Protests in the Missouri town became substantially more peaceful in their second week, when clergy showed up to be “the soft hand.”
There was no tear gas Thursday in Ferguson, Mo. There was no smoke. There weren’t even any significant clashes between protesters and police. It was peaceful, and that was in no small part due to presence of clergy.
The protests over the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown had their most peaceful day Thursday, with only six arrests and no police effort to drive the crowds away. In large part, law enforcement didn’t need to; after a day of oppressive heat followed by a brief but intense downpour, the gathering all but fizzled out on its own.
But smaller numbers didn’t mean there weren’t potential flash points. Early in the evening, a crowd gathered when supporters of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot Brown, showed up. Later, tensions flared again when police took a man into custody.
The night was peppered with incidents like these, but the protest ended peacefully anyway. And that’s despite the fact that police haven’t made the concessions — indicting Wilson, providing the incident report about the shooting, etc. — that protesters are demanding.
Instead, one of the big differences has been a larger, more active role on the part of a growing group of clergy. Here’s how those religious leaders soothed the conflicts that ripped through the community for a week and a half.
Elder Cornelius Moore (left), of Battle Horn Lighthouse Ministries, and Dr. Glenn Haymon, of Ministry of Reconciliation. Jim Dalrymple II
“We’re promoting peace and love. That’s what Jesus is all about.” —Elder Cornelius Moore
One of the big impacts of having clergy on the scene is that there are more peaceful bodies at the protest. Elder Cornelius Moore, of Battle Horn Lighthouse Ministries in St. Louis, had been out for a week by Wednesday, and was among a group passing out flyers about Jesus. He wore a hat Wednesday that looked like an old veteran’s cap — except that it was embroidered with the words “God’s Army.”
“The Bible says to go out into the highways and byways,” Moore explained of his decision to come to the protests, “and compel them to come unto Christ.”
Members of the Nation of Islam speak with protesters on Aug. 11. Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images
“Our job is to be the softer hand.” —Pastor Tremaine Combs
To some extent, the police and the clergy at the protests have an overlapping mission: to keep the gathering peaceful. For a week and a half, that goal eluded officers as they pursued it with tear gas, smoke bombs, and rubber bullets.
Pastor Tremaine Combs said Wednesday the clergy is on scene to offer an alternative. In practice, that has meant speaking with protesters who become agitated until they calm down. It has meant acting as intermediaries between the crowds and police. At times, it has meant doing crowd control and helping keep people within designated areas. “We’re doing all that we can to keep law enforcement at bay,” Combs explained. “We’re doing the best we can to keep ourselves in order.”
That strategy had been deployed at the protests previously — the Nation of Islam has been a recurring presence for days at the protests — but the numbers of clergy have surged in recent days. Several different clergy who spoke with BuzzFeed Wednesday estimated their numbers were nearing 100 people, with some religious leaders arriving from far-flung cities and states.
Combs and other clergy around him Wednesday weren’t marching or chanting with protesters, but their presence and conservations did seem to have a calming influence.
Reverend Jeff Hood, of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, arrived in Ferguson this week. Jim Dalrymple II
“We’re treating them like they’re our kids.” —Bishop Giovanni Johnson
The protesters have consistently expressed anger at systemic problems: mostly white government in a mostly black community, racial biases in police practices, etc. The clergy at the protests consequently seem to have made headway by treating the protesters with respect. Johnson said many of the protesters may have had little to no positive reinforcement in their lives, so simply treating them differently can pay off. “Let me talk to you like a man,” he explained. “Not like a thug. Not like a gang member.”
Bishop Timothy Woods, of the First Free Will Baptist Church of St. Louis, said he used to be a gang member himself, and understands the anger some people in Ferguson may feel. That has helped him empathize. “I can identify with it,” he explained. “And I know a lot of people didn’t get the break that I got, which was having somebody in their life to drag them out.”
Pastor Doug Hollis Jim Dalrymple II
“If they start getting into a riot, we can contain the crowd.” —Pastor Doug Hollis
If all else failed — especially Wednesday, but also Tuesday — the clergy stepped in as a physical barrier between protesters and the police. When a man was arrested Wednesday, for example, several clergy members, including Reverend Michael Kinman, of Christ Church Cathedral, jumped in as a human barrier to prevent protesters from getting too close to police.
At times, that barrier becomes a wall. Pastor Doug Hollis, of Clergy United, said that at one point on Wednesday he and other religious leaders formed a line, interlocked their arms, and wouldn’t let anyone pass. The strategy evidently worked. “The atmosphere has been different ever since the clergy been out here,” he said. “Ever since we’ve been doing the clergy thing, it’s been great. The crowd has been peaceful.”
New research data provided exclusively to TPM offers the most striking evidence to date of how rare it is for police officers to be charged for homicides committed in the line of duty. Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told TPM on Wednesday that his research showed there were 31 arrests of non-federal sworn law enforcement officers for a murder or non-negligent homicide committed with a firearm while on duty from 2005 to 2011. That would equal a little more than four per year. Another 10 arrests were made for negligent homicide with a firearm on duty in that seven-year time frame. Over the same period, according to the FBI, the number of justifiable homicides committed by law enforcement officers with a firearm was 2,706 or about 385 per year.
New research data provided exclusively to TPM offers the most striking evidence to date of how rare it is for police officers to be charged for homicides committed in the line of duty.
Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told TPM on Wednesday that his research showed there were 31 arrests of non-federal sworn law enforcement officers for a murder or non-negligent homicide committed with a firearm while on duty from 2005 to 2011. That would equal a little more than four per year. Another 10 arrests were made for negligent homicide with a firearm on duty in that seven-year time frame.
Over the same period, according to the FBI, the number of justifiable homicides committed by law enforcement officers with a firearm was 2,706 or about 385 per year.
That coincides with the historical and anecdotal evidence reported by TPM earlier this week that police officers seldom are charged for homicides committed in the line of duty, though the new data supplies a firmer factual footing.
Experts had repeatedly said that hard data was difficult to come by. TPM contacted Stinson looking for data on Monday, and he initially said that none was available. But then he called TPM on Wednesday and said he realized that his research team had been compiling the necessary information and he ran the data on Wednesday morning.
The new data for what may be the first time puts a hard number on how rare it is for police officers to be arrested for on-duty homicides. As Stinson put it: “I deal in outliers.”
Stinson and his team collected the data as part of an ongoing study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, that examines police officers who were arrested for committing crimes. They have reviewed news archives and police records “to develop the first national profile of police integrity.”
Of the 6,724 arrests that Stinson and company have examined, 664 involved incidents in which officers allegedly used a firearm. Of those, 71 arrests were for murder or non-negligent homicide. And of those 71, 31 were committed while the officer was on duty, Stinson said.
Most of those 31 on-duty arrests cover incidents in which the police were actually performing their official duties, Stinson said. The handful of others were incidents that happened to occur while the officer was on duty or using police equipment but which were not directly related to their police duties, such as a domestic violence incident.
Law enforcement and legal veterans told TPM earlier this week that a convergence of U.S. law, cultural norms and the fact that officers are frequently justified in shooting an assailant contributed to the exceedingly rare instances of an officer being charged or convicted for on-duty homicides.
"It is really hard to convict a police officer," Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who is now a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles, said. "They get a super presumption of innocence."
This video appears to show Michael Brown paying for the cigarillos he supposedly stole. Apparently no employees or owners from the store called to report a robbery, and the police came to the store and asked for the tape. No one from the store volunteered it. Why isn’t the media talking or asking about this? Why wasn’t this portion of the video released by police?
The police have changed their story about whether Wilson knew about the “robbery” and thought Brown was a suspect. First it was implied that Wilson did know. Then the police came out and said he didn’t know. Then the police turned around again and said Wilson did know. The timeline doesn’t really make sense based on the police’s latest version of events. The police dispatcher broadcast the description of the robbery suspect 4 minutes before Wilson stops Brown, while Wilson was on another call and not in his car, and no other call from dispatch apparently came in identifying the suspect in the 3 minutes it took between Wilson stopping Brown and another cop showing up after the shooting had taken place.
The cops’ story doesn’t make any sense. And if Brown paid for his cigarillos, then the so-called robbery is really a completely moot point.
Why isn’t anyone in the media calling out this crap?
This is a story that isn’t getting the traction in the press that it should. I posted the case about Howard Morgan not long ago here.
Morgan was a veteran police officer in Chicago. He is black. He was shot 28 times by 4 white officers. 21 of those shots were administered to the back of his body. Morgan never fired a weapon, and a witness corroborated that. In fact, one of the officers took Morgan’s weapon away from him. Morgan was acquitted of aggravated discharge of a weapon in 2007.
Howard Morgan’s van was crushed and destroyed without notice or cause before any forensic investigation could be done.
The State only produced 3 of the 28 bullets shot into and taken from Howard Morgan’s body, whereby the rest of the 25 bullets could have shown whether or not the police officers who shot Mr. Morgan shot him with his own gun after taking it from him.
Howard Morgan was never tested for gun residue to confirm if he even fired a weapon on the morning in question.
The State never produced the actual bullet proof vest worn by one of the officers who claimed to have allegedly taken a shot directly into the vest on the morning in question. The State only produced a replica.
Despite all this, and the fact that Morgan was earlier acquitted of firing his own weapon, Morgan was found guilty of attempted murder of the 4 white officers who shot him 28 times, with 21 of those shots having entry points on the back of his body. How does one not fire a weapon, get shot 28 times by four officers, and then be found guilty of attempted murder? It doesn’t make sense.
Morgan is set to be sentenced in April. More info here.
Since people insist on contacting to tell me “not all cops”, I’ll be reblogging old posts of the most egregious cases of police brutality. This isn’t about individual “nice” cops. This is about a systemic problem. Good cops are forced to tow the line or they will get dealt with. No one is denying that cops have a tough job. Who said they didn’t? Isn’t that what they signed up for? Don’t jump in the lion’s den and then complain about lions.
The case above is about a Black Chicago cop named Howard Morgan. Why his case didn’t gain national attention beats me. He was shot 28 times by fellow officers, and 21 of those shots came from behind. He survived somehow. One officer took his weapon away from him. Black cops are not safe either.
If you’ve been keeping up with what the media is saying about Darren Wilson, you may have read this article that claims he suffered a blowout fracture: a fracture of one or more bones surrounding the eye. Here is a screencap from the article of “Darren Wilson’s” CT scan. Also known as “lol_bc_not_darren_wilson.jpg”
When the article later stated that “police sources” said 12 witnesses had taken Wilson’s side, I was incredible skeptical, obviously.
This article lists the side effects of an orbital blowout fracture. It also posts a video taken by Piaget Crenshaw, a woman who lives on the street where Mike Brown was killed. The video shows Darren Wilson standing around Mike’s body soon after his murder, showing no signs of pain; and you see the officer he’s reporting to acting like Wilson hasn’t been injured at all. That isn’t very likely for someone who would have visible signs of trauma.
The second article also shows “Darren’s” CT scan, and one that looks exactly like it, but: in the corner it says UNIV OF IOWA ETC-TC. Just to check up on this, I looked up the words “university of iowa blowout fracture” and set Google to where it would show posts from before this year, guess what.
On uiowa.edu, this CT scan was on a page made in 2008. [It’s about all kinds of eye trauma.] Here’s a screencap with the url in it so you can see what I’m talking about, if you don’t want to scroll through a page with graphic injuries.
I don’t know why they thought they could get away with this at all, oh my god. The article that says Darren Wilson was injured is a complete fallacy, and the police released this information to make Mike Brown seem like a “thug.”
(“There’s no more racism in America! We have a black President!”)
Now listen to me. If an article does not post credible sources (“two local St. Louis sources” does not count at all) or only goes off what the police is saying: double, triple, quadruple check it before you share the information, just to cause less hysteria for everyone trying to stay updated on these horrific events.
The first section is just a repeat of what Ferguson PD has been saying since the beginning, that Wilson and Brown struggled inside the car. Notably, none of the eyewitnesses confirm this story.
However, the second paragraph… makes it very clear that officer Wilson was firing his weapon at Michael Brown as he ran away — in other words, even though law enforcement officials say he didn’t hit Brown or Johnson, he was indeed shooting at Brown’s back.
That’s a confirmation of one of the crucial bits of eyewitness information, and an explanation for the initial reports that Brown was “shot in the back” — because Wilson did try to shoot him in the back. And that’s not supposition any more; it’s the direct word from law enforcement.