There was some shooting in Ferguson, Missouri last night, but according to Highway Patrol captain Ron Johnson, none of it came from the police. Plonking a couple of seized handguns and a Molotov cocktail on the table at his Tuesday morning press conference, Johnson was furious at “violent agitators who he said were using largely peaceful protests as ‘cover’ to commit criminal acts,” according to Fox News:
A visibly angry Johnson said that officers had come under heavy gunfire from protesters and at least two people had been shot. Johnson said he did not know the condition of the shooting victims. Four officers had been injured when they were struck by rocks or bottles, though Johnson claimed that police had not fired a single shot.
Citing what he called a “dangerous dynamic in the night,” Johnson requested that protests take place during the daylight hours, so that officers could effectively isolate any troublemakers. However, Johnson said that his forces could not make protesters leave the streets after sunset if they did not want to.
“This nation is watching each and every one of us,” said Johnson. “I am not going to let the criminals that have come here from across this country, or live in this neighborhood, define this community.” Johnson added that some of those who had been arrested overnight had come from as far afield as New York and California. The trooper also directed his wrath at the assembled media, saying that they had put themselves and officers in danger by failing to clear areas when asked before imploring them to “not glamorize the acts of criminals.”
“We do not want to lose another life in this community,” Johnson added.
Many of the agitators are said to come from outside Ferguson. Some of them have press credentials:
Late Monday, reporters estimated that the number of protesters had dropped to around 100, far fewer than the number of media members who were covering them.
A photographer for the Getty photo agency was arrested while covering the demonstrations and later released. Two German reporters were arrested and detained for three hours. Conservative German daily Die Welt said correspondent Ansgar Graw and reporter Frank Herrmann, who writes for German regional papers, were arrested after allegedly failing to follow police instructions to vacate an empty street. They said they followed police orders.
At his news conference, Johnson said in some cases it was not immediately clear who was a reporter but that once it was established, police acted properly.
One of the problems faced by Captain Johnson and his officers is that Media has decided the story is all about her now. It’s a passion play for reporters who want to become the next martyrs to “police harassment” so they can write about themselves as heroes of free speech battling the oppressive police. There’s something bitterly comical, but entirely predictable, about a violent protest where the reporters outnumber the protesters. Media really wants to keep this story going, because readers are gobbling it up, and she loves the attention… just as the agitators crave the attention she gives them. Everyone with a grievance is making a beeline for the spotlight. A weakness in the fabric of society inevitably draws those who would unravel it, or draw profit through its rips and tears.
Media also has some narratives about racism and class struggle that she never tires of talking about, to the point where she’ll breeze right past facts that make her preferred stories more difficult to tell. Every passing day brings new information that firms up the account given by Officer Darren Wilson, while disputing or destroying some detail of the “racist cop randomly shot black teenager for no reason” story that kicked off the riots. On Monday night, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers said on Twitter that according to police sources, “more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated the cop’s version of events in the shooting.”
Other media outlets (notably CNN) have confirmed Officer Wilson’s account, which has not been officially released, tracks very closely with the account given by someone who called into Dana Loesch’s radio show on Friday, claiming to be a friend of his.
A summary of this account, and some context about Josie’s relationship with Wilson, are provided by the Daily Caller:
Josie said that Wilson confronted Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, who were walking in the middle of the street last Saturday. The two allegedly verbally rebuked Wilson, who continued driving.
???And then he got a call-in that there was a strong-arm robbery,??? Josie said.
???And, they gave a description. And, he???s looking at them and they got something in their hands and it looks like it could be what, you know those cigars or whatever.???
Brown was named the prime suspect in what was characterized as a strong-arm robbery that took place moments before Wilson encountered them. Brown also allegedly shoved the clerk at the store.
???So he goes in reverse back to them. Tries to get out of his car. They slam his door shut violently. I think he said Michael did. And, then he opened the car again. He tried to get out. He stands up,??? Josie said.
???And then Michael just bum-rushes him and shoves him back into his car. Punches him in the face and them Darren grabs for his gun. Michael grabbed for the gun. At one point he got the gun entirely turned against his hip. And he shoves it away. And the gun goes off.???
???Well, then Michael takes off and gets to be about 35 feet away. And, Darren???s first protocol is to pursue. So, he stands up and yells, ???Freeze!??? Michael and his friend turn around. And Michael taunts him,??? said Josie, who is friends with Wilson???s girlfriend, who is a police officer at an area police department.
Both Wilson and his girlfriend have won accolades at their respective police departments. Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson has said that Wilson, a six-year veteran, had no disciplinary record and was a good officer.
???And then all the sudden he just started bumrushing him,??? Josie relayed.
???He just started coming at him full speed. And, so he just started shooting. And, he just kept coming. And, so he really thinks he was on something.???
There’s also the matter of an eyewitness video that got picked up by major media on Monday. The video, which was filmed while Michael Brown was still lying dead in the street (and is therefore very disturbing) captures eyewitnesses to the shooting discussing the same scenario Josie laid out, with Brown rushing towards Officer Wilson as the shots were fired.
Of course, at this point, the details don’t matter to everyone. (I won’t say they don’t matter to anyone in Ferguson – there are a lot of people there who want their town to go back to normal and wish to see true justice done, not the activist variety of “justice” where the cop is presumed guilty.) That’s the problem when huge social issues and long-standing arguments are brought into a case like this. The actual event of the Brown shooting, the actions of the specific individuals involved, become blurry background details. The shooting is just one more half-forgotten battle in an endless culture war – it might as well have happened a hundred years ago. The tides of Narrative are so strong that people will become angry at facts that don’t flow with the tide. You don’t have to prod the “activists” who have descended upon Ferguson very hard to get them to admit it no longer matters whether Wilson was justified in firing those shots – how dare you talk about what actually happened, in an effort to distract from the real issues of police abuse, racism, militarized police forces, and so forth. Don’t you know that white cops are randomly gunning down innocent black teenagers for sport, every single day?
One commentator who is resolutely unwilling to surf on that tide of Narrative is Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal. “I don’t want to litigate this in the press,” he said on Meet the Press last Sunday, “but at the same time, let’s not pretend that our morgues and cemeteries are full of young black men because cops are shooting them. The reality is that it’s because other black people are shooting them. And we need to talk about black criminality.”
Riley knows full well this kind of reasoned argument is dismissed as a canard, an evasion of the “real issues,” by those whose political and financial profits come from paranoia and racial hostility. He called them out by name in a Fox News interview:
We don’t have all the evidence and I’m hesitant to try and litigate this in the press, but there’s also this false narrative being pushed out there by folks like Michael Eric Dyson and [Al] Sharpton and the rest of the hustlers is that black men live in fear of being shot by cops in these neighborhoods. That too is nonsense. I know something about growing up black and male in the inner city and it’s not that hard to avoid getting shot by a cop. They pull you over, you answer their questions, you are on your way.
The real difficulty is not getting shot by other black people if you are a young black man in these neighborhoods and again that is something we need to talk more about. Cops are not the problem. Cops are not producing these black bodies in the morgues every weekend in Chicago, in New York and Detroit and so forth. That’s not cops. Those other black people shooting black people.
Michael Eric Dyson has taken to calling the Brown shooting “clearly a brutal execution of this unarmed young man by police,” and is prepared to willfully misrepresent forensic evidence to keep the unrest alive. No amount of facts or reasoned argument will change his mind; as I mentioned above, what actually happened between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson is almost completely irrelevant to him. The Narrative is all that matters. It’s like the social-issue version of global warming mythology – a theory that takes absolute precedent over contrary evidence.
The unrest in Ferguson isn’t going to end very soon, because a lot of people don’t want it to end. Now that it’s a huge national news story and the titanic federal government is deeply involved – Attorney General Eric Holder is said to be on his way to the scene – there is little interest in dismantling that brightly-lit stage. If there was only some way to keep all outsiders away from Ferguson for a few days, things would return to normal more quickly. But the outside agitators don’t want “normal” – they hate it. The criminal opportunists are happy to ply their trade while the agitators provide cover.
And the people who have reasonable grievances, the people who took to the streets because they sincerely believed a terrible wrong had been done, need to ask themselves whether a little patience and restraint would have served their town far better. Of course people have a right to assemble and speak their minds, but with that right comes the responsibility to exercise it wisely. By definition that responsibility cannot be enforced from outside – at least, not until things have degenerated to the point where curfews and tear gas are necessary. It has to come from within, a community spirit of goodwill that takes note of bad elements who are using lawful protests as cover, and concludes the lawful protests should be put on hold until the situation is stabilized.
What are the lawful protesters demonstrating against, anyway? It’s just a week since the shooting occurred. There was no reason to think it would not be investigated, and really no reason to doubt the Justice Department would get involved. The officer, like every other American, is innocent until proven guilty, subject to the administrative policies of the department he works for. The rule of law was sacrificed quickly in Ferguson. The results should be appalling to everyone in the town, and everyone in America. But they aren’t.
Update: Gateway Pundit is reporting from multiple sources, in both the St. Louis County Police and District Attorney’s office, that officer Darren Wilson’s injuries – a matter of established fact from Day One, but almost completely ignored by the architects of mythology – included an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket.” That detail won’t do much to hold back the Narrative, of course.