“Every once in a while, a dramatic news story can actually produce real reform. More often the momentum peters out once the story disappears from the news (remember how Sandy Hook meant we were going to get real gun control?), but it can happen. And now, after the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missiouri, turned to a chaotic nightmare of police oppression, we may have an opportunity to examine, and hopefully reverse, a troubling policy trend of recent years.” — Paul Waldman, The American Prospect
We’ve written our initial response to the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting over a week ago of Michael Brown by a white police force.
The escalation of protests and more violence at the hands of police continues as justice is delayed or denied for the Brown family, such as:
- The Browns had to watch their son languish in the middle of the street, unattended for more than 4 hours.
- The local police and the county prosecutor have completely failed in their duties, not releasing the name of the police officer for 6 days, and still giving no information from law enforcement’s reports on the shooting.
- The pre-emptive release of a tape alleging Michael Brown was a shoplifter, although the policeman who shot Brown was unaware of this (not that it should have made any difference).
- The overreaction of a militarized police force, a big nationwide problem that must be reversed, a key issue we will continue to cover.
- The bull-headed insistence by Governor Jay Nixon and the rest of the white establishment that the community must first demonstrate peace before they will deal out justice when it is obvious that the reverse must take place in order for the unrest end.
It’s time to start looking for real and sustainable solutions, and we will dive deeper into these in the coming days:
- Mobilize people of color to vote, making sure they are represented proportionally at all levels of local, county, and state administration. The most recent elections in Ferguson brought out only 12% turnout by minorities, less than a third of white turnout.
- Support national legislation to reverse the decades long, constitution-bashing systems that turn local police forces into armed militias who must overreact to justify their existence. (Sign the Care2 petition.)
- Make every policeman wear a body camera, a simple fix that has shown a dramatic 88% decline in the number of complaints about police, and a similar drastic reduction in the use of force and police brutality. (Sign the White House petition.)
- More to come . . .
Michael Brown and his family have finally put a face on police brutality, sparking a robust national conversation that must take place. Freedom and human rights are just words, words this country peddles abroad but does little for at home. We can honor this family’s awful sacrifice by doing more each day to end this scourge in our nation. Will you?