Burr Deming – Could be my Liberal evil twin or I’m Burr’s Conservative evil twin
John R. Houk
© August 25, 2014
From time to time Burr Deming sends me a post from his blog. This is a response to the email with link to his podcast and a link to the podcast transcript.
Burr I actually posted my own sentiments on the Ferguson-Wilson-Brown shooting incident prior to reading the transcript (“Ferguson – Lamestream Media, Race Baiters and a Closer Truth”). Sorry about that. I apologize because after listening to the podcast then reading the transcript, my post might sound like a response to your post. It was not a response, but I believe it could have been.
Below I am adding some comments by paragraph in blue to your 8/18/14 post. BTW Burr how do you do that robot voice? Does it sound like that on the radio as well?
By Burr Deming on Aug 18, 2014 |
When Scottie McCown died ten years ago, it did not cause a nationwide stir. Maryland paid little notice. There was not much attention paid in Baltimore, where Officer McCown had shot and permanently disabled a local teenager decades before.
The Baltimore protests in 1980 paralleled those we see today here in Missouri to one more deadly incident. Young black teenagers in America seem to continue as routine casualties. So it was in Baltimore three decades ago.
Riots had been massive in Miami at the acquittal of police officers who had beaten to death a motorcyclist after an eight minute chase. The cyclist was driving on a suspended license and likely had been trying to escape a fine.
I was living in the Baltimore area at the time. Like most area residents, I paid little attention to details. A 17 year old black kid had gone into a sub shop with a friend. He was unarmed. As he stood before the counter, he was shot in the back three times by a Baltimore city police detective.
There were raucous press events. Non-violent protests provided an outlet for rage. Baltimore authorities were mindful of the violence in Miami. They wanted to avoid similar racial conflict in Baltimore. A brief hearing was held. Officer McCown was fired, later sued for a million dollars by the young man and his parents.
Civil hearings quoted the conclusions of the lightning fast police review hearing. The officer had options:
He did not "identify himself as a Police Officer to the owner or employee of the Pizza shop and request they telephone for a back-up unit" or "accost the suspects, identify himself as a Police Officer, and conduct a stop and frisk." Finally, "there existed insufficient facts and circumstances to warrant reasonable belief of imminent danger to himself."
The difference McCown shooting of 17 year old Ja-Wan McGee and Darren Wilson shooting 18 year Michael Brown is that Wilson was clearly a police officer exiting his squad car because Michael Brown with his imposing size was belligerently walking down the middle of the street in defiance of city ordinance and Officer Wilson enforcing the rule of law by telling a the big man to go to the curb. It is my understanding that although Wilson was alerted a small time yet strong-armed robbery took place but at the time of telling Brown to get to the curb had no idea he was connected to the robbery. However I am certain I can surmise that Brown figured he was being accosted by the local police for stealing a box of cigars without paying.
Because of the Ferguson Police Department reputation for stepping over the line of law enforcement with Ferguson Black citizens, it is probably an assumption of Brown himself would be arrested and roughed up in the privacy of the police station. And since Brown was six-foot four-inches tall with the imposing presence of a football Defensive End, felt he could take on Officer Wilson before other Ferguson police officers came to assist in an arrest.
This is me not believing Black Community eyewitnesses and believing what has become public knowledge of the entrance wounds being the front part of Brown’s body. Ergo when Wilson proceeded to place Brown in the squad car to execute the standard procedure of checking on wants and warrants, Brown went to action. He grabbed Officer Wilson and pulled inside the squad car and began thrashing the officer’s head with his probable size comparable fists. Whether Wilson’s eye socket was actually broken or not is irrelevant, after the shooting Wilson went to the hospital for x-rays to see how bad the damage was to his face. This is indication that Wilson was pummeled enough that when Wilson broke free from the punishing grasp of Brown he had pulled Department weapon as much as for an enforcer as for self-protection. Rather than standing down Brown of his own free will charged Officer Wilson. Now I’m not a trained police officer, but if I was in a situation in which I escaped a pummeling and had a gun at my grasp, I would fire a barrage of bullets myself. Wilson’s mistake as a trained officer is that six bullets just might have been overkill.
I was not there though. Ferguson Police and perhaps even Officer Wilson had been involved in probable civil rights violations against the Black Community. Perhaps the first shot did not stop the Brown charge. So Wilson let fly five more rounds to make sure the youthful giant’s charging progress definitely ended. Perhaps a definite disabling of a huge male charge would make a probable hostile Black crowd think twice before engaging in mob action against Wilson and oncoming police officers. If the latter is true it would be the fault of the abuse of the Ferguson Police Department and a good reason for a civil suit as in class action rather than just Brown family vs. City of Ferguson.
Mitigating details were unimportant at the time. Nobody, myself included, had time for mitigation. An unarmed kid would never walk again. What could justify that?
A decade later, author David Simon briefly reviewed the case.
In the area of Erdman Street where the shooting occurred, robberies had been committed in which a small chrome pistol had been used. The detective had noticed a couple of young men in a familiar pattern, looking through the storefront window. The pattern was repeated several times. Were they casing the place? Only when most customers had left did they enter.
I think the situation in Ferguson was more of racial hostility than the prevention of a repeat crime that included a weapon. Again this is the fault of the governing structure of the city of Ferguson that encourage White favoritism and Black criminal profiling beyond the scope of the majority Black Community.
Detective McCown readied his own revolver, just in case. As one of the young men suddenly faced the shop owner, McCown saw the metallic flash. The shop owner had not yet noticed the mortal danger facing him. The detective fired three times, screamed at the accomplice to stand still, and yelled at the shop owner to call police emergency.
McCown was not a uniformed Officer. I understand he was a plainclothes Detective. I suspect a police Detective has a higher standard of training and accountability than a uniform Officer. AND YET he shot his weapon first and then scrutinized the situation. Shooting the Black seventeen year old without actually seeing a weapon is quite inexcusable. When McCown saw the glint of a metallic flash he should have unholstered his weapon as a precaution due the crime spree in that area of Baltimore but before discharging his weapon it was McCown’s responsibility to actually observe a weapon. After seeing a metallic lighter McCown could have gone whoops, thought I saw a chrome gun like in the robbery down the street and then holster his weapon.
Then he saw the metallic flash had been from a lighter. There had been no robbery, no accomplice, no mortal danger.
Simon makes the case that we, members of the public, are trapped in a fictional world in which no bad shooting can happen at the hands of a good police officer. Ambiguity is seldom a reality after the fact. But a lack of certainty is a fact of life in each professional moment of a fallible human. What Simon calls "the myth of perfection" haunts every incident.
It doesn’t matter that a shouted warning concedes every advantage to the gunman, that death can come in the time it takes for a cop to identify himself or demand that a suspect relinquish a weapon. It doesn’t matter that in a confrontation of little more than a second or two, a cop is lucky if he can hit center mass from a distance of twenty feet, much less target extremities or shoot a weapon from a suspect’s hand. And it doesn’t matter whether a cop is an honorable man, whether he truly believes he is in danger, whether the shooting of a black suspect sickens him no less than if the man were white.
- David Simon, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, 1991
The young man in Baltimore did not deserve to be shot. He did not deserve a life of partial paralysis. The officer did not deserve the public censure that became a part of his life.
A few miles from my home here in Missouri, 34 years later, a new police shooting has aroused community anger. Local resident Michael Brown has been killed on a residential street in Ferguson. He had just graduated from High School.
Just because Brown graduated from High School recently doesn’t mean he was not a thug. The confirmed video of him strong-arming the theft of cigars from a convenience store proves this. Does the public just look the other way because a teen is a thieving bully just because he is still viewed by adults as a kid at eighteen? That is more evidence of Liberal permissiveness for poor misunderstood social circumstances rather than the enforcement of social mores to prevent the entrenchment of a peer pressure disrespect for society and adults in general.
The demands for justice, to the extent that the demands are specific to this case, are premature. Justice without process is not justice. Judgment that comes before evidence is not justice.
Like I said enforcing social mores will a long way toward crafting a better society. The problem in this day of a polarized political spectrum, who decides what a better society is?
My friend, liberal Michael J. Scott, is a former police officer. He makes a brief point: "... we don’t yet have the facts so I’m going to reserve judgement. [sic]"
This is an excellent point.
As those facts slowly dribble out, it has become difficult to compose a case that would justify the shooting. Was there an assault on the officer? Was Michael Brown sufficiently provoked by insult - Get the f*** out of the street - to react with violence? Did the young man decide that apprehension for an earlier forceful robbery was worth attacking a uniformed officer? Was there some other perceived threat?
Certainly this should not be socially unacceptable! However, it is symptomatic of both the liberalization of social mores, police unprofessionalism and abusing civil rights based on racist attitudes.
What is known so far obstructs the search for a reasonable explanation. The number of shots fired, the distances involved, the accounts of a young man with arms raised in surrender, all join to strain the imagination. The slow motion revelation of those details has not helped. The absence of evidence has itself become evidence.
Actually the exploitation of the lack of public evidence by a Left oriented media and race bating has been more of a problem for stoking the fires of rioting and looting. The absence of official public evidence is fairly standard procedure in criminal investigations especially when the media focuses on the crime. Too much info could damage a jury pool for both prosecution and defense in the civil rights of the accused. If it is determined there is sufficient evidence for a trial of a crime, it is better for a jury to hear and see the evidence at trial than before the jury is selected. If a trial option is not exercised then the public has the right to become apprised. Not releasing evidence after an investigation is concluded smacks of cover-up and robs the offended party or parties of the right of a civil case to review if a decision to not prosecute a crime was actually warranted.
And so there has been outrage. The initial reaction by police authorities to community anger leaves little to the imagination. The lack of distinction between legitimate protests on one hand, and attacks on police, or destruction or looting on the other, has been beyond justification. The relentless march of military level force, the armament and equipment, the early disproportionate response did little to help.
Believe it or not I actually struggle with this view. Many of my fellow Conservatives – especially with a Libertarian slant - find the militarizing of police departments to handle civil unrest an unacceptable law enforcement plan. It has all the appearance of a government police state dictatorship. My problem is that even with all the military hardware the City and State law enforcement basically watched as indiscriminate looting of stores took place. There was such a lack of shame by looters video feeds of the looting were all over television news and the Internet. With all the military looting the use of military hardware became worthless in the protection of private property. I am surprised store owners didn’t go to their stores with guns and begin to shoot the looters themselves. Think of the Liberal outcry then when people began to exercise their Second Amendment right to protect property with deadly force. The Left Wing Media would frame looters as martyrs and property owners as out of control gun owners. America must confiscate all guns so the tragedy of shooting looters never happens again on American soil. My GOD! Talk about a police state making the populace defenseless.
These were not the decisions of individual police officers. Those in charge seem to have achieved a complete disconnect from the consequence of their actions. What are we to expect when protest is necessary and peaceful protest is made impossible?
You see I don’t understand this scenario. I am guessing the assumption that peaceful protesters became a rioting mob because of the presence of military hardware sounds a bit weak to me. I think it is a better guess that the exposure of military hardware by civil police was put in place more of because of the mutual hostility between the racial profiling Ferguson Police and the weary of Police abuse Black Community. Other than tear gas what kind of military-style lethal force was distributed by the police with military hardware? I suspect a SWAT situation uses tear gas without the presence of military hardware, right? As it turned out the police did nothing to protect property even with the big dollar taxpayer paid military toys.
Mercifully, authority seems to have shifted to more responsible command.
Separating the actions of authorities from the initial shooting is not an easy emotional leap. But it is a necessary leap. In the fullness of time, as evidence bleeds forth, the truth surrounding the death of young Michael Brown will unfold.
Official ineptitude should not be part of that evidence.
I don’t know. Perhaps “Official ineptitude” should be a part of that evidence in the process of how rioting and looting became acceptable under the watching eyes of a police presence.
Blog Editor Thoughts on Burr Deming’s blog FU – FairAndUNbalanced:
As far as Left Wingers/Liberals/Progressives go, I have a lot of respect for Burr. He pulls no punches on his political perspective yet I have not ever (or at least in my case) ending a conversation in a virulent excesses of profanity. I would be surprised if less informed Conservatives did not pull the same profanity stunt on Burr. In the end of a conversation stick to your guns. Agree to disagree and move on.
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