Michael Brown, felon wanna-be, late of Ferguson, Missouri, was installed in the ranks of holy social justice martyrs within minutes of his death. His installation was a foregone conclusion; his wholly constructed legacy was just too useful to Black Lives Matter, the Obama Department of Justice, and every race baiter and hustler in the country to be ignored. Alive, Brown was just another unremarkable young man, an adult in age only, shiftless, drug abusing, no job, no plans, not at all a role model. Dead, he was a major meal ticket, and a political springboard, one that continues to be exploited to this day.
This is an article I’ve been planning for some time. It is a relatively brief analysis of an August, 2015 article from The New Yorker. I’ve waiting until now to post it to see how, if at all, media coverage of Michael Brown’s case would change. Would the media, with the passage of time, become more responsible? Would fact replace the social justice narrative? I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, to decide. The source article is quite long, and I encourage you to take the link and read it yourself. The article is titled: The Cop: Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people question whether justice was done.
The article, by Jake Halpern, establishes its tone early:
Wilson has twice been exonerated of criminal wrongdoing. In November, after a grand jury chose not to indict him, the prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, was widely accused of having been soft on him, in part because McCulloch’s father was a police officer who had been killed in a shootout with a black suspect. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice issued two official reports on Ferguson. One was a painstaking analysis of the shooting that weighed physical, ballistic, forensic, and crime-scene evidence, and statements from purported eyewitnesses. The report cleared Wilson of willfully violating Brown’s civil rights, and concluded that his use of force was defensible. It also contradicted many details that the media had reported about the incident, including that Brown had raised his hands in surrender and had been shot in the back. The evidence supported Wilson’s contention that Brown had been advancing toward him.
In fact, McCulloch, rather than selectively presenting the evidence to the grand jury as most prosecutors do, gave them everything. They had the nearly unprecedented ability to render a completely informed decision. The DOJ report did indeed contradict media details. Halpern implies this is unusual or bad. The media had it wrong from the start, particularly the “hands up; don’t shoot” social justice narrative. Halpern added another narrative thread:
The Justice Department also released a broader assessment of the police and the courts in Ferguson, and it was scathing. The town, it concluded, was characterized by deep-seated racism. Local authorities targeted black residents, arresting them disproportionately and fining them excessively. Together, the two reports frustrated attempts to arrive at a clean moral conclusion. Wilson had violated no protocol in his deadly interaction with Brown, yet he was part of a corrupt and racist system.
The reality was a great many black residents of the town, receiving traffic tickets and similar misdemeanor summons, routinely failed to pay them or appear in court. In the normal course of business, entirely color blind, warrants were issued for their arrest for failure to appear. The amounts for such matters are always listed on a schedule: $100 for this offense, $80 for that offense, another entirely color blind matter. Citizens appearing before a judge, explaining legitimate financial difficulties, are routinely given extra time, or an alternative, community service, sentence, but in Ferguson, most just didn’t bother to show up. The point of the DOJ report, and of Halpern’s narrative was to essentially immunize black residents of Ferguson from obedience to the law.
Halpern spends substantial time with an account of Darren Wilson’s family, particularly focusing on his mother, a troubled women who may have committed suicide. The implication is Wilson too was troubled, but Halpern never makes an explicit connection, obviously because none exists. Halpern did quote Wilson upon occasion:
Wilson said that, despite what he’d said about experiencing ‘culture shock,’ race hadn’t affected the way he did police work: ‘I never looked at it like ‘I’m the only white guy here.’ I just looked at it as ‘This isn’t where I grew up.’ He said, ‘When a cop shows up, it’s, like, ‘The cops are here!’ There’s no ‘Oh, shit, the white cops are here!’ He added, ‘If you live in a high-crime area, with a lot of poverty, there’s going to be a large police presence. You’re going to piss people off. If police show up, it’s because it’s something bad, and whoever’s involved can’t figure out the problem for themselves.’
He continued, ‘Everyone is so quick to jump on race. It’s not a race issue.’ There were two opposing views about policing, he said: T’here are people who feel that police have too much power, and they don’t like it. There are people who feel police don’t have enough power, and they don’t like it.
Wilson has obviously considered these issues, and he’s right. When the police arrive, people don’t see any color but blue. He’s also correct when he observes the police are going to spend most of their time in areas that requires their intervention. Halpern recounted Wilson’s tale of several kids that ignored their blind and disabled mother, committing all manner of crimes. Wilson attributed their behavior to their culture:
They ran all over the mom. They didn’t respect her, so why would they respect me?’ He added, ‘They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than—what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from.’
This sounded like racial code language. I pressed him: what did he mean by ‘a different culture’? Wilson struggled to respond. He said that he meant “’-gang culture, where you are just running in the streets—not worried about working in the morning, just worried about your immediate gratification.’ He added, ‘ It is the same younger culture that is everywhere in the inner cities.
Wilson’s response does not sound as though he is struggling at all. It’s well considered and entirely accurate. Halpern did not fail to maintain the social justice racism narrative:
The Justice Department report concludes that Ferguson’s officers disproportionately charged black citizens with such violations. Wilson insists that he didn’t perceive this bias. But the inequity was extreme: between 2011 and 2013, the Justice Department reported, ninety-four per cent of the people arrested in Ferguson for ‘failure to comply’ were black. The Justice Department also reported that the Ferguson police routinely performed ‘pedestrian checks,’ in which residents were stopped on the street, often without proper legal justification.
Ferguson is about 70% black, and there is no question, at least not to those that rely on fact rather than narrative, that blacks commit crimes in numbers far greater than their population distribution. That’s the culture about which Wilson was speaking. The DOJ report relies on the false doctrine of statistical disparity, or disparate impact, an issue I addressed here. If 70% of the population is black, but 94% of arrests are of black people, race hustlers suggest that is prima facie evidence of police racism. While I have no direct knowledge of the Ferguson PD’s procedures or it’s jargon, I suspect “pedestrian checks” are shorthand for stop and frisk, which is entirely legal. In addition, any police officer can approach anyone and speak with them. If the person wishes to leave, if the officer doesn’t have at least reasonable suspicion–the standard for stop and frisk–he’s obligated to let them go. Halpern’s suggestion that police officers cannot legally speak with anyone they wish, or speaking with black people suggests racism, is simply false.
Halpern’s account of the robbery focuses largely on Brown and his tragic life–which Halpern makes as sympathetic as possible–and upbringing. His recitation of the story of Dorian Johnson, Brown’s daily pot-smoking companion in the robbery, and a proven perjurer, is particularly striking:
Dorian Johnson told me that, before entering the market, he and Brown ‘never talked about stealing things.’ Johnson claimed that they were instead immersed in a discussion ‘about the Bible and God—how you’re supposed to be as a human going through life.’ After Brown stole the cigarillos and they left the store, they resumed this conversation. Johnson also claimed that he didn’t even acknowledge that the theft had taken place, because he didn’t want to rub Brown “’he wrong way.’ He told me, ‘I was being a real good friend and staying with him, even though I know he committed a crime,’ and added, ‘It wasn’t like he robbed the store—like he held it at gunpoint or anything—so I didn’t think the guy was really gonna call the police.
This entirely contradicts Johnson’s grand jury testimony, where there was no mention about the Bible or philosophical discussions. In fact, Johnson admitted smoking pot every morning, and told how he and Brown went to the market to get “blunts,” cheap cigars to be hollowed out and filled with pot. Johnson also clung to the false “hand up” narrative–which he invented–in his grand jury testimony. Halpern suggests the justice department report is “the most thorough account.” It is not. It is certainly the most biased toward the social justice narrative.
Halpern’s account of Wilson’s initial stop of Brown and Johnson is, at best, badly slanted. Consider this odd addition:
Jonathan Fenderson, who is a professor of African-American studies at Washington University, in St. Louis, told me that young black men are inclined to see the police as an ‘occupying force.’ Intentionally or not, Wilson’s decision to blockade the street sent a message: You will defer to the power that I exhibit, or I am going to force you back into place.
Wilson had just stopped two obvious robbery suspects who were walking down the middle of the road. That alone was a crime in Missouri. He “blockaded the street” merely by positioning his vehicle to provide some margin of safety. Halpern, however, was discussing racial politics and trying to excuse Brown and Johnson. He is oblivious to the truth:
After stopping his car, Wilson tried to open his door, but Brown blocked his way. It is impossible to know what Brown and Wilson then said to each other—or why the situation escalated so quickly.
It is more than possible. All available, credible evidence, including Wilson’s testimony, explains exactly what was said and what happened. It escalated quickly because Brown attacked Wilson, viciously beat him, and tried to snatch his handgun. Even so, Halpern’s account continues to suggest there is no clear evidence to describe what happened and why, and he even suggested Wilson provoked Brown.
Brown retreated, running east. Wilson chased him. Brown ran at least a hundred and eighty feet down Canfield Drive—his blood was found in the roadway—and then headed back toward Wilson. According to the Justice Department, eyewitnesses claiming that Brown raised his hands in surrender proved unreliable. (One of these witnesses, Dorian Johnson, continues to insist that Brown’s hands were raised.) Witnesses deemed credible offered varying accounts of Brown’s movement—‘charging,’ ‘slow motion,’ running’—but concurred that he was approaching Wilson. According to ‘Wilson, he repeatedly ordered Brown to stop and get on the ground. Brown, who was unarmed, kept moving. At one point, Wilson told investigators, Brown put his right hand into his waistband, as if reaching for a weapon.
Incredible are Halpern’s continual claims that the evidence of Brown’s actions is unclear at best. In the Brown case, there were two kinds of witnesses: those that pushed the social justice narrative, despite, in many cases, having seen little or nothing, and those that told the truth, regardless of skin color. As I noted in Tactical Nuclear Witnesses, which includes Johnson’s grand jury testimony, the social justice testimony was blatantly and comically false. Johnson, for example, claimed Wilson grabbed Michael Brown and tried to pull him into his police vehicle through the open driver’s window. Credible witnesses made clear Brown was running at Wilson in a football linebacker-like berserker charge, his head down. Wilson did not, in fact, chase Brown (the testimony of a credible witness is available here), and Halpern tries to suggest Brown was somehow shot in the back, only slightly admitting he was wrong:
Yet the report repeatedly underscores that eyewitness accounts describing Brown being shot from behind were unreliable.
That would be because all credible–not social justice–evidence, both forensic and testimonial, proved that contention false. Halpern didn’t bother with mere fact:
Wilson told the grand jury that when Brown was hit by the bullets he ‘looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.’ This testimony has inspired much debate. In November, Melissa Harris-Perry, the commentator on MSNBC, noted that Wilson’s use of language—much like his use of the word ‘demon’—was dehumanizing, and conformed to the ‘myth of the black brute incapable of pain himself bent on inflicting pain on others.’ She added, ‘Americans long have had difficulty in understanding, acknowledging, and having empathy for the pain of black men.
Ah, of course. What better authority on such issues of criminal psychology and culture than an MSNBC talking head? Every experienced police officer knows precisely the kind of look Wilson described. They’ve seen it on the faces of whites and blacks alike. The subject is the lawfully justified shooting of a violent felon, yet Halpern turns it into a racial indictment of all white Americans. Halpern also harps on another aspect of the social justice narrative:
Brown collapsed after being shot. At 12:05 p.m., an ambulance—carrying the infant Wilson had assisted—came across the scene, and a paramedic pronounced Brown dead. The body remained on the hot asphalt for four hours. Hundreds of angry residents gathered, some shouting, ‘Let’s kill the police!’ Ferguson officials say that this volatility slowed down the processing of Brown’s body, but the delay struck many onlookers as deeply insulting. As one local told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ‘You’ll never make anyone black believe that a white kid would have laid in the street for four hours.
Brown “collapsed” virtually at Wilson’s feet, after a lengthy charge at him. The suggestion that the police left Brown in place as some sort of racist expression is utterly false. There is no situation deserving of more careful forensic examination than an officer-involved shooting. Anyone, regardless of color, would have remained in place until the crime scene investigators were absolutely certain they documented everything possible correctly. It’s police procedure 101. Race is not involved; doing it right, and triple checking everything, is. Halpern couldn’t leave the narrative alone:
Aldridge heard the media reports that Brown’s hands had been raised and that Wilson had shot him in the back. It was Dorian Johnson who had first made these allegations, and they helped inspire the now famous rallying cry ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.’ Although Johnson’s story proved to be at odds with the Justice Department’s findings, the narrative had taken hold—and, for many Americans, it has endured. In part, this is because Johnson’s story was eminently plausible.
The “rallying cry” endures because people like Halpern keep it alive, understanding full well the damage they are doing in perpetuating a lie. For honest people, “plausible” is meaningless when the truth of the situation establishes it was not plausible. And who is Aldridge? A then 20 year-old working at a car rental firm at the St. Louis airport. He had no connection to the case. Apparently Halpern ran into him at the airport and decided to use him to buttress the social justice narrative. Halpern does the same with a variety of others, all of who believe Wilson should be punished regardless of the law and facts. That’s the essence of social justice: it’s the rule of men, of feelings, not law, not fact.
Halpern ends thus:
Wilson has received several thousand letters from supporters, and he has written thank-you notes to almost all of his correspondents. Many of the letters are from police officers. Some are from kids. One card reads, ‘Thanks for protecting us!’ Wilson proudly showed me a drawer, in his living room, which contained dozens of police-department patches from cops expressing their support. None of those cops, however, had offered him a job.
Thanks to people like Halpern. In many respects, Halpern’s account is virtually a model for media accounts that followed it, virtually all of which continue to push the social justice narrative, to the detriment of Darren Wilson, and society. As I earlier wrote:
As it is with George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson and his family are not free to pursue their lives. They will probably never be so at liberty. The chance of Wilson being able to ever work as a police officer is miniscule, as is the chance that he will just be left alone. Where social justice is involved, the process is the punishment, but for statist thugs like Eric Holder, even that punishment is not sufficient.
I hope that Wilson has the emotional supports and greater age and maturity necessary–factors not available to George Zimmerman–to survive this never-ending nightmare. There is every indication this may be the case. Under the American system of justice, which may or may not exist any longer, Wilson–and Zimmerman–should have long ago, after being exonerated, been left alone and able to carry on with their lives. This, too, is supposed to be one of the feature of our system of justice. Thanks to Barack Obama, Eric Holder, their followers and worshipers, and the Media, that may not be possible.
In the case of Darren Wilson, this, because he did his job, properly and lawfully, on behalf of the people of Missouri.
The SMM Michael Brown case archive may be found here.