This is exactly why we don’t trust many of these ‘fact’ organizations to tell the truth. In both tweets by Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, which we highlighted here, they lied about what happened to Michael Brown, saying he was “murdered”.
Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 9, 2019
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019
But PolitiFact, while writing on article on the tweets, refused to rate these lies with their “Truth-O-Meter”:
After these tweets came out, PolitiFact heard from numerous readers who asked us to check whether Harris and Warren were correct in calling Brown’s death a “murder.”
There is no question that Wilson killed Brown, and there’s strong evidence that it was not accidental.
In discussing the case with legal experts, however, we found broad consensus that “murder” was the wrong word to use — a legal point likely familiar to Harris, a longtime prosecutor, and Warren, a law professor.
In fact, two other Democratic senators with law degrees now running for president — Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand — more accurately referred to it as a killing.
That said, experts who have studied police-related deaths and race relations said that focusing too much on the linguistics in controversial cases comes with its own set of problems.
“I don’t know if the legalistic distinction intensifies the anger, but it does feel like an attempt to shift the debate from a discussion about the killing of black and brown people by police,” said Jean Brown, who teaches communications at Texas Christian University and specializes in media representations of African Americans. “This is unfortunate, because rather than discussing the need for de-escalation tactics and relations between police and communities of color, this has become a conversation about legal terms. Quite frankly, it’s a distraction that doesn’t help the discussion.”
Because the significance of Harris’ and Warrens’ use of the word is open to some dispute, we won’t be rating their tweets on the Truth-O-Meter.
This is bull-malarkey. Brown was killed by Officer brown in self-defense. It was in no way, shape, or form ‘murder’.
While many have lied about the case over the years, the facts do not lie. And for Politifact to hide behind “some dispute” which doesn’t exist to keep from having to rate these characterizations by Harris and Warren as “PANTS ON FIRE” is preposterous.