Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

August 2, 2020

Justice denied to Michael Brown once again

Filed under: Black Lives Matter — louisproyect @ 8:17 pm

Michael Brown Jr.

This week St. Louis’s top prosecutor Wesley Bell, an African-American, announced that no new charges would be brought against Darren Wilson, the cop who fired six bullets into an unarmed teen named Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. His killing triggered protests that helped to establish Black Lives Matter as the key organizer against racist cops.

On March 4, 2015, the Department of Justice absolved Wilson of all crimes in a memorandum that was embraced by both the Democratic and Republican Party’s media outlets. While Fox News was predictably jubilant, Jonathan Capehart, a Washington Post reporter who received a prize for his Black rights advocacy, penned an article titled “‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie.” The title speaks for itself.

The failure of the Democratic Party media outlets to question the report is easily explicable by its blind loyalty to Barack Obama, the country’s first Black president and his attorney general Eric Holder, the first African-American to hold that office in American history. To give the impression of impartiality, Holder also issued a blistering report on how the cops abused Blacks in Ferguson for many years. That report should have been titled “Dog Bites Man”.

On April 27, 2018, I reviewed a documentary titled “Stranger Fruit” for CounterPunch that pretty much treated Michael Brown as an innocent, even to the point of absolving him of the petty theft of some cigarillos from a convenience store. I still recommend the film even though it goes overboard in trying to make Brown far more the victim than the facts would support. It’s main strength is in debunking Darren Wilson’s firing six bullets into Brown as an act of self-defense.

Jason Pollock made his film before the DOJ report was released. In sitting down to write this article, I was curious to see how he would react to it since it contradicted his own findings. In an interview with Daily Kos, he made an interesting point. In responding to the meme that was conveyed in the title of Capehart’s article, he stated, “All the DOJ said.. was they could not determine [the angle of Brown’s arms].  People didn’t read the report, they just didn’t read it.” In fact, he was right. Frank Vyan Walton, the interviewer, took a close look and included an excerpt that jibed with Pollock’s point:

Given the mobility of the arm, it is impossible to determine the position of the body relative to the shooter at the time the arm wounds were inflicted. Therefore, the autopsy results do not indicate whether Brown was facing Wilson or had his back to him. They do not indicate whether Brown sustained those two arm wounds while his hands were up, down, or by his waistband. The private forensic pathologist opined that he would expect a re-entry wound across Brown’s stomach if Brown’s hand was at his waistband at the time Wilson fired. However, as mentioned, there is no way to know the exact position of Brown’s arm relative to his waistband at the time the bullets struck. Therefore, these gunshot wounds neither corroborate nor discredit Wilson’s account or the account of any other witness. However, the concentration of bullet wounds on Brown’s right side is consistent with Wilson’s description that he focused on Brown’s right arm while shooting.

In my own close reading of the DOJ report, I was struck by other inconsistencies. 86 pages long, the report is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 evaluates the physical and forensic evidence. Part 2—the bulk of the report—recapitulates the testimony of the various eyewitnesses, nearly all of whom backed up the cop’s version of what took place, except for his friend Dorian Johnson, who was walking alongside him that day and who is featured prominently in Pollock’s film, and a white contractor with no vested interest in the incident. Part 3 is the summary.

In the brief summary at the end of the report, this excerpt will give you the impression that Dorian was ready to give up his friend:

Witnesses 102, 103, 104, and Wilson and concluded that Brown did in fact reach for and attempt to grab Wilson’s gun, that Brown could have overpowered Wilson, which was acknowledged even by Witness 101 [Dorian Johnson], and that Wilson fired his weapon just over his own lap in an attempt to regain control of a dangerous situation.

Acknowledged by witness 101? If you go to page 44 of the report, you’ll only see that Johnson described Brown as having the “upper hand” in the confrontation. Given that Wilson had a gun, it seems far-fetched to think that the cop could not have prevailed. Johnson does say that Wilson would have to be “superhuman” to “overpower” Brown but that’s a reference to something resembling an arm-wrestling match. When Wilson shoots Brown in the hand, he runs away from the patrol car as fast as his legs can carry him. If he was “superhuman”, the bullets would have bounced off his hand. Right?

As for Witness number two, I got a chuckle out of why he decided to turn up at the police department to finger Brown as someone deserving to be shot six times:

Witness 102 explained that he came forward because he “felt bad about the situation,” and he wanted to “bring closure to [Brown’s] family,” so they would not think that the officer “got away with murdering their son.” He further explained that “most people think that police are bad for ‘em up until the time they’re in need of the police,” and he felt that witnesses would not come forward to tell the truth in this case because of community pressure.

He wanted to console the family while justifying the killer cop’s deeds? His notion that most people think that the police are bad makes me scratch my head. Wasn’t it obvious what had been going on Ferguson for decades?

For me, the hardest part to swallow was the excuse made for Darren Wilson firing six bullets into Michael Brown:

According to Wilson, Brown balled or clenched his fists and “charged” forward, ignoring commands to stop. Knowing that Brown was much larger than him and that he had previously attempted to overpower him and take his gun, Wilson stated that he feared for his safety and fired at Brown. Again, even Witness 101’s account supports this perception. Brown then reached toward his waistband, causing Wilson to fear that Brown was reaching for a weapon.

Once again, there is nothing in the recap of Dorian Johnson’s testimony that supports the cop’s claim. The report states, “Witness 101 was steadfast that Brown fell to the ground right where he initially stopped and turned around. At most, Brown took a half-step forward, but he did not move toward Wilson. Witness 101 was also steadfast that Brown never put his hand(s) near his waist.”

As for this business about reaching toward his waistband, just think about it. If Michael Brown had a gun and was such a desperado, why would he have run away? Wouldn’t he have pulled out the gun much sooner and put a bullet in the cop? Anybody who has been following these de facto lynchings knows that this is often used as an excuse. It is called the “fear defense”. All you need to do is state that a “perp” was reaching for a gun and then you can shoot him or her in cold blood. Sometimes, you can even plant a gun on the dead “bad guy” just to make sure you are cleared.

In 2016, Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote an article for The New Yorker titled “Police Shootings, Race, and the Fear Defense” that makes clear how Darren Wilson would play this card:

The shooters’ protestations of fear have in some cases seemed cynical and absurd, because of the imbalance in power between the cops (armed, able to summon support, the arm of the law) and their victims, and because the suggestions that their victims were scary and impossible to control have tended to draw on the basest racial fears, and to be expressed in the crudest language. “When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan,” the Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson said, of the man he killed, Michael Brown. Brown was six feet four and two hundred and ninety pounds, and Wilson is six feet four and two hundred and ten pounds. “Hulk Hogan. That’s how big he felt and how small I felt just grasping his arm.”

Finally, the Department of Justice did not take the word of Witness 122 seriously, a contractor who, unlike Dorian Johnson, had little reason to make things up. If you look at the DOJ report, you will find the suppression of this witness’s testimony troubling:

Witness 122 is a 46-year-old white male. He was laying drain pipe on Canfield Drive with Witness 130 on the morning of the shooting. Witness 122 gave six statements, including testimony before the county grand jury. SLCPD detectives and an FBI agent twice jointly interviewed him, and SLCPD detectives once independently interviewed him. Witness 122 and Witness 130 authored one-page written statements on advice of a former boss.

Witness 122 also claimed that Brown put his right hand to the ground to regain his balance when he was hit and as he turned around. According to both contractors, Brown then turned around with his hands up and repeatedly screamed “Okay!” as many as eight times, an exclamation heard by no other witness. When Witness 122 demonstrated the position of Brown’s hands for federal prosecutors and agents, he wavered from a position of surrender to one indicative of a person trying to maintain balance.

According to the Brown family, Witness 122 called them after the shooting and told them that he had seen Wilson shoot Brown execution-style as Brown was on his knees holding his hands in the air. However, Witness 122 denied making any statements about the nature of the shooting to the Brown family. As mentioned, despite his earlier statements, Witness 122 recanted the claim that he actually saw Brown fall dead to the ground. Witness 122 has no criminal history. As detailed above, material portions of Witness 122’s accounts are irreconcilable with the physical and forensic evidence. These accounts are also inconsistent with each other and inconsistent with credible witness accounts. Accordingly, after a thorough review of all of the evidence, federal prosecutors determined this witness’s accounts not to be credible and therefore do not support a prosecution of Darren Wilson. The person who recorded this video claimed that yet another person, “Chris,” made that statement.

So, the DOJ discounted the testimony of this white contractor while relying on that of someone who said, “most people think that police are bad for ‘em up until the time they’re in need of the police.” Clearly, the fix was in.


  1. Cold-blooded murder is a matter of federal, state, and local “law enforcement” policy across the board. Not a damn thing has been heard by the blood-drenched so-called authorities over months of protest with the clear support of an overwhelming majority of citizens who can’t believe what they’re seeing.

    I started to cheer up a bit when Trump sort of called off his jump-out boys in Portland. Then this–exactly no progress, none–not even the shadow of a credible legal technicality. Just insolently kill, lie, and coerce or bribe witnesses.

    Thank you for your service “thin blue line” my fucking ass. Fuck you for your so-called service.

    But just wait until Biden puts Rahm Emanuel in charge of “police reform.” We ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Comment by Farans Kalosar — August 3, 2020 @ 1:20 am

  2. Powerful blog. Unrepentant Marxist, that title is strong imagery. My cousin once removed is Karl Marx. My brother was gone, Sept 10, 1986, Father’s Birthday. He had finished a 10 year time in the Bering Sea, writing his book, The coming Fourth Reich. I’ve been falsely arrested x2, put into horrible jails & tortured. I thought I could also, as did brother (my best friend), make a difference. Clifford Walker, Portland, OR, Chair for the Black Affairs was fired. He couldn’t be fired, but that didn’t count. Long ago now as my own experiences were shared with Clifford (Yabu). The problem is going to climax @ critical mass. As with any and all imbalances, eventually the vanishing point wins the composition’s dream. 9 Solfeggio Pipes, http://www.tuningforkshop.com ● We are sound & light as our subtle essence, too. 21 das, listen non stop & share wholly. Maybe, MAYBE There can be a reckoning in our universe. Thanks again for your brilliant verve.

    Comment by BiloxiMarxKelly — August 4, 2020 @ 5:23 am

  3. The solution is simple: the police must not be allowed to go into Black areas.

    Comment by doug1943 — August 4, 2020 @ 4:56 pm

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