Blacks split 65/20 while whites split 33/32, with fully 35 percent of whites saying they don’t know. That’s another measure of the racial divide on Ferguson, how many people from each race are paying attention to what’s happening in Ferguson: 54 percent of blacks say they’re following the story very closely versus 25 percent of whites. Meanwhile, 80 percent of blacks say the Brown shooting raises important issues about race while just 37 percent of whites agree. (Forty-seven percent of whites think race is getting more attention than it deserves.) Sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that Hopenchange did not, in fact, usher in a new post-racial dawn in America.
Believe it or not, the “police use of force” question isn’t the one with the starkest racial divide. Try this on for size:
That’s quite a gap to bridge, but it explains why Obama and Holder have the FBI in Ferguson investigating, why they’re ordering a third, DOJ-run autopsy of Brown’s body, and why Holder himself now feels obliged to drop in. They’re going to do what they can to make black voters believe that someone they trust is conducting a serious inquiry, even if they think St. Louis County isn’t. Maybe Holder will end up prosecuting Darren Wilson for civil-rights violations if he’s acquitted in state court, a la the LAPD officers after the Rodney King beating 20+ years ago. Or maybe not: Holder tried to placate lefties last year by promising to look into civil-rights violations possibly committed by George Zimmerman against Trayvon Martin and then quietly let that slide down the memory hole as people moved on. They can worry about Wilson later. Right now, with riots having already taken place and the National Guard being called out, they’re going to do what they can to appease skeptics of the process to keep a lid on things.
Will a federal investigation stop the looting, though? Chris Hayes was in Ferguson last night:
I think the security problem in Ferguson, is not solvable through policing. Until charges are brought against Wilson, this will go on.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 18, 2014
The talking point du jour about the “security problem,” i.e. looters, is that they don’t represent most protesters and might not even be residents of Ferguson themselves. They’re opportunists, allegedly using the demonstrations over the shooting as a pretext to ransack local businesses. Hayes is saying, I guess, that the protests will go on until Wilson is charged, which means the looters will go on having crowds to hide in, but his comment seems to imply more than that, as if the violence is itself is best understood as a reaction to the supposed injustice of Wilson not being charged. Which is it, then? Violence as opportunism or violence against injustice?
Via Tim Cavanaugh, here’s Don Lemon offering his own theory about that. Money quote: “People have to stop making excuses for the people who are doing bad things by saying ‘I understand these people are frustrated. I was understanding of that in the beginning, although I did not condone the violence . . . But now it is just stupidity and it’s not helping anything.”