Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Continuity of Hate: From the White Robes of the KKK, to the Nazi Swastika, and Now the 'I am Darren Wilson' Wristband

In the aftermath of Darren Wilson's shooting of Michael Brown several weeks ago, an almost all white police department engaged in a riot against the black citizens of Ferguson, Missouri.

During those days of civil disturbance, police were recorded using racial slurs, threatening innocent people with violence and death, violating the Constitutional rights of journalists and others who attempted to monitor their street brigandry and hooliganism, and in all, treated the black community of Ferguson as though they were terrorists and insurgents—with the police conducting a mission of counterinsurgency and mayhem.

The Ferguson police are not ashamed of their horrible behavior.

Darren Wilson has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his successful bounty and head-hunting campaign against an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown.

Anti-black homicidal ideation and racism drive Wilson’s supporters; they yearn to participate in a 21st century lynching party by proxy.

Ultimately, Darren Wilson is a protected man, receiving paychecks while the prosecutor and his home police department orchestrate a cover-up of his cowardly killing of Michael Brown.

It would seem that despite overwhelming evidence that Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in an execution and vigilante style murder, that the latter, young Mr. Michael Brown, will receive no justice by the local authorities.

The police in Ferguson are emboldened by these events.

In fact, as reported by MSNBC and other media outlets, they are apparently so encouraged by a culture which enables, protects, and encourages white supremacist violence by the police and other white identified street vigilantes against people of color in the United States, that some members of the Ferguson police department have begun wearing wristbands which say “I am Darren Wilson”.

The symbolic politics of the “I am Darren Wilson” wristband makes clear what the black residents of Ferguson—and other communities in the United States—have known for decades and centuries. The police do not “serve and protect” black and brown communities, specifically, and the working classes and poor, more generally.

As descendants of the slave patrollers of the American slaveocracy, police are on the front lines of maintaining the hierarchies of race, white privilege, and white supremacy in the United States. 

The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband evokes the demons of white racial terrorism against black Americans.

The wristband naturally leads to an existential question: what does it mean for a police officer (or one of their supporters) to say that “I am Darren Wilson”?

Darren Wilson repeatedly shot an unarmed black teenager who had surrendered to him.

It follows that:

“I am Darren Wilson” means that you idolize a killer.

“I am Darren Wilson” means that you support the killing of unarmed black people.

“I am Darren Wilson” means that you support white supremacy.

“I am Darren Wilson” means that you are a racial paranoiac so drunk on authoritarianism and racial animus that you can rationalize, in the face of the preponderance of the available evidence, the execution of an unarmed person for the crime of being black, breathing, and walking down the street.

“I am Darren Wilson” means that your ethics are so twisted and distorted by the white racial frame and white supremacy that you sympathize and empathize more with the white cop who killed an unarmed black teenager than you do with the person who was shot dead and left in the street for hours like garbage.

“I am Darren Wilson” means that your moral framework has been corrupted and ruined by white privilege and white racism.

The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is not a minor accouterment or detail that is coincidental to a given police officer’s uniform: it is a major statement of power, politics, attitudes, and values.

The website Police One details the importance of a police officer’s dress and comportment:
The uniform of a police officer conveys the power and authority of the person wearing it. Clothing, including the police uniform, has been found to have a powerful psychological impact on those who view it. When humans contact other humans they subconsciously search for clues about the other person so that they can understand the context of the encounter. The police uniform is a powerful clue as to the wearer's authority, capabilities, and status. 
Research has revealed that the uniform has a subconscious psychological influence on people, based on the person's preconceived feelings about police officers. When a person wears the police uniform, citizens tend to be more cooperative with his or her requests. People also tend to curb their illegal or deviant behaviors when a police uniform is visible in the area.
Research has revealed that alterations to the traditional, paramilitary police uniform can result in changes in perceptions by the public. The style of the clothes, the type of hat worn, the color of the material, and even the condition of the clothes and equipment have an influence on how citizens perceive the officer. For these reasons police administrators need to take their uniform policies seriously. The selection of a uniform style, regulations on the proper wear of the uniform, how well uniforms are maintained, and policies on when officers may wear plain clothes should all be taken very seriously. The police uniform should be considered an important tool for every patrol officer.
In the context of the over-militarization of America’s police departments, the vicious violence of the police riot against the people of Ferguson, and the overt and covert racial animus that black folks in Ferguson and elsewhere have experienced at the hands of the police and other elements of the criminal justice system, “I am Darren Wilson” is an announcement that even in the post civil rights era that “we, the police, can, will, and have killed black and brown people with relative impunity…and will do so again”.

There is continuity to history. It proceeds with fits and starts, progress moving forward in the face and despite the best efforts of reactionaries and conservatives to derail and hold it back. History is also beset by a dualism where the habits of the past coexist with the present and the future.

White supremacy, as one of the most powerful ideologies in recent human history, follows those contours.

A black man is President of the United States in a moment of continual anti-black and brown violence by the police and the criminal justice system. There is obvious racial progress in many areas of American life. Yet, the country remains hyper-segregated, the job market still discriminates against people of color, and white privilege still over-determines and advantages the life chances of whites as compared to non-whites.

The intimidation and violence of the police uniform and the “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is a statement of white racist thuggery and intimidation against both the black body and the black community en masse.

The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband has ugly historical precedents: its ancestors include the white Ku Klux Klan uniform and the Nazi Swastika. All three are symbols of white supremacy, terror, and intimidation against people of color and those marked as the Other.

The KKK chose white robes as their uniform in order to intimidate free blacks by pretending to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers.

The swastika was adopted by the Nazi Party as a way of harassing, threatening, and intimidating Jews (as well as other groups) who were targeted for destruction.

The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is a claim to the right of preemptive and prejudicial violence by the police against African-Americans: it is a signal that that they too, could on a police officer's whim, be made into the next Michael Brown.

If there is any doubt that the killing of Michael Brown was influenced by racial animus within a broader cultural, as well as local context of white supremacy—and an utter contempt towards black and brown people’s lives—a person need only to look at the behavior of the Ferguson police department and Darren Wilson’s defenders and apologists.

The black residents of Ferguson are treated as less than full members of the polity, forced into a life of “custodial citizenship” by a police and local government which lords over their community.

For the white folks who support Darren Wilson, and the cops who wear “I am Darren Wilson” wristbands, this is the natural order of things--one that they are dedicated to protecting.


persephone said...


Wavenstein said...

Don't forget about the confederate flag as a symbol of white supremacy. I unfortunately live in the south and come into contact with that symbol of racialized violence far too often. Top notch work as usual Chauncey

kokanee said...

A black man is President of the
United States in a moment of continual anti-black and brown violence by
the police and the criminal justice system. There is obvious racial
progress in many areas of American life. Yet, the country remains
hyper-segregated, the job market still discriminates against people of
color, and white privilege still over-determines and advantages the life
chances of whites as compared to non-whites.
Hear, hear!

From Ferguson to Palestine,
Occupation is a crime.

No justice,
No peace.

Hands up,
Don't shoot.

When does a police force become a standing army?

Conservatives will tell you what to think, what to believe and where you fit in the hierarchical ladder. Liberals will just tell you that you are special. ;)

Fascism. I think we should all get more familiar with it:

For fun:

chauncey devega said...

We try. Let us see what happens regarding the inevitable complaints about an obvious thing.

chauncey devega said...

True on liberals and their weakness. Lakoff's observations about building institutions and language are key here.

chauncey devega said...

You mean the Republican Freedom Flag? How dare you talk about a symbol of seditious white supremacy. It is all about "Southern pride" and you just can't understand!

kokanee said...

re: True on liberals

It pained me to say that. I see it as a strength and not a weakness.

re: the psychology of conservationism

I find that really fascinating and I follow Chris Mooney to keep up with the research there. From Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything," it's easier for conservatives to deny science than to admit that their worldview of unfettered capitalism (neoliberalism) doesn't work (cognitive dissonance). And the more proof you provide, the more convinced they are that they are right (backfire or double-down effect).

Introduction to "This Changes Everything" (it's a must read ;) I'm working my way through the book:

Gina said...

A black man is President of the
United States in a moment of continual anti-black and brown violence by
the police and the criminal justice system.It's meant as an affront. They want to show that even when a black person is the president he can't do anything for black people. They intentionally bring matters to a head. They intend to humiliate.

This is the typical attitude of authoritarian people, they don't let anybody tell them what to do, as reasonable as it may be. They blindly lash about, the only point is not to give up their position.

I must admit, when Obama was elected, I really thought things would get better. But I've not taken into account insanity.

balitwilight said...

One more message that the "I am Darren Wilson" wristband deliberately telegraphs to all "black" Americans: "YOU ARE MICHAEL BROWN".

Wild Cat said...

This, too, is beyond horror:

I see Holder is stepping down. I can't blame him. NPR's comment board on Holder is being flooded with the most vile racism one can imagine.

balitwilight said...

Confederate Flag? Drive around any of the old confederate states - from Virginia on down - and you will see streets/military bases/schools named Lee, Jackson, Mosby, Bedford Forrest, Hood, Benning, ad nauseam...

Now - you can drive all day around Berlin and not see an Erwin Rommel High School, or a Goebbels Street, or a Goering Academy. Germans have the decency to be ashamed. What that tells you is that here in the USA - our version of the Nazis basically won the cultural argument.

balitwilight said...

Good point. Because this is a pet peeve and I am trying to spread the word, I'll modify something slightly. In a world of "Unfettered Capitalism", the 13 banks that cratered the world economy in 2008 would be bankrupt and out of business. On the other hand - in a world of NeolIberal Capitalism, those banks get the government to pass regulations that make them even richer. Neoliberalism is bleaker than "unfettered capitalism". It is the complete and outright capture of the government (and our regulations) by corporate interests.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

The "I am Darren Wilson" also signifies that I, too, would have killed Michael Brown. Or, given the support Darren Wilson has received, monetarily and from the white community, that I, too, could be wrongly accused. Every officer wearing that wrist band needs to be investigated and suspended pending further disciplinary action.

chauncey devega said...

Rent seeking behavior and a moral hazard. "Free markets" are a joke. What we have are the 1% on welfare and being subsidized by the people.

chauncey devega said...

Great point. This reframing of victimization and endorsement of murder. They have a stand-in black captain of a corrupt white police department. How much are they paying him to run interference I wonder?

chauncey devega said...

Excellent. I will have to borrow that one w. permission.

Michelle Blake said...

What the masses of white folks don't get is that these militarized cops will soon be killing them,their children,their fathers,sisters,mothers ect. Just as the German poet wrote back in the day about the war against the Nazi's-- they came 4 the polish people but I did nothing cause I was not Polish when they came 4 the Gypsy I did nothing cause I wasn't a Gypsy then they came 4 the Jewish people but I was not a Jew but then they came 4 me then it was 2 late... All the whites who say nothing or support Officer Darren Wilson soon the cops will be killing whites like they're trash then the public out cry will be 2 late. There are whites being killed by cops but the lame stream media doesn't race bait the masses like they do when there's a black who's been murdered by a cop.
Common sense will show we're all being set up 4 a civil war in this country while the Gov. agency are buying tons of ammunition even the IRS & Postal services are being given their own weapons.....There's a much bigger agenda a-foot & race baiting the masses is a great way 2 keep us all divided & distraction while our police officers are turned into soldiers 2 be used against we--the American masses : (

DanF said...

One of the reasons my wife and I decided to not stay in Virginia was that we couldn't possibly envision willingly enrolling our children in Robert E. Lee High School.

joe manning said...

This is yet another provocation for the Justice Dept to investigate Ferguson PD for cavalierly demonstrating that it has no Internal Affairs Dept., no Public Relations savvy, and zero "community policing" know-how. By wearing "I am Darren Wilson" armbands cops are aggressively abridging everyone's civil rights.

Michelle Blake said...

Personally I feel we were all manipulated by those who put Obama out as a presidential candidate in the 1st place. He's just a tool 4 the elite just like every president after Kennedy who had a change of heart & no longer wanted 2 obey the rules of his elite handlers so he was assassinated. We haven't had a real president since then. We don't really choose the president they're chosen 4 us & we end up with the 1 who's going 2 do what hes told. Republican or Democrat---2 cheeks of the same back-side -- they're both controlled by the same group of elite's who want 1 world gov. : (

balitwilight said...

Thanks. Sure thing.

Sandy Young (Corkingiron) said...

I saw that NPR post earlier today and yes, it got ugly real quick. I think it is important to note that Holder has said he won't leave office until his replacement is sworn in. I have no doubt the GOP will be interested in dragging out any new appointment, whether they control the Senate or not, but so long as they do - they still have Holder in the AG's job, right?

Sandy Young (Corkingiron) said...

Good piece, Mr. DeVega. This bone-headed display was clearly a program of "To Serve and Provoke". Props to the political sensibilities of the people in the streets who didn't rise to the bait.

Farrod said...


Wild Cat said...

I think it must have been linked to a white supremacist site. Plus racist Steve Sailer has been trolling many left/liberal sites the past few days.

Here's another disgusting story from the Land of the Free:

I so envy your Canadian address, Sandy.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Actually, Maryland, at least western Maryland probably rural Eastern Maryland as well, has a ton of Confederate symbology. Whole neighborhoods with streets named after Confederate Generals.

I can't go one day without seeing at least two confederate flags when I leave my house. Yesterday I saw a woman in a tie-dye confederate shirt.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Shortly after the Trayvon Martin verdict was given, that man Chris Lane was killed by three people.

All these white supremacists were trolling with "I am Chris Lane" crap, essentially saying that all white people live in constant fear of black people. They also tried that with Renisha McBride's killer, "We are Theodore Wafer."

"I am Darren Wilson" is exactly the same. They are saying "I live in fear of black people."

Another Darren Wilson shot an unarmed black man in a gas station.

Sandy Young (Corkingiron) said...

You might want to check out why we have to struggle to get a Federal Inquiry into why we have over 1100 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW). According to our Prime Minister, we know the answer. Apparently, "it's their culture".

Sound familiar?

chauncey devega said...

I think you are onto something. But the power of your statement is undermined by the following:

"There are whites being killed by cops but the lame stream media doesn't race bait the masses like they do when there's a black who's been murdered by a cop."

Doing just a whee bit of truth telling about how black and brown people are disproportionately killed by the cops is not "race baiting". That phrase implies that white supremacy is not a problem and then easily slouches towards white victimology nonsense.

Wild Cat said...

All too well. And something for me to investigate. That news never spilled over here...

kokanee said...

I was hopeful when Obama was elected but I was cautious with my optimism. Would our plutocrats leave it to chance that one rogue president could upset their house of cards?

kokanee said...

You are right about corporations not against regulation but wanting to regulate in their profit. A quote from "This Changes Everything" by Naomi Klein:
When historians look back on the past quarter century of international negotiations, two defining processes will stand out. There will be the climate process: struggling, sputtering, failing utterly to achieve its goals. And there will be the corporate globalization process, zooming from victory to victory: from that first free trade deal to the creation of the World Trade Organization to the mass privatization of the former Soviet economies to the transformation of large parts of Asia into sprawling free-trade zones to the “structural adjusting” of Africa. There were setbacks to that process, to be sure—for example, popular pushback that stalled trade rounds and free trade deals. But what remained successful were the ideological underpinnings of the entire project, which was never really about trading goods across borders—selling French wine in Brazil, for instance, or U.S. software in China. It was always about using these sweeping deals, as well as a range of other tools, to lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational corporations to produce their goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible—while paying as little in taxes as possible. Granting this corporate wishlist, we were told, would fuel economic growth, which would trickle down to the rest of us, eventually. The trade deals mattered only in so far as they stood in for, and plainly articulated, this far broader agenda.

The three policy pillars of this new era are familiar to us all: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and lower corporate taxation, paid for with cuts to public spending. Much has been written about the real-world costs of these policies—the instability of financial markets, the excesses of the super-rich, and the desperation of the increasingly disposable poor, as well as the failing state of public infrastructure and services. Very little, however, has been written about how market fundamentalism has, from the very first moments, systematically sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith.


In a democracy, corporations answer to the government and the government answers to its citizens. In the US, it's the other way around.

OldPolarBear said...

The main street running through Fort Jackson, South Carolina -- and in fact the postal address for the base -- is Strom Thurmond Boulevard.

7thangel said...

there's nothing to envy, police shootings an unarmed black men isn't just an american thing.

police abuse of black brown and first nations, is common as is the just-us system

Courtney H. said...

So true. And the cartoon Is hilarious!

anonymoud said...

I wish someone would create a wrist band with the following statements:

I am not Officer Darren Wilson.

The proceeds from the sale of each wrist band could go to the Brown family.

kokanee said...

One can order custom wristbands here:

Mine would have "I am Mike Brown" on one side and "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" on the other.

kokanee said...

You are on a roll today! From "You are Michael Brown" to unapologetic southern racist symbology. Kudos!

balitwilight said...

Thanks. It's always motivating to read thoughtful posts like yours and others.

Mack Lyons said...

As I've said before, wearing the "I am Darren Wilson" wristband is tantamount to wearing a "PROUD SLAVE PATROL MEMBER" bracelet.

In fact, wearing the latter would be a more refreshingly honest gesture.

Gable1111 said...

I read a while back that it now costs a billion dollars to run a credible and competitive campaign for president. And most of that money is going to come from the powers that be, those who really run the country.

Given that, by the time we get down to the democratic and republican nominees for President, you know, by virtue of the enormous treasure invested in them, that they will do the bidding of those who bought them. There can be talk of climate change, wall st accountability, health care reform, paying their fair share, etc. But nothing substantive is done. That's the deal. Some will say health care reform puts the lie to that, but not when in the course of that the health care industry is delivered 50 million guaranteed customers.

dadumdee said...

I will shoot anyone wearing an "I Am Darren Wilson" wristband in self defense.

IrishUp said...

Agree - politicians and police have been testing the boundaries of what they can get away with on communities of color - and particularly black communities - for decades. They hone methods and tactics on marginalized populations, which are later slowly introduced more broad scale.

Nina Flowers said...

When you challenge the elite and their primary tool - the military industrial complex, you are made an example of... The world witnessed in Dallas one day what happens to people like that. JFK's death has solidified the grip of fascists. Surely enough elected officials know to "stay in line".

Nina Flowers said...

What really disgusts me as a US military veteran is the treason that the confederate battle flag is a symbol of. You get so many white folks down south (and I hate to admit I was born and raised there) always going on and on about how it's a symbol of "their heritage" and it's a "freedom of speech" issue and we blacks don't understand. That flag presided over more US troop deaths than any flag in history. Period! So their arguments of trying to justify white supremacy are bogus as usual.

Nina Flowers said...

The Germans owned up to that shameful episode in their history. I think one of the biggest mistakes in history was Abraham Lincoln giving amnesty to the confederates. Instead of imprisoning them for treason, they were left to implement Jim Crow laws, etc.

Miles_Ellison said...

Capitalism is the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk.

The Sanity Inspector said...

Expatriate curmudgeon Fred Reed used to be a police reporter. He agrees that the police are out of control, but, by way of explanation of their mentality, invites you to consider the normal work life of an inner city cop from his or her POV. "As a reporter, I saw all of these things. Not similar things, but exactly these. They are not imaginary. They will change your attitude toward humanity. It won’t make you better company."

chauncey devega said...

He reads like a white victimologist defender of human mediocrities. Cops have a good job, with a pension, and the risks they face--much like firefighters--are greatly exaggerated. If they can't do their jobs properly 'cause they are "scared" of the dangerous inner city negroes then said cops should be fired and find another line of work. A person's constitutional rights are not secondary to some incompetent cop's "feelings" or "fears". If you can't do the job properly find another line of work.

Nick Dahlheim said...

Chauncey, what's the angle of that suspicious (and 6-7 weeks way too little and too late) videotaped "apology" from the Ferguson Police Chief? Is this a ploy to get white "moderates" and pseudo-progressives to believe some idea that the Ferguson police and the Missouri political establishment have "reformed?" (Hence, no need to prosecute Sgt. Darren Wilson and go on talking about all of those horrible and ugly racial realities that stain the pure white consciousness of the average white American with the ugly realities of the structural and deeply subconscious roots of American racism). I am HIGHLY skeptical and cynical about this apology, but I'm wondering if you have something specific to add about this September 25, 2014 video from Police Chief Tom Jackson.

Miriam Mata said...

Michael Brown's music

Nick Dahlheim said...

Here! Here! There is nothing more vile and disgusting than to hear about cops as "heroes." It reminds me of what Mike Papantonio talked about in terms of the basic cop psychology: these ex-football jocks who barely complete community college with designs about playing Rambo combined with all of this seething and all-pervasive structural racism.

Nick Dahlheim said...

Holder was not even all that great on "race" issues---I mean that b/c he every once in a great while spoke about some of these issues with a rare candor earned him all of this hatred speaks for itself.

fjdem wkxky said...

more proof of the psychopathic mind of the racist and how whites are not "ignorant" or "surprised" about violent racist behavior toward non-whites. Avoid them and be very cautious if you must be around them.

chauncey devega said...

Be mindful of the pitfall's of race essentialism. Who is "them"?

fjdem wkxky said...


Gunner Troy said...

Slave Patrol, I like that!!! I'm gonna have those made :)