Sunday, 23 November 2014

Will Threats of Violence Sway the Ferguson Grand Jury?

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“Would you rather hear me comin’ out, comin’ out and robbin’ your house? And it would be like, it'd just be like silence, man; you couldn't hear nothin’.” So said the threatening man, unidentified, in a message he left. It was left for a Ferguson police officer’s wife, also, understandably, unidentified. This woman would later tell KTVI’s Chris Hayes, while looking over her shoulder, “Did they follow me here [home]? Did I do a good enough job after work today of taking different routes, on my way home? Just letting my younger daughter leave the house...” (video below).

One thing not in doubt is that Ferguson, Missouri, where policeman Darren Wilson shot 300-lb robbery suspect Michael Brown in an apparent act of self-defense on August 9, is a tinderbox of fear, feints, and genuine threats. Add to this the highly politicized and publicized nature of the affair — the Department of Justice (DOJ) long ago injected itself into the case, and the nation is currently awaiting a grand-jury announcement on whether Wilson will be indicted for the shooting — and a question presents itself:

Could the threat of violence, which has spooked even police officers, influence the grand jurors?

In theory, the identities of jury members are supposed to be kept secret, and that is generally the reality. But KMOX reports on another reality:

Washington University law professor Peter Joy says despite safeguards, no system is 100 percent fool-proof.

“We trust, or at least hope, that the computer system is secure enough and that the clerks are faithful to their job duties and will not share the names of the grand jurors,” he says.

Joy says normally, the U.S. legal system is set up so the public doesn’t know which cases are being considered by which jury members.

“With this case, ever since their term was extended, starting in that first week of September, everybody knows that this has been the only case that the grand jury’s been considering,” he says.

It’s already apparent that Ferguson is a place where the rule of law has to a degree broken down. As The New American reported last Wednesday:

The Ferguson area is so imperiled that Missouri governor Jay Nixon has declared a State of Emergency and called in the National Guard. Yet these official actions may not change the unofficial reality, expressed anonymously by a law enforcement officer who warned, “If you do not have a gun, get one and get one soon. We will not be able to protect you or your family.” This was posted at the online forum “St Louis Cop Talk” by a poster using the handle “A Concerned Cop,” reports the [Daily] Mail. The officer ominously concluded, “Our gutless commanders and politicians have neutered us. I'm serious, get a gun, get more than one, and keep one with you at all times.”

In fact, Ferguson is lawless enough so that many police officers don’t even believe they can protect themselves and their families — not without disappearing, anyway. Officer Wilson has already long been in hiding, and many other policemen and their loved ones have followed suit in the face of threats of assault and death. As an example of such dangers, a militant group calling itself “RbG Black Rebels” and led by a man who goes by the name “Zulu Gaddafi” (whose symbol and message are shown below) recently put a finder’s bounty on the heads of the Wilsons: $5,000 cash for the location of Officer Wilson and $1,000 for that of each family member.


And the police officer’s wife mentioned earlier is painfully aware of the danger. She has received many strange and threatening calls and told KTVI’s Hayes “It's very frightening.... This is real and people actually do know how to find us and they do want to harm us.” It’s so bad, reports Hayes, that police families are warning their sons and daughters, “Don`t tell anyone you’re the child of a police officer.”

Despite this, the police wife has decided to stay in Ferguson, saying she’s doing it for both the policemen and the residents. She also says that hers is a good community and that most police families are proud of what their officers do.

And they have good reason to be according to a little-discussed survey headed by a University of Missouri-St. Louis professor. Said Hayes:

It’s from May of 2014, before any unrest…. [C]itizens ranked city services, putting police third after the fire department and trash service (above six other departments like “code enforcement” and “streets,” at the bottom).

When you break it down by ward, even the area surrounding Canfield where Michael Brown died, 69% of those residents rated Ferguson Police good or excellent. Only 4% scored Ferguson police as poor.

The police wife also lamented the one-sided news coverage of the Ferguson affair. She “fears the public is not hearing everything,” reported Hayes. He continued, “When people complained about militarization of police, she said it wasn’t Ferguson police with the heavy gear.  She said, ‘They didn`t have the equipment they needed.’ Not even helmets, until families pooled their money to buy them.”

She also wondered about bias at Barack Obama’s DOJ, saying “Well, it appears the DOJ made up their mind before they ever got started.” This is reminiscent of the incident involving Henry Louis Gates, the black Harvard professor arrested by Cambridge, Massachusetts, police in 2009; and the affair concerning Hispanic community watchman George Zimmerman and black teenager Trayvon Martin. Before even getting the facts in the Gates case, Obama proclaimed that the police had “acted stupidly”; and in the Zimmerman incident he infamously opined “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Both loose comments served to muddy the waters and fan the flames of racial unrest.

And with respect to Ferguson, it has been reported that Obama actually met with protest leaders Nov. 5 — a day after the election — and told them he was concerned that they “stay on course.” Whatever this course may be, note that the “protests” after the Michael Brown shooting involved rioting and looting. And it’s expected they’ll be even more intense and broader in scope after the grand-jury announcement is made — with one agitator saying “We’re not going to get change in this society unless white people are just a little bit afraid”; the aforementioned Zulu Gaddafi advising protesters to “take to the streets” and “pack sidearms”; and one protest organizer being described as an “anarchist” and “anti-capitalist revolutionary.” There are also now 100 FBI agents in Ferguson.

Most observers expect that the grand jury — whose decision could come any day now — will not indict Officer Wilson. But as the surprising John Roberts ObamaCare ruling proved, nothing can be taken for granted in man’s endeavors — and the legal system is no exception. Justice-oriented citizens can only hope, however, that the grand jury is an exception in one way: that unlike the police, politicians, and residents in Ferguson, it is the one group that feels secure.

Photo: AP Images


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