United States

This Day in History: Ferguson Police Shoot Michael Brown; Gerald Ford Becomes President; and Jesse Owens Wins His Final Medal

Jesse Owens wins fourth gold medal (1936)
On August 9, 1936, Jesse Owens’ finished what some consider to be the most dominant run in Olympic history – winning his fourth gold medal in six days.

Owens’ dominance, and the dark history of an Olympic games under Nazi oversight, was chronicled in a previous NBCDFW story.

Owens’ success was considered a symbolic blow to Hitler’s Nazi regime, but also shined light on racial oppression in the United States. He died in 1980, at the age of 66.

Britain arrests Gandhi (1942)
Six years later – on August 9, 1942 – with World War II ravaging Europe and Eastern Asia, British authorities arrested Mohandas Gandhi for his leadership in the ‘Quit India’ Movement – a civil-disobedience campaign supporting India’s immediate push for independence.

Gandhi was accused of supporting the Empire of Japan, though his supporters argued that was a misunderstanding. He remained imprisoned for two years, but never stopped being a symbol for India’s independence movement.

Mohandas Gandhi – often referred to as a Mahatma Gandhi – is the most famous Mahatmas of recent history, a South Asian moniker for wisdom and selflessness. He died on January 30, 1948, at the age of 78.

Gerald Ford becomes President (1974)
After two years of investigation, firings and scandal, Richard Nixon resigned; Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States.

On August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford began his brief stint in the Whitehouse. President Ford guided America through domestic, economic and foreign policy turmoil, as the Vietnam War was proving to be a failure.

Ford infamously pardoned Nixon, though many scholars later agreed it was a good decision – it laid to rest a situation that had already brought much strife to the American political system.

Unemployment and inflation both declined during his tenure, but Democrats dominated the midterm elections in 1974 and Ford lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

He died in December 2006, at the age of 93.

John Hinckley committed to a mental hospital (1982)
On August 9, 1982, John Hinckley Jr. was committed to a mental hospital by a federal judge, the result of his 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Hinckley originally attempted to assassinate Jimmy Carter, according to reports, but was arrested on a firearms charge. His goal is not believed to be political, but stems from an obsession with Jodie Foster, whom he reportedly stalked.

Hinckley failed to kill anyone during his shooting, fortunately; but, unfortunately, Press Secretary James Brady 2014 death was ruled a homicide, caused by the shooting, as reported by the Washington Post.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He remains at a psychiatric hospital to this day.

Abner Louima is arrested and assaulted by police (1997)
Just 20 years ago today, Abner Louima was sexually assaulted by a police officer after being arrested by mistake; New York City Police Officer Justin Volpe was later sentenced to 30 years in prison for that incident.

Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was at Club Rendez-Vous in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Volpe was punched by someone at the club and arrested Louima for resisting arrest. Volpe later admitted he mistakenly believed Louima was his assailant, according to the New York Times.

The Abner Louima-case was the start of the fallout for New York City’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and his crackdown on crime. Giuliani was a champion of stop-and-frisk policing, a controversial topic for its reported racial disparities.

This case, followed by the shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant who was shot 19 times, became a major controversy on the once superbly popular Giuliani’s crime prevention policies.

Abner Louima has since become an activist for Haiti and against police brutality.

Michael Brown is shot in Ferguson (2014)
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson got in an altercation following Brown’s reported robbery of a convenience store – as most know: Brown ended up dead and Ferguson was changed forever.

The shooting, which became another unfortunate addition to the lengthy and infamous list of Americans killed by police, sparked two weeks of local unrest.

Officer Wilson, who said he shot Michael Brown in a “fight for survival,” was not indicted by any grand jury, in part because witnesses had conflicting portrayals of the ordeal. The Department of Justice concluded Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.

The justice department has since concluded, via investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, that citizens regularly had their constitutional rights violated, especially African-Americans. The report was similar to the Department of Justice’s review of the Baltimore Police Department, after the death of Freddie Gray.

The Washington Post has since begun cataloging information on police shootings, nationwide. No government organization currently monitors such incidents.

The city of Ferguson later settled with the family of Michael Brown in a wrongful death lawsuit.

This day in history for sports:
Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run on August 9, 2002. He would go on to hit 762, making him the all-time home run king of Major League Baseball.

On August 9, 2012, the United States Women's National Soccer Team defeated Japan 2-1. The win cemented the United States' fourth - and most recent - Olympic gold medal.

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