Ferguson: Where to Now?

Dan Beltaigne

The murder of two unarmed African-American men by police—Eric Garner and Michael Brown—shows that the power structure of U.S. society remains inherently racist. New protests are emerging around the country to challenge this deplorable state of affairs. – Editors

Police-in-FergusonFor the second time in less than a month in this still racist nation a young African- American man has died as a result of a homicide at the hands of police, who are supposedly sworn to “serve and protect.” In both cases—Eric Garner, who was murdered in New York City, and in this particular case, Michael Brown, who was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri—each man was unarmed. In both cases, each man was stopped for what initially was an alleged minor offense. In both cases, in what is becoming increasingly clear is that it was the initial attitude and behavior of the police officers that escalated each situation. And in both cases that the police, in their attempt to whitewash themselves, have been saying that the excessive force that they are absolutely guilty of was “necessary” for the “safety” of the police officers involved.

The one seemingly obvious difference between the police killings in Missouri compared with New York is that in Ferguson African-American rage and frustration have boiled over in the form of protests and rioting for the last four consecutive nights. And now, as if to add insult to injury, we become witness to what started out as a peaceful protest on Wednesday, August 13 has, after all the police lies over the past days, has been met with an overwhelming and distinctly militarized “police force.”

This now is being likened to the National Guard action against the students at Kent State University in 1970 who were peacefully protesting the war in Vietnam. Four students were shot dead as a result. Too often, then as now, it is the presence of an overwhelming military force that is what initiates the violence that ensues.

To be sure, there is throughout this nation good reason for this same rage and frustration to be simmering right up to the boiling point 24/7. However, as is becoming better known in the past few days through the media, the white power structure in the St. Louis area, and, in fact, the whole of the state of Missouri, is such that race relations are, on too many levels, on par with what they were, generally, before the Civil Rights Movement: poverty, poor schools, unemployment, hostile police, racial profiling.

If the racist reality in Missouri, St. Louis, and in the whole of the USA isn’t bad enough, the police force in Ferguson, a town that is two-thirds African American, has only three African- Americans police out of a force of 53 officers. The new reality today, Friday, August 15, is that not just Black Americans, but white Americans as well are protesting in many major cities in this nation, and more protests are planned for tomorrow.

In Ferguson the police have backed off for now and Missouri’s politicians are wondering what to do next. Clearly, the mass of African Americans are and have been fed up with the many years of police brutality, but now they have made the whole nation Ferguson, Missouri.


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1 Comment

  1. Paulo Morel

    A militarized, violent police force acting as a kind of paranoid band of armed thugs reflects the fears of their patrons: the dominant class´ fear of the “populace”. I would suggest that the politics of control that have been effective so far are starting to fail, and therefore violence becomes the “first” resort, the “new” standard procedure. First Ferguson, next suburbia, city center, and mostly everywhere, because the fear of the dominant class will only increase with the economic crisis they have produced and benefit from.