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The Slaying of Mike Brown and a Police State in Ferguson Mo.

The slaying of Michael Brown…the murky facts on the ground…

Michael Brown, Jr. was born almost 30 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and still the poignant issues of human rights, racism, militarism, equality under the law and police brutality–remain dire concerns. Like Dr. King–18 year old Michael Brown was gunned down, ‘execution-style’ and left to bleed on the street. Just as Dr. King cautioned against rioting; he also acknowledged the reality of inequality under the law–often claiming that …”a riot is the language of the unheard.”
http://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/index.htm

The people of Ferguson, Missouri were determined to be heard, after the execution-style killing of 18 year old Michael Brown, Jr. The past 12 days since Michael Brown’s death has placed the suburban town of Ferguson, Missouri square in the international spotlight.

We now know the identity of the police officer who shot Michael Brown–namely Officer Daren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department. There is no question as to whether Officer Wilson killed Michael Brown–that is on video and documented by Officer Wilson himself in his report. The controversy began on the determination as to whether this was a ‘righteous’ shooting, (namely did the officer face imminent deadly harm), or was this a murder of an unarmed teen.
The additional issues in the spotlight go far beyond the slaying of Michael Brown; they speak to a pattern of police and prosecutorial abuse and a clear violation of 1st Amendment rights in a post-911 world.

The ‘facts’…

The facts of the case remain murky, as the Ferguson Police Department, the St. Louis County Police and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch consistently refuse to release any facts beyond the most simplistic assurances of accountability, initially offered by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.

Saturday, August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown was gunned down in the street by Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson. The Ferguson Police Department under Chief Jackson have claimed this was a ‘righteous’ shooting, arguing that Michael Brown attacked Officer Wilson. Witnesses on the ground claim otherwise, and since the facts have been withheld from the press and the public, what little trust in the system previously established has eroded to nothing.

The facts according to the police…

The following timeline was derived from Ferguson Police Department documents which included dispatch logs and the incident report on a convenience store robbery.
Here is the police department’s version of the incident timeline to date:

“11:48 a.m. — Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson arrives at a residence in response to an unrelated call about a 2-month-old child having difficulty breathing when she coughs.
11:51 a.m. — Ferguson police receive a call of a robbery in progress at the Ferguson Market convenience store.
11:54 a.m. — A different, unidentified officer arrives at the Ferguson Market and gets a physical description from an employee and customer of a suspect who took some cigars.
11:57 a.m. — A police dispatcher broadcasts a detailed description of the robbery suspect, saying that he was wearing a red St. Louis Cardinals ball cap and yellow socks and was walking with another man toward another convenience store called QuikTrip.
12:00 p.m. — Officer Wilson leaves the scene of the call about a sick child.
12:01 p.m. — Officer Wilson encounters Michael Brown walking on a street and the shooting follows. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said Friday that Wilson did not know about the robbery at the convenience store when he encountered Brown.
12:04 p.m. — Another officer arrives on the scene after the shooting, and an ambulance is contacted to treat Brown’s wounds.”
http://news.yahoo.com/timeline-fatal-police-shooting-michael-brown-075408717.html

The story in the street…

While the Ferguson Police Department was crafting their report, social media and talk on the street contradicted police accounts. Various witnesses have come forward, including a young lady named Tiffany Mitchell, who did not know Brown, and Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson. Johnson was with Brown during this tragic encounter.

Social media was tweeting on facebook the events which were far more graphic and included photos of Brown’s lifeless body, lying face down on the pavement. According to social media accounts, Michael Brown was shot twice in the back and five times in front (presumably when he held his hands up to surrender). Two of the shots went directly through Brown’s head. The police reports withheld the number of times Brown was shot.

“Dude was running and the cops just shot.him. i saw him die bruh,” TheePharoah tweeted. “The first two was clear, then it was a barage of them s—-,” he said of the gunshots.

Almost three hours after Bruh’s tweet of shots fired, Brown’s body still remained in the street, “Homie still on the ground tho,” he posted. ”
http://www.infowars.com/neighbor-live-tweeted-brown-shooting-may-be-damning-evidence-against-officer/

While the tweeter @TheePharoah noted that Michael Brown’s body remained on the street; the official police report claims that Brown was issued paramedics some 15 minutes after the shooting.

Dorian Johnson contradicts police reports…

Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson had much to say which contradicted police reports. Dorian Johnson submitted to a four hour interrogation by the FBI with his attorney, Freeman Bosley, Jr. present.

Dorian Johnson said in an interview on MSNBC, that they (Brown and Johnson) were walking down the street when a police truck drove up beside them with the officer demanding they get in the truck. Brown ignored the officer and kept walking. Johnson added that the officer (now identified as Ferguson Officer Daren Wilson), kept yelling at the two young men, while coming very close to running them down. Officer Wilson then used the truck door to knock Brown down. Wilson then jumped out of the truck and grabbed Brown attempting a chokehold, and Brown got away running. It was at this point that (according to Dorian Johnson), that Wilson first shot at Brown. Michael Brown then stopped dead in his tracks and yelled that he didn’t have a gun. Brown’s hands were up in the too familiar–‘hands up–don’t shoot’ position, but Wilson kept shooting. Johnson is an eyewitness to Brown being shot while facing Wilson. Brown then collapsed face down into the street. His body was left in the street for over four hours before it was removed.
(Source : http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/eyewitness-michael-brown-fatal-shooting-missouri)

Johnson’s revelations are very different from the version relayed by the St. Louis County Police. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar flatly stated that Brown was the aggressor, fighting Wilson and attempting to reach his gun. (This explanation would provide enough legal cover for Wilson to have used lethal force). (Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/michael-brown-ferguson-missouri-timeline/14051827/

The character assassination of Michael Brown…

Police Chief Tom Jackson released a videotape of a convenience store robbery which occurred earlier that day, before the Ferguson Police were forced to reveal Officer Wilson’s identity. The grainy video shows two young African-American men robbing the store of some $38.00 worth of Cigarillo cigars. The two men resemble Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson. (Dorian Johnson has since admitted to the robbery).

On Friday the 15th, Ferguson Police Chief Jackson released the tape, claiming he was responding to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests from assorted unidentified media. The release of the tape enflamed the community further. The tape release was interpreted as character assassination by the police specifically engineered to ‘try Michael in the media.’ To quote a bystander identified as Andre Anderson in the street ; …”When you looking at the looters, you forget about the shooter.”

No further incident reports on the shooting are released.

Daily Kos commentator Barbara Morrill interpreted the robbery tape release as a distraction tactic. To quote Morrill;

…”Well that didn’t take long,” …”Barely two hours after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson named the police officer who gunned down 18 year old Michael Brown last Saturday, and the demonization of–you guessed it–Michael Brown is well underway.”

Morrill cited over half a dozen headlines incestuously mixing Officer Wilson with the robbery. Morrill encapsulated the sentiment with a tweet from @fivefifths:
…”We officially have more facts about a likely unrelated robbery of a single (pack of ) Swisher (cigars) than we do about the execution of Mike Brown.”
(Source : http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/15/1321901/-The-demonization-of-a-dead-unarmed-teenager-is-well-underway?detail=facebook)

11 days of protest–and the police response…

From the day of Michael Brown’s death; protests erupted in the small, inner-ring suburb of Ferguson, Mo. By now, reports have emerged from news agencies worldwide on the concerted police abuse of citizens and members of the press– in Ferguson. Most reports ‘credit’ the police abuse solely on the Ferguson Police Department, but that is not accurate. Ferguson has approximately 55 officers, yet hundreds of officers from a variety of towns have been dispatched to this concrete…”metaphor for abandoned urban America” as stated by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The beige shirted police from St. Louis County…

What the local politicians from Senator Claire McCaskill to Governor Jay Nixon have conveniently ‘ forgotten’ is the tenor of the St. Louis County Police Department, which reports directly to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.
While the Ferguson Police Department has much blame in this case; the crime of police abuse further escalated under the auspices of the St. Louis County Police Department, headed by Chief Jon Belmar, who works under–once again–St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch. Though the Ferguson Police Department possesses some military equipment; the multiple SWAT teams seen attacking citizens, on videos ranging from CNN with Jake Tapper or Don Lemon to Al Jazeerah, to the Washington Post–were SWAT teams from the St. Louis County Police. The officers in beige shirts with brown insignias–are St. Louis County Police–not Ferguson.

Additional police from several munincipalities were also present including : Wildwood, St. Ann, St. Louis City, Maryland Heights, Dellwood, Creve Coeur, etc. The main link in this gumbo was the St. Louis County Police under Chief Belmar–that is, until Governor Nixon stepped in and placed the entire situation under the command of Captain Ron Johnson of the Mo. State Highway Patrol.

Governor Nixon meets with Clergy Coalition in Florissant…

Governor Jay Nixon received multiple appeals from the St. Louis Clergy Coalition to assist in this case. The good people of Ferguson crowded in a nearby Florissant United Church of Christ UCC to voice their outrage at the Ferguson police department, demanding an in depth investigation and possible federal charges for civil rights violations. This was Tuesday, August 11th–two days after Michael’s death.

The list of politicos present included : Governor Jay Nixon, St. Louis County Supervisor Charlie Dooley, St. Louis City Mayor Frances Slay, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, and Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. There were some federal government guests as well, namely Dr. Anastasia Syes (US DOJ), and Rita Valenciano of the US DOJ Community Relations Service (CRS).

Meager assistance…

While most of the politicos present sat and remained stony silent; the most interesting revelations came from Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. As Chief Jackson sat there, red faced, attempting to describe the situation–he inadvertently revealed his own ineptitude.

When responding to allegations of racism and police abuse; he claimed that the racial problems in Ferguson were

…”so under the radar, that we didn’t know they were there.”
(Chief Tom Jackson at United Church of Christ, 08/11/14).

The comments from Ferguson Mayor James Knowles were so disingenuous, they weren’t worth the word count of this piece, beyond the fact that he was present.

The feds from DOJ…

Rita Valenciano spoke to the crowd, stating she was here to help, but couldn’t speak about any discovery information, as the information is confidential. She reiterated that any release of such information would result in legal fines and possible jail time for the ‘leakers’ in CRS.

Dr. Anastasia Syes stated that she was there to …”bridge the gap between the President, the US Senators, elected Representatives and all elected officials all the way to the Supreme Court–and back down to the local officials.” (Dr. Anastasia Syes 08/11/14) Dr. Syes also stated that her agency was present to…”help you rewrite the laws which will stop wrongful actions.”(Dr. Anastasia Syes 08/11/14). No additional explanation was offered.

Dr. Syes did offer one ominous tidbit–warning the crowd that if the community doesn’t want tanks rolling down the street–they better get their people in order.

The crowd was honored to have the federal guests present, and they tolerated the local guests with meager but polite applause. It is interesting to note that neither Ms. Valenciano or Dr.Syes responded to multiple appeals advocating both a strong Civilian Review Board, and federal movement to cease increasing police militarization.

Governor Nixon spoke to the crowd briefly adding his prayers, but not any dialogue regarding a Civilian Review Board or any cessation of police militarization.

Captain Ron Johnson of Mo. Highway Patrol put in charge by Gov. Nixon…

In a move of political desperation, after television coverage of rioting, looting and police abusing protestors and reporters– Governor Nixon removed the St. Louis County Police as the jurisdictional head and placed that authority with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, under the command of Captain Ron Johnson. This move led to actual jubilation in Ferguson for the first night of his tenure, Thursday, August 14th. Captain Johnson appeared to be a strong advocate of ‘community-based’ policing, as opposed to militarized police occupation.

Captain Johnson’s first night…

The first night of Captain Johnson’s tenure was a welcome change. Instead of riots triggered by police abuse and arbitrary arrests; people marched in peaceful protest–and Captain Johnson marched with them. He was part Officer ‘Friendly’, part rock star and part Captain America, rolled into a single congenial and professional police officer. Then came Friday night…

Friday, August 15th…

Friday brought another change. Looting by a small group of unknown assailants resumed. Officer ‘Friendly’ released Robo-Cop–once again. The St. Louis Clergy Coalition once again pleaded for calm and peace. What the mainstream (read corporate) media omitted was the role the combined police forces played in inciting the violence. Another march was announced for the following day–Saturday.

Saturday, August 16th–the march…

This writer marched with the crowd through Ferguson and neighboring Jennings. The crowd was diverse–black, white, men, women, children, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Athiest. Religious songs were sung along with the spiritual “We Shall Overcome.” Official observers from Amnesty International were present all along the march. The police lining the route looked confused.

Martial law declared by Gov. Nixon in Ferguson…

The march ended at St. Mark’s Missionary Baptist Church with Governor Nixon giving a volatile news conference. No protestors or citizens beyond a few preselected by the Governor, were allowed inside the church for the press conference. On Saturday, August 16th at approximately 2pm (CST); Governor Jay Nixon signed an executive order declaring an official ‘state of emergency’ aka martial law in Ferguson, Missouri. This ‘state of emergency’ instituted a curfew for all persons spanning from 12 midnight to 5am. Any ‘violation of state curfew’ would result in a ‘threat of imminent arrest.’ Governor Nixon was shouted down inside the church, but the Governor casually went about his business.
No violence during the day, but that night things erupted. SWAT teams hailed teargas, rubber bullets, tanks, and a ‘sound bomb,’ otherwise known as an LRAD or Long-Range Acoustic Device. The LRAD has been used routinely in Iraq and other war zones. More arrests were made, including arrests of journalists. The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux was arrested on more than one occasion.

Governor Nixon brings in the Mo. National Guard…

Monday, August 18th, Governor Jay Nixon authorizes the Mo. National Guard to come in–tanks blazing. It didn’t take long for National Guardsmen snipers to position themselves that evening–on local building rooftops, guns aimed on the civilian population below.

Mo. National Guard arrives—a new Kent State?

The Mo. National Guard arrived Monday night at approximately 9pm CST, in full military regalia. Many guardsmen were wearing insignias indicating they were MP (military police), and the Humvees were in full supply. Snipers were posted on rooftops of area businesses and the entire area more resembled Falujah or Genin, Palestine—than the midwest earlier idealized in the movie, Meet Me In St. Louis.

A peaceful protest was organized by some 100 clergy members and Malik Shabazz of the new Black Panthers. Though the authorities claim that there was no curfew Monday night; protestors, media and neighborhood residents were still told to keep moving, and if they stopped for even a moment–they risked arrest for ‘failure to disperse.’ Road blocks were also in place, demanding identification and your reason for being in the area.

Everything remained calm until 9:55pm CST, when the various police groups put on their gas masks, aimed their assault rifles at the crowd, and began a military style march in a single column, towards the public. Again, accompanying the police was an LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) mounted on what can only be called a tank–attempting to deafen the protestors. Police also used stun grenades and teargas against the people in Ferguson. A freelance journalist/ camerman named Leo York, was hit by the teargas and received help from CNN’s Jake Tapper (who was also on the scene).
As CNN reporter Don Lemon was explaining on air what had happened to the cameraman; the police loudspeaker ordered everyone to disperse from the Ferguson Market, except for credentialed media.

“Anyone who is not credentialed media needs to disperse or you will be subject to arrest.” (Police loudspeaker)

Their crime was ‘failure to disperse.’ Though the official police line was a claim that a Molotov cocktail had been hurled at them; CNN’s Jake Tapper explained that he hadn’t seen any Molotov Cocktails that night. A few plastic water bottles had been thrown.

Around 11:55pm CST, police dispersed the crowd, making several arrests. A group of young men refused to leave, and stood in the street with the hands in the air, waiting to be arrested. It was classic, peaceful civil disobedience on the part of the protestors and violence on the part of the police. The ‘credentialed media’ were told to remain in their ‘designated area.’

The local CBS affiliate KMOV reported around midnight that although the police were ordering everyone but credentialed media to leave the scene and go home; most side streets were blocked so neighborhood residents couldn’t leave. Apparently, St. Louis County Police and the Mo. Highway Patrol like the sport of ‘shooting fish in a barrel.’
Around midnight, Steve Kastenbaum with CNN reported that the police were dealing with two shootings on a nearby side street. It is unclear if that is the reason for the police order to disperse.

Media access restricted to military ’embed’ status…

Late Sunday night into early Monday morning the State of Emergency not only worked to keep citizens off the street–it appears that media access was also restricted. The few reporters on the scene were reminiscent of the journalistic ‘stenographers’ embedded with the military.

When I spoke to someone via phone at the local CBS affiliate, KMOV–the appearance of media access denial to the riot scene–was affirmed. It appears that the film, audio and information on the scene were all supplied by the police and at their selective discretion. Unidentified personnel at the local NBC affiliate KSD, confirmed the same—media reporters were restricted by police upon pain of imminent arrest.

Media arrested, abused by police…

During this entire ordeal, the combined police forces of Ferguson, St. Louis County, St. Louis County SWAT, and eventually the Mo. State Highway Patrol consistently limited or denied access to press, unless it was a source approved by the police. Furthermore, several journalists and camermen have been beaten, abused and arrested by the policing occupation forces in Ferguson.

Journalists/cameramen arrested since the beginning…

The assaults and arrests of journalists and cameramen from a variety of news outlets has been consistent throughout this ordeal. News gatherers from outlets such as Al Jazeerah, CNN, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, The Washington Post and Huffington Post have been harassed, denied access, limited access, assaulted and eventually arrested. The events are numerous and justify an in depth investigation on their own merits. The assault and arrest of reporters from the Huffington Post and the Washington Post are the most dramatic.

Wednesday, August 13th, SWAT Team members assaulted and arrested two reporters writing at a nearby McDonald’s (one reporter was from Huffpost and the other from the Washington Post.) SWAT in St. Louis is a direct arm of the St. Louis County Police Dept. and not Ferguson. (Source : http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/journalists-arrests-ferguson-spark-media-outrage-over-increased-police?akid=12127.118040.7x-288&rd=1&src=newsletter1015

Washington Post Wesley Lowery recalls the events of 08/13/14:

“A McDonald’s a few blocks from where Brown’s shooting took place has been a frequent resting place for journalists who are covering what’s going on in Ferguson and need a place with outlets and Internet access to file their stories. On Wednesday evening, police officers came into the McDonald’s and told everyone to leave. Lowery, who was filming what the officers were doing, was (illegally) instructed to stop doing so.
According to Lowery, when he didn’t leave quickly enough, multiple officers grabbed him.

“As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door,” he wrote.
Lowery was released Wednesday night and not charged with a crime.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/ferguson-arrests_n_5678595.html

Like Lowery, Ryan Reilly was working at the McDonald’s when officers came in and tried to kick everyone out. Ryan Reilly is a justice correspondent for the Huffington Post. Reilly took issue when the police officers demanded to see his ID and told him to pack up.

“Evidently, I was not moving quickly enough,” Reilly said in a Wednesday night interview with MSNBC. “At that point, I was given a countdown. I was told I had 45 seconds, 30 seconds to pack up all my stuff and leave, at which point the officer in question who I have not — I repeatedly later would ask for his name and was never [told], or his batch number. He has never given it. [He] decided that he was going to help me pack, and he grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag. And, I was then, when I — basically, he arrested me. He handcuffed me. He used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck, and it was just a very difficult experience.”

Reilly said one of the police officers also slammed his head against the glass, on purpose, and then “sarcastically apologized for it.” He was released with Lowery without any charges.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/ferguson-arrests_n_5678595.html

Below is a list of journalists/media persons arrested so far. They were most frequently charged with ..”failure to disperse”–but their true crime–was journalism.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/19/1322938/-Ferguson-police-continue-arresting-and-attacking-media?detail=email
…”Getty Images photographer Scott Olson (C) is arrested by a highway patrol officer during a protest for the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. He was arrested because police required media to be within certain areas, meThe thug police force in Ferguson, Missouri, continues wage its campaign against the public it is sworn to defend—take this tweet from KMOV reporter Chris Stanford for example”:
“Finally called it a night in #ferguson when police shot tear gas at us. Laser sight pointed right at our vehicle.” http://t.co/…
— @StanfordKMOV
….”Obviously, the most tragic consequence of their savage brutality was the slaying of unarmed teen Mike Brown, but the police in Ferguson have also tried to light the First Amendment on fire, arresting and attacking reporter after reporter in an attempt to intimidate the media from covering their world.” The list of reporters arrested so far, according to the Poynter Institute:

Ryan Devereaux (The Intercept)
Frank Hermann (Die Welt)
Ansgar Graw (Die Welt)
Lukas Hermsmeier (Die Welt)
Scott Olson (Getty Images)
Robert Klemko (Sports Illustrated)
Rob Crilly (The Telegraph)
Neil Munshi (Financial Times)
Ryan J. Reilly (The Huffington Post)
Wesley Lowery (The Washington Post)
..”And it’s not going to get better: The Ferguson police are vowing to continue their totalitarian campaign of arresting the media.”
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/19/1322938/-Ferguson-police-continue-arresting-and-attacking-media?detail=email

Captain Johnson attempts to justify journalist’s arrests…

Captain Ron Johnson, the smooth glove in this operation attempts to justify the arrests of journalists and cameramen. To quote Capt. Johnson:
“In the midst of chaos, when officers are running around, we’re not sure who’s a journalist and who’s not,” Johnson said. “And yes, if I see somebody with a $50,000 camera on their shoulder, I’m pretty sure. But some journalists are walking around, and all you have is a cellphone because you’re from a small media outlet. Some of you may just have a camera around your neck. So yes, we are — we may take some of you into custody.”

Apparently the price tag required to be recognized as a ‘credentialed journalist’ is a $50,000 camera hoisted on a shoulder, and an equally pricey (read corporate) media name. Unfortunately, this does not square with the 1st Amendment right to a ‘free press.’ I don’t believe that Thomas Paine or Benjamin Franklin could have passed this litmus test.

State Senator not immune to police abuse–tear gassed for standing with constituents…

August 13th, Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal relayed how she was teargassed by police during a peaceful protest. She confronted Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson during a press conference demanding to know why she was teargassed during a lawful, nonviolent protest.

Chief Jackson claimed that ‘people’were throwing rocks at the officers during Monday’s protest. He added that the tear gas and beanbag rounds were intended to stun the offenders. Jackson also claimed that the officers heard gunfire coming from the crowd.

Senator Chappelle-Nadal told it differently;
…”We were in that neighborhood and we were tear-gassed.” “I could not breathe, I could not speak, I could not focus, I could not think because I thought that I was going to die because we were shot at and tear gas was constantly thrown at us..”
She added; …”I’m the senator for the area, and I felt threatened. Everyone felt threatened.”
(Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/state-senator-ferguson_n_5676766.html)

Capt. Johnson justifies the role of SWAT and National Guard…

The next day, Capt. Johnson gave a news conference and explained why the National Guard was needed. Johnson claimed that SWAT and the National Guard were called in to protect Ferguson businesses. A bit later that statement was amended to claim the protection was for …”Mom and Pop businesses,” who had been looted.

Interviewing local ‘Mom and Pop’ Ferguson businesses…

I was able to speak to the employees or owners of three local ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses that had been looted and vandalized, namely Sam’s Meat Market& Liquor, The Maranatha Physicians office, and the Original RED Barbeque. I asked workers at each business the same question, namely–how have the police protected your business. The answers I received were shocking in their uniformity.

Sam’s Meat Market & Liquor…

The owner of the market was not on the premises, but an employee was willing to go on record. This is the business which has been most frequently on the news, secondary to the burned out Quik Trip gas station, as the symbol of urban rioting in Ferguson.
This employee stated his name as Walter Ash, and answered bluntly
…”They (police) don’t protect nothing.”

Mr. Ash added that when the looting began, they called various police departments and all they got was the ‘runaround.’ When they called the Ferguson Police; they were told to call the County Police, who told them to call the Mo. Highway Patrol. At the end of the calls–nothing happened.

Maranatha Physicians…

I entered through a boarded up door and into a clean waiting room. I spoke to Dr. Delu Lipede. This clinic has been in Ferguson for seven years, and the good doctor shared some of his time. The same question was asked, ie. how have the police protected your business. Dr. Lipede was equally blunt..”The police were not around to protect.” Dr. Lipede then amended his statement and mischieviously said…”they protected me—in absentia.”

Original RED’s Barbeque…

Once again, the owner was not on the premises, but I was able to speak to an employee. So, I asked–how have the police protected your business. Now this is the business which was torched, looted and vandalized in a variety of ways. The vandalizing of this business is the trigger event before the Governor declared martial law.

Employee Sean Wilson clearly stated…”the cops let the place burn.” When I asked why he theorized that…”protestors ran in to RED’s to avoid the teargas, and we let them. For the most part, the cops just watched it happen.” He added that after the authorities officially released Officer Daren Wilson’s name…”the cops didn’t protect nothing.”
“It was like they were saying–act up and this is what happens to you.”

Wilson then hypothesized that the…”cops wanted an excuse to bring in the military.”

Wilson then added that Michael Brown was a nice kid. …”The reason is the boss said…he’s a big kid, he’s a nice kid–give him a couple extra wings.” Wilson also said in conversation that Michael Brown …”came in 2-3 times a week, and he always had a bookbag.”

These were three of the most heavily vandalized ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses –the same type of businesses that Capt. Ron Johnson claimed the police, SWAT and the National Guard, were there to protect.

Police ‘staging area’ across street from Fortune 500 company, Emerson…

Though Capt. Ron Johnson repeatedly spoke about needing the National Guard and SWAT to protect ‘Mom & Pop’ businesses–the police ‘staging area’ was nowhere near those same businesses. Instead the staging area was in a large parking lot of a strip mall—right across the street from Fortune 500 corporation, Emerson Electric. Emerson is a major vendor for the Pentagon, and boasts a client list including Raytheon–the manufacturer of the Active Denial System, aka a microwave pain ray. (Source: https://emersonconnectivity.com/OA_HTML/ibeCZzpHome.jsp?function=dedicated)

No one else in the media has noted this peculiar set of ‘coincidences’ regarding the placement of the police/National Guard ‘staging area’. No evidence of wrongdoing has been found on Emerson’s part, but the mere appearance of preferred treatment must be investigated.

Just as Occupy discovered that Goldman-Sachs had paid additional funds for preferred policing–the question of Emerson being the ‘protected entity’ must be broached. (Source : http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/10/financial-giants-put-new-york-city-cops-on-their-payroll/) Is the police/ military over-reaction due in part to a desperate desire to protect a known Pentagon vendor–namely–Emerson Electric?

So, I contacted the Governor’s public affairs person, Scott Holste, via email with questions. I sent the same questions to St. Louis County Police Public Information Officer Brian Schellman. Question number three speaks to this incongruous situation.

Governor Jay Nixon’s office (via Scott Holste), did not respond. Officer Brian Schellman of the St. Louis County Police did respond with the following:

…”I just had the chance to read your email. Unfortunately, all of these questions need to be answered by Captain Johnson or the Missouri State Highway Patrol. They have command of the entire scene here. I represent the St. Louis County Police Department and we are only here to assist at the direction of the MSHP. They make all of the calls that would answer your questions. Unfortunately I cannot answer for them because frankly I just don’t know.”
(On Wednesday, August 20, 2014 6:25 PM, “Schellman, Brian” wrote:)

Below are the questions I sent the Governor and the St. Louis County Police:

Ferguson events in series of articles for UK Progressive…
To scott.holste@mo.gov
Today at 4:00 PM
Dear Mr. Holste,
My name is Jeanine Molloff and I am an online journalist with UK Progressive. I am working on a series articles following the events in Ferguson, Mo. and the underlying issues. I have a few questions for Gov. Nixon, and would appreciate a response. ( I need this no later than Thursday).

1.) After being in the streets of Ferguson for several days, I witnessed and personally experienced harassment from a variety of police officers. Press credentials were irrelevant to them. I was personally threatened with arrest yesterday (after the curfew had been lifted); for not walking fast enough. Apparently, we were ‘allowed’ to protest providing we didn’t stop walking. When I asked for the possible charge–I was told…”failure to disperse.” I witnessed the same officer threaten an elderly man who could barely walk with a cane. What public official came up with this protest policy which requires constant movement, upon pain of criminal arrest? What legal citation did this official use to justify this procedure?

2.) Capt. Ron Johnson has been defending the denial of access to the press during this ordeal. He was quoted explaining that:
“In the midst of chaos, when officers are running around, we’re not sure who’s a journalist and who’s not,” Johnson said. “And yes, if I see somebody with a $50,000 camera on their shoulder, I’m pretty sure. But some journalists are walking around, and all you have is a cellphone because you’re from a small media outlet. Some of you may just have a camera around your neck. So yes, we are — we may take some of you into custody.”
Source : Live updates: Ferguson protests, Day 10
Even TV Journalists such as CNN’s Jake Tapper were threatened ON AIR. The journalists were not in the way of the police. How is this transparency and a respect for 1st Amendment rights?

3.) I couldn’t help but notice that the police and National Guard ‘staging area’ in the Schnucks/Target strip shopping lot was across the street from noted arms manufacturer Emerson Electric. Emerson has large contracts with various other arms manufacturer such as Raytheon, Lockheed,etc. Raytheon alone is responsible for the Active Denial System which is a microwave weapon otherwise dubbed a ‘pain ray.’ Is this military buildup about reestablishing the peace for the people of Ferguson and the Mom & Pop stores as Capt. Johnson so defended–or is this about defending Emerson? Does Emerson pay for additional policing attention like other corporate entities such as Metro, and Goldman Sachs in New York City? Do you require me to file a FOIA form for this question, and if so—where should I forward the appropriate forms?
Thank you for your consideration.
Jeanine Molloff
UK Progressive

These were the questions that the public information officer at the St. Louis County Police Department did not know how to answer. A call was placed to the Mo. Highway Patrol Public Information Office, and a message was left. To date, no response has been received.

Curfew lifted Monday–but protestors had to keep moving or risk arrest…

Governor Nixon lifted the curfew Monday night, but with another sly restriction–no one could stop moving. So, on Tuesday I ventured back into Ferguson. It was true, citizens were being ‘allowed’ to peacably protest, as long as they kept moving. Any slowing or stopping to catch your breath on a hot summer day–risked arrest. The charge would be–‘failure to disperse.’ I was personally threatened by a St. Louis County Police officer, when I stopped to take some notes and collect my thoughts.

Police told this reporter to …”keep walking, and not too slow–or you’ll be going to jail.” (Mind you–I was on the public sidewalk in broad daylight). The police officer next to him stated that this order …’was for our own protection.’
I also witnessed police officers (both St. Louis County and Missouri Highway Patrol officers harass an elderly gentleman using a cane, threatening him with arrest– for walking too slow. The gentleman was barely able to walk, but that was irrelevant to the police on the scene. It wasn’t until some of us spoke up for him that the police showed some compassion. And yes, the gentleman in question walking with a cane was black, and the officers were white.
To those who say that the US under President Obama is ‘post-racial’–I say–come to Ferguson Missouri.

Additional police abuse…

A St. Ann police officer was caught on film threatening a man. The protestor in question told the officer that his hands were up–as the officer pointed a semi-automatic weapon directly at him. The officer’s response was…”I will fxxxxxg kill you!” This incident was caught by the media via a youtube video and the story televised 08/20/14; the same day as US Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in St. Louis to speak with law enforcement and the family of Michael Brown. The unnamed officer was reported to Capt. Ron Johnson, who in turn notified St. Ann officials, and the officer is indefinitely suspended without pay.
Here is the link to the video.

1st amendment violations remain relatively silent…

Though the corporate media have done a decent job covering the actions in Ferguson, they failed to speak to the clear 1st amendment violations committed by the multiple police departments and the Mo. National Guard.
Though much conversation has focused on troublemakers who ‘provoke the police’–little dialogue has centered on our 1st Amendment rights and the emerging police state in St. Louis County which is working feverishly to strip us of our constitutional and human rights. The 1st Amendment gives any of us the right to be obnoxious or insulting to our elected representatives and yes the police.

Insulting the police is not a criminal action, yet that is the direction being taken by the St. Louis County Police, the Ferguson Police, the Mo. Highway Patrol and the National Guard.

No one deserves to be attacked with mace, stun grenades, rubber bullets or teargas, for verbally insulting a police officer. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights guarantees any of us (citizen and alien), the right to be left alone by law enforcement. The only legitimate reasons any police officer has to stop anyone is if there is probable cause that a crime was committed, or in the case of public safety. Ironically, in Ferguson–it was the police who were causing the danger, not the protestors.

Conclusion

Capt. Ron Johnson from the Mo. Highway Patrol is a decent man who clearly does not mean any harm to the community where he was raised. He does, however have a naive belief in the emerging military police systems which are attacking the very concept of a Bill of Rights. Tues. August 19th in the early morning hours, Capt. Johnson was speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dan Lemon. Capt.Johnson was explaining how the police were ‘allowing’ citizens to protest.

What Capt. Johnson fails to comprehend is the very nature of protest and the Bill of Rights. Our 1st Amendment rights, are not privileges which can be casually revoked when we irritate or provoke those in power–they are our rights. The right to protest peacably, or to report (and yes record) police actions–is not something that the government ‘allows’–it is not theirs to allow–it is our right.

Further, what Capt. Johnson, Prosecutor McCulloch, Gov. Nixon, and President Obama, fail to accept is the simple fact that the very nature of protest is to educate, and yes irritate or incite the public, for the express purpose of exacting political change–especially when peacable requests are relegated to the trash can. Stopping short of inciting a violent riot, or causing any direct violence–all political irritation during protest is our right.

The emerging police state would have us reduce our legitimate protests to the level of an impotent—-bake sale. It is that very denial of protest RIGHTS and the dictatorial military police presence that is triggering the violence. The people of Ferguson understand what is at stake–our very right to speak, to witness, to self-govern, to live as a free and respected people.

When Capt. Johnson, responded to the violence in the streets, saying…”This has to stop;” I couldn’t help but shake my head in utter disbelief at the naivete of this well-meaning gentleman.

And regarding the police brutality and militarization I witnessed first hand, from multiple policing agencies, and the total disregard for the 1st Amendment; I would agree–yes Capt. Johnson—this has to stop.

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