A lot of people think the dozens are just an insult contest. No. Not even close. You can't just get up there and start slinging shit. The key to winning is to get the crowd on your side. It puts pressure on the other player. Makes them the center of attention. Makes them lose it.
You don't just get the crowd against them, you keep them from going against you. A good dozens player will wear plain clothes, simple stuff, T-shirt and jeans. Anything with a picture, anything with a label, can be seized on by the other player and used against you. You win by not giving anyone any ammunition.
Now, my point. The situation in Ferguson is roughly similar to playing the dozens. The goal wasn't to see justice done. It never was. The goal was to get enough of the crowd on the police's side that they would be left alone. And there were many, many participants in the whole scheme.
It started early in the conflict. Against the advice of the US Attorney General, the footage of Brown robbing a C store was leaked to the media and circulated far and wide. Anonymous sources said that Brown accosted Darren Wilson, and none of them were vetted while the eyewitnesses who appeared on camera and with their names everywhere were shouted down. Some of the anonymous sources, in fact, were revealed to be plants sympathetic to the police.
Some people will say that this is to help bolster a sense that it was just a misunderstanding, that Brown had no way of knowing Wilson wasn't looking at him as a suspect in the robbery and things just got out of hand. These people are stupid. Wilson's own testimony, as revealed by the prosecutor last night, never mentioned the robbery in any capacity until after Wilson was being assaulted (which I will deal with in a minute). Wilson saw a couple of kids walking down the street and decided to become The Law.
Brown's family tried to fight back with Truth. Didn't work. Their own autopsy, despite the credentials of the guy who did it, was dismissed as a publicity stunt and false evidence. Even if people accepted the autopsy as professional, they would come up with any excuse they could how the bullets traveled the way they did, such as every last shot hitting Brown in the front, none in the back. There's an old truism -- when presented with multiple possibilities to explain something, the simplest one is usually correct. And the simplest one is, Michael Brown was murdered in cold blood.
The campaign continued apace, with commentators on Faux News and others saying that Brown got what he deserved for being a thug. Never mind that Wilson's story didn't survive the most basic scrutiny. Let's take the points of his testimony in order:
* Wilson claims that, when he asked why they weren't walking on the sidewalk, Brown said, "Fuck what you have to say." A kid who just committed a robbery is going to provoke a cop to take action against him when keeping silent and complying means he'll be left alone? No. Not in Chicago. Not in Ferguson. Not anywhere. This makes his further actions of preventing Wilson from exiting the car and starting to punch him even more unlikely. A criminal is going to think about how they are almost home and almost got away with it. They are not going to act like this, guaranteeing the cop will take action and their crime will be discovered.
* Okay, remember how I mentioned how the robbery doesn't appear in Wilson's testimony until we are well into things? It's at this point Wilson brings it up, and if you thought the above didn't make any sense, this will blow your fucking mind. According to the testimony, Brown, who is at this point allegedly throwing punches inside the police car at Wilson's face (Brown's DNA was found in the cop car, so he was inside in some capacity), stops what he's doing and turns to his friend. He says, "Here, hold these," or "Here, take these," depending on what part of the statement you are reading, and gives his friend the cigars he just stole. He then resumes punching Wilson. He stopped in the middle of a beating to make sure his cigars didn't get damaged. Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me? I'm not convinced this happened, I think it was put in there to make sure Wilson's statement connected Brown with the robbery, to make sure those reading thought Brown was a thug and got what he deserved. FIJA is not yet allowed.
* Wilson starts considering what weapon he can use. Mace is out because it might get in his eyes, too. Flashlight or baton not in reach. No tazer, and Brown supposedly moving to fast to Wilson to use it properly. He reaches for his gun, and somehow, Brown sees this and declares, "You're too much of a fucking pussy to shoot me." Once again, not in Chicago, not in Ferguson, not anywhere.
* During the part where Brown tries to run away and Wilson exits the car with his firearm drawn, Brown allegedly turns towards Wilson and charges him with his right hand under his shirt and in his waistband. The implication is that Wilson had reason to think Brown would pull a firearm on him and shoot. This is how gangstas in movies act, not actual hardened criminals. Someone is hoping to use the stereotype to their advantage. After all, Wilson's own statement says Brown took a step towards him. If that's charging, then I'm Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert.
No one in the world should believe this. But when discussions of the shooting happened, it was always the circumstances surrounding the shooting, not the shooting itself. Wilson's testimony would be ripped to shreds by a lawyer who only watched Matlock for his training. But there was no mention of it, just that Brown somehow went from a good kid to a street thug with a big mouth and a death wish.
The turning of the crowd to the one side had begun.
So effective was it that when things like the images of Wilson at the hospital not looking all that bad were released (he claimed Wilson punched him twice in the face, but there were no facial injuries. The hospital records, in fact, state "no bleeding, no laceration, no ecchymosis (that's bruises for the folks at home)" and "well-appearing, well-nourished, in no apparent distress." Survey says, "Whuuuuh?"), no one paid them much mind. It was still a popular myth built around the shooting that would make a great scene in a movie, but isn't how things go in real life.
In many ways, what the prosecutor did in Ferguson was exactly what prosecutors did in the Rodney King trial so long ago. You present the evidence in a way that people can reach new conclusions, like show the beating in slow motion so it doesn't look so bad. The goal was to give the jury a reasonable excuse to acquit. It wouldn't fool a lot of people, but it would fool the right ones, the media and assorted conservatives who feel blacks are just trying to make trouble and need the civilizing hand of the white man or they will descend into savagery.
If you need proof, consider the prosecutor said he would just lay out the facts and let the grand jury decide. NO attorney worth their salt does that. Trial is when you argue, you punch holes in the evidence, you prove you got it right. No such thing happened, the evidence was presented without guidance, and they knew exactly what they were doing. Hell, trial lawyers look forward to cross-examination like the rest of us look forward to sex! This is what they do, this makes them come alive! Did. Not. Happen. And yet, right wingers like draft-dodging patriot Ted Nugent declared on Twitter, "DarrenWilson did good MichaelBrown did bad justice is served." I would like to kick Ted Nugent in his ass.
Everyone wonders why this story was so compelling. Why the protests? Why the news coverage? People get killed by racist cops all the time (ask any genuine Chicagoan what Area 2 is, and prepare to be appalled). The LAPD practically has it down to a science. Here was this tiny little community that, outside of one incident, never had a racial problem before. What happened?
Actually, it was the tiny little town thing. No matter how far we have come with racial equality, there is still a huge chasm left. Despite all the advances, blacks have been saying society is still racist, they are, as Chris Rock says, "born a suspect." The white Establishment thinks this is silly, with all the advances, equality is achieved, you are just looking to take advantage and gain power instead. Every time a racial police brutality case happens and is publicized, it's in LA or New York or Chicago, a place full of gangs and crime. THOSE people did something to deserve it.
Ferguson shows that those tentacles of racism run deep. I've maintained for years that racism isn't going away, it's going underground. Enough so that what should have been a routine, "Hey, get out of the street!" turned into what it has.
It proves racism never went away.
And it probably never will.
And the worst thing is, it won't because too many people don't want it to go away.