Five years ago last week, a false scenario was created that has permeated the way many people look at police personnel today.
And out on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, the leading Democratic candidates are pushing the lie as if it hadn't already been debunked by eyewitnesses, tribunals and the candidates' like-minded fact-checking organizations.
The scenario is the infamous 2014 Michael Brown shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The lie is that the officer, Darren Wilson, shot the robbery suspect while his hands were raised to surrender.
It sparked riots in the St. Louis suburb where it occurred, outrage across the country and probably affects every arrest of a black person by a white officer in Chattanooga today.
Yet, President Barack Obama's Justice Department concluded that the hands-raised claim just plain wasn't true. The far left Washington Post's Fact Checker column called the rallying cry of "Hands up, don't shoot" one of "the biggest Pinocchios of the year."
"Given that Wilson's account is corroborated by physical evidence," the Justice Department report said, "and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of [Brown's friend], there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat."
Yes, witnesses — despite threats of neighborhood reprisals — corroborated the officer's story. Brown had reached into the police car and grabbed Wilson around the neck and was said to be approaching him menacingly when he fired the first shot. And finding cooperating witnesses in high crime areas is a problem in Chattanooga and in many places across the country.
Still, representatives of the former president's party don't seem concerned with the truth when it comes to making political hay and defeating President Donald Trump for a second term in office.
At least eight candidates, on the anniversary of the shooting, tweeted, wrote or said things that were various rewrites of history when it came to the incident.
The worst was U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, who tweeted Brown was "murdered by a white police officer" and suggested that because of it "we must confront systemic racism and police violence head on."
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was not much better, writing that "we must finally end police violence against people of color."
Elsewhere, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, called it "police violence and racism," U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, referred to the death as an "injustice," U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, termed what happened "murder" and New York Mayor Michael DeBlasio said "no one should die due to the color of their skin."
Why do they this — spout the same untruths that some have called divisive and libelous because it is, in fact, the publication of false accusations?
They do it because they cynically hope people have forgotten the facts of the case. They hope people only link "Michael Brown" to "Ferguson" to "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" to "police violence" to "racism" to "Donald Trump."
"Racism," after all, has replaced "Russia" at the top of Democratic campaign lingo. Democrats can't be bothered with the debunked Trump/Russia story they touted for two years. That was so 2018.
They also do it because they are afraid of losing the black vote as a bloc. Eight percent of blacks voted for Trump in 2016, a higher percentage than expected and a number that has been expected to climb in 2020, with blacks near record lows in unemployment.
Neither do the candidates want potential voters to know the truth — that, according to a nationwide study published last month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, white police officers are no more likely to shoot minority citizens than non-white officers are. Further, the study found that between 90% and 95% of civilians shot by officers were attacking police or other citizens, and that 90% were armed with a weapon.
Nevertheless, the conventional wisdom since Ferguson has been that black suspects shot by white police is an epidemic, that the white police do it out of racism and that racism is involved in a large majority of all stops made by white police on black citizens.
That leap, in turn, has led to the attachment of the words "racism" and "racist" to situations and individuals who simply have a different opinion than the person making the charge.
It has coarsened and poisoned our daily dialogue. And it's all from a lie, a lie that Democrats who want to lead our country keep repeating.