Thursday, August 14, 2014

Live Blog: MO Gov.; Pres. Obama -- Outrcy over Militarizing Police in Ferguson, MO

*Press arrested by police in McDonald's restaurant *CNN reporters on militarization of the police, something out of East Germany *Gaza Palestinians advise Ferguson on coping with tear gas *Wooden bullets, tear gas *Anonymous reports on shooting officer *Assailee Michael Brown two days from beginning college (Vatterott College, a local trade college) *Eyewitness Tiffany Mitchell video of shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri *Police wield stun guns and tear gas [report by Al Jazeera, by MSNBC]
*Governor Nixon in second Thursday press conference transferred police authority to State Highway patrol
*Fire Dog Lake blog: Local Police Will Be Militarized as Long as Federal Government is *Rep. Johnson (GA, Dem.) proposes demilitarization of police

Just why are paramilitary forces used against protestors? Why are reporters and an alderman being arrested? What image of American polity are we projecting to the world? Are we moving to the situation that Bertram Wolf predicted in Friendly Fascism?

Riots should not destroy communities, but the people deserve to have their civil liberties and rights respected.

Jay Nixon, governor (Dem.), former attorney general, quotes in press conference, from approximately 12:45 pm, EST, today, speaking on the shooting of Michael Brown this past Saturday, August 9:

we need [safety and order]
also need people to be allowed to release their energy
the only response should not be "just be quiet." the voice needs to be heard
My sense over the last few days there has been a fear to hear ... a longer march to justice
as long as they are being safe
the vast majority of people have done just that
it doesn't matter how respectful it [the protests] is, it just has to be safe
we have to cannot have lawlessness
there will be a shift we need a different tone
horrific facts that began this
we need to make sure that justice prevails

The cable networks CNN, Al Jazeera and MSNBC, broke from the press conference when Nixon's response to public's questions

Postscript: in the second Thursday press conference, Gov. Nixon called for an operational shift in handling of protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Report in St. Louis Today.

U.S. President Barack Obama (Dem.), paraphrased, at press briefing at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, just concluded, 12:58 pm EST. [Postscript: Transcript of Obama's Press Briefing, from Washington Post; Ferguson comments copied below, which followed his comments on the Iraq situation]

Now, second, I want to address something that’s been in the news over the last couple of days, and that’s the last situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I know that many Americans have been deeply disturbed by the images we’ve seen in the heartland of our country as police have clashed with people protesting, today I’d like us all to take a step back and think about how we’re going to be moving forward.
This morning, I received a thorough update on the situation from Attorney General Eric Holder, who’s been following and been in communication with his team. I’ve already tasked the Department of Justice and the FBI to independently investigate the death of Michael Brown, along with local officials on the ground. The Department of Justice is also consulting with local authorities about ways that they can maintain public safety without restricting the right of peaceful protest and while avoiding unnecessary escalation. I made clear to the attorney general that we should do what is necessary to help determine exactly what happened and to see that justice is done.
I also just spoke with Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri. I expressed my concern over the violent turn that events have taken on the ground, and underscored that now’s the time for all of us to reflect on what’s happened and to find a way to come together going forward. He is going to be traveling to Ferguson. He is a good man and a fine governor, and I’m confident that working together, he’s going to be able to communicate his desire to make sure that justice is done and his desire to make sure that public safety is maintained in an appropriate way.
* * *
wooden pellets on the scene of protests in Ferguson, Missouri

Sen. Clare McCaskill (Dem.) has cited the militarization of the police.
Al Jazeera anchor posing whether the intervention of FBI and US Department of Justice is a slap in the face to the local police department.
Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson (1:30 pm --who has said that 50 of his 53 member police department are white) claims that one Molotov cocktail had been thrown. Responding to reporter question about militarized police, chief said that "tactical forces will be deployed again." Denied the name, "Brian something," put out by "Anonymous."

"I'm not going to get into what the law says" --responding to reporter who cited Missouri state law requiring the public disclosure of police in shootings.
Was asked how this episode has impacted his relations with the black community, "I've had a good relationship . . . you're not up to criticisms in this job you shouldn't have it." [Boston Globe report on the Ferguson policing authority transferred from the St. Louis County Police to Missouri State Highway Patrol, filed since the Governor's transfer statement.]

Map of militarized local police departments:

And map by Cato Institute of police paramilitary raid incidents with SWAT teams and their tactical weapons.

Two reporters (Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly, of the Huffington Post --Lowery's encountered with police in video --afterwards he was slammed into a soda machine while getting plastic cuffs --Lowery was told by police "Yeah, well, you're going to be in my jail cell tonight" --Reilly was slammed into a plate-glassed window and then the police officer sarcastically apologized) were arrested while writing their stories in a McDonald's restaurant. An Al Jazeera reporter got hit with tear gas, as did an MSNBC reporter. Two St. Louis American reporters had guns pointed at their heads. A New York Times freelancer was reportedly hit by a rubber bullet, photo below. These references, from Poynter Institute.

Reporter asked a St. Louis alderman, Antonio French, was arrested while getting out of his car near the protests Wednesday night.
Arrests happened because they were "in an area that was being cleared by the police."
Ferguson mayor James Knowles put his foot in his mouth disparaging the African-American community in Ferguson, in words he will have to live down: DailyKos has posted:
“The African-American community — youth in the African-American community in particular — has something against law enforcement in many ways,” Knowles said. “They don’t like law enforcement, and they don’t think law enforcement likes them.”

Here is the link to video, by witness, Tiffany Mitchell:
What is evident from the video is that unarmed Michael Brown was shot several feet from a police van; this would shed some doubt that he was a threat to police, who allege that he was in the van struggling for an officer's gun. Brown reportedly said, "Please don't shoot me."
Uploaded by CNN, CNN's Don Lemon's interview with Mitchell, who is accompanied by her attorney, Peter Cohen, at YouTube; also in interview is another eyewitness, Piaget Crenshaw. The censoring gray oval covered over Brown's body. Mitchell: "He had his hands in the air."
Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson was interviewed by the New Yorker, "Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson." Linked by DianeRavitch.

From Fire Dog Lake, thoughtful discussion of the larger ramifications of militarized Ferguson: "Local Police Will Be Militarized As Long As Federal Government Is." Meanwhile, today, Hank Johnson, Congressional representative for eastern Atlanta suburbs, filed federal legislation for the demilitarization of police, the "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act."

No comments: