This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, August 22, 2014:
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s remarkable rush to judgment on Tuesday was breathtaking. In a video-taped statement concerning the shooting in Ferguson, Nixon said that “vigorous prosecution must now be pursued” in the case. Any who thought he meant to say “investigation” was disappointed when he continued:
We have a responsibility to … do everything we can to achieve justice for [Brown’s] family … justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly and correctly.
Justice? What about justice for Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson? Doesn’t he deserve justice, too? What about his family? More fundamentally, what about the fundamental rule of law that says Wilson is innocent until proven guilty?
That apparently doesn’t concern Nixon, the governor responsible for issuing the infamous report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) titled “The Modern Militia Movement” back in 2009. The report listed groups which might be “linked” somehow to domestic terrorists, including white Christians, supporters of third-party candidates like Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin, as well as opponents of gun control, illegal immigration, abortion, the Federal Reserve System, and the IRS. When that hit the fan, Nixon pulled an Obama and blamed his predecessor and an “overzealous” department that “wasn’t properly managed.”
Nixon, unfortunately but not surprisingly, has the support of the New York Times which suggested that all hell would break loose in Ferguson if the grand jury fails to indict Wilson for murder:
The community [of Ferguson] will almost certainly reject a decision not to indict Mr. Wilson….
Is this not tantamount to an invitation to riot once again if Wilson is acquitted?
And just when things are beginning to calm down in that unhappy suburb of St. Louis. According to police, there were only six arrests on Wednesday night compared to 47 the night before. Said Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson: “We saw a different crowd that came out tonight … less agitators.” That may be for at least two reasons: most of the troublemakers were already in jail or else had gotten out of Dodge now that their incendiary work was done.
Testimony before the grand jury began on Wednesday, and already there is controversy there. First of all, of the 12 jurors impaneled back in May, only three of them are black. Second, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has significant family ties to the police which, according to the troublemakers, automatically disqualifies him to lead the presentation to the jury.
In 1964, when McCulloch was 13 years old, his father – then a member of the St. Louis Police Department – was killed by a black suspect during an arrest that went south. His brother, cousin, and uncle were all on the police department’s payroll as officers, as was his mother who worked as a clerk in the police department.
That was enough for an online petition to remove him to generate at last count more than 70,000 signatures (interestingly there are barely 20,000 residents in Ferguson). But McCulloch isn’t going to recuse himself, telling reporters “We are going to proceed until I am told by the governor that I can’t.” Nixon has the power to name a special prosecutor but he has declined, saying essentially he doesn’t want to rock the boat.
With all the evidence that McCulloch has to present – the three autopsies, the witness statements, and perhaps even testimony from Darren Wilson himself – it’ll take at least a couple of months before the jury comes back with a verdict. The verdict could range all the way from murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide to acquittal for using justifiable force to defend himself.
And then there’s that inevitable and ubiquitous champion of justice himself, the right honorable Attorney General of the United States, who is in Ferguson to make sure that the 40 FBI agents combing for witnesses to the shooting are doing their job. Holder’s job, determining if Wilson violated any federal civil rights statutes when he shot Brown, is happily being made very difficult by his need to prove that Wilson deliberately acted with evil intentions to deprive Brown of his rights when he fired his sidearm. With what evidence has already been made public, that would be a monster hill for Holder to climb.
But the rush to judgment by Nixon, confirmed obliquely by the Times, raises the most serious question of all: what happened to the concept that one is innocent until proven guilty? Where are the champions of the rule of law? Shouldn’t the governor, the prosecutor, the Attorney General himself, be making forthright statements about the rights of the innocent, under the law?
What appears in Ferguson is something called Ochlocracy where the rule of law has been usurped by the lawless in order to accomplish nefarious objectives. Let’s hope it’s a transient and temporary insanity that will disappear when the grand jury announces its verdict in October.
New York Times: A Fair Inquiry for Michael Brown