While a small minority of white people may be adamantly supporting Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, the rest of us are wondering why police are providing little-to-no information regarding the homicide.
Thus far, Ferguson has, weeks after the shooting, released a heavily-redacted incident report they initially claimed did not exist because the case had been turned over to St. Louis County, who filed an information-free report of their own. When Wilson was revealed to be the murderer, Ferguson cops made public a video they claimed showed Brown robbing a store–but the store owner, through his attorney, said that he nor any employees reported a robbery. In fact, police did not see the video until after Brown was dead in the street. In any case, he does not believe that the person allegedly committing strong-arm robbery is Michael Brown.
But who is Darren Wilson?
Darren Wilson’s first police job was in the small town of Jennings, MO–and the police department had such a troubled history with racial tensions between white officers and black residents that the city eventually disbanded it. Three years ago, every single officer–including Wilson–was fired, and new people were hired in an effort to regain credibility with residents.
After his termination, Wilson applied and was hired in nearby Ferguson. Things were going well for Wilson–until August 9, when he gunned down Michael Brown. Since the shooting Wilson has disappeared from the public eye, and is silent about the shooting–though many are willing to speak on his behalf, including a certain blogger who fraudulently claimed Wilson suffered an orbital blowout fracture as a result of his confrontation with the unarmed teen. Even the spirit world says that Wilson is innocent, according to a right-wing “Christian” psychic and astrologer.
The Jenning police department was, like Ferguson, mostly white despite a majority of African-American residents. “It was not an ideal place to learn how to police,” the Washington Post noted. According to officials, Wilson kept a clean record with no disciplinary action–unsurprising, given the department’s history.
According to Rodney Epps, an African-American city council member in Jennings, racial tension was rampant in the police department.
“You’re dealing with white cops, and they don’t know how to address black people,” Epps said. “The straw that broke the camel’s back, an officer shot at a female. She was stopped for a traffic violation. She had a child in the back [of the] car and was probably worried about getting locked up. And this officer chased her down Highway 70, past city limits, and took a shot at her. Just ridiculous.”
Police faced numerous lawsuits for using unnecessary force. Cassandra Fuller sued the Jennings police department after an officer beat her on her front porch after he became incensed by a joke in June 2009. A car smashed into her van, which was parked in front of her home. The officer asked her to move her van. “It don’t run. You can take it home with you if you want,” she answered. The officer threw her off the porch, knocked her on the ground, and kicked her in the stomach, Fuller said.
The department paid Fuller a confidential sum to settle the case. “It’s like a horror story in my mind. I never thought a police officer would pull me off my porch and beat me to the ground, for just laughing,” Fuller said.
On top of racial tensions, the department was dealing with institutional corruption on a grand scale. A joint Federal and local investigation determined that a lieutenant was receiving federal funds for DUI checks that never happened.
In March 2011, the city council voted 6-1 to shut down the department and hire St. Louis County to run its police services with Lt. Jeff Fuesting as commanding officer. “My impression is he didn’t go above and beyond, and he didn’t get in any trouble,” Fuesting said of Darren Wilson.
He said of the department before it was disbanded, “There was a disconnect between the community and the police department. There were just too many instances of police tactics which put the credibility of the police department in jeopardy. Complaints against officers. There was a communication breakdown between the police and the community. There were allegations involving use of force that raised questions.”
Police in the area have revealed that racism is not a problem limited to Jennings or Ferguson. St. Louis officer Dan Page was revealed to have given a racially-charged speech in which he talked of his love of killing at an Oath Keepers meeting two years ago. An officer in Glendale, just fifteen miles from Ferguson, was suspended for his bigoted Facebook posts about the Michael Brown murder and the resulting protests.
An officer working the Ferguson protests was caught on a racist Twitter rant about protesters, as well. Officer “Go F*ck Yourself” pointed his weapon at an African-American member of the media and loudly declared, “I will f*cking kill you.” A member of the National Guard, called in to “restore calm,” referred to protesters as “n*ggers.” Another cop was busted calling demonstrators “f*cking animals,” on top of all that. The list goes on–and this is just what was caught on tape and on social media!
A grand jury is currently reviewing evidence in making a determination whether or not Wilson will be charged for the murder of Michael Brown. The Grand Jury, unsurprisingly, is mostly white.