Friday, August 15, 2014

Ferguson Update

[TRIGGER WARNING: POLICE BRUTALITY, GUN VIOLENCE, HOMICIDE, RACISM]

Oh lord, I don't even know where to begin. There's been live feeds of the protests. I watched one that shows the police continually advancing on and pushing back a peaceful protest in an very intimidating fashion. After about nine minutes, the police suddenly, without any noticeable provocation, start shooting rubber bullets and lobbing smoke grenades at the crowd, which flees a bit and then rallies not far away to continue protesting.

The incredible bravery of the black community of Ferguson floors me. Is that my white privilege talking? Because I don't know how it feels to spend your entire life terrorized by the police, knowing that they are more likely to harm you than protect you in most situations? Knowing that they could kill you for nothing and almost certainly face little to no punishment? I can't imagine how that feels.

Anyway.

Firstly, the Ferguson police department has finally released the name of the man who murdered Michael Brown along with the report of what happened. His name is Darren Wilson. Now maybe he can face some consequences.

Unfortunately, infuriatingly, the report appears to be attempting to link Michael Brown to a robbery. This makes absolutely no sense as Darren Wilson's account of the incident mentions nothing of a robbery. All he said was that he wanted Michael Brown and his friend to get onto the sidewalk. He still had zero reason to shoot and kill anyone. This is a blatant attempt of character assassination, and the facts don't support it.

President Obama made a statement about the situation in Ferguson, condemning looting and rioting but also condemning excessive force by police officers, violence against peaceful protesters, and throwing journalists in jail for practicing their First Amendment rights.

The police presence in Ferguson has now been or is in the process of being demilitarized, with regular, non-military looking cops escorting protesters instead of standing against them. Note that this does not necessarily mean good things, and could just be an insincere pacifying strategy so that things can go back to normal.

Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia has introduced a bill to stop the militarization of law enforcement agencies in the US. It will end the transfer of excess military gear to police departments, which is why all those photos from Ferguson contain police forces that look like they came straight from Iraq. Why is there excess military equipment? Because the US won't stop the figurative convoy of money-packed dump trucks that's constantly being sent to arms dealers, for the love of god our military spending is 100% out of control at this point. You can call your local representatives to encourage them to support this bill.

St. Louis County police will be withdrawn from Ferguson. Someone on Tumblr pointed out that this was six hours after a white woman was struck by a rubber bullet shot by police in Ferguson. This woman is also a pastor, and I heard somewhere that she was back protesting after like an hour in the hospital. But as badass as this lady is, it's still bullshit how nothing ever seems to improve until white people get hurt by the bad shit happening.

Anonymous has gotten involved. They've been publishing hours of what they say are police dispatch tapes on their YouTube and Twitter accounts. I have mixed feelings about Anonymous and have not listened to the tapes, but they might be useful, especially in light of the alleged robbery accusation.

That seems to be all the big news from yesterday. Things that are not news: Fox News is using Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to criticize the protesters. The KKK are siding with Darren Wilson. Racists are being assholes on Twitter. Stay tuned.

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