Yesterday’s announcement of Jay Nixon calling up the National Guard has caught the attention of many around the country. This includes the FBI, which issued a warning to law enforcement agencies around the nation to be on alert for all manner of violence and mayhem if the Ferguson grand jury comes back with the wrong decision.
As the nation waits to hear whether a Missouri police officer will face charges for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the FBI is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision “will likely” lead some extremist protesters to threaten and even attack police officers or federal agents.
Peaceful protesters could be caught in the middle, and electrical facilities or water treatment plants could also become targets. In addition, so-called “hacktivists” like the group “Anonymous” could try to launch cyber-attacks against authorities.
“The announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” the FBI says in an intelligence bulletin issued in recent days. “This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”
This is just common sense, though some will undoubtedly see it as racism on a national scale. If the anticipated violence takes place, some of it will be criminal rioters on the local scene, but as we’ve seen with many big, national stories and events, others may take the opportunity to foment violence. (Think the G20 meetings drawing anarchists, etc.) If most urban centers are not standing by and ready, it’s a failure to adequately read the signals and perform their jobs. The FBI may not be perfect, but in this case they seem to be staying ahead of the story.
On a side note, I saw Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri) on Morning Joe today and she said that she had no authority to get involved directly, but was working behind the scenes to try to “correct” things in Ferguson. She cited the ratio of white officers to minorities on the Ferguson PD, Driving While Black and any number of other things which have no direct tie to the need to keep this situation from turning into a firestorm. (No link on that yet.) This is probably part of the problem. Government at the federal level continues to get involved in what should be a state / local matter, but they miss the mark entirely. If they believe that long term, structural changes in law enforcement are required, that’s something that can be debated and worked on over time. For the moment, however, there is a 500 gallon tank of kerosene sitting next to a burning brand, and somebody has to be responsible for keeping the two apart.