All week, I’ve been wanting to write something here and failed. Over and over, the tensions of Ferguson, Missouri have distracted me as well as motivated me to try to write my thoughts on everything that’s been going on. However much I wanted to, though, I’ve been unable to get many words out before giving up.
There’s just too much going on. This is a topic being covered by hundreds of people, who are far closer to it, who reach far more people and who are far more insightful than I am. It’s one of the biggest civil rights situations in the United States in my lifetime and I’m honestly just not equipped to add more than one tiny voice shouting “a person’s a person no matter how small.” This story is not only important for the residents, but for all of America – which has seen freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press trampled in the last week.
At one point, I just considered posting a list of failures of the last seven days, all beginning with the shooting of an unarmed young man. It would be a list with about 30 items on it, with just a few here that rise to the top in my mind. Since the shooting: peaceful protests getting disrupted over and over – and the saddest thing is they’ve been disrupted by forces on both sides. Criminals, looters and arsonists at night destroy much of the good will that the protesters work hard to build all day. A police captain in CYA mode does everything in his power to enrage and push people past the brink to PROVE his department was justified in their use of force.
The few onsite journalists getting shot with tear gas, arrested and assaulted for trying to report what’s going on. Cops stopping protests, but not arresting looters. Preachers with wounds from rubber bullets. The community pulls together to keep the peace and protect their town while a few horrible people work against them. Midwest cops using gear that our military in combat zones is jealous of. Sniper rifles pointed at citizens. Gun aficionados who push for more people to buy guns to protect themselves – as long as it’s not those black guys buying them.
National media showing barely any interest and no on-site reporting. One of the most compelling and important stories in years and the Kardashians continue to get more coverage. When the networks do report, it’s a side story, not a main one. Social media again becomes a key source, even as it fights its own fight against algorithms that seem calculated to minimize matters of any importance. People in all areas of media refer to protesters as rioters, whether they’re talking about looters or the local residents getting tear gas shot into their yards.
I’m just spent. I’d love to provide thoughts on a course of action – short term to calm the situation, long term to figure out all the issues in Ferguson, as well as the U.S. as a whole. But I don’t have any easy answers at the moment.
Maybe these are brave words coming from someone living 8,000 miles away, but I truly believe that if I were somewhere in the area I’d be out on the street walking arm in arm with the protesters. Then obeying the curfew and waiting to begin protesting again the next day.