Hi everyone. By now you might’ve heard about Ferguson, MO and the death of Mike Brown, but let’s review:
Mike Brown was an 18 year old walking home from his grandma’s around 2PM when he was stopped by police. To be clear, there isn’t a consensus on what happened afterwards. Police allege that he attempted to wrest an officer’s gun and was killed as he fled. A witness recounts that he fled, but never attempted to take an officer’s gun. What is clear, is that he was unarmed and shot ten times in the back.
As the community gathered to hold a vigil, the Ferguson Police stopped by with a S.W.A.T team and dogs. As the days pass, their armament has escalated. Each night, the community is expected to follow a curfew and disperse under pressure from a large, militarized police force that spans Ferguson and St. Louis County departments.
Journalists have been arrested.
Here are some media reports:
- NY Times (includes timeline)
- Newsweek/Huffington Post
- Washington Post (arrest of reporters)
- Boston Globe (arrest of reporters)
- Fox News
- Al Jazeera
- NPR (arrest of reporters)
- The Guardian US
If you notice a common thread between all the reports, the criticism is starting to move away from Mike Brown’s death and into the looming gravity of militarized police. Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, and even Libertarians seem to unanimously agree that militarized police is an excessive response. Partisan differences seem to be whether or not the response escalated the violence or overreach of government is the greater sin, but the agreement that it’s excessive.
Even Ted Cruz, notorious member of the Tea Party, thinks the arrest of reporters was wrong.
Here are some criticisms that focus on militarized police:
The other unified point of criticism is the lack of leadership, transparency, and disregard for the first amendment right to press as police attempt to silence journalists. In fact, the links above are accounting for the arrest of two WaPo reporters. In contrast, WaPo reporters have only been arrested twice in 2014: in Tehran and Ferguson.
Some important things to note:
Al Jazeera Reporters being tear-gassed only to have their equipment confiscated. Here’s the video.
Sniper aiming to kill unarmed protestor before riots
Wood bullets used. Wood bullets have been discontinued by many municipalities for lethality. They splinter and cause serious injury. They also require long distance use or can be lethal.
I’m not an expert, but trying my best to understand what’s going on and to spread news so we can all react. While many of us can’t do much more than type, there is still ways we can pressure for intervention or stand visibly against what’s happening. Tweeting may feel “useless” or small compared to being on the ground, but sharing our horror at the depravity of the militarized response can help pressure intervention.
Last night, I tried calling the Missouri governor to express concern, but all I got was a voicemail at his office and no answer at the governor’s mansion. After tweeting out the numbers I used, people were saying that somebody was picking up — at midnight! The governor has since cancelled his trip to the county fair. The fact that it took public pressure to change his plans says a lot about the state of leadership in Missouri. If they need help with perspective, let’s do it.
Here’s how Missouri politicians can be reached:
Governor Jay Nixon
Office: (573) 751-3222
Mansion: (573) 751-4141
Fax: (573)-526-3291 / faxzero.com
Senator Claire Mccaskill
Office: (202) 224-6154
Fax: (573) 334-4278 / faxzero.com
Senator Roy Blunt
Office: (202) 224-5721
Fax: (202) 224-8149 / faxzero.com
Lastly, people are organizing vigils and rallies around the country in response. If you’d like to attend, you can follow #NMOS14 on Twitter. If you’re in Chicago, it’s happening Thursday 8/14 at 6pm in Daley Plaza.
If you want to follow some people on Twitter who are on the ground: