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Ferguson Part Two

November 25, 2014
tags: , ,

Back in August, I had a night very similar to last night. I stayed up way too late watching video feeds from a country that I do not recognize as my own.

Personally, I wasn’t expecting an indictment. Were you?

It’s not the riots that I find troubling. Riots happen. We had one in Albany over something called Kegs & Eggs. There was one recently surrounding an annual pumpkin festival. Riots are destructive. Riots are upsetting. Cars can be replaced. Buildings can be rebuilt. And buildings don’t feel pain. Property is far, far less important than people.

Mostly what gets to me is watching an overmilitarized police force launching wave after wave of teargas canisters into a crowd of mostly peaceful protesters. And if this can happen in Ferguson when the eyes of the world are watching, do we as Americans still have the right to free speech and freedom of assembly?

I mean, we still have it on paper. Speaking of basic human rights, Americans with darker skin tones don’t even seem to have the right to drive around in a car. It’s a travesty.

On the lack of an indictment, I think I’ll hand the blog over to Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri:

The grand jury’s decision does not negate the fact that Michael Brown’s tragic death is part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.

The ACLU will continue to fight for racial justice. We must end the prevailing policing paradigm where police departments are more like occupying forces, imposing their will to control communities. This ‘us vs. them’ policing antagonizes communities by casting a blanket of suspicion over entire neighborhoods, often under the guise of preventing crime.

To build trust, we need a democratic system of policing where our communities have an equal say in the way their neighborhoods are policed. Collaboration, transparency, and communication between police and communities around the shared goals of equality, fairness, and public safety is the path forward.

Feeling helpless? Just want to do something? Well, how about signing this petition to the DOJ to stop racial profiling. Or this one to the DOJ and Homeland Security to stop sending excess military equipment to local police departments.

Are these the same as being in the streets, elbow to elbow with those under siege by an over-armed and under-caring police force? No. But it’s something.

There is nothing funny about the situation on the ground in Ferguson. And I know burning down buildings is wrong. I don’t endorse the practice. But if anything good has come out of this whole affair, perhaps it is that we now have one less Little Caesar’s in the world.

Man, that place is terrible.

I shouldn’t make jokes. Not when American cities are burning. Not when unarmed citizens are gunned down in the streets (even if they are suspected of a crime). Not when an encounter with U.S. police can go from zero to death in ninety seconds. Not when our government is gassing its citizens who are protesting a lack of justice. Not when our laws make indicting police officers who cross a moral line almost impossible. Because these are truly terrible things. And right now these things demand our attention.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2014 11:18 am

    Indictment or not, a riot was going to happen and everyone knew it – either from anger or glee. What kills me is why in the name of Zeus did they have to announce the decision at 8:00 p.m.??? Why not 8:00 a.m. when most people are sober, on their way to work, dropping the kids off of school, and the sun in high in the sky?

    • BlueCollarCritic permalink
      November 25, 2014 10:32 pm

      @Zena

      Why did they announce it at 8PM instead of 8AM? That’s easy. They (meaning the government) was seeking the most impact from this (remember when Emanuel said never let a crisis go to waste) and a night time announcement around 8PM would ensure the most amount of undesirable impact in the form of rioting.

      You (or anyone else) can pretend it’s not happening and call it conspiracy theory but it’s obvious the government is using this crisis (among many others) to stir civil unrest in order to justify the use of actions that otherwise would not be tolerated. They used the events of 9/11 to get us to accept the outlandish and falsely titled “Patriot Act” and they got us to not only accept but justify the abuse of us and our family at airports (and now train stations and buss stains as the TSA expands its reach) via the TSA that gropes and effectively molests us so that we can travel. Our constitution is a document that details the limited powers of the Federal government and yet the Feds act like as if they have no limitations so long as they say it’s for our protection. It’s time to stop denying what’s really going on just because we can’t believe the extent of how bad the government has gotten. Pretending like its not happening and calling it “Conspiracy Theory:” to make yourself feel better is not fixing the problem.

      What we need is LESS government at every level with far less power, NOT more government!

  2. matt permalink
    November 25, 2014 11:32 am

    The picture of pancakes next to this post makes things a little bit better, somehow. Our thoughts turn to thankfulness in this season, being grateful for the times we get to share with our friends or families. We thank ourselves for the abundance and splendor that is the american kitchen. I did not expect an indictment. I was frustrated by the way the special prosecutor presented the case to the grand jury, impeaching their own witnesses in a manner. Hopefully the result of protest in the United States is a resurgence of people spending time with each other, not walking around city sidewalks, in streets etc.

    Go to a friend’s, or just stay home and assemble to discuss your rights. With pancakes. Together, we can make this country a better place, one pancake at a time.

  3. November 25, 2014 11:42 am

    I think I was blathering about this somewhere else… But this trend of comparing the Ferguson situation to Kegs and Eggs Albany/Pumpkinfest is a shining example of the fallacy of false equivalence. Explosions of aimless drunken criminality have nothing to do with the present situation. Comparing them is lazy thinking.

  4. November 25, 2014 11:46 am

    Another thing worth doing is supporting the mandatory use of body cams by police officers. Here’s vox.com discussing the Brown family’s request:
    http://www.vox.com/2014/8/16/6023481/michael-mike-brown-ferguson-body-cameras/in/7041840

  5. Billy permalink
    November 25, 2014 9:45 pm

    Is this a food blog or a political blog?

    Daniel, your political insights are not nearly as interesting as your insights into food. Stick to what you do best.

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