Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson

I've watched this case unfold since August, and I haven't talked about it because it's too fresh.  But, now the Grand Jury has reported and found that the police officer acted in self-defense and returned a No True Bill.  The criminal case is now over at the state level.

In my 33 years on police work, I've watched a bunch of cases work themselves through the system, and that's what we have, a system that generally tends to sort out the truth from the fiction.  It's imperfect as most systems are, but it's the one we have and we try to constantly improve it.  Some folks are unhappy (disappointed..outraged) at the decision of the Grand Jury, but I remind everyone that the grand jury is a cornerstone of our system of justice.  

It's been said that a zealous prosecutor can go to a Grand Jury and indict a ham sandwich, but I have found that generally, when given all the information in a case, a Grand Jury will generally reach the right conclusion.  Some folks will be relieved and some folks will be disappointed, but that's the system we have, and it's generally a good system.

What I don't understand is rioting after a decision. It serves no purpose except to enrich the news cycle, and the newsies love to cover riots.  Even President Obama says that he has no sympathy for those who would destroy their own community.  Property destruction is counter-productive and makes no sense.  In the case of locally owned businesses, it makes no sense to destroy your neighbors livelihood.  In the case of national chains, it makes no sense to loot and burn because those businesses will not come back.  A friend of mine who lives in California and is familiar with the area says this:
50 years after Watts, and 25 since Watts II, and you still can't find a supermarket anywhere in the 'hood, just little overpriced mom-and-pop Asian-owned Stop-N-Robs.
Burning down your ow neighborhood is idiotic.  It destroys the value of the area, it costs jobs for people who work in the area, and it engenders a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.  It destroys people's lives who had nothing to do with the initial event.

I'm just one small voice, trying to make sense of the nonsensical, but burning Ferguson made no sense, whether it was the national chain auto parts store, or the small, locally owned bakery who's owner lives around the corner.  Those people trying to excuse the behavior of that small group of arsonists don't make any sense either.  Both the arsonists and their apologists deserve nothing but scorn.


Anonymous said...

What people forget when feeling are running high is that the criminal justice system is not about punishing people that most probable did it.

Ryan said...

I could get it a lot better if people destroyed some part of the system they are unhappy with. Anarchists trashing banks, militant vegans trashing butcher shops, etc. Of course I'm not saying it would be right for those people to damage stuff, light fires, etc at all but I can at least get how they would see that as helping their cause.

On the other hand if people are upset with the police/ government for their arguable sins burning down a local barber shop owned by a member of the community that employs other members doesn't help anything. It is like the behavior of very young children writ large.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't the aftermath of the riots a known fact? Why can't the MSM do an article about how the culture has changed in those areas?