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Last updateMon, 29 Apr 2019 1pm

Politics

Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)

Case Study: Ferguson, Missouri Part 2

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.

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Case Study: Ferguson, Missouri Part 1

ferguson1Trust—it goes without saying that populous cities like Cincinnati, where the death of Timothy Thomas incited public outrage in 2001, or in Ferguson, where teenager Michael Brown was shot in an altercation with an officer. Trust has been replaced with fear in these very troubled cities. People fear officers who take to the streets with little oversight. Driven by aggressive policies of leaders trying to deal with high crime rates, police fear the people they have sworn to protect. As Paul Butler of the New York Times put it, they have become "armed agents who feel unaccountable to citizens." Left behind are citizens who would rather ignore the stench of marijuana on their own corners, and never dial 911 for fear of harassment. Left behind are a majority of good cops who are looked upon as the enemy in places where they are needed the most.

This summer when an unarmed teen was shot by an officer, there was a barrage of actions and reactions as more and more details on the event were revealed. A lack of transparency initially incited outrage including activists, students, and ferguson's supporters. Outrage began as peaceful protest, but the protests were overshadowed by riots. Riots were met with force as the nation watched on. The looting, protest and force used by police may have sent shivers through those who are old enough to remember the race riots of the 60's. From New York to Chicago, discriminant police brutality, and the death of Martin Luther King culminated in days of violence. Though it is interesting to note, while Washington, Chicago, and others cities burned, St. Louis remained the calm city sitting by the Mississippi. The Michael Brown shooting appears to be more or less "the last straw". Arrest numbers increase every day as social media is flooded with pictures and videos of cops in Avon. Along with these pictures, there were others of people running out of stores with goods in their hands. In a place where the Department of Defense deemed it necessary to equip the police with a MRPS, a 16 ton military vehicle that got it's name protecting soldiers from mines in the Rhodesian Bush war, there is a problem. When blacks make up less than two thirds of the driving age population, but account for 85 percent of the police stops, there is a problem. Is rioting really the fix Ferguson needs?

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