Monday, August 18, 2014

#Ferguson Crisis: What's Really Going On Here?

The events that have unfolded over the past week, which is less than 10 miles from my house have, of course, been very disturbing. Residents all over the metro area have been worried whether or not they live in a safe neighborhood.

I think many people who have always thought themselves protected are really reconsidering this assumption. Gun purchases have soared and businesses have been very proactive in closing down even if there has only been a hint of potential violence.

This uprising was initially started with Officer Darren Wilson responding to a theft and assault 911 call and has escalated into so much more than the shooting death of Michael Brown. I do offer my deepest heartfelt condolences to the Brown family. I cannot imagine the grief of losing one of my sons to such a tragedy.

What I do hope is that his death was not in vain and that we all can learn something about ourselves and the issues that are continually shaping the communities in which we live.

The Many Faces of Injustice

Burned buildings like this Taco Bell represent the oppression felt by certain communities throughout the city. Here the incident was the L.A. riots of 1992 where the injustice on Rodney King unleashed a billion dollars of property damage and resulted in 53 deaths.
All of this stemmed from the police officers getting a slap on the hand and then released. It only takes a spark to set off the flames of rioting and looting in the name of justice. But was there any justice served by committing these acts? Not really.

Here in Ferguson we have the same rationale behind the QT burning and all of the looting of businesses that have absolutely nothing to do with the incident. Throw in the fact that nearly everyone committing the crimes and inciting violence either don't even live in Ferguson, are registered criminals, or are just a bunch of young men looking for any reason to thug up the town like mobsters.

There are so many stories being told about this incident that no one really knows the truth. The fault seems to lie on both sides. The local police are sending mixed messages by allowing looting to go on right before their eyes and doing nothing about it. This then becomes a clear message that the looters are winning this war. And it is a war.

There are ground zero accounts of police shooting gas grenades into peace gatherings simply to incite violence. There are those who swear that some of the incidents are staged to create an even worse environment than what is being created. They are setting traps and the young men are falling into them.

At the same time the a couple of bad cops don't make the entire force the enemy. I am certain that to some degree law enforcement has and continues to help these communities. Working for any police department is insanely difficult work and I do not envy their jobs. In fact, I pray for them.

The Tragedy of Injustice

A well known fact is that shootings within communities by members of the communities happen everyday and death has become an accepted way of life. I have worked alongside many coworkers who have shared their story of a loved one killed either maliciously or with a stray bullet. Tears stream down their face as they stumble to get the words out. It breaks my heart every time I hear about one of these incidents. And I've heard a lot of them.

Should justice be sought? Damn right. But there is a smart way to go about finding answers. It is not through a blending of traditional Malcolm X style leadership. It is through emulating and embracing the messages of Martin Luther King Jr.

My greatest fear is that Officer Wilson will be given a slap on the wrist and released. If this happens, the L.A riots will rise from the ashes and burn again somewhere here in St. Louis.

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