Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Criminalization of Michael Brown and Ferguson Rebellion Continues
Corporate media seeks to dampen anti-racist movement through distortion and slander

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

During the course of one week the Washington Post published at least three articles suggesting that the white former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in self-defense. This same line of argument stems from the questionable findings of both the St. Louis County grand jury and Department of Justice reports designed to provide a rationale for not pursuing criminal charges against Wilson.

In an article entitled “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Was Based on a Lie”, Jonathan Capehart said that Brown was an “inappropriate symbol” for police violence against African Americans. The Washington Post writer asserted that the actual facts revealed in the DOJ report indicated that Brown did not have his hands up when he was shot to death by Wilson. (March 16)

The DOJ report which was cited in the article attempted to justify the killing of Brown by saying that he had committed a robbery and when stopped reached into the police vehicle punching Wilson, attempting to grab his gun. The grand jury testimony presented by Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown when he was killed by Wilson, was attacked as being inaccurate.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that an attempt has been made to criminalize Brown, Johnson and the entire movement that ignited in Ferguson and spread around the country. Since the beginning of the demonstrations and rebellions on Aug. 9, the police, prosecutors and the city administration have maintained that Wilson did nothing wrong by shooting to death an unarmed African American youth.

The Washington Post in these articles attacking the Black Lives Matter movement kept emphasizing that they checked the facts and they were at variance with the actual developments as conveyed by eyewitnesses. That the people who were on the scene when Brown was killed and left to lie in his blood for four hours, were not to be believed but the cops and those who were not there, including the DOJ investigators, were the only ones to be taken seriously.

Corporate Media Attacks Seek to Dampen Outrage at Police Actions

Corporate media pundits across the country picked up on the Washington Post articles also claiming that Brown was aggressively pursuing Wilson and that the slogan: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot," should never have been used. This represents a renewed attempt to not only convict Brown in his death but to slander the anti-racist movement that has grown up in the aftermath of the killing on Aug. 9 and subsequently deaths of African American youths at the hands of the police.

On March 17, Alyssa Rosenberg, writing for the Washington Post, even included other movements for social justice as being based on false premises. She says that “The problem is social movements do this all the time. Both the civil rights movement and the fight for gay equality have been supported by stories that were edited, challenged later or outright fabricated.”

This same article goes on to say “while these stories risk being exposed as less than entirely true, they pose another challenge for movements for equality. When we rely on stories about spontaneous, apolitical activists or saintly victims, we buy into larger and deeply conservative arguments about which lives have value and what kind of people deserve the protection of the law.”

In other words African Americans such as Michael Brown, Errol Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley Jones, etc. and their families do not deserve the support of the people. Such reasoning represents the degree to which the ruling class in the United States, imbued with racism and class bias, despises the masses of the people.

This is why the DOJ reports by presenting the contradictory narrative that both the Ferguson and St. Louis County police, courts and municipal administrations engage in systematic campaigns to profile, penalize, criminalize and cover up injustices committed against African Americans but at the same time this racist regime and its agents should not be held accountable for its actions, serves to fortify the status-quo. Since there are no criminal charges warranted for oppressing African Americans through unjustified citations, jail and prison sentencings, beating and even death, then the system will continue unimpeded by the judicial arm of the state.

The only real counterweight to the institutional racism practiced not only in Ferguson but across the U.S. is the popular movements organized and led by the people. What distinguished the police killing of Michael Brown and Errol Garner was the groundswell of opposition that grew up spontaneously in cities and towns nationwide. African Americans and Latinos are killed routinely by police and vigilantes with very little political response.

Consequently, the anti-racist movement can only view these latest attempts to slander the struggle as a continuation of a pattern extending back a century-and-a-half since the end of the civil war, legalized slavery and the beginning of Reconstruction. To even suggest that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” slogans are based on falsehood, is tantamount to saying that “Freedom Now”, “By Any Means Necessary,” “Black Power”, “Right On”, “All Power to the People” and other slogans that grew out of the African American liberation movement of the 1960s, were advanced from untruths.

Following such logic, the African American people and other oppressed nations in the U.S., have no real reasons to make demands on the state and the ruling class to end racist violence by police, armed white individuals and organizations. Such claims deny the humanity of the oppressed and their striving towards freedom and social transformation.

Racist Violence Considered Legal

The fact is that it has never been illegal in the U.S. for cops or others to kill African Americans.

Many of the lynchings carried out from the 1880s through the Great Depression, nearly 5,000 documented and many more unrecorded, enjoyed the participation of the police and the courts. Photographs and eyewitness accounts of these atrocities were exploited through postcards and public festivals.

Despite the widespread public awareness, press accounts and protests against this form of egregious mob violence, the U.S. federal government never passed one anti-lynching bill over the period of decades. Almost all of the urban rebellions that have occurred since the 1960s have been sparked by police misconduct and brutality stemming from a racist and exploitative political and economic system.

Jeffrey Williams Says He Was Forced to Confess in Police Shooting

As further illustration of law-enforcement abuses, the person being charged with the shooting of two Ferguson cops, Jeffrey Williams, is now saying that he was forced to confess after suffering injuries from the police. Williams suffered injuries that were documented by his attorney.

“He told me that he never fired a weapon,” said Jerryl T. Christmas, who is the attorney for Jeffrey Williams, the 20-year-old accused in the shooting of two Ferguson police officers. (Press TV, March 18)

Christmas said his client was in a “tremendous amount of pain” resulting from being pistol-whipped while in police custody. “I think under those circumstances he would have said anything,” William’s lawyer said.

 “Anytime someone is questioned without counsel and then I see that kind of bruising, then I'm suspicious about any statements that he may have voluntarily given.”

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