Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Context Emerges Slowly in Ferguson

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Context Emerges Slowly in Ferguson

Article excerpt

When a controversial news story hits the airwaves, the editorial page staff has the luxury of waiting a few days.

We wait for facts to emerge and assess the various issues being raised.

Even in the best conditions, the first stories are going to be incomplete.

When an emotional story hits the news like the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. just look how the facts changed.

An unarmed 18-year-old, Michael Brown, was shot by police.

But Brown weighed about 300 pounds and allegedly hit the officer.

He had been caught on videotape apparently roughing up people and taking cigarillos from a store.

But the police officer did not know that at first.

However after questioning Brown, the officer realized he fit the description of the convenience store robber.

Invariably, real life always is more complicated than our first impressions.

A decision on charging the police officer could be weeks away. A federal civil rights investigation could take months.

As Alexendra Petri wrote in The Washington Post, "What amazes me is the sheer number of people sitting at desks miles away who gazed into the news from Ferguson and saw only confirmation of their biases."

Meanwhile, we search for answers following the Ferguson shooting.


There was no better personification of the role of police as public servant than Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. A native of Ferguson, he was caught on tape at Greater Grace Church. He didn't have to apologize.

"I wear this uniform and I should stand up here and say that I am sorry.

"This is my neighborhood. You are my family you are my friends and I am you. And I will stand and protect you, I will protect your right to protest. I am telling you I am full right now.

"I came here and saw people cheering and clapping and this is what the media needs to put on TV.

"When this is over, I am going in my son's room, my black son, who wears his pants sagging, wears his hat cocked to his side, got tattoos on his arms but that's my baby. We need to pray.

"I love ya, I stand tall with ya and I will see you out there."

Johnson marched with some of the protesters, but he was unable to stop the violence.


Firm but fair action is needed to put down unrest and protect people, property and businesses. Molotov cocktails were found as well as handguns.

So it is a shame that so much looting and public unrest followed the incident in Ferguson. Many arrests have taken place, about 80 in just one 30-hour period, The Wall Street Journal reported.

As President Barack Obama said, "There are young black men that commit crime. We can argue about why that happens - because of the poverty they were born into and the lack of opportunity or school systems that fail them or what have you - but if they commit a crime then they need to be prosecuted because every community has an interest in public safety. …

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