Friday, November 28, 2014

On Ferguson, Racism, and Police....

My friend, let's call him Mike, posted this recently. What broke my heart was not the end point, but that he posted the picture without a touch of commentary. It is very tough to post something like that to social media and not have it taken in the wrong way. The fact that most of the United States, right now (alas from my perspective, but the protests have shown something), wouldn't batt an eye at this cartoon speaks volumes:

But not a lot of people have really explained why. So I thought it an appropriate time to review some of the basic facts, and really summarize why I believe the situation currently is so infuriating. I'm seriously pissed. I issue here, a serious challenge, to the peopld & government of this United States to fix this. Whether through abolishing grand juries (nobody has them but us, and everyone is still entitled to the same evidentiary hearing in the first place), or allowing referendum for criminal cases. My entire life I have been told that Grand Juries establish if there is evidence for a trial.

1) I'll get to race shortly, but I want to give first an observation which is undeniable:

Not a single witness seems to have disputed that the victim (no matter the cause he is a victim - he was unarmed as we only now know in hind sight) tussled hand to hand with the officer, and shots  were fired.

2) Who doesn't find #1 frightening (I write this from that perspective)? Law of the wild, law of the seas, you call it. We actually would, typically (I believe) give most people in the situation where a gun was tussled over hand to hand, the benefit of doubt. Alas for an officer of the law there is a down side to this. In my book anything premeditated, or remotely intentional is off the table. Involuntary manslaughter? How is that not discussed? Here is the big point.....

3) He is an officer of the law, and he MIGHT have made a mistake. The racism here was not that he was shot and killed. Unfortunately he is an officer of the law, and his JOB is to treat everyone equally according to the law and the constitution. I'm not sure of the proper protocol for handling someone walking down the middle of the street. So unfortunately...

4) The only question, with regard to Officer Wilson is if he made a mistake. Not if he is racist, or intended to murder Brown. If anyone reading this thinks a cop wouldn't be crass to someone in the middle of the street, I challenge you. If you think anyone shouldn't get premeditation thrown out the window, I challenge you. 

I can't blame the Grand Jury either - they are the only ignorant's in this contorted by a corrupted process....


When I read that the prosecutor has been presenting both sides of the case to the grand jury extensively, I was astounded. Attorneys are required by law to follow certain rules. Judges, if they have a conflict, must recuse themselves. I see this same limitation in the legislative branch with legislators who oversee their donators (i.e. corporations or unions) in any way. The point is, that these district attorneys, judges, and police, all have a very clear relationship, along with the populace that requires drastic measures.

Lawyers are required, by their bar, to represent the interests of their client. How can a prosecutor be expected to behave differently? This prosecutors job was ACTUALLY just to get to a trial. How could none of the judges acknowledge this, and set a precedent, not only for themselves but those around them.

The problem is there is no plaintiff for the people. Nobody but the government can charge someone with a criminal charge. That is why people are taking to the streets. They are shutting down malls, and I wasn't sure if I could get back to San Francisco this afternoon, as there were protests at the West Oakland BART station earlier. 


The race problem here IS NOT WITH OFFICER WILSON. I think this is probably why he is scared. If everyone had not resisted charges, and let a trial happen, I think things would have been much more clear, open, and real. The fact that the prosecutor, in this occasion, seemingly decided to behave in a manner that doesn't befit their duties requires all branches to take action. The fact that there are newspaper articles discussing "if the grand jury proceedings will be made public," are exactly the absurdity that dictates that people take to the streets. 

This all points to Officer Brown as a government, and frankly, media scapegoat, for the underlying truth, that the corruption these days is in the prosecutors office. In this case the prosecutors office failed to dutifully recuse themselves of conflict. These days, cases of non-disclosed, nor explained details (channeling my inner economist) in America are profligate. In fact I've been watching this trend in The Economist, my favorite periodical, for a long time now. So now we all focus on a scared police officer, and what happened in a moment, while millions of minorities are abused in different, yet real ways. 

So the question is how did this not go to trial? Is there an American amongst us, who believes it shouldn't have? By whom, did we believe it should have been tried? It was, by the media it seems? To literally quote the Public Defender's Office in San Francisco:

This ethical failure resulted in the exceedingly rare step of the prosecuting attorney refusing to recommend an indictment against the police officer he was prosecuting.

Everyone tried to brush it under the rug. The police officer had nothing to do with that. He should not be vilified. The fact that he was honest, probably exposed some racists along the way that rejected due process. Let's find them. Not officer Wilson. The prosecutors were not objective, that is clear. Who's job is that to fix by law? The State Bar (Pun enjoyed)? If we disprove those things, then we can have a discussion, but for now, I think we've got it all wrong.

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