I find myself with great sympathy for those in Ferguson, Missouri who have a serious problem with both the local police department’s handling of the killing of a young man and the subsequent handling of the perfectly legitimate protests that followed.
I also have a problem with the Al Sharptons of the world who rushed to Ferguson to fan the flames.
I grew up about 150 miles north in Peoria, Illinois; so I have some personal experience in the area.
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Does the St. Louis area have a long history of racism? You bet. I’m just old enough to remember Chet Walker, playing basketball for Bradley University, as one of the first black players in the Missouri Valley Conference. When they played St. Louis University at the old Kiel Auditorium, they used to have to stop the game periodically to sweep up the broken glass from the beer bottles thrown at Walker by the crowd while they called Chet the Jet a “nigger.” That’s hard for an eight-year-old kid to forget, even 54 years after the fact.
Is that racism still in evidence? Apparently.
There’s simply no excuse for a town being 66% black and having only three out of fifty black police officers. What the hell can the city fathers be thinking? In the immortal words of Judge Judy, “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining outside.” You can yammer about changes in demographics, but the fact is that there is no way a statistic like that happens by accident.
So when a flaming arrow hits a natural tinderbox, all hell breaks loose.
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Now, I’m not prepared to indict the officer who killed the young man–although it doesn’t look like there’s a really good explanation other than he just screwed up. After all, this is hardly the first police officer to pull a trigger when he probably should have thought the better of it. Las Vegas is littered with bodies (and Federal investigations) on that basis.
And, in fairness, the young man’s parents called for peace almost immediately.
But the response to those demonstrations was for the city and the county to show up with more military equipment than we used in Baghdad. In fact, much of it probably had been there and came home when President Obama pulled us out.
The way you deal with a sensitive situation like this is not with fully automatic M-16s aimed at demonstrators.
And grown-ups ought to know that.
Much of the media and the usual race baiters should be ashamed of themselves save for one thing—they do have a point in this case.
As did the demonstrators who assembled at the Bundy Ranch last April.
You have the absolute right in this country to demonstrate against an obvious wrong. Or virtually anything, for that matter. And a young man being shot to death in front of a crowd for no apparent reason is absolutely as wrong as the Federal Government stealing a family’s livelihood to protect a turtle.
A military response by civilian agencies to both situations is incredibly wrong.
Yet there were snipers in the hills at the Bundy Ranch with the latest M4 rifles.
And there was a whole lot of the same in suburban St. Louis last week.
Are you shocked when many polls from many different pollsters show that not only do people not like their government, but no longer trust it?
This may be the single issue on which both sides of the political spectrum agree.
You may think that it’s OK to protect a turtle by stealing a family’s livelihood; but when the response to a protest against that from the government is the same as the response to the situation in Ferguson, you had better think twice. A police state knows no real ideology.
When our laws no longer protect us, all we have left is the people who stand up for those unalienable rights we all have. Those people should come from all sides of the political spectrum. Because unless you stand up, you could be next, no matter what your ideology.
That said, everybody’s point has been made many times over; and it’s time for Reverend Al to crawl back under his rock and let the people of Ferguson deal with it.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.