I'm curious about the general opinion of people on Iwaku about the mess that is Ferguson, Missouri right now. In particular, I want your thoughts on the grand jury's decision that there it was justifiable use of deadly force (thus no cause exists to charge the officer with any crime) and the rioting that happened after the announcement of this decision. For those who have little to no idea with what I'm talking about, back on August 9th there was an altercation between Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and 18 year old Michael Brown, though the details of it are horribly muddled by contradictory witness testimony. The facts are that at 11:53 AM a message went out over the police dispatch radio about a theft in progress at the Ferguson Market (the surveillance video of the event showed that Michael Brown was the thief who took a bunch of cigars and shoved the store clerk out of the way when he tried to stop Brown and his friend from leaving), but Officer Wilson was busy with handling another call at that time. At 12:02 PM, after the responding officers at the store said they couldn't find the described assailant nearby, Wilson found Brown and his friend walking down a road and called dispatch to say he'd stopped two men. At some point the officer realized that Brown matched the description of the theft suspect so he pulled his car over next to the pair. Brown reached into the cop car and had some kind of struggle with the officer in which he punched and scratched the officer and Wilson's gun came into play (Wilson says this was because Brown was trying to take his gun from its holster); the officer shot at Brown twice while in the car and hit him once in the hand. Brown ran away from the car and his friend ran off in a different direction, but Wilson got out and pursued Brown. Accounts differ on what exactly happened (some eye witnesses say Brown stopped and put his hands up in surrender, others including Wilson himself say that he turned back and ran at the officer), but the end result was that Wilson shot at Brown again (hitting him a total of 6 or 7 times) and Brown died as a result of these injuries. Some witnesses claimed Brown was shot in the back, but three separate autopsies were performed and found that this was not the case. One thing that a lot of people have pointed out is that Brown was unarmed during the altercation. The whole incident took less than two minutes, based on the time from Wilson calling in that he was stopping two men to the time of a witness posting on Twitter about having just seen the shooting. Due to the contradictory nature of the witness accounts, I suggest that anyone who isn't familiar with the case should go look up information for themselves. The above is just what I've been able to parse from the sensationalized coverage by various news outlets, with as much bias and nonsense stripped out of it as I could manage, but I could certainly be missing things. The case was sent to the grand jury to determine whether or not Darren Wilson should have any criminal charges pressed against him for the incident. The grand jury started deliberations on August 20th, and their decision was announced yesterday (November 24th). As previously stated, their decision was that there was no probable cause to indict Wilson for anything, meaning that based on the testimony and evidence presented and the state of Missouri's laws on when use of deadly force is authorized for police officers they found that the use of deadly force was legally justified in this instance. This law states that there are a variety of reasons why it may be necessary, but there are two circumstances in particular that authorize the use of deadly force by Missouri police which might be applicable to this case. First, deadly force is authorized if they reasonably believe that it's necessary to protect themselves "against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony." Second, use of deadly force by an officer is authorized "When he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested... Has committed or attempted to commit a felony." One thing of note is that neither of these provisions say the person must be armed for deadly force to be authorized, just that those conditions have to be met. Whether the grand jury said the shooting was justified just because of self defense, or because assaulting a police officer is clearly a felony, or because of a mix of both is currently unknown (or at least I can't find a clear answer about it right now), but these seem to be the only plausible bases for the lack of indictment according to all the lawyer opinions that I've found on the case. The ongoing mostly peaceful (there were instances of rioting and looting before this evening, particularly in August) protests turned violent pretty quickly after the announcement. People started throwing rocks and other objects at police officers around the protest sites within minutes of the news getting out. Gunshots were heard around the city, though apparently they were firing into the air rather than at anyone. Groups of people started going around flipping cars and breaking into stores and looting them. Some people started fires in both cars and buildings, and the tally of buildings totally destroyed by said fires currently stands at 12. A bunch of people were arrested for these activities, but so far there have been no reports of anyone being killed, just a plethora of property damage and injuries. There have apparently also been outbursts of violence from protestors in other cities, but I haven't looked into those yet. So, with all that laid out, I've got a few questions on two different topics for anyone interested in answering them. Or just talk about the situation in general and ignore the questions, whatever floats your boat. First, the lack of indictment. Do you agree with the grand jury's choice to not indict Darren Wilson? If you do not, do you think there is some sort of corruption or systemic racism at work here, or was it just a shitty and unfortunate decision, or was it something else? If you do agree, what convinced you of Wilson's actions being justified use of deadly force rather than a criminal act? Second, the rioting. What's your take on the Ferguson riot? Is it a reasonable response to a perceived injustice, an unfortunate case of mob mentality getting out of control, a few criminals taking advantage of the situation, or maybe something else entirely? This is by no means the first time something like this has happened. Why do you think these outbursts of group violence happen with such frequency when highly publicized deaths of young black men whose non-black killers are deemed not guilty of any crime (such as was also seen when George Zimmerman was found innocent of murdering Trayvon Martin)? Is it a simple matter of angry people lashing out against oppression in destructive ways, is it the fault of news media sensationalizing the cases and fanning the flames, or is something else to blame? I'll post my own thoughts on these questions later.