Have we turned the corner in Ferguson?

Aug 15, 2014

The calls to demilitarize police seem to have been answered, at least in part: in his latest update, Washington Post's Wesley Lowery reports that with the Highway Patrol in charge, hugs and kisses have replaced tear gas in Ferguson (30,843 shares). "MAJOR change in police tone as Cpt. Ron Johnson, a Ferguson native, takes command," Lowery tweets. "I'm tearing up just reading this," confesses Nick Brunner with Capital Public Radio. In a single twitpic, Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly observes the stark difference between "Last night v. tonight in #Ferguson." The Atlantic's James Fallows notes, "This is why America keeps coming back."

Then, Ferguson police moved to name the responsible officer in the Michael Brown shooting (3,450 shares). "BREAKING: #Ferguson police identify Darren Wilson as officer who shot Michael Brown," tweets Chris Zoladz with WZZM 13 Grand Rapids. But these developments also introduced a new wrinkle to the story: police reports indicate that Brown may have been a suspect in a QuikTrip store shoplifting involving cigars (with another page visible here) (67 shares). Video stills of an alleged altercation between Brown and a QuikTrip worker have also been circulated. But as Vox's Matthew Yglesias points out in a recent piece, if Brown robbed a nearby convenience minutes before he was shot and killed by Wilson, and shooting witness Dorian Johnson was also supposedly his accomplice in the robbery, then why isn't Dorian Johnson under arrest? (1,062 shares).

Even the process of introducing the officer's name caused some controversy, although unintended: during a livestream of the announcement, what sounds like nearby journalists can be heard yammering about their own theories as to the man's identity. "Hey, guys on this live feed: We can hear you speculating. Maybe turn your mic off," freelancer Amanda Marcotte suggests. "Reporters with baseless speculation and conspiracy theories over an open mic. It’s a good day for journalism," came the facetious tweet from journalist Jeremy Binckes. Wired's Emily Dreyfuss joins in, sharing one overheard gem of a theory: "'The red faced guy who looks like a lobster'."

Regardless, the events preceding this turn will not quickly be forgotten. Images from Ferguson have evoked Civil Rights Era and changing visual perceptions, the New York Times reflects (2,352 shares). At Grantland, Rembert Browne writes powerfully about being on the front lines of Ferguson (4,978 shares). Browne includes raw remarks like, "We scattered like roaches, and I couldn’t help but wonder if the cops thought of us that way." 

And meanwhile the Daily Beast is hot on the trail of another related story: the day Ferguson cops were caught in a bloody lie (8,893 shares). USA Today reveals that local police are involved in 400 killings per year (5,056 shares). At NPR, that conversation isn't dying off, either, as they tell the story of how one teen was "almost another dead black male" after a traffic stop (4,222 shares). Slate's Jamelle Bouie explains, "This is why I was immediately suspicious of the 'Mike Brown reached for a gun' story." Finally, CJR posits that Obama’s defense of journalists was hypocritical (992 shares).

Even The Onion's new parody site ClickHole isn't going to let this go any time soon, with their new satirical post Police Or Army: Who Wore It Better? (14,323 shares). "The results are in: The Police officially wore it better," they announced.

About the author

Writes the @MuckRackDaily & runs #muckedup chat. Creator of #100helpfuldays. I can haz media tips? kirsten@sawhorsemedia.com

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