There seems to be a script after these horrific events.
Mike Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson exactly one year ago Sunday. His death not only sparked a nationwide movement against police violence generally known as #BlackLivesMatter, it also provided the script which all of the frequent subsequent police shootings of unarmed black men and women have played out in the media.
From the beginning, the media was quick to contextualize Brown's shooting by finding unflattering personal details about his life including routine run-ins with the law. The most shameless case was the now infamous August 25th profile in the The New York Times that insisted "Mike Brown was no angel" as if anyone had argued otherwise about him, or another human being on earth. It was a piece that feigned nuance, but was really a part of a weeks-long posthumous trial of the dead teenager. For Brown, and countless black victims like him, they were as much, if not more, on trial than the person who had done the actual killing. They were being tried posthumously and without PR counsel. In the wake of a police shooting, the need to rationalize police violence -- typically under the guise of "balance" -- almost always means demonizing the victim through public records requests, government leaks, and selective interviews. When one adopts a "both sides" mentality for police shootings, based on the nature of murder, one person cannot speak for themselves, invariably leaving us with one perspective: that of the police.Police Departments have millions in PR budgets, while the victim's families are almost always poor and unschooled in press manipulation. The state has records on the victim, and yet the family is barred in most states from even knowing their son or daughter's killer. The deck, to put it mildly, is stacked in favor of the powerful -- rendering appeals to objectivity hollow.
Howard Zinn famously said, "you can't be neutral on a moving train." This has never been more obvious that in the dozens of cases of African-Americans killed by police over the past year, almost all of whom found themselves being tried in absentia by a press which prioritizes “objectivity” over fairness and access over justice.( Collapse )By Adam Johnson