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Ferguson: The Line to Apologize Forms on the Left

For every journalist who bought into the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative in Ferguson, it’s time to apologize.


The news has been leaked to the New York Times: the Department of Justice has concluded its federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and it has reached substantially the same conclusions as the local grand jury that chose not to press charges against police officer Darren Wilson.

Let’s reiterate that. Eric Holder’s Justice Department has looked at the case and decided that the evidence indicates Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown.

This is actually not much of a surprise. When local prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury’s decision not to prosecute the officer, he strongly emphasized that federal investigators had access to the exact same evidence, which was his way of expressing confidence that they would reach the same conclusions. The Times report confirms this: “The federal investigation did not uncover any facts that differed significantly from the evidence made public by the authorities in Missouri late last year.”

Among those facts: “Mr. Wilson told investigators that Mr. Brown had tussled with him through the window of his police car and tried to grab his gun, an account supported by bruises and DNA evidence.” And: “While some witnesses were adamant that Mr. Brown had his hands up, some recanted their stories. Mr. Wilson testified that Mr. Brown had charged at him, and other witnesses backed up his account.”

Oh, well never mind then. All that stuff about “hands up, don’t shoot,” or the implication that Brown was killed because black lives just don’t matter to the police—all of that has been thoroughly debunked. And Eric Holder is expected to sign off on that report.

What remains of the “narrative” of insidious police racism lurking everywhere? Well, there’s still “a broader Justice Department civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops.” So there’s that.

But it’s clearly time to apologize—for every activist and journalist (but I repeat myself) who bought into the simplistic, self-serving “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative and broadcast it far and wide based on false testimony; who reflexively dismissed Wilson’s side of the story as preposterous and unbelievable; who doggedly upheld a wider narrative that slanders police officers across the country as murderous racists.

Don’t apologize because I shamed you into it, or because I’m trying to sell you on my advice for how to avoid debacles like this in the future. Do it because if you want to hold others accountable for their action, you need to first make sure you are accountable for your own.

So it’s time for an apology. And the line should be forming up, appropriately, on the left.

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