In Chicago, Police Are Not the Problem
Will anyone in Chicago be embarrassed by this? Will any of the perpetually and professionally outraged say, “Gosh, maybe we were too quick to judge”? Will any of them look at the police body camera footage and say, “Yes, the guy had a gun and was trying to pull it out on the officers, so they had to shoot him”?
When Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., nearly four years ago, the fable quickly spread that he had presented no threat, that he had said to the officer, “Hands up, don’t shoot” just before he was mercilessly cut down. Investigators learned this was false within an hour of the shooting, yet the myth of Michael Brown as martyred hero was allowed to persist, and even when it was proven false beyond any doubt by the local investigation and that conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice (headed by Eric Holder, remember), the roots of the myth had grown so deep that, sadly, there are many who still believe it.
Despite the myth’s foundation on a lie, riots and protests continued for months in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis area, with similar protests occurring across the country. Those protesters, I said at the time, were deluded fools, and I pointed out that a march in downtown St. Louis passed along a route that took them within a block of the scenes of two recent murders, both of which had claimed the lives of black victims. In St. Louis, it seemed, the only black lives that mattered were those taken by the police.
Which brings us to recent events in Chicago, where foolish delusion appears to have reached new heights (or lows, if you prefer). On Saturday, Chicago police officers on foot patrol in the South Shore neighborhood approached Harith Augustus, whom they suspected was carrying a gun. What happened next followed a script that has been repeated over and over, with only the details changing from one incident to the next. Augustus refused the officers’ commands and ran away while trying to pull the gun out of a holster. To protect himself and his partners, an officer shot and killed him.
And what then followed also conformed to a familiar script: Protesters gathered at the shooting scene and pelted the police with various projectiles, including bottles filled with urine. “He was unarmed,” they said. “He was a nice guy . . . He didn’t bother anybody . . . He was a good father,” and on and on and on.
In the initial absence of reliable information there is always speculation about what happened, with people of a certain mindset ready to believe even the most phantasmagorical tales about how the police may have transgressed. So, yes, people have the right to protest no matter how uninformed they might be on the issue, but they don’t have the right to do it violently.