Monday, December 1, 2014

Wilson's Non-Indictment: An Engineered Failure

I guess I’m a bit late in talking about Ferguson, but it doesn’t seem to be an issue that’s disappearing in any hurry (nor should it), so I’ll address it, or at least one aspect of it. Darren Wilson, as we all know by now, was not indicted for his killing of Michael Brown. I don’t think this came as a surprise for too many people (it didn’t for me), nor should it have. It’s the result that’s entirely predictable—the system protected one of its own. Darren Wilson’s resigned now—can’t keep around someone who causes that sort of controversy—but we’ll have no criminal trial, at least not by the state of Missouri. He walks away a free man, albeit one who’ll have to look over his shoulder for a long time.

I’ll be blunt: based on what I’ve heard and seen, I think Wilson should have been indicted. Of course, that doesn’t mean an intelligent couldn’t disagree with my assessment, and it’s certainly true that I haven’t gone through every bit of evidence that was presented to the grand jury, but from the substantial amount I have heard, it seems like there should have been an indictment unless there was some piece of evidence that clearly exonerates Wilson (and I think we would have heard about it if there were). But that’s not really the point. The point, this whole process was obviously engineered to get Wilson off the hook while everyone else pretended they did their job.

Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor, defied the norm of how to handle a grand jury in numerous ways. Instead of just making the case for a certain charge and presenting the relevant evidence—you know, like you’re supposed to do—he allowed a huge evidence dump and essentially told the grand jury to make their own decision. He barely did anything to insinuate the idea that Wilson could be a murderer (thus failing completely to do his job as a prosecutor), and basically let Wilson get away with a story that was inconsistent with what he’d originally claimed, and not very believable to begin with.

And why not? McCulloch was a local prosecutor. As the attorney for Michael Brown’s family puts it, his relationship with the police department is “symbiotic,” not adversarial. Why would he want to expose wrongdoing on the part of a criminal justice system he was part of? McCulloch was never on the side of Michael Brown’s family, or those who wanted justice. His speech after the grand jury’s decision largely complained about how much the media focused on the case.

Why was someone like McCulloch allowed to be prosecutor for this case, rather than being replaced by a special prosecutor, as one might expect he should be? Because Governor Jay Nixon decided not to do so. This is the same governor who was blatantly more concerned with the violence of the protestors rather than the violence of the police, yet another shameless servant of the blatantly corrupt establishment. What would Nixon have had to gain from Wilson’s indictment? A police officer who served in an area where the police are infamously disproportionately white, while the residents are largely black, being charged with manslaughter, or even murder? It would just be another mess he would be expected to take care of as governor. Why not just sweep it under the rug?

And should we be surprised at all that the grand jury was seventy-five percent white? Indictment already requires nine votes in favor, and, in a racially charged case, even if all the black jurors and a majority of white had voted in favor, that still wouldn’t have been sufficient. And these are jurors selected from St. Louis county, home of a major city almost half of whose population is black. Could a more even balance really not have been achieved? I’m not by any means trying to say you can’t be white and have an unbiased view of this case (I’m white myself, so that would be pretty absurd), but nearly half of white Missourians voted for Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin in 2012 (based on exit polling); it’s hard for me to believe, given the complete (and probably deliberate) incompetence of the prosecution, that at least a few backwoods, cop-worshipping people (the type who also tend to associate young black men with being dangerous and violent) didn’t end up on the grand jury, and a few is really all it would take.

One question remains: why would McCulloch release all the evidence shown to the grand jury? It basically shows what an awful job he did, and what a joke the proceedings were, and it’s not standard to released that evidence, so why do it? Admittedly, this is pure speculation on my part, but maybe he hoped it would provoke a reaction. If we can hear about angry, violent, frequently black protestors, it makes it all the easier to distract from the issue of corruption in police forces across the country, and the continuing unfairness of police toward blacks in America. As long as Middle America feels uneasy, questions about police brutality and militarization can be pushed aside for the time being.

The entire proceeding was a joke, and was designed not to indict Darren Wilson. Wilson has been forced to resign; McCulloch and Nixon should be, too. Their disgusting and almost certainly deliberate mishandling of this case should earn them ostracization by the rest of the country. In a fairer country, it would. But we’ve just been reminded that our country is nothing resembling fair. Too bad the only people who believed it was are too deluded to change their mind at this point.


  1. I agree. The system perpetuates the system. I blogged about this too. I'm in your Triberr tribe.