If I had family or friends anywhere near Ferguson, Missouri, I would offer two layers of advice. First would be the recommendation for a well-timed family trip out of town. Barring that, the other suggestion would be the immediate purchase of a gun.
Not because I know for a fact that rioting will break out upon the news of a non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson. It is, rather, an example of an old tested wisdom: It is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.
So will law-abiding people within rioting range of the St. Louis suburb need to arm up or bug out in the coming days?
The first turnstile toward an answer depends on what a grand jury does with the evidence surrounding the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown, whose blackness created the instant conclusion across Ferguson that Officer Wilson was a racist, guilty of a needless killing.
That widely-held belief, reached by many without a molecule of evidence, was the fuel that lit many nights of rioting that put Ferguson on the world stage. It has since become a flashpoint for agitators seeking to perpetuate the image of a racially poisonous America.
Months of evidence-gathering have led to some occasional glimpses of tidbits that may favor Officer Wilson’s story of a close-quarters scuffle with an aggressive Brown, ending in shots fired in fear of his life.
This did not sit well with hopped-up locals and race hustlers in the pundit class. While no one reflexively presumed at first that Officer Brown was justified, the instant (and racist) presumption of his guilt led to violence that threatened the lives and livelihoods of countless innocent local residents.
We can all understand the instinct of a family to resist the prospect of a loved one provoking his own shooting at the hands of police. But if that is what happened, that is what the Brown family will have to do— and with them, armies of rioters in waiting.
I am not confident. The thirst for Officer Wilson’s blood runs deep in Ferguson, and those who reacted violently after the initial shooting are not likely to restrain themselves if they are denied their pound of white cop flesh.
The Brown family has hired rock-star forensic pathologist Michael Baden to run interference against any official findings contradicting the family’s favored narrative that Wilson shot Brown in cold blood as he fled, even with arms raised in surrender.
The question that could affect lives and property in the St. Louis area is: Can this grand jury be trusted? Fair observers should be willing to accept any finding, barring evidence of juror malfeasance.
I saw the footage of Brown robbing a store hours before being shot. I begin any perusal of a police shooting with the default setting that the police are in vast majorities worthy and law-abiding enforcers.
But that said, I am completely open to the possibility that Brown did not deserve to be shot— and thus to the possibility that Wilson deserves to be tried for committing a crime.
But here’s a crazy idea: In assessing what is just in this case, I will rely on actual evidence from objective investigators. Dr. Baden is a TV star of some consequence, but paid testimony should always carry a flavor of skepticism.
I have no wish for a particular grand jury result, except that they follow the facts and the law, shutting out completely the hostile mood inflamed by the race grievance industry.
If the truth as jurors best divine it leads to no indictment for Officer Wilson, my prayer is that leaders will be able to calm any fires of rage among those unwilling to accept the jury’s findings. I hope I am not spending time on radio and in print lamenting the sorry state of racial maturity in an America where hotheads and willing media accomplices are permitted to engage in presumptuous excess with impunity.
None of this is helped by a president and attorney general who have prematurely taken sides. They can talk a good game in dissuading violence, but they will have helped create it by planting seeds of discontent in order to score cheap political points.
So if the grand jury returns an indictment, let us hope it was based on evidence and not a collapse under pressure from the racially-charged masses. And if there is no indictment, let us pray that any angry reactions stop short of the disgusting violence that has shattered the reputation of Ferguson, a town that has suffered enough.