What happens when a police officer kills you son and you react emotionally? The police may decided to charge you with inciting a riot:
(CNN) — Michael Brown’s stepfather was hurt and angry when he urged a crowd in Ferguson, Missouri, last week to “Burn this bitch down,” his wife and attorney say, but that hasn’t stopped authorities from launching an investigation into whether he incited a riot.
Following the announcement that the grand jury would not indict Officer Darren Wilson in his stepson’s death, Louis Head stepped onto a platform above the crowd and embraced his wife, Brown’s mother. He then turned to the demonstrators — some of them shouting “F— the police!” — and yelled, “Burn this motherf—er down!” and “Burn this bitch down!”
The police chief told TV and radio host Sean Hannity something similar Monday, but he didn’t classify the probe as formal.
“We are pursuing those comments, and there’s a lot of discussion going on about that right now, but I really can’t get into that at this time,” he said.
But police aren’t singling out Head, Jackson told Hannity.
“We can’t let all that happened in Ferguson and Dellwood and the community die. Everyone who is responsible for taking away people’s property, their livelihoods, their jobs, their businesses — every single one of them needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.
I have a few problems with this.
First, the idea that one can be charged with inciting a riot. That charge, in my opinion, is bullshit. When people decided to riot who is to blame? The rioters as they were the people who rioted. Nobody else is responsible for their behavior. Claiming that inciting a riot is a criminal offense absolves, at least in part, rioters of responsibility by insinuating they were only acting because somebody else made them act.
Second, insinuating that a grieving individual should express their anger in a logical manner. I’m not a fan of calls for violence but when a kid is killed and the parent(s) feels as though the justice system failed to deliver justice I can understand them being a bit upset. In fact I can understand them being so upset that they would say angry things aimed at the person(s) they felt wronged them. If Michael Brown’s father had actually done something wrong, like tossed a Molotov cocktail at a house, there would be grounds for seeking redress for his misdeed. But all he did was say some unsurprising words considering the situation.
Third, charging Michael Brown’s father with inciting a riot is likely to start more riots. Right now the riots have calmed down. I’ve been told that the police are supposed to be keepers of the peace. If that is the case shouldn’t they leave things alone at this point in the hopes of avoiding more civil unrest? Especially when the person they’re looking at charging didn’t do anything wrong?
The only reason Ferguson police are even considering charging Michael Brown’s father, as far as I can tell, is pure spite. They want somebody’s head, besides their own, over these riots. Since Michael Brown is very dead and they won’t dare blame themselves for instigating the matter in the first place that leaves a family member of Brown’s (sins of the father, sins of the son). I hope they don’t charge him simply because I would like to see some semblance of tranquility in Ferguson but the police in that city have already proven themselves to be less than concerned with maintaining the peace.