Here’s a cover story you’ve probably heard this week in the national media. Shortly, this column will let you know what’s really going on.
Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department had decided not to prosecute a pair of Baton Rouge policemen in a case where unarmed black man Alton Sterling was shot by one of the cops in front of a convenience store early in the morning of July 5, 2016. The Sterling case roused the long-simmering anger of a black community in that city and elsewhere in America, as it and cases like it around the country fueled long-standing perceptions of police brutality and overaggressive, racist tactics aimed at persecuting young males in underprivileged communities. The decision not to prosecute officers Blaine Salamoni and Howie Lake II is seen as highly likely to continue fueling those perceptions, and also to lend weight to accusations that the Trump DOJ, headed as it is by former Alabama Sen. Jefferson Davis Sessions, aims to roll back advances in civil rights made during the Obama administration.
Does that sound about like what you’ve heard this week on network TV news or in the major papers?
It’s, as Norman Schwarzkopf once termed something of similar value, bovine scatology.
The Post’s breaking story on Tuesday cited four separate unnamed sources. After it came out, the Justice Department vigorously denied having told anyone anything about a Sterling decision, though, having had its hand forced by the leak to the Post, trotted acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana Corey Amundsen to a press conference at the federal courthouse in Baton Rouge to confirm that no federal charges were forthcoming.
Why the leaks? Because of the cover story regurgitated above. Remember that Sessions has only just begun to clear the leftist ideologues and Obama hack holdovers from the Justice Department and particularly the Civil Rights Division. You can be sure that when the word circulated within DOJ that (1) no charges were coming in the Sterling case and (2) the decision was to be handed down soon, some of those holdovers were ready to deliver a bit of Deep State sabotage so as to cast DOJ in the exact light the Democratic Party wished.
Let’s understand something very difficult to deny. Sterling was shot on July 5. The Obama Justice Department was around until Jan. 20. It had more than six months to review the case as the primary law enforcement agency involved (more on that in a minute) and made no move to charge Salamoni or Lake. That DOJ would ultimately come back without any charges had been a foregone conclusion for months — nobody really thinks Loretta Lynch would have let the cops go if she had a reason to indict them. Anyone who expressed surprise about the Sterling decision, regardless of the mainstream media narratives hewn to among our ruling-class betters, was feigning that surprise.
There was collateral damage from the leak to the Post, of course — foreseeable damage at that. Namely, the Justice Department had promised to give Sterling’s family advance notice of the decision and a full accounting of its findings before presenting them to the public, which Amundsen did on Wednesday morning but, of course, by then, the cat was out of the bag. That led virtually the entire political class in charge in Baton Rouge — Gov. John Bel Edwards, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, oodles of members of the local delegation to the state legislature and other notables — to express indignation and outrage at the callousness and arrogance of the Trump administration toward the victims in the case.
While Amundsen was inside the federal courthouse hosting his presser, the Sterling family and their legal team was outside in the rain holding their own. And what a legal team! Among the luminaries representing various members of the family and flinging invective at the Justice Department were a New Orleans city councilman, a state representative from Baton Rouge, and one L. Chris Stewart, an Atlanta attorney who seems to turn up ubiquitously when someone is shot by the police (Walter Scott in North Charleston; Chase Sherman in Georgia; Gregory Towns in East Point, Georgia; Bobby Daniels in suburban Atlanta; now Sterling). But more interesting than the grousing about Trump was what came next.
That was a demand that, now that the feds are off the case, Louisiana’s Attorney General and former Tea Party Republican congressman Jeff Landry must now take over and prosecute Salamoni and Lake. Landry issued a lengthy statement following the DOJ decision, which said all the proper things, namely, that the Louisiana State Police would conduct an investigation beginning with all the materials it will inherit from the Justice Department, and as that investigation concluded, he would make a decision whether to pursue any charges.
Landry didn’t say what had to be on his mind, namely, that he would have been glad to get involved in the Sterling case at its beginning but was frozen out after the governor and Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents the part of Baton Rouge in which Sterling was killed, immediately demanded the Obama Justice Department assume control of the case. He was ignored then — now he finds himself inundated with advice from all the usual suspects.
The conventional wisdom holds that the two officers will face no more legal trouble at the state level than they did from the feds; the DOJ’s report on the case is fairly exhaustive. That report holds that Sterling, who was tased twice after he refused demands to put his hands on the hood of a car so he could be searched and safely disarmed — the police showed up, because he was brandishing a weapon and threatening people with it; they had every right under the circumstances to treat him as armed and dangerous — was shot by the police because he was struggling with them and appeared to be going for the gun he had in his pocket.
Salamoni and Lake aren’t going to be charged by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office. The local DA recused himself from the case long ago, because he has a personal friendship with Salamoni’s mother and father. The local pols standing with the Sterling family and their lawyers know this. And yet they make those demands, because when Landry declines to prosecute the case on the recommendation of the State Police, they can then blame the whole thing on Landry’s racism and unfitness for re-election in 2019 and perhaps find national financial support for a good social justice warrior to run against him on the Democratic ticket.
Everyone knows this is coming. Everyone.
Everyone also knows there will be a wrongful death lawsuit filed by all those fancy lawyers on behalf of the Sterling family, which has already reeled in more than $700,000 in GoFundMe cash to support the college education of his children (and Sterling’s son Cameron, who has been in the public eye a little since his father’s death, certainly appears to be a fine young man with solid future prospects). The Baton Rouge Metro Council, which has a 7-5 Republican majority, will not likely vote to appropriate anything to settle that suit — which gives Broome and her fellow Democrats in town a nice rallying point in favor of turning out that Racist Republican majority on the Metro Council (and insuring her own re-election after a very, very rocky start in office) in the 2020 elections.
It’s all angles. It’s all opportunism. It’s all politics. From D.C. all the way down to the shady neighborhood where Sterling was shot. Everybody’s in on the game, and everybody has an agenda. And nobody really cares about justice for Alton Sterling, or Blaine Salamoni, or Howie Lake II.
Let’s remember that if the protests coming this weekend turn into violence like they did last summer when a black separatist terrorist named Gavin Long rolled into Baton Rouge and killed three law enforcement officers as “revenge” for Sterling. We’ll know who to hold responsible, just as we’ll know exactly how much of that responsibility they’ll shoulder.