Since the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer St. Louis suburb, Ferguson, Mo., there have been about 10 days of protests in the the community, many of which have turned violent. Various conflicting accounts of the killing have been told and today (Wednesday, 8/20), a county grand jury will hear evidence on the death of Brown. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. is scheduled to visit Ferguson today as well. Holder plans to meet with the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents who are conducting an investigation into whether there are possible civil rights violations connected with the shooting.
As tensions remain high and heated in the St. Louis suburb, as well as throughout the rest of United States, SiriusXM Patriot and Progress has been covering the situation since it first erupted.
SiriusXM Patriot’s David Webb talked with Congressman Paul Ryan, who shared his thoughts on the situation in Ferguson.
“I think it’s wrong to prejudge the outcome of these things or to try and attach our own personal agenda to this tragedy. It would be disrespectful to this tragedy and to the community and to the family. I think as a public and as leaders, let’s let law enforcement do their job, let’s be respectful of the victims of this, and let’s not prejudge the outcome.”
Ari Rabin-Havt of SiriusXM Progress talked with the father of Michael Edwards Bell, a 21-year-old killed by police a decade ago.
“At one point, what they’re trying to do is make it an issue out of race, but it’s really an issue of police accountability … Once again, what’s the safest way to travel? We all know that it’s the airline industry. And why is that so? Because every time they’ve had an accident, they’ve looked at it and said ‘What made this accident happen and how can we prevent this from happening again?’ If they approached police-related shootings as they do in aircraft mishaps, they would get down and say ‘We just took someone’s life. Was that guy mentally ill? Was he under the influence of alcohol? How could we have prevented this from happening again?’ If they work in that type of culture, law enforcement shootings would be an all-time low.”
A caller from Louisiana with military experience recounted to Rabin-Havt how frustrated he is by police actions in Ferguson, which go against all of his training regarding de-escalation.
“I want to find out, and I challenge you and everybody else that’s listening, … I watched [CNN], I’m prior military. There was a guy in the up armored vehicle using his rifle scope as a monocular, as in he was using it to scan the crowd I guess, looking for a threat. That’s what you should be trained to do, but you’re not trained to do that with a weapon! That just blows my mind! He was doing it in the background, minutes and minutes. I’m like getting frustrated at work and everybody’s like ‘What’s wrong?,’ I was like ‘Who is that a–hole … flagging everybody for minutes and minutes and minutes. Who is that guy? What is his name. What in the hell is he doing?'”
Another caller, an Atlanta police officer, expressed his views on the role of police in their handling of situations of civil disobedience.
“The crowd is always in charge. You engage them, you support them, you give them areas to march, you give them areas to assemble … you pick out the bad apples, but you do not, you do not, they have a constitutional right to do what they’re doing. I chase guys out of stolen cars every day running from me and I’m by myself … I do not have the right to pull the trigger because they’re fleeing! I had a guy that ran out of a store with the entire cash register till. I screamed ‘Stop, put your hand up!’ He didn’t stop. Did that give me the right to shoot him? No! People have a constitutional right to disobey a law enforcement officer when they feel like they have not violated the law. What’s the penalty for shoplifting $48 worth of cigars? Is it death?!”
Mike Church from SiriusXM Patriot talked with a caller from the Ferguson area about living in the aftermath of the Brown shooting.
“My daughter, who’s 14 years old, her school has been cancelled again now until the 25th. She goes to Ferguson-Florissant School District. Her friends are African-American, young girls and boys who have family living on the same block. These people are being told, Mike, by the civic leaders, ‘Don’t come out of your homes. Don’t talk to the media.’ We’ve got 12 brave people who have come forth, testimony against this Dorian Johnson version that was posted all over the television, that actually defends the police officer’s position. These brave African-American men and women are being called traitors by their civic leaders, they’re being called Uncle Tom’s by their own neighbors.”
Church and a caller from Texas named Joe also debated on the militarization of local police forces.
“One thing just in regards to Ferguson and the Mike Brown shooting, and I think it’s important to divide those into two different situations or two different things. When you’re looking at them and evaluating them, the neighborhoods you’re talking about, the people you’re talking about, as far as Mike Brown specifically. You’re talking about Section 8 housing, you’re talking about drug dealers, crack dealers, stuff like that, those neighborhoods. When you’re looking at, for example, the officer shooting Mike Brown, something to think about when judging is, I guess the guy was 30-35 feet away … you’re talking about 2.2 seconds for Mike Brown to get to that police officer. Just think about that … The riot gear, the police, all that stuff in Ferguson. I mean, why not? They’re there defending the private property rights of the store owners and the other people in the neighborhood. So why is that a problem?”