There may be a good explanation for why Ferguson, Missouri, a mostly black working-class suburb of St. Louis, had a white mayor and police force. There might be a good explanation for why an unarmed, 18-year-old high school graduate, Michael Brown, was shot down in the street. But if so, nobody has said so yet. The only thing for which there is a good explanation is why Brown won’t be starting technical school today. That’s because he’s dead.
From the New York Times:
The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager Saturday by a police officer in a St. Louis suburb came after a struggle for the officer’s gun, police officials said Sunday, in an explanation that met with outrage and skepticism in the largely African-American community.
The cop isn’t named. The story makes little sense.
At a news conference on Sunday morning, the St. Louis County police chief, Jon Belmar, said that a man had been shot and killed after he had assaulted a police officer and the two had struggled over the officer’s gun inside his patrol car. At least one shot was fired from inside the car, Chief Belmar said.
“The genesis of this was a physical confrontation,” Chief Belmar told reporters.
Good use of the word “genesis,” but it’s a lie.
Just after noon on Saturday, the police said, an officer in a patrol car approached Mr. Brown and another man. As the officer began to leave his vehicle, one of the men pushed the officer back into the car and “physically assaulted” him, according to the police department’s account.
The genesis was when the shooter approached Michael Brown. Why? Then he “began to leave his vehicle.” Why? Then, according to the police account, “one of the men” pushed the cop back into the car and “physically assaulted” him. Why? Who? But mostly why would a kid who just graduated high school do this?
Yet, even if we were to take this fragmented story, because the shooter cop on the Ferguson police force wouldn’t be expected to have an explanation for why he gunned down a young man in the street, a complete story, a real story, a good story, it doesn’t explain why Michael Brown was shot down in the street.
A struggle occurred “over the officer’s weapon,” and at least one shot was fired inside the car, Chief Belmar said. The two left the car, and the officer shot Mr. Brown about 35 feet away from the vehicle, the police reported. Several shots were fired from the officer’s weapon.
No, several shots were not “fired from the officer’s weapon.” They were fired by the cop at Michael Brown with the intention of killing him. They were fired when Michael Brown was about 35 feet away from the cop car. Why? We don’t know how many bullets struck Michael Brown’s body. We don’t know if they hit him in the front or back. The cops know. At least they should, but they aren’t telling. Yet.
There are a great many why’s here, and one would hope to have very quick, very real answers to very simple questions. The media, however, is busy reporting about how protestors are yelling mean things like “kill the cops” and looting stores. They are so busy telling the story of how those still alive in Ferguson are behaving so poorly that there is no room in the papers for questions like “why?”
At a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening, the heightened tensions between the police and the African-American community were on display. A crowd estimated in the thousands flooded the streets near the scene of the shooting, some of them chanting “No justice, no peace.” They were met by hundreds of police officers in riot gear, carrying rifles and shields, as well as K-9 units.
Clearly, there is no faith that the police can be trusted. Killing a young man in the streets for no particular reason tends not to help. Neither does hundreds of police in riot gear with rifles and dogs when a community holds a candlelight vigil.
Eventually, a story will emerge. The police, as required by their public relations manual, ask that everyone in Ferguson remain calm and let the police conduct their investigation. The people of Ferguson ask in return why the unnamed officer didn’t remain calm and not shoot Michael Brown dead in the street.
If there was anything, any taint to dissipate the anger and mistrust between the black community and the white police, it would have been the first words spoken. Now it’s too late to smear Michael Brown by his past, leaving those inclined to leap to illogical assumptions that he must have done something to deserve to be killed. When the cops have nothing to say, it is deafening.
At least the media can smear those who mourn Michael Brown, who protest his killing. Without that, they would have to focus on the story nobody’s telling, and why no cop wants to explain why Michael Brown won’t be starting school today.