“We acknowledge that limiting protests to daylight hours and demanding a ‘respectful manner’ might make your job easier, ‘[b]ut that is not enough to satisfy the First Amendment,” wrote ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey A. Mittman in an Aug. 13 letter to Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson. “We are writing to you to express our concerns about this direct attack on protected expressive activity.”
Well, it is easier to read protest signs at night when you have a good fire going in a storefront.
After the National Guard was called in, the protests quieted down. On Wednesday, only six people were arrested, no shots fired or Molotov cocktails thrown, just a bottle and some urine. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Guard to begin pulling out on Thursday.
I haven’t decided yet whether to make Gov. Nixon an honorary outside agitator or an honorary ACLU member. He qualifies for both for his reckless statement Tuesday that a “vigorous prosecution [of Officer Darren Wilson] must now be pursued.”
You prosecute when you’re convinced someone is guilty. This occurs after an investigation – not before. Witnesses in this case differ. A forensic army is at work. Officer Wilson suffered facial injuries and possibly a fractured eye socket.
If a court of law finds that the policeman was guilty of taking a life without cause, he should face an appropriately severe sentence. If the evidence exculpates him, that would be a different matter. The idea is to see that justice is done.
Slightly less partisan than Gov. Nixon was U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., who flew in with an entourage of federal attorneys, and announced, “We have brought to this area very experienced prosecutors ....”
Mr. Holder visited a mostly black community college and told students that he himself had been victimized by racial profiling when he was young.
Now for the last group. As the days wore on, pastors from the St. Louis area and beyond began filtering into the groups of protesters, acting as intermediaries between them and the police. They held prayer vigils. They spoke calming words. Later, they began picking up trash and cleaning up the stricken area.
The Rev. R.H. Holmes, Jr. of Tallahassee, Florida, began organizing an event for next Tuesday at which he hopes 1,000 pastors will show up to pray for reconciliation. “I think white clergy and black clergy ought to be moved to come to Ferguson, and let’s pray and let’s bring our people together,” he said.
He’s already in good company. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a gathered multitude, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”