Today, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson stood before the media and grief stricken people of Ferguson, MO in front of a burned out Quick Trip. The visuals were carefully chosen, a reminder to white America of their deepest fears and assumptions about people of color - criminals, dangerous, destructive.
Never mind that earlier in the week the Ferguson PD had said that most of the looters were not from Ferguson. Never mind the immediate mishandling of Michael Brown's death; his body lying in the street uncovered for hours. Never mind the bringing in of police dogs, a reminder of Selma and Birmingham, a history that replays itself again and again in black communities across America. Then the invading militarized force of armored vehicles, of nameless men in camouflage sighting down guns at peaceful demonstrators desperate for answers. The firing of tear gas and rubber bullets, the sun downing, the arrest of reporters and a St. Louis Alderman and his staff.
Never mind an unarmed young man repeatedly shot while he was trying to surrender.
That is what the police chief of Ferguson, MO wants us to forget most of all.
So he waved photos taken from a convenience store robbery showing a large black man wearing shorts threatening a store clerk and said that this, this, was Michael Brown.
For a package of cigars he deserved to die, if that was indeed Michael Brown, the young man know as the "Gentle Giant."
Because things aren't adding up. The center of their story, Michael Brown as just another black man - dangerous, destructive, criminal -
does not hold.
There are multiple reasons why -
Dorian Johnson, named in today's police "report" was named as Brown's accomplice in the robbery. Johnson is also a witness to Brown's shooting and his account of events has been one of the primary pieces of evidence for police misconduct.
If Dorian Johnson was indeed an "accomplice" why has he not been arrested?
Did Michael Brown rob a store and then go home and change his clothes or are there two men - one who robbed a store, and a mother's dead child?
Up until today, the FPD has consistently said that Michael Brown was not stopped for any criminal activity.
It's worth noting that on Tuesday Chief Jackson told me Brown was not being stopped in relation to any criminal activity.— Collin Reischman (@Collin_MOTimes) August 15, 2014
But today, that all changed. The ONLY information handed out at the Police Chief's press conference was about the supposed robbery. There was no Use of Force Report by Officer Wilson. There was nothing about the actual shooting of Michael Brown.
Only the story of a supposed robbery, the black man as predator, dangerous, criminal.
Only photos in front of a burnt out Quick Trip showing white America's favorite boogeyman - the black man. A man that, according to a notation in the robbery incident report, they were still looking for 7 hrs after Michael Brown was killed.
The nineteen pages handed out to the press today show one thing and one thing only - that what the Ferguson, MO police were really doing today had nothing to do with Justice.
In America the death penalty for robbing a convenience store, a crime not proven in any court of law, is justified. Being suspected of a crime while being Black is enough.
And the Media will run with it, as they always do, portraying yet another police shooting of a black man as legitimate and above all necessary so white America can sleep a little more deeply, safe from the monsters it keeps beneath its beds.
It is easier that way. Easier than looking at the long history of racism in this country and the deaths that it causes. Easier than looking at ourselves and how we excuse away yet another death of a black man.
Easier than admitting how much pain exists in the homes of POC and why.
The white washing of yet another killing of a black man by a police officer began today. And far too many in White America and in MSM will walk away relieved, vindicated in their fears and racism.
Meanwhile, the hope for justice, for the freedom to just exist, died a little more in every home of POC. Today, every mother and father of a Black son looked at their child and wondered if he would be next.
No Justice. No Peace.