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Wapo Errs in Retracting Its 'Hands-up Don't Shoot' Support

By       Message Mike Rivage-Seul       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   5 comments

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On Sunday the Lexington Herald Leader here in Kentucky published an apology by Washington Post blogger and MSNBC commentator, Jonathan Capehart. The article was entitled "Ferguson policing concerns valid, but 'Hands-Up' not based on truth."

Capehart's retraction of initial support for the "Hands-Up" movement was based on his reading of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that "filled in the blanks, corrected the record and brought sunlight to dark places." The report forced Capehart (an African-American) "to deal with uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting."

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According to the Wapo journalist, his conclusion was based on the DOJ's "exhaustive interviews with witnesses, cross-checking their statements . . . ballistics, DNA evidence and results from three autopsies." All of these showed that officer Wilson "knew about the theft of cigarillos from the convenience store and had a description of the suspects . . . Brown fought with the officer and tried to take his gun."

Capehart's general conclusion: ". . . we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong."

Capehart's conclusion is disturbing on at least three counts. It first of all ingenuously accepts the Department of Justice as a disinterested arbitrator. Secondly, it simply accepts the false conclusion that Officer Wilson had no alternative but to kill Michael Brown, shooting him six times. And thirdly, both Capehart's article and the DOJ report reinforce the erroneous impression that police officers are under constant threat and so can be excused for their over-reactions.

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Is the DOJ disinterested? Hardly -- at least not if we keep the big picture in mind. Remember, there is an encroaching police state in our country defending the interests of the 1% against the rest of us. Under the aegis of the DOJ, increasingly militarized police forces have gradually assumed the role of occupying armies, especially in communities of color.

Moreover, in representing the elite, government agencies routinely lie to us. At what point do we conclude that they have lost credibility as disinterested investigators, and discard out of hand any claims that support the forces of DOJ-sponsored occupation?

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program.Mike blogs (more...)

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