Former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson’s lawyer says Wilson resigned after his police chief said he had information suggesting that if Wilson didn’t, “there were going to be acts taken against” the department or its members.
Neil Bruntrager said on “Fox News Sunday” that Wilson submitted his resignation after Ferguson police Chief Tom Jackson told this on Saturday.
A young woman riding through the area with her family in a van said she saw much of the events from the window and also believed unequivocally that Brown was charging, although she said he seemed at some point to have thought about raising his hands.
“When he first started running, ma’am, he was not staggering,” she told the prosecutor. “He was charging this officer and that’s how I feel it was, like he was running towards him. If he had got close enough, I feel like he would have tackled him up against the car,” she said.
To others, Brown’s movements were much harder to interpret.
The woman who had been visiting Canfield Green said they were ambiguous. This witness, who had come to show someone an outfit she had bought for a class reunion, said it appeared that Brown was not charging but rather was stunned and perhaps uneducated about how to respond to the police.
“I don’t honestly think he has been taught,” she said.
The differences were stark. One person identified only as Witness 10 told the 12 jurors, nine of them white and three black, that after Mr. Brown turned to face Officer Wilson, he went “full charge at the officer.” The witness said Mr. Brown “was not in a surrendering motion of ‘I’m surrendering, putting my hands up,’ or anything.”
But another witness, a resident of the Canfield Green apartment complex near where the shooting took place, was adamant that the opposite had occurred. As seen from her second-floor patio, she said, “he’s now facing the officer with his hands up like this.” She testified, “He was casually walking as if he had got shot and he started feeling the pain or something like that, where, like, he couldn’t, you know, pick up his pace because of the shot.”…
“Where was he going to go?” the witness asked rhetorically. “The officer was standing there with a gun dead aimed on him.”…
“Do you know why Mike Brown stopped and turned around?” a prosecutor asked Witness 10, who supported Officer Wilson’s account.
“No, I’m not sure. That is something I wrestle with to this day. I’m not sure,” the witness replied. “Why would he turn around and not give himself up?”
The violence fulfilled the worst fears of Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman here. Until recently, she was one of the people standing between the police line and the protesters, urging calm on both sides. After the August shooting, she used to try to broker deals for the demonstrators on the front lines. She has since pulled back, saying that lawless actors have hurt the peaceful movement.
She became turned off, she said, several weeks ago after she called out several activists at a protest planning meeting who she said attacked a young man they accused of live-streaming the private session. At a protest a few days later, several members of the group she had criticized surrounded her and threatened her, she said. Only four people came to her defense when they circled her, she said.
“If we can’t stand up to the punks and the hoodlums who are giving the protest a bad name, you’re not ready to stand up to the police,” said Ms. Bynes, 35. “You throw a rock and hide behind a peaceful crowd, you’re a coward.”
Under the auspices of a national group called the Oath Keepers, Mr. Andrews accelerated plans to recruit and organize private security details for businesses in Ferguson, which are receiving the services for free. The volunteers, who are sometimes described as a citizen militia — but do not call themselves that — have taken up armed positions on rooftops here on recent nights.
“It’s really a broad group of citizens, and I’m sure their motivations are all different,” said Mr. Andrews, who is in his 50s. “In many of them, there’s probably a sense of patriotism. But I think in most of them, there’s probably something that they probably don’t even recognize: that we have a moral obligation to protect the weakest among us. When we see these violent people, these arsonists and anarchists, attacking, it just pokes at you in a deep place.”…
That some business owners accepted aid from a group regarded by some as an antigovernment militia is a testament to the rawness of emotions here following a riot on Monday night, after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot to death Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9…
“When they’re here, there’s definitely a weight lifted off of our shoulders,” said Davis Vo, whose family owns New Chinese Gourmet. “I’d be lying if I said otherwise.”
Civil disobedience does not happen at night. No matter when the grand jury decision was announced, people who are engaged in peaceful protest take out their signs and march down the street in broad daylight.
Peaceful protesters don’t wear creepy anarchist masks or even bandannas to cover their faces. They are protesting with a clear conscience and are happy to have anyone know their identity.
Peaceful protesters do not dress like they are about to knock over a convenience store because they are not about to knock over a convenience store.
From day one, CNN has twisted the Ferguson story. The network decided early on that an injustice had been done, contrary facts aside. When the grand jury decided not to indict, CNN was primed for outrage, because there was no way officer Darren Wilson could have acted appropriately.
Last night’s wanton destruction was over-determined. For weeks, the press has been salivating at the potential for black violence. The New York Times has been running several stories a day, most on the front page, about such a prospect, building on its series earlier in the fall about racism in Ferguson. Press coverage of racial tension treats black violence as both expected and normal. By now, riots are regarded as virtually a black entitlement.
The press is dusting off hoary tropes about police stops and racism. Clearly we are reentering a period of heightened anti-law enforcement agitation, recalling the racial profiling crusade of the 1990s. The New York Times’s fall series selected various features of Ferguson almost at random and declared them racist, simply by virtue of their being associated with the city. A similar conceit has already emerged regarding the now-concluded grand jury investigation: innocent or admirable features of the prosecutor’s management of the case, such as the thoroughness of the evidence presented, are now blasted as the product of a flawed or deliberately tainted process, so desperate are the activists to discredit the grand jury’s decision.
This misinformation about the criminal-justice system and the police will increase hatred of the police. That hatred, in turn, will heighten the chances of more Michael Browns attacking officers and getting shot themselves. Police officers in the tensest areas may back off of assertive policing. Such de-policing will leave thousands of law-abiding minority residents who fervently support the police ever more vulnerable to thugs.
We feud about the fires in Ferguson, Mo., and we can agree only that racial divisions remain raw. So let’s borrow a page from South Africa and impanel a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine race in America.
The model should be the 9/11 commission or the Warren Commission on President Kennedy’s assassination, and it should hold televised hearings and issue a report to help us understand ourselves. Perhaps it could be led by the likes of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey.
In 1922, a Chicago Commission on Race Relations (composed of six whites and six blacks) examined the Chicago race riots of 1919. More recently, President Clinton used an executive order to impanel an advisory board on race that focused on how to nurture “one America.”
A new commission could jump-start an overdue national conversation and also recommend evidence-based solutions to boost educational outcomes, improve family cohesion and connect people to jobs.
Unfortunately, identity is also the most primal, reliable form of political division. And Ferguson has provided a case study in exactly how powerfully it works.
There was a moment, early in the debate over the death of Michael Brown, when it felt as if this story might vindicate the case for optimism about racial politics — that the original tragedy might be sufficiently transparent, the subsequent police misconduct in quelling protests sufficiently clear-cut, for Ferguson to become a more powerful exhibit in the increasingly bipartisan case for various criminal justice reforms.
But then it became clear that the situation was murkier — that the cop had witnesses and physical evidence supporting his side of the story, that police had to deal with looters as well as peaceful protesters. As John McWhorter wrote in Time magazine, by the time the grand jury handed down its non-indictment the original narrative about Ferguson could only survive with “a degree of elision” and “adjustment.” Which meant, predictably, that the potential for consensus receded, and how people felt about the story became primarily a matter of identification instead.
Do you identify more with a black teenager or with a cop? With protesters menaced by playing-soldier cops or with business owners menaced by the protest’s violent fringe? With various government spokesmen or with, say, Al Sharpton?
“I do believe that there is more interaction, and more unfair interaction, among police officers white and black in the black community than in the white community.”