Tragedy, as politics: Exploiting Ferguson

[Continuing our series on deception in politics and policy.]

African-Americans have long been the victims of oppression by politicians and bureaucrats. That’s been true from the 17th Century when slavery, a practice older than civilization, began to be associated with the concept we now call “race,” through the era of Jim Crow and one-party Democratic Party rule in much of the country (a time that included FDR’s racist National Recovery Administration), to the present time (when, for example, in Washington, DC, African-Americans are eight times more likely than others to be arrested for marijuana offenses, and are disproportionately the victims of horrific public schools and of laws that restrict small-business opportunities).

Often, law enforcement officials have been part of that oppression. During Jim Crow, African-Americans were often framed for crimes, then rented out as laborers, a practice that was, in effect, a partial restoration of slavery. During the Civil Rights Movement, police often looked the other way when violence was visited upon civil rights workers and on everyday African-Americans, and sometimes police were active participants in these crimes.

I grew up around police officers, studied law enforcement beside them in college, and worked as a police reporter. I have the greatest respect for these men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day. But I understand why many African-Americans are deeply distrustful of the police.

If, in fact, an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, had shot and killed an unarmed young man, Michael Brown, in the back, or while Brown was trying to surrender with his hands up, and if that officer did not have full justification for his actions, I would support punishing the officer to the fullest extent of the law.

The problem is that that version of the story, it appears, is not what actually happened.

That was pretty clear from the beginning. (See my blog post at )  According to widely published and credible reports, the physical evidence wholly supports the account by the officer, and is backed up by eight witnesses.

As seen in a video recording, Brown had, less than 10 minutes earlier, robbed a convenience store and roughed up an Indian-American clerk who was half (maybe a third) of his size. He apparently assaulted the police officer and fought him over his gun, which fired during the struggle. (The Washington Post in 2010 examined 511 cases in which officers are fatally shot, and, of those, “Fifty-one officers were killed when their department-issued firearms or another officer’s gun were turned against them.”)

It appears that the “hands up” story was made up by Brown’s accomplice, who had served jail time for lying to police.

The Obama/Holder Justice Department attempted to block release of the tape, for no known reason except perhaps to facilitate the framing of the officer. The Obama/Holder Justice Department helped organize protests aimed at getting the officer wrongly convicted. They stood with the lynch mob. In a United Nations speech, President Obama cited Ferguson as an example of what’s wrong with America, akin to abuses in other countries—abuses such as the murder of journalists and the systematic sexual mutilation of women. Back in Ferguson, stores were looted, which the news media falsely called “protests” supporting “justice for Michael.”

Now, the Left is using the Michael Brown shooting as a way to turn out the vote for the November election.


Take the case of Dream Defenders, which is a front group for the Service Employees International Union—the union closest that is considered the closest one to the President. (The executive director, Phillip Agnew, is a paid organizer for SEIU, according to the Daily Caller.) DD, which has received funding from the George Soros-backed Tides Foundation, created a political ad to take advantage of recent, tragic incidents in Missouri. In the commercial, part of DD’s “Vest or Vote” campaign, a mother straps a bullet-proof vest to her son so that “you’re going to be safe” from being shot by police. “On November 4,” the ad proclaims, “you have a choice: Vest or Vote.”


Here’s how Ebony magazine described this campaign (

In 1964, Malcolm X announced it was the year of The Ballot or the Bullet. Fifty years later, today’s youth resurrect his movement from Ferguson to Florida.

“The Dream Vest provides safety for children with high productions of melanin in protection from unwarranted state violence on civilians!”

The Dream Defenders, a social justice organization founded in Florida, posted this ad to promote their #VestOrVote initiative, which targets police violence while driving voter registration in underrepresented communities. There can never be enough emphasis on civic engagement during a time when so many states are instituting voting rights restrictions that effectively disenfranchises thousands.

The ad speaks to a sobering reality: Black lives are so cut down by state sanctioned violence so frequently that the idea of wearing a bulletproof vest isn’t as crazy as it may seem.

This weekend, thousands of people took to the streets Greater St. Louis as part of the highly organized Ferguson October mobilization. It has been over two months since 18-year-old Mike Brown was killed by a White police officer and his death has since been a catalyst for change across the nation in the face of unchecked police brutality. Ferguson and surrounding areas have remained in a consistent state of unrest as community members commit to “no peace” until their demands are met.

Grey’s Anatomy actor and former public high school teacher, Jesse Williams visited #FergusonOctober to engage the community in solutions. Williams was recently named “this generation’s Harry Belafonte” by the Washington Post for being eloquently outspoken on the criminalization of black bodies and such victims as Mike Brown, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin.


#handsup Don’t Shoot from Dream Defenders on Vimeo.

Want to buy one of the vests? Be sure to use the code!


A larger effort to exploit the tragedies, called the “Ferguson October” campaign, hosted “a series of public events—marches, convenings and panels— to build momentum for a nationwide movement against police violence,” according to the campaign’s website. Sponsors include the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3354, the SEIU-front Center for Working Families and other SEIU affiliates, the International Socialist Organization, the New Energy Coalition, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Socialist Alternative, the Sierra Club’s Student Coalition, and FANG (Fighting Against Natural Gas).


Across the country, Democratic Party politicians have been focusing on the case, hoping to use it to spur turnout. Here’s one from Georgia:


And here’s how Democratic Party activists and city officials in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC, recently showed their solidarity with Michael Brown, the young man who—I’ll repeat myself—robbed a convenience store and roughed up an Indian-American clerk half (perhaps a third) of his size, then, a few minutes later, assaulted a police officer and fought with the officer over his gun.


Most people look at Ferguson and see a tragedy: a young man who had most of his life ahead of him, who might have achieved great things, but who did some very bad things and suffered a horrible death. Leftists look at Ferguson and see opportunity.

They never let a tragedy, or a “race”-linked myth, go to waste.

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