Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson

Fires, looting, along with peaceful protests marked the night after St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that the grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in his killing of Michael Brown.

 

How it played… in Missouri: Post-Dispatch, and Kansas City Star.

Elsewhere: New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Times and Chicago Tribune.

 

What all those headlines mean… maybe nothing, but maybe a few things ultimately.

First, Scott Charton might be right in his tweet that much to Jay Nixon’s chagrin this could be the defining episode of his administration.  Charton’s tweet… “With 2 yrs left in term, @GovJayNixon legacy bookended by Joplin tornado triumphs and #Ferguson failings. Most may only recall latter.”

His handling of this – which isn’t over yet – may overshadow all other accomplishments or shortcomings of his time in office.

 

Second, the same danger exists for the St. Louis region as well.  Could this become a defining saga that represents the area nationally?  One lobbyist fearfully recalled the Detroit riots of the 1960s, attributing to them some portion of that city’s decline over the following decades.  Anecdotally this is the buzz that worries civvies.  Will local businesses and institutions’ ability to recruit suffer as high-end talent chooses opportunities in other cities?

 

Finally, today and tomorrow are the days for leadership.  The protests and unrest have captured the attention of the public.  Now can the political leadership step up and use this opportunity to focus that attention on the deep problems and build support for far-reaching change?  Answer: probably not.  It’s a tall order, and more likely than not their energy will be spent in trying to contain the unrest.

 

Speaker Tim Jones Offers to Take Over

On Twitter…  @SpeakerTimJones “If @GovJayNixon cont 2 do NOTHING 2 protect our county, I call on him 2 turn over command 2 @PeterKinder or me.We want 2 protect our people.”

 

And

Around 1 a.m. came this press release: Gov. Jay Nixon has ordered additional Missouri National Guardsmen to Ferguson. The Guard is providing security at the Ferguson Police Department, which will allow additional law enforcement officers to protect the public.

 

Other Links

See the grand jury testimony and documents here.

 

See 538’s “visualization” of how often federal grand juries don’t indict here.

 

Statements

Governor Jay Nixon

“While the 12 men and women on the St. Louis County grand jury have concluded their work, the rest of us have much more work to do in order to use the lessons we have learned these past four months to create safer, stronger and more united communities. As we continue to await word on the U.S. Justice Department's ongoing investigation, I urge all those voicing their opinions regarding the grand jury's decision to do so peacefully. I also urge everyone to continue working to make positive changes that will yield long-term social, economic and spiritual benefits for all our communities. My commitment to the people of the region and state is this: I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and protect your right to speak.  We must also make a commitment to one another: to trust more and fear less, to hold ourselves to a higher standard of personal responsibility and mutual respect, and to keep working to extend the promise of America to all our citizens.  It is my continued hope and expectation that peace will prevail. The world is watching.  I am confident that together we will demonstrate the true strength and character of this region, and seize this opportunity to build a more just and prosperous future for all.”

 

Senator Claire McCaskill

“There will be many people who are disappointed in today’s decision, even though it is a result of a deliberate legal process that’s being independently checked by Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department. While we await the conclusion of that independent investigation—and continue working together for solutions to systemic issues highlighted by this tragedy—I’m praying that the good people of St. Louis and local law enforcement will remain peaceful and respectful of one another.”

 

Senator Roy Blunt

Michael Brown’s death was a tragic loss for his family and for the community. Since August, I’ve been in close touch with clergy members and other local leaders, and I believe we all agree our first priority is peacefully healing and rebuilding the community after months of unrest. We must balance the rights of Americans to exercise their free speech alongside the rights of people to live peacefully and safely in their communities. I join Michael Brown’s family in urging protestors to do so peacefully… Michael’s death was tragic, and the months since this tragedy have marked a challenging time in Ferguson and across Missouri. Together, I know we can move forward and heal as we work to find better job opportunities in and more investment for challenged communities.”

 

And About Me

Some protestors made their way to my neighborhood late at night… A few knuckleheads threw bricks through some windows.  As I walked up on Grand, this morning I oddly thought of an old episode of Late Night with David Letterman.  He had a model on as a guest who was wearing a colored contact in one eye, so she had two different colored eyes, and she told Dave it was her fashion statement.  Letterman then asked, “And what would that statement be?”  The question stumped her, and finally she shrugged and said, “Look at me I have two different colored eyes?”

I wonder if the protestors who decided to destroy property last night thought they were making a statement, and if so, what exactly that statement was.

 

$5K+ Contributions

Slay for Mayor - $10,000 from Centene Corporation.

Scott Sifton for Missouri - $10,000 from Joe Keaveny for Senate.

 

Happy Birthday

Happy birthdays to Joe Lakin, Willis Jones (41), and former Rep. Bill Deeken (75).