READER'S EDITORIAL: POLICE RESPONSE IN FERGUSON ROOTED IN SYSTEMIC VIOLENCE AND MILITARISM

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By Brian J. Trautman

August 25, 2014 (Ferguson, Missouri)--The police response to public protests in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the deadly August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, Jr., an unarmed eighteen-year-old black man killed by a white police officer, was a prime illustration of the hyper-aggressive nature of policing in America today. The residents of Ferguson fed up with hostile and abusive police behavior continue to flood the streets to demand justice for Mike Brown and other victims of police brutality. They have been joined in solidarity by people of conscience in other cities (e.g., Oakland, NYC). Their anger and frustration was exacerbated by the heavy-handed tactics used against the mostly peaceful protestors in Ferguson during the first week or so of the demonstrations – tear gas, rubber bullets, smoke, deafening sirens as well as assault rifles fixed on protestors were some of the violent methods employed by law enforcement. In addition, a mandatory curfew imposed by the Missouri governor, verbal threats of physical harm from police, and arrests of journalists, among other ill-advised and counterproductive reactions, only escalated the tensions between protestors and police.

The police action in Ferguson sparked a much-needed and long overdue national discussion about the rise of the police-industrial complex. One important outcome of this conversation has been an increased awareness among the American public of how local and state police became armed with equipment meant for war. The fact that government programs and funding provided police with military-grade weaponry and that these arms have been deployed against American citizens has provoked the ire of liberal and conservative lawmakers alike – a rare show of bipartisanship in today’s political climate. The national media has now joined independent media in shining a spotlight on the paramilitary structure of modern-day policing. However, even now, the vast majority of media and politicians continue to ignore the fundamental causes of the increasingly violent policies and procedures of law enforcement, as it would require critically questioning and challenging the systems and institutions that produce them.

To better understand, effectively reduce, and eventually prevent the underlying factors which led to the police slaying of Mike Brown and other unarmed citizens, we must openly debate two major forms of violence prevalent in the United States: systemic violence (aka structural violence) and militarism. Systemic violence is the type of violence that is deeply-embedded in a nation’s social, economic, educational, political, legal and environmental frameworks, and tends to be rooted in government policy. It is organized violence with an historical context, and often manifests in subtle but very specific and destructive ways. Examples include entrenched racism, classism and discrimination and economic inequality and relative poverty. Systemic violence paves the way for authoritarian and undemocratic values such as exploitation, marginalization and repression, especially of underrepresented, underprivileged populations. Militarism is the ideology that a nation must maintain a strong military capability and must use, or threaten to use, force to protect and advance national interests. America’s militaristic approach to overseas conflicts can be found in many aspects of its domestic policies. Systemic violence and militarism are interconnected and mutually dependent. They go hand in hand, building on and reinforcing each other. Both define and direct American policing, which regularly treats citizens like enemies of the state. We need not look further for an example than the military-style police assault in Ferguson.

Systemic violence and militarism are responsible for the flow of military grade equipment such as mine resistance vehicles and semi-automatic weapons to police departments across the country. In an op-ed I wrote last month entitled “Escalating Domestic Warfare,” I discussed a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the emergence of a militarist ethos in American policing. The ACLU’s research showed that the militarization of police has become excessive and lethal. For example, SWAT teams are being deployed primarily to serve search warrants in low-level drug cases, and these teams are using methods and equipment traditionally reserved for war to do so. The ACLU also found that police militarization increased substantially after each of three major national events: the initiation of the “War on Drugs,” the attacks of 9-11, and a series of Supreme Court decisions which have eroded the rights guaranteed in the Fourth Amendment. Over the past two decades, the violent crime rate in the United States has decreased sharply. The militarization of policing, then, is counter-intuitive. Historically, nations that have militarized their police have done so not because of violent crime but rather to rapidly quell potential mass civil uprisings against tyranny, oppression and injustice.

A statement released by Veterans for Peace (VFP), a global organization of military veterans and allies working to build a culture of peace, calls for justice for Mike Brown and his family through, in part, “a complete, swift and transparent investigation” into his death. VFP strongly condemns the use of violence – in any form – to secure justice. Instead, they implore protestors “to continue to channel their anger towards building power, solidarity and creating change nonviolently…” The organization expresses deep outrage for the state violence in Ferguson: “police over reaction to community expressions of grief and anger is the outcome of a national mindset that violence will solve any problem.” According to VFP, the military-industrial complex and a permanent war mentality are two major sources of this violence: “Thirteen years of war has militarized our whole society. We see equipment designed for the battlefield used in our nation’s streets against our citizens. We see police in uniforms and using weapons indistinguishable from the military.” This militaristic approach to domestic policing, says VFP, has resulted in tragedy on our streets: “Week after week we see reports of police abuse and killings of innocent and unarmed civilians.” Justice for the victims is often denied: “time and time again we see police given impunity for their crimes and citizens left in disbelief wondering where to turn next.” VFP reminds us of the repeated targeting of communities of color by police. The Ferguson protests are a natural reaction to this legacy of mistreatment and injustice. Police brutality against young black males, in particular, VFP argues, was a powder keg waiting to explode: “the unrest in Ferguson and similar incidents of citizen rebellions are the outcome of state abuse and neglect, not of hoodlums and opportunists. Eventually, any people who are held down will attempt to standup.” VFP’s statement also warns that militarism at home cannot be solved until we end our nation’s militarism abroad: “We cannot call for peace in the streets at home and at the same time conduct war for thirteen years in the streets of other nations.” America's violent system of policing and its antagonistic foreign policy are interrelated. Therefore, they must be addressed together before reforms can be effective and help to end our culture of violence.

Solutions-based approaches begin with local, state and federal legislators acknowledging that many current laws and policies create and fuel systemic violence and militarism. They must then find the wisdom and muster the courage to act to change or abandon those laws and policies. One strategy that our towns and cities can adopt to contribute to this process is nonviolent community policing. Retired police captain Charles L. Alphin, who served for over twenty-six years in the St. Louis City Police Department, offers suggestions for such a policing model in an article titled “Kingian Non-violence: A Practical Application in Policing.” Alphin believes Kingian nonviolence holds great potential for American policing. He gives examples of how this model of policing can work using Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence. Alphin contends, as Dr. King did, that how we approach policing cannot stand alone from teaching nonviolence in the school, home, streets and in every phase of life. Alphin also explains that he applied Kingian philosophy effectively in interrogation of criminal suspects and in the organization of communities to get at the root causes of violence and drugs, effectively empowering communities to identify and work on these problems at the grassroots level (note: this community-based solution to violence is a feature of the theory and practice of transformative justice). There is an urgent need for models of paramilitary policing to be replaced with models of nonviolent community policing. Freedom and democracy are at stake. So are the lives of our innocent citizens.

The killing of Mike Brown can be a pivotal moment for how we treat the systemic violence and militarism that produced the policing system of today. Ferguson has awakened many Americans to the realities of police militarism on their streets and to the urgent need to demilitarize the police. We cannot afford public apathy on this issue any longer. The people must insist on alternative models of policing that respect and protect civil and human rights. To reverse the trend of police violence in this country, we must work to eliminate the systemic and militaristic roots of this violence, remembering that military-style policing is inextricably linked to America’s belligerence abroad. No matter how you slice it, the weapons of war and other violent tactics used against Ferguson protestors will go down as a tragic chapter in American history. Still, robust and meaningful people-powered action for progressive social change can help make this chapter a turning point toward the positive transformation of policing in the United States. This action, change, and transformation are inevitable because justice demands it.

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Brian J. Trautman is an instructor of peace studies at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA, a peace activist with Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice, and an Army veteran. He is also a member of Veterans for Peace. On Twitter @BriTraut.  The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.  To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

 

 


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Police Brutality & Indifference -A Puzzle Piece is Missing

From Austria, Africa, Australia, Britain, China, India, the U.S., and the Catholic Church in all areas of the world, we are hearing the cries of women and children, black and white about the sexual violence they have suffered and the enduring lifelong problems such terrorism causes. Each person has an individual horror story. Amidst these disturbing developments of increasing institutionalized abuse of women and children, with Britain currently being rocked by the Rotherham cases of about 1,400 mainly white girls having been brutalized 100s of times, trafficked through English towns for years, beaten and passed from man to man with authorities turning their eyes away, we find in the U.S. a case of an Oklahoma policeman, 27 yr old Daniel Holtzclaw very recently charged with raping and sexually abusing eight and possibly more women who he allegedly threatened with arrest if they were not compliant. He has been charged with numerous obscene acts forced on African American women. In one case the victim told the police he broke into her home, kicked out her boyfriend and forced her into sex acts. The president of the NAACP of Oklahoma said the group will ask the U.S. Justice Department to review the case for possible hate crimes. Dennis Moore was aware of these allegations prior to my hearing about them. The long term effects of sexual viciousness and social indifference are reflected in the comments of Hannah, a girl victimized in Britain’s current enormous scandal. She says that the officer yawned during her interview and told her father that it happens all the time but no one ever gets prosecuted. The police made her feel like a criminal and social services did not care. Her case was thrown out. She further stated that it had been almost six years but it has affected her ability to have relationships since and that anything can trigger the memories even the smell of soap which one of her abusers washed in. Hannah’s story is told in her book, “Girl A: My Story” published by Ebury Press. I too have dealt with many of these deeply troubling problems based on firsthand experience in my book, “The Remembered Self”, soon available on Amazon. Sexual violence leads to a plethora of disabling conditions that take years to work out at a great cost to the survivor and to society. Every woman or child eventually pays the tab in some way. I say let the perpetrators share in this daunting and terrifying cost. The theft of a person’s future is a great crime personally and against society. I have shown in my book what happened and how I recovered. My hope is that it will help others to speak out. Silence is our greatest enemy and that is why the constant litany of perpetrators is “Don’t tell or I will” arrest you, kill your puppy, kill those you love, kill you…………………………….and on it goes. Take a stand and help stop it. Watch your children and know where they are. You can make a difference everyone in their own small way.

Death and Cigars in a deserttrek

Someone stole a box of cigars. We don't know who. There was never a trial. Coincidentally an 18 yr old black teenager was arrested and the officer did not know a crime had been committed, cigar stealing. The teenager was shot six times after putting his arms up to surrender. The young man was presumed guilty for something and tried, found guilty, and brutally shot, not once, or twice, or thrice, but six times. Was the policeman trying to down a charging elephant? How many bullets does it take to down one unarmed, surrendered person? Why was he given the death sentence? It looks to me like the charge was walking down the street while being black. It's always OK to shoot black people, put them in chokeholds, beat them, lynch them, refuse to give them their Constitutional rights after being arrested. Everyone gets away with it. Go ahead and vent your rage and indifference, they are all thugs. That's life in the desert, deserttrek. The problems of poverty, racism and violence in the black community are, of course, the residents fault. They like living on the reservation. They appreciate the redlining of their living areas so they cannot get to a grocery store selling fresh produce. They love fast food. That's all that's around there to eat. Who redlines areas of a town? The people in control politically. When someone owns the economics of a situation they own the people who live in it. When it becomes an act of God to be able to get a good education a person is stuck where they are. If you lived with your hands and feet bound economically, you might be furious like the demonstrators in Ferguson who currently have no say politically and no real voice in the police department deserttrek. People become angry when they feel hopeless because hope is a precious commodity. Hopeless people become desperate. Desperate people can become dangerous. The police force in the U.S. has become an agent to contain the energy of desperate people on behalf of people with resources that allow them to be free of such feelings. All communities need police forces that reflect the demographics of their charges. The military is the military, and the police are not the military. They should not dress for war. They should not shoot unarmed people. Why are these concepts difficult for persons in a country that values freedom above all to understand? A box of cigars, no matter who stole them, is not grounds for the death penalty, which is what this black teenager received. Wake up. Next time it could be you deserttrek who is lost in the desert of a police state. That behavior starts in one place and it spreads. And spreads.

Clinton on Ferguson: "We can do better"

While campaigning in San Francisco recently, Hillary Rodham Clinton, addressing events in Ferguson, Mo., for the first time, said Thursday that she was heartbroken by the shooting of Michael Brown and called for the country to address the racial inequalities that skew the criminal justice system. "We can do better," she said in lengthy remarks closing a speech at a technology conference in San Francisco. "We can't ignore the inequalities that persist in our justice system that undermine our most deeply held values of fairness and equality." She lauded President Obama for dispatching Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to Ferguson as part of "a thorough and speedy investigation." Clinton, the overwhelming front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, who had been criticized for failing to weigh in on events in Ferguson, had this to say: "Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers, instead of the other way around,:" She said. "If white offenders received prison sentences 10 times longer than black offenders for the same crime." She urged members of the audience to look around and, considering the high rate of incarceration for black males, imagine that one-third of those attending were locked away. "That is the reality," she said, "of so many of our fellow Americans and so many of the communities in which they live."

The Scent of Truth?

Hillary Rodham Clinton is sounding rather Presidential. Do I sniff the scent of authentic leadership blooming? She has done her research and presented facts that are not often addressed at her level of power. She appears to identify with the many incarcerated and disenfranchised voters and for that she should be applauded. It is follow up that counts. She has made an important start at the national level in supporting the President on Civil Rights issues. Ferguson is important not just to get voters only to forget them later, it is important for the future of the United States as a free world leader and example. When we try to help foreign populations plagued with unfair policies we seem like hypocrites when we don't clean house at home.

Ferguson reforms met with rancor

A proposal for greater citizen oversight of the Ferguson Police Department has been criticized as "weak" and "insulting" by police experts and St. Louis area officials who examined the plan Thursday, while others say it is a positive step forward that needs more work, according to a story by Matt Pearce in the Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2014. The Ferguson, Mo., City Council this week emerged from a month of quiet after the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown with a proposal to create a new citizens' review board for the town's predominately white police department, which has become reviled by Ferguson's predominately black residents, also according to the story by Matt Pearce in the LA Times. Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has become deeply involved with the demonstrations in Ferguson, described the proposal as "weak - to the point of being insulting."

Re:Dennis Moore's book review on "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle

Mrs. Clinton's comments as summarized by Dennis Moore reminded me of something in his review of "The New Jim Crow", by Michelle Alexander. He discussed the fact that Bill Clinton was not concerned that a mentally challenged man who wanted to save his dessert until after his execution was used to show that Clinton was not soft on crime. The chillingly self serving situation shows politicians at their worst, promising things during a campaign and promptly forgetting them after being elected. I call it politician's amnesia. Dennis Moore called it as he saw it. It is bits of information like that, which are not widely known, that are crucial in deciding who to vote for and in holding people in office responsible for their promises. These bits of information often say much about a person who has held office. I am glad that Mr. Moore keeps a sharp eye out for these things and makes them available to the rest of us. I am simply wondering if Mrs. Clinton will remember Ferguson if she is elected, or use it as a platform to get the African American vote, then things will remain as they are.

Remarkable because

Remarkable because college-bound thug Brown had just ten minutes earlier committed a strong-arm robbery. Remarkable because no one is denying that Brown, high and blocking traffic, walking down the middle of the street, caught the attention of officer Wilson, who intervened. Brown attacked and hit Wilson in the face--in itself another felony--and definitely not a good policy unless he wanted to get shot. No "spin" necessary to understand what seems to have been a relatively straight forward (yet rare) case--about 100 incidents a year--of a white cop shooting a black suspect. "Spin" is what we hear every time one these unfortunately events is held up as an example of the supposed endemic institutional racism of our society. And all the while in the background, the true epidemic of black-on-black violence goes on all around us, with nary so much as a word being mentioned.

It hasn't been proven he committed a robbery.

Someone on the video looked like him. Could be someone else. There is also a question over the circumstances of what occurred in the store, I've heard. But even if he was guilty cops are not supposed to kill people with their hands up who are not armed. And the cop didn't even know about the robbery at the time he stopped Brown.

Due Process!

The issue should not even be if it has been proven he committed a robbery, but was he given due process and was his civil rights violated? I believe that is what the Justice Department will be primarily looking into. The unarmed man was shot down in the street like an animal! Mind you, who was someone's child, that we have to assume, deeply loved him.

100 Rare incidents

I don't consider 100 incidents a year rare. What is unfortunate is that our country has a history of racial violence that continues. I refer you to "Without Sanctuary, Lynching Photography in America", edited by James Allen with a forward written by Congressman John Lewis. If you can keep your lunch down after looking at that not much affects you. The fact that there is black on black crime does not mean that police brutality against blacks should not be discussed and analyzed and investigated. The fact that violent responses by police, even short of death are common should disturb us all. Why does an incident have to end in death? I think it is a very legitimate question and not all the evidence is in. Does our country have to turn into a police state with draconian repression of the civil rights of all, white as well as black, before we keep our minds open enough to investigate and discuss issues? Why don't we just tear up the Constitution and let some totalitarian country write us a new one. When George Bush told Vladimir Putin that he could not run for office again, Putin said "why don't you just change the law?" Don't think it can't happen here. It can. Maybe it is.

I love it!

Everyone has all the answers even before all the questions are in. And, don't say it will not happen here. The rent a cops just beat up a kid of color on the trolly, in La Mesa! Who is John Galt?

Yes, it's a disturbing comparison.

Though to MTS's credit they have fired the two security offices involved in that incident. Imagine if Ferguson Police had taken immediate action to suspend or fire the officer who shot Brown, and asked for an independent investigation to determine if charges should be filed. Maybe riots would not have occurred. The cops there acted like they were confident he coudn't have done anything wrong, in an area where there have been many allegations of police brutality in the past but never a single case tried and convicted. MTS isn't lily white though....there are at least 3 prior allegations of excessive force against their officers and two of racial profiling. They say they will review and upgrade procedures, and they have denounced what their officers did. We'll see if things improve for trolley riders in the future.

Remarkable that something

Remarkable that something like this could be written, given what seems to be true about Brown and that circumstances of the case.

Michael Brown - Ferguson, Missouri

Craig S. Maxwell, what could possibly be remarkable that something like this could be written, given what you indicate seems to be true about Brown and the circumstances of the case? The circumstances of the case are that in Ferguson, Missouri, which has a 70% black population, with a white mayor, a white police chief, 3 black officers on a police force of 53, and 1 black member on a city council of 6, and then a white police officer kills and unarmed 18-year-old black male preparing to go to college. Mind you, I know something of the area, as you may know of the East County area, as I was born 150 miles south of Ferguson in the bootheel of Missouri, have friends in the St. Louis area, and actually used to live in St. Louis. You can twist this and spin this any way you want to, but nothing justifies this young black man being gunned down in the street like he was, and then left there for more than two hours. It absolutely would not have happened to a kid in La Mesa or Alpine, under similar conditions.

the circumstances are a

the circumstances are a person robbed a store and attacked the cop .... nobody forced him to steal a box of cigars, nobody forced him to assault the cop. as for laying in the street, that is normal while the investigation is being done, talk with any detective or person with experience. the poverty and racism and violence in the black community is the fault of the black community and the apologists for bad behavior. twist and spin and blame others, the young man killed himself.

Compelling eyewitness account with video of murder of Michael

Deserttrek and Mr. Maxwell, there is a very compelling eyewitness account and video of what transpired when the young unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot down by Darren Wilson, that I could send to you if you were interested. It shows Darren Wilson attempting to pull Michael Brown in the police car, and Brown breaks loose and starts running, then Wilson running after him and shooting. Then it shows Michael Brown turning around with his hands up in the air, and saying "don't shoot." Then it shows Darren Wilson shooting him in the eye, the arm, and the top of the head killing him. The video then shows Darren Wilson talking with another officer immediately afterwards as he walks around the dead body of the young 18-year-old black teenager. If you are interested I could send you the complete account of this. Perhaps then, you could identify the real "thug" in your thoughts and conversation. This is a young man basically begging for mercy! It really makes me wonder just what type of people the two of you are.

Militarism in cities like Ferguson, as opposed to La Mesa

Deserttrek and Mr. Maxwell, you seem to miss the overall thrust of the authors argument, the militarism of police forces in cities like Ferguson, as opposed to La Mesa or Alpine. Sure, the civil unrest came about as a result of an 18-year-old black man being shot and killed in a predominately black neighborhood by a predominately white police force. In this country everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Michael Brown was never given that presumption, and even you two, thousands of miles away from the scene, have branded him a "thug." You talk about fairness and objectivity! Do you rely on what you see and hear on TV to form your opinions, or are they rooted in some subliminal minimization of a people or culture? I know a lot about Ferguson, as I was actually born 150 miles south of there in the bootheel of Missouri, and have had many friends and acquaintances living and growing up in the area. I am in a much better position to define an characterize the people and events in that area. There is absolutely no justification for anyone, especially someone unarmed, to be shot at least 6 times while having their hands held in the air! The two of you would not like the city or town that you live in being occupied by a militaristic police force, which is primarily what this article is about. Your presumed leaders, Rand Paul and Congressman Duncan Hunter, have even come out against the type of tactics that have been displayed by the police and other law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri. 70 years ago in this area 150 miles south of Ferguson, that I indicated I was born in, another tragic case of police and law enforcement gone wild occurred, a young black man who was the victim of rumor and innuendo was dragged from the jail and burned to death. Again, with the support of the police and militarism of the force. One would think that we as a people have matured from that tragic event. Again, read the overall thrust of the author's reader's editorial before you start branding anyone a "thug."

Hunter speaks out on police militariztaion

Dennis - Thank you for bringing the perspective of someone who has actually lived near Ferguson. The story you describe of someone dragged from a jail and burned, the equivalent of a lynching or worse, is chilling. One point worth noting: While I haven't heard Rep. Hunter speak out on the actual shooting of Michael Brown by police, he HAS spoken out actually against the militarization of the police, as we reported here: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/hunter-speaks-out-militarization-police. I found this significant since Hunter is strongly pro military, but seems to feel that police forces should not be entrusted with the same level of militarized equipment as our armed forces due to the potential for abuse. Militarization of police is not what killed Brown, but IS a factor in the police crackdown on citizens protesting against the police actions later on, where we saw police in not only riot gear, but armored vehicles rolling down the streets of this small town.

FERGUSON CASE REOPENED WOUNDS

Miriam, I agree with you totally, that "Militarization of police is not what killed Brown, but IS a factor in the police crackdown on citizens protesting against the police actions later on, where we saw police in not only riot gear, but armored vehicles rolling down the streets of this small town." But there is a bigger picture that we all need to look at and consider, that is of history repeating itself. The shooting of two black men 14 years ago 2 miles from Ferguson helps explain the reaction of citizens which brought about the militarization of police in the community. Tyrus Murray was 13 years old when her father, Earl Murray, and his friend Ronald Beasley died in a hail of gunfire during a drug bust gone awry. Both men were black, and neither was armed. Their shooters were white law enforcement officers, and neither was indicted. That was 14 years ago, but the case and others like it help explain the anger in this St. Louis suburb (Florissant) and in neighboring Ferguson, where a white police officer's shooting of an unarmed black man this month fueled angry protests and demands that the officer, Darren Wilson, be charged in the death of Michael Brown, 18. "One other thread of similarity: The chief prosecutor then was Robert McCulloch, the same chief prosecutor now handling the Brown case." Tyrus Murray, whose unarmed father was killed by police in 2000, says of his slaying: "Whatever his record, nobody should be judge, jury and executioner." The same could possibly be said about Darren Wilson, the white police officer in Ferguson who shot Michael Brown at least 6 times before he died, with Brown's hands raised in submission or surrender. McCulloch began presenting evidence last Wednesday to a grand jury that will decide whether there is enough evidence to charge Wilson. McCulloch's father, Paul McCulloch, was a St. Louis police officer who was shot to death on duty in 1964, when McCulloch was 12. The assailant was black. McCulloch would later say of the two black men that were shot to death: "These guys were bums," McCulloch said a year after the shootings, alleging that Murray was desperate to flee police because he faced a lengthy prison term if convicted a third time on drug charges. Tyrus and Virgieann Murray still seethe at the memory of that comment. "How can we expect any justice when he's calling these people bums?" Virgieann Murray said.

True Dennis.

The federal government should look at police departments communities with a history of past civil rights violations just as they did with the voting rights act and imposed stricter requirements in communities with a history of voter intimidation and disenfranchisement such as the south with the Jim Crow laws. It's good that the Justice Dept. is conducting an independent investigation.

"St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch - Ferguson"

Again agreed Miriam, that it is good that the Justice Department is conducting an independent investigation. I would also prefer that the Justice Department be involved in a federal Grand Jury, as opposed to St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert Mcculloch leading the way, for those same reasons you mentioned, the past history of Robert McCulloch in similar matters involving the interests of blacks. Rufus J. Tate Jr., a former president of the Mound City Bar Assn. of African American lawyers, said McCulloch would try to bury the grand jury with evidence and witnesses to muddle their view of what happened and plant doubt in their minds, making an indictment unlikely. I am speaking from experience and familiarity, as I once lived near Mound City. Mr. Tate further stated: "This has nothing to do with whether 12 people can make a determination. This has everything to do with the way they're being fed information." As indicated earlier in regard to McCulloch, one black resident of the Ferguson area has already stated: "How can we expect any justice when he's calling these people bum?"