The Ferguson Disaster Continues

Probably like a lot of you, I watched a fair amount of coverage from and about Ferguson yesterday, and felt some progress was being made–until the evening came and things went all to hell again. Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Patrol, in tactical command of law enforcement officers in Ferguson, gave a moving testimonial to his identification with the family of Michael Brown, and the need for justice in investigating his slaying and changing old patterns of police behavior. Then he supervised another night of military-style clashes with protestors, who were being forcibly dispersed long before the announced curfew. Eventually Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard, which does not necessarily eliminate Johnson’s central role in managing the crisis, but certainly complicates it.

Meanwhile an outside autopsy of Brown’s body indicates he was shot “at least” six times, twice in the head, but was not shot in the back. So presumably there will be material for any number of interpretations of what exactly happened. But the burden of persuasion rests more heavily than ever on those who are citing the hoary “shot while resisting arrest” claims of the police. And you have to wonder exactly how much force the State of Missouri is willing to deploy to prove it really doesn’t have control of the streets of Ferguson.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.