Some background on Ferguson, Missouri
Charles Reid explains a bit on some background for the news in Missouri:
Quite properly, journalistic reaction to events in Ferguson, Missouri, has focused on the militarization of the police, on the role of racism in the killing of unarmed African-American men, and on the political disenfranchisement that allows communities like Ferguson to operate in obvious defiance of public sentiment.
But there is another element peculiar to Missouri politics that must have light shed upon it. That is the sharp right-ward turn conservative politics in that State has taken.
I’ve got news for Missouri’s political class. They need to stop reviving the odious, discredited ideology of the Southern slaveocracy. They must instead return to reality and address the social crisis Ferguson represents. For in truth, African-Americans face substantial obstacles in Missouri. The four-year high-school graduation rate for African-Americans is 76 percent (as of 2009/2010). (The white graduation rate is 89 percent). The poverty rate for African-Americans is 27.7 percent (as of 2007/2011). The white poverty rate for the same period is 12.1 percent. The unemployment rate of African-Americans (2008/2012) is 18.0 percent. (For white Missourians it is 7.3 percent). The incarceration rate for African-Americans (as of June 30, 2012) is 38.2 percent.
When I explained the American labor market, post 1973 de-humanization (a.k.a., de-unionization), he came back with: “Martin Luther King got his people on the up escalator just in time for it to go down for everybody.”
My almost four years experience, back in the late 70s, going to criminal court with young kids in the Bronx tells me that the criminal justice system is just as bad on poor whites as on minorities. In half the felony cases we went through no crime even happened!
The problem isn’t race; it’s post-democracy (economic and political) America — these days that’s getting to mean most people.
Look at most of the Americans you meet working on less than specific training required jobs (like x-ray tech): they are embarrassed. They are earning $400-$500 a week. $500 is today’s median wage.
Look at the official federal poverty line: 3 X the price of an emergency diet (dried beans only please; no expensive canned) — a formula from the mid-fifties = $20,000 poverty line for family of three ($400 a week). Realistic minimum needs line based on table 3-2, p. 44 (after adjusting for inflation) in the MS Foundation book Raise the Floor works out to more like $50,000 a year for family of three if it has to pay its own medical insurance ($1,000 a week!). HALF OF AMERICANS NOW WORK FOR HALF THAT POVERTY LINE OR LESS!
For what to do about it see the messages I am sending to taxi unions and to the Teamsters Union in the “Open Thread” just above. (Why hi-jack a thread when you can hi-jack a whole blog? :-])
Michael Brown’s friend Wilson asserted that the officer tried to pull six-foot-four, 300 pound Brown through the window of the police car. What officer would try something so incredibly dangerous? This is an back-handed admission that Brown invaded the police car, not the other way around.
“It’s like tug-of-war,” Mr. Johnson said. “He’s trying to pull him in. He’s pulling away
An elderly black witness recorded seconds after the shooting says that at first Brown ran away but then reversed direction and charged the police officer: “next thing I know he’s coming back towards them”
Autopsy shows Brown was hit four times in the arm before the fatal shots to the head. This sounds very much like the officer trying very hard to wound, not kill. Brown was a very big, very close target if the officer wanted to shot down the middle.