Why not just accept grand jury verdict?

Maybe the onset of old age is making me more circumspect about some things.

Such as when the criminal justice system renders a decision many folks find repugnant. Meanwhile, I have grown to just accept it as the system doing what it’s intended to do.

The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., delivered a verdict this week that has many folks reeling. It found that a white police officer, Darren Wilson, did not commit a crime when he shot a young black man, Michael Brown, to death this past summer.

At one level I thought perhaps Wilson overreacted when he confronted Brown one night in the St. Louis suburban community. Brown wasn’t doing anything. Wilson wanted him to stop. Brown threw his hands in the air and the policeman shot him.

Well, that’s not what the grand jury heard in testimony. So it delivered a decision that some believe is unjust.

I won’t go there. I truly have no sure-footed opinion on who is right or wrong. Why? I wasn’t in the grand jury room. I didn’t hear the evidence. I didn’t see the faces of the people testifying before the panel. I didn’t have all the facts to ponder.

We’re all spectators.

That hasn’t stopped some folks from grandstanding.

At another level this case reminds me a bit of the outrage that followed the 1995 verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder case. My reaction then was similar to what it is now. That was nearly 20 years ago, so I cannot claim “old age creep” back then.

But my initial reaction to the acquittal was that the jury got it wrong. I still believe Simpson got away with murder.

Then I wrote a column in which I surmised that after many weeks of testimony, all the hoopla and courtroom histrionics, only the 12 people in the jury box had seen and heard all the evidence. Only they knew what none of the rest of us knew. I didn’t agree with their verdict, but I accepted it. The system did its job.

Then, as now, the rest of us were spectators.

I’m not going to wring my hands over this latest decision. However, I do hope it spurs a serious community conversation in Ferguson, where African-Americans think their government doesn’t represent their interests sufficiently.

The folks there have the tools to fix the problem. They can do so at election time.


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