By John Gibson
Yesterday on my radio program (www.gibsonradio.com) I addressed the question whether it was proper for the police to release and for the public to see the video of shooting victim Michael Brown robbing a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri.
The robbery occurred just minutes before Brown was stopped by officer Darren Wilson, a confrontation that resulted in Brown's death.
We are still figuring out what happened in that confrontation. Witness statements that Brown was shot in the back have turned out to be false. Other statements that he was holding his hands up in a sign of surrender when he was shot may or may not turn out to be true. However, a friend of officer Wilson's significant other has revealed that the officer's story is that Brown not only attacked the officer in his car, but after first running away, then turned, taunted the officer ("You gonna shoot me?"), and charged the officer. He died in a hail of six shots, only one of which--to the forehead--was fatal, according to forensic pathologist Dr. Micheal Baden.
Was officer Wilson acting properly when he shot Brown? Yet to be determined.
But the protests which have turned into rioting and looting are about more than the shooting itself. There is the issue of the militarization of the police and whether the sight of officers in fatigues and carrying military weapons have needlessly provoked protestors. (My opinion? Do people really want authorities reduced to an equal footing with rioters? Seriously?)
There is also the general issue of apparent disparities in policing and justice system outcomes between young black men and young white men. (Conveniently left out of this discussion is the behavior of young black men: are they committing crimes for which they should be arrested? My guess: sorry, but yes.)
But one of the most important issues that have outraged the black community is whether or not the police should have released the video of Michael Brown robbing the convenience store and strong arming the store clerk.
Attorney General Eric Holder tried to prevent the release of the tape, but the Ferguson police did it anyway, claiming Missouri's sunshine laws required the release.
Regardless whether the release was legal or not--I don't know--I do know it was proper for the public to see the video. Because it showed Michael Brown as he was in the few minutes before he was encountered by officer Wilson.
In robbing the store of a $50 box of cigars, Brown was belligerent, hostile, aggressive, bullying, towering over the much smaller store clerk, grabbing him by the collar, shoving him into a display case, and even turned back when leaving the store to double down on his threatening manner to the clerk he was robbing--in short, he was "thuggin'." He was acting like a thug, plain and simple.
The "community" was outraged that the tape had been released, claiming it was irrelevant and served only to disparage and tarnish the victim. You heard it from protestors, the Brown family lawyers, television agitators, the so called Reverend Al Sharpton, and even Governor Jay Nixon said so.
I emphatically disagree. The fact that Michael Brown was thugging tells everyone a lot about how the confrontation with officer Wilson went down--or should. Brown was behaving like he could do whatever he wanted and he would use his towering physical superiority (he was 6'4" and 290lbs) to intimidate anyone who got in his way, even an armed officer of the law. It tells us a lot about why officer Wilson's version of the event--that Brown charged him, certain the officer would not shoot--rings true.
Obviously, the video also undercut, even destroyed, the preferred "community" narrative--that Brown was just minding his own business when confronted by a racist white cop hunting down black youth, that the "gentle giant" Brown was a sweet youngster who was looking forward to his first day at college, and was doing nothing that might warrant the attention of police.
The video made that characterization of Brown look like a lie. And that hurt "community" pride.
So when I came on the air and said "Mike be thuggin', and that makes the video important to see," the phones erupted in anger. The same anger we see playing out on the streets of Ferguson for the last ten days.
It is the anger that results when a myth and a false, self serving narrative is destroyed by the facts. It is the anger of people who are so invested in a narrative of persecution, of unjustified police attention, of racial victimhood that the truth does not act as an agent of calm, but instead lights a short fuse and an explosion.
Callers didn't want to face the fact that Michael Brown was acting like a thug on the day he was shot. I was called a racist for even saying so, over and over and over.
Calling me a racist doesn't change the facts, even if it made certain black callers feel better.
The video doesn't prove that officer Wilson was justified when he fired those shots. He will undoubtedly face an investigation and perhaps a trial.
But the video does prove that Michael Brown was the innocent child that the black community and the sycophantic media wanted to portray him, for the purpose of villain-izing the cop.
In that ten minutes between the store robbery and the shooting Michael Brown was acting like a thug, challenging the law and authority, and may be the only person truly responsible for his own death.