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Protesters, Media Try To Distance Ferguson Shooting Suspect From Protests

Derek Hunter Contributor

The arrest of Jeffery Williams, 20, for the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, has set off a rush to distance the protesters from the would-be cop killer.

Was Williams a “regular” attendee of protests, a casual participant, or not involved at all? There is a lot riding on the answer to that question.

In spite of the riots after the grand jury found no evidence to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, the protests have been portrayed as “largely peaceful.” If a member of those protests tried to assassinate two police officers on the day the chief of police of that embattled city resigned, it would harm that carefully cultivated image.

The “hands up, don’t shoot” protests successfully avoided association with Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who made statements on social media in solidarity with them before assassinating two New York City police officers in December. A second protester shooting police officers would make the “peaceful movement” argument a tougher case to make.

As such, protest leaders and reporters scrambled to contain the narrative and shift attention back to the report the Justice Department released claiming racism is rampant in the Ferguson Police Department.