Since Saturday, the tragic shooting of unarmed teenager Mike Brown by police has turned into a story about looting and rioting and frightening black rage, and not about the brutal response of police to the fruits of their own brutality.Rebecca Leber:
No, I’m not talking about the looters, some of whom were arrested, and most of whom, police say, were not even from Ferguson, Mo. The media has chosen to conflate their actions with the widespread anguish of the people of Ferguson, and those watching in the wider world, but as Brittney Cooper has said, these are the actions of an opportunistic few. Asking for their condemnation is like asking for a denunciation of the flies that gathered around Mike Brown’s body as it lay in the street for hours after his execution. It is beside the point, except to the extent that it gives people an excuse (that they didn’t even need) to ignore the very real causes and effects of the anguish in Ferguson.
How to Avoid the Next Ferguson: Ditch the Riot GearAnd guess what? It seems to have worked.
Four steps police can take to actually prevent violence.
The heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts, the hostile glares: tonight in Ferguson they were gone.More politics and policy below the fold.
A stunning change in tone radiated through the suburban streets where protests had turned violent each of the last four evenings following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
But Thursday night, when more than a thousand protesters descended on the remains of QuickTrip – which was burned during riots on Sunday – they had a new leader.
The man at the front of the march, was Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson, a Ferguson native.
“I’m not afraid to be in this crowd,” Johnson declared to reporters.
When the police bring the hammer down, whether on Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in 2011 or outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, the response from conservatives has been fairly consistent: The protesters got what they had coming.Rand Paul:
But demonstrations this week over the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., and the overwhelming law enforcement response that followed have stirred more complicated reactions, with many on the right torn between an impulse to see order restored and a concern about whether the crackdown is a symptom of a state run amok.
The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown is an awful tragedy that continues to send shockwaves through the community of Ferguson, Missouri and across the nation.Paul Waldman:
If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.
The outrage in Ferguson is understandable—though there is never an excuse for rioting or looting. There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response.
The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.
The greater a national constituency a politician has, the greater their influence and the more responsibility they have to offer something constructive. I was glad to see Rand Paul, who does have such a national constituency, offer this op-ed in Time Magazine this afternoon talking about the federal government’s role in arming local police forces way beyond their actual needs. There’s a great opportunity for him to join with his liberal colleagues to advocate legislation to address this situation. If Paul got together with someone like Warren, they could create a powerful coalition to actually accomplish something. For a whole variety of reasons, it may not be realistic to expect Barack Obama to be the primary vehicle for constructive change coming out of the Ferguson debacle in the short term. But maybe other politicians from both parties could step into that void.CJR:
The actions of Anonymous may now reshape calculations. But even if the hacking group is correct about the officer’s identity, it’s somewhat surprising that the name remained unknown for days—and that may itself speak to the divide between the community and local police. None of the witnesses to the shooting appears to know the officer’s name, even though Ferguson is not a large city (roughly 20,000 in population), and the police chief did release some information about the officer—he is a 6-year veteran—and the city’s website shows that the department’s field operations office has just 32 officers. As Mark Johnson, a media lawyer at Dentons in Kansas City, told me, you’d think someone would have figured out earlier who shot Brown.WaPo:
And, indeed, someone may have. “Perhaps the witnesses are concerned about releasing the officer’s name,” Johnson said. “Possible long-term fear of police retribution.”
Since the shooting, the department has been criticized for how police have handled the response to the incident and for not disclosing key details, including the name of the officer involved.NY Times:
The department bears little demographic resemblance to the citizens of this St. Louis suburb, a mostly African American community whose suspicions of the law enforcement agency preceded Saturday afternoon’s shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who this week had been headed to technical college.
But while the racial disparity between the public here and its protectors has come to define the violent aftermath of Brown’s death, the department’s problems stretch back years and include questions about its officers’ training and racial sensitivity.
The protesters showed up in droves, marching along the streets near where Mr. Brown was gunned down and staying well into the night. They were met by heavily armed riot police and SWAT teams in armored cars in scenes that were captured in photos and videos on social media with hashtags like #MikeBrown and #Ferguson.Newsweek:
In a nighttime protest that was streamed live online, protesters could be heard chanting “We ain’t leaving until we have justice.” A line of police officers appeared to move closer to the crowd and fire what appeared to be rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, then set off sound cannons. A man narrating the video said the protest was peaceful and the attack was unprovoked. (Warning: the video contains strong language.)
As many have noted, Ferguson, Missouri, currently looks like a war zone. And its police—kitted out with Marine-issue camouflage and military-grade body armor, toting short-barreled assault rifles, and rolling around in armored vehicles—are indistinguishable from soldiers.Gawker:
America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.
Joe Scarborough—a former U.S. Congressman and MSNBC's aging jam band dad—said today on Morning Joe that the two reporters detained in Ferguson, Missouri should have just listened to the police. In Scarborough's mind, The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and The Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly just wanted to get on TV.