Ferguson: What We Know
FACTS STILL UNCLEAR IN CONTROVERSIAL SHOOTING …
We have no clue what happened on the mean streets of Ferguson, Missouri on the evening of August 9, 2014 – when white police officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department fired six bullets into 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man.
Maybe one day stuff like this won’t be such a mystery … but in the interim, we’re content to continue letting the facts sort themselves out.
We know that one set of witnesses has offered up one version of events – namely that Brown was senselessly gunned down while holding his arms in the air to show he was not carrying a weapon – and another set of witnesses has offered up another narrative, that Brown assaulted Wilson prior to the shooting and caused damage to his face (allegedly an “orbital blowout fracture” of his eye socket).
We also know Brown was a suspect in a convenience store robbery prior to the shooting – a robbery in which he allegedly stole a $48.99 box of cigars and physically assaulted a clerk at the store (there’s video of the assault, by the way).
We know the streets of Ferguson erupted in the wake of his death … turning the town into a virtual war zone that prompted Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to call out the National Guard.
And we know that the law enforcement overreaction to the Ferguson protests has spawned a much-needed debate in this country about why our local police departments are armed to the teeth with military hardware.
Nobody in the Ferguson drama has come out clean … the cops, protesters, media, politicians … nobody.
It’s a failure of the American experiment in every way imaginable, no matter what the facts of the case ultimately prove.
And while a grand jury mulls those particulars, the protesters have made it clear that there is only one acceptable outcome to the proceedings.
“This officer has to be indicted,” one told the Associated Press. “I’d hate to see what happens if he isn’t. The rioting, the looting, man …”
In addition to the local probe, a U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) investigation is also looking into the matter, seeking to determine whether the shooting was a civil rights violation.
The good news out of Ferguson? Things have quieted down considerably since the peak of the protests, with the streets remaining quiet and non-violent for three straight nights.
Let’s hope that trend holds … although it seems unlikely if the investigations don’t go the way the protesters want.