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12 Shots in Ferguson

Under what possible circumstances is it permissible to shoot any unarmed person 7 times, including one in the brain?

Whatever the provocation on August 9, 2014, whatever the fear on either side, whatever was the result of a trained response on the part of the officer or poor decisions by the officer or on the part of the teenage Michael Brown, there is one fact that the grand jury has not explained as it dismisses all charges against the officer: Under what possible circumstances is it necessary to shoot any unarmed person 7 times, including one in the brain?

[photo: Brown family photo]

Officer Darren Wilson fired 12 shots, seven of which hit Michael Brown. A second investigation is going on at the Department of Justice, but whether the federal probe reaches the same conclusion or not, it's clear the city of Ferguson and the state of Missouri do not have the trust of the citizens of Ferguson. The city, at least, did not have the trust of its citizens for a long time before August 9th; the people there were all too ready to believe the worst of the police department, and nothing that has happened since that day has suggested they were wrong about that.

When Ferguson, Missouri stops burning, when the streets are safe by the standards of the residents and not just the armed police squads, maybe change will come. Maybe there will be elected officials who represent the people instead of using them to pay for the forces that turn around and gas them.

Let's be honest, this will happen again; similar events have already happened elsewhere. Whatever happens to change this recurring history will not come from the people currently in power: the mayor, the governor, or the police, or the officials in other places where the same environment exists waiting for the incident to spark the fire that the rest of us can see. The change, if it comes,  will come from elected officials, however. If the right officials are elected. If the voters can sort through the misleading campaigns, and the gerrymandering, and the rigged voter ID laws and poll taxes.  It won't be easy, but every fifty years or so there are spasms of reform, a great lurch forward. The time may be upon us again.

Even if it is, this is going to be a long winter in Missouri and a cold Christmas.