St. Louis County Justice Center, Clayton, Missouri, November 24, 2014
Photo by Cultural Limits
Just to get this out of the way, the announcementÂ we have all been waiting for: there is no indictment of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who used deadly force on a 300 pound man who was high on marijuana and charging him at the time. Â At this point, the largest crowd of protesters is actually outside of the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, seven miles from the Justice Center where the announcement was made. Â These are people of all races and ages, and as of this writing, no violence has erupted, although they are blocking traffic. Â The other target for the evening is the Shaw Neighborhood in South St. Louis. Â At this point, law enforcement is concentrating on the preservation of life, property and free speech rights.
This is going to be one of those moments that St. Louisans will remember forever: Where were you when you heard the Grand Jury made a decision. Â Personally, I was standing in line at the bank down the street from where the die-in happened last Sunday. Â About half an hour earlier, I was at the bank around the corner from the justice center and just happened to snap a few â€œbeforeâ€ pictures. Â (BTW, it was REALLY cold and windy while I was in Clayton this afternoon.) Â Since the announcement was made after dark, the “after” pictures will be coming later.
And this is just a sampling of the media on that parking lot.
The courthouse itself is being renovated, so the regular construction walls have been reinforced.
Note the film over the windows facing Bemiston Ave.
As local coverage rolled ahead of the announcements once it was known that there was a decision, essentially, the snow storm alert system was all but activated. Â School districts all over St. Louis County cancelled classes and after school activities. Â Malls closed early. Â People from all over the city left offices early. Â QuikTrip closed locations in North County. Â Grocery stores already busy with Thanksgiving days away were jammed. Â This is what happens when huge snow storms are predicted. Â Weâ€™re very practiced at preparing and then watching nothing happen. Â But, this time, that may not be the case.
This weekend is state football championships that happen in the Dome downtown. Â Two county high schools hold an annual Thanksgiving Day football game regardless of the weather, a tradition that goes back decades. Â Thereâ€™s a parade Thursday morning and two charity runs. Â All of this will be potentially disrupted by a bunch of thugs. Â (Blues game tomorrow, Rams on Sunday, too.) Â Last night, the mob defaced an 100 year old memorial to the pioneers of the Civil Rights movement that began immediately following the Civil War when newly freed slaves were truly treated horribly by southern Democrats. Â There is no respect from this mob. Â Period.
One of the main criticisms of the way this has been handled in St. Louis County has been the length of time it has taken for a decision to be made on whether or not to indict. Â The reality is, Bob McCullough, the St. Louis County Prosecutor who has been elected by overwhelming majorities for over twenty years, wanted every last piece of evidence presented to the grand jury to be absolutely sure there was no question that there was something outstanding that could have swayed the panel one way or another. Â Regardless of how â€œirregularâ€ it is for a prosecuting attorney to do this, given the magnification and national implications of the case, it was his responsibility to be sure this was done correctly. Â If that meant it took three months to present the case, then it took three months to present the case. Â Which leads us to today and the media outnumbering the onlookers waiting for the announcement, to quote a local news channel. Â Regular St. Louisans are at home, sheltering.
While it is gratifying to see that the American system of justice is working the same as it did in Colonial times, it is most disturbing to see mobs among us. Â It is disgusting to see a rush to judgement by almost everyone before all the facts were known. Â It is also very upsetting to see long time public servantsâ€™ reputations not simply tarnished, but in some cases destroyed due to national prejudging by media. Â What is even more upsetting is that a strictly local case became a national one because the race-baiting industry chose it to be used as a springboard for a race war.
The next few days are vitally important for us in St. Louis, even as cities throughout the country also prepare for an aftermath. Â Once this is all over and the race baiters go home and the professional protesters move on to the next case, we have to live with what was wrought. Â This is our home. Â We are working and talking amongst ourselves to bring a peaceful solution to all of this. Â One thing we agree on is that violence solves nothing. Â Keep the first responders and their families in your prayers. Â This is going to be one rough Thanksgiving.