Monday, August 18, 2014

Surveillance Video Threatens National Debate Over Police Militarization

The surveillance video that was released on Friday by police in Ferguson, Missouri nicely serves to change the subject from the threat of the militarized police into yet another racially charged issue. The video does appear to show the teenager Michael Brown, who was gunned down by a local police officer in the process of committing what may be a crime. However, the series of events leading up to the shooting of Brown and the overwhelming response by fully weaponized police shock troops to the protests (and rioting) are two separate issues and should remain as such.

What is shown on the video, taken in a convenience store flies in the face of the narrative that Brown was a gentle giant instead of an intimidating, brown-skinned version of the incredible Hulk. The Ferguson police also can't get their stories straight about whether or not Brown was being stopped as a suspect in the stealing cigars from the convenience store.  Brown certainly was not an innocent, more likely was a bit of a gangsta and there will inevitably be more reports verifying his true nature. As for the video release, quite frankly the timing of it stinks of a deliberate distraction. There is after all a lot of money to be made in arming the police with battlefield style equipment and nobody with a vested interest wants to risk the killing of the goose that laid the golden egg.

Just when politicians and critics were beginning to acknowledge the danger of the heavily militarized police forces by publishing columns as Senator Rand Paul did in Time and calling for legislation the video was launched into the media spin cycle. After a day of relative calm when the armored St. Louis County goons were replaced by Missouri Highway Patrol, unrest again broke out in Ferguson last night in a reaction to the video release.

Police in riot gear clashed overnight with small groups of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri amid signs of renewed tensions over the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a local patrol officer.
 The flareups, breaking a period of relative calm, came after police released surveillance footage that implicated Michael Brown, 18, in the theft of a packet of cigars from a convenience store a few minutes before he was shot. Brown's family condemned the revelation as a "character assassination" designed to smear the teenager and divert attention from the actions of police.
One of the flashpoints in the early hours of Saturday came at the store where the robbery was alleged to have taken place. Police fired a teargas canister at a crowd of around 200 people who had gathered there. Some protesters threw bottles at officers in riot gear and shouted "hands up, don't shoot", the chant that has come to characterise the protests. According to some accounts, Brown had his hands up when he was shot.

A small crowd later looted the convenience store. A meat market was also looted and other businesses had windows smashed. Police did not intervene.

Ironically the store that was looted is the same one that the surveillance video allegedly came from. My personal opinion is that there is never an excuse for looting and those who engage in it are the worst type of criminals and parasites. They should be shot on sight - by the owners of the property exercising their Second Amendment rights.

The fact is that the truth about Brown and the officer who killed him should be kept entirely separate from the response of the militarized police in the aftermath. Authorities and the courts will appropriately deal with sorting it out over time as an investigation is conducted. Still, no matter what Brown did which -  appears to be shoplifting - or as it is now being called by some in the media "strong-armed robbery" it does not merit an extrajudicial execution by police.

The cop, if he believed that he was being threatened by Brown then all that he had to do was to call for backup and once more units arrived an arrest could have been made. Tasers could have been used to subdue Brown being that he was not armed and his fat ass could have been thrown into a jail cell. It's really that simple. The race-baiting should be left to the racists on right-wing radio and FOX News as well as professional charlatans like the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Both of whom have made a very nice career of descending like buzzards wherever they can find a fresh carcass to feast upon and to sow the seeds of racial discontent wherever they land. The only winners in a system where race is only used to divide and conquer are those who are a part of an entrenched and corrupt establishment.

The primary and most dangerous threat to the future of freedom in America are the militarized police forces and the mass surveillance apparatus that serves as the central nervous system of the police state. Let us not waste the opportunity to fight back now that there is real pressure being exerted on the war zone style response of heavily armed Kevlar coated police goons in Ferguson.

It is very important to keep our eye on the ball and to keep these two issues separate as the greatest benefit will be to those who profit from the continued militarization of the police.

Let the courts handle the criminals - whether they be uniformed ones or not.