I continue to reserve judgment, however, until the forensic evidence comes in. There’s a lot more to be learned about the facts in this case.
Waiting to learn the facts before coming to a conclusion? It's not the Internet Way. You're supposed to respond instantly with outrage to a story like this, stake out your position on the right or the left, and stick to it, loudly.
It is, however, supposed to be the way of the American justice system. However much or often the ideal may be compromised or betrayed, it's what we're supposed to strive for. And it really ought to be the way of journalism, especially of journalism that prides itself on caring about the truth. From what I've seen, the media are behaving somewhat more responsibly than they often do with regard to racial conflict--than they did, for instance, in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.
Something that really struck me forcefully about that was the lynch-mob mentality that immediately took possession of the left, including a great many journalists. A liberal friend of mine remarked that the situation was "just like Scottsboro." (If you don't recognize the reference, here's the Wikipedia article). She had a point, but not the one she intended. She meant to compare Martin to the Scottsboro Boys, whose guilt was assumed because of their race. But it was really the other way around; it was Zimmerman whose guilt was assumed by a mob purely because of his race.
As far as I could tell, no one who asserted that Zimmerman acted out of racist motives ever felt the need to justify the assertion. The mere fact that he was, for propaganda purposes, white (amended to "white hispanic" when his ancestry became known), was thought sufficient. No evidence was necessary, nor did anyone make any effort to produce it. This is very often true of the charge of racism in general--merely to assert it is considered enough to put the burden of proof on the accused, and since it's impossible to prove that one is not a racist, the dirt tends to stick.
Zimmerman was "white," Martin was black, therefore Zimmerman must have been racist, and motivated by racism to shoot a defenseless teenager. The false accusation against the Scottsboro Boys was believed because white people believed that that was simply the way black people behaved. Zimmerman was held by many black people and apparently all white liberals to have wilfully murdered Martin, in the legal sense, because that was simply the way white people behaved. There's a word for that.
Very few people know exactly what happened in Ferguson. I doubt very much that the policeman simply took out his gun and shot an unarmed teenager without provocation. Maybe he lost his temper, maybe he panicked; it certainly looks like he made a grave mistake. To the extent that he was culpable, he should pay for it. But those who go around saying, as they did in the Martin case, that we are in the grip of a crisis in which white people can murder black people on a whim with no consequence are either hysterics or liars deliberately attempting to inflame racial passions. The legal system ought to resolve the question, but I doubt that that any legal resolution short of life in prison for the cop--Brown's parents have called for the death penalty--will satisfy that mob mentality.
There is one good thing in all this. Well, a couple, really: it's heartening to see some of the black community in Ferguson attempting to discourage the rioting, and putting themselves in the street to defend businesses from the rioters. And it seems that people on all sides are increasingly disturbed by the militarization of the police. This ought to scare everybody: