As violence repeatedly erupts during protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri the situation continues to escalate. Every police or government response attempting to maintain peace and allow protests to take place has been criticized. When the police attempt to stand down, interacting and communicating with the protesters, rioting and looting take place. When the police act in an attempt to control any violent or disruptive situation, the protesters riot, loot and attack both police and other protesters. From putting Captain Ron Johnson, a local African American state police officer in charge of the areas public safety to calling in the national guard, no action taken by officials at any level seems to succeed in keeping these protests peaceful.
Michael Brown's family and their representatives have repeatedly said that they want nothing more than peaceful protests. They make these statements as Brown's father is seen wearing a t-shirt with the phrase "No justice, No peace"' printed on it. Promoting such a phrase is contradictory to what the family says they are asking for from area residents.
While claiming that they want peaceful protests, the family of Michael Brown released their private autopsy findings just hours before a mandated curfew, put in place to protect the community from violence, was to go into effect. The timing of this release is as suspicious as the way the Brown family and their supporters claimed law enforcement officials handled the release of a security video allegedly showing Michael Brown committing strong arm robbery just minutes before he was killed. Releasing the autopsy report this way did nothing to calm the atmosphere and only increased tensions between police and protesters as the curfew approached. If the family was truly in support of peaceful protests the information could have been more appropriately released the next morning, giving both the public and police officials time to react, digest and respond to the findings.
Protesters claim that the violence and destruction have been caused not by residents outraged by Michael Brown's death but by outsiders who have come to the area interested only in causing disturbances. However on Monday night, when seventy eight people were arrested, it has been reported that seventy-five percent of them were local residents. Whoever causes the disturbances isn't relevant. Once an act of violence takes place, law enforcement officials have the right and responsibility to disperse the crowd in an effort to maintain order and pursue suspects. Instead of obeying police orders to leave the area, the crowds of protesters simply stood defiantly in the path of police, making it impossible for any police officer to prevent or quell any continuing violence.
Local community activists are saying that there is a rift and disconnect between the police and residents of the community that has been ongoing for generations. They state that Michael Brown's death is just the tipping point, releasing years of built up resident frustration. If these relationships were so strained, why do activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton wait until the violence occurs to come into a community and speak about how the government needs to work with the residents to address so many social problems. If the problem was so pervasive, public and destructive, these activists, as well as local community leaders should have been working proactively, encouraging dialogue and attempting to implement change long before any violence occurred.
What do the people of Ferguson MO consider justice to be? The police officer involved in this shooting may be guilty of excessive use of force and murder. If investigators do make that determination, he certainly should be prosecuted, but demanding his arrest and prosecution without an investigation is not justice, it is vengeance. Many Ferguson residents have expressed their belief that any investigation led by local or county authorities will be biased towards the police officer and untruthful. However justice is a process and by continually demanding that their voices be heard, the protesters are drowning out the voices of government and police officials along with innocent business owners affected by the violence accompanying the protests. By acting as if they are unwilling to listen to any voice that they may disagree with, these protesters appear as though they expect to circumvent that process and move right to a predetermined outcome of their choosing. They've rioted in the streets, looted neighborhoods and destroyed local businesses, all in the name of justice for Michael Brown. They may call this justice but the world is calling it embarrassing.
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