Here’s an open thread to keep up on events, as it seems we may be expecting the Ferguson grand jury decision any moment. The quintessential Friday night news dump.
Interesting news tonight from Ferguson, Missouri: Officer Darren Wilson in Talks to Resign.
If the reports we’ve been getting about the Grand Jury in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson are accurate, it seems like a foregone conclusion that officer Darren Wilson is not going to be charged in Brown’s killing.
And now in preparation for the soon-to-be released decision of the Grand Jury, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is declaring a state of emergency and activating the National Guard, obviously expecting trouble even though recent protests have been peaceful. Here’s the official statement: Executive Order 14-14 | Governor Jay Nixon.
You may remember this LGF post from last August, when Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in street protests after the shooting death of Michael Brown: FAA Shuts Down Airspace Over Ferguson at Request of Police.
At the time, St. Louis County and Ferguson police said the 12-day flight restriction was for the safety of law enforcement personnel, including police helicopters. I wrote:
Last night, police ordered media to leave the area. Is this [FAA restriction] really out of concern for safety, or an attempt to keep media from watching what’s going on in Ferguson for the next 6 days? It’s an unusual step, to say the least; normally police helicopters and media helicopters are able to share airspace in areas like this without fear of accidents.
For the record, more than a few people pooh-poohed this idea and suggested it was a conspiracy theory. But today we’ve learned, just as I surmised, that in fact this restriction was intended to keep media out of the area.
On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area — but ban others.
“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.
At another point, a manager at the FAA’s Kansas City center said police “did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn’t want media in there.” …
“There is really … no option for a TFR that says, you know, ‘OK, everybody but the media is OK,’” he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic.
The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response.
Darren Wilson’s Grand Jury Testimony Destroys Jim Hoft’s Bogus “Fractured Eye Socket” Claims for Good
You may recall Jim Hoft’s now-infamous repeated claims that anonymous sources told him police officer Darren Wilson suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket” in a struggle with unarmed teenager Michael Brown, before Wilson shot Brown to death.
LGF’s article debunking Hoft’s unsourced claims went viral on Twitter and Facebook, and now shows almost 250,000 views and many thousands of retweets and shares. Yet Hoft has continued to push this claim over and over, in almost everything he posts on the subject.
Well, today the New York Times has a report on the grand jury testimony of officer Wilson, and his account contains absolutely no mention of a fractured eye socket, or of any injuries more serious than scratches and swelling: Police Officer in Ferguson Is Said to Recount a Struggle.
WASHINGTON — The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., two months ago has told investigators that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life as he struggled over his gun with Mr. Brown, according to government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation into the matter.
The officer, Darren Wilson, has told the authorities that during the scuffle, Mr. Brown reached for the gun. It was fired twice in the car, according to forensics tests performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The first bullet struck Mr. Brown in the arm; the second bullet missed.
The forensics tests showed Mr. Brown’s blood on the gun, as well as on the interior door panel and on Officer Wilson’s uniform. Officer Wilson told the authorities that Mr. Brown had punched and scratched him repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck.
Notice also that all of the blood found on Wilson’s gun, inside the car, and on Wilson’s uniform belonged to Michael Brown — not to Darren Wilson. So clearly, if there was a struggle at all (about which there remains considerable doubt) the only person who came away from it with serious injuries was Michael Brown.
So how does the Dumbest Man on the Internet cover the story, now that his claims are totally destroyed by Wilson’s own testimony? With yet another deceptive, misleading headline: NY Times: Michael Brown Beat Officer Darren Wilson Before His Death - Blood Found on Wilson’s Gun | the Gateway Pundit.
Notice that Hoft phrased his crummy headline to give the impression that the blood on Wilson’s gun came from Michael Brown’s “beating,” when it was actually Brown’s blood from Wilson shooting him.
Hoft even has the gall to claim that the New York Times article backs up his accounts.
The New York Times story mirrors what The Gateway Pundit reported in August on the attack.
If you click the link Hoft posts to his own site, you’ll notice something odd; suddenly, for the first time, he’s no longer linking to his “fractured eye socket” post, but to one of his earlier posts before he started pushing his false story.
The only question remaining now is whether Hoft actually did have anonymous sources in the St. Louis County PD and prosecuting attorney’s office, as he said, or whether he just completely made up this story. In other words, lied like a rug.
I strongly suspect the latter.
One of the very controversial measures used by Ferguson police and St. Louis County police against people protesting the shooting of Michael Brown is their “5-second rule” —a crowd-control tactic that forces protesters to keep moving or be arrested if they remain in one place longer than 5 seconds.
Yesterday a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against this tactic, because it violates the protesters’ constitutional rights.
The injunction “is a huge win for peaceful protesters and those who believe in the rule of law,” Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU, said in a news release.
Perry’s injunction said the practice police adopted, which some activists called the “five-second rule,” violated free speech rights. The judge also said the policy violated due process rights because “its enforcement was entirely arbitrary and left to the unfettered discretion of the officers on the street,” effectively making them lawmakers and enforcers.
“Citizens who wish to gather in the wake of Michael Brown’s tragic death have a constitutional right to do so, but they do not have the right to endanger lives of police officers or other citizens,” Perry wrote. “The police must be able to perform their jobs, and nothing in this order restricts their ability to do that.”
Despite DOJ requesting Ferguson PD wear ID in 2 separate letters, FPD officers not complying with DOJ or FPD regs http://t.co/rxCakw0WCA
Two DOJ letters weren’t enough.
FPD regulations aren’t enough.
The FPD keeps flouting their own rules and regulations, let alone the DOJ letters requiring that all officers comply with Department rules and common sense, and have IDs showing at all time on duty. The fact that they’re not displaying their names shows that they do not want their identities easily known and that they may think that they can act with impunity against a community still angry that the officer who shot and killed an unarmed man, Michael Brown has not been indicted, let alone arrested and charged in that killing.
The Department has repeatedly shown a disregard for the law, including what information was released in relation to the shooting, how the investigation was being handled, and even the identity of the officer involved, his injuries, and other factual evidence that was gathered at the scene.
This is not only reckless disregard for the law, but shows just how lawless this organization is. Ferguson deserves better, and that includes everyone from the mayor to the city council (which includes a former who-should-be-disgraced FPD officer who was involved in another excessive force incident), to the police chief and the officers of the Department itself.
Note too that the Department of Justice issued one of the letters in response to officers wearing bracelets stating “I am Darren Wilson,” which is precisely the wrong message you want to send to the community grieving over the death of Brown, and where eyewitness accounts essentially concur that Wilson not only used excessive force, but engaged in an extrajudicial killing of Brown. They are, in effect, saying that they would do the same thing — and implying that Wilson did nothing wrong.
If you scratch deeper, you’d probably find the same problems with other Greater St. Louis area police departments, including the county police.
A house cleaning will not be sufficient. The rot and stink is too far entrenched for a hodgepodge firing of a couple of officials.
And that also means that Ferguson residents (and those elsewhere in the STL area) have to vote - and vote in every election to see all these folks gone. Antonio French has a big job ahead of him, but he can’t do the lifting alone. It takes time, a GOTV effort, and sustained efforts beyond just this election cycle.
The city government of Ferguson, Missouri, has hired a public relations firm, and they apparently advised Police Chief Tom Jackson to make this video filled with abject apologies.
And today we’re learning that some of the police officers in Ferguson last night were wearing armbands that said, “I am Darren Wilson.”
@Rebeccarivas asks Johnson about the officers who were wearing “I Am Darren Wilson” armbands. He said they were doing that as individuals.
Some police in Ferguson last night wore “I am Darren Wilson” bracelets while policing protest. Cpt. Johnson says he'll talk to them about it
St. Louis County Police Semi-Apologize for “How to Handle the Media” Flyer, Delete It From Their Website
The St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy has responded to the uproar over their course on how to handle media after an officer-involved shooting, and the instructor says he’s “outraged” that anyone would “read between the lines.”
Police Academy spokesman Brian Schellman sort of apologizes in the usual non-apology “if anyone was offended” way:
Schellman also issued the following statement: “Chief of Police Jon Belmar and his command staff were unaware of the flier and its wording until the subject was brought up by several members of the media. The St. Louis County Police Department recognizes the sensitive nature of this flier in the wake of Mr. Brown’s death, and the events that transpired in Ferguson. This flier has been worded in nearly the same manner for all of Mr. Rosenthal’s prior teachings at our academy, with the exception of the newly added lines referencing Ferguson. Being that the flier was sent by our police academy, we apologize for anyone hurt by the wording of the flier. We believe Mr. Rosenthal’s use of the terms ‘900-pound gorilla’ and ‘feeding the animals’ were mentioning police departments from across the nation dealing with the media and meant no racial harm.”
The instructor, Rick Rosenthal, focuses on the racially-charged language, denying he meant it that way — but completely missing the point that the entire idea of a “highly entertaining” course teaching police how to control and “handle” the media after gunning someone down is, in itself, pretty outrageous.
Rosenthal said that was nothing racial about his flier.
“It’s outrageous that someone would try to read between lines and make something out of nothing,” he said.
He also issued a statement, which read in part: “The term ‘feeding the animals’ is a tongue-in-cheek reference to dealing with mainstream news media reporters (the ‘animals’ - I used to be one, myself.) The term ‘900 pound gorilla’ is a similar tongue-in-cheek reference to news reporters, particularly those who aggressively strain the bounds of First Amendment privilege while ignoring their responsibilities for fairness and accuracy, especially as defined by the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. I have been using these terms in my programs for the past 20 years. I strongly reject any suggestion that these terms are new, or are in any way a specific reference to the recent tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, or are in any way a racial slur. Any suggestion to the contrary is just plain wrong.”
It’s clear that the contentious attitude we saw from St. Louis police during the Ferguson protests was no fluke; it stems from an organization that sees itself in opposition to the community and to the media. And these statements do nothing to change that evaluation.
It’s unclear from these statements whether the course has actually been canceled, but the offensive flyer has now been removed from the St. Louis County website. Here’s a screenshot, for the record.