In Policing Debate, Ferguson Is a Bad Example

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri's governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri’s governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

I like Mike Missanelli. I could listen to him talk sports and pop culture for hours on end, and have. Mike is the afternoon host on 97.5 The Fanatic radio station and a fellow contributor to PhillyMag.com. But he is wrong in continuing to use the police shooting in Ferguson as an example of a pervasive racial bias in police departments across America.

Missanelli made his case on this site last week when he chastised sports commentator and Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley because he “didn’t express outrage at the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the confrontational shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.” And because Barkley said “the grand jury was righteous in its weighing of the evidence, and defended police officers as deterrents to even worse things that can happen in the ’hood.”

All of that is true and based in fact. Barkley is right.

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Don Lemon Is America’s First Reality News Star

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It is far too early to tell whether CNN’s Don Lemon is embattled or just growing his brand. He is becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons — but he’s becoming a household name all the same. When CNN does its talent research, Lemon’s name recognition will creep up on the network’s stars like Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer, even though Lemon’s fame is fueled by his becoming an Internet joke.

The latest Lemon embarrassments are photographs, which have gone viral, of Lemon flashing gang signs and grabbing his crotch at a party. This comes after CNN’s bizarre gas mask reporting from Ferguson, when Lemon trapped smoke inside his own gas mask and couldn’t breathe. And while buildings were on fire and stores were being looted, Lemon complained about the smell of marijuana in the air. That follows Lemon’s even more bizarre interview with one of Bill Cosby’s alleged rape victims. Lemon essentially asked the woman why she didn’t defend herself with her teeth.

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What Is Your Excuse for the Cop Who Killed Eric Garner?

Protestors at the City Hall tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening. Photo | Bryan Buttler

Protestors at the City Hall tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening. Photo | Bryan Buttler

“Negroes — Sweet and docile,
Meek, humble, and kind:
Beware the day — They change their mind.”
—Langston Hughes

Black people are angry. I don’t mean this as a euphemism. I mean this to say that the people you see protesting on the streets are pissed off and fed up. I mean this to say that I know quite a few black folks that cried at work yesterday. That may include allied folks of other communities, because it’s not just black people you see out there with signs. There is a storm brewing.

When I first started to write this piece, I was going to explain why the protests have continued long after the decision to not indict Darren Wilson. I was going to explain that it’s not just about Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin or Jordan Davis or Renisha McBride or Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo or Tamir Rice (I could go on, really). I was going to use phrases I’d lifted from signs about how the system needs to be indicted. I was going to lay out a rational argument.

And then I got a phone call.

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Don’t See Race in Ferguson? Then You’re Part of America’s Race Problem.

Officer Darren Wilson (left, courtesy of St. Louis County prosecutor's officer); Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother (right, AP | St.. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Officer Darren Wilson (left, courtesy of St. Louis County prosecutor’s officer); Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother (right, AP | St.. Louis Post-Dispatch, Robert Cohen)

Like many, I’ve struggled to find a way to come to terms with the grand jury’s decision to not indict Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. The known facts of the case paint a wildly inconsistent picture. Despite indignant claims to the contrary on both sides, none of us know what truly happened that August day in Ferguson, Missouri. Due to the grand jury’s decision for the case not to go to trial, we probably never will.

When an acquaintance indicated to me a desire to have an open, sincere discussion about the situation in Ferguson and its aftermath, I welcomed the opportunity for dialogue and reflection. I made the deliberate decision to speak honestly and emotionally in an attempt to break through the barriers so many of us have built — barriers that help us shield ourselves from alternate viewpoints about the case and its implications.

I shared my pain at the thought of having to one day sit my beautiful baby boy down to explain to him that he won’t be allowed to make the same mistakes his white friends will — because of the color of his skin. In tears, I spoke about the fact that some people already hate my son, despite his incredible, loving spirit, simply because he is biracial. My baring of painful, personal emotions exposed in the wake of the grand jury’s decision was met with this response: “I don’t see race in this case.”

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This Thanksgiving, Ferguson Makes Football Seem Small

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri's governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri’s governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

On Monday night, three days before a colossal NFL game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a major news story began playing out making the game seem pretty small.

The situation in Ferguson involves all of us. We can’t hide from it and it can’t be swept behind a wall of conversation about a football game.

What I do on 97.5 FM The Fanatic is sports talk, but it’s really life talk — conversation among people of different races, creed and colors. And when an issue like this explodes in front of us, it is our duty to talk on it. Conversation fosters understanding; it’s the only thing that can foster understanding because it’s the only way we can hear and attempt to understand another’s viewpoint. So to the people who tweet me with nonsense like “I thought this was a sports station; let’s talk sports,” I have the following message: Open your mind, grow and progress, if just for the sake of your children and future generations who should live in a society that’s not always at odds.

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Ferguson, Under Cover of Darkness

Mike Brown’s mom while hearing the decision.

A video posted by Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) on

There was a video posted on social media the night that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch stepped in front of a worldwide audience to deliver the news that Officer Darren Wilson would avoid trial. The video featured the diminutive Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, stepping down from her perch outside the police station, amid a crowd of protesters, anguished and fed up.

For 109 days, McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr, the father of the teenager who was shot and killed by Wilson, waited for answers. They, like the rest of us, found out about McCulloch’s announcement by watching CNN.

It’s a curious thing, to make these types of announcements at night. It’s always curious to do anything in the dark of night that could just as easily be done in the day, especially when things are as tense as they have been in Ferguson. For weeks, the National Guard has been present among the people in Ferguson without any (public) disclosure of whether an indictment would fall; it took four days for the National Guard to arrive in the drowned city of New Orleans after Katrina.

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WATCH: Philadelphia Reacts to Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

@FergusonPHL protest at 9 p.m., just before the findings were announced. Photo by Victor Fiorillo

@FergusonPHL protest at 9 p.m., just before the findings were announced. Photo by Victor Fiorillo

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: The Ferguson police officer who shot Michael Brown last summer will not face charges in the case, a grand jury has determined. Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor made the announcement in a speech broadcast nationwide on Monday night.

“They are the only people who have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence,” McCulloch said, defending the grand jury’s work even as it became clear that the decision would trigger protests around the nation, including in Philadelphia. The protests in Philadelphia reportedly remained peaceful through the night.

The New York Times posted a full set of grand jury transcripts, forensic reports, and other documents.

Philly Mag’s Victor Fiorillo was at City Hall when the announcement was made:

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Now CNN’s Don Lemon Is the Laughingstock of Twitter

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It was one of the most bizarre interviews ever on TV news. CNN’s Don Lemon, who used to work in Philadelphia at NBC10, asked one of the women who is accusing Bill Cosby of rape, why she didn’t do more to prevent it. He went so far as to basically ask Joan Tarshis why she didn’t just bite Cosby’s penis.

That bizarre exchange gave birth to #DonLemonReporting, #DonLemonRapePreventionTips and #DonLemonQuestions, with tweets applying Lemon’s warped logic to other situations. It is the top trending hashtag on Twitter:

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The President Is Wrong on Net Neutrality: The Internet Needs Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes

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You’re staying at a hotel. You get online. When you log in, you’re given a choice: You can use the free Internet service that the hotel provides or you can pay extra for “faster downloads.” Like me, you’re a cheapskate, so you choose free. And it works fine … most of the time. But how about first thing in the morning when you’re checking your email? Or maybe right after dinner? Notice something? Yeah, you did — it’s slower. Much slower. And I’m sure you can guess why. Every user of the free service who’s waking up or getting back to their rooms from the conference you’re attending are all complaining about the boring keynote speaker … .and checking their email. And because you’re all sharing the same, free service you’re all suffering from slower performance.

Welcome to net neutrality.

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