Tuesday, November 25, 2014

They're Rioting in Ferguson

 They Aren't   Protesting 

I used to watch "Cops" and "Jail." Three things made me stop. (1) My wife hated the shows. (2) I got bored with them. (3) They made me mad. You assume that a television documentary show made with the cooperation of the police is not going to show them in a bad light or reveal things that could get them sued. Despite that, I found myself pulling sometimes for the bad guys. It seems to me that some police are too ready to have situations develop into confrontations, too quick to use their tasers, too ready to perform take downs. 

I also used to watch "48 Hours." Though it is approved by the Supreme Court, I didn't like the interview technique that allows police to lie to suspects. If they tell you they have your fingerprints or that witnesses place you at a crime scene, they mess with the minds not only of the guilty but of the innocent. 

So I was prepared to hear that Officer Darren Wilson had unnecessarily provoked a confrontation with Michael Brown, that the situation got out of hand, and that the officer drew his firearm and killed a young man whose life might have been spared. I also would not have been surprised to learn that the officer lied about the incident and that fellow officers tried to cover up the the truth. 

The police do form a thin blue line between law abiding society and criminals. But cops are no angels. We need them to protect us. But we need to hold them accountable. We need to respect their authority. But we need to be sure they do not abuse it.

However, all my skepticism about the Ferguson case went away as I watched and listened as the District Attorney laid out the process followed, the evidence gathered, and the conclusions reached by the grand jury. Another young black man died. Another family lost a son. But this was not a case of injustice.

This brings us to the protests that began just after the decision was announced and continue even now. What do you protest? You protest injustice. You protest when people because of their skin color are convicted of crimes they did not commit. When they are denied the right to vote. When crimes committed against them are not prosecuted as vigorously or punished as severely as crimes committed by them.  

But this was not that. Michael Brown was killed, but he was not murdered. He was killed because he, an 18 year old 6' 4" 292 lbs. young man, reached inside the police car and attacked officer Wilson and because, when pursued, he turned and charged at the officer. I could wish that he had got away with the stolen cigarillos that day rather than his being killed, which would have given time during which his life might have been turned around. But his killing was just.

The people who have engaged in mayhem in the streets of Ferguson
are not protesters. They are not protesters against injustice in the case of Michael Brown because there was no injustice. They are looters and arsonists.They are not even protesters against a history of racism and discrimination, because burning and and looting are not acts of protest but acts of crime. Criminals need to stop committing crimes. And, if they won't stop, they need to be stopped. You don't fix societal problems by committing crimes. You don't promote justice by demanding injustice.

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