Russell Brand says just what's wrong with the way people talk about white cops who kill black men.
What he says is so true.
The U.S. Department of Justice led an inquiry into possible racist tendencies in the Ferguson, Missouri, justice system after the death of Michael Brown, who was killed by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. The results of that investigation found evidence of overwhelming racial bias, as reported by Jon Swaine in the Guardian:
Ferguson's population is 67% African American, according to the 2010 census. Yet Justice Department investigators found that between 2012 and 2014, 93% of all arrests were of black people and almost nine in 10 uses of force were against African Americans. In all 14 bites by police dogs when racial information of the person bitten was available, that person was African American.
The problem seems to have been around for quite a while. In The Washington Post, Sari Horowitz reports that a November 2008 email from a Ferguson police officer or municipal court official stated:
President Obama could not be president for very long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years."
The fact that officials in Ferguson might be a little more biased than they should be isn't really surprising to people who feel that race had a lot to do with Michael Brown's killing and the subsequent disparaging of his character by the media.
This recent news sheds a lot of light on the months following the Ferguson shooting, riots, and verdict. Instead of speaking about the riots that happened in Ferguson in 2014 as "protests" or "civil unrest," it was phrased this way on Fox News:
Actor and occasional pundit Russell Brand points out in a video blog from November that the media routinely uses a particular kind of phrasing when talking about racism in Ferguson:
But wait, there's more...
Once Brand pointed it out, I couldn't stop hearing it in a March 4 report about the U.S. Department of Justice inquiry, also on Fox nNws:
Emphasis on the words "accuses" and "scathing" make it seem like a government report of actual facts might not be true. And if I didn't know the truth, that's exactly how I'd think about it.
Watch Russell's full blog below. It makes some pretty great points, even though at the time of this writing, it's four months old.
Fact Check: Russell mentions in the video that "every 28 hours, an unarmed young black man is killed by a law enforcement officer somewhere in America." That actually isn't true. This number originated with a 2012 report ("Operation Ghetto Storm") from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Unfortunately, the study is non-academic and has lots of holes. In addition, the numbers in the report are not based on unarmed black men. The Washington Post explains how it doesn't hold up.
Still, after seeing this, I'll be paying a lot more attention to the kinds of words they're using on the news.