We’re no better than Ferguson; maybe worse


Seattle Times staff columnist

Mayor Ed Murray says “Seattle is not Ferguson.” In countless ways I’m sure he’s right, except for this very important one: It’s just as unlikely for cops to get charged for bad deeds here as it is in supposedly backward Missouri.

In fact we’re arguably worse than Ferguson.

No offense to the thousands of protesters marching on behalf of Michael Brown. But what has stood out to me is how the Ferguson case isn’t nearly as flagrant as recent police-brutality cases here in progressive Puget Sound.

In Ferguson, the police officer, Darren Wilson, had a good case to make that he was under some level of assault. If it’s true that Brown slugged the officer through the squad-car door and tried to wrestle away his gun — as the officer and some witnesses attest — then getting even a low-level manslaughter charge to stick against the officer would be next to impossible.

The Ferguson case is supercharged by that region’s racial history. But still — compare the facts of it to what happened in Seattle to John T. Williams in 2010. Ferguson isn’t on the same radar screen of outrageousness.

Unlike Brown, Williams didn’t assault anyone or do anything hostile, beyond toting his carving knife with a wood block and maybe looking menacingly in a police officer’s direction. The officer, Ian Birk, told him to drop the knife. When Williams didn’t — perhaps because he couldn’t hear — Birk shot five times and killed him.

Even the police department called that “egregious.” Yet no charges were filed. Our outgoing U.S. attorney, Jenny Durkan, this week compared that case to Ferguson in an article she wrote for The Washington Post, headlined: “As a federal prosecutor I know how hard it is to charge officers like Darren Wilson.”

An officer has to have malice or willfully bad intent to be convicted, she wrote. It’s an incredibly high bar. “Accident, mistake, fear, negligence or bad judgment is not sufficient,” Durkan wrote when declining to charge Birk.

You can see why the chances of Darren Wilson getting convicted by the state or the feds in Ferguson would be near zero.

We’ve had other baffling cases, such as Christopher Harris, a completely innocent man who mistakenly ran from police in Belltown in 2009 and then was shoved into a wall so hard it paralyzed him for life. The officer who did that not only wasn’t charged, but remained on the force.

But one case here was so extreme that prosecutors took the rare step of charging the officer. Troy Meade, of the Everett police, had shot an aggressive drunken driver, Niles Meservey, seven times from behind, killing him. The officer’s conduct was so questionable that a fellow officer did something unheard of: He crossed the blue line to testify against his mate, claiming the force Meade used was both excessive and vindictive.

Yet Meade was acquitted of second-degree murder by a jury in 2011. The officer argued the car was about to back up and hit him, and because the law puts such a premium on this state of mind defense, he walked.

My point isn’t to bash our local cops. These were isolated cases and don’t reflect on other officers.

But the narrative that’s developed out of Ferguson is that the officer there wasn’t charged because the system is inherently racist. Parts of it may be, but more so it’s just incredibly pro-cop. It lets them walk pretty much no matter what.

Durkan writes it’s this way for a legitimate reason: “We want police to be able to make split second decisions necessary to protect us.” That is crucial.

But in the Williams shooting in particular, it tilted too far. If there was nothing wrong legally with what happened to him, then it’s hard to imagine anything with the police ever being legally wrong.

Ferguson is bringing up an important debate about racial inequality.

But the case is too murky to support a national movement on police accountability.

We’ve had much starker ones right here. Seattle may be more Ferguson than Ferguson.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com

CBO ~~~ Nov. 2014


 

cbologo

H.R. 5233, Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014

 

 

 

CBO’s Role in the Legislative Process

 

S. 1419, Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2014

 

 

 

H.R. 1241, an act to facilitate a land exchange involving certain National Forest System lands in the Inyo National Forest, and for other purposes

 

 

 

S. 2588, Cyber Information Sharing Act of 2014

 

 

 

S. 2646, Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act

 

 

S. 1618, Enhanced Security Clearance Act of 2014

 

 

 

Monthly Budget Review: Summary for Fiscal Year 2014

 

 

Implications of Differential Mortality for Analyses of Social Security Policy Options

 

 

 

  •  

Stand with Peggy


NWLCbanner No one should ever have to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy.Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many women find themselves facing. When employers refuse to accommodate pregnant workers with medical needs, women can end up without a paycheck at the moment they need it most.Stand with pregnant workers.When Peggy Young, a delivery driver for UPS, found out she was pregnant, her doctor recommended that she avoid lifting more than 20 pounds. But UPS refused her request for “light duty” — even though the company provided accommodations to people with disabilities or on-the-job injuries, and even though it gave breaks to delivery drivers who had lost their drivers’ licenses as a result of DUI convictions.

Peggy was pushed onto unpaid leave for the duration of her pregnancy, and lost her UPS-provided health benefits.

Stand with Peggy Young and Pregnant WorkersSend a message of support to Peggy Young — because no woman should have to choose between her job and her pregnancy.Take Action

In a few weeks the Supreme Court will hear Peggy Young’s case, Young v. UPS, to decide whether UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by refusing to offer her the same accommodations it made available to non-pregnant workers with similar limitations.

How the court rules in Young v. UPS will impact working women across the country. And because many families rely on mothers’ earnings, when pregnant women are forced off the job and lose their paychecks and health care, their families suffer as well.

Send your message of support for Peggy Young and all pregnant workers today. We’ll collect your messages and present them to Peggy Young on the day of the Supreme Court hearing, Dec. 3.

Thank you for all you do for women and their families.

Sincerely,
Emily J. Martin
Vice President and General Counsel
National Women’s Law Center

daily kos recommends … Kentucky Fire Chief’s racist comments


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Log in or sign up for Daily Kos, the nation’s largest progressive community.

Sign up to receive the Daily Kos Recommended email by clicking here.

Thanks for all you do,
The Daily Kos team

what a successful Presidency looks like


The following sponsored message was sent to you by AlterNet on behalf of DCCC:

This is what a successful Presidency looks like:

President Obama Took Office
(January 2009)
Today
7,949 The Dow Jones Index 17,573
7.8% Unemployment 5.8%
-5.4% GDP Growth 3.5%
9.8% Deficit GDP % 2.8%
37.7 Consumer Confidence 94.5

In 6 years under President Barack Obama, we’ve made incredible progress as a country.

Often in the face of incredible obstruction, the President has continued to fight for us and lead us forward.

Will you add your name now and say that you’re still standing with President Obama in his final two years in office?

Sign your name to say you’re standing with President Obama:
http:// action.dccc.org/i-stand-with-obama