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Mark Steyn writes on the appalling police of Ferguson, Missouri.
The “narrative” of Ferguson, Missouri changed somewhat today. But, amid the confusion, the blundering stupidity of the city’s police department remains consistent.
This morning the Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, released security-camera shots of the late Michael Brown apparently stealing a five-dollar box of cigarillos from a convenience store. So the 18-year old shot dead by Chief Jackson’s officer was no longer a “gentle giant” en route to college but just another crappy third-rate violent teen n’er-do-well.
This afternoon, the chief gave a second press conference. Why would he do that? Well, he’d somehow managed to create the impression in his first press conference that the officer who killed Mr Brown was responding to the robbery. In fact, that was not the case. The Ferguson policeman was unaware that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time he encountered him and shot him dead. Which is presumably why Chief Jackson was leaned on to give his second press conference and tidy up the mess from the first. So we have an officer who sees two young men, unwanted for any crime, walking down the middle of the street and stops his cruiser. Three minutes later one of them is dead.
On the other hand, Jackson further confused matters by suggesting that he noticed Brown had cigars in his hand and might be the suspect.
It’s important, when something goes wrong, to be clear about what it is that’s at issue. Talking up Michael Brown as this season’s Trayvonesque angel of peace and scholarship was foolish, and looting stores in his saintly memory even worse. But this week’s pictures from Ferguson, such as the one above, ought to be profoundly disquieting to those Americans of a non-looting bent.
The most basic problem is that we will never know for certain what happened. Why? Because the Ferguson cruiser did not have a camera recording the incident. That’s simply not credible. “Law” “enforcement” in Ferguson apparently has at its disposal tear gas, riot gear, armored vehicles and machine guns …but not a dashcam. That’s ridiculous. …
… And, if we have to have federal subsidy programs for municipal police departments, we should scrap the one that gives them the second-hand military hardware from Tikrit and Kandahar and replace it with one that ensures every patrol car has a camera.
As for what’s happened in the days since the shooting, I’ve written a lot in recent months about the appalling militarization of the police in America, and I don’t have much to add. But I did get a mordant chuckle out of this line from Kathy Shaidle on the green-camouflaged officers pictured above:
Shouldn’t a ‘Ferguson’ camo pattern be, like, 7/11 & Kool-Aid logos?
Indeed. To camouflage oneself in the jungles of suburban America, one should be clothed in Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell packaging. A soldier wears green camo in Vietnam to blend in. A policeman wears green camo in Ferguson to stand out – to let you guys know: We’re here, we’re severe, get used to it. This is not a small thing. …
Kevin Williamson on who lost the cities.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson is, to the surprise of all thinking people, right about something: “A spark has exploded,” he said, referring to the protests and violence in Ferguson, Mo. “When you look at what sparked riots in the Sixties, it has always been some combination of poverty, which was the fuel, and then some oppressive police tactic. It was the same in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Los Angeles. It’s symptomatic of a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression, seen in Chicago.”
A question for the Reverend Jackson: Who has been running the show in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, and in Los Angeles for a great long while now? The answer is: People who see the world in much the same way as does the Reverend Jackson, who take the same view of government, who support the same policies, and who suffer from the same biases.
This is not intended to be a cheap partisan shot. The Democratic party institutionally certainly has its defects, the chronicle of which could fill several unreadable volumes, but the more important and more fundamental question here is one of philosophy and policy. Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities — have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.
Ferguson was hardly a happy suburban garden spot until the shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson is about two-thirds black, and 28 percent of those black residents live below the poverty line. The median income is well below the Missouri average, and Missouri is hardly the nation’s runaway leader in economic matters. More than 60 percent of the births in the city of St. Louis (and about 40 percent in St. LouisCounty) are out of wedlock.
My reporting over the past few years has taken me to Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, St. Louis and the nearby community of East St. Louis, Ill., Philadelphia, Detroit, Stockton, San Francisco, and a great many other cities, and the Reverend Jackson is undoubtedly correct in identifying “a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression.” He neglects to point out that he is an important enabler of it. …
John Fund takes up the Perry indictment.
If you want to know where the abuse-of-power indictment of Texas governor Rick Perry may be headed, look no further than how a similar indictment of then–U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison crashed exactly 20 years ago.
Republican Hutchison was indicted only four months after her landslide win in a special election in 1993. TravisCounty district attorney Ronnie Earle — whose successor, Rosemary Lehmberg, is at the center of the Perry indictment — persuaded a grand jury made up of residents from the liberal Austin area to indict Hutchison on charges of misusing her prior office of state treasurer. (The TravisCounty district attorney’s office runs the Public Integrity Unit, which enforces ethics laws for all state officials, and Austin is the county seat.) Hutchison was accused of using state employees and her state offices to conduct personal and political business and then ordering records of her activities to be destroyed. Among the specific accusations was that she used state employees to plan her Christmas vacation in Colorado and write thank-you notes.
Hutchison pressed for a quick resolution of the case because she was running for reelection in 1994, much as Governor Perry has to worry his indictment will hang over any 2016 presidential race he might run. The case against Hutchison slowly began to fall apart. The first indictment had to be thrown out because one of the grand-jury members who heard the case was ineligible to serve. A defense motion to move the trial from the politically charged climate of liberal Austin to Fort Worth was granted. Then, when the trial began in February of 1994, it ended after only 30 minutes, when Hutchison was found not guilty on all charges. …
More from Phil Klein at The Examiner.
It didn’t take long for it to become widely accepted — and not just among conservatives — that Friday’s indictment of Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, rests on a razor-thin legal premise. MSNBC host Ari Melber called the case “very weak” while Jonathan Chait of New York magazine declared the indictment “unbelievably ridiculous.” Even former senior advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod, wrote on Twitter that the indictment seemed “pretty sketchy.” But perhaps the weirdest part about the indictment isn’t just that it’s without merit, but that the underlying dispute it highlights actually makes Perry look good.
Typically, in politically motivated prosecutions, even if there isn’t enough evidence to convict a politician, the case may highlight behavior that, while not illegal, is politically embarrassing.
For instance, the case that’s been most compared to the Perry indictment is the prosecution of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, because both cases originated from Travis County and targeted prominent Republicans. DeLay’s conviction was overturned last fall for lack of sufficient evidence — eight years after he was initially indicted. But the long ordeal of the case did embarrass DeLay by bringing attention to the often ugly world of campaign finance.
Yet in an attempt to portray Perry as abusing his power, prosecutors went after an example that’s likely to make most Texans sympathize with his position.