In Ferguson, All Wounds Run Deep
By Tony Perkins
A “peaceful” protest outside the Ferguson Police Department turned out to be anything but for two seriously wounded officers in Missouri. In what St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar is calling an ambush, a gunman shot one officer in the face and another in the shoulder during a heated demonstration outside headquarters in the early hours of this morning. Hours after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned, angry people gathered at the station demanding more.
In August, just days after the shooting, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was on the ground in Ferguson linking the shooting of Michael Brown to race. No one questions that America’s ongoing struggle with racial tension is serious. But to have the nation’s top law enforcer prejudge a case as volatile as Ferguson is extremely dangerous — as we saw with riots breaking out across America.
Last week, after an almost six month investigation by Holder’s agency, the U.S. Justice Department officially cleared Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown. However, in an effort to save face for the President and himself, Holder released another report claiming “widespread racial bias” in the Ferguson police force. In the documents released last Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder’s agency finally admitted that “Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law. But that finding was almost overshadowed by the 100-page accusation of racial discrimination, which sparked fresh outrage in an already fragile town.
That outrage almost turned deadly last night, as more blood was shed on the streets of Ferguson. This time, the victims were two local law enforcement officers who were protecting the crowd that had gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department. Based on the trajectory of the bullets, investigators are certain the pair were targeted, potentially by a sniper. The injuries, which doctors say are “very serious,” should heal — but the same may not be said of the conflict that triggered the shooting. Given the ferocity of the opposition, Belmar says “it’s remarkable that we haven’t had something like this happen (before).”
In January, I joined more than 150 evangelical and religious leaders in Dallas, Texas to arrest the racial divide that still exist in America. While those couple of days of meetings didn’t put the issue to rest, it has furthered an effort that addresses the heart and soul of the matter. Unfortunately, as church leaders are working to bring the divide together, actions like Eric Holder’s are driving the divided further apart. As a former police officer and a minister, I have the ability to understand the concerns of both sides. There has been, and there remains, injustice in America — and race is a factor. But not every police officer or every incident involving individuals of different ethnic backgrounds is racial.
Furthermore, every problem in America does not need a federal solution. The threats of the Attorney General to take over the Ferguson Police Department, especially in the absence of any criminal wrongdoing, is just another example of the lawless overreach of the Obama administration. The Founders understood that bad local and state leaders are easier for the people to rein in or replace than a despot at the federal level with an army.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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