Michael Brown was 18 years old, black and unarmed when a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot him to death after a scuffle in the street. The incident has provoked ongoing mass protests, vandalism, and national calls for an independent investigation and higher standards of police accountability.

The police, citing death threats, have refused to release the name of the police officer who shot Brown. The hacker collective Anonymous has promised to discover and make public the officer's identity anyway. I suspect they will succeed (if they haven't already).

General questions for those who have followed this story:

Do you think the shooting was reasonable under the circumstances?
How do you feel about the police?
Do you trust the police? Why or why not?
Who do the police answer to? Who ought the police answer to?
Are police held too accountable, properly accountable or not accountable enough for their actions?

Tags: Brown, Michael, Police

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Have you ever said to someone, "Huh. Ya know, I hadn't thought of it that way. Maybe you have a point."?

Sure. Note that when someone employs faulty reasoning, intellectual dishonesty or leaves a point unsupported they haven't made one.

It's not in GM's DNA.

Aw, sure it is, Unseen. I even compliment your occasional point.

If I thrash someone, you remember. If I make nice-nice, you forget. I feel so misunderstood. *sniffle*

GM, you have a point. LOL

It's a well established fact which appears consistently in study after study: police brutality runs along racial lines and effects African-Americans in particular.

I’m not disagreeing with that. In fact I even said that police DO racially profile. It is not right or just, or even ethical. But it does happen. So we don’t disagree there.

The news media sell news. It's a business. Sensationalism moves product and statistics don't. So a police shooting-- garnished with mass protests, Molotov cocktails, tear gas, armored vehicles, and assault rifles-- is pure gold. That's what determines where the "spotlight" goes. To say it's JUST about race is a gross oversimplification.

I think that’s true to a point, but it’s also because of the overwhelming comraderie and support that the black community brings together because of the historical oppression of their people. I am all for that. I believe in it 100%. But I do feel that the media cheapens that to a degree. To where it ALWAYS seems to be about race, when the REAL issue, as I tried to point out, is the lack of training and care that goes into selecting the best officers for the job, and the LACK of quality candidates, even to the extent of cutting corners to let men and women into the police academies simply because they need willing and able bodied people who can go out to the streets. There is a severe SHORTAGE of quality candidates. THAT Gallup is the conversation that I wish they would be having, and it angers me that instead they are sensationalizing this story and the general public’s trust of officers, saying how corrupt and racist they all are. It is simply not true.

Some of the things you've said-- like racial prejudice against black people being a necessary part of police work in the ghetto--  smacks of racism. I think you're the one playing the "black" card here, Belle.

No Gallup, quite to the contrary. Are you familiar with the author Jonathan Kozol? http://www.jonathankozol.com/

 The inner city schools and violence is where it all starts. http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2005/American-Apartheid-Education1s...

The root of the problem goes so much deeper than what the media talks about. It begins in childhood, and the inner cities are a place where African American men have all the odds stacked up against them. Once they have grown up, the police do racially profile them because it is the norm for those neighborhoods. Hispanics are also racially profiled. It is rooted in gang violence. I will even admit to racially profiling as a correction's officer. When I was a rookie, a young Mexican man got brought in from the streets and as I was doing by pat down, I took my time a little more. I had no other reason other than the fact that he was (I could tell by looking at him) an undocumented worker. So I checked his shoes....slower....than normal.....It turned out he had an ID hidden in his shoes and he had given a false name to the arresting officer. They began to make arrangements to have him deported. Had I not taken that little bit of extra time searching him, he might have gotten away, at least for the time being, but I caught him because I racially profiled to a certain extent. That being said I am NOT RACIST!!!!!!!!!! I married a man from Mexico who was EWI and had committed crimes within the U.S, including a DUI. I've been in relationships with black men. I am not racist. I'm just pointing out that in certain neighborhoods, racially profiling individuals is inevitable. I am NOT NOT NOT saying it's "right," but it happens.

ME: All police misconduct should be punished. Not just when a young black man gets killed. That needs to be the focus.

Gallup: If you can find any credible media figure or academician is saying that police misconduct should only be punished when a young black man is killed, I'll eat the chair I'm sitting in.

Read what I wrote and then re-read what you wrote. Would you like a re-do?

And you're basing the 'too much overtime makes untrained police trigger happy' claim on what? You just know it?

Gallup, not only do I know it, but here's my evidence:

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/167572.pdf

http://hamptonroads.com/overtime

http://inpublicsafety.com/2014/02/the-impact-of-stress-and-fatigue-...

QUOTE:

What many officers might not be aware of is the long-term effects of chronic fatigue and the relationship between stress and fatigue. Not getting enough rest and not eating properly in order to fuel the body can increase the effects of fatigue. Being fatigued on-duty causes many issues such as poor decision making and other cognitive task difficulties.

Exactly how does this apply to Officer Wilson's itchy trigger finger?

Gallup I do not know if it does or not. I'm simply providing my own perspective. I believe it could play a role in his poor decision making and the events that happened that led to the needless and tragic death.

Are you saying he was poorly trained, run down from too much overtime, unrested, and that's why he shot Mike Brown to death?

Yes! I do believe it could have played a role. I could be wrong. I guess we'll see won't we?

Let me see if I understand this, Belle. Are you telling me me that only police officers may criticize each other? That unless I've worked exhaustive hours in law enforcement myself, my criticism of police misconduct has no worth?

No. Now you're being melodramatic. But I do think that based on some of your comments you've been sheltered from what the streets are really like.

Gallup: It's a well established fact which appears consistently in study after study: police brutality runs along racial lines and effects African-Americans in particular.

Belle: I’m not disagreeing with that. In fact I even said that police DO racially profile. It is not right or just, or even ethical. But it does happen. So we don’t disagree there.

If you agree police brutality disproportionately effects racial minorities, why object so vehemently ("I am outraged") to the idea that racial minorities take issue with it more often?

Gallup: To say [the attention given to the Brown shooting] is JUST about race is a gross oversimplification.

Belle: ...it ALWAYS seems to be about race... 

You're repeating the same exaggeration, having substituted always for just. Name one reputable media figure or academician who says every police shooting or police brutality case is about race exclusively (as opposed to other issues).

Belle: ...when the REAL issue, as I tried to point out, is the lack of training and care that goes into selecting the best officers for the job...

The issue in this case is that Michael Brown is dead, the cop who killed him may be indited on murder charges, and that local, state and federal officials think the Ferguson police department mishandled the incident and aftermath.

Will the prosecution or defense say that Officer Wilson lacked training, was poorly selected, or suffering from exhaustion? Maybe, but I doubt it. I don't think that's going to be made an issue.

...they are sensationalizing this story and the general public’s trust of officers, saying how corrupt and racist they all are. It is simply not true.

I'm with you on the sensationalizing aspect, but I disagree that police corruption has become a significant part of the narrative. Most of the news coverage is focused on police accountability and transparency.

As for the racism aspect, we've covered (and apparently agreed on) that point: police do racially profile and disproportionately mistreat racial minorities, especially black people. You yourself said racial prejudice is necessary in police work. How can you possibly say that's not being racist or simply not true? It is.

Gallup: Some of the things you've said-- like racial prejudice against black people being a necessary part of police work in the ghetto-- smacks of racism. I think you're the one playing the "black" card here, Belle.

Belle: No Gallup, quite to the contrary. Are you familiar with the author Jonathan Kozol? The inner city schools and violence is where it all starts.

I don't see what that has to do with racial prejudice against black people being a necessary part of police work. Please explain.

I am not racist. I'm just pointing out that in certain neighborhoods, racially profiling individuals is inevitable. I am NOT NOT NOT saying it's "right," but it happens.

I'm not questioning that racial profiling happens. Of course it does.

One study of traffic stops in a major city found Blacks are between three and five times more likely to be questioned, asked to leave the vehicle, personally searched, and have their vehicles searched. This happens despite that Whites are more likely to have drugs or weapons. This is routine. The studies differ, but not the results: criminality does not correlate with race.

So what good does racial profiling do? For starters, it ensures that racial minorities (mainly blacks) have a disproportionate number of police encounters, are subjected to greater scrutiny when they do, get arrested more often, and end up overrepresented in prison populations.

Belle: All police misconduct should be punished. Not just when a young black man gets killed. That needs to be the focus.

Gallup: If you can find any credible media figure or academician is saying that police misconduct should only be punished when a young black man is killed, I'll eat the chair I'm sitting in.

Belle: Read what I wrote and then re-read what you wrote. Would you like a re-do?

Yes please. I was addressing your operating statement: "not just when a young black man gets killed". Which position do you claim to be rebutting or protesting here? Who says police conduct should only be punished when a young black man gets killed?

Gallup: And you're basing the 'too much overtime makes untrained police trigger happy' claim on what? You just know it?

Belle: Gallup, not only do I know it, but here's my evidence: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/167572.pdf
http://hamptonroads.com/overtime
http://inpublicsafety.com/2014/02/the-impact-of-stress-and-fatigue-...

I'd appreciate it if you'd quote the relevant portions of these documents which find too much overtime makes untrained police use firearms irresponsibly ("trigger happy"). That's a rather specific claim. These documents reference the fatigue and the great financial burden of overtime, but I didn't see where the words firearm, gun, shooting, weapon, or violence were mentioned at all, let alone described as happening more frequently in correlation with overtime.

Gallup: Are you saying [Officer Wilson] he was poorly trained, run down from too much overtime, unrested, and that's why he shot Mike Brown to death?

Belle: Yes! I do believe it could have played a role. I could be wrong. I guess we'll see won't we?

Maybe. Even if it's true I'm not sure the police would announce it. If you were Wilson's attorney, would you want it known he was (for instance) untrained in firearms use, working 90 hours a week and running on 4 hours of sleep when he shot Mike Brown? I wouldn't. Sounds too much like negligence.

Belle: [Once you've worked the long hours of a police officer.] Then you can lecture me about the worthiness of the men who wear the badge every day and do their best to keep our streets safe.

Gallup: Let me see if I understand this, Belle. Are you telling me me that only police officers may criticize each other? That unless I've worked exhaustive hours in law enforcement myself, my criticism of police misconduct has no worth?

Belle: No. Now you're being melodramatic.

Pardon my melodrama, Belle. If you didn't mean that working long hours as a "man who wears the badge every day" was a requisite for discussing (sorry, "lecturing" you on) police misconduct, why did you say it was?

But I do think that based on some of your comments you've been sheltered from what the streets are really like.

That's funny. Your comment about racial prejudice being a necessity for police work in "those neighborhoods" had me thinking the same thing about you.

If you agree police brutality disproportionately effects racial minorities, why object so vehemently ("I am outraged") to the idea that racial minorities take issue with it more often?

Because the real problems never get addressed. The root of the issue is never talked about. I have no problem with the fact that people, citizens want and demand answers and accountability, and demonstrate to make that happen. I’m not upset about that. I’m upset that the media constantly sensationalizes the race aspect of these cases, but never looks at WHY. It’s demeaning, ignorant, and misinformed. I’m not upset at the people, I’m upset at the media.

Name one reputable media figure or academician who says every police shooting or police brutality case is about race exclusively (as opposed to other issues).

You’re missing my point. See above statements.

Will the prosecution or defense say that Officer Wilson lacked training, was poorly selected, or suffering from exhaustion? Maybe, but I doubt it. I don't think that's going to be made an issue.

I certainly do not believe it was the only factor involved. Quite frankly, (and this is just my opinion,) it smells of a rookie mistake all the way around. Police departments are generally very protective of their rookies from what I have experienced. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Most of the news coverage is focused on police accountability and transparency.

Yes. And that’s another thing that is a double edged sword. Too much transparency makes for more dangerous conditions for the officers, and their families.

You yourself said racial prejudice is necessary in police work. How can you possibly say that's not being racist or simply not true?

NO!!!! I said that racial profiling happens. Like it or not. That is not the same thing!! Let me give you an example. I did a lot of my overtimes in the Receiving and Intake department. The very first thing I would do as I was patting down a person looking for contraband was look for gang tattoos. Based on the person’s ethnicity I would look in some parts of their body more than others. Based on the persons race I HAD to profile them!! What do you think happens in prisons? People join alliances based on race. That’s not the way I want it to be, that’s just the way it is. If I were to NOT racially profile and miss out on spotting a gang tattoo and put that person into general population as opposed to segregation, guess what? I would have blood on my hands. Then the media would come on and say, “Oh my goodness the jails are SO overcrowded, officers have no control!” Bullshit. GANGS are the problem. But no body likes to hear that gangs operate on strict racial lines. They racially profile THEMSELVES!!!!!!! The same shit happens on the streets. Officers that are not familiar with a neighborhood are more likely to overcompensate force. (rookie mistakes…) The police men and women who KNOW their neighborhoods, are on a first name basis with most of the criminals. They know where they live, what their routines are, where they buy drugs, what corner they prostitute on….they see the same people go in and out of jail over….and over….and over again. They don’t need to racially profile in those instances. But when presented with a dangerous situation, they do automatically start making assumptions It happens. Just because you racially profile, doesn’t mean you are racist. Have I made that point clear enough?

So what good does racial profiling do?

I hope I just answered that, but if I didn’t make my point clear enough for me, please let me know, I would be happy to elaborate.

Who says police conduct should only be punished when a young black man gets killed?

See my first comment. Again, I was discussing my disgust for the media.

I'd appreciate it if you'd quote the relevant portions of these documents which find too much overtime makes untrained police use firearms irresponsibly ("trigger happy"). That's a rather specific claim.

Yah, I guess what I was trying to emphasize is the burden that overtime places on ALL officers. The third document shows a list of symptoms that can result from extreme amounts of overtime, one of which states

Inappropriate reactions to a situation (excessive use of force),

That's funny. Your comment about racial prejudice being a necessity for police work in "those neighborhoods" had me thinking the same thing about you.

Whatever Gallup

Gallup: You yourself said racial prejudice is necessary in police work. How can you possibly say that's not being racist or simply not true?

Belle: NO!!!! I said that racial profiling happens. Like it or not.

You said police have to be prejudiced against black people. Your exact words: "I KNOW cops are prejudice against black people. But you know what??? In some parts of the ghetto they have to be."

You've gone from defending it to denying it's true to denying it's racist (and now) to denying you said it. But there it is.

You do understand what sort of racial prejudice I've referenced, right? Black people face more frequent police stops, questioning, searches, arrests, unnecessary use of force, killings, convictions and incarcerations, despite a lack of evidence that criminality runs along racial lines.

Just because you racially profile, doesn’t mean you are racist. Have I made that point clear enough?

Sure. Now please do address actual the point at hand, which is racial prejudice, and the specific examples of it that I've been providing (such as police brutality, which is unnecessary and runs along racial lines).

Would you say greater instances of police brutality against racial minorities is racism? Would you say that stopping and frisking racial minorities nine times as often as whites (despite that whites are more likely to have weapons and drugs) is racism?

I presume you're also aware that two racial minorities who are members of TA have commented about police hassles and precautions they must take in dealing with the police?

These and other examples are specifically what I was talking about when you responded saying that it's not racism, not true, and the source of your outrage: "...it angers me that instead they are sensationalizing this story and the general public’s trust of officers, saying how corrupt and racist they all are. It is simply not true."

You've provided examples of racial profiling that may not necessarily be racist, but it doesn't mean that other police behaviors which are racist aren't happening. Looking over a black drug dealer for gang tattoos may be necessary but beating a handcuffed black suspect within an inch of his life isn't. Mistreatment that runs along racial lines is racism and it's a common occurrence among police. Don't tell me it's not true. It is true.

Now please do address actual the point at hand, which is racial prejudice, and the specific examples of it that I've been providing (such as police brutality, which is unnecessary and runs along racial lines).

My perspective is that any person who is already prejudice will carry that with them if when they become a cop. There are cops that ARE prejudice, and cops that aren't. My point was that it is sometimes necessary for cops to racially profile. However, I do not hold the position that all cops are prejudice. Is that a fair enough distinction?

You've provided examples of racial profiling that may not necessarily be racist, but it doesn't mean that other police behaviors which are racist aren't happening.

I agree. I do think after reading the information that Unseen released regarding the officer's story that prejudice/racism played a role as to his actions. I do think that, now that we have more information. It does deepen my anger and rage on the issue. My impression is that he was a punk ass rookie cop and that he actually instigated the altercation to a certain extent by the way he handled the situation. That's what I think at this present moment. What else do you want me to address?

Officer Wilson wasn't a rookie cop.

I'm betting the officer gets off because of the burden of proof being pretty high and the fact that almost none of the incident was recorded. Even if a grand jury decides there's enough to prosecute, there won't be enough undeniable evidence to base a guilty verdict on. He'll undoubtedly have a great defense attorney and it won't be too hard to create enough doubt to force an innocent verdict.

Police are in difficult positions all the time and are forced to make split-second decisions under circumstances where the public expects every decision made in an instant to stand up to second guessers who have minutes, hours, months, or years to think about how it could have been done different.

I'm betting the officer gets off...

Me too. It's going to come down to his word as a police officer no matter how many witnesses or autopsies contradict his story. We've seen time and again that it's enough.

I'm fascinated at the way public officials are viewed with such little trust (which is at a record low of just 7% for Congress) except when it comes police officers, in which the 87% of the public has an average, high or very high trust.

Police are in difficult positions all the time and are forced to make split-second decisions under circumstances where the public expects every decision made in an instant to stand up to second guessers who have minutes, hours, months, or years to think about how it could have been done different.

That's the perception, yes. Thus a police officer who makes the "mistake" of killing a suspect usually walks even when the killing is illegal. A gun owner who does the same thing is far more likely to end up in prison on a homicide conviction than get off by saying the shooting was a mistake or justified.

Police get an extraordinary benefit of the doubt-- from other police, judges, prosecutors and the public-- which is afforded to nobody else. I think a significant number of police know this and routinely abuse that trust when it serves their purpose (such as not wanting to go to prison).

If you know that all you have to say to avoid accountability is "he reached for my gun" or "I felt threatened" there's not much cause to restrain yourself.

A lot of commentators place the start of the militarization of the police with 9/11. No doubt, 9/11 accelerated it, but the actual beginning of the militarization is probably due to the infamous "North Hollywood shootout."

Wikipedia article on the North Hollywood Shootout:

The North Hollywood shootout was an armed confrontation between two heavily armed and armored bank robbers and officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in the North Hollywood district of Los Angeles on February 28, 1997. Both robbers were killed, eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and other property were damaged or destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the robbers and police.

At 9:17 AM, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu entered and robbed the North Hollywood Bank of America branch. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu were confronted by LAPD officers when they exited the bank and a shootout between the officers and robbers ensued. The two robbers attempted to flee the scene, Phillips on foot and Mătăsăreanu in their getaway vehicle, while continuing to engage the officers. The shootout continued onto a residential street adjacent to the bank until Phillips was mortally wounded, including by a self-inflicted gunshot wound; Mătăsăreanu was killed by officers three blocks away. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu are believed to have robbed at least two other banks using virtually identical methods by taking control of the entire bank and firing automatic weapons chambered in intermediate cartridges for control and entry past 'bullet-proof' security doors, and are possible suspects in two armored vehicle robberies.

Local patrol officers at the time were typically armed with their standard issue 9 mm or .38 Special pistols, with some having a 12-gauge shotgun available in their cars. Phillips and Mătăsăreanu carried illegally modified fully automatic Norinco Type 56 S-1s, a Bushmaster XM15 Dissipator, and a HK-91 rifle with high capacity drum magazines and ammunition capable of penetrating vehicles and police Kevlar vests. The bank robbers wore body armor which successfully deflected bullets and shotgun shells fired by the responding patrolmen. SWAT eventually arrived bearing sufficient firepower, and they commandeered an armored truck to evacuate the wounded. Several officers also appropriated AR-15 rifles from a nearby firearms dealer. The incident sparked debate on the need for patrol officers to upgrade their capabilities in similar situations in the future.

Due to the large number of injuries, rounds fired, weapons used, and overall length of the shootout, it is regarded as one of the longest and bloodiest events in American police history.

I know the black community wants quick action, but quick action isn't necessarily the most successful action. Many experts feel that the government lost the Trayvon Martin case by going in half-cocked in order to satisfy an angry public, and thereby lost the case.

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