Last night, the Seattle Times duly reported this morning, Westlake Center closed early on “Black Friday,” the legendary day of remarkable profit for retailers that kicks off the holiday buying season, because protesters angry about the Ferguson shooting and lack of an indictment moved in to disrupt Seattle’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and paraded through the mall.
Demonstrators declaring anger and frustration over Ferguson may have just worn out their welcome with at least some Westlake visitors, who were there for the excitement rather than the exploitation. One can sense that in some of the comments from Seattle Times readers reacting to Saturday morning’s report.
BULLETIN: Fox News is reporting that Officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown in August, leading to months of protests, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.
According to Fox News, Wilson submitted his resignation via letter in which he wrote, “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…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.”
Who marched for Richard Herzog? More than 12 years ago, in June 2002, Herzog — a King County sheriff’s deputy on patrol in Newcastle — was murdered by a naked man who wrestled Herzog’s gun away from him and shot him several times. The man who shot Herzog had been out of jail 11 days. He had just done time for assaulting a police officer, as recalled by the Officer Down memorial page.
At his memorial service, one of Herzog’s colleagues remembered him as “a gun guy.” He apparently did a lot of shooting. But on June 22, 2002 he didn’t shoot an unarmed, naked and visibly crazed individual, and it cost Herzog — a husband and father — his life.
The Herzog slaying reminds lawmen that they can be disarmed and murdered with their own guns. It’s a stark reminder that unarmed people can kill, even if they don’t have a gun. The FBI Uniform Crime Report notes that more people are killed annually by being beaten, stomped, punched and choked than are shot dead with rifles and shotguns combined.
It is no mystery to anyone who delves into this sort of thing why someone, even a trained police officer, might be compelled to shoot an unarmed opponent. The Herzog case is a grim reminder that even an armed, trained police officer can be disarmed and murdered. It is such cases that lead many armed private citizens to take weapons retention training.
Yesterday’s demonstration, covered by all the local television news crews, wasn’t the only such protest. There were other demonstrations at other shopping malls around the country. Lots of people are upset that the Ferguson grand jury did not indict officer Darren Wilson for having fatally shot Michael Brown. They’ve burned, looted, thrown bottles and rocks, smashed windows, trashed businesses and in some cases assaulted police.
Physical evidence appears to refute claims by some witnesses that Brown had his arms raised, and other claims that Wilson stood over him and fired several shots. Still, many dispute the evidence, asserting bias in the grand jury process. Twelve years ago, physical evidence corroborated witness statements that Ronald Matthews, after wounding Herzog with his own gun, stood over him and shot him several times.
Writing in PoliceMag.com last month, author Jon Adler noted, “This may come as a shock to most reporters, but unarmed men have arms and hands and legs and feet. And if an unarmed man punches or kicks an officer and renders him or her unconscious that officer and the public are in great peril because the unarmed attacker can arm himself with the tools on the officer’s belt.”
Putting all of this aside, demonstrations that mar a holiday event, offending families who only wanted to bring their kids to see the Christmas lights could be backfiring. If there was injustice in Ferguson, some suggest, creating chaos around the country is not the way to balance the scales.