A Moment of Simple Justice – Ferguson
August 26, 2014 (Mimesis Law) – The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, has raised a great many questions that haven’t made it onto most people’s radar, even though they’ve been filtering around criminal law forever. One of the big issues is the “handling” of the public and media by law enforcement. Many ponder whether the need for order falls on the police or the public. After all, as “homeland security” professor Sunil Dutta said in the Washington Post, cops won’t hurt you if you do as you’re told.
This is the fallacy of false equivalences: The police have a job to do. The public has constitutional rights. The former never trumps the latter. What you’ve watched night after night is the need for order, read “compliance,” as opposed to the public’s right to protest, to assemble, to express their anger and outrage at the police. The police are not amused. So what’s the theoretical difference? The police exist at the sufferance of the public. What’s the practical difference? The police have bigger guns and, well, judges like them more. To blame the public for causing the law enforcement reaction is little different than an abused spouse being at fault for her beating because “she just didn’t listen.”
The fact remains that a great many people really don’t see this as a problem. Just do as the cops command and nobody gets hurt. Ordinary, law-abiding people do not appreciate that to a cop, we are all potential threats; we are their enemy. A choice is going to be made, either by us or for us if we continue to pretend that Ferguson isn’t happening or couldn’t possibly happen where we live. The police have changed into an armed force, with tanks and body armor, and camo so you can’t see them at the pancake house. Just as the nation is watching Ferguson, so are the nation’s police. If they can get away with seizing our constitutional rights on such a grand scale there, they can do so in your neighborhood as well.