Who was Bijan Ghaisar?: As matters currently stand, this is no country for dispassionate men and women, be they old or young.
This is no country for people who want to avoid leaping to instant tribal conclusions. It's no country for those who believe in the older value of avoiding prejudgment of events and occurrences.
This is no country for any such women and men. It's now a country for thumbs-on-scales all the way down, as in this hysterical post by New York mag's Ed Kilgore.
It's now a country for web sites like Slate, which ran the following Q-and-A under the pair of headlines we include:
SUAREZ (8/31/20): Kenosha Police Already Had a ReputationWe're sorry to see Ray Suarez tangled up in a gong-show like that. But consider that statement by Gina Barton, an experienced investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—a statement which produced that accusatory headline.
This didn’t start with Jacob Blake
SUAREZ: Kenosha is a city that’s, according to the Census Bureau, about 77 percent white, about 10 percent Black. It’s not one of these places that has a very large minority presence that’s created the kind of tensions that you see in nearby cities in Illinois and in Wisconsin itself.
BARTON: That’s absolutely true. And I think one thing that people need to know about the shooting of Jacob Blake, and people need to know about what’s going on with policing in Kenosha, is that since 2004, the police have not had a great relationship with basically anyone in Kenosha. Michael Bell, who was shot in the head and killed in 2004, was white. And our review of fatal police shootings in Kenosha since then shows that the majority of the people that police have fatally shot are white also. We know of one Black man who’s been fatally shot in Kenosha since 2003. But it seems to me that the police in Kenosha don’t have a great relationship with people of any race.
In our view, this should be no country for experienced "investigative reporters" who make such inflammatory remarks. According to Barton, the Kenosha police department "hasn't had a great relationship with basically anyone in Kenosha" in at least the past sixteen years.
More specifically, it seems to Barton that the Kenosha police "don’t have a great relationship with people of any race." She based this assessment on the fact that police offers in Kenosha have shot and killed five people in the past seventeen years, dating back to the year 2003.
For an American city of Kenosha's size, is that a lot or a little? We have no idea.
It also may be that Kenosha police have shot and killed five people in the past twenty or twenty-five years. But Barton starts counting in 2003. Here are the five (5) fatal shootings in question:
Fatal police shootings in KenoshaIn another way of scoring those data, police officers in Kenosha have shot and killed one (1) person in the past fifteen years. As Barton notes at another point in her interview with Suarez, four of the five decedents have been white.
Aaron Siler, 2015
Bobby Sherrod, 2005
Jonathan Lee Davis, 2004
Michael Bell, 2004
Kelly Combs, 2003
Kenosha police have shot and killed one (1) person in the past fifteen years. Does this suggest that Kenosha police "don’t have a great relationship with people of any race"—that they "have not had a great relationship with basically anyone in Kenosha" in the past sixteen years?
On so absurdly slender a basis, should a headline say that this police department "already had a reputation?" Those statements strike us as remarkable stretches, though in fairness they typify the work of the age
One fatal shooting in fifteen years; five in the past seventeen years (or more). So you can see what's frequently involved in such tragic events, here is the AP report of one of the fatal shootings from those earlier years:
ASSOCIATED PRESS (4/15/05): A police officer was justified in shooting a man who was walking around naked last month because the man appeared to be trying to hurt the children with him, also unclothed, a prosecutor said Thursday.According to the 5-year-old boy, his father had tried to force some pills down the throat of the 3-year-old boy. He then let the youngsters know that he was going to kill them.
The officer believed Bobby Sherrod, 31, had just killed one of the children when he opened fire, Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Jambois said in calling Sherrod's shooting justifiable.
Officers Dave Monson and Luke Hoffman were dispatched to the area about 2:15 a.m. March 29 after police received a report about the man walking naked down the street with three naked children.
Jambois said Sherrod eventually put a scissors to his 14-month-old daughter and made an apparent attempt to break the neck of his 5-year-old son, causing the boy to fall "like a rag doll."
Monson reacted by shooting Sherrod twice and then shot seven more times when Sherrod reportedly tried to reach for the 14-month-old girl, who was clenched between Sherrod's legs.
"This officer's perception of the threat was that Bobby Sherrod had just murdered the child," Jambois said. "In his perception, the officer truly believed the child had been killed right in front of him."
The children were hurt but not seriously injured.
After the shooting, the 5-year-old told investigators that Sherrod drank shampoo, tore a sink from a wall and tried forcing some pills down his 3-year-old son's throat while they were at his home. Later, the boy also told authorities his father said "he was going to kill them."
According to the district attorney, the police officer thought the father had killed one child when he opened fire. These events were taking place at 2 o'clock in the morning. A busybody motorist had called police to the scene.
These are the kinds of stories you may encounter if you decide to review this nation's rather numerous instances of fatal police shootings. A certain percentage of other such stories will have a different feel.
We can't vouch for the accuracy of any statements in that AP report—not those of the 5-year-old boy, not those of the older district attorney. But that was the AP's account of one of the five fatal shootings of the past seventeen years, only one of which has taken place since 2005.
Does anyone think this fatal shooting gave Kenosha police a bad reputation? As noted, there has been only one other fatal shooting in the past fifteen years!
In our view, this would ideally be no country for "investigative reporters" who make such unbalanced yet tribally pleasing assessments. Ideally, this would be no country for slipping news orgs like Slate.
("My Wife Says I’m Not A Real Man Because I Won’t Do What She Wants In Bed." For Slate's extremely thoughtful assessment, go to Slate and start scrolling.)
Ideally, this would be no country for horseshit all the way down. That said, you go to tribal war with the flailing country you have.
Regarding the values of that country, here's the start of the Washington Post's most recent editorial, one of many, concerning the shooting death of Bijan Ghaisar, whose name you've never heard:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (8/7/20): Will the stonewalling over the U.S. Park Police killing of Bijan Ghaisar ever end?Bijan Ghaisar was 25 when he was shot and killed. Ten shots were fired, four of which proved fatal.
It has been nearly three years since a pair of officers shot Ghaisar, a young accountant, after a fender bender and a low-speed pursuit in the Virginia suburbs. He was unarmed and posed no plausible threat; the police opened fire after he had stopped three times, then pulled away, as they ran at him with guns drawn. He died 10 days later.
That was November 2017. Yet there has been no public accounting from any official source to explain why the police carried out what amounted to an execution. This week, Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who have made repeated inquiries, again demanded answers, this time from David Vela, acting director of the National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police. His agency’s refusal so far to offer an explanation arises from what the senators correctly regard as “tenuous and incoherent legal arguments.”
The real reason for the Park Police stonewalling is apparent—a code of silence intended to protect its own, even when they gun down a man for no defensible reason.
The Washington Post editorial board has long described this fatal shooting as a virtual "execution," followed by a long-standing police cover-up.
The Washington Post is a widely-known daily newspaper. But despite the Post's endless attempts to call attention to this matter, despite the fact that major politicians have been involved in the case, very few people have ever heard Ghaisar's name.
The national press has never discussed this fatal shooting at all. This points to one of the unattractive, destructive ways the upper-end, "elite" press corps has been reporting such fatal shootings since at least 2012.
At this site, we've been reviewing the performance of the upper-end press corps since 1998. In our view, the handling of this important topic has been one of the most striking examples of upper-end misreporting in those twenty-two years.
Selective coverage of fatal shootings is only one of the major problems here. We'll examine the many aspects of this steady-state journalistic failure over the next few weeks.
Some fatal shootings get massively covered. Most are wholly ignored. Tomorrow, we'll briefly return to the late Bijan Ghasiar.
Also, who was John Geer?
Tomorrow: Standing unarmed, in broad daylight, right on his own front porch
Thursday: Shot dead in Shasta County