Was Civil Unrest In Ferguson Inevitable?

I have one thought on Ferguson, positing that the level of protest, demonstration, and civil unrest is an indictment itself on the officer involved shooting and killing of Michael Brown. After all, do you really think the community would respond the way it has if this was a justified shooting and killing? Of course, remembering that we must not act as judge and jury, as everyone deserves due process.

But then I have another thought, positing that this level of community push back in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death has as much to do with an angst, growing over many years, even decades, then it does to the death of an unarmed teenager. An angst fueled by poverty, a lack of good paying work, and a growing police state mentality. In which case, we cannot indict the officer based on the community response, because it was a response in waiting.

I’m not sure that these two thoughts cannot coexist of course. And I’m left with the sense that this may not be an isolated event. Not that I wish for continued civil unrest, but for as many civil rights wins we have achieved over the history of this country, we are not immune from taking one, two, or many steps backwards.

There is a singular event, 9/11, and a longstanding policy, the war on drugs, that both deserve much of the blame for where we find ourselves in 2014. Our policy and policing response to the singular event of 9/11, with 13 years of painful education, was wrongheaded at best. And our tough on crime and war on drugs policies of the past few decades has devastated the lives of the poorest people in this country.

At some point, the people will fight back.


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