Recent News On Ferguson and St. Louis


Recent News On Ferguson. Great Writing By Black Butterfly 7.

Originally posted on Blackbutterfly7:

Federal Probe Into St. Louis Police Department

St. Louis CBS Local News reports that as many as 25 St. Louis City police officers are under investigation for being hired to protect drug dealers. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says the involved officers are no longer on active duty as the investigation continues.

The Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Circuit Attorney are all involved in the investigation that began in December. The investigation began when an off-duty police officer was shot in North St. Louis. The off-duty officer returned fire and the man he shot later turned up dead in a burning car.

In a press release by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, they state that they are unable to discuss details or findings before the investigation has concluded.


Ferguson Municipal Judge Resigns

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Recent News On Ferguson and St. Louis

What Should Happen To Brian Williams

We now live in the world of the “Hot Take.”


A hot take is defined in the urban dictionary as “an opinion that is based in simplistic moralizing rather than actual thought.” We have certainly seen this in our culture in the age of social media, the latest example being the National Football League’s “Deflate-gate” controversy involving the now Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Two weeks ago there were respected journalists who reside both inside and out of the sports world who were suggesting that Bill Belichick be banned from coaching football for life and that Tom Brady’s place as one of the great quarterback’s of all-time was now invalid. All of that was and is ridiculous.


It hasn’t been twenty four hours since NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted that he and his film crew were not on a helicopter that was shot down by ground fire during the Iraq War in 2003. Williams had said the opposite on numerous occasions in the past, he even detailed his version of the events on an episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman” in 2013. But on January 30th when Nightly News posted a video online of Williams once again saying that he had been fired on a commenter who had been apart of the military flight crew twelve years ago spoke up and said “no.”


I now find myself in a weird gray area as it relates to Williams. I’m resisting the temptation of calling for the guy’s job by not offering up some ridiculous hot take that calls for the guy’s job. One mistake even if it is a huge one probably shouldn’t ruin years and years of hard work and dedication to a craft that he is really good at.


That said this wasn’t Williams simply forgetting to let down the toilet seat This was a slap in the face to a lot of important people. Let me be clear I have never done one day of military service in my life, but one of the things that I have always heard from men and women who are enlisted is that they have a deep disdain for non-combatants who glamorize war. That is essentially what Williams has done and it is completely understandable that people in uniform would bristle at a news anchor who recounts a war story that never happened to a late night talk show host for laughs.


The head honchos at NBC now have a decision to make about the most important news voice on their roster. The American public doesn’t like to be lied to and it doesn’t matter if the people who are doing the lying are politicians, celebrities, and yes media members. If Brian Williams hasn’t completely lost all of his credibility as a journalist, he is running very low on it at this point.

And while I won’t be the hot take guy and say he has to be replaced, his bosses might have to consider it, even if they don’t want to.

What Should Happen To Brian Williams

The Season Is Over And The NFL’s Problems Begin Again.

The National Football League got the ending to the season from hell that it so desperately wanted Sunday Night.


The New England Patriots and The Seattle Seahawks gave fans one of if not the greatest Super Bowl ever, one that was full of great players making great plays and coaches making the most boneheaded of decisions,–How hard is it to hand the football to Marshawn Lynch Pete Carroll?– In its hour of need the game of football couldn’t have had a better advertisement.


The problem for Commissioner Roger Goodell and the 32 fat cat owners that run the billion dollar enterprise is that their honeymoon period is now over and the same people who enjoyed every second Super Bowl XLIX will now return to skeptically observing a league that doesn’t really care about the physical and mental condition of its players and the crimes that some of them commit away from the field.


Ray Rice’s ghost still hangs over the league no matter how much the people in the Park Avenue offices try to erase his memory. While domestic violence is a societal problem that has been horribly dealt with by law enforcement officials and elected politicians, the NFL likes to pride itself on taking the lead on issues. In the case of spousal abuse and their players, men who are huge in physical stature the league has been positioned in the rear for quite sometime.


No one with a functioning brain will or should believe Goodell when he says the league is now on top of this problem in some part because during his annual “State of The League” address last Friday he uttered the phrase ‘domestic violence’ once. As Diana Moskovitz at Deadspin points out the league has been more about improving their image from a PR standpoint than it has been about doing the actual grunt work of dealing with the violence that is directed towards the intimate partners of its players.


There is also the issue of concussions which still looms large. In that same “State of the League” address on Friday Goodell opened by stating that diagnosed concussions of players were down 25% in 2014 and he announced the appointment of a chief medical officer that will oversee medical-related policies. The 25% number is subjective though, players have become really good at hiding the symptoms of a serious head injury from medical personnel out of fear of losing their jobs. No sport is colder when it comes to cutting ties with members of its labor force than the NFL. Bodies are tossed onto the scrap heap every day and every day new ones are welcomed into the process. That said the league should take this issue completely out of the hands of players for their own good. The minute that a player receives a jarring hit that leaves him disoriented he should be forced to leave that particular game immediately and not return, there should be no need for an in game concussion test.


I am certainly not a medical doctor and if I was it would be difficult for me to diagnose a football player with a concussion while watching a game from my couch, but there was moment in Super Bowl XLIX where Patriot wide receiver Julian Edelman, the man who caught the game winning touchdown pass was on the receiving end of a vicious hit from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and although Edelman got up on shaky legs and barely made it back to his team’s huddle he was able to stay in the game because none of the grownups on the field–coaches and officials–thought that he was hurt badly enough to come out. This is the kind of thing that needs to be cleaned up in this new NFL that Roger Goodell wants us believe in.


In the end a CEO that makes over $40 million a year is paid that salary to do exactly one thing, keep the cash registers ringing. The ratings for the Super Bowl were no doubt huge, NFL merchandising sales are through the roof, and the league’s television partners will be more than happy to shell out another $1 billion each when it’s time negotiate a new broadcast deal. The sausage making process may be disgusting, but we as a public still take home the product and gobble it up. As long as that is the case NFL personnel will continue to abuse their spouses, continue to suffer serious head injuries that will alter their quality of life, and their boss will continue to dodge tough questions and completely disrespect and dismiss female reporters when he can’t. This is our national pastime, warts and all.

The Season Is Over And The NFL’s Problems Begin Again.

It’s 2012 All Over Again

The events that took place in Iowa over the weekend left me wondering if it’s 2012 all over again.


Potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination flocked to the party that was thrown by Iowa Congressman Steve King in effort to prove that they have what it takes to defeat Hillary Clinton in a head to head matchup that is still twenty-two months away.


There is former Arkansas Governor and now noted author Mike Huckabee who warned the partisan crowd that the threat of ISIL is one that they should take seriously, as if the terrorist group will be at the the shores of the United States eastern seaboard tomorrow. This was the cherry on top of the conservative values sundae for Huckabee who has been calling African-American musical mogul Shawn Carter a pimp and his wife Beyonce Knowles–quite possibly the most famous woman in the world–a prostitute. There was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who was there to seemingly out pro-life all of the other possible contenders “Political consultants told me that there was no way I would be elected governor of New Jersey as a pro-life Republican because it had never been done, they were wrong. I can assure you being pro-life is not a political liability.” Christie speaks like a man who is unaware that 7 out of ten Americans believe in abortion rights for women, also if being pro-life isn’t a political liability, ethical questions about bridges and tax giveaways to the wealthy just might be. There was also former Texas Governor Rick Perry whose disdain for Latinos is only slightly less than the event’s host. Quite possibly the best part of the weekend was when Perry’s speech was interrupted by a group of protesters over his opposition to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.


The most glaring example of the GOP’s unsuccessful history repeating itself was the absence of any real moderate Republicans. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who has in the past talked about the party’s need to reach out to Latinos and embrace comprehensive immigration reform was not extended an invitation, neither was the party’s standard bearer from two years ago former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney who has recently made waves by dropping hints of a possible third run for office, one that could be accompanied this time with a populist message.


As someone whose political ideology doesn’t line up with conservatives I must say that I’m pleased that their party leaders haven’t figured out this one thing. Going further to the right politically will not win back the White House. Huckabee, Christie, Perry, and even possible second tier candidates like Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz will not get elected on a platform of more guns and less financial regulation, a platform of anti-choice measures and the repeal of the health care law.


They have been there, they have done that. In 2012 it was the fringe that forced Mitt Romney to disown his successful Massachusetts health care law Romneycare because the black dude that occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue used it as a model for the national plan. Rather than standing up for himself and saying that he helped a lot of his constituents good ol’ Mitt had to go through this ridiculous charade of telling everyone that the two laws were drastically different. Fox News and conservative talk radio would have none of it. Should Jeb Bush officially throw his hat in the ring he will find that the same people who wanted no part of Romney will  steer clear of him as if he has the plague. It’s not just the immigration issue that hangs around Bush’s neck like an albatross, he will have to defend his support of the Common Core education standards,–which enrages the GOP base as much as any issue does–and his last name due to his brother’s inability to control government spending from ‘01 to ‘09.


I’m not into doing to political favors for the Republican party but if conservative voters were to ever listen to me I would tell them to open their minds and think outside of the box when it comes to picking their next nominee. The political process in America works in a way where instead of getting the whole cake you have to settle for some of it’s crumbs. Progressives can attest to that living through the Obama years and will continue to do so if and when the Hillary era begins. Conservatives have to ask themselves if a small bite is worth having.

It’s 2012 All Over Again

Bill de Blasio Vs. The System

“Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years, about the dangers he may face. A good young man, a law abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face–we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”


Those don’t sound like inflammatory words from an elected official who is looking for votes, they sound like the words of a terrified father who knows that his biracial child is less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt from law enforcement because of who he is.


Bill de Blasio isn’t making anything up, he isn’t imagining something that isn’t there. He knows the statistics by heart because he has too. He knows that black male teens are twenty one times more likely to be killed by police officers than their white counterparts. He has seen the individual names and families that have personalized this American epidemic, names like John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Stanley Jones.


And yet at the start of this week after Christmas Bill de Blasio is being characterized as anti-cop, anti-law enforcement. A sizeable portion of New York City’s finest chose to make their feelings about the mayor known to the world when they literally turned their back to him as he spoke at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos on Saturday. Ramos and his partner Officer Wenjian Liu were murdered while on duty on December 13th. They were shot dead by a deranged man who shot and critically wounded his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore Maryland earlier that morning.


A day that should have been used to celebrate a fallen officer’s life was turned into a day of self promotion and self congratulation when several cops publicly and repulsively gave their boss the middle finger. So much for that moratorium on protests.


If Pat Lynch and all of the other members of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association were injected with truth serum they would admit that Bill de Blasio is anything but anti-police, and his record proves it. It was de Blasio who hired Bill Bratton to be his police commissioner, Bratton the father of the “broken windows” theory of policing is a Rudy Giuliani disciple and has had no problems endorsing the kind of law enforcement that makes unnecessary encounters between cops and citizens much more frequent. Connecting the dots between “broken windows” and the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in Staten Island would be easy to do, it would also be accurate. Would Garner be alive today if he were not being accused of selling untaxed cigarettes, more than likely. Surely that thought has had to crossed the mind of the Mayor on numerous occasions, but rather than firing Bratton and dumping a horrible policing practice de Blasio has staunchly defended his commissioner especially when talking to the constituency that voted for him in large part because of horrible policing practices.


But Pat Lynch and company aren’t really interested in the truth as much as they are interested in never being questioned by anyone over anything. I will say it again for what seems like the one millionth time, yes police officers have a very difficult very dangerous job, the reality of that danger was driven home with the deaths of Officers Ramos and Liu. But those factors don’t mean that law enforcement should be above reproach. That is the way of thinking that leads to Tamir Rice being murdered in Cleveland by an undisciplined and unstable man like Timothy Loehmann, who should never have been a police officer in the first place. It’s that way of thinking that makes it possible for Officer Peter Liang to text his union representative before dialing 911 for the man that he shot and killed in Brooklyn one month ago, an unarmed man named Akai Gurley.


As far as some cops in New York are concerned it is that line that Bill de Blasio has crossed. For the past two decades the worst elements of the NYPD rested on the fact that Giuliani and his successor Michael Bloomberg had their backs no matter how harmful and how unfair their day to day behavior was. Giuliani publicly smeared the character of a dead man in Patrick Dorismond after he was killed by NYPD in 2000. He did everything but literally spit in the face of the family of Amadou Diallo after he was murdered by New York City cops in 1999. And when he was done Giuliani tossed his policing playbook to Bloomberg who, along with his commissioner Ray Kelly, made the phrase “Stop and Frisk” a household name.


The current mayor of New York City certainly wants to keep it’s residents safe from criminals it’s just that he also wants to keep it’s black and brown residents safe from the law, and at the end of the day that’s the way it should be. As David A. Love wrote in The “The execution-style shooting of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn was a cold-blooded, senseless murder and we must call it what is, but we have to be able to condemn police brutality as we condemn the killings of police officers, the two are not mutually exclusive.” While those words ring true for so many people across the country they apparently ring hollow for just as many, starting with members of the law.

Bill de Blasio Vs. The System

It’s About Time: The NBA And “I Can’t Breathe”

Last Tuesday night The Los Angeles Lakers led by their superstar shooting guard Kobe Bryant took the floor at the Staples Center to battle the Sacramento Kings. They did so wearing the now popular “I Can’t Breath” T-Shirts that have become a symbol of police brutality and misconduct in the wake of Eric Garner’s death, they also followed in footsteps of Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose and Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers who both did the same days earlier.


The topic of black and brown people dying at the hands of police officers should be seen as a serious problem that needs eradicating and not like mere fodder for radio and television programmers who are hoping for a spike in ratings, but then what’s America without a good controversy.


CBS College Basketball analyst and radio talk show host Doug Gottlieb–I can just hear the collective “who the hell is Doug Gottlieb” expressions–logged onto his Twitter account Tuesday night just so he could tell Bryant to “stay in his lane.”


No one should be surprised about Gottlieb’s stance, much in the way that no one should have been surprised about the stance that a columnist from the Chicago American took toward Tommie Smith and John Carlos for their “black power salute” on the medal stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Brent Musberger, whose name is now famous in the sports broadcasting world once wrote that Smith and Carlos were “a pair of black skinned stormtroopers” and said that “One gets a little tired of having the United States run down by athletes who are enjoying themselves at the expense of the country.”


Time has not only vindicated Smith and Carlos it has exalted them as men who were willing to sacrifice their careers for something that was extremely important. The real problem is that time hasn’t enlightened a clown like Gottlieb and it hasn’t assisted him in the ability to learn from Musberger’s mistakes. Gottlieb and Musberger are coming from a place that tells men like Rose, James, and Bryant that they aren’t black anymore because they won the athletic lottery and have the ability to remove themselves from the everyday struggles that the average black person experiences. The difference is there will be no Charles Barkley’s to denounce and public shame Gottlieb and Musberger the way that Barkley denounced and publicly shamed members of the Seattle Seahawks who apparently thought that their Quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t black enough.


This current crop of suddenly vocal NBA players are emblematic of what can be described as a renaissance. The sports landscape was once littered with men like Smith, Carlos, Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali who never viewed themselves as “brands” and didn’t think that becoming the first billion dollar athlete was a goal that needed to be met. Russell, the league’s biggest name in the 1960’s once returned the symbolic key to the city of Marion, Indiana to it’s mayor because he and his black Boston Celtic teammates were denied service at a local restaurant. Ali, the decades biggest sports name overall had the three prime years of his career taken away from him when he was banned from the sport because he refused to serve in an immoral war for a country that viewed him and people who looked like him as less than.


James, Bryant, and Rose aren’t Ali and Russell, they are already parsing their language concerning the T-Shirts and they have also gone out their way to not ruffle feathers concerning the issues of race and policing while doing so. I’ll settle for that because it is a hell of a lot more than what we usually get from pro athletes who normally clam up when they are asked about anything that doesn’t involve the field of play.


Between Ali’s retirement from boxing in 1981 and Rose’s wardrobe choice last Saturday night black athletes have pretty much fallen into two categories. NFL and NBA players were either taking the “never say anything about anything other than football and basketball” approach of Michael Jordan or they were following the “black people are the worst” respectability politics course that the aforementioned Barkley has been publicly lauded for.


What the guys of today are currently proving is that you don’t have to do either one. In 2012 it was James–with his then Miami Heat teammates–who organized a public show of support for the family of Trayvon Martin when Barkley was on the other side of that issue. It’s also James, Rose, and Bryant who are showing that when you take stands like these it doesn’t mean that your earning power is going to be diminished. These particular players are involved with an array of corporate sponsors and not one has cut ties with them, (thus far) and NBA commissioner Adam Silver has already said that the three will not be fined for donning the shirts. And if these protests from all of the league’s players continue is Silver really going to go to battle over this issue that has enthralled the entire nation, my guess would be no and that would prove that athletes in major team sports really do have a tremendous amount of power.


2014 is not 1968 in a lot of ways, but the one thing that can’t be disputed is that racism is still an obstacle for people of color. Issues of police misconduct, racial profiling, and biased officials within the justice system are things that every black and brown person in America should be vocal on no matter their zip codes and the size of the bank accounts. They should also do it because the likelihood is that they come from communities that are rampant with police misconduct, racial profiling, and biased officials in the justice system.


Unfortunately we will just have to continue to educate the Doug Gottlieb’s of the world.

It’s About Time: The NBA And “I Can’t Breathe”

The Ferguson Response From The Rams Was Brilliant

Five members of the St. Louis Rams receiving corp became the latest group of individuals to make their voices heard when they were introduced before their game with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.


Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Jared Cook came onto the field with their hands raised in the air to show solidarity with people across the country who have been protesting the August 9th murder of Michael Brown and the refusal of a grand jury to indict his killer, former police officer Darren Wilson. As expected the gesture wasn’t greeted well in certain social circles.


“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment Rights. Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, we plan to exercise ours. I’d remind the NFL and it’s players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertisers products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams then it’ll be cops and their supporters.”


Those were the words of Jeff Roorda who has been nothing but a professional carnival barker since the day Brown was killed. Roorda is the business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association. He is also a former cop that was fired from the Arnold, Missouri police force for making false allegations against his bosses in 2001. When he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2012 he sponsored a bill that would’ve called for the closing of records and documents relating to all police shootings, and he has publicly criticized the use of dashboard cameras in the patrol cars of police officers.


With this statement of criticism Roorda is putting forth the type of public performance that gets Civil Rights leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson called “race baiters” and “hustlers.” He is clearly playing to a base that feels like every use of lethal force against people of color by someone wearing a badge is justified, and it seems that he is willing to condemn these black football players to drive that point home. Keep in mind that these are black football players who know that they and their families can find themselves on the wrong side of a cop’s bullet at any time.


Roorda is also representing his side in the ongoing battle to control the narrative that is coming not just out of Ferguson but out of cities all across the country. Black people experience police misconduct on a daily basis and as hard as we and our allies are working to draw attention to that misconduct, the dominant story on any news telecast on any given night  is not Michael Brown’s death and how we prevent situations like it in the future. The story has become the rioting and looting that is a byproduct of Brown’s death and the reluctance of people in authority to deal with that many “unfortunate accidents” of cops that have cost too many civilians their lives.


On Monday MSNBC’s resident conservative blowhard Joe Scarborough used his program to admonish black folks for their support of Brown and his family. He was doing this when he and his tag team partner and panelist Donny Deutsch weren’t taking turns calling Brown a “thug” who deserved what he got. Scarborough also took The New York Times to task for their description of the Cleveland officers that murdered twelve year old Tamir Rice last week which typifies the thought process of way too many people. Scarborough’s white skin privilege means he never has to worry about of his kid’s safety when they are in the presence of law enforcement, so it is no surprise that he failed to mention Rice’s family and the pain they no doubt feel over having to bury their child way too soon.


Scarborough and Roorda represent the brick wall that black people are constantly screaming at and there feelings on the topic are bolstered when The President of the United States goes in front of the nation and offers up lectures on black morality just to make the power structure feel better. Those feelings are also bolstered when black conservatives take to the airwaves and the op-ed pages to ask farcical questions about inner city crime as if white people don’t kill each other at high rates or law enforcement officials shouldn’t be held to a higher standard given the importance of their position. The way of thinking behind this nonsense is the equivalent of a sailor plugging only one of the three holes on his boat that it is taking on copious amounts of water.


To paraphrase Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter the list of black and brown people that have been murdered by the police is as “long as arms on Alonzo Mourning,” and it continues grow.

For people like Scarborough and Roorda there will never be the perfect victim of color whose death forces them to rethink the way we police in this country because to them cops should always be provided a forcefield of protection from real consequences, and black folks should shut the hell up when that protection is being provided.


I not ready to say that these five members of the St. Louis Rams are this generation’s Tommie Smith and John Carlos, they still have their careers, Smith and Carlos didn’t after that night in Mexico City. Nevertheless they deserve the admiration of people everywhere who believe in fairness and equality. It’s not easy to be opinionated in a world where being quiet brings you great financial reward, but by making this gesture the Rams basically told society that money isn’t everything and universal adulation is overrated. While people of color are denied equity under the law on host of fronts in America the one thing we do have are our First Amendment Rights, kudos to Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey, and Chris Givens for using theirs.

The Ferguson Response From The Rams Was Brilliant