The mobs are back on the street demanding justice. Most of them peacefully protesting. The right of peaceful assembly is guaranteed by our Constitution. However if peacefully means doing so in such a way that no one is inconvenienced then the chance of having their grievances addressed is almost non-existent. We’ve seen how the Governments at all levels have set up free speech zones (for instance, the 2004 Democratic nominating convention in Boston) that are so far away from the persons who the speakers want to address that had the speakers stayed in bed and shouted they would have been equally effective.
The secret to the mobs success will be to continue peacefully and to disrupt the orderly flow of life with sit downs and marches. If its leadership and members can properly police their group which means controlling the outlaws and the anarchists who will join for the purpose of committing violence then they can become such a nuisance that their demands will have to be addressed. If they turn to violence they will be suppressed as will their voice.
Their complaint as best one can tell is that America has two justice systems, one for whites and the other for person’s of color. One subset of their grievance is the system is opaque; another subset is that they want action taken against the two white police officers to hold them criminally responsible for the killing of the two black men.
Evidence concerning these killings was presented to a grand jury sitting in the jurisdiction where the killings occurred. No charges were returned against the cops. It is difficult for many to understand how this could happen. What they have seen calls out for charges. Then a grand jury that operates in secret under the control of a prosecutor tells them they are wrong.
As we’ve seen in respect to the matters involving former FBI agent John Connolly there are two sovereigns in the United States that can bring criminal charges from one incident: one the national government and the other the state. The mob has now turned its eyes to the national government for justice.
U.S. Attorney Eric Holder has authorized the U.S. attorney in each district to look at the circumstances of the killings and determine whether the police officers violated any federal laws including civil rights laws. This is being done in response to the demands of the mobs. It shows that mobs do matter since there have been hundreds of other police killings that pass without any federal involvement.
I will address the failings of the grand jury system in my next post. For now what will happen is Holder will have other grand juries look into the incidents that took place in the hopes of pacifying the mobs.
That will not do it. The killings are only a part of the complaint. It’s the system itself that is the target of the mob. They want to know what is going on behind those locked grand jury doors. In this they are right.
There should be no killings of anyone in America by a police officer or any other person without an impartial public hearing like an inquest into the circumstances surrounding that killing. That would seem to be a fundamental right of the people. No one should be killed and the evidence about the killing be hidden for months or forever. If we had a system where people could have watched the evidence as it was presented then there would be more trust in the government and less need for mobs.
Holder should look at his own house. Under him the FBI operates and it does so in secrecy and with no sense of urgency. We saw that in the Todashev case where the FBI agent that killed him never testified about his actions but was cleared after the FBI sat on the case for about a year. Last week FBI agents killed a man named Major Washington. FBI Spokeswoman Rebecca Wu said: “Anything about what happened, I cannot comment on. Anytime an agent is involved in a shooting, we have an internal review, and that’s why I can’t comment.“
Yes, the mobs demands are right. No one should be killed without a public hearing into the circumstance of the killing. Let Holder show some courage and make that a fundamental rule for all federal killings. We do need to listen to the mobs if we are going to have a system where life matters and all killings are subject to timely public scrutiny.