The Ferguson Files: #SayHerName

The Ferguson Files: #SayHerName.


Ferguson Files: Solidarity Baltimore!

The unfortunate fact is that we here do know what is going on there, though it has gone on in many more places since last August than just Ferguson and Baltimore.  The paler types watched in horror as the actions of the police murder in S.C. played out on tape.  We, here, all knew that it was a hard fact that without that brave soul taping and being even braver to come forward, all we would have known is that yet another man was dead for no discernible reason.  In St. Louis Metro Area, we’ve had several incidences of police shooting down unarmed black men since August of last year.   It is evident that, despite a few cosmetic changes,the police chief, city manager and a judge/prosecutor/defense attorney (don’t ask!) stepped down with golden parachutes intact, nothing has really changed here.  So we went out tonight to march in Solidarity with the peaceful protesters in Baltimore.  The police soon put a stop to that.  Yes, they overreacted and brought out the MRAPs again.  They say it was due to a shooting in the area, but they didn’t drive into the area, just threatened the protesters to go home or be subject to arrest…all before 10pm CST.  What are we 13yr olds?  Not hardly.  And, as most parents know, if you are screaming at a teenager, they aren’t going to listen anyway.  I’m beginning to feel as if the police are the teens and we, the people who are sick and tired of being shoved around and told what to do, are the adults.  Try this, though a warning it might be fatal, go up to two total strangers talking to each other and tell them it’s time for them to go home as it’s after dark.  Did they think you were crazy or just bent on your own destruction?  Feel Free to comment on your results.

UW asked to no longer file state sexual assault report

Yet another thing my friends in WI have to put up with because Scott Walker is a moron!

MADISON (AP) — The University of Wisconsin is requesting that Gov. Scott Walker remove a requirement that all 26 campuses report every year to the state allegations of sexual assaults.

Walker included the UW request in his budget as part of his plan to decouple the university from most state laws and oversight.

UW System spokesman Alex Hummel said Friday that UW requested the change because information given to the state is duplicative of data required to be reported under federal law.

Hummel says UW is not lessening its commitment to educating students about sexual assaults and reporting data “one iota.”

The proposal to delete the annual reports to the state Department of Justice was explained in a summary of Walker’s budget released Thursday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

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Ferguson Files: You Have the Right to…..

Wait, no you don’t.  Since the institution of the Patriot Act in September 2001, we’ve all been subject to a lot of the “new rules” we saw being played out in full color in Ferguson.  Since the grand jury returned no bill of indictment, the police have been acting even more entitled, if that’s possible, to harass, search, hold, incite arrestable behaviour and on and on.  And, it is all over the St. Louis Metro Area, not just in Ferguson.  Not that it ever was just in Ferguson.

Today, after stepping out of the courthouse, where I was on other business, I turned on my phone to find this message: “A cop threatened to taze me!”.  Checking the time stamp, I realized over 2 hours had passed since that message was sent!  That is when I started to panic, messaging and dialling frantically in order to make sure my friend was Ok.

Why panic?  After all, this is a 35+, college educated, married, father of 2 and business owner.  Surely it wasn’t what he meant to send right?  Wrong!  Part of what he does to support his family and fulfil what he considers his humane and Christian duty is to help the homeless access services.  And it seems that he was in the wrong place on the wrong day.

Earlier, St. Louis and the pastor of the only homeless shelter down town had been arguing again over whether or not the shelter could be closed by the city.  The pastor decided to file suit alleging that the shelter was a house of worship as well as the fact that sheltering the homeless was part of his own personal religious path.  The city didn’t like that attitude, so it evidently sent out it’s bully boys to harass the homeless on the streets near the shelter.  The police scooped up everyone, made them sit on the curb while their ID was checked and also harassed them both verbally and physically.

My friend was ordered to show his ID, and as he searched for it (he’d been doing end of the day paperwork and didn’t know what was going on around him), another officer walked up who first  ordered him out of the car, “You have 30 seconds to give me your ID and get out of the  car” then immediately dragged from his car leaving his tablet on the front seat and the drivers door wide open into traffic.  When he asked to at least close his door so it wouldn’t be a traffic hazard, he was told to stop resisting arrest or he’d be tazered.  So, he was detained on a side walk for nearly an hour while his car was open to any and all passers-by (thanks to the gentleman who closed the door after a while).  He had no wants or warrants, no outstanding tickets, he has car insurance, licenses and registration all up to date and the police  had no reason to bother him at all.   Except for the facts that he is black, his car is not the newest and he was near some homeless people.

He told me he’d never been treated as nastily and rudely as the STL PD treated him today.  This from a man who did not always make the best choices and  grew up hard in East St. Louis when it made St. Louis look like a nice, calm place.  He was looking for an explanation from me.  I was at a loss as to what to say except, “Now they all act entitled to harass anyone and yeah, profiling and well, because…… racism”

Ferguson Files: Baby, it’s COLD outside….

Yet we’re still here.  Yes, still holding vigils as the temps drop below freezing and falling fast.  Still marching, those that can in this cold.  And we’re still waiting….for the promised funding, promised programs, promised support, and promised help.  Might as well have promised us the moon whilst they were at it, for all the good it’s doing the ACTUAL protesters that have been out for months.  The ones who are “family” to each other now because we’ve discovered that “the man” is not always a man, but no matter the gender, there are thieves, cons, grifters, rappers, rippers, out of towners and some in-town folks who will do whatever they can to get a hold of some of that “movement money”.

They seem to affiliate with some that are trying to stifle the transparency they are demanding of the powers that be. Huge problem there is that if we don’t expose our own ba actors, you can be sure they will get front page treatment if those who support the status quo get a hold of the info.  Remember ACORN?  What happened to that nationwide network when corruption was exposed?  The problem with “not rocking the boat” is it’s exactly how we got to the flashpoint last August.

So, some words of wisdom from an old hand:  watch your wallet, don’t give more than you an afford to, chek the funding backer or non-profit “staff” payroll.

Yps, it’s a people’s movement, but the actual people?  Yeah, they are not feelin’ the love, just the Arctic blasts of February.

Ferguson Files: Memento Mori

It was a small gathering this past Monday night.  Consisting of mostly neighbors and the family that has sprung from the hearts of the protest.  There to stand vigil and remember.  Michael Browns’ grandmother was also there.  Yes, the one whos’ house he was visiting that fateful day.  She couldn’t speak, overcome by emotion still.  We waited a bit as traffic was thick and then, a few words, a few songs, a prayer as we shivered in the February chill.

It felt small, somehow incomplete as a commemoration of the last 6 months we’ve all gone through.  Many decided we’d meet in a bit across from thb

The Ferguson Police Dept., sort of for old times sake.  I and my photographer got there, said “hi” to Ms. Sully at Subway and wandered off tb

To find Chinese food.  Twenty minutes later, we’re back with our food and there are about 15 people there.  Some started across the street to the PD parking lot.  My partner and I rolled our eyes at each other, thinking, “here we go!”.  But we’d been wrong.  No police.  It seemed like the kids were drawing on the sidewalk and asphalt from where we were. (we found out later they were using washable chalk)  One thing is for sure, there weren’t any police running out of the building onto them.

A Lincoln Navigator sized SUV pulled up from the back of the PD lot.  He seemed to be riding right behind the chalker group and tailing the livestreamer Heather De Maia who is wheelchair bound due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and totally unable to chalk.  The SUV stopped about 20 feet from where the driveway to the street begins.  An order was given for all to disperse, so the chalkers, livestreamers, photographers and protesters all complied and crossed the street to a private lot we’ve permission to be on.  By this time, another overly large SUV had joined the first one.  They just sat there until the last person reached the other side of a 5 lane street.  The last person was Heather, in her wheelchair.

Suddenly, the SUV’s screeched across the street so fast they could barely brake in time to avoid jumping the sidewalk.  I was certain someone was going to be run over, and that person would be Heather!  Her chair was just in between the bumper of a car IN the lot and the bumper of the PD SUV.  Behind the SUV came about 20 uniformed police, most with tazers already deployed.  The mob of police overwhelmed the small crowd.  An out of state photographer was smashed to the ground, along with his very expensive equipment. (Later returned to him broken).  Two people who were filming with their phones were roughly arrested as well.  (Their phones came back damaged) And then there was Heather, she was unceremoniously dumped from her chair, and while her chair was being searched, she was hit in the face, by an officer, resulting in her glasses flying over 10ft. into the roadway.  In amidst all this, there were shouts of, “Move and I’ll taze you Mother Fucker”, “Get your hands where I can see them or I’ll shoot.” “Don’t run or I’ll shoot!”  Remember, we are talking maybe 15 people in and out of cars, not hundreds.

They chased a minor 1/2 block and into a store in order to arrest “that little Fing n**** that ran off” (spoken by a black officer). These particular officers were assisted by 2 non-uniform men who came out of the Fire Dept.  When I, my photographer and another Legal Observer, started to move across the street to assist Heather and others, we were also threatened with arrest if we moved one more step.  Personally, I was trying to get to Heather’s Mom who was in her van watching them cart her daughter off and crying.  I was not allowed to do so, but I caught her eye and motioned for her to back up and come to the sidewalk we were on.

One aside: Heather does what she does because she feels she must.  She’s really good at it too.  Her mother, despite the fact she worries about her, supports her in her activism and livestreaming.  Her mother and I have become friends and her mother has come to understand that I will keep a special eye out for Heather during actions.  So, sometimes, she leaves Heather “with me”, though Heather is not in my charge or any such thing. Heather, is very much her own person.

Once the police had thrown Heather and six others into the backs of the SUV’s, and I do mean thrown, they retreated to the back of the PD across the street.  Heather’s mother and I immediately went to start demanding Heather have a medical evaluation immediately.  Her condition can kill her in minutes once an internal bleed starts.

After 4 calls and 45 minutes, Heather’s mother was able to go see her and eventually get her out.  She was charged with disorderly conduct and defacing public property.  Yep, 2 things she literally, physically can not do.

The others were detained and charged without being read their rights. They were charged with everything from “manner of walking” (covered in an earlier File), to destruction of police property and resisting arrest.  Pictures were taken, but not for the mug shot record.  They were taken for the “Known Agitators” Bulletin Board the PD put in downstairs.  Not a single pale face on it!

The interesting take away by all there was that this particular police action was severely, overly aggressive as if they now believe, in light of no charges or lawsuits etc. being brought against Officer Wilson or the Ferguson PD, they have a warped sort of permission to be as brutal as they want to be especially if they outnumber us, let alone out gun us…we are peaceful protesters after all.

Ferguson Files: Justice, Just this Once.

Today it’s 6 months since Michael Brown died, and we’re still counting.  Because nothing, not one thing has changed.  Nothing substantial anyway.   Oh, there’s been a few promises of businesses dedicating a project or office to be in Ferguson.  Some contractor has employed 50 people doing intake for the ACA Health Plans but he, and the menial jobs will be gone in a few days.  A grant finally came in to pay for the businesses that haven’t yet demolished their damaged properties to do so.  And, the City of St. Louis police department has shot more young black men.  And that same City?  Yeah, they are about take and demolish a historical, but black populated, neighbourhood thereby rendering 90 people homeless.  In a city that is trying to shut down it’s only dedicated homeless shelter.

Are you still with me?

The flip side of this is the 3.7 MILLION dollars that walked away from Ferguson and North County when the professional organizers , politicians, and not for profits took their cut of “fundraiser” money and ghosted.  Corruption and graft reigns wherever money is goal, not actually helping people and communities. So yes, both “sides” have added to the frustrated fury that is again building in the North STL City/County

Last night, during a conversation with a newcomer to the area, he asked me, “Why were they surprised at the grand jury finding?  Didn’t they know?”  I tried so very hard to explain to him that I’d asked the same question, of fellow protesters and myself, and what’d I’d found was:  We still, despite statistics, polls, and personal experiences, we still had a grain of hope.  We hoped, that, just once, just the one time, maybe, just maybe the “justice system” would work the way we’ve all been told it should.  That didn’t happen.  At least not in the view of most people I’ve talked to about this.  All they wanted was a public trial.  Not the monstrously conducted charade of a “transparent” presentation to a grand jury by  prosecutor, Bob McCulloch , that involved known perjurers, liars and fraudulent “witnesses and evidence.  Justice was all we were and still are, asking for.  Justice, just this once.