Assorted thoughts about Ferguson:
- Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The Ferguson riots back in August were met with a heavy-handed so-called “militarized” police department, and the general consensus was that this militarization exacerbated the situation. The riot last night was met with an inert collection of law-enforcement and National Guard personnel, and the general consensus is that this conduct was disgraceful. According to former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC, studies reveal that a strong, active police presence is essential to prevent escalation.
- Hostile territory. CNN reporters made much of the fact that white officer Darren Wilson didn’t like the black city he was policing, based on the following Grand Jury testimony from Wilson: “There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity. It is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.” Although CNN suggested Wilson’s antipathy was directed at the entire city of Ferguson, the quote suggests to me that Wilson was referring to a particularly unsavory part of Ferguson. And it is completely unreasonable to expect that a policeman will not profile certain neighborhoods based on prior interactions.
- Did Michael Brown give up or charge Officer Wilson? Despite the renewed on-air assertions of Brown’s fellow robber, Dorian Johnson, that Brown was stopped with his hands in the air when he was shot, the physical facts are that Brown’s blood was found 175 feet away from Wilson’s car and that he ended up in the street 150 feet from Wilson’s car. These facts suggest strongly that, consistent with Wilson’s testimony, Brown was coming toward him when shot. The fact that the final shot went into the top of Brown’s head also supports Wilson’s testimony that Brown’s head was down and charging toward. (On the related issue of why Wilson took off on foot after Brown, according to the NY Times, “But when no one [at the Grand Jury] asked him why he had chased Mr. Brown, Officer Wilson brought it up himself, saying that after experiencing Mr. Brown’s aggression in the vehicle, he felt ‘he still posed a threat, not only to me, but to anybody else that confronted him.’”)
- Burn the bitch down. Shortly before the Grand Jury finding was handed down, the Brown family took the high road by issuing a statement asking that any protests following the announcement be peaceful. But shortly after the announcement, Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was on the hood of a car wailing to a crowd. When she became overwrought, her husband Louis Head joined her on the hood of the car and repeatedly told the crowd, “Burn this bitch down.” Reminds me of that adage – judge me by what I do, not by what I say.
- Give ‘em a break. Their family lawyer Benjamin Crump later suggested that, although the comments by Brown’s mother and step-father were inappropriate, “Don’t condemn them for being human.” Another apologist said, “What do you expect when you shove a camera in front of grieving parents?” Huh – they were on the hood of a car at a protest; no one shoved a camera in their face!! The prosecutor, when asked whether perjury charges would be brought against all the lying witnesses (they were contradicted by physical facts or by other testimony), said that he gives them the benefit of a doubt – i.e., they actually believed their false testimony. Seems everyone is willing to be generous to a fault, except to Officer Darren Wilson, who is still under the specter of federal or civil prosecution.