Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and a lecturer at Northwestern University. He is a former Hechinger Institute fellow and his commentary has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
(CNN) -- I am tired.
Tired of our streets being peppered with dead, unarmed black people. Tired of listening to armed assailants describe how they feared for their lives. Tired of being told "this has nothing to do with race."
I am tired of having to march to have murderers arrested. Tired of worrying about my 17-year-old being gunned down by some random white guy who thinks his music is too loud. Tired of knowing the same could happen to me.
I am tired of seeing a hashtag in front of a victim's name on Twitter. Tired of seeing Al Sharpton speak on behalf of a family. Tired of waiting for verdicts and hoping for justice --as if hearing "guilty" can ease the anxiety of knowing a police officer shot and killed a 22-year-old black man while he was lying face down and with his hands behind his back.
Watch this video
I'm tired of the cynics who are quick to extend the benefit of the doubt to a gunman but hesitant to do the same for an unarmed teenage girl who had been shot in the face. I am tired of seeing images of police officers with snarling dogs threatening a crowd of black protesters and not knowing if it's from the 1960s or last week.
In the case of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri, it's the latter. Witnesses said he was shot multiple times from 35 feet away after his hands were raised. Again, he was unarmed.
I am tired of the U.S. Department of Justice having to closely watch local authorities. I am tired of local authorities advocating for Stop and Frisk one minute and dismissing the notion of racial profiling the next. I am tired of the charlatans who chase the bodies of innocent victims the way sleazy lawyers chase ambulances. I hate black looters at peaceful rallies the way I hate the KKK.
I don't want to get shot by a police officer.
I'm tired of unarmed dead black people being put on trial.
And I'm tired of thinking that each time one walks by.
I don't begrudge anyone who has the luxury of not knowing what that kind of siege feels like. I just hope they have the decency not to characterize the socioeconomic disparity along racial lines as a card to be played but rather recognize it as a looming element of our cultural fiber.
For example, from 1934 to 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. Because of an appraisal system that deemed integrated communities financial risks, less than 2% of those loans went to minorities.
When you consider that home ownership has long been the prerequisite for the average American to acquire wealth, there is little wonder why white Americans have 22 times more wealth than blacks. That is not a card being played. That is math. And I'm tired of having to explain that.
Just as I'm tired of watching the video of Eric Garner being placed in a chokehold by NYPD, listening to him say "I can't breathe, I can't breathe" and then watching him die minutes later.
But I need to keep watching because apathy is a clever hunter. It cloaks itself with FBI statistics and slips into the system between runs to Starbucks. Then one day as you're sipping your grande decaf mocha, you see a headline about an unarmed black man being shot and killed by police and think nothing of it.
Or worse yet -- assume he did something to deserve it.
I'm tired of unarmed dead black people being put on trial. I'm tired of politicians visiting our churches for votes but skipping out on these funerals
I'm tired of hearing mothers and fathers weep for children who did not have to die.
But most of all I'm tired of the people who are not tired like me.
FERGUSON, Missouri — The last moments of Michael
Brown’s life were filled with shock, fear and terror, says a witness
who stood just feet away as a police officer shot and killed the unarmed
“I saw the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” said Dorian Johnson, 22. “Then I saw the fire come out of the barrel.”
Johnson, in an exclusive interview with msnbc, said what began as an
order by a police officer to ‘get the f— onto the sidewalk’ quickly
escalated into a physical altercation and then, gunfire.
The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, 8/11/14, 10:33 PM ET
Second night of unrest in Missouri
“I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close,”
said Johnson, who said he was within arm’s reach of both Brown and the
officer when the first of several shots was fired at the teen. Johnson says he feared for his life as he watched the officer squeezing off shot after shot.
Brown’s killing on Saturday afternoon has sparked protests and
rioting in this small, hardscrabble suburb of St. Louis, where tensions
continue to rise between the police and the largely black, mostly poor
community. Brown’s shooting lifted the lid on a pot that had long been bubbling .
The police say the officer shot Brown after the teen shoved the
officer and tried to wrestle the officer’s gun from him. But a number of
witnesses, including Johnson, refute those claims. And in the
wake of the shooting, the Ferguson Police Department has asked the St.
Louis County police to step in and take over the investigation.
Meanwhile, the identity of the police officer involved in the
shooting has not yet been identified. It is known, however, that the
officer who shot Brown has been placed on paid administrative leave.
But as darkness fell over Ferguson on Monday, ongoing protests were
stifled by rubber bullets and tear gas fired at protesters by officers,
according to witnesses.
Local branches of the NAACP have called on the Justice Department and
federal and state law enforcement officials to take over the
investigation from local police. The FBI has joined the investigation
and the Justice Department has said it is keeping an eye on the case.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday said that the FBI will help local
authorities undertake a “thorough, fair investigation.”
For its part, Brown’s family has hired local attorney Anthony
Gray and Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who represented the
family of Trayvon Martin.
“That baby was executed in broad daylight,” Crump said during a press
conference Monday afternoon, standing beside Brown’s mother and father.
Crump told a crowd of several dozen that Brown was shot and left in the
road like an animal.
“He was a good boy who didn’t deserve any of this,” said Michael Brown Sr., the teen’s father.
“I just wish I could have been there to help my son,” the boy’s mother, Leslie McSpadden said through tears.
On Monday, McSpadden and Brown’s father had planned to drop Brown
off at a nearby technical college for the start of his freshman year.
Instead, the family is making burial arrangements.
“We can’t even celebrate because we have to plan a funeral,” McSpadden said.
Johnson, who said he moved into the neighborhood about eight months
ago, said he met Brown three months ago and the two became fast friends.
“Everyone else’s mentality be on some nonsense, silliness,” Johnson
said. “But Mike had his mind set on more than that, helping others. I
just got a good feeling from being around him.”
About 20 minutes before the shooting, Johnson said he saw Brown
walking down the street and decided to catch up with him. The two walked
and talked. That’s when Johnson says they saw the police car rolling up
The officer demanded that the two “get the f—k on the sidewalk,”
Johnson says. “His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk.”
After telling the officer that they were almost at their destination, Johnson’s house, the two continued walking. But as they did, Johnson says the officer slammed his brakes and threw his truck in reverse, nearly hitting them.
Now, in line with the officer’s driver’s side door, they could see
the officer’s face. They heard him say something to the effect of,
“what’d you say?” At the same time, Johnson says the officer
attempted to thrust his door open but the door slammed into Brown and
bounced closed. Johnson says the officer, with his left hand, grabbed Brown by the neck.
“I could see the muscles in his forearm,” Johnson said. “Mike was trying to get away from being choked.”
“They’re not wrestling so much as his arm went from his throat to now
clenched on his shirt,” Johnson explained of the scene between Brown
and the officer. “It’s like tug of war. He’s trying to pull him in. He’s
pulling away, that’s when I heard, ‘I’m gonna shoot you.’”
At that moment, Johnson says he fixed his gaze on the officer to see
if he was pulling a stun gun or a real gun. That’s when he saw the
muzzle of the officer’s gun.
“I seen the barrel of the gun pointed at my friend,” he said. “He had it pointed at him and said ‘I’ll shoot,’ one more time.”
A second later Johnson said he heard the first shot go off.
“I seen the fire come out of the barrell,” he said. “I could see so vividly what was going on because I was so close.”
Johnson says he was within arm’s reach of both Brown and the officer. He looked over at Brown and saw blood pooling through his shirt on the right side of the body.
“The whole time [the officer] was holding my friend until the gun went off,” Johnson noted.
Brown and Johnson took off running together. There were three cars
lined up along the side of the street. Johnson says he ducked behind the
first car, whose two passengers were screaming. Crouching down a bit,
he watched Brown run past.
“Keep running, bro!,” he said Brown yelled. Then Brown yelled it a second time. Those would be the last words Johnson’s friend, “Big Mike,” would ever say to him.
Brown made it past the third car. Then, “blam!” the officer
took his second shot, striking Brown in the back. At that point, Johnson
says Brown stopped, turned with his hands up and said “I don’t have a
gun, stop shooting!”
PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, 8/11/14, 6:13 PM ET
‘I should be celebrating … but we’re planning a funeral’
By that point, Johnson says the officer and Brown were face-to-face. The officer then fired several more shots. Johnson
described watching Brown go from standing with his hands up to
crumbling to the ground and curling into a fetal position.
“After seeing my friend get gunned down, my body just ran,” he said.
He ran to his apartment nearby. Out of breath, shocked and afraid,
Johnson says he went into the bathroom and vomited. Then he checked to
make sure that he hadn’t also been shot.
Five minutes later, Johnson emerged from his apartment to see his
friend Mike dead and in the middle of the street. Neighbors were
gathering, some shouting, some taking pictures with their cell phones.
Freeman Bosley, Johnson’s attorney, told msnbc that the police have
yet to interview Johnson. Bosley said that he offered the police an
opportunity to speak with Johnson, but they declined.
“They didn’t even want to talk to him,” said Bosley, a former mayor
of St. Louis. “They don’t want the facts. What they want is to justify
what happened … what they are trying to do now is justify what happened
instead of trying to point out the wrong. Something is wrong here and
that’s what it is.”
Johnson says he understands why the tension has boiled over into
violence. As the protests seeking justice in Brown’s death have grown
larger and more volatile, Johnson says he has joined them.
“There are two crowds. An older crowd that wants justice but there’s
anger. Then it’s the younger crowd that wants revenge but there’s anger
there, too,” Johnson said. “What do you expect when something is
steadily occurring and its hurting the community and nobody is speaking
out or doing anything about it. I feel their anger, I feel their
Watch how the media tries to portray this four-year-old as a burgeoning thug. Watch the whole video. Then read the comments from white people claiming this isn't a "black" thing, but tactics the media uses on everyone.
Please show me the video of any news station purposely editing video of a four-year-old white boy to make him look like he'd grow up to be a theater shooting, Oklahoma City bombing, black male eating, clown costume wearing, culture robbing psycho? I'll wait.
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