David A. Lieb
FERGUSON, Missouri — A grand jury decided not to indict a Ferguson police officer in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, African-American 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision Monday evening that the grand jury decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting, prompting an angry response from demonstrators.
Brown's killing reignited a debate over how police treat young African-American men four decades after the civil rights movement of the 1960s and focused attention on long-simmering racial tensions in Ferguson and around the U.S.
McCulloch stressed that the grand jurors were "the only people who heard every witness ... and every piece of evidence." He said many witness presented conflicting statements that ultimately were inconsistent with the physical evidence.
"These grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process," he said.
As McCulloch was reading his statement, a crowd gathered around a car from which it was being broadcast on a stereo. When the decision was announced, Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, who was sitting atop the car, burst into tears and began screaming before being whisked away by supporters.
The crowd erupted in anger, converging on the barricade where police in riot gear were standing. They pushed down the barricade and began pelting police with items, including a bullhorn. Police stood their ground.
The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a separate investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. The department also has launched a broad probe into the Ferguson Police Department, looking for patterns of discrimination.
A grand jury of nine white and three black members had met weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence, hearing from 60 witnesses. At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The panel met in secret, a standard practice for such proceedings.
The panel had been considering charges against Wilson, who fatally shot Brown after a confrontation on Aug. 9. The shooting inflamed tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb that is patrolled by an overwhelmingly white police force. Rioting occurred the following night, protests erupted for weeks and police responded with armored vehicles and tear gas.
The tensions evoked other racially charged cases, including the riots that rocked Los Angeles in 1992 after the acquittal of white police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King. More recently, peaceful protests followed the 2013 not-guilty verdict in the Florida slaying in unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who was not a police officer but coordinated the local neighborhood watch.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon traveled to St. Louis from the state Capitol and held a news conference ahead of the announcement, asking for "peace, respect and restraint."
Authorities quickly stepped up security around the courthouse where the decision was announced. Barricades were erected, and more than 20 Missouri state troopers were seen silently assembling with rifles, 3-foot (0.91-meter) batons, riot shields and other equipment. Some nearby businesses boarded up their windows, just as many shops have already done near the site of Brown's death in Ferguson.
Hours before the announcement, dozens of people gathered in the parking lot across the street from the Ferguson Police Department. Many stood right at the edge of the lot, almost in the street, chanting things "no justice, no peace, no racist police."
One woman leading the group screamed through a bullhorn "indict that cop. Police don't like it. We want an indictment."
(Lieb reported from Jefferson City. Associated Press reporter Alex Sanz in St. Louis contributed to this report.)
(Follow David A. Lieb at: https://twitter.com/DavidALieb.)
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‘Friends’ Desert Bill Cosby when he Needs them Most
By Raynard Jackson
“Hey, hey, hey (in my best Fat Albert’s voice), please listen to what I have to say. My friend Bill Cosby is in trouble today.”
Even Fat Albert knows Bill Cosby is getting a raw deal. As a public relations/crisis management professional. I have worked with some of the biggest names in sports, entertainment, and business. So, let’s deconstruct this media frenzy engulfing the man who was once America’s favorite TV dad.
Many of these allegations have been around for more than 30 years. Cosby has never been charged with a crime and deserves the presumption of innocence. Simply because several people – okay, eight and counting – provide a similar salacious account doesn’t make it true.
Until now, Cosby and his lovely wife, Camille, have not had to defend their hard-earned good name. They have given north of $50 million to educational institutions, especially HBCUs. Cosby has opened doors to many of the top actors and comediennes in the industry.
At the ripe old age of 77 years, at what point does one’s body of work require one to be given the benefit of the doubt? Cosby is, and in my book, will always be “America’s Dad.”
None of the females coming forward ever went to the police when the incident in question was supposed to have happened. There have been no corroborating witnesses. After the initial alleged incident, each of the women continued to spend private time with Cosby. If Cosby had done what they allege, why would they continue to spend private time with him? That makes no sense. Not even to Fat Albert.
And the media’s hands are not clean in the smear campaign.
Why would respected news organizations even give these women a platform when they offer no proof or evidence to support their allegations?
Corporate America has also taken the guilty until proven innocent approach toward Cosby, a former corporate darling.
NBC officials announced last week that that they were no longer working with Cosby to produce a new series that was supposed to launch next summer. Mind you that Cosby made NBC billions of dollars with his hit TV series “The Cosby Show” in the 80s and the successful spinoff, “A Different World.”
Evidently, Hollywood is a different world.
Even more surprising than the reaction from Hollywood and Corporate America is the paucity of people willing to defend Bill Cosby or at least insist on a greater burden of proof from his growing list of accusers. To be blunt, true friends don’t desert friends based on unsubstantiated rumors.
That means even when defending them is unpopular. I have publicly defended former Senate Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi when I knew accusations of him being a White racist were unfounded. I also backed former Majority House Leader Tom DeLay, who stepped down in 2005 after being indicted for allegedly improperly funneling campaign donations to Texas House candidates. He was eventually exonerated but by then, his political career had been unfairly destroyed.
Doesn’t Cosby deserve that same kind of loyalty?
I am not aware of one public statement of support from any former cast member of Cosby’s shows. I am not aware of any statement of support from any comedian on the scene today whose career took off because of Cosby. I am not aware of any statement of support from any civil rights group or college that have gladly taken millions over the years from Cosby and his wife.
Without delving into the issues about which only Cosby and his accusers know, at minimum, those who have been recipients of his largess could at least say there’s another side of the man.
I have spoken to a few of my A-list Hollywood friends about this issue and I found their explanations repulsive. They are all afraid of being “blacklisted” by White, liberal Hollywood. As much as I love money and success, I love my integrity more. How can you not support someone who has been instrumental in your being the very person you are today? How do you justify leaving someone like Cosby out to hang by himself?
Even Fat Albert doesn’t think Cosby deserves this kind of treatment.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.
Grizzlies rout Clippers 107-91, improve to 12-2 as Marc Gasol’s dominance sets pace.
‘The Grizzlies seem to have that edge’
by Clay Bailey
Marc Gasol's dominance is making one of the NBA's best frontcourts even better.
Gasol had 30 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 107-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. It marked the second straight game Gasol has recorded at least 30 points.
The victory left Memphis with the league's best record (12-2) behind a more aggressive Gasol, who is complementing his jumper with moves to the basket this season.
"There was no doubt in my mind that Marc would be aggressive," point guard Mike Conley said, adding: "Once you see the 12-2 start, we're going to tell him to go get 30 every night."
Gasol opened the game with a pair of jumpers, then began taking the ball to the basket. The result was 12 first-quarter points as Memphis erased the Clippers' only lead of the game and built the advantage to 25 by the fourth.
"When you make jumpers, it forces the defense to come out," Gasol said. "It creates shots for other people, and I'm happy with that."
Six Grizzlies reached double figures. Courtney Lee added 13 points for Memphis. Tony Allen had 12 points, while Beno Udrih and Quincy Pondexter had 11 points apiece off the Memphis bench. Zach Randolph had 10 points.
The Clippers, who won their first two on a seven-game road swing, didn't execute early, and didn't have an answer for Gasol.
"We really have to come out executing and aggressive and hit first," said Chris Paul, who led the Clippers with 22 points, five assists and four steals. "We really have to do a better job of doing it consistently."
Jamal Crawford scored 19, and J.J. Redick finished with 15, going 3 of 6 from outside the arc.
Blake Griffin scored 12 points, but was 5 of 17 from the field.
Los Angeles, which was averaging 103.5 points, had its nine-game streak of scoring at least 100 points on the road end.
"Once they got the lead, it was hard to get back into the tempo of the game," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought the second half we lost our way a little bit."
Paul tried to guide the Clippers back into the game after halftime, scoring 13 points in the third, and Los Angeles got within eight points. But Memphis rebuilt the lead to 25 points in the fourth as Rivers relied on his reserves to try and erase the deficit. The Los Angeles bench made a run to get within 15, but Memphis never let them get any closer.
Rivers recognized that a different Gasol has made the Grizzlies more dangerous.
"I don't know if he has been on a good diet, but he looks great and is playing great," Rivers said. "The Grizzlies seem to have that edge. They aren't messing around."
Clippers: Los Angeles' seven-game road trip will cover 7,231 miles before the Clippers return home on Dec. 1 to face Minnesota. .The Clippers' 25-point deficit in the second half was not their largest of the season. They trailed by 29 Nov. 5 against Golden State.
Grizzlies: Reserve G Nick Calathes played for the first time this season after completing a 20-game suspension handed down at the start of the first round postseason series against Oklahoma City last spring for violating the league's banned substance policy. The victory gave the Grizzlies a 37-36 advantage in the overall series.
VIRUS VANQUISHED: Memphis had its full complement of players for the first time in the last three games. Five players caught a stomach virus before last Wednesday's game in Toronto, and two more caught the bug before Friday's game against Boston.
HE SAID IT: "The first two games (of the road trip), I think our defense was a little bit better. (Sunday) we didn't move the ball as well. We really didn't push the pace." — Jamal Crawford, on the Clippers' struggles.
Clippers: Visit Charlotte on Monday.
Grizzlies: Visit Lakers on Wednesday.
In observance of World AIDS Day (Sunday, Dec. 1), free HIV/AIDS testing will be offered Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 in conjunction with support from Rep. G.A. Hardaway, Mayor AC Wharton Jr. and the City of Memphis, the Memphis Police Department, Friends for Life, Best Nurses, Inc., the Shelby County Health Department and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. Testing sites and times: Dec. 1 – City Hall from 10 a.m. 2 p.m.; Orange Mound Senior Center from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Hollywood Community Center from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 2 – Tillman Police Station from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Airways Police Station from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
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