Lives Unlived & Dreams Undone: America’s Siege on Blackness | #Ferguson

August 15, 2014
Students at Howard University protest the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown by Ferguson PD.
Students at Howard University protest the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown by Ferguson PD.

An unarmed teenager raises his hands above his head and pleads for his life. He is fatally gunned down by Ferguson police officers. He was 18.

An unarmed man is detained at San Francisco’s Fruitvale Station on New Year’s Eve. He is fatally shot in the back by San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit train police while lying face down on the ground and hands cuffed behind his back. He was 23.

An unarmed teenager walks home through an unfamiliar neighbourhood, an iced tea and a pack of Skittles in his pocket. He is fatally shot by a self-appointed vigilante. He was 17.

An unarmed teenager knocks on the door of a house, seeking help after a car accident. She is fatally shot in the face with a shotgun. She was 19.

An unarmed man reaches for his wallet. He is fatally shot 41 times by New York City police. He was 23.

These are only a handful of the lives cut far too short — the victims of American Blackness under siege.

A protest in Chicago against police brutality in the wake of Mike Brown's killing. (Photo credit: Flickr / Mikasi)
A protest in Chicago against police brutality in the wake of Mike Brown’s killing. (Photo credit: Flickr / Mikasi)

The Stories That Go Un-Hashtagged

Saturday afternoon’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown – an unarmed teenager in the process of surrendering to police officers in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri – has sparked a week-long, nation-wide protest taking place on the streets of Ferguson, at vigils across the country, and in the digital realm of Twitter. As well it should — Michael Brown’s unjust murder at the hands of Ferguson police is a clear example of excessive force, and it should incite outrage in any free-thinking human with a conscience. But the lesser-discussed tragedy of this week is not just Michael Brown’s indefensible killing, but also how what happened to Michael Brown is not unique.

Recently, conservatives have implied a new battlefront in America’s culture wars: a so-called “War on Whites”. This is utter bullshit; there is no new war on Whiteness. There has been instead in America an ongoing 250-year-long war on Blackness, a war that has raged since before this country’s founding.

It is a war being waged in every facet of American life – from the battlefields of our televisions, to our classrooms, to our boardrooms, to our streets. It is a war fought with the weapons of unjust law and unfounded stereotype. It is a war where neutrality is impossible. It is a war that white supremacy is winning.

It is a war justified by the same kind of racist war-time propaganda that arises on the military battlefield — the kind that facilitates violence and death against the enemy through dehumanization and vilification; the kind that normalized the popular reimagination of people of colour as gooks, as japs, as skinnies, as zipperheads and as sand niggers; the kind that mitigates empathy and eases guilt; the kind that suggests there may be just cause in our battlefield murder. In war, so the logic goes, the enemy cannot be allowed to be seen as human. But, in this war, the propaganda appears not on brightly-coloured posters or uttered from the unthinking mouths of infantry; instead, the dehumanization is so deeply-rooted and foundational as to require no articulation. In this war, we so thoroughly believe the myth of Black criminality and menace that we no longer even recognize we are standing on a battlefield.

I am also wrong in this metaphor; it is not a war – it is a slaughter.

Jacob Craggett was killed in gun violence hours before Mike Brown last weekend. Witnesses say ambulances took more than half an hour to arrive to the scene of the shooting, just two blocks from the hospital.
Jacob Craggett was killed in gun violence hours before Mike Brown last weekend. Witnesses say ambulances took more than half an hour to arrive to the scene of the shooting, just two blocks from the hospital.

For every Michael Brown, whose death rises to the frenzied apex of national conversation, there are thousands of Michael Browns whose deaths spark no candelight vigils and no protest movements, and whose stories go completely un-hashtagged. Hours before Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson and his body left unattended to and uncovered for over ten minutes, 15-year-old Jacob Craggett was killed in my current city of New Haven, Connecticut in a random drive-by shooting that also critically wounded two other young men. Multiple witnesses say that Craggett was allowed to lie dying in a pool of his own blood on the asphalt while ambulances took more than thirty minutes to arrive. Craggett was shot less than 1/10th of a mile (a less than 3 minutes walk) from the Yale-New Haven hospital, where he died later that night. The city’s emergency services failed Jacob Craggett, a young black teenager living in an economically depressed area of the city, that night and he paid for our failure with his life. There has been no hash-tag for Jacob Craggett.

The lives of Black people are so devalued to us that we hardly bat an eye when confronted with the fact that thousands  of young Black men and women die of gun violence every year, at a rate eight times that of Whites. In a single year, more than 2000 Black men and women will be targeted for assault and even murder in anti-Black hate crimes, two-thirds of all race-related bias incidents. Yet, we rationalize these statistics by framing the national conversation not around the preciousness of Black lives, but instead on whether or not Blackness is synonymous with cultural pathology and violence – a line of argument so racist, immoral and galling that it would be unthinkable if we were discussing any other racial group of teenagers.

In America, we like to believe we are innocent until proven guilty. But, in America’s siege on Blackness, we have created a political landscape where Black Americans are assumed criminal and violent unless proved otherwise.

This cultural assault on Blackness manifests throughout our legal system, and for every brutal death at the hands of white supremacy, there are thousands more lives not lost but still casually disrupted under presumption of Black criminality, and which engender no headlines. A law built upon racial profiling and harassment that has failed to measurably improve the safety of New York City encouraged police officers to racially target more Black men in 2011 than there are Black men living in the city; the overwhelming majority of Black men stopped-and-frisked were innocent of any crime. Thousands of Black men are arrested and incarcerated every year for non-violent drug offenses – two-thirds of all prisoners serving life sentences for such crimes – despite data showing that drug use rates are roughly equal across race. Michelle Alexander has dubbed this phenomenon the new Jim Crow.

Apparently, Black men and women do not have the right to defend their own lives.
Apparently, Black men and women do not have the right to defend their own lives.

In our enduring siege on Blackness, we make every effort to associate violence and criminality with black skin, whereas we take great pains to distance violence and criminality when it coincides with white skin. A federal report revealed this year that Black children as young as pre-school age are significantly more likely to be disciplined and suspended for the same sort of bad behavior we tolerate from their White classmates. In the same state where George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin based on Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws (which permit a civilian to use lethal force when they feel threatened), pregnant mother Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years for firing a gun into the ceiling in defending herself from her abusive husband who was threatening to kill her.

Bearing Witness to Blackness

From I Too Am Harvard
From I Too Am Harvard

Michael Brown was killed by bullets fired by Ferguson police officers, but he was also killed by every interracial interaction that would cast a criminal pallor over Blackness.

I am Asian American. Like Arthur Chu recently articulated in his article for the Daily Beast, I recognize the racism I live with every day. I understand that this country is no friend to me. The racism America perpetrates against Asian Americans is insidious, but I am also reminded on a nearly daily basis how the racism I face is so distinct from the racism faced by African Americans. Racism manifests against Asian Americans by asserting an intellectual, not a physical, threat. I am dehumanizd as inscrutable, emotionless, obedient – capable but uncreative. I agitate to create the cultural space that would tolerate my failures.

Blackness is agitating to create the cultural space to tolerate their successes.

I am not Black, but for fifteen years, I have had occasion to bear witness to Blackness. My life partner (@snoopyjenkins) is a young Black man; anyone who would deny the overwhelming potency of America’s presumption of Black criminality has never had opportunity to live a life next to Blackness, and has never experienced secondhand the daily microaggressions America commits against Black skin. From hotel lobbies to convenience stores, the subtle traces of this racism can be discerned; by virtue of his skin colour alone, Snoopy is greeted with default suspicion. When he and I were walking into the luxury apartments of extended family earlier this year – both of us carrying suitcases and bags and walking just a few steps apart — it was he who was stopped and interrogated by security as to his business there, while I was allowed to walk idly by as if I belonged while he did not. When he, napping in the backseat of a car during a roadtrip, was suddenly awakened when the (White) driver of our car was stopped for speeding, it was he (the only Black man in the car) who was pulled from the car and humiliatingly frisked along the side of the highway. The only times I have ever been stopped when driving a car is when I was accompanied by him and another (Black male) friend; the officer visually searching their seats multiple times for hidden weapons just in case I was being held hostage or something.

We do not live in a post-racial country. These stories are representative of the lived experience of every Black man and woman living in America today.

Michael Brown was executed because his black skin – and his black skin alone — marked him as a threat.

The Myth of Bootstrapping

Asian Americans are no more racially exceptional than African Americans are racially pathological.
Asian Americans are no more racially exceptional than African Americans are racially pathological.

It would be a fool who would deny there would be consequences of growing up in a world that reinforces at every turn that Black men and women can aspire to nothing more than criminality and violence. It would be a fool who would refuse to believe that there should be scars left by a life in such a world.

There is a concept among social scientists called “stereotype threat”, which asserts that the toll of living as the victim of negative stereotypes creates such a psychological burden that it facilitates the manifestation of the exact kind of behaviours that perpetuate the stereotype. In the context of Blackness, the stereotype threat is profound: when we tell young Black children that they can aspire to nothing more than a short violent life of ignorance, incarceration, and mediocrity, we remove any reason to imagine greater.

When we hijack the dreams of young Black children, we eliminate their capacity to dream.

The corollary is the denial of the impacts of our own anti-blackness; instead we inoculate ourselves from the need to acknowledge (and therefore dismantle) our own institutions of racism by asserting conservative principles of personal responsibility. We argue that Black men and women are not victims of racist institutions, and therefore are substantively choosing pathology over success. In so doing, we ignore the interface of stereotype threat with the multiple layers of socioeconomic oppression that tangibly divert Black children away from academia at every turn. We establish a standard of Black superhumanity by requiring Black children to perform equally as well on so-called meritorious tests like the SATs when competing with twice the obstacles. We celebrate the few who defy expectation as the Black exceptional, who overcame the supposed deficiencies of their race, and we reward them with the privilege of humanity. We condemn the majority who fail to meet our entirely unreasonable standards as deserving of our disdain. We assert by extension a deficiency in Black intelligence or academic investment. We reinforce Black pathology. We refute the possibility of Black achievement.

We lay siege to Blackness, and then we blame them for their own slaughter.

We Are All Culpable

Riot police are dispatched to Ferguson, to "protect" residents from a peaceful congregation of Black protesters.
Riot police are dispatched to Ferguson, to “protect” residents from a peaceful congregation of Black protesters.

There can be no Switzerland in America’s war on Blackness. Think you are neutral? Impossible. We are all culpable.

Every time you consider a Black person with suspicion, you are complicit. Every time you clutch your purse closer when a Black man enters the elevator, you are complicit. Every time you cross the street to avoid the “sketchy” area, you are complicit. Every time you assume bad behavior from Blackness, you are complicit. Every time you reject Black humanity, the possibility of Black success, and the overwhelming impact of institutional anti-Blackness, you are complicit. Every time you reinforce Black underachievement, you are complicit. Every time you parallel Blackness and criminality, you are complicit. Every time you assert Black pathology when faced with black skin, you are complicit.

Every time you let your own fear and intolerance of Blackness go challenged, you are contributing to the same siege on Blackness that murdered Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant, Amandou Diallo, and thousands of faceless others.

Earlier this week, Snoopy lamented that pointing out the overwhelming pervasiveness of the myth of Black criminality in America provides no tangible solutions. Bearing witness is not enough. He’s not wrong. Bearing witness is neutrality by another name, and neutrality in America’s siege on Blackness is alliance with those laying siege.

The streets of Ferguson, occupied by Ferguson police department under informal martial law.
The streets of Ferguson, occupied by Ferguson police department under informal martial law.

This week, anti-Blackness took center-stage in Ferguson, and we saw the appalling lengths to which America will rhetorically and martially defend its own slaughter of Black people. Ferguson police refused to name the police officer who fatally shot the unarmed Michael Brown for nearly a week. Instead, a no-fly zone was declared over the town of Ferguson, and Ferguson PD lobbed tear gas and stun grenades at peaceful protesters and members of the media. They arrested news reporters and city aldermen. Meanwhile, our political leaders – including the state’s governor – have been largely silent.

It’s time to decide whether or not you want to stand on the right side of history. It’s time to reject neutrality. I challenge all of us to stop turning a blind eye to America’s siege on Blackness. We owe it – as people of colour and as fellow humans — to end our silent witness to this war. We have a moral responsibility to speak up, and to speak out, against this injustice.

Michael Brown will not be the last Black man murdered by white supremacy, but we should aspire to make him the last Black man murdered with our silence.

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  • Ben

    Hey Jenn,

    I was wondering when you would have an article out about this issue. Articulate and thought-provoking as always. I would like some clarification about culpability though. I appreciate the fact that we are all responsible for the well being of the entire human community. This is true regardless of location or society. We should always be striving to make the world a better place and fighting oppression everywhere.

    In America, and worldwide, racism is one of the greatest sources of oppression today. We are all responsible for racism. I understand that. I have a number of recognized racial biases and a number of unrecognized racial biases that influence how I interact with people. I am always trying to recognize more of my internal biases and trying to fight against them. I understand that if there exists a part of town that has higher than normal crime rates and if I then avoid that part of town I am perpetuating the stereotype that that part of town is “bad” which will then fulfill itself and become worse. This is the vicious cycle that many minorities face (not just with violence but with other stereotypes as well, i.e. slut shaming/rape culture). So I understand that when I avoid parts of town that have higher rates of crime that I am perpetuating and making the situation worse. But I also have a responsibility to myself to my well being. I understand I am responsible and at fault for racism and for the existence of the stereotype to begin with, but that does not change the fact that it still makes sense for me to avoid that area. I think it is important to recognize our culpability but to also try to find better ways to deal with it than just saying don’t do it (crossing the street to avoid a sketchy area)

  • Hi Ben,

    Good question (and just to clarify, the paragraph you cite was just updated to use the word “complicit” rather than “culpable” because it sounds stronger — the point is unchanged though).

    But I also have a responsibility to myself to my well being. I understand I am responsible and at fault for racism and for the existence of the stereotype to begin with, but that does not change the fact that it still makes sense for me to avoid that area. I think it is important to recognize our culpability but to also try to find better ways to deal with it than just saying don’t do it (crossing the street to avoid a sketchy area)

    I think this is the important point. I’m not saying that putting yourself into obvious danger — literally stepping in front of a legitimate bullet — is the solution. Individuals are complicit in the system, but individual action can rarely alone change the system. I think the release of an iPod app that would label certain predominantly minority areas as “sketchy” and “dangerous” is racist; I don’t think the solution would be to identify a real danger to your well-being and to run headlong into it.

    Ultimately, I ended the post with what I do think the solution to end complicity is: to speak up and speak out. Self-reflect about whether there is legitimate danger to a specific area, or if perhaps your perception of the danger is being enhanced by internalized racism and/or racist institutions. If so, be aware of that within yourself, and then attempt to judge the situation in the absence of the effect of anti-Blackness. Crossing the street is complicit in anti-Blackness but not crossing the street also won’t end anti-Blackness. White supremacy is layers of systems of oppression; individual uncoordinated action does very, very little. That’s why I think we need to be working together to create deliberate action that targets white supremacy, while acknowledging that until white supremacy is (if ever possible) dismantled, it remains our current system and simply by existing within that system we are complicit in its endurance.

    Short form: I think the solution is to coordinate deliberate action aimed at challenging white supremacy, by engaging in protest movements or even challenging your own and your social group’s internalized racism. Speak up, and speak out. Ending white supremacy will be an institutional change, prompted by a social movement; less so by individual action. Cross the street if you have a reason to think you are in personal danger, even if the person approaching is Black; but don’t cross the street just because the person approaching is Black, and the first step is being able to parse the difference within yourself.

  • Ben

    Thanks for the reply Jenn,

    I agree completely.

  • Diggs

    Your poor victim accounts are completely one sided, and your take on the Ferguson situation is nothing but hearsay and assumption at this point, not enough factual details have emerged. Some of this article is accurate & thought provoking, but most of it is bias crap. You’re as guilty of propagating the race wars as any.

  • Jenn – don’t listen to Diggs. This post is a significant achievement. It qualifies the righteous indignation and outright rage many feel (regardless of racial identification) at the idea that unarmed Black teenagers are shot and killed by active-duty police, who should be trained to respect the finality of lethal force. Your post offers compelling evidence that the peaceful protests against state murder of Black youth has itself been criminalized. And finally, you make clear that abstention from this conflict is not possible in America.

    If anything, that’s the most important element. There are meaningful public policy solutions to the state-sponsored violence wrought upon the peaceful protesters of Ferguson; namely the reduction of military-grade weaponry from municipal law enforcement arsenals. But first, we all should respect the sensible anger felt by many of us, regardless of race, when we learn of another needless death justified by the fear of the deputized official holding the smoking gun. Race matters in America, and it’s not always because of Katy Perry performances or the dating choices of young Asian women. For some of us, race can get you killed.

    Thanks for pointing that stuff out, Doc.

  • Peter

    Great article, Jenn! A lot of compelling and valid points! Especially about the creation of a new Jim Crow system. Next time though, be sure to just focus on “the merits of your arguments” and be sure to leave out the personal anecdotes about your dating life and about third parties you personally know that are irrelevant to the readers. To quote a writer we have all read:

    “I’m tired of tolerating anecdote, and allowing people to pretend that their anecdotes matter. ” – Jenn

  • Agreed, which is why the anecdote is relegated to a single short paragraph in a 2000 word article. This post is neither built upon anecdote, nor relies substantially upon it — unlike how you and other commenters substantiate your “arguments” exclusively on anecdote. You could choose to ignore the single paragraph of anecdote in this post as irrelevant (which is your choice to do), and still keep intact 95% of the argument which is based on data. And also as I said in the same comment thread from which you grabbed that post, anecdote is of limited value and can only demonstrate the existence of a thing. In this post it is used to provide examples of racial microaggression as observed by an Asian American. You can choose to accept it or ignore it, but even ignoring it doesn’t dismantle the bulk of this post (hence my deliberate minimal use of anecdote; I’m aware of how this post would read if you choose to discard anecdote), which is about institutionalized anti-Blackness and which is buttressed predominantly by data.

    Also, if all you have to contribute to this conversation is launching a passive aggressive and snide comment, I fail to see why I should engage with you in further discussion. There’s a good deal of substance in this post over which I invite discussion. If all you walked away from regarding it is “haha, Jenn used three anecdotal sentences when she has said previously that anecdote is the weakest of rhetorical devices”, you are part of the problem and unworthy of further investment of my time.

  • Peter

    “Everyone has a right to comment on anything.” -Jenn

    I’m glad we both agree that your anecdote is irrelevant. I’m sure your article would be much stronger without it. Just some friendly advice, didn’t mean to be part of the “problem.”

  • I’m glad we both agree that your anecdote is irrelevant.

    Obviously I don’t think it’s irrelevant. I wrote it. But no, I also don’t think it’s rhetorically critical; you can take the anecdote or leave it and still have a piece that’s largely intact. This is unlike your previous comments which consisted of nothing but anecdote.

    You’re welcome to think whatever you want to think about my writing, but if you literally have nothing else to add to the conversation about anti-Blackness other than a thinly veiled snark over my choice to add anecdote (contextualized primarily as form of self-reflection) to a data-heavy piece, than yes, you are part of the problem. Y’know, that part where I said neutrality is complicity? Yeah, that part.

    I’d kindly ask you to participate in the conversation on the topic at hand or not. This passive aggressive stuff is unbecoming.

    That being said, I’m flattered that I matter so much to you that you dredged up my old comments and are copying-and-pasting them back at me like somehow they are some sort of killshot. I guess those that can’t do, emulate.

  • Pzed

    As terrible as this tragedy is, I think we need to get more context around the situation before throwing words out like Jim Crow. There is security cam video showing the 6’4″ Brown pushing around and intimidating a convenience store clerk just minutes before the shooting occurred. In no way does this justify a cop shooting an unarmed kid, but this story could be slightly more complicated than what you’re making it out to be. There has been a rush to judgment in a lot if these sensational cases in the past where we don’t know everything in the beginning. Again, not saying there’s justification at all for shooting, just saying we might not have all the context yet.

  • Rebelwerewolf

    What’s the deal with the general hatred for anecdote? I know it can often turn into a he said/she said, but we’re often dealing with things like perception, personal prejudice, and relationships between minority groups that can be unethical to study, or there isn’t funding to study, or the studies are clearly skewed to fit an agenda. The dismissal of anecdote can be classist /elitist too, as it leaves out people who might not be familiar with sociological research or don’t have the funding to do research on a specific topic but have good stuff to add about their daily lives.

  • Hey RWW,

    My issue with anecdote is when it is primarily presented as equal to macro-level data, or negatory of it in some way. The best example is actually one of the most recent on the site: I might want to discuss the prevalence of pro- vs. anti-affirmative action opinions in the Asian American community, and cite Karthick’s AAPIData.com data showing a 60% support by national survey. Some would counter that the survey can’t possibly be right because since none of their friends support affirmative action, the vast majority of Asian Americans must oppose. Anecdote frustrates me because to me it’s a non-critical rejection of data, while simultaneously centering one’s own experiences as universal. It’s an irrational and illogical fallacy that universalizes one own social circle as representative of larger trends. In the context of identity politics, it can be used to draw attention to microaggressions — see #ITooAmHarvard and related Tumblrs — but it can also be used by people who would deny systems of racism by simply refusing to consider the impact of larger systems (which is, by definition, what anecdote does — it uses an individual example as a focus point). So, again, one might see someone denying the psychological toll of stereotype threat on Black ambition by saying: “but I have a Black friend who graduated from Harvard, so clearly racism must not be that big a deal”. When it comes to Asian American feminism, it is frequently reasoned to me: “every girl I’ve ever tried to date rejected me because I am Asian and now are married to White men, therefore Asian American women hate Asian men.”

    Peter misrepresents my position on anecdote through his selective quoting. I don’t despise anecdote in all circumstance. I just think it’s a very limited logical tool that is grossly overused in most of identity politics. Anecdote is effective to draw attention to the existence of a thing, or to provide personal reflection on one’s own relationship to larger “isms”. It can humanize otherwise dry subjects. It can engage readers. But it’s not a strong rhetorical device. It does not cancel science. It, by itself, tells us nothing of trends (i.e. “how many Asian girls reject me” has nothing to do with general attitudes of Asian women). I have no problem with people offering anecdote when they are aware of what that anecdote can — and cannot — offer in an academic debate. I have no problem with anecdote when it is used consciously and deliberateness, and is properly contextualized alongside other more rigorous pieces of information or argumentation.

    I express frustration when all I have to work with from the other side is anecdote.

    I don’t demand that everyone conduct primary research, but I do think it necessary that if you want to wade into a sociological debate, you are willing to bring to the table an understanding that your experience is not a universalized experience. That requires zero training in the social sciences, just a willingness to have an open mind, and the enthusiasm to be self-reflective and critical. It’s a requirement that you be willing to think about and analyze the bigger picture, which is ultimately what sociology is about.

    Of course, this attitude has developed in me after years of frustration at hitting what amounts to an obstinant brick wall of anecdote, RWW. I understand that I’m also basically at the end of my tether on this.

  • @Pzed

    The PD has also said that none of this information was available to Officer Darren Wilson at the time of the shooting.

  • Diggs

    This is a truly well written article. Not this one sided racist trash you’re writing. You’re a seemingly brilliant man Snoopy, but you’re wrong in t his matter.

    http://www.theminorityreportblog.com/2014/08/15/the-ferguson-story-changes-dramatically/

  • Shawn

    Video of 18 year old Brown bulling an Asian or Middle Eastern clerk not long before he was shot:

  • Shawn, your comment has been approved but you should know that I find the video prejudicial and irrelevant. Brown is a suspect in an alleged robbery, and even if he is the man in the video, none of this information is relevant to his shooting since it was not known to the officer who stopped him for jaywalking and then shot him 6 times.

  • Shawn

    Jenn,

    It shows that Brown had (at least that day) a confrontational/bullying demeanor and was not the gentle giant as described by the media. Further it sheds light on his frame of mind and how he would have perceived the cop, that is, he might have thought that the cop was after him for committing a felony so perhaps he lashed out not wanting to do some serious time in the slammer…

    Jenn wrote,

    “Brown is a suspect in an alleged robbery, and even if he is the man in the video, none of this information is relevant to his shooting since it was not known to the officer who stopped him for jaywalking and then shot him 6 times.”

    That might not be the case, read this (we have not heard both sides):

    “”[Officer Wilson] said that they were walking in the middle of the street. He rolled his window down and said, ‘Come on guys. Get out of the street.’ They refused to and were yelling back and we’re almost where we’re going and there was some cussing and he kept rolling up and he pulled over and I believe at that point he called for some backup but I’m not sure but I know he pulled up ahead of them and he was watching them and he gets a call in that there was a strong arm robbery and he gets a description and he looks at them and they’ve got something in their hands that looks like it could be… cigars or whatever. So he goes in reverse back at them. He tries to get out of his car. ”

    More https://plus.google.com/+DanMcDermott/posts/K9o2f2iBfpT

    By the way, regarding the Trayvon Martin killing, Zimmerman claimed traditional self-defense not “stand your ground,” that is not to say that he was not emboldened by it.

  • Shawn, the version given is uncited and unsourced, and is also only one account, which differs markedly from the account given by Brown’s friend and bystanding witnesses.

  • Shawn

    Jenn wrote,

    “An unarmed teenager raises his hands above his head and pleads for his life. He is fatally gunned down by Ferguson police officers. He was 18.”

    You are jumping to conclusions….that was one account…here are other accounts including the officer’s that differ; so, you should not present one account as being factual & conclusive.

    “YouTube video purportedly captures witness backing police version in Ferguson shooting”

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/18/youtube-video-captures-purported-witness-backing-police-version-in-ferguson/

    We already know that the forensics from one autopsy show that Brown was NOT shot in the back (as said by at least one witnesses), so shouldn’t we wait before rushing to judgement?

    Haven’t we learned anything from the way the Martin case was handled, the Duke Lacrosse False Rape Hoax, the UCSD Noose Hoax, The Tawana Brawley Rape Hoax, the Oberlin Assault Blanket Hoax, etc., etc.

    Let’s wait for all the facts come out and not rush to conclusions.

  • Shawn, multiple witnesses note that Brown was running away, and the fact that all the shots hit him in the front are consistent with him turning with hands in the air. There are many details contested in the account. But, whether he charged — or alternatively was shot as he bent over to clutch his arm — between shots 1 through 4 and shots 5 and 6 is disputed, which is why I focus on what is not disputed: he was running away when he turned and was attempting to surrender before he was shot by Officer Wilson.

  • Also, the account you linked is a secondhand recount by someone claiming to be a family friend speaking allegedly for Officer Wilson. There’s quite a bit of doubt that should be applied to this claim.

  • Pzed

    There is a lot of doubt all around. None of us were there. No need to make a saint or to vilify the kid yet. I will say it seems odd that Obama is getting involved in this. This is 100% a local issue. Why are the Feds coming in? By what right are they interfering in this situation?

  • Shawn

    “Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop’s version of events in shooting #Ferguson”

    https://twitter.com/ChristineDByers/statuses/501556693382094848

    #racistruchtojudgement

  • Shawn, police didn’t interview the multiple eyewitnesses whose stories conflicted with Officer Wilson until federal authorities intervened. Byers is citing an unnamed police source and this doesn’t match up with what press are reporting from the ground, doing independent interviews of witnesses; she was later reprimanded by her newspaper and forced to retract this tweet because it did not meet the journalistic standards of the paper. This is not a trustworthy rumour.

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  • Respect the humanity of all groups: To elevate the quality of debate, this site will no longer tolerate (racial, cultural, gender, etc.) supremacist or inferiority lines of argumentation. There are other places on the internet where nationalist arguments can be expressed; this blog is not those places.
  • Don't be an asshole: If you think your behaviour would get you punched in the face outside of the internets, don't say it on the internets.
  • Don't abuse Disqus features: Don't upvote your own comments. Don't flag other people's comments without reasonable cause. Basically, don't try to game the system. You are not being slick.

Is your comment not approved, unpublished, or deleted? Here are some common reasons why:

  • Did you sign in? You are required to register an account with Disqus or one of your social media accounts in order to comment.
  • Did your comment get caught in the spam filter? Disqus is set to automatically detect and filter out spam comments. Sometimes, its algorithm gets over-zealous, particularly if you post multiple comments in rapid succession, if your comment contains keywords often associated with spam, and/or if your comment contains multiple links. If your comment has been erroneously caught in the spam filter, contact me and I will retrieve it.
  • Did a comment get flagged? Comments will be default be published but flagged comments will be temporarily removed from view until they are reviewed by me.
  • Did you not play nice? You may have gotten banned and a bunch of your comments may have been therefore deleted. Sorry.

I monitor all comment threads, and try to address comments requiring moderation within 24-48 hours. Comments that violate this comment policy may receive a warning and removal of offensive content; overt or repeat violations are subject to deletion and/or banning of comment authors without warning.

I reserve final decision over how this comment policy will be enforced.

Summary:

Play nice and don't be a jerk, and you'll do just fine.