March 12, 2015

The two officers shot in front of the Ferguson police station have been released from the hospital and are home with their families, presumably.

However, the entire incident leaves more questions than answers. As is always the case with a vacuum, the empty space where facts should be is being filled with fiery rhetoric and exaggerations.

Head of the St. Louis Police Officers Association Jeff Roorda appeared on Fox 'News' this morning, proclaiming that protesters got what they wanted -- dead cops.

The protesters, on the other hand, insist they had nothing to do with the shooting, and the video shot in real time appears to confirm that it did not come from the area where non-violent protests were taking place.

Besides Roorda, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar is ramping up the heated claims, too.

Speaking to reporters today, Belmar confirmed that the police officers had been released from the hospital:

A 32-year-old Webster Groves officer was shot in the cheek under his right eye and has a bullet lodged beneath his ear, and a 41-year-old St. Louis County police officer was shot in the shoulder and the bullet came out of his back between the scapula and the spine, Belmar said. The bullets managed to miss any vital organs, he added.

According to CNN, Belmar expressed relief that the officers weren't killed, but was concerned about the environment leading to the shootings. Calling it an "ambush," Belmar told reporters, "We could have buried two police officers...I feel very confident that whoever did this...came there for whatever nefarious reason that it was."

We could have buried two police officers," Belmar told reporters. "... I feel very confident that whoever did this ... came there for whatever nefarious reason that it was."

Police raided a house a few blocks away and took a woman into custody, but there's no word on who she is or why they arrested her.

Attorney General Eric Holder denounced the shooting as one done by "a damn punk who was trying to sow discord."

And that really does seem to be the case. Those who stand to lose the most from an incident like this are the protesters. There is already talk about curfews, and limits on the protests. Every time Belmar gives a statement he alludes to changes coming to Ferguson, because he believes the non-violent protesting to be "unsustainable."

Protesters came out in Ferguson last night because of the long-overdue resignation of Chief Thomas Jackson. Their purpose in protesting was to raise awareness that Ferguson's problems weren't simply limited to Ferguson, but have roots in the neighboring police departments, too.

Those who stand to gain the most from an incident like this one are those who want to discredit the DOJ report on Ferguson and claim that police were right all along to consider the task of law enforcement as more of a war between police and the citizens they police.

No one disputes the difficulty police face in doing their job, even when they're tasked with enforcing unfair, discriminatory laws. But the six resignations in Ferguson are only the tiny tip of a far larger iceberg, and many have a vested interest in seeing daylight fall on other departments with similar practices.

Many others have a vested interest in making sure those practices never see the light of day.

There is a certain eagerness and exaggeration in Chief Belmar's statements that makes me suspicious. I'm not willing to say there was some conspiracy afoot, because that shooter could just as easily have been a sovereign citizen or militia member intent on attacking police as anything else. Still, it's clear that police are not going to be shy about using it to shut down scrutiny of their practices in that region.

That is unacceptable.

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