The only part of what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri that everyone can agree to is that it is a mess. When was the last time we saw National Guard troops being deployed on American streets to deal with rioters? I can only recall the National Guard being deployed in cases of devastating storms or to deal with the border. However, we now we see them deployed in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri to deal with protestors. But here is the real question, why have the protests gotten so bad that the National Guard has to be deployed? No one knows the real answer to this question right now, and that’s part of the problem.
Everyone knows the situation in Ferguson started when a police officer shot and killed 18 year old Michael Brown. The family is upset and demanding justice, understandably so, no matter what actually happened the family has every right to be outraged and heartbroken over the death of their child. The officer, his family and his friends, however are living in constant fear, which should not be happening. We do not yet know all the facts of the case, we do not know if the officer was defending himself or if the shooting was in cold blood. The situation on the ground has not allowed there to be a full and proper investigation. The Constitution states anyone is innocent until proven guilty; however, it seems everyone is being told automatically that the officer is guilty without a chance of being proved innocent. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Many expected there to be protests in Ferguson, but none to this magnitude. Hundreds of people not only from Ferguson and Missouri have come to this once peaceful small town to allegedly protest over the death of Michael Brown and police brutality across the country, or at least that’s what they claim. The situation has quickly turned from peaceful demonstrations to violent protests. Each night police officers are shot at, have rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at them and stores are looted by these protestors that have come out of town allegedly to speak out against police brutality. Some of the biggest problems we have seen is from the outside agitators, those who have come from places like New York and California to protest simply because they claim to be angry. They won’t say what they are angry about, they just claim to be angry.
What happened to non-violent protests? What happened to the teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.? What happened to two wrongs doesn’t make a right? Those are the questions that people should be asking in Ferguson, but unfortunately most couldn’t give a proper answer to those questions.
Most of the protestors, especially during the day, are peaceful. It is the nighttime when the violence starts. So why is there so much violence and anger? The answer is outside agitators. Reverend Al Sharpton and those like him have travelled to Ferguson, Missouri to give speeches about the situation, sharing their agenda with the protestors just to get them angry at the federal government and the local police. While Sharpton and others like him may not be telling protestors to be violent, they’re not telling them to wait for the investigation to be completed either.
Unfortunately it’s not just the likes of Al Sharpton that are causing problems in Ferguson as we have seen quite a few politicians come out and spark anger there as well. Just last night the Governor of Missour Jay Nixon called for a “vigorous prosecution” of the shooting. Does that sound like the officer is innocent until proven guilty? Not at all. Many people across the country are putting the idea in the minds of the protestors that the officer involved in the shooting and the entire Ferguson police department are all guilty of crimes against the people. In my opinion, not enough facts about the case have come out yet. Yes, the initial protests could have been handled differently, but there is no excuse for the current violence that has escalated.
We have now started to see the Justice Department led by Attorney General Eric Holder get involved in the situation as well. President Barack Obama has also spoken out about the issue, giving the already high tensions in Ferguson national attention. Although the current administration doesn’t have a great track record of staying impartial in situations like this, we can only hope that they do.
A claim people have made outside of Ferguson is that the initial police response shows a dangerous militarization of the police force. That is an issue that should be addressed, but police officers who are in danger of anything happening when dealing with hundreds of angry protestors should be able to protect themselves. When they are dealing with an active shooter situation they should be able to do whatever they can to protect themselves and others around them, including civilians and the media. Believe it or not, the police officers out there every night are only trying to protect the community, the people and themselves. Some of these officers live in the town of Ferguson itself and the surrounding communities; they only wish to help others.
The best thing we can hope for in this situation is that those who have come from places outside of Ferguson simply go home. They are not helping by being violent or destroying the community of Ferguson. If everyone from outside of Ferguson went home everything would certainly calm down, and then we could possibly see an impartial investigation into what truly happened to Michael Brown. However, even if everyone were to return home, the media and our politicians would also need to stay impartial on the situation as well and let all of the facts come out. Unfortunately, I do not see any of that happening.
President Abraham Lincoln once said “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing in Ferguson, Missouri at this time. People need to come together, in peace, and stop the violence, agitation, lies and divisions. Only then will the situation improve.