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Friday, October 21, 2016

Here in the United States of America, we’re not supposed to have political show trials. People should be put at risk of felony conviction only if evidence clearly supports a criminal indictment — not to solve political problems, provide weeks of suspenseful cable TV news programming, or to pacify mobs.

Prosecutors and judges take solemn oaths not to bring charges they cannot in good faith support. It’s a cornerstone of our fundamental freedoms.

But when even President Obama finds it necessary to urge calm after a grand jury decision in Missouri — fat lot of good that did — I’m left wondering if maybe a nationally televised criminal trial wasn’t exactly what the situation in Ferguson required. Not that it would necessarily have changed anybody’s mind about the death of Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson. Nor led to a different outcome.

Probably Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon should have appointed a special prosecutor. However, given the facts of the case as somewhat clumsily presented by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, but more importantly based upon the evidentiary file his office released, even a negligent homicide conviction of Officer Wilson was never going to happen.

Missouri law gives cops wide latitude to use deadly force when threatened by an assailant. We’ve all seen juries refuse to convict cops in circumstances far more ambiguous than this tragic case presents.

However much McCulloch’s law enforcement background — several family members are cops — may have influenced his view of the evidence, it definitely hampered his presentation. To me, he appeared to assume that his audience would react to certain parts of the story exactly as he and his colleagues in law enforcement would.

Clearly, many have not. For example, have you seen a single hyperventilating lefty acknowledge that at minimum Michael Brown committed felony assault? Maybe McCullough needed to say so. I’m fairly confident that when African-American parents have “the talk” with their sons about dealing with white cops, they don’t advise punching an officer who stops them to ask about a strong arm theft they just did.

Nor, when the cop draws his weapon, taunting that “You’re too much of a f***ing pussy to shoot me.”

Now that the evidence is out there, however, it should be incumbent upon the same news media that turned this sorrowful tragedy into a televised melodrama to put things into a fuller and more realistic context.

Observing (and sometimes participating in) social media exchanges, one gets used to people making categorically false statements about the case, and then doubling-down when corrected — never acknowledging error, but finding new rationalizations for pre-existing beliefs.

“The cop did NOT stop him to ask [Brown] about a robbery,” an advocate of the murdering racist-cop theory haughtily informed me. “At no point did that happen. Just goes to show how people continue to make up their own version of this tragic event — no matter what facts have been actually been presented, never mind corroborated.”

Even prosecutor McCullough’s murky summary, however, established that Officer Wilson had heard about the convenience store robbery on his radio, noticed that Michael Brown fit the suspect’s description, observed the (stolen) cigars in his hand, and called for backup. Radio transmissions and transcripts documented these things.

Not to mention that Brown himself certainly knew he’d just done a robbery — and here came a cop.

And why should it matter? I suspect because it’s just as important for some people to see Michael Brown as an innocent set upon by a cop filled with racial malice as it is for others to depict him as a marauding black thug.

Purely tribal reasoning of this kind is common in political arguments, of course, which is pretty much what Ferguson has boiled down to: a partisan loyalty test.

Writing in Vox, Ezra Klein asks many of the right questions:

“Why did Michael Brown, an 18-year-old kid headed to college, refuse to move from the middle of the street to the sidewalk? Why would he curse out a police officer? Why would he attack a police officer? Why would he dare a police officer to shoot him? Why would he charge a police officer holding a gun?”

In that sense, he finds Darren Wilson’s testimony “unbelievable” — not in the sense that he’s lying, but that his story “raises more questions than it answers.”

Indeed, it does. My own view is that irrational behavior most often stems from irrational causes, and that tragedy often follows.

An early New York Times profile of Michael Brown told of his texting cell phone photos to his parents just weeks before he died to document his visions of Satan fighting angels in the sky over Ferguson, MO.

With everybody obsessing about race, nobody’s mentioned what a psychiatrist might suspect: that Brown had suffered a psychotic break.

And cops end up killing mentally ill people in this country all the time.

Photo: St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announces the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, at the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton, Mo. (Cristina Fletes-Boutte/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • ps0rjl

    Just as in war, here the first victim was truth. The media had already portrayed Michael brown as being the victim in this meeting and Darren Wilson as a rogue cop. No matter what the evidence says, there was already an expected indictment. While I have no dog in this fight and could care less what really happened, we must all agree to abide by the grand jury’s decision. Otherwise we can just run all cases by mob rule and media coverage.

    • judi


    • Billie

      I agree.

    • WhutHeSaid

      The media did no such thing. Witnesses willingly spoke to the media, while the officer remained silent. That’s his choice, but it doesn’t mean that the media shouldn’t report the information it has.

      We do not have to accept the Grand Jury’s decision as the last word in this case any more than we had to accept all-white juries’ decisions in cases involving racist murders of black people in years past. If the system isn’t working then we will change it to make it work. In this case the process was subverted to support a favorable outcome for the officer. The officer was not acquitted, he was merely not indicted — which is a much different thing. He can still be charged, although to do so would require the removal of the St Louis County Prosecutor McCullough, which needs to happen anyway for obvious reasons.

      • whodatbob

        Bob McCullough need not be removed. His background is middle class Irish Catholic, his father was a policeman killed in the line of duty when Bob was 12 years old. Several other family members are policeman. That does not automatically make him biased or bigoted. Just a typical family background for any Irish Catholic family in St. Louis.

        Should McCullough have appointed a special prosecutor? I believe so. But that was not his decision to make. That is the governors decision to make.

        We must to accept the GP’s decision. We are not required to agree with it.

        After Eric Holder’s televised statement about the murder of an innocent black boy by a white policeman, you believe the Justice Department will not be a “Dog and Pony” show to get the desired results, your head is in the sand.

        • WhutHeSaid

          What you need to do is cut & paste a statement by Eric Holder where he said that Michael Brown was “an innocent black boy killed by a white policeman” or anything like it. When you can’t, feel free to apologize to the other posters here for lying just because you are full of bigoted hate.

          We do NOT have to accept the predetermined and carefully guided decision of the Grand Jury. Darren Wilson can still be charged and tried, and should be. If he’s tried in a court of law and acquitted THEN the decision must be accepted, but that would mean proceedings carried out in full public view — unlike the sham of a grand jury proceeding.

          Further, McCullough should have recused himself, but of course everyone knew he wouldn’t. And yes, Governor Nixon has proven incompetent through this entire ordeal. The Department of Justice is still investigating this whole sorry mess, and nothing is more satisfying to see than the moment that a federal judge sentences corrupt state or local officials who believed they were above the law to terms in federal prison.

    • JPHALL

      No matter one’s personal feelings the truth will eventually come out. It is funny that these kind of cases keep popping up, including White victims, and nobody but the dead are held responsible. Do not be surprised when more or worse reactions to these occurrences eventually occur.

  • Joseph Kelsall

    What a load of tripe! Gene Lyons repeats verbatim the hearsay evidence of Wilson and we are supposed to believe him? This is a repetition of Jim Crow laws in a Jim Crow state. Hitler had a word for home such home state policers; he called them ‘Geheimstadtpolizei’ which shortens to Gestapo.

    • whodatbob

      Sorry the Grand Jury did not hand down a verdict you wanted. This GJ lessened to all the evidence and found that Officer Wilson’s version of what happened was collaborated by all three Coroners reports and eye witness statements.
      To make references to Jim Crow laws and the Gestapo discredits your entire point.

      • Joseph Kelsall

        Whodatbob. The cause of death may have been ‘collaborated (sic); that would not have surprised me at all. In fact,I think that the police, the witnesses and the coroners may have all ‘collaborated’ in this whitewash. That was precisely the nature of Hitler’s Geheimstadtpolizei. The ‘Land of the free is, paradoxically, a sick joke spread by creating a paranoid nation of the USA and its citizens.

        • whodatbob

          President Obama and Eric Holder on National media condemned the White Officer the day of the killing. In separate statements accused Wilson of murdering a innocent Black victim. Who is acting like Hitler and his Geheimstadtpolizei leader? Sounds like two Democrats in DC. I am not accusing any one but you are way off base in your accusations.

          Your theory about collaboration between Coroners is asinine.
          Coroner # 1 paid by St. Louis County,
          # 2 hired and paid by Brown family,
          # 3 hired and paid by US Justice Department.
          If any collaboration occurred it would have been between # 2 and # 3 who were paid by parties wanting prof murdered in cold blood Michael Brown with malice of intent. Not that his version of the incident was the moat believable.

          Conclusion you wanted a different outcome and are unable to accept the outcome.
          Deal with it, move on.

          • WhutHeSaid

            Naturally, bigots like you can’t finish even one sentence without lying. Neither Obama not Holder ever did any such thing.

            This case isn’t over, nor is the task of eradicating bigots from the world ever going to be abandoned. The world is rooting out vile and despicable bigots slowly but surely, and the squeals of protest from enraged bigots as each bigoted or racist practice becomes outlawed is a joy to hear.

            Please keep up the squealing, whining and sniveling — it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

          • whodatbob

            Obviously you were not getting your news from CNN, NBC nor CBS in August. All three networks, here in St.Louis, MO., showed both Holder and Obama saying an innocent young black boy was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri by a white policeman.
            Just presenting the facts! You are the one sniveling, whining and squealing. Maybe you should learn to accept that some facts refute your preconceived notion of what actually happened.

            I was sadden to hear President Obama, a man I voted for in 2008 and again in 2012, make such a bigoted statement.

          • WhutHeSaid

            It never ceases to amaze me how bigots continuously lie even though they know full well nobody believes them. First, you never voted for Obama, so let’s just get that whopper out of the way — shall we?

            Next, if Obama or Holder ever said anything like you claim then you should have no trouble cutting and pasting quotes that show it. Of course, you won’t because they didn’t.

            Honestly, I don’t know why you bigots must lie about who and what you are. I mean, yes it’s true that you are vile and people despise you, but since you choose to be what you are shouldn’t you at least have some bride in yourself and say “Yeah, I’m a bigot and proud of it”? If you are so ashamed of yourself that you have to continuously lie then perhaps it’s time to change your behavior so that you don’t need to be ashamed.

          • whodatbob

            I had great Thanksgiving with my family. Hope you did also. Happy dinner was before I read all the bullshit you attempt to pass as truth.

            Have a nice Holiday Season.

          • WhutHeSaid

            Glad to hear you enjoyed your dinner. I’m having a great time with visiting family — occasionally sneaking off to read posts.

            I did notice that you never provided any quotes from Obama or Holder to back up your claims. Not that I expected any, of course, but I did expect that you would offer some sort of excuse.

            I still believe it a shame that you can’t muster up any pride in yourself. Lying about your beliefs must be downright frustrating.

          • whodatbob

            Even if I possessed the skills needed, nor do I have a desire to learn those skills, to find the early televised speeches of Obama and Holder and send copies you would not believe them. You and I know with the skill set needed to copy audio/visual tapes includes the tools to change tapes.

            You never saw the broadcast I am sure I saw, we are at an impasse.

            I believe that using the term “murdered by” as opposed to “killed by” was intended to insure that white COP appears to be an anti-black bigot. And that he maybe. And we all may be bigoted in some way.

            You insinuated that I lied about voting for Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. I let that slide. But you continue to insinuate that I lie because I see thing differently than you. Well that is a ploy used by both radical liberals and radical conservatives when unable to refute something they do not like. So I want you to cut and past the Early August Obama and or Holder speeches where “killed by” was used as opposed to “murdered by”. If you can I will not accuse you of being a lair.

            Now as to how I voted in 2008 & 2012 my voting record is an open book. As a cradle to grave Catholic and Democrat only once have I voted for a Republican President, Tricky Dicky Nixon. That I attribute to youthful stupidity. Hell I even voted for Jimmy Carter, great statesman

          • WhutHeSaid

            I’ve insinuated nothing. I’m stating flat-out that you are lying. It’s 2014, and anything that is televised is also available in written form all over the Internet — especially if it’s a controversial statement such as what you’ve claimed. No such statements were ever made by Obama or Holder. I’d even be willing to accept that you simply made a mistake and THOUGHT you heard something that was never said, but that would only be possible if you stopped making the claim.

            I don’t care if you call me a liar or not — I’m not the one who made a ridiculous claim. So being caught in a public whopper, your only defense is to attempt to goad me into proving the absence of proof of your claims. Sorry, things just don’t work that way. It was your claim, so if you wish to stick to your story then the onus is on you to prove your claim. I know that you can’t, so you may as well just admit it now.

            Perhaps I’m wrong and you really did vote for Obama, but I sincerely doubt it. People do not vote for a politician and then turn around and attempt to belittle them and make false claims about statements they never made — it just doesn’t work that way. Do you really think that you are the first Obama-basher who claimed to have voted for him? I suppose the idea is that by claiming to vote for Obama it somehow lends credibility to your criticisms and false claims. It doesn’t.

            When a police officer shoots an unarmed 18 year old to death whose only known offense — and that alleged but not proven — was stealing some cigars and jaywalking, then something seriously wrong has taken place. I don’t know for certain that officer Wilson wasn’t in fear for his life, but I seriously doubt it. I suppose it’s possible that a young man who already had more than one bullet wound would ‘charge’ the same police officer who already shot him, but I estimate the likelihood of such a thing to be about the same as lightening striking you twice in the same exact spot.

            My issue is not even whether or not office Wilson is guilty of a crime, rather, it’s the fact that the entire incident was not handled in a normal manner by the officials who are supposed to be responsible for ensuring exactly that. Nothing about the grand jury proceeding was normal, and from all indications it amounted to no more than a defense case conducted by the very people who are supposed to prosecute crimes — not defend them. The citizens of Ferguson obviously have very good reason to distrust law enforcement, and the whole world saw exactly why such is the case.

          • whodatbob

            Obviously you are unable to refute my statement. You are the one calling me a liar. The burden of prof is on the accuser. It is your right not to believe me. I have no obligation to prove any thing, you have to prove me wrong. I am innocent until proven guilty and that is exactly what you believe Bob McCullough did not.
            An attempt to goad you in to prove yourself wrong is actually an effort to see if you are willing to spend the time necessary to do the research to prove me right or wrong. I am of the opinion, could be wrong, that you had not become interested in Ferguson until late in the game missing all the televised posturing by both sides.

            You want me to wast my time proving you wrong, I will not. So you have been offered the opportunity to wast your time proving me wrong, your post indicates you are not willing. That leave us at an impasse, but does not offer either the right to call the other a lair.

          • WhutHeSaid

            I did refute your statement. The burden of proof is indeed on the accuser, I agree, and YOU are the accuser. It was your accusation that Obama and Holder made controversial statements that is the issue.

            I did do some limited research by searching the Internet to see if somehow I missed such controversial statements, but as I expected there were no such statements to be found.

            I’ve been closely watching the Ferguson news since Brown was first shot, so you are also wrong on that count as well.

            When people make claims out here that something newsworthy happened, as you did, then the simple solution to a challenge is to provide the quote(s) or link(s) that demonstrate the claim. You cannot do this because no such quotes or links exist, as I knew all along they didn’t.

            You simply lied and you were called on it. Everyone posting here can see that you are a liar. There is no ‘impasse’ — you are simply busted telling whoppers in public.

          • whodatbob

            A statement was made by me and you have accused me of lying. I am not obligated to prove any thing. It is up to you to prove your accusation to be true. It must be your opinionated small narrow minded arrogance prevent you from accepting your obligation to provide prof of your accusation.

            This discussion is over until you can prove your accusation. Innocent until proven guilty. Oh! I forgot you can not accept the fact that a Grand Jury looked at the evidence and did not indite ex-officer Wilson. There are no post agreeing with you nor with me.

          • WhutHeSaid

            No, it’s up to YOU to prove YOUR accusation true. You made the accusation that started this discussion, and the fact that you can’t defend it speaks volumes. You were caught in a lie and everybody reading The National Memo now knows it.

            There is no accepting or rejecting the Grand Jury’s decision — it is what it is. Wilson can still be charged, and despite the wishes of drooling bigots like you I’m betting that he will be. At the very least he can be sued in a civil court for wrongful death. The whole sorry mess will create change that takes one more step towards stomping vile and despicable bigots out of existence, and that’s always a good thing.

          • whodatbob

            I made a truthful statement, no accusation. Your inability to accept the truth and insistence on yelling liar, liar is a joke!

            Hopefully, changes will come to stomp vile, despicable bigots, like you, unable to accept the truth out out of existence.

            May God bless you and soon give you the wisdom to see the error of you immature thought process.

            If you are intelligent to be accepted by a good university enroll in some philosophy, theology, and psychology classes. Could help you mature some and be less bigoted.

            Please do not waste any more of my time. You are unable to think only parrot what left wing bigots feed you.

          • WhutHeSaid

            You lied — it’s that simple. Now you are just compounding your lie with additional lies because you have no integrity. If you don’t like being called out on your lies then stop lying.

          • whodatbob


          • WhutHeSaid

            Congratulations on finally posting something that wasn’t a lie.

          • Joseph Kelsall


          • Joseph Kelsall

            I never moved off! I was just responding to a misspelled and grammatically incorrect post on the subject. I presume that somebody must have written your second response. You write like an uneducated red neck.

          • whodatbob

            Do not know what you are posting about. Uneducated redneck. That’s a good one.
            You never moved off is that why your head is still in the toilet.

          • Joseph Kelsall

            Look Rentagob, You wrote this sentence which is totally incomprehensible “This GJ lessened to all the evidence and found that Officer Wilson’s version of what happened was collaborated by all three Coroners reports and eye witness statements”
            Firstly – What the feck does ‘lessened’ mean?
            Secondly – Why have you used the word ‘collaborated’ when you really meant ‘corroborated’. See what I mean about ‘uneducated’?

          • whodatbob

            “Collaborated” was cut and pasted from your post. Just thought it should be fired back at you. Congratulations on finding a typo, perhaps you not a bigoted dummy but a semi intelligent bigot.

          • Joseph Kelsall

            Collaboration was used in its right context; corroboration was the word you were looking for. Buy a dictionary.

          • whodatbob


      • Joseph Kelsall

        Whodatbob. The cause of death may have been ‘collaborated (sic); that would not have surprised me at all. In fact,I think that the police, the witnesses and the coroners may have all ‘collaborated’ in this whitewash. That was precisely the nature of Hitler’s Geheimstadtpolizei. The ‘Land of the free is, paradoxically, a sick joke spread by creating a paranoid nation of the USA and its citizens.

    • gkieb

      Joseph – I totally agree with you, Gene Lyons – WTH?

    • holyreality

      James Crow Esq.

      • Joseph Kelsall

        You are of mixed race; right?

        • holyreality

          Not really, I am 1/16th Native American, much like Elizabeth Warren.

  • WhutHeSaid

    The issue here isn’t the Grand Jury’s decision (which was predictable) or even the fact that McCullough recited what amounted to a public defense of a crime suspect on prime time television — clearly the opposite of his job duties. The issue here is that we have a community that does not trust it’s law enforcement officials, and given to handling of this incident we can clearly see why.

    Grand Juries are not trials. Grand Juries are proceedings designed to determine if there is probable cause to hold a trial. Grand jury proceedings are secret while criminal trials are public. This is an important distinction, because ultimately a criminal trial is what counts when it comes to the fate of the accused. It’s important that we are able to see for ourselves what transpires when a citizen’s life and liberty is at stake.

    By conducting a grand jury proceeding as a de-facto state-sponsored defense of officer Wilson, McCullough has done two things: Subverted the normal operation of the justice system to favor his desired outcome and increased the distrust of the Ferguson community in their law enforcement officials — all the while attempting to shift the responsibility for a hand-picked decision to a proceeding never designed for such a purpose.

    It’s not over yet, of course, and the US Department of Justice has yet to weigh in on the whole sorry mess. But I think it’s clear at this point that at least one law enforcement official needs to be removed from office: McCullough. It won’t solve the obvious long-standing problems in Ferguson — but it’s a necessary first step.

    • whodatbob

      Bob McCullough gave the Michael Brown side what they wanted. Missouri law requires that GJ transcripts be made public if that is requested. The requested was made

      • WhutHeSaid

        McCullough perverted the process to produce the result that he wanted. Whether officer Wilson really feared for his life or committed murder isn’t really even that important at this point. What’s important is that this incident and the official misconduct that was put on display for the whole world to see will bring changes that will prevent this from happening in the future. Stay tuned for the important events yet to come.

  • pm1

    Mike Brown proved he had lost all sense of reality by strong-arm robbing his local store and then sauntering down the middle of the busy street with his cigars in hand. And, attacking a police officer isn’t exactly smart either.

  • holyreality

    Michael Brown was on trial for his own murder.
    Grand Juries are to assess if there is enough evidence to press charges.
    This grand jury proceeding had all the marks of a trial, The DA acted more like a defense attorney than the keeper of the law, and Young Mr. Brown was found guilty, guilty of walking while black, of thuggery, and being mean to the nice police officer.
    Sentence; Death with no possibility of parole.

    • WhutHeSaid

      Except that this isn’t the end, rather, it’s just the beginning. This incident is going to bring more changes, and it’s up to all of us not to rest until all Americans can finally trust that their lives are just as valuable as any other person.

  • Al Amo

    A well-trained militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state.

  • charleo1

    What we’re really talking about here, is not Michael Brown, The underlying issue, the reason this case drew the attention of the press, the Nation, the Attorney General, and the President. Is that Michael Brown, at first seemed to be, that viable vehicle, that compelling case, that many continue to search for. To bring us to that long overdue conversation we still must have in this Country. First, to change some of the ways our Police have taken to enforcing the laws. To the disadvantages poor people, and minorities face in our criminal justice system itself. That leads to the horrible relations with Police in towns like Ferguson. And in inner city neighborhoods across the Nation. That often resemble more of a state of war, than anything we would consider appropriate for a free people who, theoretically anyway, have Constitutional protections that would prohibit, or make punishment more certain for authorities who violate these Civil Rights. And particularly, those Rights of people who have historically suffered real oppression, due to the real prejudices, of a White power structure, that seems at least in the eyes of Black residents. To be as firmly in place, and as intractable as ever.

    • whodatbob

      Hopefully that conversation will start and advancements in race relations and police conduct will be improve. I long for the day Americans will be judged by who each person is not by their ethic background or skin color. The key is equal no special treatment for past injustices. All treated equal!

      • charleo1

        Yes, hopefully that conversation will start. I would say, has already started. As this searching continuing for a more compelling, and demonstrative example, of the plight faced by the poor, and minorities, can be looked at as part of the necessary process. In a case where the children actually start dealing with the system, as it impacts their parents. So, the goal is equal treatment. Which today, I would guess, depends almost as much on one’s financial ability to deal with the system, as one’s ethnicity. Which can also be effected by the region of the Country. As racial animus is a factor, but surely not an evenly distributed one. So, not as you say, to recompense for past injustices. But also to recognize, that there will be no magic solutions. The problem wasn’t created in a day. Is actually not one problem, but many. And will take both sides facing, and accepting some very difficult truths and responsibilities.

  • Peter LaMarck

    It’s also important to keep in mind that Right 13 of George Mason’s Declaration of Rights is the source of the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights.