Friday, November 28, 2014

Does “Burn This Shit Down” Qualify as Inciting a Riot?


Finally after months of waiting, shameless race-baiting and media exploitation the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case came down Monday night. Police officer Darren Wilson was not charged with any crime in the August killing of the “gentle giant” and anyone who thought that he would be based on the evidence is a damned fool.  This was a cut and dried case ever since that convenience store video of young Brown showing a hulking goon roughing up a clerk was released. It is in my personal opinion pretty certain that even if Brown wasn't taken out by Wilson that he was on a collision course with the law sooner rather than later.

Ferguson is complex and it all pretty much boils down to that we will never know exactly what happened during that fatal encounter back in August. As was previously seen with a pudgy, wanna be neighborhood Dirty Harry named George Zimmerman who gunned down a black kid armed with a bag of Skittles - dead men tell no tales. Officer Darren Wilson should have deescalated the situation but in the post 9/11 U$A the police have increasing impunity to shoot first and ask questions later. This is especially so if the target is a young black man. Wilson acted as judge, jury and executioner and as a result did his part to move along the transformation of cops into members of what can only be recognized as death squads. 

On the other hand, Brown was caught on camera in the act of committing a crime which makes him far from the perfect martyr for the cause. The real tragedy is that the race card was immediately played and only benefited a corrupt system and it's police state in that attention to the militarization of the cops was flushed down the memory hole. Many, especially those on the right fail to understand that while they see the Brown vs. Wilson incident as a small piece of the greater race war in their minds that the big red, white and blue jackboot could just as easily be kicking their heads in as well. 

The words had no sooner left the lips of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch on Monday night than the mob violence commenced. This had been anticipated given the calling up of the National Guard by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last week as well as additional civic precautions such as school closures. There is no excuse whatsoever for the actions of the troublemakers who took to the streets in Ferguson to destroy the property of others and they are nothing more than lawless hooligans of the worst type.

What has really not been reported is that Louis Head, the stepfather of the deceased Brown came out and actually called for a violent response in the aftermath of the announcement. This is just not something that is acceptable in a civilized country and borders on inciting a riot. As reported the Pierre Omidyar venture The Intercept, one of the few people who could have helped to contain the unrest only served to soak the streets with gasoline and throw down a match.

As reported by Juan Thompson of The Intercept in a piece entitled “BURN THIS SHIT DOWN”: MAYHEM AND PROTESTS ENGULF FERGUSON” that provided a narrative of last night’s events:

Standing outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters, the mood of the crowd of a few thousand was initially jubilant and brimming with anticipation, but around 8 pm, when the announcement of the grand jury decision was made, all hell broke loose. Michael Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden addressed the crowd as McCulloch was speaking, apparently already informed of what the decision was going to be. She broke down sobbing in tears and agony saying, “they took my baby,” and “we’re sick of this.” After that, the stepfather of Michael Brown, Louis Head, shouted through tears, “burn this shit down.” At that, some of the crowd got agitated and very aggressive with police.

AND

After the police formed a line, the crowd began chanting various slogans: “hands up, don’t shoot,” “f*ck the police,” “no justice, no peace,” etc. Some members of the crowd then dispersed south on South Florissant Road. The protesters who remained started throwing rocks at the police. Others damaged a police cruiser. Police then told protesters they were assembled unlawfully and to disperse or face arrest.

When the protesters didn’t disperse, police confronted them, shooting multiple tear gas or smoke canisters into the crowd and pushing the crowd north on South Florissant. The protesters reacted by shrieking, running, and washing their eyes out with milk and water. Some of the protesters were randomly shooting guns into the air, feeding into the chaotic environment. As the crowd moved north, a few protestors looted a small number of stores on South Florissant, including a Second Time Around resale store. But they were the minority by far. Most of the protesters were peacefully assembled, chanting slogans, but there was a minority who decided to loot, to set fires, and to torch two police cars. The protesters were angry, they were hurt, they were disappointed, and some of them used violence as a way to vent their frustration. One of the other protesters, a woman, said to the looters, “don’t do this, this isn’t who we are.”

The crowd was pushed further north. At South Florissant and Airport Road, protesters set a Walgreens on fire. Protesters also looted a T-Mobile store and an Aaron’s furniture outlet. Over on West Florissant Avenue, a different crowd had set multiple fires only a block or two from where Mike Brown was killed. Looters also hit up the McDonald’s that became infamous as a location where reporters camped during the first round of riots immediately after Brown’s killing.
The scene was chaos. In addition to the looting, cars were running into each other, people fighting on the street, and were guns being shot off. As I was leaving, I saw more fires being set.

The comments attributed to Head did nothing but further inflame the already volatile situation. While he and Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden were understandably grief stricken at the moment, there is zero excuse for such a grossly irresponsible statement. Were there deaths last night - fortunately there weren’t - Head would have blood on his hands today.

What remains of the U.S. Constitution after Emperor Barack Obama has wiped his ass with it for nearly six years guarantees Americans the right to protest in a peaceful manner and if they have a grievance let them do so. There is however nothing in the Constitution that protects calls for mob violence nor even dances on the farthest perimeter of condoning anarchy. Some choose to respect these rights as well as the safety and property of people and others like Mr. Head only serve to fire up low-minded thugs like his dead son in law. This is America and we are supposed to be above crap like this that normally would be associated with some third world African shithole. The violence only feeds into the racially charged narrative and keeps the victims of a cruel and oppressive system at each other's throats based on tribal bullshit rather than against their shared enemy that is the gangster state. Never forget that the pigs who run this star spangled sty have all the guns and the most sophisticated high tech surveillance machine in human history and they will use them. Resistance MUST be non-violent and focus on ideas. 

Now I may be mistaken but I sure as hell don’t remember reading anything about Martin Luther King shouting “Burn This Shit Down” in the history books.

(IMAGE: AP)