Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that last night a grand jury declined to indict a Ferguson police officer for the shooting death of Michael Brown. After weeks of build-up, protesters reacted as many predicted.
With violence. Looting. Property damage. Assault.
I don’t care to share my opinion of the grand jury’s decision as everyone already seems to have a “take” they’ve rushed to social media to share with the world. But I will say that it’s a shame what the protesters in Ferguson have done.
It was premeditated stupidity.
This wasn’t some spontaneous thing. Though there’s no question the protesters have strong views about the Brown shooting; it’s not like their rioting was sparked suddenly by some unforeseen incident. We all knew the grand jury decision was coming. People on all sides of the debate over the shooting have called for peaceful protest. Public officials prepared for the worst with riot police and the Missouri National Guard.
The protesters could have chosen to restrict their actions to marching and sign waving and chants. They could have poured their passion and organization into the political process to elect different people and enact policy changes. They didn’t. They chose to attack. They chose to destroy.
Perhaps the ugliest part of this whole debacle is the fact that it was apparently minority businesses that were the most harmed in the rioting.
Instead of having a debate today about how and when police exercise violence (elsewhere on SAB Matt Evans notes that body cameras are cheaper than riots) we’re shaking our heads over senseless destruction.
What’s worse, the Ferguson riots will no doubt be used as an excuse to crack down on protests in the future. They will be used as an excuse to further militarize our police departments, something that was very much at the forefront of the Ferguson debate when protests began.
Most people today will talk about the Ferguson riots and mention the arrests, the numbers of injuries, and dollars in property damage. But the rioters are guilty of another crime just as bad. They’ve abused their 1st amendment rights to the detriment of not only their own cause but the cause of anyone who would seek to assemble and air grievances against the powers that be.
Shame on them.