Decision in Ferguson

I am not surprised by the decision of  the grand jury in Ferguson not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown. The possibility always existed that the grand jury would not find sufficient evidence that Officer Wilson had actually committed a crime and as more facts about this case emerged, I believed that it was less and less likely that Wilson would be indicted. Sadly, I am also not surprised that there is rioting in Ferguson as a result of this decision. I think the media has acted irresponsibly in this case, encouraging unrest and not reporting facts that tended to refute their initial narrative of an innocent young man gunned down in the street by a racist cop. Had they done their job properly, perhaps people in Ferguson, and elsewhere, would have better realized that an indictment was not very likely.

I do not know if the grand jury made the correct decision. Since I have not examined the sort of evidence and testimony they have, it would be presumptuous for me to second guess them. I think this holds true for nearly everyone who is commenting on this case. I think that many people who have commented on this case do not understand properly just what the grand jury has done. The purpose of a grand jury is to examine evidence and determine if criminal charges should be brought against an individual. In most cases, grand juries vote to bring criminal charges. Not delivering any indictments is fairly rare. This is because in most cases prosecutors do not bring a case before a grand jury unless they believe there is at least enough evidence to begin criminal proceedings. The fact that this grand jury declined to bring charges against Officer Wilson might indicate a very weak case indeed. There also seems to be a strange reluctance to bring charges against police officers, which might apply in this case. Whatever the reason, a trial, while satisfying the professional agitators, would have been a waste of time and money for everyone.

Now, since the purpose of a grand jury is to determine whether a crime has been committed, all this particular grand jury has decided is that there does not exist sufficient evidence that Officer Darren Wilson has committed a crime. It may well be that Officer Wilson acted inappropriately in shooting Michael Brown. The relations between the police and the community of Ferguson may be troubled. Race relations in America may not be what they should be. None of that was relevant to the proceedings of the grand jury. Their only concern was whether Officer Wilson had committed any crimes. They decided that he had not.

There seems to be an idea with some people that Officer Wilson should have been indicted because the police in Ferguson had behaved badly or African Americans have been oppressed in the past and in the present. The idea seems to be to offer up somebody, anybody as a scapegoat to atone for the sins of the community or perhaps for the great cause of Social Justice. This sentiment is not founded in the concept of justice under the rule of law. This is the mentality of the lynch mob. This is the sort of thinking we need to avoid.

As for the rioting, I wish the people involved would consider that they are not helping matters. They are working to destroy their community and blighting the lives of the majority of residents who would just as soon live in peace. The rioters are criminals taking advantage of a bad situation to better themselves. Something similar could be said for the parasites preparing to descend on the hapless community.

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