A conflagration of lies
Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post: Dehumanizing Ferguson—
The name Ferguson should become shorthand for dehumanization.
No one should have been surprised that police officer Darren Wilson was not charged in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. I’ve written before, and likely will have to write again, about the tragically low value our society places on the lives of young black men. Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch led the grand jury in a manner that seemed designed to indict the unarmed Brown rather than the man who shot him dead. The outcome was not in suspense.
The story that was initially told in Ferguson—and is continuing to be told by professionals like Robinson—is a story constructed almost entirely of lies.
Ben Shapiro, Breitbart: In Ferguson, Witness Intimidation, Lying by ‘Community of Color’—
On Monday night, after the release of the grand jury verdict rejecting indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of 18-year-old black man Michael Brown, President Obama took to the microphones. “We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America,” he said. “[T]here are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.”
Obama was wrong, at least in the case of Darren Wilson. In viewing thousands of pages of FBI interviews and grand jury testimony, it becomes eminently clear that many members of the local community did make up the story about Michael Brown being executed by Wilson – and pressured others to lie to police or keep silent.
According to the St. Louis County Police Investigative Report, the mob mentality took root almost immediately after the shooting. By the time detectives arrived at the scene of the incident, there was “a large crowd of bystanders and a large uniformed police presence at the scene when detectives arrived.” That crowd included both Brown’s mother and his stepfather, according to witness testimony. The police report states, “Many individuals were clearly upset and were expressing their frustration, by at times yelling obscenities and threats, and attempting to encroach on the crime scene itself.”
It got worse:
As the scene investigation continued, there were several large groups of hostile individuals around the perimeter of the crime scene. The investigation of the scene was interrupted several times by death threats directed toward police officers and gunshots being fired by an unknown persons around the crime scene.
According to the police report, a bevy of witnesses described intimidation from the local community, as well as falsification of testimony. One witness initially told police she didn’t want to “get involved for fear of retaliation.” She said, “I don’t know these people. I have to live here.”
Another female witness told police, “I don’t know nothin’.”
An adult male near the scene “commented to detectives as they walked by that he witnessed the incident and the officer was ‘in the right’ and ‘did what he had to do.’ He added the statements being made by bystanders in the complex were inaccurate. The detectives momentarily stopped to speak with the male who was clearly uncomfortable speaking with detectives. The male indicated he was not making any further comments or identifying himself.”
Two more witnesses, one male and one female, “said they were afraid to speak about what they witnessed. Both said they were worried about retaliation from people who live in the area.” One “began crying and said she could not talk about it.” The male said that he saw Brown inside the vehicle. He turned away, and when he turned back, “the male began moving quickly toward the officer and he heard several more gunshots.” Both witnesses refused to provide recorded statements.
One witness told police that “she had been speaking to her neighbors about the incident, and her neighbors were getting upset at what they believed happened. Their beliefs were inconsistent with what she witnessed.”
Yet the witness told police “that although present during the incident, and seeing the entirety of what happened, he would not be speaking to police for fear of retaliation from neighborhood residents. He also stated the information being broadcast by the news outlets was not accurate information and there were ‘blatant lies from those giving accounts of what they saw.’ He said there were multiple people present when the shooting occurred and even those people, when interviewed by the media, were giving false statements.”
And there’s more.
I had to stop there or I would simply be re-posting Shapiro’s entire piece.
How are we ever going to eradicate racism or solve over-zealous policing if an entire community just makes stuff up?
And supposedly professional journalists so blindly fall for it?
When Robinson posted his opinion piece, he already had complete access to the grand jury record.
When he wrote the words, “Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch led the grand jury in a manner that seemed designed to indict the unarmed Brown rather than the man who shot him dead,” he could have—he should have—known better.
Which leads me to ask: At one point does a journalist cease being misled and instead become a willing partner to the lie?
There is still white-on-black racism in this country.
There is definitely a problem with overzealous police reaction in communities throughout the U.S.
But they’re not going to be solved with an endless series of Boy Crying Wolf, accompanied by incitements to riot.
Exaggerating complex problems doesn’t make them easier to solve.
All too often, that is precisely the point.