- - Friday, August 22, 2014

Ferguson, Mo., is like a free-fire zone for bullies. Well, maybe that’s an uncomfortable metaphor, since actual shots have been fired by the rioters, along with rocks and Molotov cocktails. It’s like watching a swarm of bullies trying to shove the entire town in different directions.

The good people of Ferguson have been bullied so hard you barely hear from them anymore. At first, they’d pop out for man-on-the-street interviews. Early on, some of them expressed gratitude for the heavy police presence. When it was decided to try a light police footprint with lots of community outreach, there were more riots with escalating violence, and the average folk just disappeared.

The rioters did a good job of bullying local business owners by smashing and looting their stores. Some of them are saying they won’t come back and to be honest, I don’t blame them.

We’re supposed to believe the riots got worse last weekend because the police released surveillance-camera video that showed the slain Michael Brown roughing up a shopkeeper and stealing a box of cigars. In other words, we’re supposed to be bullied out of speaking the truth, even when it’s been caught on video. I guess we were supposed to let the media, street thugs and agitators keep tearing apart the police officer involved in the shooting and telling stories about a sweet and innocent teenager brutally gunned down by a racist white cop.

Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson says Barack Obama is a bully — and he’s bullying black people. “He’s got the bully pulpit. Be a bully in the pulpit. But don’t bully black people.” That’s the problem with those on the left; it’s OK to be a bully, just as long as it’s the right kind of bully. To them, the end always justifies the means.

We all know how things went when “the facts at hand” turned out to be very different than what the rioters believed. We got more riots. The truth itself was bullied off the stage. The autopsy showed Mr. Brown wasn’t shot in the back? He was caught on video robbing a store 15 minutes before he ran into the cop? Officer Darren Wilson was beaten so furiously that his eye socket broke? No, we don’t want to hear any of that.

Outside agitators rolled into town and started pushing the locals around. Something like 90 percent of the arrests in Ferguson have involved people who didn’t come from there.

It’s bullying to tell people they have no right to express their opinion on the situation because their skin is the wrong color. All these elaborate racial theories about the encounter don’t count for much if it was simply a matter of “Big Mike” Brown attacking the police officer and provoking an armed response. That doesn’t mean the officer doesn’t still have hard questions to answer — a man is dead, after all — but it’s a question of individual conduct, not huge racial and social forces clashing.

A lot of people think the local police were bullies to show up a few days into the riot wearing military-style uniforms, packing heavy weapons and rolling in armored vehicles. Obviously, that was supposed to be intimidating, to quell riots and looting without resorting to actual violence. It’s still eerie to see militarized police moving through an American town. Then again, the governor of Missouri ended up calling out the actual military, the National Guard, so maybe there’s something to this whole idea of suppressing riots with a display of force, after all.

Ferguson’s police department took plenty of bullying in turn — from the governor, the Justice Department and the media. The governor demanded Officer Wilson’s “prosecution” even though the investigation isn’t finished yet, and every bit of evidence uncovered so far weighs in Officer Wilson’s favor. After the police had a nasty encounter with a couple of reporters, the media have been eager to provoke another incident. There have actually been more reporters on the streets than demonstrators on a few occasions.

Let’s go back to the original act of bullying that started this whole mess; namely, the people who turned a candlelight vigil for Mr. Brown into an angry riot less than 24 hours after the shooting, before any police department could conceivably have conducted any sort of investigation. Due process went out the window, and civil order soon followed. Everyone wants justice, but nobody should push for instant justice. That’s mob rule. It never works out well.

For the act of rioting in the streets, looting stores and business, as well by outrageous actions forcing people to hide in their homes out of a real concern for their safety, the Ferguson rioters are the liberal bullies of the week.

Rusty Humphries, a nationally syndicated talk-radio host, is a contributor to The Washington Times.