Will Michael Brown's stepfather face grand jury indictment for inciting riot?
Thanks to a video recording, there is no doubt that Louis Head, stepfather of the late Michael Brown, told a crowd gathered following the announcement of no true bill for Officer Darren Wilson to “Burn this bitch down.” Following his harsh and emotional words, a number of businesses and automobiles owned by people with nothing at all to do with the death of his stepson were, in fact, burned down by a mob.
Now, St. Louis County police and prosecutors are faced with a thorny decision: whether or not to seek an indictment for inciting a riot. Those who believe Michael Brown deserves “justice” via a prosecution of Officer Wilson for the most part seem unconcerned with justice for the victims of the riot that ensued after Head’s incitement.
Various excuses are being offered for Head’s behavior: He was emotionally distraught:
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Brown's family, has called Head's tirade inappropriate. But Crump also asked that Head not be condemned, citing the tremendous stress the family was under that night.
Unlike Crump, I am not a lawyer, but the phrase “crime of passion” comes to mind. It contains the word “crime” rather than “excuse,” so passion alone is not enough to make a crime less criminal, it seems to my layman’s mind.
A second excuse I have heard on television talking head shows is that there was no premeditation. Perhaps. But why was Head gathered with others, waiting for the true bill decision, if not because he was considering some sort of response? Why wasn’t he at home, watching TV, so as to learn as quickly as possible? What was the reason for gathering with others, if not to respond? For emotional support? His behavior does not indicate grief counseling was what he was seeking.
The real reason why Mr. Head is unlikely to be indicted and why the victims of the riot he encouraged will not get justice is plainly the fear of the mob. There would be cries that the victim stepfather was being prosecuted while Wilson escaped trial.
My guess is that prosecutors will exercise their discretion and not seek an indictment of Head. His victims, the storekeepers and car owners, will not get justice. And they will draw the appropriate conclusions, not rebuild in Ferguson, and seek their destiny elsewhere.
The only question I have is how long until the residents of Ferguson are portrayed as victims of food deserts and lack of employment opportunities. Probably not too long.