The “hands up, don’t shoot” that came out of Ferguson, Missouri, had been a national mantra for months, used in schools, on streets and hundreds of other places, before the investigation into Michael Brown’s death eventually showed that the black teen who was shot by a white police officer didn’t have his hands up, and probably had assaulted the officer.
And in Florida, George Zimmerman was portrayed for months as a trigger-happy security volunteer who simply gunned down an innocent black teen before it was revealed that Trayvon Martin probably was beating him up at the time.
In both cases, violent protesters made threats, took to the streets and launched campaigns of destruction without knowing the details of what really happened.
So now there are protests that are spreading all across the country over the death of Freddie Gray, and although the initial Baltimore police investigation report into his death was turned over to prosecutors on Thursday, the public still doesn’t know exactly what happened.
In fact, one Fox News commentator said plainly on Thursday, “We don’t know what happened.”
Could it have been police force? Yes. An accident? Don’t know. Self-inflicted? Unlikely but not outside the realm of possibility. A medical condition? Possible.
Station WJLA reported that the investigation showed Gray suffered a catastrophic injury when he “slammed into the back of the police transport van, apparently breaking his neck.”
The report said the “head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.”
But the report said, too, “Details surrounding exactly what caused Gray to slam into the back of the van [were] unclear. The officer driving the van has yet to give a statement to authorities. It’s also unclear whether Gray’s head injury was voluntary or was a result of some other action.”
The Washington Post reported a prisoner in the same van with Gray said he heard Gray “banging” against the van, in a scenario in which it appeared Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
But the report noted, “It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.”
Even as the reports conceded that all of the information is not yet available, the demonstrations against police spread across the country, to New York, Denver, where there were arrests, and several other major cities.
The costs have been high. NBC Washington reported that 100 officers have been hurt since the violence erupted last weekend. Dozens of buildings have been destroyed. Hundreds of vehicles burned.
The report said Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said at least 40 officers already have required some sort of treatment at a hospital after being attacked by protesters throwing bricks, bottles and other items.
The police officer said 201 people were arrested in Baltimore, and surveillance footage was being reviewed to determine what charges may eventually be filed.
And the threats of further violence have been serious. At Breitbart was a report that Hashim Nzinga, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, warned since America “declared war on us,” the party should be seen as founding fathers who declare war and are “willing to die or kill to save our babies and to save a black nation that is dying before our eyes.”
“President Obama, when he was elected, he could have been a unifying leader,” he said. Instead, the president has “made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions…”
One report had black activist Al Sharpton, who was accused of getting physical in a confrontation with a Fox News reporter, calling for a march from Baltimore to Washington and citing Gray’s death, but not mentioning Brown or Martin.
But the evidence of a directionless movement was all over, “Right now nobody’s knows anything,” a protester told a Fox New interviewer.
At the same time, another marcher nearby carried a sign that said “End police terror.”
Dozens were arrested in Denver and some 140 in New York as protesters staged street actions in those cities and others, even though the original dispute arose in Baltimore.
The New York rally, the New York Times said, “began in Union Square … to denounce the death of Mr. Gray and to criticize the tactics of the police in both Baltimore and New York City.”
But reports noted that even when the investigation results are available, there still will be questions unanswered.