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Friday, August 7, 2015

MIKE BROWN'S LEGACY: POLICE BODY CAMERAS

Before we look at building on Mike Brown's Legacy, let us get an idea of the size and nature of the police brutality problem.
In 2011, the FBI reported that there were 404 justifiable homicides committed by police departments in the U.S.. But those numbers were not a complete representation. That 404 was reported from less than 5% (750) of our nations 17,000 police departments in this country. Why?  Reporting the deaths of civilians at the hands of police is voluntary. 
And, according to the ACLU, a full 25% of those dead at the hands of white police officers were black people. https://www.aclu.org/police-body-mounted-cameras-right-policies-place-win-all 

Journalists, via collecting local reports from newspapers across the country, put the number of citizens killed by police per year at 1000 per year. "The Guardian" is one such news website that has begun collecting the names of dead.  As of August 6, 2015 "The Guardian" has a reported body count of 690, broken down by race, state, armed or armed victim, and weapon.  (If you decide to check out the link, please do take note of just how frequently people die of being tasered. )


Mike Brown's death, the failure to indict Darren Wilson for murder, and the #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson, Missouri have led to a nationwide call for the police to wear body cameras. 

And this is completely justified. If Darren Wilson had been wearing a body camera, his police chief would never have been able to float the idea that Wilson knew about the shoplifting of cigarillos. There wouldn't be any he said/she said debate about the fact that Wilson stopped Brown for jaywalking.

We'd know a lot more what happened at the Darren Wilson's police car window. We'd be able to see if Wilson started cussing out two black guys for jaywalking as if he's a slave master to be obeyed. We'd be able to see if what Mike Brown's friend, Dorian Johnson, said is correct: Darren Wilson opened the car door, swinging it hard,  hit Mike Brown with it, and the door bounced back and hit Wilson himself.

If what Johnson said is true, Wilson hitting himself is what prompted Wilson to draw and fire his gun. A video might make it crystal clear that Mike was simply too big to run away like Johnson did.



In other words, we'd be as clear about what happened to Mike Brown as we are about what happened to Sam DuBose.



In regards to Dubose, some people are worried about the fact that the body camera didn't stop Ray Tensing from murdering Sam DuBose. While that's true, prevention of murder is possible and likely according to studies. And even though the body camera did stop DuBose's murder it did stop his murderer from walking away like Darren Wilson did. 


If the 45 seconds of interaction between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson had been recorded on video with sound, Darren Wilson's being able to wait to write his official police report or make his official statement for a number of days after the incident wouldn't have made as much of a difference. The Justice Department might have been able to file their own charges against Wilson.

Even if Wilson still had the opportunity 
(as I recall) to fit his official report to autopsy results etc over a number of days , we would have seen whether or not Mike Brown was already shot  (at the car window) and in pain when he stopped and put his hands up.  There would still be debate with the hard core racists as to whether Brown was bent forward in pain (as Dorian Johnson said) or bent forward for charging like the crazy animal they saw in Mike Brown.

We'd know if Dorian Johnson was more than honestly mistaken on any particular point as well.


But there wouldn't be any debate about Brown having his hands up, which is what some two dozen discredited and ignored witnesses said they saw.  The Justice Department arriving too late to get a clear picture would have mattered less if there had been body cam footage.  

A wide use of body cameras will make police a lot more careful and fewer deaths will result. I'm fairly certain of this based on studies already done -- ESPECIALLY IF the cameras are outfitted with an off switch that takes 2 or 3 minutes to respond.

If all cops in this country were already wearing body cameras that won't shut off for 2 or 3 minutes after you press the "off" button, you'd still have all the critical information you need to solidify: 



1) the federal case against Brian Enciniahad he been wearing one (Sandra Bland)

2) the murder charge against Michael Brelo if he'd been wearing one. (stood on hood of car to shoot unarmed Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell)

3) the case against the 2 or 3 white police officers that beat Freddie Gray to death. And we'd have some idea of whether or not the black police officers implicated (but not on video dragging an unable to walk Gray) knew how badly Gray was already injured.
 


4) We probably still wouldn't have any more information than we do on the shooting of Rekia Boyd.  Even if Dante Servin had had a body camera, he was off duty and the camera wouldn't have been on. Even if the body camera had been on, it was a judge that let Servin go. The judge gave a directed verdict that set Servin free because the charges were too lenient -- keeping Chicago's 17 year record of not convicting a police officer intact.




Still, being able to get 
 8 out of 9 of these officers into a courtroom with body camera evidence would be better than nothing.  And nothing but he-said/she-said is most of what we really have without  police car dash cams and body cameras.

But failure to get a conviction with body camera evidence, still shouldn't be seen as the body camera evidence being a complete failure.

Ida B Wells, an investigative reporter, left a South still trying to recover from the civil war to go to the north in order to advertise the white south's propensity for lynching black people over property/attempt theft but NOT the rape of white women (which was a cover for the thefts). This damaged The South greatly because the white south needed financial investors in order to complete the business of recovery. Ida B. Wells even went to Great Britain and got anti-lynching resolutions passed with would be investors there. 

In other words, Ida B's exposure of the southern white practice of lynching cut off the southern white cash flow. The NAACP, of which she was a founding member, took up her methods and stopping the lynching of black people became one of their main goals. Eventually lynching slowed significantly and the NAACP position in history became firmly established.  

Martin Luther King was successful for the very same reasons as Ida B Wells but in a much wider way.

The invention of television made Martin Luther King able to show southern whites at their worst during peaceful black protests.  He did this over and over again. When images of hoses, dogs, and police batons went over television into a Europe where ethnoracism had been made real by Hitler's gassing of Jewish people, the United States was embarrassed into political action like the Voting Rights Act, Integrating Schools, and Ending Jim Crow.

Lynching slowed some more. 

United States negotiations on issues having to do with anything happening on the international stage was hampered by Europe's sarcastic response of, "What happened to 'All Men Are Created Equal' "  while pointing at still images from television, images of blacks being abused and killed at will by white people again and again.

Theory by
Lawrence Bobo, Harvard


Exposure of what is happening to black people worked after the Civil War, during Civil Rights, and it will work again.  We have to be patient to work through all the stages of reform. We also have to put the responsibility for change where it belongs. White culture needs to deal with white racism. The body cam video recordings, in my mind, are just the tools to get their share of the work done this time.

Getting those body camera's to 100% of police departments are Mike Brown's legacy. Eighty percent of the remaining 16,250 police departments that don't have body cameras already are looking into them.  I've seen articles on body cameras coming to police departments in Boston, Baltimore, and North Carolina in the last few weeks. We need to make sure 100% get these Cameras. Call a state senator near you!!!

If we can get some sort of national or federal organization that oversees all police departments as well, one that counts all deaths at hands of police and puts the onus on the police officer when the initial stop is minor (no turning signal) but somehow results in arrest or death we can make the police unions want and demand body cameras.   

“A lot is at stake, because we cannot have a safe community if we do not have a police
department that respects the community and a community that respects the police,” he said. As many as 30 percent of the nation’s 17,000 police agencies already use body cameras,  according to the American Civil Liberties Union.


Councilor Charles Yancey


And the choir said, "Amen."

Our protests our building upon one another. Trayvon Martin protest begat #BlackLivesMatter begat Ferguson, Protest begat Mike Brown's legacy of body cameras possibly begat the recording of Sam DuBose's murder. I'm not sure when or why Sam DuBose's killer got his body camera but a Mike Brown body camera is destined to save one of us one day and a bunch of us a day or so after that.

By the way, as of June of July 2015, New York now how a special prosecutor looking into deaths of citizens at hands of police.   And he is currently looking into the death of Raynette Turner, who died in jail in July. May this catch on nationwide as well.