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August 14, 2014

To Encourage Responsible Black Leaders, Try Listening to Them

This piece in the WSJ struck a bit of a nerve with the Editorial Staff:

The lead item on much television news since the weekend has been the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. On display was what has now become the fairly standard response in these matters: the inconsolable mother, the testimony of the dead teenager's friends to his innocence, the aunts and cousins chiming in, the police chief's earnest promise of a thorough investigation. The death in Ferguson added to the mix three nights of protest and looting, with police using tear-gas and rubber bullets to quell the crowds, but otherwise the feeling was not dissimilar from what we saw two years ago after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. The same lawyer who represented the Martin family, it was announced, is going to take this case.

Missing, not that anyone is likely to have noticed, was the calming voice of a national civil-rights leader of the kind that was so impressive during the 1950s and '60s. In those days there was Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Whitney Young of the National Urban League, Bayard Rustin of the A. Philip Randolph Institute—all solid, serious men, each impressive in different ways, who through dignified forbearance and strategic action, brought down a body of unequivocally immoral laws aimed at America's black population.

King died in 1968, at age 39; Young in 1971 at 50; Wilkins in 1981 at 80; and Rustin in 1987 at 75. None has been replaced by men of anywhere near the same high caliber. In their place today there is only Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, each of whom long ago divested himself of the moral force required of true leadership. One of the small but genuine accomplishments of President Obama has been to keep both of these men from becoming associated with the White House.

The same day the WSJ article was written, this press release landed in my Inbox:

Washington, D.C. / St. Louis, MO - Members of the Project 21 black leadership network, some of whom are St. Louis residents and eyewitnesses to the unfolding controversy, are speaking out about the continuing protests, looting and rioting in the St. Louis area that have resulted in dozens of arrests.

Christopher Arps "It's a tragedy what happened over the weekend to young Michael Brown. Cooler heads should now prevail until the investigation is complete. This tense situation does not need outside agitators swooping in fanning the flames of an already tense situation," said Project 21 member Christopher Arps, a St. Louis area resident who attended the August 10 prayer vigil held outside the Ferguson Police Department.

Stacy Washington "The most important thing anyone can do in this tragedy surrounding the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown is to take a step back and wait for the entirety of the facts to come to light. The rioting looters are opportunists: people who've taken a tragedy and are using it as an excuse to exercise their most base and criminal desires. These lawless individuals are stealing from a community that's already reeling from losing one of their own," added Stacy Washington, a radio talk show host on WFTK-St. Louis and St. Louis resident. "As a community, the people of Ferguson have already repudiated the behavior of the looters. Now it's time to support the family of Mike Brown, the business owners who lost their livelihoods and the employees who've lost their jobs. I look forward to the conclusion of the investigation."

Horace Cooper "Looting and rioting is never justified. These aren't the actions of mainstream black America. These are the hooligans and thugs who make life miserable for everyone else by taking advantage of what they see as an opportunity," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper. "Likewise, Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump seem more interested in inflaming the situation than seeing to it that justice is done. A rush to judgment before all of the facts are in does nothing for black America or to improve race relations. It would be better for Sharpton to head back to New York City."

Nadra Enzi "Police shoot and losers loot! Looting doesn't bring justice, but does bring to light those destroying the inner city from within. These public riots merely underscore the private ones endured daily by residents who are held hostages by the 'hood. Run a background check on the looters and watch the story unfold about their real motives," said Project 21 member Nadra Enzi, an anti-crime activist in New Orleans. "Is it too much to ask President Obama and the civil rights lobby to denounce this crime spree disguised as a police brutality protest?"

This is what leadership looks like. I've been on the Project 21 mailing list for about as long as I've been blogging. I don't quote them nearly enough, or highlight the good work they do to improve the lives of black Americans and promote good relations between blacks and whites.

When self-interested agitators like Sharpton and Jackson rush to the scene of the latest racial incident to fan the flames and spray gallons of healing gasoline on the troubled waters, the media fall all over themselves to give them airtime (as though something actually worth quoting had erupted from their stately blowholes, instead of the trite, predictable demagoguery of men who make a living from ginning up distrust and hatred). So, too, do too many conservatives; though our commentary is more often geared toward rebuttal than praise.

When a tragedy like the latest one in Ferguson occurs, the easiest thing in the world is to get angry. I wonder how often we stop to consider the worth of leaders who - despite a natural inclination to the same anguish and outrage felt by rioters in Ferguson - offer reason and appeals for constructive action instead?

There’s something else, harder to discuss but, like so many such things, urgent nonetheless. Deep breath: The black community cannot pretend that the stereotype of black men as violent comes out of nowhere.

Young black men commit about 50 percent of the murders in this country, 14 times more than young white men. Or, where do murder rates among young white men go up each summer the way they do among black ones in cities like Chicago? “Flash robs” happen when large groups of teens beset a store and steal from it, and I’m sorry, but these are rarely white affairs.

There are reasons for things like these. However, we are being unrealistic to expect America to watch these things and think it’s okay because the boys don’t have Dads and decent-paying low-skill jobs aren’t always easy to find. Let’s face it: If Korean boys regularly did things like this, we’d all be scared to death of them.

Be clear: Michael Brown’s murder was grievously unjustified regardless. And forget the tired canard that the black community doesn’t care about black-on-black murder, which could only be leveled by someone who doesn’t know much about black people. Stop the Violence events are a staple in black neighborhoods.

Yet, I wonder if the black community could step it up some on this. We need to devote some more energy to figuring out what we can do about The Violence, because among all else that it destroys, it feeds a perception bias that ends up killing innocents like Michael Brown.

That took courage, and a level of self-discipline most of us would be proud to be capable of. To resist striking back, condemn lawless rioting, bite back the thousand easy responses that come so naturally to every human social group, be it based upon race, familial ties, religion, or simply shared values is surely admirable and worthy of our attention and respect?

We are all, in some sense, possessed of dual citizenship. We are citizens of America; of our states, towns, or cities; members of this or that racial, ethnic, or religious group. And nothing could be more natural than to bitterly resent injuries to those we identify most closely with. Black leaders like these embody all that is best and noblest in human nature. They lead and inspire by example.

So why don't we pay more attention to them? So long as we continue to provide a live microphone to demagogues like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and ignore the real black leaders stepping up every day all over this nation, we are compounding the problem. Conservatives like to talk about incentives: what we reward and pay attention to, we can expect to see more of.

That's an observation we should apply to our own conduct. If you're a blogger, consider giving groups like Project 21 a turn at the mike. If you don't have a blog, add them to your reading list and share their public statements with others. There is so much that is good and inspiring in this country, if only we will take the time to see it.

Posted by Cassandra at August 14, 2014 08:09 AM

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Princess, you ignorant slut! Reasonable, responsible black leaders are not on the plantation anymore and therefore cannot be trusted to speak for the remaining community. They are, instead, to be marginalized, shunned and shamed until they realize the error of their ways and return to the fold.
For their own good, don'cha know.
Sheesh, do I gotta explain everything to you?

Posted by: DL Sly at August 14, 2014 11:01 AM

Ah, yes.

The old if you disagree with me, you must not be authentically black/female/whatever shtick :p

We're all for diversity, openness to other viewpoints, and tolerance until we actually encounter them. Then, suddenly, ideological conformity becomes a litmus test used to marginalize non-conformists and treat them as Other.

Sometime, I'm so consumed with self-loathing that I forget the shining path :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 14, 2014 11:05 AM

Yanno, I can't always follow you around reminding you of these "Basic Self-Truths of Truthiness". I know you get the memo's now; I said so on the previous post, even. So get in step or get run over.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 14, 2014 12:25 PM

Ok, I'll be inflammatory.
Travon Martin was a thug who probably did beat up the smaller guy before he was shot. Life is tough; not a great idea to pick a fight.
This kid Brown appears to have been a thug, based on the convenience store video of him stealing cigars and being abusive to the clerk.
While the shooting is indeed tragic, it's not obvious to me that the cop was lying about a struggle for his gun.
I'd prefer to see thugs arrested, based on proper probable cause, then convicted & sent to jail/prison.

The 'protest' cum riot and looting is an awful pathology that inevitably encourages rationale businessmen to avoid investing in 'that kind' of neighborhood.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 18, 2014 03:55 AM

"The 'protest' cum riot and looting is an awful pathology that inevitably encourages rationale businessmen to avoid investing in 'that kind' of neighborhood. "

Yes, followed by screams of racism from all the usual suspects.

Apparently the rationale (if that's the word) goes:
"The Police did something we don't like, we'll show the they can't get away with it" Followed by burning down/looting their own neighborhoods.
Yep, that'll show them.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at August 18, 2014 09:02 AM

Mike/Mongo you ignorant sluts :p

You do not understand, probably because you are white and male. Over 20 businesses were looted and vandalized the day after the shooting and the toll continues to rise. One was burned to the ground. The looting and vandalization has not only continued unabated, but has spread outside of Ferguson.

This, we are told, is the result of police acting stupidly.

Certainly, there has been a never ending parade of "stupid cops" as the Ferguson police were replaced in turn by the St. Louis County police and then the state police. Now the National Guard, who will undoubtedly come in for their heaping helping of insults and Monday morning quarterbacking have been called in. The governor "had no choice".

Question for the ages: isn't this just more "militarization"? And isn't it strange that none of the supposedly "smarter" policing managed to stop the violence?

A small number of protesters throw Molotov cocktails, bricks, and rocks at the police and shoot into the crowd, shoot at businesses (Dellwood market had at least 10 bullet holes in it and spent rounds were found at the scene) but somehow, the police are causing all of this to happen by their stupid, hatey stupidity of hate.

What the police really need is giant armored aerial tweezers they can use to surgically reach into rioting crowds and pluck out only the violent ones for hug therapy and consciousness raising sessions where government officials confess to their shame (before the investigation is even complete) and blame a small town police department for the actions of the supposedly smarter folks brought in to show them how *real* policing is done.

Suddenly, every armchair quarterback in American is an expert in riot control.

I've just about had it. I keep waiting for someone to tally up the injuries and property damage and shootings attributable to the protesters and lay that alongside those attributable to the police.... the ones with all those scary weapons.

The solution is obvious: we need to bring in the military and arm them with Nerf guns and silly string. And water balloons. Lots of water balloons.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 18, 2014 12:23 PM

The latest on this is that Brown was charging the cop, and even after being hit by bullets, kept on charging leading him to believe that Brown was "on something". At this point, the cop believed his life was in danger and used fail-safe aiming.
Although, this will inevitably be squelched by the enemedia as it doesn't fit the narrative.
I'm honestly wondering if this isn't what Xerxes and his DOJ want on a nationwide scale....

Posted by: DL Sly at August 18, 2014 01:36 PM

After much thought, I have decided to keep my yap firmly shut about this for a while longer.

My son is a traffic cop, so I don't feel particularly personally invested in reflexively defending (or attacking, for that matter) the Ferguson police department.

The reporting on this has been just awful - very, very biased and uneven. I have seen innumerable "timelines" that inexplicably "forget" to mention little details like the rioting, looting, random shootings, Molotov cocktails, news vans being attacked, protesters being shot or beatup up by other protesters, etc. But we hear selected details get hyped 24/7.

It's hard for me to imagine why Officer Wilson had to shoot Brown 6 times, but if the police account is accurate and he had previously fought off a physical attack coupled with an attempt to take his gun (and we don't know this is true), then I for one will be slow to condemn him.

There has a been a lot of condemnation, though - much of it ill informed and premature. The NYTimes reported Sunday that the DoJ "never" planned to release the video of the convenience store robbery.

NEVER???? Wow. That's just stunning. How is a violent attack on a store owner just moments before this shooting not relevant? It doesn't mean the shooting was justified (the investigation isn't complete yet, and NO ONE knows that yet), but it certainly shows a different picture of Brown than we've been force fed so far.

Over the years I have prided myself on remaining fairly calm and objective. But I am finding what I'm reading so outrageous that my ability to maintain the necessary detachment is severely impaired. In the face of such overwhelming bias, I really *want* to present the other side. But if I do that, I'll be doing exactly what I can't stand: cherry picking through the evidence looking for facts that support what I already think.

Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what Howard Kurtz wrote on Faux news the other day: we've heard the anti-police side 24/7. The police have mostly not told their side yet. Every release of a new factoid becomes the pretext for more riots and the destruction of local businesses, and yet they're vilified for not releasing all the facts.

I often wonder if the entire human race has gone mad?

Posted by: Cassandra at August 18, 2014 01:56 PM

Well, you know me and my particular aversions to police in general, and Lord knows we've had our heated discussions about their actions over the years. In this instance, though, and I have been following this fairly closely, I'm more inclined to believe the cop's version of the story as it lines up more equally to the injuries suffered by both Brown and the cop. Also, in light of the autopsy, Brown's partner in crime (literally, as he has already admitted to police) has told such a pack of lies about the incident that I'm starting to wonder what else he's hiding.

And, yes, the DOJ obtaining (prior to local authorites knowlegde even) and apparent plan to never release the video speaks to a larger agenda than just a "civil rights violation" investigation....with 40 (yes, FORTY) FBI agents on the ground conducting interviews. With whom?
No one knows as there weren't many true eyewitnesses.
This whole thing stinks, but Michael Ramirez has the best cartoon depiction of the situation.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 18, 2014 02:59 PM

Ramirez is good. Also reminds me of Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles holding himself hostage with his own gun to his head in front of the all white town folks. The preacher holds up his BIble with a trembling voice invokes peace and serenity a la Rodney King and someone from the audience shoots a hole in the Bible. Preacher says "Your on your son.!" Sometimes Hollywood gets it right as does Mel Brooks. Murderous banality. Note the tee shirts that were quickly printed up with the "Hands Up - don't shoot" mantra and Sharpton makes his appearance state left. Predictable. The locals had some choice words for the looters. There is hope and I lived through Watts riots I and II.

Posted by: vet66 at August 18, 2014 05:00 PM

Over at Grim's place I linked to a video of a formidable older lady who had dressed up in her pearls and Sunday best and walked down to the burned out QuikTrip to let the local news channel hear exactly what she thought of the rioters and looters.

She reminded me of my Grandmother :p

My heart just went out to her, and those poor stock clerks who locked themselves in the WalMart. I can't imagine how scared they must have been.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 18, 2014 05:31 PM

The biggest one I don't understand is the store where the cigars were stolen from in the first place. When the video was released, the mob went down to that store and looted and burned it! Now what did that store, and it's owner, do to deserve that? He not only got robbed of merchandise, he also was forced to give up the security tape, thereby putting him squarely in the middle of this whole case (whether he wanted to be or not) which then was used as the *justification* for him losing his entire business.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 18, 2014 05:43 PM

It hasn't been clear to me which store was which.

I think the QuikTrip that got burned down on Sunday wasn't the store that was robbed by Brown (or someone who looks just like him, wearing the same clothes and accompanied by someone who just happened to look just like the guy who was with him 10 minutes later).

That store was the Ferguson Market, which was looted and vandalized. I'm not sure it was burned though. Dellwood Market was torched.

And it's interesting that none of the employees at Ferguson Market called the police- it was a customer who called 911.

And the police chief initially said that the robbery had nothing to do with the officer stopping Brown, but I read on CNN that Wilson stopped about the jaywalking, then drove off, then stopped and backed up. And later, the police chief said this:

In an afternoon press conference, Ferguson, Mo. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Wilson did not initially make a connection between the robbery and Brown,whose death spurred violent protests and unrest in the St. Louis suburb over the past week.

Wilson stopped Brown and a friend because "they were in the middle of the street, blocking traffic," Jackson said.

Hours later, however, Jackson told a slightly different story to CNN and NBC, saying that Wilson noticed Brown was carrying a box of cigars that had been reported stolen. Wilson, he said, initially stopped Brown for blocking traffic, but as he began driving past Brown, he noticed Brown was holding cigars.

At that point, Wilson "made the connection" that Brown might have been involved in a theft that had just been broadcast on police radio, Jackson said.

link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/usanow/2014/08/15/ferguson-missouri-police-michael-brown-shooting/14098369/

It makes very little sense that Wilson would not have heard the dispatch call about the robbery, but again the facts are hard to piece together.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 18, 2014 06:32 PM

My give a damn is broken. Well, except when my wife says no it isn't.

I do believe this is manufactured outrage.

Who the heck ever wrote the song Sandy Eggo here I come? The Cajon Crawl.

Posted by: Allen at August 19, 2014 03:55 AM

"giant armored aerial tweezers"

Heh. I love that imagery.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at August 19, 2014 09:49 AM

And this morning brings the news of a dozen witnesses corroberating Officer Wilson's version of the incident.
While Eric the Red, hisself, bustles down to Ferguson.
Curiouser and curiouser.....

Posted by: DL Sly at August 19, 2014 12:15 PM

This is really pretty close to my take on the whole affair.

With regards to police militarization this line really does say it all for me.

The paramilitarization of the police is a huge problem and sadly, Ferguson is going to make it worse because this was the one time i[t] was called for and it will be brought up over and over in every town hall when they’re discussing funding for the MRAP.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 19, 2014 01:42 PM

The whole "militarized police" debate makes me feel exactly the way your blogger does. Like banging my head or punching a hole in the drywall.

I'm not convinced that "militarized police" are anywhere near being a huge problem. That's a statement that requires some evidence to back it up, even before you get to the "duh" questions like, "Why am I *not* supposed to be concerned that totally unaccountable and untrained people - hey! like some of the rioters! - can legally own military grade weapons, but the fact that the police have them is supposed to have me shaking in my Capt. America underpants?"

Here's another question: do guns kill people? Or do people kill people? Are police people? Do they ever make mistakes?

How come when ordinary people murder each other with guns, I'm not supposed to be concerned because that's one of the tradeoffs that comes with freedom. But when police make a mistake (and I'm not even willing to stipulate that here), it's an Unacceptable Traveshamockery That Threatens Everything Real Americans Hold Dear????

If the mere presence of guns is worrisome, why is that? The argument seems to be, "if police have these weapons, they'll use them in some way I don't like because... HUMAN NATURE!"

Hmmm. Let's just say that link of thinking isn't applied anywhere near evenly. Military weapons are Bad and Scary when police have them but completely harmless when private citizens own them, or something to that effect.

That said, loved your link YAG. One of the best things I've read so far, and why I'm not writing about this even though it's killing me.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 19, 2014 02:20 PM

More observations:
- I for one, deplore the 'militarism of local police, and also fed & state dept's.
- also abhor the outsiders coming in to cash in on race baiting politics (and fundraising), and much worse the trash that deliberately wishes to stir violence and looting.
>>> history suggests that's a great way to destroy a community (see also Watts / East LA & Detroit).
- it is surreal for Holder to be heading to a StL suburb for a single questionable police shooting. Hells bells, the AG didn't go local during desegregation riots . . . Or for anti war riots.
- it's worth noting again, and again, and again that we outsiders probably cannot ever know w much confidence exactly what really happened.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 19, 2014 11:53 PM

"Why am I *not* supposed to be concerned that totally unaccountable and untrained people - hey! like some of the rioters! - can legally own military grade weapons, but the fact that the police have them is supposed to have me shaking in my Capt. America underpants?"

There are actually two different issues and they very often get conflated by those on both sides of the issue.

1) Military grade weapons. Yes, the public can own them. They only cost the price of a new car, and take 6+ months to go through the background checks, though. This means the rioters are likely not the kind of person that even could own one. It's like worrying that the rioters own a Bentley. Or an MRAP. Which, while legal, could really only be owned by Bill Gates. So the complaint that the police now have the same weapons the public does isn't pursuasive. The public, by and large, don't own machine guns and MRAPs.

2) The issue isn't really the weapons themselves. A machine gun in the hands of a good person harms no one. The problem is the police adopting a military attitude. Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Wait a minute! What happened to "imminent threat of death or grave bodily injury" for lethal force? What happened to proportionality for non-lethal force? Now the standard is "Do what I say or else?" Now, I don't think this officer is going to shoot someone just for giving him the stink eye. His own editorial gives counter examples. But that mindset of extreme authority is troubling. We should all object to Cartman being the sheriff. Even those unregulated private citizens don't go around proclaiming "my machine gun means 'Do what I say or else'" and that that is, in fact, the proper standard even if it's "impolitic" to say so.

That attitude is the real problem. And increasingly the military training (and consequently the attitude) is delivered with the hardware.

It's one thing for me to want to take my machine gun (I wish) to the range because "If I have it I want to use it", it's another when the police take their machine guns to serve a student loan fraud warrant because "If I have it I want to use it". I'm sorry, but a 25 year old who lied on a loan application isn't likely to be a "You'll never take me alive, Copper!" type criminal.

But like I said, this particular case requires more than Sheriff Andy Taylor, who would be singularly ill-equipped to handle this level of rioting. (And during Sheriff Andy's time, the water cannons and dogs would have been trotted out a long time ago.) My preference is that since these cases are so rare it makes more sense for this to be handled by the NatGuard. They already have most of this type of equipment and the mentality/training in using it. They also don't have to deal with these same people everyday after it's over. That mentality, which is required in this situation, would then not bleed over to infect the people/police interactions quite so much. There might not be so much distrust. It simply is not necessary for every small town to have it's own riot squad and the (perhaps not quite so) unforseen consequences that come with it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at August 20, 2014 12:02 PM

Now, I don't think this officer is going to shoot someone just for giving him the stink eye. His own editorial gives counter examples. But that mindset of extreme authority is troubling.

I am not so worried about mindsets that may or may not exist as I am about actions.

People who own guns say a great many troubling things, too. And it does seem to me that many of them have a very troubling mindset. But until they act on that mindset....

Wrt the national guard, they are not as well trained as the police in crowd control. So it boggled the mind to me to hear people saying it's better to have the National Guard because the police aren't well trained enough and *might* overreact and make a mistake :p

I think there's way too much emotion on this topic and way too little data and perspective.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 20, 2014 01:58 PM

The public, by and large, don't own machine guns and MRAPs.

Are you sure about that? I did some quick Googling and found this:

In 2009, in a declaration made as part of the court case Heller v. District of Columbia, which challenged D.C.’s assault weapons ban, NRA research coordinator Mark Overstreet reported that, from 1986 to 2007, at least 1,626,525 AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles were produced and not exported from the United States.

Overstreet suggested that you could use trends in NICS background checks to project future sales of AR-15-style rifles. As of Nov. 30, 2012, the total number of NICS background checks increased by 50.4 percent since the end of 2007. If the number of AR-15 rifles increased similarly, then that means there are at least 2,446,294 AR-15 rifles currently available in the United States.

That “at least” is an important caveat. These data only include firearms manufactured in the United States. In his declaration, Overstreet notes that, since 1986, “U.S.-made firearms have accounted for roughly three-fourths of all new firearms available on the commercial market in the United States.” So if you increase the above number to account for foreign-made, AR-15-style rifles, you get 3,261,725 total rifles.

More caveats: Overstreet derived his numbers by examining the sales figures of companies that only produced AR-15-style rifles. He didn’t include sales data from America’s three largest gunmakers—Remington, Smith & Wesson, and Sturm-Ruger—because these three produce multiple lines of rifles, and he couldn’t break down the data.

So, an *extremely* conservative estimate of US made AR15s (just one of many kinds of these weapons) is about 1.6 million. We know it's not up to date and we know that it excludes foreign made weapons and the Big 3 weapons manufacturers in the US.

Want to guess how many police there are in the US?

In 2008, the number of FT state/local cops was 1,133,000. Of those, only about 765000 have arrest powers. And not all of them have military style weapons. Not all of them even carry guns! My son, for instance, has a handgun and a shotgun when he's in a car (but not when he's on his motorcycle).

Again, perspective.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 20, 2014 04:21 PM

As your quote mentions, though, virtually all those AR-15 rifles the public owns are semi-automatic, not fully-automatic. The only fully-automatic weapons legal to be in civilian hands in the US are those produced before 1986, when the Hughes Amendment was passed, and those are both heavily regulated and hard to come by. Without that fully-automatic or burst fire mode, those AR-15s aren't machine guns.

All that having been said, do we know whether these military-appearing weapons the Ferguson cops themselves are sporting are in fact full-auto or not? Assumption seems to be that they are, since so much of the stuff police departments are getting for cheap appears to be military surplus, but how would we find out for certain?

Posted by: Matt at August 20, 2014 11:18 PM

All that having been said, do we know whether these military-appearing weapons the Ferguson cops themselves are sporting are in fact full-auto or not?

It's worth noting here that those "incompetent" Ferguson cops were replaced almost immediately by St. Louis County cops, who in turn were replaced by MO state troopers, and then the National Guard.

Because nothing says "demilitarization" better than replacing local cops with... ummm.... actual military.

The list of "military" gear the Ferguson cops got doesn't include any real weapons (unless, that is, you consider Humvees, a generator, and a trailer to be "weapons"):

Since 2007, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency has transferred two Humvees, one generator and one cargo trailer to the Ferguson Police Department, Kirby said. The larger St. Louis County Police Department, which also provides police in Ferguson, has received six pistols, 12 rifles, 15 weapon sights, three helicopters, seven Humvees, two night-vision devices and a bomb disposal robot, Kirby said.

Yes folks, that's what the fulmination is about.


This has got to be the most fact free discussion I've seen in a long time. Thanks for asking that question, Matt.

I wish more people would ask questions like that.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2014 11:48 AM

Oh, and one more thing.

The widely-quoted observation that some military vets are saying their ROI were tighter in Iraq and Afghanistan ... well, that is just plain stupid.

The US military is not tasked with enforcing Iraqi or Afghani law.

This is so stunningly obvious that I am amazed it even needs to be said, but apparently it does. Not an apples to apples comparison, to say the least.

And let's not forget all the uber-outragey coverage of US troops kicking down doors and entering private homes in Iraq and Afghanistan with guns and oodles of "militarized" weaponry and body armor. Yeah, it happened. That's kind of what *does* happen in wartime.

It didn't happen in Ferguson.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 21, 2014 11:51 AM

My recollection is that 'ROE' = Rules Of Engagement,
Aka, prescribing the situation in which it's ok to use force.

In my submarine experience, that implied 'it's now ok to kill the other poor SOBs.'

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 23, 2014 11:37 PM

"On display was what has now become the fairly standard response in these matters: the inconsolable mother ...."

Notice how relatively rare the presence of a father is.

Posted by: RonF at August 24, 2014 09:59 AM

Heh... I didn't notice until Mike's comment that I typed "ROI" instead of ROE :p

Multitasking scares me sometimes - the brain just gets its wires crossed.

Wrt the ROE getting tightened up (and there's a legitimate questions as to whether that was a good idea or not), let's not forget why that happened:

Even before the security agreement’s rules of engagement were drafted, troops complained about meeting the requirements of an increasingly burdensome checklist before they can fire. The rules grew stricter in 2010 after a series of mistaken U.S. bombings killed civilians and special operations troops raided villages and homes at night.

Again, nothing even remotely like this happened in Ferguson, and even after the ROE got stricter, American troops are still allowed to do all sorts of things the police rarely if ever do.

Mostly because the two situations are completely different.


Posted by: Cassandra at August 24, 2014 12:22 PM

Precisely right Blog Princess.
Poor cops have an awful checklist of progressive / alternate actions they must follow in a tough environment that often doesn't grant much time to decide whether / what kind of force they may use.

We sub sailors have it 'easy;' IF granted adequate ROE, when attacked we have permission to sink the other poor SOB.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at August 24, 2014 07:06 PM

"It hasn't been clear to me which store was which.

I thought I had read that it was the same store, but couldn't find the story again. This is more recent.

Not to fan the flames, but I hate when I can't find something I know I've read.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 30, 2014 02:28 PM