Part 3: There’s no proof that Mike Brown was a threat to Darren Wilson when Wilson shot him in the head

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

A year ago, Mike Brown was killed and it was his fault. That’s what you were told. That’s what you believed.

Darren Wilson’s story was that he had to kill Mike Brown because after Brown attacked him and tried to take his gun, he charged at Wilson. The publicly accepted narrative is that witnesses who supported the claim that Brown charged at Wilson—making him feel threatened and justifying the killing—were more reliable than those that didn’t and that evidence also supported their testimony. However, the grand jury evidence and testimony released by prosecutors confirm that these assertions are false.

Witnesses on charging

There were thirty-three eyewitnesses that testified to at least part of the incident between Mike Brown and Darren Wilson that resulted in Wilson killing Brown. Of those witnesses, seven did not see the final part of the altercation where Brown allegedly charged at Wilson. Twenty-two witnesses that did see it said he did not charge. Most of these witnesses said Brown appeared to be walking or stumbling. For example, Witness 17 testified that, “he walked out in the middle of the street with his hands up to his sides, that’s when … the officer fired” (Grand Jury, Vol. IX, 88-89); Witness 33 said, “He was kind of moving at him like I’m giving up, hands up” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 241); and Witness 36 said, “He was kind of coming forward still, so he was going with his feet, shuffling to catch himself” (Grand Jury, Vol. XII, 186).

A St. Louis County Police detective also testified about interviewing an additional witness who said Brown had his hands up with his “palms up with his hands and fingers roughly shoulder height, elbows not touching his rib cage” and appeared to be checking his wounds (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 179-180). The witness also said Brown moved toward Wilson, but not in a threatening way (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 180, 185).

If you’re savvy at math, you have already realized that only four eyewitnesses said Brown charged at Wilson. That’s right—four out of thirty-three witnesses verified Wilson’s account that Brown charged at him, thereby threatening his life.

According to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch, “jurors were able to assess the credibility of the witnesses, including those witnesses whose statements and testimony remained consistent throughout every interview and were consistent with the physical evidence” (Statement of St Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert P McCulloch). This distortion was also parroted by the mainstream media.

Listening to McCulloch, it’s easy to believe that the four witnesses must have been so incredibly reliable and convincing that jurors couldn’t have possibly believed the stories of twenty-two other witnesses. After all, if Brown was not a threat to Wilson when he shot a bullet into his head, then Wilson would be a murderer. And for many, that would have been impossible to believe. But with videos that show the killing of Walter Scott, Samuel Dubose, and others, the problem of police brutality is becoming hard to ignore.

Witnesses who said Brown was charging

In the case against Wilson, the only witnesses who said Brown was charging were Witnesses 10, 40, 26, and 48. Examining these witnesses with just a little scrutiny reveals that they were not more reliable than the witnesses who claimed Brown did not charge, nor did the evidence support their claims more. However, the prosecutors did not challenge these witnesses to the degree they did others, creating a perception that they were more credible; and when they could, the prosecutors ignored evidence that contradicted the claims these witnesses made.

Witness 40

Witness 40 testified in front of the grand jury on two occasions. She verified that Brown charged several times; for example, she said, “I looked back at the heavier set one, and he had, by this time bent down in the football position and had his fist made and began to charge at the officer” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 124).

As damning as this testimony is, other information about Witness 40 should have raised some concerns: grand jury documents showed that she was disgustingly racist and was lying about being at the scene. She repeatedly wrote racist remarks in her journal and on social media, using “the N word half a dozen times” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 171) and including statements like “they need to kill them fucking n****rs. It is like an ape fest” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 177). The FBI determined that she was lying about being at the scene and about witnessing the confrontation between Brown and Wilson. They decided they could not use her as a witness. Yet, the prosecutors decided that she should still testify in front of the grand jury.

Witnesses 26 and 48

Witnesses 26, 30, 48 and 64 are a family who claimed to have witnessed the confrontation between Brown and Wilson from their minivan on their way to visit someone in the Canfield Green Apartments. They all saw the incident together, but they have very different accounts of whether Brown was charging. According to the descriptions they gave, they were positioned far away from the scene and Wilson’s SUV was between them and the final shooting; no other witnesses recall seeing the minivan.

Witnesses 26 and 48 both testified that Brown was charging, with Witness 26 saying, “Michael turned around and then he started running, he kind of shuffled back and forth a little bit like he was confused or something. And then he started running back toward us … I couldn’t be sure if he was trying to charge the officer or run past him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 179-180). Witness 48 also said, “His hands were balled up. He has his arms bent toward his chest and he’s running like, you know, almost like a tackle running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 28). She said that after the first three shots “he was still charging at him,” but after the fourth shot “it looked like he was staggering” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 91).

The other two witnesses in the minivan disagreed that Brown was charging. Witness 30 told police, “He walked back toward the officer… he got… to within maybe six or ten feet from the officer and, … the cop shot him… He appeared to be walking” (Witness 30, interview with police, 5). Witness 64 told the FBI, “We had different stories … I said that it looked like he was stumbling, someone else said it looked like he was charging” (Witness 64, interview with FBI, 29).

The minivan was allegedly parked on Canfield Drive at the time of the incident, placing the witnesses 450 feet away from the spot where Brown’s body lay, and Wilson’s SUV was parked diagonally across the street between them and the place where Brown was killed.


Photo: Google Maps

The photos below show an approximate view of the location where Mike brown died from the minivan:


This image shows an approximate view from where the minivan was supposedly located at the time Mike Brown was killed. Photo: Google Maps



This image is slightly closer than the supposed location of the minivan to help show an approximate view from the location without the trees obstructing the view. Photo: Google Maps

Finally, several witnesses who were near the alleged location of the minivan were asked what cars were around and not a single witness recalled seeing a minivan in the area. For example, Witness 37 who was in his car in the street on Canfield Drive, facing the SUV, said there was a white pickup truck behind him, but no other vehicles (Grand Jury, Vol. XIV, 42); Witness 13 remembered several cars in the street (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 172), but when asked specifically about the minivan replied, “no, I didn’t notice it” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 189). The minivan witnesses testified that after Brown was shot they pulled into the parking lot next to where they had saw the incident, but when Witness 54 was asked, “Did you see a minivan pull into that parking lot right directly in front of where you had been sitting and someone get out of that minivan?” they replied, “I remember seeing the white car” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 257).

Witness 10

According to the media, Witness 10 was the most reliable and important witness that more or less supported Darren Wilson’s account. According to a Washington Post headline, “Witness 10 proves Darren Wilson had a reasonable belief he needed to shoot Michael Brown.” However, Witness 10 did not corroborate the part of Wilson’s story that says Brown was punching him or grabbing his gun. Instead he said, “It appeared as though they were wrestling through the window” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 218) and he assumed there was a confrontation because there was a gunshot (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 230).

Regardless, several factors about Witness 10 call the strength of his testimony into question once scrutinized. His testimony was inconsistent and vague, he was far away from where Brown was shot and had an obstructed view, and although the prosecutors didn’t appear to seek out the truth, it’s questionable if Witness 10 was even at the scene on August 9th.

Despite claims to the contrary, Witness 10 changed his testimony regarding several points. For example, he told the police that he was 100 yards (300 feet) away from the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 227), but he told the grand jury that he was 50 to 75 yards (150-225 feet) away (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 197).

More suspicious was Witness 10’s overall persistence in sticking with a particular narrative, while avoiding why he supported it. For example, when asked by police where Brown’s hands were when he turned around, Witness 10 replied, “Um, I know for sure they weren’t above his head” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 61). And when asked to enact a body gesture that he said Brown did, he replied, “I can’t say for sure what sort of body gesture, I cannot recall fully. All I know is it was not a surrendering motion of I’m surrendering, putting my hands up or anything, I’m not sure” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 180).

Additionally, Witness 10 was far away from the spot Brown was shot and he had an obstructed view. He supposedly saw the confrontation between Wilson and Brown from the front yard of a house he was working at, down the street towards West Florissant. That house is about 600 feet from where Brown was shot, and Wilson’s SUV and other cars in the street were between Witness 10 and Brown.

Witness 10

The circle indicates the location of the house where Witness 10 viewed the incident from, (approximately) over 600 feet from where Brown was shot. Photo: Google Maps

The below photos show the view from the street in front of the house:

Witness10 2

Witness 10 worked at the house on the right and claimed to have witnessed the confrontation between Brown and Wilson from the driveway, through the trees. The circle marks the spot where Witness 10 supposedly watched the confrontation between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. Photo: Google Maps


Witness10 3

This picture depicts the view closer to where Brown was shot to help show Witness 10’s potential point of view. Photo: Google Maps


Finally, it’s questionable if Witness 10 was even there on August 9th. He said that after Brown was killed, “[I] went into the (redacted) I was working at, and told the (redacted) what I had just witnessed and stayed in for maybe (redacted) minutes speaking with (redacted) and I came back out and that’s when I seen they were taping off the scene” (Grand Jury, Vol. VI, 186).

However, when questioned, a detective admitted that neither the homeowner nor the resident could remember the exact dates the witness was working there. The person residing in the house said “that she remembered talking to him briefly, didn’t remember what they had talked about and that she ultimately left for work” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 37-38). I would think if someone told you they just saw the police kill someone on your street that would be something you would recall.

None of this means that we know the witnesses were lying (except perhaps Witness 40) or that Brown did not charge Wilson in those final seconds. What an evaluation of these witnesses shows is that these witnesses were no more reliable than other witnesses whose testimonies did not support Wilson’s story of Brown charging at him. There is no reason to trust them more or less than other witnesses. A substantially higher number of witnesses said that Brown did not charge, and of the twenty-two of them, there were certainly more who were consistent in what they said, supported by evidence, and located closer than the witnesses who supported Wilson’s account. The difference is that the opposing witnesses were treated differently by the prosecutors, the media, and the public who wanted to believe that they were liars.

Evidence about charging

According to McCulloch, Wilson’s story and the statements of witnesses who supported his claims were also consistent with the evidence. However, the evidence does not support the main tenants of Wilson’s arguments, including his most important accusation that Brown charged him in the final seconds of the incident. We may never know if Brown charged at Wilson in those last seconds, but to claim the evidence supports Wilson’s story is absolutely false.

There are several pieces of evidence that could help determine whether or not Brown charged Wilson—Brown’s fatal injuries, blood stains, and an audio recording of the gunshots. Brown’s injuries prove that Brown did not move any further after the final gunshot—where his body lay is where he was when the final bullet hit him; blood stains in the street are the only physical evidence that could determine the furthest location Brown ran to; and the audio recording of Wilson’s gunshots provide a time frame for the distance Brown traveled. With these three pieces of evidence, we can calculate the speed Brown was moving when Wilson shot and killed him.

Injuries killing Brown

Based on the evidence, we know that Brown collapsed the instant he was shot in the head. All three doctors that examined Brown’s body testified that Brown’s injuries would have caused him to instantly collapse when he was shot in the top of the head. (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 23-24; Vol. XX, 128; Vol. XXIII, 46). Wilson seemed to confirm this when he said, “I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that’s what I shot … I saw the last one go into him. And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone … I knew he stopped, the threat stopped” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 229).

This evidence confirms that Brown’s movement stopped at Wilson’s last shot and when considered with the starting point provided by the blood stains in the street and the audio recording of the gunshots, Brown’s injuries help establish the time and distance Brown moved toward Wilson.

Brown’s blood

Brown’s blood at various spots around the crime scene provided the physical evidence for the distance Brown traveled. According to the DNA technical leader with the St. Louis County Police Department Crime Lab, Brown’s blood was on the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 174-175), telling us that he was shot and bleeding before he ran from the car. There was also a significant amount of blood on the top of his socks (so we know blood was dripping from above), there were two small blood stains on the street about twenty-one and a half feet away from his body, and there was a pool of blood from Brown’s head where he died (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 174-175).

Brown’s blood droppings contradict the claim that Brown turned around close to 50 feet from where he died, since blood was dripping from Brown’s hand and arm from the time he ran from the SUV, but there was no evidence of this beyond the cluster of blood drops (evidence marked 20) that was twenty-one and half feet from his body (Vol. XXIV, 87-88). While he was running he could have kept his arm against his body so the blood could have been absorbed by his clothes, but once he stopped and turned around he either put his hands up to surrender as many witnesses claimed, or down to his waistband as Wilson claimed.

Whatever Brown did when he stopped and turned around, it is difficult to believe that he did not drip any blood in that spot, but left a spot of several drops of blood at one random spot along the route of his charge toward Wilson. Instead, the evidence suggests that Brown turned around at the point where there was a bloodstain on the street, twenty-one and a half feet from his body. Number 20 marks the bloodstain that is the furthest point of physical evidence that indicates where Brown ran to; it is 21.5 feet from where he died.


Evidence Markers

This picture also shows marker 19, which indicates a line of several drops of blood and, in the background, shows a large bloodstain that marks where Brown died.


Evidence Markers 2

Marker 20 shows a cluster of several drops of blood 21.5 feet away from Brown’s body.


Evidence Markers 3

Marker 19 shows a trail of blood drops.

In the pictures, it appears that the larger stains are several drops of blood in the same spot meaning Brown was standing in this spot and not just running past it. Comparatively, the bloodstains marked 19 are a trail, meaning that Brown was in motion. No one testified if the stains in marker 19 suggest which direction he was heading at the time these blood drops hit the pavement, but they are significant when compared to the marker 20 cluster because they indicate motion.

Despite evidence that contradicted this, almost everyone, including prosecutors and media outlets, used a point at around 50 feet beyond where Brown’s body laid as a marker for where he turned around. A St. Louis police detective confirmed, “the exact location where Michael Brown turned around is just based on various witness accounts” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 51).

It was so obvious that the 50-foot marker wasn’t supported by any evidence that a juror (not a prosecutor) highlighted the use of disputed eyewitness testimony, not supported by evidence to determine Brown’s distance in this exchange:

Juror: “So as far as physical evidence, we have the blood on the ground that was about 21 or 22 feet from where Michael Brown ended up. So we know for a fact that’s a minimum distance he might have advanced and from eye witness testimony that placed him at the corner of Coppercreek, that dimension looks like it is closer to 48 to 50 feet; is that correct? … if I did the calculation right that was 21 and a half feet?”
Detective: “Yes, sir.”
Juror: “Physical evidence.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 87-88).

When asked, how far he thought Brown charged at him, Wilson said “at least fifteen feet,” which is much less than fifty, but pretty close to twenty-one and a half (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 13).

Audio recording of Wilson’s gunshots

The third piece of evidence is an audio recording of Wilson’s final ten shots. We know from a verified sound recording of the shots that it was a total of 6.57 seconds from the point Wilson started shooting until his last shot.

Wilson testified repeatedly that Brown ran through the shots. For example, he said that Brown “looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 228) and the shots “had no effect” and Brown just “continued towards him” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 110) and “he hadn’t slowed down” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 228). He told the St. Louis Police that, “After the first round of shots … he still hadn’t gone down and was still coming just as fast as he was” (interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 13).

Wilson said that after he fired multiple shots, he “paused for a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again,” but Brown was still charging, his hand was still in his waistband, and he hadn’t slowed down. Here Wilson says he fired another round of multiple shots and again, “same thing, still running at me, hadn’t slowed down, hands still in his waistband.” Then Brown got about eight feet from Wilson, still coming the same way, and Wilson fired more shots. One of those final shots, Wilson says, hit Brown in the head and “he went down right there” (interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 10).

Now Wilson testified that once Brown moved toward him, he gave commands before shooting, saying, “His first step is coming like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me. … As he is coming at me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot a series of shots” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 227-229). However, even if we assume Wilson started shooting the instant Brown moved (giving Brown the least possible amount of time to cover the distance)—which is a favorable assumption for Wilson—then Brown had 6.57 seconds to cover twenty-one and a half feet. That’s a slow pace. Definitely walking. According to the evidence.

Wilson also claimed that when Brown fell, “he had so much momentum carrying him forward that when he fell, his feet kind of came up a little bit and then he rested” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 229-230). However, one doctor that examined Brown’s body confirmed that Brown was not in motion at the time he collapsed; when asked, “Are the abrasions severe enough that you think the victim would have been in motion at the time of the fatal shot or could he have been standing at the time of the fatal shot, absorbs that amount of friction just by simply falling from a standing position?” they replied, “falling and hitting the ground … That’s how that happened in my opinion” (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 161).

Witnesses and evidence on whether Brown’s hands were up

Despite the repeated claims in the press (even from the so-called “liberal media”) that Brown never put his hands up, and that the protest chant of the Black Lives Matter Movement, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” was based on a lie, there is still no reason to believe that Brown did not put his hands up when Wilson shot him. Based on the evidence, it’s possible that Brown had his hands up and was surrendering to Wilson. While there are conflicting claims about this, there is no way to be sure that Brown was not surrendering.

It’s true—there is an absence of forensic evidence that supports the claim that Brown had his hands up; however, there is equally a lack of evidence supporting the claim that Brown never had his hands up. This just isn’t something that the evidence could determine either way. So based on the factual evidence, there’s no reason for people to believe and be adamant that Brown did not have his hands up.

The three forensic pathologists who performed autopsies on Brown repeatedly explained it was impossible to determine the arm and hand positions of Brown when he was shot. One forensic pathologist said it’s difficult to answer questions about which position Brown’s hands were in because “arms can do all sorts of things in three dimensional space” (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 100).

Two doctors testified that based on the gunshot wound, Brown could have been shot in the forearm while he had his hands up. One said Brown could have gotten the wound if his hands were up “if the palms [faced] outward” and the shooter was at an angle or the arm was slightly rotated (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 102). Describing the gunshot wound, another forensic pathologist said depending on how the arm was turned, “it could be arms up, could be arms way up” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 65-66). When asked, “you’re saying that this injury to this forearm could have occurred with his hands up?” they replied, “yes” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 67).

The forensic pathologists even said that one of the other controversial claims of eyewitnesses—that Wilson shot at Brown as he ran away—was possible. They said, “If you are asking me could a shot from his backside produce that [wound], I say yes” (Grand jury, Vol. XX, 102). Another forensic pathologist who worked for New York State Police for 50 years confirmed this point, saying of the gunshot wound, “this would support being shot from behind. It didn’t hit his back, but from behind” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 67).

Additionally, eyewitness testimony overwhelming supports the claim that Brown’s hands were up. Of the witnesses who claimed to have seen the entire end of the confrontation between Brown and Wilson, twenty-three said Brown put his hands up and one said he did not (three other witnesses testified that they didn’t see his hands up, but they did not see the entire encounter from the time Brown turned around through when he was killed). When the witness most favorable to Wilson was asked where Brown’s hands were when he turned around, Witness 10 replied vaguely, “I know for sure they weren’t above his head” (Grand Jury, Vol. VII, 61).

Witnesses described where Brown’s hands were in a variety of ways. Most witnesses did not describe Brown as having his arms straight up above his head; rather most seemed to say they were out to the side and around shoulder height. For example, Witness 18 said Brown’s arms were slightly bent at the elbows by his sides, palms facing forward, and fingers pointing to the ground (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 34-35). Others said Brown’s hands were around shoulder length, for example: Brown, “had his hands shoulder high, just a little bit above his shoulders, but they were away from his body” (Witness 14, Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 36), and “arms about shoulder length” (Witness 44, Vol. XVII, 25). Witness 25 indicated Brown’s arms were somewhat parallel to the floor, palms out, fingers up, and hands about level with his head (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 150).

Of the four witnesses in a minivan, two were considered favorable to Wilson because they said Brown charged him. Referring to Brown’s hands, one of them, Witness 26, said, “he threw his hands up, then he put his hands down, … then he started running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 179). Witness 48 testified, “his hands were open at first … he [lifted them to] like shoulder length … and then he balled his hands up and … started charging” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 86).

The most surprising witness to say Brown put his hands up was none other than Darren Wilson himself!

The sergeant who was on duty at the crime scene testified twice that Wilson had told him that Brown put his hands up:

Prosecutor: “Is it still, you still stay with the fact that Michael Brown had his hands up and was charging?”
Sergeant: “That’s what Darren told me, he was charging at me.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 64).

Prosecutor: “I believe you said in that statement that Officer Wilson told you that Michael Brown took off running and he stopped and raised his arms and charged him?”
Sergeant: “Yes, ma’am … it was like he was going to charge him.”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 72).

When Wilson was interviewed by the detective assigned to his case, he changed his story and said Brown stopped, turned around, and took his right hand and moved it to his waistband. He said Brown then screamed something he couldn’t understand and began to charge him (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 109). In front of the grand jury, when asked under oath, “At any point did Michael Brown raise his hands?” Wilson responded, “No.”

While it’s easy for many Americans to believe the narrative they are told by the justice system and the media, it’s clear that an honest evaluation of witnesses and evidence do not support the claims that Brown was a threat to Wilson when Wilson shot him in the head. Wilson supported this claim by saying that Brown charged at him. He said he thought in the moment, “I know if he reaches me, he’ll kill me” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 230). But there is clearly not enough evidence to support his story. And without such evidence, Wilson should have been put on trial.


Part 2: Evidence and witnesses did not prove Mike Brown grabbed Darren Wilson’s gun

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

Darren Wilson asserted again and again that Mike Brown attempted to grab his gun. Even though Wilson killed Brown by shooting him in the head 153 feet away from his SUV (so whether he grabbed Wilson’s gun didn’t warrant killing him), the claim largely convinced the public that Wilson’s actions were justified, and that Mike Brown deserved to die.

Lies and Truths

Not long after Brown was killed, the mainstream media falsely claimed that evidence proved Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun in his SUV. It was delivered with a few half-truths that said witnesses who were black corroborated Wilson’s account. That was all it took for America’s mostly white public to forever believe that Wilson’s story was proven to be true.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist in San Francisco, said an autopsy performed on Brown “supports the fact that this guy is reaching for the gun, if he has gunpowder particulate material in the wound” and “if he has his hand near the gun when it goes off, he’s going for the officer’s gun.” The Washington Post and many other news outlets reproduced this lie and broadly claimed that “evidence supported Wilson’s account,” until it became widely accepted by the public.

Dr. Melinek spoke out about how she was being misquoted and misrepresented, and how the media was reporting that she claimed the autopsy showed things that no one could possibly determine from an autopsy report; however, her rebuttals went largely unreported.

She clarified the misinformation on her personal blog in a post titled “Forensic Sound Bites and Half-Truths.” She wrote, “there’s a big difference between ‘the hand wound has gunpowder particles on microscopic examination, which suggests that it is a close-range wound. That means that Mr. Brown’s hand would have been close to the barrel of the gun’ and ‘he’s going for the gun.’”

During the grand jury proceedings, the three forensic pathologists that testified about Brown’s autopsy said they couldn’t determine from the autopsy and gunshot wound if Brown grabbed the gun or had ever reached for the gun. One said, they cannot tell from the evidence whether Brown was going for the gun or had his hands up to block or whatever else (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 40). Another said, they can’t say if he was trying to grab the gun or not; “there is nothing based on the images and histology for me to be able to say how the hand was and what he was intending to do, I have no idea” (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 148). And the third agreed that they couldn’t tell from the autopsy whether Brown’s hand was going forward, pulling back, or remaining still. They could only say that when the gun fired, his hand was roughly four to six inches away (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIII, 41).

The Washington Post later made the vague assertion that seven or eight black witnesses gave testimony that supported Wilson’s account. This was parroted on popular conservative blogs until the public largely accepted it. The truth, however, is that not one witness stated that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun and there was no physical evidence to support the claim either.


There were not many witnesses close enough to Wilson’s SUV to see if there was a struggle inside over the gun as Wilson claimed. There were only a few witnesses that testified at the grand jury who were considerable favorable to Wilson. They corroborated his claim that Brown charged him. But even these three witnesses (Witnesses 10, 26, and 48) did not confirm that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. The only witness who said Brown grabbed the gun was witness 40, who the FBI determined was lying about being at the scene.

Three other witnesses who were close to the SUV testified that they did not see Brown grab the gun, including Dorian Johnson who was next to the SUV and said, “I never at no point in time Big Mike’s hand touch the gun or anything like that.” Another witness who was close to the SUV said, “I don’t think there was a struggle for the gun that I could tell” (Grand jury, Vol. XV, 64).


Fingerprints, DNA, Wilson’s gun, and Mike Brown’s autopsy were all used as evidence in determining whether or not Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. While such evidence could have shown that Brown did indeed grab Wilson’s gun, it did not do so. There was also significant evidence that disproved Wilson’s version of the story.

Fingerprints and DNA

There was not any fingerprint evidence that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun. Originally, Wilson told his sergeant, “The individual was trying to grab at his pistol, his pistol came out of the holster” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 31-34), but Brown’s prints were not on Wilson’s duty belt (Grand Jury, Vol. XXIV, 83). Later that day, when interviewed by a St. Louis Police Department detective, Wilson said Brown grabbed the gun after he pointed it at him; however, Wilson’s gun was not checked for fingerprints (Grand Jury, Vol. III, 39-40). A crime scene detective testified that they had to choose between getting “a DNA profile or the possibility of retrieving latent fingerprint evidence” and they chose to get DNA (Grand Jury, Vol. III, 42). However, the DNA analyst that worked on the case sad that they only need a “tiny speck of blood” to get a DNA profile (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 148), so it doesn’t make sense that detectives would not have fingerprinted the gun to prove Brown grabbed it.

The DNA evidence retrieved from the gun did not prove that Brown grabbed the gun. Wilson shot Brown in the hand at the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 196-197) and Brown’s blood was found on the inside of the door, on the outside of the SUV, on Wilson’s pants, and on Wilson’s gun – so Brown’s DNA would be on the gun because of his blood anyway (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 136).

There was a reddish brown stain on Wilson’s gun that was assumed to be blood. The DNA swab from Wilson’s gun tested positive for blood. The swab gave analysts a DNA profile where Brown and Wilson are both major contributors (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 180-181); however, analysts testified that there is no way to tell if the DNA on the gun is from Brown touching the gun or from some other fluid such as his blood, sweat, or saliva (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 180, 184).

Since Brown’s blood was on the gun from his being shot, his DNA was also inevitably on the gun; thus, there is no evidence that Brown left DNA by grabbing the gun.

Gun misfiring and firing

Wilson claims that Brown attacked him in his Chevy Tahoe SUV. He said Brown “started swinging and punching at [him] from outside the vehicle.” He said, “when [Brown] shut the door a second time … [Brown] enter [the] vehicle with his hands, arms, and his head … assaulting [Wilson]” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 5). Brown was swinging wildly, and began striking Wilson in the chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103).

One of the full swings even knocked Wilson back and stunned him (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 6 and Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103-104). Wilson describes fearfully grabbing Brown’s arm like “a five year old holding on to Hulk Hogan” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 212) and recounts that Brown was “obviously bigger … and stronger” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). He told a grand jury that he had to draw his weapon because Brown had already hit him twice in the face and a third punch could knock him out or be “fatal if he hit me right” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216).

Wilson claimed that his gun didn’t fire several times during his confrontation with Brown at the SUV. He testified that Brown had pushed the gun down into his hip, but he managed to raise it, and with Brown’s hands still on the gun, he pulled the trigger twice, but it didn’t fire (Grand Jury, Vol. V 224). Wilson said the gun fired on the third try, shattering a SUV window and prompting Brown to back up.

According to Wilson, Brown then reengaged, attacking Wilson again. He said that while being hit by Brown and shielding his face, Wilson tried to pull the trigger again and it just clicked, so he put his hands up to shield his face and Brown hit him again. He said, “Without even looking, I just grab the top of my gun, the slide and I racked it, and I put my, still not looking, just holding my hand up, I pull the trigger again, it goes off” a second time (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 225). He said this shot missed, but it caused Brown to take off running.

Moments after Wilson fired his weapon in the SUV, he shot ten rounds at Mike Brown outside. Later, when tested by a firearms expert in the course of the investigation, Wilson’s gun fired normally and had “no defects at all” (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 91-92), which means that some sort of interference would have caused it to allegedly not fire in the SUV.

Wilson provided two conflicting reasons that the gun did not go off. First, Wilson told the St. Louis Police, “I believe his fingers were over in between from the hammer and the slide preventing it from firing” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 8). Second, in an interview with an FBI agent, he said the reason may have been stovepiping—when the shell casing is not fully ejected and gets pinched in the slide, preventing the new round from reaching the chamber and firing (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 162). This is why Wilson claimed he had to rack his gun—to clear the stuck round.

A detective testified that if there is stovepiping, the malfunction drill is “you have to remove the magazine, lock the slide to the rear, which would remove the stovepipe round and the round that was somewhat forced into the chamber, or the barrel of the gun. You would have to reinsert the magazine and then put the slide forward and that would chamber another round” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 126-127).

The firearms and tool mark examiner who worked on the case said there was no evidence of stovepiping. They also said it could have happened and they might not be able to tell, but there is no proof (Grand Jury, Vol. X, 110, 112-113).

Additionally, Wilson’s gun was a Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol. Shell casings eject to the right side of the pistol, and even though Wilson said he racked the gun using both hands (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 9) to clear a casing, no casing was found inside his car. They were found across the street almost straight out of the window, and towards the back end of the SUV (what would be the left side of the gun if it was pointing out the window).

Evidence map

Diagram of evidence found near Wilson’s SUV. Shell casing were found toward the back of the SUV and straight out the window, across the street.

Picture someone holding a pistol in their right hand while sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV and while being attacked. Logically, if Wilson had to shield himself while racking the gun he would turn or lean into the SUV to help escape from the blows; but for the sake of argument, let’s say his body is twisted, so his torso is facing out the window. The right side of the gun would still be pointed toward the front of the vehicle and most likely inside.

Admittedly, shell casings are very limited in what they prove about the position of a weapon when fired, but it’s difficult to believe that a casing ejected from the chamber on the right side of the weapon flew straight forward across the street or to the left side of the weapon. It seems unlikely that Wilson racked his weapon to clear a round—at the least, the evidence does not support the claim.

Similarly, there was no evidence that Wilson’s gun didn’t fire because Brown was holding it. The medical legal investigator said Brown had abrasions on the back of his left hand and the right side of his face (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 50), but no other marks on his hand otherwise (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 68). They also said the abrasions on the left hand and forehead looked like the came from contact with the ground because “it looked more like a road rash abrasion as opposed to an altercation abrasion” (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 75).

Of course, it’s possible that a person could hold the slide or hammer of a gun and prevent it from firing without injury, but it’s unlikely. According to Wilson, Brown’s hand prevented his gun from firing, yet he had no abrasion, burn, or even a mark on his hand.

Brown was shot in the hand

Wilson fired two rounds in the SUV but only hit Brown once. He says he saw blood after the first shot and missed with the second shot (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 8-9). He said, “The first thing I remember is seeing glass flying and blood all over my right hand on the back side of my hand” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis Interview, 8). And when he shot the second time, “I turned and looked, I realized I had missed. I saw, like dust in the background” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis Interview, 8).

Wilson also claims that Brown had his hands on the gun when Wilson fired the first round (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 224). Not only is it impossible for Wilson to shoot Brown’s hand if his hand was on the top of the gun, but experts testified that Brown wasn’t holding the gun when it was fired. Three experts that performed autopsies confirmed that there was soot around Brown’s gunshot wound, which shows his hand was at close range – between six and twelve inches from the weapon (Grand Jury, Vol. XX, 20; Vol. XXIII, 38; Vol. XX, 139-140).

When asked if there would still be soot around the wound if Brown’s hand was on top of the weapon, a forensic pathologist replied, “The wound is going to look different. Now we are dealing with a contact wound. If you are talking about actually physically holding something, that’s something extra and different” (Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 118). To clarify, if Brown’s hand was on top of the gun when it fired, he would not have been shot in the hand, and if his hand was on the barrel of the gun, the gunshot wound would have looked drastically different. Therefore, the evidence does not support Wilson’s story that Brown grabbed his gun.

Wilson has maintained that Brown grabbed his gun after he pulled it out of the holster and pointed it at him. It seems common when police kill someone to hear them say the suspect looked like they were going for a gun or they were trying to take their weapon. Since there is no video of Brown’s confrontation with Wilson to disprove the claim, people are going to believe what they want. Some will believe Brown grabbed the gun, others won’t; but the fact remains: there is no evidence that Brown grabbed Wilson’s gun.



Grand Jury Testimony
Wilson’s Interview with the St. Louis County Police Department

Part 1: Did Unarmed Black Teenager Mike Brown Attack Darren Wilson?

This post is part of a series, “Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice,” which reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative surrounding Mike Brown’s death. The series illustrates that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. You can read the introduction to the series here.

The Attacks

According to Darren Wilson, when he saw two teenagers, Dorian Johnson and Mike Brown, walking in the middle of the street in Ferguson, he stopped and respectfully asked, “why don’t you guys walk on the sidewalk?” Johnson replied, “we’re almost at our destination.” As Brown continued walking and passed the rearview mirror of Wilson’s Chevy Tahoe, Wilson said, “what’s wrong with the sidewalk?” Brown supposedly replied, “fuck what you have to say.”

While Wilson had multiple versions of his story, in one he claims that this moment was when he realized Brown was carrying Cigarillos that were reported stolen from a nearby convenience store moments earlier; so Wilson backed up his SUV to confront the teens.

Wilson described the encounter: “I go to open my door and say ‘hey, come here for a minute’ to Brown. As I’m opening the door he turns faces me, looks at me and says ‘what the fuck are you gonna do about it’ and shut my door, slammed it shut” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 208-209). Forced to respond, Wilson told Brown to “get the fuck back” and used his door to push him, but Brown used his bodyweight to again close the door on Wilson. This began the pummeling, where a demon-like thug named Mike Brown, without provocation, began to pound on Wilson’s face, forcing him to shoot and kill the unarmed teen: at least that’s what you believe.

Let’s be honest – you likely believe Wilson’s story for a variety of reasons: Possibly you’re unaware of the deep-rooted impacts of white supremacy and racism in America. Maybe you haven’t thought through the systematic oppression both perpetrated by the police and resulting from mass incarceration—you probably haven’t needed to. Perhaps, despite the overwhelming amount of video evidence to come out in other cases (Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Samuel DuBose) you still refuse to believe that police officers have murdered innocent citizens because they wouldn’t tolerate young black Americans standing up for their rights or challenging authority. Even though a lack of video evidence, and perhaps concern, allows you to maintain your assumptions about Mike Brown, there are no pieces of evidence or eyewitness accounts that prove Brown attacked Wilson unprovoked. Furthermore, there is plenty of evidence that shows Wilson lied and grossly exaggerated Brown’s confrontation with him in order to justify murdering him.

Wilson’s fictitious rewriting of the encounter is intense. Wilson tells a story where a monstrous Brown beats him repeatedly, but he heroically manages to overpower the goliath, saving his own life. He recounts Brown had immediately “started swinging and punching at [him] from outside the vehicle.” He said, “when [Brown] shut the door a second time … [Brown] enter [the] vehicle with his hands, arms, and his head … assaulting [Wilson]” (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 5). Brown was swinging wildly, and began striking Wilson in the chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103). Throughout the struggle Wilson had his hands up to protect himself, deflecting some blows, but still getting hit in the face (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 210). According to Wilson, Brown made contact with his face over ten times and at least two times on both sides of his face with solid blows (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 11).

One of the full swings even knocked Wilson back and stunned him (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 6 and Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103-104). Wilson describes fearfully grabbing Brown’s arm like “a five year old holding on to Hulk Hogan” (Grand Jury Vol. V, 212) and recounts that Brown was “obviously bigger … and stronger” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). He told a grand jury that he had to draw his weapon because Brown had already hit him twice in the face and he said a third punch could knock him out or be “fatal if he hit me right” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 216). They struggled over the weapon until Wilson could finally get a shot off; even after Brown was shot, Brown stepped back and Wilson says, “he looked up at [him] and had the most intense aggressive face.” The only way to describe Brown, he said is, “it [looked] like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 224-225). And Brown reengaged, swinging wildly (Wilson’s interview with St. Louis County Police Department, 9). Wilson shot a second time and Brown fled.

Despite Wilson’s accusations of wild, aggressive, and life-threatening attacks from Brown, eyewitness accounts, the evidence collected, and expert testimony don’t support his claims.


Of the twenty grand jury witnesses who claimed to have seen the confrontation at the SUV, only two witnesses said that Brown hit Wilson. One was Witness 40, whose overtly disgusting racism was highlighted by statements like, “they need to kill them fucking n****rs. It is like an ape fest” (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 177). She was also an advocate for Darren Wilson. And the FBI determined she was lying about being at the scene (Grand Jury, Vol. XV, 174-175) (Criticisms of witnesses who were favorable to Wilson will be discussed further in this series). The second witness was Witness 34, who was just leaving from the Canfield Green Apartments complex. He said he saw Brown hit Wilson, but also described the scene as a struggle between Wilson and Brown. He said, “the police and the young man, they were struggling. The young man was standing outside the window and the police inside the window. And he had a hold of the young man, and the young man had a hold of him, and they are struggling with one another” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 15). “He had ahold of Mike real close through the window and the officer, both of them struggle to hit one another” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIII, 23).

Even witnesses who were the most supportive of Wilson throughout the grand jury proceedings did not confirm Brown was hitting him. Witness 48, a woman who was in a minivan with her parents and sister, said, “I don’t really know what [Brown] was doing. I know he had his back to me… His hands were in front of him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 22). “I don’t know if his hands were in the vehicle” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 24). Her mother, Witness 26 said Brown was standing at the driver’s side window with his arms extended in front of him, maybe touching the car (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 5). “He looked like pretty much he had his hands directly pretty much in front of him standing at the car looking like he was just talking” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 173). She said after the shots “he backed away from the car and he… was like standing there for a minute and then he took off running” (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 176).

Most witnesses who saw the confrontation at the SUV said there appeared to be some kind of struggle going on like “wrestling,” “tug of war,” or “tussling,” but couldn’t see exactly what was happening. For example, Witness 44, a woman who was walking back to her apartment from the library said, “It looked like some struggle cause he was like bobbing in and out like they were doing something … I couldn’t exactly see what was going on … but his actions looked like some type of fight” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 18). Five witnesses explained that they couldn’t really see what was going on because they were partially blocked by the SUV, but they could tell there was some kind of struggle happening; three of them were quite far and looking from behind Brown.

Of the eleven remaining witnesses who claimed to see the confrontation at the SUV from a good angle, eight of them testified that Brown appeared to be trying to pull away from Wilson. For example, Witness 45—who said the first physical thing to happen when Wilson backed up the car was him grabbing Mike Brown (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 97-98)—said Wilson “went to go and grab him, that’s when they started tussling … he grabbed him from the outside, just grabbed him” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 92). She said it was as if Brown was “trying to get away” (Grand Jury, Vol. XVII, 99). Witness 43 said, “I saw the man like trying to pull away from the police, pull his arm out of the police car”(Grand Jury, Vol. XVI, 112); Witness 16 said, “It looked like he was trying to yank away” (Witness 16’s interview with FBI, 21), and Witness 37 said, “Mr. Brown struggling to get away from the officer … the officer was holding onto Mr. Brown, pulling him towards him as Mr. Brown forcing to get back away from him.” (Grand Jury, Vol. XIV, 13).

Dorian Johnson and Witness 57 both said Brown’s hands were against the outside of the car (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51; Witness 57, Vol. XX, 177). They both said, Wilson was grabbing Brown’s shirt (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 49; Witness 57, Vol. XX, 181) and “Mike pushed off the car” (Witness 57, Vol. XX, 181) and was “trying to pull off the officer’s grip” (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51). Johnson said one of Brown’s hands was on the top of the SUV (Johnson, Grand Jury, Vol. IV, 51). A swab from the top exterior of the front door revealed Brown’s DNA, supporting Johnson’s claim that Brown was in contact with that area at some point (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 178).

Again, most of the witness testimony did not clarify whether Brown was the aggressor or if he was just trying to get away, and only one credible witness claimed to see Brown hit Wilson at all.

Wilson’s injuries and clothes

More telling was Wilson’s lack of injuries and how negligible his few injuries were. Wilson complained of injuries to the left and right sides of his face and scratches to the back of his neck. Several witnesses confirmed there was redness and swelling to Wilson’s face and scratches on his neck.

A sergeant with Ferguson Police Department, after arriving at the scene saw the side of his face starting to swell up, especially around his mouth and along his left eye (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 38-39). A detective who interviewed Wilson a while later could see reddening to the left and right side of the jaw and said the right side appeared slightly swelled (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 91-92).

The physician’s assistant with North County Emergency Physician’s Group who checked Wilson at the hospital said his main complaint was the right side of the jaw and there was a little redness and several linear marks on his neck consistent with fingernail scratches (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 80-82). Wilson said his pain was a six out of ten, and he described it as aching (from several given choices) (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 73).

Even though a few people confirmed that Wilson’s face was wounded, his injuries were suspiciously insignificant considering the story he told about his fight with Brown. He claimed that Brown beat him viciously, but he only had a little redness on both of his cheeks and some small scratches.

The injuries to Wilson’s face were shockingly minor

Despite the terrifying description of a demon-like Brown swinging wildly with blows that could be fatal, where Wilson, afraid for his life, was desperately trying to deflect a barrage of attacks, his injuries were shockingly insignificant.

A detective with the St. Louis County Police Department who interviewed Wilson could see the marks on Wilson’s face, but said he never complained about a head injury (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 96). Wilson also said in his testimony that when EMS showed up, looked at him, and asked what had happened, he said he was hit in the face. They asked where and he had to point it out to them. He also told them he hadn’t lost consciousness, his vision wasn’t blurry, and he didn’t need to go to the hospital (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 247-248).

When asked, “did you notice any swelling on Darren Wilson’s face,” the physician’s assistant from the hospital replied, “Nothing significant, no” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 78). Wilson complained of “very, very mild pain to the left side of the jaw,” but the physician’s assistant didn’t notice any issues to the left side of the jaw (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 82). Wilson didn’t have difficulty moving his jaw and had no deformities (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 74); no swelling on the neck and he didn’t complain of pain there (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 84); he didn’t complain of eye, tooth, head, or nose pain and there was no evidence of injury in those areas (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 87); and he was X-rayed and there were no additional injuries (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 85).

The physician’s assistant diagnosed him with a contusion of the mandibular (meaning a bruise or inflammation of the soft tissue on the jaw) (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 77) and prescribed Naprosyn 500 milligrams (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 71).

To clarify the injuries, the physician’s assistant described bruising: “A bruise is caused by broken blood vessels. So the harder the punch, the harder the impact, the more likely you are to have more blood vessels start to bleed, that’s what creates that purple discoloration as that blood kind of seeps out underneath the layer” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 86). However, pictures taken three days later showed the redness resolved and no “purple discoloration that sometimes follows contusions,” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 84) leaving the physician’s assistant to conclude, “It was likely that the impact just involved the very superficial capillary layers, as opposed to deeper tissue which would result in the deeper purple bruising” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 86).

Wilson’s injuries were so insignificant, they were even hard to see in the photos taken for evidence. During his testimony in front of the grand jury, prosecutors showed Wilson pictures of his face from when he went to the hospital, both and prosecutors and Wilson had trouble seeing the injuries. (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219-222). When they asked Wilson about the swelling, he had troubling identifying it, saying, “I think there was swelling to my face in that area too. I never saw my face after, this is the first I’ve seen” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 221).

Here is an exchange between Wilson and prosecutors as they looked at photos of the supposed injury on his face:

Wilson, showing a picture, said “that one looks like it has bruising and swelling on it.”
P: “Where is the swelling to your face on that one?”
W: “It was my right side, that was the main injury.”
P: “Point to it for us.”
W: “Right in this area.”
P: “That’s the swelling to your face?”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219-220).

Even Wilson had trouble finding his injuries in the pictures:

A prosecutor asked, “Describe what you are looking at.”
W: “I can’t really tell from that.”
P: “Okay.”
W: “I can’t really see from this angle.”
P: “Let me let you look at it again.”
W: “I think there was swelling in my face in that area too.”

P: “Does it look like swelling? You know your face better than we do …?”
W: “I can’t tell with that one with the ruler.”
P: “ … What about this one?”
W: “That one I can tell from down by my, this area looks like swelling to me”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 221).

Then they examined pictures of his neck meant to show scratches, which were similarly hard to see:

The prosecutor asks, “This is Number 33 and you say you can see scratches on the back of your neck?”
W: “Right in here.”

P: This is Number 54. And you can kind of point to where the red marks are on you neck?”
W: “It’s hard to see on that. It’s in this area right here.”

W: “It’s hard to tell from the pictures and that angle. I think the best one was looking straight forward at me”
(Grand Jury, Vol. V, 222).

The physician’s assistant also testified that there is a little bit of redness in the photograph, but it’s hard to see (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 83).


Photos taken of Wilson’s injuries after the confrontation with Mike Brown

Furthermore, it’s unbelievable that Wilson avoided any other injuries to his face, body, or arms and any damage to his clothes. Although Wilson said he was blocking Brown’s full blows with his left arm and that Brown was in the window striking his chin, face, shoulders, and chest (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 103), he had no other injuries. A detective said that he didn’t see other injures and Wilson didn’t mention others (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 91-92). Wilson also confirmed for the grand jury that he had no additional injuries to his hands (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 219).

Wilson said the right side of his jaw had the main injury. But when sitting in the driver’s seat, while shielding himself and blocking Brown with his left hand, his right side would be further away and nearly impossible for Brown to hit with his right hand. It would even be difficult to hit with the left hand. Regardless, with these repeated powerful blows from a demon-like criminal, Wilson didn’t have any injuries to his jaw, eyes, or his prominent nose. Wilson only had some redness on his cheeks that did not even bruise.

Other than having Brown’s blood on his pants, Wilson’s clothes were quite intact. After an alleged violent altercation with repeated blows to the face, scratching, grabbing, and pulling, a detective testified that there were no stains, tears, or defects in the fabric of Wilson’s shirt, his name tag badge was still fastened to his shirt, and his Velcro pocket was still closed (Grand Jury, Vol. VIII, 198-201).

While Wilson clearly had some redness on his cheeks, the injuries do not amount to his hyperbole-filled tale of barely surviving a vicious and wild beating by a demon. Instead, they seem to show, at best, a minor altercation between an officer and a citizen that could have been initiated by either party, and at worst, an officer faking injuries to justify a murder he committed in the heat of the moment.

Other pieces of evidence also make Wilson’s claims very suspicious

Fingerprints and Cigarillos

Wilson maintained through his various accounts that after backing up his SUV to engage Brown and Johnson, he attempted to exit the vehicle, but couldn’t because Brown pushed the door closed. Detectives actually lifted fingerprints from the exterior of the front driver’s side door, but did not find Brown’s prints. They found three sets of fingerprints that were sufficient to make identifications; the fingerprint examiner for St. Louis Police Department testified that one of the prints was Wilson’s and the other two did not belong to Brown (Grand Jury, Vol. XI, 126-128).

Wilson said the first blow in the altercation was from Brown’s right hand and connected with the left side of Wilson’s face (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 155). Wilson also said the Cigarillos were in Brown’s right hand. He testified that while Brown was punching him with the Cigarillos in his hand, “it stopped for a second. He kind of like, I remember getting hit and he kind of like grabbed and pulled and then it stopped.” Then, with the Cigarillos in his left hand, Brown says, “Hey man, hold these” to Johnson and passed the Cigarillos to him. The prosecutor asked Wilson “were there any broken Cigarillos or anything in your car later?” and he replied “no, I don’t remember seeing anything on the ground or anything” (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 211). There were no broken pieces of Cigarillos in the SUV, on the street, or anywhere else.

The orange emergency alert button

One of the essential claims of Wilson’s supposed heroic encounter with Brown was that, while being pummeled by repeated blows of a “demon,” Wilson still fell back on his training to make sure he was using the appropriate amount of force. He repeatedly testified that while in the midst of attacks, he thought through the triangular diagram that dictates use of force for police officers before determining that the only option was to shoot Brown. However, if Wilson truly feared for his life at any point, he could have pushed the orange emergency alert button on his radio that all officers are regularly trained to use.

Emergency orange alert buttons are on all police officers’ portable and mobile (vehicle) radios; when they push the button an alarm goes off at dispatch (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 96 and Vol. XVIII, 171). Officers are trained that if they are in an emergency situation, they hit that button (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 167-168). The sergeant said it is “one of the first things [officers] are taught on is that alert tone because that’s their lifeline” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 53-54).

When an officer hits the orange button, it doesn’t matter what channel they are on or if there is radio traffic; it will revert back to dispatch and keep transmitting until the dispatcher acknowledges it (Grand Jury, Vol. XVIII, 166-167).

The Chief of Police in Ferguson said officers test their alert buttons occasionally and he “would expect any time there is a physical confrontation that would be a useful tool.” When asked, “And if, you know, shots are fired, certainly you would expect someone to use that button,” he replied, “Yes, ma’am” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 196). A dispatcher with the City of Ferguson also testified that if shots were fired or if an officer discharged his weapon, you would expect him to push the orange button if they had a chance to (Grand Jury, Vol. XXI, 165).

But Wilson didn’t push the button – despite claiming he was in fear for his life, while in his vehicle and Brown supposedly punched him in the face repeatedly, almost having his gun taken from him and when Brown charged at him. Even though he claims he strategically thought through the progression of force and was able to reach down and grab his gun, and had time when Brown ran from him, Wilson never just reached down and pushed the button that he was trained to use as his lifeline.

Brown’s lack of injuries and DNA evidence

Wilson claims Brown was attacking him viciously through the SUV window with some blows landing on Wilson’s face and others being blocked by his hands and arms. Yet, Brown didn’t have any marks or injuries on his hands or arms that suggest he was attacking Wilson. A medical legal investigator from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office who examined Brown’s body at the scene said Brown had abrasions on the back of his left hand and the right side of his face (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 50), but no other marks on his hands (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 68). They also said the abrasions on the left hand and forehead “looked more like a road rash abrasion as opposed to an altercation abrasion” (Grand Jury, Vol. I, 75).

Furthermore, after Brown supposedly punched Wilson repeatedly in the face, Wilson’s DNA was not found on the backs of Brown’s hands or knuckles (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 195). And even though Wilson had minor scratches on the back of his neck, Wilson’s DNA was not found under Brown’s fingernails on either hand (Grand Jury, Vol. XIX, 194-195).

Despite the headlines surrounding this case, there is little evidence that supports the parts of Wilson’s story where he disagrees with most of the eyewitnesses. From these examples, it is clear that some evidence also makes his story look quite questionable.

Wilson had time alone in his car

Wilson lied about another crucial detail—what he was doing after the shooting. The truth is, Wilson sat in his car alone while other officers examined the scene. Wilson told the FBI that after he killed Brown, he walked to his SUV, opened the door, turned the engine off, and closed the door. After that he said his sergeant pulled up, he talked to him, and then he took the sergeant’s vehicle back to the station (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 236). He said he did not get in the SUV (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 170-171). However, the sergeant on duty testified that Wilson was in his car the whole time he was at the scene, until he told Wilson to get in the sergeant’s vehicle and leave (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 29). He even testified that when he talked to Wilson, Wilson was staring at the dashboard (Grand Jury, Vol. V 38). And while Wilson didn’t specify to the grand jury whether or not he sat in the SUV, he did say the sergeant told him to go sit in the car (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 236).

If Wilson wanted to fabricate his injuries to make his story more believable, he had the time to do it. It’s suspicious that Wilson had scratches on his neck and red marks on his face, while Brown didn’t have Wilson’s DNA under his nails or on his hands. Additionally, the sergeant testified that the shirt of Wilson’s uniform was disheveled and kind of pulled out of the waistband (Grand Jury, Vol. V, 38-39). However, photographs taken from a video of Wilson pacing over Brown’s dead body reveal his shirt was still neatly tucked in after the confrontation.

Wilson Stands Over Brown

Photo of Darren Wilson standing over Mike Brown’s body

Referring to the injuries on Wilson’s face, the physician’s assistant was asked if “You could see redness to the face [if] nobody was even struck” and they replied, that their belief that Wilson’s injuries were from a punch was only based on Wilson’s own account (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 87-88). Then when asked, “if you rub your face too hard with your hand, you could get redness to it. … And not have a broken blood vessel to give a bruise?” the physician’s assistant replied, “Yes, right” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 88). Additionally, a juror pressed, “could an arm keep rubbing on a face, could that have made the face red?” and they replied, “Yes” (Grand Jury, Vol. XXII, 95).

It’s clear that Wilson’s injuries, already minor for what would be expected from his story, could very well have been created or enhanced to help him justify his actions.

The majority of Americans don’t need to worry about these details. It’s easier to remain ignorant and live in a world where there are good guys and bad guys. But if the killing of Mike Brown proved anything, it’s that most Americans don’t care enough about police murders of young black men to question the narrative they are given. It’s easier to pretend that police officers don’t manipulate cases. It’s easier to believe that a prosecutor would never throw out a case to prevent a cop from going to trial. It’s easier to believe that Brown attacked Wilson, and Wilson, against all odds survived and took out a criminal – even though eyewitness testimony and evidence clearly prove that Wilson was lying.



Grand Jury Testimony
Wilson’s Interview with the St. Louis County Police Department
Witness 16 Interview with the FBI

Challenging Accepted Narratives on Mike Brown and Notions of Justice


One year ago, on August 9th 2014 at 12:04 pm in front of the Canfield Green Apartments in Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown in the head and killed him. The day will forever be remembered as a day that changed the course of American history. The murder of Mike Brown spawned a national movement to demand that Black Lives Matter, reawakened the nation to the plague of racism in America, challenged the way the American public views police power, and it will hopefully be successful in building black power in the country.

After a year of studying the grand jury testimony, evidence, and public discourse around this case, and the many murders committed by police officers since then, I find the most important takeaway is simple: it is crucial that white Americans stop wasting time waiting for corporate media and a failed justice system to pick apart a case, only to tell us lies.

On one hand, it’s absurd to deliberate the details of every individual case of police brutality against black people and every case of oppression of black communities. The media, government, or justice system is never going to give you the information you need to understand structural oppression—however, the people affected by it will. There are well-documented problems of racism, white supremacy, and systematic oppression in this country. They are deeply rooted in our media, culture, economic structure, and (in)justice system – including tactics of over-policing and mass incarceration. We need to deal with these problems immediately. While black Americans are in the streets demanding that the government stop abusing and killing them, supposed freedom-loving, white Americans have sat back, debated, and criticized. It’s time to stop.

On the other hand, the reality seems to be that most Americans haven’t been able to get beyond these debates, and for those who are still confused by anti-racism and anti-police brutality messaging, Mike Brown’s case provided a unique opportunity for analysis.

Since most cases of police brutality against black individuals do not gain national attention, there usually isn’t much room for discussion. Also, given that grand jury proceedings are usually kept secret, it’s impossible for the public to challenge the narrative they are provided. Thanks to protesters in Ferguson, Mike Brown’s murder uniquely gained national attention and almost all the grand jury documents from his case were released; so the public, in theory, had what it needed to challenge the mainstream narrative. Of course, it chose not to. Instead, the public largely accepted the mainstream narrative, which was delivered by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch and continuously parroted by the media and eventually, the Department of Justice until it was simply accepted as truth.

The media driven public narrative was as follows: Mike Brown started a fight with Darren Wilson at his SUV and attacked him with wild punches, scratches, and grabs; during the struggle, Brown tried to grab Wilson’s gun and Wilson was forced to shoot him; Brown ran away, but then turned and charged and Wilson killed him in self-defense. There were witnesses, who challenged Wilson’s story, but they were inconsistent and unreliable, and they lied because they were afraid of thugs in their own community. Conversely, there were witnesses who corroborated Wilson’s story and they were consistent and reliable, and the evidence supported their accounts, as well as Wilson’s. Finally, a fair and transparent judicial process determined these facts.

This narrative is entirely false. The importance of this case is that for anyone who chose to look, it underscored the ability of people in power to control the media and public opinion on police brutality through the use of lies and misinformation. The first anniversary of Mike Brown’s death is an opportunity to look back at what we should have learned from the 4,800-page testimony and many documents that were released after the decision not to indict Darren Wilson.

This is the start of a series of articles that reexamines and challenges the publicly accepted narrative of Mike Brown’s death. Each article will call into question a piece of this narrative—the fight at the SUV, the alleged gun grab, the purported charge, the reliability of witnesses, and the fairness of the grand jury process—by comparing various pieces of eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, evidence, and media coverage. The analysis clearly shows that what most people accepted as the truth, was simply not so. It will also show that if you truly care about freedom, equality, and justice, why you should stop debating such cases and opposing people fighting for change, and instead, support people’s struggle for justice.

Finally, those opposed to any criticisms of police will likely try to dismiss this perspective with “bad apple” arguments and by talking about high rates of crime or how police officers keep communities safe. While these arguments may be true in some ways, they are irrelevant, useless distractions to cases like Mike Brown’s. Police officers can perform heroic acts, arrest violent criminals, and have positive interactions with communities, while still assisting an appalling and oppressive system. Also, your experience with the police in white suburban America is drastically different from someone’s experience in poor, urban, black communities—so it is largely irrelevant to the problems discussed here.

Furthermore, people must recognize that police departments are part of a larger system of racial and class oppression—and officers play a big role in enforcing that system of oppression. This model needs to be challenged. So while you may feel that police officers perform necessary tasks to keep communities safe, it is vital to recognize that it is problematic to need such high levels of policing in a so-called free society. Most people are not inherently violent criminals looking for ways to destroy fellow humans, but rather, economic and political interests incentivize a system where people are criminalized. As a result, police departments and prison systems are used to deal with situations that should be addressed through other means, such as education, economic empowerment, community-based development, decriminalization, anti-austerity, and other socially beneficial practices. But this is a much larger discussion. If you’re not well aware of these issues, there are plenty of resources written by black Americans that can help expand your knowledge of these problems.

Ultimately, this series challenges the narrative of a specific case and shows that the public, including those that serve on juries, can be manipulated in order to thwart justice. It will show that the public and grand jury in Mike Brown’s case did not get an accurate picture of witness testimony or evidence because certain questions weren’t asked, witnesses who favored Wilson were not scrutinized, evidence was presented as if it proved things favorable to Wilson even when it did not, and a lack of evidence to confirm Wilson’s story was ignored. However, even if Wilson had not broken the law when he shot Brown in the head and killed him, justice was not served because prosecutors intentionally prevented Wilson from going to trial even though putting him on trial is their job.

Even if Brown had done what Wilson accused him of, this killing could have been avoided on so many levels, and the fact that it wasn’t, is a tragedy.

Part 1: Did unarmed black teenager Mike Brown really attack Darren Wilson?

Part 2: Evidence and witnesses do not prove Mike Brown grabbed Darren Wilson’s gun


Preempting the White Response to the Announcement that Darren Wilson Will Not Be Indicted

It is likely that in the next few days a wide variety of media outlets will inform us that Darren Wilson, the St. Louis police officer who shot and killed an unarmed American teenager, Michael Brown, will not be indicted. It will be yet another case where there will be no justice or accountability because that is not how the system works. The media surrounding the indictment will continue as the typical and predictable disarray that it is when any young black man is gunned down and the people force the media to pay attention. The media chaos will continue to be both the result of white American institutionalized racism and a tool that allows this racism to continue.

But following the press release, white people are poised to have a typical racist response and many pretend that their views have nothing to do with racism by ignoring their own hypocrisy and key facts about the Brown killing. Additionally, their view will require they ignore impacts of racism on communities of color in America.

It bears mentioning that white people, who benefit from structural racism, do not think racism is a problem worth discussing when a young black man is killed. A recent Pew Survey found that only 37% of white people think that Brown’s death was raising important issues about race in America. Ya know, important issues like impunity for the police to murder young black men. Comparatively, 80% of black people—the people most affected by structural racism—felt the case was raising important issues about race. But let’s just leave it to white people to decide when racism is no longer an issue. While we’re at it, can the men confirm that women can stop worrying about patriarchy?

These views result from the ingrained structural racism that governs public discourse. Soon, many white people will promote the story of the grand jury deciding not to indict Wilson with the sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that justice favors their worldviews, while confidently proclaiming racism is not a problem. This is the privilege of being able to believe that the justice system is fair because people you know do not suffer from its injustices. Simultaneously, white people will ignore the impact of racism on black communities and condemn those who wish to address it. They will rail against and dismiss anger in black communities. This response will produce disturbing results and will continue to thwart justice.

Justice, in this sense, does not simply mean a guilty verdict for Wilson, but rather, fair and equal treatment under the law. It also means this case should drastically impact the way we work to reduce crime and police our communities. Justice means Wilson should be subjected to the same scrutiny that young black men suffer when they are accused of a crime and his testimony should be treated as what it is: the statement of the accused. In no context would we take the testimony of the suspect as truth, except when that killer is an officer of the law.

Society, and more importantly courts, still value an officer’s testimony more than black citizen witnesses even when the officer is involved in the incident and even though case after case after case prove officers lie to cover up excessive force. And only weeks after Brown was killed, video evidence contradicted accounts by St. Louis police as to why they shot and killed Kajiemi Powell.

When the decision is announced, it’s safe to say that many white people across the country will be mostly indifferent to the outcome. Another large percentage of white people will feel vindicated because they had predetermined that since a police officer killed a young man with black skin, that young man was doing something wrong. The implication is that when black men are killed, they must have done something wrong and whatever that was, it warranted death without due process.

But it’s ignorance-fed racism that allows white people to assume that a young black man who found himself in a confrontation with a cop was automatically doing something deserving of death. It is racism that allows them to dismiss the possibility that Darren Wilson could be in the wrong.

Is it unreasonable to believe Dorian Johnson, the friend who was walking with Brown at the time the confrontation with Wilson began? Of course not. He claims that Wilson escalated a confrontation with Brown. Police officers are people like anyone else and the position comes with power, which can not only corrupt people, but also can attract the wrong kind of people. There are plenty of examples of police officers acting like criminals themselves.

Racism and Double Standards

The fact is, this ignorance about racism is what white people are taught, but it’s masked within liberal ideals. In theory, many of us white folks believe that race does not matter and that people should be (and basically are) treated equal. The implication is often, that because everyone in society is equal, black people have a higher rate of poverty because they do not work hard, are targeted by police because they commit more crime, and are killed because they are thugs.

White people will say it’s not about racism, but character of the individual. In practice however, society judges the character of young black men by irrelevant superficial metrics through the racist lens that says “they” should be more like “us.” Without ever spending time in black communities, white society decided that black people who dress in ways Eurocentric American culture have deemed less respectable, are criminals; they are thugs. Proving guilt is an unnecessary technicality.

The double standard behind this view is disturbing. When these same white people or their kids dress in similar clothes they do not see a problem with it. In fact, if there is criticism it usually sounds like “stop trying to be black.” The message is clear: if you dress in baggy clothes, you look like a thug, and black people are thugs.

It is in this context that the notion of American freedom and equality fall apart. In this version of America, people are not free to be as they wish; they must fall in line with the white Protestant culture that dominates the American landscape or face consequences.

This hypocrisy is damaging when it breaks into the realm of politics where people’s lives are affected. Not only does it allow white society to justify the over-policing of low income, black communities while ignoring social conditions that keep those communities poor, but it allows white society to condone political oppression by the state. This is why it is essential for citizens to protest and bring as much attention to these cases of police violence as possible. It’s a shame we should have to do that, but we do.

Many of the white people who will be relieved when Wilson is not indicted are in the same group who will often rant against government power in other situations. They railed in support of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who, with the backing of armed militias, literally took up arms against the police and not only survived, but also avoided criminal charges. But when black people rise up because officers of the state are murdering their children, white people want the government to crackdown on them.

They ranted about Ferguson when the media sensationalized minor incidents of looting as riots, but basically ignored the white kids’ pumpkin riots and countless post-sports riots. Because if a child of your community is executed in the street you should stay home and let the same institution that killed him investigate; but if your favorite team wins, tear that city apart!

Instead of understanding the need for justice, many white people will just assume that the killing of black people is necessary and, with the help of the media, will seek out information to justify their beliefs and ignore key facts.

Ignoring Facts in Michael Brown’s Case

The media around the Brown case was predictable; it is the same every time a young black male teen is murdered and the case gets a lot of attention. Pundits will seek out reasons why the killing was justified by defaming the character of the victim, manufacturing a threat, and ignoring evidence to the contrary.

In addition to the standard racist character defamation—he smoked weed, committed some offenses in the past, has pictures on Facebook with his hands in positions that scare old white men (like the peace sign)—there were three major media opportunities for destroying those defending Brown and bolstering supporters of Wilson.

The first big break for Wilson supporters was the story that Brown stole cigars from a convenience store. However, the storeowner did not call the police—a customer did. So whatever happened, the supposed victim did not think it was severe enough to call the police. Of course, Wilson also did not know about the incident when he stopped Brown. But even if he had known, it still would not justify shooting him, so it is irrelevant.

The second opportunity was when it was reported that Brown beat Wilson so bad that he fractured his eye socket. It should have been obvious that this was a lie from the very beginning. The police never mentioned it and it was originally reported from a fringe right-wing blog that claimed to have inside information. Soon after, a bunch of other right wing blogs and outlets with no credibility whatsoever, like The Blaze, started repeating the uncorroborated story and it ended up on FOX News. The only reason anyone would have believed this story was if they were feigning for a way to justify the killing. It was later proven false.

Recently, the third break was when the media covered the release of the autopsy and an FBI report that proved there was a scuffle inside the police car. The media presented this information as if it corroborated Wilson’s testimony and disproved the eyewitnesses. The argument seemed to be that since there was blood in the car, it proved there was a scuffle in the car, and that meant Wilson was right.

However, most media failed to mention that everyone who saw the incident reported a scuffle in the car from the beginning, including Dorian Johnson. So this new information was not new, nor did it corroborate Wilson’s account over the other witnesses.

Furthermore, the assertion that this information supported Wilson’s account drew attention away from the fact that the killing occurred after Brown ran from Wilson. The point is that even if Brown assaulted Wilson and ran away, Wilson gets to arrest him, not execute him. The focus should be on whether Wilson was justified in killing Brown, which would only be if he were a threat to Wilson at the time he shot him and Wilson had no other options.

From the beginning, media presented eyewitness accounts as if they are extremely varied and unclear. But eyewitness accounts always vary a little because people are seeing the incident from different distances, vantage points, and begin witnessing the incident from different points in time. David Klinger, a University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist, said, “It is entirely possible that multiple witnesses will recall different things. That is why it’s critical to wait and see what all the evidence shows.” Furthermore, the accounts in this case share many similarities.

A Different Approach for White People

I understand that people have strong opinions about this case. It’s a real shame that while acting like race is not an issue here, white people simultaneously dismiss this killing as obviously justified because the slain individual is a black, not assimilated enough to white culture, and therefore a thug. Perhaps, the problem is too many white people just do not understand what racism is.

In this type of situation, it’s best to put yourself in the position of the victim and the victim’s family. So I ask white people, if a police officer shot your white suburban child dead in the street, would you assume it was justified because an inadequate cop determined he should kill him? Maybe your son got angry about being stopped and gave the cop an attitude. Maybe it escalated to a physical confrontation. How would you feel then? Would you still assume the cop was automatically justified?

I’m not asking anyone to demand that Wilson be found guilty; I’m asking that white people understand that justice is not blind. Justice is evasive when it peaks under the blindfold and sees a black man. This is a stain on our society and we need to address it by rethinking our own hypocrisy and looking at meaningful facts for specific incidents and also for our society as a whole.

If nothing else, a young man was killed. As human beings, everyone should feel bad. How are people so numb to death that when a young black person is shot in the head, they will jump through hoops to prove that he should have been? I just hope that when the news comes out that Darren Wilson will not be indicted, white people will consider how they would feel if Michael Brown was their friend, or their son. Because Michael Brown was somebody’s friend and he was somebody’s son. He was a human being.

Give the gift of another world (and make holiday shopping super easy)

You must have friends who want to make the world a better place: we all do. Some of your loved ones probably make a difference through their parenting, careers, businesses, or community work; or some combination thereof. But drastic change is difficult to imagine.

You must also have friends, family, and co-workers who are constantly complaining about and frustrated with the current state of our society. These friends may identify as liberal, conservative, right, left, or whatever. Maybe they don’t like the democrats, maybe they don’t like the republicans, but you know who they are. Maybe they agree with your views or maybe you see each other as polar opposites.

While your thinking about what gifts to give, I want to remind you that I wrote “Another World IS Possible” for the purpose of bringing together people who traditionally disagree with each other, to show the common roots of our shared problems, and to provide a methodology for those folks to come together in a way that meets the needs and desires of practically everyone—left, right, and in between. It sounds impossible, but it’s not.

As we approach the holiday season, I want to offer anyone who wants to spread the promise of “Another World IS Possible” to friends and family, the chance to do it.

If you purchase multiple copies between now and January 1, I’ll provide you with a big discount. Here’s the deal: if you purchase between 5 and 10 copies you will get $2 off each book; between 11 and 20 copies you will get $3 off each book; and 21 or more copies you will get $4 off of each book!

This is a gift that most of your friends, family, and co-workers will love and it will help create dialogue and bridges that have previously been elusive. Check it out and make your holiday shopping easy while helping to make the world a better place.


Click here for purchase options:


Any ads below this point are not my own.

A Veteran, Activist, and Teacher: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

At the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, when many activists were still gathered in a park in lower Manhattan, I was part of a small team that was organizing a community group in West Harlem.

It was in October of 2011 when David Suker, a local activist, teacher and veteran, initiated two meetings that brought together this group of activists who started a community-based version of Occupy Wall Street called the West Harlem 99%. The group was based on ideas similar to Occupy Wall Street like using open space to facilitate democratic discussions to create social justice. However, even though the group of us that organized the West Harlem 99% were all heavily involved in Occupy Wall Street, this group was much different—we focused largely on the needs of the community.

One of our first meetings brought together about ten activists in the basement of a small church in the middle of West Harlem. As we settled in, several uniformed police officers invaded our meeting and began to harass us. They tried to coerce individual members to leave the room and talk to them outside. Most of us refused.

We found out later that the police had contacted the priest (who was a supporter of Occupy Wall Street and the West Harlem community) before our meeting and told him we were a group of thugs and he shouldn’t let us gather in his church and he was in danger. The priest, of course could tell we were friendly and well-intentioned, so he tried to support us, but he asked us not to meet in his church because he didn’t want to be harassed by the police. As a result, we were forced to organize meetings in our apartments, cut off from the community, and our larger assemblies in a church 20 blocks away.

As an outspoken member of these groups, David, a fourteen-year tenured teacher, became a prime example of how corporate and government institutions use power to silence citizens who speak out against injustice.

A lot of people argue against teacher tenure. They say the unions protect lazy and ineffective teachers, but when teachers are not protected, how can they stand up to the system we all want to change? Most teachers want to teach. They want to help kids learn and get a good education: it excites them when their students light up with ideas and when they understand a new concept. Most importantly, teachers understand the school system from the inside. They know why it doesn’t work, but they are often afraid to speak out against it. David’s case is an example of why.

After becoming a vocal member of Occupy Wall Street and the West Harlem 99%, David was systematically attacked by the city of New York and the Department of Education (DOE).

David was arrested as part of a large group at Occupy Wall Street when the NYPD caged protestors on a march across the Brooklyn Bridge. He attended political demonstrations frequently and quickly became a target of the NYPD, which pulled him out of several legal protests and political demonstrations and arrested him for political activities including distributing copies of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, by mid-November, the DOE implemented the disciplinary action know as the “rubber room,” which meant David had to report to work but couldn’t teach because of his political arrests. Instead he spent everyday in a disciplinary room while his case was reviewed.

For months the DOE worked to compile a list of charges that led to David’s termination. Since most of the charges were minor infractions and unrelated to his ability to teach, the DOE based his termination on a fraud charge because they claimed he used a false address on his daughter’s school applications to intentionally deceive them.

 Knowing the entire investigation had been an attempt to politically silence him, David brought his case to the New York State Supreme Court. In a rare decision the Supreme Court overturned the DOE’s ruling against David because it determined that the list of charges the DOE presented were not nearly enough reason to terminate a teacher and showed no bearing on his ability to teach or the quality of education he provided. Instead, Justice Schlesinger noted that David was targeted by the DOE stating, “the conduct … regarding a false address for his daughter, never involved Suker’s own school and never would have been discovered but for the DOE’s decision to target Suker to see if an investigation could find something to be used against him.”

For a variety of reasons, including not having steady housing, David had in fact used the address of a friend’s house (where his daughter often stayed) on his daughter’s school applications in 2001 and 2006. However, whether or not David is guilty of this fraud is irrelevant because the law states that the DOE cannot bring up these charges if they are more than three years old. And since NYC high schools are open to all students through the five boroughs, his daughter’s address is irrelevant since she’s been in high school.

Justice Schlesinger determined, “The school’s leadership did not want Suker to remain there as a teacher. They did not like him or approve of his actions. They believed he was insubordinate, that he did not conduct himself properly, that he was getting arrested too often, and probably that he was not a team player.” In other words, the DOE doesn’t like that David is politically active.

People in many jobs who want to exercise their right to speak out against injustice face overwhelming challenges. It raises an important question for us as a society: do we want to live in a world where individual people can express their political beliefs freely without fear of persecution, or do we want corporate and government institutions to hold the power to oppress free speech, press, and assemblage? Do only people who agree with you or only express themselves quietly deserve freedom of speech? While unions may have a bad reputation for several reasons, including protecting ineffective workers, should we trust society’s most powerful institutions with the right to decide who can exercise freedom and who can’t?

David is a veteran who served his country, a teacher who serves his students, a son who cares for his elderly father, a father who works tirelessly to make a life for his children, and a citizen who only wants to utilize his rights and freedoms as an American. But he is still unable to return to work for 12-18 months because the DOE is appealing its case. Even though David had initially won, the witch-hunt against him continues. In a gross injustice by the NYC DOE, he has been presumed guilty until proven innocent over and over again. Now, being unable to work for almost two years, David is struggling to provide for his daughter and two-year-old son.

Do you really support the troops? Do you really believe in freedom for all? If so, call the public advocate’s office at 212-669-4102 and tweet @deBlasioNYC to let them know you want the case against David Suker dropped.

(Any ads below this point are not mine)

Local family continues to heal by turning tragedy into hope

This article was published this week in the Jamestown Press:

Local family continues to heal by turning tragedy into hope

Concert at ’Ganny Saturday to benefit Josh Barber fund
By Colby Hopkins
“Use the key!”
As John and Darla Barber stood outside of their son Josh’s house on Aug. 31, 2010, Darla was now panicking, but John was hesitant to barge in. It had been hours since Josh had responded to any of their text messages, but this was the Barbers’ constant struggle: balancing Josh’s safety with his independence. Josh suffered from depression and without adequate outpatient care, John and Darla had been monitoring Josh on their own.Opening the door a few moments earlier would not have made any difference: Josh was already gone. As John lifted his son’s body, Darla frantically scrambled around in the dark for a knife to cut the rope. Then John desperately tried to resuscitate Josh to no avail.The next few months were a blur. Maybe the pain the Barbers endured brought them closer to Josh. They were, as Josh had once described himself, “just a shell.” The Barbers decided they had to turn their tragedy into new hope. And with one another’s love and support, they found new life.

First, the Barbers wanted to write a book to tell the story of Josh’s life. “Becoming the Blues: A Family Memoir” will be released Saturday, Oct. 26. But the Barbers didn’t stop there. Their main goal was to implement a comprehensive outpatient program to help those who the mental healthcare system isn’t capable of serving. They started We All Move On, a nonprofit that will develop and fund the program.

Josh’s experience highlights the need for such a program. He received quality care the multiple times he was admitted to Butler Hospital, but each time he was discharged. The Barbers say the system failed him.

“You’re hospitalized when you’re in an acute, traumatic, terrible stage of your life,” said Maggi Barber, Josh’s sister. “You develop relationships with people who help you stabilize, then you’re discharged and all of those people are out of your reach.”

After Josh’s funeral, the Barbers met many other families suffering from the limitations of mental healthcare programs. “We have been bombarded with people in the same situation from day one,” said John.

Suicide is a growing problem. Rhode Island has had the greatest number of suicide attempts in the nation and a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the suicide rate among those ages 35 to 64 increased 69 percent in Rhode Island from 1999 to 2010, but treatment is mostly voluntary.

“Outpatient services are voluntary and we help make sure the appointment is set up, but it’s up to the individual to go,” says Dr. Lawrence Price, medical director at Butler Hospital. “The rare exception is if someone is court ordered. There is a very high bar for that in Rhode Island.”

Following a suicide attempt, Josh was re-admitted to Butler, stabilized, and then discharged. He decided Butler’s partial hospitalization program wasn’t for him. Without sufficient services, the Barbers felt alone and helpless. And while the Barbers kept Josh alive with almost constant supervision, one the few times he was alone during an episode, he took the opportunity to end his own life.

The Barbers’ concern is that outpatient services don’t meet the needs of certain patients, especially those like Josh: well-functioning adults struggling with depression who refuse treatment. These patients are able to make their own choices, but their condition drives them toward self-destruction.

“You can’t force someone to get treatment for a psychiatric illness anymore than you can force them to get medical treatment unless they are clearly a danger to themselves or other people,” said Price.

The Barbers intend to use WAMO to create outpatient programs that keep the same staff with the patient throughout care. “I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years,” said Darla. “When developing a patient care plan, discharge planning is just as important as their inpatient care. That’s why we have discharge planners who make sure patients will have appropriate care in a safe environment at home, prior to allowing discharge.”

Over the years, Butler Hospital and other facilities have had various outpatient programs that tried to reach patients refusing services. Price says programs withered in the past because “the people they would be the most helpful to refuse to get involved in that kind of a program.”

But there is hope a program like WAMO could fill the void. “It is a good idea,” Price said. “If there were a way to engage somebody in that from the very beginning, I could see where that would have some value. It’s an open question.”

The Barbers aim to answer that question. “Our main goal is to bridge the gap between inpatient and outpatient hospitalization because that is where Josh’s care crumbled every single time,” said Maggi.

Added John, “We need to go with a phased approach where maybe we have just one counselor at first, then more, and maybe phase three is a whole facility dedicated to it.”

To help fund their effort, the Barbers are hosting a book release and annual WAMO fundraiser at Narragansett Café on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 1 to 5 pm. Josh’s original band, Smokestack Lightin’, and other special guests will perform, including Neal Vitullo, Tom Ferraro and Dave Howard. There is no cover charge.

More information at and

Harry Binswanger is a total tool. Don’t be like Harry Binswanger.

Recently, Harry Binswanger, contributor to Forbes, published an Op-ed in which he argued the 99% should “give back” to the 1% because: (1) communities don’t give anything to individuals that isn’t already paid in full at the time it is given; (2) all transactions are freely and reciprocally agreed upon and therefore, mutually beneficial and uninhibited by further obligation; and (3) the 99% actually reaps the benefits of the 1% by profiting from their mental capacities to innovate and create jobs to produce products and services. His article illustrates everything that is wrong with our society.

The notion that the wealthy ought to “give back” to the community is infinitely more complex than Binswanger gives credit. Of course, he is attempting to captivate readers by cloaking his arguments in distorted interpretations of libertarian theory so they will emotionally accept what is actually an extremist and quite ludicrous point of view: that the working people of the world owe more money and gratitude to the extremely wealthy, that is the 1%. In doing so, he simply ignores the nuances of what the rest of us call “reality.”

Binswanger is wrong because: (1) the extremely wealthy not only make profits by exploiting others, but also by not paying adequate value for what they use to make profits. Furthermore, in accumulating wealth they negatively impact many people who are not involved in the “mutual exchanges,” and those people are not compensated. (2) Consumers don’t purchase products and services simply because they value and want them. Money is an inadequate measure of real value; global access to markets allows capital holders to manipulate local and national markets; consumers are lied to, coerced, and often lack real choice; and, again, many people are forced to pay costs (even non-monetary costs) for exchanges they had no say in. And (3), Binswanger’s assertion that the 1% are innovators and job creators – well, it’s not true. That claim is a fallacy created to attempt to align the 1% with small business owners and entrepreneurs. However, small business owners operate very differently from large corporations and the 1%.

It is terribly sad to see someone unable to understand the value one receives from their community or the country to which they belong. Perhaps, Binswanger is a victim of the epidemic of hyper-focused individualism and undervaluing of community in the neoliberal western world. However, let’s not harp on his opening statement and the overall tone of his article, which suggest he doesn’t believe in or value what communities give to individuals. Instead, let’s focus first on what appears to be his main point regarding community: the value one receives from the community is paid at the time it is received so those that accumulate extreme wealth do not owe anyone anything more.

Let’s take that statement as true and therefore we can assume people should be allowed to accumulate unlimited wealth without ever giving back to their community or country. Some would agree with this point. However, if in pursuing wealth you are taking resources without paying a real value for them, damaging the environment, cheating the financial system, bribing politicians, circumventing laws, preventing competition, coercing consumers, inhibiting accurate information, or exploiting employees by paying them as little as possible, then the bare minimum compensation is a fair tax rate, because even that amount would not sufficiently pay for the value you take from others.

Expecting the extreme wealthy to give back to the community is not the same as condemning the successful. Most people loved Steve Jobs for bringing us the iPhone, but when Chinese teenagers began jumping off the roof of his subcontractor Foxconn to escape their effective enslavement, we lost the love. There is no “envy-ridden moral code that damns success, profit, and earning money in voluntary exchange.” Most Americans still admire success. What we don’t like is the extremely wealthy controlling our government, forcing the rules of the playing field to their advantage, and preventing real Americans from doing the entrepreneurial work that needs to be done.

Furthermore, paying taxes isn’t the same as charity. Most Americans are not arguing for the wealthy to give anything extra other than their fair share—they want the rich and corporations to pay at least the same tax rate as everyone else and close the loopholes. You may not like the idea of taxes, but in our current structure, taxes are how we maintain a society and mitigate the effects of our oligarchical corporatist system. We all benefit from things like an educated citizenry and a healthy population, but essentially, taxes are needed to make up for the damage Binswanger’s friends inflict on the rest of us. Whether it’s environmental degradation, worker exploitation, consumer coercion, or messing up our financial systems, big corporations and the swindlers that run them owe the rest of us some compensation. Until we change the structure to one where taxes are no longer needed to mitigate the effects of our corrupt, political, and business elites, the argument for taxing the rich remains: “hey, while our messed up system allows you to accumulate unreasonable amounts of wealth through corrupt and counterproductive practices, you need to pay for at least some of the damage you’re causing and some of the benefits you’re reaping from our complacency.” Taxes are the bare minimum for these elites.

Wealth is not exclusively accumulated by exploiting people and the environment. Wealth, as Binswanger proclaims, is also created by using human brainpower and labor to turn resources into a product or service that is sold for a price. What isn’t factored into the economic calculation (or price) is the value lost by removing resources from nature or the impact a transaction has on others.

In a perfect world, wealth would be created by making products while factoring in the real costs of environmental degradation and human input: but that doesn’t happen. Furthermore, in today’s finance economy, innovators aren’t creating awesome new products that everyone needs and selling them in a free market at a reasonable cost. Most innovation is not the creation of new products at all. There are many different ways businesses innovate to increase profits that have nothing to do with making new stuff. Tony Davila, Marc J. Epstein, and Robert Shelton surveyed a large number of manufacturing and service organizations. In Making Innovation Work, they present their findings that things like product quality improvement, expanding a product’s range, creating new markets, cutting labor costs, improving production processes, and other efficiency improvements, account for most innovation.

The way we create and measure wealth in our society is so illusionary and inaccurate that wealth no longer reflects productivity once you surpass a high enough threshold. So, yes, there are those that innovate, create, and work hard to provide quality products and services, but unfortunately most of the major wealth accumulators today are in fact exploiting the people—through suppression of wages, price manipulating, cheating the financial systems, circumventing laws, and many other practices—and the environment and they are doing it with the help of our government. And no hardworking, honest American, whether anarchist, liberal, or libertarian, thinks that is okay.

Binswanger further presents his case by reciting the standard economic discourse that, “in commercial transactions, customers buy a product…because they want the product or service…for their own personal benefit and enjoyment.”

An unfortunate limit of money is its inadequacy in measuring real value. Money spent does not determine value of things; it determines value relative to supply of money and is distorted by misinformation. Also, it is limited by our capacity to accurately put a price on something. For example, a plot of untouched land has inherent value to a community even if the community cannot afford to purchase it. It is aesthetically pleasing, absorbs some pollution, and maintains local ecosystems. If someone buys the plot of land from the owner (an out-of-state property management company), they are paying only for the value of the land to an owner who doesn’t interact with the land or the community that surrounds it.

Binswanger argues further, “all proper human interactions are win-win; that’s why the parties decide to engage in them. Voluntary trade, without force or fraud, is the exchange of value for value, to mutual benefit.”

Commercial transactions are infinitely more complex than the moment of exchange of a product or service between parties. On a small scale they may be a bit closer to Binswanger’s analysis, but in the modern world the “community” for big business is the United States and the economic playing field is global. This scale allows business leaders to exploit and manipulate people all over the world for their own interest while reaping the benefits and securities that a company in the United States enjoys.

For example, in America, our labor often competes directly with workers in Thailand because owners of capital have the resources to use labor to produce anywhere on the globe; so available jobs and wages in the US are driven down. However, as an American, you can’t shop for products in Thailand at Thailand prices. Instead, the owners of businesses bring them back to America and price items low enough to undercut the products made in America, but high enough to take as much of your money as possible.

The assumed truth that all economic transactions are a “win-win” is such a gross oversimplification of reality with several flaws. First, it assumes people have all the information they need, can quickly and adequately process it, and make the best economical choice possible. Meanwhile, the multibillion-dollar advertising and public relations industries are fully committed to brainwashing and misinforming people so they will buy something against their own interests. Binswanger ignores the fact that people are lied to and misled. He ignores that they aren’t informed and don’t consciously and actively participate in many of their transactions. Any student of economics knows that capitalism requires accurate information.

Second, it assumes people make decisions because it is a win for them, while many transactions are coerced either through advertising and manipulation, pricing control, or the lack of real choice (i.e. cell phones, gasoline, and meat industries are dominated by a handful of companies with almost no difference in products, services, and price). It assumes when people take a low paying job, it is a mutual exchange based on a win-win. In reality, most of us take a job because we have no other choice. You may think, “Well just go get an education.” Many of us did that. There are still so few jobs available and the pay is so little that we are forced to take jobs to survive – we don’t choose them. This view also assumes that the wage of a job simply found is its proper value based on equilibrium reached from supply and demand. Binswanger most likely believes that because that’s what he read in an economics textbook in his freshman year of college. Again, I remind you that the reality is a bit more complex. Labor is not paid value for one’s work; we are paid the least amount possible an owner can pay in a climate where technology and outsourcing are diminishing jobs.

Third, it assumes that no one else is impacted by the transaction. Economists trivialize the impact an economic transaction has on third parties—called an externality. Often, the total value lost to third parties is greater than the gain of the parties engaging in the transaction, but this loss is not calculated. For example, if you want to turn your suburban yard into a landfill because you secured an account with a nearby city to dispose of their trash, you would decrease the value of all the houses around you, who had no say in in the agreement and would not be compensated. The total loss of value among the community would be much greater than the net gain of the two parties involved in the transaction. Now, you’re probably thinking, “But that could never happen because it’s against the law.” Exactly.

In a response to the article, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone recently addressed the practices of the 1% and counters Binswanger’s determination that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, should be held in higher regard than Mother Teresa. He highlights some of the common practices of companies like Goldman Sachs that are either illegal or should be because they violate the freedom and self-determination of others just like turning your yard into a landfill would (only worse).

Binswanger perverts libertarian notions of voluntary exchange by pretending that this is somehow the reality of the America we live in. By using divisive language like, “an end must be put to the inhuman practice of draining the productive to subsidize the unproductive” he excites a following because some people love to hate — but here is a platform where all Americans should be able to stand united. Even the libertarian right knows that in a free market with access to accurate information, supported by a small government, the Goldman Sachs types would never exist. They exist because our government helps them survive because they artificially inflate GDP and American power.

People don’t oppose big businesses because they’re successful; we oppose them because they are corrupt institutions that rose to power by cheating the system and our government simply helped them do it. We could have a society where real work and innovation was rewarded and small businesses would be able to compete—but we don’t. Goldman Sachs and other overblown banks and corporations would not be able to survive in that climate. In the meantime, while our corrupt political and economic system allows them to exist, we’ll go ahead and settle for that payback.

Ultimately, Binswanger hangs his hat on the most unoriginal of all neoliberal pundits’ arguments: the wealthy are the innovators and the job creators. But what do they innovate? Well, they innovated a pretty cool finance trick where they sold bundles of bad debt as a package with a good rating and then bought insurance on the debt so when loans went into default (which they knew would happen) insurance companies paid them a lot of money. They created a pretty awesome process to target and trick lower income families into buying mortgages because of a low affordable payment, knowing it would rise and their houses would be foreclosed. They created millions of part-time, low paying jobs while simultaneously contributing to the downfall of full-time, good paying jobs. But we should say thank you because “the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him.”

I feel bad that Binswanger does not feel like he belongs to a community and cannot comprehend the value of community because it doesn’t translate into a monetary denomination. However, the rest of us understand it. Not for charity, but for the value society will receive by preventing future distortions of reality from being projected into our collective discourse, someone ought to buy Binswanger a book that was written after 1975.

Instead of paying back the 1% with what Binswanger says we owe them, I suggest the 99% build strong human bonds within their communities to promote both mutual aid networks and environments in which small businesses are free to exchange. Let’s be honest, if we only advanced far enough to create the type of real competitive capitalism that someone like Ayn Rand believed in, one where corporations had to play on level fields and information was accessible, businesses like Goldman Sachs and Walmart would crumple to the ground under their own inadequacies.

To find out more about why Harry Binswanger is a complete tool and how you can avoid being anything like him, check out my book, “Another World IS Possible: Freedom, Economic Truth, and Creating a Society of Humanness.”


*Any ads or videos below this point are not mine. They are inserted by wordpress because I refuse to pay for an “upgrade” to prevent them.

Occupy and America: Two Years Later

Two years for Occupy Wall Street. What still saddens me is how many Americans are still letting the corporate media dictate what and how they think. Whether you consider yourself—a liberal or a conservative, left, right or whatever—most of us would agree on most things if we were having the right discussion with each other. If we listened to why others were advocating for one thing or another we would find common courses of action.

Take taxes for example—something talked about a lot in both the Occupy and Tea Party Movements. Most people would prefer not to be taxed too much and have the government spending our money. But in the current climate of overblown corporations whose actions impact our environment, food supply, wages, small business, political sphere, self-determination, and even our constitutional and human rights—all combined with a media and public relations campaign that prevents accurate information from reaching the masses—it isn’t unreasonable to seek a solution. Those who argue for a free market or some version of capitalism should not be looking to protect this model. The economic system we have is far from either. Taxes are not the solution to fix the system, but they may be a part of a comprehensive transition process. And they certainly can help mitigate the effects of the system while we develop a better way. This is a conversation we could have if we could get passed the rhetoric.

It’s difficult to have this conversation about taxes without taking a hard look at the government. Almost everyone in the country is not satisfied with the government but if we were to transition to a government that was of the people and by the people, then we likely wouldn’t look at taxes the same—like we are handing over our money to some far off, unaccountable institution. Instead, if we had a real say in how our taxes were used and could see the direct impact on our own communities and neighbors, we might not be so angry about them.

Furthermore, if you believe in the America your junior high civics teacher told you about, you should be furious that when other Americans (even if you think you disagree with them [which you probably don’t]) are exercising the first amendment rights they are caged, beaten, and arrested in mass. It should outrage you because someday you may have a grievance to redress and you would want your rights to speech, press, and assembly protected. Don’t let corporate media make you believe that protestors are getting arrested because they did something wrong or illegal. That’s not the case. And don’t let the corporate media make you afraid of other Americans participating in democracy: that’s what democracy is.

Finally, you may believe that Occupy no longer exists because you don’t hear much about it in the media. But, in addition to the activists still working on Occupying Wall Street, what we knew as Occupy in lower Manhattan and public parks around the country has grown into so many projects and movements all over the world and they all remain interconnected through human networks and around common beliefs. Those beliefs are what made Occupy so transformative for so many people: we all have the power to create change with each other. Of many things Occupy accomplished, the most important in my eyes is that it made people remember that they can be the change the world needs. What’s important now is that Americans throughout the country who are living their day-to-day lives, trying to get by, do not forget it.

I’m still positive and optimistic about change. There’s good reason to be: there are so many amazing people doing so many amazing things. I hope to see you in the streets, but even more so I hope to see you in your community park or on your block talking with your neighbors and building a better world.

#OccupyWallStreet #S17 #AnotherWorldISPossible

*Any video or media below this point is not mine. It is inserted into my posts because I refuse to “upgrade” to prevent it.