Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Aug 16, 2014)

A Common Thug 

By Bob Cooper

As I watched the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO this week my first thought was that there was likely a lot more to this.  At the very least I suspected that Brown wasn’t the cherubic, African-American version of Beaver Cleaver that the mainstream press were making him out to be.  Why, CNN & MSNBC pointed out, Michael was just days away from starting college when the ‘unarmed young Black man’ was gunned down by a police officer.  For some reason the usual elementary school graduation photo complete with gown & mortar board was missing this time. 

The press pick and choose when to introduce the subject of race into a story.  In any case where a Black person has any sort of violence visited upon them by the police, race will not only be stated but underlined because it creates the impression, subliminal or otherwise, that actions of the police were based on racial animus and nothing else.  When the facts aren’t known, speculation freely fills the void and creates controversy which sells more advertising.  The same practice is occasionally applied to Hispanics while Asians and other groups are pretty much left to their own devices.   

Now put the shoe on the other foot and let’s say the story is about a group of young Blacks who select a person at random to serve as a piñata in The Knockout Game.  If the victim happens to be White, as they are almost all of the time, you won’t see the press leaping to the same conclusion.  Even the whisper of race is verboten and the only time the public will ever know is if there’s a perp walk or the names turn out to be DeShawn or Shaniqua.   Personally, I don’t think race should ever be mentioned unless there’s a compelling reason to so do but the double standard is glaring. 

In making these decisions the press are answerable to no one.  I don’t disagree with that because a free press is one of the cornerstones of any democracy.  I just think that introducing an incendiary element into a news story with no evidence to support it (i.e., racial slur uttered, past indications of racism, etc.) is irresponsible not to mention divisive, and the public should be aware of the ethics involved and view these stories through that filter. 

When the Ferguson Police Department initially declined to release the officer’s name citing safety concerns (which, unlike the implied racism, were well-documented), the press got on their hind legs and suggested that this indicated deception or cover-up while ignoring the fact that branding the cop as a trigger-happy racist definitely made safety concerns the deciding factor.  By this time, the usual race industry shake-down artists had descended on Ferguson, and along with the press, were demanding “transparency”.  

From what I’ve seen so far, despite their loss, Michael Brown’s family have demonstrated restraint and dignity and have appealed to their fellow residents to do the same, let the investigation take its course, and throttle back on the rhetoric.  Their own attorneys, the press, and shysters like Jesse Jackson, who referred to the shooting as a “state execution”, should follow their example but they won’t because they all make a good living off other people’s grief and the more hysteria the better. 



This morning, as I predicted, the other shoe dropped when the police released still photos and a video of Brown shortly before he was shot, stealing Swisher Sweets cigars from a convenience store then assaulting a much smaller employee by throwing him into a display case to overcome resistance to the stealing.  Showing Brown to be a bully who uses violence easily to get his way took some of the starch out of the story and sent the press into a frenzy questioning motive and suggesting deliberate character assassination and smearing the victim, etc.  Firstly, it’s not character assassination when it’s true and secondly, if they had any sort of derogatory information on the officer they’d be broadcasting it around the clock.  They want “transparency” when it suits them.     

I’m not saying that that crime alone justified the shooting of Brown and, like everyone else, I don’t know what happened.  All I’m saying is that with a six year unblemished record, Officer Darren Wilson is entitled to at least the same degree of fairness and balance from the news media as that which they accord a common thug.  

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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