Ferguson, MO has become ground zero for the modern day civil rights struggle here in America, after the death of 18 year old, unarmed Michael Brown. The small town has become a spectacle, reminiscent of what we are accustomed to seeing on network news, but always in a foreign country, most prominently the middle east. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and other assaults on Americans have become the norm almost overnight. Journalists, self proclaimed peace makers, and even 90 year old Jewish Holocaust survivors are not exempt from arrest, detainment and mistreatment.
As a result of the actions of this out of control police department, droves of activists have poured into the St. Louis area to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson, and to offer support in many ways.
What seems like an endless amount of stories on the town of Ferguson, coming from media, bloggers and social media activists, have detailed just about every aspect of what is happening and given us all much to think about concerning the state of race relations in America, the militarization of our local police departments, and what an individuals life — particularly a black persons life is actually worth.
But what makes Ferguson such an outlier?
Police murders of black men both young and old is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is quite an old narrative, but nevertheless the murder of Michael Brown has awakened anger in the hearts of the people of Ferguson, which has subsequently spread to us all. The horrible way in which the Ferguson and St. Louis area PD have handled the peaceful protests is what has sparked even more outrage in those of us who are socially aware.
What makes Michael Brown’s murder so much different than that of the countless other young blacks who have been murdered at the hands of a white, racist cop, is that the community in which Michael Brown belonged took a strong stand against what happened.
Although they have been criticized immensely for looting and vandalizing, without the civil unrest initiated by Ferguson residents, Michael Brown’s story would be just another talking point. We’d see a few debates on CNN by the who’s who of black activism, a few witty memes and maybe a vigil, but that would be the extent of it and we would continue on with our lives, being distracted by making ends meet, and caring for our loved ones.
What Ferguson did, and is currently doing is giving the rest of us the opportunity to prepare for when Ferguson comes to us as it undoubtedly will. These historic events are forcing us to confront our issues as Americans and accept that what we see happening in the middle east and other places is just as likely to happen here at home.
Black unemployment, black crime rates and the murder of blacks by other blacks are at an all time high and the disparity in our communities is the root cause. Desperate people make desperate choices.
Soon the disparity that black people face throughout this country will overflow and spill out onto the streets the way it did in Ferguson, and we will begin to demand equality from an establishment that has for too long ignored our needs, sought to neutralize our movements, and kill our leaders, and has created a negative image of us, that is widely accepted around the world.
The militarization of the local police departments coupled with the so called ‘war on drugs’ have created an era of overly aggressive, menacing police officers, who are under the belief that a young black man is more times than not up to no good, and dangerous. This perception will not be dispelled anytime soon, if ever.
What I am attempting to describe here is the recipe for civil unrest, like what you are seeing in Ferguson.
Who can seriously deny that America has slowly become a police state, where the constitution is only valid when it is convenient for those in power? Since 911 every American's rights have began the process of being slowly stripped away, and that goes for whites as well as blacks and every other race this country is comprised of.
The issue of public safety in black communities is a problem that results in hundreds of murders of black people, not at the hands of law enforcement, but at the hands of other blacks. This issue alone will become a catalyst for implementing a military-like presence in cities like Chicago and Detroit.
While there is such an abundance of attention on the town of Ferguson, community organizations, activists, socially conscious individuals, and revolutionaries should be using this as an opportunity to pay attention to what is going on in their own communities and working to establish a plan for when the community is flooded with military police, and they are implementing curfews and dictating your every move. Some people call it martial law. If you don’t believe it will happen you are in for a rude awakening.