The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Ferguson’

HOODZ IN HOODS FROM THE HOOD

Michael Brown was a thug and a resident of Ferguson, MO.  On August 10, 2014 he became the late Mr. Brown after he robbed a convenience store, shoved around the owner of that establishment, wrestled with a policeman for his gun and refused to obey officer Darren Wilson’s order to stop – instead preferring to charge at him.  Officer Wilson shot him dead and saved the country a great deal of expense in trials and the cost of jail time and probably only sped up what was destined to be Mr. Brown’s nearly inevitable future.  RIP, Michael Brown.  And bask in the glory of God’s love – or whatever heat source may be present where you now reside.

In life Mr. Brown physically was a large man.  In death he has become even bigger and been elevated to the status of “martyr” as the poster child for a movement known as “Black Lives Matter”.  I have some experience with movements going back fifty years as both a participant and an observer.  These days, my involvement in them generally centers about my bathroom routine – which I am pleased to add is going nicely.

In 1968 the Democrats held a convention in Chicago.  There was a movement afoot then, an anti-Vietnam War movement, which resulted in violence.  None of the protesters was killed.  But nearly forty demonstrators who were present, agitating for “peace” were beaten by night sticks attached to the arms of Chicago’s police department.  Incidentally, all of the protesters who went to the hospital happened to be white.

Now if you’re thinking that this anecdote supports the present narrative that the police are evil, nasty people who have to take out their repressed need to exhibit violence on anyone who crosses their path, (according to #BLM primarily directed against black law abiding citizens) you should be aware that there is more to the context of this story which might affect your view.

Yes, it is true that the police beat up a bunch of demonstrators.  But was there provocation or did the police simply decide to bash some young upstarts?  Well, the truth is that the police acted in a restrained manner until the demonstrators began throwing bags of feces and urine at them.  At that point they had pretty much the same reaction that anyone in or out of uniform would have felt.  Anger.

To my knowledge, no one has ever died because human excrement was hurled at and hit them.  While being the recipient of that sort of abuse is clearly revolting, it is not life threatening.  And in Chicago, none of the protesters was killed as a result of their incredibly bad behavior.

On the other hand, Michael Brown was 6’ 5” tall and weighed 289 pounds.  I don’t care what color he was but if I saw someone of that size charging at me as Officer Wilson testified and the forensics supports, I would feel gravely threatened.  Wouldn’t you?

So what is the “point” that Black Lives Matter is trying to make?  That seems somewhat unclear other than to have their five minutes of fame as other evanescent groups such as Occupy Wall Street have attained.  As I understand it, which is perhaps imperfectly since their message is a bit opaque, they are angry about the number of blacks who are incarcerated in our prison system.  Well, I’m angry about that too.  If those jailed blacks were leading productive lives rather than committing crimes, we could save about $3 Billion a year.  I can think of a lot of much better ways to spend that amount of money.

According to the NAACP, of the 2.3 million Americans who are incarcerated, nearly forty percent, over one million, are blacks.  On the surface, considering that the black population of the United States is about thirteen percent, this seems disproportional.  The “thesis” that Black Lives Matter puts forth is that blacks are arrested for the same crimes for which whites get a pass.  Their claim is that most of those blacks are incarcerated for “petty drug crimes”.  Not that it will matter to #BLM, the statistics don’t support that argument.

The latest statistics which I could find come from 2012.  In that year, a total of only 309,100 inmates were in jail for drug crimes of any type.  That includes both Federal and state prisons and represents a decrease from the 338,076 people who were incarcerated in the year 2000 for similar offenses.  So if the NAACP’s statistics about black incarceration are correct, that leaves us with about 700,000 inmates who are in jail for other reasons.

In 2012, just under a million people were in Federal or state prisons for either “Violent” or “Property” crimes.  Violent crimes are categorized as ones which include, murder, manslaughter, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, other sexual assault, robbery, assault, and other violent crimes.  A total of 721,200 prisoners fit that definition.  Property crimes are categorized as ones which include burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, fraud, and other property crimes.  There were 247,100 prisoners who fell into that classification.

Even if we accept #BLM’s narrative that blacks get incarcerated for drug crimes which whites skip on, why are the remaining 700,000 black Americans in jail?  Could it be that they have been convicted of either Violent or Property crimes?  And if they committed those crimes, is it not appropriate that a civilized society put them away in the interest of protecting the vast majority of society which obeys the law and do not engage in those activities?

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the recent re-enactment of the protests in Ferguson which took place at the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death was the fact that quite a few of the protestors chose to wear hoods, thus disguising who they were.  In 1968 the protestors at the Democratic convention did not wear hoods.  They were proud to let people know who they were because they believed in what they were doing.  But I can think of two other groups which regularly wear hoods.  The first of those is ISIS’ executioners.  The second is the KKK.

HOW LOWERING THE MINIMUM WAGE COULD SAVE AMERICA

We’ve been inundated with the events of Ferguson, MO.  It’s gotten more attention than the earlier death of Trayvon Martin.  For whatever reason, apparently Michael Brown’s death evoked more emotion than Martin’s.  There were no riots that accompanied George Zimmerman’s “Not Guilty” verdict.  But we’re more than making up for that, not only in Missouri but nationwide.  There have been “riots” which in some cases have turned violent and in all cases disruptive.

Both of these cases are portrayed in the media as murders resulting from racism.  The facts are that both of the deceased were black males.  In the Zimmerman case, his ethnicity was mixed.  The police officer who killed Brown was white.  In both cases, the behavior and events which led the deceased to their demise has been mostly glossed over by the press.  The liberal media are exceptionally selective in what facts they choose to report – and then only after applying a fair amount of spin to their curve ball reporting.

In Martin’s case, as you may recall, the reason that he was out was that he was on his second or third suspension from school.  I’ve forgotten the exact number.  And he was out getting the ingredients for one of today’s more popular do-it-yourself drugs.  Had he not been suspended and was home cracking the books instead of looking forward to cracking the pipe, he would never have been shot and we would never have heard his name.

In Brown’s case there appears to be ample evidence that he had just strong armed a store clerk and stolen some cigarillos so that he could roll a nice tight joint.  He had a significant quantity of marijuana on him and his toxicology report indicated that he had the same substance in his system.  He also ignored the orders of Officer Wilson and then assaulted him while he was in his police car.  After that skirmish which Brown initiated, he subsequently again ignored the officer’s order to stop.  Though there is conflicting testimony as to what happened, at least three witnesses confirmed completely Wilson’s statement that Brown charged him and four additional witnesses confirmed the portions of Wilson’s testimony that they saw.  All of these witnesses were black – and if they were concerned about racist police officers and attitudes as has been alleged, it seems strange that they would be so supportive of the officer’s version of events – unless that is what they saw actually happen.

Facts can sometimes be inconvenient things.  Particularly if they don’t blend with a narrative that is woven for self-serving reasons.  No amount of evidence, testimony or anything else will convince those who in the Brown case decided long before the Grand Jury concluded its investigation that he was a victim of the ultimate in police brutality.  If somehow a video recording of the incident suddenly surfaced, confirming Wilson’s testimony it would do little or nothing to change those peoples’ minds.  We would suddenly start hearing that the video was manufactured or edited to exculpate the cop.

The liberal camp takes great pains to point out that only “deniers” reject the “facts” of “climate change.”  They regard people who inveigh against their position as being ignorant.  And, if the “facts” were seen by everyone as being that, I suggest that they would be correct.  While that same theory ought to apply to these two cases as well, they do not.  It is fair to wonder why that is.

Certainly a part of that can be attributed to emotion.  We are all held hostage to our feelings and if we make decisions based solely on them we often not only misinterpret the evidence but draw faulty conclusions based on those rather than empirical evidence.  The other part is ignorance.  An uneducated person is far more likely to rely on his or her emotions than facts because we all are born with emotions but we have to acquire facts whether through schooling, good parenting or personal observation.  And if everyone around is similarly poorly educated, it is likely that the reliance on emotion is further entrenched through the observations of how others around us act and conduct their lives.  This is the fundamental problem with living in a ghetto – of whatever description.

If you live in a community where a high percentage of your fellow residents don’t work and are receiving a monthly stipend and other government benefits, it becomes socially acceptable, perhaps even desirable, to fit in with what everyone else considers a normal way to go through life.  That is particularly true if you have limited skills and would at best be able to find a minimum wage job which offers little hope of advancement or upward social mobility.  And that is further underscored if you realize that the government benefits you are currently receiving are greater in value than that job and require no effort to receive.  The only American dream that you have to hold on to is that the benefits don’t go away and, in fact, increase.

There are fewer jobs that the undereducated can hope to hold.  Technology and automation have left little opportunity for work for residents of our inner cities.  Retail, fast food and cleaning are about the only venues that require unskilled labor.  The ditch diggers of old have been replaced by hydraulic equipment and the family farm with its labor intensive requirements have been replaced with corporate farming and robotics.  That there is little opportunity for those who do not attain at least a high school diploma can be seen in the extremely high unemployment rates among inner city black males – well more than twice the national average.

The riots in Ferguson are not about justice for Michael Brown or anyone else.  They are expressions of frustration over the realization that the participants’ future is bleak.  They are right in that perception.  In an economy in which college graduates are living at home in large numbers for lack of jobs, what hope does the high school dropout have?  Sadly, the answer is none.  Unfortunately, those they blame for their plight are not the responsible parties for it.

With fifty years of trying to socially engineer poverty out of existence under our belt, we are in worse shape as a nation than when we initiated the “War on Poverty.”  There is significantly more evidence to support that statement than there is to support the theory of global “Climate Change.”  Yet those who enthusiastically support the idea that our planet is in grave environmental danger are exactly the people who ignore a half century’s evidence and double down on failed policies by further escalating them.  Among those policies is increasing the minimum wage.

Adding further pressure to this equation is Obama’s recent granting five million illegal aliens the right to stay here, and more importantly, the right to work in the country legally.  These are people who come from countries where there are no social welfare programs and where the residents will take any job, no matter how difficult or physically dangerous at whatever wage is offered.  They have a work ethic which is lacking among those in our inner cities and find no job “beneath them.”

If there is any possibility of breaking the cycle of welfare dependency which is now generational in nature it is by getting those who are trapped in that system the opportunity to find work.  It is far more important to encourage the unemployed in Ferguson and throughout the country to find that first job than it is what that job will pay.  Sadly, the way our “welfare programs” are structured, finding employment translates into losing benefits.  This obviously discourages recipients from seeking any form of legal employment.  We perhaps could partially solve this by lowering the minimum wage for people who are in the marketplace for five years or less, during which time their welfare benefits would be unaffected by their earnings.

I remember receiving my first paycheck for a summer job.  When I came home with it and opened the envelope with my family at dinner I clearly recall the sense of pride I had looking at that nearly fifty dollar check (after a deduction for Social Security) which covered one week’s worth of work.  (The minimum wage was $1.25 per hour).  And I took a great deal of satisfaction in the fact  that the company had chosen me over the fifteen other kids who had applied for the job.  Perhaps it was the naiveté of adolescence but it helped me feel as though I had some worth as a person – and that was acknowledged both by my employer in hiring me and then further validated by their paying me for my effort.  That paycheck did great things for my self-esteem and it was with some sadness that I let go of it and deposited it in my savings account.

That is an experience that sadly I fear many kids in our inner cities will never share.  And the higher we generically increase the minimum wage, however well intentioned, the more likely we are  permanently to deny them the dignity of working for a living and perpetuate the cycle of hopelessness into which far too many in this country now have fallen  – and is the root cause of why Ferguson happened in the first place – and why the reaction to Michael Brown’s death was completely predictable.

Ferguson is a symptom of a disease – one which has been decades in the making.  Sadly, following our present path of providing “benefits” rather than real opportunity will only worsen the problem.  And one day the right mixture of ingredients will combine to spark an explosion that will make what happened in Missouri look like a Sunday School picnic.

That day may not be far off in coming.

WHITHER GOEST THOU, AMERICA?

As I write this we are within moments of learning the decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri.  It is as though this one verdict is the most important declaration ever to be pronounced.  To those poised to protest this panel’s expected decision it has significance far more sweeping than Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” and it has rewritten the Beatitudes.  “Blessed are the troublemakers.”  Most likely there will be violence.  It is expected.  It is planned.  It is an American tragedy.

The Founders recognized that only if the law were applied equally to everyone  would there be the possibility of achieving the Declaration’s proclamation that each of us is entitled to enjoy “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  That was as true at the founding of the nation as it is today.  And it is probably also true that while that goal is admirable, it has never been fully achieved.  That is not a condemnation of this lofty objective but rather a statement about us and how we allow our self-interest to corrupt the ideal.

The judicial system is an integral part of the political system.  Whether the voters directly elect those who are responsible for trying us if we are alleged to have committed an offence or are appointed by those whom we have elected to serve the municipality, state or the nation as a whole, judges are as much political by nature of their office as are our mayors and congressmen.  The Founders recognized that in describing the judiciary as one of three co-equal branches of government.

Of course, before a person is brought to trial there are others who are involved in the process which resulted in a hearing before the bar of justice.  Those are, at the first level, the law enforcement officers who apprehended the accused.  While there are undoubtedly some who discharge that office inappropriately, we rely on our police forces to help maintain some reasonable semblance of safety in society.  By and large, the occasional “rogue” officer who abuses his or her authority and sworn duty are the exception rather than the rule.  To attribute regular unlawful behavior to them is to do them a great disservice – and if that attitude is commonplace, then all of society will suffer as a consequence.  Even those with the greatest distrust of police forces, I suspect, if caught in a crossfire by two rival gangs as an innocent bystander, would hope that a squad car would show up on the scene.

Fortunately, like most Americans, I have had very little interaction with the police in my lifetime.  The first time was as a victim of an assault by three perpetrators wielding switchblades.  The second time was after some workmen stole some personal property while making repairs in my apartment.  The third and fourth times were to report the theft of my vehicle.  The fifth through sixteenth times were to report the theft of my car’s radio.  That’s been it.  I’ve never heard a knock on the door asking me my whereabouts at such and such time because I was a suspect in a robbery, an assault or a murder.  My total interaction was as a victim – not as a perpetrator.

In reference to these various episodes, I suppose that I might choose to be bitter because none of those who either assaulted me or stole my property was ever tried for their abuse of the law – at least not as it pertained to my particular interactions with them.  Perhaps they went on to further crimes and were apprehended for those.  I have no way of knowing that.  Should I therefore conclude that my experience demonstrates that the police are worthless?

Sadly, while it is a commonplace way of viewing life, extrapolating from one individual’s personal experience and drawing broad conclusions from it can be a dangerous and biased path to follow.  I know that police forces do indeed apprehend people who have committed more serious crimes than the ones in which I was involved.  I, for one, am glad that they are there – and I’m glad that they’re armed.  There are sociopathic people in this country who break the law and who constitute a threat to those of us who are law abiding.

While we should certainly remove those in our law enforcement offices who abuse their power and responsibilities, whether that is a local law enforcement officer, an attorney, a judge, the Attorney General or President who are ultimately responsible for seeing that the laws generally are enforced, the best advice on how to avoid confrontations with law enforcement might come from comedian, Chris Rock.

 

 

Perhaps Rock’s advice, had it been followed, might have made it so those of us who before August had never heard of Ferguson,MO, would still be living lives of blissful ignrance about its existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This principle, although probably lost on the majority of those who might protest the Grand Jury’s verdict, is at the heart of the matter.  They are not so much interested in justice as they are in the confirmation that the only justice that is acceptable is the one they dictate.  They look to mete out the vengeance handed out by vigilantes and the KKK to which some of their forefathers were subject.  They view that as proper retribution for the past misdeeds of others – now long gone to the grave.

IGUALA, MX AND FERGUSON, MO

Forty-three Mexican college students, studying to be teachers, were out fund raising for their college – soliciting money to buy supplies for the school.  They were stopped in Iguala by the police and three of them were shot by these same police.  Apparently, the Mayor of Iguala was concerned that the students were planning to disrupt a speech that his wife was scheduled to give.  The surviving students were turned over to a local drug cartel “to be disposed of.”  And the cartel did its job well.

They executed these kids at a trash dump and then the cartel had a “student roast,” burning the bodies in a fire that lasted for sixteen hours – as the cartel members stood by and watched.  Except in the case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi who was finally released after six months in Mexican prison for inadvertently entering the country while in possession of legally owned weapons, Mexican “justice” can be inexorably efficient, swift – and terminal.

The mayor and his wife were arrested in Mexico City a week after the students disappeared.  He has had several charges leveled against him and  is currently in jail awaiting further processing.  As of this writing, no charges have been brought against his wife.  Although it is only an allegation, there appears that there may be a tie between these two and the local drug cartel.

Subsequent to the students’ disappearance a search began for them.  The announcement by the Mexican Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam that the students’ remains had been found resulted in protests throughout the country with tens of thousand marching in peaceful protest against a government that has corruption at its most basic foundation.  Additionally, other protesters with a less pacifistic view of the events, burned government buildings, cars and blocked highways in Guerrero state where these murders occurred.  In the course of the search, several mass graves were discovered – apparently additional victims of the local drug cartels.

It is probably difficult for most Americans to conceive living in a country where the police, rather than occupying a position of “serving and protecting” people actually function as the judiciary and dispatch summary “justice” with impunity.  Difficult unless you believe that is the same system we have in the United States.  And if you turn your attention to Ferguson, MO and the protests that have been ongoing for the last three months you might believe that is the case.

On August 9, 2014, a shooting occurred in Ferguson, MO resulting in the death of Michael Brown.  The deceased was a young black man; the person who shot him was a white police officer, Darren Wilson.  Those are the facts that no one disputes.  The specific circumstances of causality have now been before a Grand Jury for several months and we are awaiting their determination.

I believe it is fair to say that if, under the same set of circumstances a white police officer shot a white teenager; if a black police officer shot a black teenager; and perhaps if a black police officer shot a white teenager, there would have been no lootings in Ferguson, MO; no businesses would have been burned there; neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder would have expressed an opinion on the event; and the media would have not covered it.

The only reason for interest and the tension that it has evoked has, unfortunately, nothing to do with the late Mr. Brown.  It has to do with race and, more specifically, the allegation that the black community has no reason to have confidence that the police are there to protect them but rather, Mexican style, are self-serving racists whose ultimate goal is their annihilation.  If that theory were in fact true, there would be legitimate reason for concern by the citizens of Ferguson, MO.  There would then be validation for their peaceful protests – although it is hard to understand how committing additional crimes such as lootings and burnings can be justified, efforts to the contrary notwithstanding.

Neither my readers nor I have all the facts and details of what happened between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson.  Hopefully, the Grand Jury will have those presented to them and will make an informed and fair judgment based on what they review.  And, whatever their decision, it is incumbent on those who truly want to live in a country where the rule of law is respected to accept that verdict.  Otherwise we invite upon ourselves a system of “justice” like that which we just saw in Mexico.  And that is something that no intelligent person would bring down on his own head.

We know how that system played out in Mexico.  We’ll soon see how things work out in Ferguson, MO.

LESSONS FROM FAR AND WIDE

What do Hong Kong and Ferguson, MO have in common?  Well, they’ve both been in the news as places where the residents have taken to the streets, protesting against government authorities.  And that’s where their similarity begins and ends.

Hong Kong and Ferguson are 7,934 air miles apart – or at least that was what I determined from a very neat program on the internet.  While I might not fully subscribe to the concept of global warming, I do have much greater faith in Al Gore’s other invention – the internet.  I do remember him saying that it was his creation.

Hong Kong has had a long and often rocky history.  Starting as little more than a local fishing village it became part of the Chinese empire.  Then the British took it over, elevating it to the status of Royal Crown Colony.  Finally, the English negotiated a lease with China and ceded it back to the PRC.  It purportedly holds a quasi-autonomous status.  And that is at the heart of the disturbances by protesters in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong ranks eleventh on the list of countries based on GDP per individual, just behind the United States.  By contrast, mainland China, despite the tremendous economic boom it has seen in the last twenty years ranks ninety-seventh.  That is, obviously, attributable in part to its massive population.  But not only does Hong Kong enjoy greater economic opportunity for its citizens – it offers far more personal freedom than those on the mainland enjoy.  The opportunity to earn more and live a better life is what the turmoil in Hong Kong is all about.

There is probably no mentally healthy person on the planet who wouldn’t want to live an easier, better life.  But there are challenges to achieving that goal.  While a person who has little financial expertise may have difficulty making wise investments which will help him or her achieve a more secure future, that person can get an education in finances or, lacking the desire or ability to do that, can higher an advisor who can guide him.  But the greatest threat to accumulating wealth is something over which none of us has control.  That grim reaper which rapes prosperity is government spending – or put in a one word explanation – taxes.  And it is those whom we elect to public office who determine out tax codes.

A few days ago, President Obama went on Al Sharpton’s radio show, (who knew he even had one) and made what is perhaps the most truthful statement he has uttered while either running for or during his time in office.  Obama, talking about those Democrat candidates in red states running for election to the Senate, all of whom has pretty much eschewed even knowing who he is, said (paraphrase),  “They all support me and my policies.  But they have to say or do what they have to say or do to get re-elected.  I don’t take their distancing themselves from me personally.”

I think all of us hope, perhaps even while believing otherwise, that we can rely on what a candidate promises.  We believe because we want to, that person X or Y will really bring a meaningful, positive change to government.  But the influence which most find once they get to Washington seems almost irresistible and if it doesn’t corrupt by the end of a person’s first term, by the second it seems that the allure of power is something which sweeps virtually all up in its web.  But those who believe in the political process and are hopelessly optimistic, continue to get involved in these contests as they present themselves, perhaps justifying years of disappointment with the thought that, “This time it may be different.”

Perhaps the fairly recent introduction of democratic elections is why those in Hong Kong have shown such ardent fervor in their rejection of the PRC’s position that they and they alone will determine for whom the people of Hong Kong should have the opportunity to vote.  The residents of Hong Kong realize that if they do not have the chance to elect people who share their personal and economic visions which have transformed this small island into a comparative paradise, they may lose what they have worked to achieve and their vision for an even better future will perish.  It is in free elections that they put their stock – even if cynics like myself – wonder if that is really the panacea which will deliver us from the bonds of turpitude and incompetence.

Returning to Ferguson, MO, the protests have been ongoing since Michael Brown’s death on August 9th.  Without trying to adjudicate this case as has been so completely done by the media, the primary cause which is advanced for these protests is that an unarmed black man was gunned down by a white police officer and was “executed.”  The underlying premise is that white policemen routinely feel it is within their purview to dispose of black males with impunity and that such acts are condoned generally by a racist society.

The predominantly black community of Ferguson has demanded that “justice be done,” which translates to “hang the white cop.”  But even though their approach to justice is not dissimilar from the mindset which motivated the Klan during its reign of terror, there is the undertow that even if Officer Wilson is put on trial, that trial is prejudiced to acquit him because justice for whites is far less just than it is for blacks, whites being generally acquitted because of their skin color and blacks being convicted because of theirs.

If we accept this view of the justice system, obviously there is little justice to be rendered for anyone whose skin color is black.  That leaves very few alternatives, one being either to move to another jurisdiction where justice is meted out more equitably; another country where justice is determined more fairly; or change those who are in control of the judicial system, replacing them with people who are more likely to treat everyone equally.  That can only come about through the ballot box – something that residents of Hong Kong seem to comprehend quite well.

Given the fact that most people don’t want to move unless they must, it seems natural that most people would gravitate to the third of the alternatives outlined above.  Yet in Ferguson, only eleven percent of the eligible electorate has even bothered to register to vote.  Several weeks ago there was a big news flash that the number of people in Ferguson who had registered, presumably because of the controversy generated by Michael Brown’s death, had swelled in number.  The Missouri Secretary of State later corrected that statement, citing the fact that they had looked at the wrong data base when they issued that announcement.  In fact, there were now still only 11.6% of the population in that city who had elected to exercise their right to the franchise.

If the citizens of Hong Kong are successful in their efforts to make their voices heard and have the opportunity freely to choose those who represent them, it will be to their credit.  And if the citizens of Ferguson continue to live under what they consider repressive and unfair conditions, they will have no one and nothing to blame but themselves and their own indifference.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

It was the year 1957 – 57 years ago.  The scene was Little Rock, Arkansas.  The governor of that state was Orval Faubus (D), a name that may be unfamiliar to younger readers.  The nine male white Justices of the Supreme Court had struck down desegregation in public schools in the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision.  The governor of Arkansas disagreed with that decision and militarized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent black students from attending Little Rock Central High School.

The nine black students who had enrolled in Little Rock Central High School initially were blocked from attending by the Guard.  The Mayor of Little Rock, Woodrow Wilson Mann appealed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) who intervened, sending in the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to escort and protect the students.  Eisenhower ultimately federalized the Arkansas National Guard, taking them out of the control of Governor Faubus.

Particularly during their first year attending Little Rock Central High, all of the students were subject to derision and abuse by their white counterparts.  One of them, Melba Patillo had acid thrown in her face and several white girls tried to light her hair on fire when she was in the rest room.  Others were spit on as they walked the school’s hallways.  That was the way it was in America in 1957 – at least in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The state of Arkansas elects its governor for a two year term.  Orval Faubus was elected to six successive terms by the citizens of that state.  Notwithstanding what transpired in Little Rock in 1957, Faubus won his final election as governor in 1964 and carried more than 81% of the black vote in that election.  What were the black voters of Arkansas thinking back then?  What are they thinking today?

There was something refreshing about Orval Faubus.  He made the list of the “Top Ten Most Influential Men in America” in 1958.  He was either loved or hated.  There was no parsing your position when it came to the governor.  You knew that Faubus was a strict segregationist.  He made no bones about his position and made no excuses for his beliefs.  Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, it was impossible to say that he was not honest.

I thought about Little Rock as events in Ferguson, MO are unfolding.  To say the least, the way in which the Ferguson PD has managed this has been far from perfect.  Suspicion has arisen because of the failure, until today, to release the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown.  The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon (D) took charge and by appointing the head of the Missouri State Police,  Captain Ron Johnson took a big step in the right direction.  Johnson is well-spoken and is a calming influence, helping to diffuse a situation that was at a boiling point and is now at a fast simmer.

The family made a statement and appealed to the community to keep calm, to continue to demonstrate but to do so in a peaceful manner.  That is admirable and is what should happen.  But in today’s release of the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, it was also revealed that Brown was caught on the Quick Trip video security camera, robbing the store.  His identity and participation in this theft has now been confirmed – as well his manhandling the short owner of the store who is dwarfed by this 6’ 4”, 292 pound “gentle giant” as he has been characterized.  And then the attorneys for the Brown family, headed by Benjamin Crump who represented the Trayvon Martin family, released the following statement:

Michael Brown’s family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piece mil (sic) information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight.

There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.

The prolonged release of the officer’s name and then the subsequent alleged information regarding a robbery is the reason why the family and the local community have such distrust for the local law enforcement agencies.

It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him.

The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention, from being focused on the autopsy, ballistics report and the trajectory of the bullets that caused Michael’s death and will demonstrate to the world this brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.

Benjamin L Crump, Esq.
Anthony D. Gray, Esq.
Daryl D. Parks, Esq.

If I hadn’t read the signatures at the end of this statement, I would have guessed that it had been written by Al Sharpton or one of the other race baiters who regularly stir the pot when these sorts of incidents occur.  And just for once, it would give all of us some real reason for outrage if the “victim” as Michael Brown may have been, did not engage in possibly illegal acts, such as the store robbery, which only muddy the waters on what happened.

I didn’t know the late Michael Brown.  Losing your life over fifty dollars worth of stolen cigars is mind numbing.  But I do know that good kids don’t steal from convenience stores.  And if there is one lesson to be learned, it is one that is generally ignored by our black citizens.

In 1964 when black Arkansas voters cast 81% of their ballots for the segregationist/racist Governor Orval Faubus, the overall unemployment rate in this country was 5.2% and for black workers was 6.1%.  Today the rate for black teenagers, kids like Michael Brown is nearly 25% – and black Americans voted for another Democrat, Barack Obama giving him 95% of their ballots.

It makes me long for the good old days.

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