THE WEEK newsletter (9/26/14) published this blurb under the heading “The Biased Prosecutor in Ferguson”:
“Don’t expect a fair investigation into the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO., said Dana Milbank [a Washington Post journalist]. Clearly, ‘the fix is in.’ The St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, has decided not to recommend to the grand jury whether it should charge police officer Darren Wilson with any crime for firing at least six bullets into the unarmed teenager. In a very unusual move, McCulloch is dumping a ton of conflicting evidence on the grand jurors and asking them to decide what charge, if any, to file. If these ordinary citizens are confused by the evidence and the law and fail to indict Wilson, McCulloch can use the grand jury as cover ‘for the outrage that will ensue.’ The prosecutor’s background explains why he’d want that outcome. His own father, a cop, was killed in a shootout with a black suspect. In 23 years, McCulloch has not prosecuted a single police shooting—including a 2000 case in which two unarmed black men were shot 21 times while sitting in their car. If Wilson walks under these tainted circumstances, it will be ‘a farce.’”
Because of McCulloch’s sordid record and obvious bias, concerned Ferguson citizens and others had urged Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to appoint an independent prosecutor, but the governor rejected the idea and pronounced his total confidence in McCulloch.
Whatever lingering hope the Ferguson Black community might have had in obtaining justice for Michael Brown and his family is rapidly crumbling under the weight of events. They have demanded that a public trial be held where all the evidence could be heard and the family would have its day in court. After all, the grand jury’s role is not to decide guilt or innocence but only to determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed and Wilson was responsible for it.
The fact of the matter is that convening a grand jury was never needed in this case. A prosecutor has every right to order the arrest of a suspect and then get a judge to set a trial date. But that was not the course followed here, for reasons explained by Milbank above.
What is Needed Now
As of this writing, no action has yet been taken by the grand jury. We in the Labor Fightback Network strongly believe that as a follow-up to the Weekend of Resistance held October 9–12, another mobilization needs to be organized—but this time several times larger—to demand that Darren Wilson be indicted and charged with the murder of Michael Brown.
We cannot ignore the fact that secret grand jury testimony is being leaked anonymously—which the Justice Department has strongly denounced—and that the media is complicit in interpreting the leaks as verifying Wilson‘s claim that he was acting in self-defense. The public is being deliberately led to believe that what happened in Wilson’s car prior to his gunning down Brown is the key to what ultimately happened, whereas Wilson emerged from whatever scuffle occurred in the car with the gun in his hand, the car under his sole control and the unarmed Brown nowhere near him.
We welcomed the endorsement of the October 9–12, 2014 Weekend of Resistance by the AFL-CIO and the presence in St. Louis of a labor contingent. But if the conspiracy to see to it that Wilson walks is to be stopped in its track, much larger numbers of people from the ranks of labor, along with our partners in the civil rights and human rights movements, must take to the streets.
The voice of masses must be heard—loud and clear. A “no bill”—meaning no indictment—by the grand jury is unacceptable. It would be a criminal miscarriage of justice. We cannot live with it. A march on Ferguson/St. Louis should be the order of the day, coupled by demonstrations in cities and towns across the country. Time is of the essence, and organizing of such actions should proceed without delay.
Role of the Federal Government
A number of actions by the federal government have been urged to deal with the Ferguson crisis, police brutality in general, militarization of the police, arming them with high-powered weapons, etc. No one can deny that the police need to be reined in and there are situations where the federal government can be pressured to take needed action. We do not counterpose our emphasis on mass action in the streets to other constructive steps that can be taken, but we caution not to rely on the government to take action against people acting under cover of law to repress communities of color. After all, Trayvon Martin was murdered on February 26, 2012, his killer was acquitted on July 13, 2012, a federal investigation was to be launched to determine if Trayvon’s civil rights had been violated—and nothing further has been heard to date, nearly two-and-a-half years later.
Taking Political Action—the Role of Governor Nixon and Prosecutor McCulloch
Those in political leadership in Missouri must be held accountable for their role in aiding and abetting the attempt to whitewash Officer Wilson for Michael Brown’s murder. Both Nixon and McCulloch are Democrats, and it is high time to replace such misleaders with independent candidates who are accountable to the working class majority. That is why we advocate the formation of a workers’ party based on the unions and our allies and partners in the fight for equal rights, security, justice, and dignity for all.