Unlike most police shootings that take place daily in cities and towns throughout the United States, the Ferguson police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown has left the Missouri city on the verge of a breakdown with what might possibly be the largest protest scheduled for this weekend.
The protesters want one thing. The arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who numerous witnesses say killed Brown in cold blood as he fell to his knees with his hands in the air on August 9.
But the grand jury who has been reviewing the evidence is not schedule to make a determination for at least another month and has, in fact, until January to decide whether Wilson will be indicted. There is also a chance that prosecutors will have to call for a new grand jury after allegations of misconduct arose last month that a juror was talking about the case to a friend, who then went on Twitter to announce that the evidence against Wilson is weak.
And grand juries, as we saw last month in the case of the Ohio cop who shot a man to death in a Walmart for holding an air rifle, tend to be very accepting of police who kill citizens.
In the mean time, tensions continue to mount between police and protesters with numerous arrests made over the weekend, including of a CNN journalist trying to record the arrests with her phone. Protesters also disrupted the St. Louis Symphony Saturday night singing as you can see in the video here.
Ferguson police have also clamped down on transparency by charging exorbitant rates for public records in the hopes to discourage journalists from obtaining these records.
Charlie Grapski, who is running PINAC’s Open Records Project, has been battling Ferguson officials for two months over public records and has been in talks with attorneys to file lawsuits over the blatant violations.
The goal is to establish precedence so other government agencies throughout the country will be less temped to violate these laws.
“Police and officials are growing more and more out of control by the day, they are arresting people for walking, for talking, and often for recording, with no fear of being held accountable to the public or under the law,” Grapski explains in the above podcast.
“Today, there is no law in Ferguson, it is made up daily. It is made up in an arbitrary and capricious fashion and it is wielded not for justice but for power and the sake of power alone. This heavy handed approach however is certain to back fire in the end. and when that happens, if this is not brought under control before that, the nation will reap the consequences of the lawlessness in that one locality.”
Grapski plans to fly to Ferguson on Thursday and remain there for two weeks to continue his work. I plan to fly out there on Friday and remain throughout the weekend to report on the protests.
But we need your help in getting out there. If you have frequent flier miles that can be donated towards flights and lodging, it would greatly be appreciated. Send us an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can simply donate to The PINAC Fund through the PayPal button in the top right-hand corner of the site.
PINAC crew member Taylor Hardy flew out there in August and was able to get a video interview with retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, who has become a vocal activist against police militarization. Lewis was arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 while in full uniform.
I was asking the questions while on the phone with Hardy, but then Hardy suggested we re-enact my questions in the studio but the result, in my opinion, seems contrived, especially with my finger in my ear, but that is how the actual interview went.
So forgive us for the contrived re-enanctment but Lewis had a lot to say, so the video is worth watching.