Racist Reactions to Ferguson: A Result of Obama’s Focus or a Post-Literate America?

 Have the racist reactions that have been broadcast in various televised reports been the result of:

  • Statements from the Obama administration that seem to support one side over the other
  • A post-literate America that relies on short and shallow television reports over more in-depth textual sources of information
  • Other influences

 To choose between these options, I will present:

  1. A definition of racism
  2. Articles that list the information provided to the grand jury
  3. A shortened set of racist reactions to Ferguson
  4. Instances where the Obama administration may have presented false hope to the Black community
  5. Examples of how televised reports present a different story than that presented by written articles
  6. Instances of racism provoked by the events of Ferguson but not encouraged by Obama or the media
  7. The Answer

  1. Racism Defined

For the purpose of this blog post, I will use the definition of “racist” provided by Derryck Green of Project 21 in his video Who are the Racists: Conservatives or Liberals?. According to Mr. Green, “A racist is a person who believes that one race is inherently superior or inferior to another based solely on skin color.”  Racism may come to the forefront in the standard way when a white man rejects an Hispanic job applicant not because of the work samples provided but on the kinship he feels to another white candidate. In the case of the Michael Brown’s shooting, racism may occur when a person claims to be a witness to an event only because he or she shares skin color, not information, regarding one party in the altercation. Racism may appear in low expectations for people of a particular skin color (for example, not expecting Oriental cashier to understand a slang phrase or not expecting a White choir member to keep a beat or overlooking the riots started by members of your own race). Racism might be manifested by journalists that only present one side of a story and feel a need to shout down any opposing narrative.

Many people call the racism that has become part of the narrative after the Michael Brown shooting “reverse racism” because the discrimination involved works in support of the minority (Blacks, as embodied by Michael Brown, his family, various leaders who injected a Black-versus-White narrative, various groups, or various journalists) over the interests of the majority (Whites, as embodied by Officer Wilson, various leaders, or various communicators).  While some may approve of this (or approve of it through denying its existence), I do not.  Somehow, they think that one instance of discrimination excuses another or that a multitude of acts of discrimination must occur before past discrimination can be overlooked.  However, racism is racism.  None of it should happen.

Christianity and Racism

Undeniably, some Christians have been racists.  Christians are humans with a sin nature and the possible sins include making unjust decisions.  However, Christian teaching runs counter to racism.  Although some verses may be bent to support a racist argument, the central messages of the Bible run directly counter to racism.

Central to the Christian message is the great commission:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

Obviously, no Christian can obey this central commandment and avoid the many other races included in  “all nations.”  Similarly, Romans 10:12 demonstrates the equality of races in the Christian worldview:

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13 NIV)

Although there are verses in the Bible calling for believers to be a “a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9-10) and “a people I formed for myself” (Isaiah 43:20), the concept central here is that “the people” are a group centered on a belief in God.  That is, the people of God are not a race, but a people that have been transformed by God in response to their belief in him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  (1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV)

The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.  (Isaiah 43:20-21 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

  1. Articles Addressing the Evidence to the Grand Jury

Key Facts found by the Ferguson Grand Jury as reported by CNS News

In a 25 November 2014 article published by CNS News, the following facts affected the Ferguson grand jury decision:

  1. Officer Wilson identified Michael Brown as a suspect in a robbery
    From the County Prosecuter Bob McCulloch:

    “At About 11:53 AM, Wilson heard a radio broadcast of stealing in progress at a market. The broadcast also included a brief description of the subject.”

    “As Officer Wilson was attending to his emergency call, Michael Brown and a companion were in the local convenience store. Michael Brown’s activity in the store was recorded by the store security cameras. The video often played following its release in August by the Ferguson police department shows Michael Brown grabbing a handful of Cigarillos and heading toward the exit without paying. As Michael Brown and his companion left the store, somebody inside called the police.

    “As Officer Wilson continued west, he encountered Mr. Brown and his companion walking in the middle of the street. As Wilson slowed, he told them to move to the sidewalk. Words were exchanged and they continued to walk down the middle of the street. Wilson observed that Michael Brown had Cigarillos in his hand and was wearing a red hat and yellow socks. At approximately 12:02 PM, Wilson radioed he had two individuals and needed assistance.”

  2. Michael Brown initiated the attack on Officer Wilson inside his police vehicle

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “He then grabs my door again and shuts my door. At that time is when I saw him coming into my vehicle. His head was higher than the top of my car. And I see him ducking and as he is ducking, his hands are up and he is coming in my vehicle.”

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “I had shielded myself in this type of manner and kind of locked away, so I don’t remember seeing him come at me, but I was hit right in the side of the face with a fist. I don’t think it was a full-on swing, I think it was a full-on swing, but not a full shot. I think my arm deflected some of it, but there was still a significant amount of contact that was made to my face.”

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “Several other witnesses described Mr. Brown as punching Officer Wilson while Mr. Brown was partially inside the vehicle.”

  3. Michael Brown grabbed Officer Wilson’s gun

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “He grabs my gun, says, “You are too much of a pussy to shoot me.” The gun goes down into my hip and at that point I thought I was getting shot. I can feel his fingers try to get inside the trigger guard with my finger and I distinctly remember envisioning a bullet going into my leg. I thought that was the next step.”

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “A total of 12 rounds were fired by Officer Wilson. Two shots in the car, 10 more farther east. Mr. Brown sustained a graze wound to his thumb while standing next to the vehicle.”

  4. The gun was fired twice during the initial struggle.

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “At this point I’m like why isn’t this working, this guy is going to kill me if he gets a hold of this gun. I pulled it a third time, it goes off. When it went off, it shot through my door panel and my window was down and glass flew out of my door panel. I think that kind of startled him and me at the same time.”

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “Many of the witnesses said they heard a gunshot while Mr. Brown was still partially inside the vehicle.”

  5. Officer Wilson feared for his life during the struggle

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “I felt that another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean it was, he’s obviously bigger than I was and stronger and the, I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right.”

  6. Officer Wilson repeatedly told Michael Brown to surrender

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “At this point I start backpedaling and again, I tell him get on the ground, get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot another round of shots. Again, I don’t recall how many hit him every time. I know at least once because he flinched again.

    Well, he keeps coming at me after me again, during the pause I tell him to get on the ground, get on the ground, he still keeps coming at me, gets about 8 to 10 feet away. At this point, I’m backing up pretty rapidly, I’m backpedaling pretty good because I know if he reaches me, he’ll kill me.”

  7. Michael Brown was charging Officer Wilson when he was fatally shot.

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me.

    At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.

    And when he gets about that 8 to 10 feet away, I look down, I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that’s what I shot.”

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “Other witnesses stated Mr. Brown stopped for a very brief period and moved toward Officer Wilson again. One described his movement as a full charge.”

  8. Michael Brown hands were not held up in surrender when he was shot.

    From Officer Wilson’s sworn testimony:

    “His first step is coming towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me.”

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “Several witnesses stated that Mr. Brown did not raise his hands at all or that he raised them briefly and then dropped them and turned towards Officer Wilson who fired several rounds.”

  9. Michael Brown had marijuana in his system and on his posession at the time of the incident.

    The official autopsy performed on Michael Brown showed that he had THC in his system–at a level that would have been more than twice what would have allowed him to be arrested for impaired driving in Washington State, where marijuana is legal. THC is the chemical most responsible for the effects of marijuana. Brown was also carrying a bag of marijuana at the time of the shooting.|
     

  10. Not all witnesses spoke to the media.

    From County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch:

    “According to some witnesses, Officer Wilson stopped firing when Mr. Brown stopped moving towards him and resumed firing when Mr. Brown started moving towards him again. These witnesses did not make any statements to the media.”


All of the Ferguson Documents

If you want to look at all of the documents, go to http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_documents/ferguson-shooting/

These documents are also linked from the New York times at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/25/us/evidence-released-in-michael-brown-case.html?_r=1


NPR Account of Ferguson

From an article published by National Public Radio on 25 November 2014, the following points were made.

After sitting through hours of testimony and reading through thousands of pages of documents, a grand jury decided that there was not enough probable cause to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old.

Their decision, like the shooting that led up to all this, sparked violent protests overnight in Ferguson, Mo.

“The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact and fiction,” the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, said in a televised address Monday night. After weighing the evidence, the grand jury decided that Wilson acted within the limits of the lethal-force law. To issue an indictment, the jury needed at least 9 members to vote for it.

In a rare move and in an attempt to allay concerns about bias, McCulloch made public the mountain of evidence presented to the grand jury. We’re combing through the thousands of pages — including testimony from Wilson and many witnesses — and throughout the day, we’ll update this post with the pieces that help explain how the jury reached its decision.

Leading up to this decision, witness testimony has been hotly debated — so much so that the symbol of this story has become protesters raising their hands, symbolically telling police, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

We have documents of dozens of witness interviews. If you listened to McCulloch last night, much of this jury’s decision came down to whether Brown was charging Wilson or surrendering or running away.

As we’ve detailed in another post, it’s really complicated. Some witnesses say Wilson started shooting after he got out of the car; some say he started shooting inside the car. Some say Brown was very clearly surrendering, others say it didn’t look like he had been hit at all.

Perhaps the simplest way to explain all of this is to take a close look at Witness 14.

Without a doubt, Witness 14 is sympathetic to Brown and, in fact, had run into him at least once in the past.

“[Brown] was to me, and I’m going to say it, he was executed,” the witness said. “[Wilson] had made up his mind he was going to kill him.”

That was the witness’ conclusion — that as Brown was shot, he was surrendering, he had his hands up.

That’s what the witness told local authorities. But when the feds interviewed Witness 14 and drilled down on the details, the witness’ assumptions became less clear.

Were Brown’s hands a sign of surrender? Or was he checking his injuries? Were his palms facing the officer or facing Brown?

The witness eventually says: “He was defenseless, hands up, he was trying to stay on his feet and you could see that his knees was beginning to buckle and he was going down.”

But the investigator eventually gets to a very important point. He leads the witness to say that Brown was moving toward Officer Wilson, who was screaming, “Stop,” as he fired his weapon:

//s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/notes/loader.js dc.embed.loadNote(‘//www.documentcloud.org/documents/1371259-interview-witness-14-2/annotations/189458.js’);


New York Times Article Amid Conflicting Accounts, Trusting Darren Wilson

The New York Times account of the grand jury decision relays:

The prosecutor said that forensic evidence, along with public and private autopsy reports, supported the assertion that Officer Wilson and Mr. Brown had struggled inside the police vehicle.

A crime scene investigator described swabbing Officer Wilson’s gun; the subsequent DNA report found Mr. Brown’s genetic material on Officer Wilson’s Sig Sauer pistol. Similarly, DNA from Mr. Brown was also found on the officer’s uniform pants and shirt.

The medical examiner who performed the initial autopsy showed the grand jury close to 100 gruesome photos of the gunshot wounds from every angle, giving exhaustive descriptions and lessons in the physics of such wounds.  He described the soot, or unburned gunpowder, on a graze wound on Mr. Brown’s hand, proof that it was shot at a range of six to nine inches.

Over the months, the jurors seemed to focus intently on the final movement that Mr. Brown may have made toward Officer Wilson, after a brief chase. The prosecutor asked witness after witness if it seemed as if Mr. Brown were reaching for a weapon, though few said they saw anything like that. Mr. Brown was found to be unarmed.

Jurors asked whether Mr. Brown, when he was said to be moving toward Officer Wilson, seemed to have “any kind of expression, a blank look, aggressive look or anything.” They also had seemingly come to memorize the distances and challenged witnesses on their memories of the geography of the confrontation.

Forensic evidence was also presented that supported Officer Wilson’s statement that Mr. Brown was moving toward him after the first volley of bullets.

  1. Examples of Racist Reactions to Ferguson

Houston Local Media Racist Reaction

On Channel 11 in Houston, one protester claims that it is “police brutality” for an officer to shoot a robbery suspect that has beaten an officer, attempted to take the officer’s gun, started to walk away, and then (by several witnesses) charge the officer.

Group repeats “Hands up, don’t shoot” (a phrase that seems to have sprung from nowhere according to the Blaze and) as an indictment of police officers.  By their repeating this phrase, they are suggesting that at least a significant portion of police will attack them without provocation (although it has been proven that Michael Brown was inside of the police car, did hit the officer, and did start to leave the scene just before he may have charged the officer and was killed).

Unless the “Support Economic Justice” sign shown in this video refers to an unrelated case where an innocent person was gunned down by someone else, the sign seems to say “if any Black is killed for any reason and if you are of a different race, you need to pay that Black or all Blacks.”  What else could it mean?

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

  1. False Hope Provided by Obama to the Black community

 Obama Requires Federal Bureau of Investigation to Open a Case on Brown’s Death

 According to an AP story published on 17 August 2014, Obama required the FBI to open an investigation on 11 August into Brown’s death, and two men who said they saw the shooting tell reporters that Brown had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon and fired repeatedly. That night, police in riot gear fire tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a crowd.

 Obama Addresses the Nation regarding Ferguson

According to a Washington Post article, Obama addressed the nation with the following words.

 “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.”

Obama Sends Holder to Ferguson

In an article published by the Business Insider, Obama announced on 18 August that Attorney General Eric Holder, with whom he met at the White House on Monday, would travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to “assess the situation” and hold meetings with law-enforcement officials investigating Brown’s death.

Holder Assures Rioters

As reported by the AP, on 20 August Holder visited Ferguson to offer assurances about the investigation into Brown’s death and to meet with investigators and Brown’s family. In nearby Clayton, a grand jury begins hearing evidence to determine whether Wilson should be charged.

The Media Reports Obama Receives Updates on Ferguson During Vacation

The Washington Post reported that Obama kept on top of Ferguson matters through briefings from his staff.

Holder Announces an Investigation into Missouri Police Departments

The Business Insider reported:

“In Ferguson, our investigation will assess the police department’s use of force, including deadly force,” Holder said at a press conference, according to his prepared remarks. “It will analyze stops, searches, and arrests. And it will examine the treatment of individuals detained at Ferguson’s city jail, in addition to other potentially discriminatory policing techniques and tactics that are brought to light.”

Politico Observes the Sharpton-Obama Team

According to Glenn Thrush, there is a synergy.

Yet as Obama’s presidency enters its final two years, Sharpton—so often criticized for being a self-promoter—finds himself in the unusual position of being too close to a White House that seems to be losing power by the day. “We are now living in a world where Al Sharpton is considered a sellout,” joked one Sharpton ally.

“Stay the Course”

Just before the grand jury decision, the Blacksphere (along with the New York Times) reported Obama encouraging the protesters to “stay the course.”

Obama Addresses the Grand Jury Decision

As reported by The Hill, Obama addressed the nation as follows:

“It is incumbent upon all of us as Americans, regardless of race, region, faith, that we recognize this is an American problem and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a Native American problem; this is an American problem.

“When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem. And it’s my job as president to help solve it,” he said.

 Racial-Based Murders that Obama Ignores

Oddly enough, there are a number of cases that run against Obama’s narrative.  Just this year, Obama has not addressed the similar murders of  Keith Passmore, Zemir Begic, Brendan Tevlin, Colleen Hufford, Captain Kevin Quick, Delbert Belton, or Christopher Lane.  Of these murders, Obama’s silence on the jihadist murders of Brendan Tevlin (Livingston, New Jersey) and Colleen Hufford (Moore, Oklahoma) is particularly baffling (until you consider the letter of congratulations Obama sent to the mosque of Colleen Hufford’s murderer).

Obama’s National Address

On 24 November, Obama said:

“First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.   
I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact. 
Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.”

Obama Sets Another Meeting

As reported by numerous sources, Obama set a Monday, 5 December, meeting to discuss options.

  1. Televised Reports present a different story than that presented by written articles

CNN Continually Emphasizes One Side of the Testimony

CNN Panel Member’s Suggestion Denies Common Sense

On the edition of CNN’s New Day aired on 25 November 2014:

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, and I think just focusing on that imagery, obviously he’s referring to a cartoon character when he’s talking about those things, but it doesn’t surprise me because he’s trying to be, I think, as vivid in getting his point across to the grand jury that I was terrified. And I think if you step back and look at the whole picture, it starts in that convenience store, and people should remember that video. You’ve got big Michael Brown, grabbing a little guy by the neck, throwing him up against the wall. Now, by the way, that’s literally ten minutes before he encounters Officer Wilson.

CAMEROTA: But Darren Wilson hadn’t seen that video.

CALLAN: Well, no, no, but I’m not talking – – but I’m talking about when you try to figure out who’s who in this saga. Is it possible that Mike Brown acted in this violent a way, because what happens next is Wilson says, I backed the car up when I became aware that they were the robbery suspects. They pushed the door closed, and then Brown gets into the car, tries to get my gun. I could feel his finger on the trigger, says Wilson, and the gun then discharges twice. Wilson was afraid he was going to be killed. So, in Wilson’s mind, someone has just tried to kill him, and now they’re trying to escape, and that person, by the way, is a wanted felon. So what does he do? He gets out of the car, and pursues, and I think the grand jury looked at this and said what’s a cop supposed to do in that situation?

CAMEROTA: Because – – and what is a cop supposed to do? After that situation, where you have an altercation, a physical altercation with someone at your police cruiser and gunshots are fired, you can’t drive away from that, can you?

TOOBIN: Sure you can. You absolutely can. I mean, there is no reason to initiate a confrontation if you can avoid it. There is part of the being a cop is to get help, especially if you feel like you can’t handle the situation by yourself.

Note that Brown had first strong-arm robbed the convenience store, that Officer Wilson had been notified of the description of Brown, that Brown had reached into the squad car and fought over the gun, and that Brown had hit Officer Wilson in the face; however, Toobin says that “there is no reason th initiate a confrontation.”

  1. Racism Provoked by the Events of Ferguson but not Encouraged by Obama or the Media

Pregnant Woman Loses Eye in Confrontation with Police

  1. The Answer

The Most Direct (But Not Easy) Answer

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36 NIV)

Church needs to Intervene for Reconciliation to Occur

Bishop Jackson

According to a 25 November article in One News Now, Bishop Harry Jackson says:

“I believe that there has to be in this season a merging of prayer and practical works.  We’re going to need to bring that together in a real dynamic way in our urban communities. If we do it, we’ll see dramatic change. Ten years from now America will not have the possibility of another Ferguson, if we act now.”

The Answer in the Words of Martin Luther King


The Answer of Acting in Protection of Others

These four men used guns to do the right thing.
This photo comes via a link to the Blaze.

According to an article published on 28 November in the Blaze, a group of four black men armed themselves and protected the business of a white owner.  Why did they do it?

“We would have been burned to the ground many times over if it weren’t for them,” Morello said following the Ferguson riots. The business is a Conoco gas station and convenience store first bought by Morello’s father in 1984.


The Answer of Protecting Others

As reported by Gateway Pundit, there was another group of 20 men who protected businesses.

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