National Review‘s Kevin D. Williamson writes: Barack Obama once had a good idea, or at least half of one: As the president himself pointed out in his recent remarks on the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., during his time in the Illinois state legislature he backed a law requiring that police take video of interrogations and confessions. Here’s a better idea: Capture all police interactions on video.
Doing so can make an important difference in how incidents such as the Brown shooting are understood. Consider the case of Erin Forbes, who was shot dead by police in the Philadelphia suburbs in circumstances similar to those of Mr. Brown.
Erin Forbes was a young black man who was shot by a police officer while unarmed. (Mostly unarmed — more on that in a bit.) Like Mr. Brown, he had robbed a convenience store not long before the shooting, taking a small amount of money from the cash register. Like Mr. Brown, he did not have a criminal record.
“The deployment of armored vehicles by small-town police departments responding to domestic disturbances is un-republican and ridiculous.”
But there are differences, too. Mr. Forbes was not from a poor, heavily black community where relations with the police were difficult. Mr. Forbes was, in fact, from a solid, upper-middle-class family. His mother was a professor of African-American studies at Temple University, and he himself had been a soldier in the U.S. Army. His family lived in the suburbs, and he sometimes attended the Presbyterian church in Gladwyne, home of the seventh-wealthiest ZIP code in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »