5 things the Ferguson police have in common with homebirth midwives

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Whatever else you might say about the debacle in Ferguson, Missouri, one conclusion is inescapable: the Ferguson police and city government have given us the perfect case study for how NOT to conduct police work.

In thinking about their mistakes, it struck me that the incompetent and inappropriate response of the Ferguson police, first to  African-American teen Michael Brown, and then to the fatal shooting of Brown has so much in common with the typical incompetent and inappropriate practice of homebirth midwives.

The Ferguson Police Department treated Michael Brown, his fatal shooting, and the aftermath the same way homebirth midwives treat childbirth.

1. They use intuition instead of facts

Michael Brown was unarmed, he did not pose a deadly threat to the police officer who encountered him. Apparently, that’s not what the police officer thought. He saw a large black male coming toward him, and his “intuition” told him that large black males are thugs with guns. He trusted his intuition instead of accurately assessing the situation. He pumped 6 bullets into Michael Brown, including one into the top of his head, hitting him when he was falling to the ground. His intuition was wrong and Michael Brown is dead as a direct result of substituting intuition for facts.

2. They don’t check facts; they might find out something they don’t want to know

If the police officer who shot Brown had checked and found that he was unarmed, he would have had no pretext to shoot him. Or he might have left himself exposed to injury. If homebirth midwives ordered routine prenatal testing on their patients, they might have no pretext for claiming that the patients are low risk and therefore good candidates for homebirth. Better not to check.

3. Protect yourself first

This has been on ongoing theme in Ferguson. A police officer shot Michael Brown because he was protecting himself first. Brown was never a threat to him, but he feared that he was and reacted with that in mind. The Ferguson Police Department met the subsequent peaceful protests with an array of tremendous force thereby inflaming the situation further. They were more concerned with protecting themselves from the harm that they “intuited” would come from a large group of African-Americans peacefully protesting than with accurately assessing and appropriately managing the situation.

Homebirth midwives routinely protect themselves first and leave mothers and babies to fend for themselves. Their goal is to attend a vaginal birth, collect a fee, and face no consequences. When complications develop, they ignore them, and avoid transporting to more qualified providers until someone is dead or nearly so. They drop patients in emergency rooms or make family members take patients to emergency rooms rather than expose themselves to legal responsibility by accompanying their dead or dying patients. They coach patients to lie on their behalf since protecting them must always be the primary goal.

4. Blame the victim

The Ferguson Police Department was strongly counseled by both State and Federal authorities NOT to release the surveillance video that showed that Brown may have been involved in a convenience store robbery immediately prior to the shooting. That State and Federal officials understood that releasing the video would be (correctly) interpreted as an effort to smear Brown for “getting himself shot.” It’s all the more remarkable that they forged ahead with the release of the video while simultaneously acknowledging that the officer who shot Brown knew nothing about the alleged robbery at the convenience store. That was a tacit admission that the robbery was irrelevant to the shooting, and simply a way to imply that Brown “deserved” what he got.

Homebirth midwives are inordinately fond of blaming the victim. When a mother asks for an epidural or needs a C-section or other interventions, it’s because she didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise, had too much “fear” or lacked sufficient strength and commitment. When a baby dies it’s because the baby “was meant to die” and “babies die in hospitals, too.” Homebirth midwives routinely share personal patient information on the internet and message boards in an effort to justify their own conduct by blaming the patient for the disappointment, disaster or outright tragedy that befell her.

5. Refuse to accept responsibility

Never, ever apologize for what happened.

Imagine if the Ferguson Police Department had responded to the shooting of Michael Brown by admitting, up front, that it was a mistake, promising a thorough inquiry, treating protesters as people whose anger was justified and whose protests are protected by the Constitution. And imagine if they actually did regret what happened, and could be trusted to thoroughly investigate what went wrong, and to institute policies, procedures and training sessions to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. I suspect the situation would have played out very differently.

But they couldn’t do it, because that would mean accepting responsibility and in their view the responsibility belonged with the person who “got himself shot” and not with the officer who shot him. They argue that the police need to be free to do their jobs using whatever means necessary, and protecting themselves first, because anything else would result in them being unable to protect the public.

Homebirth midwives can’t accept responsibility. First they blame the victim for her own tragedy, even if the proximate cause is negligence of the homebirth midwife, Their certifying organization has literally NO safety standards, because standards would hold them open to censure if they violated them. There is no mandated peer review, no mandated training sessions, no discussions of how to prevent the same mistakes from happening over and over again. Instead, they argue that homebirth midwives need to be free to do their jobs whatever way they want to do them, because anything else would result in a restriction of women’s freedom to have the birth of their choice.

I dare to hope that at some point we will find out the truth about what happened to Michael Brown, but regardless I think we can say some things with certainty. When we allow professionals to substitute their intuition for fact finding,  disasters will happen. When we allow professionals to smear victims instead of looking to their own conduct, innocent people will suffer. And when we let professionals avoid accountability people will die. It’s true for the police, and it’s true for homebirth midwives.

  • ngozi

    I know I am quite late responding, but as some of you have guessed from my name and some of my comments, I am a black female. I live in a mostly quiet, but poor black neighborhood. There are those of us who live in my neighborhood who try to work out whatever problems we have so we won’t have to call the police. Whenever they are called out they are rude and snarky. We once called because there was a person firing shots in the street, and basically all the police did was brag about how the neighborhood they lived in was better than the one they were responding to. Law abiding black people would like to have a police force too, not just cops who come out to have road blocks (or what we call police fundraisers) in their neighborhoods.
    I personally think the issues going on in Ferguson have highlighted problems in the Black and White communities. America is just as divided as Muslims are in the Middle East or Palestinians and Jews are. Black people and white people just haven’t started bombing each other yet in this country.
    I am raising four black sons in America, and honestly I’m really anxious about them growing up (or if they will get that chance).

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I know this thread is more or less dead, but I just wanted to add this link. After reading it and seeing all the petty little things the police have been doing, running over the flowers left at the site of the shooting, letting (encouraging) their dogs to pee on the memorial, etc do you really still think that they’re all perfectly honest and it was completely justified? Seriously? Is this the behavior of a police force, ready, willing, and competent to protect and serve the community? Or the behavior of an occupying army trying to intimidate the populace?

  • sadlady

    Wow. I’m surprised at this post. You switched me over from wooland and now this. I thought you were all about facts and science. You have no proof and this is a country with due process (even if it turns out Brown was not given it himself) way to jump to conclusions and join the bandwagon. Now I can think of something Dr. Amy has in common with homebirth midwives. The woo is strong with this one. Please stick with the topic you are an expert on. That is what got me hooked and to a real ob. Or is it going to be a pattern to make tangential links to unrelated hot button issues? You gonna riff on the Foley execution next? Please.

  • Cody

    I hate to stir the pot here, but has anyone seen this?

    http://thesource.com/2014/08/21/video-of-st-louis-police-shooting-killing-man-wielding-a-knife-has-emerged/

    I’m from the GTA, and when I watched this I couldn’t help but think of Sammy Yatim.

  • Guest38

    I thought this was a great editorial from the New York Times this morning. Very balanced, unlike Dr. Amy’s post above and other commenters. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/opinion/a-fair-inquiry-for-michael-brown.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

    • auntbea

      There is nothing in here that contradicts what Amy or the “unbalanced” commenters have said.

      • attitude devant

        This is the second time on this post where Guest38 has referenced a Times article that I have already read and gotten a completely different picture from. Not sure what to make of that….

        • Guest38

          Just one part of my job – to read things and be able to think and interpret what others might have missed. I read tons including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Time to name a few. I have spent 11 years thinking outside of the box.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I read the NYT and the Economist on a regular basis and the others intermittently, but…I read them not to “think outside the box” but rather to know what the box is thinking. Absolutely the mainstream, all four.

          • Guest38

            Way to completely miss the point. Read what I wrote carefully. I never said the NYT, WSJ, Economist, were “out of the box” , I said that I think “out of the box” since that is what I have been trained to do on my job, which I am very successful at.

      • Guest38

        Re-read Dr. Amy’s first 2 points – for example per Dr. Amy – “.

        “Michael Brown was unarmed, he did not pose a deadly threat to the police officer who encountered him. Apparently, that’s not what the police officer thought. He saw a large black male coming toward him, and his “intuition” told him that large black males are thugs with guns. He trusted his intuition instead of accurately assessing the situation. He pumped 6 bullets into Michael Brown, including one into the top of his head, hitting him when he was falling to the ground. His intuition was wrong and Michael Brown is dead as a direct result of substituting intuition for facts.”

        Per the New York Times – “Justice is a process, and it won’t necessarily result in the arrest of Darren Wilson, the officer who fired the fatal shots, as many of the demonstrators say they want. Witness accounts differ sharply on the events leading to the shooting, and it’s impossible to predict whether the grand jury that began hearing evidence on Wednesday will indict Mr. Wilson. But those in charge have an obligation to demonstrate fairness at every step, and that means there cannot be even a hint of bias in the process.” Now tell me who is “biased”. Now the Washington Post is reporting that an X-ray of the Officer’s eye bone fracture has been submitted to the Grand Jury. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/08/21/darren-wilson-had-an-eye-bone-fracture-after-scuffle-with-michael-brown-family-friend-says/

        Another commenter stated that he/she believed the Officer was guilty of “first degree murder.” Unless this person has insider access to the investigation (which I seriously doubt), any speculation is just that; pure speculation.
        I have read through all of the comments, and no one has stated that there are not a lot of questions that need to be answered or that the Police Department has acted perfectly with this incident. The commenters “disagreeing” are not saying that there shouldn’t be both a federal and state investigation, which is happening. No one is saying that the response to the protests has been appropriate. But that is a very separate issue from the question of whether the shooting was justified. I have seen tons of “straw man” arguments being thrown out, with cases of other shootings, or incidents. But those have nothing to do with what happened that day between the officer and Michael Brown.

        • auntbea

          The editorial draws no conclusions, balanced or otherwise, about whether the shooting was justified. It simply points out that we don’t know whether the grand jury will indict. Which is, of course, true.

          • Guest38

            And that is my point! Dr. Amy’s post already concludes that the shooting was not justified.

          • auntbea

            And…the article doesn’t contradict that point of view. It is possible that Dr. Amy is right and the shooting was unjustified AND the grand jury wouldn’t indict. It is also possible that Dr. Amy is wrong. This editorial doesn’t provide an argument either way.

          • Guest38

            It is possible. I have never argued differently. I had already stated that I wasn’t giving an opinion until the investigation was complete. Dr. Amy has already given her opinion and lots of other commenters as well, that the shooting was not justified. Ok, that’s fine, but I think it’s premature until all of the details come out, which I believe will happen. The case has plenty of attention, even Attorney General Holder has come out. The shooting happened August 9th, correct? It is the 21st today, so it seems like to me things are happening pretty quickly and I think that is appropriate. I highly doubt that the Officer woke up that day, and thought ” I am going to shoot a black man today.” If that turns out to be the case, then absolutely he should be convicted of first degree murder. I do believe that is improbable, but not out of the realm of possibility.

          • Guest38

            Here was another informative article explaining the steps of what has to happen in the investigation. http://www.salon.com/chromeo/article/why_darren_wilson_hasnt_been_arrested_yet/

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    It’s all so absolutely, totally not about race. This article would be hilarious if it weren’t so troubling.

    • attitude devant

      Oh God. My heart is in my shoes.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    For those who still think it’s totally not about race and the police officer had no choice, contrast what happened to Brown with this older, white man who was carrying a gun and babbling about revolution while committing the same offense as Brown did, i.e. jaywalking. Hint: he makes it to the squad car alive and gets his gun back the next day.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2014/06/17/more-dangerous-open-carry-antics/

    • emkay

      thankyou for this

  • moto_librarian

    I feel so incredibly depressed by the situation in Ferguson. I am stunned by the number of people who are willing to write off the events that have been unfolding by stating that “not all cops are like this.” How many more cases of excessive force resulting in injury or death for petty transgressions will it take before something is done? When are we going to realize that the sanctity of the “brotherhood” renders police departments incapable of reigning in bad actors?

  • Julia

    I would like to share a story: I briefly lived in Athens, GA in the mid-90s. It’s mostly a progressive, liberal college town. While I was there, there was an incident where, according to the local paper, police were called because a young african american man was running around outside naked, acting erratic. His mother who was right there when police arrived said he was schizophrenic (I think) and hadn’t taken his meds. Police briefly tried to wrestle him to the ground and when they couldn’t, they shot him dead. In front of his mother who was pleading with officers to just wait until he calmed down by himself. He was naked, i.e. unarmed. He didn’t pose a threat. And what shocked me even more was that no one cared. It was in the paper, but it wasn’t a high profile story, it wasn’t talked about, there was no outrage, no protests, nothing. And a few months later I read that the police officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing. To this day I can’t believe this could just happen and no one gave a damn.

  • Guesteleh

    New Time magazine cover.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym
    • attitude devant

      sigh. I’m white but we have, through marriage, several black family members, people I’ve known decades now. What an education for me! Before I had the opportunity to look through their eyes, to see how people responded to them, I had NO EARTHLY IDEA how deep and widespread racism still is. I have been shocked on more than one occasion that people I thought were rational reasonable persons have given them the hate stare, or that northeastern landlords would refuse to rent to them. One couple, having lived in Connecticutt, Texas, and Florida, now have settled in Atlanta, the only place where their union is not the source of constant scrutiny.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        I remember the point that made me pause in terms of racism. It was the OJ Simpson trial.

        Nothing in particular that happened there, but the general phenomenon. I remember hearing back then that something like 99% of white people thought he was guilty, and 99% of black people thought he was innocent. They may have not been the exact numbers, but it was something ridiculous like that. It is very obvious when you see something like that, that there is racial bias going on.

        It made me think. OK, I think OJ is guilty, but then again, I am white. How can I say that my opinion is not racially biased? Isn’t it just as racially biased to insist that it is the black people who are the ones who are racially biased? I’d like to say that it’s not me, but clearly there is a racial component to the opinion here, so how can I say it’s not me?

        If the answer was so obvious irrespective of the perspective from race, there would be at least some black people who would consider him guilty. But there really weren’t. So either black people are all really blind to the obvious, or it’s not so obvious. And if it’s not obvious, then to what extent am I being influenced by racial bias?

        It drove home the message that I do not share the same experiences as black people. I try to never forget that.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Well, I thought OJ was most likely guilty, but shouldn’t have been convicted on the evidence presented in court. I also think Casey Anthony was most likely guilty of something, but shouldn’t have been convicted by the evidence presented in court. I don’t think it was any kind of bias that made me feel anything about either case. It was mostly the way the acted after the incidents.

          In this case I jumped to conclusions right away because of a bias I have against the ferguson police. I never even considered race other than what would happen if the cop was white. Ferguson just two years ago got into trouble for severely beating a young white drug dealer and leaving him mentally impaired. Not to mention no young males of any race feel comfortable dealing with this police force. So, immediately I thought, “Oh, great here we go again.”

          I again think this is a case of poor training and a police force wide feeling that they are above the law. I think everything else is just taking away from the real issue and because of it things will go on as they were.

          • auntbea

            Obviously the problem is a police force that is poorly trained/selected and think they are above the law — in Ferguson and elsewhere with police brutality problems. But it is also true that the actions of such police forces disproportionately affect blacks. The racial component of the case is not “everything else”. It is a huge part of the real issue.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I understand that it disproportionately effects African Americans, but what is going to happen is the justice department is going to find that ferguson doesn’t discriminate with their brutality except when it comes to young males so no charges from them. The shooting couldn’t be good so the cop will just lose his job. The press will leave and nothing will be resolved.

          • auntbea

            But what is the alternative? How does avoiding talking about race help?

          • Anj Fabian

            The habit of reflexively projecting one issue onto an unclear situation is by now incredibly familiar to me.

            I still do not know exactly what happened, but I can find multiple people who do claim to know and know WHY it happened as well. I’ve always been mystified by this.

            Then I listened to a radio program and everyone had an answer. Racism. Poverty. Militarization of the police. Everyone had a simple clear answer that they applied to the question. Why? Because they weren’t talking about what was in front of them, but what was inside of them, their thoughts, their POV, their framing, experience, narrative.

            Objectivity is very difficult – and few people will thank you for it.

          • auntbea

            Well, yes, everyone has preferred narratives and explanations for things. But that doesn’t mean that the people who hold these narratives are not objective. Nor does objectivity necessarily preclude simple answers. Some simple narratives have good evidence behind them, and some don’t.

      • auntbea

        Last night, my mom told me the story of a colleague who was forbidding her 15-year old son from going to the (national) zoo with his friends without her there. My mom suggested she was being overprotective, given that her son was a good kid. The colleague told my mom she had it backwards: she wasn’t worried about her son causing trouble. She was worried about people causing trouble for her son, and him not being able to effectively defuse the situation before the police were called and he ended up in jail.

    • Stacy48918

      Thank you for your comments. I just posted below that I am an unarmed white middle class post grad educated suburbanite American and *I* fear the police. Yet I still can’t imagine the fear black Americans must experience on a daily basis.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Ok, so I can’t stick a flounce at all.

    Consider the best case scenario for Wilson’s innocence: He’s patrolling one night and sees two young men walking in the middle of the street. He drives over to them and tells them to get on the sidewalk because they’re obstructing traffic and endangering themselves. They ignore him and then one turns and charges at him. He gets out his gun and warns the guy off. Instead of retreating or surrendering, the guy tries to grab the gun, forcing the officer to fire. What would you expect a good, well trained officer to do next?
    1. Call for immediate backup and paramedics. He doesn’t know that the guy’s dead, only that he’s down. Render first aid if possible. Write an incident report and inform his supervisor.
    2. Do none of the above. Leave the body in the road for 4 hours (remember, he doesn’t know that the shots killed him). Warn off a nurse who tries to render first aid. Don’t bother to write an incident report.

    Wilson chose #2. It’s not explicable and not consistent with his being innocent of any wrongdoing.

    • attitude devant

      Thank you for coming back, and for posting this.

    • lawyer jane

      Yeah, it seems pretty clear they were gearing up for a coverup, no matter what actually happened in the incident. Coverups are much more difficult in the age of Twitter, thought.

      • attitude devant

        I always thought the turning point for coverups was when TV cameras showed up at the march in Selma. For the first (?) time people outside Alabama could see (and could not un-see) what the police were doing.

    • auntbea

      Patrolling in the middle of the day, you mean?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Oops. I don’t know where I got the idea this all happened at night. Subconscious desire to exonerate the cop, maybe: it’s harder to explain his actions when this all happened in broad daylight.

    • Anj Fabian

      It’s amazing how fast a street will get shut down for a fatal vehicle accident. All three lanes of a highway during rush hour? I’ve seen that.

      So four hours with no response? Only a denialist could ignore that.

  • Dr Kitty

    I live somewhere which has an annual, predictable, riot season where we KNOW large crowds will throw rocks and petrol bombs at the police, where guns are occasionally fired into crowds by rioters and where groups of opposing people will try to assault each other and the police who are trying to keep them apart.

    Our police have guns, water cannons, riot shields, armoured vehicles, CS gas, rubber bullets, flak jackets and tasers. It is about as militarised a police force as can be. I didn’t see an actual police car until I was about 12- we only had Tangis, which are armoured Landrovers.

    Somehow (excellent training, experience and discipline) the PSNI manage NOT to kill unarmed civilians, in fact most years there are only minor injuries to the Police and civilians (usually minor burns from petrol bombs and cuts and abrasions from thrown projectiles or bruises and fractures from fighting).

    THIS is why the Ferguson PD appals me in their handling of the subsequent events.
    I’ve seen what good policing of massive violent public disorder looks like.
    It doesn’t look like Ferguson.

    • auntbea

      An annual, predictable riot season? That’s fascinating. What is the cause? Elections? Football? The Christmas sales?

      • Smoochagator

        Guessing… college spring break.

        • Christina Maxwell

          Neither. Dr Kitty lives in Northern Ireland where there is a so called ‘Marching Season’. Orange marches (protestants/unionists) and Republican marches (the other side). These marches can become very violent, very quickly. We have a ‘junior’ version in Scotland too.

          • auntbea

            Wait, what? Why is there a marching season? It happens regardless of what government does? What is the expected outcome? (<— Obviously a terrible political scientist not to know this.)

          • Rita Rippetoe

            It’s the anniversary of a major victory by Protestant (Orange) forces several hundred years ago. July 12th.

          • auntbea

            But that leads to violent riots why? Or am I misunderstanding “riots” to mean specifically violent protests against government action when that isn’t really what we are talking about?

          • Christina Maxwell

            More violent action against each other. Sectarianism is a big problem in NI and also (to a lesser extent) in Scotland. Catholic v Protestant.

          • auntbea

            Ah. Got it now. Makes much more sense.

          • Dr Kitty

            Ok…By riots, I mean riots.

            Groups of people throwing petrol bombs, bottles, bricks and stones at each other and the police, scuffles breaking out when one group meets another, people attacking each other with iron bars and baseball bats…riots. We even have a phrase “recreational rioting” for the young teenagers who get involved because they see it as a cool or fun thing to do.

            What we have is parades, throughout July and August.

            Most of the parades are by Loyalists belonging to the Loyalist organisations like the Orange Order, or the Apprentice Boys.
            There are a few Republican parades, but they tend to be smaller, walk down roads in their own areas and are less frequent.

            A parade is a group of people, carrying banners and accompanied by pipe, flute and drum bands will march down a road. The bands are LOUD. Parades are always heavily policed.

            The road may or may not be inhabited from people from their own side in the sectarian conflict. Much of the conflict around parades is from Loyalists walking down Catholic roads.

            There are small parades in villages and big parades where various groups join together, and then on the 12th of July every year we have massive parades where all the Orange orders march up to meet in various fields and drink beer. This is preceded by massive bonfires (and much drinking of beer) on the night of the 11th of July.

            If you want to have a parade you have to put a proposal before the Parades Commission, who will determine if you can have it and may put limitations on it.

            For example, a Loyalist parade may be prevented from walking down a Catholic road- known as a contentious route restriction. A Loyalist band may be required to play only hymns or to march to a single drum beat when passing a Catholic Church (to prevent singing or playing of Sectarian or offensive songs). A Republican parade may have a requirement that no balaclavas or paramilitary trappings are worn.

            What you usually have is a parade, people who don’t want the parade staging a counter protest, and the police in the middle. It can get nasty quickly.

            WHY is happens is because parading is now an integral part of Loyalist culture, and you’ll take it away from them over their cold, dead bodies, and as far as the Northern Irish Republicans are concerned, if those ones get to march, well, dammit, we get to march too.

            The 12th of July commemorates the defeat of King James II of England by William of Orange- who became King William III of England and restored Protestantism to the British Throne in 1689, but really, at this point, that is fairly irrelevant, it is now something done because it has been done that way on that date for a long time, and so it is “traditional”.

            It is very predictable when and where there will be trouble and our police force has got to be very adept at handling it. The PSNI advises police forces from all over the world how to manage public disorder. If the PSNI managed the situation in a way that led to deaths the consequences here don’t bear thinking about, so while they have all the kit, they are very, very careful before they use it.

            Most of us who don’t enjoy parades, riots etc go on holiday for 2 weeks in the middle of July. I love where I live…but it has some less than pleasant traditions.

          • KarenJj

            Yep – I’ve been to Belfast – you could even do a bus tour 15 years ago that show some of the areas that have been in conflict. The police cars were amazing.

            It was an odd city to visit – as someone with both Northern Ireland and Irish ancestors. It’s also the closest I’ve ever been to a machine gun (armed guards I had to walk past to get my luggage off the x-ray from the ferry).

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          I was initially thinking Veisha at Iowa St, but I know they’ve cracked down on the rioting that used to come with that.

  • Maya Markova

    I disagree with this post. I do not think the police officer should have risked more serious injury than he allegedly already had in order to protect Brown. Would everybody be happy if he had not shot and was now in hospital with coma? I also wonder whether police guidelines say that you must check whether a suspect is armed before treating him as such. I guess they say quite different things. Because my common sense says that if police officers first check whether a violent person is armed, in too many cases they will not survive to finish the check.
    I also think police was right to release the video. If Brown’s character was of no importance, why were community members spreading lies about it? But the question is not even about the victim’s character. The question is about his adequacy. If you are robbing a shop in your own town in broad daylight at 11 AM, this means you have completely lost touch with reality. And if the victim has done this minute before confronting the police officer, God knows what he did during the confrontation. Let’s wait for the facts. But no, people rush to judgement based on the words of two or three biased witnesses, one of them allegedly Brown’s accomplice in the robbery. We already know that some of the initial claims were false. They said that Brown was shot in the back, the autopsy shows all shots were from front. God knows how many more things will turn out different. But people have completely forgotten the “innocent until proven guilty”, see themselves as a jury and have already convicted the policeman. Why should police apologize before it is proven that their man was wrong?
    I think US citizens should support law and order and send a clear message that skin pigmentation does not put anyone above the law and does not entitle anyone to anything. Say that it is OK to attack a policeman as long as you use your bare hands only (never mind that many murders are done by bare hands and feet), say that looting and other property damage is legitimate expression of anger, and you are subscribing to more of the same.

    • Trixie

      Wow.
      A bunch of brown people are using the privileges of their skin pigmentation to put themselves above the law.
      Is that really the thought process that goes through your tiny, hateful brain?

      • Maya Markova

        What other thought process can go through my tiny brain when I see videos of people creating mayhem and read comments that they are good citizens and should be appeased because they are victims of racism? As for the hating, I am not hating them because I am at a safe distance from them. If those who live closer to them don’t mind such expression of opinion, that’s fine with me, then probably the laws against property damage should be amended. However, I hold a suspicion that many Americans also do not want their towns looted, but keep silence so that not to be called names.

        • Trixie

          Yep. That’s right. Throngs of angry black racist looters are just outside the gates of my town, threatening me into silence….
          Have you ever even been to the US? Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

    • auntbea

      Police are trained to shoot ONLY at armed assailants. No weapon, no shooting.

      • GuestB

        I’m not too sure about this. My very good friend and my bother are cops and they were both trained that shooting is justified if the assailant is an immediate threat to officers and others. Being armed/unarmed is not a factor.

        • lawyer jane

          Yeah well, I disagree. The nature of police work is facing threats. If they kill everyone they believe threatens them, where does that leave us? Skilled police work must involve correctly assessing threats, not just shooting whenever you feel threatened. Also, US police seem to try to deliberately aggravate situations, and also have no clue how to deal with mentally ill people. So they charge in aggressively, make the situation worse, and then shoot the person. How does that help anyone? A police officer’s #1 goal should be KEEP THE PEACE. Not arming themselves to the hilt, creating confrontation, then protecting themselves at all cost. That’s just backwards.

          • KarenJJ

            “Suicide by cop” is a phrase I’ve heard in Australia.

          • GuestB

            All I was debating was the assertion that police officers are trained to only shoot at armed assailants. According to two police officers that I know, this is not true.

        • auntbea

          This suggests that cops don’t shoot unarmed people, specifically because of their training. http://fairandimpartialpolicing.com/docs/pob3.pdf

          • GuestB

            Unfortunately I don’t have time to wade through all of that at work. I would love to see where it says “police are trained to shoot ONLY at armed assailats. No weapon, no shooting” as you claim. Because according to two real live police officers, not some study on racial bias on the decision to shoot, this is not true.

          • GuestB

            Damn! Assailants. sorry for the typo. don’t want to get crucified for bad spelling/grammar.

          • auntbea

            Yes, cops are trained to shoot for a threat. No one is disagreeing. But, since it is illegal for cops to shoot in a case when “a reasonable person” would not perceive a threat commensurate with deadly force, they also have to be trained to distinguish between serious threat/less serious threat/no threat (unless your friend and brother were encouraged to shoot indiscriminately at anyone aggressive — I can’t believe that’s the case). Since someone without a weapon is obviously less likely to pose a deadly threat than someone with a weapon, we should expect officers to be trained to accurately recognize a weapon (or lack thereof), and daylight shootings of unarmed citizens should be — and are — rare.

          • Stacy48918

            I would agree that shootings of unarmed citizens in daylight is rare. But so is real prosecution of the officers involved afterward. If a homicide is committed it should be treated as such. Otherwise it just reinforces the divisions between officers and citizenry. With great power comes great responsibility, or whatever that corny movie line is.

          • auntbea

            Fine. But what does that have to do with whether cops are or are not trained to shoot, and at what?

          • Stacy48918

            The existence of real consequences might give pause for consideration before pulling the trigger and change training instruction.

          • auntbea

            Fair enough.

          • GuestB

            I’m not too sure someone without a weapon is obviously less likely to pose a threat. From what I have read, Brown assaulted the officer, broke orbital bones, and at one point had the officers gun. Is this fact? Of course not. No one knows. Yet. We need to wait for all the facts and a full investigation. But if it turns out that indeed Brown assaulted the officer, broke bones in his face and reached for/had his gun, is this not a reasonable threat? I would think it is. If Brown was indeed surrendering, then of course, OF COURSE this was excessive and uncalled for. But what if he was charging back at the officer? After wrestling with him and physically assaulting him?
            Just throwing out some ideas here. I know I don’t post a lot, but I am a long time reader and I always enjoy your comments AuntBea. Not trying to start a war, but just pointing out that some things aren’t always cut and dried. It’s fine to have an opinion on the case, but all the facts are not in.

          • auntbea

            But we’re not arguing about the facts of this case. She asked whether there are police guidelines that indicate that a police officer has to check whether someone is armed before shooting. And, no, while police don’t have to absolutely confirm the presence of a weapon before shooting, there ARE certainly guidelines (and laws) that cops can’t just shoot whoever without a “reasonably objective” belief of threat to their lives. Which means that whether the person has a weapon is something the officer must very much consider. And, *generally speaking*, no weapon = no threat = no shooting.

          • Luba Petrusha

            Unsourced bullshit from a few blogs. I’m sorry, that’s what the story of the orbital fracture is. I find it hard to believe that, if this were true (the extent of the officer’s injuries, the Ferguson PD would not have publicized it in order to explain things and calm the situation.

            Of course, this version also does not jibe with ANY witness statements.

            In a video shown on CNN, Wilson certainly doesn’t look like someone who was “nearly beaten unconscious” just minutes before; in fact, he shows no signs of injury or discomfort at all, walking casually around the body of the young man he just shot to death.

            So maybe it took a while for the pain to set in? Just a few days after he was supposed to have been “beaten nearly unconscious” and suffered “severe facial injuries,” Darren Wilson’s neighbors saw him casually mowing his lawn — right before he skipped town.

            S one person dead, another on video seemingly whole. Who’s the injured party?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym


            From what I have read, Brown assaulted the officer, broke orbital bones,
            and at one point had the officers gun. Is this fact? Of course not.

            Nope. The orbital fracture story is completely discredited. See for example. It’s not even Wilson’s claim, it’s just something that someone made up for him. Also, if Wilson had major trauma, why didn’t he call for an ambulance for himself?

      • Maya Markova

        I may very well be racist (most people are), I just fail to see how this can invalidate my opinion.
        I know creationists who dismiss the theory of evolution with the “argument” that Darwin was racist.

        • Stacy48918

          Really? You take all the opinions of KKK members equally as all other citizens because racism doesn’t invalidate ones opinions?

          • Maya Markova

            I will take the opinions of KKK members equally as those of open black racists.

          • auntbea

            Ah, yes, all those organized groups of black people who participate in coordinated violence, intimidation, and strategic political manipulation in a deliberate attempt to keep whites from holding any power while blacks hold it all. I had forgotten about them.

          • Maya Markova

            I have a bit of a problem with the refusal of my opponents to admit that black racism exist. (I fully admit that white racism exists, and even that I may have it.) If some blacks think that it is OK to let a black man get away with murdering his white ex-wife and her new white boyfriend, then I think these blacks are racists.

          • Guesteleh

            There’s a difference between bigotry and racism. Bigotry is the bias held by an individual against a class of people and yes, of course there are black bigots and Latino bigots, etc.

            Racism is *structural*. It’s institutional. It’s the entire structure of society and how it systematically disenfranchises certain groups. Blacks suffer from racism, whites don’t (though whites can suffer from class prejudice and poverty, but even poor whites generally do better economically and educationally than blacks because they don’t have to deal with racism layered on top of the poverty).

            What this means is that a white person’s bigotry is supported by the entire societal structure and therefore has weight and power in a way that black bigotry can’t.

          • Guestll

            straw man

          • auntbea

            Are you talking about OJ? Jesus. The black people who protested his conviction didn’t think it WAS OK for him to kill his white wife. They thought HE DIDN’T DO IT. They thought he was being railroaded by white police.

            I am going to stop now. It is simultaneously unsurprising and horrifying to me that I am actually encountering someone pulling out these tropes.

          • Alcharisi

            Aaargh! Why is the fact of unequal power dynamics so difficult for people to grasp?

        • auntbea

          BECAUSE THIS WHOLE ISSUE IS ABOUT RACE AND RACISM, YOU DOLT. And because you are claiming that it is unreasonable to convict (white) policeman without knowing all the facts, but are perfectly content to claim that the (black) victim must have been out of touch with reality, and therefore it was okay for him to have been shot on sight without benefit of trial and sentencing. And that somehow, demands that the police officer account for himself means that blacks are acting as if they are entitled to be above the law.

          I mean, really, it’s mind-boggling. And I should not have had to explain this to you.

          • Maya Markova

            I do not say that it was okay for Michael Brown to have been shot. I do not have the facts (nobody has). And anyway I am sorry that he was short. All I say is that, based on the reports we have (including the walking in the middle of the street), his behavior shows he was out of touch with reality. I even suppose he may have had some acute medical condition, such as brain aneurism.

          • Guestll

            The facts are, an unarmed man was shot six times by a police officer in Ferguson. Ferguson is a black city with a white police force and government. The victim was left to die on the street. The police released info suggesting that the victim had committed a theft from a store, yet this was not the reason the officer stopped the victim. The police have declined to reveal information on their investigation, and have refused to release the autopsy report.

            Those are the facts. Hope you can get that through your racist, illogical brain.

          • Maya Markova

            I do not know anything about the selection of police personnel in the USA, but if the predominantly black population of Ferguson is unhappy with its white government, then they can probably elect a black government next time.

          • Guestll

            Go away.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            She’s free to stay and share her views. We don’t all have to agree.

          • auntbea

            Of course she’s free to stay, unless you were planning on banning her. We are also free to tell her we prefer not to have people like her on our board, unless you are planning on banning *us*. I sure hope you are not asking us to stop making it clear to racists that their views are not welcome in polite society, and I really, REALLY hope you are not asking us to do that because having racists around to stir up controversy at the expense of the non-white members of your readership is good for page views.

          • auntbea

            No. They can’t. The political system is deliberately set up to make it hard for blacks to vote.

            And, gah! I said I was done.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            And the Republicans are upset that one of the things that protesters have been doing is running a voter registration drive. Isn’t voting the bums out what one is supposed to do in this situation? Why are they upset?

          • guest

            They’re upset because people are standing up to their voter suppression activities..

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            How is ferguson a black city when it is almost equally black and white? It is just a working class neighborhood. Granted half of the police are not black which doesn’t seem right, but police don’t have to live there to be on the force.

          • auntbea

            ? Ferguson is 2/3 black. There are twice as many black people as white people there,

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Huh? Jaywalking shows that someone is “out of touch wth reality”? In what reality?

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I walk down the middle of the street all the time in my neighborhood, now, as an adult, and much less now than I did when I was young.

            That’s reality, Maya.

            Better check me for an aneurism.

            I think at this point, you have ceased to be even trying to be serious.

          • Alcharisi

            In that case, I would say that about 80 percent of the students where I went to college are out of touch with reality. Jaywalking is now a clinical indicator of psychosis or possible aneurysm?! Please.
            Also, I hope you realize that medicalizing the completely unremarkable behavior of people within a minority group is one of the oldest tricks in the book of institutionalized racism.

          • Siri

            All the more reason to shoot him, then! I don’t believe for one moment that you are ‘sorry’. Your opinions disgust me.

          • Alcharisi

            “And because you are claiming that it is unreasonable to convict (white)
            policeman without knowing all the facts, but are perfectly content to
            claim that the (black) victim must have been out of touch with reality,
            and therefore it was okay for him to have been shot on sight without
            benefit of trial and sentencing.”

            THIS. I am all for facts and deliberation. But the deep, stinking, pervasive tentacles of white supremacy in this country mean that likely as not, no amount of data, no amount of deliberation, can overcome the presumption in white America that blackness is lesser, is suspicious and irrational, is to be feared and despised. As such, calls for facts and deliberation become in fact anything but. They become nostrums invoked in order to avoid changing a an unjust and morally rotten status quo from which white America has benefited immensely.

        • Stacy48918

          It invalidates it as racism is an irrational thought process. If your opinions are so blatantly influenced by irrationality they should not garner the same level of respect as more rational contributors.

          • Maya Markova

            I repeat my impression that most people’s opinions are “blatantly influenced by irrationality”, and I also think that things marginally improve if we admit this.

    • Stacy48918

      A murder with bare hands? You mean like the white cop that recently strangled an unarmed asthmatic black man to death while a crowd watched? Over illegal cigarettes?

      You are blinded by the glare of the advantages of your pale skin.

      • Maya Markova

        Yes, like this white cop.
        And let me mention that, despite the advantages of my pale skin, I would not even dream of making a cop feel threatened by me; or if I do, I would know I am risking my life.

        • Stacy48918

          Once again, so anyone killed by a cop must have deserved it because they were threatening the cop. They should have KNOWN they were risking their life.

          In what way did the homeless man walking away from cops in whichever western state it was (escapes me at the moment) “making a cop feel threatened” when they shot him in the back?

          Threatening a cop is justification to shoot to the death now? Isn’t feeling threatened on the job part of the job description? “They never know if they’ll come home at night” and other stories we tell our kids?

          I wouldn’t dream of making a cop feel threatened by me, and yet I (white, middle class suburbanite) feel threatened by them.

          • Maya Markova

            I also fear police. I think everyone does, except those with the delusion that “police is no menace to good people”.

        • Siri

          How lucky for you then that the mere colour of your skin is not enough to make cops feel threatened. Some policemen feel ‘threatened’ by the very presence of a black person, and use that to excuse assault and even murder. You really have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, do you?

    • moto_librarian

      In 1992, Rodney King was nearly beaten to death by four LAPD officers. It was captured on film. The officers were acquitted (although two of them later were convicted on federal charges). I still remember the feeling of disbelief that this level of proof was insufficient to prove police brutality. The number of incidents that have occurred in the years since have done nothing to raise my confidence in the ability of the police to police themselves. I’m a white, law-abiding citizen who has never been pulled over, and I am afraid.

      Answer these questions honestly: If this young man had shot a cop, do you believe that they would have protected the identity of the shooter? Why did the officer not call for EMS or backup immediately after the shooting? Why did they leave this young man’s body in the street for four hours?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      If the police aren’t ready to face the possibility that they might have to deal with a dangerous person some day then they should get another job. I’ve performed procedures on agitated patients with HIV and hepatitis C back when neither had a cure or treatment and a needle stick meant death. I won’t say I was happy and I did what I could to be safe, but the patient needed care to survive and if I wasn’t willing to give that care then I should resign in favor of someone who was. The police are supposed to be trained in how to deal with the public, including people who are potentially altered and violent, using the minimal necessary force. In Iceland, they just had their first police shooting EVER. How is it that the US can’t get through a day without several police shootings? Yes, of course, Iceland is a much smaller country, but still: one, ever versus daily event. Something’s wrong with the way the US trains and treats its police and its citizens.

      • attitude devant

        This, this, this.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      If you are robbing a shop in your own town in broad daylight at 11 AM,
      this means you have completely lost touch with reality… But people have completely forgotten the “innocent until proven
      guilty”, see themselves as a jury and have already convicted the
      policeman

      Did you even notice that you made a presumption of guilt on VERY shaky evidence and then accused “people” of forgetting “innocent until proven guilty” for judging with much greater evidence not three sentences later?

      I think US citizens should support law and order and send a clear
      message that skin pigmentation does not put anyone above the law

      I agree. The police in St Louis need to learn that their skin tone doesn’t put them above the law.

      • Maya Markova

        Unfortunately, police tend to put themselves above the law they are obliged to protect. But I fully agree that there must be (and must have been) more black police officers.
        “Out of touch with reality” is not a presumption of guilt. In fact, it, when proven in court, has always been one of the most solid grounds for acquittal.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          That’s not “unfortunate”, that’s a crime and one that has to be changed. Despite the police not liking to be reminded of this, the citizenry does pay their salary. We have a right and a duty to remind them of that, with pink slips if necessary.

          A more diverse police force is one component of the solution. Better trained officers is another. Having the officers wear cameras seems to benefit everyone: both abuse and complaints are down, with complaints decreasing even more than abuse. Possibly fewer frivolous complaints as well as fewer well founded complaints? Anyway, that seems win/win to me.

    • ngozi

      What ever happened to tasers, and the like? Why is it always shoot to kill?

  • expat

    There was another incident recently in which a 51 year old grandmother was walking in traffic and acting a bit crazy. A police officer responded by throwing her to the ground and punching her in the face 12 times on video. She thought she was getting beaten to death. It reminded me of my 2 experiences watching police deal with crazy people on the bus in Germany. The first was with a man who started screaming Help! Police! at the driver. The second was a 50 year old woman who was observed to be holding a large kitchen knife in her hands and sitting behind the driver. In both cases, the driver pushed his emergency button, and kept making stops. A plainclothed officer got on from the back door at one of the stops and at the next stop he approached the crazy person from behind while uniformed officers approached from the front door. It was surprisingly peaceful and well choreographed. Imagine the difference if they had tried to storm the bus with a SWAT team.

  • Alcharisi

    Not to mention the fact that in each case, some lives are determined to be more important than others. What’s more, some livelihoods are determined to be more important than some lives.
    Thank you for speaking out about Ferguson.

  • Stacy48918

    I may be a little late to the party but I agree with your assessment 100%. The militarization of our police force is out of control and when crimes, yes – CRIMES, are committed against the citizenry the penalties are anemic. Thank you for your comments, Dr. Amy.

    • RebeccainCanada

      Militarization. Exactly. Great post!

    • Stephanie

      Perhaps the police need to be so heavily armed because of the access it’s citizens have to weaponry. How are you supposed to protect against the semi automatic weapon some guy has planned for a school shooting when all they have is a side pistol? If you want to disarm the police you need to disarm your citizens.

      • Stacy48918

        It’s important to note that the victim here was unarmed.

        You believe our police should patrol in tanks armed with tear gas and automatic weapons? Crime is DOWN in America. The big scary things make the headlines more but we are safer than ever. There is no reason for the military to patrol our streets. In fact as I recall this was in our list of grievances to Georgie-poo in 1776.

        I am an unarmed white post-grad educated middle class suburbanite. I fear the police. The militarization of the police is not the answer.

      • auntbea

        I’m pretty down with lowering the number of semi-automatics in circulation. But unless you believe that most cops are facing people with semi-automatics on a regular basis, then you have to wonder whether that level of preparedness is worth the fear/anger/risk involved in having cops engage ordinary, unarmed citizens with that kind of fire power.

        • Stacy48918

          Exactly. The people are rioting against a police overreaction of force so the police responded with an even greater overreaction of force. Yea. That’ll make things better.

  • attitude devant

    If you haven’t lived in Missouri, or don’t know Missouri, you may be under the impression that Missouri is no more racist than any other Midwestern state. This is incorrect.

    Missouri was a slave state. It has a spectacularly racist past and its past continues to inform its present. Raids on the free state of Kansas by Missouri whites were part of the run-up to the Civil War. Things have not gotten much better since. As a child in the Gulf Coast state of Florida, I found my (white) family in Missouri much more racist than my Florida kin, and public interaction with persons of color in St. Louis much more tense than anything I EVER experienced in the South.

    Try thinking this happened in Alabama. Does it change your attitude about it? Because Missouri is WORSE than much of the deep south when it comes to race.

    • anion

      Yeah…I’m from St. Louis. I grew up there. Maybe your family is a bunch of racist hoosiers, but that is NOT the case with the entire state, or city.

      Your history is correct. Your nasty implications are not. They are offensive, though, so good for you on that one.

      • attitude devant

        Hey, when you live in a racist state, as I did, it ill becomes you to get all offended when people decry the racism. It’s real. If you’re not speaking out against it, you’re part of it.

        I love St. Louis. I saw my first live musical at the Muny. My favorite cousin was a surgical nurse at Barnes. I loved canoeing in Forest Park.

        Nowhere did I say that all Missourians are racist. That’s not even the point. But I’ll say it again: this kind of response is part of the problem. If your response is to defend Missouri (as if I was attacking Missouri and not Missouri racism!) rather than joining me in condemning racism then I could care less that you’re offended.

        • anion

          I do decry and condemn racism. I have probably done so on much larger and more public platforms than you ever have–unless your words on the topic have reached twenty or thirty thousand people, too, in which case we’re even. I just do not think it helps to imply that everyone in a particular state is racist and so this sort of disgusting behavior is par for the course there. IMO it clouds the issue and minimizes the actual situation.

          Sorry I didn’t reply in exactly the way you wanted me to. I was under the foolish impression that a conversation was being had among people familiar with each other. I definitely will not make that mistake again.

          • attitude devant

            anion, please. I know it’s late where you are. Revisit this in the morning and think: even if you as a Missouri native are not racist, the beast is alive and well there. If you decry it, then decry it in this instance. I am a native of the deep South. I can love it, call it my former home, and still feel shame when people behave badly there. Do you really honestly truly see no racism in this horrible mess in Ferguson?

          • anion

            Where the hell did I say I see no racism in what’s happening?!?!?!?!

            How many times do I have to say “OF COURSE there is racism there, YES there are racial tensions there, I freely acknowledge that,” before you actually hear me? How many times do I have to say “the actions of the FPD are disgusting,” before you hear that? Of course what’s happening there is racism. Of course it is vile and horrifying. Of course there are racial problems in St. Louis. FFS.

            All I said was that MO isn’t The Most Racist State Ever, and I think characterizing it as such–and thus dismissing it with an implied, “Well, yeah, they’re racist there so what can you do?”–is wrong because it implies that what’s happening is some isolated incident that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen anywhere else, which allows other towns/cities/states to let their own police/gov’t/attitudes go unexamined. It encourages people to view this not with shock and disgust that this can happen in our society, but with a sense of surprise that there’s a place full of throwbacks who are not part of our society. I think that’s counterproductive. I think that’s not how real change happens. And real change is what’s needed.

            That is all.

          • attitude devant

            Well I agree real change is needed. And once again, I did not say 1) all MO folk are racist, or even 2) MO is the most racist place ever.

      • auntbea

        Sorry, dude. The data say you’re wrong. There are a lot of people out there who come up with systematic ways of measuring contemporary racism and Missouri just never comes out looking very good.

        • anion

          I never said it was perfect. I never said racism doesn’t exist there, or that racial tensions do not exist there. I said it’s not the most racist state ever, barely advanced from the Civil War, and the studies I looked at agreed with me–I linked a couple below, but whatever. Again, I just don’t feel comments like that add anything to the conversation, other than encouraging people to roll their eyes and ask “Well, what can we expect from that place?” which further implies that the community involved–by which I mean the citizens, not the police–somehow deserves it and should have known better than to live there, and that there’s nothing they or anyone else can do.

          • auntbea

            Well, we can disagree about whether you have to be in the top 10 to have a serious racism problem. I think the real issue is that you and I (and I assume AD) have very different understandings of what pointing out racism is for. People who are emphasizing systemic racism aren’t doing to give Missouri a pass (oh, those rascally racists!), we’re doing it to counteract claims that this isn’t a race issue, or that the cops are just doing their jobs and who are we to judge, or that the protests are excessive and unjustified. Or that, in general, there is nothing to see and nothing to fix. Putting the events in the context of substantial, demonstrable racism in Missouri changes the whole meaning and fundamentally changes what the solution is. Though I am quite sure this is not an argument you are making, my frustration stems from the fact that, once you claim that Missouri isn’t all that racist, the next obvious question is, “well, then, what are all those black people upset about then?”

          • attitude devant

            yes, exactly. I didn’t reply to anion’s links because I was trying not to escalate, but there are many blogs where black Americans tell what it’s like living in Missouri. I would not wish it on my (black) relatives.

          • anion

            My point is that when you dismiss what’s happening with, “But MO is especially racist, way more racist than anywhere else,” you give other places a pass and pretend it could never ever happen there. You imply that racism is a localized problem confined to one place. That encourages other people not to look at problems in their own area(s) or at how racism affects everyone.

          • auntbea

            Anion, you’re KILLING me here. First, your claim is that people in Missouri aren’t that racist and calling them racist is offensive; then your claim is that they ARE racist, but pointing that out gives people an excuse to dismiss the problems and blame the victims; then it’s that pointing it out gives everyone ELSE an excuse to ignore the problem because they aren’t racist like Missouri. All different explanations, but all leading to the conclusion that we are not supposed to point out that Missouri is more racist than average (actually what AD stated is that Missouri is more racist than the rest of the Midwest)….? Is that really your argument?

            Disregarding the fact that it is NEVER a good plan to avoid calling out racists for their racism, there are still a lot of people who don’t believe that race has anything with the subject in Missouri, let alone anywhere else. Getting those people to realize that race also has something to do with it in their own hometown is a distant second step. If highlighting racism in Missouri helps them to make the connection between racism and police brutality in ONE place, that is progress.

            Second, there is evidence that this WOULDN’T necessarily happen elsewhere. While racism exists throughout the US, there is large variation both in how racist people are, and whether and how that racism translates into bad outcomes for blacks (cites appended). Former slave areas, including Missouri, are not only more racist, but are more likely to implement policies that keep blacks poor and disenfranchised. On the other hand, in places like Denver, race apparently doesn’t affect how voters vote, and — key to this discussion — cops, while racist, don’t allow their racism to affect whom they shoot. So, in other words, if we are going to be having a discussion about how racism affects life for blacks, and how we are going to change it, Missouri seems like an excellent place to be pulling on those levers.

            http://www.mattblackwell.org/files/papers/slavery.pdf

            http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/how-racist-are-we-ask-google/

            http://fairandimpartialpolicing.com/docs/pob3.pd

      • UsernameError

        Yeah…I’m also from St Louis. It’s a hole. Sorry. And given the decline in population, thousands agree with me. I grew up there in the 80′s, along with my hoosier family who still lives there. And it’s pretty racist. The thing is, it is so pervasive, that most people don’t even recognize it. My FB feed has been full of anti-Ferguson racist memes, but if you ask my family if they are racist they would say “hell no.” They don’t even notice it. It’s just the day to day way of life there.

        By the same token, outsiders can’t underestimate the sheer violence in the poor neighborhoods in St Louis. I grew up in those neighborhoods, and some of those people really are animals, race aside. We’re white, but some of the more hard core criminal members of my family are certainly animals. The blatant theft in the convenience store outline how much of a daily fact of life that is for them. The store clerk obviously deals with it on a daily basis, so only put up a token resistance, and never even bothered to call the cops. They wouldn’t do anything anyway. There is also a very adversarial relationship between the cops and the poor people in those neighborhoods. The cops view them all as “thugs” and treat them all accordingly. A person in a neighborhood like Ferguson, Florissant, or the inner city, are condemned as a criminals by the cops just by virtue of where they live, and even more so by the color of their skin and the way they dress.

        You’ve seen this, right? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zbR824FKpU On what planet is it OK for a cop to wander around pointing a gun at people and telling them he will fucking kill them if they don’t put their hands up? And it’s not like this guy is the only cop out there acting like this, You Tube is full of videos with cops acting the same way. And yet, St Louis is doing just fine, and everything is honky dory and a-ok?

      • expat

        I’m from one of the smaller (1mio inhabitants) cities in Missouri and can you guess why practically no black people live there? In the 20s, a large group of black men was accused of raping a white woman and they were lynched in the town square. After that, all of the blacks moved out and not many have moved back. You don’t get rid of that kind of a scar in one generation.

  • Young CC Prof

    As far as the reactions go, a decade ago in NYC, there was a shooting of an unarmed young Black man by a police officer. Just as in this case, the details of the shooting were disputed, but most of the details were irrelevant.

    I attended one of the protests, and there was a police presence. The police set up a line to limit the area of the protest, but other than that did not interfere in any way. The police didn’t speak, just stood there. The protesters marched, shouted and held signs, but remained orderly.

    By the end, people were less angry. Not less angry at the tragic shooting or the individuals responsible, but less angry at the entire police department. NOT angry at the officers in front of us, just ordinary men and women trying to do a job. By permitting that protest (and others) and by treating the protesters with respect and dignity, the city may have prevented far worse.

  • The Computer At My Nym

    I’m going to bow out of this discussion. I’m getting too emotional over it and am going to start saying things I’ll regret, if I haven’t already. FWIW, I’m a mixed race person who presents as white. Most days looking white just means I get white privilege, but some days it means hearing things that white people say to each other when they think no minority can hear them. And other days the internet delivers that same information to you. I know the regulars here are rational, sane, kind people. PLEASE ask yourselves why you’re so concerned about whether or not Brown committed an act of shoplifting or whether he was shot in the back or the front when it is clear and undisputed that he was at least 20 feet from his shooter. Ask yourselves why Wilson didn’t file an incident report and why he not only didn’t call 911 but prevented a nurse from trying to help Brown. Why did the FPD leave Brown’s body on the street for 4 hours? Why are they arresting journalists? Why are they using tear gas? You may not want to be racist, but there’s racism in all of us. Don’t let it get any worse.

    • attitude devant

      Now you’ve got ME confused. Are you the same toni who’s saying the DA shouldn’t charge the officer?

      • auntbea

        Nope. It’s nym.

      • toni

        I didn’t post that. That was Nym. Disqus must be messing up again.

      • toni

        just to add all I said was the DA shouldn’t charge prematurely because of public pressure or in an attempt to cool tensions. that should not be their concern when deciding when and who do prosecute. not that he shouldn’t ever be charged if they do or have found probable cause to indict. i do agree with nym about the police response to all this. the use of chemicals weapons and intimidation of the press is abominable.

    • attitude devant

      CAMN, I wish you wouldn’t go. I feel like you and I are the only people representing our point of view.

    • theadequatemother

      I think even IF Brown was shoplifting it was an inappropriate response. Even if he was 10 feet away instead of 20. Even if he was shot in the front instead of the back. Racism is so ingrained and most people are very poor at self-assessing. Including my white self. I’m sorry. i haven’t read all of the discussion yet but I have a feeling I know what I’m about to read because I’ve read it all over the net this past week.

    • RebeccainCanada

      Really appreciate what you wrote.

    • anion

      {{{{CAMN}}}}

  • The Computer At My Nym

    So, can we play spot the “rioter” in this picture:
    http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1961924/thumbs/o-FERGUSON-570.jpg
    It looks to me like the ones with the guns are the dangerous ones. The photographer who took this picture was arrested shortly thereafter. He was never charged with any crime.

    • RebeccainCanada

      I so agree. Saw a bit of this at the hospital the other day doing my a Glucose Tolerance Test. Police and the swat-like responses are such overkill. How did we ever get used to this as a society? This is inappropriate for law enforcement. (My Dad is retired and my two brothers are in law enforcement). I agree completely. I’m Canadian so not the same culture here, but I agree. When did it become ok in the West for 10 cops to jump an unarmed individual? Hoping this creates enough outrage for some greater dialogue to occur.

      • RebeccainCanada

        Oh and this is all about a cover-up and “we can’t be wrong” mentality. Just like the midwives circling the wagons, when a “sister-in-chains” kills somebody.

      • Guestll

        I’m Canadian as well and it isn’t the same culture here (I lived in DC for 5 years) but…we are not without our own police brutality. See: 2010 G-20 protests

        • RebeccainCanada

          Was not my point, the race tensions are not the same. Did you see the swat team board the Air Canada Flight at Pearson a few weeks back? We are talking an unarmed man, a obviously mentally-ill, agitated man, uttering crazy stuff. The entire plane was obviously unarmed! The police boarded with riot gear screaming at everyone to get their heads down with guns pointing. His many old-folks, babies and children were terrified by law-enforcement? We have similar out of control law-enforcement issues.

          It used to be a policeman here didn’t draw a weapon until there was a very good reason. You certainly don’t draw them against unarmed people. It’s policing by fear and brutality. It’s got to change.

      • Cody

        Sammy Yatim – They tazed him AFTER they shot and killed him, and the G20. We have these problems here too.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    I confess that I am startled by the reaction to this post. I though people might chastise me for being too hard on homebirth midwives by comparing their actions to the egregious actions of the Ferguson police. It did not occur to me that anyone would think i was being unfair to the police response by comparing it to the actions of homebirth midwives.

    I’m curious how many of those complaining about this piece get their “news” from Fox. I hope you realize that educating yourself about the Brown case by listening to Fox News is no better than educating yourself about homebirth by watching The Business of Being Born.

    • Guest38

      Really? I have been actively following the New York Times and I think there are a lot of unanswered questions, from both sides. I am waiting for all investigations to conclude before I give my opinion on what happened since I was not there, and eyewitness accounts can be very unreliable and even the NYT is reporting that there are conflicting accounts. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/20/us/shooting-accounts-differ-as-holder-schedules-visit.html?ref=us

      • auntbea

        I think the the actions of *a* police officer in shooting Brown is a different issue from how *the police* have they handled it subsequently. There may be room for conflicting accounts in the former, but the official reaction to the protests is just mind-blowing.

        • attitude devant

          Bingo—by which I mean you nailed it, not that you hit NCB bingo.

          • auntbea

            I was not confused.

        • attitude devant

          As in “Bingo—you nailed it”

        • The Computer At My Nym

          Yeah, arresting and tear gassing journalists, children, and 90 year old Holocaust victims just doesn’t play well in the media. Except, of course, apparently it does given how many people are defending the right of the police to flat our murder young black men.

        • baileylamb

          Did you see the video of the LEO who threatened to kill a journalist last night? No, that wasn’t on the NYT (although unfortunately millions of people saw it)…
          Here’s a good run down on police actions against journalist. http://www.vox.com/2014/8/18/6043247/ferguson-police-media-harassment

        • toni

          definitely. whatever happend to these chaps? https://www.flickr.com/photos/paranoidfs/4606005990/in/pool-b-p-s

          Even in Britain the police resemble paramilitaries these days.

          • toni

            https://www.durham.police.uk/About-Us/Documents/Peels_Principles_Of_Law_Enforcement.pdf

            Robert Peel’s 9 Principles. I think the ninth is very pertinent.

          • anion

            Except for the 99% of the time when they (the British police) are utterly useless, and calling them does as much good as wandering into the street, ho-humming aloud that a crime is being committed somewhere, and hoping the great god Zeus overhears you and takes care of the problem.

          • toni

            My handbag was whisked right off my shoulder in Cheshire and the assailant threw a half full can of coke at my head. When the police showed up to take a statement I was told I was lucky because he could have stabbed me and lectured me that he was probably a young drug addict and therefore just as much a victim. To say I was astonished…

          • anion

            Sadly, I am not remotely surprised.

            The owner of the flat next door to our house started a dispute with us & our landlord, and showed up at our house one afternoon to threaten me (because we told our landlord about the first time he’d threatened me, and my landlord’s solicitors had sent him a letter to leave me alone). The police came a few days later, listened to my story with barely concealed boredom, left, and then returned an hour or so later to tell me that they’d called him on the phone–they didn’t even go see him in person–and he “seemed like a perfectly nice chap” and that I “must understand, he thinks he’s right.” Because it’s perfectly okay to threaten women if you think you’re right to do so, I guess.

            But then, the police station here closes at 5:30 and isn’t open on the weekends at all; there are two policemen in the entire town. When I called 999 because a man was being curb-stomped right outside my house (ah! the quaint British countryside!) it took them almost half an hour to arrive from the next town. So I should be grateful the local goofballs even bothered to look into it at all.

          • toni

            The Fiona Pilkington case is one of the saddest results of feeble policing I’ve heard of. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/may/24/fiona-pilkington-police-misconduct-proceedings

          • Christina Maxwell

            Ha! Too true. I reported a theft from my property a year or so ago, not only were the police completely useless they also ‘invited’ myself, my husband and my daughters down to the police station for a ‘chat’. They accused me of insurance fraud. The items stolen were not insured as I was easily able to prove. I’m still waiting for an apology….

          • Who?

            Pretty sure the villains of today look different too. Isn’t it the case that general duties police in the UK still don’t carry guns?

            My son is a police officer here in sunny Oz, carries a gun and sincerely hopes he never needs to use it. Readiness to use it if necessary is a job requirement. They have great training, and strong rules of engagement, but unfortunately sometimes there is no choice. There have been a couple of cases in the last year or so where police have shot the perpetrators of extreme violence to protect the public-and as they should be these are publicised and openly investigated. In our state the use of tasers causes more trouble than police with guns.

          • Christina Maxwell

            I am sad to report that Police Scotland is now sending out patrols which are routinely armed. This is contrary to the spirit of ‘Policing by Consent’ which has been used since the days of Robert Peel. This has happened in the teeth of the police themselves (82% of serving officers disagree with routine gun carrying), the objections of the police boards (their concerns were dismissed with no discussion) and was pushed through by the Scottish Parliament with no debate.

        • Guesteleh

          Yes, this!!!!! The response of the police department is like a replay of 30s-era fascism.

        • the wingless one

          But Dr. Amy specifically refers to things as fact in regards to the initial shooting, particularly in the first three points.

          Look, I love this blog, but that’s why I’m actually a bit disturbed by this post. I absolutely agree that *the police* response was terrible and fueled things instead of calming them down. But when Dr. Amy states that a bullet hit Michael Brown in the head as he was falling, well that last part we don’t know yet. Dr. Baden, who performed the private autopsy, is quoted in a NYT article (nope, not the dreaded Fox News) as saying he couldn’t determine from the wound whether Brown was giving up or charging towards the officer when he was shot. He said that either scenario would be consist with his findings and that he needs more information to make a conclusion. Well if the doctor who performed an autopsy on the body doesn’t yet feel like he has enough evidence to make a determination, how can Dr. Amy know with such certainty?

          • attitude devant

            So, the officer is seated. His position is not changing. How does a bullet hit the young man in the head….unless the position of his head changed….as he was falling.

          • the wingless one

            The way Dr. Baden explained it was that it’s possible he had his head bent down because he was charging the officer. He didn’t say that was what happened, but that it would be consistent with his findings. Again, he said he would need more information…as does everyone else..

          • Christina Maxwell

            Yes, I saw Dr. Baden say that in a video on the BBC website. He also said the shots all came from the front.

    • Junebug

      Wow. Just wow.

      If you think trial by public opinion, with few released facts and a lot of hyperbole is wrong, well then you must be a faux news lover. Really? Is that like is you don’t love midwives then Big Pharma must be paying you?

      This is really unexpected from you, and really taints what I previously believed to be accurate analysis from this site. I’m not sure I can take anything here that seriously anymore.

    • The Computer At My Nym

      A fact checking organization found Fox News to be accurate a whopping 18% of the time. I think you’d be better off getting your information from BBB.

      • mythsayer

        Right… She doesn’t like fox.

    • guesting

      NYT, Washington Post, STLToday (St. Louis Post Dispatch), and whatever else Google News pops up. I haven’t read anything from Fox.

    • attitude devant

      NY Times and NPR

    • auntbea

      Wait, are you really surprised or are you just getting in a dig at Fox? Because I really can’t see how you wouldn’t think this was a controversial issue.

    • Ellen Mary

      You’ve been on Fox, tho? Yes, sometimes they are biased, but not moreso than MSNBC . . . They also are often willing to talk about sides of an issue than the more centrist MSM is not . . .

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        hey also are often willing to talk about sides of an issue than the more centrist MSM is not

        Even when there aren’t two equal sides…

        For example, they will give a lot more time to Climate Change denialists than will MSM.

      • toni

        I think all american news outlets are atrocious except C-SPAN

      • Ellen Mary

        They even hosted a ‘debate’ of sorts . . .

        • Guest

          So, should we apply Dr. Amy’s above comment about getting news from Fox News to this piece as well?

      • emkay

        Participating in media doesn’t prevent one from acknowledging OBVIOUS bias.

        What even is your point?

    • baileylamb

      Well Dr.Amy, I just have to say that sometimes the past isn’t even the past, and many people would rather burry themselves in weird hobbies (like baby catching) then deal with real issues, like this, or even the safety of our food supply and water. To me home birth is away to control something, and escape, a way to advocate w/ out perceived pushback or consequences. There’s real issues and ways suburban women can make a difference, but those things are hard and they might get push back.

      • attitude devant

        Wow, baileylamb. You are soooo right. Seriously, I have often thought that well-to-do women pursue extreme HB goals because that’s a ‘safe’ area for them to act in, because it doesn’t upset the status quo in their marriages, jobs, families.

    • AgentOrange5

      What I know about the shooting is from Yahoo, which is mostly AP articles. I haven’t heard of any of the “facts” that people are presenting here, only that the FBI is still investigating. 1 example, like the shooting being 20 feet away from Brown, is this really an official finding, or is this just heresay? I am one who do think the police are over-militarized, but I have not seen enough evidence in this case to convince me one way or another. Given that the FBI is still actively investigating, I don’t know how anyone could be taking sides when all the evidence hasn’t been presented yet.

    • Guest

      I honestly know very little about this case, but I think your last paragraph in this comment is horrific. Almost all news sources have bias, but apparently it’s ok if their bias is the same as yours. I really wish you wouldn’t have posted this, I am a fairly new follower of yours (only been following for the past 8 months or so), and I think this post (and your comments on it) really detracts from your overall message.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        All new sources can have bias, but some are far more biased than others. Fox News is blatantly biased, much more than any other mainstream source. It is just like BOBB.

        • Guest

          Why would you have ever chosen to participate in a debate on such a blatantly biased (your words) news outlet then?

          • Cobalt

            Because even a broken clock is right twice a day? Because it is still a venue that reaches hundreds of thousands of people, people who might not be aware of the dangers and might benefit from the information?

    • emkay

      Completely agree. I scrolled down to the comments section with nervousness expecting you to be lambasted for daring to compare HB midwifery witht he horror of these events.

      Insead… the opposite.
      Huh. America has a very, VERY long way to go

      • toni

        I haven’t seen anyone defend the actions of the police just some objections to the rush to condemn the individual officer before the investigation is complete. I have myself criticised the protesters but that doesn’t mean I approve of the police tactics – I don’t. I’m also not an american.

    • LibrarianSarah

      I personally prefer PBS News Hour myself. They had an interesting discussion between a former New York detective and a member or the Black Police Association (or something of that sort I can’t remember the name). The latter made an interesting point in the need for police departments to shift from a militarized police mindset to a community policing mindset.

  • Junebug

    This article is really disappointing and devoid of a lot of pertinent information.

    • attitude devant

      ?
      such as?

  • guesting

    In fairness, can you also do a piece with what midwives have in common with the protesters/looters/AND racists who are pouncing on this? I think this polarizing situation is silly for this blog.

    1. Attack someone who has nothing to do with the actual situation. Midwives attack c-sections when c-section are often necessary. Looters attack private businesses because…..? Racists: Black men are ruining this country, look at Obama and Holder!
    2. Paint the “bad” side as black/white. Midwives: ALL OBS ARE EVIL. Looters: ALL COPS ARE PIGS. Racists: ALL BLACK MEN ARE ____.
    3. Ignore some facts. Midwives: Women don’t want epidurals! (When, what?, 95% of women ask for them). Looters: Disproportionate representation! (White mayor runs UNOPPOSED.) Racists: See? Black neighborhood sucks (ignoring that MOST Of the neighborhood isn’t involved and is peaceful.)
    4. Jump on someone making a VERY risky decision. Midwives: OBs should know EXACTLY what will happen and avoid unnecessary C-Sections. Looters: The cop should have just taken a chill pill when a man who had 100 pounds on him, charged at him. Racists: Oppressed black people are throwing rocks, they’re obviously just stupid and not fighting back the only way they know how. (Ok, that was a stretch).
    5. Use the situation to their opportunity. Midwives: Complication from a C-Section — ALL c-sections are bad! Looters: let’s hide behind photogs and reporters after hurling bombs and rocks at the police. Let’s destroy businesses because the police are busy and “we deserve this.” Racists: see, all ____ are _____.

    I’m not on any “side” but this blog post was a low blow when the investigation isn’t done. Two individuals met and unfortunately the deathly consequences may help underlying tensions. I hope more of the people in that town run for mayor, council, and apply to the Ferguson PD because of this.

    • The Computer At My Nym

      It appears that the vast majority of the actual looters are from out of town. The residents of Ferguson have been protesting peacefully and getting tear gassed for their trouble. “Looting” has been a fairly rare event, even if you include people grabbing milk from McDonalds to treat tear gas damage and only going in to pay afterwards.

      Also, the autopsy results clearly demonstrate the Brown was NOT charging at Wilson. He was attempting to surrender, as the witnesses have stated.

      • guesting

        Half of the witnesses say “bum rush” half say he said “don’t shoot.” Not sure which half to believe. Only one half is telling the truth.

        • The Computer At My Nym

          Nope. There are no witnesses on the scene saying “bum rush”. That’s a flat our lie from the FPD. In any case, it is undisputed that the body was more than 20 feet from the car and the autopsy showed no powder burns on Brown’s body. Not consistent with him rushing the officer.

          • Guest38
          • The Computer At My Nym

            The NYT is suffering from a bad case of being embedded. There is simply no evidence that Brown was ever anywhere near his murderer and certainly none that he was a threat to that armed man.

          • guesting

            And you have all the evidence? You’ve seen the police car where some sort of scuffle took place? If the door bounced off the sidewalk there will be a mark from the curb. If the door bounced off because the jaywalkers threw it against the officer, there won’t be a curb mark. The toxicology reports? If they come out with an xray of the officer’s broken eye socket are you going to say this is all a conspiracy? The friend witness and the family lawyer who said he was shot in the back when THREE autopsies show he was shot in the front? The officer could be a cold blooded racist but we don’t know everything.

            This is just all being dramatized and acting as a rorschach test. The amount of water cooler talk when “those people are all like that” shows what people think of black communities AND police officers since that phrase is used for both.

          • The Computer At My Nym

            If Brown were involved in a physical altercation, he would have scrapes and bruises. The autopsy reported none except where his head hit the sidewalk after he was murdered.

          • baileylamb

            Actually, I haven’t really seen the NYT in the tone, the Wasington Post, has had reporters there for some time, and a good twitter feed, most of the world, is watching this on twitter, and watching live feeds, not reading a tepid, equivocation from the NYT. This is holdong up a mirror to America and many don’t want to look.

    • auntbea

      You know that there is a PROFOUND difference between protesters and looters, right? Even though you seem to have them conflated?

      • guesting

        Looters are calling themselves protesters. I work with someone who lives in Ferguson (I live in St. Louis), so having something near and dear to me (this blog) attack something near and dear to me (where I live) is raising my hackles. My comment is VERY knee jerk but I am attempting to be balanced.

        • auntbea

          Yes, but that doesn’t mean that protestors are looters. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the logic of protesters is flawed or unreasonable or IN ANY WAY comparable to that of midwives.

          • guesting

            You’re right.

        • baileylamb

          Not a very good attempt. Many times in the past few years, my husband has been asked if he’pwould move to St Louis, he always refuses, this incident is hopefully exposing to the rest of the nation, why we’d never move there.
          Also, why are you a home birth supporter.

          • guesting

            I know it’s not a good attempt, I don’t think we can say for sure what happened either way but I think it’s unfair to attack situations we’re not actually in.

            Ok…so you don’t want to live in St. Louis. There are plenty of places I don’t want to live but I like it here even though it’s not perfect. Your comment is hurtful but it’s not going to change my life, you’re just trying to attack me.

            I’m not a home birth supporter. I love this blog.

          • baileylamb

            I’m not trying to attack you at all. You shouldn’t take criticisms of the place you live, personally. You should find out why people are criticizing the place. How will things every change if good people are defensive, and unwilling to take a hard look at problems?

            St. Louis area has a relatively low cost of living, and a “happening” sports/ venue scene. So obviously, there are other factors that are unatractive.

            As a POC it is really sad for me to see people who don’t want to kno history, or learn from it. In every crisis there is an opportunity, how many more times will we really get a chance to reorient this country/ region, if we keep buying our head in the sands.

          • guesting

            Thanks for replying.

            You’re right, I must be taking it personally when it’s not warranted if I felt attacked. They do say St. Louisians have insecurity going from a top 10 to a region in somewhat decline. There is racism here, no doubt. I struggle thinking I’m lazy because I do my job, take care of my kids, keep my backyard clean. I’m not an activist but part of me thinks I should be.

            What is a POC? Guessing from context on Google, is it Person of Color?

            I think this crisis is a huge opportunity. I hope Ferguson comes out of it stronger, especially since they’ve been in the spotlight and if they make changes just imagine what the followup stories will be in the news in the upcoming months/years as they report back in.

          • anion

            I dunno. I think it’s warranted. St. Louis is my hometown, though I haven’t lived there in twenty years. I will always be a St. Louisan and proud of it; I love that city. I find it very hurtful, some of the things people are saying about it, because they’re not talking about some faceless city, they’re talking about people, and acting as if everyone has to wear a bulletproof vest to go to school because of the race wars or whatever nonsense.

            Acknowledging that a place has problems–just like every other place–isn’t the same as acknowledging that your city is a hellhole that only crazy KKK members would live in.

            Since a few people are taking it for granted that Missouri is the most racist state in the entire country, I decided to look it up. Here’s a list from last week of the ten most racist states, done by the Atlanta Blackstar:

            http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/05/14/top-10-racist-states-america/

            Surprise! Missouri isn’t even on that list.

            Here’s a slightly older one based purely on votes rather than data, where Missouri does appear. At #10:

            http://www.thetoptens.com/most-racists-states-us/

            Are there racists in Missouri? Of course. Is there racial tension in Missouri? Of course. Show me a place where there isn’t any racism or racial tension (hint: it will be the place where there is only one race living). I absolutely don’t deny that it’s there and it should be fixed.

            But please knock off the “St. Louis is a hotbed of racism and Missouri is the most racist state that ever existed,” thing, especially if you base that opinion on a couple of news stories and a brief visit, rather than on actually living there.

          • auntbea

            Baileylamb doesn’t want to live there not because she doesn’t like it, but because she would experience harassment, discrimination and potentially violence if she were to live there as someone non-white. No one is assuming you personally would be the one doing the harassing and discriminating, but it is not a contested statement that Missouri has higher-than-average levels of personal and institutional racism than other places in the US.

          • guesting

            No, it is not a contested statement. And I grew up in a more rural area of MO that was much worse than the metro area.

        • The Computer At My Nym

          So are you one of the white people in St Louis who are out there supporting Wilson?

          • guesting

            No. I don’t “support” Wilson or Brown because I don’t know what happened.

      • Alcharisi

        Not to mention that it isn’t as though whatever non-peaceful activity has occurred happens in a vacuum:

        “Looting, too, is about power. When people have nothing and something
        happens to remind them, in a big way, that what little they do have can
        be taken away in an instant, including their lives and the lives of their children,
        they may reach for any semblance of power or control they can get. That
        might mean breaking a window or even starting a fire. It may mean taking something. Something you’ve been told you can’t have because you’re not human enough to live, let alone prosper…Whatever you think of looting, though, remember this: it’s not the issue, either. The issue is yet another unarmed Black teenager murdered by cops. His name was Mike Brown.”

        http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/?utm_content=buffer10b51&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    I just thought of another parallel, supression of dissent. The police in Ferguson arrested JOURNALISTS trying to tell the story to the American public. Homebirth midwives delete and ban to suppress the truth about homebirth deaths.

    • toni

      That’s a big one! Maybe edit your blog post to add it?

    • baileylamb

      Dont forget, hiring and promoting people who have been careless in their past jobs. Also, like midwives the Fergusin PD doesn’t keep police complaint records.

  • The Computer At My Nym

    6. They pretend to be professionals but their actions are profoundly unprofessional. Wilson not only shot a young man unprovoked, he didn’t bother to call 911 after the shooting or even file an incident report. The police in Ferguson are using rules of engagement more aggressive than US soldiers in Iraq are using. Heck, if you compare pictures of ISIS recruits with pictures of FPD officers, the ISIS recruits are handling their weapons better and in a less threatening manner.

    7. They are receiving utterly inexplicable support from their own victims. Not, at least for the FPD, their most direct victims. But the FPD is making life more insecure and more dangerous for people, black and white, in St Louis and especially for other police officers in the St Louis area and elsewhere. Why any member of the public or police officer would support them is beyond my comprehension.

  • attitude devant

    Some free advice to the DA in Ferguson: charge the police officer with manslaughter now. He may eventually be found innocent, but there is nothing to be lost by filing the charges and booking him. Your neighbors will know you take this event seriously and it will do a great deal to calm the waters.

    • toni

      I couldn’t disagree more! A lawyer suggested this on CNN and it made me cross. They can’t charge people with crimes before they have sufficient evidence. Maybe they do have enough evidence I don’t know but surely you don’t think people should be indicted just to appease lynch mobs?

      • attitude devant

        toni, an unarmed man is dead. There is nothing wrong with filing charges. The officer will get his full day in court and he will have excellent representation. I guarantee it. This is not about ‘appeasing a lynch mob,’ it’s about preventing further violence by showing everyone that this young man’s death is being thoroughly examined. At this point the internal police evaluation has no credibility with anyone anywhere.

        Charging the officer has effectively calmed the situation in other cases where a policeman shot someone and the situation was escalating. Why not do it here? He will have his due process (unlike Michael Brown).

        Although I am white, my family is mixed. Knowing my close relatives who are NOT white has been such an education to me about racism and class privilege. Unless you have been in the situation of ‘driving while black’ or ‘walking while black,’ you have no idea.

        • Karen in SC

          Were those officers charged immediately? Or do you know that they were charged only to appease the media in the absence of due process?

          I feel strongly that the DA should follow the law. Other killings that aren’t racially charged sometimes take even longer to make an arrest. The real world doesn’t operate on the Law & Order schedule.

          • attitude devant

            How is this the absence of due process? You announce you are convening a grand jury to seek those charges. The officer still has his rights protected, again unlike Michael Brown.

          • Karen in SC

            Grand jury convening today, according to the news.

          • attitude devant

            See? They took my advice!

            Notice that according to the NY Times, that there has been a marked decrease in protests. Gosh, when people know that justice is being pursued they calm down. Who woulda thunk?

          • Karen in SC

            Since I’m not a lawyer I can’t say whether this is a quick appearance in front of the grand jury, or a late one. I do know that in St. Louis County, the grand jury only meets on Wednesdays. So perhaps it did happen with some urgency.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        A lynch mob? Since when is a group of peaceful protesters exercising the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution a lynch mob?

        • toni

          If it’s peaceful why the need to ‘calm the waters’? If there were no looting and rowdiness people wouldn’t be calling for something to be done just to stop them. That was AD’s suggestion.. charge him preemptively to please protesters. I think that’s a terrible reason to put someone in the dock and the logical conclusion of that would be sticking people in cells because a number of people are convinced they are guilty and are baying for blood.

          • The Computer At My Nym

            If it’s peaceful why the need to ‘calm the waters’?

            You’re right. There were some crazy thugs out there that night. They were wearing uniforms, throwing tear gas around, and pointing guns at unarmed people who had their hands in the air. They were so obviously abusive that the Egyptian government (not known for its soft on protestors stance) has been telling them to chill out already. Congratulations on supporting the thugs.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        They can’t charge people with crimes before they have sufficient evidence.

        Sufficient evidence in what respect? Sufficient evidence to make a case against him? Considering their is no question that Wilson shot him, we already have that. We also know that he was unarmed. We have multiple witnesses.

        There is plenty of evidence for suspicion of wrong-doing. You can arrest him and, if sufficient evidence comes to light, drop the charges (and you don’t have to wait until the trial). But think of it this way: until then, you have a suspected murderer running around town.

        Make no mistake – if they had someone who had done something like this and WANTED to arrest him, they could absolutely do it, and no one would blink an eye. If it were a black guy who had shot an unarmed person with two eyewitnesses claiming he had done it with the other guy surrendering, you think for a second they would hold off because the guy claimed the victim was a thug who had attacked him, so it might have been justified? Nope, we’ll throw him in jail and if he’s innocent, let it come to trial…

        • toni

          If there is enough evidence to charge him then fine but it’s not good enough to have just enough evidence for questioning/investigation but go ahead a charge prematurely to calm down troublemakers. Which is what I thought AD was suggesting. It would set a terrible precedent. And just because black person is railroaded doesn’t make it okay to railroad a white person.

          • auntbea

            I have no idea what the rules are for indictment and what counts as sufficient evidence. But AD doesn’t want to “calm down troublemakers”. She wants to show people who are genuinely horrified, enraged and afraid that they have been heard.

          • attitude devant

            I just don’t get why charging the officer is denying him his rights. At least HE will get a jury trial. Michael Brown had no jury. He just had a cop acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

          • auntbea

            I don’t know where the line is legally, but it’s pretty uncool to indict someone in bad faith, even if he will get a trial. Indictment isn’t costless for either the defendant or society. But more importantly, he DOES have the right to a speedy trial. You don’t indict until you have enough evidence for a conviction, because otherwise you may not be able to make the case in time to go to court.

          • toni

            Yes I was thinking this. If they don’t gather enough evidence before the trial because they rush things ‘to calm things down’ the officer could request a speedy trial and get off just because the prosecutors don’t have their shit together.

          • Karen in SC

            The grand jury in St. Louis County meets on Wednesdays. The earliest they could have met on this would have been August 13th. That they began hearing evidence today shows an urgency, but somehow this did not get communicated very well.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            And just because black person is railroaded

            If it were a black person who did it, no one would consider it “railroaded.” There’s a prima faci case of murder. Arresting him isn’t “railroading” him, it’s the stalling in the arrest that is objectionable part.

            But otherwise, you have a killer running free.

        • attitude devant

          And the police have certainly arrested a bunch of people (including reporters) with minimal evidence. They seem to have little concern for waiting to have a clear picture of all the facts.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Well, in that regard I agree with toni that just because others are railroaded doesn’t mean Wilson should be.

            But we aren’t talking “minimal evidence,” It’s very clear right now that we have a primae facie case against him, with facts not in dispute (he killed the guy, the guy was unarmed) and witnesses that claim he was surrendering.

            If it were a black guy with that against him, would they be hedging? Hell no, he’d be in jail until they sorfted it out. But because it’s a white cop, all of a sudden they have to make sure they are careful …

          • Smoochagator

            Plus the fact that his identity was protected for so long. If a black man had shot a police officer his name would be all over the media and shared with law enforcement six counties over.

          • toni

            I wonder what the reaction would have been if the officer were black. Do you not think the PD would be protecting him the same way?

          • auntbea

            Arresting and charging are very different.

      • baileylamb

        They can’t arrest people and hold them over night without charge either, but that didn’t stop them from doing it to a German journalist.

        • attitude devant

          That’s the PATRIOT act for you. If you aren’t an American citizen, you have no rights on US soil. I’m serious.

    • The Computer At My Nym

      I think he should be charged with first degree murder. He killed a defenseless man unprovoked. It was also a hate crime and a violation of professional ethics. Does Missouri have the death penalty? I don’t approve of the death penalty, but if it’s ever going to be used, this seems like the case. At the very least, Wilson should go to prison until he can learn to control himself and he should never be allowed near a gun again.

  • Anj Fabian

    #5 is the real one. Unless the initial investigation showed something highly inflammatory like the officer was a member of a radical, racist group, the best strategy is to say “We will investigate this with all the resources at our disposal and we will cooperate with any state and federal inquiries.”.

    The one thing people want is answers. They might not get the answers as quickly as they would like, but as long as they have reason to trust the process, they will abide.

    Midwives don’t investigate unless they are forced to and even then, they mostly go through the motions and circle their wagons. There is no process to trust. The answers are not forthcoming. The officer who fired the gun was probably suspended immediately and won’t return to duty for some time. A midwife? She’s unlikely to be suspended before any investigation and often isn’t suspended at all.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      What struck me most forcefully was #4 blaming the victim. Even as they released the convenience store video, the police acknowledged that it had nothing to do with the shooting. So why did they release it? I suspect that the reaction they were hoping for was something like this: “Sure, we screwed up and shot an unarmed black man, but don’t worry about it since he was the kind of guy who deserved to be shot sooner or later.”

      Similarly, homebirth advocates engage in what is practically a ritual of victim blaming when a baby dies and they are hoping for something similar: “Sure the midwife screwed up terribly and let this baby die, but don’t worry about it since it was a baby that was ‘meant’ to die anyway.”

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        The idea was to show that he was engaging in criminal behavior, therefore the police were correct to be afraid of him. Never mind that the criminal behavior in question is shoplifting and perhaps smoking an illegal substance. Shoplifting, smoking pot, and even robbery do not carry the death penalty.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          The idea was to show that he was engaging in criminal behavior,

          IOW, they wanted to portray him as a “thug” so therefore he deserved what he got

          • toni

            Do you not think it’s thuggish to rob a store and push around the shopkeeper? (Assuming it was even him. I think you doubted that it was earlier)

          • attitude devant

            It’s not relevant. 1) we don’t know it’s him in the video.
            2) the officer didn’t know anything about it. It has no bearing.

          • toni

            Did I say it did? I’m asking him – assuming it is indeed footage of Mr Brown – is the behaviour shown in that video not thuggish. I think it is and so the quotation marks around ‘thug’ are unnecessary. I know it has nothing to do with what happened afterwards and doesn’t in anyway mean he deserved to be shot dead at 18 but denying that the video shows thuggish conduct (which I think he was by using quote marks) is wrong. We can be appalled by the actions of the police department without minimising the seriousness of robbery.

          • auntbea

            You don’t have to agree, but there are plenty of people who see the word “thug” as inherently racist. Which is why Bofa put it in quotes: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/27/richard-sherman-is-right-thug-is-the-new-n-world.html

          • toni

            Oh okay. I’m pleading ignorant on that one as I’m from India. All sorts of words are considered racially charged here in the US that aren’t in other places. To me a thug is a ruffian of any colour.

          • auntbea

            Wait, so you are coming here and arguing with us about an insanely racially-charged American political issue when you are unaware of the context of race and racism in the US?

          • toni

            I’m not unaware of it and I’ve lived here for four 1/2 years and in a mostly black part of town for three. I haven’t really commented on race, I’m more interested in the due process part of the discussion. Just because I didn’t know some people think the word thug is inherently racist and am from another country means I shouldn’t comment on this incident? wtf. If I ever catch you expressing your opinion on anything to do with India or Israel (my parents’ places or origin) I suppose I should tell you to keep your nose out

          • auntbea

            I have no problem with you discussing it. I have a problem with you repeatedly insisting that Bofa acknowledge that Brown was a thug and that protesters are looters/troublemakers/a lynch mob when you have apparently no idea what these words and concepts connote in the American context. (Note: referring to a group of black people as a lynch mob when black people were killed by lynch mobs for generations is particularly tone deaf.)

            And actually, I assign articles on race and ethnicity in both India and Israel to my students. But I certainly don’t go on public message boards and argue with actual Indians when they try to explain to me how the caste system works.

          • toni

            perhaps we shouldn’t assume everyone here is north american and that when they use a word they are actually using its dictionary definition unless otherwise stated. aggressively pushing around a person you are considerably taller than (possibly whilst committing another crime against them though this has been disputed) is a perfect example of thuggishness.I’m very sorry Bofa if you felt I was trying to goad you into using a racial epithet. I certainly wasn’t trying to say that behaviour was deserving of the death penalty (although if a stranger much bigger than me touched me like that and I had a gun I would aim it at them.)

            I’ve found nothing on google that indicates looters/troublemakers are racial slurs. There are looters present. I know lynch mob can be an emotive term race-wise here obviously and I was using it hyperbolically but the point I was trying to make was that if we let protesters (even peaceful ones) determine prosecution procedures why not angry mobs too? Honestly the footage I’ve seen is eerily similar to what went on it my town here in FL during the Trayvon Martin controversy, and plenty of *those* protesters were calling for Zimmerman’s execution. I’ve no doubt they would have done it if given the chance. In Missouri the police brutality is making the protesters look peaceful by comparison but I don’t think the nature of the protest is much different. I read this assessment on whether the protest is justified and I agree that it is not http://ethicsalarms.com/2014/08/19/the-protest-ethics-check-list-and-the-fergusen-demonstrations/#more-23163

          • auntbea

            Yeah….someone who uses the phrase “race furies” unironically is not someone whose opinion I am going to take very seriously.

          • toni

            I’m going to toot my own horn here and tell you I recently had a discussion with some work colleagues about the film 12 Angry Man and it was clear I knew more about your judicial system than any of the born and bred Americans

          • attitude devant

            toni, that’s nice, but read Aunt Bea’s note above. And charging the man in no way deprives him of his right to due process.

          • DiomedesV

            Yes, the officer didn’t know about the incident in the store. But Brown did. That would influence his reaction to the police officer.

            Nobody here really knows what happened.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            It was him in the video, I have no doubt.

            But what bearing does him being a “thug” have on this case? Why does it matter whether he acted thuggish in the video?

            This is the problem. It’s not that they portray him as a thug, it’s that his actions in the video have no bearing on what happened in the exchange.

          • Mishimoo

            What I want to know is: If it was him in the video, why’d he change his shoes and socks? What was the point of that?

          • auntbea

            WHO CARES IF IT WAS THUGGISH? THUGGISHNESS IS NOT A CAPITAL OFFENSE.

          • The Computer At My Nym
          • Smoochagator

            A white kid shoplifting and shoving a store clerk would never be referred to by the media as a “thug.” It wouldn’t even enter the discussion.

          • Amy
      • Junebug

        They released it due to FOIA requests. The media wanted the video.

        • Medwife

          Boy, they sure were speedy to comply with that request.

        • Guesteleh

          The media has been asking for a lot of information–for example, the official autopsy report–but the only thing the police released is the video. So let’s not get confused about why the video was put out there.

  • Guest

    In all fairness until the FBI finishes their investigation you have no idea what happened, just the Brown family’s version of events. You are being like a NCBer second guessing why a CS was done.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I know the most important fact: someone is dead. The police don’t know more than that, either, yet they attempted to smear the victim, met peaceful protests with massive force and have refused to show even the most basic compassion toward Brown’s family and the protestors.

      • toni

        Isn’t this smearing the officer? ‘He saw a large black male coming toward him, and his “intuition” told him that large black males are thugs with guns.’ That’s a pretty huge assumption. There is evidence that Michael Brown was a thug (robbery footage) but it would be wrong to conclude based on that that he did anything in the presence of the officer to warrant being shot dead. There’s less evidence (none as far as I know) to suggest the policeman is prejudiced against black people but you just pronounced him a racist anyway. unless you think the fact that he killed Mr Brown is itself proof of racism? Otherwise I agree with what you said..the police seem to have botched this and there are similarities with the CPMs; closing ranks, going on the offensive etc

        • attitude devant

          toni, I can tell you have never been to Missouri.

          • toni

            you are correct

          • attitude devant

            So educate yourself. (I know that on this site, that phrase usually precedes some NCB idiocy, but I’m serious.) Missouri’s history of slavery and racism goes back to before the Civil War. It’s bad there. I just googled “Missouri racism” and came up with some excellent links. Missouri whites raiding the ‘free’ state of Kansas was one of the triggers of the War. (try googling the phrase ‘bleeding Kansas’)

          • Medwife

            Or “bushwhacker”. The Missouri/Kansas border was a very ugly place.

          • toni

            would have thought the history of slavery in every slave owning state went back to before the civil war lol is that not what you meant to say? thanks for the suggestion, I’ll look it up.

        • The Computer At My Nym

          Actually, it’s not at all clear that the man in the video tape was Brown. And even if it was, the full footage shows him PAYING for the cigarillos and putting back those he couldn’t afford. Which is consistent with the undisputed fact that the store did NOT report a robbery that night. Finally, it is undisputed that Wilson didn’t know about the alleged robbery. Even if Brown did steal (aka shoplift) cigarillos, that had nothing to do with Wilson’s decision to shoot him.

          • Junebug

            The person he was with stated it was them and they stole the merchandise.

          • The Computer At My Nym

            Oh, well, that settles it. No one has ever made a false confession after being beat up or threatened by the cops.

          • Junebug

            You really think that is what happened based on his statement? Has he retracted it and said it was beaten out of him when he told it to his attorney (not the police)? Is there a reason to think the attorney beat it out of him?

          • The Computer At My Nym

            You really think that there’s any chance that it is not, based on how the FPD is behaving? The store itself reported no shoplifting. The full security video tape shows the man-whether he was Brown or not-paying for the cigarillos and leaving. It’s not clear what the confrontation with the store clerk was about, but the man only shoved the clerk AFTER the clerk touched him first. And it is undisputed, even by the FPD that Wilson did not know of the accustion. There is simply no way this wasn’t a set up and attempt to divert attention. Worked, too, didn’t it?

            But let’s assume I’m totally wrong. Brown was at the store, stole the cigarillos and shoved the clerk. Somehow, Wilson knew about this. Was that a captial offense? Did Wilson then have the right to execute Brown? Have you never committed any crime? Is it ok for the police to shoot you for jaywalking or shoplifting? If not, why was it ok to shoot Brown for the same?

          • toni

            Where is anyone saying that the alleged robbery alone would justify his being shot? You keep responding as if I’m saying ‘he robbed a store therefore it was justifiable homicide’ when I’m saying nothing of the kind. it *might* be relevant in the sense that it demonstrates that he was a jerk who didn’t respect the law and that he was more likely to be aggressive towards a law enforcer than the average person. Moreover, coming across a police officer unexpectedly after having just committed a crime might make a person behave irrationally. I would imagine it would make most people panic in some way (unless they were hardened criminals). Though I do find it difficult to believe an unarmed person would actually run towards an obviously armed one even in a panic. but where is the evidence that Wilson is the racist POS you and Dr Amy are so convinced he is? if you have any evidence that Wilson harbours racist views (other than the fact the he is from Missouri) or mistreated black people in the past do share because it would be relevant

            Also I think that’s some serious confirmation bias for you to deny that the man in the video (Mr Brown or not) is up to no good. Why on earth would that pipsqueak shopkeeper try to stop him from leaving the store unless he was stealing or had underpaid? Seriously he was at least a foot taller and 100lbs heftier than the clerk.

        • auntbea

          What other explanation is there for a police officer finding an unarmed kid who was running away with his hands up finding him such a threat that he had to shoot him six times?

          There is SO MUCH EVIDENCE from the social science literature that blacks are more likely to be perceived by police (and people in general) as “criminal types”, as armed, and as dangerous.

    • Anj Fabian

      There may be as many as three investigations:
      the local PD
      the FBI
      …whoever investigates civil rights violations

      Even Lisa Barrett is unlikely to face more than one investigation per death.

      • Medwife

        The last two are necessary because the first will be worthless.

        • Anj Fabian

          So where’s the FBI and DOJ when a baby dies?

          The Snyders managed to get the AG’s office to take action, but that was all on them.

    • auntbea

      The police have been giving their side of the Brown shooting too. Many people just don’t find it convincing. But more importantly, unless what we don’t know about the protests is that there is credible evidence of a IED hiding in the crowd, there CAN’T be a good explanation for meeting mostly-peaceful protesters with camo, tanks, and raised semi-automatic weapons.

    • attitude devant

      He shot him six times. Six. This is a warning shot? A disabling shot? Six times over?

      • AgentOrange5

        FYI, police are trained never to give warning or disabling shots. Police are trained to solely to shoot to kill if the situation warrants. The sole question is whether or not the killing was justified/necessary.

    • Guesteleh

      We don’t know exactly what happened with the shooting but it’s incontrovertible that the police department has refused to release any evidence in the case (including an autopsy report), refused to release the police officer’s name for days until they were pressured to do so, have arrested a dozen reporters for no legitimate reason, used military gear such as tanks, tear gas and high-powered weapons to confront initially peaceful protesters (protest wasn’t violent until after the military incursion), and imposed a no-fly zone over the city for the sole purpose of preventing news helicopters from getting overhead shots.

      The police have behaved in every way like a jackbooted, fascist occupying army in what is a suburban, residential community. It’s disgusting and makes me ashamed of what the U.S. has come to.