It’s Time to Hold Protesters Accountable
As Americans gathered last week to give thanks, I remained perplexed by the destructive reaction by thousands who protested the decision of a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict a police officer for using lawful but deadly force to stop a teenager from assaulting him. Note that I did not indicate the race of the police officer or his assailant; physical and DNA evidence supported the claim that the teen had assaulted the officer and struggled for his gun. After charging at the officer, the teen was sadly but subsequently killed by the officer who feared for his life.
Agitators in the grievance and race-hustling industry—primarily embodied by Al Sharpton—were quick to portray the events in Ferguson as a modern-day Selma or Birmingham following the verdict. Last Sunday, Sharpton claimed the fight for justice was not over for Michael Brown, noting: “You won the first round, Mr. Prosecutor, but don’t take your gloves off. Justice will come to Ferguson.”
Never mind that the 12 jurors heard hours of testimony, studied DNA and forensic reports, and deliberated for several months before rendering their verdict. Justice was never the true goal of Sharpton and his ilk—instead they successfully constructed the false narrative that a white police officer executed a black teenager—a gentle giant—in cold blood.
And yet, what of the justice for those in Ferguson whose lives have been destroyed by the felonious activities of those who rioted, pillaged, and brought shame upon themselves for their wickedness? Just after the grand jury decision was announced, Louis Head, Brown’s stepfather, shouted “burn the bitch down” and other expletives. Rioting, shoplifting, and violent confrontation with the police took place shortly thereafter. Head, Sharpton, and thousands of protesters represent the worst of Ferguson—those seeking to advance a political agenda that America is an evil and racist country while accepting no personal responsibility for the violence and destruction they helped unleash.
More than 25 structures in Ferguson were burned, damaged, or destroyed in the wake of senseless mayhem following the grand jury verdict. Who will pay for the damage sustained by Sam Chow, an immigrant to United States 11 years ago who opened a restaurant in Ferguson in 2009 that sustained major damage in the riots? The pictures of destruction to Chow’s business are as heartbreaking as they are senseless.
Same with Natalie DuBose, an entrepreneur who opened Natalie’s Cakes and More in Ferguson after saving money following bake sales to start her own business. After the riots, her business was completely destroyed. While she is getting back on her feet through the generosity of strangers who have contributed more than $250,000, a more pointed question must be asked in the aftermath of Ferguson: Why do predominately black mobs get a free pass to riot and steal in response to a political outcome they disagree with?
Newark, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are just a handful of cities in the Northeast that have never fully recovered from damage sustained in riots in the late 1960s. Same with South Central Los Angeles in the aftermath of the verdict in which motorist Rodney King was beaten by police who were initially acquitted of charges in 1992. Rioting and looting ensued shortly after the verdict and racial tensions were tense across the United States for years to follow.
The case in Ferguson differs from King’s in that King never punched or charged police officers in their confrontation. Evidence led the grand jury not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in his use of force with Michael Brown as the facts indicated Brown had initiated and escalated physical contact with an armed police officer. The administration of justice dictated that the officer not be charged, given the lack of evidence to sustain a conviction at trial.
And yet, the temptation to stick with the narrative that Brown’s death is the new civil-rights struggle for justice in the 21st century is undercut by the substitution of facts to fit a political narrative for those seeking moral clarity. Where is the outrage of Sharpton regarding the death of Zemir Begic? You’ve never heard of Begic? The young immigrant who fled violence in Bosnia was driving home with his fiancée 20 miles away from Ferguson when a pack of black teens beat him to death with hammers early Sunday evening. Moral clarity would dictate that civil-rights and other civic leaders would speak out against such a senseless act of violence. The silence is deafening.
Those who have participated in marches seeking “justice” for Brown have stepped beyond their First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly by terrorizing their fellow Americans by disrupting traffic and scaring shoppers who had nothing to do with the Brown verdict. As I returned home from an interview on Fox News last Wednesday, hundreds of protesters shut down one of the main traffic arteries in New York City, demanding “justice” for Brown. Many of the protesters were peaceful. Others were not. Some wielding signs hit the roof, windshield, and body of the car I was traveling in. I will never forget the face of the little boy in the car in front of me who looked absolutely petrified as his car was surrounded.
A number of the St. Louis Rams disgraced themselves last Sunday when they entered the stadium with a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” pose even though the evidence indicated Brown’s hands were not raised at the time of his death. Peaceful protest is welcome in America today—seeking to disrupt Americans looking to enjoy an NFL game is obnoxious.
The eyes of Lady Justice are intentionally covered to provide equal treatment under the law for all. Justice should not be selective to fit a political narrative when the facts and evidence prove otherwise. Those advocating justice should first obey the rule of law themselves. Burning, rioting, and looting are disgraceful—particularly when done by those seeking to aggrieve a racial affront when evidence indicates race had nothing to do with Brown’s tragic death.