Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ferguson Police Officer Justin Cosma Unmasked by Huff Po - Officer Dan Page Suspended After Pushing CNN's Don Lemon

1st Amendment Foe & Child Wrangler Officer Justin Cosma-(Photo/Huffington Post)
The harassment, assault and arrests of journalists by police for simply being present to cover the Ferguson protests was pretty disturbing. 

So kudos to the Huffington Post for publicly identifying and naming Justin Cosma, the Ferguson police officer seen confronting and arresting Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery the night of Wednesday August 13th.

While a number of journalists from different media outlets were videotaped or photographed being tear-gassed by members of law enforcement, no incident (aside from Michael Brown's shooting) garnered more attention than the arrests of Reilly and Lowery.

They were both just sitting in a McDonald's charging their cell phones and discussing the protests when heavily-armed police (led by Cosma) wearing tactical SWAT gear with their names and badge numbers intentionally concealed walked in, ordered everyone out of the restaurant and demanded ID's from both reporters.

The reporters subsequent assault (Lowery, an African-American, was slammed against a glass wall and a soda fountain) and arrests quickly made global headlines and they were soon released after the story blew up on Twitter. 

Today's Huff-Po story also reveals that Justin Cosma is also the subject of an ongoing lawsuit that stems from a 2010 incident when he was with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in which he and an officer named Richard Carter allegedly confronted a 12-year-old boy who was at the end of his driveway getting the mail out of his family's mailbox.

The shirtless 12-year-old was eventually hogtied by Cosma and Carter after the incident escalated, leading to injuries to the child and a pending lawsuit filed in Missouri Federal Court in 2012. It says a lot about officer Cosma.

But it also paints a pretty disturbing picture of the types of officers in Ferguson and St. Louis whose recent behavior is tarnishing the reputations of the members of law enforcement who treat people with respect and operate within the confines of the law.

Kudos to CNN too. Have you heard about St. Louis County officer Dan Page who pushed CNN anchor Don Lemon on live TV? Turns out Page is a right-wing Birther, and his bizarre misogynist, homophobic, racists rants got him suspended after they were released on video and shown to his superiors by CNN.

I watched some of the video highlights of Page's rants and he's a cultural dinosaur with a death-fetish and a huge chip on his shoulder who's mind has been warped by hate. The idea that this man carries a gun and a badge is troubling and makes a mockery of the image of a trained law enforcement professional.
 
The positive thing is that mainstream media outlets like Huffington Post and CNN are starting to use their considerable influence and reach to show men like Cosma and Page for who they are; deeply disturbed individuals prone to violence and using their badge as a shield for their hate and behavior that is simply inexcusable for anyone charged with enforcing the law in a modern society.



 





   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Kajieme Powell Died For Two Stolen Sodas and a Danish

Believe me, I'd like nothing better than to use my Friday off to post a quirky tongue-and-cheek blog about the latest examples of Republican stupidity; and there are many.

Texas (surprise!) Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert's absurd dimwitted theory that President Obama can't protect the nation from ISIS militants because US foreign policy is being guided by "Muslim brothers" is a blog unto itself.

But the release of the cell phone video of the recent shooting death of Kajieme Powell by St. Louis police officers warrants discussion.

The news the other day that St. Louis PD officers had shot and killed another African-American man in the midst of the massive ongoing protests against the police shooting of Michael Brown almost defied belief.

If you're reading this blog, like me you heard the mainstream media quickly repeat the initial police narrative offered by the police chief at a press conference that Powell had shoplifted from a local store, was seen acting "erratic" outside the store and that a woman (allegedly) reported he was wielding a knife; which the police said he supposedly thrust at officers in a threatening manner.

But the validity of that narrative has been totally called into question with the release on Wednesday of cell phone video of Powell walking around outside the store, his confrontation with police when they arrived at the scene and his subsequent shooting.

So you decide for yourself, if you haven't seen it you need to watch this. This is a shorter version that shows the actual shooting of Powell and the subsequent reaction of bystanders and police.  Don't worry, it's far enough away that you can't see blood or anything like that, but you can clearly hear Powell dare the police to shoot him and the number of shots fired. It's not gruesome.

There's a much longer version that the shows the initial scene as the man who shot the cell phone video walked up because he heard there was a guy who stole a couple sodas and was walking around acting crazy. At first the man shooting the video is amused. You can see Powell walking around outside the store sort of talking to himself. Is he acting "erratic"? Yes. But people are just walking by or standing there watching him. The clerk from the store is just standing there looking at him.

Powell had placed the two cans of soda on the sidewalk and was just walking around them. After taking the sodas he went in and grabbed a danish or a honeybun too. But watch for yourself. Powell clearly has some sort of mental issue going on, maybe he's on something, I don't know. But he does not have a gun and he was NOT wielding a knife. And does not look threatening.

But then he walks up the street about fifty feet and a St. Louis police car pulls up. Watch what happens after that - and listen to the reaction of the bystanders in the background. Look closely, do you see Powell raise his hand and thrust a knife at the two officers?

Does it look like the officer's lives are endangered to the point where they need to pump 12 bullets into him? They were shooting him after he was on the ground; and then put handcuffs on him after he was dead. Is that the kind of nation we've become? Who's training the St. Louis Police Department?

Are two cans of soda and a danish really worth a man's life?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What About Bob?

Fair & balanced?
Let's say someone walked up and told you that one of the leading attorneys handling the Michael Brown case was a man whose father, brother, uncle, cousin and mother all worked for the St. Louis Police Department.

You'd figure that's who trigger-happy Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson selected as his defense attorney right? You'd be wrong.

The man described above is the county prosecutor in charge of trying the case against Wilson and his name is Bob McCulloch (pictured left). The idea of this man leading the prosecution of one of the most explosive cases of the use of excessive police force (and bad judgment) in Missouri history already has protesters and members of the Ferguson community up in arms.

As of 11:09pm ET, 53,791 signatures have been collected on a MoveOn.org petition started by Jamilah Nasheed, a Missouri State Senator. The petition calls on McCulloch to recuse himself and the county prosecutor's office from the case and instead have a special independent Federal prosecutor handle the case.

I truly regret that McCulloch's father (a St. Louis policeman) was killed by a black man in 1964 when McCulloch was 12, but I would hope that he has sense enough to recognize that his deep family ties to the St. Louis PD and failure to bring charges back in 2000 against two white policemen who fired 20 shots into a parked car killing two unarmed African-American suspects in a drug operation (in a press conference McCulloch later called them "bums"...) represents a conflict of interest that should be fairly obvious to all.

Speaking of people doing stupid shit with guns, I'm getting pretty fed up with individuals who feel compelled to flaunt their 2nd Amendment rights by carrying loaded weapons around openly in public places like grocery stores.

Seriously, WTF is this guy thinking?
There's a new petition up on the Everytown.org Website calling on Kroger's, the largest grocery store chain in the nation to protect it's customers by banning people from carrying loaded weapons around in their stores.

You can sign it here! The petition is addressed to W. Rodney McMullen the CEO and Michael Ellis, president/COO of Kroger's.

 Other stores like Target, Chipotle and Starbucks have already listened to concerned citizens across the nation in the wake of the 74 (yes, 74) school shootings that have taken place since Sandy Hook.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Disparities in Justice in America - A Renewed Discussion

One nation, two justice systems? (Image courtesy - twitter@DerrickJaxn)
If anything positive can come about as result of the senseless death of Michael Brown at the hands of an overzealous police officer, it's a renewed national dialog on the disparities that exist within America's justice system.

The community outrage over the shooting and the subsequent street protests, riots and the accompanying police reaction that have captivated the nation didn't just materialize out of nowhere.

As a well-written article published in the New York Times yesterday  pointed out, the reaction in Ferguson stems from long-simmering tensions that result in large part from patterns in housing discrimination, sharp disparities in community policing and the unequal application of the law based on economics and race.

As officials from the Department of Justice prepare to undertake an independent Federal autopsy on the body of Michael Brown, egregious examples of excessive use of police force against unarmed people of color remind us that this is the 21st century and the color of your skin can often determine how a policeman will treat you.

Michael Brown was jaywalking, he was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer.

Back on July 1st a homeless grandmother named Marlene Pinnock was walking along a highway in Los Angeles in broad daylight on her way to find a place to sleep when a California Highway Patrol officer confronted her, threw her to the ground and savagely beat her in the head with a closed, gloved fist.

Fifteen days later Eric Garner was standing on the street in Staten Island, New York where he lived selling loose cigarettes when members of the NYPD confronted him, a bystander videotaped one of the officers restricting Garner's airway with an illegal choke hold while other officers piled on top of him - Garner was pronounced dead a short time later.

These are just a few examples of violent police responses to very low-level infractions that happened in broad daylight. In each case there were witnesses who saw what happened. (How many incidents happen across America at night when there are no witnesses?)

The disparities in the application of the law impact all of us, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality or religion. The statistics are startling. According to StopMassIncareration.net, the United States has 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's prison population - 60% of those prisoners are black or Latino. (Give or take a few percentage points, blacks make up about 12.1% of the total US population).

A joint research project released in 2012 by the Pew Center on the States and Vera Institute's Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit calculated the annual cost to American taxpayers for running the US prison system was a staggering $39 billion. States on average spend 2.8 times more per prisoner than they do pupils; math that only leads to a perpetuation of the system of mass incarceration in this country - an industry unto itself that lobbies for more prison construction.

Remember it's not just a cost measured in tax dollars alone. We're talking about the creation of a massive underclass of convicted felons and ex-prisoners (many of who were imprisoned for low-level drug offenses) who re-enter society barred from voting and taking part in the civic process of electing people to represent them, face barriers and discrimination in the hiring process, lack of access to health care and are relegated to a permanent 2nd class status that leaves them on the fringes of society.

The issue of disparity stretches way beyond the prism of race; it's goes to the very heart of the US justice system and the definition of who we are as a nation. Remember the "Affluenza" case of wealthy Texas teenager Ethan Couch?

It was a big story last December when Texas District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced the then-sixteen year-old Couch to probation after he slammed into a disabled vehicle while legally drunk. He killed the driver of the parked vehicle and three people (a mother and daughter and a youth pastor) who'd stopped to help her; he also paralyzed one the passengers in his truck and seriously injured another.

Judge Boyd's bizarre reasoning was that Couch had grown up so insulated from personal responsibility as a result of being so spoiled by his parent's immense wealth - so he couldn't be held legally responsible for his actions. We all know where a poor sixteen-year-old in Couch's shoes would've ended up.    

Responsibility lies at the heart of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. The details of the autopsy reports and the conclusion of the investigations into the shooting will tell us more about whether or not Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will be insulated from personal responsibility for his actions.

Maybe it will also give us some insight into exactly what that blindfold covering the eyes of the symbol of justice in America (with her sword and scales) is blinding her to.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Questions Cast Shadows Over An Uneasy Peace In Ferguson

An unarmed protester in Ferguson on Monday (Photo - AP)
While tension has eased to a degree after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon tasked Captain Ronald S. Johnson (a highly-respected and seasoned African-American law enforcement officer, who grew up in the St. Louis area) to head up a contingent of Missouri Highway Patrol personnel to take over primary responsibility in Ferguson, the truth is only beginning to unfold.
 
Even as Ferguson police finally identified Darren Wilson as the officer who fatally shot and killed Michael Brown last Saturday, numerous questions remain about the heavy-handed response from local law enforcement over the past five days.

At the same time police released the name of the officer, they also released inconclusive surveillance video from a convenience store allegedly showing Michael Brown getting into some kind of dispute with a store clerk shortly before he was gunned down in the street by officer Wilson just after 12pm last Saturday.

The Ferguson police department's efforts to portray Michael Brown as a thief, when no proof exists that he committed a crime, run contrary to normal legal procedures. Video, or any other kind of evidence needs to be tagged and logged as such then presented in a courtroom in front of a grand jury or judge; not leaked at a press conference in an effort to attempt to justify a police officer's killing of an unarmed person with no prior criminal record.

The idea that Brown was killed because he was a suspect in a robbery doesn't wash. Brown was never charged with theft, and officer Wilson had no idea he was even a suspect in the alleged convenience store theft when he stopped the 18-year-old and confronted him and a friend on the street for Walking While Black jaywalking - or as the Ferguson police are now calling it, "obstructing traffic".

If the police want to suggest that Michael Brown robbed a convenience store of some cigars two days before he was to begin college, then they need to prove it in a court of law. Executing someone then introducing slipshod evidence of a crime outside of a court of law is more characteristic of corrupt Third World police thuggery; not a trained modern police force in a large American community.

Besides, sketchy video and unproven allegations in no way absolves a police officer of killing an unarmed human being in the street; or the totally over the top way in which the police have responded to a community rightfully outraged over the killing and the journalists sent there to cover the story.

Oh and speaking of the First Amendment to the Constitution, as has been widely reported over the past couple days, on Wednesday night around 8pm several unidentified members of a county SWAT team arrested and assaulted two reporters who were sitting in a McDonald's re-charging their mobile devices and discussing the unfolding events in Ferguson they were sent there to cover.

Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly a reporter for the Huffington Post were eating inside the McDonald's when police entered, cleared the restaurant and demanded ID from both reporters. When the reporters questioned the police about why they had to show them ID and further angered the heavily-armed police by having the gall to ask why weapons were being pointed at two reporters eating at McDonald's - they were cuffed, arrested and taken to jail.

I saw Lowery interviewed live on CNN on Thursday, he said the police officers pushed him against a soda fountain when he didn't move fast enough to put his things back in his bag and also slammed him against a glass door or wall. Lowery also spoke of seeing other reporters he knew personally being shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters by police on Tuesday evening.

Both reporters were later released on the orders of the Ferguson police chief without being charged or with any kind of paperwork documenting their arrest; again, totally sketchy police procedure.

Antonio French, the local alderman who's been Tweeting live pictures, video and reports from the scene of the protests in Ferguson, was arrested by police as well when he got out of his vehicle.

Last night in a story about local St. Louis clergy men and women peacefully protesting the killing of Michael Brown, ThinkProgress.org reported that "a local pastor was shot in the abdomen while peacefully chanting 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus'." Her name was Renita Lamkin according to a story on the Website of the Huffington Post.

Personally I'm disappointed with the amount of time it took state and Federal government officials to step up and take the lead in Ferguson. Governor Jay Nixon was practically invisible until Thursday.

It's clear that residents of the Ferguson community and Americans around the nation outraged by this tragedy won't be satisfied until a thorough independent investigation of the Ferguson police department is undertaken by the Justice Department and, or the FBI.

Attorney General Eric Holder personally called the parents of Michael Brown to promise just that, so let's hope he carries through on that. I'm pretty confident the pressure that's being generated by citizens on social media will make sure that happens. The mainstream media coverage on television, in print and on the Web doesn't quite adequately show the explosion of interest and attention this case has generated

Twitter has proved to be an amazing source of information and a gauge of how deeply people from all backgrounds, races, nationalities and faiths have been affected by this case. The tragic death of Michael Brown has become much bigger than the city of Ferguson; as evidenced not only by the public statement of support (and warning to police) issued by the shadowy hacker collective known as Anonymous, but in all the different ways in which it's affecting everyday discourse and revealing things about who we are as a nation.

Online petitions, protests in cities around the nation, responses (or the lack thereof...) by politicians and in normal everyday exchanges between people in person and online. Yesterday after work I stopped by my local tavern for a beer and was chatting with a couple regulars about the unfolding case. One of them, "Robby", is a white guy I've been friendly with and known for a couple years.

He's about 48 and is employed by a small college in NJ in the office of physical plant and works with his hands doing contract work like drywall installation - that kind of thing. After I made a remark about the case, he looked at me and said he'd heard that the officer (Darren Wilson, who hadn't been publicly named at the time) was in a hospital being treated for facial lacerations he'd suffered after Michael Brown attacked him in his police car.

Now I didn't really respond directly to "Robby" about that because mixing alcohol and personal politics in a bar can be a pretty volatile combination; and frankly it sounded to me like the distorted kind of BS you hear from Fox News. ("Robby" doesn't know anything about the kinds of topics I blog about as Culturegeist. )

So when got home and Googled that "facial laceration" story, I read a CBS report stating that the Ferguson police chief stated that officer Wilson (removed from duty since the incident on August 9th) "had been hit" in the face and was treated at a hospital and that his face was "swollen" on one side.

That's pretty far from a facial laceration and the way "Robby" said it to me quietly suggested that he was of the opinion that officer Wilson was only defending himself from Michael Brown. And that's okay, this is America and he's entitled to an opinion too. 

But I'm not buying that line of reasoning. It just sounds too much like George Zimmerman's defense after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Obviously the two cases are different, but Zimmerman, like Wilson was in a vehicle following a young, unarmed African-American male who was walking; not engaged in something illegal.

Wilson, like Zimmerman, was the one who initiated the contact with Michael Brown - because he was walking in the street. Remember, at the time, Wilson had no idea Brown was a suspect in a robbery.

To him (Wilson, who was in a police car) Brown was just a black kid walking in the street. It's the initial perception that Wilson (or Zimmerman) had in his mind before the incident began that cuts to the root of this problem - and that perception issue is something that "Robby" just doesn't seem to understand.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Welcome Home Walgreens! Corporate Inversion Gone Wild

The logo that almost became a punchline
Forgive me for being a bit late to the 'Welcome Back Walgreens' party but the travesty of police excess down in Ferguson, MO has had me all riled up for the past few days.

Since the Ferguson police chief announced he won't be releasing the name of the trigger-happy "Officer Who Shall Not Be Named" because of fears for his safety (really??) and the autopsy results on poor Michael Brown's body haven't been released either, the corporate side of our cultural landscape deserves some attention.

While they never actually left the good ole' U.S of A, just the idea that a corporate behemoth (market capitalization of $59.46 billion) like Walgreens would relocate their official headquarters to the UK or Switzerland to take advantage of lower corporate tax rates ignited a virtual firestorm of protest on social media.

Change.org, MoveOn.org, People For the American Way and various consumer activists groups are just some of the groups that banded together to organize online petitions, e-mail blasts, consumer education/outreach and other efforts to rally people to the cause of corporations paying their fair share - eventually prompting some finger-pointing and sharp comments from a number of politicians including the President.

The growing inequality in this nation is a big part of what motivated people to respond to this issue; the idea that corporations can take any action they want to increase their profit margins, even when it comes at the expense of the American people and the good of the country. But what got people so riled up about Walgreens in particular for doing the ole' tax two-step?

After all, remember Apple is notorious for dodging billions in US taxes by basing their corporation overseas through a complex labyrinth of tax shelters in places like Ireland; even though some of those overseas addresses have no actual employees and are essentially run by Apple's brain trust from Cupertino, California. Maybe we all like our iPhones, iPads and iTunes too much to get too indignant over Apple's mind-numbing tax chicanery.

Walgreens isn't the only American corporation to claim they aren't actually based in America.  According to data compiled by the House Ways and Means Committee, in the past decade 47 different US corporations have relocated overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by using a maneuver called 'Corporate Inversion'. It's pretty sketchy any way you look at it.

That term has become more familiar to regular common folk like me in the wake of Walgreens thwarted attempt to cut their tax bill. While corporate inversion sounds like some kind of strange sex act from a cheeky David E. Kelly television drama, it's basically a fancy description of a complex tax avoidance scheme that is perfectly legal. (It was illegal for Eric Garner to sell loose cigarettes in Staten Island, but legal for a company to use an overseas PO box to sidestep the IRS? Hmm...)

The informative DontMessWithTaxes Website defines corporate inversion as: "...a tax domicile maneuver where a United States company buys a foreign subsidiary and then declares that its U.S facilities are owned by the subsidiary. The result is lower or NO taxes to Uncle Sam."

Walgreens had planned their corporate inversion carefully with the $15.26 billion purchase of a large British pharmacy chain called Alliance Boots. With the purchase, they could have based themselves in the UK to take advantage of the more favorable tax rate. (Plus I'm willing to bet Walgreens could capitalize the $15.26 billion purchase cost on their taxes so it would be considered a capital expense, saving them even more in taxes...) 

But there was something distinctly un-American about the whole affair. Walgreens was founded over a century ago here in the U.S. They're based in Deerfield, Illinois. Their own logo reads, "The pharmacy America trusts"!  A company whose products are shipped in American trucks on American highways subsidized, built and maintained by American taxes.  Or on American trains on American rails subsidized and maintained in large part by American tax payers or through fees indirectly charged to consumers by railroads. The people waiting at Walgreens drive-thru pharmacies to get prescriptions filled are Americans for the most part.

The social media backlash was swift and in the end Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson wasn't taking any chances; especially not in an election year. We all saw how Mitt Romeny's overseas tax shelter chicanery played out with the American people during the 2012 Presidential elections; call it what you want, it was generally regarded as cheating, plain and simple.   

Walgreens will remain an American company because it is an American company. If Walgreens' customers have to pay their fair share of taxes, Walgreens should too. That doesn't make Apple or the 46 other U.S. corporations that use corporate inversion to duck billions in taxes right; but it does put Walgreens on the right side of the argument. And you can't put a price on that.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson in this whole affair is the power wielded by everyday folks simply raising their voices on an issue until they were heard. Social media tools may have been the mechanism, or the medium by which this goal was accomplished - but it was the voice of average people that forced the change. That's what real Democracy is all about.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mike Brown - Another Unarmed African-American Shot & Killed By Police

Mike Brown
How many more of these blog entries am I going to have to do? The shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Saturday is now a global story and the details are all too familiar.

An African-American teenage male visiting his grandmother for the summer, a kid who graduated from high school and was preparing to start college today was stopped by a police officer simply for walking down the street with a friend. Now he's dead.

While local television news stations covered this story from the start, national news outlets were somewhat slow to pick up on the significance of the case, even if it was a weekend and the story was really breaking on a Sunday.

This is a case where Twitter and social media were actually way ahead of most national media outlets; witnesses who lived in the area and were at the scene of the crime were Tweeting live updates. Including Antonio French, the alderman of the 21st ward in St. Louis. Some of it was chilling.

People in the community are obviously demanding accountability as far as the still-unnamed officer is concerned, but I agree with the comments of St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar that protesters need to show patience while a careful investigation of the officer's actions takes place. Even still there glaring differences between accounts given by witnesses and Ferguson police statements of what happened.
 
Several eyewitnesses claim a police car stopped Brown and a friend as they were walking along the street. The cop allegedly ordered them to get on the sidewalk (we know what a serious public menace jaywalking can be...), some words were exchanged and the cop pulled his weapon. Brown backed away from the car and raised his hands over his head to show he had no weapon and the policeman shot him.

Brown began to run and the cop got out and shot him again. Repeatedly. Some witnesses say ten shots were fired. Given the on-going protests police are loathe to release specific details of exactly how many times Brown was struck by bullets. The officer was whisked away from the scene as crowds from the neighborhood gathered. Initial police reports claimed officers were searching for Brown after he stole a cigarillo from a local store.

But in the wake of the incident the store owner quickly reported that Brown didn't steal anything. By the time St. Louis County police held a press conference on Sunday, they were claiming Brown physically struggled with the officer and assaulted him.

While the facts are not yet clear, the looting and hooliganism is truly a sad spectacle in the wake of the tragic death of the young man; and it overshadows the many legitimate protests taking place. It distracts attention away from the tragedy that took place. Quite a bit of television and online media coverage that has turned the focus to video clips of isolated incidents of looting taking place, fails to note that the people engaged in looting and destruction of property were a small fraction of the crowds gathered to protest the killing.

Many on social media reporting from the actual scene are claiming most of the looters aren't even from the area. It was such a shocking and outrageous excess of police force that it's still hard to get clear facts amid so much chaos and confusion in the area from people in the community justifiably angered over Brown's death. The wheels of justice are slowly starting to grind.

The FBI will bring resources to bear to conduct a more thorough investigation of the events, by now it's clear the Ferguson police are in no position to conduct an internal investigation that would be considered valid. Representatives from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are expected to closely monitor the investigation as well.

Obviously more information should surface once the interviews with the officer responsible for this are concluded and the medical examiner completes the autopsy report. If charges are to be filed a case must be built upon evidence, not emotion.

But the questions still lingers: when are police going to be held accountable for the callous use of excess force so often used against unarmed men and boys of color in this country? A man selling loose cigarettes on the street in Staten Island gets choked to death? A young man on the eve of college is shot multiple times for walking down the street?

Not just the police, but all Americans should hold themselves to higher standards than that. I look at the image of Mike Brown lying in the street and all I can think is this should be a better nation than that - whatever else we are, we should be better than that.