There should be no question about it any more. The nearly unanimous position, stated or unstated, by elected Democratic and African American officials is that Officer Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot the unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown, should be charged with murder. That position represents a triumph of group identification, political expediency and bias over the rule of law and, yes, in defiance of that cynically wielded term “justice,” and it needs to be rejected and condemned at the highest levels of our society. Who is going to have the courage to do it?
Certainly not the news media. This morning on the David Gregory-less “Meet the Press,” the stand-in for the fired host interviewed Democratic Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who talked exclusively in code about “justice” and “transparency.” Nixon, you will recall, has already stated his view that Wilson should be prosecuted, so his mouthing platitudes now about “transparency” ring like the sly plotting of the villains in old Westerns. You know the type: the cattle baron who owns the town and the sheriff devises a way to remove an obstreperous opponent who won’t toe the line by framing him and convicting him of murder. “Make it look niiice and fair, right by the book!” he snickers to his henchman. That was Nixon today.
Then the questioning turned to NBC round-table guest Kasim Reed, the African-American Mayor of Atlanta, who was asked about how to ensure a just result in the case. His answer was frank, if jaw-dropping: everyone, including jurors and officials, should see the incident “through the eyes” of Brown’s parents, “whose son was shot six times in front of four witnesses and left lying in the street for hours.”
This is no less than a declaration that a decision not to prosecute Wilson should not be permitted and is not acceptable, made by Reed in complete and utter ignorance of what happened. Brown’s parents, in an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN and in public statements elsewhere have made it abundantly clear what they will regard as justice: Wilson must go to jail for the murder of their son. If that is how everyone involved in the investigation and justice system
“view” the case, as Reed insisted, then that will be the result. By evoking “four witnesses,” Reed was asserting that only the versions of the witnesses who have said that Brown was gunned down without provocation should have weight, even though they have not been examined under oath, and despite the reported versions of other witnesses contradicting their accounts.
Mayor Reed didn’t stop there, however. He concluded by saying that if there was an “adverse” decision, then “other” measures would have to be pursued. (I’ll post the video of this exchange as soon as it becomes available. If you see it, send me the link.)
Why is the Mayor of Atlanta declaring Wilson guilty? How dare he presume to do so? How can he believe it is just, fair, or responsible for any elected leader, of any race, to make a public statement that a participant in an incident he did not witness must be prosecuted for murder before an investigation is completed or all the evidence has come to light? How dare he describe a hypothetical grand jury decision, made after reviewing the evidence that Reed had no knowledge of, that Officer Wilson was innocent of wrongdoing, as “adverse”? How dare a Mayor from another state take sides in this matter? There is only one “side” he, or anyone, should be taking: the side of color-blind, transparent, fair fact-finding, deliberation and resolution, and nothing else.
Mayor Kasim Reed, on national television, declared allegiance to the most biased point of view possible, that of the deceased young man’s parents. He declared the police officer, in effect, his adversary because he is white, while Reed and the victim are black. He made it clear that the system’s objective should be to declare the shooting murder, not because of the facts, which he does not know, but because of the color of the parties involved. The Constitution itself is irrelevant in his eyes.
Naturally, nobody on the NBC panel, nor the moderator, had the integrity or courage to protest to Reed that his statements were a rejection of any known definition of justice under the law, and frankly racist.
It is not just Mayor Reed who has this attitude; he was merely unusually blunt in expressing it. His message is the same that underlies Attorney General Holder’s involvement in Ferguson, exemplified by his meeting with the Brown’ parents, which was an open declaration of bias and inherently prejudicial. Officer Wilson’s rights as a citizen are being stripped from him in broad daylight for the benefit of racial politics.
If police around the country now do not organize a mass protest, and if Americans who do not feel citizens like them should be pre-judged as guilty because of their race or occupation do not make their objections known loudly, forcefully and fast, America will be headed for an ugly racial conflict on a national scale, seeded by Mayor Reed, his supporters, and his party.