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Caught Between Three White Lines in Ferguson

By News | Last updated: Aug 26, 2014 - 8:11:01 AM

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Law enforcement presence in Ferguson, Mo.

FERGUSON, Mo.Limiting Black thought, Black behavior and Black activity has always been the hallmark of White supremacy, which at its core is control of non-White people. Black people are the primary targets—physically, intellectually and socially.

In one of the most dangerous and racially charged killings in America and its aftermath, Blacks in Ferguson, Mo., are caught behind three White lines. These lines may claim to be independent and even opposite of one another at times but are all part of the systemic problem of racism and its dangerous and deadly impact.

Those three lines are police, White “allies,” and White media.

The Police Line

The police are the outright frontline troops put in place to keep Blacks in their place and police overreaction, and sometimes unthinking actions, can worsen problems and ignite violence.

Officers have shown major force and lined up across West Florissant Avenue, a couple hundred yards from a McDonalds and at the base of a major shopping center, which also houses their command center. This incites anger in an already emotionally charged, hurting and rightly outraged crowd.

Others things, like shining police helicopter lights on a fight between two individuals, attract attention and make people bum rush toward the light. People aren’t looking for a confrontation but want to know what is happening and they don’t want anyone abused or killed by police. Mike Brown is already dead and he was unarmed.

As Black activists, the FOI and peacemakers have worked hard and have stood between the police line and the line of Black bodies, discipline and accountability are needed by police officers.

The White Allies Line

The White revolutionaries love to chant, encourage and manipulate the emotions of Black folk by spewing revolutionary screed. But White revolutionaries weren’t here organizing and working for the people before this major event. They are not Anthony Shahid of the Tauheed Youth Group, who has worked for years trying to help young people. When he leads protests in a black police cap, chains, a rope around his neck and carrying stuffed dogs, he has the best interests of Black people at heart. His history shows that commitment. And those items are symbolic of lynchings, slavery and police attack dogs.

White “revolutionaries” or agent provocateurs?

One White boy with a bullhorn shouted at a Black woman who has been on the ground nightly, putting her body between police and protestors: “Do you work for the UN?” Her t-shirt read peacekeeper and he was a couple feet from her. He was told clearly and directly that he better put that bullhorn down and ask her a question if he had one but he would not disrespect her. He would not yell at her. He moved on.

Rosa Clemente, on, wrote Aug. 20 of an encounter that shows how the first two lines converge: “An hour ago, a group including poet Jessica Care Moore, Talib Kweli, folks from the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Philip Agnew of the Dream Defenders, Bgyrl ForLife, Malik from Occupy the Hood, Trymaine Lee from MSNBC and many others were chased like animals by the cops. As we ran to get away, we found ourselves on a small path on a bridge, surrounded by police from various units and told to lie down and put our hands up. … (P.S.: To the white boy who threw the water bottle, a big f--k you, I am sure you were an agent provocateur.)”

The Media Line

The media line plays the role of “watchman” but it protects White supremacy by repeating information, unverified information, and spreading it. On CNN the morning of Aug. 22 Ashleigh Banfield gave major air time to “Hope,” an anonymous White woman whose face was represented by a graphic, who was identified as the head of the St. Louis Police Wives Association. “Hope” talked about support for police officers, which in this case means to Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown and has amassed $200,000 already through donations. Hope spoke of how her group backs officers and police wives all over the country are supporting “officers” (in this case Darren Wilson). Hope’s face was not shown because of fears of threats.

Who is threatening her?

CNN distributed pro-police propaganda in the name of telling the other side of the story. Not one question about whether bad officers should be punished came up and there was questions about whether circling of wagons helps.

CNN and other media also did a steady rotation of the young man with Michael Brown when he was killed. Basically the young man was arrested three years ago and the media wants to question his “credibility” and debate whether his “record” will taint him and his ability to be a good witness.

As the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported, Dorian Johnson “attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City for two semesters in 2011, but ‘wound up back here, struggling to find a job,’” according to his lawyer Freeman Bosley.

“During the summer after his first semester at Lincoln, Johnson was charged with a misdemeanor after giving police a false first name after he was arrested on suspicion of theft. He later pleaded guilty.

“He was accused of stealing a package containing a backpack belonging to someone else from an apartment complex. When he was arrested in that case, he identified himself as Derrick Johnson and said he was 16.

“An officer found a student ID card in his sock identifying him as Dorian Johnson. Johnson told him he was carrying a friend’s ID, but two Lincoln University Police Officers recognized him as Dorian Johnson. He pleaded guilty in circuit court to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report.

“He is wanted for failing to appear in Jefferson City municipal court to answer to the theft charge, court officials said,” the newspaper reported.

The media pushes the image of a liar whose reputation could taint the Brown case. His case must not have been that important, the warrant has been out for three years and no one has come over to arrest him.

It really sounds like a young man struggling in college who made an impulsive decision while trying to figure out a way to survive—or rather that is what the narrative would be if he were White. But Black+Male = Criminal.

Two lines come together here: Police arrest and charge, media repeats the charge, media questions the accused. Media does not question the police. Never mind that the major reason for explosion in Ferguson is because Black young men are sick and tired of being stopped, arrested and abused by police officers.

Then there was the false report of major injuries to officer Wilson that were spread.

There was “Josie,” another anonymous White woman who went on a conservative radio show and tells a story she heard from a friend, heard from a co-worker, heard from an elf—well maybe not an elf, but if we are going to simply repeat anonymous imaginary things as “news,” let’s go all the way. She is believed because she is White and says she is close to the officer involved and other anonymous sources are used by White media to verify her anonymous account.

Plenty of journalistic sins here.

And there is this:

“ ‘I had been on the ground helping Al Jazeera America** cover the protests and unrest in Ferguson, Mo., since this all started last week. After what I saw last night, I will not be returning. The behavior and number of journalists there is so appalling, that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of the spectacle,’ ” wrote Ryan L. Schuessler in a piece titled “I will not be returning to Ferguson.” It was posted Aug. 21 at

“Last night a frustrated resident confronted me when he saw my camera: ‘Yall are down here photographing US, but who gets paid?!’

“There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their careermaker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. … I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras.”

So when Black people say “this isn’t about race,” they need to look across these three White lines of power, positioning and persuasion.