For the past eight days, America has watched the City of Ferguson, Missouri react to the killing of 18 year-old Mike Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, but on Sunday, supporters of Officer Wilson gathered to raise their voices, and make some bank. The rally of about 150 supporters was poorly attended by the media, and drew a small counter-protest, as well as “hands up, don’t shoot” signals from some passing motorists, honks of approval from others:
In addition to holding a rally in downtown St. Louis, supporters of Darren Wilson hawked t-shirts that, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nicholas J.C. Pistor, were quite the hot ticket:
— Nicholas J.C. Pistor (@nickpistor) August 17, 2014
Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will, according to the group selling them, “go directly to Officer Darren Wilson with the Ferguson Police Department and his family.”
If you think it’s more than a little bit sick for people to be profiteering off of the death of an unarmed teenager, especially the person who shot him, then the design of the shirts themselves won’t make you feel any better. The navy-blue shirts feature a white badge on the front that says “Officer Darren Wilson – I Stand By You,” and below that, the date “8.9.14,” which was the day that Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown.
In a particularly jarring coincidence, given the just-made revelation that Mike Brown was shot six times, the back of the shirt reads “We’ve Got Your 6.”
According to the group, you can also order Darren Wilson hoodies.
The group has also raised more than $5,000.00 via a GoFundMe page, funds which are also slated to be turned over directly to Officer Wilson. This, apparently, is how white people loot.
Meanwhile, back in Ferguson, another night of violence prompted Governor Jay Nixon to announce that he will deploy the Missouri National Guard to Ferguson. As has been the case throughout the unrest in Ferguson, the under-reported fact about the looting and violence is that it is largely the work of non-residents:
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” Mr. (Governor Jay) Nixon said.
Early Monday morning, Captain Ron Johnson explained the police response to stepped-up violence:
President Obama, who commented extensively about the situation in Ferguson last week, is set to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder this afternoon for an update on the situation. That meeting, scheduled for 1:15 pm at the White House, will be closed to the press, although there will be a photo-only pool spray at the top of the meeting. The President is in Washington, DC until Tuesday, when he will return to Martha’s Vineyard to contiue his family vacation.
Obviously, no one is going to be happy about the use of National Guard troops in Ferguson, but it does point up something that’s being distorted by the media, especially liberals, regarding the problems in Ferguson. The dominant narrative about the police response in Ferguson has been about the “militarization” of police, with a particular focus on equipment and vehicles like the M-WRAP armored trucks and sniper rifles being used. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been cheered by many a liberal for his focus on this aspect of the Ferguson story, despite his ignorance (or perhaps because of it) of the real problem facing the black community of Ferguson, and of America.
Paul and white liberals have co-opted the events in Ferguson in order to rail against their pet narrative, and while police militarization is a problem, it is not the problem in Ferguson, or the rest of black America. It was around Tuesday or Wednesday of last week when the media started to notice the brutality of the police response in Ferguson, mostly because of images of cops in camouflage pointing guns at unarmed protesters, or mounted atop armored vehicles with sniper rifles.
But the police response to community outrage at Mike Brown’s shooting was brutal and overwhelming from the get-go, and involved methods that were considerably more old-school than MWRAPs and .50 cals. Within an hour of the killing, more than a hundred police from 15 departments showed up, and began using police dogs to move citizens. There were no up-armored vehicles on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, and the last time I checked, fire hoses were not military equipment.
The brutal tactics employed by police, as a matter of policy now, do affect everyone, but white people are, at best, occasional tourists or extended visitors in America’s police state. The knife’s edge of occupation-style policing has been sharpened, for centuries, against the grindstone of black communities. Removing MWRAPs and camouflage uniforms might make white people feel better, but it won’t solve the problem that Rand Paul says is “incidental,” if it even exists: racism.
There were no tanks rolling in Ferguson when the police there targeted black people at hugely disproportionate rates, or brutalized a man and charged him for bleeding on their uniforms, and removing military surplus from police departments won’t fix that. Liberals focusing on all of the scary guns and cars are making themselves part of the problem. No one (or almost no one) had a big problem with the police show of force following the Boston Marathon bombing, which probably made a lot of folks feel safer. That response was directed at two (Caucasian) people who were a real threat. If police kept their toys where they belong, until they’re really needed, this would just be an argument about how much money we’re spending to protect small towns in Idaho.
The problem is police treating ordinary citizens as threats, particularly black citizens, and particularly young black citizens. It won’t be solved by disarming police of their military hardware, as long as they’ve still got firehoses in their hearts.