From Ferguson To Fairness, Truth And Justice: Can’t Get There From Here

Cant get there

Hopeless.

The New York Times has leaked details of the forensic evidence and police officer Darren Wilson’s account in the shooting of Michael Brown. This came from that paragon of professionalism, the Justice Department, which wants to make sure that those seeking to burn down Ferguson and lynch Wilson have time to process the fact that a civil rights violation charge against Wilson just isn’t going to happen. Why is this important? Maybe the leak is to cushion the blow and reduce the likelihood of violence. That would be the motive of a non-partisan, race-neutral agency. Maybe Justice wants to make sure African-Americans are angry before the mid-term elections, so they will vote. (Democratic pollsters are telling the party that if blacks stay home, the Republicans are going to win big.)  That. of course, would be unethical.

But so are leaks of federal investigations.

What the leaked information reveals is that there was a scuffle in the car, and Michael Brown, the 300 lb. teen who is always described as unarmed as if this means he was harmless, tried to grab Wilson’s pistol. He was shot in the arm as a result, and his blood was in the car and on Wilson’s gun. This prelude to Brown’s fatal shooting makes any conclusion that he was out to harm Brown because of his race impossible. Of course, it doesn’t prove he wasn’t out to kill a black kid either.

At this point, confirmation bias has completely taken over the Ferguson story, meaning that a combination of factors—police incompetence; a toxic racial culture in the city and region;  the racial distrust carefully nurtured by Democrats, the Obama Administration, and an irresponsible news media; anger and cynicism by non-black, non-race-baiters over the disgraceful George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin tragedy;  the slanted reporting of Brown’s shooting from the outset, and especially the full commitment of the civil rights establishment to make this incident the centerpiece of an attack on racial profiling and police violence against blacks regardless of whether the facts of the case justify it—now make any fair resolution of the incident impossible. They also guarantee that whatever occurs, the end result will be police anger, more racial division and distrust, and activists continuing to promote a false or misleading narrative as truth, just as in the Zimmerman-Martin debacle. It is hopeless.

We are at this horrible, irredeemable point because…

  • The team of the media, irresponsible black politicians, an unethical prosecutor, despicable grandstanding celebrities and President Obama made a national racial issue out Trayvon Martin’s death, where there were none, and another flash point was deemed to be just what the flagging Democratic election prospects needed.
  • The narrative of a black, young, college-bound, unarmed, “gentle giant” being “executed” in the street merely for “walking while black” by a white cop was widely publicized before facts that complicated the issues arose.
  • The police department in Ferguson, and the region generally, has a well-established record of harassing black citizens, and an environment of mistrust already existed.
  • The department waited an unconscionable amount of time before releasing any facts related to the shooting.
  • The department’s decision to leave Brown’s body lying in the street looked like deliberate disrespect and insensitivity, which it probably was.
  • Demonstrations began based on hearsay accounts of how Brown was killed, representing as fact what were third party accounts, some of which, like those of Brown’s companion, were far from unbiased.
  • The Ferguson police acted like the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square in handling the demonstrations, and gave the media a panorama of images showing white cops abusing black protesters, a la Selma, Alabama,
  • If a white cop shoots a black man, it is presumptively an act of racism in the eyes of many civil rights activists,
  • Attorney General Holder appeared to pick sides in an incident where he was duty-bound to be neutral (but, as he has said, he is a black man first),
  • The Justice Department agreed to investigate the incident for civil rights violations based solely on political expediency, knowing full well that it would not have sufficient evidence for an indictment.

Add to all of the above the fact that  the incident itself was messy and ambiguous, as police shootings often are:

  • Did Brown deserve to be stopped and arrested? Maybe.
  • Was he the angelic, harmful snowflake portrayed by his parents and the media? No.
  • Was he a legitimate threat to Wilson, at least when they struggled in the car? Yes.
  • Did Wilson have reason to fear for his well-being? Well, would you, if a 300 pound guy was trying to get control of a gun in close quarters? Of course.
  • If he had fatally shot Brown in the act of protecting himself in the car, would Wilson be in the clear legally, logically and ethically? Yes.
  • Since Brown’s attempt failed, did he deserve to be shot after he left the car? No.
  • Is it likely that Wilson was upset by the struggle in the car, angry, frightened, and not thinking clearly? Yes.
  • Would that excuse his killing Brown, if Brown were indeed in a surrender pose as some witnesses claim? No.
  • Would it mitigate his guilt? Yes.
  • If Brown, unarmed or not, charged Wilson after the car incident, would Wilson be justified in using deadly force? Probably.

But the activists don’t care, literally don’t care, about any of this. For them, the issue is simple. A white cop in a racist police department shot an unarmed black teen to death, and that means that it was a racially motivated murder.

The police and their mostly conservative defenders also don’t care about the details. Once again, a dedicated public servant who put his life on the line was forced to use deadly force against a dangerous thug who attacked him, and because the cop is white, is being persecuted and unjustly maligned.

Everyone is poised to see what they want to see, believe what supports their biases and agendas, and shout loudly about injustice regardless of what occurs, fertilizing the ground for the next incident they can exploit, along with cynical politicians.

Good job, everybody.

And how exactly does all this make society better?

______________________

Sources: New York Times 1, 2; Fox News

22 thoughts on “From Ferguson To Fairness, Truth And Justice: Can’t Get There From Here

  1. “And how exactly does all this make society better?”

    It might help the Democrats keep control of the Senate? I may not agree, but a lot of people in this country feel that the ends justify the means.

  2. It really isn’t new information is it? All the witnesses already agreed there was a tussle at the car, that the gun went off, and Brown subsequently ran away. The only thing that is in question is whether Wilson shot Brown after Brown was trying to surrender. Pretty much every interviewed witness agrees on that too…

    But I agree with your analysis of how the situation should be looked at legally. If Wilson had killed Brown at the car, that would have been one thing. A case of self-defense. But it’s harder to claim that when the victim is 35-60 feet away when you shoot him.

          • It isn’t hard to imagine a white racist cop capitalizing on an opportunity during a grapple in the cop’s car to make it look like he had no option to shoot the poor black college-bound kid in order to do what the cop always wanted to do, deep in his white racist heart.

  3. People don’t want to make a better society, a better country, for everyone. They want their side to win, like it’s p’ing contest or gladiator game. There is no compromise or gradual change and it’s no holds barred to help their side win and grind even the moderates into the dust. It happens for something as minor as book reviews and as major as trials. Two wrongs do not make a right. It’s getting to the point I just want to tell the lot to grow up.

  4. What bothers me most is Al Sharpton was heard saying that they always give the same excuse – “he was in fear or his life” . The implication to the audience is that they always justify the shooting using the tired old excuse of self defense, therefore it should not be believed. What other rationale can one give to justify a homicide?

          • From looking at it, the participants knew they were being studied and observed. These were not field conditions, so in the interest of being ” correct”, they hesitated.

            In real life, black teens (unarmed or not) are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by cops than their white peers.

            • I don’t see how you get that out of the stats.

              A 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics report (latest available) analyzed justifiable homicides and noted:

              Felons justifiably killed by police represent a tiny fraction of the total population. Of the 183 million whites in 1998, police killed 225; of the 27 million blacks, police killed 127. While the rate (per million population) at which blacks were killed by police in 1998 was about 4 times that of whites, the difference used to be much wider: the black rate in 1978 was 8 times the white rate.

              The BJS study also found that black suspects were also as likely to shoot at police as be shot at.

                  • “Felons justifiably killed by police represent a tiny fraction of the total population. Of the 183 million whites in 1998, police killed 225; of the 27 million blacks, police killed 127. While the rate (per million population) at which blacks were killed by police in 1998 was about 4 times that of whites, the difference used to be much wider: the black rate in 1978 was 8 times the white rate.”

                    “According to ProPublica’s data, in the 1,217 fatal police shootings that were reported to the FBI between 2010 and 2012—reporting is optional; that’s why the numbers are so incomplete—black people aged 15 to 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, compared to 1.47 per million for their white counterparts. That’s 21 times more often.”

                    Two different sets of stats. Presumably Reason, which has no axe to grind, used the older stats because they were more complete. Pro Publica is an advocacy organization: no, I don’t trust their stats. And even if they are correct, which there is no way of telling, teh possibility exists that 22X more black teens are shot because 22x more black teens get in altercations with police. “The conclusions are both horrible and totally unsurprising” tells you that this is hardly an objective exercise. Sorry: Deadspin and Gawker have long ago forfeited any right to be trusted on anything, ever again. At best, this is another “1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted” and “Women are paid 77% what men are” stat, designed to muddle legitimate inquiry. Just because you like the result doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider the source.

                • There are some nasty confounding variables in that data. The police departments which report data consistently were mostly in larger cities, which I believe generally have a disproportionately large black population.

                  The actual total shootings number does not necessarily conflict with greater hesitation to shoot if you account for difference in violent crime rates.

                  Consider homicide rates (I found it hard to find demographics data for all violent crimes). Pulling numbers from

                  http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-3

                  http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population/estimates_and_projections_by_age_sex_raceethnicity.html

                  Homicides are not broken down at the same points as your study, so I opted for 13-19 to fully cover the 15-19 range.

                  Homicide data doesn’t include sex as a breakdown within race, so I’ll leave it out, but it seems to be about 90% male generally for homicides. It could impact final numbers.

                  In 2011 there were 9,788 homicides for which race and age of offender were known. 1123 of those were by blacks 13-19. 627 by whites 13-19.

                  In that same age range, there were 22,582,000 whites and 4,705,000 blacks. That gives us a homicide rate of 23.9 per hundred thousand black teens, and 2.8 per hundred thousand white teens. The raw population numbers are not the proper denominator when trying to determine if there is a disparity in police handling. Roughly 10 times as many murderers but 20 times as many shot by police still leaves a lot of unexplored territory, but drops ProPublica’s reported disparity by a factor of roughly 10.

                  Why there is a huge difference in homicide rates is left as an excercise for the reader. I reported the numbers above only to demonstrate that the reported numbers are not nearly as strong evidence of racial profiling as some people think, not to suggest any particular causal relationship.

                  • The actual total shootings number does not necessarily conflict with greater hesitation to shoot if you account for difference in violent crime rates.

                    Though it is really only relevant if you assume that only murderers, or potential murderers, are the ones being shot by the police? Otherwise how is it relevant?

                    • I’m assuming the homicide rate is a reasonable proxy for overall violence, which would indicate that they are performing the sorts of things that would justify being shot. I’ll freely admit that it’s limited, but they don’t give full demographic information for perpetrators of other crimes. It’s a useful counter to claims that the disparity is caused by racist treatment by the cops. If homicides are a perfect proxy for violent behavior, then even if police were perfectly race blind they would be killing more black teens than white teens.

                      The race grievance industry likes to trot out statistics based on overall portion of the populace, which only makes sense if both groups behave the same. They do not. Basing it on the homicide rate is almost certainly more accurate, unless there is some reason to assume that homicides in particular are not correlated with overall violent behavior.

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