A well-orchestrated and coordinated campaign to protect and immunize Darren Wilson, the police officer who murdered Michael Brown, is well underway. It has several facets:
- Drag out the legal procedures for determining whether Wilson should be charged with a crime;
- Portray Wilson as a competent cop with an excellent record and a good family man;
- Focus not on the violence of the state but the disorder on the streets;
- Hold Brown responsible for what the police claim was a scuffle with Wilson over the officer’s gun, which preceded the officer’s execution of Brown;
- Publicize widely Brown’s alleged robbery of cigarillos at a convenience store shortly before the officer shot him in the street; issue to the media a videotape and a 19-page police account of the robbery in a transparent attempt to divert attention away from Wilson’s crime;
- Withhold Wilson‘s written report of the confrontation, other than the alleged struggle near and in the police car;
- Withhold information about gun residue on Brown’s clothes — if any — which are in possession of the police;
- Withhold evidence, if there is any, of Brown’s DNA on the gun;
- Withhold comment on Wilson‘s whereabouts when he suddenly disappeared from view;
- Make clear that Wilson remained in good graces with the authorities by placing him on paid administrative leave; and the police have never announced whether he was asked to surrender his gun and badge;
- Not announcing the results of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown, other than leaking that he had marijuana in his system (Washington Post, August 18) when we were told that a toxicology report would take weeks;
- Spur the organizing of a right-wing, racist movement in defense of Wilson.
The list above is certainly not exhaustive. But it suffices to make clear that the police, the politicians and the power structure are prepared to wage an all-out fight to prevent Wilson from being arrested and brought to justice.
What is the legal requirement for making an arrest at this point? Or, as Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, asked in the aftermath of the autopsy performed by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, what else do they need to arrest the killer of my son?
The answer to her question is that nothing more is needed. All that has to be shown to justify an arrest is that there is “probable cause” to believe that a crime has been committed and that the perpetrator is the one being arrested for committing the crime. The results of the Baden autopsy and the statements of eyewitnesses are more than enough to show probable cause in this case.
The Wall Street Journal article of August 19 on the slaying of Michael Brown states “Probe Likely to Take Weeks, Officials Say.” NBC News quotes prosecutors as saying it will likely take months.
This will not fly. Justice delayed is justice denied! “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!” is the chant most widely heard on the streets.
Need for the Labor Movement, the Civil Rights Movement and All Progressive Forces to Mobilize
We in the labor movement have a great stake in the outcome of this fight. The same is true of the civil rights movement and all progressive forces. This is a showdown between the racists and those committed to equal rights, human rights, dignity for people of color, and due process.
We cannot depend on politicians and authority figures to make right what is so shockingly wrong. President Barack Obama, Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri and Captain Ron Johnson of the State Highway Patrol are the three most-quoted figures in this conflict. All three have one thing in common: None call for the arrest now of Wilson. Each, instead, urges people in the streets to be calm, orderly, patient and let the investigations run their course. They would like nothing better than to have protesters abandon the streets. But the opposite is what’s needed. The streets should be flooded in solidarity with Michael Brown, his family, and with the African American community in Ferguson and their allies, marching behind a banner that demands, “Arrest Darren Wilson Now! Justice for Michael Brown!”
The labor movement and our community partners can make the difference. We cannot afford the kind of defeat experienced in the Trayvon Martin case. It’s time now to organize a March on Ferguson and give meaning to the word SOLIDARITY. Let’s urge the protesters in Ferguson to hang in there and — in the words of the great labor song — “Hold the Fort, For We Are Coming!”