On the EDge: The madness continues in Ferguson

OPINION – I neither condone nor support violence.

However, I do understand it and what it takes for a community to be so enraged that it believes it has no other recourse.

The people of Ferguson, Missouri, took to the streets again, more anger boiling over when a grand jury refused to indict a police officer, despite his shaky defense, for killing an 18-year-old black man in August.

Darren Wilson, the now former cop who dropped the hammer on Michael Brown, went without charges, even though there were some on the grand jury who thought his testimony was fabricated in legalese crafted by an attorney who knows all the keywords to sway a jurist.

It’s been said of most grand juries that they would indict a ham sandwich let alone a case were possible murder charges are pending.

Not this time, not in this city, where there is a lengthy history of racism and equality is nothing more than an idealistic concept.

I know because I spent my childhood there. It wasn’t until I reached sixth grade that I realized that the N-word was a vile racial slur.

I grew up in a lily-white suburb called Overland. The only time I saw people of color was when my beloved St. Louis Cardinals were on TV or we drove through the inner city en route to visit family members.

I had uncles and cousins who worked for the city, county and suburban police forces. I heard their stories. I never heard stories about egregious acts committed by white guys, only the times they had to beat a black man into submission, doling out what they called “street justice.” As an elementary school student, I remember field trips down to the riverfront to visit the Old Courthouse, its official name today, where they sold slaves on the steps in front of the ornate building, a fact that seemed to embarrass nobody.

Yes, I know my hometown, which is why I was not surprised when the grand jury gave this cop a pass.

Darren Wilson has resigned his position with the Ferguson police, stating that he did so because of threats of violence upon other officers, or so he says. It’s a shame he didn’t feel the same sense of responsibility before he drew his service weapon on a young man who had recently turned his life around and was prepping to go to college. It’s a shame he didn’t have a sudden stroke of conscience before triggering a chain of events that led to the turmoil that led to violence and anger in not only Ferguson, but in cities across the nation that have also had their fill of officer-involved shootings. The protests even touched Salt Lake City.

Look, I know there are good cops. I know a few. I also know there are bad cops. I know a few of them as well. I wouldn’t dare paint them all with the same brush, but I do have to wonder why there are so many police shootings these days and why on Earth every department has such a vast military arsenal to use against its citizenry. No matter how bad things may seem, they aren’t quite that bad.

Supporters will say the heavy artillery is necessary because, well, “in this post 9/11 world, we need all the security we can get.”

No, I don’t think so.

We have a perfectly trained and armed military in the event of a real threat, we don’t need a bunch of cowboys out there shooting it up like it’s another gunfight at the OK Corral.

I knew a former local sheriff who refused to carry a weapon. Now, this guy was dumb as a stick when it came to the political part of his job, but he knew the people who lived in his jurisdiction, which is why it was no surprise one Christmas Eve when he rolled out on a hostage situation where a woman held a child captive at knifepoint.

It seemed scary to me. The sheriff was no spring chicken at that point of his career and could have easily been taken down by this woman who had some serious disconnect with reality.

I remember listening to the police scanner and hearing that the sheriff had gone into the house alone, unarmed as usual.

Ten minutes later, he was walking out of the house, his arm around the crying woman.

There was no exchange of gunfire, no tear gas deployment, no Taser, just a sincere, heartfelt exchange of words between the sheriff and a terribly distraught woman.

Not long afterward, I saw the sheriff and asked him about it.

“She didn’t want to hurt anybody, she just wanted somebody to talk to … that’s all,” he said. “So I just talked to her. No big deal.”

The sheriff’s detractors would laugh about how “Andy” patrolled “Mayberry,” but know what? He got the job done under a low profile and with justice in mind rather than statistical hyperbole, used so often by law enforcement bosses to show just how effective they are at fighting crime.

But justice is never meted out by force, from either side, and violence from the guys wearing a badge is just as inexcusable as violence inflicted by an angry mob.

Eventually, the embers of Ferguson will be doused and life will return to its normal routine … until the next time, that is, when another community is pushed beyond the bounds of decency and restraint and explodes once again, the lessons suffered in Los Angeles, Watts, Detroit, Atlanta and elsewhere lost in the anger of racism and hatred.

It’s not a bad idea to send up some prayers for the people of Ferguson on both sides of the badge.

But, it’s an even better idea to offer up a few to ask for forgiveness in the way we have treated one another and for an end to the bigotry and hatred that, although perhaps better disguised, is still as prevalent as ever.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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32 Comments

  • Fred December 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    “Shaky defense”? The disparity of force was obvious, Brow’s blood and other DNA prove his hands went for his own waistband and Officer Wilson’s firearm, and it’s clear this much larger man was beating the police officer. How is it “shaky” to claim self defense when the officer was clearly being assaulted, his assailant was physically capable of causing serious injury even without a weapon, and the assailant lunged repeatedly for the officer’s weapon?

    • St George news needs December 3, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      St. George news needs another ‘opinion’ report to balance out Ed’s faggy, limp-wristed, liberal viewpoints that get presented as reputable articles.
      I left a comment earlier about Ed and his opinion articles, and the censors decided not to post it.
      Guess they dont like opposing viewpoints after all…

      • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic December 4, 2014 at 6:14 am

        Not censored, just waiting for me and I was in meetings from dawn to way past dusk yesterday. Thank you again and please see my earlier reply.
        Joyce
        EIC

  • The Rest Of The Story December 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Read a quote today, attributed to John Fugelsang: “Some Americans who never trust their government tend to be the ones who trust it completely whenever an unarmed Black person is shot and killed.”

    This seems to be a logical distillation of the concept of cognitive dissonance carried by many Americans–often Conservatives–who distrust the US Government when it comes to themselves, but don’t see any problem when the US Government invades another country and forces itself on other populations.

  • Sam December 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    A young man that had turned his life around???!!!!?? He was a thug behaving like a pompous a$$. We live in a world where people are looking for their 15 mins of fame for shooting down school children and movie theaters and loved ones. Our world requires hyper vigilance from officers. If that punk would have killed the cop or the store clerk he robbed that town would have never batted an eye. Its all racist BS. That town says they are hurt and angry and upset but yet they are destroying their town? A bunch of ignorant fools! And for posting an article without all the facts makes you just the same!

  • DB December 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    You say Michael Brown was ” a young man who had recently turned his life around” . Doesn’t sound like it to me, based on news reports and security camera video from the store he stole from. Even MSNBC couldn’t ignore that. Did he need to be shot six times? Probably not. Will the officer be returning to court on civil charges? Probably.

  • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Yawn! What’s the latest news with the St George city council and its illegal code violation citations?

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    That young black man was trying to live the wannabe “thug life”, and it didn’t work out so well for him when he assaulted that cop…

  • Brian December 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Ed, impressive ability to completely ignore all the facts of the case and stand your ground (hands up, no doubt). Al Sharpton much?

  • Zonkerb December 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    No sympathy from me society is better off without him I have to laugh because the parents of these gang banging thugs always come out and say how good and innocent their child was as they were shot while committing a crime. LOL.!

  • mesaman December 3, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Cops aren’t the problem, thugs are.

  • laytonian December 3, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    SORRY FOLKS. The Mike Brown with the criminal record was NOT the Mike Brown killed in Ferguson. Yes, he stole some cigars.

    “Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for the juvenile officer of St. Louis County Family Court, said after the hearing that she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a juvenile record for Mr. Brown. Missouri state law prohibits the records of most juvenile court proceedings from being released to the public. But she said Mr. Brown had no juvenile cases involving serious felony charges or convictions, including murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Those felony records would not be required to be confidential and would have been released, but none exist for Mr. Brown, Ms. Harcourt said.

    Additionally, local news sources confirmed that Mike Brown was not facing any criminal complaints at the time of his death. ”

    Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/brown.asp#gYHFWm7zKzs03Uo1.99

    • St George news needs December 3, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      So what? No one wanted to hear the facts before so they rioted. Now we get to ignore these ‘facts too ‘.

  • Shelly December 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Ed, there is no ‘shaky defense’. Even though Mr. Brown did not have a firearm in his possession, he was attacking the police officer, and tried to grab his firearm. Mr. Brown weighed 300 pounds. He used his head as a weapon, and the autopsy report showed he had marijuana in his system at the time of death. Also the video of Mr. Brown in the store he robbed prior to his death showed him pushing the little store clerk up against the wall. Several relatives of mine were police officers, and they all really disagree you. Being a police officer is not an easy job at all. Maybe the next time you have a problem you should call an old hippie instead of a police officer!

    • Ed Kociela December 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

      I will call an old hippie. At least I won’t have to worry about being shot.

  • hollywood December 3, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    So, in between the time he robbed the Ferguson Market (10 minutes prior) and the time he initiated the incident that lead to his much deserved death, he had “turned his life around”? Are you kidding me?! Robbing stores and assaulting people (including police officers) isn’t exactly my definition of “turning his life around”. Once again, an article written by a liberal hack who doesn’t care about the facts, just the liberal ideological narrative.

  • St George New Needs December 3, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    St. George news needs another ‘opinion’ report to balance out Ed’s faggy, limp-wristed, liberal viewpoints that get presented as reputable articles.
    Yet again, his liberally biased drivel is forefront on the news page. Where is the counter viewpoint this time Joyce?
    Where’s the report on the 3 knee-grows that were arrested today on various criminal and drug charges? ‘When I was a young lad….’ This stuff didn’t happen! Now, times certainly couldn’t have changed, could they? Blacks couldn’t be embracing the ‘thug culture’, could they??
    C’mon Ed! Times have changed a lot in the last 3o years! Blacks don’t want to be civil anymore! Crime pays!
    As for St George News- if you continue to pay for this liberal crap, I’ll go to your advertisers and tell them they’ll be boycotted for supporting this crap.
    And I’d give you a REAL opinion column for FREE!

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic December 4, 2014 at 6:14 am

      We actually do offer opinion columns of opposing view, STGnews Needs – but tell you what, I’d welcome your submission for our consideration anytime on this or other topics. Email me directly: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief
      P.S. I’ll be watching for it. Please include your phone number in case I have questions. And thank you! 😀

      • modigliani December 4, 2014 at 10:59 am

        SGNN, this is a great suggestion from Joyce. A lot of us will be watching for this, but I doubt we’ll ever see it. Opinionated blowhards like you rarely want to actually say anything except to criticize somebody else.

        But SGNN, we really would like to read what you have to say. Need some paper? Need a pen?

        Joyce, this is a great offer. Thanks for making it.

  • eddantes56 December 3, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Darrin Wilson did not get a pass from the Grand Jury. The GJ transcripts are available for all, who can read, to pour over them. The GJ could not present a bill of indictment if the facts did not warrant it. The preponderance of the testimonies and fact were in favor of Wilson:
    1. Wilson claimed he was punched inside his vehicle; testimony and DNA corroborated this story.
    2. Wilson claimed he only fired after exiting the police car when Brown charged him; Seven eyewitnesses corroborated that Brown charged the officer, twice. Nothing in the forensic evidence indicated Brown was not shot charging the police officer.
    3. Dorian Johnson, Brown’s companion, claimed on CNN immediately after the shooting that Brown was shot in the back while running away and that Wilson approached him and put several more rounds in Brown’s back while he was on the ground. There was not evidence to support this fabrication and Johnson changed his story in front of the GJ.
    4. A number of “eyewitnesses” who claimed Brown had his hands up and did not charge Wilson, when in front of the GJ, changed their stories and admitted they did not actually see the confrontation but were repeating what they had heard in the neighborhood.
    5. Other circumstantial evidence probably factored in to the GJ not finding a bill of indictment; specifically, the very high level of THC in Brown’s bloodstream combined with the strong arm robbery he had recently committeed.

  • eddantes56 December 3, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Ed, Conflating the story of the unarmed sheriff entering the home of the knife-wielding woman with Officer Wilson’s confrontation with a violent and agressive 280+ man is comparing apples to oranges.

  • eddantes56 December 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Ed, you and I agree on one thing, the police departments are overly militarized. However, that is a separate discussion and really has no place in discussing the facts of the Michael Brown case

    In the end, it would be helpful for an investigation to be done into how Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. raised their son. 18 year old young men do not just appear out of the blue smoking high levels of marijuana, committing strong armed robberty and punching police officers. My guess is they were absent parents and grandma raised them. I would also guess that he did not have a strong and disciplined male figure with a moral compass in his life. It is true that young men can be raised in a healthy environment and choose a destructive path; however that is the exception to the rule. The rule is the apple usually does not fall far from the tree.

    Looking at the real cause of this tragedy would reveal an urban culture that this country just does not want to discuss.

  • Bev December 4, 2014 at 12:45 am

    Stir the pot much???

  • RU1096 December 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

    There were 460 people killed by police officers in America in 2012. 120 were black, and 340 were white. Police officers made 12,196,959 arrests in 2012. This means that if you have an altercation with police and resist arrest, you have a 0.003771069209613406% chance of being killed. I’d say the odds are still PRETTY MUCH in your favor. Quit hating on cops. They have a difficult job to do, and the vast majority do it without incident. Police officers have the legal authority to use whatever force is necessary to affect the arrest. Want to up your already overwhelmingly great odds of surviving an arrest? Don’t reach for an officer’s weapon, and don’t resist. If more criminals were reminiscent of Otis, more cops could behave like Andy. Sadly, that is not always the case.

  • modigliani December 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Riots this morning in NY over another deadly over-the-top police force encounter.

    It had been a long time since I’d heard the N-word used…until I got to St. George. Started hearing it a lot along with N-jokes. What kind of time warp is this? That’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer. And it’s an M-word.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 4, 2014 at 11:43 am

    WHAT IF EVERY TIME ANOTHER WHITE PERSON GOT KILLED WE WENT OUT AND RIOTED, LOOTED, VANDALIZED, SET FIRES, AND GENERALLY JUST ACTED LIKE WILD ANIMALS ESCAPED FROM THE ZOO. WOULD WE BE JUSTIFIED IN IT?

    • Koolaid December 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Sounds like a party! Let’s do it. Just don’t make any dance moves, or you get yourself arrested.

  • Koolaid December 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Meanwhile in St George, the Dance Buster Swat Team remains on full alert with tazers locked and loaded.

  • John December 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Michael Brown attempted to rob a store and physically threatened the owner, even going as far to put his hands around the man’s neck. This is ALL on video. He attacked a police officer. I just can’t believe people are still righting articles like this. You seem to prefer some evidence over other evidence. This is sad

    • Shelly December 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Michael Brown did rob the store, took cigars. But according to Ed, everything Michael Brown did is okay, he was turning his life around. Ed only believes in peace and love, and the police are all bad people. Ed please wake up and have a few more cups of coffee or something.

  • John December 5, 2014 at 8:18 am

    righting = writing

  • hermena December 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Hey ed I have an idea.You want to talk about racial injustice ? Heres a few suggested topics for your next column.How about the 13 month old baby shot in the face and killed by a black teen in georgia ?.How about the white teen 13 years old set on fire by black teens in kansas city ?.How about the bosnian man in St.Louis beaten to death with a hammer by blacks? How about the thousands of caucasians attacked and beaten in the polar bear/knock out game?Or how about Delbert Belton the 89 year old WWII veteran beaten to death by black teens ?Any comments?
    I didn’t think so.
    I could give you a THOUSAND more examples.Take a look at the book “white girl bleed a lot”.I am sick of the media ignoring black on black or black and black on white crime but going to ridiculous lengths to sensationalize white on black racial injustice.
    Joyce you need to print this comment in the name of fair speech and balance.

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