FERGUSON SHOOTING: The inevitable process of tragedy morphing into pointless debate


Was Brown a thug, was Wilson a racist, or was it both…or was it neither?

Following on from yesterday’s Slogpost about conflicting opinions and hidden spin, many of you will have noted another eruption of violence in Ferguson Missouri last night.

The violence followed a Grand Jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of a young black man, Michael Brown. These are the key points as I see them:

1. The vast majority of the evidence is not as yet in the public domain. I’m not sure I understand how or why a closed session verdict was used to assess guilt, but the situation isn’t helped by knee-jerk (and totally predictable) tribal responses before that evidence is available.

2. Wilson says Brown was resisting arrest, but then he would say that. Why it required six shots to calm the bloke down is not apparent: either way, under Federal Law, in any other State other than Missouri what Wilson did – chase and kill an unarmed suspect – would’ve been unlawful.

3. Further confusion reigns because (a) the local police chief says Brown wasn’t arrested as a robbery suspect, and yet (b) the chief released a store security video suggesting that Brown was a viable suspect in a robbery. Wilson apparently tried to arrest him because he was walking down the middle of the road blocking traffic.

4. The security video allegedly shows Brown helping himself to some cigarillos and aggressively shoving a sales assistant who tried to stop him leaving.

5. Witnesses claim that Wilson shot Brown in the back, but the autopsy shows clearly that he didn’t.

6. Most witnesses agree that Brown and his companion Dorian Johnson reached into the police car (an odd thing for innocent folks to do) and a gun went off, following which a chase began.

No tasteless pun intended, but this has now become an issue where both sides see it as a black-and-white obvious case of police brutality or anti-social black behaviour respectively.

The incident will enter the folklore of US race relations, and nobody will ever be sure what happened.

So as I say, this is a re-run of yesterday’s point here: the intention of both the authorities and the activists/anoraks these days seems to be hiding the truth rather than trying to unravel it.

It is time, I suspect, for thinking people to stop engaging in these slug-to-a-standstill trashing contests. Including me.

Not entirely unrelated: the case of Rebekah Brooks