Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Did Ferguson deliberately let black businesses burn?
AMY GOODMAN: In 162,000 cases in 2010, grand juries, these federal cases, grand juries decline to return an indictment in 11. Of 162,000 federal cases.
by Larry Geller
The news that a grand jury in St. Louis, Missouri decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, was released late at night when it was sure to inflame crowds of protesters already assembled in town.
The people knew that an indictment was uncertain, even though it should not have been. Police seldom face any consequences for their actions in this country. That’s what the protest is about.
Black men and teenagers are killed by security personnel at a steady pace—about one every 28 hours nationally. In Ferguson, they had enough of it and have protested ever since the August event.
It’s likely that Ferguson will set a record for the longest continuous protest.
Events in Ferguson unfolded rapidly last night, so newspapers were handicapped in reporting everything by their production deadlines. Still, there seems to be information that could have been printed but was not. For sure, the major news outlets had at least skeletons of potential stories according to whether the grand jury came down one way or the other.
Did you see reports that in West Florissant, largely black-run businesses were allowed to burn for hours before firefighters arrived? Why were white-owned businesses on nearby South Florissant protected by police and the National Guard who were nowhere to be found in West Florissant? No? Check out Democracy Now.
Some commentators have already toyed with the argument that maybe Wilson wasn’t guilty after all. But it is not the job of a grand jury to decide guilt. As Amy Goodman noted in the pull-quote above, grand juries rarely fail to return an indictment in these cases. Guilt can then be determined by trying the facts in a court of law.
In our system of justice, much depends on the conduct and the zeal of the prosecutor. Unfortunately, if the prosecutor is reluctant to see a cop convicted, it’s easy enough to hold back and, in effect, prevent an indictment or a conviction rather than pursue one.
This is one question that news outlets should be asking. Let’s see how many do that.
Check out Democracy Now on the web for better coverage—Amy Goodman is in Ferguson right now. Or catch it on `Olelo tonight.