Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Guest Post: Spinwheel

Samuel L. Skogstad
March 4, 2015

“FEDERAL PROBE FINDS FERGUSON POLICE BIAS.”  This heading on page A3 of today’s Wall Street Journal summons attention to a “news story” about the killing by a Ferguson policeman of a suspected thief.  Both the head and the story perfectly exemplify the severely biased spinning that, sadly, has come to characterize so much of modern  journalism .  The first paragraph of “Police in Ferguson, Mo., routinely violated the civil rights of the city’s black residents, a Justice

The suspect was believed---correctly, as it turns out---to have assaulted a store clerk, while stealing cigars.  He was spotted jaywalking with a friend down the middle of the street by a policeman in a squad car.  The policeman approached the suspect, and a struggle ensued in which the policeman shot and killed the suspect.  Massive demonstrations, burning and looting, ensued amid community demands that the policeman be arrested and charged with a hate crime.  State Prosecutors, with federal agents observing closely, found insufficient evidence to support an indictment.  That decision was followed by a U.S. Justice Department investigation which also found insufficient evidence to support charges of civil rights violations by the policeman.  Apparently disappointed, Attorney General Eric Holder then ordered an investigation of bias in the Ferguson police force in general. 

Today’s story reports the outcome of that investigation.    In the second paragraph the WSJ story describes the background of the investigation as follows: “The investigation---sparked by the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year old by a white Ferguson police officer last year that set off protests nation-wide--- found widespread bias by police in the St. Louis suburb, according to a law-enforcement official familiar with the findings.”

So far, this article has mentioned that the dead perpetrator was “18, black and unarmed.”  The policeman is described only as “white.”  Thus they set the stage to help you see how hateful the policeman was.  Other evidence that surfaced long ago is not mentioned.  Specifically: the 18-year old outweighed the policeman by about 100 pounds; the 18-year old had reached for the policeman’s pistol, while leaning into the squad car where the policeman was at the time;  some witnesses for the suspect  lied to investigators; other witnesses in the suspect’s defense changed their testimony one or more times; the policeman sustained severe injury to his face where the suspect struck him.  These unreported factors do not prove innocence of the policeman.  But  they certainly endow the policeman’s defense with more credibility than they do for the accusers’ case.  To shorten this, most of the evidence suggests that the 18-year old  was fully capable of severely injuring the policeman in an unarmed struggle.   The press treatment of the suspect  as if he were just a typical, playful little boy trying to sneak off for a puff of a cigar--- before going off to college--- is reminiscent of the treatment given by the press to Trayvon Martin, including using  pictures of him as a cute little boy, actually several years younger and much more physically mature than Trayvon was at the time he was killed.

But let us not stray too far from the WSJ story of today.  As this writer has not seen the report of the subject federal probe of Ferguson, he can only rely on the WSJ story to give the basis of the conclusions of the report.  Evidence it reports includes the following four points:

1.  Blacks were stopped, and arrested, at a far higher rate than others.

2. 90 percent of excessive force incidents were against blacks, who represent only 67 percent of the population.

3. Only 3 of 53 Ferguson policemen are black.

4. “emails” (number not given) sent by police and court officials included  (a)“racist jokes mocking President Obama,” and (b) alleging that a black woman's abortion would lower the crime rate.

The first two have no evidenciary value unless there is evidence that blacks do not commit a higher rate of offenses, and that blacks do not commit around 90 percent of the offenses resulting in “excessive violence.”  Both may be true, but the story does not address that.

The low number of blacks certainly justifies determining why more blacks have not been employed as policemen in Ferguson.  The fact alone, however, is not sufficient however to confirm that it is due to racial bias.  (Here in Sarasota, Florida the Chief of Police has been persuaded that there are too few blacks on the police force.   To solve that problem, she has decided to lower the standards applicants must meet to be accepted.  (In the view of this observer, that is exactly the opposite of the appropriate solution.  The preferred  direction of change in local police forces  is  toward greater qualifications, not lesser.)

Finally, number four provokes the question how many city officials’ emails did this, and how often?  The act itself is abhorrent.  But it does not justify the charge of Endemic Bias unless those numbers and identities suggest a culture that engenders the behavior.  And, if the Justice

Department can criminalize “mocking President Obama,” our government  is  way too close  to being a third world, totalitarian dictatorship.  This is the danger of having a national press, a public education system, and other key institutions blindly following a president who despises dissent from his pronouncements, attributes evil to such dissenters and who surrounds himself with disciples of equal zeal.  History gives us many examples of where that leads. (Dr. Skogstad is a retired professor of economics, a blog reader and contributor and a brother Marine. ~Bob)


  1. Personally, I am sick to death of black racism.

    Blacks routinely and viciously speak racist works (their equivalent of the N-word{spit}) and there is absolutely no penalty.

    The knock out games are racist violence, again with no real penalties (wonder why the left wants every law abiding citizen unarmed?)

    The riots and destruction of property are almost ignored (remember fergison police standing around watching them burn down the town?).

    ANY of these issues would have a white person tied up with holders racist doj probably for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the complicit media and the race pimps.

    Wondering also why sorros's millions to support all this rarely make the news...

    When does enough pass LONG since enough.

    Equality? Sure seems like that is the last thing they want.

    Yeah, I've had enough...

  2. Apologies for typos, could not edit after preview.