From the very first day that news of Michael Brown’s shooting death by Officer Darren Wilson hit the front pages, Ferguson, Missouri, became synonymous with police brutality, improper training of officers and a racist, thin blue line. The case was like catnip to President Obama, a man who, six years into his term, has yet to show any understanding that he is the president of the United States, not president of the Democratic Party. He was quick to weigh in with words of support for the victim, who was being touted by a gullible media as a college-bound gentle giant of a child.
Mr. Obama turned the matter over to Eric Holder, who, similarly, has never understood that he is the chief law enforcement officer for the nation rather than the personal consigliere for Mr. Obama. For many reasons, history will not be kind to Mr. Holder, but this has been one of his most outrageous escapades as attorney general. While the Obama White House sent three administration officials to attend Brown’s funeral, Mr. Holder flew to Ferguson to let “the community” know that he and the president had their backs. He spoke of his own mistreatment by police as a young man, and got the crowds spun up with promises of change.
Just in case the lawyers of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division had not clearly perceived what their boss wanted done to Officer Wilson, Mr. Holder announced the assignment of 55 FBI agents to investigate the officer’s actions and made a conspicuous point of not meeting with police officers who were trying to quell civil unrest. In fact, they were criticized for being too militaristic. Message received, crystal clear: Get Officer Wilson charged.
Then something fascinating happened. The facts caught up with the craven politicians who were trading on rumor and demagoguery. The “gentle giant” turned out to be a criminal who used thuggish intimidation to rob a local convenience store the day he was shot. When the actual video was released to the media, Mr. Holder declared his “outrage.” Compare that to his reaction when rioters burned down blocks of businesses in Ferguson and Mr. Holder stated that he was “disappointed.” Really? I’m disappointed when a fine dining experience is marred by an overcooked steak. When a city is set on fire by looting criminals, I expect to see a furious attorney general declare that the full weight of the federal government will be brought to bear on the rioters.
Ultimately, we learned what Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder had known for weeks: Forensic evidence refuted much of the most provocative claims against Officer Wilson by some of the “eyewitnesses.” Other vocal witnesses had admitted that they had not actually seen the shooting. Then we learned that some true heroes had chosen to rise up and tell the truth (supported by the forensics) about the shooting. Several community members, apparently all black, stepped forward to state clearly that Brown had charged at the policeman. He had not tried to surrender as some witnesses had falsely said. These people, such as Witness No. 10, chose to tell the truth about what they saw when doing so made them subject to social scorn and physical danger. They are true American patriots who will never get so much as a nod of appreciation from Mr. Holder or the useful idiots, black and white, who can’t accept the truth and who applaud while race hustlers like Al Sharpton compare Brown to slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.
When I see white college students marching for “Ferguson justice” while throwing black power salutes into the air, I roll my eyes, knowing that most of them have the option of stopping their flirtation with “the cause” whenever they want and getting a good job with a secure future. They aren’t about to burn down their own neighborhoods but will drive long distances to cheer on black people dumb enough to burn down theirs.
Unfortunately, most black people don’t have the same luxury of choices. Even worse, too many still won’t think for themselves and prefer that a black leader do their thinking for them. They are the vanguard of the Sharpton Roadshow, always ready to embrace the latest racial conspiracy theory. They have tried on the cloak of victimhood and found it to be very comfortable. Now they claim to miss Michael Brown, while clear-thinking people such as Witness No. 10 understand that Brown was someone whom good citizens feared running into in a dark alley. Witness No. 10 also knew that Brown had every chance to surrender to police that day but thought his tough-guy persona would get him by, as it had before. Welcome to Darwin’s waiting room, where the dim-witted or chronically stoned learn that you don’t bring fists and a bad attitude to a gunfight with police.
Michael Brown’s death was caused by his own violent, poor choices. The police officer did exactly what he had to do, and if the officer had been black, brown or yellow, the result would probably have been the same. The only real difference would have been if Brown had been killed by another black teen. If that had happened, Messrs. Obama, Holder, Sharpton and the media would have bypassed Ferguson, and we would never have known Brown’s name.
Now that the inconvenient truth is known, Mr. Holder should stop playing the progressive activist and start being a law enforcer. He ought to reassign those 55 FBI agents to the task of identifying the rioters who looted and burned the businesses of so many good people — many of them black — that he has totally ignored. They found out the hard way what happens when 911 is called and no police officer shows up. I will bet that if help had arrived, the responders’ race would not have mattered one bit.
• Carl Rowan Jr. is an attorney and former FBI agent, and is currently a private security executive in Washington.