I’m going to write about Ferguson and its rioting today. It’s appropriate because of the sad and sorry events there.
Look, my first exposure to rioting was a paper I did on the Watts riot in 1965. Serious business. It was one of the best papers I ever wrote. Really good stuff, and I got an understanding of what was going on in Los Angeles at the time. In fact, I met someone who went through that riot and they provided personal insight into the city at that time.
Rioting sucks. Rioting solves nothing; in fact it adds more dysfunction to an already-bad situation. It kills business, kills jobs, and most of the time kills people. The same people who are victims of the perceived injustices resulting in the riot, suffer from the event taking place.
Personally, I’ve never had a run-in with the police to the degree I’ve been taken to jail, thank the Lord, knock on wood. But here’s something I know, and something you should know too: Don’t f**k with the police. Any kind of police. Ever. Or you could very well end up dead. Because the police know the only backup they have are other police. At least most of the time.
Who knows what happened in this event? All that’s undisputed is, the young man who was killed had committed a crime earlier in the evening, and that cop stopped him and his friend. We don’t know if the young man ever did it before, but he certainly was on video strong-arming a store clerk. For some reason, he didn’t have much concern about the police. You always have to be concerned about the police. They are walking down the middle of the street when Officer Wilson comes by. Either they wanted to get arrested or they thought they were immune to arrest. What he was doing was the equivalent of speeding, seeing a cop car running radar on the side of the road and accelerating as he passed it. I have no idea, and have heard no idea just why Michael Brown thought he could carry the cigars around and suffer no consequences.
I had a cousin who was an undercover agent for a state law enforcement agency. He was killed in the line of duty. He was killed while serving a warrant. Police officers have a dangerous job. Any day, they might not come home. It’s a hard thing to say, but if that officer truly feared for his life, he did what he had to do.
But here’s something I don’t understand: This town, this place that sucks, this nowhere-ville Ferguson, has all this riot-control gear. It has SWAT equipment. But it does not have in-cab cameras for its police cars, and it didn’t have sound recording independent of the officer’s microphones. If those existed, they might shed additional light on this sorry situation. Perhaps that’s by design. Maybe Ferguson’s police should have focused on community policing instead of prepping for al-Qaida to come to the Midwest.