- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 10 September 2014
- Written by BRANDON JOHNSON CO- POLITICS EDITOR
Rioting, looting and violence are not the means by which to unify a community. Every time I hear about Ferguson, MO, I get flashbacks to eerily similar occurrences. First it's spring time 1992 in Los Angeles. Next it's winter 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Then later that year it's Anaheim, California. In all four of these cases there are intrinsic relationships: Rodney King (L.A), Trayvon Martin (Florida), Manuel Diaz (Anaheim) and Michael Brown (Ferguson) were all members of minority communities.
Similarly, the harm caused to these individuals created spates of violence that served to fragment communities along ethnic boarders. The examination of these cases is not to trivialize the matter of police brutality, the lives lost to dispute the facts of the cases. However such an examination does call forth scrutiny of the public reaction towards these cases.
When Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown midday August 9, 2014 in Missouri, he ignited a wave of riots the first day of which, according to the USA Today, culminated with 30 people arrested. Schools closed, business owners were in fear and civil unrest mounted. Sound familiar?
This same scenario occurred over the course of a week in 1992 Los Angeles. Following the beating of Rodney King by a group of LAPD officers in March, the city waited on the trial results for nearly two months. Fast forward to April 29, 1992 and the city sees the acquittal of the four officers charged with Rodney King's beating, sparking days of violence and interracial conflict.
Passionate responses to tragedies are expected. However, rioting, looting and destroying one's own community while mourning the loss of an individual merely defaces his image. Instead of banding together and painting a picture of Michael Brown that would give solace to his mourning parents and relatives, the Ferguson community decided to put life on pause and create a State of Emergency as noted by the Washington Post.
Comparatively, let's examine public behavior after the loss of Trayvon Martin. When the news broke that an unarmed 17 year old black male was allegedly shot by George Zimmerman, the U.S. collectively held its breath. Similar to the Rodney King case though, communities across the nation postponed hate driven riots until Zimmerman's acquittal.
The Huffington Post noted that even when "[s]everal cities braced for riots in the event of an acquittal... most of the marches were peaceful demonstrations of the verdict."
In this regard members of the Ferguson community need to reconsider the approach to representing the image of Michael Brown. This is by no means a call for Ferguson to accept Brown's death. Instead, this is a call to move away from the "hate the police" movement towards a stance of remembrance and support for the victim and his family.
In recent years it has become all too common for violence to precede total understanding of a given issue.
Remember, in the wake of his police brutalization, even Rodney King asked for peace.