My last column was about a week before a St. Louis County grand jury announced that Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson would not face charges in the Michael Brown shooting case.
At the end of the column, I specifically criticized the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office regarding the delay in the announcement and pointed out that both supporters of Wilson and those who were sympathetic with Brown were anxious and ready to move on.
I also remember stating at the end of the column that “I hope they know what they’re doing.”
With 10 percent of Ferguson’s business district burned down in the course of one rowdy evening — roughly 30 buildings, including a church — it appears that whoever made the call to release the highly anticipated decision did not, in fact, have a firm grip on what they were doing.
Gov. Nixon’s reluctance to utilize National Guard troops to help quell the violence last Monday night has also been highly criticized by the media, armchair generals and even law enforcement officials around the country.
You would have thought they learned during the first round of riots in August that the restrained approach doesn’t do much good. Actually, according to scores of “experts” and analysts, it was probably the worst approach they could have possibly taken. Even Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City, recently told the media that Ferguson didn’t have to burn that night – that his response would have been much more harsh.
And maybe he’s right – he never once had a riot get out of control during his time in office.
The point is that once again, mistakes were made. Months of training for all of our men and women in blue, as well as the troops of the Missouri National Guard – for what? It wasn’t the fault of the men and women on the ground, they were just following orders and you could clearly see the frustration in their eyes when media cameras would focus on them. They wanted to act — that’s what they’re trained for.
But they were held back. I don’t think state and local law enforcement leadership sent a very strong message to the rioters. I just don’t get it.
Anyway, all is relatively calm now, and though I’ve followed the Ferguson situation since hour one back in August and even took a solo trip there myself to get a feel for it earlier this summer during the first round of riots, I’m ready to move on.
The announcement has been made, the official testimony and documentation is public – it’s all out in the open. No more make-believe. Wilson did his job as he was trained to do, period.
I hope the people of Ferguson can find their peace without violence and disruption and move on as well.