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Poll Results On Ferguson Shooting

The poll last week had two questions related to the the shooting of Michael Brown and the leadership afterwords. Many more voters than usual, but these events are known around the world so I expected higher than usual numbers.

Which of the following do you think happened in Ferguson MO on Saturday Aug 9th? (331 votes)

  1. Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, forcefully stole cigars from a convenience store a half mile away; was killed by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson who used appropriate force 153 [46.22%]
  2. Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, forcefully stole cigars from a convenience store a half mile away; was killed by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson who used excessive force 110 [33.23%]
  3. Unsure/No Opinion 38 [11.48%]
  4. Michael Brown, an innocent unarmed teenager; was murdered by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson. 30 [9.06%]

In the initial week I would’ve voted for the answer that received the least amount of votes; he was innocent and murdered. The Friday before the poll stared Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson released images of a strong-arm robbery just prior to PO Darren Wilson shooting & killing Brown. Doing so, just before releasing Wilson’s name, was a deliberate attempt to blame the victim. I was skeptical about the timing, leaving the Ferguson Market and getting to Canfield Green in such a short amount of time.  Only later we learn officer Wilson wasn’t aware Brown was a suspect. Still, I don’t think any objective person could’ve picked the last answer, as 30 people did.

The store police say Michael Brown stole a box of cigars.
The store police say Michael Brown stole a box of cigars.

The answer that got the most votes was that Wilson used appropriate force. I disagree, I voted that Wilson used excessive force.Very few reasons why an officer should shoot someone six times, walking in the street isn’t one of them.

Since the poll started I’ve been researching the use of deadly force and it’s not a pretty picture. I’ve long been aware of discrepancies between the treatment of whites vs non-whites, but the last two weeks has forced me to realized how much white privilege has benefitted me and all white males.

Much of the future legal wrangling will center on the use of deadly force by Wilson, a Grand Jury will decide if charges are warranted.

Neither the patrol car or Wilson was equipped with a camera so we don’t have video or audio, leaving many questions about that day. Was there a struggle? Did Brown surrender? Did Brown go for Wilson’s gun? Assuming Brown did try to get Wilson’s gun, isn’t six shots excessive? Did Wilson follow proper police procedure? What could both men have done differently that wouldn’t have resulted in the death of Brown?   And what if Wilson had used pepper spray, stun gun, or a taser instead of his revolver?

I don’t know what officers carry on their belt, but I’d assume circumstances dictate when you’d pick one over the other. In late 2011 ’60 Minutes’ ran a piece on taster use:

The Taser sounds like the perfect law enforcement tool. Simple, effective and generally safe, it allows officers to subdue a suspect using electricity rather than resorting to blunt or deadly force. But a recent study found that some officers may be too quick to use the popular stun guns when conventional procedures would suffice. As David Martin reports, there’s growing concern that Tasers may be inflicting unnecessary pain and, in rare cases, lead to death. (Taser: An officer’s weapon of choice)

During the poll two white police officers shot a black man holding a knife.  I’ve watched the video numerous times, this seems like a perfect situation where the use of a taser would’ve been more appropriate. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson avoided the type of unrest that was happening in Ferguson by addressing it head on, not shutting out the media. I think those two officers also used excessive force.

Which two of the following officials has displayed the BEST leadership regarding Ferguson? (PICK 2) (290 total votes)

  1. Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson 113 [38.97%]
  2. Unsure/no opinion 51 [17.59%]
  3. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon 43 [14.83%]
  4. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson 27 [9.31%]
  5. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch 14 [4.83%]
  6. Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal 12 [4.14%]
  7. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles 10 [3.45%]
  8. St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar 9 [3.1%]
  9. Missouri State Senator Jamilah Nasheed 8 [2.76%]
  10. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley 3 [1.03%]

Captain Ron Johnson has earned praise from everyone, it seems. Gov Nixon, though gaining the #3 spot, after unsure, has been praised and criticized.

There have been many calling for Bob McCulloch to recuse himself, but he refuses to step aside. If the Grand Jury doesn’t indict Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown McCulloch will be blamed. McCulloch easily won the Democratic primary just four days prior to the shooting, with no challenger in the November general election he’ll win another term unless there’s an independent or write-in candidate.

Not on my list was St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, he’d been reporting up to that point. Since then we’ve seen Ald French assume a leadership role. His number of twitter followers @AntonioFrench have ballooned to more than 120,000. French now has nearly four times more Twitter followers than @MayorSlay. Of course, tweeting isn’t leadership. We’ll see if Ald French can unite factions in the city & region. If he can’t, I’m not sure anyone can.

— Steve Patterson

 

Michael Brown Tribute on Canfield Drive

August 25, 2014 Crime, Featured, Ferguson, St. Louis County Comments Off on Michael Brown Tribute on Canfield Drive

The funeral for Michael Brown, the teenager shot & killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th, will be held today. Last week I finally made it down Canfield Drive to see the makeshift memorial to him.

Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street.
Heading east on Canfield Dr I spotted the line of red roses in the center of the street.
The roses end at the spot where his body was left for four hours the afternoon Saturday August 9t, 2014
The roses end at the spot where his body was left for four hours the afternoon Saturday August 9t, 2014
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown
Next to the sidewalk there are more items as a tribute to Michael Brown

My heart goes out to family & friends.

— Steve Patterson

 

Weekly Poll: Two Questions About Michael Brown and Ferguson MO

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

More than a week ago a young man lost his life, shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson:

His mother, Lesley McSpadden, said the shooting took place as her son was walking to his grandmother’s residence.

Piaget Crenshaw, 19, said she was waiting for a ride to work when she saw a police officer attempting to place Brown in the squad car.

She then said she saw the teen, hands in the air, attempt to flee. Several shots hit Brown as he ran, Crenshaw said. She complied with a request that she give photos of the scene to authorities. (stltoday)

In selecting this subject for the poll this week my hope is to gauge reader sentiment.

The first question this week is:

Which of the following do you think happened in Ferguson MO on Saturday Aug 9th?

  • Michael Brown, an innocent unarmed teenager; was murdered by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson.
  • Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, forcefully stole cigars from a convenience store a half mile away; was killed by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson who used excessive force
  • Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, forcefully stole cigars from a convenience store a half mile away; was killed by Ferguson PO Darren Wilson who used appropriate force
  • Unsure/No Opinion

Note that the above will be presented in random order  in the poll in the upper right sidebar on the desktop layout.

The second question is: Which two of the following officials has displayed the BEST leadership regarding Ferguson? (PICK 2) See poll for list, they’ll also be presented in a random order.

Please discuss in the comments below.

— Steve Patterson

 

Ferguson, Missouri

The last events of last weekend were tragic, inspiring, confusing, and disappointing. Noon Saturday an unarmed young man, Michael Brown, 18, was shot by an unnamed Ferguson police officer, he died at the hospital. That night numerous protests & vigils were held. On Sunday evening more were planned, the family asked for them to be peaceful.

The photos & videos showed a large/vocal, but peaceful, crowd Sunday evening; likely the largest such event ever held in Ferguson.   I wasn’t there to see who & how it went from peaceful to lawless, including rioting, looting, and arson. Monday morning everyone is trying to make sense of the events, even though reconciling them is hard for most everyone.  Sadly, racist views often come out at times like these.

Yet we should all remember, looting & rioting takes place all over the world. It happens after major sporting events, natural disasters, and injustices. Some examples:

In 1979 people in San Francisco were upset with the light sentence Dan White received for shooting Mayor Moscone & Supervisor Milk:

Dan White, Milk’s assassin, was acquitted of murder charges and given a mild sentence for manslaughter, partly as a result of what became known as the “twinkie defense.” His attorney claimed that White had eaten too much junk food on the day of the killings and thus could not be held accountable for his crimes. He was sentenced to less than eight years in prison on May 21, 1979—the day before what would have been Milk’s 49th birthday—igniting what came to be known as the White Night Riots. Enraged citizens stormed City Hall and rows of police cars were set on fire. The city suffered property damage and police officers retaliated by raiding the Castro, vandalizing gay businesses and beating people on the street. (Harvey Milk Foundation)

From 1992:

German gangs smashed windows, looted shops and assaulted Dutch fans in 12 hours of violence surrounding Holland’s 3-1 victory over Germany in the European Championships in Goteborg, Sweden.

Riot police with horses and dogs repeatedly chased mobs of Germans through the center of Goteborg. The gangs dispersed and formed again, seeking openings through police lines to get at crowds of celebrating Dutchmen, but officers averted serious fighting.

Policeman Lasse Hansson said 23 were arrested, all Germans except for one Dutchman. He said charges against them included inciting riot, possession of weapons and resisting arrest. (Seattle Times)

Also in 1992, the LA Riots:

The LA Riots are mostly associated with the beating by police of Rodney King, but have a deeper and more complex background than that. We will start by looking at the background of Rodney King and the other causes to the LA Riots. (South Central History)

From 1998:

After the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers to win Super Bowl XXXII, 10,000 fans went a little overboard and tears of joy became tear-gas-induced tears when people began flipping cars, looting and destroying the Mile High City. The Broncos’ victory and the following riot were selected as top news stories of 1998 by newspaper and broadcast members of the Associated Press. (source)

Earlier this year:

$25K in damage done to Historic century-old Pioneer Square pergola during out-of-control jubilation. About six people arrested after midnight when crowd began throwing bottles at police. Crazed students lit furniture on fire and made bonfires. Thousands throughout Seattle took to the streets to revel in the Seahawks’ victory, the city’s first major sports championship in more than 30 years. Drivers honked their horns, fans launched fireworks and at least one bonfire was blazing near the University of Washington. (NY Daily News)

But why?

The idea that people in crowds act differently — more violently, more passionately and perhaps, with a compromised moral compass — than individuals acting alone is not new. LeBon and Freud proposed it way back in early 20th century and others have since built on the theory.

But is that really the main motivation at play here?

Some, like Columbia University’s Tory Higgins don’t think so. Higgins, a professor of psychology who studies motivation, believes that riots such as the these typically occur when people feel “ineffective.” “In situations like this, there is a long period prior to the riot of feeling that you’re not in control of your own life. It may either be financial, like unemployment or a low-paying job, or political,” he says. “They basically don’t feel respected or that they’re making a difference.” (Huffington Post)

There’s so much we don’t know, particularly about the shooting on Saturday. Hopefully an impartial & transparent investigation will be conducted, and the community will accept the findings.

Burnt out QT at 9420 West Florissant on Monday Aug 11, 2014, 9:37am
Burnt out QT at 9420 West Florissant on Monday Aug 11, 2014, 9:37am
The word "SNITCH.."  was painted on the sign
The word “SNITCHER” painted on the sign

Why Quik Trip? It seems, based on internet hearsay, Michael Brown visited the store right before returning to the apartment complex where his grandmother lives.

Yesterday I rode the #74 MetroBus from 14th & Washington north to St. Louis Community College — Florissant Valley and back. From the Quik Trip north, for 2 miles along West Florissant, I saw busted windows, shattered bus shelters, closed businesses, and police.   The Taco Bell my husband ate at in June, about a half mile north, had a busted window. The Walgreens at West Florissant & Chambers I passed in my wheelchair in April had a boarded window, and was closed. A guy on the return bus trip was saying the Walmart 2 miles north on West Florissant was closed.

Monday morning traffic was busy on West Florissant as people wanted to see the damage
Monday morning traffic was busy on West Florissant as people wanted to see the damage
We saw police investigating where a car had rear-ended a truck in the heavy traffic
We saw police investigating where a car had rear-ended a truck in the heavy traffic

The destroyed Quik Trip was built in 1989, I remember stopping there in the fall of 1990 on my way to visit a work supervisor who lived in the subdivision behind. QT may have been considering rebuilding the location, though they had likely updated the building in the last 25 years. It’s not hard to imagine Tulsa-based QT deciding to not rebuild this location.

The Walmart & Sam’s Club 2 miles north, both looted Sunday, were also built in 1989.

QT built this larger location at 10768 West Florissant in 2013, just off I-270
QT built this larger location at 10768 West Florissant in 2013, just off I-270, across from Walmart & Sam’s Club
The  McDonald's at 10873 West Florissant, built in 1993, was recently razed for a new building.
The McDonald’s at 10873 West Florissant, built in 1993, was recently razed for a new building.

The issues of the officer who shot Brown, the looters, etc should get resolved through investigation and the courts. The long-term implications for West Florissant can go any number of ways:

  1. Business owners see the looting as a one time thing and resume business as usual.
  2. Businesses remain but begin planning their exit strategy.
  3. Businesses don’t reopen.

Hopefully we’ve seen the worst of the rioting & looting. I want Michael Brown’s family to get the justice they seek.

— Steve Patterson

 

40th Anniversary of ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’; Planning/Policy Insights

July 28, 2014 Crime, Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on 40th Anniversary of ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’; Planning/Policy Insights

Today’s post isn’t about St. Louis, but it is about urban planning/policy as observed through popular culture. The movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” premiered 40 years ago today — July 28, 1974. The second half of the movie is a very long chase scene — the police today would never be able to engage a suspect at these speeds.  The star is ‘Eleanor’, a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I.  By the premier, the ’73 Mustang had been replaced by the Pinto-based Mustang II. My very first car was a ’74 Mustang II, an awful car.

I’m a public transit advocate that’s also a car nut, this movie filmed in 1973 so many cars.

Company Headquarters/Streets

The chase scene passes by the USA headquarters of Datsun
The big chase scene passes by the USA headquarters of Datsun (aka Nissan) then located at 18501 S Figueroa St in Carson, CA

At the time the three biggest Japanese auto manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, & Datsun/Nissan) had their US headquarters very close to each other in Los Angeles County. In late 2005, Nissan announced they were relocating to Tennessee:

Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn said the Japanese automaker, which set up shop in Southern California in 1958, would spend more than $70 million to build a corporate headquarters complex in Franklin, about 15 miles southwest of Nashville.

Ghosn said the widely anticipated decision was prompted chiefly by cheaper real estate and lower business taxes.

“The costs of doing business in Southern California are much higher than the costs of doing business in Tennessee,” he said. (LA Times)

In April of this year Toyota announced it too would leave California:

Toyota is moving to Texas. The Japanese automaker is consolidating its various United States headquarters operations into a single campus in Plano, Tex.

Right now, Toyota’s sales and finance arms are headquartered in California, while its manufacturing and development arms are headquartered in Kentucky. Toyota also has offices in New York City and some of those jobs will also be moved to Texas. (source)

Another article noted Toyota wants to avoid the problems Nissan faced:

In moving its U.S. headquarters out of California, Toyota hopes to avoid some of the problems that Nissan encountered when it did the same thing in 2006.

Sources inside Toyota say they already dissected Nissan North America’s move and were particularly dismayed to see that their Japanese rival lost roughly 60 percent of its 1,300 Los Angeles headquarters staffers and executives when it relocated to Nashville. (source)

So what happened after Nissan left?

Nissan’s plan was treated with alarm by officials, who made a last-ditch effort to keep the automaker in town. Unswayed, Nissan brass turned out the lights and moved their North American headquarters to Nashville in the summer of 2006. After nearly 50 years in Los Angeles County, Nissan’s nerve center was gone.

Left behind was a cluster of 13 buildings, including a nine-story tower topped with a red Nissan sign that was a familiar sight to drivers passing the intersection of the Harbor and San Diego freeways. More than 700,000 square feet of office and light industrial space lay empty.

In Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, many abandoned commercial buildings fall slowly to pieces. But in a sign of the vitality and adaptive nature of the Southern California economy, the 42-acre Nissan campus has been taken over by 11 different businesses that are expected to employ more workers than Nissan did — about 1,400 in all. (Nissan’s old campus in South Bay gets ‘flipped’)

The campus now has multiple owners, employing more total people in diverse industries. In the developer’s words:

Now complete, Kearny South Bay Business Park employs more people than when Nissan occupied the property. Due to demand and the significant improvements made to the campus, the campus was quickly backfilled by firms in diversified sectors including finance, health services, high-tech manufacturing, fashion, automotive, and food processing which helped to re-energize the entire area. Of the 13 buildings, 7 were sold in 2007, 5 in 2008 and the last office building closed in December 2009. Kearny is proud of this transformation. (source)

As you might expect, the area looks different forty years later. South Figueroa St got a planted median to take up some the excess street width.

Similar view as the still from the movie, this image is from a May 2011 Google Street View.
Similar view as the still from the movie, this image is from a May 2011 Google Street View, click image to view in Google.

Property Taxes

The movie car chase conveniently goes by the ground breaking ceremony for a new Sheriff’s office where the announcer says:

gonein60seconds02
“In February 1968 the City of Carson was incorporated and since then it has grown to be one of the fastest growing cities in the southern California area, with a population of over 82,000 and an assessed valuation of nearly $350 million dollars and no property taxes.” Click image to view building on Google Maps.

At the time Carson was a new city in the region, with employers like Datsun and attracting more with the lure of no property taxes.

Carson borders Compton:

Soon, middle class blacks also found other areas more attractive to them. Some were unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County such as Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills; and others were cities such as Inglewood and, particularly, Carson. The latter was significant because it had successfully thwarted attempts at annexation by neighboring Compton. The city of Carson opted instead for incorporation in 1968, which is notable because its black population was actually more affluent than its white population. As a newer city, it also offered more favorable tax rates and lower crime. 

A more affluent unincorporated area incorporated rather than be annexed by an area losing its tax base, this happened everywhere.

By the time Carson finally incorporated as a city in 1968, its landscape was pockmarked with the dozens of refuse dumps, landfills, and auto dismantling plants which none of its neighbors would have in their own cities.

As a result, the history of the City of Carson since 1968 has, to a large extent, been the history of struggling to deal with these problems caused by its late incorporation. And to its credit, Carson has worked miracles in the short time since its birth as an independent city.

Following its incorporation in 1968, Carson acted swiftly to close down most of the unwanted facilities that had been foisted upon the city in the past, enforcing a strict building and landscaping code, and a working to attract successful new commercial ventures to the city. As a result, most of the heavy industry of the past has been replaced. The new industrial parks in Carson, such as the Watson Industrial Center, are models of cleanliness and attention to appearance. Beautification efforts by the city have resulted in numerous landscaped center medians, lighting projects, street improvements and public parks.

All these services eventually required property taxes.

b

Carson’s 18.968 sq mi makes it less than a third the size of the City of St. Louis (66.2 sq mi).  St. Louis has a slightly greater population density.

b

Ronald Moran Cadillac was featured  in the chase, it's now Penske Cadillac.
Ronald Moran Cadillac was featured in the chase, it’s now Penske Cadillac, click image to view in Google Maps.
One of the most memorable scenes was a police car s,mashing into a line of new Cadillacs.
One of the most memorable scenes was a police car s,mashing into a line of Cadillacs.

The chase ended up at the Cadillac dealership after passing by the nearby Mazda dealer.

A camera inside the showroom saw the police set up a road block right out front
A camera inside the showroom saw the police set up a road block right out front. The car in the showroom is likely a 1973 808 (aka RX-3)

Across Hawthorne Blvd was a wall, but now the road is wider with a median. Across the street is a trailer park.

Eleanor had lap seat belts, no shoulder belt. All the cars had round sealed beam headlights, as required by US law. In 1974 the law was changed to allow rectangular sealed beam headlights. It wasn’t until the easily 1980s that more headlight designs were allowed on vehicles sold in the US.

I’ve rambled enough, I’m going to get a big bowl of popcorn and watch this great movie another time. You can watch it on YouTube here or order a DVD at gonein60seconds.com.

— Steve Patterson

 

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