Michael Brown Shooting

Some Thoughts on Ferguson, Newark, State Violence, Insurrections, and Democracy

Whither the Republic?

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Ferguson Police, Day 2 of Protests
Fox 2 Now

The situation in Ferguson, Missouri, isn't looking much better. On Saturday afternoon a cop who has not yet been identified shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old police say was walking in the street. Brown's body was left out in the open for hours—as a warning, some residents said. If it was meant to intimidate, it didn't work. The reaction from the community was immediate—impromptu protests that same afternoon included chants of "Kill the police."

By Sunday night, there were protests, followed by rioters, and the now standard set-piece, the militarized police. The same happened on Monday, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, when cops assaulted multiple journalists, arrested at least 16 people, including a St. Louis alderman covering the demonstrations on Twitter, clashed with protesters, and generally acted pretty close to the way an occupying force might when faced by indigenous resistance. Were people shooting at cops?  It didn't look like it. Protests were largely peaceful. The police were not. On Wednesday night, Missouri's Democrat governor, Jay Nixon released a statement "urging" law enforcement to respect the rights of residents in Ferguson. He excused police actions this week as in the interests of "protecting the public." The limp statement was excoriated by activists following events in Ferguson, and rightly so. How could a governor merely urge? But could the governor order cops in Ferguson to stand down?  Would he send in the National Guard instead?

The National Guard was used throughout the 1960s and '70s to respond to anti-war protests (as at Kent State in Ohio) and "race riots" that broke out across the United States. I was raised and lived most of my life in Newark, so was exposed to a lot of the history of the 1967 "insurrection," Newark's riots. For an aborted project in college in the early 2000s, I interviewed several politicians involved in some way in the riots, including then-mayor Sharpe James, his predecessor, Newark's first black mayor Ken Gibson, and State Sen. Ronald Rice.  The Newark riots started over (wrong but believable) reports that cops had beaten a taxi driver to death for improperly passing them. Issues like police brutality and redlining were underlying causes, even as Newark was one of the first cities to hire black officers. After the first day of protest, New Jersey's governor, Democrat Richard Hughes, sent in the National Guard, which instigated more protests and riots after introducing more violence to the situation.

Rice told me he had just returned from a deployment in Vietnam at the time, and said it was a bizarre feeling to come home from a war zone, to what looked more like a war zone than what he saw in the war zone. The riots ended after six days and in the next municipal elections, in 1970, Gibson was elected mayor of Newark. He was defeated by James in 1986, and was convicted of tax evasion in 2007 after earlier being indicted for bribery (those charges were dropped). James, too, was convicted, on federal fraud charges, in the same year. He was prosecuted by Chris Christie, now New Jersey's Republican governor. Gibson's predecessor, Newark's last white mayor, Hugh Addonizio, had also been convicted on corruption charges after leaving office.

Over the last decade, Newark has suffered through some pretty high homicide numbers. In the summer of 2009, Ras Baraka, then a councilman, began a series of "Anti-Violence Rallies," which went on pretty much every week for more than four years. I attended a few of these, about three years ago. The main topic at the rallies was usually how to combat street violence, and the murders, which often involved bystanders as victims. A recurring theme was treating the violence as a "public health" crisis. Another was to bring in the National Guard to patrol the streets. No one mentioned solutions like legalizing drugs. At an unrelated community meeting once, I did hear a firefighter, who later ran unsuccessfully for city council, advocate firearms training in schools and firearms ownership in the community to combat crime.

Instead Newark has been an innovator of sorts when it comes to how many agencies police it. Its last mayor, Cory Booker, was a big proponent of working with "federal and state law enforcement partners," as countless press releases called the alphabet soup of police forces operating in the city. The new mayor, none other than Ras Baraka, while he was perceived when he ran for the office as an anti-charter school candidate, has made his first priority, unsurprisingly, combatting street violence (or, you could say, fighting the war on drugs). He's posted pictures of himself on Facebook tagging along on raids in some of the worse neighborhoods in Newark. While Baraka has been there when his allies suggested the National Guard be brought into Newark, his father, the beat poet Amiri Baraka, was one of the voices of the 1967 protesters. Forty-five years later, had the National Guard come to Newark it would have been welcomed, at least by Newark's political class, of which the Barakas had undoubtedly become part.

In the meantime, Newark's police department hasn't seemed to improve all that much since the '60s, when a white political class used it to dominate the black population. In fact, after a three year investigation the Newark Police Department was placed under federal oversight by the Department of Justice. A former Internal Affairs chief is being investigated for corruption, something I reached out to Booker's office about in April but received no answer. Only three complaints were sustained in the non-consecutive two year period the former chief had been in charge of IA. An American Civil Liberties Union report on the Newark police in 2010 alleged widespread misconduct by Newark cops, and sparked the federal investigation and eventual oversight.

Newark didn't have a Michael Brown, and it's hard to tell what turns a sadly routine incident of police violence into a national story. For example, and there are many, the day before TMZ Sports reported on some racist comments then Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made to his mistress in a taped conversation, plainclothes cops in Philadelphia shot and critically injured Phillip Holland, a pizza delivery guy who fled when he thought he was being robbed, as pizza delivery guys sometimes are by armed men in Philadelphia. I live in Philly now. The story made the front page here, but I heard of no protests, peaceful or otherwise. His story receded into the background, just another in a long line of incidents of brutality by Philly police. Fighting crime is the mantra used to excuse all manner of behavior by police in Philadelphia, and around the country.

And what do we do? Residents of Ferguson protested. Some rioted. Four days after one of their sons was killed in broad daylight, they don't know the name of the alleged killer. The prosecutor says it's going to be some time before there are any findings. These residents know that if one of them had killed Michael Brown in broad daylight, they'd likely be in jail already. If they had killed a cop in broad daylight, they'd likely be dead already.  And the mayor of Ferguson? James Knowles, a Republican, urged residents to calm down. To an extent, his hands are tied. Ferguson's police contract likely requires Michael Brown's killer to be treated the way he has been treated.

Cops insist the officer's life would be threatened if his name were released. The police claim Brown had an altercation with the officer, leaving him with a swollen cheek. It's hard to argue the unnamed officer isn't getting special treatment. When police didn't arrest George Zimmerman, several days of protest and national attention got police to arrest him. His identity was never kept a secret. Eventually he was acquitted, suggesting police might have made the right call initially, or at least sincerely thought they had. Nevertheless, they reversed it when pressured. In Ferguson, the pressure seems higher, the necessity of an arrest clearer. Arresting Michael Brown's alleged killer, even if he remained on paid administrative leave, would likely defuse the situation in a way police aggression toward protesters and journalists certainly never will, and would make more transparent the legal process the officer will go through.

In Newark, residents called the 1967 riots an insurrection. The police were not nearly as militarized back then. Today, what's happening in Ferguson certainly looks like a counter-insurgency. If cops keep it up long enough, some residents might respond with an insurgency. Around the world, insurgencies are fueled by unemployed young men with few prospects. It's the way things like this tend to work, actions and reactions, supply meeting demand, in this case residents filling roles cops seem to be waiting to have filled. And if Nixon could order local cops to stand down, would he feel compelled for the sake of "law and order" to send in his own National Guard? I saw a talking point emerge from the left on Twitter last night, that Ferguson is what happens when there's too much local control. Would the National Guard be better? Would the army?

Michael Brown's deadly encounter with police started over something stupid, allegedly walking in the street. Just as Eric Garner's, over the alleged sale of untaxed cigarettes, and many others' did. A few weeks ago New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio insisted the "law's the law" and that cops would keep enforcing minor rules even as the claims of brutality piled up. That's what democracy is all about, Bill Bratton, his police commissioner, said. Rev. Al Sharpton, who cut his teeth protesting in New York City in the 1980s and '90s, enjoys a close relationship with Bill De Blasio. He may have protested Eric Garner's death. I didn't read about it. He's in Ferguson now, which has its own activists from its own communities.

And now America has its "conversations," about militarized police, about racism, about violence and crime, about empathy, about remaining calm, and so on and so on. And demilitarizing the police ought to be a top priority, and combating racist police attitudes is a start, but so long as America's various polities pass laws that demand cops police what used to be understood as harmless (selling loosies) or at-your-own-risk (walking in the street) behavior, these encounters will continue, especially among poor and marginalized communities, whom these laws tend to effect most and in whose communities they tend to be more strictly enforced. De Blasio, Baraka, Knowles, these were all democratically-elected leaders. The laws their cops enforce are largely ones produced by the democratic process. Whether they look like it or not, cops will be an occupying force seeking compliance from local residents on behalf of democratically elected central authorities. 

In this Bratton was right, it's what having a democracy, and not a republic, is all about.

NEXT: Federal Debt Still Completely Out of Control

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  1. There you libertarians go again, being silent on the issue.

  2. To be fair, the libertarians are being silent; the libertarians in their heads that the proglodytes are always writing about.

  3. Are libertarians clamoring for more government and more laws? No? Well then. They might as well be silent then, because the only way to fix bad government is with more government. I mean, when people abuse power the solution is to give them more power. Eventually they’ll have enough power to stop abusing it.

    1. Sadly that is what counts as intellectual thought on the left. While the right will largely continue to suck blue dick and live in denial until they line them up against the wall.

      1. Burn that Right straw man! Burn!

        1. Why don’t you provide a cogent counterpoint.

          1. To be fair, it’s difficult to provide a cogent counterpoint to such an overgeneralized statement supported only by a profane reference to a certain sexual practice.

            1. What do you have against blow jobs?

              1. Nothing at all, nice to get one now and then. I just don’t see metaphorical fellatio as a valid argument that a certain ill-defined group of people all support brutal police practices.

                1. I didn’t say all I said largely. But your right I was vague, maybe a poll would be in order?

                  1. Start with a clear definition of who makes up “the right”, then take a poll.

                    I would be very interested in the definition.

    2. Eventually they’ll have enough power to stop abusing it.

      Of course. When you give the government unlimited power, then by definition anything they choose to do with that power is not an abuse of power. Because their power is unlimited.

      1. I think you have hit oil with that. Every time there is an abuse of power it is followed by an increase in power, so that all previous aduses can retroactively fall within the scope of that power. And so goes the tireless march towards tyranny.

  4. demilitarizing the police ought to be a top priority, and combating racist police attitudes is a start, but so long as America’s various polities pass laws that demand cops police what used to be understood as harmless (selling loosies) or at-your-own-risk (walking in the street) behavior, these encounters will continue, especially among poor and marginalized communities, whom these laws tend to effect and in whose communities they tend to be more strictly enforced.

    The problem is the left don’t see the correlation and want to paint this as an indictment of our “racist society” as a whole. While the right are still largely defending the police state because, while it was happening before, they are directly responsible for super-sizing with the irrational policies passed due to the war on terror .

    1. Absolutely. It’s tragic.

    2. Who is defending the police state? The FB posts I see denouncing police brutality are from the right.

      1. go to any right wing blog and read the comments.

        1. This is a right wing blog!

          1. touche.

    3. What the actual fuck does “the left” have to do with anything here?

      You people are incorrigible.

      1. What do you mean “you people”?

        1. He’s bigoted against cis-gendered heteros. Obviously.

          1. i’m not offended that he wanted to other me for my cis-hood, but irritated he assumed it. When will have equality in this sexist nation?

      2. I think the argument is, “The Left continually advocates for more laws, and more law enforcement. This incident was the result of a government law enforcer, enforcing a needless law.”

        So, when the Left gets a result they don’t like (a dead black kid), they don’t blame the continual advocacy for more laws and law enforcement; instead, they blame “Society” for being racist.

        But yes, I don’t think it’s just the Left. The Right is just as complicit in clamoring for more laws and law enforcement.

        Libertarians would argue that reducing laws and law enforcement would reduce the amount of incidents like this one.

        1. The left continually advocates for more law enforcement? Do what?

          Let’s get one thing straight: the right’s entire purpose, domestically speaking, is to increase law enforcement, and my law enforcement I mean keeping black people out of their neighborhoods. This is a thing the left has been agitating against forever.

          You’re confusing the left’s support of having a government with supporting everything governments always do. Which is headache-inducingly typical.

          1. The Left certainly loves to criminalize all manner of peaceful behavior.

              1. The Federal regulatory code is approaching 80,000 pages, as is the tax code. The Federal Criminal Code is so vast that several government efforts to quantify it have failed.

                So there’s plenty to choose from there, but let’s start with an easy one: offering somebody a ride to the airport in exchange for money.

                1. I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm.

                  1. Where “harm” is defined broadly enough to include all manner of voluntary exchanges.

                    1. Where “harm” is defined broadly enough to include all manner of voluntary exchanges.

                      Exactly. To him “harm” means expelling CO2 into the atmosphere. So using electricity from a coal burning power plant qualifies as criminal behavior. By doing so you’re killing the planet and deserve to be shot on the spot.

                    2. Offering somebody a job under terms that politicians don’t agree to is harming them too.

                    3. ^This, scarasmic’s comment.

                      Tony’s definition of ‘risk for harm’ is so broad that it can encompass pretty much anything, even not purchasing a specific product (health insurance), opening a business that competes with someone else, or not joining a union (you’re harming them by not supporting them).

                      Ultimately it’s completely arbitrary though. Progressives will always confabulate some “nuanced” rationalization for why activities they don’t like should be criminalized and activities they like made mandatory. It’s just will to power covered by a thin veneer of self-delusion.

                    4. Progressives will always confabulate some “nuanced” rationalization for why activities they don’t like should be criminalized and activities they like made mandatory.

                      That’s why Tony insists that we want government that we like and don’t want government that we don’t like. He assumes it’s all arbitrarily based on like and dislike because he is incapable of abstract thought and understanding principles.

                  2. I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm.

                    That’s commendable. But remember, all laws are ultimately enforced by state agents with guns. So, a law which perhaps seems innocuous to you (wheelchair ramp access, forced wedding cakes for gays), still has the implicit threat of State violence.

                  3. “I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm.”

                    Bullshit.

                    1. “I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm.”

                      What, like starting tomorrow?

                  4. “I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm.”

                    Which, with a very low tolerance for risk and a very broad definition of harm (which includes not only actual losses and injuries, but also providing fewer benefits than a leftist feels is proper), includes potentially anything and everything. So.

              2. Engaging in commerce without asking permission and obeying orders.

              3. Smoking weed.

                Idling your car too long.

                Hiring people at market wages (this was actually intended as an anti-black migration measure during the reign of that asshole FDR now it’s an anti-woman thing).

                Starting a business.

                Declining to have a bank account.

                Owning a gun.

                Allowing your children to play outside.

                Leaving the U.S. and renouncing your citizenship.

                That’s right off the top of my head, Tonykins.

              4. Religious beliefs that conflict with their agenda, foods we eat that they don’t approve of, consensual market transactions, free speech that doesn’t fit within narrowly defined boundaries of acceptability, gun ownership, parenting choices that don’t fall within a narrow range of state-endorsed options, and politically opposing your empty suit in the White House.

                You really are a stupid cunt.

          2. You’re confusing the left’s support of having a government with supporting everything governments always do. Which is headache-inducingly typical.

            And you’re confusing libertarian efforts to reduce the scope of government with supporting violent anarchy. Which is headache-inducingly typical.

            1. Well, yeah. If you don’t want something to be done by government, then you don’t want it to be done at all. And if you don’t want government to do something, then you don’t want government to do anything. That’s why libertarians are anarchists.

          3. Technically, what’s really the difference between wanting to fuck with someone restaurant for not installing a handicapped ramp and fucking with someone walking down the street for not being on the sidewalk?

            Other than the left’s relative level of sympathy for (a) cops, (b) disabled people, (c) business owners, and (d) unarmed black youths?

            1. It would be a nuanced weighing of aspects of liberty and safety. Too complicated for people who insist on society being run by slogans.

              1. Which is exactly what the Ferguson PD would say.

              2. You’ve got the straw man on the ropes! Give it a left! Give it another left!

              3. I mean, you just said “I don’t support criminalizing behavior that does not put people at risk for harm”. Well, walking in the street does put people at risk for harm.

              4. Riiiiiiiight. If by ‘nuanced’ you mean ‘whatever the Left thinks is right’.

                When happens when someone else doesn’t think that the ‘nuanced’ judgement is correct?

                Democracy is about obeying the authorities and doing what they tell you?

            2. To be fair, it annoys the fuck out of me when people saunter down the middle of the street in my neighborhood and look at me in my car like I’m putting them out. Seriously, I’m talking about people walking down one-lane streets next to empty sidewalks at the speed of smell who make it a point to not move until the very last minute. I think it’s an “urban” thing.

              1. I hate that shit, too. But I don’t think it’s an urban thing. I’ve seen small town hicks do it plenty. It’s an ignorance-based entitlement thing.

          4. The left continually advocates for more law enforcement?

            I present to you, one Bill De Blasio

          5. Mayor Villaraigosa

            “We are still the most under-policed big city in the nation and we have got to keep it at 10,000 strong if we are going to continue to reduce crime,” Villaraigosa said. “Our crime rates are at levels not seen since the 1950s.

          6. The Mayors Daley

          7. someone has to enforce the laws. cops can’t choose to enforce stupid laws or not. they do what they’re told. De Blasio decides which laws should be enforced strictly (“quality of life” non-crimes) and which should be ignored (federal immigration laws). If you don’t understand the role political leaders who push activist govt play in what cops I don’t know what to tell you. Michael Brown wasn’t killed because he tried to enter a white neighborhood. He was killed because apparently in Ferguson walking in the street is something cops are told they should use force to stop.

        2. These police were doing exactly what the left has asked of them: using the coercive power of the state to control nonviolent behavior.

    4. Michael Brown wasn’t even selling loosies.

      He was just walking not on the sidewalk.

      This isn’t even an issue of police being asked to police stupid stih. This is an issue of a particular police officer taking itupon himself to be an asshole about trivial bullshit.

  5. I saw a talking point emerge from the left on Twitter last night, that Ferguson is what happens when there’s too much local control.

    Jesus christ. That is some premium derp. The Ferguson cops get their their wartoys from the feds. The Ferguson cops enforce the federal war on drugs, which is the exact reason for the warlike posture of American police departments. And if you think it’s hard to hold local cops accountable, just try holding the DEA accountable.

    1. They are willfully ignorant. How accountable is the CIA? They got caught spying on Congressional PCs of staffers who were working on an independent report on the CIA’s use of torture. Was anybody punished? Absoultely not. Instead, the CIA was given the black amrker to redact the report before it was released to the public.

    2. Also note their total disconnect: the way to combat local control isn’t by relinquishing control, but by asserting even greater federal control.

    3. “just try holding the DEA accountable”

      or FBI assassins hostage rescue team snipers, BATF murderers agents, or NSA snoops patriots.

  6. This could be ended quickly and peacefully if they would take the shooting officer into custody and have an open trial. If he has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t mind going to court right? Televise every minute so the public can see the evidence. But hey, we could just burn the town down instead. More fun.

    1. Who’s going to arrest him, the tin soldiers in military surplus battle-gear forming lines against clots of unarmed protesters? The mayor? The DA? How many divisions have they got?

      1. Well if he wants to be reelected, the mayor should direct the DA to issue a warrant.

    2. Has Krugman stepped up and explained how this was going to be a huge boon for the St. Louis area economy?

      1. The aliens haven’t arrived yet

  7. Its last mayor, Cory Booker, was a big proponent of working with “federal and state law enforcement partners,” as countless press releases called the alphabet soup of police forces operating in the city.

    It’s interesting the different types of leadership you see. Here is a man apparently willing to cede a significant level of autonomy/control in exchange for… what? Stability? Lack of local accountability? Political networking? Is it ideology or circumstance that leads to inviting the feds in?

    1. Safety. And to be fair to Cory, that’s why voters elected him. I keep stressing this point. The same populations most likely to be victimized by police are often among the loudest advocates for more police presence in their communities. I know that about Newark first hand.

      1. People like to see action in reaction to problems. They see crime and violence, so more police action is needed. It’s understandable, but still sad. People are also bad at seeing the big picture and the “unintended” consequences of various policies. They see crime and know that police deal with crime, but fail to look at the policies that create the situations that make some cities so poor and crime-ridden.

      2. What’s the overlap between those who demand and vote for safety and those who then refuse to snitch on criminals in their neighborhood?

        1. Pretty low actually. But the people who demand safety stay home so they don’t see anything. I was going to include a passage in this column about how “no snitching” has been perverted from meaning you police your own to ignoring crimes in your neighborhood, but this was already on the long and free-form end. Maybe later.

    2. Maybe cover. Since he has no control over the DEA when they burn down a crack house with children inside, Booker can say that is not his fault. However when crime drops he can say his partnership with the Feds is the reason and take credit. You see, you need to think like an opportunistic bacteria if you want to understand politicians.

  8. I saw a talking point emerge from the left on Twitter last night, that Ferguson is what happens when there’s too much local control. Would the National Guard be better? Would the army?

    Wrong. No. Fuck no!

    1. Reform never means scaling back bad policies or deescalating the war-footing. Reform means inaugurating new bureaucracies with reams of paperwork and biweekly committees and budgets and legislative propositions for every new ballot.

      1. And every new bureaucracy gets it’s own armed enforcement division. Yay!

        1. With its own union!

  9. “I saw a talking point emerge from the left on Twitter last night, that Ferguson is what happens when there’s too much local control.”

    Because all of that military equipment was paid for by the town of Ferguson and surrounding municipalities. And the benefits police departments receive from enforcing statist drug laws are entirely driven by the local government.

  10. On Saturday afternoon a cop who has not been identified shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old police say was walking in the street.

    Good shoot.

    MOVE ALONG

    MOVE ALONG

    1. It’s entirely possible that the initial shot fired while Brown was actually physically fighting with the cop (as corroborated by witnesses at the scene) was a legitimate shot.

      It was after Brown was fleeing, then turned around to face the cop and put his arms in the air in submission and the cop continued to shoot him that it became murder.

      Yes. It’s yet another example of police excessive force that should indeed be tried in a court of law and protested by the citizens. But forgive me for criticizing the fact that anyone who fights with someone that can murder you and get a paid vacation for it is a fucking idiot.

      Is it not possible for both narratives to hold true here? Police are savages and low-income predominantly minority communities are rife with dysfunction and know not how to interact with the bullies in a way that mitigates their potential for being the next victim?

      1. It’s entirely possible that the initial shot fired while Brown was actually physically fighting with the cop (as corroborated by witnesses at the scene) was a legitimate shot.

        His friend who was with him, and part of whose account is corroborated by other witnesses, tells a different story. About being stopped for Walking While Black, about a cop who pulled up right next to them and threw open his door to have it bounce off of them, and who subsequently assaulted them (again).

        Plausible, to say the least.

        1. Well, it’s a stretch to say that the Dorin Johnson is a disinterested party in this whole dispute. Sure the account is plausible, but as are the other accounts the indicate that Brown did in fact tussle with the cop.

          I’m not saying that the cop that interrogated them did so for any valid cause (although it’d be helpful to know what CPBs were issued around the time). But I’m gonna try to have some nuance here.

          We libertarians are rightly critical of police actions, the criminalization of fucking everything, and the militarization of police forces. And we should remain so. And while we should demand that police be held to a standard at least on par with civilians, we should also demand that they receive due process rights that are not subject to the whimsy of mobs.

          1. The police are not disinterested parties either.

            1. Indeed they are not, nor do I suggest they are. I suspect, as is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the ether between the camps.

            2. There are no disinterested parties in this incident anymore.

          2. It sounds to me as if the “tussle” started with the cop opening his door and slamming it against Brown’s body, then interpreting that as Brown “pushing back” and “resisting”.

            So even if these was some sort of “tussle”, the cop initiated it.

          3. We all know how useless eyewitness testimony is.

            The fact is the police shot at a person with his hands up. At that point whatever happened just prior is a lot less relevant.

      2. But forgive me for criticizing the fact that anyone who fights with someone that can murder you and get a paid vacation for it is a fucking idiot.

        *checks criminal code*

        Nope, no death penalty listed for the “crime” of “idiocy”

        It may be stupid to resist a police officer, but it’s also a completely natural reaction to someone trying to unjustly restrain you. That’s why police are supposed to have training, not just waste every alleged perpetrator.

        1. Because I completely and categorically excused the use of lethal force in the situation right?

          I’m not suggesting that Brown “got what he deserved” or anything of the sort. In fact, I’m saying the very reality that that man can murder you in broad daylight and likely get away with it is evidence that one should maybe buck the primate reaction of fight or flight and learn how to fucking navigate the monstrosity that is the modern state.

          1. ” learn how to fucking navigate the monstrosity that is the modern state”

            In other words, become more passive, more submissive to authority. Must really irk you to see the people of Ferguson doing the opposite of what you advise.

            1. One doesn’t need to be bootlickingly deferential. One simply needs to educate themselves on their rights and be interact with authorities in a standoffish yet calm and professional demeanor. Think like those libertarians who post videos going through traffic stops asking a thousand times over “Am I being detained?” and forcing the cop to Mirandize and arrest of GTFO.

              1. “Am I being detained?”

                Some questions answer themselves. Especially if you have to ask 1000 times.

              2. You need to apply that standard to the police also.

          2. Let’s assume Brown should have been arrested and the police were trying to do so. But he was walking away.

            Is the proper response to put a round in him while he has his hands up? Sadly, too many police answer “yes”.

            Look, I see an armed guy and I’ll obey like any other coward. That may make me smarter about self-preservation than Brown, but my compliance doesn’t mean I’m justifying excessive force.

    2. Why do they say “good shoot” instead of “justified killing”; sugar coating?

      1. Because it’s obviously one of those rare times when the gun doesn’t discharge of its own accord

  11. Missouri’s Democrat governor, Jay Nixon … excused police actions this week as in the interests of “protecting the public.”

    Yeah, that’s it. Protecting the public is their number one priority.

    1. In a way it’s true, because the public they protect is everyone except you.

      The cops could mow down the protesters with machine guns and call it protecting the public, because the public is everyone except the protestors.

  12. Brown’s body was left out in the open for hours?as a warning, some residents said.

    This is just a bit of over the top paranoia. Never attribute malfeasance where incompetence can be easily cited. I’m sure the petty functionaries that deal with investigational cover-ups and bullet-riddled corpse removal were merely on their 4 hour union mandated break.

    1. Was the body covered? If not then it seems like a warning to the peasants.

      1. I don’t believe it was.

        1. It wasn’t. I ran the photo in our original blog post on the shooting, way back this weekend when we libertarians first started ignoring this case. Link: https://reason.com/blog/2014/08…..en-spark-a

          1. Disgusting. It should be a basic human instinct to have respect for the dead. Weren’t humans burying their dead with reverence like 10000 years ago?

            1. Even the Neanderthals buried their dead. The baboons, not so much.

            2. I believe there are also significant protocols on who is allowed to interact with the bodies of the deceased, even as far as putting a tarp over the corpse, especially for forensics in the investigation. The article linked by Ed seems to show an almost immediate community reaction where people were gatherin in large group and chanting things that might have made the scene unapproachable for those particular authorities.

              1. especially for forensics in the investigation.

                There’s an investigation?

                How exactly is evidence preserved, anyway, by being left uncovered, in the open, on a road? Is that really By The Book?

          2. Looks like a mob hit.

  13. The purpose of government, to this libertarian, is to protect our rights–from foreign threats by way of the military, from the police, from domestic threats like crimes and riots,…

    I don’t know about Newark in the ’60s, but I was in LA during the Rodney King riots. The rioters fired shots into the hospital where I worked. They burned the mall down the street.

    When the national guard came in, almost everyone was relieved. If Barack Obama were a competent president, this what he would do: 1) He would coordinate with the state and bring in the national guard. 2) He would go on national television with civil rights leaders from the community, and he would announce that the FBI was launching a full investigation into the local police department–and that if and when the investigation concluded that any police violated anyone’s civil rights, they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law in federal court.

    The libertarian justification for that is, again, if the government has any legitimate function at all, it’s to protect our rights. Local business owners need their rights protected from rioters. Local people need their rights protected from the police. That justifies using the national guard and the FBI–to protect people’s rights.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have a competent president. …or he’d have done this already.

    1. Apparently he’s the only black man in America more concerned with his 18 holes than the 18 holes in Michael Brown’s corpse.

      1. I don’t get it. A town is burning and he has no interest in helping, but some professor gets hassled and we need a beer summit. He really is a terrible leader.

        1. I guess his son wouldn’t have looked like Michael Brown.

        2. The professor was a prominent modern personality from Harvard. The dead kid is from a poor neighborhood. Also, this dead kid apparently would not look like Obama’s hypothetical son.

        3. Meh, I think he was still riding the wave of his popularity at that time. He’s at the point where he’s given up. I just don’t think he gives a shit about it anymore.

    2. Good post, Mr. Shultz. Thank you.

  14. The professor was a prominent modern personality from Harvard. The dead kid is from a poor neighborhood.

    Wait, what? I hope you’re not trying to insinuate some sort of class privilege bias on the part of the Hoper-in-Chief.

    Because I would be shocked; SHOCKED, I say, if that were true.

  15. During the Rodney king incident the police beat an unarmed man. When the police got off the people rioted and the cops did nothing they just cordinned off the riot area and let the people blow off steam. Everybody complained about the cops not doing anything. Now in Ferguson the cops again overreacted and the people are rioting so this time the cops are now out trying to stop them. What do you people want, I know if I had a business in that area I’d want the cops in whatever it takes to quell a riot. That being said if cops did not act like a bunch of special forces wannabes an quit treating everyone like an enemy insurgent then the riots might not, nay would not happen in the first place. So I’ve convinced myself this is entirely the police’s fault from begining to end.

    1. The police could end the riots right now by simply arresting the shitbag cop who started it.

      1. At which point they can only hold him for 48 hours before actually pressing charges. Investigations of this nature tend to take some time to sort through and find out what charges can legitimately be filed.

        1. Investigations of this nature tend to take some time to sort through and find out what charges can legitimately be filed how to justify the unjustifiable.

          ftfy

    2. What do you people want

      Better cops.

    3. The Rodney King riots didn’t stop because the LAPD cracked down hard on the rioters.

      If they had done so, that almost certainly would have made it worse.

      The Rodney King riots stopped because they brought in the national guard.

    4. The cops aren’t trying to stop the riot so much as they are counter-rioting.

      1. +1

        The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  16. Libertarians need to be introduced to the phenomenon known as an arms race. You support the nearly unchecked proliferation of guns in private hands. Some of you support it explicitly for the purpose of countering government abuse (though your more rightward friends probably don’t envision majority-black neighborhoods protecting themselves in their scenarios).

    I’m not saying cops are becoming armed with military hardware only because of the ubiquity of guns in society, but it’s something that should be so unsurprising and predictable that you might have considered it a necessary consequence of your crusade to arm everyone (for their safety!).

    1. I’m not saying cops are becoming armed with military hardware only because of the ubiquity of guns in society, but it’s something that should be so unsurprising and predictable that you might have considered it a necessary consequence of your crusade to arm everyone (for their safety!).

      This is absolute idiocy. People used to be allowed to own automatic weapons while cops still carried around revolvers, and gun ownership has always been widespread. The militarization of police coincides perfectly with the War On Drugs.

      1. I don’t even know what private gun ownership has to do with this situation.

        1. Your confusion is understandable, since has nothing to do with it.

          1. It would be a fantastic argument if the premise wasn’t completely backwards. Police typically carry a pistol, mostly semi-autos nowadays unless I’m mistaken, and typically have a shotgun in the trunk of the patrol car. They also have a Taser or stun-gun and handcuffs. Most importantly, they also have a uniform and badge that lets them walk down the middle of the street brandishing a weapon, stop someone, restrain them with handcuffs, throw them in a car, and drive off without anyone saying a word.

            Apparently Tony lives in a 2A paradise where everyone walks around openly carrying M4s and Glock 18s and drives tanks to work or something. Where I live, if I tried to walk down the street with a pistol on my hip I’d get three carloads of police on me within ten minutes, and I’d probably get shot for my trouble.

            But, yeah, I can totally see how the police would feel threatened. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I can’t wait until there are plasma rifles so the police can feel truly secure.

            Also, I’m going to pick up an FN Five-seven this winter as a personal Christmas present, and I’m going to name it “Tony”.

          2. “Your confusion is understandable, since it has nothing to do with it”

            Thank you.

        2. “I don’t even know what private gun ownership has to do with this situation.”

          Tony has been to one of his interweb handlers’ ‘sites this morning, and they didn’t want to let this crisis go to waste.

          That’s what it has to do with this situation.

        3. There’s a meme floating around comparing pictures of Ferguson, with heavily-armed police and unarmed civilians, with the protest at the Bundy ranch, where many protesters were openly carrying weapons – and law enforcement was not confrontational.

      2. This is absolute idiocy.

        This is all the response you need for ‘Tony’.

    2. Progs need to be introduced to the phenomenon known as an arms race. You support the nearly unchecked proliferation of military hardware in law enforcement agencies. Some of you support it explicitly for the purpose of countering Tea Party terrorists (though your more leftward friends probably don’t envision majority-white agencies deploying militarized police in poor black neighborhoods).

      1. You support the nearly unchecked proliferation of military hardware in law enforcement agencies.

        What the fuck are you talking about? You spend too much time listening to Fat Man Radio so you are physically incapable of not blaming something on liberals?

        In my ideal world cops would satisfy themselves with nightsticks. But that would be a world in which you don’t have to worry about everybody and their infant packing ordnance.

        1. True, leftists prefer punitive regulations and fines over night sticks and bullets.

          1. You prefer bullets?

            1. I prefer to avoid forcing people into obedience in the first place.

          2. And they’re perfectly happy to see those punitive regulations escalate to nightsticks and bullets.

            1. See, what part of “obey” don’t you understand? If you’d just obey, weapons would be obsolete.

          3. leftists prefer punitive regulations and fines over night sticks and bullets

            The long history of Democratic control in major US cities disagrees with you.

    3. So you’re worried about “a necessary consequence” to a certain policy? Amazing since you advocate an expansion of laws to include your special classes and pet purposes. “Useless laws weaken the necessary laws” Montesquieu. There are the “necessary consequences” you’re so uptight about.

    4. The reason the crips and bloods (and Mexican gangs) initially sought heavy arms was because Darryl Gates and his LAPD were the first to introduce SWAT and a militarized police force.

      Then they started using them on each other.

      The efforts of the U.S. drug war in Central and South America didn’t help either. Once the smugglers in places like Colombia armed themselves, it became easy for American gangs to get their hands on weapons–like getting their hands on cocaine.

      Same distribution channel!

      The same kind of thing happened in Iraq. We didn’t initially send APCs to Iraq because the place was full of IEDs. The Iraqis started using IEDs because the American government was using APCs.

      No matter what the mouthpieces for the government say, the escalation in hardware is usually in response to what the government does. …not the other way around.

      Wait, I’m responding to Tony? Never mind. Tony doesn’t care about the facts or arguments. He has a meme to share, and there are a lot of caucasians here, so he doesn’t care what we think or why. He’s just here to share his meme because he’s the Tony-bot, and that’s what he’s been programmed to do.

    5. Actually, militarization is a direct response to the drug war and nothing else. Private ownership of legal guns has nothing to do with it. It is not legal gun owners who have killed cops with automatic weapons. It is gang members, drug dealers and, more famously, bank robbers. Idiot.

      1. Actually, militarization is a direct response to the drug war and nothing else.

        Yep. But Tony feels that bitter clingers are the real threat. And because he arrived at that conclusion by emotion, it is impossible to reason him out of it.

    6. Or, you know, you could blame the federal policy that sends military weapons to cash-strapped local PDs and then tells them if they want to keep them they have to use them. but i guess that would damage the narrative that the only way to stop Ferguson is to have the feds in control of local policing. It’s as easily (if not more so) a “necessary consequence” of nanny state policies like the war on drugs, supported enthusiastically by the establishment right and left for 40+ years.

    7. That was terrible trolling Tony. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  17. Today, what’s happening in Ferguson certainly looks like a counter-insurgency. If cops keep it up long enough, some residents might respond with an insurgency.

    Great line. Should be the tag ling of the article, actually.
    And excellent article in general.

    IMO, the Mayor should demand the immediate resignation of the cheif of police and order an immediate investigation, followed by completely gutting and restructuring the leadership of the entire department. The top three teirs of the chain of command should be completely replaced, and a civilian task force put in place to de-militarize the department.

    1. Today, what’s happening in Ferguson certainly looks like a counter-insurgency. If cops keep it up long enough, some residents might respond with an insurgency.

      And while the incident that sparked it may be as sympathetic as the Tunisian kid that self-immolated to kick off the Arab Spring, many people viewing the disorder and selfish looting that’s occurring will react with about as much sympathy as the bestow upon ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood.

  18. Here’s a song for the Ferguson Police Department:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PScmRiaZhwk

    1. And just to clarify, I do not support anything that the Ferguson Police Department has done. I posted this song because I imagine the lyrics are something the cops in that town like to follow as common protocal

  19. I’m saying the very reality that that man can murder you in broad daylight and likely get away with it is evidence that one should maybe buck the primate reaction of fight or flight and learn how to fucking navigate the monstrosity that is the modern state.

    This may very well be true, but- old and decrepit as I am, I don’t think I could stop myself from reflexively countering if some asshole tried to grab or strike me, even if that asshole had a gun and badge.

    1. Been good to know ya, Brooksie.

    2. You idiot! Why can’t you just ignore your primal instincts in the midst of a heated situation?

    3. Cops are no doubt wont to escalate situations well beyond what they ought to. But their behaviors don’t occur in a vacuum. Sure, you may feel it is a violation of your liberty to even be questioned by one, and you can tactfully make that known. But if you’re a young male in a demographic responsible for a significant amount of crime and in an area with violent and property crime rates well above the national average, maybe not being an antogonistic douche, even if the cop himself is being one, will serve your most primal instinct of self-preservation best. I don’t doubt that the cop was the one that escalated it to physical confrontation, nor do excuse that. But maybe using this as a teachable moment for kids in these situations to learn some goddamn street smarts will save more lives than our pissing into the winds of the state.

      WHY AM I THE ONLY FUCKING PERSON HERE THAT CAN SIMULTANEOUSLY ENTERTAIN BOTH OF THESE THOUGHTS?!?! ARg.

      1. You’re acting like you’re the first person to think of this. WTF? There were millions like you saying the same thing in the 60’s.

        For fuck’s sake, ONE riot in the last couple years and you make it sound like the cities are filled with people aggressively defiant of the police. The fact that there WASN’T a riot over Kelly Thomas and the hundreds of other incidents chronicled this year pretty much tells me people are already doing exactly what you want them to do. For decades.

        And all it got them was a militarized police force.

      2. Really, Sunshine? You think you’ve got that much on everybody else in these forums?

        If it feels a little lonely at your bit of reasoning, it’s not because you got there before us; it’s because we left that behind awhile ago.

        No shit a young black man in a bad neighborhood should fear police brutality. No shit the smart move is to keep your head down and hope they don’t notice you. What new thing do you keep thinking you’re telling us? If you’re not implying that Michael Brown was culpable in his own murder–something I suspect based on your phrasing and word-choice–then what the fuck do you think people aren’t getting?

  20. I’m afraid that in this case, yes, either the National Guard or state troopers would be better. The local police have already been marked as enemy, while those from a distance aren’t likely to have a grudge themselves or one against them.

  21. WhitherWither the Republic?!

    FIFY. No wonder you guys are looking for a copy editor.

  22. Apologies for not knowing how to do links, but there are several reports that Gov Nixon is taking the county cops out of the equation altogether, and relying on state troopers and Feds. I’ve seen that linked to Bloomberg and at least a couple local news stations. It seems to be solid intel.

  23. I saw a talking point emerge from the left on Twitter last night, that Ferguson is what happens when there’s too much local control.

    What the fucking fuck?! These people really are retarded aren’t they.

    1. When asked, they replied that Kent State has a beautiful campus, though they were unsure of the relevance of the query.

  24. Some say the protests were peaceful, but the a reporter who was recently detained there said the town is “burning”.

    If you’re for cutting taxes, the likes of Joe Biden will insist that you’re against “funding for education, social safety net, fire fighters and police”. It’s like clockwork. And 90% of these rioters will eat it up.

    Black people are screwed the most by the government institutions (public schools, police) but will fight against any sort of meaningful reforms. Polls show that they like charter schools, but they’re still staunchly pro union.

    Of course, the left can’t afford to appear “anti police” so close to elections. Most of the police accused of wrongdoing are exonerated in court. The claim is either bogus or lacked evidence.

    Obama is treading lightly for a reason.

  25. I can remember 1968.

    I think either both “anti-war protests” and “race riots” should have quote marks, or neither should.

  26. One possible correction: The report that there were chants of ‘kill the police’ come from one source (an AP reporter), and nobody has stepped up to confirm it, and several other witnesses claim that the reporter was mistaken, conflating different chants.

    1. Maybe it was “The police kill”? but chanted round and round.

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