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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That 'Other' Ferguson Area 'Officer-Involved' Shooting

As you probably know, another young black man was shot and killed about three miles from Ferguson, MO, yesterday afternoon, this time by two young (white) officers.  I posted this yesterday:
Not sure why media and most locals seem okay with explanation of shooting of the young black man with knife--now IDed as Kajieme Powell, age 25--near Ferguson, trusting police account.  Indeed, the account itself may be mainly accurate but the fact remains, the dead man was known to have severe mental issues and even with knife was there no other option for two white cops, such as tasering or momentary retreat?  Chris Hayes among those who seem very impressed that Police Chief Sam Dotson waded into crowd to take questions--but that doesn't mean the shooting itself was fully warranted.  Just asking.  This young man was just a bit older than Mike Brown--and allegedly known to be mentally impaired.  He had taken two energy drinks--and a muffin from the store.  Earlier Hayes had tweeted:   "People here not disputing the knife, but all asking 'why not shoot him in the leg?'  'I thought they were supposed to have training.'"
Update #1:  Certainly, the St. Louis police have been more open in stark contrast to the Ferguson variety.  They posted this incident report within hours, for example.   And this video from inside and outside the store today.  But a couple points.  The chief has now confirmed, it seems,  that the officers had tasers--but did not use them because the victim was wearing a sweat shirt which the wires may not penetrate.  But the video clearly shows that it is a mostly unzipped sweat shirt with t-shirt underneath and plenty of space to hit him in chest.  The video also does not show the shooting at all--it stops when the store owner goes outside to try to get Powell to pay.  The chief has also now revealed that each cop fired six shots.

And they say they have recovered knife--but have not described length or shown picture of it.  So questions remain. Meanwhile, I have not been able to find any background on Powell, beyond claim that he was from outside area and living with kin and until shot was telling folks he was upset that his mother had recently died.

Update #2   Now a cell phone video has been posted on You Tube. A little distant but see what you think--as witness keeps saying "they could have tased that man."  Note that Powell appears to be slowly walking toward officers--with arms asides--and far from rushing them or lunging at them.  He is also much further from them than Dotson has claimed--at least 8 feet from one and 13 feet from the other (who is also partly behind car). when shot--although he then tumble closer.  Dotson yesterday said he was only two or three feet from the officers when shot, which "is a lethal range for a knife,” said.  He also called it "life and death" situation and claimed victim was "three to four feet" away.  Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association calls the video "exculpatory." Your thoughts?

Too far to see knife in hand but you see him take hand out of pocket, possibly with knife in it, as he approaches cops.  Must be fairly small knife to fit fully in pocket of hoodie.  Police Chief Dotson yesterday said he had been holding it with overhand grip, which would suggest a scary lunging action.  Today he corrected to say actually it was underhand, perhaps at side, a quite different image.   Passersby (and the man in red cap who I think is the store manager he had just shoplifted from) had been laughing at him in the seconds before so one wonders how big his knife might have been.  Final touch:  Cops shoot him five or six times while on ground, then handcuff him. (Vice News visited scene last night and found shop owner with M-16 out ready to defend store.)

Update #3  Chris Hayes promised me on Twitter he would cover this tonight and he just did.   Hayes shows Dotson today describing what's in video--far different from what is in it (he has Powell wandering from one side of car to the other, you'd never know it was all over in 14 seconds).  Then praises Dotson for calling victim's grandmother.  Then interviews St. Louis mayor who says they released video because guy who shot it was "shopping it" around (so had no choice).  Hayes affirms officers followed "training protocol."  But says some who see video might ask if non-lethal force could have been used.  Mayor says, well, we'll look at it.

No questions about disparity in Dotson account vs. video, use of tasers, and so on. Then Hayes on to fear of crowd protest and it's over. Hayes says he's watched video, and knows police chief has put out false info on shooting but lets it go.  I'm told CNN for Anderson Cooper's show did show part of video--but then someone said you have to give "benefit of a doubt" to the police.

Update #4 Dotson on live on CNN with Don Lemon just now.  He admits that Powell's hand with knife was by side, but still posed threat.  "The officers did what I think you or I would do, they protected their life in that situation." He then claims tasers not 100% sure thing so you have to shoot or you have an injured officer (but no means clear in this case).  Then claims they released video "when we didn't have to" though mayor (see above) had said they released because they knew it was about to come out.   Then got no tough questions but usual thanks plus handshakes for being "open."

Then, later, Mark O'Mara, attorney, tells Don Lemon that maybe one cop could have used taser and the other taken one shot.  But then says cops usually can get away with this. Another guest named Julia then says cops trained heavily to avoid shooting so you can't support firing so much. Good new piece on video by Ezra Klein at Vox.  Raises question about troubling gap between police feeling this is "exculpatory" and most people feeling the opposite.  Also:  What if police were unarmed and had to find another way to handle (as happens all over the country every day when police are confronted by crazy street people).

Cop Tries to Explain Just-Do-What-You're-Told Op-Ed

Veteran cop (and prof) who wrote that just-do-what-I-tell-you op-ed in Wash Post just now on CNN.  Sunil Dutta  claims oft-cited paragraph has been "taken out of context."  Was just telling people to "cooperate with officers" after being detained legally.  "If you challenge officer and officer feels threatened" then watch out.  That's the time you need to shut up.

"What I am tryint to say clearly is, when you're approached by a police office you have right to be treated with respect."  He says in his own career he never had to use force and only in "few cases" do officers "abuse  their territory." If there's a "lawful detention then cooperate with officer."   In majority of times then "you will be treated with respect."  Says every officer should be equipped with video recording for more transparency. 

Beethoven, Tolstoy and "Kreutzer"

Having  read Tolstoy's novella "The Kreutzer Sonata," inspired by the Beethoven classic,  and seen the acclaimed play off-Broadway last month, I was shocked to discover  that a Kreutzer Sonata film appeared a few years back, starring Danny Huston and Anjelica Huston, and directed by Bernard Rose--who also gave us the troubled Immortal Beloved--and it's even on Netflix streaming.  Now, today, NYT with big piece on new look at Tolstoy's wife resenting portrayal of wife (i.e. her) and even writing a couple of works in response. Here's that film trailer and Beethoven's piece below that:

Wednesday Updates on Ferguson

Not sure why media and most locals seem okay with shooting of the young blac  man with knife--now IDed as Kajieme Powell, age 25, near Ferguson, trusting police account.  Indeed, the account itself may be mainly accurate but the fact remains, the dead man was known to have severe mental issues and even with knife was there no other option for two white cops, such as tasering or momentary retreat.  Chris Hayes among those who seem thrilled that the police chief there waded into crowd to take questions--but that doesn't mean the shooting itself was fully warranted.  Just asking.  This young man was just a bit older than Mike Brown--and allegedly mentally impaired.  Earlier Hayes had tweeted:   "People here not disputing the knife, but all asking 'why not shoot him in the leg?'  'I thought they were supposed to have training.'"

Wall St. Journal editorial board member Jason Riley, a black man, advises on Fox:  “These looters and rioters do not need to hear from the attorney general that criticism of Obama is race-based. What they need to hear from this Black man in this position — the nation’s leading law enforcement official — is that they need to stay out of trouble with the law. They need to pull up their pants and finish school and take care of their kids. That is the message they need to hear.”

Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic asks if cop who threatened journo on tape will be prosecuted, you know, equal treatment. 

Harrowing account of cops very late last night chasing and threatening with shooting a group of activists, hip hoppers, media.  After quieter night, still dozens arrested. 

Chris Cuomo on CNN raising issue of Mike Brown's possible "juvenile record" as relevant, which Antonio French disputes.

Leonard Cohen: Forever Young

Update #2  Sylvie Simmons posted track list and album cover at Facebook.  

1. Slow
2. Almost Like The Blues
3. Samson In New Orleans
4. A Street
5. Did I Ever Love You
6. My Oh My
7. Nevermind
8. Born In Chains
9. You Got Me Singing

UpdateRolling Stone with a few details today.

Earlier: Leonard Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons, a Facebook friend, just posted there: "A new Leonard Cohen studio album! Yep, as good as done and due out the last week of September, just after his 80th birthday."  Recall that Leonard on tour has long threatened to start smoking again when he turns 80.  Here's one of the new songs.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Updates (From the Top) on Ferguson Crisis

8:00  Not sure why media and most locals seem okay with shooting of the young man with knife near Ferguson, trusting police account.  Indeed, the account itself may be mainly accurate but the fact remains, the dead man was known to have severe mental issues and even with knife was there no other option for two cops, such as tasering or momentary retreat.  Chris Hayes among those who seem thrilled that the police chief there waded into crowd to take questions--but that doesn't mean the shooting itself was fully warranted.  Just asking.  This young man was just five years older than Mike Brown--and allegedly mentally impaired.  Earlier Hayes had tweeted:   "People here not disputing the knife, but all asking 'why not shoot him in the leg?'  'I thought they were supposed to have training'"

4:51 Some people are making hay over records for last night's arrests revealing that contrary to media (and Capt. Ron Johnson) claims, the vast majority of those jailed are indeed locals.  Well, it depends how you define local.  Only a tiny number hail from Ferguson itself, with most of the rest from towns scattered around the large county or in the city of  St. Louis.  So little stake in Ferguson itself.  

4:40 p.m.  State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed  on MSNBC just now said new move to recall Ferguson mayor as he does not represent community--not African-Republican and even a Republican.   Also calls for local prosecutor to recuse himself as "first step" to calm.

2:40 p.m.  And now, just 4 miles from Ferguson, another man shot and killed by a police officer--this time he was allegedly brandishing a knife outside a store (possible robbery) which he refused to put down.  Area, on edge from Ferguson, now sees people in that neighborhood on street buzzing about it and putting hands up and saying "don't shoot."   @AntonioFrench tweets:  "We've had an officer involved shooting in St. Louis City. Here at the scene to keep the crowd calm & find out exactly what happened."

Presser now with police chief.  Suspect "acting erratically" and "did not respond to verbal commands to drop weapon."  Came within 3 or 4 feet of officers in car so two ore maybe more shot.  Asked if officers have tasers, he said some do.  Will check to see if store video.  Says officers should have expectation of living and "going home" at night (says this twice).  Knife allegedly found.  No count of shots fired. An alderwoman witnessed. Allegedly man said "shoot me, kill me," though also then attacked cops.  Says some have claimed it was "suicide by cop."  

Update:  Police now ID him as black man, age 23. He had taken two energy drinks and pastries from the shop and was outside, pacing.  Cops arrived and when he displayed knife and approached they shot him from the car. No further word on taser option. @AntonioFrench urging calm, saying "St. Louis not Ferguson," and State Sen. Nasheed does the same.

9:15 a.m. Capt. Ron Johnson just now on MSNBC claims police came under "heavy gunfire."  By "element of criminals." Shooting came from behind bushes near homes and behind buildings.  Johnson says most journalists have done good job but strongly blames them for some of trouble and claims they have "swarmed around" the criminals--IDed because they are wearing masks, he says--which then draws crowd, and then sheltered by numbers the bad guys start throwing things. Of course, one problem--many wearing somethig over faces due to tear gas.  Johnson said they had new plan today but all it is, it seems, is to get peaceful protesters to go home at dusk. Fat chance?

Stephen Hawkins, U.S. head of Amnesty Int'l--which sent ten observers but kept far from scene to witness--on MSNBC hits "de facto" curfew with police forcing people out.  Saw tear gas and smoke bombs lobbed into crowds without knowing if kids or elderly there, which "violate international" human rights norms. 

Another journalist arrested, Ryan Defereaux of The Intercept, see their statement.  "But needless to say, it’s an outrage that he was stopped and handcuffed by police in the course of lawfully doing his job on the streets of Ferguson. We are trying to contact Ryan now."

St. Louis native and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm on Ferguson.

NYT with its update on the confrontations overnight.  Many of the late arrests--as viewed on live TV--seemed to be more civil disobedience, protesters standing and waiting to get busted.  Chris Hayes and Jake Tapper and others viewed live as tear gas hit journalists badly.

Tin soldiers and (Jay) Nixon coming? National Guard so solution last night.  The Neil Young original.

Beethoven Back in Germany

At long last--ten months after its U.S. debut--the Beethoven Ninth film that I co-produced, directed by Kerry Candaele,  will finally be opening in his native Germany next month--Sept. 21 in (Eastern) Berlin and Sept. 22 in Munich.  What are the odds of this:  the Berlin theater, the Babylon, is one block from where my daughter, hubby and son now live.  We visited this past spring.  It's just north of Alexanderplatz.  If you can't make it, consider the Beethoven book I wrote with Kerry.  Oddly, Beethoven did not seem to have a major presence in Berlin, beyond the famous monument (my photo above).  On the other hand, there is a Ramones museum.

Perry Booked

Rick Perry arrives at courthouse to get booked and get mugshot (left).  Speaks before goes in.  Many fans cheer.  "I'm here today because I believe in the rule of law." Really? Did he have a choice?  "I'm going to enter this courthouse with my head held high, knowing actions I took were lawful and right."  And he'd do that veto again.  "It's about the constitution....This indictment is nothing short of a constitutional attack on the office of governor...I will not allow this attack to stand.  I'm going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being--and we will prevail." 

ISIS Beheads One Journo, Threatens Another

ISIS has posted a video--still not taken down at YouTube as of 5:45 p.m. ET, or more likely, one version removed and another posted to take its place--that seems to show beheading of long-missing U.S. freelance journalist James Foley, after he made statement against U.S. bombing there.  At very end, another journalist, Steven Sotloff, is shown in same place with knife at throat with promise to kill him next.  Here's story (not video).

Mighty Chuck Young

That's what we called him back around 1975.  Sad to hear of passing of Charles M. Young on Monday after long battle with cancer. I gave him his writing start at Crawdaddy with dangerous piece about his infiltration of Lyndon LaRouche group (I think he had a cousin or brother in the group) before anyone had heard of LaRouche.  He then wrote for us for another year--including first cover story anywhere on Joan Jett and the Runaways--or two pre-Rolling Stone.  Became famous there for coverage of Sex Pistols and more. Also played on our softball team.  Fun and funny guy.  R.I.P.

Back in the Basement, Mixin' Up the Medicine?

T-Bone Burnett--I first saw him when he was a kid playing in Dylan's "Rolling Thunder" band in 1974--coming up with something he's calling "The New Basement Tapes."  He's taken lyrics Bob wrote at the time of the original basement recordings at Big Pink (my recent photo, left) and added backing with Elvis Costello, Jim James, Marcus Mumford and more.  Lo and behold. Yea, heavy, and a bottle of bread.

Dion Raves On

Best things on Facebook for awhile are little cell phone video "concerts" posted by the great Dion. Here he covers old friend Buddy Holly's "Rave On."  And if you missed his lunch room "Wanderer."

Post by Dion.

Tear Gas Return to Ferguson

Just now at midnight.  Livestreams.  Second one from Tim Pool who just suffered what he says was worst tear gassing ever and rubber bullets fired at him.   Photos on Twitter of at least one photog who got blasted by tear gas and down on ground.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Updates (From the Top) on Ferguson Crisis

10:00   Crime reporter for St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets, @ChristineDByers.  "Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop's version of events in shooting
Now, this could be the usual police backing police with claim to media.  On the other hand, it's possible that there are witnesses from the neighborhood who have not appeared on TV (possibly afraid to do this) but have told story to police or now FBI.  We will see.

Photog released (see below).  Olson: "I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job”

6:30 CNN: Another journo arrested in Ferguson, photog apparently.  Chris Olson  from top firm Getty and didn't move quickly enough to...move.  He took perhaps most published photo from Ferguson--seen left, though the "Fuck the Police" on mailbox cropped...After some cameras caught arrests this afternoon that seemed excessive.  Videos on TV show Olson in black shirt and black cap, led away in cuffs and cameras around neck.  

4:30 p.m.    Apparently alleged friend of Wilson on radio today, woman named "Josie,"  claims that his defense will be that Brown "bum's rushed" him.  Officer tried to get out of car and Brown slammed door, then reached for and got his gun, and somehow gun went off.  Then Brown fled, but turned around, taunted Wilson and then "bum's rushed" giving Wilson no choice--in this view--to shoot him 5 or 6 times.   My question: I've seen account by "Josie" cited a dozen times on MSNBC and CNN today without any indication that they checked that she was for real.  Maybe they did, but oddly I have not heard once "we have confirmed..."

A commenter below posted link to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year about claims that the man who is assisting Dr. Michael Baden in his autopsy and forensics work on this case has inflated his credentials and done some other sketchy things. Here's how Parcells responded at length.

Curfew lifted after numerous groups call unconstitutional etc.

1:10 p.m.    Media persist in claiming that Officer Wilson had "clean record" and nothing in his "disciplinary" file.  As this shows, that means little, due to way files kept--and fact that even if never disciplined that doesn't mean he has nerve been accused of using excessive force or profiling or anything else.  Given what we know, what are odds that Wilson would be "disciplined" by Ferguson PD for almost anything?

Media report that local county medical examiner confirms that Brown hit by "multiple shots" to head and chest.  Why they are not saying more? Wash Post source says examiner found 6 to 8 wounds, all due to shots from front,  and Brown had marijuana in system.

12:00 p.m. CNN reporter talked to friend of Officer Wilson:  claims he has no "racist" tendencies, spoke with him and Wilson is "struggling" but say he's "safe."

@ChrisHayes:  "Just talked to 3 ministers who helped lead the march on the police staging area who all directly contradict official police account." Interviews will air tonight.

Obama to be briefed by Holder at 1:15 on Ferguson.  But federal autopsy has not yet started. 

Press conference at church on autopsy, will live-blog here. Lead attorney Crump starts it off.  Baden is there with Prof. Sean Parcells who assisted him.  Crump: at least number of shots could have been released on day one. He says autopsy shows what witnesses claimed is true.

Then second attorney Parks is on, talks about the two head shots. "Why would he be shot on top of his head, a 6-foot-4 man?"  That alone enough to arrest cop. 

Baden (he's 80 but still appears very sharp):  two autopsies not unusual but a third, federal one, very rare. He praises reputation of local medical examiner and says her autopsy probably fine.

Parcells for details: describes 6 entry wounds plus odd path of one that may have gone through eye and out the clavicle.  Key: wound to inside part of arm consistent with him walking away--or putting hands up.  Heads shot "most likely" the last two.

Baden taking questions:  repeats found no shots close but needs to see clothing.  Three bullets found in body but need to see x-rays.   Local autopsy may come out "today or three or four months from now."   Asked if any signs of of struggle: "there weren't," but needs to see any injuries claimed by cop.  "No evidence of a struggle." Baden predicts local autopsy will be very similar.   She can release any time--but can be halted by local prosecutor for months.  He couldn't do toxicology because blood gone by time he did autopsy..."All of the gunshot wounds survivable except for the two to the head."  Citizen audience angry that two head shots did not lead to immediate arrest of cop. 
Another witness on CNN with new cellphone video of immediate aftermath of shooting.  She is yet another who says she saw tussle at car, Brown running, Wilson shooting and grazing Brown, who then turns and shot many times.  She appears quite credible...Don Lemon interviews 4 volunteers from nearby towns who come every morning to clean up streets (including one white kid) and complain about small criminal element causing trouble. 

Gov. Jay Nixon, citing last night's conflicts--and exaggerating a bit--orders National Guard to Ferguson...As I tweeted late last night, police arrested another couple reporters, threatened to shoot another and mace Chris Hayes. ...This morning on TV local congressman says he has "no confidence" in local police investigation. ... Terrific column by the great (on and off the court) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at Time. 

Press conference at 10:30 a.m. ET on the Brown autopsy with Baden, and lawyers (re:  six shots from the front etc.).  Questions may include what the shot to the top of the head indicates since Brown was half a foot or more taller than Wilson (was he indeed on his knees when shot?) and the claim that another entered his right eye--and exited through his collarbone, suggesting a shot directly from above--or something..."One of the bullets shattered Mr. Brown’s right eye, traveled through his face, exited his jaw and re-entered his collarbone. The last two shots in the head would have stopped him in his tracks and were likely the last fired." Would only work if bent way over on knees--or shot while falling forward after earlier shot.

MSNBC report on their site says police had to rescue McDonald's staffers there after site "taken over."  Looting  elseqwhere and a fire and more.

John Oliver with another great segment last night on Ferguson and police militarization.

Human Rights Groups Rips Rudoren

I much-deserved thrashing, with evidence, of NYT's Jody Rudoren for just one of her several stenographic articles on the Gaza-Israel conflict last month.  Read the whole thing (and here's my take on the same article).  I love where they caught her in lie about an interview and she corrected tweet but not article. 
Serious journalists would bridge the gap between events on the ground and concerned citizens around the world. Rudoren completely failed to do so. Given the limited coverage of Israel’s then one-month-long attack on the Gaza Strip by the Times and the many unsubstantiated claims relayed by Israeli and international media, we consider the interview between Rudoren and Zaqout to be a lost opportunity.

Tin Soldiers and (Jay) Nixon Coming...

How's that work out in 1970, Kent State?  Neil Young had his thoughts.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ferguson Tonight

NYT with first report on autopsy.  Brown hit by at least six shots, all from front, two in the head, according to Michael Baden's preliminary report.  None from close range it seems (note: preliminary).  Jesse Jackson just now on CNN calls this a troubling and "provocative" finding.  A Brown family attorney:  “The sheer number of bullets and the way they were scattered all over his body showed this police officer had a brazen disregard for the very people he was supposed to protect in that community. We want to make sure people understand what this case is about: This case is about a police officer executing a young unarmed man in broad daylight.”

Livestream below opf tonight's conflict.  Crowd was right where camera is pointing until just now when tear gas pushed them back. Now vehicles pushing them back and the LRAD sound blasting trucks have been going non-stop.  CNN reporters says he saw one man hit by rubber bullets.   MSNBC and CNN now live. Protesters allegedly mad that were peaceful and then the tear gas started flying.  Others claim rocks and molotov cocktails thrown.

Sunday Updates on Ferguson Tragedy

11:00 a.m.  Atty Gen Holder orders federal, independent autopsy of Brown, at request of family, who had announced Michael Baden was doing one just yesterday.

10:00 a.m. Love the McDonald's above the gas or smoke last by Lawrence Bryant. 

Press conference right now by Capt. Ron Johnson on last night's curfew--most followed, in the rain, but there was one shooting with a person in critical condition.  Tear gas--or smoke bombs--near the end.   @RyanJReilly tweeting it now.   Seven arrested.  "He claims there are four instigators from Oakland who are stirring members of the crowd up....Malik Shabazz of New Black Panther Party told me he thinks things went pretty well."  NBC's wrap-up.

Wesley Lowery, the other reporter arrested this week, with full piece at Wash Post (he'll be on "Meet the Press" today).

Yesterday the Amnesty International chief compared curfew and other actions to dictatorships.  Now Human Rights Watch also hits "intimidation" of protesters. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What a Riot

NYT does one of those "what you're reading/watching" things usually reserved for celebs or politicians but this week it's one of the Pussy Riot women.  Among the Nadya likes:  the Dead Kennedys, "Dr. Strangelove," "House of Cards," Doris Day, the piano.

Woodstock Coverage, 45 Years Ago

CBS wraps it up, introduced by Walter Cronkite.  News and then analysis (by John Laurence, who was an ace Vietnam war reporter).  And check out the somewhat sexually suggestive diet commercial.  Below that, ABC's coverage, also quite positive on "polite" kids and lack of "rioting."  Plus:  The greatest band cut out of the Woodstock film--of course, it's The Band.  Now see what we missed.