How the Obama Administration Threw Gas on the Ferguson Fire
Last week, prompted by complaints about his statement of sympathy on the death of Robin Williams while remaining silent on the killing of an unarmed black man by police, President Barack Obama issued a statement about the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
In his statement, Obama called the shooting “heartbreaking” and added that he and the First Lady sent their “deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time.” He also dispatched the Department of Justice to Ferguson to investigate the incident.
Obama continued, "As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed."
Federal involvement has not improved matters in Ferguson. The Obama administration has repeatedly intervened already in the Brown case, muddying the waters and driving justification for additional community violence.
DOJ Tried to Quash the Strong-Arm Robbery Tape. With all of the hubbub surrounding the Brown shooting, public outcry about police failure to release information about the incident was at fever pitch by late last week. That’s when the Ferguson Police Department released tape of “gentle giant” Michael Brown participating in a strong-arm robbery at a local convenience store. Eric Holder's DOJ had known about that tape for days, and they attempted to stop the police from releasing the information.
According to NBC News, “The Department of Justice, which is conducting its own investigation into Brown’s Aug. 9 death, has had a copy of the footage all along and never considered releasing it to the public, the source said.” Why didn’t they want the information released? NBC News explains that Holder’s DOJ argued that “the footage would further inflame tensions in the St. Louis suburb that saw rioting and civil unrest in the wake of the teenager’s death.”
Given that riots were already taking place in Ferguson, that justification was obviously nonsense. Rather, the tape gave the lie to the preferred narrative of the left on the shooting. The Eric Holder DOJ likely didn’t want the tape released for that reason.
The Holder DOJ Is Doing Its Own Autopsy. The state of Missouri did its own autopsy of Michael Brown; the Brown family conducted another autopsy. On Sunday, the Holder DOJ announced that the federal government would conduct a third autopsy on Brown’s body “due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family.” In other words, riots, looting, and protests now drive decisions about whether or not state autopsies are trustworthy, according to the Obama administration.
Obama Administration Officials Paint a Moral Narrative Condemning the Police. Last week, Obama came out and drew moral equivalence between looters and the police. “There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting,” he said. “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.” Similarly, on Thursday, Holder released his own statement warning police that they had to “seek to reduce tensions, not heighten them.”
That idiotic moral equivalence prompted the ire of Fraternal Order of Police director Jim Pasco, who blasted away: “I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha’s Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation.”
Obama Prompted Local Officials to Undercut Police. According to a report from Bloomberg News, Obama coordinated the messaging of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Obama reportedly met with Holder and advisor Valerie Jarrett about the situation; Holder then dictated orders to his top officials at the Department of Justice, including telling them to express objections about police response to the riots. Holder also briefed Missouri’s two senators, and Obama briefed Governor Nixon. After that coordination, Governor Nixon then shifted law enforcement duties from the local police to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, stating that Ferguson “looked a little bit more like a war zone. And that’s unacceptable.”
Jarrett is apparently also meeting with Al Sharpton and NAACP president Cornell Brooks today. Obama is meeting with Holder at the White House to hold further conversations on matters in Ferguson.
The Obama administration’s only response to the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent riots should have been to state that judgment should wait until all facts were out and to offer necessary support to local and state authorities to stop the violence. The Justice Department should have done its job – which is to say, investigating the case without biasing it and ensuring that police did not violate civil rights of protesters. Instead, the Obama administration jumped with both feet into the controversy – and, in the process, helped exacerbate tensions in Ferguson.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). He is also Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.