Lies the Media Told About Michael Brown and Eric Garner

By: | December 29, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
I had the privilege of interviewing a peace officer, John Olson, about the bad press the police have been getting.

I had the privilege of interviewing a peace officer, John Olson, about the bad press the police have been getting.

Welcome to my first interview!  I read that bloggers should interview someone important.  I have chosen to interview John Olson, a retired parole agent.  John has thirty-six years experience as a peace office.  His experience includes working as a state parole officer.  If someone violated their parole, John would arrest them and return them to prison.

Due to his experience arresting parole violators, I feel he is qualified to voice an opinion on the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  Both recently got renewed attention (did it ever stop?) when two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Weinjian Liu, were gunned down in their patrol car.  The motive was apparently retaliation for police mistreatment of minority suspects which the press has blamed for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  (For a full recap of the deaths of Officers Ramos and Liu, see Minimalist’s Guide to Understanding Protests in New York http://wp.me/p5jxvv-ba.)  My seventh grade class even weighed in on the situation.  (How to Know If Eric Garner and Michael Brown were Victims of Racism http://wp.me/p5jxvv-5H.)

This past Saturday, one of the police officers, Rafael Ramos, was buried.  Vice President Joe Biden attended the funeral as did New York mayor Bill de Blasio.  Due to feeling unsupported by their mayor, photos have emerged showing the NYPD turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio as he spoke. These were my questions for John:

  • What is your opinion of the bad press the police have been getting since Michael Brown died last summer?

It’s largely unwarranted.  When police are contacting people, how the encounter goes depends on the person encountered.  Michael Brown was an impediment to traffic.  Officer Wilson asked him to move, but Mr.  Brown refused.  Instead, he assaulted Officer Wilson several times with his fist.  Officer Wilson drew his gun which Mr. Brown tried to grab.  Officer Wilson fired twice, but Mr. Brown charged at him.  Officer Wilson thought Mr. Brown was going to kill him since he had already tried by grabbing his gun.  Witnesses agree on this point.  Mr. Brown is guilty of strong-arm robbery at a convenience store, assaulting a police officer (Darren Wilson), and sustaining bodily injury (since Officer Wilson had visible injuries).  These are felonies. 

Cops are trained to shoot until the threats stop.  Mr. Brown was a threat.  Officer Wilson fired at him to

Most police care about protecting citizens' welfare.  One or two bad apples should not spoil the reputation of the police as a whole.  These officers were kind enough to help me with this blog post.  One posed with me while the other took this photo.

Most police care about protecting citizens’ welfare. One or two bad apples should not spoil the reputation of the police as a whole. These officers were kind enough to help me with this blog post. One posed with me while the other took this photo.

stop him.  The media has made a big deal over the fact that Mr. Brown was an ‘unarmed teenager’.  Officer Wilson had no way of knowing that Mr. Brown was unarmed.  Unless you search, you don’t know.  Fearing for his safety, Officer Wilson tried to stop the threat resulting in Mr. Brown’s death.  Officer Wilson had no options.  Mr. Brown had many options.  Mr. Brown’s death is tragic for himself and his family, but the fault lays with Mr. Brown, not the officer.

  • Do you feel that Darren Wilson was a racist?

No.  There is no evidence of racism in this case other than skin color.  If the skin color had been reversed, the same events would have happened.

  • What is your opinion of the two officers that died in New York?

They were assassinated. They were shot while having lunch in their car.  There was little Officers Ramos and Liu could do as the events happened too fast for them to react.

  • Do you think Al Sharpton and Samuel L. Jackson are to blame for their deaths?  (Reasons they are being blamed are discussed in How To Get Rid of Racist Cops http://wp.me/p5jxvv-8Q.)

They are responsible in part  for perpetuating the idea that whites shoot blacks.  The statistics don’t support that.

  • What is your opinion of Eric Garner’s “chokehold” death?

The jury is out.  I have been in many arrests where people resist.  It’s hard to restrain them without hurting

Eric Garner's last words were "I Can't Breathe," a plea to the police to stop choking him.  Athletes and many others have worn it to protest Eric Garner's death.

Eric Garner’s last words were “I Can’t Breathe,” a plea to the police to stop choking him. Athletes and many others have worn it to protest Eric Garner’s death.

them.  They were trying to get handcuffs on him.  Mr. Garner was suspected of committing a low-level crime for which he’d already been arrested, selling cigarettes without tax.  The local vendors complained.  He was a big man who refused arrest.  He knew he had asthma and heart disease but decided to fight with the police anyway.  Force was needed to restrain him which suffocated him.  His own physical condition caused his death.  The chokehold was a “contributing” factor.  The police did not set out to kill him.

  • What do you see as the future of the reputation of the police department?

I see the bad press continuing since the police hardly ever get good press.

Readers, what is your opinion about the shooting of NYPD officers Ramos and Liu?  Do you agree with John that the bad reputation the police currently have will continue?  I look forward to you views.

  1. amybovai

    I’m not sure about the second situation. I know only the facts the media keeps throwing at me. As a general rule, I am so proud of our police officers. They put their lives on the line every day. If I’m in danger, I want a police to help me. I am tired of the media trying to tell me how to feel, and what’s right or wrong. I’m so sad about the two police officers who were killed. I want our country to get on with living and drop this subject, and stop perpetuating this divide.

  2. tjhillgardner

    It is a total load of crap that “police put their lives on the line every day” at least any more than sanitation workers who are killed on the job at a higher rate than cops. In fact, you are at a higher risk of meeting a violent death by living in Baltimore than being employed as a police officer. Being a fisherman or logger is about 40 times more dangerous. Driving a truck is much more dangerous. Fewer police died in the line of duty in 2013 (the most recent year for which stats are available) than at any other time in recent history. So please give the anti-police reform propaganda a rest. Reform the police, end the hero worship, and let’s get on with our lives.

  3. knottymarie

    I have to agree with tjhillgardner. Have given my opinion on this plenty of times. The horse is dead. Time to stop beating it. As of Mr Olson’s opinion of the Eric Garner situation: “He knew he had asthma and heart disease but decided to fight with the police anyway. Force was needed to restrain him which suffocated him. His own physical condition caused his death. The chokehold was a “contributing” factor. The police did not set out to kill him” Please.. if you know that someone’s life is on the line, you would find another way to detain him. 6 officers on hand, and the man died by chokehold. Something is definitely wrong with the story.

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  5. Jahaira

    Police officers deal with rapists, murderers, child molesters, mentally ill people, women beaters, people high on drugs, the racists, the ignorant, bipolars, people with issues with authority, violent people. People who hate them just because of their uniform. They go through burning houses, they chase people, many times they have to fight people. Just because they are not all dying does not mean that they don’t get hurt. It’s not about worship, it’s about people committing crimes that instead of putting their hands up like they are supposed to, they put up a fight. It is sad that they died. But if a big guy is stronger than 6 men…what are they suppposes to do? Through their hands up and say “okay, you win, go on!” He was arrested over and over for the same thing, why are we not going after the judge that kept letting him lose? Part of the problem is that people do not get punished for their actions so they act tough, because the police is just harassing them because it is their right to break the law. Or am I wrong? I am sad that they died, truly, but seriously, I am seriously wondering who you are going to call when someone robs you at gun point, or rapes you, or steals your car, breaks into your home. I can imagine you’d call sanitation with all the poo they deal with, I would feel awful disturbing a fisherman after all of the lip the fish give them. Their jobs are important, but nowhere does it fit here. The police are helping keeping people safe, haven’t you heard that people are actually complaining because they no longer feel safe do to the NYPD slowing down and backing out of dangerous neighborhoods? Because when the police were parked, it was fine and dandy, now that they are gone, people don’t want to leave their apartments. Let’s see anyone who disagrees with me go to the hood for a walk and tell me how safe it is without the cops there, or better yet go to the city and volunteer for a ride along for a week and see what you think of the cozy job. I would love to hear all about it.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Jahaira,
      You have given a thoughtful response to my interview. You have put a new twist on this situation for me. No, I was not aware that due to all that’s occurred since last summer, the police are backing out of dangerous situations when they are the ones who are supposed to protect citizens from those very dangerous situations.
      In the photo I took with the policemen, (was it in the John Olson interview? I don’t recall. I had a lot of posts about Michael Brown and Eric Garner.) The police seemed scared to let me photograph them, like I would use the photo to harm them or something. The only way they had a comfort level was if I was in the photo too.
      Scared policemen? What an awful time we are living in, especially New Yorkers, from what you tell me.
      Thanks for the insight and the time it took you to write this. I appreciate you reading my interview that caused such controversy on Twitter. People dropped me on Twitter for having the gall to present the police in a sympathetic light!

      • Jahaira

        You are welcome. You know, the fact is, Police Officers are not trained to fight hand in hand with people, they are supposed to speak and the people are supposed to listen, then there wouldn’t be as many issues. Some cops are awful, that is them each as an individual and just like any other person. Some police are racist and mean, but the majority is not. Just as a school teacher that deals with children, the police deal with people that do not like being told what to do. So yes, sometimes they become desensitize, because there’s a different level of disrespect, they get profanity, spat at, swung at, knives pulled out, guns pointed at them. I do not have neither the patience nor mentality to do it.
        I actually saw a man punch a police officer the other day on my way to the gym. My husband got out and helped the officer by helping restrain him while the officer was calling for back up. For the rest of the day, my whole body was shaking, I felt like I was going vomit. It was my adrenaline, can you imagine dealing with that every time there’s confrontation? That is not good for a person. People cannot see that, but statistically more “white” men die by a police officer than a colored man, way more, which is in a way has people scratching their head wondering why this has become a race issue. It is just as absurd as some random person shooting into a group of 20 people which just so happen to be white, but there is one who is hispanic. The hispanic also gets shot, but then people rallying the same calling it a racist act just because the shooter happened to be white.
        I am not justifying the bad people, but this is an issue about picking candidates for the job. This is a thing about people actually being punished for what they do, instead of just a court date. Give them community service for stealing, selling illegal things, so that they think twice about doing it again. Something productive.
        I am against racism, but I am also against ignorance which is why I do my research before I open my mouth. I wish other people would do the same. This would be so much easier. People want to be loved and respected, but yet they want to point the finger and lash out in hate towards others, it does not make sense to me at all.

      • Jahaira

        I would also like to add that you did a wonderful job with your interview, Thank you for having the guts to do it! 🙂

  6. Janice Wald

    Hi Jahaira,
    Thank you for the compliment. At the time it didn’t occur to me I was doing anything controversial. Mr. Olson was stating the facts the way he understood them. It was only when the Twitter crowd got riled up over the interview that it occurred to me maybe I had done something that took “guts”. I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly brave person, so thank you again for the validation. Although sad, I’ve enjoyed our dialogue over this issue.
    Janice

  7. Blackhorn33

    Ms Wald, I enjoyed this post, and I wanted to see how objective you would and could be. I think you did a really good job, especially considering the soul-searching that must have went into this.
    For as long as I breathe, I will not support anarchy in any way, shape, form, or fashion. In my opinion, anarchy is, and was the root of this problem.
    Al Sharpton was the surprise of this interview. A man is nothing more than his sum parts, which is human. I fail to see how any “man” can keep a straight face, much less believe, he can interpret the “exact” meaning of the Word of Our GOD. The first time this “man” implanted Indifference in the heart of a Child, by saying a certain racist term existed in Our GODS Word, is the day he proved he was not a Steward of The Flock.
    Robert

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Robert,
      If I have not welcomed you already, welcome to my blog.
      I read your comments this morning, and I was truly touched by them. Your comments seemed philosophical and actually made me think about the nature of courage.
      It sounds like I gained your admiration. For that, I am truly grateful although I’m not sure if it is deserved.
      When something is wrong, it is just wrong, plain and simple. What Al Sharpton did was wrong. You are right. He caused anarchy. Two men are dead because of his actions.
      Thank you again for following my blog. I look forward to more conversations with you.
      Janice

  8. Patrick Weseman

    I know a lot police officers and other police people as I taught at juvenile hall for ten years. I want to believe that the police are above board and 95% are.. Being a person of color, I have had some instances of interesting deals with the police. I still remember when I was 17, I j-walked in my city of Hayward in Downtown section as I was headed to work at 8am in the morning (I worked at a restaurant that served brunch). A police officer saw it and sped around the block with his lights on to get me. Got out his car and pulled his gun on me, told me to get down on ground and asked me why I was out so early. He used some words that were not nice. I told him I was going to work and told him where I worked and he got a scared looked on my face and basically begged me not to tell Sgt. Silva (Silva moonlighted as a manager because he was part of family who owned the place I worked at and did a lot of work with juveniles and was a great man ), put away his gun, helped me up and told me to have a good day.

    Here is a blog I did in June: https://csuhpat1.blogspot.com/2020/06/peaceful-people-power.html. It tells of another experience I had and my feelings.

    As I said 95% of police officers and such are good people who want to help people. But there is 5% that are no good. Just my view.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Patrick,
      First, my apologies. This older post wasn’t supposed to go out again. However, I do appreciate your thoughtful comments about this issue. Since you and I have “spoken” over the year, I am aware that you have a background in this area. Thanks for writing to share your background and perspective.
      Janice

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