POLITICS
11/25/2014 01:42 am ET Updated Jan 24, 2015

St. Louis Blues: An Old Refrain In Grand Jury Decision

WASHINGTON -- If you know St. Louis, or Missouri for that matter, you know that the family of Michael Brown had no chance, and that police Officer Darren Wilson would go free.

St. Louis is a lovely place, but legally it can be a toxic police mixture of the Midwestern love of social order and Border State race-based severity.

The city is in some ways on the most tremulous fault line in the history of race in America: The home of W.C. Handy and the blues, of Chuck Berry and rock 'n roll, of the Dred Scott court decision on runaway slaves.

Not surprisingly, the Missouri state legislature has chosen repeatedly to ignore a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1985, which held that a police officer cannot use lethal force against a fleeing suspect unless the officer has reason to believe the suspect is armed and an immediate threat to public order.

Instead, a police officer in Missouri can shoot a person the officer believes to be a fleeing felon. Period. Not to mention that the officer can shoot one who is moving toward him in a threatening manner.

So the real complaint in Missouri on Monday night should not really be with the county prosecutor, however defensive and cloying he may have been in announcing the grand jury's failure to indict the officer who shot the teenager.

It is with Missouri, and America, for thumbs-on-the-scale state laws that the federal government -- from Abraham Lincoln forward -- has only partly ameliorated.

St. Louis is emblematic of the glory and the tragedy of the racial history of which this case is only the latest example. The city was a licentious, anything-goes river town in which the slave trade flourished, and was run in later years by German-American burghers and scions of the slave-holding South who wanted to preserve order, and the Old Order.

At Mardi Gras in St. Louis, there are still clubs severely limited, shall we say, in racial terms.

Some laws are a holdover from those days. They made it easy for the grand jury to return a "no true bill" -- that is, no indictment on any charges -- against Wilson.

Let's face it: In St. Louis, everyone knows who most of the suspected fleeing felons are. They are black. They are from the north side of St. Louis and similar places. It is the way things have worked since the blues began, and barbecue became a thing, and Michael Brown supposedly swiped some cigars. It was the reported theft of them that made the teen a suspected felon and that sealed his fate.

And let's make no mistake: St. Louis is as American, for better and for worse, as a city can get.

Ferguson Smolders After Night Of Fires | Darren Wilson Not Indicted | Photos Of Darren Wilson's Injuries Released | Shooting Witness Admitted Racism In Journal | Darren Wilson's Statement Doesn't Mention Michael Brown | Reactions To Ferguson Decision | Protesters' Open Letter | Prosecutor Gives Bizarre Press Conference | Obama Address Ferguson Decision | Notable Black Figures React | Politicians React | Jury Witness: 'By The Time I Saw His Hands In The Air, He Got Shot' | Al Sharpton Calls Decision 'Expected, But Still An Absolute Blow' | Ferguson Erupts In Protest | Thousands Protest Nationwide | Oakland Protesters Block Freeway, Set Fires

11/30/2014 3:28 PM EST

Wilson Resigned Over Safety Concerns, Lawyer Says

Reuters reports:

he white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, resigned from the force without any severance deal, the mayor of the St. Louis suburb said on Sunday.

The officer, Darren Wilson, announced his resignation late Saturday, saying he feared for his own safety and that of his fellow police officers after a grand jury decided not to indict him in the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Read more here.

11/30/2014 7:27 AM EST

10 People Arrested During Portland's Ferguson Protest

PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Authorities say 10 people have been arrested in Portland during a protest related to the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting.

The city police bureau says the arrests came Saturday night "after a large group of protesters laid down in the street and refused lawful orders to clear the roadway."

Earlier, the gathering over the Missouri shooting death of a black man by a white police officer included a speech by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Oregonian reports that Jackson urged nonviolence and said the resignation of the officer was "a step in the right direction," but that much remained to be done to achieve justice for the victim.

Police say that after Jackson left, some protesters marched around downtown and sporadically disrupted traffic.

Officials say some bottles were thrown at officers and a police car was damaged.

The nine adults and one juvenile arrested will face charges that include disorderly conduct.

11/29/2014 10:15 PM EST

Flag Burning

11/29/2014 10:01 PM EST

Large Police Presence

11/29/2014 9:42 PM EST

Saturday Night Protest In Ferguson

11/29/2014 9:26 PM EST

Armed 'Oath Keepers' Plan To Protest

The NYT reports that armed members of the group "Oath Keepers" are in Ferguson to offer their help protecting businesses from damage.

From the NYT:

The volunteers, who are sometimes described as a citizen militia — but do not describe themselves that way — have taken up armed positions on rooftops here on recent nights....

But on Saturday, with the county police said to be threatening the Oath Keepers with arrest, the volunteers decided to abandon their posts and instead protest against the authorities. Late in the day on Saturday, a protest was being planned for that night.

Read more here.

11/29/2014 6:56 PM EST

Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

Darren Wilson has resigned from Ferguson police department.

Read his resignation letter below, via St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process."

11/27/2014 12:55 PM EST

Murals In Ferguson

11/27/2014 11:28 AM EST

Ferguson Protests Hit Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Unrest following the Ferguson grand jury's decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson has hit the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Using #StopTheParade as a rallying cry, protesters attempted to disrupt the annual parade in New York City. According to Mashable, police arrested some of the demonstrators just as the parade kicked off.

--Mollie Reilly

11/27/2014 11:19 AM EST

Ferguson Library Stays Open Throughout The Protests

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki reports on Ferguson's public library, which has remained open throughout the protests.

Over 50 volunteers helped staff the library, which provided free lunches to children as schools remained closed. The library also offered help to businesses who suffered damage during the protests following the grand jury's decision.

"We have a dramatic setting right now but it is not different than what libraries do every day," library director Scott Bonner said.

Watch the segment here.

--Mollie Reilly

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BEFORE YOU GO

11/30/2014 3:28 PM EST

Wilson Resigned Over Safety Concerns, Lawyer Says

Reuters reports:

he white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, resigned from the force without any severance deal, the mayor of the St. Louis suburb said on Sunday.

The officer, Darren Wilson, announced his resignation late Saturday, saying he feared for his own safety and that of his fellow police officers after a grand jury decided not to indict him in the fatal Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Read more here.

11/30/2014 7:27 AM EST

10 People Arrested During Portland's Ferguson Protest

PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Authorities say 10 people have been arrested in Portland during a protest related to the Ferguson, Missouri, police shooting.

The city police bureau says the arrests came Saturday night "after a large group of protesters laid down in the street and refused lawful orders to clear the roadway."

Earlier, the gathering over the Missouri shooting death of a black man by a white police officer included a speech by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Oregonian reports that Jackson urged nonviolence and said the resignation of the officer was "a step in the right direction," but that much remained to be done to achieve justice for the victim.

Police say that after Jackson left, some protesters marched around downtown and sporadically disrupted traffic.

Officials say some bottles were thrown at officers and a police car was damaged.

The nine adults and one juvenile arrested will face charges that include disorderly conduct.

11/29/2014 10:15 PM EST

Flag Burning

11/29/2014 10:01 PM EST

Large Police Presence

11/29/2014 9:42 PM EST

Saturday Night Protest In Ferguson

11/29/2014 9:26 PM EST

Armed 'Oath Keepers' Plan To Protest

The NYT reports that armed members of the group "Oath Keepers" are in Ferguson to offer their help protecting businesses from damage.

From the NYT:

The volunteers, who are sometimes described as a citizen militia — but do not describe themselves that way — have taken up armed positions on rooftops here on recent nights....

But on Saturday, with the county police said to be threatening the Oath Keepers with arrest, the volunteers decided to abandon their posts and instead protest against the authorities. Late in the day on Saturday, a protest was being planned for that night.

Read more here.

11/29/2014 6:56 PM EST

Darren Wilson Resigns From Ferguson Police Department

Darren Wilson has resigned from Ferguson police department.

Read his resignation letter below, via St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process."

11/27/2014 12:55 PM EST

Murals In Ferguson

11/27/2014 11:28 AM EST

Ferguson Protests Hit Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Unrest following the Ferguson grand jury's decision to not indict police officer Darren Wilson has hit the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Using #StopTheParade as a rallying cry, protesters attempted to disrupt the annual parade in New York City. According to Mashable, police arrested some of the demonstrators just as the parade kicked off.

--Mollie Reilly

11/27/2014 11:19 AM EST

Ferguson Library Stays Open Throughout The Protests

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki reports on Ferguson's public library, which has remained open throughout the protests.

Over 50 volunteers helped staff the library, which provided free lunches to children as schools remained closed. The library also offered help to businesses who suffered damage during the protests following the grand jury's decision.

"We have a dramatic setting right now but it is not different than what libraries do every day," library director Scott Bonner said.

Watch the segment here.

--Mollie Reilly