Over the weekend, Donald Trump stuck his foot in his mouth – again – by personally attacking the parents of an Army captain who in 2004 died serving our nation.
I have no sympathy for Mr. Trump, and the couple he attacked made themselves a target by slamming the Republican presidential candidate on a national stage. The real importance of the barbs exchanged since Thursday, however, has been to allow another bread-and-circus distraction from some of the dishonest narratives espoused at last week’s Democratic convention.
One of those narratives is one that has furthered racial strife, and helped spark the Black Lives Matter in 2014.
One of the other mothers on the convention stage last week was Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown. Brown was killed by then-Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, and the cry of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” dominated news for months as black protesters claimed Brown was trying to surrender when he was killed.
McSpadden furthered this narrative in a July 8, 2016 New York Times op-ed. She wrote, “Sometimes it seems like the only thing we can do in response to the police brutality that my son and so many other black boys and men have suffered is to pray for black lives.”
But Brown’s alleged innocence in face of his death at Wilson’s hands was proven false in March 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice — under then-Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, both Democrats and both the first black Americans to hold their respective jobs.
According to the report, witnesses who said Brown had his hands up in an attempt to surrender before he was killed were unreliable. Reasons for not believing those witnesses included:
- “ some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence”
- “some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible for otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time.”
- “Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media.”
The report also stated that “Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision” and that “credible witnesses” did “establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.”
“Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment,” concluded the report’s “Summary of the Evidence” section, “these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and ‘charging’ at Wilson.”
The report also found that Brown attacked Wilson in his car, leading Wilson to legally use his firearm against Brown.
McSpadden’s reference to alleged “police brutality” that she says led to her son’s death may also be part of the reason the general public is unaware that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative was disproven. According to a nationwide poll conducted in late 2015, 63 percent of voters did not know that the Obama administration had concluded “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a false representation of what happened between Wilson and Brown.
Since her son’s death, McSpadden has become an advocate for police body cameras and other criminal justice reforms. She also backs gun control policies. She wrote a book earlier this year about her son, which she told Cosmopolitan was intended in part to have people “feel what type of kid he was: an animal lover, such a granny’s boy, my firstborn.”
The DOJ report notes that Wilson told “prosecutors and investigators” that he stopped Brown because the 18-year old matched the description of a man who had robbed a convenience store earlier in the day. According to the DOJ, “Brown stole several packages of cigarillos” from the store, and “As captured on the store’s surveillance video, when the store clerk tried to stop Brown, Brown used his physical size to stand over him and forcefully shove him away.”
McSpadden’s appearance was part of the DNC’s segment entitled, “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families.”
Hillary Clinton’s campaign defended its speaker invitations, noting that former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Joe Sweeney – a former New York Police Department detective who helped survivors on 9/11 – were invited to speak.
Dustin Siggins is the Weekend Editor and an Associate Editor for The Stream, and a public relations consultant. Previously, he was the D.C. Correspondent and Public Relations Officer for LifeSiteNews, the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family daily news website. The opinions expressed are his own.