The Ferguson, Missouri saga finally winds toward a conclusion with tonight’s announcement that the grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson. The decision seems pretty clearly correct; in any event, the grand jurors are literally the only people who have heard and seen the evidence, including the testimony of Officer Wilson. Michael Brown, high on marijuana and having just robbed a convenience store and bullied the clerk, made the appalling mistake of attacking a police officer. What ensued was a tragedy, but a highly foreseeable one.
Two things about the Ferguson story seem remarkable. The first is that the Brown case became an international cause celebre. Why was it different from similar tragic encounters that happen on nearly a daily basis in a nation of 315 million people? In part, at least, the answer is that the Brown case was selected for publicity by activists, and the news media gladly took up the cudgels. In the end, the news coverage was crazed. I don’t recall any prior case where the world was waiting for a grand jury to return, or not return, an indictment. Drudge was a symptom, not the cause, of the over the top coverage:
The second remarkable fact, it seems to me, is that the grand jurors resisted political pressure to do what they believed was the right thing. It would have been easy to satisfy the crowd–both the media mob and the literal mob that has assembled repeatedly in Ferguson–by making Wilson a sacrificial lamb. The physical evidence showed that Brown attacked Wilson and that Wilson was moving toward Brown when he was fatally shot. Tonight’s decision was, I think, a victory for justice and for due process. There is more that can be said, but that is enough for now.
UPDATE: President Obama weighs in–another remarkable event. His comments seem to assume that the grand jury’s decision was wrong. He urges those who are disappointed not to protest violently, and–even-handedly!–tells police officers not to respond violently to protests. He goes on to say that Ferguson illustrates nationwide problems of relations between police and communities, and so on. It all has to do with the need for more progress in race relations.
Also “criminal justice reform.” But what reform, exactly, is that? Is there something wrong with Missouri’s law of self-defense? With its grand jury procedures? If so, what? As usual, Obama just spews BS that has little significance, apart from the political.
Completely absent is any acknowledgement that, regardless of race, attacking a police officer for no reason is a horribly stupid act that rarely will end well.