Set-Up Like A Bowling Pin

It’s obvious Robert McCulloch’s delayed announcement of the grand jury decision was a strategic move designed to shift the national narrative away from the decision itself and toward the reaction to the decision.

Now the national narrative is, “violent black people are rioting in the streets.” When our TV screens are filled with pictures of fires and mobs overturning cars, the media is justifying police brutality. It’s reinforcing the “angry/dangerous/scary black people” stereotype that is to blame for shootings of black teens like Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride in the first place. Protestors of all races hoping to start a national conversation about police misconduct, militarization of local police forces, the value of African American life, etc. were set up. And they walked right into it.

It’s a damn shame, too. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if instead of the fires and overturned cars and blocked interstates in places like Nashville we had positive, peaceful images of resistance? But that requires discipline, and that comes from leadership. Sadly, it’s something we don’t have — even President Obama’s message seemed lackluster and resigned.

I keep hearing the looters and violent protestors were not from Ferguson, and that may be true. But this wouldn’t be the first time outside agitators came in to discredit a legitimate protest movement. Those who want real change need to take a cue from protest leaders of past generations. None of this is new. We’ve seen it all before: how a media storyline is crafted and manipulated, how outside forces can disrupt, how a powerful television image is used to further an agenda.

Sad. Y’all were set up like bowling pins.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Set-Up Like A Bowling Pin

  1. The point was made on one of the first Balloon-Juice threads the other night, not sure by whom, that blocking highways is (or at least could be) an incredibly eloquent protest of racist, segregationist housing and urban development policy.

    But yeah, that tactic needs a public spokesperson and some goddamn organization.

  2. Jim in Memphis

    SB – Do you think the grand jury should have indicted him?

    • GregH

      I think the prosecutor had enough evidence to indict without a grand jury, but chose not to. This should have gone to trial, so that all of the evidence could be presented and a jury could decide innocence or guilt to murder or a lesser charge. The officer’s testimony makes it sound like the kid was crazy on Angel Dust or something, but there is no toxicology from the autopsy information to support that. Too bad the officer was not wearing a camera. That should be SOP everywhere now.

      • Jim in Memphis

        I agree that officers should be wearing cameras. From my understanding, the prosecutor laid out all of the evidence for the grand jury and they decided not to indict. I think the prosecutor knew he could not win at a trial and that the protests would be even worse when a not guilty verdict was handed down. He was probably trying to cover his own ass as well by not wanting to lose at trial.

      • Laughably clueless, as always, Jim. But thanks for sharing your opinion.

    • I think McCullough should have recused himself from the case due to his many conflicts of interest or, failing to do so, should have been removed by Gov. Nixon and replaced by a special prosecutor. BTW, Nixon just saw his future in the Democratic party go down in flames.

      DAs rely on good relationships with police (Law AND Order) and when it comes to cases of police misconduct they are automatically in a bad place, though McCullough has numerous other conflicts too (among them, that he is president of a T-shirt company which is selling I Support Darren Wilson shirts to raise money for the officer’s defense.) It’s all just too shady. The entire process needs to be changed.

  3. Kathleen

    I fear you are right, Ms. Beale. I think “officials” wanted to further that story line which is why they stood down in some locations Monday night. For once in my life I agreed with the consensus of the CNN bots that Ferguson’s mayor, police chief and Jay Nixon never made an appearance and showed no leadership at all, which added to the situation, as well as puzzling decisions not to deploy troops/police in certain locations.

    As for President Obama, he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t and yes, he is probably very tired of being in that position. My son in law’s opinion was that PBO was very pissed. I imagine he was but had to restrain himself. Also, he knows the score which is probably why he kept emphasizing that violence was not acceptable.

    One thing is certain. Judging from the widespread demonstrations I would say this murder has touched something deep in many people. As you said, leadership is needed to channel this into constructive change.

  4. onyxpnina

    We have two sets of demonstrations here: the peaceful ones, which involve stopping traffic on the interstates, and the violent ones, where people who are known to be from out of town set things on fire and loot and who seem to be white.

    Note that local reportage starts by jumbling all protests together and only later sorts them out.