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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:29 pm 
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Yeah. And that's why.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:31 pm 
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I don't know that the grand jury made the wrong decision, since I haven't seen all the evidence, or judged the credibility of the different witnesses, but the optics of it, with three-quarters of the jury being white despite the city being two-thirds African-American. And the press conference that the prosecutor gave in announcing the decision was downright bizarre and offensive. Still, there is no excuse for the violent actions of the protesters. None.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 3:16 pm 
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What makes you think the people there to protest were the ones who got violent?

The more I think about it, the more I think the authorities planned out exactly what would happen and where. The National Guard was deployed in the Clayton business district, around the county courts/jail/police HQ. They put up traffic barricades and chain link fence around the buildings. No real protests took place there. Contrast Ferguson, where they let the locals run things--the Guard was practically invisible, and the mayor doesn't even know if there were guard present--and the nasty stuff started when they dropped the gas/smoke/does it really matter/ into the crowd. As if they learned absolutely nothing in August.

A few hours later, one of the business owners whose store was damaged found a bunch of guys rummaging around his store, looting. White guys. In "road crew" vests, with a pickup truck with flashing lights outside. He called the cops...who came, saw the looters were white, and left. The second time the owner called they chased them out of the store, but evidently didn't arrest them.

In the city of St. Louis, the police tear gassed a coffee house where people went to get out of the tear gas. Totally a coincidence that the coffee house had labeled itself as a "safe space" and been labeled "supporters of cop killers" a few days ago on the more vocal pro-police state blogs.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 3:22 pm 
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How we'd cover Ferguson if it were in another country.

Hard not to laugh at this, but that doesn't make it comfortable.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 4:33 pm 
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Apparently the police will be criticized no matter what they do. They do too much, they do too little, they do it to the wrong people, they do it with malicious intent.

Voronwë, would you mind explaining what you found bizarre and offensive about the the prosecutor's announcement of the decision.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 4:49 pm 
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I can explain what I found offensive.
  • Blaming social media, eyewitnesses, the 24-hour news cycle, the community, and just about everyone in a hundred-mile radius EXCEPT the guy who pulled the trigger, the department who "trained" him, or anyone else with actual agency in the case.
  • Spending fifteen minutes spelling out a defense case for someone when he's supposed to be a prosecutor.
  • Saying the grand jury "gave up their lives" when the only person I see in the ground is Brown.
  • Massive amounts of whitesplaining in general.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:03 pm 
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Not that surprisingly, Oakland followed suit. As in Oscar Grant verdict, the protests started peacefully and ended in looting. The freeway got blocked for several hours. There seems to be minimal criticism of the police response. 40 arrests, injuries but apparently relatively minor.

And I feel like the worst mother in the world because the possibility completely skipped my mind and my son will be taking Bart through downtown Oakland tonight. He'll probably be OK, but I'd rather he didn't and I can't reach him, he has no phone.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:11 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
Apparently the police will be criticized no matter what they do. They do too much, they do too little, they do it to the wrong people, they do it with malicious intent.


Funny you should mention that. I noted with some irony that Wilson's wife, whom he married last month, is also with the Ferguson PD. She and another officer (who happens to be black) were commended a couple of years ago for their pursuit of a suspect that involved a carjacking--where they talked the suspect into giving himself up. That would be doing just enough to the right person with proper intent. That's good police work.

But yes, when individual police officers, or whole departments, do something wrong, they MUST be called out on it, because they're in a unique position of trust in civil society. There are people who think it would be fine if the police just mowed the protesters down, too, but you know what? Screw them, they're evil.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 5:17 pm 
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Frelga, you could call his school, I think, and get the message to him that way. I might do that, if I were you.

I think we can say this was the wrong decision even without seeing all the evidence--because in a case like this one, best to err on the side of openness, and a trial would bring the evidence out, wouldn't it? Plus it seems that choosing NOT to indict is the rarer decision; why not avoid even the appearance of cover-up/bias?

That said, I was embarrassed this morning when one of my kids asked what the rules are for grand juries (when we use them and why), and I didn't know. Didn't come up in my high school civics class a million years ago, but seems like it should have!

I am very, very sad about this whole thing, every aspect of it.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:17 pm 
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Teremia, the standard for a grand jury is to determine whether there is probable cause to charge someone with a crime. Essentially, what that means is that they are supposed to determine whether there is enough evidence that a reasonable jury could find the person guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. What they are not suppose to do is determine themselves whether they think that the person is or is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And that is part of the problem that I had with the prosecutor's press conference (in addition to the things that Ax mentioned, all of which I completely agree with). He seemed to be implying that the grand jury made a determination that he was not guilty because in their opinion the evidence that that he had a reasonable basis for shooting Mr. Brown was more credible than the evidence that he did not, rather than determining whether there was sufficient evidence that a jury could use to conclude that he did not. The whole way that he handled this situation is unusual at best. Normally a prosecutor will present evidence to a grand jury and make a specific recommendation that they charge the individual with a certain crime. Here he just gave them the evidence and the various different charges that they could make (involuntary manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter, second degree murder, first degree murder), and left it completely up to them with no guidance. Given the racial composition of the grand jury compared to the city in general, and the fact that the prosecutor has very close ties to the police (his father was an officer in the department killed in the line of duty), the whole thing reeked of impropriety. In my opinion.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 6:39 pm 
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I also find it rather astonishing that one of the witnesses who gave testimony to the grand jury was the accused officer himself. Is that a common thing in a case like this?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:00 pm 
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I wouldn't say that it is common, but it certainly is not unheard of either. Normally a potential defendant might avoid testifying at a grand jury by relying the fifth amendment right not to incriminate himself. But generally speaking, as Teremia suggested earlier, most grand jury proceedings lead to an indictment, and the concern would be that the defendant's testimony could then be used against him or her at trial. However, when police shootings more often than not do not lead to an indictment, so clearly the calculation here was to have Wilson help convince the grand jury not to indict him and avoid a trial altogether. Some of his testimony that I have heard describes sounds pretty over the top, I must say, though since I wasn't there I can' t judge how accurate it was. He reportedly testified that Mr. Brown "looked like a demon" and that he "felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan." I find that pretty disturbing. The way the prosecutor questioned Officer Wilson seemed to be designed to help him defend himself rather than to challenge his story, as is well described in this article: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/fanc ... testimony/

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:04 pm 
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I've also seen the criticism that the prosecutor essentially presented an argument for defense, despite being, well, the prosecutor.

If Wilson was tried and found not guilty, there would be riots at that point, but at least there would be a public process.

It doesn't help that in Cleveland, a police officer shot and killed a twelve year old who carried a toy gun. I understand the police needs to protect themselves, but when you are faced with a child, you have to have a damn good reason before you shoot to kill.

Teremia, you don't think I'm crazy for being worried?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:05 pm 
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I'm not Teremia, but I don't think you are crazy for being worried.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:11 pm 
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Frelga, I'm going to join Teremia on this one. Call the school and have them pass a message to him. It's okay to be "crazy" in a situation like this.

I'm not sure these protests are being fueled by the "wrong" result from the grand jury. Rather, it was the expected result. The feeling that it was all a charade.

As for the shooting in Cleveland, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. Aren't toy guns supposed to have a bright orange plastic bit on them to prevent this sort of thing?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:16 pm 
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That's what I understood, though I haven't seen a toy gun in years.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:34 pm 
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River wrote:
As for the shooting in Cleveland, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. Aren't toy guns supposed to have a bright orange plastic bit on them to prevent this sort of thing?


A report I heard this morning said the toy gun was missing the marker.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:38 pm 
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Yeah, I just read something similar. Still...

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 7:46 pm 
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Last I read, the police refused to release the surveilance video, so who knows.

I also keep reading how incredibly rare it is for the grand jury not to indict, that it is really a statement of whether the prosecutor wanted to prosecute or not.

I really wish this has gone to trial. :(

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:20 pm 
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Voronwë, I'm having some trouble understanding the distinctions you made in your post above. The first thing I need to know is, in the statement below, should that last line read: 'rather than determining whether there was sufficient evidence that a jury could use to conclude that he did.' (rather than, 'did not'.)

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He seemed to be implying that the grand jury made a determination that he was not guilty because in their opinion the evidence that he had a reasonable basis for shooting Mr. Brown was more credible than the evidence that he did not, rather than determining whether there was sufficient evidence that a jury could use to conclude that he did not.

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