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Rage in Missouri over grand jury decision

To the editor: The U.S. Supreme Court's much-reviled decision in the matter of Dred Scott (1857) remains the stark reality in America in 2014: Black persons have no rights that a white police officer is required to respect, including the right to life. ("Violence erupts after grand jury fails to indict Ferguson officer," Nov. 25)

To those bemoaning the widespread demonstrations against this obscene outcome of the grand jury circus in Ferguson, Mo., I am reminded of James Baldwin's observation so many years ago: "To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage."

Mark Brodin, Newton, Mass.

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To the editor: Whether to find evidence or avoid a preliminary hearing, normally a prosecutor uses a grand jury to pursue a matter believed worthy of prosecution; but this one appears different.

Explaining why Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted for killing 18-year-old Michael Brown in August, St. Louis County Prosecuting Atty. Robert McCulloch tellingly said the officer's testimony was consistent with forensics and credible testimony.

In short, unless contrary to science, his testimony (with no cross-examination or timely incident report) justified discounting other eyewitnesses, even though there was probable cause (not a finding of guilt) to indict.

This was a one-sided mini-trial. McCulloch could have refused on his own to indict; but because of him, little light was shed on the likely outcome of a trial, since grand jury votes are unknown.

Reform is needed, including more cameras on cops. Also, prosecutors who work closely with police departments lack credibility when investigating officer-involved shootings, particularly if racism is suspected.

John C. Nangle, Palm Springs

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To the editor: It is always a tragic loss for someone to lose a loved one in an altercation with police. If the people protesting in Ferguson and elsewhere would look at the facts of the case, it would seem that Brown's skin color was totally irrelevant. The fact that Brown would apparently not respond to an officer's request is the reason he is not alive today.

If confronted by a police officer, it is always wise to cooperate. To do otherwise is an invitation for an unhappy ending. Education at home and in our schools to respect law enforcement is an obvious starting point for teaching our young, no matter the color of their skin.

The forensic evidence and witness testimony guided that grand jury. Had the facts been different, the grand jury decision would have likewise been different, and Wilson would have been charged as he should have been.

But the altercation did not happen that way.

George Pinnell, Diamond Bar

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To the editor: My heart sank when I heard the prosecutor making excuses and blaming conflicting eyewitness reports and the media's rush to judgment.

Brown was shot from a distance, and Wilson was defending his life? Ten shots were fired outside his car. If this is a police officer doing his job, then there is no justice in Ferguson. None.

Dennis Grossman, Woodland Hills

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To the editor: The members of the St. Louis County grand jury deserve this country's highest praise. They truly showed courage under very stressful conditions. Reason triumphed over hysteria, truth triumphed over obfuscation, and facts trumped falsehoods.

Justice has prevailed. It is a great day for the American justice system.

Bob Wallace, Las Vegas

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To the editor: If anything can be gleaned from the tragic events in Ferguson, perhaps it is this: Justice is not a promise, it is a goal, and it is met wherever objectivity and compassion can find common ground.

Let us hope that the people of Ferguson, who now stand in opposition to one another, can soon meet upon this rare earth.

Roxanne Vettese, Oxnard

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