As details emerge from the grand jury investigation into Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, commentators are crying foul. The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing indictment of the decision not to indict, saying that prosecutor Robert McCulloch—“widely viewed in the minority community as being in the pockets of the police”—handled the proceedings “in the worst possible way.” The National Bar Association issued a press release “questioning how the grand jury, considering the evidence before them, could reach the conclusion that Darren Wilson should not be indicted” and called for federal charges. Meanwhile, at Vox, Ezra Klein has called Wilson’s account of the shooting “literally unbelievable.”
Yesterday, Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Missouri “to protect civil rights” ahead of a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. You may remember Wilson from August, when he shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and touched off protests followed by riots in the largely black suburb of St. Louis. You may also remember the term doublethink from George Orwell’s novel 1984. I quote Gov. Nixon’s executive order:
I further direct the Missouri State Highway Patrol together with the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to operate as a Unified Command to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region. I further order that the St. Louis County Police Department shall have command and operational control over security in the City of Ferguson relating to areas of protests, acts of civil disobedience and conduct otherwise arising from such activities.
If there’s one thing guaranteed to protect civil rights, it’s the Highway Patrol, city and county police departments acting as a unified command over areas of protest. If there are two things that do that, it’s a unified police command with plenty of tear gas.