The Ferguson Effect Continues to Fester

In a previous visit, gentle readers, we discussed the “Ferguson Effect,” which contrary to the wishes and assertions of some, is real and getting worse. The Ferguson Effect may be broadly defined as the growing reluctance among police officers to expose themselves to the type of ordeal experienced by Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who in August 2014 shot and killed Michael Brown. As everyone should know but many do not, Wilson was found to have acted within the law in shooting Brown, who a) had assaulted Wilson and attempted to wrest the officer’s handgun away from him, and b) was charging at the officer in an apparent attempt to do so a second time when the fatal shots were fired.

Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing by a St. Louis County grand jury and by the U.S. Justice Department, led at the time by Eric Holder, who, we may conjecture, would have been gleeful at the discovery of even the slightest suggestion that Wilson had violated the law. No such suggestion was found.

Most of the evidence that would vindicate Wilson was known to investigators within hours of the shooting, and the rest of it was known within a week. Despite this, Wilson was hounded from his job and his home and subjected to months of baseless criticism and even death threats while Michael Brown, the gang member who had committed a robbery minutes before he was killed, was hailed as a hero and a martyr to civil rights. The “hands up, don’t shoot” canard, which originated with Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson on the day of the shooting, was allowed to gain a foothold in the media and proliferated from that day on, this despite abundant evidence that it was false and despite Johnson’s manifest lack of credibility (he had accompanied Brown during the robbery but failed to include this detail in his fabricated accounts to reporters).

Thus was the myth born that the greatest physical risk to young black males in America is not that which is posed by other young black males with a grudges and guns, but rather that posed by racist cops looking for an excuse to shoot them down for little reason or even none at all. And from this poisonous lie has arisen the Black Lives Matter movement, which, despite its dubious origins, goes unchallenged in its campaign to distort public perception and influence public policy.