Activists protesting the fatal shooting in August of an unarmed black teen by a white policeman expressed anger on Saturday after the city’s police chief told local media the officer could return to work if a grand jury does not to charge him criminally.
Reverend Osagyego Sekou, a leader of the Ferguson protesters, said a return to duty by Wilson would sadden and anger some in the community. Sekou has been training protesters in nonviolent civil disobedience techniques ahead of the grand jury’s report, which could come any day.
“It’s part of a pattern of police impunity,” Sekou said. “They can do whatever they want with no consequences.”
A group of a couple dozen protesters, many wearing the Guy Fawkes masks adopted by the Anonymous movement, gathered outside the Ferguson police department on Saturday, holding their hands up in surrender, a gesture that some witnesses have said Brown was making at the time of the shooting.
It is unusual for an expert hired by one of the parties to address a grand jury. Typically the evidence presented is meant to be objective and the people who testify are meant to be not interested (or paid).
There has been no leak to support the idea that the same opportunity to offer paid witnesses is being afforded for Officer Wilson. We have not heard that anyone retained by his attorney has presented to the grand jury, and in fact Wilson’s own lawyer is not allowed to speak during the proceedings. Lawyers for Officer Wilson have also chosen not to speak to the media, in contrast to those hired by the Brown family. But all they want is equal justice…
There are some who have questioned the timing of Dr Baden’s testimony. Lisa Bloom, an attorney who often provides commentary for various media outlets, tweeted this week that it is “amazing that the prosecution only called him before the grand jury this late”
From Boston to Los Angeles, police departments are bracing for large demonstrations when a grand jury decides whether to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
The St. Louis County grand jury, which has been meeting since Aug. 20, is expected to decide this month whether Officer Darren Wilson is charged with a crime for killing Michael Brown after ordering the 18-year-old and a friend to stop walking in the street on Aug. 9…
“It’s definitely on our radar,” said Lt. Michael McCarthy, police spokesman in Boston, where police leaders met privately Wednesday to discuss preparations. “Common sense tells you the timeline is getting close. We’re just trying to prepare in case something does step off, so we are ready to go with it.”
In Los Angeles, rocked by riots in 1992 after the acquittal of police officers in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, police officials say they’ve been in touch with their counterparts in Missouri, where Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis-area law enforcement held a news conference this week on their own preparations.
“Naturally, we always pay attention,” said Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a police spokesman. “We saw what happened when there were protests over there and how oftentimes protests spill from one part of the country to another.”
People, we seem to have lost the entire thread of what Ferguson is all about — the reasons this story has stirred the passions of millions of Americans. The so-called leaders of St. Louis County, the scene of the crime, have spent most of the last two months focused on these three things. 1) Stocking up, and I mean stocking up big-time, on the latest state-of-the-art riot control equipment, to the tune of at least $100,000. 2) Amassing a civilian army of 1,000 police, who’ve received, in total, at least 5,000 hours (costing God only knows what) of training in battling civil unrest, etc. and 3) Constructing an artificial, bogus narrative that will keep the focus on the possibility of violent protest (something there’s actually been very little of over the last three months) and away from any culpability for the reckless actions of Darren Wilson…or the separate and unequal society that Wilson’s department props up.
Politically, what Nixon, the zealously pro-cop St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch, and the predominantly white power structure in Ferguson have accomplished has been nothing short of remarkable. Beginning in those four excruciating, humiliating four hours when Mike Brown’s bullet-ridden body was left face down on the hot Ferguson asphalt, the powers-that-be have worked the story line. They pushed against the “micro” story — why did a police officer fire multiple rounds at an unarmed youth, some 100 feet away with (as multiple, credible witnesses report) his hands in the air? And they’ve done so much to vanish the “macro” story line — the systemic discrimination against mostly black communities like Ferguson — from City Hall to almost intentionally crappy schools to a slew of fines against poor people to keep corporate taxes low to the police harassment and brutality against communities of color, and a justice system that distorts all burdens of proof when the accused wears a badge.
A Texas teacher was fired Friday, one week after sending racially charged tweets about incidents in Ferguson, Missouri.
Vinita Hegwood said in a statement that she was “reacting to a series of threatening and racist attacks” made against her and her “expressed opinions on Ferguson, Missouri,” when she wrote on November 7, “Who the (expletive) made you dumb (expletive) crackers think I give a squat (expletive) about your opinions. #Ferguson Kill yourselves.”
Later that evening another tweet appeared, saying, “You exhibit n**** behavior, I’m a call you a n****. You acting crackerish, I’m a call you a cracker.” Hegwood is African-American.
Residents long accused police departments in north St. Louis County municipalities of slapping them with unjustified arrests and tickets with fines they could not afford to pay.
According to city leaders, 40 new warrants are issued for teenagers each month.
“We’re redoubling our efforts to change our traffic system and court system and make it better for everybody, easy for people to take responsibility for whatever offense they committed without it becoming overly burdensome,” said Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, himself an embattled figure since the shooting.
“We are praying for an indictment. To me that would mean that (police) did do their investigation fairly and it was unbiased,” Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said.
A grand jury convened Aug. 20 to decide whether to indict Wilson. Court officials expect the grand jury to announce its decision this month.
McSpadden and Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., traveled earlier this week to Geneva, Switzerland, to testify as part of a delegation of human rights advocates organized by the New York- and Atlanta-based U.S. Human Rights Network. McSpadden said she hoped her testimony would draw international attention to her son’s case and pressure the U.S. government to take action.
“I hope this has opened the eyes of everyone to let them know what really goes on in small town Ferguson,” McSpadden said. “We don’t have any trust in the local authorities and that’s a big reason why we are here in the U.N. We need this worldwide support.”