GUEST ROOM | The Social Construction of Police Lies

As a recent retiree from college teaching with some time now to devote to social action in my community of Ithaca, I have closely followed the cases of young African American defendants Cadji Ferguson and Rose DeGroat since the disturbing incident on the Commons on April 6. The facts of the case were actually undisputed at Mr. Ferguson’s trial on Aug. 30 when he was acquitted of all charges. At trial, Judge Scott Miller found that Cadji Ferguson’s single punch of a drunk white man, Joseph Ming, was a reasonable response to a private conflict, following Ming’s menacing and increasingly escalating, aggressive behavior towards Cadji and his small group of friends on the Commons that evening. Although the prosecutor worked hard to support the claim backed by the Ithaca Police Department that officer Gregory Herz responded appropriately, with his stated focus on intervening in a dangerous public disturbance, the prosecutor’s case was stymied by the facts.