Five must-reads about #Ferguson and #MikeBrown

Here are excerpts from five articles or Twitter streams that help approach the many facets of the civil rights crisis in Ferguson, Missouri following the police killing of Mike Brown; the national protests; and the intervention of different groups of/associated with Anonymous.

1. What I Saw in Ferguson by Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker

High among the redundancies on display in Ferguson is that Tracy Martin, whose son Trayvon was killed by a neighborhood-watch volunteer two years ago, agreed three weeks ago to participate in an annual Peace Fest event scheduled for Sunday. Martin, who is from the area, will be appearing in an atmosphere radically different from the one that was anticipated. Two years ago, national protests raged as people counted the number of days that had lapsed with no arrest in the killing of Trayvon Martin. In a parking lot just outside the neighborhood of the protests in Ferguson I passed a car with the words “WHO SHOT MIKE BROWN? 72 HOURS” painted on the side.

From the New York Times

From the New York Times

2. In Wake of Clashes, Calls to Demilitarize Police By Julie Bosman and Matt Apuzzo, The New York Times

The federal government has spent more than a decade paying for body armor, mine-resistant trucks and other military gear, all while putting few restrictions on its use…..Department of Homeland Security grant money paid for the $360,000 Bearcat armored truck on patrol in Ferguson, said Nick Gragnani, executive director of St. Louis Area Regional Response System, which administers such grants for the St. Louis area.

Since 2003, the group has spent $9.4 million on equipment for the police in St. Louis County. That includes $3.6 million for two helicopters, plus the Bearcat, other vehicles and night vision equipment. Most of the body armor worn by officers responding to the Ferguson protests was paid for with federal money, Mr. Gragnani said.

“The focus is terrorism, but it’s allowed to do a crossover for other types of responses,” he said. “It’s for any type of civil unrest. We went by the grant guidance. There was no restriction put on that by the federal government.”

3. The Death of Michael Brown: Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests by the New York Times Editorial Board

As black families moved into Ferguson, the whites fled. In 1980, the town was 85 percent white and 14 percent black; by 2010, it was 29 percent white and 69 percent black. But blacks did not gain political power as their numbers grew. The mayor and the police chief are white, as are five of the six City Council members. The school board consists of six white members and one Hispanic. As Mr. Gordon explains, many black residents, lacking the wealth to buy property, move from apartment to apartment and have not put down political roots.

The disparity is most evident in the Ferguson Police Department, of which only three of 53 officers are black. The largely white force stops black residents far out of proportion to their population, according to statistics kept by the state attorney general. Blacks account for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city, and 93 percent of the arrests after those stops. Similar problems exist around St. Louis County, where earlier this year the state chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging widespread racial profiling by police departments.

4. Ferguson: Twitter Suspends Anonymous Account That Possibly Outed Wrong Guy, Anon Ceases Doxxing By Josh Wolford at Web Pro News

That doesn’t sit well with the protesters, who took to the streets Wednesday and were eventually fired upon with rubber bullet and tear gas. It also didn’t sit well with the operator of the @TheAnonMessage Twitter account, who promised to dox the officer (reveal his identity) since the police department wouldn’t.

Early on Tuesday, the account tweeted out the name of the officer, as well as photos taken from his Facebook account.

Turns out, it may have been the wrong guy. The St. Louis County Police Department tweeted that the man outed by the Anonymous account is not even an officer with Ferguson or St. Louis County PD.

“Do not release more info on this random citizen,” they asked.

Other Anonymous accounts, including the most-popular one, @YourAnonNews, are still up and running and while supporting the cause, they make it clear that they were not responsible for revealing anything.

Suspending one #Anonymous account merely temporarily quietens one of a myriad of voices, we will not be silenced when it comes to #Ferguson.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 14, 2014

This account has never posted any personal information about police involved via#opferguson
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 14, 2014

Thus is the nature of Anonymous – fragmented. It’s not one centralized group, instead a collection of independent operators all flying under the same flag, if you will.

5. @OpFerguson Anonymous account on Twitter

@OpFerguson feed on Twitter

@OpFerguson feed on Twitter

About Farai Chideya

Farai has combined media, technology, and socio-political analysis during her 20-year career as an award-winning author and journalist. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She contributes to print, public radio, and cable television; and she also hosts a series of town hall meetings in both New York and San Francisco, with New York Public Radio and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, respectively. You can see an archive of her 2010 midterm election specials -- which foreshadowed some of the current political and immigration debates -- at PopandPolitics.com, which she founded in 1995.