Part 3—“Southern justice” is foiled: Two stories have emerged from the Justice Department’s report on Ferguson, Missouri.
The stories sit side-by-side on the front page of today’s New York Times. Last night, you were more likely to hear one story discussed on Fox, the other on MSNBC.
One of the stories concerns the apparently horrible conduct of Ferguson’s police department and municipal government. The other story concerns the conduct of Office Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson last August.
For today, let’s consider the story about Officer Wilson, since it more directly speaks to the caliber of our own liberal discourse.
What happened in Ferguson when Wilson shot Michael Brown? We still can’t exactly tell you. We weren’t on the scene that day. No videotape has emerged.
That said, the Justice Department has now offered its account of what happened that day. Erik Eckholm’s front-page report tells a truly remarkable story. This is the way it begins:
ECKHOLM (3/5/15): Offering the most definitive account yet of the shooting of an unarmed black teenager that stirred racially charged protests across the country, the Justice Department has cleared a Ferguson, Mo., police officer of civil rights violations in the death last August of Michael Brown.Ouch! Already, this is a heinous report, given the endless claims and assertions which were advanced by our own rich assortment of hang-him-high liberal icons.
In an 86-page report released Wednesday that detailed and evaluated the testimony of more than 40 witnesses, the Justice Department largely corroborated or found little credible evidence to contradict the account of the officer, Darren Wilson, who is white.
Versions of events that sharply conflicted with Mr. Wilson’s were largely inconsistent with forensic evidence or with the witnesses’ previous statements, the report said. And in some cases, witnesses whose accounts supported Mr. Wilson said they had been afraid to come forth or tell the truth because they feared reprisals from the enraged community.
Eckholm is telling a horrible story in his report. As he continues, the Justice Department even rejects the rallying cry which drove our own tribe’s fiery discourse:
ECKHOLM: Several witnesses said Mr. Brown, 18, had his hands up in surrender when he died, leading to violent clashes in Ferguson and nationwide protest featuring chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.”Is that what happened? We can't tell you! But in that passage, the Justice Department of Eric Holder rejects the notion that Brown was surrendering when he was shot by Wilson.
But federal agents and civil rights prosecutors rejected that story, just as a state grand jury did in November when it decided not to indict Mr. Wilson. The former officer, who left the Ferguson Police Department late last year, said that Mr. Brown had leaned into his patrol car, punched him, reached for his gun, and then after running away, turned and charged at him, making Mr. Wilson fear for his life.
“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the report said. At the same time, it concluded that the witnesses who said that Mr. Brown was surrendering were not credible.
According to Eckholm, the Justice Department has rejected, “Hands up, don’t shoot!”
How did Justice reach these judgments? In the gruesome passage shown below, Eckholm discusses one eyewitness who eventually said that she was lying in her initial account of the incident.
In this passage, you are reading about a very old, very familiar form of injustice. Our own tribe has been deeply involved in this form of injustice over the past several years:
ECKHOLM: Among the witnesses who told investigators that they had been nervous about corroborating Mr. Wilson’s account was a 31-year-old black woman who had been standing on her brother’s balcony at the time of the shooting. Her initial account to investigators, in which she said that she saw Mr. Wilson fire shots into Mr. Brown’s back as he lay dead on the street, was inconsistent with the autopsy findings.Luckily, forensic evidence existed in this case; it was inconsistent with the initial account this witness offered. When challenged, she “admitted” that she had lied in that initial account.
When federal investigators challenged her, she admitted lying, explained to the F.B.I. that “you’ve gotta live the life to know it,” and said she had been afraid to contradict stories that Mr. Brown had been trying to surrender.
She then “admitted that she saw Mr. Brown running toward Mr. Wilson, prompting the police officer to yell ‘freeze,’ ” the report stated. It added that the woman said that “it appeared to her that Wilson’s life was in danger.” But when local authorities later tried to serve this witness a subpoena to appear before the grand jury, the report said, “she blockaded her door with a couch.”
She said she’d been afraid to challenge the community’s standard but inaccurate story. This form of group “justice” has long been well known. It exists all over the world.
Who knows? Maybe this witness was overstating in her second, amended account, when she said “it appeared to her that Wilson’s life was in danger.”
But on the surface, this reads like a case of “Southern justice” of a familiar old kind. The community formed an instant story—a standard story that wasn’t accurate. Despite the inaccuracy, everyone felt they had to repeat the group tale.
Remember—Eckholm is reporting the Justice Department’s assessment of this case. At the end of his report, he presents an astounding taxonomy of the 41 witnesses to these events, only eight of whom were judged to be credible:
ECKHOLM: The Justice Department’s report includes a description of every witness’s accounts, which were sometimes offered in multiple interviews with the St. Louis County police and the F.B.I., and judged their likely credibility in court. Of the 41 witnesses described, the Justice Department labeled eight of them as credible because their statements were consistent over time, consistent with other accounts and consistent with the physical evidence. One of these eight was Mr. Wilson’s fiancée, with whom he spoke minutes after the shooting.According to Eckholm, only eight out of 41 witnesses were judged credible! That is an astounding account of “Southern justice,” a familiar type of rule-by-mob which occurs all over the world.
No witnesses had accounts that were credible and pointed toward Mr. Wilson’s guilt, the investigators wrote. Nine witnesses did not fully contradict or corroborate the officer, while the accounts of 24 others were dissected and shown, the federal investigators said, to lack credibility. These included witnesses who admitted they had not actually seen the events.
Did Officer Wilson fear for his life? Would we have thought his life was in danger if we had witnessed these events?
We have no way to answer that. But all along the way in this case, it has been the other tribe that issued warnings about jumping to conclusions about Wilson’s conduct. It was our tribe's various leaders pushed the tale of the mob.
It was us—we high-minded liberals—who howled our praise for that old demon, Southern justice.
As we’ve often noted, our tribe has done a fair amount of this sort of thing in the past several years. So have some in the mainstream press. Consider a recent report in that same New York Times about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Last Wednesday, Lizette Alvarez reported that the Justice Department would not file hate-crime charges against George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin in February 2012.
But alas—we couldn’t help noting! Whatever you think of the Martin case, the bogus facts just never end with reporters like Alvarez. In this passage, she crafted a rather tilted version of the facts, even restating the Martin case’s version of “Hands up, don’t shoot:”
ALVAREZ (2/25/15): Mr. Zimmerman’s case also swirled, to a large extent, around issues of race. Prosecutors said Mr. Zimmerman forced a confrontation with Mr. Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, because Mr. Martin was an unfamiliar tall black teenager in a hoodie walking around Mr. Zimmerman’s gated community one rainy night. Mr. Martin was in Sanford with his father, visiting his father’s fiancée.Did Zimmerman “ignore the advice [or command] of a police dispatcher” when he got out of his car and began following Martin?
A rash of burglaries in the area had heightened Mr. Zimmerman’s concerns, and as the neighborhood watch leader, he said, he was suspicious of Mr. Martin. He got out of his car—ignoring the advice of a police dispatcher—and followed Mr. Martin, setting off a confrontation that led to Mr. Martin’s death, prosecutors said.
That was a widely repeated claim. The familiar claim was widely used to paint Zimmerman in the most unflattering light.
We in the mob simply loved this claim. Sadly, the claim was false.
This claim was definitively debunked, long ago, right in Alvarez’s own newspaper. Did prosecutors really advance that claim? We find that hard to believe.
But so what? Several years later, Alvarez seems to love this bogus fact so much that she just keeps typing it in.
Of course, it was Alvarez who reported the most heinous false fact in the whole Martin saga—the claim that Zimmerman fired two shots that night. Her initial report was horribly wrong on that point, but it touched off the first national wave of revulsion about the events of that night—events which are misdescribed here:
ALVAREZ (3/17/12): The police in of Sanford, where the shooting took place, are not revealing details of the investigation. Late Friday night, after weeks of pressure, the police played the 911 calls in the case for the family and gave copies to the news media. On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.Alvarez told a blood-chilling tale about a truly heinous killing. Unfortunately, only one shot was fired that night.
''It is so clear that this was a 17-year-old boy pleading for his life, and someone shot him in cold blood,'' said Natalie Jackson, one of the Martin family lawyers.
But so what? On the New York Times web site, this heinous misstatement still sits uncorrected. Last week, Alvarez was still repeating the bungled old claim about Zimmerman and the dispatcher.
Our tribe has not distinguished itself in recent years as it has chased Southern justice around. In the matter of Officer Wilson, it was Fox which issued warnings about the rush to a premature judgment. It was our own liberal channel which issued high-minded cries for blood.
We’ve behaved quite badly in these cases—but so what? Despite that remarkable report by Eckholm, we will most likely continue to feel that our motives have been good and pure.
It’s easy to see when the other tribe’s wrong, a bit harder in the case of our tribe.
Tomorrow: The (pitiful) caliber of our own discourse—
A young Vox reporter, and a Harvard professor, take the mandated trip to Finland on behalf of The Man!
Blogger going for the fences today.ReplyDelete
Is that not fair of him to point to the exoneration of Wilson and the acquittal of Zimmerman as prime examples of the narrative swallowing the facts in today's media, especially as it applies to the tribe that should know better?Delete
Swinging for the fences? More like setting the record straight.Delete
Is it at least interesting that Somerby chooses to ignore the blistering report about the Ferguson Police Department and the practices of its Municipal Court system?Delete
My God, folks. Read BOTH! They are both online.
Of course, since the rightwing noise machine is busy regurgitating their talking points about the Brown/Wilson case, they'll take a pass on the real "new" news here -- the overwhelming evidence of pattern and practice inside the Ferguson PD and court system.
Wonder if they got a statue of Jim Crow in front of city hall?
It is new news that Ferguson has some biased cops on its force? Some of the critiques of the report by police officers are interesting. They point out (1) the cops who sent the racist emails have been fired or punished now that they have been identified, (2) Ferguson is now 77% black, not 65%, so the disparities noted are not as great as stated, (3) drivers passing through Ferguson who are stopped are more likely to be black because those neighboring cities have higher %s of African American residents, e.g., Berkeley is 88% black, which would inflate Ferguson's stats, (4) poverty affects African Americans more than white residents leading to an apparent race-related disparity that is actually due to being poor, as when someone is driving with a broken headlamp or an expired license tag or a warrant for unpaid parking tickets. Police sources are claiming that race is being used as a proxy for poverty with the result that officers are being portrayed as racist when they are not necessarily so (though obviously some are).Delete
This discussion illustrates the complexities of policing, something I don't see much in the knee-jerk attributions of racism being hurled at Ferguson and police in general.
If you think the report only says that Ferguson has some biased cops, then you didn't read it.Delete
And that, my dear friend, is the problem with "American discourse" today. Whenever news breaks, we rush to find the talking points that support opinions we already hold, then we regurgitate them.
I get it 2:22. The same Justice Department that was spot-on with the report you liked was dead wrong on the report you didn't like.Delete
I think the DOJ needed to appease the protesters of Ferguson. They couldn't find any way to justify persecuting Wilson so they dug up some dirt on the police force. It is possible to do that with any organization, because none are perfect. There is another side to the report, voiced by various police organizations speaking out today. I think Holder and the DOJ went looking for bias and found some, it is a confirmatory investigation, not a fair and balanced one. It is a political report motivated by the need to placate unrest, not an investigation into how to improve community policing in towns like Ferguson. I dislike seeing a government agency introduce bias into such an investigation but what else is Holder going to do, especially given that he is a lame duck.Delete
Yeah, I get it. The report I like? Spot on! The report I don't? WRONG!!!Delete
And you obviously didn't read either one.
"... I don't see much ...."Delete
It would be nice if everyone could read every page of every report issued like this, but that isn't going to happen. That's why the press needs to be better about reporting such things. You clearly feel moral superiority having read the documents, but it mainly says you don't have much of a life off-line (nothing else to do). You can pretend it says things it doesn't and none of us will know. That's why nothing you say is going to be treated as credible, especially when you are not saying anything specific.Delete
6:03 PM - great Bobfan parody!! I thought Jonny One-Note (or whatever the hell his moniker is) was the tops, but you put him to shame.Delete
Blame the press because you're too damned lazy to spend an hour reading two reports, which is all it takes. Both reports are written in very plain English, and at least to me, were quite detailed and even riveting. I couldn't stop reading until I was finished.Delete
I don't feel "moral superiority" to them. But I do feel a whole lot smarter than a guy who refuses to read them because his mind is already made up, then pretends his life is too busy to do the hard work of informing himself.
And you set that bar pretty low.
The police and local government ran/ or run a racket that criminalizes the population in order to fund itself. That's hardly a surprise to me. It shouldn't be tolerated. As I recall, Somerby raised suspicion of that practice early on, a friendly wake up call at the same time the critics were busy defending a narrative the Holder Justice Dept has now rejected. Somerby's reflections on the lure of the mob should be heeded, particularly by the critics.Delete
Through it all, the pseudos still can't bring themselves to admit that Brown punching a cop then trying to wrestle his gun away, or strong arm robbing a store clerk moments earlier was at the very least poor judgement, if not plain wrong. When they tried to paint "the gentle giant" as if he were another lovable "Rerun" from What's Happening!! that's when they got just too ri-goddamn-diculous.
The "narrative" of the "mob" was that Ferguson cops were racists. The "narrative" of the "mob was correct.Delete
Nothing to see here. Just "anecdotes" and "narratives" and "bones" thrown to "the mob."Delete
Move along! The talking points are in place! Everything is under control! Nothing to see here!
Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the warning. Now buzz off.Delete
Thank you for the much-needed warning. Too bad it doesn't deter the trolls.Delete
Al Sharpton thinks this outcome simply proves that the legal requirement for prosecuting a hate crime is too low.ReplyDelete
He remains a consultant to the president.
Megyn Kellly masquerading as Anonymous 1:22 PM.Delete
Too low or too high, Einstein?Delete
Anonymous at 1:28 PM is Rachel Maddow.Delete
I'm not going to do your reading for you, Rush. Read the DOJ Report yourself - the whole Report - instead of spouting the party line.Delete
I see. One story was told on Fox, the other on MSNBC.ReplyDelete
And which one does Somerby choose to tell?
A word to Our Own Harvard Blogger: Your audience here is down to a few. They come of two basic stripes:
1. A few Fox News fans who come here to pretend that a "liberal" is confirming opinions they already hold about "liberals."
2. A few MSNBC fans who come here to ridicule you.
When you have, over time, turned your blog into just another place to read the ridiculous talking points already on breitbart.com and the rest of the right wing noise machine, please don't fool yourself into believing you have more than a handful left of self-identified "progressives" taking your lectures seriously.
You might at least glance through the report about Ferguson, however, if you want to place the outrage in context over the killing of Michael Brown, and the fact that protests over it were met immediately by a fully militarized police force.
You are a loser at a State and Federal level.Delete
Your argument assumes that all "liberals" must adhere to the party line for liberals. That is what Somerby is arguing against. It is tribal-think.Delete
There is value to listening to Fox and conservative sources because (1) you know what they are talking about and care about, (2) you get introduced to different information, (3) you get a critical response to what is being said by the left. This prevents you from developing your opinions within a bubble and enables you to come up with counter-arguments for what is being raised on the right. Listening to and engaging conservative arguments doesn't make you conservative -- it makes you more effective as a political activist because you can talk about and convince people who don't already believe what you do.
If you want to call anyone who does this a conservative in sheep's clothing, you widen the polarization but also handicap those who would like to lure more people to our side.
Group-think is bad, whether it occurs on the right or left. Only someone who cares about the prosperity of the left will point out when we are doing it. I think Somerby is brave to be doing this, since he generally only gets flak in response.
My "argument" assumes nothing of the sort. My "argument" only points out the obvious -- that Somerby jumped right back into regurgitating the Brown/Wilson case, saying absolutely nothing about it that he didn't say months ago. Repeatedly.Delete
Your "argument" meanwhile ass/u/mes a lot of things about me that aren't true.
For instance, have you read both Justice Department reports? I have. Both of them.
And excuse me if I found, without the filter of anybody telling me what to think, that the report on Ferguson chilled me to the bone.
And here's the catch -- I bet Ferguson isn't alone. What other cities and towns throughout America are like that?
That's raises lots of questions we should be asking.
According to police, all of the cities and towns studied by the DOJ are found to be racist in these ways.Delete
"According to police . . ."Delete
Yes, @4:26, if you cannot work up any respect for police there is no basis for conversation. How would you like it if they said "according to suspects" and then dismissed anything you said during questioning? There are good and bad police, as in any profession, but they do a public service that we would be worse off without, so I think they need to be heard along with all the other voices.Delete
READ THE REPORT!Delete
If you think there is something in the report that contradicts something said here, or that could inform discussion here, tell us what it is. Otherwise, go away and bother someone else. No one is going to spend an hour reading a report they haven't already had the interest to read, just because you cannot express yourself by citing whatever piece of wisdom you think that report contains.Delete
It's one thing to be ignorantly closed-minded. It's quite another to wallow in it.Delete
Why are you so afraid of reading the report?
Why can't you tell me what you think I need to see in the report? I don't believe you have read it.Delete
Why do you refuse to read it for yourself? Afraid you might learn something?Delete
Tell you what. Just read Section III beginning on page 9. Don't read my spin on it or anyone elses. Read it for yourself, then imagine yourself living in such a place -- or even having to drive through it on your way to work, or whereever -- like to I-70, the airport, or Forest Park.
Come back and tell me what you think of the municipal courty system in Ferguson.
Think some reforms might be in order?
The troll just doesn't want to criticize the DOJ. Why?ReplyDelete
I know why.
The troll ... ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.Delete
Oh gee, the troll ... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.Delete
Bob points out one error is Alvarez'ss recapitulation of the Martin/Zimmerman confrontation, but her entire discussion of that tragedy is pretty awful. E.g., she wrote,"Angry at Mr. Zimmerman and feeling threatened, Mr. Martin pushed him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head into the pavement, leaving visible wounds..."ReplyDelete
Obviously, Alvarez couldn't ask Trayvon Martin how he felt when he attacked Z. She just made up that he was angry and feeling threatened. And, the editor left it in.
What do you expect from the liberal mainstream media?Delete
Gee, I don't know! The conservative mainstream media has been telling me for a couple of years that George peed his widdle pants at the sight of the 140-pound Martin and had to bring his gun, then shoot him because he was getting beat up so bad!Delete
He won the altercation, but lost the war.Delete
I don't know how threatened he felt considering he doubled back to confront Zimmerman.
Of course he doubled back to confront a guy stalking him with a gun! Who wouldn't? After all, that's Zimmerman's story. It has to be true!Delete
He obviously didn't know Zimmerman had a gun, perhaps he felt Zimmerman was someone he could brutalize with little risk and be done with. We have little way of knowing but who do you think threw the first punch?Delete
You obviously know what the dead kid obviously knew!Delete
As for who threw the first punch, I'll play the Somerby Game: We don't know! We only have one guy's story since the other guy is dead.
So if a guy is dead the jury has to assume that the guy that is alive lied?Delete
Poor little boy! Twisting himself all in pretzels.Delete
Don't you read Somerby? "We don't know" should mean you don't ass/u/me anything.
Unless, you want to ass/u/me that the guy with a gun who shot the guy without the gun must be telling the truth, whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
After all, George wouldn't lie to us about such a serious thing as killing an unarmed kid he saw walking down the sidewalk, would he?
You seem to be completely leaving out the physical confrontation/assault which he know did occur.Delete
I'm leaving out nothing and I'm assuming nothing. That's because one of us in this discussion is honest enough to admit that he doesn't know what he doesn't know, while the other pretends he knows enough to reach the conclusion he wants to reach.Delete
Isn't it thrilling that we have a place to escape all that talk about the Ferguson report and can relive the thrill of George Zimmerman's acquittal all over again?Delete
Yes indeed, we never felt this good since Wilson skated. Twice.
Rush and Bill O. freshly returned from Haiti and the Falkland Islands. Or was it El Salvador? Or Florida?
Oh who cares?Delete
Obviously, Obama is not like us. He doesn't love Ferguson.
You may not know what happened, but people still must decide, as jurors had to. Some of us think that decision should fit facts and criteria such as internal consistency (as Somerby describes). Others want to fit their "values" or personal preferences or agree with others. That is the heart of Somerby's post today.Delete
Uh huh. Let's see the "facts and criteria" you used to "decide" this was a clear-cut case of self-defense.Delete
Kid is walking back to his dad's house after going to a convience store. He's talking on his cell, when he tells his girl friend some guy is following him.
He starts walking faster at which point the guy grabs his gun and chases him. The kid is dead within a few minutes later, shot by the guy with the gun.
That, of course, makes the kid guilty of assault. Yep, he had it coming.
David in Cal: "Alvarez ... just made up that he [Martin] was angry and feeling threatened."Delete
Kind of like when you "just made up that " Martin was out gay-bashing and he thought Zim was gay?
It's in the TDH archives, July 16, 2013, when the Zimmerman Defense Team was a lean, mean fightin' machine with Commandant David and Lionel and CMike leading the charge.
You forgot he had just bought some Skittles. Oh, and that he punched Zimmerman in the face and assumed a full mount position and continued to throw punches.Delete
I'd just like to annoy people here by reminding them of a few basic facts that the SJW/left-wing bigot crowd prefers to ignore.Delete
1) According to the prosecution's own case Martin had well over three minutes to try and get ahead of Zimmerman and make it where he was staying.
2) Despite this the fatal confrontation took place a mere 100-150 ft from where Martin started.
3) It was extremely dark.
4) Zimmerman had called the police over 70 times previously and in none of those cases is there any indication of him having tried to take the law into his own hands.
5) On the police recording there is absolutely no indication of Zimmerman running. Walking, yes. Running no.
6) Zimmerman had a broken nose, grass stains on his back and multiple injuries to the back of his head.
7) Martin's only injuries were the gunshot wound and abrasions to his hands and had grass stains on his knees.
8) The prosecution's witness stated that the person dressed like Martin was on top of the person dressed like Zimmerman doing a "ground and pound" while begging for help.
9) Shortly before ending the call, Zimmerman expressed fear that Martin might be near but could not be sure because of the darkness.
Conclusion: Zimmerman hunted down and murdered Trayvon Martin. The only reason he let Martin pound the shit out of him before shooting him. Martin did not try to take Zimmerman's gun away (which, of course, he had out where Martin could see it) was because he didn't think it was important. Any conclusion which states that Zimmerman acted in legitimate self defense only shows that the person in question is blinded by prejudice and therefore clinging to a racist narrative because of privilege.
Hope this clears things up.
Oops. That should read "while the person on bottom was begging for help."Delete
I knew Bob threw in Zimmerman for a reason.Delete
HB, the scum rises to the top in your case.Delete
"Oh, and that he punched Zimmerman in the face and assumed a full mount position and continued to throw punches."Delete
Yep, gotta be true! George said so himself. Too bad the guy was too much of a pussy not to get his ass kicked by a 140-pound kid.
Oh, I forgot. He's black. That makes him a thug. We all know how "disproportionately successful" 140-pound black kids are at kicking butt.
Yes, and after a thorough grounding and pounding of poor George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin had all of one small abrasion on the the ring finger of his left hand (he was right handed) and no blood of other DNA from Zimmerman on those hands with which he successfully pummeled the poor man who had been innocently following him in the dark.Delete
BTW @ 9:45 I won't call Zimmerman a pussy. I'll call him what he was and is, a killer.
Somerby, you got your wish! A little Wilson, throw in a bit of Zimmerman and up goes the old traffic count, after dropping for days in the mud of equal pay for women, and a month of Brian Williams and Nicholas KristofDelete
My what a contribution you have made to the American discourse.
Yes Hieronymous. No wonder Georgie was so scared. Not only was the 140-pound kid black, but it was soooo dark, too!Delete
But not too dark for the "prosecution witness" to see what you wanted him to see. Down to the details of how they were dressed.
Trayvon Martin weighed 175 and was 6'2" at the time of his death.Delete
For all the bluster, Trayvon was an incompetent fighter who made a (literally) fatal mistake. From the evidence, including that of the later eyewitness, Martin likely had the first shot, and that's were he made his mistake, getting the drop on Zimmerman, had he targeted the chin as opposed to the middle of the face, and given the force of the punch (producing a broken nose), he would very likely left Zimmerman unable to defend himself. As it was, Zimmerman was knocked back, Martin with a likely bum rush tackle, take mount and then punches. Even that wasn't effective enough. The problem for him is that Zimmerman had enough strength and consciousness to get a grip on his gun and deliver the kiss of death.Delete
"Trayvon Martin weighed 175 and was 6'2" at the time of his death." @ 11:24Delete
Well, I guess he shrunk three inches by the time of his autopsy and lost 17 pounds.
Or, if you believe @ 10:29 he must have eaten the skittles and gained 18 lbs.
Lord what a bunch of idiots are bouncing around the comment box on this one.
Wish I had read the nonsense from 12:02 before my comment at 12:40.Delete
"From the evidence, including that of the later eyewitness, Martin likely had the first shot,"
Really? The guy who saw them on the ground and had no idea how the fight started provides us with "evidence" of what was "likely" at the start?
Imbeciles. From fertile minds like these doth come all the witnesses in Ferguson.
With a free first punch, at 170lb or even 140lb, Martin should have been able to produce a one-punch knockout over the likes of Zimmerman. That he didn't is what sealed his fate.Delete
I'm not so sure. With an IQ of 85 or even 90 you had a free punch at 12:02, and even though you succeeded in knocking yourself flat on your dumb ass, here you are back at 1:37 flashing it again.Delete
In this case "the evidence" is in writing and I eyewitnessed both the front and back end of your efforts to knock yourself out.
The eye witness saw the later part of the altercation with Martin in full mount punching down, confirming that part of the Z-Man's story.Delete
Someone threw the first punch, I suspect the two did not square off John L. Sullivan-style but rather with one of the combatants striking suddenly and striking without warning. Given Zim's level of conditioning and where the fight ended up from there, it was likely a quick one punch-tackle combination that gave Martin the initial, short-lived advantage. Regardless, Martin obviously did not finish what he started and it cost him his life.
12:02 that is the long and the short of it. No one taught Trayvon to stay in school and not take every opportunity to violently attack gay short white men who "dis" him. Mama and Papa tragically behave as if they are absolved of culpability.Delete
Liberals were also very excited at the prospect of Zimmerman being convicted of stealing furniture and attacking his ex girlfriend with a bottle.ReplyDelete
It's been a long streak of disappointments for them.
Consider this situation. A child is born but relatives decide he is a "bad seed," perhaps because he has a birthmark. They treat him as if he were evil, blame him for everything that goes wrong. When he grows up warped by such treatment, they say, "See, our judgment about him was right all along."Delete
Couldn't say it any better myself.Delete
I bet you couldn't!Delete
Some of these responses are incredibly puerile. On the level of playground retorts.Delete
I'd say that puerile reponses are appropriate for a puerile blog.Delete
Why would anyone who thinks a blog is puerile bother reading it, much less commenting?Delete
Told you before. Because I'm stupid and this blog is the only place where I can find people even dumber than me. Including the Harvard-educated blogger.Delete
"Did Officer Wilson fear for his life? Would we have thought his life was in danger if we had witnessed these events?
We have no way to answer that. "
Grand juries must answer such questions. Holder's investigators had to answer it. Member of the public don't have access to complete information to make such judgments themselves, so they rely on others, including the representation of witness statements and evidence in the media.
I dislike it when Somerby reminds us that we cannot know for sure what actually happened. Of course we cannot know that. We still must decide who and what to believe. If we lived in Ferguson, we would have to interact with people who knew Wilson or Brown, we would have to make choices with social consequences. Our decision-making evolved from family group interactions in hunter-gatherer times, not from situations with a mass media telling us things about people we will never meet, with no social consequences to us personally. It is not surprising that we make judgments under uncertainty when we do not have to. In other times and places, we would have to. I think it is unsurprising when we decide in conformity with whichever group we are part of. We have to live with those people. Right or wrong choice is less important to our survival than group harmony. Justice is trumped by survival. That we no longer have survival consequences for our decisions about mass media cases is irrelevant because the social reasoning processes evolved under different conditions than we live in today.
Knowing and believing are two different things. Can we know for sure what actually happened? Nope.Delete
"We don't know" is simply Somerby's clumsy rhetorical excuse to regurgitate right wing talking points as if they were true because "we don't know" that they aren't.Delete
For example, "we don't know" that wasn't "a legitimate traffic study, only bungled." "We don't know" that there still aren't weapons of mass destruction squirreled away somewhere in Iraq. "We don't know" that Saddam didn't try to buy uranium from somewhere in Africa, just like Dubya said.
If you read nothing else, read Section III, beginning on Page 9, entitled, "Ferguson Law Enforcement Efforts Are Focused on Generating Revenue."
I would hope people, regardless of political ideology, could agree that this practice is just plain wrong!
All cities use their police to generate revenue. In 2009, the Highway Patrol in CA stepped up its enforcement efforts along the freeways and people who hadn't gotten speeding tickets in years were getting multiple tickets. You cannot starve government without having consequences like this. These efforts are going to differentially affect poor people for a variety of reasons. If you don't like this, pay appropriate taxes in other ways.Delete
Glad you agree it is just plain wrong!Delete
NOW READ THE DAMNED REPORT!
It is indeed a VERY poor way to govern and increases the risk of confrontations that can get out of hand.Delete
"All cities use their police to generate revenue."Delete
Like all general statements, BULLSHIT!
There is no requirement to have read any report before discussing a topic here. I'm glad you had time to read it, but if you have something to say about it, just say it. Others do not have your free time and would appreciate it if you include quotes or citations or facts from the report to back up whatever argument you want to make about it.
You cannot refute an argument by saying, go read the report.
Of course, there is no requirement to inform yourself before shooting your mouth off. After all, you already got your talking points handed to you in a nice, neat package that took you very little of your obviously precious time.Delete
Here's my take, since you are so interested.
The Ferguson Report should be read by everybody who calls themselves a liberty-loving American. It details a pattern of practice of the systematic violation of Constituional rights that hundreds of thousands have shed blood to defend.
This report should raise serious questions and discussions all across America, regardless of political ideology.
This should be one thing where both "conservative" and "liberal" could find common ground.
But instead, we got our spin points. And that's probably all the discussion we'll ever have.
Here is something YOU didn't do. You didn't spend an hour this morning listening to an NPR interview with St. Louis police about the content of the Ferguson report. So, you haven't heard both sides of the story. Some of the content of the report that you find so upsetting was critiqued in ways that I think raise additional questions. But you don't want to hear about that, because you don't want to have any kind of discussion about this report. You want people to read the report and get very very upset about those awful police. That is obvious from your responses to everyone here who has tried to talk about the report.Delete
Yes, you read the report. What else have you read?
Again, my wish upon reading that report is the people would be shocked by it, regardless of political ideology.Delete
No, I missed the NPR report. So the St. Loius cops told their side? Of a report about the Ferguson cops? Guess that means there are more than two sides.
The report has anecdotes that are shocking but anecdotes are uninformative by themselves because they don't tell whether they are representative or an aberration. You can find similar anecdotes in all police forces because there are good and bad cops everywhere. The report did not provide any context on the anecdotes. If Brown's shooting had been included as an anecdote it would have included none of the info that caused the Grand Jury to make its decision. The report is flawed for the same reason you want everyone to read it -- shocking anecdotes and bigoted emails are emotionally inflammatory. But we need information, not more heat, in a serious discussion on race. So, no, I do not want to read the reportDelete
Yes, "anecdote" after "anecdote" after "anecdote" after "anecdote" after "anecdote" after "anecdote" PLUS documentary evidence from key city leaders showing a clear pattern of corruption of both the police department and the muncipal court system to shake down both citizens and passersby to generate money.Delete
I did hope we could look past our political ideology and see the clear wrong there. I was mistaken.
We'll simply excuse this overwhelming evidence of pattern and practice of a deeply corrupted law enforcement system as "anecdotes."
Anecdotre + anecdote = statisticDelete
The statistics don't paint the same picture as the anecdotes.
1. Ferguson is now closer to 77% black than 65% (at the last census in 2010).
2. Drivers are not only from Ferguson but from nearby suburbs which are predominantly black, such as Berkeley which is 88% black.
3. Poverty is a complicating factor confounded with race. Police argue that poverty not race causes people to become more of a focus of police intervention. The report does not address this.
4. Anecdotes do not present the police testimony about the incidents. There are two sides to a story. An anecdote about Brown would have excluded the facts that caused the Grand Jury not to bring charges against Wilson. Who knows what similar contextual details might have existed for each of those anecdotes, told only from the black person's point of view. You assume there is nothing self-serving about the anecdotes but there nearly always is in such complaints.
You just don't see any shades of gray, but you blame me for being blinded by ideology.
There's always room for nuance for whitey, huh?Delete
Also, according to the rules of the Ferguson debate, you can't defend the police because they have't been shown to be complete angels.
Good lordy, not only does Somerby yearn to regurgitate the Wilson case again, he throws in George Zimmerman for good measure.ReplyDelete
"Regurgitate"? I thought the Brown case represented a cause for the ages, some have said a cause big enough "to die for".Delete
Yes, it is. And if you read both reports, you might better understand why.Delete
Ah, but instead of doing that and adding some sharp insight, what does Our Own Harvard Blogger do? Pick the one that excites his new neo-con readership the most and lead a tribal victory dance.
The most excited person here is you. Are you neo-con?Delete
No, unlike Bob and his merry new band of neo-cons, I read the reports.Delete
Lets hope you don't accidentally read any other reports. You would be insufferable then.Delete
This is like the report issued about the Chris Christie bridge scandal. I think it was you (or your ilk) demanding that people go read that report. I went and read it and there was no "there" there. I think this is the same kind of empty exercise. You go read the report and it says pretty much what everyone has been reporting it says, no surprises, no magic, just the same stuff that's been reported. What a waste of everyone's time. But in the meantime you pretend there is some special sentence that makes everything obvious and will convert everyone to your opinion, if they would only read the damn report. News flash -- it isn't there.
Why bother learning when you already know everything there is to know?Delete
The way your resist education, I'm sure third grade was the toughest five years of your life.
What a child you are.Delete
Of course we all knew Ferguson is a town run by racists and racist cops, even before the release of the report.
The big deal about the report is it takes away the plausible deniability (to those open to reality).
It tosses a bone to the protesters when even Holder couldn't find anything to charge Wilson with.Delete
Extra, extra -- bigot(s) found in the South!!!
My word, how we cling to our precious ideological talking points.Delete
Extra, extra -- bigot(s) found in the South!!!Delete
And on TDH!
Everyone, except Chief Justice Roberts, could have figured that out.Delete
[Somerby waves the bloody shirt] OLE!!ReplyDelete
Another stinging defeat for progressives who like hearing lies and repeating lies. Zimmerman, Brown, fake rape stories. It never ends. It must be disappointing for them to hear that no racist killings or rapes are happening as they hoped.ReplyDelete
You forgot the lie about welfare being mostly for blacks. That one NEVER ends.Delete
Why are libs complaining that Somerby is reporting on two failed attempts to lynch innocent men? Shouldn't everyone be thrilled the falsely accused victims of two violent thugs were vindicated?ReplyDelete
Welcome to The New Daily Howler.Delete
Notice how, when Bob's supporters are dominating the comment box, the spammers aren't offering their spellcasting services?ReplyDelete
Why Wait for Tomorrow:ReplyDelete
"The (pitiful) caliber of our own discourse—" On Display Now
Bob deals with three reports, two on Ferguson, one on Florida.
Quickly Bob says "For today" we'll skip the one which was negative about the police in Ferguson in favor of dealing with the one about the single incident involving a Ferguson police officer. And to close we will deal with last week's news about a decision not to pursue charges in the case involving George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin from Florida.
The irony is that Somerby's report on the Justice Department's findings involving the officer shooting Michael Brown requires readers to accept in good faith the reporting of the New York Times. Then, when it comes to Florida, readers learn they we can't rely on the reporting of the New York Times.
A bit odd. But that is Somerby and his contribution to our pitiful discourse.
Perhaps more later. Two good games are on involving a league disproportionately represented by black men, to use a DinC phrase.
"the single incident"?! I thought it was a cause to die for.ReplyDelete
If you think striking your two IQ points together will spark more than this one bit of conversation with me you are sadly mistaken.Delete
Compared to you, Tater Tots Perez reads like a rocket scientist with an keen interest in fine arts and insight into international finance.
This shift in focus sounds like a retreat to face saving Plan B. Sure the Ferguson Police and city government could be corrupt and rotten to the core, AND Michael Brown could indeed be responsible for his own death. It's not either/or. According to the Holder Justice Dept, Somerby has been proven correct, it's time for the critics to swallow their pride and admit as much.Delete
Yes, Somerby was indeed right to comb through his favored targets searching for any inconsistencies in the reporting of events as they unfolded.Delete
He is never wrong! In fact, we can never say "They had it coming" enough when unarmed black kids die.
No unarmed black kids died in these events. One was armed with size and strength and rage threatening to render officer Wilson an "unarmed police officer" and the other was armed with fists and rage that enabled him to beat his victim's head into concrete. Unarmed is a low IQ buzzword meaning nothing substantive except to those with low IQs.Delete
Yes, we all know how even 6-4 cops, supposedly in shape, are absolutely no match for Super Black Kid who are disproportionately successful in kicking butt because they possess Super Human Black Strength!Delete
Yes, Officer Wilson should have gotten out of his car, taken off his holster and squared off with Brown in the middle of the street in order to prove who was tougher LOL. Brown had already proven his toughness moments earlier by roughing up a store clerk half his size.Delete
This is a rather typical example of the kind of lowlife ghetto/prison mentality that has infected so many neighborhoods and communities across this country. Brutalize the weak and vulnerable and take whatever your size allows you to take. A real "code" to live by.
But what chance does a 6-4 cop have against Super Black Kid?Delete
Why we should just go ahead and shoot them all. After all, they're all going to beat up some white person sooner or later. Probably sooner. We know what "thugs" they all are.
Officer Wilson should have stayed in his car and waited for back-up. Instead, he got out of his car to chase a kid that could kill him with one punch.Delete
Officer Wilson wasn't hired for his smarts He was hired to keep black people in their place.
Does anyone agree that Brown punching a cop and trying to wrestle his gun away causing it to fire, or strong arm robbing a store cleck was acting in poor judgement?Delete
Yup. Acting in poor judgement on both sides.Delete
The difference, of course, is the teen paid for his actions in poor judgement with his life, while the acting in poor judgement by the cop led to him being crowd-funded by bigots.
There was no acting in poor judgment on Officer Wilson's part. You are suffering from classic, low IQ outcome bias, which allows you to look at an outcome of a killing and then decide what Officer Wilson "should have done to avoid a killing" such as drive away. Except we don't want officers to drive away from violent criminals. We pay them not to. Officer Wilson did nothing wrong at any point, and was the victim of a racist lynch mob.Delete
Somerby has had a field day with "errors" from Alvarez.ReplyDelete
He highlights this line:
"On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops."
Alvarez did err about two shots. But so did the person making the 911 call from which this account was taken. She says over the phone she heard one shot, then another while talking to Sanford police.
And as for Alvarez's description of the rest of what was heard, her account is almost word for word how prosecutors described that 911 call in their opening statement months later in the trial.
Then Somerby describes her recent error. He harkens back to the erroneous statements that the police operator's advice not to follow Martin was given to Zimmerman before he left his truck.
Alvarez does not make that mistake in her recent column, but she clearly writes in a way in which that could be the interpretation. Somerby could have correctly argued she should have made it clear that the advice came as soon as the operator thought Zimmerman was following Martin. That was the advice he chose to ignore by not immediately returning to his vehicle which ultimately led to the shooting.
Instead Somerby has to suggest she stated that description was made by the prosecutor and that he doubts the prosecutor argued that point. In fact he did. He argued that by getting out of his car, while uttering words about "funking punks" who "always get away" and following Martin, Zimmerman showed intent. He argued that by refusing to return to his car in the several minute after being advised not to follow by the dispatcher, Zimmerman caused the ultimate confrontation. And finally the prosecutor put on the stand a witness who was the police liaison to Neighborhood Watch groups who testified she had made a presentation to Zimmerman's group at his invitation that advised volunteers not to do anything other than watch and report. They do not follow suspects. It was a major point in the prosecution. it happened on the second day of witness testimony.
Somerby wants to make a major point of which came first, the exiting and following, or the advice not to do it. Zimmerman did not need to be told that night. But when he was told he chose to ignore the advice. Because he was following a "funking punk." One he shot through the heart a few moments later with the loaded gun he was carrying when he left his vehicle in direct disregard of the training he had received.
Sadly Somerby doesn't know when to leave well enough alone. He has a report on Ferguson with which to make some valid points about press coverage of that incident, Instead he has to circle back to Alvarez and show that he, like many of the witnesses in Ferguson, like many of the reporters he rails against, can bear false witness.
@ 11:37 expounds upon a theory advanced by Drudge and Limbaugh that requires one to substitute the words "queer ass" for "creepy."Delete
@ 11:51 restates a widely reported, but disputed, interpretation of the Zimmmerman police call call which, even if true, cannot materially change the ultimate mistake Zimmerman made by getting out of his vehicle, following Martin with a loaded gun in his pants, and not heeding the advice of the dispatcher to return to his vehicle.
I find it astounding that some who defend Zimmerman constantly refer to the time in which Martin did not flee to his father's girlfriend's home constantly ignore that Zimmerman likewise did not return to his vehicle during the exact same time frame.
In their mindset, the fact that Martin did not go home is evidence he ambushed Zimmerman. The guy with the loaded gun stalking a teenager in contravention of his training and immediate advice of law enforcement bears no responsibility whatsoever.
I was looking forward to more on professors and Arquette.Delete
400 911 calls in one neighborhood in one year?! Sounds like that community has experienced a thug infestation.Delete
Bob...There was video of witnesses in real time who demonstrated Michael Brown's "hands up" and repeated on camera his last words "OK, OK, OK"....Watch video here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/10/us/ferguson-michael-brown-shooting-witnesses/ReplyDelete
Yes, but they are all wrong! Somerby has spoken!Delete
I'm sure you're being ironic "10:40", because the video shows two stunned out-of-town maintenance guys who in real time see the shooting and immediately echo Brown's words and one even raises his hands to demonstrate "he was like this"Delete
It was witnesses like this who helped provoke community reaction, which was fueled by years of living with the "patterns and practices" of the police covered in the Justice Department report Somerby chose to skip for this post.Delete
What helped make this a national story was the community uprising. In the context of that, reporters flooded in and more events happened and more stories got told and reported, accurate and inaccurate alike.
What are the name of these alleged witnesses so I can review what they said afterward in court under oath?Delete
Secondly, did you not read the NYT article citing a black woman who was afraid of speaking in favor of Wilson?
I'll repeat what I said below. The witnesses whose testimony was deemed credible and who came forward with information which backed up Wilson were all black. The witnesses shown in the CNN video were white. Their testimony was deemed not credible.Delete
I didn't get this information from the New York Times because Somerby has taught everyone they cannot be trusted. I got it from reading the report of Eric Holder's Justice Department.
Tragic and frightening is the relish with which the left put these men through pain. The ignorant lynch mob mentality, all because the color of their skin means their right to defend themselves doesn't exist.ReplyDelete
You do know, of course, that the witnesses who came forward and provdided the information which backed up Officer Wilson were black.Delete
On the other hand the witnesses shown in the CNN video linked right above your comment, were in the street in the street and videotaped where and when the shooting happened. They said Brown had his hands up and was surrendering. They were white.
You know this because you read the report, right?
Anonymous @ 2:19 AM offered an interesting thought:ReplyDelete
"According to the Holder Justice Dept, Somerby has been proven correct, it's time for the critics to swallow their pride and admit as much."
Is that what has happened? We don't know. In the words of the "proven correct" blogger himself in this post:
"We still can’t exactly tell you. We weren’t on the scene that day. No videotape has emerged."
"Is that what happened? We can't tell you!"
"We have no way to answer that."
Did the Justice Department prove Somerby correct? Perhaps, but I am not sure from the comment what it was that Mr. Somerby was correct about.
I could be wrong, but based on the New York Times excerpts here in this post, it seems like the Justice Department concluded they did not have a credible case to prove against Officer Wilson. I'd have to read the whole report to see if they found credible evidence to prove something about blogger Somerby.
I read the report on Ferguson.ReplyDelete
I'm so tired of these thugs getting away with this shit.
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