I mentioned this earlier in conjunction with the FBI story on Ferguson, but Claire McCaskill’s (D – Missouri) take on the potential unrest in Ferguson and the future of Officer Darren Wilson is worth a closer look. During her appearance on Morning Joe today, Mika asked her to comment on whether or not it was appropriate for Jay Nixon to summon the National Guard and declare a state of emergency. Her initial responses provide a revealing look into the mindset which is driving much of the national conversation regarding Ferguson on the government side.
We’ve got a police department in Ferguson that’s 95% white in a community that’s 70% African American. That’s a problem.
We have racial profiling that still occurs in this country day in and day out.
Since I have no direct authority, I’ve been spending all my time working behind the scenes with the Ferguson police department making reforms there.
Whether nor not McCaskill is identifying serious issues to be tackled across society, this has little or nothing to do with the potential disaster looming in Ferguson. It also says absolutely nothing about the question of what becomes of Officer Darren Wilson if the evidence leads the court system to conclude that he is innocent of the charges on which he has already been convicted in the public square.
When Mika tossed the mic over to Joe Scarborough, some fireworks erupted as he tried to press her on the latter point, leading to the following exchange: (Fast forward to around the 3:30 mark to skip directly to this portion. Some emphasis added.)
Joe Scarborough: If [Darren Wilson] is not indicted, if the grand jury comes back and finds that he did nothing inappropriate, what would you say to Missouri residents and how he should be treated moving forward in this community?
Claire McCaskill: Well, I think, first of all we have two separate investigations going on… Once their investigations are complete, Officer Wilson will either be indicted, and then of course he will be removed from the police department, or he will not be indicted, in which case Officer Wilson has to decide what the future holds for him.
JS: I’m just asking you about Missouri residents who have threatened him, who have threatened his family. I’m just wondering what message you would want to send to the people of Ferguson, to the people of Missouri if he is in fact not indicted.
CM: There has been rushes to judgement on both sides of this equation, Joe. The rush to judgement by some in the African American community is, in fact, understandable because in our country there are racial disparities in terms of how people are treated…
JS: Claire, I’m talking specifically about this man and his family who have had dollar prices placed on their heads. Just come out and say respect him and if he’s acquitted then stay the hell away from his family.
CM: Well, I think that’s kind of obvious, Joe. That’s kind of obvious.
JS: I don’t think it’s obvious because I keep asking you about this officer and his family and I’m just curious, if he is acquitted, then does he get his life back? Does his family get their life back?
CM: Of course they get their life back, and of course he should be protected and of course his life should not be threatened. There is no excuse for people threatening violence in this issue and I thought that should be pretty obvious.
Well, it should have been obvious. But several of her comments which I highlighted above aren’t exactly conveying that to the protesters, are they? Saying that a rush to judgement is understandable is never the correct answer. It may happen out in the community, but hearing it excused by a sitting senator is just tossing fuel on the fire. And what was with the dual pronouncement about the future of Darren Wilson? McCaskill comes straight out and says that if he’s indicted (mind you, not convicted, but indicted) he must be removed from the force. But if he’s not indicted? Then “he has to decide what the future holds for him.”
Her first reaction, before Joe jumps all over her, tells the story of the message she’s actually been sending. If you are found to have been in the right and the mobs come after you, you’re on your own, buddy. And if people start burning down the town, that’s understandable because of the nation’s history.
Scarborough was right to pry into what message is being sent to the citizens of Ferguson by one of their two senators. And the answers were pretty disturbing to hear.
The video follows.