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    Ferguson Tag

    Ferguson is falling apart again, and the police are once again in the crosshairs. Officials are still trying to calm things down in the wake of the targeted shooting of two police officers tasked with supervising a protest earlier this week. Here's how the AP covered the shooting:
    The officers were quickly released from the hospital, but St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said they could have easily been killed and called the attack "an ambush." Several people were taken in for questioning after a SWAT team converged on a Ferguson home near the shooting site, but they were later released, and no arrests were made. The shootings marked the first time in eight months of tension in Ferguson that officers were shot at a protest, and the bloodshed threatened to inflame the already fraught relationship between police and protesters just as the city seeks reforms in the wake of a withering Justice Department report on racial bias in its law-enforcement practices. The attack also seemed to create another layer of race-related mistrust after a week in which an unarmed young black man was killed by a white officer in Madison, Wisconsin, and a University of Oklahoma fraternity chapter was thrown off campus after a video surfaced showing members singing a racist chant.
    I'm not entirely sure where a group of racist twenty-something idiots comes into a discussion about police officers getting shot and/or using deadly force to protect themselves, but hey, might as well drag everything into the pot while the fire's hot. MSNBC's Ed Schultz isn't helping, either. On Monday, he suggested disarming the Ferguson PD entirely, and today, he asked whether or not police really needed to be at these protests to begin with. Because they're so peaceful. No, really.

    The Justice Department has confirmed that the entire notion of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" was completely false. That hasn't stopped one CNN host from keeping the meme alive, if only in a "symbolic" way. Transcript and video via Real Clear Politics:
    ANA CABRERA, CNN: You’re part of this Hands-Up-Don’t-Shoot coalition. Have you had a chance to read the Justice Department's findings on Michael Brown's death, as they pertain to Darren Wilson? MONTAGUE SIMMONS, DON'T SHOOT COALITION MEMBER: I’ve had a chance to take a glance, yes. ANA CABRERA: Has it changed your view of Darren Wilson at all, the fact he was cleared in this incident? MONTAGUE SIMMONS: Not at all. Unfortunately, the findings were expected -- meaning that usually in these cases we've seen law enforcement, and the voice of the officers involved, are given much heavier weight than [other] witnesses. Even though we've seen countless witnesses come forward and testify that his hands were up, they're still giving a greater weight to law enforcement's findings. Even if his hands weren't up in this case, he was not -- he should even have been executed in the way he was. ANA CABRERA: Obviously the whole catch phrase hands up don't shoot takes on a much more symbolic meaning moving forward.
    Watch the video: CNN has taken a keen interest in the idea of "hands up, don't shoot" from the beginning.

    Stop me if you've heard seen this one before: the now tiresome and wholly predictable cycle of news coverage when a white police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black teenager: Step 1: Build the false narrative. Mainstream media outlets report that a police officer has shot an unarmed black teenager, and provide extensive coverage of the victim's grieving family alongside flattering photographs and background stories of said teenager. The event is followed within hours--hours!--by well-organized protests, family spokespersons, and (naturally) lawyers (these last two typically combined). Step 2: Watch the false narrative implode.  These mainstream media reports are inevitably followed by factually correct and comprehensive reports of the victim's violent and criminal background and actions at the time of the shooting. These facts place responsibility for his death squarely on the victim's own shoulders, and make it clear that the police acted appropriately. Sounds familiar, right? In case you've not yet had enough of that cycle, allow me to introduce you to the late Tony Robinson, the "unarmed black teenager" who was shot and killed by a veteran Wisconsin police officer this past Friday evening (so, not even 48 hours prior to the writing of this post).

    Step 1: Build the False Narrative

    Let's take a look at  how NBC covered this shooting in a post headlined: Black Teen Tony Robinson Shot Dead by Cop in Madison, Wisconsin, Was Unarmed. First, their lede:

    Perhaps the single most potent piece of political theatre to emerge from the Ferguson MO shooting of Mike Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson was the meme of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." The "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" meme was based on the false claim by Dorian Johnson that Brown had his hands raised in surrender when Wilson shot him.  A handful of other purported witnesses--none of whom were ultimately deemed sufficiently credible to warrant either criminal or civil rights charges against Wilson--soon parroted the claim. Protestors were quick to adopt the meme en masse, gesticulating with their hands above their shoulders while chanting the phrase.  Even US Congressmen speaking in the House chamber prominently mimicked the same motions: congress-members-hands-2 Indeed, there was even an amateurish movie centered on this meme, appropriately titled "The Movie: Hands Up, Don't Shoot."  Here's a taste of the movie's credulous depiction of the hilariously fabricated "witness statements" on which this false meme was based, and the manner in which the meme nevertheless dominated the public consciousness of the shooting:

    The New York Times reports that the Department of Justice has released an extensive report (embedded below) clearing former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting death of Mike Brown in August 2014. Wilson's shooting of Brown led to weeks of often violent protests, including repeated nights of looting and arson. These protests, largely organized by Al Sharpton and similar racial activists, left portions of Ferguson in ruins. In November 2014 Darren Wilson received a no true bill from the grand jury empaneled to hear criminal charges against him, sparking additional riots. He shortly thereafter resigned from the Ferguson police department, and has stayed out of the news since. We covered the grand jury's findings extensively here at Legal Insurrection, including here: Analysis: #Ferguson Grand Jury: NO Indictment In Michael Brown Shooting In considering civil rights charges against Wilson the Department of Justice ultimately determined that the credible witnesses and forensic evidence overwhelmingly favored Wilson's narrative of lawful self-defense. The witnesses whose testimony favored a narrative of racist misconduct were found to be lies, inconsistent with the forensic evidence, or simply not credible relative to the witnesses favorable to Wilson's narrative. A Department of Justice investigation continues into the Ferguson police department generally, on the basis that the department has engaged in racist activity. The specific examples noted by the New York Times, however, seem only to illustrate mockery of President Obama and his wife, rather than black people generally.
    A report from that investigation found a wide pattern of discrimination by the city’s police force, and said that city officials had sent racist emails on their government accounts. One depicted President Obama as a chimpanzee. Another included a photo of topless African women with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s high school reunion.”
    One can't help but recall the thousands of Progressive depictions of President George W. Bush as a chimpanzee during his administration.  Not racism, I guess.

    A newly released video shows a mob of Ferguson protesters breaking into and looting a small grocery store in the nearby town of Dellwood. The store has been looted multiple times and in December, the owner said he might close his business. As you watch this, you might find yourself wondering: What does this have to do with justice for Michael Brown? The answer is nothing. This is just a mob urged on, at least indirectly, by liberal political rhetoric of class and race warfare. No audio is needed but if you get bored watching them try to break in through the door, just skip to the 2:20 mark to see them break the wall down instead. What a classy way to honor Michael Brown's memory. As I mentioned, this is a new video and police are asking for help from the public in identifying the criminals.

    The Department of Justice is preparing to drop the pretense that it has any expectation of bringing Federal civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, MO police officer who successfully defended himself against Michael Brown after Brown attempted to beat Officer Wilson into submission and seize the officer's sidearm. The New York Times reports in part that:
    The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed an unarmed black teenager in August, law enforcement officials said. That would close the politically charged case in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The investigation by the F.B.I., which is complete, found no evidence to support civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, the officials said.
    Let no one allege that the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder didn't allocate sufficient resources to uncovering any possible trace of misconduct by Wilson. The Times report notes:
    Federal investigators interviewed more than 200 people and analyzed cellphone audio and video, the law enforcement officials said. Officer Wilson’s gun, clothing and other evidence were analyzed at the F.B.I.’s laboratory in Quantico, Va. Though the local authorities and Mr. Brown’s family conducted autopsies, Mr. Holder ordered a separate autopsy, which was conducted by pathologists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s office at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the officials said.
    Despite these resources, the DOJ was unable to find any evidence whatsoever to suggest that Darren Wilson violated anyone's civil rights:

    Don't say I didn't warn you about how anti-Israel activists have set on a deliberate course to hijack the Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatters protests to their own anti-Israel agenda: It started in Ferguson, then the Eric Garner protests, and is being pushed by the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine through groups like Dream Defenders, which carries a Tides Foundation logo on it's website.  Dream Defenders was responsible for Marc Lamont Hill's trip to "Palestine" in which he recorded a video supporting "Revolutionary Struggle" against Israel. A key player in the effort to turn the #BlackLivesMatter movement into an anti-Israel movement is recently graduated Stanford student and SJP activist Kristian Davis Bailey, who writes not only for the anti-Zionist Mondoweiss website, but also has been promoting the effort in Ebony Magazine.

    Last Thursday protesters exploiting the #BlackLivesMatters movement as an excuse for anarchy blocked traffic on Route 93, a key highway leading into Boston:
    Protesters affiliated with the activist group Black Lives Matter carried out their most audacious and disruptive demonstration yet in the Boston area Thursday, blocking the largest highway into the city, snarling rush-hour traffic, and stopping an ambulance in its tracks. In a pair of coordinated surprise actions that angered commuters, the protesters formed human barricades on Interstate 93 north of the city in Medford, and south, in Milton. Some put barrels filled with concrete on the highway and chained themselves to them. Twenty-nine protesters were arrested. The well-organized protests were carried out on Martin Luther King’s birthday by activists calling attention to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police in Missouri and New York.
    The protesters are being prosecuted, more vigorously than usually happens, perhaps because at least two ambulances had to be rerouted due to the traffic jam.

    Two Bridgeton NJ police officers shot and killed 36-year-old Jerame Reid during a traffic stop last night, reports NBC 10 News our of Philadelphia (see embedded video, below).  The officers, Braheme Days and Roger Worley, are on paid leave as the killing remains under investigation.  Prosecutors have released little information, but a gun was recovered at the scene.  An autopsy is scheduled for today, although there seems little question as to the cause of death. The witness circus, so familiar from the Michael Brown shooting, seems to have already begun.  It remains to be seen whether the witnesses in this instance have any greater credibility than those in Ferguson who claimed that Brown was shot in the back while fleeing, that Brown was shot while on his knees, that Brown had never advanced on Officer Darren Wilson, and other such creativities.

    Teachers in the San Francisco United School District are concerned about race. In an area where schools are almost 90% non-white, you'd expect that an emphasis on cultural diversity would happen by default, and that teachers wouldn't need the help of an institutionalized curriculum to get the job done. But in the wake of the Ferguson protests and rise of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, five teachers from the San Francisco area have teamed up to provide other educators with a guide to teaching about the Michael Brown shooting, the Ferguson protests, and race-based social justice movements. From the San Francisco Examiner:
    Chalida Anusasananan, a teacher librarian at Everett Middle School who helped launch the resource guide, said both incidents and the subsequent protests have hit home with many public-school students in San Francisco, where nearly 90 percent are nonwhite. "We wanted to make sure that teachers had a means to teach what students were talking about with their families, or seeing on the news, or feeling every day," Anusasananan said. The resources, posted to the SFUSD's LibGuide page, includes the grand jury documents, poetry, videos and graphics, readings, and lesson plans and activities for elementary, middle and high school students. "What has to happen first and foremost is to create a safe space in the classroom for young people to talk about these things," said Karen Zapata, a humanities teacher at June Jordan High School and a co-founder of the grass-roots organization Teachers 4 Social Justice. "What's happened affects young people on an emotional level."
    I took a look at the online curriculum provided by the five teachers, and it's pretty much what you'd expect to see. I took some screenshots: Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.08.01 PM

    Over the past year, we've provided extensive coverage of the controversy surrounding the death of Michael Brown, the grand jury's decision to not indict Darren Wilson, and the ensuing fallout, riots, and protests that wracked cities all across America. What started out as a local controversy turned into a national discussion, which subsequently morphed into a national protest and social media movement that endures even as 2014 comes to a close. It's official: "#Ferguson" was the most tweeted news story of 2014. Via Mediaite:
    Digital research firm Echelon Insights has put together an infographic that charts the year in news as seen through 185 million Twitter mentions. And between the initial protests that followed Brown’s death and the grand jury decision months later that cleared Officer Wilson of any charges, #Ferguson was far and away the most talked-about event of the year: Screen-Shot-2014-12-29-at-11.42.28-AM-650x267 Midterm Election Day created the second-biggest spike, followed by the State of the Union and the Donald Sterling L.A. Clippers controversy. The firm also broke down Twitter mention by political leaning and found that while conservatives had more to say about Benghazi, guns, Iraq and Ebola, liberals were more likely to talk about Chris Christie, Obamacare, Ferguson/Eric Garner and the midterm elections. But regardless of political persuasion, the most-talked about politician for both sides, by far, was President Barack Obama.

    Kids these days. Students who neglected their studies to protest the Michael Brown grand jury decision were disappointed when their appeal to the administration for special accommodations during finals was rejected. According to Fox News Cleveland:
    Over 1,300 Oberlin students signed a petition for college administrators asking for understanding and “alternative modes of learning” as they continue to cope with what’s happening across the country. They asked for the normal grading system to be “replaced with a no-fail mercy period,” and said “basically no student …especially students of color should be failing a class this semester.” In response, Oberlin President Marvin Krislov said that he understands their concerns and that he and the Academic Deans took the request seriously, however “we are in firm agreement that suspending grading protocols is not the way to achieve our shared goal of ensuring that students have every opportunity and resource to succeed,” he said in a statement. Administrators did offer students some assistance in the form of counseling and other support services. They also added increased flexibility in terms of students making “incomplete requests.” They also extended the deadline for students to change from “a grade to the pass/no pass” option.

    Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson is making moves to hold accountable the organizers of this past Saturday's "Black Lives Matter" protest at the Mall of America. Officers were present on-site, and once the chanting started, moved to close almost 100 stores and several entrances to the mall. I say "moved to" as opposed to "were forced to" because the shutdown occurred as soon as the protests began, and there were no reports of some sort of violent instigating event; but perhaps it's a good thing the officers moved so quickly, based on how mall employees describe what happened next: From CBS Minnesota:
    Nate Bash works at one store near the rotunda, which he didn’t want us to name. “You had people yelling and screaming inside the mall that wanted out and you had people yelling and screaming outside the mall that wanted in,” he said. “I would say the mall was less than half as busy as it should have been considering what day it was.” “This was a powder keg just waiting for a match,” said Johnson.
    Police officers are busy using social media in an attempt to single out the organizers (arresting every single protester would be chaos, and not worth the trouble;) their goal is to target the organizers and participants who encouraged others to come to the mall even after officials made moves to emphasize that the Mall of America is privately owned, and those disrutping business would be asked to leave. Officials don't yet know how much money was lost during the shutdown, but they're throwing around words like "staggering," so I'm willing to assume that losses were well worth the effort to track these people down and file a lawsuit.

    On October 25, 2014, I wrote about how anti-Israel activists attempted to co-opt and hijack the Ferguson protests and riots and turn the anger towards Israel, Intifada Missouri – Anti-Israel activists may push Ferguson over the edge. The activists gathered under the "Palestine2Ferguson" banner and Twitter hashtag. One of the key anti-Israel activists was Bassem Masri, a Palestinian-American who attempted to instigate confrontations between police and protesters, as he livestreamed the protests. [caption id="attachment_104112" align="alignnone" width="550"]Bassem Masri Ferguson Resistance is in our blood(Bassem Masri, on right)[/caption] Fast forward to the execution of two NYPD police officers, Wenjian Lu and Rafael Ramos, on December 20, by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. The killer wrote on Instagram in his final post:

    As we reported, a coalition of student groups at Harvard Law School demanded exam delays due to student trauma over the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury refusals to indict. There was withering criticism, including here. HLS refused to budge, but did agree to counseling, meetings, and other steps. William Desmond, a third year HLS student who also is a Law Review Editor, defends the demand for an exam delay in The National Law Journal, Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from 'Coddled Millennials' (h/t Drew M.). Here's an excerpt:
    ... In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do. Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness. Although over the last few weeks many law students have experienced moments of total despair, minutes of inconsolable tears and hours of utter confusion, many of these same students have also spent days in action—days of protesting, of organizing meetings, of drafting emails and letters, and of starting conversations long overdue. We have been synthesizing decades of police interactions, dissecting problems centuries old, and exposing the hypocrisy of silence.

    Yesterday, as they often do, thousands of protesters descended on Washington, DC to protest police brutality against black men. The rally, led by Al Sharpton and attended by high-profile activists in the black community, focused on promoting a "black agenda," and railed against the typical enemies of the progressive community: the Koch brothers, establishment politicians, and the Republican party. To close the rally, Reverend Jamal Bryant of Empowerment Temple in Maryland offered one of the angriest, most divisive prayers ever uttered in public. Via the Daily Caller:
    Dispatch angels right now of protection around our sons from psychopathic, sociopathic police officers. I pray right now that you will convince prosecutors who have, in fact, given up the law for popularity. We pray that you will disrobe judges who are elected, but have not been appointed by your glory. We’re going to march in 2016 until we have righteous Congress people, righteous Senators, and a righteous President. God, we don’t want just black elected officials, we want a black agenda. We want to make sure that ‘our lives matter’ is not a slogan, but it is a lifestyle. Let us march on. And God, for every person who opposes justice, every person who opposes righteousness, we came to remind them – we know when they are sleep, we know when they’re awake, we know when they been good or bad, and because they been bad please send Black Jesus for goodness sake. Amen and God bless you.