Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown
April 6, 2015, new introduction March 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ Note (March 16, 2017): Two and a half years ago, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black youth, was shot dead in cold blood as he had his hands raised, by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri. People in Ferguson and around the country rose up and delivered their verdict on this wanton police murder of an unarmed Black man. In the face of this, the St. Louis County prosecutor and then the U.S. Department of Justice refused to bring any charges against the pig, Darren Wilson, who carried out this heinous crime. Recently, a new documentary about Mike Brown and his murder, titled Stranger Fruit, was released. We have not seen the film, but it reportedly indicates that events leading up the murder of Mike Brown are more complicated than was previously known—including a previously unreleased surveillance camera video showing Mike Brown at a convenience store some hours before he was killed. This video clip has been widely shown in recent media reports. A different video from the same store was released and used after the murder as part of efforts to demonize Mike Brown and justify letting the cop off. The St. Louis County prosecutor arrogantly dismissed the newly revealed video as “not relevant” and continued to demonize Michael Brown. In light of these events, we are re-posting the following article which appeared at revcom.us after the Department of Justice released their report outrageously declaring there was no basis to bring charges against the killer cop Wilson.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report recently that came to the outrageous conclusion that there is no basis to file federal charges against Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Another report on Ferguson by the DOJ, released at more or less the same time as the one on Michael Brown’s murder, acknowledged long-standing brutality and abuse of Black people by the Ferguson Police Department, deeply embedded racist hatred on the part of Ferguson cops and city officials generally, and a system of legalized theft and extortion that kept much of the Black population of Ferguson and surrounding cities impoverished, and in and out of jail.
But we are told that this pervasive racist hate had nothing to do with the murder of Michael Brown. The report on Michael Brown says the unarmed Brown tried to grab Wilson’s gun, then charged at Wilson and put him “in fear of his life.” Now all kinds of racists, reactionaries, fools, and cowards have jumped on this to spread confusion and demoralization about what happened in Ferguson, and to demobilize the powerful movement against murder by police that rose up last summer and fall. A recent headline in the Washington Post screamed “Hands up, don’t shoot, was built on a lie.”
This is bullshit! Wilson shot Michael Brown and chased him down the street. Michael had his hands in the air and pleaded with Wilson not to shoot. Wilson poured several volleys into Michael and put a bullet into his brain.
People at the scene saw this, and they told the world about it! No amount of confusion “legitimized” in a government report or a grand jury hearing, no amount of lies repeated in an endless loop on Fox News or CNN can change that!
Dorian Johnson, Michael’s friend, who was with him at the time Wilson stopped them, said he saw Michael Brown stop and turn around with his hands in the air. He said he heard Brown say either “I don’t have a gun” or “I’m unarmed” before Wilson unloaded his gun on Michael. At the time of Brown’s murder, two white construction workers raised their arms in the air to show what Brown was doing and were recorded saying, “He wasn’t no threat at all” and “He had his fucking hands in the air.”
The Department of INjustice, just like the grand jury in Ferguson, decided to ignore all that in the name of what they said was “plausible” in the string of lies and justifications of the murder that Darren Wilson told them. Their report says Michael Brown was somehow the “aggressor” towards the gun-wielding cop stalking him, and that Wilson acted “reasonably” when he shot at Michael 12 times, hitting him either six or eight times.
They dismissed all the testimony of people who saw Michael with his hands in the air. They dismissed the testimony of a woman who said she heard Michael Brown say, over and over, “I didn’t do anything.” They said a woman who said Michael “looked scared” could not be “credible.” The people who saw Michael Brown with his arms up, and his hands out, and who said Michael was “walking” or “staggering” towards Wilson, not charging him as Wilson claimed—their testimony too was dismissed.
Dorian Johnson, who has been grilled endlessly and who has been threatened with perjury, put this DOJ decision in good perspective: “No indictment means no justice. It’s hurtful to think that someone can be murdered and, you know, their killer walks away free. The fight doesn’t stop here. I don’t condone violence on no type of level, but like I said, I do understand the anger. I feel the same anger they are feeling.”
Here’s the truth of what happened. Wilson shot Michael Brown in the hand when Michael came to his car. With gun drawn, he then came at Michael and Dorian. When Michael Brown turned and faced Wilson, with his arms and hands up, Wilson fired several rounds of high caliber bullets into him. Michael’s right lung was hit twice, his jaw was shattered. Then Wilson coldly put a bullet into Michael’s brain and murdered him.
The killing of Michael Brown was straight up murder by police, and people were righteously justified in their fierce protests. “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT!” is indeed one very fitting and powerful slogan and symbol for the mass resistance that needs to be built against the outrage of police brutality and murder, and everything bound up with it.
Wilson’s Story, or the Pig’s Tale
The story Darren Wilson told the grand jury was full of obvious holes, inconsistencies, and outright lies. But not only was Wilson never challenged, his story was taken as the truth that everyone else’s story was measured against.
- “Bruises” on Wilson’s face from Michael Brown’s supposed punches amounted to a slight cut on his lip and what appeared to be a pimple or welt on the back of his neck.
- No fingerprints from Michael Brown were found on Wilson’s gun, over which there was supposedly a “life and death struggle.” None of Brown’s fingerprints were found anywhere on the door of Wilson’s SUV, or on his utility belt that includes the holster of his gun. Even the DOJ report says that “no eyewitnesses directly corroborate (confirm) Wilson’s account of Brown’s attempt to gain control of the gun ...”
- Wilson claimed he radioed for backup when he got out of his vehicle, gun drawn, to begin his deadly pursuit of Michael Brown. There is no record of this. Wilson claims he inadvertently switched his radio to a channel that only receives messages, but he “did not respond” to urgent calls from the police dispatcher. The DOJ report says Wilson’s alibi for the two minute gap when he shot down Michael Brown “lacks definitive evidence... but is plausible.”
- Wilson said, and the DOJ report repeats, that he did not shoot at Michael Brown from behind, yet the report also says that Brown had two wounds in his posterior right arm. The report says since the arm can rotate, a shot from the front of Michael Brown could have entered the back of his arm.
- Wilson claims Brown “charged” him, and put him in fear of his life. As Michael Brown moved towards Wilson, he had two bullet wounds in his right chest, which had entered his lung and caused broken bones. He was bleeding profusely and in intense pain from these other wounds, including one in his forehead that exited his right mandible (jaw bone).
These are just some of the most glaring inconsistencies for which Wilson never had to answer. But these aren’t even the worst of it. Wilson left the scene of the murder as other cops arrived moments after the shooting, against the advice of his sergeant. He went to the Ferguson Police Department, where he knew Barbara Spradling, his fiancée, was on duty. He washed his hands, and packaged his own gun in an evidence bag.
David Klinger of the University of Missouri at St. Louis told the Washington Post, “An officer driving himself back? Wrong. An officer booking his own gun into evidence? Wrong. The appropriate investigative procedures were not followed.” A 2013 manual of the Justice Department states that when crime scenes are processed, investigators “Do not allow suspect to use bathroom facilities, or to alter his/her appearance, including brushing hair or washing hands.” The reality is that from the beginning Wilson never was considered to be a suspect.
Elementary rules of police investigation were not followed either by Wilson, his superior officer, or his fiancée, but the Department of Justice, in its official report, says Wilson’s explanations are “credible.”
Wilson told his story to Spradling before any other cops got there. Whatever they worked out between themselves at that time was the story Wilson told in subsequent questioning. As the old saying goes, “That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.” The DOJ admits that Spradling has “potential bias” in this case—an understatement if ever there was one—but that her testimony, completely based on what Wilson told her when they had some time together right after he shot and killed Michael Brown, and despite her negligence in allowing Wilson to wash away evidence, is “credible.”
All this is what’s known as “getting away with murder.” And it was condoned by the U.S. government’s “Department of Justice.” Why should anyone believe this crap? No one should accept the decision of this report!
The Kill Shot
The DOJ report says that evidence has to prove that Darren Wilson acted “willfully” and “unreasonably” when he shot and killed Michael Brown. It says every shot fired by Wilson must be justified.
The shot that killed Michael Brown entered the vertex (peak) of his skull. Michael Brown was about the same height as Wilson, 6’4.” This means that Brown was either bent over double from the pain of multiple gunshot wounds and extensive bleeding, or on his hands and knees—there is testimony to both—when Brown put the “kill shot” into Michael Brown’s brain.
If putting a bullet into the top of the head of a heavily wounded man bent over double or on all fours is not “willful” and “unreasonable,” what the hell is? This DOJ ruling not only gives Wilson a free pass for his murder of Michael Brown, it is a license to kill for every other pig in the country.
“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is true and a righteous slogan. And we should proudly uphold and continue to shout it. It concentrates what happened to Michael Brown and what has happened in every city and town in this country. And those who fall for or are influenced by the line of reasoning in the DOJ report should ask themselves: in the highly unlikely event that every word Darren Wilson told “investigators” is true—would that justify him gunning down Michael Brown?
If someone supposedly steals a package of cigars as Wilson and the DOJ claim Mike Brown did, does that mean he should be shot to death in the street? If a cop doesn’t like the look on someone’s face—especially if it’s, say, a Black face—is it all right, is it reasonable, for the cop to be in fear for his life, and able to use that supposed fear as justification for killing the Black person? If a youth is bent over double or on all fours bleeding profusely from multiple gunshot wounds, would the person who shot him be justified to put a bullet through the youth’s head and claim the youth was “charging” him? Do Wilson’s hateful, racist, and obviously self-serving statements, which the DOJ report accepts without question or comment, about Michael Brown’s supposed state of mind and appearance—that Brown “looked like a demon,” that he made “the most intense aggressive face” Wilson had seen, and others—does that justify a cop shooting a youth with his hands up in the air?
A basic question of morality is involved here. It is immoral and unjust that police continue to shoot down young Black and Latino men. It is immoral and unjust that any sorry “justification” the murdering pigs come up with—“he reached for his waistband”; “he had a shiny object in his hand”; “he made a sudden move”; “he tried to grab my gun”—is enough to keep them from being charged with anything at all. It is immoral and shameful for anyone to be influenced or accept in any way these worn out excuses.
A legal system that justifies these murders and allows them to continue unpunished is illegitimate and deserves no respect whatsoever.
There Is No Justice from the Department of Justice
As we wrote when the DOJ report was first issued:
The Justice Department essentially found Michael Brown guilty of causing his own death. NO!!! Again, no trial to actually find and test the truth. Again, trying to excuse the basic fact that Michael Brown had no weapon. Again, ignoring killer cop Darren Wilson’s racist grand jury testimony equating Michael Brown to a “demon.” Again, taking as true the highly dubious scenario that Michael Brown, already shot by the cop Wilson several times, somehow rushed the cop who killed him.
Why would they cover it up? Well, think about this: if the Justice Department had actually said that depriving a young Black man of his life without due process is a crime and that Darren Wilson should stand trial for this, don’t you think that would have caused an even more major shit storm among the powers-that-be—who are already at each other’s throats? And what would that do to their whole agenda of repressing Black and Latino communities, an agenda that relies on violence by the police? This was a “compromise deal”—to make people think something will be done, but to keep full support for the police... and to put the people themselves on the defensive.
Now is emphatically not the time to be “cooling out” the struggle that erupted so brilliantly last year. Now is the time for this resistance to become more powerful. Now is the time to say “No More to the System Giving a Green Light to Killer Cops!”
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