I know this is a departure: this is my own comment. After I posted it in a fevered state, I decided that it warranted wider exposure.
It comes in response to a jaw-dropping post by one of the most articulate and analytical regulars on Ethics Alarms, who wrote in response to the original essay, this, beginning with a quote from it:
“the activists don’t care, literally don’t care, about [what really happened and why] For them, the issue is simple. A white cop in a racist police department shot an unarmed black teen to death, and that means that there will be riots if he’s not indicted.”
“As there should be.
The moral is – if you don’t want riots, regardless of whether the shooting was justified (if I were on the Grand Jury, then on the scraps of evidence I’ve seen, I’d indict to let it go to trial – just as if I were on the jury of the trial, I’d acquit barring more evidence) – anyway, the moral is – don’t run a racist police department.
Such civil disturbance is the natural countermeasure to tyranny.
I consider such civil disturbance to be a really, really, REALLY bad thing. I think anyone rational does. That means we have a responsibility to make sure that Law Enforcement is not so manifestly, systemically unjust that regardless of the facts in an individual case, riots are inevitable.
What should be is that there’s a justice system that, even though imperfect, is not so horrible that rational people become irrational and desperate. While there will always be some who are “professional rioters”, without a groundswell of popular sentiment behind them, they’re a small bunch of crims easily dealt with.”
After I carefully picked my jaw off the floor, I wrote this, the Comment of the Day, in response…
What? Based on what, exactly? What “shreds of evidence”? Dubious eye-witness testimony given to the media to stir unrest and the parents because it’s what they wanted to hear—that their son was a blameless innocent?
OK: If you say so, Ferguson has a racist police department. Then protest that, not the non-indictment of a cop who was firing, apparently, at an impaired, charging behemoth who had already tried to take his gun. There’s no tyranny here—a prosecutor in a Democratic administration, party affiliation significant because that party is in thrall to the race-victim establishment, and is hardly itching to avoid smearing whites if it can get away with it, looked at all the evidence and decided, “Damn. There just isn’t a case here!,” and unlike the craven and corrupt prosecutors in Florida, refused to hold an unwinnable show trial just to make Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus happy.
No wonder so many Democrats are corrupt and show no integrity: when they are courageous and fair, they get clobbered.
You’re intelligent and fair: explain to me how prosecuting what the evidence apparently shows to be a cop placed in a horrible, life-threatening situation making reasonable choices to protect himself is a justifiable way to oppose a racist police department, if that’s what Ferguson is. Wilson’s life has to be destroyed—make that more destroyed—to punish the organization he works for? Because he wasn’t black, in which case nobody would be calling for his head? How is that justice? How is that not just placating a mob by throwing an innocent man’s life away?
“That means we have a responsibility to make sure that Law Enforcement is not so manifestly, systemically unjust that regardless of the facts in an individual case, riots are inevitable.”
Once again—what??? (I resort to this annoying rhetorical technique because “I disagree” doesn’t express the degree to which I am astonished) “regardless of the facts in an individual case”—what sense does this make? None, as far as I can see. Not one of the rioters has a clue what really happened to Mike Brown, yet it is still justifiable in your eyes for them to protest that Mike Brown’s shooter wasn’t indicted for murder? What? WHAT? How do you reach such a non sequitur?
If Brown was justly shot, then the racism—again, assuming you are correct—of the police department isn’t at issue in any way in the decision whether or not to put Wilson on trial. How do you reach the conclusion that the mob “should” riot (Nobody should riot, period…burning the business of an innocent citizen because you are furious at the results of a process you know nothing about: how do you endorse that? How is this not like Israel razing houses of the families of terrorists, absent the rather key factor that the connection between the alleged wrongdoer and the ones being punished is even more attenuated?) even if the grand jury did the right thing…and there is literally no reason to assume it did not?
Reportedly a witness who had not heard Wilson’s version of events matched it exactly: that the huge kid mocked Wilson, then charged him with his head down not stopping even after three shots had been fired into him, while several of the witnesses that claimed otherwise changed their stories under cross. You know what that means, don’t you? Guaranteed acquittal on the merits. It means Mike Brown is dead entirely because of his own actions.
I really don’t understand your conclusion at all.
61 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “The Ferguson Riots: Of Course.””
Come to term with your biases. Both the pictures & Officer Wilson’s testimony stretches credulity(http://n.pr/1tgnqNO). The length of time for his report to be filed & the leaks from the Police Department & later from the Grand Jury proceedings only served to frame a narrative of a “behemoth” attacking poor 6’4″ 210lbs unarmed & poorly trained rookie officer in fear for his life. And not of an unarmed teenager running away. The prosecutor should represent the dead & not be an attorney or apologist for the officer.
Violence & looting has NO place in civil disobedience or protests. Those are always incited by the criminal few & not representative of the majority of protesters. It’s incumbent on the Media to be balanced in its reporting & those with a public voice & following must be measured in tone & incisive in their analyses.
1. 300 pounds and 6’4″ is a behemoth.
2. A 100 pound advantage in weight is significant, regardless of height.
3. “The prosecutor should represent the dead & not be an attorney or apologist for the officer.” Wrong. A prosecutor always represents the state, and not the victim’s interests. Common misconception. Still wrong.
4. I don’t see why you say Wilson’s account “strains credulity” at all…and if it was bolstered by third party testimony, it should be given probative value.
5. I have no biases in this matter whatsoever. Based on the original accounts as reported by the news media, I assumed that Wilson would be indicted, and if the evidence supported it, I would be happy to see any trigger happy cop indicted. The behavior of activists and the media did nothing but make a fair inquiry nearly impossible, and my objection to that conduct does not arise from bias.
I’m assuming you’re a psychologist? My second bachelor’s was a B.A. in psychology, after doing a B.S. in chemistry. I’m assuming this because, in my experience, a great many psychologists share your mode of thinking (that of the “social worker”) and most psychiatrists do not. It’s largely why I abandoned plans of pursuing a Psy.D or Ph.D.,and ultimately decided on medicine. Just curious, if you don’t mind.
Wait, WHAT did this guy/girl say? After I get done pounding my head against the wall, I’m going to work, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to read your response. SMFH!
Jack, lots of things are predictable, including your prediction that disturbances would follow a failure to indict, and your jaw dropping at the suggestion that there are social causes underlying it.
Another thing that was predictable, and in fact predicted – by many black people in particular – was that there would be no indictment returned, despite experienced (non-St. Louis) prosecutors betting on at least a manslaughter count.
Your horror over acts of property damage really needs to be put in perspective. Not the worst thing happening here is lawlessness regarding looting or cars overturned. The worst thing, in my opinion, is yet another instance of predictable behavior on the part of a highly questionable law enforcement system.
How predictable? Just look at the 2000 St. Louis Jack in the Box case – two unarmed black men shot to death by police. In that case as well, prosecutor McCulloch argued, and prevailed, that no indictment should be returned, largely because it was argued that the victims had tried to ram the police with their car.
It was subsequently determined that THAT WAS A LIE. Here’s the passage from NewsWeek:
Fourteen years ago, the two officers who shot Murray and Beasley were also invited to testify before the grand jury. Both men told jurors that Murray’s car was coming at them and that they feared being run over. McCulloch said that “every witness who was out there testified that it made some forward motion.” But a later federal investigation showed that the car had never come at the two officers: Murray never took his car out of reverse.
An exhaustive St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation found that only three of the 13 detectives who testified had said the car moved forward: the two who unloaded their guns and a third whose testimony was, as McCulloch admitted, “obviously…completely wrong.” McCulloch never introduced independent evidence to help clarify for the grand jury whether Murray’s car moved forward.
On the last day of testimony, an investigator in McCulloch’s office read out a list of every interaction Murray and Beasley had had with law enforcement, even arrests that never resulted in charges.
A few hours later, the grand jury voted not to press charges.
And if you don’t like NewsWeek, read about it in the local St. Louis Post-Dispatch, here:
There are lots of reasons to so cynical as to predict that a prosecutor would not even let a viable case go to trial. They include laws based on the shooter’s own self-reported state of mind (can you imagine any shooter saying, ‘Well, I was feeling pretty calm, I had no fear when I shot him, it was pretty deliberate?”), and a shoot-first paranoia built into policing since the Onion Fields killing in LA back in the 60s.
And of course, since the case now won’t go to a trial, we’ll never know.
The bigger point is, your predictable outrage that someone would point to issues beyond the narrow laws governing property damage misses some serious points – about politics, about the rule of law, about social dynamics, about the role of race in America, and about the biases built into the criminal justice system.
To just focus on the illegal property-harming actions by a few coming out of another incident in America’s theater of the racial absurd is to miss some far more serious issues.
In my humble opinion.
You hit me like someone who goes to art galleries and finds profound meaning in squiggles. What you’re saying, or at least what I’m getting from what you’re saying, is because other people did questionable (and outright wrong things) THIS white cop MUST pay. Because. And if THIS white cop DOESN’T pay, well then, why should we be surprised when people riot?
And it’s only rioting right? It’s not like people are dying. (#22) Well…. Bullshit. When you said “The bigger point is, your predictable outrage that someone would point to issues beyond the narrow laws governing property damage misses some serious points – about politics, about the rule of law, about social dynamics, about the role of race in America, and about the biases built into the criminal justice system” Three things hit me.
First. Sometimes a spade is just a spade, and no matter how much you want it to be a righteous bulldozer in your social agenda, it’s still a fucking shovel.
Second: “Well, people loosely associated with you are doing bad things, and we’re not punishing you for them, so we’re going to burn shit.” is morally indefensible. Ass. It’s not about the rioting, it’s that a group is trying to pressure the legal system into bad decisions using their bad behavior as a weapon.
Third: Police, generally, are already conscious of their perceived bias. There have been recent studies that the hesitation rate is greater when police officers are faced with black suspects. I want you to think about that. We have flogged our police to the point that they are more willing to put themselves in danger than to shoot a black person because of the absolute shitstorm these cases bring up.
I can’t help but think that for people where the cases aren’t based in the facts of the case, but in the color of the person’s skin (Which would have MLK spinning in his grave by the way), there won’t be justice until there are a lot of dead cops on the ground. And because I think that, and I really do believe it, that group cannot be catered to. The price is too high.
Because I know some people will want to read up on it:
People are more likely to be intimidated by black people, but also more likely to hesitate when using deadly force.
Interesting and relevant study, thanks.
“…for people where the cases aren’t based in the facts of the case, but in the color of the person’s skin (Which would have MLK spinning in his grave by the way), there won’t be justice until there are a lot of dead cops on the ground.”
What people? Where? Who? I know no one who advocates this, and don’t for a moment try and put me there.
What you’re arguing for, I presume inadvertently, is the outlawing of protest. How else to interpret “a group is trying to pressure the legal system into bad decisions using their bad behavior as a weapon.” I would point out to you that the protests in question occurred AFTER the legal decision, not before. Even illegal rioters are aware that you can’t change something after the fact.
You can, however, hope to influence policy going forward through protest. (And must I really add that I don’t condone destruction of property?). Historically it’s the only way change has ever happened. Nobody in positions of power and authority wakes up one morning and says, “You know, I think I’ve been doing things wrong, and I’ll start changing today.” Laws get changed when enough people get pissed off about injustice that they force lawmakers to pay attention.
Hopefully this whole incident will fuel the adoption of body cameras on the police – a welcome change which, if we’re honest, would probably not come about out of the goodness of police departments’ hearts in the absence of outside pressure in the form of protests.
(And your wsu.edu deadly force article is still interesting and good reading).
I think you have an obligation to read my entire commentary about the Ferguson situation, Charles, which includes a great deal about underlying social causes that brought this situation to the fore. My jaw didn’t drop at that suggestion, since I made it myself, long ago. In particular, I posted this.
My prediction was properly based on what I know and have observed personally. The prediction of “black people” that no indictment would be brought was based on nothing properly related to the case at hand, Charles. A 14-year old case which was mishandled involving a different set of facts, different witnesses and different issues of law proves that the system sometimes breaks down and this prosecutor screws up, like all prosecutors. It tells us nothing about this case. It does not prove that the system always breaks down or usually breaks down. You know better than that.
So you are falling into the trap, or malady, or illness, or whatever it is of presuming it all–racism, murder, bias, lack of justice, malice—involving the interaction between two individuals, in a moment in time, that has nothing to do with that case or any other, nothing to do with slavery, or man’s inhumanity to man, or the social dynamics in Ferguson, or politics or anything, else, or at least shouldn’t if the justice system is to work fairly. Such presumptions should be based on facts in the case at hand. Bringing in extraneous and tangential factors is exactly what the evidentiary system does NOT allow, and properly so.
I take offense at your tone, as if I am Bill O’Reilly bloviating at some imagined offense by “pinheads” when the “other side” is fair and obvious. A city is burning, Charles, harming innocents, based on nothing but assumptions blown into certainties (that is, lies) about a case none of the arsonists know anything about except what race-hustlers and biased parties told them, on the presumption that a white cop must be racist—which means, if I understand the laws of transitive reasoning, that I must be racist—and that Mike Brown did nothing to reasonably provoke the circumstances of his own death, and that we should prosecute Wilson in yet another show trial, like the Zimmerman case, as some kind of blood expiation for the sins of the past.
Yes, I’m outraged at that. That rational people like you and Zoe lend credibility to it doesn’t outrage me…it just frightens me. Rational people have an obligation not to reason irrationally, and your comment essentially argues that the facts in Wilson’s case—and justice in his case– are secondary to what people believe, want to believe, have experienced in the past, or will gain political leverage from for future benefits.
FACT, Charles, you don’t know that Officer Wilson is guilty, and don’t have a single fact to support that assumption. Neither do the rioters. The grand jury did. Until the point where their decision can be legitimately questioned as in the Jack in the Box case, it is irresponsible to presume that those who know nothing of the facts are to be trusted with their conclusions based on bitterness, racism, and bias, and that the grand jury, which we must presume acted in good faith, made not merely a wrong, but racist decisions having reviewed the facts and cross-examined the witnesses.
As I read it, that’s the position you are taking. I am a lawyer, and I don’t deserve that tone for properly assuming that the legal system has operated properly in this case the absence of any evidence to the contrary in this case. Your position, on the other hand, is based on bias, police animus, unrelated cases and nothing else, and with that, you excuse innocent people having their homes burned down.
Jack, apologies for any offense; I assure you it was unintentional, and hopefully just the result of too-hastily written materials on a rushed morning.
However: I’m not a lawyer, so help me out on this, but isn’t the job of a grand jury to assign a degree of reasonableness for prosecution, as opposed to determining guilt or innocence? Isn’t the latter the job of a jury? And in a case like this, you;d think a prosecutor would bend over backwards to err on the side of letting a full and impartial hearing assess issues of guilt and innocence, i.e. on the side of bringing forth at least some kind of indictment.
You suggest we shouldn’t question a grand jury’s deliberations “Until the point where their decision can be legitimately questioned as in the Jack in the Box case” — but in the Jack in the Box case, that point didn’t happen until AFTER the grand jury had already declined to bring an indictment. And it sure as hell didn’t happen because of the police or the prosecutors, it had to be dragged out them by federal prosecutors and the media. And by then it was too late. (As it’s now too late here).
Which suggests to me at least there is AMPLE reason to have suspected this prosecutor to be biased – he’s got a track record of having cops lie on the stand in a grand jury.
Again, you’d know more than I do about this, but my understanding is that grand juries are very much guided by prosecutors; this is not surprising, as the recourse to aggressive indictment finding should lie in a court trial. Unless you’re talking about NOT bringing indictments, in which case the remedy of a trail is dismissed.
Doesn’t this feel like a rush to judgment to you?
No, it doesn’t feel like that.
Both prosecutors, in legal ethics proceedings, and police, in grand jury proceedings, are given a benefit of the doubts standard, for very good reasons. We don’t want timid prosecutors afraid of being punished for doing their jobs too zealously, and we don’t want, or shouldn’t want, police to have to navigate the perils of their work terrified that the justice system is just waiting for them to over-react in a life or death situation and get prosecuted as a result.
So law enforcement officials, unlike accused criminals, have the benefit of a presumption of good will. I believe this is correct. Defense attorneys, community organizers, civil liberties activists and race hustlers don’t feel that way, but they are wrong. Does a different standard for police and prosecutors accused of crossing lines result in bad cops and bad prosecutors getting awy with murder, literally and figuratively? Yes. The alternative, however, is worse.
Grand juries are completely the creatures of prosecutors, because they are not adversarial. Only one side of the case is put on, in most cases, and the question is: Does this information supply probable cause to support a charge? When a prosecutor already believes he can win the case, then his objective is to get the indictment. He doesn’t have to run the grand jury that way, though. He can use it to make up his mind as to whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a trial. In that case, he is obligated to present both sides fairly.
It is true, as one columnist wrote, that McCulloch could have just put on a credible witness who said Wilson fired when Brown had surrendered, and he would have had a grand jury indictment if he asked for it. I think that would be lousy prosecution practice, however.
The bottom line is that if the prosecutor, bolstered by the grand jury findings, felt that the evidence would not support a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, then no indictment should follow. I also think such a finding could be justified in the Jack in the Box case.
Strong, vigorous debate, Charles. You do it well. Don’t pull your punches—I can take them.
In particular, I’m not an American lawyer.
I was under the impression that a Grand Jury merely determined if there was a prima facie case of wrongdoing, not even “on the balance of probabilities”, but was there a reasonable possibility that a crime could have been committed.
Now this is not necessarily an indication of a broken system. We’re comparing Apples and Oranges, Federal vs State prosecutions. Moreover:
The bottom line: a police force infested with KKK members and a prosecutor with a track record of questionable conduct in the Jack in the Box case was never going to find a cop guilty of unlawful homicide, regardless of the facts.
That I personally don’t think the shooting was unjustified, and am 100% sure that there’s no way in Hell anyone could have found “guilt beyond reasonable doubt” is a different issue.
1. The fact that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich doesn’t mean that’s what a prosecutor is supposed to do.
2. I was taught, in prosecutoral ethics, by a Watergate prosecutor, that it was unethical for a prosecutor to bring a case to trial knowing that he had insufficient evidence to legitimately get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, either because the evidence wasn’t there, or because no jury would convict. Especially the former, because a conviction without such evidence is a miscarriage of justice by definition.
Is it necessarily the case that someone who is indicted automatically is put on trial?
I thought the prosecutor, after an indictment, would decide when and if sufficient evidence had been gathered. And lacking that, the case would be dropped because there was no reasonable chance of a safe conviction.
That an indictment is necessary but not sufficient. Once a prima facie case is established, then more work on it may continue, including inquiries that lacked “probable cause” before.
Again I must stress my ignorance here. We don’t have Grand Juries in Australia.
The impression many have – which may be true (I haven’t examined the complete transcript yet) is that this anonymous commenter is correct:
Ideally of course a prosecutor should be neutral, rather than a persecutor. The US system seems not to encourage that – that any conviction is a good conviction, regardless of facts.
Is it necessarily the case that someone who is indicted automatically is put on trial?
Unless new evidence is found or a plea bargain is worked out, yes.
I thought the prosecutor, after an indictment, would decide when and if sufficient evidence had been gathered. And lacking that, the case would be dropped because there was no reasonable chance of a safe conviction.
The other way around. If the prosecutor decides there’s not enough to prosecute, he just drops the case. If he wants a grand jury indictment, he takes what he has and lets the grand jury make the call. If he wants a grand jury investigation, as in this case, then the Grand jury takes him off the hook and decides whether to indict or not, weighing all the evidence. About half the states have them; they are required in less than half. Missouri, as I understand it, requires a grand jury to indict.
“Another thing that was predictable, and in fact predicted – by many black people in particular – was that there would be no indictment returned, despite experienced (non-St. Louis) prosecutors betting on at least a manslaughter count. ” This amounts to what, exactly? I have serious doubts about Jack’s claim that you are analytical.
How about I’m saying they should have let this issue come into a court of law. Period.
It was kept out of a court of law by a prosecutor who has a history of keeping out of court cases where unarmed black men were shot by cops, by having the cops in question tell LIES to a grand jury.
It happened once with this prosecutor. It’s hardly unreasonable to expect it to happen again.
Short-circuiting the judicial system in a case this inflamed is about as inflammatory as you can get.
Stop blaming the victim.
Yeah, the thing about the justice system is there are rules, and those rules aren’t decided by torch and pitchfork. There needs to be… y’know…. evidence. You think this should have gone to trial? What’s the prosecution going to say? “Well, there’s this history, and a dead body, and the body is black and the shooter is white…. But no actual evidence forensic or otherwise pertaining to this case to look at.”
The law is not a circus for your amusement.
More to the point, and, like it or not, HT and I are on the same side here, the law is not a hit man to use to retaliate against those you do not like. I’ve defended police officers in false arrest cases. I’ve also disciplined officers who became unnecessarily heavy-handed. In each case it was emphasized by judges at all levels that this was about the facts of the case, not about who was what color or what went on 50 years ago. If you think the police are not doing their jobs correctly, then file a civil lawsuit and make whatever allegations.
However, the day we start throwing criminal defendants to mobs as sacrificial lambs to prevent riots is the day the rule of law crumbles in this nation. I’m not willing to see that happen, and neither should you be.
If you can show me anywhere I suggested anything remotely like “throwing criminal defendants to mobs as sacrificial lambs to prevent riots,” I’ll eat my iPhone.
But it’s a fair question to ask where in the transcript is anything like a serious cross-examination of the accused, which is something I believe is the central key role you’d normally expect from a prosecutor in front of a grand jury. And it seems interesting to me that apparently Mr McCulloch has never once in his career indicted a cop for shooting someone, and not from a lack of opportunities.
But maybe that’s just because all the victims in St Louis over the years had it coming?
1. Usually the accused doesn’t testify at all. If he agreed to waive his right not to testify, it may well have been with the agreement that he would not be cross-examined.
2. Nothing obligates a prosecutor to aggressively move the grand jury to a finding of probable cause. Justice may be served by a different approach.
Jack, a serious legal question – i honestly don’t know the answer. Can a suspect plea bargain like that with a prosecutor before a grand jury proceeding?
Maybe I’ve watched too much TV, but usually if the DA’s office grants something (like an agreement to not be cross-examined), it’s to get something else in return. I’m not clear what the quo would have been for the quid here?
Much as I hate to admit it, Steve, I’m in full agreement with Humble on this one, myself. I thought that was an excellent summation.
1). Because it is unethical to bring criminal charges with sufficient evidence of a crime, that’s why. Officers are permitted to use deadly force. Would you try every police officer who fires his gun? Only if he’s white? Only if the tagret is black? Only if riots are promised if you don’t?
2) Your theory, I guess, is that this prosecutor is an evil man conspiring to let innocent black kids be murdered in cold blood. I doubt it. I would assume that the case of 14 years ago is one he would do anything to avoid. I would guess that he would have loved to have a legitimate indictment, to avoid the kind of accusations you are hurling at his character. The most visible example of unethical prosecuting that I recall in more recent years was when a prosecutor wrecked the lives of white lacrosse players because the community had decided they were guilty despite the dubious nature of the black, alleged, victim. You sound as if you approve. (he got disbarred.)
3. Pointing out that the victim has a proclivity for violence, was impaired, resisted arrest, and tried to get the officer’s gun away from him…and was over 300 pounds…is not “blaming the victim.” Those are facts that are directly relevant to the matter of why he is dead. And at this point, Wilson is the victim of a lynch mob that wants him to pay for the misdeeds of others, institutions, and society. That is per se unjust.
I had to google it, so to save other folks the trouble:
That was a false rape allegation case. It got UGLY, there was a lot of faculty, especially in the humanities that said that even though there was overwhelming evidence that the “victim” lied, the team (not just the alleged) should still be held accountable.
There are a lot of parallels between Ferguson and Duke, come to think on it.
Jack, in no way do I approve of the Duke lacrosse prosecutor’s actions. How do you get that it “sounds like” I do?
He followed community sentiment, assumed whites had victimized a black woman based on her account alone, and decided to let the trail sort things out without considering evidence that countered the prevailing “narrative.” Everyone “knew” the lacrosse players were guilty. Tell me the difference you see, if you would. One difference I see: a policeman deserves the presumption of good faith while doing his job. Privileged drunk white jocks, not so much. What else?
Let me think on that one…by the way I agree w. the policemen deserving the presumption of good faith…at least to a point…
“Your theory, I guess, is that this prosecutor is an evil man conspiring to let innocent black kids be murdered in cold blood.”
Please guess again.
No to conspiring, no to letting anyone being murdered, much less kids, much less in cold blood.
What’s left? Maybe a bit of the evil part. The man’s got a reputation and track record, anyone can look that up. A track record, particularly in an elected politician, is relevant.
As Newsweek, that bastion of radical leftism, put it in their headline: Ferguson Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch’s Long History of Siding With the Police.
How is that not relevant to the discussion of the case by us after the fact?
All prosecutors have a long record of siding with the police, since, you know, they are on the same side. There is nothing sinister or improper about that. You must have seen Law and Order.
My spine hurts from watching those mental gymnastics… The flourish at the end was an especially impressive twist.
You can tell this has nothing to do with Civil Rights. How can you tell? These protesters insisted that they would protest if it was found that this incident was a case of self-defense, justifiable under the laws of Missouri. They also insisted they would not protest if there was evidence that this was an unjustified attack on an unarmed man.
They want to protest an act of self-defense, but they will not protest an unjustifiable shooting. This seems to be the logic of Bizarroworld, but it is really the logic of the Civil Rights movement. The protest has nothing to do with the case. It is simply an exercise of power. “Suspend the laws and give us what we want or we will loot your town”.
My friend Charles ambushed me a bit with the Jack in the Box case, which was not prominently raised in the original objections to Mr. McCulloch. Opposition research, or something, seems to have brought it to the fore now just in time to be used to attack his credibility. Oddly, I could only find current discussions of the case on anti-law enforcement, anti-police, left-wing sources like the Daily Kos and The Nation. However, the circumstances of that case have little bearing on this one. Much of the controversy in the earlier case seems to have arisen from McCulloch having the poor tase to call the dead men “bums.” Well, they were felons and drug dealers: his description was not professional, but hardly inaccurate. Yes, this prosecutor obviously likes cops more than he likes criminals. Good. That should be his orientation. Many of th critics in the Brown case affirmatively dislike police. That position is madness. They risk their lives, and their mission is our welfare.
In the Jack in the Box case, the clearest outline of the facts appear to be here, in an editorial. Note that the editorial is a critical one, yet concludes that the grand jury was correct:
The fact that the car 1) had already moved and hit a cruiser and 2) had its engine revving somehow was left out of Charles’ account. The officers were not obliged under any law of reasonable force to wait until the car was in motion and they had split second to react.. That some lied about the car’s forward motion is of interest, and understandable, given that some commentators like Charles feel that police should trust felons and criminals not to intend harm until the harm is imminent…as when a 300 pound, hopped up kid charges you. Two felons in a revving car are not “unarmed,” just as a 300 pound man is not harmless.
Based on the criticism he received, I see every reason to believe that the Jack in the Box case made McCulloch a better prosecutor., and made justice in the Wilson case more likely, not less. In any event, it is hardly the smoking gun proof of a corrupt, racist, murderous cop-loving prosecutor that Charles description suggested.
I have just come away from a totally pointless discussion with a black former co-worker whose argument consisted of nothing more than no jury could have possibly failed to indict unless they were corrupt, I couldn’t understand because I wasn’t a member of the community affected, and justice will be done. If this is a typical example of how black people think with regard to matters like this, there is no point in even engaging them, because they aren’t interested in discussing the facts, only in ranting.
Truly concerning about all this, given that whites, in general are very much past racial identification and generally don’t look at the world through that lens anymore, we are fast approaching, nay, we are at a time where traditional “victim” groups are going to have to come to grips with their mostly self-imposed short comings. The failures of the “black community” are theirs. The so called “structural deficiencies” in the system aren’t present in the system…they are present in the very community that is horribly broken right now.
“…whites, in general are very much past racial identification and generally don’t look at the world through that lens anymore.”
This is not my experience, and is quite contrary to what I see in the world around me. I suggest you run that opinion past your black friends and solicit their perceptions about it.
I would never have expected you to say that.
Shocked. I’m shocked.
I don’t need to become a “white ally” and submit everything to black approval, thank you very much.
They see things that way because they have no way of dealing with confirmation bias. A huge proportion of them see racism in EVERYTHING.
It allows one to avoid personal responsibility when you can perpetually blame others.
You mean, like, in, “The failures of the “black community” are theirs. The so called “structural deficiencies” in the system aren’t present in the system…they are present in the very community that is horribly broken right now.”
Is this supposed to be a “gotcha” moment? It reads like you think that. But it isn’t one. What’s your point?
My point is your own words provide an object example of what you’re criticizing, namely the avoidance of personal responsibility by way of perpetually blaming others.
You might want to read (oh who am I kidding, you won’t want to at all) Nicholas Kristoff’s interview about his recent series on white people and racism, where he says the single most common objection to his data that he hears is “it’s their fault, they don’t take responsibility.”
Wait wait wait…My holding them accountable for their conduct & culture somehow equates to me blaming them for something that is supposedly my fault? Do you even realize the mental gymnastics necessary to believe that, sir? Do you?
This is analogous to someone vehemently asserting that the sky is pink with green polka dots, then writing an essay that proposes the notion that it is automatically absurd and completely predictable that someone in disagreement would state “uh, no it isn’t, the sky is blue”. “OH HO! But of course you’d say that, how typical, figures”.
Anyone want to point out what fallacy this is?
Lose the condescending tone, I read the article. So what? This argument boils down to, “of course you’d say that, you don’t see the problem, you are just making excuses” “Nope, you don’t see the problem you are just making excuses”.
Sorry, but I’ll continue to gravitate towards a world-view that believes in people’s ability to improve their condition and believes that that ability is also counterweighted by the belief that people are ultimately responsible for their condition when no active *unfair* forces are present. You and all your black-infantilizing apologists have yet to convince me that somehow blacks are inferior people who need a hand up. You certainly haven’t convinced me that there are active malicious forces “holding the black man down”. Given that, most of you and your ilk’s arguments convince me that you are unknowingly perpetuating the black man’s suffering by validating their self-defeating world view and continuing to treat them like irrational children.
So, whose fault is it that so m,any black ladies have out-of-wedlock births?
These structural deficiencies include a 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate, substance abuse, and criminal behavior.
These same deficiencies were present in Irish communities in 19th century America.
Here’s a piece from a black sales consultant, in answer to your question:
Interesting piece, BAD piece. Bad because he sums up the shooting as “Every police shooting of an unarmed black man.” That’s deceit, in my view. The central deceit that has warped the entire episode. How about “Every shooting of a subject who physically resisted arrest and posed a credible danger to the officer”? That’s more accurate, by far. Just saying “unarmed” is “the hands up” distortion. If he was charging Wilson, he was not just an “unarmed black man,” he was an unarmed 300 pound black man refusing an officer’s command to stop and charging him with intent and ability to do harm.
Jack, now your white racism is showing. You don’t understand because it is SUB conscious racism…you don’t even understand the benefit of your white privilege because it is so normal to you.
Note that there is no discussion of seventy percent of black ladies having kids out of wedlock in that article.
You never heard of present day Irish people complaining about Oliver Cromwell?
Agree wholeheartedly, I’ve seen the architecture of this failure up close and personal. They own their problems, lock, stock, and barrel. It ain’t the white devil.
Unfortunately, it is.
From that same editorial, I quote, “One question that the federal investigation raises is whether the state
grand jury knew that physical evidence contradicted the officers’ statement
about the car moving forward. This might have affected the grand jury’s
And whose responsibility was it to present such evidence, rather than withhold it? The prosecutor.
One hopes he learned from that, as you suggest. Someone else might fear he had already known better, and still acted wrongly.
Obviously this should have been revealed. On the other hand, I don’t see why that would have necessarily changed the grand jury’s decision. A revving car, wheels spinning, is a threat enough. I wouldn’t feel it had to be moving to be a serious threat. In fact, activists who argue that and similar arguments in other cases essentially want police to place their lives in jeopardy with resisting suspects, literally waiting until they have to kill or be killed. That’s an unfair, pro-perp, anti-cop position.
Now, I know you’re not defending the withholding of incriminating evidence by a prosecutor in a grand jury proceeding…
As to people who “want police to place their lives in jeopardy with resisting suspects, literally waiting until they have to kill or be killed,” I’m 100% with you. (By the way, where are those people?)
It’s not a trial. The rules of evidence don’t apply. The prosecutor has obligations at trial, not in the grand jury. He can manipulate it to get an indictment, or not. No, he cannot knowingly present false evidence, but he is not obligated to disprove mistaken testimony.
Those people are the ones who ask, “Why six shots?” and who say, “You shouldn’t have to shoot an unarmed teen!”
Extraordinary times may demand extraordinary measures, but extraordinary measures also require extraordinarily airtight justifications for why they’d actually work, and the track record of riots that don’t already reflect an overwhelmingly majority opinion in creating meaningful reform is, well, less than extraordinary.