer’s name and the information about the alleged robbery. “The information could have been put out in a different way,” Johnson said at a press conference.

Now hold on – isn’t Johnson supposed to be in charge of the police who are dealing with this matter? Why wasn’t he consulted? Jackson’s response was that he had used the same chain of command he’d been using before Governor Jay Nixon had put Johnson in charge; in other words, his Ferguson police and the St. Louis County police’s officer in charge. We have to wonder whether ignoring the governor’s orders is par for the course for the Ferguson police.

In related news, Bob McCulloch wasn’t happy with the governor’s decision to turn control of security over to Johnson, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch“It’s shameful what he did today, he had no legal authority to do that. To denigrate the men and women of the county police department is shameful.” Who is Bob McCulloch and why is this important? He’s the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County; the very person who would be responsible for bringing any charges against Officer Wilson. We guess he evidently didn’t see any problem with turning Ferguson into a war zone, but we could be wrong.

We feel that yesterday’s disclosures raises more questions than it answered. The first question is if they had this information about Brown and the alleged robbery before, why didn’t they disclose it earlier? We’d think that releasing this information earlier would have helped defuse the anger in the community; the community would have still been angry, but the police could have at least claimed that to be the cause for Wilson’s actions.

Our second question is why wasn’t Officer Wilson’s report released? We find it suspicious that they released the surveillance tapes allegedly of Brown assaulting the convenience store owner when as far as we know, nobody outside the police were aware that they existed, yet fail to release the documentation that everybody’s been asking to see.

Our last question may be the most important of all. Is the Ferguson police department in general and Chief Jackson in particular really this incompetent, or are they covering up something? Our guess would be both.

Share