In Ferguson, Missouri, a desire for revenge has replaced a desire for justice.
A police shooting was the first tragedy there, but more tragedies have piled on top of it. Those who complain that the officer rushed to judgment are doing their own rush to judgment themselves. They seek to dictate the consequences even without knowing. And unlike the officer, they have zero first-hand knowledge.
Instead of waiting out the investigation, they’re chanting, “No justice; No peace!” as a politically correct slogan that actually means, “We want revenge!” That attitude makes bad things become worse.
The police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown was the first tragedy. Ferguson police compounded the impact when the young man’s body was left lying in the street, uncovered and highly visible to all in the black neighborhood where the shooting happened.
Some media and black leaders quickly stoked outrage and rushed to judgment— acting with the very haste for which they condemn the policeman who fired the fatal shots. Officer Darren Wilson says he defended himself when attacked by Mr. Brown, and says that Mr. Brown tried to take the officer’s gun. Video evidence of Mr. Brown’s strong-arm tactics in allegedly robbing a convenience store that day is not proof that Officer Wilson was attacked. But the video demonstrates how the 6-foot-4, 292-pound Mr. Brown was physically intimidating and had been willing to use his strong-arm strength only minutes before the shooting.
Yet media persisted in telling everyone the deceased was a “gentle giant.” They equated being unarmed with being non-threatening and non-violent. Professional agitator Al Sharpton ignored the store video and labeled it a “smear” to suggest that Mr. Brown might not always have behaved with gentleness. But Ferguson Mayor James Knowles noted about Mr. Sharpton, “You’re not going to accomplish anything in the streets screaming.”
The tragedies piled up with violent protests and occasions of over-reaction by law enforcement. But the tragedy underlying the situation is a sub-culture which teaches that when you believe one wrong is committed, then you are justified to commit more wrongs, including arson, robberies and attacking police.
The facts are coming out too slowly; but the condemnations of police are also coming out too quickly.
News that six bullets struck Mr. Brown raises questions about the need for Officer Wilson to fire so many shots in alleged self-defense. But four of those hit him only in the arm, according to an autopsy arranged by Mr. Brown’s family. That raises counter-questions about possible efforts to fend him off before two fatal head shots were fired.
Yet St. Louis Rep. William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, poured gasoline on the racial unrest by labeling the shooting “a murder.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson left Chicago’s violence behind to attend rallies in Ferguson. His speech included a request for donations. To the credit of locals, they booed Mr. Jackson for that. He should also have been booed for calling Mr. Brown’s death “a state execution.”
Some of the protestors directed anger toward President Obama, whose class-warfare rhetoric has failed to create jobs in the magnitude needed, especially among minorities. But pent-up frustration about jobs is no justification for rioting or looting.
Most of the agitation continues to claim black Americans are victims of too much policing, too many arrests and too much incarceration. That approach is being echoed by Mr. Obama’s Justice Department, which has initiatives underway to reduce minority populations in prisons.
Announcements about those race-based Justice Department projects may be used between now and election day to keep racial issues elevated. That means tensions would be kept high, risking more tragedies.
Political gurus are measuring if the Ferguson tragedies might be used to boost minority turnout in November’s elections, thus benefiting Democrat turnout in key states. Sick as it is, some believe it’s a political sin to let a crisis go to waste.