Arnold Ahlert: Lynch Mob Mayhem in Ferguson

Shortly after midnight Thursday morning, two police officers were shot in front of the Ferguson Police Department. A 41-year -old officer from the St. Louis Police Department was shot in the shoulder, with the bullet exiting through his back. A 32-year-old officer officer from the Webster Groves Police Department was shot just below the right eye with the bullet lodging in his ear. “We could have buried two police officers next week over this,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.

Police believe the shots came from a handgun fired from approximately 120 yards away, and based on the trajectory of the bullets, it appears the shots were intentionally aimed at the officers. They were part of a 25-man police line at set up at the Ferguson PD headquarters to deal with the latest protest, convened to celebrate Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson’s resignation from the force, and to call for Mayor James Knowles III to follow suit. Jackson will receive nearly $96,000 in annual salary and health coverage following his resignation on Mar. 19. Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will take over as acting chief until the city completes a nationwide search for a new police chief, the city said in a news release.

And while the protests were winding down for the night, shots suddenly rang out. “We heard, like, a firework–we thought it was a firework–it was loud,”said journalist Bradley Rayford. “You couldn’t even see where it was coming from, but you saw the muzzle” flash from up the hill. The bullets went right past my head.”

“We all ducked down” Rayford added. “I saw a cop on the ground, obviously in pain; they had to drag him from the front lines.”

Belmar aptly characterized the incident for what it was. “This is really an ambush,” he said. “You are basically defenseless. It is hard to guard against.” When asked if the gunman played any part in the protest, Belmar was diplomatic, saying he was “very confident that whoever did this was there for the wrong reasons,” and that he considered the shooting “an unfortunate association with the gathering.”

One is left to wonder how unfortunate. An video taken at the scene reveals the sound of one shot ringing out as a woman screams in surprise. A second and possibly a third shot is also heard, followed by the sound of someone, presumably one of the wounded officers, moaning in pain. While protestors are fleeing the scene and cops are engaging in an effort to help their fallen comrades another voice is heard. “Acknowledgement nine months ago would have kept that from happening,” declared the unidentified speaker, more than likely referring to the initial incident during which former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown last August.

Wilson was cleared of all charges related to that incident by a local grand jury last fall. Wilson was also cleared last week following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). And as was the case following a similar investigation of George Zimmerman following his acquittal for shooting Trayvon Martin, the DOJ again cited a lack of evidence as its reason for failing to bring Wilson to trial for civil rights violations.

However while Wilson was exonerated, a second report excoriated the Ferguson Police Department, accusing it of engaging in racially discriminatory policing tactics. that report precipitated the resignation of Jackson, along with city manager John Shaw and the city’s municipal judge, Ronald J. Brockmeyer. The impetus for those resignations was the report’s contention the Ferguson municipal court system acted “not with the primary goal of administering justice or protecting the rights of the accused, but of maximizing revenue.”

Critics of the report note that Holder and company embraced the concept of “disparate impact” in reaching their conclusion. Disparate impact posits that a neutrally-applied policy can be deemed “discriminatory” if its application has an “adverse impact” on members of a “protected class.” In Ferguson this amounted to black Americans accounting for 86 percent of traffic stops in 2013, despite comprising only 63 percent of the population. Hence, black Americans were “unfairly targeted.”

Or were they? As columnist Heather Mac Donald explains, such statistics “are meaningless as a measure of police behavior, unless one considers the underlying rate of traffic offenses. If blacks are disproportionately represented among speeders, red-light runners, and drivers without updated vehicle registration, say, then their higher rate of being stopped simply means that the police are applying the traffic laws neutrally to lawbreakers,“ she writes.

Such disparities are hardly limited to the issuance of traffic tickets. As black columnist Thomas Sowell so ably notes, blacks are overrepresented among NBA stars, relative to their population as are Hispanics in baseball, and Asians at engineering schools. “Statistical disparities between ethnic groups are normal, not evidence of racism,” he explains.

Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff demolishes the DOJ’s revenue maximization argument as well, explaining that if Ferguson residents obey parking rules, observe speed limits, pay fines on time and don’t blow off court appearances, such revenue-raising efforts are easily thwarted.

Regardless, Holder is proceeding with his agenda, one in which he’s “prepared to use all the powers” of the federal government against Ferguson, including the complete dismantling of the force. “If that’s what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that,” Holder warned.

This is the context behind the protests that took place Wednesday night leading into Thursday morning. And despite Jackson’s resignation, the acting head of the DOJ’s civil rights division released a statement saying the federal government remains committed to reaching a “court-enforceable agreement” to address Ferguson’s “unconstitutional practices,” regardless of who’s in charge of the city.

As for the contemptible statement heard on the aforementioned video, it was hardly an anomaly. Several tweets expressed support for the would-be cop killers. “After what the Ferguson Police Dep has done does anyone REAAALLY care that three pigs were shot? #NoLOL” stated one. “hopefully they’ll be off the street for a long time. two less pigs out harassing & kidnapping people. #Ferguson,” stated another.

Shortly after the shooting police swarmed a home in Ferguson, four blocks west of the crime. Three people, two men and a woman were brought out in handcuffs. It is not known at this time what connection they have to the incident. Both officers have been released from the hospital, although the one shot in the face will have to return for further evaluation some time in the future.

Holder condemned the shooting as “inexcusable and repugnant.” “We wish these injured officers a full and speedy recovery,” he said in a statement. “We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department’s full range of investigative resources.” President Obama tweeted his statement. “Violence against police is unacceptable. Our prayers are with the officers in MO. Path to justice is one all of us must travel together. -bo,” it read.

St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol assumed “command of the security detail regarding protests” Thursday at 7 p.m. EST., with Mayor Knowles noting the arrangement will continue “until further notice.” St. Louis Police Officers Association head Jeff Roorda called on authorities to restrict further protests to daytime hours. “This is a very volatile situation,” Roorda said. “You have outside agitators racing to be here. This isn’t safe for police, community or peaceful protesters.”

It hasn’t been safe in Ferguson for quite some time. A throughly discredited “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” campaign, perpetrated by racial arsonists and their media enablers, led to several instances of rioting, arson, and looting both before and after the grand jury reached its decision not to indict Wilson. In other words, the facts were irrelevant, and as this shooting and subsequent outpouring of support for those who perpetrated this heinous act indicates, they still are for at least some of those involved in the ongoing activism.

Ferguson activist Kayla Reed illuminated the mindset of those who continue to show up on the streets of Ferguson. “We aren’t satisfied with this,” she referring to Jackson’s resignation. “It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not what total justice looks like in Ferguson.”

Reed should be careful about calls for “total justice.” Genuine total justice would also provide for the arrest, vigorous prosecution and incarceration of those who turned Ferguson, MO into a de facto war zone in order to advance an agenda based on a lie. Genuine justice would provide some measure of accountability for a president, an Attorney General and their ally and race-baiter extraordinaire Al Sharpton. Men who, despite all protests to the contrary, bear a large portion of responsibility for the lynch mob mentality they helped foment in Ferguson.

Despite the three arrests, a manhunt remains ongoing. As for limiting the protests to daytime hours, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger indicated there are no plans to do so.