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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/6/15

A 'Sin Eater's' Mess: DOJ's Report Freeing Darren Wilson of Blame and 26 Recommendations for Fixing the Ferguson Police

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Is it hypocritical for the U.S. Justice Department to clear a former Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the shooting death of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown - with the cop firing 12 bullets from his gun and justifying it all as self-defense - yet at the same time issuing 26 recommendations, many involving scathing criticism of the practices of the Ferguson, Mo., Police Department, for discriminatory and unconstitutional law enforcement practices?

You be the judge. After all, wasn't this thing all sort of settled in the arena of public opinion, as generated by the national news media, months ago? Before this winter's harsh snows even started flying? To me, it is simply more evidence of what the OpEdNews.com publisher saw nearly two years ago as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder being President Barack Obama's 'sin eater'. Surely, trying to placate all the people all the time only serves to upset a lot of people - all at the same time - and you can't blame the masses for calling you a phony for throwing around such malarkey.

The Department of Justice issued this duo of reports Wednesday, March 4. It was one of the top stories of the day for the mainstream media, and little notice was given to the fact the DOJ report cleared the young officer of any wrongdoing. It's ironic that all media outlets pumped up the fact that overall, the federal government had nothing but scathing criticism for the Ferguson Police Department's racist and unconstitutional practices.


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This sort of equivocating political mumbo-jumbo makes no sense. Giving this shooting an "okay, you coppers, everything's fine" while in an overall, separate summation, lambasting the Ferguson police for a wide assortment of unconstitutional and racist practices, leads to confusion. Not only the Ferguson cops, but most of the St. Louis African-American community, have to be shaking their heads in dread and disbelief.

For months now, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice have been at work in the legal analysis of whether or not Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson was justified in the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown. Brown and a friend were walking down the middle of a street blocking traffic and mere minutes earlier, Brown was caught on surveillance video robbing a convenience store nearby. According to reports, which are now historical accounts, Brown stole several little cigars from the store and roughed-up the store clerk. Wilson had been notified by police dispatch of the strong-armed robbery and was given the suspect's description, leading Wilson to find Brown and Dorian Johnson walking in the middle of the street.

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Unfortunately for Wilson, a media circus catapulted immediately after Brown was shot and killed. Wilson became an object of national ridicule to many and the then-28-year-old had to go into hiding for his own safety.

To simply say unrest unraveled in Ferguson as the result of Brown's shooting would be a gross understatement. Stores were not just looted, some were destroyed by rioters. Legions of police were decked out in full riot gear and fires flamed on Ferguson's streets, with enraged protesters throwing rocks, bottles, and a wide assortment of big objects at the cops. And for what seemed to be an eternity that lasted from late-last summer well into last autumn, the rioting, looting, and abject hysteria were staples of the mainstream media's daily focus. With no end in sight for the bedlam on Ferguson's streets, it seemed as if the city's societal breakdown would last far, far into 2015. Maybe even beyond....Good Americans of all races and persuasions watched the Ferguson rioting in horror, thinking to themselves, "When will this nightmare end?!"

In another opinion that was published here, on OpEdNews.com on June 1, 2013, Publisher Rob Kall saw Holder's sole role as the U.S. Attorney General being nothing more than President Barack Obama's "sin eater." For the sake of his own career and reputation, Kall advised Holder, way back then, to resign if he was not fired from his post: "It is time. Eric Holder should resign. I say he should resign rather than be fired because it is totally obvious that Holder has been doing the work Obama has told him to do. Holder should resign to save his reputation. He should resign AND make it clear that he is resigning because he can no longer be Obama's "sin eater"..." Kall writes in "Time for Holder to Resign / Be Fired".

"I've been saying for four years that Holder will go down in history as the absolute worst AG in US history. Holder must know that Obama will throw him under the bus. It is time to remove Holder as AG. The only problem is, knowing Obama, he'll surely appoint someone worse, very likely a Republican AND someone with strong ties to banking/finance, probably with a history of a connection to Lehman Brothers, as he's done many times before," writes in this opinion of nearly two years ago.


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It might be a simplistic analysis, but President Obama has been criticized for 'trying to please all the people, all the time,' and Rob Kall's making his attorney general some sort of "sin eater" is evidence of this - and Wednesday, March 4, these two high-profile, powerful, African-American men threw their own race under the bus with this ridiculous set of conflicting and dichotomous opinions issued through the DOJ. And both legal renderings were issued simultaneously, leaving many to wonder if any justice had been served....

It seems ridiculous to fully clear Wilson of any wrongdoing and then issue a comprehensive report of the Ferguson Police Departments wrongdoings, including unfairly ticketing African-Americans with driving citations. It's sort of like saying, "Oh, it's perfectly fine for a cop to fire 12 times at an unarmed, black teenager and kill the kid, but those horrible Ferguson cops, they've been unfairly and unjustly pulling black people over and giving them traffic citations. This is just awful!"

Although it seems that there is some real merit to the fact that the DOJ, still headed-up by Holder, have lambasted the Ferguson police in a long, ongoing pattern of wrongdoings that violated the civil rights of African-Americans, particularly in the areas of the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution, to issue this exhaustive legal analysis and condemnation at the same time as what can be seen as a sketchy, vague and nebulous opinion on the killing of Michael Brown, is preposterous and a miscarriage of justice of the first order. It's a legalese trainwreck - a travesty and a legal Alice in Wonderland - and many are putting question marks where the DOJ put a lot of periods in their 26-bullet thrashing of the Ferguson Police Department.

In 80 pages-plus, the DOJ's opinion was that Wilson had no intentions of killing Brown. The DOJ also states that there was not any real proof that the Ferguson police officer did not fear for his personal safety during the fatal encounter. Holder said Wednesday, March 4: "This conclusion represents the sound, considered, and independent judgment of the expert career prosecutors within the Department of Justice. I have been personally briefed on multiple occasions about these findings. I concur with the investigative team's judgment and the determination about our inability to meet the required federal standard."

Holder continued reading his prepared statement: "This outcome is supported by the facts we have found -- but I also know these findings may not be consistent with some people's expectations. To all those who have closely followed this case, and who have engaged in the important national dialogue it has inspired, I urge you to read this report in full."

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)
 

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