Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Freaks Who Rule Us

It's not just the constant pounding on the War Drums and the persistent low-level clashes around the world, it's the constant victim-blaming and the reversal of responsibility, the ridiculous levels of evidence-free accusations, the myriad lies, the falseness of the overall narrative of rule.

The protection of force means that any lie or action is acceptable as long as those in power are protected from the wrath of the People -- or from attacks by enemies. More and more, of course, the People themselves are perceived as the Enemy.

The corollary here is that when a powerful interest crosses another greater power,  all holy hell can -- and will -- be unleashed on the lesser power, no matter the consequences. This is the rule of warlords. This is the rule of chaos and misery.

There seems to be no way to prevent this descent into madness, no way to avoid the calamity that is sure to ensue. We are witness to the disintegration of sane governance and its replacement by ruin and rapine.

And somehow, we -- the victims -- are to blame ourselves for not doing something we should have when we might have, and for doing -- affirmatively -- that which we shouldn't have and wouldn't have if we had known what our actions then would lead to now.

Only thing is, I think that's wrong. The victims are not culpable for what the perpetrators do. Often enough, the victims have no idea what the perpetrators are doing until it is too late, and even then, the knowledge necessary for an intervention is often lacking clarity, and what to do in an intervention is ever a mystery.

For the past few weeks, we've been watching events unfold in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, that seem to make no sense, though they are all too familiar.

A young black man is shot down in the streets by police so often it's routine, and yet this incident was different. The callousness of the killing and its aftermath, the immediate sequestration of the killer (no one knows or is saying where he is), the barking dogs and assault rifles brought out within minutes to "control the crowds," the weeks of protest, the strange events surrounding the looting and burning of several businesses in Ferguson, the violent, uncoordinated reaction of the armored police, the media frenzy, the Celebrity Negroes hustled in to calm the situation, though Jesse Jackson was booed lustily when he tried to raise money off the crowd, all of that and more was more and more bizarre as it unfolded.

Something very odd was happening. It's still happening, though the events in Ferguson are dying down, the embers banked for the next time.

But we still don't know quite what it is, what is really going on.

We need to figure it out somehow.

What happened to get us to this point. What can we do to change things?

Or is it too late? Will the freaks who rule us simply run wild?

Often throughout the summer it's looked like there could and would be no end to the bloodshed, and then something happens to pull back from the brink.

This seems to happen over and over again in connection with the Ukraine. Episodes of mass death and destruction seem to be leading directly the nuclear apocalypse we've dreaded for decades, and then it doesn't happen. The bloody conquest of the Donbass falters and halts for a moment, and the freaks who rule us yell at Russia, then scratch their heads and try to find another way to achieve their objectives of surrounding, destabilizing, and eventually picking apart the remnants of Mother Russia. The death tolls continue to mount in the cities and countryside of eastern and southern Ukraine, but despite all the horrors unleashed, the toll is modest compared to what it could be. A few thousand dead, it would seem, out of the many millions who could have been exterminated. 

"It would seem," I say, because reports out of the region are sketchy at best. And they are often wrong or deliberate fabrications. We don't really know what's going on, except for the fact that it must be nasty, brutal, and cruel.

You would think the freaks who rule us have an accurate assessment, but given history, more likely they don't. They have their driven points of view, their creation of enemies, their fears and loathings, and that's about it. They see what they want to see. Nothing more or less.

We may have a better view than they do.

Meanwhile, in the other abattoirs mostly of their own making, they seem to think there is nothing to be done but ratchet up the bloodletting. That always calms the situation, no?


This summer has been a grotesque gore-fest, and the future looks grimmer than ever. Without a positive sign of any kind, the freaks who rule us seem intent on precipitating catastrophe.

Oh don't ask why...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

March In Ferguson

A Ferguson Town Hall -- In Which the Mayor is Skewered Six Ways From Sunday

Ferguson, MO town hall audience -- Credit Durrie Bouscaren, St. Louis Public Radio

The audio is embedded in this link:

It runs close to two hours, and some of it is very powerful. There are at least two Fergusons, the "black side" and the "white side," and the mayor is clearly nearly oblivious to the presence of the "black side" -- apart from his ability to bamboozle and screw its residents through those ever useful and productive fees, fines and forfeitures. He claims he's never had a problem with (his) negroes, but then what plantation owner ever did? At least they never did before the slave revolt.

Ferguson has had a mini slave revolt, and the white owners are trying desperately to figure out how to keep the idea from spreading. They send down Jesse Jackson and The Reverend Al to calm the negroes. They place negro overseers to ensure the pacification of the... well... savages.

Let's be clear.

From the evidence in this recording and from the many other recordings of incidents in Ferguson, it's clear that the owners (including the mayor as their agent) regard the colored folks as little more than exploitable resources, crops as it were, to be punished severely when they get out of line, to be mostly ignored otherwise. They are not human, they are not people. But they are "savages."

That's why we saw such sick, sick and ridiculous force being applied to control them starting within minutes of Michael Brown's execution when the St. Louis County police arrived with dogs and assault weapons at the ready to keep the crowds gathered on Canfield Drive "under control." They had the dogs out within minutes.

As many people at the town hall pointed out, the police were inciting  the crowds from the outset, and they kept right on doing it, over and over and over again, and their incitement was a direct cause of the people's anger and upset. Could the mayor even begin to understand that? No, he could not. If the police were over-reacting, it wasn't his police.  No, no, no, you negroes have to understand that his police were pulled off the streets -- except at the police station -- within a day or so of the "incident" and the police who were on the streets during the "disturbances" were St. Louis County and State Highway Patrol and all sorts of municipal police forces from around the area. They weren't Ferguson police. So, no harm no foul, right?

Where was the mayor during all this? Nobody saw him. Oh, he was at the police station sometimes; otherwise he was at home. Why? He talked to lots of constituents. He will not resign in disgrace. He has no control over the police chief and cannot hire or fire one, only the city manager can do that. The city manager has not been instructed to do that, and he probably won't be.

No one mentioned Darren Wilson and how the city is protecting him.


Even stranger, the fact that almost all the audience for this town hall (at least initially) was... white. See the picture above.

I guess that goes to show who doesn't listen to NPR.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Getting Closer To Labor Day and the End of Summer

The closer we get to Labor Day and the End of Summer, the more apprehensive I become. It's a form of conditioning, I guess, driven by an understanding that the first week of September has turned into the pivot of the year, and what follows is often horror almost beyond comprehension.

Summertime events can be bad or they can be foolish, but after Labor Day, things get real. Real and often harsh.

This year seems to be soaked in the blood of innocents and the somewhat off-kilter. It's a matter of police killings by the great gross, one after another, all over the country, now well over 1,000 dead at police hands -- don't believe the "400 annually", it's a deliberate deception to make you think that "well, it's not so bad". But it's much more than that, too. The US has been engaged directly or peripherally in numerous bloodlettings in hotspots all over the world, pushing, pushing, pushing the edges of neo-imperialism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and (apparently) in the Americas as well. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, have paid for this neo-imperial expansionism with their lives and it looks like many, many more must do so before this phase is done.

What did we do to deserve this? "We" in the sense of the global non-elite, the ordinary people who seem to get blown up and blown away willy-nilly and who have little or no say in the march of this or any other empire.

It is not for us to say they tell us. Not for us to say.

As we get closer to the year's pivot, I become more and more apprehensive as there are so many potential explosion-points, far more than I can recall in any previous year. Many observers have seen parallels to the outbreak of World War I or the outbreak of World War II, and many have seen madness in the eyes of Our Leaders. They are careening out of control, and without some form of intervention, they will almost inevitably lead us into apocalypse and catastrophe. They seem to want it desperately.

The question is whether there can be an intervention before the end.

I don't know.

But I shudder to think where the madness is headed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dinah Vargas Speaks Out In Ferguson

Dinah has been a dynamo among the demonstrators against police abuse and murder in Albuquerque. She was in Ferguson, speaking and marching with the demonstrators there, and in this video made by FTP PDX (Mike BlueHair) she says something very important.

To make a difference, a real difference, you have to stay out in the streets. You can't go home.

Mike BlueHair has a number of other videos he's recently posted of events in Ferguson from ground level. They're worth the few minutes it takes to watch.


If There Is An Answer To The Epidemic of Police Misconduct

Some have pointed out that the spate of news about militarized police and the repeated shooting/tasing/beating of unarmed, usually black suspects, and the endless lies the police tell the public has to do with the Summer Shark and Missing White Woman news hole needing to be filled.

Summertime is a strange time for the News Business, as shark stories traditionally proliferate, and finding the missing white woman becomes the primary "news" until Labor Day or even after. It's been this way for decades. There is real news mixed, but often the real news is either buried or over-hyped right along with the stories of shark attacks and white women gone missing.

So the focus on Ferguson -- which has now abated -- this summer fits the pattern of the way "news" is covered during the summer. It became a circus, especially as celebrities like Anderson Cooper took up positions along West Florissant Avenue and declaimed their observations of the goings on among the Negroes. I bet until now few outside the St Louis metroplex knew there was a West Florissant Avenue, but now the whole wide world knows. The world knows about the McDonalds where journalists trying to do their jobs were harassed and arrested. They know about the Ferguson Market where Michael Brown is alleged to have stolen some cigars. They know about the QuickTrip that was the first to be looted and burned and which then became the Public Square for the community. They know about the Canfield Drive location where Michael Brown was shot dead by Darren Wilson and left in the street for hours while police with dogs and assault rifles kept the increasingly agitated crowd back.

All this is known all over the world because the incident of Michael Brown's killing became summertime news fodder and was promoted by news producers everywhere, and for a time, it even bumped the shark and missing white woman stories from the headlines.

But... Black men are killed every day in this country, a large percentage of them by police, and very, very few of those killings get the kind of coverage that Michael Brown did. During the height of the protests in Ferguson, for example, Kajieme Powell was shot -- executed -- on a street in St. Louis only a few miles away from Ferguson, shot dead while witnesses watched in horror and a young man in the neighborhood recorded the whole encounter on his video-phone. There was no such immediate and appalling evidence in the case of Michael Brown, despite the numerous individuals who witnessed what happened to him. The camera evidence all shows the aftermath, not the shooting itself. 

In Powell's case, there's no question about what took place: police drove up, got out of their car with guns drawn, Powell did not immediately comply with commands and was shot twelve times, six after he had fallen to the ground, and then his corpse was handcuffed to protect the officers from his black evil. 

It's all on video.

And though there have been protests in St. Louis over the shooting of Kajieme Powell, they haven't been met with overwhelming force and telegenic police violence like the protests in Ferguson, so they haven't received nearly the coverage of the events in Ferguson.

There were, after all, "riots" in Ferguson, just like the riots back in the '60s. In fact, one of the news stations in St. Louis was hyping the forty-ninth anniversary of the start of the Watts Riots just as things heated up in Ferguson, trying to insinuate that these events were somehow equivalent. 

They aren't of course, but what is similar is the nature of the police oppression that led members of these communities to rise in righteous wrath. 

Observers might say, "Why would they rise? It's such a nice suburban area!" Yes, well. So it may be -- whether Watts or Ferguson or wherever. The point isn't that it's a nice area compared to the inner city, the point is that the police behavior toward the residents is abominable and in the case of Michael Brown, is contemptuous, disrespectful and deadly. 

Any community facing such continual indignities is a potential tinderbox.

If anything, conditions were worse in Ferguson than they were in Watts -- or in many of the other communities that have risen in wrath against police misconduct, contempt and too often deadly disrespect. 

If there is an answer, it involves policing that does not destroy lives and communities but which fosters dignity, justice, community and peace.

In the case of Ferguson and many other police forces around the country, that kind of policing is impossible with the present force. That means the police forces of many, many cities must be disbanded altogether.

It happened in neighboring Jennings and it can happen in Ferguson. 

I was surprised, however, to learn how many police forces have been disbanded recently. 

Among them:

  • Gaston, SC

  • Camden, NJ

  • Kemp, TX

  • San Carlos, CA

  • Millbrae, CA

  • Half Moon Bay, CA

  • Maywood, CA

  • Cornelius, OR

  • Hoschton, GA

  • Pewaukee, WI

  • Mora City, MN

  • Roanoke, IL

  • Kilbuck, PA

  • Highwood, IL(?)

  • Stillwater, NJ

  • Paintboro, PA

  • And apparently many more. Most -- with the startling exception of Camden -- are small towns or villages which had costly, and in many cases highly corrupt, police forces which did not serve and protect their communities but which exploited them for their own profit and gain. Communities simply ran out of money to support police forces of that kind and the councils voted them out of existence, usually contracting with the local sheriff's constabulary to patrol the town or village precincts.

    Disbanding police forces is far more common than I would have thought. 

    And the reasons for doing so are all too familiar: police forces become corrupt, brutal, murderous gangs exploiting and disrupting their communities, and the sane choice is to get rid of them.

    So they do.

    The way forward is clear...

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Ferguson and Jennings

    So the story came stumbling out of the WaPo the other day that Brave Officer Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, started his police career with the nearby (indeed adjacent) Jennings PD in 2009, just before it was disbanded as unreformable. Officer Wilson did a kind of lateral transfer to Ferguson and that as they say was that.

    I've often suggested that police departments be disbanded. For example, APD -- Albuquerque Police Department -- looks to be unreformable; and OPD -- Oakland Police Department -- has long been notoriously defiant about any movement toward reform; and SPD -- Seattle Police Department -- is on the very same (if not worse) defiance track. These are all candidates for disbanding, and there are many more. In fact, a quick Google search shows that many police departments have been disbanded recently.

    I had no idea, though, that Jennings, Missouri, had actually taken the step to disband its corrupt, violent, and unreformable police department, and that Officer Darren Wilson had been a late-hire member of the force not long before the decision by the Jennings City Council to abolish the force and reconstitute it on a different and ostensibly more appropriate basis.

    So it can be done, and it was done, and it happened right next door to Ferguson where an appalling level of misconduct continues (ie: "Negro Farming" for revenue) and all of a sudden, Michael Brown got killed by Officer Wilson in the middle of Canfield Drive while out walking one day with his friend.

    The Officer Wilson who started his police career with Jennings. Next door. Where a largely white police force was disbanded in a largely black community and replaced, top to bottom, with a more representative and responsible police force.

    The WaPo story really didn't offer many details about what was going on in Jennings that led the powers that be there to disband the force. They said it was too white in a majority black town and that there were incidents between white officers and black residents, but that's essentially typical everywhere. What I want to know is what motivated disbanding the police force altogether. WaPo doesn't say.

    I'm trying to find some primary information about it. Not easy to find, in part because the WaPo article has swamped the Googlemachine. By design? Hard to say, but there is something deep-rooted going on here that needs further investigation.

    I only know what I can recall from spending several months working in a St Louis suburb thirty years ago, and none of this surprises me in the least. Obviously, not much has changed except demographics. What were once nearly all white suburbs in North County are now mostly black. But the town setups surrounding the city core of St. Louis appear to be mostly the same, many like Ferguson run the way they've always been run by corrupt good-ol-boys, living a fantasy of Sparta, Mississippi (or worse) before de-segregation. When there are Nigras involved, you gotta do what you gotta do.

    My impression of the St Louis metro area thirty years ago was that it was one of the most racially disharmonious and seriously socially diseased cities in the country -- and that's saying something. It was deplorable. Surely there were worse places to be a Negro, there must have been. But I wasn't aware of them. What I saw was grim. Institutionally grim.

    It wasn't so bad if you were white, but if you were white, the old timers said you had to be on your guard, for there were constant rumors and fears that the Negroes were out to get you. The fear of rampaging Negroes was ever-present, and white self-protection was the name of the game. People wondered why I didn't carry a gun and wasn't afraid for my life when I had to pass through "Niggertown". That's no exaggeration.

    When I see what's been going on in Ferguson and the area generally, I see strong echoes of that impression I got so many decades ago.

    The police officer who was recorded shouting "Bring it, you fucking animals, bring it!" or the one who threatened to "fucking kill" a black journalist during the protests in Ferguson or... on and on it goes. We may be shocked and our consciences may reel, but it's normal enough in that metroplex that people take it in stride.

    It's bullshit, it's the way things have long been. It's the environment in which Officer Wilson learned policing.

    Nevertheless, his killing of Michael Brown was the first murder in Ferguson in years. There were only five guns confiscated during the protests, none from protesters themselves, all from people stopped at checkpoints. There have been numerous unsubstantiated reports of guns fired at police, none resulting in police wounded, and frequent reports of other objects thrown, including "Molotov cocktails" -- which are clearly grenades launched by police being thrown back at them.

    The policing situation in Ferguson has been representative of the entire region, and the furious reaction of police, starting immediately after the killing of Michael Brown, has involved many of the area's police departments, all of them working together ostensibly under the command of Captain Ron Johnson of the State Highway Patrol. Under his guidance, some of the worst incidents of police riot took place.

    So while I advocate disbanding and replacing the Ferguson police department, just as the Jennings department was disbanded, it's clear the problem is state-wide, and the police are as brutal and bad to the residents of Ferguson as they are to any other majority black district.

    Changing it will take more than disbanding and replacing this one police force, but it's a start.

    Sunday, August 24, 2014

    Normalizing the Pathologies of Power

    Things have been relatively calm in Ferguson recently, and the situation in St. Louis proper, following the police execution of Kajieme Powell and release of the video showing what happened, has never been as overtly rebellious and resistant as it has been in Ferguson. 

    The police killings of black men in New York and Los Angeles have resulted in protests and demonstrations, marching in the streets and calls for change, actions which continue, as do the protests in Ferguson, but they have never had as high a media profile as the rebellion in Ferguson. There is a reason for that which I'll get to or at least try to as I weave this story together. 

    This summer's anti-police-murder protests have been characterized by a certain militancy that often seems to arise against the Powers That Be these days, but then it dissipates in the face of overwhelming force or simply due to the exhaustion inherent in non-violently fighting the System and getting nowhere. Minor cosmetic changes may come in due time, but in the end, nothing substantive happens as a result of popular outrage at police misconduct (misconduct from the point of view of the victims at any rate, not misconduct at all by the standards of the police and the Powers which protect them). The problem often remains unchanged, the killing continues without let up. It might even intensify as a result of the protests against it.

    I was involved peripherally in the movement against police abuse in Albuquerque starting well before the police execution of James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandias in March of this year (though it seems an age ago now). I don't live in Albuquerque, so it's not really my ballywick,  except that one of the police snipers -- a state police officer, not an APD officer -- was sent out to the area where I live to deal with a local man who was having an episode with a gun at his parents' home. As I understand it, the situation was under control by the local sheriff's deputies and the sheriff himself was on scene. The state was called as back up. 

    They sent their sniper -- who'd killed a man in Albuquerque a couple of months before, a man who witnesses and relatives say was not the culprit the police were after, but who's counting, right? -- and within twenty minutes of his arrival, he executed the man holed up in his parents' house, executed him as his parents and the sheriff were negotiating with him to put his gun down and come out. The negotiation was a long, involved process, but the situation was under control. The sheriff, the parents, everyone was shocked and appalled at the state police sniper's action. It wasn't really called for. And it was not why the sheriff had called the state police for backup. But it was done, and once it was done, all those involved could do was carry on as best they knew how.

    One more trouble maker had been eliminated, and that's a good thing, right? That's what the police are for, right? Get rid of the problem people, lock them up or shoot them, their choice. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Be thankful, be proud of the protection the police provide, and shut up. What's done is done. And it is good.


    Well, no. It's not right. It's very wrong. But this wrong has been so normalized over the years to the extent that most people accept it as the way things are supposed to be, and only a minority protests and says no. 

    The protests in Albuquerque against police brutality, murder and misconduct became quite intense after the release of video of the murder of James Boyd, and those intensified protests -- which included Anonymous hacking attacks and anarchist direct actions on the ground -- were met with a heavily militarized police response, including armored vehicles, mounted officers, tear gas and other "less lethal" means. The intense and militant protests were broken up and dissipated by these means, but other protest actions continued through the spring, culminating with a big march and demonstration on June 21, after which it seems the movement went into a kind of hibernation. 

    The protests had accomplished something. They got the DoJ involved and they got a scathing report issued regarding APD violations of standards of Constitutional policing including numerous unjustified killings of Albuquerque residents. Once the report was issued it seemed the police went into a kind of overdrive, almost a killing spree, before they backed off a bit and helped other agencies including -- federal marshals -- conduct the necessary summary executions while "reform" of the APD was under way. Or negotiations for "reform." Or something.

    The killing continued, initially under APD auspices, but now apparently all the agencies of the Law are participating equally, and the shootings and shootouts are routinized and normalized like so many of the rest of the pathologies of power.

    Is this the inevitable result? I don't know. But I know that the concept of policing that has led to all these police killings of mentally disturbed, drug-addled, or acting out "troublemakers" is wrong, through and through, and it must change.

    It won't, though, as long as we the people, or the rabble as the case may be, continue to enable the Powers That Be through devotion to process rather than action.

    The people of Ferguson rose up in righteous outrage against the police murder of Michael Brown and they were met with a savage and extraordinarily violent response beginning the afternoon that Michael Brown was killed. Dogs and assault weapons were deployed that afternoon against the angry and deeply wounded residents of the apartment complex where Michael Brown's grandmother lives. They were angry and hurt, but they were not committing violence. The use of dogs and assault weapons that afternoon and later that night was a matter of intimidation and control, nothing more. It was to make clear to Those People, the Negroes of Ferguson, that they would not be allowed to get out of line, no matter what the police did to one of them or what Those People thought they could do. 

    It was a threat which would later be carried out with ever greater displays and deployments of armor and firepower in the streets of Ferguson, ultimately involving a kind of randomized terror of the community documented chillingly in Elon James White's recording of his encounters with this random terror posted below. 

    And lies. Oh My God the lies.

    Lies about shootings and guns and gangs, lies about firebombs, lies about agitators, lies about looters, lies about a whole community in distress, anguish and pain. The lies were -- and still are -- constant from the authorities. Ultimately, the community was beaten down. The increasingly violent and militarized police response happened night after night. The worst episodes of police violence happened after "Magic Negro" Captain Ron Johnson was appointed to oversee the suppression of the Negroes of Ferguson, after the President spoke, after the DoJ was assigned and Holder announced that he was on his way. The violence by the police wore the people down, terrorized them into submission. Or at least into an exhausted stalemate.

    This is the routine, though the level of violence employed in Ferguson, together with the barrage of propaganda and lies about what was going on was something new, at least new in the sense that we haven't seen anything quite like this .... Except we have. We've seen it many times since the civil unrest of the '60s.

    The claim is made that he Negroes of Ferguson were rioting, but they never did. The police rioted, much as they did at the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968; the people of Ferguson did not, not once. 

    But what about all the looting and the shooting and the firebombings and the urine being thrown at the cops? 

    Yeah, what about it? The fact is, there was very little looting and property destruction, and from the very first instance, the people of Ferguson were puzzled because it was not them doing it.  It appeared to be targeted symbolically, starting with the QuickTrip where it was alleged Mike Brown had been accused of shoplifting or some other minor crime before he was shot by Darren Wilson. Only it turned out the accusation hadn't come from the QuickTrip, it didn't involve the QuickTrip at all; but the looting and burning of the QuickTrip -- by elements unknown -- a very telegenic and symbolic act of destruction by Those People. 

    Then something amazing and unanticipated happened. The ruined QuickTrip became the hub of the community, its parking lot became the Ferguson public square, and the people of Ferguson acted on their own volition to clean up and protect the property -- or what was left of it -- as a symbol of their own grief and determination. But also of their belief in something better to come.

    The symbol changed from destruction to creation. 

    This had to be stopped, and it was. Gathering at the QuickTrip was forbidden, prohibited on pain of immediate arrest, and the site was and is fenced off. No access permitted, even pausing on the sidewalk was verboten. Why? Well, because. The popular transformation of a space like that, from the scene of destruction to the site of the creation of a strong and resistant community was a direct threat to Power. The fact is that people gathered there, discussed their situation, planned their actions, built a sense of common purpose and community and by doing so, they threatened to create their own narrative and exert their own power against the forces arrayed against them. 

    It's come to light that the government of the City of Ferguson and the police in concert with the almost all-white ownership class was engaged in what could be called "Negro farming." That is to say, they regarded the majority of the population of Ferguson as a cash crop to be harvested from time to time through traffic citations, fees, fines, and endless warrants. Someone did a statistical analysis and found that there were three warrants issued for every household in Ferguson, and the warrants were strongly concentrated among the 67% of the population that is black. This "farming" produced more than $2 million in revenue for the city every year, helping to keep the taxes on the mostly white-owned properties in town remarkably low. Given these facts and statistics, there is little wonder that Officer Wilson approached Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson who were walking in the middle of Canfield Dr. He could have cited them then and there and put them on the city Negro farm treadmill. Instead, he ordered them onto the sidewalk, and when they didn't immediately comply, he apparently decided to challenge them and threaten them. Things deteriorated quickly from that point, and Officer Wilson, rather than citing Brown and Johnson for jaywalking instead chose to shoot Michael Brown dead in the street.

    The "farming" aspects of city government certainly were not unique to Ferguson; they're rather typical of many small towns and not a few larger cities which see segments of their populations as exploitable crops and financial resources rather than as citizens, but from the testimonies I've seen, the residents of Ferguson considered the practices of the police and the city government and courts to be harassment to the point where some felt they were under siege by an almost all-white civic authority. This was a particular problem for poor people, but it affected all. 

    There was resistance prior to the killing of Michael Brown, but apparently it was relatively low key and subtle. The killing of Michael Brown unleashed a much more overt and assertive resistance to the police that was met with increasing, indeed absurd, levels of police violence against the people.

    Teri49 emailed me with some of her findings in the #Ferguson Twitter stream, findings which show that the police response to resistance in Ferguson is part of a much broader pattern and practice, one that really affects everyone everywhere in the country, and it should be deeply troubling. 

    With her permission, I'm posting what she found:

    5s aug 20 11:30 am
    Claims of police raid on an activist center at a church providing supplies for activists -- particularly for tear gas exposure -- developing
    Response to above:
    @rdevro it's true. Just keep reading #staywoke

    Then there's this:
    RT Capt Johnson of #FERGUSON was walking in middle of road pointing out journos to be arrested

    Here's an article about the above.  I know, prison planet, geez, but one of the  guys in that twitter feed is a reporter with prison planet and supposedly witnessed this in person.


    Now here is a really interesting thing.  These guys can't spell worth shit, but it appears that they are a real mercenary group operating a training center in St. Louis.  The right-wing blogs are all busting at the seams with the news that mercenaries are to be deployed to Ferguson.  However, their second "tweet" clarifies that they are being sent in to protect an individual, not to assist the police.  No mention made of who they are protecting.  It's doubtful it would be Holder, as he would have Secret Service.  Maybe some celebrity hired them?  Such strange goings-on, and none of them good.:

    ‏@AsymmetricUSA  aug 19 1:04 pm
    We've been to Baghdad, Kabul, KL, Manilla, Peshwar, Bogata.  Never guessed we would deploy a high threat team in our own city.  #furgeson

    9h  aug 20 3:16 am
    To clarify we are not protecting state, law enforcement or those exercising their right to assemble. Escort detail augment for individual.

    1800 Acre Special Operations Training Facility Staffed by combat experienced SpecOps vets - Army Green Berets, Army Delta, Navy SEALs, SEAL 6, and Agency SOF.
    St. Louis, MO
    Thought you might find some of this interesting.

    Yes, well I did. Find it -- and so many other things going on in and around Ferguson -- interesting. Clearly, something is going on there that has been built on the lessons learned from previous episodes of suppression of civil disturbances and imposition of quasi martial law, including the suppression of Occupy, the Boston Lockdown -- er, "Voluntary Shelter In Place" -- and so on. They are all built on the premise that a National Special Security Event is taking place, such as the WTO conference that resulted in the infamous "Battle of Seattle" in 1999.

    During these events, the Constitution is suspended and for all intents and purposes, residents and activists have no rights the authorities are bound to respect. Protest may or may not be "permitted," but protest and activism is extensively surveilled and is controlled with often ridiculous levels of brutality. Mass arrest of innocent people is commonplace, "snatch and grab" actions by police frequent, tear gassing, LRAD deployment, and so forth used to break up crowds. Deployment of military-style hardware amid masses of police is routine.

    This has been going on for many years, and Americans are pretty used to it by now, though it seems that there is little or no understanding that what takes place is due to the declaration of a National Special Security Event and is led from the top -- typically DHS. It's not a spontaneous local police reaction to crowds of protesters at all. It's all planned at the top over months or even years. Many times, crowds have been seeded with provocateurs, some of whom have been caught and exposed. The point being that peaceful -- or at least nonviolent -- protests are often disrupted by the actions of a few provocateurs working on behalf of the police or other authority. Such disruptions are part of the plan.

    Note also that disruption of political activism is part of the plan from the outset. Prior to the 2008 Republican Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, there were raids on houses where political activists were gathering in preparation for the Convention, and many arrests on bogus charges were made. The harassment of these activists has continued to the present day, with numerous arrests and property seizures ongoing.

    Media is targeted for special treatment as well. There is typically an attempt to separate "credentialed" from independent media, and to confine media to particular locations, as well as embedding selected media with the authorities and police. This is obviously an effort to control what the public sees and knows of what is going on, and this overt control of the media is one reason people don't understand what is really going on and it's part of the reason why even now, a majority of people often believe that the protesters get what they deserve from the police.

    There is often an effort to portray protesters as "rioters" and protests as "riots," even when -- or maybe especially when -- the police are the ones who are rioting (a la Chicago 68). Instigators are commonplace, as they seem to have been in Ferguson when "riots" were happening. The looting and property destruction that took place in Ferguson, like similar actions in other cities under the quasi-martial law of a NSSE, is questionable on a number of levels. Often it -- looting and rioting -- seems to be part of the plan of action by the authorities.

    In Ferguson the authorities, for example, did nothing whatever to interfere with looters and those who were engaged in property destruction. In fact, they seemed to be encouraging looters and destroyers while they were arresting paramedics, media, and community activists. Interesting priorities.

    The authorities in Ferguson were constantly complaining about gunfire aimed at them, and they repeatedly whined about all the bottles, rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at them. But interestingly, when people were shot as a few were (but not, note well, police) they did nothing. No investigation, no follow up, in some cases no reports were taken. This gave rise to questions regarding who was actually firing guns in Ferguson. The only ones anyone was sure was firing was police. Police were never known to be wounded by gunfire in Ferguson, only random people on their way home or whatever. The shooters were never identified or found. There was apparently never any attempt to locate or arrest them. This understandably gives rise to speculation that the shooters were either police themselves or were provocateurs working for the police.

    Only five guns are known to have been confiscated. Five. In a place supposedly filled with murderous gangstas and rampaging savages. Right. Until Michael Brown was killed, there hadn't been a murder in Ferguson for years. Not one. If there were gangstas, they were sure circumspect. None of the guns confiscated were the property of members of the protest crowds, they were all seized from motorists stopped at checkpoints. In other words, there is no evidence at all, despite the repeated claims of the police, that participants in protests in Ferguson were armed, or if they were armed that they intended to use their weapons against police.

    There is not a shred of evidence that even one Molotov cocktail was thrown at police despite nightly claims by the police that they were being barraged by "firebombs" and so on. Nor is evidence that more than a very few bottles of any kind were thrown at police, and then typically only after police began an action against the crowds, though there were a few instances where a single bottle thrown by someone unknown within the crowds which were triggers for police action, and thus were suspected to have been thrown by provocateurs.

    Police raids on safe places and gathering places, such as the church mentioned in the tweet above and various parking lots along W. Florissant, were clearly intended to make it difficult or impossible for people to feel safe anywhere or to be able to create and maintain any public space. During one police rampage in Ferguson, neighborhoods were being teargassed and people were being targeted and shot with rubber bullets at random. This is documented in the audio posted below, but there were many other reports as well. But these incidents happened after the media was ordered out of the area. Many of the reporters sent to Ferguson still don't know about the gassing of neighborhoods -- they weren't there.

    I could go on and on, but all this and more is a matter of routinizing the pathologies of power. From the killing of Michael Brown onwards, the authorities in Ferguson acted belligerently and contemptuously toward the residents. Toward the Black residents. While there have been many white participants in the protests, some of them residents of Ferguson, the police have been mostly concerned with controlling the Blacks -- but strangely they have not interfered with looting and property destruction. The very worst and most brutal nights of protest suppression have taken place under the command of Captain Ron Johnson -- who became something of a rock star and hero briefly -- but under whose command some of the worst abuses happened. I wondered whether he was a Judas goat, but now it's likely he will be made a scapegoat. Put a Black man in charge of the suppression of Blacks, and there are liable to be unforeseen consequences. That kind of cynical action is part of the pathology of power as well.

    The displays of military style hardware and camo-fatigue wearing "troops", the automatic rifles pointed directly at people, the machine gunners, the tear gas and smoke grenades launched at defiant but nonviolent crowds, the rubber bullets that wounded so many (numbers unknown at this point), the raids on safe places, the snatch and grabs, the assaults, the threats, the lies, all of it is part of the normalizing of ever greater levels of power pathology. The assignment of the National Guard to protect the police is a fascinating development that I can't recall any precedent for.

    Something else was going on too. The authorities -- apparently under the command of Captain Johnson -- recruited "community leaders" to help police and control the crowds. They seemed to be relying principally on recruits from the Nation of Islam and the New Black Panthers, which is interesting as can be, and which I may have more to say about in a subsequent post, but it is worth pointing out at this point that police conducted raids on a well established local church and community center where help and safety were available for residents, while the police were recruiting and utilizing the services of the New Black Panthers and Nation of Islam which, so far as I'm aware, had no deep roots in the community. Further indication of the pathology of power? I'd say so, yes.

    The summer media frenzy was concentrated in Ferguson, at least while the protests and their telegenic suppression was on display. Most media left when the action died down. The media was being very cynically and consciously used to spread a message of terror to anyone else who might rise against the power of the state and authority. Most of the mainstream was content with spreading official lies and images of terror as far and wide as they could. Effectively, they were acting as propagandists for the State. Independent media tried to find, state and show the truth as best they could. But it was a losing effort in my view as the major mass media has a much greater reach. The truth is out there, and an honest picture is being assembled, but it will take years I think before what is really going on is widely known, and by then, something else will be going on, perhaps quite a bit worse.

    The only way I know of to alter the situation is through intervention. There was a moment when something of the sort took place in Ferguson, when clergy and media together formed a line to prevent a police attack on the crowd, and they succeeded in defusing the situation for at least a few minutes. That can happen again, it needs to happen again on a much broader scale. The massive demonstration on Staten Island yesterday in honor of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and others killed by police was -- perhaps -- another example of how an intervention might occur. It takes a lot of dedicated people putting their bodies -- and perhaps their lives -- on the line to stand between the police and the people to prevent violence not instigate it. On the other hand, the mass demonstration may become just another routine signifying nothing, while the pathologies of power continue their march into madness.

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    The Other Police Killing In St. Louis

    Now wait. This is just wrong. This is so wrong, as wrong in its own way as the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson just down the road on August 9. As wrong as the police killing of James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on March 16. As wrong as... well, we could go on. And on. And on. There are hundreds of these police killings. How many hundreds, nobody knows because there are no national statistics on police killings. But the vast majority are deemed justified and the book is closed on them, whether or not there is outrage and protest as there's been in Ferguson this Blood Summer, but not -- not yet -- in St. Louis where Kajieme Powell was shot down without a qualm by two young St. Louis police officers in front of stunned onlookers and a cameraman.

    Let's watch (I know it's awful, as awful in its own way as the Albuquerque police murder of James Boyd. But it should be seen in order to comprehend just how cold-blooded the officers in this case were -- as they were in the Boyd case, though they waited longer before killing Boyd, hours rather than seconds...)

    The officers, two young men, one in his twenties, the other 31, both with limited experience on the force, and with back up on the way, drive up, get out of their car and confront Powell with guns drawn, issuing commands, demanding he drop the knife he's said to be holding (in an "overhand grip" according to police, but the video shows that's not true), and when Powell doesn't do as he is commanded within seconds, they fire 12 shots, most or all of which hit Powell, several shots fired after he's on the ground, and they roughly turn the near-dead body over and handcuff him as back up officers arrive, and the shocked and appalled onlookers are pushed back.

    The St. Louis police chief calls this a good shoot.

    The man, after all, asked the officers to shoot him. So they did. What's to worry? Why the fuss? The officers were simply doing the man a favor, and one less Negro will now be troubling the Good People of St. Louis. Job well done, amirite?

    No. No, it's wrong on every level, and we have to recognize this and say it. It's WRONG.

    The St. Louis police are busy patting themselves on the back for a "good shoot" and for their marvelous transparency  *they released the video, after all* in comparison to ham-handed TomFoolery and mystification by the Ferguson police in the matter of Michael Brown, where they didn't even take a report, the crumbs.

    Because the StL police have been so up front about what happened, they say, there have been no disturbances in StL over this sad incident. That's because the people understand what happened and why, and they can see for themselves in this cellphone video that the StL police themselves released. So it's all good.


    No. No it's not.

    What we see in this video should shock our consciences to the core. It's a video of yet another summary execution in front of a number of witnesses. It's a video of police acting as judge and jury and executioner, again, as if it's perfectly normal for a police cruiser to arrive at a location, and within seconds shoot a man dead because... he doesn't do what he's told fast enough on the one hand -- though he is not threatening anyone -- and because he is in the way, black, and disposable on the other.

    I first saw the video the day before yesterday shortly before I had to leave the house for a trip to Santa Fe, and I didn't see it again until yesterday. I'd heard about the shooting of course, and heard about the police chief's press conference and community meetings and so forth, and so I knew a bit about what the police and witnesses said had happened. I was alert to the fact that this incident seemed to be another summary execution on the streets and byways of the Good Ol' United States of America where this sort of thing is practically a daily occurrence.

    I'm looking at it for a third time, and I'm more convinced than ever that police in America have become cowards hiding behind badges and guns and patrons who protect them, essentially no matter what they do (unless sex is involved), especially if what they do is to shoot down and beat down any potential threat to the highest of the mighty. Mentally disturbed individuals -- such as Mr. Powell appears to have been -- are particularly vulnerable to these cowards with guns and badges, most especially so if they're black and male.

    There is apparently no greater threat to the realm and its masters than mentally disturbed black men.  So it would seem.

    And 12 seconds after the police pull up on Kajieme Powell, they shoot him dead.

    In the case of James Boyd, the 40 or so officers on scene waited 4 hours or more before killing him, but they decided that the matter would have to be resolved before dark, and as Boyd was surrendering, they shot him. Time was up.

    Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the police didn't wait at all. Didn't even try to de-escalate. Nothing. A few barked commands, defiance but no threat from Powell, and bam. He's dead. Case closed.

    Welcome to America in the 21st Century.

    Unlike the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the police were up front about what a good shoot they thought this incident was, how Powell wanted to the shot and how the officers obliged him, and how in the end, it's just one of those things, you know? Go on about your business, there's nothing to be upset about.

    But we should be upset, we should be outraged, we should be as horrified by this incident as we are with the shooting of Michael Brown and the hundreds of others killed every year by this country's police, killings that we should question regardless of whether the prosecutors or police do.

    This war on the people has got to stop.

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Ferguson Calm?


    I was up in Santa Fe, away from the "news" much of yesterday and last night, but the signs were that things had calmed down in Ferguson, and there was little or no police violence for once. It's only been eleven days since Michael Brown was shot down in the street by a Ferguson policeman, and there were only 10 days of "unrest."

    I wish I could say that they were 10 days that shook the world, but despite the outrage and the continued police violence against the people of Ferguson, it doesn't look like anything has changed or will change soon.

    That's not the way this game is played -- and I really hate to say it, but it is a game.

    Black folk get arrested, jailed and killed in the streets disproportionately to their numbers in society, vastly disproportionately, and it's been this way for many a long year. It is my view that the current and continuing War on Blacks was part of the trade off for the passage and enforcement of Civil Rights legislation. De jure segregation would end, but the pressures on African Americans in general and their communities specifically would increase. Their men would be sent to jail and/or killed, families destroyed, communities uprooted and their economies broken. But there would be no legal separation of the races any more, no legal racial discrimination allowed.

    It's a trade off that has allowed a black middle class to emerge and grow, so there is that. Opportunities for blacks are greater than they once were, but the counter-pressure is relentless, and the killing goes on and on and on.

    Police, as we see, are on a hair-trigger, particularly in black communities, and they will harass, arrest,  and shoot to kill on any provocation or none at all, and if the people in these communities resist and rebel -- as they've done in Ferguson -- the entire weight of the police state will come down on them hard, fast, and viciously.

    They got the dogs out in Ferguson the very afternoon that Michael Brown was murdered. While his body lay broiling in the sun for hour after hour and people gathered at the police tape to complain and shout and cry and commiserate with one another, the police in St. Louis County arrived with dogs and assault weapons at the ready to suppress any rebellion that might arise while they went about their police business at a rather languid pace. The Nigras would be kept in line.

    Later that night, the police (St. Louis County again) came back with their dogs and assault rifles at the ready when the community murmured and said, "This ain't right." There was great upset, but there was no riot, not yet at any rate.

    A march and demonstration took place the next day and into the night, and it was met with growing force by the police, but strangely, the looting that night was practically unopposed by the authorities. They used their force against the marches and demonstrations, not the looters. How strange.

    This happened again and again, with ever greater displays of firepower against loud but unarmed and peaceful marches and demonstrations, and no action at all against the those who looted and destroyed. Nothing.

    This was obviously not right. Authority was sputtering and flailing out of control -- or was this the plan?

    Conspiracy theory has abounded in the face of continuing repression, revolt, and wildly inappropriate police conduct during the circus and crisis in Ferguson. The militarized response to a popular outcry against police brutality and murder looks very much like a chaotic implementation of previously planned actions should there be an outbreak of civil unrest.

    We saw an inkling of it in Albuquerque in response to the unwarranted killing of James Boyd in March, and before that we saw many similar police actions against popular protests throughout the suppression of Occupy.

    These are practiced maneuvers; they are not spontaneous police responses to civil unrest. In fact, the police actiona provoke unrest and rebellion which is then suppressed with ever greater levels of fury, brutality and blank-faced cruelty. Many observers have pointed out that this is "Israeli" practice and that many police forces are trained by Israeli advisers on these very tactics. If I get around to it, I'll put up some links, but it's easy enough to find the information on the Google Machine.

    Last night, apparently, there was very little unrest. Much of the militarized hardware that had been on display night after night and all of the tear-gas and grenades that had been used repeatedly against peaceful protests were held in reserve; I saw a report that indicated there was only one instance of "snatch and grab" by police and it seemed to be in response to a fight among the people, not a simply arbitrary power action as was witnessed repeatedly on Tuesday night when approximately 40 people were grabbed from the crowd seemingly at random.

    What calmed things down last night? Several factors may have played a part. For one thing, the crowds were reported to be smaller than on previous nights. There was a thunderstorm which interfered with the demonstrations for a time. Many people were exhausted and they stayed home. The police, according to reports I've seen about last night, did not provoke the crowd with displays or use of force, they did not use gas and grenades and armored personnel carriers. There were few or no police on the streets in riot gear or military camouflage, and so far as I'm aware, no one had an assault rifle pointed at them with threats to kill shouted from some roided up freak like happened the night before.

    It made an obvious and apparently surprising difference.

    But only surprising if this has all been a trial of tactics of suppression.

    Some observers seem to think that even the killing of Michael Brown itself was part of a plan of suppression. Get the community roiled up over yet another killing of a black man, and see what happens. Test out tactics, debrief, try something else, see what gets people into a fury, see how the police handle it, debrief again, and so on.

    Social manipulation on a grand scale.

    The people of Ferguson are the pawns in this game.

    Provocation was part of the military practice in Iraq as well; the troops would try to provoke an armed response to their presence and actions, and thus they believed they would be able to identify and suppress rebels and contain revolt against the occupation. It didn't work. There were unanticipated consequences including increasing casualties among military and civilians, ultimately turning into a still-raging civil war which has resulted in the destruction of a nation and society.

    The Powers That Be seem wedded to this doctrine and practice of provocation though, and so we saw it again and again in Ferguson.

    And then, last night, for the first time in a long time, we didn't.

    Calm, though? Has civic calm been restored? If past experience is any guide, the answer is no. What's happened is a prelude. Civic authority has been almost completely discredited in Ferguson, and that discredit has extended far beyond it to include the County of St. Louis, and many of the localities that sent police-troops to suppress the "riots" in Ferguson. Actually, the police were rioting, but that's something the PTB like to ignore.

    Civic authorities in Ferguson cannot restore their authority under the circumstances, and so something that more or less parallels the established civil authority will be established in the community. People will run their own affairs and will do their best to ignore the city authorities, and they will probably figure out ways to passively defy them too. The stories of what amount to extortion of the people of Ferguson by the city and the courts are legion, and defiance of that extortion is liable to be one of the first areas of defense.

    Something like this has happened in a number of cities I can think of, including Detroit and Oakland.

    There was a stark murder by police of a black man in St Louis a couple of days ago that has not sparked more than muted outrage, but that killing may have a broader and more lasting effect than the killing of Michael Brown.

    The man was shot down in the street in front of witnesses seconds after police arrived after being called due to shoplifting of some soda or cookies or what have you. Police claimed the man charged at them with a knife held in an "overhand grip", but video shows nothing like that happened. The video shows that the man did not obey immediately and was shot down within seconds -- for failure to obey. Nothing more. Well, perhaps there was more. Police appeared to be so terrified of a disobedient black man, they panicked and killed him because they were... scared.

    James Boyd was shot and killed for failure to obey as well, but it took Albuquerque police hours to act rather than seconds as in St. Louis. They weren't afraid of Boyd, they simply had to execute him.

    In Ferguson, it took at least a minute or two for Officer Darren Wilson to execute Michael Brown for failure to obey. And perhaps because he was too frightened to do anything else.

    The militarized, brutal and cruel actions of the police against the people of Ferguson (as before in Albuquerque, and before that in dozens of cities where Occupy had been) was also a response to failure to obey.

    And fear. And most especially cowardice. Many are beginning to point to the utter cowardice of police in these situations, so frightened and terrified of what might happen -- to them -- if they don't kill the suspect or dehumanized object of their fear, that they can think of nothing else. It is cowardice so often, though. To assume the worst of everyone, to fear black and brown men especially, to respond inappropriately over and over again, to commit summary execution routinely, all of this brings dishonor and discredit to the police and to those who enable and encourage this behavior.

    It has to stop.

    What it will take to stop it is yet to be discovered, but more and more Americans are seeking the answer.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Last Night's Police Rampage in Ferguson From Ground Level

    Starts about 18:30 into this video:

    Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

    The money part. Officer Go Fuck Yourself threatening to kill the videographer:

    Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

    There is no sign of bottles being thrown prior to the police rampage, though from the sound of things, somebody or bodies were thinking about after the rampage by cops.

    In fact, there is no sign that the crowd is doing anything to precipitate the police rampage.


    Revolutionary RebelutionaryZ's Ustream Channel

    Instagrams, Vines, Twitter Feeds and Livestreams

    I find I'm barely paying attention to television and print "news" about what's going on in Ferguson, in part because there are so many alternatives available, many of which are raw, unedited, on scene, and immediate.

    Elon James has an Instagram page through which he details some of his experiences in Ferguson. I love his observation that "everything's OK now. Anderson Cooper is here!" posts.

    Antonio French has been burning up Twitter and Vine with his posts from the scenes in both StL and Ferguson. (Note: Vines tend to freeze my browser, perhaps because of blocked ads. I dunno, but I don't like it...)

    Fox2 in StL has a Livestream2 where they post raw live video frequently throughout the day and night. It can be more informative than their news broadcasts, although for a regular broadcast station (and FOX no less) they have had some of the best coverage of Ferguson of any on the air.

    Mustafa Hussein has been doing heroic work with Argus Radio and the "I Am Mike Brown" live and archived coverage of events in Ferguson, Clayton and StL.

    Tim Pool is covering the Ferguson beat for VICE and is sometimes live from the scene of the action. When there is "action." He was pinned down at one point while gas and grenades were being fired at demonstrators and unseen gunmen were firing bullets over his head. He said he was hit by a rubber bullet. It was all very dramatic but not very informative.

    There are quite a few other relatively reliable news source at the scene. There are so many in fact, it's almost impossible to keep up.

    The #Ferguson Twitter feed is chaotic -- not surprisingly -- but I've found a lot of real news through some of the posts.

    Check 'em out...

    "What We've Got Here Is Failure to Communicate"

    Some men, you just can't reach.

    I went to bed before the situation in Ferguson once again devolved into... something. I couldn't sleep though, so when I got up, I checked the news to see what might have happened overnight.

    Turns out that the police rampaged right at the media scrum soon after midnight, breaking up a crowd that had gathered after prayers for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, chasing people -- mostly young men -- down the street, and arresting what turned out to be dozens of them. Later, Officer ("Magic") Johnson of the State Highway Patrol would claim that the police rampage was triggered by people throwing bottles at the police, including glass bottles and bottles of urine.


    In the video below,  near the end -- scroll to around 39 minutes -- you can see a line of khaki clad police standing in the middle of the street on the left. To the right, there are white-shirted police in the middle of the street apparently chatting with demonstrators. More and more of the khaki clad police assemble and form a growing line. Suddenly, the police move back, and the crowd shows considerable agitation. Media people prepare for... something. At about 40:30 helicopter lights are seen sweeping the crowd and the police are seen gathering their equipment from their car trunks. The crowd is quite agitated by this time. The police are donning helmets. They form a line beside their cars on the opposite side of the street from the now quite disturbed crowd. The helicopter overhead continues to sweep the crowd with its lights. People are standing and waiting, taking pictures of the police, some are crossing the street through the police line. Anticipation and anxiety seem high, but nobody really knows what's going to happen. A long line of police cars is coming into the scene from the upper right.

    Several helmeted officers advance with flashlights on and raised. There is a "click" of some sort, and the police rush the crowd at 41:43. People start running in fear. There is yelling and screaming. The police appear to be trying to apprehend particular individuals, but they create chaos in the crowd. Shortly the video ends, and later the video crew will say that when the video cuts out, it is because they lost their internet connection -- which seemed to affect all the media at the site simultaneously, at least according to reports they heard from others at the site at the time.

    I've looked at this video several times, and I cannot see any thrown objects at all. There may be other video that does show these alleged bottles thrown at police, but I haven't seen it. I am aware, however, that police accounts of what has been happening, and their justifications for attacking the crowds, have not been accurate or truthful. They've been so filled with lies, it's been surreal.

    Many of the police lies have been challenged, but they continue to pile up, and eventually I imagine observers and questioners will simply be worn down. The police seem to act arbitrarily or they appear to deliberately incite the crowd in order to elicit a response they can then use as justification for their assaults.

    It's a continual pattern.

    Last night, the crowds were intent and quite orderly as they have typically been. There weren't quite so many in the streets which may have made a difference in the mood of the police. The police largely kept out of the way and didn't interfere with the marches and rallies and prayer circles taking place, although they made several arrests -- for what, who knows?

    The police rampage last night around midnight broke up and dispersed the demonstrators and media. Most people were already preparing to go home in any case.

    It was all very strange. It wasn't as appallingly violent as previous night's dispersals, and there weren't the kinds of reports of horrors taking place after the media was gone, but it is disturbing to imagine what might have happened to cause media's general loss of internet connection just as the rampage got under way right in their midst. The dozens of people arrested appeared to be random captures, not people involved in throwing bottles -- which was the only disturbance reported by police from the crowd last night.

    There are messages, many messages here. This has been true from the beginning of the crisis in Ferguson, and as those messages pile up, Americans can begin to get a picture of what is going on. It's not comforting.

    The failure to communicate through official violence has apparently been ameliorated sufficiently for the police to randomize and minimize their assaults... "calibrating" I think they call it.

    Last night we saw some variations on their previous violent suppression tactics and overall rather better treatment of the people of Ferguson and America who continue to demonstrate against the rampant police misconduct and overuse of force that led to the death of Michael Brown and the non-stop demonstrations ever since.

    I'm not sure it's progress...

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    The Sound of Terror in Ferguson

    This is the most gawdawful audio I think I've ever heard:

    I couldn't hold back my own emotion as I listened to it.

    Extreme. Exterminate. Horror.

    This happened a couple of hours after the media was sent back to their quarters by the police staging point at about the time Captain Johnson was holding his 2:00am presser.

    Ferguson Says: "We Hear You Negroes, Now Sit Down and Shut Up!"

    Or be gassed and grenaded to Eternity.
    Got that? Good.

    The CNN Summer Riot Show

    Followed immediately by a Summer Shark Story. Jeeze.

    Not having cable and rarely watching network "news" I don't see this kind of coverage. Pulling it up online this morning was disorienting but also informative.

    I was watching FOX2 and "I am Mike Brown" livestreams last night, and I could see something was going on down by Canfield Drive, and many police-troops were assembling there, shooting off teargas and what have you, but both of the livestreamers were a quarter mile away by the Ferguson Drive police line so you couldn't really tell what was going on down by Canfield Dr. You just knew it was "something."

    CNN was there and was able to document some of what was happening. This is where the police claimed -- falsely in my opinion -- that the crowd had fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails at police. That isn't what is documented in the CNN video.

    For one thing, there is no gunfire at all, not from the crowd, and not from the police, at least not that I can tell. There is an abundance of tear gas and grenades fired from the police line, however,  and many of the grenades are thrown back at the police. The grenades start small fires in the street, and that might be what the police are claiming is "Molotovs" -- I don't know. But there has been no evidence EVER that anyone in Ferguson has EVER thrown a Molotov cocktail at police. EVER.

    Those who were closely following the uprising in Kiev saw numerous incidents of real Molotov cocktails being thrown at -- and hitting -- police and later in Odessa where Molotovs were thrown at the Trade Union Building, and they saw the results, which were awful. Nothing even remotely like that has happened in Ferguson. Instead, the police have repeatedly fired grenades -- smoke, flash-bang, and teargas -- at the crowds, often with no justification (except that there are a lot of Negroes out and about, and we can't have that), and members of the crowd have thrown them back at the police. Because the grenades often start fires or are on fire as they are being thrown, I believe those grenades being thrown back at the police are what they have called "Molotov cocktails."

    CNN documented it, so that was good, but then their reporter Don Lemon suggested-hinted that the crowd was throwing Molotov cocktails, and no one -- like Jake Tapper -- who witnessed what was happening corrected him, so the impression is left that the crowd was throwing Molotovs when they weren't.

    Meanwhile, the photographer's graphic testimony, that teargas was fired at him, hit him and went off at his feet choking him, and members of the crowd helped him, as there was no emergency services, contrasts sharply with the Official Story of "gunfire" directed at police. There was no evidence of any such thing, only statements by police. The evidence showed injury to this man, a photographer, hit by tear gas fired by police, nothing was fired at police, and members of the crowd helping the man down, not police or emergency services. Yet in the followon report, CNN merely repeats what police say, and pretty much ignore the direct testimony of the photographer.

    This is propaganda, pure and simple. They will say they "reported" what really happened (by letting the photographer talk) but then they parrot the police.


    Nobody Believes Him

    A 2:00am - ish news conference featuring Magic Negro Captain Ron Johnson. After a police chaplain sends up prayers, the MN C Johnson speechifies for a few minutes, reading haltingly from a prepared text announcing any number of falsehoods, tells the media not to interfere with police (by blocking an attack on the crowd for example?) and then shows off guns "confiscated near the media area" and a bottle of Colt .45 with a rag stuffed in it, claiming it's a "Molotov cocktail" -- something neither media nor crowd members say they've never seen thrown despite numerous claims by police of being subjected to rocks, bottles, gunfire and Molotov cocktails.

    IMO, he's lying. Nearly everything he says is a lie from the moment he starts opening his mouth.

    And then he ends it with an emotional plea to the media to work with the police to control and suppress the crowds -- rather than stand between the crowd and a roided and armored up police line like they did last night.

    MN C Johnson repeats the constant litany of "outside agitators", "gunfire directed at police," "Molotov cocktails thrown at police," and "assaults on police" (who cry because they aren't allowed to whack some Negroes because of it) none of which has been witnessed by members of the crowd or the media.

    It's all a fantasy/litany of tropes from the urban riot play book, and that's not, obviously, what's going on in Ferguson, as any honest reporter from within the crowds has documented. There have been repeated reports of "gunfire" that turn out not to have happened at all or to have been fireworks. There have been endless reports by the police of "Molotov cocktails" thrown at police that appear to be completely false, as there has never been -- NEVER BEEN -- any evidence whatsoever of any such thing happening. NONE. Nobody has ever documented a thrown Molotov cocktail, not one. The beer bottle displayed by MN C Johnson early this morning appeared to be partly filled with beer. You can't make a Molotov out of it. Every thrown bottle that's been witnessed by crowd or media is a plastic water bottle, either empty or with water in it, and they are few and far between, mostly launched by individuals in the center or back of a crowd, and who are widely believed to be plants, provocateurs.

    The assaults and attacks -- from Day One -- have all been by police.

    All of them.

    The media has been in the midst of many of these attacks, as they were last night, but there were things going on that they were forbidden to see, areas they were prohibited from accessing, and last night, after the police line swept the area on W. Florissant between Ferguson and Canfield Drive, the media was ordered to leave and reassemble at the police command post at the Target parking lot on the Ferguson/Jennings border. They did so, and as they did, they knew there was something going on near the Quick Trip, but they couldn't see or document it. Tear gas had been fired, and there were many, many police and riot control vehicles down there, but that's not where the crowd had been. It is where "gunshots" were declared to have been fired, but there was no way to know. Someone was declared to have been wounded and was brought by private car to the police line at Ferguson Dr, very dramatically, during the standoff with police earlier in the evening, directly in front of the media scrum, but then he got out of the car and walked into the police control area and to the back of an armored vehicle. No ambulance was on scene, and so far as could be seen, no emergency vehicle transported this supposedly wounded person.

    These details are noticed, and there is more and more skepticism of police accounts of "riot" in the streets of Ferguson.

    Much of what's happening appears to be staged. And why not? This morning, MN C Johnson claimed that "outside agitators" from New York and California had been arrested. Some wag at the presser asked -- "were they media?" Numerous media personnel have been arrested, and many of their headquarters are in New York and California, so the question was reasonable. Further, the drama of the continual evidence-free announcements by police is very much a factor New York/California cop shows.

    The lies and deceptions just keep piling up, day after day, night after night, and by now nobody much believes Captain Johnson or much of anything the police and authorities say.

    Something else is going on, and I wonder if we'll get a better idea of what it is after Labor Day -- which seems to be the calendar's pivot point since 9/11.

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    I Saw The Most Amazing Thing

    The police were inciting the crowd on W. Florissant, forming a line of gas-masked and roided-up officers, bringing up the armored cars, launching sound-cannon, ordering dispersal of the crowd, and threatening dire consequences. The crowd became angry, but community monitors were moving them back away from the police line. When the police continued to threaten and acted like they were going to use tear gas, the media -- dozens of them -- moved in, directly between the crowd and the police, and they stayed there no matter the threats and loud sounds. They stayed, and they protected the crowd, whether they meant to or not, they did.

    The police stayed in their line, they did not advance on the people. They did not fire tear gas. They sent one of their vehicles to a side street and another went to the middle of the block.

    People refused to leave, but they were not violent, despite the incitement by the police. There may have been a few water bottles thrown at the police line but nothing more.

    The media's action prevented another night of police riot.

    Who'd a thunk.

    Of course it's early yet...

    Police Rioted In Ferguson Again Last Night -- Governor Calls Out The Guard

    What I saw last night was that thousands of people took to the streets of Ferguson, MO, to march and chant and carry signs in solidarity honoring Michael Brown and to make a very clear statement: "Stop Killing Us." It was by far the biggest demonstration yet, and it was as multi-racial, multi-cultural, and as inclusive as any I've seen in Ferguson to date.

    There appeared to be several marches converging on W. Florissant, thousands of people coming from several directions toward what has become the central symbolic focus of the town, the "town square" if you will, the burnt out QT market and gas station, where much of Ferguson's sense of community has been expressed and solidified over the ten days or so since Michael Brown was shot down in the street nearby.

    I stepped away from my computer to do other things -- one does have other things to do after all -- and when I returned about an hour later, I was confronted on the livestreams with a line of roided-up police and armored vehicles, behind which the media cameras were assembled ("Stay behind the yellow line and you'll be all right") while blasts from the sound cannon were directed at a good sized group of demonstrators some distance away. So far as I could tell, the demonstrators were... demonstrating. "Peacefully." In the sense that they were not doing anything untoward at all, simply marching in the streets expressing solidarity with one another and being blasted by sound cannon, while media, far away, looked on apprehensively.

    I was watching the "I Am Mike Brown" and FOX 2 livestreams simultaneously. They showed similar views from behind police lines, and there was no commentary with either most of the time.

    [NBC News compilation of stories and pictures...]

    And then the tear gas and smoke grenades started being launched, and the police line moved at a slow and steady pace at the crowd of demonstrators, firing tear gas, flash bangs and what not the while.

    For what?

    It was more than an hour before the ostensible curfew at midnight, and so far as I could tell, the crowd was not violent or even particularly belligerent. They were loud and boisterous and determined, however, even in the face of sound cannon and what I'm sure they could tell was a coming assault and riot by police.

    They were targets and they knew it, and they stood brave and tall.

    "No justice, no peace!"

    I watched the police riot for an hour or so, and saw and heard a roided up police officer threaten Mustafa Hussain of Argus Radio ("I Am Mike Brown") with summary execution for turning on a light behind police lines, and I knew things could only devolve from that point. I turned it all off and went to bed. Had horrible dreams.

    They rioted again. The police rioted again against peaceful, determined demonstrators. They assaulted, gassed, and some say shot demonstrators in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, yet again, and now, according to reports I haven't yet had time to read, the Governor has called in the National Guard.

    None of this would be happening or be considered necessary by the Powers That Be if:

  • if Michael Brown hadn't been shot down in the street and left dead in that street for hours afterwards.

  • if authorities had not immediately responded with dogs and assault rifles to community anger and anguish at the initial killing and mistreatment of the body and the insult to the community

  • if police had not set out to suppress subsequent demonstrations with force 

  • if authorities had been forthcoming with information about the shooter and the investigation 

  • if the mostly white authorities had shown the least bit of respect for the people of Ferguson as a community rather than treating them as targets for their weapons.

  • This is well beyond the assholitry and incompetence of any number of named officials -- we all know who they are by now. The situation in Ferguson, and the adamant refusal of officials to address the serious concerns of the community except with violence and suppression, and their ostensible adherence to the importance of "procedure" above all, is surreal.

    The violence of the police started this sequence of events and the violence of the police has kept it in motion ever since.

    I saw a tweet or heard something last night (I don't remember which) that suggested that the police riot last night was triggered when a woman was shot several times in front of one of the stores on Ferguson -- I believe it was Sam's Meat Market. The police apparently blamed the shooting on someone in the crowd, while members of the crowd nearby blamed the police, saying the police had shot her four times. She was said to have been transported to the hospital by someone in the crowd, not by any form of emergency services on scene. In fact, during the police assault on the crowd, I did not see any evidence of Emergency Services on scene to care for anyone who might be injured in the assault, whether police or demonstrators. In the past, authorities have falsely claimed that "no one was injured" in previous police riots/assaults, when obviously many were injured.

    Later on, as the police riot continued, the PIO for St. Louis County Police (often the bad actors in previous police riots) stated that he could confirm that "shots were fired" and "fire was being taken" and the media may have to disperse for their own safety. Of course the immediate question was "who was firing, who was taking shots?" There was no answer.

    And now the Guard has been called out, presumptively a declaration of martial law, but I haven't checked this morning's reports yet.

    Jeebus this sucks.

    And I put full and complete responsibility on Authority. There is no excuse.