Right on cue, Ferguson, Mo., erupted in chaos after the "No Indictment" grand jury verdict.
Two things are abundantly clear:
A) The system worked. Despite the certainty of riots, and the very real threat of harm to themselves should they not indict, the 12 grand jury members had the courage to make the right call.
B) Modern America has shown its true "colors" yet again, regressing further from the high point of the civil rights movement. A growing faction, through their actions and words, have completely rejected the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wanting nothing to do with his belief in a colorblind society. Instead, they are choosing to fight, literally, for a segregated America, one that favors one class over another. To so callously trample on the sacrifices made by America’s civil rights pioneers is abominable.
Here are the black-and-white observations of the Ferguson debacle:
1) What genius decided to tell the world that the grand jury reached a verdict, but wouldn’t announce the decision until hours later? Doing so only increased the tension and allowed protesters to mass at key locations. Most idiotic, why would they wait until after dark to announce it?
Everything should have already been secured, begging the question: What the hell have they been doing for the last week? The evening announcement simply defied belief because it gave rioters the tactical advantage of operating with near-impunity, since the night provided a cloak of invisibility to their actions and identities. Brilliant.
2) What’s the point of mobilizing Patton’s Third Army if you take a hands-off approach from the get-go? Doing so was either sheer incompetence or a deliberate attempt to placate the masses. So the message is, no matter how big law enforcement’s presence, you can riot with without consequence if you just yell "racism" and "police brutality." The bad guys gamed the system, and those in charge took the bait. So much for the National Guard and the governor’s "state of emergency."
3) The national media has shown itself to be a laughingstock. The sensationalistic and often shoddy reporting is bad enough (sorry, but there were never "tanks" rolling through Ferguson). But their stammering, constant redundancy and overall inarticulateness demonstrated that without the crutch of a teleprompter, many are pathetic. And they should also get their hearing checked, since many kept asking questions that had already been answered. (For the last time: the vote of the grand jury, by statute, is confidential. Stop asking that question.)
4) Critics accused the prosecutor of giving too much information to the jurors. No, that’s not a joke, but an actual complaint. So in other words, providing every piece of evidence to get to the bottom of what really happened was a bad thing. The only people who could possibly make that argument are those whose minds were made up months ago, facts be damned.
5) Speaking of facts, only the grand jury had them. They sifted through mounds of testimony and physical evidence to determine which witnesses were credible, and just as important, which were not. Yet that is completely disregarded by many who, rather than accept the truth, want to blame everyone and everything for Michael Brown’s death. The rule of law is clear, and the grand jury made the right decision. The spectacle of people resorting to violence under the fallacy that racism was involved is more appropriate for some other spot on the globe. That behavior is inherently un-American.
6) Some have been protesting since the shooting took place Aug. 9. Since the jurors were the only ones with full knowledge of what occurred, what was actually being protested?
7) The Brown family didn’t help their cause by recently testifying before the United Nations Committee on Torture: "… we have to bring it (the shooting incident) to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small-town Ferguson." They certainly have the right to disagree with the grand jury and the entire judicial process, but this is still America. We don’t answer to the United Nations for issues involving domestic law. That was a major mistake, as it alienated many who may have been sympathetic to the family’s plight.
8) The feds’ investigation is ongoing, but it shouldn’t be, as it violates Constitutional protections against double jeopardy. And the odds could well be stacked unfairly against Officer Darren Wilson if federal grand jurors, after witnessing the bedlam in Ferguson, are afraid of being responsible for another riot. We’ve seen it before, when Los Angeles policemen were imprisoned when a federal jury found them guilty in the Rodney King case after they were acquitted by the state. To think the federal jurors didn’t base their decision in light of the L.A. riots that followed is fantasy.
9) Finally, no matter which "side" one takes, Brown’s death is a tragedy. It’s time to address the many issues that have been given lip service but, in truth, ignored for so long, from education to incarceration. That conversation is one that requires difficult work, and can only be solved if people are willing to look at reality. But don’t hold your breath, for as a wise man once said: "There’s what people want to hear, there’s what people want to believe, there’s everything else – and then there’s the truth."
The black and white truth is that, unless we genuinely commit to working together in a colorblind way, America will continue to burn.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Freind writes a weekly column for the Daily Times. Reach the author at [email protected] .