The unrest in Ferguson, MO has yet to die down in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. As a grand jury deliberates over whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, another police shooting in nearby St. Louis has fanned the flames of community anger. While the circumstances surrounding the death of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers seem much more cut and dry than those surrounding Brown’s, it hasn’t stopped news networks and politicians from joining the chorus of chaos.
Let’s put this right out on the table. If Eric Holder could have found even a smidgen of evidence that would have let him prosecute Darren Wilson, the man would be in jail right now. The country, wound up to a fever pitch by days of inaccurate and shamelessly biased reporting, would have gladly sacrificed Wilson on the altar of racial relations. That these grand jury deliberations are still ongoing means only one thing: they’re going to prolong this until the fervor dies down and then quietly dismiss the charges.
The anger in Ferguson is understandable, just as anger regarding the death of Trayvon Martin was understandable. Not because Wilson or Zimmerman were guilty of anything more than defending themselves, but because the media did everything they could to incite a race war. The disgusting tactics used by the press in the Trayvon case linger today, stinking up our atmosphere like so much rotten fish. Far from learning their lesson, media outlets doubled down on the Brown case, weaving a narrative on the first day that failed to change as additional facts came to light. They’ve shown some restraint with the St. Louis shooting, perhaps only because police were lightning-quick to establish the facts.
Not that it matters to the gathering mobs in Missouri. And, again, who can blame them? You can only prod and poke the red hot embers for so long until the flames come bursting forth. Several reports said that demonstrators on Wednesday were calling for Officer Wilson’s death. If he manages to survive prosecution, will he ever be able to live a normal life again? Certainly, his career as a Ferguson police officer is over.
In Myers’ case, the evidence is clear. He shot at the police. Sorry, bud. Once you do that, you’ve forfeited your right to live. And that’s not just an opinion. The same will hold true if and when Pennsylvania cops catch up to Eric Frein. If he comes out of those woods in one piece, it’ll be nothing less than a miracle. Shooting at the cops is a really bad idea.
None of this is to say the police are perfect. Like any other job, there are bad apples. There are probably as many racists in the police force as there are in healthcare or IT. There may be a few more, considering the nature of the job. And it’s not off-limits to talk about it. When a police officer kills someone, it deserves the highest levels of scrutiny. Wearing a badge is certainly not a license to murder.
But the ongoing protests in Ferguson – now heightened by the St. Louis shooting – are not moving us forward. They are feeding off a biased media and creating deep mistrust of cops nationwide. Until some top national figures stand up and say “enough’s enough,” we will only slide further into racial divide.
That it hasn’t happened yet makes you wonder about who might be profiting from the status quo.