Mark Davis

Call me crazy, but police in riot gear seem a thoroughly appropriate response to actual rioting.

But even that basic logic is being shattered in Ferguson, Missouri, along with various store windows, as lawless opportunists take every advantage of a police shooting that deserves sober, objective review.

If the opportunism of vicious vandals is not enough, add the kerosene of race-baiting showboats arriving on the scene to aggrandize themselves against the basic interests of the community.

So what does that community need? Best to begin with what it does not need.

It does not need the President of the United States once again making clear which side he is on. One portion of Thursday’s Obama statement was measured and appropriate: “There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their first amendment rights.”

Completely correct. But he just could not let it go at that. “We lost a young man, Michael Brown, in heartbreaking and tragic circumstances,” he continued. “He was 18-years-old. His family will never hold Michael in their arms again. And when something like this happens, the local authorities need to be open and transparent about how they're investigating this kind of a situation.”

The only thing missing was “If I had a son, he’d look like Michael.” Now the President is indeed correct that Michael’s family has suffered a painful loss. But he appears blind to the possibility that Michael may have invited his fate by attacking a policeman. Until we know what happened, no good purpose is served by showing favor to either side.

We have surely been inundated in the imagery of a cop snapping a twig and blasting away at Michael as he raised his arms in apparent surrender. This version plays into the hands of anyone looking for a reason to disparage the police or berate America as a cauldron of 1950s-style racism. If this is what happened, it is an outrage that requires the full force of judicial punishment. But a proper investigation, which may lead to a proper trial, is the method which leads to worthy conclusions— not the antics of Al Sharpton or the snap judgments of locals who may have various axes to grind.