Brown case could prompt change for scales of justice
Maybe grand jury got it right, but anger is about more than this case
OR ALL the anxiety that foreshadowed the disclosure of the grand jury decision in the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the moment it came offered zero surprise. To many in America’s black community it represented a familiar end to a familiar series of events.
The reasons they should never have expected the grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown, were overwhelming. Some are based on an understanding of the law that favours the policeman over the victim nearly always. Others are more visceral, less empirical: black lives are expendable, the judicial system is stacked against them.
The notion was embodied in the figure of Bob McCulloch, the
FSt Louis County prosecutor who sent it to the grand jury and announced its findings. When he was 12, his father, a police officer, was shot dead on the beat. The killer was black. McCulloch has four times presented cases involving deadly shootings to grand juries, and no charges were brought.
He released transcripts of almost all the testimony. There are details that partly explain the decision. Two US Supreme Court rulings from the 1980s give leeway to officers to use deadly force when they reasonably fear they might be hurt.
Maybe the grand jury got it right. But the anger that has been ignited is about more than this case. Even if Wilson deserves to be absolved, the Ferguson police department maybe does not. Or the police department in Cleveland, Ohio, who on Saturday shot dead a 12year-old holding a pellet gun.
Yesterday, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein lamented “deep and festering” distrust between US communities. President Obama said Ferguson gives the US a chance to learn and correct.
After the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, giving feds power to discipline police departments that abused the civil rights of any group. It happened to the Los Angeles police department in 2000. It is a different force now.
The US Justice Department is weighing taking the same action against the Ferguson police department. It will help return some peace to the streets if it does. – The Independent
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OUTRAGE: The grand jury’s finding has drawn criticism countrywide but, says President Barack Obama, Americans can learn from it.
NO CHARGES: Darren Wilson