On the St. Louis Riots

Charles C.W. Cooke thinks a lot of folks on the right are having the completely wrong reaction:

Whatever its cause, it is indisputably true that the United States has a problem with blacks killing blacks. And yet this has absolutely nothing to do with the question at hand, which is: “Did a police officer unjustifiably kill an unarmed black man in Missouri?” It is feasible, is it not, to be worried about the internecine violence in America’s inner cities and to want to get to the bottom of an allegedly unwarranted shooting? So why the conflation? After all, whether or not it is intentional, reacting to a community’s grief by raising an entirely separate topic smacks largely of distraction — of reflexively throwing up a roadblock to what is a legitimate line of inquiry in the hope that the subject might swiftly be changed. 

This is exactly right. If the officer in question did, then he ought to be held accountable for it. I don’t know the whole story, There’s a strong movement beginning on the more libertarian leaning portions of the “right” or “conservative movement” or whatever you want to call it, that is becoming increasingly sympathetic to the idea that there are some cops that run roughshod over the communities they serve and are never held properly accountable for it.

But I’ve never understood the tendency to react to injustice by cutting off your right leg to show everyone how angry you are. If rioters were burning city hall, or overturning police cars, I still wouldn’t condone it, but I’d understand. At least that’s where the people are that wronged you. Reacting to tragedy by destroying your own neighborhood is a reaction that baffles me.

The alleged circumstances surrounding the shooting are certainly suspicious, but there needs to be an investigation. Unlike citizens, police are often allowed to shoot fleeing suspects (whether that’s right is another question). But shooting someone who’s actively surrendering is murder. Even if it was a mistake (booger hook on the bang switch), it’s still manslaughter. But that’s not to say everything is as advertised. These are matters for investigators, prosecutors, and if the facts support it, ultimately a jury.

22 thoughts on “On the St. Louis Riots”

  1. Agree with everything said here. The problem as I see it, is most investigations of police misconduct end with “Yes the officer was in the wrong, it is being handled internally” or “The officer was just doing what was necessary for officer safety, and it is a tragedy and innocent was killed, no charges will be filed.”

    Watching law enforcement and politicos evade any accountability gives citizens very little hope of ridding themselves of the heavy and unaccountable boot of the state.

  2. Prediction: “After an internal investigation–the details and findings of which we will never disclose–we’ve determined that the officer followed policy. No, we’re not going to tell you the policy. No, we’re not going to tell you the officer’s name. We consider the matter closed.”

    It’s the lack of transparency and fairness (think we wouldn’t know the shooter’s name, DOB, and full work history if it had been someone with a carry permit?) that’s the problem.

  3. Agree 100% with both wizardpc and rodent. It seems like no matter what happens, the incident gets whitewashed.

    Look at some of the incidents out there. They can screw up the address on a warrant, raid the wrong house in the middle of the night, kill the dog, throw your wife and kids on the floor and beat the hell out of/shoot you and somehow is it not only OK in their mind, but the act of resisting and armed home invasion is in their eyes a criminal act.

    I’ve said before if there was ever a breakdown in civil society, the police would be the first ones at the end of a rope and most would go to the gallows too oblivious to understand why the citizens feel that way about them.

    1. Here’s a second on the oblivious —

      One of our scuba buddies is a police sgt in the 2nd largest metro area of PA. He shocked during a recent conversation that we ‘the public’ thought that giving warnings to ‘brother officers’ was at a minimum aiding & abetting and that if the infraction was speeding or DUI that we felt that he should be held liable for both civil & criminal penalties if the ‘brother officer’ got into an accident.

      He also seemed shocked that many of us felt that the cute little symbol of a blue line on a black background meant that the police were providing the backbone of crime. (Although some of us claimed that the police using that symbol in & of itself was proof of their inherent racism by equating that color with criminals)

      He’s a nice guy overall & a good dive buddy, but oblivious to society at large’s opinion of his chosen profession

    2. There is a big problem in this country with police behavior. It had better be addressed quickly, people are getting fed up.

  4. The first step is requiring body cameras for law enforcement. On this day and age, there is no excuse for not recording all interactions between law enforcement and citizens. Worried about then “Breaking”? Create a presumption that its deliberate destruction of evidence, and let law enforcement prove it was a legit equipment failure if they can.

    Even more shocking, until THIS YEAR, the FBI didn’t record in custody interrogations, and actually prohibited it.

  5. “There’s a strong movement beginning on the more libertarian leaning portions of the “right” or “conservative movement” or whatever you want to call it, that is becoming increasingly sympathetic to the idea that there are some cops that run roughshod over the communities they serve…”

    And what contributed to some of us being “libertarian leaning” was, growing up poor and unsophisticated and thus learning firsthand that more than just “some” cops run roughshod over anyone they think does not have the power to resist them. That has not changed in decades; technology is just catching it on camera more often these days.

  6. I wondered, after several riots in several different areas (L.A post-Rodney King, New Orleans post-Katrina, Cincinnati and Oakland post-police-shooting-Black-man, etc.): WHY is it always the Dollar Store and Quickie-Mart getting looted and burned?
    The conclusion I came to was that these people don’t give a tinker’s damn about who gets shot, they don’t give an aerial fornication about police and/or racial abuses, and they couldn’t possibly care less whether or not Trayvon (nor any other ‘good kid who’d never hurt ANYONE’) was in fact a gang member or had a record as long as I-40.
    The reason, I believe, that these riots and pillaging occur is simply and horribly because there’s an immediate justification, however flimsy or irrational, for jerks to shed their veneer and act like…jerks.
    There are more and more of them every year, and when they discover that they don’t NEED a catalyst, When they can act like hooligans ANYTIME, if there are enough participants…well, you get the picture. It won’t be long, now.

    1. Maxwell, that’s a good description of the situation, and a very plausible explanation of the motivations of the rioters. Compare what they’re doing (ripping apart the Quickie Mart, etc) with the actions of the protesters in Cairo and Kiev. And, compare them to the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine: There, the protesters attacked the seats of power and authority, City Hall and the local Police station, not the Quickie Mart.

  7. I think the point of bringing up black on black violence in this instance is bring attention to the fact that we have hundreds of young black men murdered in this country each year, yet the only deaths that bring about this level of rage are those that occur at the hands of police or someone like George Zimmerman.

  8. From what I’ve heard, it’s been a lot of “outside agitators” causing the problems, and trying to take advantage of the situation. Not the actual people that live there.

    1. Willing to bet local grandmas and beat cops could name almost everyone involved in the rioting. It’s never people destroying their own communities: it’s poorly socialized young men who don’t feel like they belong to the community.

      We depend heavily on police officers to counterbalance anti-gun police chiefs. I really don’t want to see a wedge driven in that alliance, but… it’s getting to the point where anyone with a conscience has to speak up about what’s going on.

    2. I disagree. If we allows a community to slough off responsibility by blaming “outside agitators” the community members will not take the necessary steps correct the problem.

  9. “From what I’ve heard, it’s been a lot of “outside agitators” causing the problems…”

    Ah, nostalgia. I feel like it’s 1964 again.

  10. The police brutality is not excused by the riots. The problem is when the police is murdering its citizens there is no accountability and that means that there is no law anymore. If the police do not follow the law and attack the citizens.. Then the citizens don’t have to follow the law and can attack the police. Leads to anarchy and a societal breakdown.

  11. Everything I’ve been reading from the libertarian side is usually the same answer somewhere alng the lines of “WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! We need to disarm the cops, throw them all in jail and then secure our borders and end immigration!!! We need to end these riots now without any further loss of life and assume that the police shot the kid on purpose AND HAVE HIM EXECUTED!!! Police militarization is not the answer!!! We need the militias and sheriffs and National Guard to come in an end this rioting right now because they’re the ones who deserve to use all that tactical equipment!!!!”

    1. The response from the libertarian side is to say that police should not behave like military units nor should they escalate an already tense situation. Most libertarians don’t oppose police having “tacital equipment”, but there is a difference between equipment that has a legitimate police function like an ar-15 and war machines like mine resistant armored personnel carriers which should only be in the possession of those who actually have the responsibility of fighting a war.

    2. Look, now you’re just being silly. I’ve never heard a single libertarian rant that way.

      They always start with “WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!” Get your quotes straight. :D

      1. Just thinking of them calling people sheeple, it’s so irritating I mentally blocked it out. I haven’t really seen any solution by any side to solve the riots, just “benefit of hindsight” solutions saying they would have done this or that before it ever started.

  12. I agree I don’t get understand the rioting of private business, except to suspect that people just want to pillage and they will use and excuse to do so.

    But that’s a side problem that distracts from the real problem- police brutality and no accountability. The culture is slowly changing in this country to recognize the police are not our friends any more, and they are not being seen as “heros” either.

    People are slowly no longer trusting cops, because of the lack of accountability. Time and time again we have seen innocent people, property, and pets can be harmed or destroyed and the whole “justice” system rallies around and protects the bad cops. Police will soon be shocked when people don’t help them, don’t support them, and actually wish ill on them.

    And its their own fault. If they did their job and outed the bad apples and did not protect them, cops would be trusted and respected. Instead, they are seen as untrustworthy.

    Until there are actually investigations- not sham ones- and bad cops are outed by other cops, arrested, convicted, and jailed for crimes- instead of getting away with it- this situation will only get worse.

  13. Well,well. Looks like the guy was videod robbing a convenience store about 5 minutes before he got shot.

  14. Google has, in its infinite liberal wisdom, decided to sever all connections with firearms and anything connected with such. They,(Google) are defining themselves as very old-fashioned and out of the mainstream. Recent statistics have clearly shown that the ‘concealed carry states’ have a significant decrease in murder rates. Should you not believe this, check the FBI data. Google is mired in the paradime of generation X.
    All those previously young hot-shots, now middle aged Google managers, are still tingling to the music of Berkely U. The real world has passed them by, but middle-aged senority has let them rise like yeast to middle management slots. We must realize the depths of their ignorance and the skew in their world view.

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