- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2014


There’s simply no way to know now what the end game will be in Ferguson, Missouri.

But there’s certainly plenty of issues worthy of considerable thought.

“We’ve got to build a bridge,” so said Karl Racine, a former defense lawyer and White House associate counsel, when I asked on Thursday how he would handle the Ferguson problem. “You have to be in the room with the district attorney, you have to be in the room with the U.S. attorney and you have to be in the room with the police department.”

Mr. Racine also said: “You have to talk with your client.”

In the case of Ferguson, the “client” is the people of Ferguson.

With so much still up in the air and no bridge, everyone is left to speculate.

They can speculate how they and others will react after Michael Brown is buried, about what charges, if any, will be brought against Officer Darren Wilson, about the fate of scores of people arrested since Mr. Brown’s Aug. 9 death, about what direction race relations will take and what the heretofore chain of command will be when similar law enforcement incidences arise.

For sure, the Brown aftermath proved that no one was in charge in Ferguson and no one was in charge of Ferguson. Not only was there no bridge, but the mayor, James Knowles III, was so perplexed about the turn of events he went out and hired two PR firms, purportedly one black and one white. A nod, perhaps, to affirmative action.

Or was the mayor simply ignoring that there is a racial divide in “his” city of 22,000?

Did his PR gurus explain why “his” city was calm during the day, but turned into a house afire at night?

Did the white firm or the black firm, for that matter, explain why the feds, the governor, the city and the St. Louis County authorities weren’t given a second thought by the malcontents.

Has the mayor of Ferguson even claimed ownership of what happened?

President Obama certainly has, as have Eric Holder and, in a roundabout way, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. The actions of the two chief executives and the attorney general delivered far different snapshots and messages than those, as a political example, sent by President Kennedy, his attorney general-brother, Bobby, and Ross Barnett, then-governor of Mississippi. All three were Democrats, yet their protracted disagreement over integrating the University of Mississippi and the hardline of other adamant segregationists led to what’s deemed the Ole Miss riot of 1962 and the Kennedys’ call for federal troops, including the Border Patrol, to calm things down.

Why such terror?

Barnett and his ilk refused to let an Air Force veteran named James Meredith enroll and attend Ole Miss. Meredith was black, and the entire Ole Miss fiasco is now far more than a footnote in American history.

Neither Kennedy set foot in Oxford, Mississippi, to right that wrong, but both claimed ownership of what was unfolding at the time.

The Kennedy brothers and the enforcers they dispatched to Mississippi — and most assuredly the law and order and moral standing they represented — became the bridge over very troubled waters.

No, St. Louis is hardly deep in the heart of Dixie. Indeed, some Missourians and other people I know who have lived there prefer to think of themselves as Midwesterners.

Fine. But the waters remain troubled.

Ferguson appears calm, for now.

We saw pictures of Mr. Holder with city officials and residents, and with Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson, who has been tasked by the governor to be one of the chief cooks and bottle washers in Ferguson.

Any day now, we’ll find out whether Ferguson has returned to its restive self, if there really is no “racial divide,” as the mayor claims.

Verdicts, especially those proclaimed in a court of law, don’t always sit well with folks who think or know or believe they have been wronged.

That is the perception and the reality.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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