Why the Ferguson DA decided a protestor who kicked a car about to hit her caused $5,000 in damage

Lives are more important than cars. Except in Ferguson.
Lives are more important than cars. Except in Ferguson.
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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With a few changes in detail, it could easily have gone the other way, but St. Louis County District Attorney Bob McCulloch, fresh off his failed grand jury presentation against Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, knew who the bad guys were:

“The charges stem from the efforts of the defendants to block traffic on Interstate 70. Templeton is accused of punching the victim as our victim attempted to drive past the defendant. The victim suffered an eye injury as a result.” McCulloch also said “Ferrell kicked the victim’s car as she passed causing nearly $5000 in damage.”

It was “Moral Monday,” and there was a protest. They were trying to close down I-70, and the good people who had someplace to go needed to use I-70.  The protesters blocked them.

Protests aren’t a favored means of constitutional expression around Ferguson these days.  It’s not that McCulloch would ever take issue with people exercising their constitutional rights, whether to speech, redress, association, life.  It’s that they won’t do so in a sufficiently orderly manner so as not to interfere with the happy travel of others.

And then there’s looting, but there’s nothing to loot on I-70.  But as McCulloch figured out, that doesn’t mean that property damage can’t happen.  And it’s his job as prosecutor to make sure that anyone who damages property pays.

Brittany Ferrell, 26, and Alexis Templeton, 21, have both been charged with trespassing and disturbing the peace. Ferrell is also facing property damage charges. Templeton also faces assault charges.

There’s no walking on I-70.  Ferrell and Templeton knew that, or at least they should have when they decided to participate in the protest.

A few dozen protesters blocked I-70 in both directions near the Blanchette Bridge during Monday afternoon’s rush hour. Traffic was brought to a standstill between Highway 141 and the bridge for about 20 minutes as demonstrators formed a line and locked arms across the lanes. The protesters also placed yellow boxes on the ground, with “Ferguson is everywhere” written on them.

Have you ever been stopped dead on a highway at rush hour. It’s terribly frustrating. Tempers flare. People who don’t feel as if they’ve done anything to deserve this inconvenience find something boiling besides their radiator fluid. They’ve got things to do. There’s the dry cleaning that needs to be picked up. And the kids have little league and ballet. And dinner needs to be made.  Hubby will be very upset if dinner isn’t made, and you really don’t want to see him pissed. He’s not very nice when he’s angry.

Video … showed a grey SUV push its way through the line of protesters.  This is the only vehicle that broke the demonstrator’s blockade.  It is also the vehicle that Ferrell and Templeton are accused of attacking.

So what if there were human beings, flesh and blood, standing in the roadway.  So what if the grey SUV weighed a few thousand pounds and could easily surmount a few body-sized bumps in the road if it came to that.  They had no right to block that highway. They had no right to bring cars to a standstill.

They had no right to inconvenience someone who had nothing to do with whatever it was they were griping about now.  And there were things to do that weren’t going to wait for the protesters to go away.  And she waited long enough.

There is a basic rule that the pedestrian has the right of way.  It’s not a rule born of right, but of necessity.  You see, when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the pedestrian rarely wins the battle.  Whether the pedestrian was right to get in the vehicle’s way or not, a decision has been made that it’s better for the car to wait than to mow down a pedestrian, even a stupid or wrongful pedestrian.  It has a lot do with killing people being a bad thing. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t execute people for jaywalking, no matter how annoying it may be.

People’s lives trump cars. Except in Ferguson.

Brittany Ferrell was arrested for “allegedly kicking a vehicle as it ploughed through a line of peaceful demonstrators.”  According to McCulloch, her kick caused $5000 in damages, which oddly enough is the threshold for First Degree Property Damage, a Class D Felony.  He must have some really strong pull with a local body repair shop to get the damage assessed that quickly.  And it must be one really swell shop, if it charges $5000 for a kick.

Ferrell’s wife, Alexis Templeton, was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching the driver through her vehicle’s window.

Word is that it had something to do with getting the driver to stop plowing through the line of peaceful demonstrators, largely because once she kills them, they can’t be unkilled merely because she did a naughty thing.

But then, the driver of the SUV knew something that neither Ferrell nor Templeton knew. She knew that Bob McCulloch was the sort of county prosecutor who could quickly figure out who the bad guys were, who deserved to be arrest and prosecuted, and who deserved to go home to put dinner on the stove.

Was the “bad guy” a women in an SUV just doing her best to get her SUV into the garage before junior was done with his baseball game and senior rambled through the door from a hard day’s work?  Or was the “bad guys” the people she the women was forced to plow through, and in response kicked her SUV and then punched her?

McCulloch knew who were the protesters, and who wasn’t.