Brown case could prompt change for scales of jus­tice

Maybe grand jury got it right, but anger is about more than this case

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - DAVID US­BORNE

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

See Page 16

PIC­TURE: LUCY NICHOLSON / REUTERS

OUT­RAGE: The grand jury’s find­ing has drawn crit­i­cism coun­try­wide but, says Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, Americans can learn from it.

NO CHARGES: Dar­ren Wilson

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