In many ways, Ferguson has become a story of personalities and leadership — a story of which law enforcement officer or which politician can do the most to help restore calm and ensure the safety of area residents and businesses.
Let’s take a look at the three main players:
Capt. Ronald S. Johnson
Well that feel-good story has started to fade badly, hasn’t it?
At my church yesterday morning, our minister talked about how the black Highway Patrol officer’s peaceful approach had calmed the waters in Ferguson. But, God bless her, our minister was several hours behind the news. (Kind of reminded me of the old days in the newspaper business when we’d write what was going on at 11 p.m. and by the time the paper hit the lawns the story would have turned 180 degrees.)
Same thing last night. And by then even Capt. Johnson had found it necessary to change go from hand holding to hand slapping — figuratively, anyway.
He blamed the deteriorating situation on “premeditated criminal acts” that were intended to provoke the police. A story in today’s New York Times (online) quoted him as saying:
“We had to act to protect lives and property…Based on these conditions, I had no alternative but to elevate the level of our response.”
I’m glad he displayed flexibility and openness to alternative approaches to peace-making; he is, after all, a law enforcement officer.
Gov. Jay Nixon
After being MIA the first few days, our governor summoned up his courage and his voice, and he’s doing what needs to be done. After Johnson and the Highway Patrol couldn’t produce the desired result, Nixon imposed a midnight to 5 a.m. the curfew. Very smart; you can’t have looters and opportunistic hell raisers ruling the night and ruining businesses.
Nixon went on four national TV shows Sunday, and from what I’ve heard and read, he acquitted himself well.
In a statement, he said the Guard would help “in restoring peace and order.” In his statement, Nixon went on to say:
“These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes.”
Well stated, governor, well stated.
Attorney General Chris Koster
I could hardly believe — but then I realized it was totally predictable — that Koster had elbowed his way into the limelight.
Seeing that Nixon had awakened from his long nap, Koster ran over to Ferguson and convinced the pastor at the Greater St. Mark Family Church in Ferguson to let him sermonize yesterday.
“You have lost a member of your community at the hands of a member of my community. Not just the Caucasian community, but the law enforcement community. And that is painful to every good-hearted person in this city.”
It went from bad to worse:
“This week is a 50-year flood of anger that has broken loose in this city, the likes of which we have not seen since Dr. King was killed. And I am sorry that I have not done more from the law enforcement community to break down that wall of anger, that wall of armor.”
Are you gagging yet?
What a phony! What a panderer! He got what he wanted, though — prominent play in a front-page New York Times story. Maybe more.
Koster, you’ll recall, was the Republican Cass County prosecutor who, several years ago, switched from being a Republican to a Democrat. He pines for higher office — the governor’s office, specifically — and will do whatever is expedient to promote his own cause.
Recently, for example, he gave full-throated support to Missouri Amendment 1 — the ridiculous “right-to-farm” proposition that will change nothing for small farmers and will pave the way for the factory farms operators, like Tyson and Monsanto, to operate however they like with impunity. The amendment passed by a margin of 2,500 votes out of a million case.
I hope Missouri voters send Koster back to Cass County, where he can take up work on a family farm. I intend to work against the guy, whatever he runs for.