Thursday, August 14, 2014

"How Often Must We Drink from This Bitter Well?": Commentary on the Michael Brown Shooting and Ongoing Police Violence in Ferguson, Missouri

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where police shot to death an unarmed African-American teenager, Michael Brown, this past weekend, continues to deteriorate. Last night, Ferguson police — who still refuse to release the name of the officer who shot Brown — deployed a panoply of military devices more suited to a war zone than to a suburb of an American city, including tear gas, incendiary and explosive devices, and armored vehicles to intimidate those protesting Brown's shooting. As Sherrilyn Ifill told Lawrence O'Donnell last evening on MSNBC news (video link), the alarming militarization of the police force in Ferguson (and, increasingly, in many places in the U.S.) is a key aspect of this story.

The hacker-activist group Anonymous, who played a significant role in calling for police accountability in the Steubenville rape case, has obtained audio footage of St. Louis police dispatch tapes from the time of Brown's shooting, and has posted these online. As Josh Harkinson reports for Mother Jones (see below), Anonymous also indicates that it is actively pursuing the name of the officer who shot Brown, and has stated that it will publish that information online as soon as it verifies the name.

I'm sure that many readers of this blog will already have been following the Ferguson story closely, and may have read more than I have about it. In the interest of assisting any readers who want more information to obtain it, I thought that today I'd post some links to articles I've found helpful:

Steve Benen, "With the Eyes of the Nation on Ferguson, Missouri," Rachel Maddow Blog

Jamelle Bouie, "The Militarization of the Police," Slate

Keith Boykin, "Does the Second Amendment Only Apply to White People?," Huffington Post

Zoë Carpenter, "What’s Exceptional About Ferguson, Missouri?," The Nation

Fred Clark, "Gangs of Heavily Armed White Police Still Rioting, Vandalizing in Ferguson," Slacktivist

Fred Clark, "(you can get killed just for living in)," Slacktivist

Sarah Gray, "Anonymous Released Alleged Audio from St. Louis County Police Dispatch, from the Day Michael Brown Was Killed," Salon

Ryan Grim, "Statement on the False Arrest of Reports Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery," Huffington Post

Josh Harkinson, "Anonymous' 'Op Ferguson' Says It Will ID the Officer Who Killed Michael Brown," Mother Jones

Rachel Maddow (video link), "Tear Gas, Arrests Extend Violence in Ferguson," Rachel Maddow Blog

Josh Marshall, "Harrowing Images Out of Ferguson," Talking Points Memo

Walter Brandeis Raushenbush, "What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America," Huffington Post

Mychal Denzel Smith, "The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America," The Nation

Jon Swaine, "Ferguson after Michael Brown's Death: 'This is a War and We are Soldiers on the Frontline,'" The Guardian

Joan Walsh, "Nightmare in Ferguson: Cops Become a Brutal Occupying Force," Salon

Michael W. Waters, "Black Life Is Expendable," Huffington Post

Lauren C. Williams, "How The Outrage Over The Michael Brown Shooting Is Going Viral," Think Progress

Alan Schier Zagier and Jeff Roberson, "Police Use Tear Gas, Smoke Bombs In Another Night Of Unrest In Ferguson," Talking Points Memo

As Rachel Maddow points out in the video clip linked above, note the huge disparity between the way in which armed white protesters carrying guns and aiming them at law enforcement officials were treated in the standoff at Cliven Bundy's ranch in Wyoming a few months ago, and the way unarmed protesters who happen to be black are now being treated in Ferguson, Missouri. To say that we Americans have a very serious problem with racial injustice running all through the institutions of our society would be vastly to understate the reality of our situation.

And the problem has grown worse — deeper, graver, more intractable — with the election of the nation's first African-American president. It would be naive in the extreme to ignore the links between the increasing militarization of police forces (and of illegal radical militia groups) throughout the U.S. and the presidency of Barack Obama. There are strong, determined, nativist groups within American society who are intent on construing the valid election of an African-American president as an invalid takeover of "their" country.

And they will do anything possible to take "their" country back.

(The quotation in the title of this posting is by Rev. Michael W. Waters from the Huffington Post essay linked above.)

The photo of St. Louis County police aiming a weapon at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, yesterday is from Josh Marshall's link above.

No comments: