Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A Grotesque Portrait of Power in Ferguson, Missouri: A Heavily Armed S.W.A.T. Team is "Threatened" by an Unarmed Black Man Walking Down the Street
The protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the murder of Michael Brown by a local police officer continued last night. The police are fully militarized and are shooting at, harassing, bullying, and acting like thugs against an entire community whose "crime" is being black and outraged that a young person was shot, and the State has (so far) acted in an irresponsible way as they work to conceal the crime.
According to news reports, the FAA has declared Ferguson a "no-fly zone", police are removing their ID and name tags, and have systematically been harassing and chasing out the news media so that they can fully engage in counter-insurgency military tactics and run amok in violation of the civil rights of the people of Ferguson, Missouri. This is not taking place in some "Third World" country; it is taking place now, here, in the United States when a black man is President, and another is the Attorney General.
[Obama, he who happens to be black and the President of the United States, several hours ago finally found time to issue a comment about the murder of Michael Brown and the events in Ferguson.
Apparently, the suicide of Robin Williams was a more important matter and thus took precedence.]
Despite the local thug police department's efforts to censor and suppress media coverage, there are brave people who are sharing photos and information about the on-going events in Ferguson.
This photo of a police tactical squad facing down an unarmed black man is one of the most powerful depictions of the grotesque nature of power that I have seen in many years.
Readers of WARN know that I am very interested in visual semiotics. The position of the bodies, the N.W.A. "fuck the police" lyric on the mailbox, and how those camouflaged men in fully body armor, wearing surplus boots from the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq, are facing down an unarmed black man walking in public space in an American community is a profound commentary on power and race.
State power works by maintaining a pretense of its own vulnerability all the while possessing the capacity to exert its will--here a monopoly on violence--over others.
Power also exists in a hyper-aware paradoxical state of authority and legitimacy which is plagued by a fear that it must reassert itself in order to not be made to appear vulnerable.
Moreover, power and race are perverse in Ferguson, Missouri, where the police continue to conceal the identity of the cop who killed Michael Brown for reasons of protecting the former's safety.
Question. Who was protecting Michael Brown from the police?
There is a no-fly zone to "protect" the police and "the residents".
Second question. Do the black people in Ferguson have a secret air force that I am unaware of?
How do you "read" the image of the police military tactical team that is confronting an unarmed black man walking down the street in Ferguson, Missouri? I see overwhelming armed masculine force made to look impotent and weak by the presence of an unarmed black person who they could kill with ease. The police are the cowards; the unarmed black man has the power to provoke, arouse, and anger White Authority by virtue of his mere existence in public space.
White racial paranoiacs (a condition of the white racial frame and the White Gaze that was discussed here) will somehow see an unarmed black person as a threat, and one who is somehow "provoking" the police into shooting or arresting him.
What do you see?