Saturday, August 16, 2014

Judas Goats and Southern Gothic

He sweated and fidgeted. The pudgy little potbellied white man poked at his sweaty upper lip and a mosquito bit at his forehead while he made remarks before assembled media flanked by roided up white men in uniform, his "force." In the morning, he said there had been some kind of strongarming reported at the Stop and Rob down the street from the burnt out Quik-Trick where he was holding forth in the parking lot. It was on the day, he said, a few minutes before that young Negro was shot and killed in the middle of Canfield Street, too bad for him, we're so sorry for his loved ones. Sure we are. Really!

There was a strongarming reported from the market, a 911 call, and one of our officers was sent out to investigate, and our other officer was just leaving a sick call, the pudgy little sweaty little fidgety man said in the broiling sun out front of the QuikTrip ruin, and he came upon these Negro boys out walking in the middle of the road and he...

Something, something, fidget fidget, and one of the Negroes got shot and then he was dead. Some cigars were reported stolen from the Stop and Rob, and then the Negro boy was dead. Here are some pictures; here is the police report.

Oh, and the officer who shot the Negro boy was named something-something, what was that? Oh yeah, fidget fidget, Darren, Wilson, something something, but don't forget the robbery. The Negro boy and his friend were the prime suspects. The one that got dead. In the middle of the street. Fidget. "'Bye!"

 This one:

But later on, the fidgety little sweaty man would come out with his phalanx of white cops, all bigger and roider and stoic and shit, and say, "Well, you know that robbery that we reported to you at your request had nothing to do with the encounter Our Brave Officer had with those Negroes.  What would make you think it did? A-henh." Fidget. "Oh, and you know that Negro boy who got shot? He was holding the box of cigars he stole from the Stop and Rob..."


Ron Johnson, the Highway Patrol Captain appointed by the Governor to calm things down in Ferguson, was blind-sided by the pudgy little sweaty man, and he knew it. In fact, everybody was blindsided. That was the point of his fidgeting, that and incitement. Get those Negroes riled up and then see what happens. Show you a thing or two, just watch.

Sure enough.

Overnight, according to reports I'm just checking out, there were protests in the rain, and then everybody went home and the police withdrew, and then... just like clockwork, the looters arrived and struck the store where Michael Brown is said to have stolen those cigars, and they struck nearby businesses, and they made off with plenty of loot. Armloads. And then they went down to the WalMart, so it's said, and took more loot.

The people of Ferguson have been going around town cleaning up the mess and hauling away the trash and expressing their outrage to the local FOX station -- which has been doing a good job covering the situation in Ferguson, much better and more fairly and honestly and directly than most of the other St. Louis media -- at what these "outsiders" are doing to their community.


We've seen this pattern so many times before.

The word is that the police "withdrew" last night when the crowds of protesters were gone -- 4am? -- and that left an opening for the looters to swoop in. It sounds almost as if it were arranged...

Knowing the duplicity of the players and the nature of the game being played, with the people of Ferguson as pawns, it wouldn't be at all surprising if the events have been as carefully arranged as on a chess-board for the purpose of achieving a particular outcome.

Even I sometimes forget the Southern-ness of Missouri, and particularly of St. Louis, and the Gothic rotting nature of it all. The story is playing out as if it were a Southern Gothic novel, and no one seems able to stop it...

I worried that Ron Johnson might be a Judas goat, and he might be, but more likely he's being played like one of the pawns in somebody else's game.

As for the sweaty little fidget man? He, too, might be a rook in someone else's game.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio...


  1. 5 p.m. on the (so-far) unoccupied east coast, Che, and I just heard that Gov. Nixon of Missouri has declared a state of emergency in Ferguson along with a curfew.

    Odd thing about the looting last night. The cops were there, but stood aside and let other protesters try to stop it. Storeowners guarding their own stores with guns. I think the cops figured let them have at it and they'll be crying for police protection soon enough. As though offering a choice between getting killed by the cops or having no cops were the only two options.

    I saw the little sweaty guy's news conferences live. Very weird shit. During the second one, when he took questions, he made it clear that the killer cop had no clue about the alleged robbery when he stopped the two boys in the street, but later in the day, the reporters muddled up the story themselves and started saying that the cop was responding to the robbery call. My daughter is closely following the story, so I left the tv on for her. It was clear throughout the day that it was the reporters who first made the mixup about "responding to a robbery call", and little sweaty guy capitalized on that later himself, insinuating that the cop knew about the robbery down the street. The reporters also insist on repeating the phrase "strong-arm robbery", which sounds much more serious than what it was - shoplifting.

    Not that it matters one little bit what Mike Brown did or did not do before he was shot.

    I am sick of the reporters at this point, who are the ones who keep referring to "strong-arm" robbery and mixing up the story; bad enough that little sweaty guy brought the video out at the same time as the cop's name. And I have not heard one reporter point out that they shouldn't even fall for the trap of talking about the shoplifting, as it is irrelevant, nor have I heard anyone simply say that it wouldn't have mattered if the kid was a suspect in a murder; cops can't shoot you dead in the street. They can bring you in for questioning or arrest you. If you run away, they can pursue you. They don't get to shoot you for running away. They don't get to shoot you even if you punch a cop in the face or struggle with them. Even if you are armed, they can't freaking shoot you unless you pull that weapon out and aim it at the cops at some point.

    I fear that things are going to escalate with the state of emergency situation, and of course, we have "Anonymous" egging on the dumber of the protesters to go ahead and loot and throw bottles and such. (I can't excuse the dumb-shits who think that stealing the livelihood from their neighbors' stores is somehow showing the po-po something.)

    And geez, all these concerned Congressmen popping their faces into the cameras and talking about over-militarization of the police forces. They are the ones who have approved all this hardware and war-zone materiel being handed out like candy all these years.

    Badly handled all around.


    1. I've been watching as much as I can of what's going on through the livestreams; the FOX outlet in St. Louis has been remarkably good, better and fairer -- actually more sympathetic to the Brown family and the people in Ferguson -- than most of the other media and news outlets which all seem to be deeply wedded to Authority.

      The FOX newsies on site have challenged the narrative the police are putting out. Quite forcefully on occasion too.

      They seem to understand there is a nasty game being played there for power and control. Jackson is a liar, for sure, but there's much more to it than that, which is why I call it "Southern Gothic." St. Louis and environs are very Southern, which I noticed with something of a shock when I was working there in the 80s, and by Southern, I don't mean just racist. I don't think I have to tell you that there is a whole culture that is bound up in what is and has been going on in Ferguson.

      There are many people trying to get beyond it, but this sweaty little man and some others keep dragging things back. Getting beyond it is the key, and I don't know that Authority -- even in the person of Ronald Johnson -- is capable of it yet.

      We saw last night, for example, that though tactics were modified, they were still inappropriate.

      Why did Wilson kill Brown? Why did he believe he had to? It had nothing to do with the robbery, of course. I want to know what drove Wilson to commit outright murder. So do a lot of people, and all this other shit is distraction.

  2. I was talking to both my daughter and one of my sons about this yesterday afternoon. We have all watched a lot of the coverage and read the stories. I think that perhaps (PERHAPS) Wilson was pissed off for some reason before he ever even saw the boys. Looking for trouble, as it were. Brown's friend and companion that day, Dorian Johnson, gave this interview shortly after the killing. [I'll post it at the end of my own writing.] His account matches what other eyewitnesses have reported. None of the eyewitnesses agree with the police version of events. Johnson has amended his version through his attorney on only one point; he admits that he and Brown shoplifted from the store before they were heading home. His attorney said, when asked, that he had omitted that part before because it was completely irrelevant to the shooting a few minutes later. The store-owner was not the one who reported the shoplifting, BTW, a customer in the store called 911 when the boys left. (I.e., the store owner didn't think it was important enough to call the cops about.)

    Wilson did not call for medical aid for Brown after shooting him, either. Someone said they heard him call for police back-up, however. Witnesses (there were people on the street as well as people in a parked car who saw the whole thing) say that it was a witness who called for an ambulance. I saw a phone video from a witness taken immediately after the shooting. Wilson IS indeed the guy in your latest post. In the video, he is seen pacing beside the body and occasionally motioning people away. From Johnson's statement, it sounds like Wilson was looking for trouble, probably got whacked in the head by his own car door, which pissed him off further, and he shot out of sheer fucked-up rage. Maybe then went into a spiral of anger, continuing to shoot. The video of him a minute after shooting Brown appears (to me) to show a man who suddenly realizes what he has done and doesn't know what the hell to do next. Eye-witnesses describe that he had shoved his car door open so fiercely, either to chase Brown or to try to knock him down with the door, that the door recoiled, hitting Wilson in the head. This may be what caused his "head injury" that the sweaty little man kept referring to in an attempt to suggest that Brown had somehow injured Wilson.

    I don't know why the eye-witnesses have suddenly clammed up - nobody in the media is interviewing them any more, nor re-running their original interviews. Maybe that is better, though. Don't want them to be encouraged to embellish or misremember prior to a trial where they will have to testify. And this better come to a fucking trial against Wilson.

  3. Here is Johnson's original interview:

    [...] About 20 minutes before the shooting, Johnson said he saw Brown walking down the street and decided to catch up with him. The two walked and talked. [Teri's note: Johnson has since admitted the two boys were together in the store and stole some cigs, then were walking home. This is the only part that he has changed.] That’s when Johnson says they saw the police car rolling up to them.
    The officer demanded that the two “get the f—k on the sidewalk,” Johnson says. “His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk.”

    After telling the officer that they were almost at their destination, Johnson’s house, the two continued walking. But as they did, Johnson says the officer slammed his brakes and threw his truck in reverse, nearly hitting them.

    Now, in line with the officer’s driver’s side door, they could see the officer’s face. They heard him say something to the effect of, “what’d you say?” At the same time, Johnson says the officer attempted to thrust his door open but the door slammed into Brown and bounced closed. Johnson says the officer, with his left hand, grabbed Brown by the neck.

    “I could see the muscles in his forearm,” Johnson said. “Mike was trying to get away from being choked.”

    “They’re not wrestling so much as his arm went from his throat to now clenched on his shirt,” Johnson explained of the scene between Brown and the officer. “It’s like tug of war. He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’”

    At that moment, Johnson says he fixed his gaze on the officer to see if he was pulling a stun gun or a real gun. That’s when he saw the muzzle of the officer’s gun.

    “I seen the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” he said. “He had it pointed at him and said ‘I’ll shoot,’ one more time.”

    A second later Johnson said he heard the first shot go off. 

    “I seen the fire come out of the barrell,” he said. “I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close.”

    Johnson says he was within arm’s reach of both Brown and the officer. He looked over at Brown and saw blood pooling through his shirt on the right side of the body.
    “The whole time [the officer] was holding my friend until the gun went off,” Johnson noted.

    Brown and Johnson took off running together. There were three cars lined up along the side of the street. Johnson says he ducked behind the first car, whose two passengers were screaming. Crouching down a bit, he watched Brown run past.
    “Keep running, bro!,” he said Brown yelled. Then Brown yelled it a second time. Those would be the last words Johnson’s friend, “Big Mike,” would ever say to him.

    Brown made it past the third car. Then, “blam!” the officer took his second shot, striking Brown in the back. At that point, Johnson says Brown stopped, turned with his hands up and said “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

    By that point, Johnson says the officer and Brown were face-to-face. The officer then fired several more shots. Johnson described watching Brown go from standing with his hands up to crumbling to the ground and curling into a fetal position.

    “After seeing my friend get gunned down, my body just ran,” he said. He ran to his apartment nearby. Out of breath, shocked and afraid, Johnson says he went into the bathroom and vomited. Then he checked to make sure that he hadn’t also been shot.

    Five minutes later, Johnson emerged from his apartment to see his friend Mike dead and in the middle of the street. Neighbors were gathering, some shouting, some taking pictures with their cell phones. [...]

    1. This was the interview with Dorian Johnson posted by CBC on August 10th. I'm not sure whether it was recorded on the 9th or the 10th. The black shirt on his shoulder suggests it was on the 9th shortly after the murder, as he was wearing a black t-shirt in the surveillance video from the convenience store and he lives in the apartment complex where the interview was recorded. I was spreading the link to it on the 11th.

      Apparently, CNN carried it live, but I can't find it on their site. Channel 2 is the FOX station in St Louis I've been checking periodically for live coverage (it's been pretty good), but I've never seen this video on their menu.

      He's maintained pretty much that same story through all subsequent interviews, and his statements are backed up by other witnesses.

      He's admitted the robbery.

      One thing about the TheePharoah twitter feed where I got the picture of Wilson standing over the body: he mentions, minutes after the murder, that he'd heard that the boy who was killed had taken some rellos -- ie: stolen cigars -- before he was killed and he wondered if that was why he was shot. There's no mention of where he got that information, though. But somebody was saying something about it right from the beginning.

      If you have a link to a video with Wilson, I'd like to see it...

      Yeah, there better be a trial, and those who say Wilson should be under arrest right now are right.