Darren Wilson is the police officer who shot and killed African American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri. St Louis County prosecutor Robert McCullough has convened a grand jury to investigate whether there is probable cause to indict Officer Wilson for the shooting.
In a typical grand jury proceeding (which is secret) the prosecutor presents his best evidence and the accused has no right to be present or present evidence. Grand juries are generally viewed as a rubber stamp for prosecutors. As the saying goes "a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich".
But the Darren Wilson case is no ordinary grand jury proceeding. The proceeding has now dragged on for about three months. It has been reported that prosecutor Robert McCullough may have allowed Darren Wilson to testify before the grand jury and present his side of the story. It has also been reported that McCullough will allow all eyewitness testimony to be presented. This is important because different eyewitnesses have presented contradictory accounts of the events.
These acts are highly unusual. It appears that McCullough is doing all he can, within the bounds of the law, to help the grand jury, which has been reported to be 75% white, come to a decision not to indict, and help officer Wilson escape prosecution. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/22/michael-brown-grand-jury_n_5701455.html).
It is clear, from the Darren Wilson case, that there are two types of crimes: those committed by state actors, and those committed by non-state actors. Serious offenses committed by state actors are rarely punished, while minor offenses by non-state actors are often severely punished.
Examples of crimes committed by state actors include homicides by police, and sexual assaults, physical abuse and homicides by prison corrections officers. An example is the recent report that the Bronx NY district attorney declined to file charges in 3 cases where Riker's island inmates were beaten to death by prison guards (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/08/charges-for-guards-in-3-fatal-rikers-beatings.html).
While state actors literally get away with murder, non-state actors often face harsh prison terms for minor offenses. Under California's 3 strikes law persons committing crimes as minor as shoplifting can be sentenced to life in prison (http://www.threestrikes.org/sfchronicle_0.html).
Therefore people should not be surprised when the grand jury fails to indict police officer Darren Wilson, because this is the predetermined outcome intended. And no one should be surprised when people protest in response to Officer Wilson's acquittal. This too is an intended consequence.
As the Guardian has reported, St Louis police have spent nearly $200,000 stocking up on riot gear in anticipation of Wilson's acquittal. This includes: tear gas, pepper balls and sting grenades (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/oct/28/ferguson-police-spending-thousands-riot-gear-protests).
As the ACLU has stated so well:
"All across the country, heavily armed SWAT teams are raiding people's homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. It should enrage us that people have needlessly died during these raids, that pets have been shot, and that homes have been ravaged" (https://www.aclu.org/war-comes-home-excessive-militarization-american-policing).
A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo reported that in the Obama era, "police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft." The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what look like invading forces from an army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year
And as Rebecca Klein, a reporter for the Huffington Post noted recently:
"A few states over from where Ferguson police used armored vehicles and weapons from the Department of Defense to quell protests after the shooting of an unarmed teen in August, a more surprising institution has its own stock of military supplies from the government: a school district.
Pinellas County School District in Pinellas County, Florida, is one of over 20 districts around the country with a police force or public safety department in possession of former military supplies, thanks to the Department of Defense's Excess Property Program, or 1033 program. Since 1997, the initiative has provided excess military equipment to state agencies like local and public university police forces, but it has come under renewed scrutiny in the weeks following the Ferguson demonstrations.