Why all Civil Libertarians should agree on the Garner and Brown cases

December 4, 2014

There has been, to a great extent, a partisan divide over the Michael Brown case, and Ferguson issue.  I don’t think there should be, but sadly, that is the world we seem to be in these days.

But today, as we heard about the sad results from the Eric Garner case, and one more incident where officers’ actions led to the death of an African-American man, I heard reaction to Garner's case on a so-called "right-wing" station. I was struck by the comments, and it led me to these thoughts, which perhaps should be obvious.

Everyone who believes in the civil liberties of people should agree, and be outraged, it seems to me by aspects of both the Garner and Brown cases, if they think about it.

In the Eric Garner case, we have a person who lost his life while being arrested for a very minor infraction because excessive force was applied.

This is also what happened in the Michael Brown case.  Even if we believe the officer knew that Brown was a suspect in a burglary (which is possible), he applied excessive, lethal force, which led to Brown's death.

So in other words – from a civil liberties point of view – two young men had the worst possible civil liberty violation done to them – because after all, their lives were taken from them.

It seems that those who believe strongly in civil liberties, as I do, should be deeply disturbed by these outcomes.  So-called “Libertarians” should also be upset as well, and to his credit, apparently Rand Paul is upset about both of these cases, showing he is consistently and correctly applying his libertarian point of view.

It perplexes me, then, why all libertarians cannot agree on this issue.

Because, after all, as Martin Luther King said,
“injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


Leadership and Ferguson

November 30, 2014

Challenging times like this in the St. Louis region (and Ferguson) call for leadership among those we have hired to lead us, or those who have stepped up to lead.  We search out for these leaders, like thirsty people searching for stream. 

As Martin Luther King said:
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

One of the tragedies that unfolded after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson is that few of our leaders have stepped up to ...

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Understanding the Response to the Grand Jury decision: "Two Americas"

November 27, 2014

Martin Luther King's famous quote -- "a riot is the language of the unheard" -- has been often cited in recent times to help explain the turmoil that has gripped Ferguson and St. Louis after the Grand Jury's decision in the case of Michael Brown.

We now know that the looting, arson and other violence that took place in Ferguson was quite limited over the last several months and by all means did not broadly characterize the protests that happened in the wake of Michael Brown’s death.  While l...

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The decision to declare a State of Emergency, call out National Guard

November 18, 2014

Many people in the St. Louis are (including Ferguson) and across Missouri were taken aback today when Gov. Nixon decalred a state of emergency exists in Missouri, and he also called out the National Guard.

It seems quite unfortunate that this step was taken, now.  Why? Because:

  • this is a pre-emptive all, even before the Grand Jury decision has been announced; thus it seems to presume that no matter what happens with that announcement, there will be civil unrest, violence and a need for addition...

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A short commentary on the Michael Brown Grand jury

October 21, 2014
I feel compelled to make a short comment, that is probably obvious to many people, but seems to have been missed by others...

The Grand Jury is meeting now to decide whether to indict Darren Wilson in relation to the death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, and has been meeting for about two months now.  Reports are that the Grand Jury may make decisions on the case soon, perhaps this month -- or maybe it will still take a while.

There has been much debate, much of it heated and emotional, about wh...
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About Me

Timothy McBride Timothy D. McBride, Ph.D. is a Professor at the Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis. Here you can find musings on health policy and other issues. Opinions are mine and not those of my employer. Contact: mcbridetd@gmail.com