An unnamed caller recorded himself placing a phone call to the publically listed phone number for the Ferguson Police Department, demanding justice for Mike Brown. The person who answers the phone—in all likelihood a Ferguson police officer—sarcastically answers that “justice isn’t here right now” before threatening to show up at the caller’s home with the FBI.
A non-jury federal trial began yesterday in the case of a North Carolina sheriff accused of jailing Latino drivers in order to boost deportations, the Justice Department says. Two retired deputies have already testifed that Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson ordered them in 2007 to 2008 to lock up Latino drivers for traffic violations instead of issuing citations. One reportedly spoke to investigators because, according to the AP, “he worried the sheriff’s priorities would be adopted by young law officers.”
Johnson, a Republican, is running unopposed for a fourth four-year term in November. His defense says the Justice Department will not be able to prove a pattern of racial profiling.
(h/t The Guardian)
Journalists covering the unrest in Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brown have warned that authorities there are preventing them from doing their jobs. The issue became more concerning when Ashon Crawley, a professor and writer, tweeted that the Federal Aviation Administration had designated the airspace over Ferguson a restricted area:
Authorities claim the move was prompted by shots fired at a police helicopter on Sunday—and restricting flights would keep police safe. But that didn’t ease the fact that media helicopters were also banned from flying over Ferguson through Monday.
But, according to the Lambert-St. Louis Airport’s Twitter account, the no fly zone has been lifted:
Police and media helicopters have presumably resumed their flights.
Here’s some of what I’m reading about this morning:
- Clashes continue in Ferguson, where police have shot another person.
- Possible outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki tries to hang on to power.
- As another ceasefire comes to an end, leftover Israeli bombs are still claiming lives in Gaza.
- After a promising start for the first five months of this year, July retail sales fall.
- In news that surprises no one, Apple reveals that only 18 percent of its workers are black and Latino.
- Justin Bieber reaches a plea deal over charges in Florida.
- What’s cuter than a baby panda? Baby panda triplets.
- Maryam Mirzakhani becomes the first woman to win the Fields Medal.
If you’re catching up on the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, the day’s must-read is this exclusive Trymaine Lee interview with Brown’s friend. It describes 22-year-old Dorian Johnson’s last image of Brown. With police brutality and the apparent cheapness of black life making national news again, reaction and commentary are coming at a furious clip. Here are a few items to guide you through the noise.
As my colleague Jamilah King wrote yesterday, Michael Brown’s shooting did not occur in a vacuum. Besides racial profiling, police shootings and lack of transparency surrounding their investigation has for the past few years been a subject of local concern. According to a January 2012 Post-Dispatch analysis, “St. Louis officers fire their guns at a higher rate than those in many other metropolitan forces…. And unlike many other departments, St. Louis has no third party checking the process.”
What’s up with the PD’s tank-like vehicles and full-on riot gear? Local police departments all over the country, according to a June New York Times article, have been tricking themselves out with surplus Iraq and Afghanistan war gear, blurring the line between police officer and soldier. Welcome to the new normal.
Creative push-back against mainstream media portrayals of young black men as thugs or criminals came via trending hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. But see, too, Journal-ism’s interview with a top Post-Dispatch editor concerning newsroom diversity. Ferguson’s PD may be overwhelmingly white—but so too are area newsrooms. It raises questions about local media’s responsibility to not only cover the accretion of abuses leading up to Brown’s death but to measure and track the community’s growing unrest.
Over on The South Lawn blog, guest columnist S. Lorén Trull gets personal and responds to one popular question asked after suspicious police shootings: why don’t victims just comply?
And finally, on Medium, organizer Melissa Byrne explains, “How the [Ferguson] police are doing everything wrong and how it’s dangerous for everyone.” Be sure to check the solutions that round out Byrne’s 7-point don’t list, including:
Sending in the dogs. On the evening of the murder of Mike Brown, the police responded to the first wave of community anger and protest with German Shepherds. First, for historical reasons it is wrong for white police officers to show up in a predominately black community with attack dogs at a protest. Secondly, over policing creates an environment where anger accelerates.
Dressing up in riot gear. You don’t wear your party shoes if you don’t want to dance. When the police dress up in their riot gear and plastic shields, they are sending the message that they are ready to fight the crowd.
Those links should get you started. Feel free to add your own must-reads. See you back here tomorrow.
Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, denouncing Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer have made requests. A group known as The Ad Hoc Committee for Justice on Behalf of Michael Brown has handed out flyers with four demands:
- The officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown be IMMEDIATELY identified.
- The same officer should be immediately fired and charged with murder.
- The Ferguson Police Department “Protocol Handbook” be distributed throughout the Ferguson community.
- The racial composition of the Ferguson Police Department should reflect the racial demographics of the community.
It’s unclear if the officer involved in the shooting will be terminated or charged, if the department’s handbook will be made available to the public, or if police department employees will engage in any meaningful discussions about race. But the first demand, to know the name of the officer who killed Brown, seems doable.
Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, promised reporters that his office would release the name of the officer that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown by noon local time on Tuesday. Apparently he’s changed his mind. Time reports that, citing safety concerns, officer Timothy Zoll says the department is declining to make the officer’s name public:
“A lot of threats against the officer were made on Twitter, Facebook, all social media,” Zoll said. “We are protecting the officer’s safety by not releasing the name.”
Time adds that St. Louis police says they “will not ever release the name of the police officer,” because doing so is at Ferguson’s discretion.
Police, often roaming in tanks and armored trucks with various weapons, have made dozens of arrests in Ferguson since Saturday, the day Michael Brown was killed. News of the police department’s refusal to release the officer’s name to the public could lead to more unrest.
Dorian Johnson was walking down the middle of the street in Ferguson, Missouri, with his friend Michael Brown on Saturday—just moments before Brown was shot and killed by a still unnamed police officer. Johnson says that police officer began cursing at them and emerged from the car with his weapon drawn. He says he remembers no fewer than seven shots fired. He recalls that Brown’s hands were in the air as the officer fired.
MSNBC is reporting that Johnson’s attorney, Freeman Bosley, says that police declined the opportunity to speak with Johnson during their investigation. In this video, Johnson recounts the violence he encountered the day his friend Mike Brown lost his life.
Tensions remain high in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of 18-year-old Mike Brown Saturday—and the F.B.I. has now opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death.
Protests are expected to continue today in Ferguson today, as local residents and the press take to social media to chronicle the police department’s massive show of force. Officers in riot gear, sometimes riding massive armored trucks through the streets and armed with what appear to be M-16s, have been using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protestors. One local resident also captured the police pulling a pregnant woman out of a car and slamming her facedown on the ground.
Here are 10 posts from Twitter, Instagram and Vine that illustrate some of the horrors in Ferguson:
Police began patrolling streets in Lenco armored trucks on Saturday, the day Brown was killed.
By Monday, gas-masked officers were screaming, “Get the fuck out of here!”
Officers in traffic.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area. pic.twitter.com/TUZPjZGrlv— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 12, 2014
Tear gas and weapons.
Riot police point a gun into a yard pic.twitter.com/BIl5cTOLGJ— FOX2now (@FOX2now) August 12, 2014
Officer pointing a weapon into a yard.
Additional police vehicles entering Ferguson.
Man hit by rubber bullet taken in ambulance gurney.
Steve Walsh, 26, who says he was shot in the neck with a “wooden pellet” by police in Ferguson tonight pic.twitter.com/weMaHrglxR— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) August 12, 2014
26-year-old Steve Walsh says he was shot by a wood pellet.
Shot by rubber bullet directly between the eyes.
Pregnant woman screaming, “I’m six months pregnant, I cannot lay on my stomach!” after officers slam her facedown on the ground.
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- As protests and clashes continue, the F.B.I. is opening a civil rights investigation into the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
- President Obama is welcoming Iraq’s new prime minister, appointed by Iraq’s president.
- In yet another sign that she’s running for president, Hillary Clinton is going after Obama’s foreign policy decisions.
- At least one person is dead following flooding in Detroit.
- Uber is essentially launching a political campaign to run a taxi business without those pesky taxi business regulations.
- Gawker admits it has a rape GIFs problem over at Jezebel.
- More than two months after a crash that killed his friend, Tracy Morgan is still recovering.
- The risk of rehospitalization for lupus is one in six—and even higher for people of color.
In a video that went viral in July, a white California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer Daniel L. Andrew, is seen chasing, knocking down, straddling and repeatedly pummeling a black woman on the side of a freeway. That woman, 51-year-old grandmother Marlene Pinnock, is now speaking out to media in Los Angeles.
In an interview with ABC-7, Pinnock she was walking down a Los Angeles freeway when Andrew assaulted her. She says that she has no idea why Andrew assaulted her. Pinnock is still recovering from the beating—she’s still in pain from swelling and slurs her speech.
The CHP, which says it’s prioritizing the investigation into Pinnock’s beating, refused to name the officer involved, but has taken him off patrol. A federal civil rights lawsuit names him as Daniel Andrews.
Starting today, a dozen Atlanta Public Schools educators will face trial over whether they turned to cheating on their students’ tests in order to win bonuses and to meet federal and state education standards. Former principals, school administrators, teachers and testing staff have been charged with racketeering, and some have been accused of lying to state investigators and swaying witnesses, AP reported.
The 12 who face trial today are just a fraction of the nearly three dozen educators who were indicted in a massive cheating scandal which rocked the nation, and the more than 200 teachers and principals that Georgia state investigators found involved in the cheating scandal. In 2011, Georgia investigators confirmed teacher cheating on student tests dating back to 2005 at 44 of 56 Atlanta Public Schools they investigated.
The trial could last months, Reuters reported.
As Jamilah King explains, Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officers isn’t an isolated incident in Ferguson, Missouri—where black residents face disproportionate stops, searches and arrests. The community has come out into the streets in protest to Brown’s killing, but it seems authorities don’t yet have a basic understanding about the outrage residents are feeling.
In a video report posted on CNN, a local police officer is heard yelling at protestors, “Bring it, all you fucking animals! Bring it!” You can hear it in the video above, with the expletive censored out, at 00:15. Ferguson’s mayor James Knowles tells CNN, “The officers did their best. They’re only human.”
Another protest is scheduled this morning outside of the Ferguson Police Department.
Michael Brown should be starting freshman orientation at Vatterott College today. Instead, his body is laying in a St. Louis-area morgue pending an investigation into what drove a police officer to shoot and kill the unarmed 18-year-old on Saturday.
Residents of Ferguson, Missouri, the black St. Louis suburb where Brown lived and died, confronted police officers on Sunday in a scene that’s since been described by the national media as one that quickly devolved into “looting.” In photos, black residents stood in front of police with their hands up to show that they were unarmed. They chanted the slogans we’ve all become too used to over the years: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, carried a message scrawled in sharpie on a piece of cardboard: “Ferguson Police Just Executed My Unarmed Son!!!”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch’s editorial board unearthed some of the embers that lit Sunday’s fire. “Michael Brown didn’t get due process,” they wrote. “The still unnamed police officer who shot the 18-year-old black teenager dead in Ferguson will get plenty of it.”
And you can quantify that anger. Here’s more from the editorial board:
Last year, for the 11th time in the 14 years that data has been collected, the disparity index that measures potential racial profiling by law enforcement in the state got worse. Black Missourians were 66 percent more likely in 2013 to be stopped by police, and blacks and Hispanics were both more likely to be searched, even though the likelihood of finding contraband was higher among whites.
Every year these numbers come out to little fanfare, in part because there isn’t enough political will to do the further study to break them down by precincts and individual officers to determine whether there is a cultural or training problem in entire departments or just a few rogue, racist cops who need to find another line of work.
…In Ferguson, the city where Michael died, the police in 2013 pulled over blacks at a 37 percent higher rate than whites compared to their relative populations. Black drivers were twice as likely to be searched and twice as likely to be arrested compared to white drivers.
In January, the local chapter of the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint against the St. Louis County police, alleging that “racism is rampant in the department’s hiring, firing and discipline.” Now, NAACP leaders and local residents are asking that the FBI take over the investigation into Brown’s death. They don’t trust that justice, however it’s defined at this point, will be served.
As he was readying for college orientation last week, Brown posted one last message on Facebook: “if i leave this earth today,” he wrote to a friend, “atleast youll know i care about others more then i cared about my damn self.”
The ensuing days and months will who just how much America cared about him.
Scenes from Sunday’s protests in Ferguson, Missouri:
Black residents in Ferguson, Missouri, protest Michael Brown’s shooting. Photo from @SunnyHostin
Residents march through the streets of Ferguson. Photo from @Lnonblonde
Photo from @AntonioFrench
Crowd at Ferguson Police Headquarters. Photo from @MichaelCalhoun
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- Ferguson, Missouri’s black community holds vigil after police shoot and kill unarmed teen Mike Brown.
- There’s another 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza in hopes of talks in Egypt.
- Tensions are increasing between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Obama administration.
- Yes means yes: California lawmakers are mulling an affirmative consent law for schools that receive public funds.
- Venture capitalist firm Andreessen Horowitz invests $50 million into BuzzFeed.
- Facebook is forcing its app users to download Messanger—but don’t click on the Color Change “app”!
- MTV’s Teen Choice Awards stay pretty white.
- U.S. Missionaries returning from West Africa who may have been exposed to Ebola are being quarantined in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- DId you catch the supermoon last night? The photos are gorgeous.
What is it for an academic to launch a theory with 25 years of staying power but rarely get credit for its creation? — Signithia Fordham, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York, wrote a personal essay this week explaining how she makes sense of her intellectual erasure. In late July, President Obama reached into a familiar grab bag for Fordham’s controversial “acting white” theory during a My Brother’s Keeper announcement held at a Washington, D.C. public school. The 1986 theory has since been debunked according to the Washington Post, but it remains popular. Fordham’s essay, which doesn’t address the theory itself, is poignant. The erasure of black and Latina girls after all is the key criticism being leveled at Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative aimed at young men and boys of color.
Out of view of this spirited and public debate [about “acting white”], my phone and email inboxes filled to capacity with calls and notes from colleagues and friends who were dismayed that my work was being discussed—again without me.
The critical question I seek an answer to affects, not just me, but also many others: Are black women ignored by American society? Are we compelled to do the imporant labor for others to consume, elaborate, embellish, and dismiss?
Does Fordham have a point?
What do Elizabeth Warren, Bill Clinton, Miley Cyrus and The Crying Indian in that popular 1970s Earth Day PSA have in common? Oklahoman Russell Cobb says they all belong to Wannabe Nation. It’s “bigger than the Cherokee Nation and perhaps even bigger than the entire state of Oklahoma—although that’s difficult to confirm, since the Census Bureau doesn’t keep statistics on this subset of the population,” Cobb writes in a brilliant essay in This Land Press. Definitely check it out this weekend [full text available by popular demand via Longreads].
Add Rachel Aviv’s, Wrong Answer, too. It’s being described as some of the most riveting reporting on the infamous Atlanta Schools cheating scandal that blew up in 2011. (See here for a brief refresher of the allegations, investigation and fallout.)
And last but not least, check out the latest from Colorlines’ Life Cycles of Inequity series about black men, Criminals, Victims and the Black Men Left Behind.
What’s on your Read-Watch List this weekend?
Artesia detention center—a new facility in Texas created to hold migrant families—has garnered negative attention. The center holds about 600 women and children; all have been placed under quarantine following two cases of chickenpox, which means that deportations are currently halted out of Artesia. Migrants seeking asylum are being rushed through for deportation and are routinely being interviewed to establish credible fear without attorneys present.
Detainees and the few who have visited them have stated that the facility isn’t medically equipped to handle families, and that officers there aren’t exactly friendly. Latino Rebels obtained a recording of one lawyer who called and spoke with ICE Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer Henry Davila, who had choice words about a child that had to be rushed to an emergency room at a hospital out of Artesia. Davila complained about immigrants from “Third World countries” and talked about diseases, viruses and infections from migrants.
Read more over at Latino Rebels.
First, it was Ghetto Tracker. Now, it’s SketchFactor. The new iPhone app, which will soon be available for Android, allows users to report on what they think are sketchy parts of town—so that other users can navigate around them. The app, which essentially crowdsources fear, just became available for download and has already garnered some racist posts.
The app was created by Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington; McGuire told Crain’s New York that she was motivated to create the app while living in Washington, D.C., as a young non-profit worker. She lives in New York now and says “almost nothing’s sketchy anymore.” So although she lives in a place in which she claims nothing is suspicious to her anymore, McGuire and Herrington nevertheless introduced SketchFactor. They now stand to make $20,000 for SketchApp as BigApps finalists, a contest sponsored by the New York Economic Development Corporation.
McGuire also told Crain’s that although she understands the potential as SketchFactor as a portal for racism, she hopes people will actually empower people of color to report racial profiling:
“We understand that people will see this issue,” Ms. McGuire said. “And even though Dan and I are admittedly both young, white people, the app is not built for us as young, white people. As far as we’re concerned, racial profiling is ‘sketchy’ and we are trying to empower users to report incidents of racism against them and define their own experience of the streets.”
Yeah. That’s probably not gonna happen.
Upon learning the night before that 42-year-old Julion Evans was gay, a Tampa church canceled his late-July funeral. Pastor T.W. Jenkins expressed regret for the cancellation but told WFLA News that New Hope Missionary Baptist Church preaches against gay marriage. Evans’ husband, Kendall Capers, said that he would have understood the church’s position but called the cancelation during the wake “disrespectful” and “wrong.”
“Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” Jenkins said. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.”
Evans married his partner of 17 years last year in Maryland. His mother said she was baptised at New Hope as a child.
Watch WFLA News above for more.
Here’s what I’m reading up on this morning:
- Obama authorizes airstrikes against ISIS to protect Yazidis from possible genocide in northern Iraq.
- The truce is over in Gaza and a 10-year-old child is the first victim of new Israeli attacks.
- The World Health Organization declares Ebola an international public health emergency.
- Theodore Wafer is found guilty of three charges in connection with killing unarmed teenager Renisha McBride.
- Montana Senator John Walsh (D) pulls out of the race after plagiarism accusations; there’s only a few days left in which to pick a replacement.
- GM is recalling SUVS for a third time, over window switches that can catch on fire.
- Secure websites will get a ranking boost on Google search results.
- A new test predicts whether kidney stones will recur.