For Ferguson Activist Deray McKesson, the Facts Don’t Really Matter

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Black Lives Matter spokesman Deray McKesson was asked about the DOJ investigation into the death of Mike Brown, an example of the kind of fair, independent inquiry into police shootings the movement claims to support. McKesson’s response was to minimize the report’s scope and deny its conclusion.

The exchange appears in a story published today at the Daily Beast. An unnamed Army Vet who says he used to support the movement now expresses skepticism of it. “I don’t understand how out of all this confusion and tearing up people’s buildings that don’t have shit do with your problems makes anyone help you,” the vet tells author Justin Glawe.

Enter Deray McKesson with a list of policy proposals which includes “task independent bodies with investigating shootings by police.” As it happens, this is exactly what activists already got when the DOJ looked closely at the shooting of Mike Brown. So what does McKesson think of the report? He tells the Daily Beast that it merely cleared Officer Wilson of violating Brown’s civil rights.

Anyone who has read the 86-page DOJ report knows it did much more than that. Here is a description of the work that went into creating the report:

We compared individual witness accounts to the physical and forensic evidence, to other credible witness accounts, and to each witness’s own prior statements made throughout the investigations, including the proceedings before the St. Louis County grand jury (“county grand jury”). We worked with federal and local law enforcement officers to interview witnesses, to include re-interviewing certain witnesses in an effort to evaluate inconsistencies in their accounts and to obtain more detailed information. In so doing, we assessed the witnesses’ demeanor, tone, bias, and ability to accurately perceive or recall the events of August 9, 2014. We credited and determined that a jury would appropriately credit those witnesses whose accounts were consistent with the physical evidence and consistent with other credible witness accounts. In the case of witnesses who made multiple statements, we compared those statements to determine whether they were materially consistent with each other and considered the timing and circumstances under which the witnesses gave the statements. We did not credit and determined that a jury appropriately would not credit those witness accounts that were contrary to the physical and forensic evidence, significantly inconsistent with other credible witness accounts, or significantly inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements.

In the end the DOJ found no evidence from forensics or a reliable witness that contradicted Officer Wilson’s version of events and plenty of evidence that supported his version.

There is little reason to think Black Lives Matter protesters, and McKesson in particular, are ever willing to place blame on anyone but the police. Asked about the shooting of Tryone Harris, who allegedly shot at police in Ferguson before they returned fire, McKesson claimed he hadn’t read up on the case. Even when there is evidence showing an attempt to murder police, the best McKesson can offer is to plead ignorance.

But ignorance can’t be used to explain McKesson’s reaction to the death of Sandra Bland. According to the police and an autopsy report, Sandra Bland committed suicide in her jail cell by hanging herself with a trash bag. A video tape taken outside her cell showed no one entering or leaving for 90 minutes before she died. The autopsy found no evidence of a struggle which might indicate foul play but did find some weeks-old scars on one arm consistent with self-harm behavior. In addition, when she filled out an intake form at the jail, Bland admitted to attempting suicide the year before. Despite being aware of all of this evidence, McKesson has maintained Bland was murdered by the police. He is literally promoting an anti-cop conspiracy theory for which there is zero evidence.

What the Bland case last month and the Brown case a year ago show is that the facts don’t really matter to Deray McKesson. If the facts get in the way of his anti-police narrative, then the facts can be ignored or, in some cases, denied.


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