Apparently, Missouri governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and alerted the National Guard in preparation for possible violence in Ferguson, Missouri, because the grand jury is close to a decision on whether to indict policeman Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown.
Heaven knows that the Ferguson Police Department is not up there with the best of police departments. Reports from everywhere seem to suggest that, while the department is better than it was years ago, it has a long ways to go. And some analyses of the way Darren Wilson handled the beginning of the confrontation with Michael Brown suggest that there might have been better ways to approach Brown.
That said, let’s be honest. No matter what Brown’s friends, family, and supporters say, Brown was not the innocent near-angel portrayed by his supporters. Minutes before the fatal confrontation Brown stole cigars from a local convenience story and brutally shoved the clerk and owner out of the way. This was caught on the store surveillance camera. The owner reported the theft immediately and described Brown. Police were looking for him. No one knows for certain what happened in detail after Wilson stopped Brown, except that Wilson did suffer injuries, that a quantity of his own blood was found in his squad car, and that Brown was fatally shot.
Some sort of confrontation occurred; Wilson was injured enough to bleed and have minor injuries; Wilson shot Brown. An autopsy performed by the former chief medical examiner for the city of New York, at the request of Brown’s family, found that the shots had all been fired at a distance of from one to four feet; this finding was consistent with the other medical examinations.
Now…for a moment, forget about the race card. A six foot four inch young man weighing 292 pounds who has been identified as a robbery suspect strikes a policeman… for whatever reason. The policeman shoots him at short range. This is not a violation of civil rights. It may have been an unwise split-second decision by a panicked policeman facing a giant of a young man who had just committed a crime, and that decision resulted in a fatal shooting. Or it may have been self-defense on Wilson’s part. In any case, Michael Brown was no innocent. Most likely, Darren Wilson wasn’t either.
But, however the grand jury rules, this shouldn’t be a case for rioting and great clamor over civil rights. And by the way, what about the civil rights of the shopkeeper who was robbed and assaulted by Michael Brown? I haven’t heard a word about his rights… anywhere.