I last wrote about the Michael Brown case in July of 2017 in Punishment For the Virtuous. I began that article (Update #20):
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.
Protesters have been gathering outside of Ferguson Market and Liquor since Aug. 9 — the fourth anniversary of the police shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. — calling on the convenience store to take more ownership of its role in the saga and submit to a list of requests.
Brown had just left the store before the fatal skirmish with then-Officer Darren Wilson in the street near Canfield Green apartments in 2014. After the shooting, Ferguson police released a surveillance clip from the store indicating that Brown had stolen cigarillos and shoved a store clerk.
Protesters believe that the surveillance clip mischaracterized Brown and that the store should have done more to say so. Recent protests at Ferguson Market have been strong enough to close the store the first week, Jay Kanzler, an attorney for the store, said Saturday when the store was open again.
It’s rather hard to “mischaracterize Brown” if one relies on fact, rather than the social justice narrative. Brown went to the store to obtain “blunts,” cheap cigars to hollow out and fill with marijuana. He grabbed several handfuls, and roughed up a much smaller clerk. The crime—strong armed robbery—was caught on video, but who you gonna believe? The social justice narrative or your own lyin’ eyes? Video, so long as it was filmed at useful angles, is viewed unedited and is sufficiently clear, may be subject to varying interpretations, but it is the interpretations that may mischaracterize events, not the video.
In an effort to move forward, Kanzler said, he was part of a formal meeting Aug. 17 at Ferguson police headquarters that included Michael Brown Sr., state Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, activist Anthony Shahid and attorney Anthony Gray, who listened by telephone. The protester group had the following requests:
* Address Michael Brown Jr.’s character.
* Close the store for three days on the anniversary of his death.
* Create a scholarship in his name.
* Find ways to interact and give back to the community.
* Stop selling Dormin, a sleeping capsule, and other items that can be misused to get high.
* Retain a black-owned security company to protect the store.
‘It seemed like everyone in the room was open to working it out,’ Ferguson Police Chief Delrish Moss said. ‘It was a friendly, robust discussion.’
Kanzler said the store ultimately agreed to all of the requests by Wednesday, other than closing the store for three days. Instead, he said, the store would close on the anniversary of Brown’s death and provide a free barbecue the day before.
“Address Michael Brown Jr.’s character?” He did that himself, rather definitively. And what role could the store he robbed possibly have in such an endeavor? The owners of the store issued a statement in an attempt to appease the “protestors,” but such people can never be placated, and revealed at least part of their real agenda:
But in recent days, Kanzler said, protest leaders told him that they weren’t interested in going through with the agreement anymore and that the only thing that would resolve the matter was if the store was sold to them. He said formal offers hadn’t been made.
Franks wasn’t available for comment Saturday, because of a recent death in his family. Other protest leaders who attended the Aug. 17 meeting couldn’t be reached.
Michael Brown Sr. said Saturday on Facebook that he wanted to thank everyone that had ‘been dedicated to the movement toward a take over’ of the store.
These are the same people who, shortly after Michael Brown’s death, engaged in a violent brawl in the streets of Ferguson with members of their own family over who would get the profits from the sale of Michael Brown themed merchandise. But I’m sure their motives are pure, and are intended only to further the welfare of “the people.”
On Saturday, Dontey Carter, 27, of north St. Louis, sat on the edge of the 9100 block of West Florissant Avenue near Ferguson Market, encouraging people to shop elsewhere. Carter, who formed the group “Lost Voices” in 2014 in response to the police shooting, said he didn’t support a store takeover but was on scene to demonstrate his ‘infinite dedication to the cause — the cause of Mike Brown, the cause of young black men and women stricken by poverty and violence.
And who, pray tell, is responsible for this “poverty and violence?” Did the mere existence of the Ferguson Market provoke both? How do we explain the fact that most poor Americans do not rob convenience stores, nor do they attack police officers after committing such robberies? How can a small convenience store in a single town be responsible for persistent societal ills? How can it resolve them?
Gina Gowdy, 49, joined him at one point. She said she was motivated to protest the store because of unseen surveillance footage that came out last year in the controversial documentary, “Stranger Fruit,” which claimed Brown didn’t rob Ferguson Market shortly before he was shot. It instead asserts that Brown’s altercation with the store was part of a misunderstanding tied to a potential drug transaction he had with store employees on a prior visit.
‘I do believe that, on many levels, had they turned over all the surveillance the outcome could have been possibly different,’ Gowdy said of the store.
The documentary claims Brown was in the store some 11 hours earlier and exchanged marijuana for blunts, but for some reason, didn’t take the blunts with him. The implication is that Brown returned only to take the blunts he had already “purchased” with his marijuana, so he didn’t really steal them, which somehow excuses everything else he did that caused his death.
They’re arguing that Brown was a small time drug dealer—that certainly speaks well of his character–and the two employees present some 11 hours earlier “sold” him the blunts for some quantity of marijuana. Let us, for the sake of argument, ignore that employees of any store do not have the power to barter merchandise they don’t own for illicit drugs—that’s theft and possession of controlled substances—and that Brown’s sale of marijuana was a separate crime.
Eleven hours later, the co-owner, unaware of any drug deal—the two drug dealing employees had been off shift for hours, and it’s highly unlikely they’d tell the owner anyway–was wrong in demanding Brown pay for the blunts he inexplicably did not take with him when he made the drug deal, and therefore, Ferguson Market is somehow besmirching the character of Michael Brown.
Another part of the argument is that the full surveillance video was somehow hidden to cover up something or other, presumably Brown’s drug deal. The argument also seems to be that because two employees made a drug deal—unknown to the owner–with stolen merchandise, Brown’s later return for the merchandise, his assault of the owner, and his attack on Officer Darren Wilson were somehow lawful, or at the least, to be ignored because Brown’s character was besmirched by his own actions, and he was poor and affected, apparently by the very violence he initiated.
In fact, several weeks of the store’s surveillance video were immediately subpoenaed, and were available to local, state and federal authorities throughout every investigation. Even the Obama DOJ admitted Wilson’s actions were entirely justified. No charges were ever contemplated against the Ferguson Market because the owner committed no crime, nor did they in any way contribute to one. No charges were pressed against the supposedly drug-bartering employees, because it was impossible to prove whatever Brown might have been handling was illegal. Investigators were entirely aware of the assertions made by the documentary. This is nothing new.
Even if former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson had no inkling that Brown and his companion, Dorian Johnson, were involved in the robbery, they were walking down the middle of the street, which is a crime. Wilson had more than sufficient probable cause to stop Brown, and at his discretion, to cite him, or if necessary, take him into custody. Brown—no one else–chose to attack Wilson, beat him and tried to snatch his gun. Ferguson Market and its surveillance video had no part in that.
One might reasonably believe Michael Brown’s actions were in part due to his drug use, but there is no evidence to suggest his economic situation or any other societal condition had any part in his death. By their own admission, Michael Brown Sr. and his supporters are engaging in a classic racial shakedown, trying to capitalize on Michael Brown’s criminality.
This allegation has become a part of the Michael Brown Social Justice Narrative, and as such, can never die. Fortunately, for those capable of being persuaded by fact, the video is unmistakable. Brown, his hand full of cheap cigars, roughs up and threatens the clerk and leaves without paying for the merchandise. Even his dim-witted, daily pot-smoking companion Dorian Johnson admitted they went to the market to get blunts, and Brown stole the cigars, which were recovered at the scene of the shooting.
Whatever problems the black community Ferguson and elsewhere might actually face will never be addressed by trying to take the property of others, nor will trying to make a hero of a young man that no one should hold up as a role model change anything for the better. Michael Brown defined his own character, and his legacy continues to bear bitter fruit.