The protests said to have resulted from the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision are a different matter than that decision. Many of these so-called protest activities, including the firebombing of businesses and police cars, are not exercises of free speech. They are not protected by the constitution. They are criminal acts, and their doers should be prosecuted as any other criminal would be.
But the law should be administered evenhandedly. The grand jury in Ferguson sought to determine whether the police officer should be brought to trial for shooting an unarmed man. The burden of proof for indictment is light. It is nothing comparable to the standard of reasonable doubt used at trials. All that is needed are triable issues of fact.
According to the statements made by the prosecution the grand jury decided not to indict, conflicting testimony had been presented in the proceedings. Some testimony stated that Michael Brown, the man fatally shot, had attempted to assault, or in fact did assault the officer. Other testimony stated, in essence, that Brown neither threatened nor assaulted the officer.
Such contradictory testimony created triable issues of fact. The officer, based on legal standards, should have been indicted, whether or not he was guilty. The matter should have been resolved at trial.
In this, as in many cases, the law was not evenhandedly administered.