On Ferguson

I wonder how many of the protesters were from Ferguson proper, and how many of them were from somewhere out of the area. I was looking at the reddit feed on the protests, and there were several posts about someplace on “Grand”. I called up a map to see what part of Ferguson Grand Ave or Grand Blvd was, and it turns out that Grand Blvd is to the east and south of Ferguson.

Anyway, the looters took out their anger on people and institutions that had nothing to do with Michael Brown’s shooting or the failure of the Grand Jury to indict Officer Wilson (who will be removed from duty, I hear). This makes me more suspicious that the looters and rioters were not from the area; burning down restaurants and grocery stores nearby causes the most difficulties to the people who rely on said businesses. It looked like there was one burger restaurant that was left alone.

This is an issue that is portrayed as being a race problem; Black versus White. But it’s really more of an Inner Party versus Prole problem. Them versus Us. I saw a report that said out of over 160,000 Grand Juries assembled in 2010, only 11 of them decided not to indict. The Grand Jury system is supposed to be a check on the government; it’s supposed to keep government agents from prosecuting people for crimes they did not commit, or even to refuse to indict people for violating unjust laws (see Jury Nullification). Most Grand Juries, however, do whatever the prosecutor says. Why wouldn’t they? They only get to hear the prosecutor’s side. Let me repeat that: Grand Juries only hear the prosecutor’s side of the story. There is no defense lawyer or advocate for the person facing indictment. Grand Juries are supposed to pose questions, to investigate the alleged crime to see if the person facing indictment is the one who committed the crime. Instead, the Grand Jury, most of the time (like, 160,000 times out of 160,011 cases) move to indict.

But not in this case. Why not? Well, perhaps the evidence that Officer Brown was acting in self-defense was just too strong for the Grand Jury to indict him. That’s what’s being reported. But prosecutors have ways of presenting evidence that can be quite convincing. The prosecutor didn’t do so in this case, and I argue it’s not because the officer is a white man. Rather, it’s because the white man is a police officer. He’s on the same team as the prosecutor. He makes the arrests and helps gather evidence for the prosecutor. It shouldn’t be surprising that the D.A.’s office and the police force, that work together in enforcing the law, will look out for each other in times of trouble.

Having said all that, I should point out that I don’t think that Officer Wilson should have been indicted. When the story first came out, based on what I read of the story, I thought that Officer Wilson had unnecessarily shot Michael Brown while Brown was trying to surrender. That was what witness testimony said, and it fit the growing narrative that the nation’s police force is becoming more militarized and aggressive. Then, the witnesses started changing their stories, evidence appeared that Michael Brown actually attacked Officer Wilson through the window of his car; it didn’t look good for people wanting Officer Wilson to be punished for killing Brown. Right or wrong, the Grand Jury confirmed this outcome.

And people are taking it out on those who had no involvement in the case.

But the ones who will suffer the most will be the ones who live in Ferguson (until they eventually decide to move). Who in their right mind would rebuild a Little Caesar’s in a neighborhood that burned it down? Collect the insurance money (if there is any) and move to a town that’s more sensible about dealing with disappointment. Yeah, the looters and rioters wanted blood, and they got it: but it was their own.

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