Best-selling author and controversialist Ann Coulter, who supports Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, is addressing the media to examine why the mother of Michael Brown -- an 18-year-old black man who was shot to death by a Missouri police officer in 2014 -- has been invited to address the Democratic National Convention later this month. Coulter tweeted: “Reporters: Who among you will be the first to ask Hillary why the mother of anti-cop thug Michael Brown will be speaking at her convention?”
Coulter is the author of “Mugged,” a book that sought to chronicle “racial demagoguery” stretching from the 1960s to the presidency of Barack Obama.
Reporters: Who among you will be the first to ask Hillary why the mother of anti-cop thug Michael Brown will be speaking at her convention?— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) July 17, 2016
The website for the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Philadelphia, notes that First Lady Michelle Obama will speak on July 25, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders, and "DREAMer Astrid Silva." Following, on July 26, will be former President Bill Clinton -- under the theme "A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families" -- in the company of the "Mothers of the Movement," including the participation of "Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, Mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, Mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland."
Astrid Silva, who will be addressing the convention, is a Mexican national who entered the United States illegally at the age of 4 with her parents, who also entered illegally. Silva has received a work permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA immigration program, introduced by Obama administration in 2012.
The presence of Lezley McSpadden could serve reanimate tensions and controversy over the shooting of Brown, which occured August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, a northern suburb of St. Louis MO. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The case received widespread attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as protesters from across the country to Ferguson. It gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has stirred debate over supposed targeting of black Americans by police throughout the country.
At the time of his death, a toxicology report released after an autopsy revealed THC - the active ingredient in marijuana in Brown's system. Enough was found to indicate that he was impaired. Also, a plastic bag containing 1.5 grams of marijuana was found in his possession.
A Missouri grand jury and the federal Department of Justice cleared Officer Wilson of any civil rights violations. The DOJ determined that credible witnesses corroborated the officer's account, which was supported by forensic evidence. For example, Wilson suffered a blow to his face that resulted in a broken occipital bone in his skull, while Brown's blood was found in his patrol car. Witnesses who incriminated him were not credible, including some who admitted they had not directly seen the events. In the hours before his death, Brown robbed a convenience store, taking packages of cigarillos. There he assaulted the store owner who sought to stop him. At the time of his death, Brown weighed 292 pounds and stood 6 feet 4 inches.
Officer Wilson responded to a call about a robbery and found Brown and an accomplice ambling down the middle of a street in Ferguson. Wilson said that he realized that they matched the robbery suspects' descriptions. Shortly thereafter, Brown and Wilson struggled through the window of the patrol car until Wilson’s service pistol fired. Brown and his companion fled with Wilson in pursuit. Brown stopped and turned to face Wilson and then moved toward him. Wilson fired at Brown several times. Brown was unarmed at the time but moving toward Wilson when the last shots were fired. The shooting sparked unrest in Ferguson and elsewhere. The false "hands up" account by non-credible witnesses were widely circulated within the black community immediately after the shooting and it contributed to the strong protests and outrage about the killing of the unarmed man.
In April 2015, Michael Brown’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lezley McSpadden, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Ferguson, former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and former police officer Darren Wilson. In a document submitted to the court, they argue that Wilson violated Michael Brown’s constitutional rights as part of a pattern they saw in the policy and practice of the Ferguson police force. The court filing read: “Ordering them to "Get the f*&k" out of the street, or on the sidewalk, is consistent with Defendant Wilson's pattern of unprofessional speech and is commonly known to set the stage for an aggressive encounter with him and/or the excessive use of force that followed herein.” Asserting that without the use of “unwarranted profane language” by Wilson, the encounter with Brown would have been uneventful, Brown’s parents said that the officer’s “aggressive, disrespectful, and profane language” served to escalate the encounter.
Michael Brown Sr. does not live with Lezley McSpadden.
They also said that he used his patrol car as “an intimidating weapon or act of threatening force.” They are seeking $75,000 in compensation for damages they suffered, not including lawyers’ fees.
On June 23, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Thea A. Sherry made a ruling to allow parties to the lawsuit to examine Brown’s record of juvenile offenses. No one is to disclose the confidential information, and the unredacted portions may not be transmitted electronically, according to the court order. The information has to be kept under lock and key in lawyers’ offices. Earlier this year, Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for the juvenile officer of St. Louis County Family Court, said that she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a juvenile record for Brown.
According to Missouri state law, the records of most juvenile court proceedings may not be released to the public. However, Harcourt said Brown had no juvenile cases involving serious felony charges or convictions, including murder, robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon. Those felony records would not be required to be confidential and would have been released.
Lezley McSpadden has been hailed as one of several mothers of victims of police shootings. On July 2, for example, she spoke at the annual ESSENCE festival in New Orleans, as did Sybrina Fulton.
Featured as one of the “Mothers Moments of Courage” talk, McSpadden tearfully told the convention, “We need everyone to come together and empower us as well,” and added, “Because this is a hard journey once you are thrust into it – and you have to walk this journey every day of your life and you don’t anything to heal as far as justice is concerned.” She counted Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton as on of her supporters. “She was the first person to come to St. Louis and meet me, hug me and encourage me,” McSpadden said. Trayvon Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman -- a Latino male -- in an altercation in a gated community near Orlando, Florida. That case also became celebrated as an incident of racial bias and animosity.