Only in the Midwest – indeed, only in the “Show Me” state of Missouri – would a grand jury and Democratic prosecutor stand up against intense national pressure to ignore the facts and indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager.
Democratic St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the long-awaited decision from a small courtroom in Clayton, Missouri on Monday night. The 12-person grand jury of ordinary people from the community declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown one summer night in nearby Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. The grand jury made its decision after reviewing the evidence and hearing testimony by Wilson himself.
It is commonly known that a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich without any difficulty in the grand jury system, and President Obama was visibly irritated after the no-indictment verdict was announced. Unanimity is not even required for a grand jury to indict; in Missouri, merely nine out of twelve votes are sufficient for an indictment. In very rare instances where a grand jury rejects an attempt by a prosecutor to indict, the prosecutor can simply find a new grand jury that is more favorable and then obtain the same indictment from a new grand jury.
As a result, when the liberal media want an indictment, they are accustomed to getting one. Is there any other modern example where the prosecutor and grand jury withstood so much pressure by the media and rejected their demands to indict? It is difficult to think of another instance where this has ever happened before.
Had the Ferguson shooting occurred anywhere other than Missouri, the white police officer would likely have been indicted months ago, and already be facing trial for murder. Two decades ago, for example, four white police officers gunned down an unarmed black man in the Bronx as he reached for his wallet in his pocket, while in the vestibule of his own building. The cops had the strong legal defense of having made an honest mistake, based on a misinterpretation of the victim’s actions, and they were acquitted at trial. But there was never any doubt that the officers would be indicted and put through an intense criminal trial that ruined their careers, based on unrelenting media pressure about the incident. The trial even had to be moved from the Bronx to Albany, more than a hundred miles away from the negative publicity.
But the dominant influence of the media in liberal areas of our country is not as effective where the state motto is “Show Me,” which really does characterize the people of Missouri. This is the same state that has repeatedly rejected misguided ballot initiatives that easily pass elsewhere. In the recent midterm elections, the people of Missouri rejected an early voting referendum by a landslide vote of 70-30 percent, despite how people elsewhere are easily misled into thinking that early voting is good because it is convenient. Early voting makes no more sense for elections based on convenience than early voting by jurors would be a good idea for trials.
Missouri is also the same state where the people rejected, by 71-29 percent, an increase in the minimum wage in 1996, despite how ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage referenda almost always win in other states, because most people mistakenly think it increases wealth. The “Show Me” mindset of the people of Missouri is a terrific check and balance in a culture which has more than enough bad ideas. Missouri voters are also the ones who famously stood up against, and nearly defeated, a stem cell initiative, despite umpteen millions spent in support of it. Missouri exemplifies “Show Me” Midwestern conservatism, which is far preferable to Massachusetts liberalism. Ronald Reagan coined the concept of “trust but verify,” but in dealing with the liberal media, the “trust” part of that expression is unwarranted. The verdict by the grand jury in Missouri proves that the liberal media do not run Missouri or control how people think there, in contrast with the Northeast and West Coast.
In extemporaneous remarks by President Obama after the verdict was announced, he divisively referred to “this country” rather than “our country” or “the country.” Rambling in a nearly incoherent manner, he then took almost no questions and utterly failed to provide the kind of leadership that could have helped heal the divisions left in the wake of the decision. Instead, President Obama increased the hard feelings by implying that the Department of Justice may seek to have the last word on this, when both Ferguson and our country should be moving towards peace rather than more violence. Throughout this tragic Ferguson episode, President Obama always seemed more concerned about public opinion and his own approval ratings than whether there was probable cause to indict the police officer. Fortunately, the Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch showed more integrity than the lack in leadership coming from Washington.
St. Louis attracts many thousands of students from the northeast and West Coast to Washington University, which actively recruits matriculation from more liberal areas of our Nation. Hopefully some of the “Show Me” conservatism of Missouri will rub off on the students so they can bring it back to the media centers that have fanned the flames of unrest in Ferguson. The courageous rejection in Missouri of the demand for an indictment of a police officer is a repudiation of the power of the media in the heartland of America, where a Democratic prosecutor and a diverse grand jury did not cave into almost overwhelming pressure.
Andy Schlafly is a teacher, engineer, conservative litigator and founder of Conservapedia. He survived being on the Harvard Law Review with Barack Obama.