Protesters loot Ferguson convenience store Michael Brown robbed

Early this morning, protestors in Ferguson, Missouri stormed into Ferguson Market, the convenience store Michael Brown robbed shortly before he was shot and killed by a police officer, and proceeded to loot it.

So much for demilitarizing Ferguson. Protestors looted before the (fake) military occupation and now they’re looting again.

I feel sorry for the owner of the Ferguson Market. They didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not like they sold the video of Michael Brown robbing and strong-arming one of their employees. They called 911 immediately after the confrontation with Brown and gave the video to the police. They didn’t deserve to have their business destroyed.

If only Michael Brown had chose to pay for his crappy cigars instead of stealing them, this whole fiasco could have been avoided.

Turns out Michael Brown was a violent robber of fine convince store cigars

Police released a surveillance video from the Ferguson Market, taken before the shooting. It shows what appears to be Michael Brown stealing a box of Swisher Sweets, cheap cigars for people who don’t smoke cigars, and then pushing a store employee.

The surveillance video from the store:

After watching the video, I find myself not really feeling sorry that Michael Brown was shot and killed. Not that I think he deserved to die for stealing a box of Swisher Sweets or for pushing a store employee. It’s just that judging solely from the video, he doesn’t look like a very nice person. He doesn’t look like the type of person I would want to interact with. He looks like he was a jerk who was more than willing to steal and put his hands on someone much smaller than him.


I just don’t feel sorry for violent people when violence is then visited upon them.

What comes around, goes around. Like Jesus used to say, live by the sword, die by the sword. After Michael Brown ripped off that box of Swisher Sweets and grabbed and then shoved a store clerk, he then reportedly put his hands on a cop.

Oops. It sucks to be him, but I don’t feel sorry for him.

The military occupation of Ferguson is now over

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the St. Louis County Police Department out of Ferguson yesterday and put state troopers in charge. He named Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson in charge of security in Ferguson. Not only is Johnson originally from Ferguson, he is a man of color.

In other words, he’s black.

This should help defuse a volatile situation. It’s certainly better than flooding the streets with policemen dressed up like they’re in the military. I’m old-school in that I think the police should look like the police, the military should look like the military.

What’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri?

Ferguson, Missouri, a small suburb of St Louis, has turned into a warzone. On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man was shot multiple times and killed by an unnamed, white police officer. The killing took place in the middle of the street, at around noon and in front of lots of witnesses. According to those witnesses, Brown had his hands in the air and was asking the officer to not shoot when he was killed.

Crowds of people began to form almost immediately. The police responded by bringing in police backup from 15 other police departments, many of which wearing military garb.

The next night, after a day of peaceful vigils, things began to go violent. Crowds began looting businesses and vandalizing vehicles. Around two dozen businesses were broken into and looted.

It’s been a chaotic mess in Ferguson ever since. People have been protesting and the police have been assembling in mass, decked out in military garb and armed with military-grade weaponry and vehicles.

When did it become acceptable for civilian police to cosplay like they’re in the military?

I feel bad for Michael Brown and his family, but the unfortunate truth is that in 2014, when a police officer wants to kill you, they pretty much can kill you with impunity. That’s just the reality we live in. No amount of vigils, protests, or lootings is going to change that. The killing took place on Saturday and we still don’t know the name of the shooter. It’s as if we don’t deserve to know who murdered Michael Brown, simply because of the killer’s occupation. We do know the shooter is on paid administrative leave. In other words, become a police officer, kill an unarmed black kid in broad daylight and get an extended paid vacation, paid for by the taxpayers.

God bless America.

Contrary to what that t-shirt says, water is not a human right

The city of Detroit has begun shutting off the water to city residents who haven’t been paying their monthly bills. So far, over 15,000 residential customers have had the water cut off, and thousands more will be joining them shortly.

From The Daily Beast:

Tangela Harris been doing her best to keep up, but when she was no longer able to work she had trouble stretching her monthly $780 in disability benefits to pay the water bill. So her water service was disconnected. Harris has since come up with $1,100 to have services restored but is having trouble keeping her $180 monthly payment to the water department. On top of that, her home has entered foreclosure because Detroit water bills are rolled into property taxes.

“They can say my house is condemned and take it,” said Harris, 38, a community organizer. “People think we’re not prioritizing, but it’s not that simple when you’re under the poverty level. It’s a different mindset.”

I’m confused. Is Tangela Harris disabled, unable to work, or is she working as a community organizer? Those two things seem to be mutually exclusive. If you’re disabled to the extent that you cannot work and earn a paycheck, but must receive money from the government just to get by, I’d think that you couldn’t be a community organizer.

If she’s obligated to pay $180 a month to the water department, it must mean she is in arrears. When was the last time she paid a water bill?

We pay our water bill each month. We do this because we realize that if we don’t, the city of Hagerstown will turn our water off. Having water is important. Not only do you need to it to drink, without water, you can’t flush the toilet or take a shower. You can’t wash your clothes or brush your teeth. If I had trouble paying my monthly bills, and couldn’t pay all of them, my water bill would be one of the things I would insist on paying. I’d go without satellite TV and Internet. I’d go without my iPhone.

I would never go without water.

I don’t know the nature of Tangela Harris’ disability, nor do I know what she did for a living before she became disabled. I also don’t know what bills she chose to pay each month instead of paying her water bill. I do know that life is a series of choices. Sometimes we make good choices, other times we make bad. Hopefully, when everything is said and done, the good choices outnumber the bad.

Choosing to not pay your monthly water bill? That’s a bad choice.

According to the protesters in the above photo, water is a human right. Actually, it’s not. Water is one of the many things in life that you both need and must pay for. Water isn’t free because it costs money to get and distribute. What if everyone decided that water was a human right, and because of this belief, refused to pay for it?

My guess is that there would be a lot of stinky, thirsty people, who can’t flush their toilets.

Update (August 10, 2014): The Planet Money podcast covered this situation. It, like all Planet Money podcast episodes, is well worth listening to.