Ferguson and American Racism After the Killer of Michael Brown Goes Free

This is a sad day.

The grand jury’s decision is yet another sign that all of America’s sons’ lives are not yet valued equally in the eyes of our courts. All of America’s fathers, mothers and children should stay outraged and in motion for progress until we are finally what we say we are: One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.

We must finally ensure police can be held accountable for killing unarmed civilians. We must win national standards for both the use of force and use of force training. We must require the use of body cameras on police officers. We must force the removal of any mayor or police chief who cannot ensure the minimum requirement of any public safety agenda: that the police uphold their oath and protect and respect the lives of all civilians. The time has long since come for the behavior of America’s police to reflect her people’s values by respecting the sanctity of each of our lives no matter our race, gender, or class.

The path to these goals is focused advocacy and, where necessary, non-violent direct action. Those are the strategies that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Acts 50 years ago and the outlawing of racial profiling in New York City just two years ago.

Today we are all Michael Brown. Tomorrow we must ensure each of our lives is valued equally in the eyes of our nation’s laws, law enforcement officers, and courts.

____________
Ben Jealous, Partner at Kapor Capital, immediate past President and CEO of the NAACP, and Chairman of the Southern Elections Fund, released this statement following the announcement that a grand jury had chosen not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. Reprinted from Huffington Post


Video: Police lied. Mike Brown was killed 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV

by Shaun King    Follow for shaunking

For 104 days, the police have lied and said Mike Brown was killed 35 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV. It was actually 148 feet.

This distance is essential to the defense and how Darren Wilson must demonstrate that he “reasonably feared for his safety.” At the point in which Mike Brown ran half a football field away, how reasonable is it for an armed officer to fear anyone?

On the afternoon of August 9, 2014, Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. Below is the first video filmed from Canfield Drive, where the shooting occurred, showing the exact measurement between where Darren Wilson’s SUV was parked and Mike Brown died. After that, we methodically debunk the lie that Mike Brown was killed in close proximity to Darren Wilson’s SUV.

Our starting point, which is 17 feet behind the driver’s side window of Darren Wilson’s SUV, is this yellow fire hydrant next to the storm drain.

Our end point is 2943 Canfield. Notice the building number in the back of this photo below where Mike Brown’s father and family members are standing over the exact location where Mike Brown was killed.

Mike Brown's family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Mike Brown's death

So: 131 feet, 1 inch (distance between the fire hydrant and where Mike Brown died), + 17 feet (distance between the fire hydrant and the driver’s side door of Darren Wilson’s SUV) = 148 feet.The St. Louis-area police have continued to advance this lie for over 104 days since Mike Brown was killed on Canfield Drive on the afternoon of August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Here we will methodically expose this lie and examine just why it’s so important.

On this past Monday, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in Missouri in anticipation of some level of unrest regarding a decision from the grand jury in the Darren Wilson case. Covering this decision, and the case in general, CNN authoritatively states that Mike Brown was found 35 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV.

Where the Lie Began

On August 10, 2014, St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar held his first press conference on the shooting of Mike Brown by Officer Darren Wilson of the nearby Ferguson Police Department. His force had been called in to take over the investigation for the much smaller local department. The shooting had occurred less than 24 hours earlier, and the tensions on the ground in Ferguson were already red hot and boiling over.

Six different witnesses on the scene claimed that Mike Brown was shot at repeatedly from behind before he turned around, faced Darren Wilson, verbally surrendered, and put his hands in the air. Wilson, having already shot at Mike Brown at least six times while he fled, then fired off a barrage of four quick shots at the surrendered Brown he was looking at face to face, killing him on the spot. With his lifeless body face down on the road, Mike Brown’s blood literally flowed down Canfield Drive for more than four hours. The shooting and the aftermath that evening, which included bringing police dogs to the scene, infuriated residents as never before, and the anger was spreading rapidly across St. Louis and into the nation.

When Chief Belmar sat down the next day to brief the press on his summary of the facts, he stated at 1:13 (and then even more emphatically at 6:01) in the video below, “The entire scene, from approximately the car door (of Officer Wilson) to the shooting, is, uh, about 35 feet.”

At that time, when the chief said the “entire scene” was just 35 feet in distance from the “car door to the shooting,” every observer accepted it as a negligible fact and thought little about it, instead zeroing in on why Darren Wilson stopped Mike Brown in the first place and why a police officer would shoot a young man who was surrendering with his hands up.It turns, out, though, that the distance Mike Brown fled was not 35 feet, as was stated in the press conference and cited in hundreds of articles since. Nor was it 45 feet, or 75 feet, or even 95 feet, but approximately 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV. Below, you will find photos from the day of the murder, maps, infographics, and more to confirm for you that the distance was more 500 percent farther away than originally claimed by Chief Belmar and subsequently quoted as fact in almost every narrative of the case.

While the initial reporting of this distance from the chief could have been an error, albeit an egregious one, it seems clear now, after over 100 days of requests for the police to clarify this discrepancy have only produced silence, that it wasn’t an oversight, but a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.

What reason would the chief have for so seriously understating the distance by more than 110 feet? Well, how far Mike Brown fled matters greatly, and the St. Louis County Police Department could have many reasons for purposely understating it. One doubts, though, that they expected to be caught telling this lie. When it was first told, while matters were tense in St. Louis and spreading on social media, nobody had any idea that this case would grip the nation and the world.

Without even using this space to dive into the actual shooting of Mike Brown, it appears that some base level misconduct can be suspected when the St. Louis County Police Department has repeatedly refused to address the discrepancy in distance.

When the police came out the morning after Mike Brown was killed and deliberately included the distance between the SUV and the shooting, it successfully created a very particular narrative. The arc of their initial story, magnified in importance by the absence of even one official report, is that Darren Wilson shot and killed a young man who, in a short distance from the SUV, posed him grave harm. How far Mike Brown actually fled, how far Darren Wilson chased him, and where each of them were in relation to each other and to the SUV, are facts of paramount importance. If Mike Brown fled over 148 feet away from Darren Wilson, it clearly suggests that Brown—unarmed, shot, missing a shoe, in lounge clothes—feared for his life and not the other way around.

Furthermore, police, in many cases, use the distance in which a suspect flees and the distance between them in an encounter as evidence to prove they were reasonably afraid for their safety—which is required by law.

What follows is evidence to the contrary. Mike Brown fled at least 148 feet away from Darren Wilson’s SUV. If the police will lie about this fact, what else have they openly lied about? Did they present this false distance to the grand jury? Why does the media continue to advance this lie? Here are the facts.

Here is a rarely seen panorama of Canfield Drive moments after Mike Brown was killed. Few images better display that the distance was not a very short 35 feet than this one.

 

This is Darren Wilson’s SUV. Where you see it here is exactly where he parked it to confront Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson for jaywalking. Out of sight in this image, to the left of the driver’s side door, is Mike Brown’s hat (shown in a later image below). Approximately 16 feet behind the SUV is Mike Brown’s black sandal, which came off while he was running. Please notice the fire hydrant to the right of the SUV.

On the center left is Darren Wilson’s SUV from the opposite angle. Notice the two orange cones next to the driver’s side door. That’s Mike Brown’s red St. Louis Cardinals hat next to it.

Using this image, let’s create starting line A. As effective landmarks, please notice the fire hydrant on the right and the sloping entrance into the apartments.

From the back of Darren Wilson’s SUV, Brown fled over 131 feet down Canfield Drive. The exact location where Brown died is today marked by a memorial in the middle of the street.

This is ending line B. Mike Brown is the blurred figure on the ground. That is Darren Wilson, visibly uninjured in every image of him from that day, standing to the right. According to eyewitnesses Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, and Piaget Crenshaw, Mike Brown turned around, faced Darren Wilson and his SUV, and put his hands in the air.
Mike Brown's family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Mike Brown's death

Mike Brown’s family at 2943 on Canfield at the exact spot of Mike Brown’s death
This map shows the exact location of 2943, the exact spot where Mike Brown was killed.

This map shows the exact location of 2943, the exact spot where Mike Brown was killed.

Using Google Maps, the approximate distance from the front of Darren Wilson’s SUV to where Mike Brown was shot before falling down is actually 148 feet.

(Thank you to Argus News for measuring and filming the measurement of the distance.)

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO SHAUNKING ON THU NOV 20, 2014 AT 08:31 PM PST.

ALSO REPUBLISHED BY SUPPORT THE DREAM DEFENDERSBLACK KOS COMMUNITY, AND DAILY KOS.   Reprinted here from the Daily Kos 

 
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One Response to Ferguson and American Racism After the Killer of Michael Brown Goes Free

  1. mike November 25, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I am a former Public Defender and currently a criminal defense attorney. Over 90% of my clients have been minorities. The thing we all should keep in mind is that in this United States the best thing we have going for us is the Bill of Rights, which guarantees Due Process for anyone accused of a crime. In this country we do not decide the guilt or innocence of anyone, be they a policeman, an African American youth or a suspected sex offender, based on news reports, protests, or the number of protesters in the streets.
    We do not decide the guilt or innocence of anyone charged with a crime because of a community’s need for “therapy” or because of the grief of the family of one who has been killed by the accused. That is why we do not allow the family members of victims of a crime to sit on the jury of the one accused. We decide the guilt or innocence of one accused of a crime based only on the facts and the admissible evidence. We should all agree with that. Due process is called Due Process because that is what it is. It is a process. We do not call it Due Result. There is no such thing as a Just Result in a criminal case. There is only the result after Due Process. Whatever that result is is Justice.

    A criminal trial is not therapy for the community or for the family of the deceased. A criminal trial is to determine whether the facts and the applicable law establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case a grand jury, after hearing all of the evidence, made the decision that they made. That is justice.

    None of the protestors in the streets and none of the talking heads on TV or in the press since the date of Michal Brown’s death knew all of the facts of the case, but they were all chanting for “justice”, meaning a conviction. This is very dangerous to democracy, the rule of law, and to the Bill of Rights, which is the best thing this country has going for it. The most progressive among us should agree with that.

    The next time there may be protests by whites demanding the conviction of an African American man accused of some terrible crime.
    The same principles should apply. In this country, we do not convict anyone of a crime based on the number of protestors in the streets.

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