PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA — Last night, the Democratic National Convention paid tribute to a would-be cop killer and a would-be gay basher.
Lezley (Leslie) McSpadden, mother of would-be cop killer Michael Brown, appeared on the stage of the convention, along with other women whose children were shot to death, died during encounters with law enforcement, or both.
She was honored as a surrogate for Brown and as someone who, because of her son’s death, became a leader in the “Mothers of the Movement” group. That group promotes the false narrative that there is an epidemic of police officers shooting and killing African-Americans based on racism. This effort is informally a part of the “Black Lives Matter” anti-police campaign, which has inspired at least three sets of assassinations in New York City, Dallas, and Baton Rouge, killing a total of 10 officers. (Yesterday in Philadelphia, BLM protesters, preparing for an event, were directed via loudspeaker, “black people to the front, white people to the back.”)
When McSpadden and other “Mothers of the Movement” were introduced, chants of “Black lives matter!” rose from the crowd.
Also honored as a surrogate for her son and appearing on stage: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, a young man who was killed by a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had been following Martin, who was acting suspiciously at night in a neighborhood plagued by burglaries. Martin laid in wait for Zimmerman, who was Latino, knocked him to the street, and repeatedly slammed the man’s head into the concrete. (The news media have consistently described Martin as “unarmed.”) Zimmerman, in self-defense, shot Martin. According to Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who was on the telephone with him during the incident, Martin was attempting to give “whoopass” to someone he believed was gay.
Unlike McSpadden, Fulton spoke. “Hillary Clinton has the compassion and understanding to support grieving mothers; she has the courage to lead the fight for commonsense gun legislation,” Fulton said. “And she has a plan to repair the divide that so often exists between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This isn’t about being politically correct. It’s about protecting our children.”
Democrats last night did not honor families of police officers killed in the line of duty. That omission drew criticism from police groups.
“We were hoping that Hillary Clinton could be as good for law enforcement as Bill Clinton, but we’ve now seen that’s not the case,” said Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association and St. Louis County Police Association. “This is such a big wedge issue and the Democratic Party is on the wrong side of that issue.”
Missouri Fraternal Order of Police president Rick Inglima, quoted by St. Louis Today, said that the announcement that McSpadden would appear made police “very concerned.” He said police “hope this is not going to perpetuate a message of hate that we’ve seen so often by some of the current movements. We certainly wish there was a place on the DNC stage for the families of the police officers who died doing what they loved, protecting their communities.”
WHAT HAPPENED IN FERGUSON
The Michael Brown story shows how myths are created in American politics.
Brown robbed a convenience store, roughing up an Indian-American clerk less than half his size. Within 10 minutes, a police officer spotted him, and, when the police officer confronted him, Brown, who weighed almost 300 pounds, attempted to take the officer’s gun. During the struggle, the gun went off in the police car. Brown ran away, but turned and charged the officer, who said later that he feared for his life—a very reasonable fear, given Brown’s size and the fact that about 10 percent of police officers who are shot to death are killed with their own guns.
Excluding witnesses whose stories changed or whose stories were contradicted by the physical evidence, every single witness backed up the officer’s account of the incident. (Witnesses were African-American or “bi-racial.”) The police officer’s innocence was confirmed in a report issued by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Nevertheless, the officer, whose wife was pregnant, lost his job.
From the beginning, the Obama administration attempted to shape the story to its own ends. The Justice Department tried to block release of the tape showing Brown committing the robbery, presumably to preserve the myth that he was just a gentle soul minding his own business when the officer confronted him. The administration sent three White House representatives to Brown’s funeral, and sent Justice Department community relations staffers to Ferguson where they blamed the incident on “white privilege.” Racist hate-preacher Al Sharpton, whom Politico (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/al-sharpton-obama-race-110249.html) called “Obama’s go-to man on race,” was sent there to organize the protests. Yet, in the end, even the Obama administration had to admit that the officer was innocent—or, as NPR propaganda put it, “found that his actions were not ‘prosecutable violations.’”
To this day, the major news media suggest that the officer wasn’t indicted because of (as the Washington Post, USA Today, and many other organs put it) “insufficient evidence.” That suggests that the officer may have gotten off on a technicality. Actually, Wilson was completely cleared.
Wilson, it was reported by The New Yorker, attempted to get his job back after he was found to be innocent, but was told that he would constitute a danger to other officers, and worked at a boot store for two weeks, but quit because reporters had tracked him down and were calling the store.
Business Insider reported on the fate of Officer Wilson (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-life-is-like-for-darren-wilson-after-ferguson-shooting-2015-8 ):
That cop, Darren Wilson, has gotten thousands of letters from supporters including cops, but he can’t find work as a police officer and lives in a house where his name isn’t on the deed.
Despite the civil unrest that occurred in Ferguson after his acquittal, Wilson still contends what happened was “not a race issue.” . . .
Wilson shot Brown in August last year after stopping him and a friend for walking in the street. Wilson claims he shot Brown in self-defense. He told investigators there was an altercation in his police vehicle and Brown grabbed his gun. However, other witnesses have told a different story and said Brown had his hands up in a sign of surrender and was running away when he was shot.
Note the smarmy effort to suggest without logical basis that somehow Wilson got what he deserved. “Despite the civil unrest that occurred in Ferguson after his acquittal, Wilson still contends what happened was ‘not a race issue.’”—as if the ensuing violence somehow made a liar out of Wilson. “However, other witnesses have told a different story and said Brown had his hands up in a sign of surrender and was running away when he was shot”—as if those witnesses hadn’t turned out to be liars. (The original source for that story was Dorian Johnson, Brown’s accomplice in the robbery, who ran away during the struggle over the gun and didn’t see the fatal shooting, and who didn’t come up with the hands-up-don’t-shoot story until later, apparently after conferring with members of Brown’s family.)
I have written about the many abuses that African-Americans suffered at the hands of racist policemen in the past century and a half, from the framing of black men for crimes in order to enslave them as prison labor, to the acts of “Itchy Trigger Finger” Nash, an Atlanta cop honored by the Ku Klux Klan for killing blacks. And I had a great-uncle who, when I was a child, was killed in a shootout with police. I do not treat lightly people’s fears and concerns about police abuse. I have great sympathy for Michael Brown’s mother and Trayvon Martin’s mother, mourning their sons and attempting somehow to find meaning and hope in their deaths. Martin’s mother said that, while she “didn’t want this spotlight,” she would “do everything I can to focus some of that light on a path out of this darkness.” That response to grief is entirely understandable.
The people who put together last night’s Democratic National Convention program have no such excuse.