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The consequences of Ferguson

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Finding Officer Darren Wilson not criminally liable in his fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown indicates that the grand jury felt other extenuating circumstances outweighed the fact that Wilson, according to autopsy reports, fatally shot the unarmed Brown several times

 
Carole Norris
Greene

A grand jury's failure to indict a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, for fatally shooting an unarmed teen in August has sent the message to society that anyone carrying a badge is free to shoot and even kill without reprisal an unarmed citizen suspected of a crime.

It is an unfortunate decision any way you look at it.

For society to function free of chaos, laws must be abided by. When those laws are broken, punishment must be meted out to discourage others from doing the same.

In the Ferguson case, the grand jury considered evidence that is public knowledge, and it investigated other circumstances.

Finding Officer Darren Wilson not criminally liable in his fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown indicates that the grand jury felt other extenuating circumstances outweighed the fact that Wilson, according to autopsy reports, fatally shot the unarmed Brown several times.

I suspect that the Ferguson grand jury and other such decision-making bodies throughout the nation are inclined to give offending law enforcement officers the benefit of the doubt in these very sensitive situations in order to undergird the continued authority of law enforcement.

But giving officers the OK to continue life-taking policing tactics undermines the willingness of a significant segment of society to bend the knee to government.

It is bad enough that some people vent their frustration through rioting and looting. But supporters of Wilson raised enough money to erect a billboard in Ferguson that would have read "#pantsUPdontLOOT" in response to protesters who chanted "Hands up, don't shoot." The idea was abandoned after the organizer said that it couldn't find an advertising company to display the billboard, The Tennessean daily newspaper reported.

Looters are one thing. Angry people who would never loot but who lose respect for law enforcement are a far more serious matter.

Looters, regardless of how they dress, demonstrate the absence of self-control. They become angry and express their rage by destroying things while working in personal gain. They are immature, immoral and self-focused, and every one of them belongs in jail.

The vast majority of people of all races have self-control. They would never loot anyone's business or destroy property to vent their outrage. Their respect for police and the legal process, however, either disappears or diminishes considerably after events such as the failure to indict in the Ferguson case.

These bitter, disillusioned citizens won't cooperate with law enforcement. They won't teach their children to respect them either. They will not vote for candidates who support police who are not held to the same standard of accountability as citizens.

They will not count on safety in the custody of police and may even feel no choice but to resist by any means available when confronted. They will hang up when the police benevolent society reps call, asking for support. Even if they could help detectives trying to solve cases, they won't.

I wonder if the grand jury in the Ferguson case ever considered this when it absolved Wilson.

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(Greene was an associate editor in CNS's Special Projects department for nearly 22 years.)

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