At least one political analyst is looking at the timing of the release of the grand jury ruling in Ferguson, Missouri, with disdainful eyes, calling the late-night announcement both “foolish and dangerous” and suggesting it practically dared protesters to unleash violence under cover of the night.
In a written op-ed, CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin sharply rebuked St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch for his 8:30 p.m. Central Time announcement, calling that timeline “foolish and dangerous.”
“Here’s the thing about that time of night: It’s dark,” he wrote, CNN reported. “Anyone — anyone! — should have known that the decision in the Brown case would have been controversial. A decision not to indict, which was always possible, even likely, would have been sure to attract protests, even violence. Crowd control is always more difficult in the dark.”
As Mr. Toobin pointed, the grand jury convened about lunchtime on Monday — and therefore, the announcement could have easily come in the daylight hours.
“Still, McCulloch said that he would not announce the grand jury’s decision until 8 p.m. CT,” Mr. Toobin said, in CNN.
Even Gov. Jay Nixon was questioned about the nighttime announcement, during a press conference held earlier in the day. And his answer?
It was “consistent with his generally clueless performance throughout this crisis,” Mr. Toobin wrote. “Nixon said the decision to announce the decision at night was made solely by McCulloch. In other words, don’t ask him! He’s only the governor!”
On top of that, Mr. McCulloch didn’t even wrap his announcement until 9 p.m., local time — and “his tone was icy and divisive,” Mr. Toobin said.
“His sympathy for the Brown family was perfunctory,” he wrote, on CNN. “He seemed more angry at the news media than about the death of a young man.”
And the result?
“The predictable reaction ensued,” Mr. Toobin said, in CNN. “Protests began, some of the violence. Police responded with tear gas. Fires burned. Cars were destroyed. Gunshots were heard. The full scale of the damage was difficult to assess last night. … [T]he verdict on McCulloch opting to announce the decision at night is clear — and devastating.”