August 22, 2014

Return of the long hot summer

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

crop of Police line OEN top shot

What would Americans think if two examples of police involved shooting occurred almost simultaneously and if one involved a victim who was not likely to generate much public sympathy and the other involved circumstances that precipitated a snap judgment that the case was bound to cost Los Angeles tax payers a massive amount of settlement money because of widespread compassion for the victim?

What would a rookie pundit think if, additionally, the mainstream media (mostly owned by conservatives) accorded massive amounts of coverage to the case that seemed destined to make the victim seem to be a modern disciple of Tupac Shakur and stonewalled the other case that involved a victim who was described as “mentally challenged”?

A week after Michael Brown was shot on August 9, in Ferguson Missouri, we became aware of one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories we have ever encountered. According to this new theory (which we discovered on a visit to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory campus in the San Francisco Bay Area), every time America’s best ally in the Middle East becomes embroiled in military action with one particular neighbor, incidents in the USA of police shootings increase dramatically.

While doing a Google News search to try to do some fact checking about this bizarre new topic, we learned that on Monday August 11, 2014, (two days after the Michael Brown shooting) Ezell Ford had been killed in a police involved shooting in Los Angeles. We did not hear (to the best of our limited ability to check) any national news reports about this latest police involved shooting in Southern California. It happened 49 years after Marquette Frye got a ticket and all hell broke loose in the form of the Watts Riots.

On Monday, August 19, 2014, we learned that a rally and march to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, was going to be held in downtown Oakland. We went there to provide coverage of the event.

A dramatic confrontation between marching protesters and police in riot gear produced a temporary stand-off. Rather than trying to proceed South through the police cordon, the march abruptly changed directions and started walking West.

When the protesters returned to the starting location (Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland [one of the most famous protest sites in the world?]) the contingent of journalists covering the event had dwindled considerably. There were no police officers visible when the protesters started to block traffic at the intersection of Broadway and 14th St. A local woman confronted the demonstrators and, pointing to the adjacent sidewalk, urged them to “take your protest over there so that (as she put it) I can get my f*****g bus!” A short while later the demonstrators were complying with her order.

In her broadcast for Tuesday, August 19, 2014, Rachel Maddow pointed out that the air space over Ferguson MO had been declared a “no fly zone” and TV helicopters were unable to provide aerial views of the nightly demonstrations. That was a feat that was not achieved by the authorities in Los Angeles during the coverage of the events following the announcement of the verdicts in the Rodney King beating cases. We couldn’t find a way to send a news tip to Ms. Maddow about the Ezell Ford case.

On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, we called a news tip about Ezell Ford in to the Getty and Armstrong radio show. They subsequently didn’t seem interested in the least about that case and continued to obsess on the Ferguson shooting.

Later that day, we searched for the Ezell Ford case on the New York Times website. After earlier searches had produced a link to a New York Times story, suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, the searches asked “did you mean ‘Edsell Ford’?” and the previous links to the Ezell Ford story were not eadily available. Isn’t that adorable?

Readers of this column are invited to do Google News searches for Ezell Ford and also do Google New searches for Dyllon Taylor, John Crawford (of Beaver Creek Ohio), Michelle Cusseaux (in the Phoenix area), and Darius Cole-Garrit of Chicago. While you are at it do a Google News search for University of California’s “Deciding Force Project.”

On Friday, August 22, 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle carried an AP story about the beating last week of L. A. Sheriff Deputy Brandon Love. A good Samaritan intervened and was credited with saving the officer’s life.

While doing some Google News searches about Ezell Ford, we learned that a site called Deadspin asserts that there is no centralized data base with statistics for and about police involved shootings and they seem to be determined to start such a data base.

Did any of the main stream media point out that the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9 was two days short of the 49th anniversary of the day in 1965 when Marquette Frye got a traffic ticket and all hell broke loose? Thirty four people died in the concomitant results of what is often called the Watts Riots. Which means that the shooting in L. A. of Ezell Ford happened 49 years, to the day, after the incident that spawned the Watts Riots.

If the highly praised American Free Press chooses to obsess on the Michael Brown case and completely ignore a case that allegedly involved a kid who was either: laying on the ground and was shot in the back or he was trying to grab a cop’s gun; there is not much that the World’s Laziest Journalist can do to rectify the situation. You will get the stories that the conservative owners of main stream media want you to get and after that; you’re on your own. We might just as well write about other more innocuous topics such as the recent accordion festival in Cotati. (Google hint cotatifest dot com)

The Pacific Film Archive has announced their September and October schedule and they will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Free Speech Movement with some special showings of movies such as “Berkeley in the Sixties” and “KPFA on the Air.” They will simultaneously be presenting Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Luc Godard retrospectives. (Google Hint: Pacific Film Archive.)

This is an auspicious opportunity for us to mention that we are reading “American Fun,” by John Beckman, and will be referring to its underlying premise in future columns. If we understand the author correctly, he is making the assertion that participating in political protests adds zest and spice to a young couple’s courting ritual and sometimes brings about change.

Speaking of books, we missed our chance over the weekend to get photos of John Waters doing a promotional appearance at the Beat Museum on Saturday for the movie director/writer’s new book titled: “Carsick.”

Here is the homework assignment: Since one case got massive coverage and the Ezell Ford case was ignored; write a thousand word essay on why that discrepancy occurred and what you think is the meaning of the disparity in coverage that is usually touted as being “fair and balanced.” Post the results on some social networking site and grade your own efforts.

Forty nine years ago, the media was covering the Watts Riots, the possibility of mission creep for the boots on the ground in South Vietnam, and whatnot.

[Note from the photo editor: Believing St. Ronald Reagan’s philosophy regarding redwood trees (If you seen one; you’ve seen ‘em all.) applies to protests of Police brutality; we went to a protest in Oakland on Monday, August 18, 2014, and got some adequate images to use with to illustrate this week’s column.]

On page 225 of “The Armies of the Night,” Norman Mailer wrote: “He (Jerry Rubin) had also run for Mayor of Berkeley on a platform opposing war and supporting black power and the legalization of pot, collecting in the process 7,385 ballots or 22 percent of the vote.”

George Carlin said: “I put some money in a machine that said: ‘change.’ Nothing changed.” If we can summon the energy we’ll be back next week, same bat time, same bat channel with more of the usual.

Now the disk jockey will play Eric Clapton’s “I shot the sheriff,” Cher’s “Bang Bang,” and the soundtrack album for “A Clockwork Orange.” We have to go see “Sin City.” Have a “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” type week.

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