"This situation" is the violent clash of police with protesters in the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown, a young, unarmed black man, by a Ferguson MO police officer. To say that citizens of Ferguson in general but especially the black community were a bit, how shall we say, "concerned" is a bit of a understatement. There appears to be a history of racial bias regarding the Ferguson police department and the killing of a unarmed black man wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back, it was an entire bale of hay. Yeah, people were pissed off. And when people are pissed off, they generally to express their level of pissed offedness. So...ta da!...protesters!
When protests occur, there are those who will take advantage for their own selfish ends. They are called "looters". I call them "assholes". There is also the sad fact that people genuinely there for the protest may have their passions inflamed to be incited to violence and property damage. So it's pretty much a good idea for the police to be present and ready to preserve and protect lives and property.
OK, usually a good idea.
The Ferguson police apparently had a lot of military surplus gear it was just itching to use and damned if this didn't look a good chance to put it to use. So out comes the body armor, gas masks, rubber bullets, armored vehicles. It was a like a G I Joe wet dream or something.
Now consider the dynamic at play. On one side you have a group of protesters who already have a dim view of a police department that seems to inordinately single out African Americans and now has shot one who was not armed, seeing that same police department decked out with weapons and armor as if they were in a war zone did absolutely fuck all to disavow them of their opinions.
In other words, if the protesters were fire, this proto-SWAT team was gasoline.
Yes, there were looters and vandals but the overwhelming force of the Ferguson police was brought down against everybody, employing rubber bullets (which may not kill but they still hurt like hell) and tear gas. The force of a small army was brought down on those jackasses breaking the law AND the public exercising their lawful right to assemble. Even reporters were being accosted and arrested. I guess when all you have is an army, every problem is a war.
So the protests get more heated and the police raise the stakes with more tear gas which is just bugging the shit out of the protesters, getting them even more angry. Someone with the Ferguson police must have observed, "When we throw tear gas at the angry crowd, it makes them angrier. What to do? I got it! We'll throw MORE tear gas at them!"
Finally after several nights of chaos, the governor of Missouri intervened, telling the Ferguson police to back off, the State Highway Patrol was going to take over this operation with Capt. Ron Johnson heading up things.
That was a step in the right direction: Johnson is an African American native of Ferguson. He also apparently did not have his head up his own ass. When Johnson and the state police show up, they're in uniform but that's it. No body armor, black plexiglass helmets, gas masks or armored vehicles. Capt. Johnson announced to the protesters, "We are here to join you!" And so they did, men and women in police uniforms walking not with protesters they were there to stop but citizens they were there to serve. And for the first time in many nights, there was no violence, no carnage. With the release of tension came an atmosphere that was almost like a community block party.
Apparently someone saw this, noted that it was working and said, "Well, fuck this! Get the Ferguson police back in there."
So the Ferguson MO police were back on deck the next night, well rested to climb back into their body armor, strap on tear gas cannisters and get back to work.
And Ferguson was in chaos again.
The Ferguson police may not be able to tell the difference betweens looters and protesters but you know who can? The protesters. Several teamed up to protect various stores and homes against opportunistic thieves and vandals.
By the time this posts, maybe calm will be upon the citizens of Ferguson. God, I hope so. But whether is or not, we can't ignore that a whole segment of American citizens do not trust the police. We can't ignore that there are policemen think they are at war with the very citizens they have sworn to serve and protect. And finally, we can't forget there is one more black man who did not have a gun who is nonetheless dead.
There's a lot of work to be done and it can done. But there's a right way and there's wrong way. The right way is not looking down the barrel of a gun but when we stand together.
OK, before I wrap up today, a couple of blog business type things to cover.
- There will not be a new post on this blog until Friday and our weekly edition of Broken News.
- Doctor Who Weekend will post both Saturday AND Sunday with a lead up to the premier of Series 8 followed by a review of that episode
- Then after a day off next Monday, we're back on Tuesday, August 26th with BLOG POST #500!! (And unlike the cop out for blog post # 400, I plan on actually doing something this time.)
So stay cool. I'll see you in 5 days. Until then, be good to one another.
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You