What’s most desperately needed in Ferguson, Mo., right now is peace.
Without peace, there is no way authorities can get to the bottom of what happened to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager shot and killed by police this past weekend.
And without answers, there can be no justice – either for Brown or the still-unidentified officer who shot him after a struggle Saturday.
Brown’s family and others in the suburban St. Louis community are understandably angry, but that is no justification for unleashing rage, as did many in a flurry of violent criminal activity Sunday.
They will not find the answers they seek by looking through the smashed windows of a looted convenience store. They will not get the justice they seek by attempting to steal an ATM, or taking potshots at police officers from speeding vehicles.
Indeed, the anxiety of the gathering crowd in the wake of the shooting made it more difficult to get at the truth. Police said bystanders made it harder for investigators to properly process evidence and otherwise work the crime scene.
What is being reported about the Brown shooting, as of this writing, is that the 18-year-old was shot at least twice by a Ferguson police officer after a struggle involving the officer, Brown and another unidentified man.
At least one of the shots was fired from inside the vehicle. Additional shots were fired outside the vehicle. The unidentified third party has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
There’s no shortage of video footage showing the looting that broke out after the shooting. What would be immensely more helpful is if more officers and their vehicles came equipped with video recording devices, or at least audio, to chronicle unfolding events. It would improve accountability, and help clear up questions.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told St. Louis-area media outlets she doesn’t understand why police didn’t subdue her son with less-than-lethal means, such as a baton or a stun gun. She said police have not explained why the officer even confronted her son.
“I would like to see him fired,” McSpadden said of the officer, who police say is a six-year veteran of the force. “I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty.”
Our heart goes out to the mother who lost her son. No one deserves answers more than her. But we urge her, and other citizens of Ferguson, to wait until many more facts are in.