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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:30 am 
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In the part of St. Louis County I grew up in, about ten miles away. You aren't seeing it on the news, probably--which is its own story--but go out to Twitter and search the #Ferguson of #fergusonshooting hashtags. (Don't read it unless you have a strong stomach. There's a reason I have 500 people blocked on Facebook, and structured my Twitter feed to avoid the festering pools of hate that wander the web these days.)

It's depressing. A kid gets shot and killed under extremely unclear circumstances--evidently he wasn't walking on the sidewalk and a policeman took exception--and when people show up at the police department to protest--peacefully at that point--the police brought out dogs.

Because police with dogs and largely black crowds has worked so well in the past in this country.

At some point tonight things went very bad very fast. Fires, looting, shots, news vans attacked. At which point it's not about the kid--but then the kid getting shot wasn't about the kid, really. There's a lot of rage out there, on any number of sides, and I dread the day it gets released fully.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:54 am 
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49 years to the day after Watts, too. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:05 am 
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I'm so sorry, Ax.

I feel the retreat of civilisation on so many fronts. I've been trying to avoid 'seeing' it - avoiding the news, certainly avoiding social media.

I will take a peek at the situation you're referring to, though, as it hasn't been mentioned anywhere else in my cybersphere.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:31 pm 
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I heard about the shooting, but not the riots. I would like to say something intelligent and helpful, but I find that I am not able at this time. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:04 pm 
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It's a huge, complicated thing. North St. Louis County is about 60-70% African-American--up from 30% when I was growing up, as north St. Louis city ceased to be a livable space and people moved out--but the police forces in some of the municipalities are 90% white. Add in budget cuts since 2008, because taxes are evil you know, and you end up with understaffed, undertrained police departments who get free military spec equipment used from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stir in the institutional racism of the area and pretty soon you have a bunker mentality on one side and a "we get shot whether we're good or bad" mentality on the other side and this kind of thing happens.

Maybe 5% of the protesters got violent...and I'm not even sure they were protesters, as opposed to people hanging out near the protests. Not that it matters all that much on one level. The police mishandled the protests--riot gear came out early, they tried to break up the crowd by driving through it slowly--until the more violent fringe had an excuse. Which gave the police an excuse to bring out their Army toys. We're lucky more people didn't get hurt or killed--fortunately the area isn't so built up that it pens people in to narrow areas.

Re: the shooting and the accounts of it--the police department had dash cams in boxes waiting to be installed. A good first step, but I've come to the conclusion that police need body cams. Trust but verify, as Reagan said once. And you know, most of the time I suspect they'll back up what the officers report.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:12 pm 
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And you know, most of the time I suspect they'll back up what the officers report.

That is true. And it also true that most people will only pay attention to the times when they don't, or when they show that the police mishandled a situation.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:25 pm 
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And thank goodness for that! Surely we should assume that the police are doing their job most of the time? The problem is, when they mess it up, people die. There have been so many shootings of unarmed black men and boys lately, including the one near here. It has to stop.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:29 pm 
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I'm okay with not noticing a lack of problems with the police, in the same way I'm okay with not noticing a lack of problems with my liver. As a normal state of affairs, essential government functions should be as unobtrusive as essential bodily functions. Of course that assumes someone isn't doing something stupid with their body.

Sorry, drifting off to allegory is how I deal with stress.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:51 pm 
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It has certainly been in the news I've seen. The story as they reported it was that he was shot while assaulting the police officer and trying to take his gun, although possibly after trying to give himself up.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:32 pm 
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The story as the police reported it, yes. But it raises red flags: give himself up for what? He wasn't wanted for anything. Somehow we get from a police car driving by two teenagers walking down the street to a dead teenager. The path connecting those two points may prove interesting, but in the larger sense, it's irrelevant. What was a non-situation ended up with a dead body.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:19 am 
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Things got worse tonight. What by all accounts was a strictly peaceful protest was greeted by fully hardened police with vehicles, followed by tear gas and some sort of "non-lethal" projectiles--which could be anything from rubber coated steel rounds to tear gas grenade shrapnel. The police at one point tried telling reporters to leave because their presence was endangering lives. The FAA declared the area a no-fly zone, I suppose to discourage someone from bringing in a private drone to video things.

Yeah.
:bang:

I'm never making fun of Twitter again. It got information (good, bad and indifferent) out when the national media was pretty obviously trying to ignore things.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:04 am 
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:(
I saw media reports today, but with focus on the riots, not what provoked them.

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:55 pm 
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But of course. There's always a narrative for the media: "these people"--or as one of the the cops was caught saying on mic, "you animals"--must be contained, lest they, I don't know, actually achieve the rights they're supposed to have.

Burn down a convenience store and it's news (although the looting seems not to have been committed by people from the affected community, but opportunists waiting for a distraction). Shoot another unarmed black teenager and it's some mumble-mouthed BS about protocols.

There are two overlapping problems here: the transformation of police departments into crytpomilitary units, and the relationship between communities and their police departments, especially when there's a significant gap in racial makeup. Ferguson is 67% black; its police force has 3 black officers out of 53. This isn't "just" a racial issue--ask me about my own low-grade run-ins with area police officers with exaggerated senses of entitlement--but race is an unfortunately integral part of it.

I've got a good friend who became a cop in a KC suburb. I need to ask him if this looks as bad to him as it does to me. The only thing the police were missing last night were fire hoses.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 4:36 pm 
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I've read many articles of late about increasingly militarized police forces around the country, along with a greater propensity for confrontation. This is the third example I've come across about a violent confrontation/arrest resulting from someone jaywalking, that is, either walking in the road or crossing somewhere other than the corner, and then not immediately complying with whatever request was made by the officer. If these youths had complied with whatever the initial request was, rather than getting into an altercation with the officer (according to reports), would one of them now be dead? This is the main question in my mind . . . how did the young man end up fighting with a police officer (if reports are accurate)?

The other trend recently in the news is the use of fully armed swat teams to carry out routine procedures, whereas they used to be deployed only in extreme circumstances. I think this has to be partly due to the lack of sensible gun controls in this country. If a police force must anticipate a citizenry lawfully armed to the teeth, then they have to be armed to the teeth as well, and are bound to be a little jumpy.

As for the response last night, I suppose they wanted to prevent the situation from getting out of hand again (i.e., prevent further destruction of property, etc.)?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:11 pm 
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The main question in my mind is, should the penalty for failing to comply instantly with a police officer's order be death? Or, in the case of tasers, disabling pain with a nonzero risk of death?

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:29 pm 
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Exactly, Prim. In every recent report of a similar shooting, an officer's life was nowhere near being endangered.

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:39 pm 
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Quote:
should the penalty for failing to comply instantly with a police officer's order be death?


Of course it shouldn't. But; even in the what would be the worst case for the police, unless they're 100% lying, Brown was killed for physically assaulting an armed, on-duty officer. I don't think you deserve to be shot for that, especially if you subsequently try to give up (which it sounds like Brown probably did), but neither should you be particularly surprised when it happens. Most likely it will turn out that both parties were very much in the wrong, and then what will all the outrage have been for? Neither hill sounds like one I'd want my flag planted on.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:14 pm 
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I find it quite possible the police officer in question is, in fact, 100% lying, or even more possible, has structured his perception in such a way as he cannot possibly be at fault for anything he does, because he's the "good guy" and anyone out there who's black and male is a "bad guy" until proven otherwise.

And yes, we should be very much surprised, shocked, and appalled when a cop is so incompetent, functionally or morally, as to end up killing someone for no reason other than "failure to jump high enough when I said frog." The day we stop being surprised, shocked, and appalled, we live in a police state.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:19 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
As for the response last night, I suppose they wanted to prevent the situation from getting out of hand again (i.e., prevent further destruction of property, etc.)?


So in order to save the buildings they attacked their inhabitants.

The police department has gone back on its plans and is now refusing to release the name of the officer. It would be quicker if they just started scheduling the demonstrations and the military counterattacks.

Right now Ferguson has a white mayor, and five of the six council members are white. I suspect that won't last--and then perhaps some changes will come along.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:37 pm 
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axordil wrote:
And yes, we should be very much surprised, shocked, and appalled when a cop is so incompetent, functionally or morally, as to end up killing someone for no reason other than "failure to jump high enough when I said frog."


I agree with that, but I just don't see how it's what happened here. It may have begun with the officer picking on Brown for no good reason, but the only reason it ended with Brown getting shot is because he went on the attack*, which is neither a legal nor a smart response to police harassment.

*again, unless the police are 100% lying, which I'll concede is not impossible


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