Two apparently unrelated incidents over the weekend reveal that the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, continues to boil. At about 9:00 p.m. on Friday night, a St. Louis County police officer, doing a routine business check of the Ferguson Community Center, which was closed for the night, observed a man in the area. When the officer exited his cruiser to question him, the suspect pulled a gun and tried to shoot the officer. The officer blocked the gun with his arm and in the ensuing scuffle, the officer was shot in the arm. He was later treated and released, while the suspect successfully eluded the police and remains at large.
In a separate incident,
an off-duty St. Louis police officer, driving his personal vehicle early Sunday morning on Interstate 70, was overtaken by a vehicle passing on his left. At least one gunman fired on the officer, damaging his car but inflicting no injury to the policeman. The gunman (or gunmen) remained at large as well.
The first shooting was sufficient cause for about 100 protesters to show up at midnight Friday night at the Ferguson police station, shouting, “No justice, no peace.” About a dozen police officers monitored the situation until the crowd finally dissipated without incident.
The slogan “No justice, no peace” was repeatedly invoked by racial bigot and incendiary Al Sharpton following the shooting of Michael Brown by St. Louis County Police Officer Darren Wilson. The slogan itself is a veiled threat that unless “justice” is served, violence will be visited once again upon this unhappy town of 20,000 outside St. Louis, Missouri. The protesters have defined justice to be the firing of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson and the arrest of Officer Wilson, who remains in hiding while awaiting the outcome of the grand jury's investigation into the incident. If the grand jury does not indict Wilson, this is likely to spark new riots and destruction.
The situation in Ferguson continues to be stoked not only by protesters who, according to Reuters, “have pledged continued civil unrest,” but also by outside influences such as the U.S. department of justice and the president of the United States. Back in August, following the shooting of Brown by Wilson, protesters carried signs and wore shirts emblazoned with the words “I am Michael Brown”; however, it wasn't until Ferguson police officers began wearing bracelets with the slogan “I am Darren Wilson” that the Justice Department decided to intervene.
The Justice Department's Civil rights Division, condemned the bracelets as
exacerbating an already tense atmosphere between law enforcement and residents in Ferguson. We are keenly aware of the importance of individual expression of opinions, even those that some find offensive, insensitive, or harmful. Nonetheless … these bracelets reinforce the very “us versus them” mentality that many residents of Ferguson believe exists.
Accordingly, Chief Jackson ordered his officers to remove the offending bracelets.
While the grand jury is conducting its own investigation, the Justice Department has launched a vastly wider probe not only into the incident in an attempt to see if Brown's civil rights were violated in the shooting, but also into the behavior of the Ferguson Police Department in general.
Also, President Obama seized an opportunity over the weekend to insert himself into this volatile situation when he spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual awards dinner on Friday night. He referred repeatedly to “the widespread mistrust of law enforcement” that is “having a corrosive effect on the nation” and blamed that mistrust on “persistent racial disparities” across the country, such as those he perceives to exist in Ferguson. He added:
Too many young man of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black — judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.
Nothing was said, of course, about the beating that Brown inflicted on Wilson before Wilson shot Brown in self-defense. Nothing was said by the president about the fact that Wilson has been in hiding ever since the incident in fear for his life. Nothing was said by the president about the grand jury's continuing efforts to investigate the incident, with its verdict expected momentarily.
If that grand jury does find Wilson innocent and new riots start in Ferguson, both the president and his Justice Department will be guilty of aiding and abetting the ones instigating those riots.