Ferguson, It’s Now Your Turn

The people of Ferguson, Missouri want justice, and the hostility towards law enforcement is understandable given what we know (so far) about the police shooting of Michael Brown. And with the Ferguson and St. Louis County police escalating the situation earlier in the week, using indiscriminate overwhelming force against the community, it’s also understandable that this angst has only grown in the week since the shooting.

And we need to get one thing clear here, most of the protestors are peaceful. Even the people who have taken advantage of the situation and looted stores have done so without violence. We should never confuse property damage and stealing with violence as the latter can only happen against another human being. And on that front, yes, unfortunately a small amount of people have resorted to using violence, mostly against police, by throwing objects, and even reports of molotov cocktails being using.

Let’s also be clear that there is absolutely no excuse for property damage and looting, and the police are justified in using force necessary to neutralize these situations. As for the people who have committed acts of violence, they too should face the wrath of the police, with force necessary to stop and apprehend.

But Ferguson, it’s now your turn. You got a response from the governor of Missouri, you even got a response from President Obama. It feels like most of the country is on your side. What you do going forward determines if that good will remains on your side. I realize there will always be people willing to take advantage of a situation to score some loot or worse, but the community needs to recognize that they have a friend in Captain Ron Johnson, appointed by the governor earlier this week to oversee the demonstrations in Ferguson.

“He’s [Captain Ron Johnson] gone in, he’s a reasonable guy, he has calmed the community to some extent, not fully, but he hasn’t abandoned his law enforcement responsibilities,” said Bob Herbert today on Up with Steve Kornacki. “The police at this point are in a very tough position, and that’s because the authorities put them in such a tough position.”

You can’t expect the police to stand idly by while looting and worse take place. As Bob Herbert said, the police are in a tough position. The police are always in a tough position. I do not envy the job they must do in Ferguson, or anywhere. The community in Ferguson needs to recognize this, and then peaceably protest to make sure justice is served, keeping in mind that while the police response earlier in the week was wrong, they need to still work with the police going forward to find a resolution. There’s no other way to make this work without more people getting arrested or worse.

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