Following the shooting death of 18-year-old black robbery suspect Michael Brown by a white police officer on Aug. 9, four distinctly different groups descended upon the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo.
Two of them — race-baiting leftists and the media — arrived almost simultaneously. You may quibble with the distinction here, but let’s move on.
Finally, a number of pastors arrived.
All four groups had markedly different approaches and outcomes.
The race-baiters, which included the New Black Panther Party, succeeded in turning a tense situation into rioting and looting that elicited a police response in full military gear with rubber bullets. At least 30 people from several different states were among the 160 arrested.
Gregory Johnson, a political activist from the San Francisco Bay Area who was a defendant in a flag-burning case back in the ‘80s, disagreed with the idea that nonlocals were stirring things up. “This whole ‘outside agitator’ thing is getting tiresome,” he told The Wall Street Journal. If you say so, Mr. Johnson.
The media, like flies to a spotlight, gathered en masse and managed to give the rioters plenty of reason to keep tossing Molotov cocktails for the benefit of the cameras.
As reported by the Media Research Center, the networks devoted mega-time to Ferguson while ignoring the ongoing tragedy of black-on-black violence in cities all over the country.
Wall Street Journal editorial writer Jason Riley on “Meet the Press” Aug. 17 noted that “[T]he same weekend that this went down in Ferguson, we had 26 shootings in Chicago. But Al Sharpton didn’t head to Chicago. He headed to St. Louis, because he has an entirely different agenda, which is to continue to blame whites.”
Ever at the ready to worsen a bad situation, the ACLU unsuccessfully argued on behalf of Missouri resident Mustafa Abdullah to lift a police order to keep protesters moving along in the riot area. The cops thought that a gathering crowd egged on by professional agitators was a powder keg. They said peaceful protests could continue only in a specific area.
Last Monday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry disagreed with the ACLU and upheld the restrictions. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster concurred in a tweet: “Peaceful protest will continue, but the violence must stop. This restriction is as narrowly tailored as the gunfire and violence will allow.”
The ACLU also took issue with a police-imposed curfew and a plea from police for civility.
“We acknowledge that limiting protests to daylight hours and demanding a ‘respectful manner’ might make your job easier, ‘[b]ut that is not enough to satisfy the First Amendment,” wrote ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey A. Mittman in an Aug. 13 letter to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson. “We are writing to you to express our concerns about this direct attack on protected expressive activity.”
Well, it is easier to read protest signs at night when you have a good fire going in a storefront.