FAA complied with a request by federal authorities to ban media helicopters from covering police conduct during the protest, but Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, asks: does it really matter?
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore. And also welcome to this edition of the Glen Ford report.
Following the shooting of the unarmed teenager Michael Brown, we witnessed the use of undue military force against very ordinary citizens in Ferguson, Missouri. Now we find out, through a freedom of information request Associated Press has obtained recordings of federal aviation authorities complying with the efforts to keep media helicopters from Ferguson and St. Louis area from being able to cover the protest and police response from the air. This week we also found out that evidence doesn’t support civil rights charges against Michael Brown’s shooter, Darren Wilson.
Now joining us to talk about all of this is our regular commentator Glen Ford. Glen, as you know, is joining us from Plainfield, New Jersey. He is the editor of the Black Agenda Report.
Thank you so much for joining us, Glen.
GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Thanks for the opportunity.
PERIES: So, Glen, tell us what’s going on in Ferguson now.
FORD: Well, as you said, we learned that the police were able to institute a no-fly zone over the no-justice zone with the collaboration of federal authorities. One of the restrictions was that planes or helicopters–that’s what they were really afraid of, news helicopters–couldn’t go any lower than 3,000 feet. That’s about three times the height of the Empire State building. You can’t see much in terms of police misbehavior from that kind of height.
But does it really matter, since even if you catch police on video killing innocent civilians, it’s not likely in the United States that they’re going to be punished or even fired? We see rumors now reported by msnbc that Darren Wilson, the cop who killed Michael Brown, is going to be “eased out”–that’s the quote–“eased out” of the Ferguson Police Department–not fired, but eased out somehow. We also see those same sources claiming that the police chief in Ferguson, Thomas Jackson, is going to resign, but Jackson denies that.
The main expectation in St. Louis and around the country is about the grand jury and what it’s going to do in terms of Michael Brown’s killing. The betting is on. Las Vegas would like you to bet as much as you’d like that there will be an indictment, and you’d be almost certain to lose, because cops are almost never indicted in the killing of unarmed blacks in the United States. We don’t have really good data on how often this occurs, but from what data the FBI does gather, we do know that about half of all the young men–that is, 20 years old and younger–half the young men who are killed by police are black. And from that we can conclude that the federal government’s failure to even gather data on how often cops kill black people should be viewed, we should look at it as part of a national conspiracy on a vast scale. It is quite clear that the entire national criminal justice system conspires to confer immunity on police who kill black people. So they don’t really have to go through all these antics about declaring no-fly zones. They operate in no-justice and immunity zones.
Naturally, then, blacks rebel. And it is just and understandable that folks would rebel against a system that conspires to methodically, institutionally deny them not just their rights, but life. And, in fact, black people have rebelled against this police system of murder ever since the Harlem riots of 1935.
But even setting aside the problems with the judicial system, which does not operate in terms of police killing of blacks, we can’t even get a killer cop fired. And we contrast this with another category of civil servant, teachers. It is fashionable now all the way up to the White House to call for lopping off the heads of teachers. And in California, a judge has even ruled that giving teachers tenure so that they can’t be so easily fired violates the rights of poor children. But cops can kill black children and it’s almost impossible to fire them. And if you’re a cop in Ferguson, you can wear an arm band expressing solidarity with your fellow killer cop and nothing happens to you.
So I think we can conclude that in this sick society, in America, teachers would do a service for themselves, for their profession, they would get more respect, and certainly more job security, if they agreed to act as police and carry guns in the classroom, and especially they would get more respect and job security if they regularly used those guns against their students.
PERIES: Glen, I’m wondering whether you might elaborate on your earlier point about data collection based on race and ethnicity that you referred to in your earlier point.
PERIES: The FBI, by its own estimate, gathers about 15 percent of the data that should be available from the states. Some states, like Florida, don’t contribute much in the way of data at all to the FBI. Now, of course, the federal government gives all these local and county and state police forces billions of dollars in support. So it’s not like the federal government doesn’t have any leverage to at least get information, some basic statistics from these states. Obviously, I think it’s clear, one could reasonably conclude that the federal government, the FBI, does not put together reliable, consistent data on the killing of black folks and the immunity that’s conferred on white police, because it doesn’t want to, because it is an active coordinator of the coverup of the real scale of violence and theft of black rights that occurs every day in the United States.
PERIES: Well, Glen, thank you so much for joining us today.
FORD: Thank you.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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