Last week I wrote that the eyes of the nation are upon us as we work toward figuring out exactly what happened when 19-year-old Michael Moore was shot after a confrontation with a Mobile Police officer.
Now, because of the buffoonery that has ensued, I pray the rest of the nation was watching “The Bachelor” or has glaucoma. The aftermath of Moore’s death has become a circus aimed more at pushing a political agenda than actually working to see justice is done by Moore or the officer who shot him.
Moore was pulled over June 13 following a traffic infraction, and that in turn led to him standing outside of his car with a loaded pistol in the rear waistband of his shorts, facing MPD Officer Harold Hurst. Hurst shot Moore three times, killing him. Those are the simple facts of the case — facts based upon what eyewitnesses have confirmed to both investigators and media.
The only thing in doubt concerning the shooting is what exactly happened after Moore got out of that car. We know Hurst says Moore went for the pistol. We also know there are witnesses who claim Moore had the gun but didn’t reach for it. And finally we know MPD Internal Affairs is investigating this, as is the FBI with the U.S. Attorney’s Office watching it all from above.
But those are just the facts, and in today’s America what follows in the wake of a white police officer shooting a black man often has little to do with facts on either side. It’s more about race politics. We’ve seen how it goes in other cities across the country — some of which have allowed such shootings to become the spark that launches destruction and looting as a “reasonable” response to what is decried as police brutality.
Seeing things from the inside out now makes me dubious of what we think we “know” about what happened in other cities — if irresponsible actions by some leaders in Mobile is an indication of what took place elsewhere. Simply determining whether Hurst should or shouldn’t have shot Moore has been lost in the backwash.
Last week we were sucked into the idiocy of Mobile Police Chief James Barber conducting a press conference to defend himself from allegations he shouldn’t have pulled a gun on a man who admitted to just about anyone who will listen that he was in the middle of stealing metal from a public housing complex. But in the wake of Moore’s shooting, this thief felt bold enough to complain about his heartbreak and outrage at having a police officer point a gun at him while in the midst of committing a crime. Luckily for him, this metal grabber found a welcome ear with the Right Honorable City Councilman Fred Richardson.
In the days since Moore was shot, Richardson has turned his Facebook pages into a breeding ground for anger, accusations, threats and misinformation. Instead of trying to calmly assess what happened and allow investigators to do their jobs, Fred has played junior detective. He even showed up at the shooting scene for some reason. Maybe he’s District 1’s answer to Batman.
Although he’s trying hard to weasel out of it now, Richardson was clearly feeling his political oats when he pushed this BS complaint from his “constituent” to the mayor’s office last week. True, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office sent out a press release saying they were looking into the matter, which made it a media story, but I have no doubt they did so simply to get out in front of Richardson slamming them later in the day.
The stunt exploded in Fred’s face and he’s been trying to defend himself since as just “following protocol” when he forwarded this asinine complaint to Stimpson. Sure, protocol isn’t important when it comes to allowing investigators even a few days to look into Moore’s death before he’s ranting and trying to solve the case on his FB page, but Detective Richardson is a by-the-book guy when it comes to protecting a thief’s right not to be frightened while committing crimes.
Wouldn’t any reasonable human being have called the guy back before forwarding the complaint? Of course, but Fred’s behavior has been anything but reasonable for the past few weeks.
Since that foolishness we’ve also been treated to a Dothan-based civil rights group known as The Ordinary People’s Society (TOPS) demanding charges be filed against Hurst. These race-baiters claim they’ve completed a thorough investigation that determined Moore never reached for the gun. Last week their leader, Kenneth Glasgow, was inciting people to riot by claiming Ferguson and Baltimore were just warm-ups for what will happen in Mobile. This week he’s threatening to block the junction of interstates 10 and 65 to “stop four states” if Hurst isn’t charged. Sounds like TOPS is a thoughtful group.
And finally there are the Leaders for Truth and Justice, who held a well-attended meeting Monday night to discuss police issues. But it’s hard not to feel like several of these “leaders” are simply using this sad situation to grandstand.
State Rep. Barbara Drummond told WKRG a meeting with Stimpson Monday was “mostly questioning and making sure someone outside the police department, an external force, is investigating so that the trust that the community has in the police department but in us, as elected officials, are forthcoming.” Most of what I can take away from that is Drummond wasn’t paying any attention roughly two weeks ago when MPD, the FBI and the Obama-appointed, African-American U.S. Attorney all said multiple investigations are happening. Or maybe she just wants people to think the Leaders forced an investigation that is already taking place.
The Leaders’ motives are hard to take at face value when they trot out ex-Mayor Sam Jones as part of their group. Jones lorded over MPD for eight years and not only fostered corruption, but actively worked to keep it quiet. He didn’t seem particularly worried about such matters when he was in charge.
So now, when we’re not debating whether the chief of police is allowed to arrest someone committing a criminal act, or worrying about a wanna-be Al Sharpton jacking up interstate traffic, we have “leaders” like Richardson and Drummond trying to create fire where there’s only smoke.
Richardson’s FB report on the Leaders meeting Monday night said, “Many testified of maltreatment on the part of police officers. Several officers’ names were turned over to the Justice Department.” Hopefully none of that “maltreatment” includes more criminals outraged by being arrested.
If Richardson, Glasgow, Drummond, Jones or the other city officials busy playing politics want to show actual leadership, spend some time talking about the importance of not getting involved in things like stealing metal, driving stolen cars or confronting police officers while carrying stolen pistols. It would show some real leadership to go against the script in this increasingly farcical production.