Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ferguson coverage ignoring Beavercreek Ohio and long term solutions

The coverage of the excessive force by police against minorities surrounding Ferguson is long overdue; however it isn't covering the full extent of the problem including a similar incident in Beavercreek Ohio and at least five incidents total where police killed minorities in the last month under questionable circumstances. Nor is it covering the root social causes that precede these conflicts and the most effective long term solutions to them.

Mother Jones was one of the few news outlets that reported on five black men killed in the last month by police, adding the fifth after an update, 4 Unarmed Black Men Have Been Killed By Police in the Last Month, 08/13/2014, In addition to that there was another incident where Police in Forney, Texas, apologize to mom and kids pulled over at gunpoint after a 911 caller got two vehicles mixed up and the California Highway Patrol officer in Brutal Roadside Beating Could finally Face Felony Charges after an enormous amount of coverage and grass roots pressure.

In the case of Beavercreek Ohio the entire incident was on video so if the shooting is justified as the police say then they could easily disclose the video to the public and let them see for themselves; but they refuse to do so. This took place at Wal-Mart and the shooting victim apparently had a BB gun that he picked up from a display. The initial reports implied that he was armed but it quickly became clear that the person who called it in may have jumped to conclusions.

After an enormous amount of protest they finally let a few people see part of the tape but not all; and the family and their lawyer claim that it is clearly unjustified, as indicated in the following excerpt.

Family 'appalled' officer in Walmart shooting back on job 08/21/2014

According to Wright, the surveillance video shows that Crawford was not armed and not threatening anyone, but was standing in the back of an aisle talking on the phone with no other shoppers near him.

"Crawford never approached the officers, never aimed the BB gun at them, or otherwise was aggressive in any way," Wright stated. Complete article

This incident has hardly received much if any attention from the national media. I haven't seen anything about it through the television even though they have been providing an enormous amount of coverage on Ferguson, nor have I heard anything about two of the other stories cited by Mother Jones. Even Democracy Now didn't provide much coverage of it; while watching the show I didn't see it mentioned once but apparently they did mention it in two of their headlines that I was able to find with a search including one that said The mother of Crawford’s two infant children told the local paper she was on the phone with Crawford and heard him say, "It’s not real," before police opened fire. This is consistent with the excerpt cited above.

Apparently on one other incident where the police were accused of excessive force in a South Carolina Wal-Mart, Walmart suspect earlier charged with officer assault 08/25/2014, Wal-Mart and the police were much quicker to release the video; possibly because they thought it would do more to justify the actions of the police. This article doesn't mention it, but it was also featured on Headline News nationally repeatedly over the last few days; but so far as I can see even though a Prosecutor was finally named in deadly officer involved shooting at Beavercreek Ohio Wal-Mart I still ahven't seen any news on the traditional national media about it. Hopefully Democracy Now and other alternative media outlets will cover this as I write this.

Thanks to the enormous amount of coverage of the militarization of the police displayed in Ferguson Obama called for a review of this.

If Barack Obama wanted to know about this, for all practical purposes this review has already been done and he could make major changes or draw additional attention to it without waiting for a new review if he actually wanted to, which raises doubts about his sincerity.

Several researchers ahve looked into this, perhaps Radley Balko, author of "Rise of the Warrior Cop" (which I attempted to either confirm or refute) is the most thorough. In a repost of an old interview with Radley Balko Rob Kall claims that Obama is Behind the Militarization of America's Police Forces; Radley Balko Intvw Transcript Part 2 (or at least some of the most recent activities that added to it) and the ACLU also provided their report, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Police - Report

It would be understandable if some of the people that don't rely on traditional media and are familiar with at least some of this might consider Obama's call for a review highly insincere, if not a bad joke.

This is all part of a pattern of behavior of stonewalling at every step. Whether it is the government, the local police forces involved in any given incident, or in this case Wal-Mart who also refuses to release their video and even digs in their heals and declines to stop keeping their BB guns on the shelves to avoid another misunderstanding and panic again. The media also declined to cover the full extent of the problem Wal-Mart has with shooting incidents at their stores across the country. They average one somewhere in the country every five days or less; and their have been statistical studies showing that they have more crime than even other big-box stores which are also more than small businesses, as reviewed in Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices?

More importantly they do little or nothing to cover the background of economic and educational opportunities, or lack of them, that are available to most African Americans, especially those that live in abandoned inner cities that hold some of the largest populations of African Americans in the country. Without this background it is too easy for many white people to quickly come to the conclusion that Michael Brown and John Crawford might be thugs or at least appear to be that way therefore the officers actions might be justified to defend the rest of us; and more importantly without this background it will be easier for many people to focus on trying to find the immediate causes to these problems without looking at the long term causes that also have to be prevented if these racial tensions are going to be solved.

The bigger problem is that our economic and educational system doesn't provide early educational or economic opportunities for many people and it is worse for minorities. One simple example of how unjustified our economic system is should be that people in the advertising industry often make an enormous amount of money; but they do absolutely nothing to add to the quality of the products they promote; instead they add an enormous amount of hype to convince the public they're getting their moneys worth even when they aren't, or more accurately, especially when they aren't. While the workers that produce their products are forced to compete for declining wages and the quality gets steadily worse.

One of the most effective researchers into some of the background that makes this even worse for minorities in abandoned inner cities is Jonathan Kozol author of Savage Inequalities; The Shame of the Nation; Amazing Grace (full text) and Rachel and Her Children. These books explain how in many cases the government spends more money or programs that don't actually protect the poor or help them get out of poverty than programs that do. In Rachel and her Children he describes how the government pays outrageous amounts of money to put homeless people in hotels that have rats and don't allow cooking while other programs cost less and do a better job returning people to regular homes and find employment.

Most of his books focus primarily on education though, and in this case there are numerous examples where they spend much more money lobbying to avoid financing education and prisons and police forces than they do on education. After reading all the details it might not be easy to find a simple direct connection to higher crimes and prison populations in inner cities, especially if some of the defenders of the status quo have ample opportunity to spin it; but it should be clear that spending more on education is far more effective than spending more on police and prisons. And even if many white people remain in denial it is obvious to those who actually have a minimum of first hand experience that it is a major reason why there is more crime and less economic opportunities in these abandoned inner cities.

This creates a hostile environment where conflict with police may be much more likely and when this escalates then people on both sides are much more likely to escalate tensions instead of learning how to reverse this trend of escalating violence.

The same decisions makers that cut funds for education are increasing funds that cause the militarization of police and trains them to be moire intimidating and violent.

Even if they do find cause to prosecute the police assuming the evidence indicates it is justified, which in at least some cases it clearly does, then that still does little or nothing to change the long term root causes that precede these conflicts. Nor does that do much if anything to hold the political leadership accountable for their part in choosing policies that will inevitably lead to one kind of conflict or another. They're the ones that are actually more responsible in the long run, yet there is little or no accountability for them.

Instead of educating children and providing economic opportunity for adults in these inner cities and perhaps other parts of the country the government is implementing policies where the only opportunities involve either welfare drugs or other illegal activities and, in some cases, corporations that provide incompetent services for either handling the homeless or education are making an enormous profit for doing a terrible job.

For those of you who haven't heard much if anything about the Beavercreek incident here are a series of articles on the subject that have apparently been making a lot of local news and is available for those that know to look for it on the internet. One other thing that is worth more consideration is that apparently at least one or two of these articles has been changed after the fact without explaining it to the public. On one example that I was able to spot I managed to find the original article and it wasn't hiding anything especially important; but this should raise doubts about whether it might in other cases. Fortunately someone appears to have anticipated this and saved it, intentionally or not. If there isn't major reform of the media, which often changes it's stories or withdraws them for one reason or another it would be helpful if more people saved controversial articles that might be inclined to disappear.

Police shoot, kill 21-year-old man inside Beavercreek Ohio Walmart 08/06/2014

Source: Walmart gunman had realistic-looking toy 08/06/2014

Man police shot in Walmart killed over fake gun, family says 07/06/2014

Shooting Suspect's Girlfriend: He Wasn't Armed When We Entered Walmart 08/06/2014

DeWine Says Walmart Suspect Carrying MK-177 BB/Pellet Rifle 08/11/2014 This article was originally titled "Shooting Suspect's Girlfriend: He Wasn't Armed When We Entered Walmart," on August 6 and changed to an updated version later.

Mom died at Walmart, trying to save kids after shooting 08/06/2014

Walmart Shooting Suspect's Criminal Past, Officer's Personnel File Released 08/07/2014

UPDATE: Walmart sticks to policy on air guns 08/08/2014

Group holds signs to protest Walmart shooting 08/09/2014

Family of man killed by cops at Wal-Mart demands video 08/13/2014

Protesters Demanding Answers in Deadly Shooting at the Beavercreek Ohio Walmart 08/16/2014

Attorney says video shows police shooting at Walmart was unjustified 08/20/2014

Grand Jury to Convene in Officer-Involved Walmart Shooting, Family Calls it Murder 08/19/2014

NAACP to Investigate Officer-Involved Shooting at Walmart 08/20/2014

Records in Walmart shooting released by police 08/21/2014

Family 'appalled' officer in Walmart shooting back on job 08/21/2014

1 officer in Ohio Wal-Mart shooting still on leave, was involved in 2010 fatal shooting 08/21/2014

Grass roots group calls for DOJ to look at Walmart shooting 08/25/2014

Prosecutor named in deadly officer involved shooting at Wal-Mart 08/25/2014

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