There must be a reasonable explanation for what appears on its face to have been a racially motivated crime at a convenience store in Charlack, Mo., around 7:45 this morning. Maybe the white people in the store were hard of hearing, and 39-year-old Twanna Brown, who is black, was actually announcing that she “eats crackers every day.” And maybe the knife she is alleged to have pulled out of her pocket was really a comb.
Or maybe the events unfolded exactly as the St. Louis Dispatch reports them:
Police Chief Steve Runge … said the woman put her items on the counter, paid for them, and snatched them off in a strange way, mumbling to herself and complaining about employees.
A customer, a white male who was standing behind her, thought she said something to him. The man said “Excuse me?” Brown, who is black, turned around and yelled at him, used racial slurs, and then reached into her pocket, pulled out a knife, and lunged at him, Runge said.
The woman backed off but continued with her slurs, and an employee convinced her to leave. As she left, the woman threatened to follow the man home and kill him, Runge said. The woman waited around in the parking lot until the man finally left, and then followed him west on Lackland. A Charlack police car approached and the victim flagged the officer down. The officer pulled over the woman and arrested her.
The woman continued to be verbally abusive during the booking process, using racial slurs, Runge said. Runge praised the officer for the calm manner in which she handled the situation and gave her a commendation, he said.
Brown, whom Runge describes as “a handful … hell bent on causing trouble,” has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon, armed criminal action, and assaulting a police officer. The chief is further quoted as saying he isn’t sure whether Brown was “under the influence of anything” during the attack. Presumably he meant drugs, but perhaps she was under the influence: Maybe she was reacting viscerally to the unceasing drumbeat from the media and prominent members of the the black community, driving home the message that blacks in America are under siege and need to fight back. In any event, don’t expect a hate crime enhancement to be added to whatever sentence is meted out in this case.
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