The past 4 days have been hellish in Ferguson, MO to say the least. Protesting and riots have taken place in the St. Louis suburb with it all culminating to one of the craziest nights in the city. Each of our contributors react to the situation going on in Ferguson, MO.
Tierra: Seeing how different news outlets are telling the story on the show of excessive force confirms the reason why I chose not to be a news anchor. Mindlessly reading a script to sensationalize a story for better or for worse was not worth it. And I hate Fox News with a passion. They literally just showed clips of people in Ferguson looting rims while the militarized police bump heads with protestors in the streets.
My immediate thoughts about the situation is of how others will interpret this story. Is it protesting or rioting? My mind is also blown at how black life is so devalued in America and how a police force that is supposed to protect us is the force that is against us. It was obviously never built to protect us anyways. The tear gas scene is synonymous to the fire hose and dogs unleashed in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. What can we do about it? We can do what our ancestors did about it. I woke up to this news, it’s scary to think of what I’ll wake up to next.
Nick: I have a bad taste in my mouth about the catastrophe that is taking place in Ferguson, MO. The death of Michael Brown and the actions of the police department in Ferguson, MO really have me wondering about the current state of law enforcement and the judicial system in America. After Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, and now Michael Brown should we feel safe in the presence of law enforcement ? Will the justice system ever prevail? Only time will tell.
Xavier: The events in Ferguson have not really hit close to home. The only times that I have observed or been a part of discussions about the tragic events has been via social media. My colleagues and I have not discussed it and my wife and I are almost numb to the circumstances because it’s occurring regularly throughout our country. People with a darker skin complexion in this country are not valued and appreciated unless they possess something or can produce something that is consumable or marketable.
I’m a part of a racially diverse community and have always been exposed to people of different cultures. I’ve grown accustomed to developing relationships with people with different backgrounds and beliefs. I was raised with those opportunities and educated under those circumstances. So, it seems crazy and ridiculous to me that race could be the sole factor in the deaths of these young men, but that’s the common denominator. It can only be racial prejudice and racism that encourage these officers to fear young black men and to use excessive force when it is not warranted. Caucasian people are not being gunned down by the police in droves. Yet, undeserved death at the hands of law enforcement has taken place throughout the history of the United States and Black men have been the victims more often than not.
American police have purposely intimidated, killed, and maimed Black Americans for centuries. We are outnumbered and outgunned. Yet, the majority still fear the stereotypes that follow us. I’m frustrated by that. I’m frustrated by the fact that I must play by a different set of rules than my White counterparts in order to survive and thrive in America. Can you imagine growing up in America and facing the risk of death or incarceration based solely on the color of your skin? I can.
Spencer: The tragic situation in Ferguson, Missouri has cast yet another light on two distinct unacceptable problems that we have in this nation. The first, of course, is our continued degradation of the lives of black people. We currently live in a society where if you’re white, you can fight tooth and nail for your “right” to openly carry assault rifles capable of mowing down dozens of people, and you can point guns at federal land agents and be lauded for “patriotism” (Bundy ranch). But heaven help you if you’re black, because you can get shot and killed in Walmart for holding an air rifle, or shot and killed because you approached police for help after being in a car wreck. I’m not saying that either those two shooters or the policeman who killed Michael Brown are racists–I don’t know that. But we as a society have a problem regarding recognizing who is a threat and who is not, and black people–especially black men–are the victims. I want to be very clear about this–this pattern exists whether Michael Brown (the Ferguson victim) was actually reaching for an officer’s gun or not. Hopefully an independent, impartial investigation will uncover what really happened in this particular case, but as with the Trayvon Martin case we may never actually know for sure what happened on that terrible day.
The second problem that we face is the militarization, in weaponry and in attitude, of our police forces. Every day there are stories of people being unlawfully detained, threatened, or otherwise harassed by police who have an implicit threat of violence behind them with every word they say or action they take. The aftermath of the Ferguson killing is almost as disturbing as the killing itself, as police have used one night of looting as an excuse to take drastic action against peaceful protesters and observers, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds and arresting protesters and even journalists. Many police officers are amazing people who put their lives on the line every day, and we should be grateful for the job that they do. But many others have let power go to their heads. Our fourth amendment right to privacy is always under threat of invasion, both by the NSA nationally and our local police forces. This is an untenable situation.
Neither of these problems have quick fixes. They both require significant serious discussion. As communities, we need to have dialogue between white people and black people to better understand each other and the problems and fears that we have. We also need to have a conversation about the role of police in our towns and cities. But there are some steps we can and should take in the meantime. My idea right now is that we ought to make sure that no interaction with the police goes undocumented. This is as much for the protection of police officers as it is for our own–if their actions are recorded in some way, they insure themselves against false accusations of misused force and the like. And we as citizens would insure ourselves against that same misuse of force. We ought to have a camera placed on every squad car’s dashboard, and as many police officers as possible should have to carry an audio recording device with them at all times. Those requirements, along with ensuring that all citizens know of their rights to record police officers themselves, would be a start.
May Michael Brown, his family and friends, and the rest of the weeping community of Ferguson, MO be in all of our thoughts and prayers.
Roderick: Most egregious of all of the excessive police force to me is how the police are blatantly violating people’s first amendment rights by attacking, arresting and telling the press what they can’t do. I recently saw video of police tear gassing an Al-Jazzera press team and after they ran off the police put down the lights and pointed the camera to the ground. This is America people. Not some country in the Middle East or Africa. In our country, people are blatantly restricting the press. That is one of our constitutional rights and I believe one of our very most important rights in this age of technology, smart phones, social media and the Internet. Right now you are witnessing a great injustice that I truly believe will be rectified solely because of those things I mentioned before. This blog is closely invested in social issues like this because number 1, we are a social commentary and political blog but also number 2, the way we are able to exist at CueTheRant.com is because of our freedom of press. And watching this injustice happened to established and reputable news organizations should bring alarm and puts us all on alert. Our mission is to be a foot in the ass of the man and I’m here to tell you no one will stop us from talking about it.