Michael Brown Family: Media Leaks Show Pro-Darren Wilson Bias, Bungled Investigation

Jessica Lussenhop
Eric Davis addresses a rally in Clayton in September with Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden.

The family of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown first heard about leaked information from the investigation into the teenager's August 9 shooting death on Friday. A family pastor called the father, Michael Brown Sr., to tell him about a story in the New York Times ("Police Officer in Ferguson is Said to Recount a Struggle").

Soon, both sides of the family were calling one another, reacting to subsequent articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ("Source: Darren Wilson says Michael Brown kept charging at him") and the Washington Post ("Evidence supports officer's account of shooting in Ferguson"). All three credit unnamed sources and include a St. Louis County medical examiner's autopsy report on Brown Jr., as well as the account of the shooting given by Officer Darren Wilson to a grand jury. Most of the details included in the stories seem to point to a justified shooting (read more about those stories here).

Daily RFT reached Eric Davis, Brown Jr.'s cousin, and a family spokesman, to get their reaction to the leaks. Davis talked about the conversations he's had with Lesley McSpadden, Brown Jr.'s mother, since reports began appearing.

"We've asked from the inception of this investigation to have Bob McCulloch recuse himself and have an independent investigator assigned," he said. "What we feared would be happening with the case being here, with the leaks, is actually happening. We just feel like there's bias toward the police officer."

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Ferguson Protesters React to Leaked Darren Wilson Testimony, Michael Brown Autopsy

Danny Wicentowski
Students hit the streets for a national day of protest Wednesday, the day two more leaked reports about Michael Brown and Darren Wilson were published.
Reporting by Mitch Ryals, Danny Wicentowski, Lindsay Toler and Jessica Lussenhop

The investigation into the death of Michael Brown has sprung a leak.

Three leaks, in fact. First, the New York Times published details from the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Brown, Darren Wilson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch then got its hands on the official autopsy. And finally the Washington Post announced that several black witnesses have given testimony that matches Wilson's version of events.

See also: Darren Wilson Tells Why He Feared For His Life Before Shooting Michael Brown: NYT

After months of keeping a tight lid on the grand jury and civil rights investigations into Brown's death, the leaks feel like a little more than coincidence, especially as the city braces for the potential violence if Wilson is not indicted with a charge in Brown's death.

So what's really going on here? The Department of Justice said it best, to the Los Angeles Times: "The department considers the selective release of information in this investigation to be irresponsible and highly troubling. Since the release of the convenience-store footage, there seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case."

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"Ferguson Commission" Will Study St. Louis' Challenges in Wake of Michael Brown: Nixon

Categories: Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called for an "unflinching" study of the St. Louis region's challenges in the wake of Michael Brown's death.
The death of Michael Brown and weeks of sustained protests exposed a host of ailing social and economic conditions in the St. Louis region -- like sprawling municipal court systems that prey on the poor, racial divides and, of course, police brutality.

On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced his first direct action to untangle and resolve the broad issues raised by Brown's death. That work will be helmed, initially, by an independent "Ferguson Commission," a roughly fifteen-person body charged with sending specific recommendations to the governor. Nixon said he'll name the commission members sometime next month.

"The men and women selected to serve on this commission must be willing to come together in good faith, endure the fierce crucible of public opinion, and lead the hard work of change," Nixon said in a prepared speech at St. Louis Community College. "This work is not for the faint of heart."

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Here's the Agreement that Ended the Occupation of Saint Louis University

Danny Wicentowski
Hundreds of protesters swarmed the Saint Louis University campus last week, demanding action. It seems the university's president listened.
The sit-in dubbed Occupy SLU ended quietly this weekend. By Saturday afternoon, not a tent could be found near the clock tower where protesters massed during the early morning hours of October 13, waving upside-down American flags, raising fists in the air and calling to Saint Louis University students -- "Out of the dorms, into the streets!"

The movement to occupy the private, Jesuit institution kicked off last week's "Moral Monday," and by that day's end more than 50 people had been arrested in a series of protest events around St. Louis. On October 18 protesters and school officials agreed to end the sit-in. In a written statement, SLU president Fred Pestello attributed the end Occupy SLU to "many intense hours of outreach and conversation" with protesters and other community activists.

However, it seems that those intense conversations yielded more than just a broadly worded statement from SLU's president. Shortly after protesters left the campus, a photo of a printed agreement between the school and three protest groups began circulating on social media and right-wing blogs.

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Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed Arrested in Ferguson Protests

Categories: Ferguson

via Vine
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed is arrested in Ferguson.
Jamilah Nasheed, a Missouri state senator, was still in jail Tuesday morning after police took her and another man into custody in front of the Ferguson Police Station Monday night.

Update, 11 a.m. - Nasheed has been released. She says she was arrested trying to demonstrate non-violent disobedience and denies she was just pulling a publicity stunt. More below.

Police warned the group of protesters gathered at the station -- the site of near-constant protests since a Ferguson officer shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown -- that officers would arrest anyone who stood in the roadway.

But that didn't stop Nasheed. At 8:35 p.m. she and Jefonte Nelson stepped into the street and refused to move when the on-site St. Louis County police commander threatened them with arrest.

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Darren Wilson Tells Why He Feared For His Life Before Shooting Michael Brown: NYT

Jessica Lussenhop
Michael Brown Sr., far left, visits the spot where his son died.
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson testified to investigators that Michael Brown pinned him in his police vehicle and struggled over his gun before Wilson shot Brown six times and killed him.

That's according to the New York Times, who quote "government officials briefed on the federal civil rights investigation" and FBI reports in the first public account of the altercation from Wilson's perspective. Wilson has already testified to the St. Louis grand jury investigating his case, and the FBI is running a concurrent criminal investigation while the department of justice performs a civil rights investigation.

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If America Reacted to Keene Pumpkin Fest Rioters Like They Were Ferguson Protesters

Categories: Ferguson

Keene State students start to get rowdy before violence and rioting breaks out at the Keene Pumpkin Festival.
Clouds of tear gas. Cars overturned. Street signs torn down. Fires in the streets. Helicopters circling. Scores of arrests and injuries -- It all sounds a little like a Ferguson protest.

But it's not. While Ferguson and Shaw demonstrators made it through the weekend without any massive disruptions, the mostly white (and clearly drunk) students at Keene State College in New Hampshire lost their shit Saturday night at violent parties near an annual pumpkin festival where families try to set a world record for the largest number of lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place.

The Keene Pumpkin Fest riot and the weekslong demonstrations in Ferguson and St. Louis don't have much in common: Ferguson protesters say they're organizing against institutionalized racism and police brutality and won't stop until demands -- like the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson -- are met, while Keene students seemed to just jump on a wave of destruction that probably smelled like a popular spiced latte.

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"This Is What Jim Crow Looks Like": A Day in North St. Louis County Courts

Categories: Ferguson

Better Together
After visiting courts in north county, where cities can earn more than 30 percent of budgets through court fines and fees, a Brooklyn lawyer calls St. Louis County's courts system "the new Jim Crow."
David Menschel, a criminal defense attorney and criminal justice activist from Brooklyn, New York, spent Wednesday visiting municipal courts in north St. Louis County. What he found, he says, was "the new Jim Crow."

Menschel tweeted what he saw: predominantly black defendants, most without defense attorneys, arguing against dominant prosecutors in front of deferential judges on minor charges, such as sleeping in an apartment without an occupancy permit.

The effectiveness of north St. Louis County municipal courts was thrust into the spotlight in August, when a police officer from Ferguson, a north-county municipality, shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown. Protesters who took to the streets in Ferguson say Brown's shooting was the ultimate expression of the contemptuous, preying nature of criminal-justice systems there.

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St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay Agrees to Meet Protesters, Address Demands [UPDATED]

Categories: Ferguson

Danny Wicentowski
On Monday, Young Activists United organizer Kennard Williams (holding a megaphone) sent a list of demands for St. Louis mayor Francis Slay.
After days of symbolic demonstrations and civil disobedience against police brutality, one group of protesters can now boast of nabbing a more tangible victory: Landing an appointment to meet St. Louis mayor Francis Slay.

Today's 5 p.m. summit will include a contingent from Young Activists United, the same group that led around 60 protesters to rally and hang banners inside the City Hall rotunda on Monday, which resulted in one arrest. Organizers of that protest issued a list of demands to Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, and promised future disruptions in City Hall until the mayor addressed those demands.

The group wants Slay to force police officers who have "any interaction with the public" to wear body cameras, establish a civilian review board and independently investigate all fatal police shootings. The group also asked Slay to break ties with the federal government's 1033 program, which sends military hardware to police departments. Maggie Crane, the mayor's chief spokesperson, tells Daily RFT that the city has no relationship with the program.

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Michael Brown's Mother: Do Not Write in My Son's Name for St. Louis County Executive

Bryan Sutter
Lesley McSpadden, center, Michael Brown's mother.

Yesterday, the family of slain teenager Michael Brown and their attorneys incorporated a new organization: the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation. The group's first order of business came today in the form of a plea from Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, and was titled "Regarding Unauthorized Use: Name and Likeness of the Late Michael O.D. Brown":

"I am asking all well-intentioned family members, neighbors, businesses, associations, organizations or individuals associated with social media or any activists or affiliated groups, and any and all Missouri politicians NOT to add any additional drama into our lives," she wrote in a statement. "We ask that no flyers, wearing apparel, print or video usage of Michael's name, image or likeness, be used in connection with a WRITE-IN candidate campaign."

The statement refers to the upcoming November 4 St. Louis county executive race between Rick Stream and Steve Stenger. Some activists feel that neither Stream, who is Republican, nor Stenger, a Democrat who's publicly stood by County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, will address their concerns about racial injustice in Ferguson and the county. For many weeks, calls to "write in Michael Brown" have been heard at marches and county board meetings.

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