This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 13, 2014:
According to Michael Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, they were just walking down the street in Ferguson, Missouri – a small, mostly black community northeast of St. Louis – on Saturday morning when a police officer in his cruiser drove up and started hassling them. He demanded that they walk on the sidewalk instead of in the middle of the street. How rude! How inconsiderate! How impolite!
The “conversation” became heated, shots were fired, and Brown was dead. There were several eyewitnesses and some video of the incident, although the video has been commandeered for the investigation into what really happened. But the eyewitnesses were very sure of what they saw, even though their testimonies conflict with each other. Eyewitness Piaget Crenshaw said that Johnson and Brown “got into a verbal confrontation and the officer attempted to put Brown into the police car. When Brown began to flee, his hands in the air, the officer got out of the car and started shooting at Brown.”
Well, not exactly, according to another eyewitness. He told the press that the officer was in his car when he started shooting at the two boys. Johnson himself said that he and Brown started running when they heard the first shot. The officer, said Johnson, “shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air. He started to get down and the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and fired several more shots.”
That was good enough for Brown’s mother – Lesley McSpadden – to claim that her son was murdered, saying “I would like to see [the officer] go to jail with the death penalty.” It was good enough for Brown’s stepfather – Louis Head – to make up a sign that read “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”
After all, he was just a “gentle kid,” according to Aisha Sultan Asulton, writing in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who “don’t bother nobody” according to his mother.
McSpadden also wondered why the officer didn’t just Tase her son or beat him with a club rather than shoot him, but one look at his photo on his Facebook page reveals at least one reason why: he was monstrous in size with a scowl designed to put fear into anyone treading too closely.
The testimonies were also good enough for the NAACP to claim that he was “slaughtered,” while Benjamin Crump – the same Benjamin Crump that was hired by Travyon Martin’s family in the Zimmerman incident in Florida in 2012 – suddenly appeared on the scene, willing, ready, able, and eager to defend another innocent life taken by the out-of-control officer. Crump claimed it was murder, as well, because Brown “was executed in broad daylight” by the police officer.
These testimonies as to what happened on Saturday not only conflicted with each other but also with the police’s initial explanation of what happened. St. Louis County police Chief Jon Belmar held a press conference on Sunday morning, announcing that a man had been shot and killed after he assaulted a police officer and the two had struggled over the officer’s gun inside his patrol car. At least one shot was fired from inside the car, said Belmar.
Another slightly different version appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
Authorities said the shooting occurred around noon Saturday, when a Ferguson police officer encountered two men in the street. When the officer tried to exit his vehicle, Chief Belmar said one of the two pushed the officer back into the cruiser. The suspect allegedly assaulted the officer in the car and the two struggled over his gun. At least one shot was fired inside the vehicle. A few moments later, Chief Belmar said, the officer allegedly fired multiple shots outside the vehicle that killed the suspect, about 35 feet from the cruiser.
How many shots were fired? Belmar said “more than just a couple, but I don’t think it was many more than that.” Brown’s partner said that four shots were fired while Brown’s mother said she was told that her son was shot eight times.
How many rioters were there? Some reports stated that there were two hundred gathered at Brown’s vigil downtown on Sunday morning before things got out of hand and people starting ransacking local businesses. Others said there were several thousand. Later reports said that outsiders, getting wind of the opportunity, came to Ferguson to loot and burn. At least 12 businesses were heavily damaged, while one, QuikTrip – a gas and convenience store – was burned to the ground. There was a tattoo parlor whose owner teamed up with the owner of a gun shop next door and stood out front, dressed for the occasion, toting various weapons which successfully reduced looters’ enthusiasm for going there.
How Crump arrived on the scene so quickly is another question the media has so far failed to answer. As if drawn to Ferguson like a moth to a flame, Crump makes himself available, pro bono, for incidents like Martin/Zimmerman; as well as that of Martin Lee Anderson, a black teenager who died after a beating in 2006 by white guards in a Florida youth detention center; the family of Genie McMeans, a black driver who died after being shot by a white state Trooper; and Ronald Weekley, a skateboarder who was beaten by police in Venice, California.
Crump has company. The holy “reverend” Al Sharpton somehow has been invited to join the festivities in Ferguson by Brown’s parents. Never missing an opportunity to inflame racial injustice where he perceives it to be, Sharpton is in Ferguson, seeing what he can do to make things worse.
Naturally, connections have been made between the shooting in Ferguson on Saturday and the Martin/Zimmerman case that captured national headlines to the point of exhaustion in 2012-13, as well as connections to another incident that happened on almost the same date back in 1965: the Watts riots, from August 11-17 where 34 people lost their lives and $40 million in property damage was sustained.
Aggressively pursuing investigations such as this is critical to preserving trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
And so the stage is being set for a Martin/Zimmerman redux, except that this time the national media, for some reason, has decided not to blow up the story. Perhaps it’s due to what some are calling Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman “exhaustion” – that people just aren’t responding as they used to to claims and charges of police brutality and “slaughter” and “execution” that turn out later to be false. Just as they were when Zimmerman was found innocent of charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter back in 2013.
Let’s hope that Crump and Sharpton discover early on that they are merely wasting their time in Ferguson, Missouri.
River Front Times: Ferguson Riots: North County Business Owners (Some Armed) Survey the Damage
New York Times: Grief and Protests Follow Shooting of a Teenager
World News Daily: Missouri mayor: Looters were out-of-towners