Darren Wilson (Image source: AP/St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, File)
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"And, like that, 'hands up, don’t shoot' became the mantra of a movement. But it was wrong, built on a lie."
Liberal Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart conceded on Monday that the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was “built on a lie.”
Following the release of the Justice Department’s report on the shooting, Capehart wrote that he was forced to confront “two uncomfortable truths” in the case: “Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.”
More from Capehart’s column:
What DOJ found made me ill. Wilson knew about the theft of the cigarillos from the convenience store and had a description of the suspects. Brown fought with the officer and tried to take his gun. And the popular hands-up storyline, which isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements, was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.
The DOJ report notes on page 44 that Johnson “made multiple statements to the media immediately following the incident that spawned the popular narrative that Wilson shot Brown execution-style as he held up his hands in surrender.” In one of those interviews, Johnson told MSNBC that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson. It was then that Johnson said Brown stopped, turned around with his hands up and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” And, like that, “hands up, don’t shoot” became the mantra of a movement. But it was wrong, built on a lie.
While Capehart said Brown is an “inappropriate symbol” to represent the distrust between blacks and the police, he argued the “real issues unearthed in Ferguson by Brown’s death” are still important.
“Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others,” he concluded. “But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.”
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