Barbara Shelly

August 14, 2014

Nixon, McCaskill, other pols stake out turf in Ferguson

The pressure was on Gov. Jay Nixon to get himself back to Ferguson, which on television has come to resemble a war zone. But many other politicians are also in the heat of the action. But their presence does add to the circus atmosphere, as public figures like Al Sharpton are also in town.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has returned to Ferguson, and will optimally tell the St. Louis County police to back off with their tanks and rifles and constitutional violations. It is very fortunate that the big headline this morning is two reporters being arrested for patronizing a McDonalds restaurant, and not mass casualties overnight.

The pressure was on the governor to get himself back to Ferguson, which on television has come to resemble a war zone. But I see on Twitter and via email messages that many other politicians are also in the heat of the action.

State Attorney General Chris Koster was seen talking to police bright and early this morning. Secretary of State Jason Kander and Treasurer Clint Zweifel both reported they were in Ferguson just in case they could be useful. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is addressing a crowd even as I write this, pledging to work toward the demilitarization of the police. (A good cause.)

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was arrested Wednesday night and Missouri Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal seems anxious to get herself arrested as well.

All the above named officials are Democrats. I haven’t heard of Republican leaders being in Ferguson but I may have missed some.

Granted, there have been calls for politicians to “do something,” as the city continues to boil after the fatal police shooting Saturday of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. But their presence does add to the circus atmosphere, as public figures like Al Sharpton are also in town, having spotted the opportunity for publicity even more quickly than the elected officials.

This morning I talked to some mothers who have lost sons to homicide. Their thoughts were with Brown’s mother. “I feel so sorry for her, with all this going on,” one said. “They won’t even give her room to grieve.”

Right now, Ferguson is a worldwide story, and everybody is getting in on it. At some point, though, the crowds and the politicians and preachers will go away. It will then be the story of a family trying to deal with an unspeakable loss. And Ferguson, a badly broken community, will have to pull itself together for the sake of that family and all of its children.

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