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Deaths of six men tied to Ferguson protests draw ‘something sinister at play’ media scrutiny

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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The deaths of six men with connections to the violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, is prompting plenty of fear mongering and conspiracy theories, as if there could be a stealth vigilante at work.

Five of the deaths involved young black men in their 20s.

A far-reaching Hollywood-type scenario that’s getting play in the media, as seen in an article from the New York Daily News, which noted the deaths “drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.”

More from The Daily News:

Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose. […]

Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.

But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after [Michael] Brown’s death, citing threats — mostly anonymous — that protest leaders continue to receive.

 

The Rev. Darryl Gray is cited as having found a box inside his car that contained a 6-foot python.

“Everybody is on pins and needles,” Gray said of his fellow activists.

Never mind that a python is a relatively docile, non-venomous creature not known for attacking humans, and kills it prey by coiling around it.

But then, this is the same crowd that launched a national movement based on what was proven to be a lie, the “hands up, don’t shoot” refrain that’s still repeated today.

As biased as Eric Holder is, even his Justice Department concluded the cop who killed Brown was justified — the 18-year-old had violently attacked the officer and was charging at him a second time.

The timing of disgraced actor Jussie Smollett being charged with staging his own hate crime doesn’t help Gray’s case much, from an appearance standpoint.

Of the two homicides cited, one occurred on November 2014, the night a grand jury declined to charge the officer with killing Michael Brown, which prompted one of the most violent nights of demonstrations.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Deandre Joshua, 20, identified by The Daily News as an “activist,” was found inside a burned out car blocks from the protest. He had been shot in the head.

A man seen comforting Brown’s mother that night, Darren Seals, met a similar fate two years later, the paper reported, his bullet-riddled body also found in a burning car in September 2016.

All of which suggests it may be the modus operandi of a criminal in the area.

Of course, the homicide rate among blacks aged 18 to 34 is nine times as high as the rate among whites, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in 2017. In effect, homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men, with an overwhelming majority of these deaths coming at the hands of a member of their own race.

Yet, irresponsible reporting from The Daily News sows seeds of suspicion:

The Ferguson protests added momentum to the national Black Lives Matter movement, but they also generated resentment from people angered by TV footage of protesters hurling rocks and insults at police. Amid lingering anger, activists and observers say that while they see no clear connection between the deaths and the protests, they can’t help but wonder about the thoroughness of the investigations.

 

The paper cites a sociologist who opines that these deaths “may not be a high priority” for the police.

The irony of police there being attacked in the past for doing their job not lost here.

A “frequent leader of the Ferguson protests” is quoted saying that she suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers are behind the deaths — with no more evidence than the community had to claim Brown was murdered.

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 10: (L-R) Amy Vilela, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush (Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images for Netflix)

Cori Bush says her car was run off the road, her home vandalized and someone shot a bullet into her car in 2014, while her 13-year-old daughter was inside.

“Something is happening,” she said. “I’ve been vocal about the things I’ve experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts.”

 

Tom Tillison

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