Sunday, August 24, 2014

Good News/Bad News, Ferguson Edition

First, the good news. As I noted earlier in this whole sordid affair, President Obama announced that he would initiate a review of whether military-grade equipment really needs to be in the hands of local police departments. That initiation has now happened. Three main things are to be looked at: first, whether it's appropriate to give the equipment to the cops at all; second, whether the training the cops get with that equipment is sufficient to be able to properly use it; and third, whether there is sufficient federal oversight to ensure that it is in fact being properly used.

Now the bad news: none of this seems like it would deter the Ferguson PD at all. Slate put together a timeline on Thursday of the numerous missteps made in their handling of the Mike Brown case, starting with the shooting itself. Since then, yet another controversy has arisen. The crowdfunding site GoFundMe played host to a campaign raising funds to support Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Mike Brown. Despite a firestorm of calls urging the campaign to be shut down, the only action GoFundMe took was to delete comments on the page. Eventually the campaign- which I refuse to link- was shut down, but the money was still collected: $234,910.

I remind you that Wilson is on paid leave as it is. He hasn't even been docked any salary, and he has now effectively been awarded a $234,910 bonus for killing Mike Brown. I don't even want to contemplate how many years' salary that is for him.

And as if that weren't enough, a second GoFundMe campaign has been launched with the same goal. It has raised an additional $102,646 as of this writing, meaning Darren Wilson has won over $337,000 for taking a human life. So far.

I'll wait for you to stop throwing up.

And this is where the misstep in question comes up: this second campaign is being officially organized by a nonprofit called Shield of Hope. The board of Shield of Hope- which shares an address with a chapter of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police- contains a man named Timothy Zoll, who is the public relations director for... the Ferguson PD. So, in effect, the Ferguson PD is playing a direct, hands-on role in making sure Darren Wilson is being handsomely rewarded on top of his normal salary for instigating a bona fide international incident.

You tell me how likely they are to have any interest in doing anything other than handing him back his badge and gun at the earliest opportunity, judicial process be damned. And encouraging him to use them.

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