If you’re paying attention to the events unfolding in Ferguson—and by God, you better be—then you probably already know there is a group of people in this country of ours who are determined to change the focus of the conversation about the murder of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests, attempting to shift the lens away from the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and the shooting of a black teenager.
If you’re reading this, you probably already know the folks I’m talking about. But here they are.
1) The Full-Blown Racist Troll
Block on sight. Some of them are friends of your Facebook friends—block them. Some of them are your Facebook friends. Many of them are accounts like this one: anonymous and relying on blatantly racist language, such as blackface imagery, “monkey” references, use of the “N-word,” etc. These have exploded over the last week. We’re talking hundreds. I’ve been using Twitter avidly for years, and I can’t recall ever seeing quite this much racist bile taking over an event-related hashtag (#Ferguson) as I have this week.
Block them and report them for spam immediately.
2) The “Wait for Evidence” Troll
This troll may or may not be anonymous and pretends to be focused on respecting and upholding the law. “We don’t know what happened yet,” they say. “Wait for evidence before you lambast an officer of the law.” They pretend that things like racism, police brutality, and police corruption don’t exist and insist that if concrete evidence is released, they will be swayed to feel “sympathy” for Mike Brown.
But they won’t. When evidence arises, they find objection to its relevance or veracity. They then transform into The “Mike Brown Shouldn’t Have [insert human action here]” Troll, our next entry.
3) The “Mike Brown Shouldn’t Have [Insert Human Action Here]” Troll
This troll (and the others as well) will go great lengths to justify the taking of black life, using justifications like “he shouldn’t have run,” “he shouldn’t have been sagging,” and “he shouldn’t have been walking down the middle of the street,” and “he shouldn’t have stolen something.”
These trolls come in all races and will insist that when a police officer (or a homeowner, or a security guard) assaults a person of color, that person must have done something to deserve it. The fact that Mike Brown was shot at least six times doesn’t register as overkill, even when two of those shots were in the head.
They will also extend effort to paint Ferguson as a ghetto, where this kind of thing happens all the time. Nope. Ferguson, Missouri had zero murders until Officer Darren Wilson killed Mike Brown.
4) The “Police Are the Good Guys” Troll
These folks have a blissfully naïve version of police in their heads, the one fed to them since they were children that says police are the good guys and that no matter what they do, they must have had a reason. These people have no concept (or pretend to have no concept) of the depth of white supremacy and the way it is ingrained in every facet of our culture—even our police. Because they believe the police are always right—and usually because they also believe that groups of black people are inherently violent—they have no qualms about police dressed in military gear, sitting on tanks and tear-gassing American citizens.
You may also hear these trolls say, “What about due process?” Well, we would proceed with due process. If they would actually arrest Darren Wilson. Which they haven’t.
We have seen them all.