Sometimes, you just have to be grown-up enough to admit you don’t know what you’re doing. At this point, we’re sure that the police of Ferguson and the people of Missouri wish that their leaders had had the maturity to admit that days ago. And if they had, they might have been the beneficiaries of a well-advised edict from the Department of Justice.
The video that police released, allegedly depicting Michael Brown robbing a convenience store for cigars was undoubtedly intended for the sole purposes of character assassination. And there’s no doubt that it worked among people who were simply looking for a justification to side with Brown’s murderer. The Ku Klux Klan certainly seems to have liked it, flocking as they are to the area to protect business owners from more “n****r criminals.”
But in every other way, the PD’s otherwise irrelevant character assassination backfired, called out by everyone else for exactly what it was. Maybe it was with this reality in mind that Eric Holder told Ferguson PD not to release the tape well before they did it.
CNN reported on Saturday that Holder’s department was aware of the video footage almost immediately after the Brown’s murder, and had instructed the police department not to release it. The rationale? They were afraid that it would backfire, and spark off violent riots in the city.
So…who could have seen that coming?
There’s some debate at the moment as to whether or not the DOJ’s word on the matter was just advice, or an order deliberately countermanded by the Ferguson PD, and it’s desire to win its case in the court of public opinion. Technically, the DOJ might not have had jurisdiction over the Ferguson PD at the time, but they may have since opening an investigation into the murder. The answer may come down to a matter of timing and procedural technicality. If the latter is the case, then it’ll certainly come up during the DOJ’s hearings on the matter.
But, even if the DOJ didn’t technically have jurisdiction at the time, Ferguson PD can’t deny that it ignored some good advice, and made one very bad decision on the basis of cynical self-interest.
Not the first of recent note, we hear.
H/T: Huffington Post