Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:10

Ferguson: Rule by Law or Rule by Mobocracy?

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With Missouri Governor Jay Nixon concluding that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is guilty of murder and the New York Times concluding that if the grand jury fails to indict Wilson for murder there will be hell to pay in Ferguson, the question has to be asked: What has happened to the rule of law? What has happened to the fundamental understanding that under the rule of law, Wilson is innocent until proven guilty?

Following a night of relative calm in Ferguson, Missouri (there were only six arrests Wednesday night compared to 47 arrests the night before), focus is now being directed to the start of the investigation by the grand jury into the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9 by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The grand jury of 12 consists of nine white and three black individuals. It will take at least nine of those jurors to bring charges (which could range from murder to manslaughter to negligent homicide) or acquit Wilson. According to St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, the jury won’t have a final decision before mid-October.

It’ll take that long to present all the forensic evidence generated by the three separate autopsies performed on Brown, along with testimony by witnesses and perhaps even testimony from Wilson himself.

Already there’s controversy surrounding McCulloch. An online petition has gathered more than 70,000 signatures demanding that he recuse himself from the case claiming that his background and his family ties prejudice him in favor of the police. In 1964, when McCulloch was 13 years old, his father — then a member of the St. Louis Police Department — was killed by a black suspect during an arrest. His brother, cousin, and uncle were on the police force, and his mother worked as a clerk for the department as well.

McCulloch, however, has refused to remove himself from the case: “We are going to proceed until I am told by the governor that I can’t,” said the prosecutor in an interview. And the governor is refusing to replace him with a special prosecutor, claiming that it would unnecessarily disrupt normal operating procedures.

The governor, Jay Nixon, has already decided that Wilson is guilty. In a remarkable overreach, Nixon said in a videotaped statement on Tuesday that “vigorous prosecution must now be pursued” in the shooting death of Brown. Some thought he meant to say “vigorous investigation” but his bias toward guilt was confirmed by his follow-on statement:

We have a responsibility to … do everything we can to achieve justice for [Brown’s] family.… Justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly and correctly.

Nothing in his statement mentioned justice for Darren Wilson who, under the rule of law, is innocent until proven guilty.

Nixon’s overstatement was immediately challenged by Missouri’s Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, who told Fox News: “It would be wrong for a prosecutor to say what the governor has said here tonight, and it’s wrong for the governor of Missouri to have said.” He added:

It’s really heartbreaking to see a man elected to an office that high in our state government … come out with a statement like that, that does prejudge the case.

Sergeant Kevin Ahlbrand, president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, added that he also was “very disappointed” in Nixon’s rush to judgment. He said, “We welcome a vigorous investigation.… Justice needs to go both ways. Darren’s been vilified in the press and by politicians with minimal facts being made public.”

It was the Times, however, that warned that if Wilson is found innocent after an eight-week investigation into the true facts of what happened the day of the shooting, there would be trouble in River City: "The community [of Ferguson] will almost certainly reject a decision not to indict Mr. Wilson."

And of course there’s the inevitable and ubiquitous champion of justice himself, Attorney General Eric Holder, who is conducting his own investigation separately from the grand jury to determine if Wilson violated any federal civil rights statutes in the shooting. Happily the attorney general will have to prove that Wilson deliberately acted with evil intentions to deprive Brown of his civil rights in the shooting. With what evidence the public has seen, that would be a tall hill for Holder to climb.

But the rush to judgment by Nixon and the troublesome consequences predicted by the Times if the grand jury fails to indict Wilson provide sad commentary on our society: The rule of law, which is designed to protect innocents until they are proven guilty, can still be undone by racism.

Ferguson may be quieting down, but collective breaths are being held there until the verdict is announced in October.

Photo: AP Images

A graduate of Cornell University and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www.LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

8 comments

  • Comment Link Bill Saturday, 23 August 2014 23:06 posted by Bill

    In a conventional homicide investigation, the suspect is questioned on the record, and discrepancies in his story are considered evidence of guilt. Darren Wilson didn't file an incident report, and none was completed until ten days after the shooting -- and it was blank.

    This means that we don't have his original story to compare against the final version -- because, in effect, his version is still being written.

    DA McCulloch is notoriously protective of police officers who kill people under questionable circumstances. His office has been leaking derogatory material about Michael Brown, and is the source of now-discredited rumors about severe injuries inflicted by Brown on Wilson. If the Grand Jury no-bills Wilson -- which I expect it will -- McCulloch's refusal to recuse himself in favor of a special prosecutor will do nothing to persuade the public of the validity of that outcome.

  • Comment Link Old Mullet Friday, 22 August 2014 14:30 posted by Old Mullet

    Out of one side of our President's mouth, he said that mob rule is domestic terrorism... at least according to Homeland Security (by the way, where are they?). Out of the other side of that same mouth comes E. Holder in pursuit of evidence against the policeman. Note that virtually NO one has been out to prove evidence from the street to be truth, nor have they been providing the history (arrest record) and drug, and aggressive nature, and actual size of this "teenage" adult. One punch from his fist broke the scull bones of the police officer. No one of the (apparently) crowd who all saw the event, a) tried to detain the robbery perp., or 2) tried to stop the altercation in any way, or 3) ever gave the officer even the benefit of any doubt. He was white. The robber was black. Therefore, the cop was the villain. This is what we can expect across the United States IF Americans of all colors, races, etc. bobblehead along with their rhetorical "black sheets" over their heads and verbally "burning effigies of white people hung from crosses". Yes, it is the equivalent of the KKK we see here. Slavery abounds from such turns of lawlessness and total disrespect for other humankind. Reverse racism is STILL racism. Even if it comes from the White house. A note worthy of adding: The Ferguson police department has (for years) actively attempted to recruit black men and women. The unbalanced percentage of black officers is because the blacks who qualify do not want to join. Is it so the community can complain? Or, is it that they, themselves, do not want blacks on the side of the law? Back to they "don't trust the law". All of the above would make a real news reporter chomp at the bit to report on. Alas, federal shackles prohibit it.

  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Friday, 22 August 2014 10:05 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    The Communist strategy is to weaken local police and empower the Central Police in Washington, DC. All of this is explained at the webpage .http://www.jbs.org/issues-pages/support-your-local-police .

  • Comment Link Michael V Wilson Friday, 22 August 2014 07:50 posted by Michael V Wilson

    Like Sodom and Gomorrah where the men of the city wanted Lot to sacrifice the angels to their demands, the people of Ferguson want Officer Darren Wilson sacrificed to their demands. And now we have Sata...uh, Obama, sending in his henchman Beelzebu...uh, Holder, to oversee it.

  • Comment Link Tionico Thursday, 21 August 2014 23:22 posted by Tionico

    Missouri already have plenty against this wingnut governor. He vetoed a couple of good gun bills, he was in deep cahoots with DHS in providing priviledged information about Missouri citizens, he's refused to put any checks on FedGov's over-reaches, and, when he SHOULD be telling Eric Holder to pound sand and get out of his state, he seems to be welcoming him and even siding with him. If he continues to behave like this, he may well find himself out of a job before the next election for governor. He will NOT be returned to office. Missouri very nearly tried to impeach him for his stunt with DHS.

  • Comment Link Adolf Thursday, 21 August 2014 20:53 posted by Adolf

    Officer Wilson is being lynched by our politically correct society.

  • Comment Link Nora Thursday, 21 August 2014 19:23 posted by Nora

    Nixon is a no good globalist. He vetoed the gun rights bills passed by the state legislature, and he will be removed from office over this shooting if he is foolish enough to race bait despite the facts not all being in favor of a guilty verdict. Officer Wilson was injured enough in the confrontation with Brown that he required a trip to the hospital for treatment of head injuries, and the autopsy has already revealed that he shot in self defense while being attacked. The majority of shots hit Brown on the front of his body, he was not gunned down from behind. It's a tragic event anytime someone is killed, but adding another tragedy to the whole mess by convicting an innocent officer helps no one. There are plenty of police shootings that are wrongful deaths and they should be given the same thorough investigation. This one smacks of an attempt to instigate a race war, trashing an officer who had an excellent record in the process. Nixon needs to resign, like his namesake, Tricky Dicky Nixon.

  • Comment Link Jack Coleman Thursday, 21 August 2014 18:11 posted by Jack Coleman

    Definitely a case of rule by Law or Rule by Mobocracy.

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