Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson, MI Riots

Shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown, riots broke out in Ferguson, MI. However, these riots were a sign of something coming: civil unrest. Every day since the shooting, hundreds have gathered nearby to protest the Michael Brown shooting, the treatment of African Americans by Ferguson police, and the delay in releasing information.

The riots have destroyed many stores and led to looting. It is just troubling to see people breaking the property of others and stealing from them. These people are taking advantage of the tragedy of the shooting in order to benefit themselves. This is unfortunate indeed. However, the looters and rioters are not the only problem.  The police, yes the police have been a big problem in Ferguson.  They have demonstrated too much aggression against peaceful protesters which has even the media shaking their heads in disbelief.

Peaceful protesters have been shot with rubber bullets, gassed with tear gas, harassed and even manhandled by police solely for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and speech. It got so bad that the governor of Missouri had to remove  the police of Ferguson from their duty and place State troopers in charge. Captain Ron Johnson has been in charge since.  In his first day in charge, things seem to be calming down. He walked with protesters, shook hands with them and reassured them.  However, this would change the next day. More civil unrest would take place.  Even the media were gassed by police and prevented from capturing the events going on before them. Watching the scenes of police in tank-like vehicles, with army clothing, assault weapons seemed more like a scene from the Middle East, a Communist nation or Egypt during the riots.  However, these scenes were in the United States of America! Is this seriously going on?

Many have voiced their concerns of the abuse of power police have demonstrated in Ferguson.
Others have complained about the heavy armament these officers have.  Apparently, the military give away excess equipment to police departments throughout the United States. Do police really need to be this armed?  The whole situation is scary especially when more and more laws are passed restricting the ownership and use of weapons by civilians.

I don't condone the rioting or looting, but understand why the people in Ferguson are upset. It is clear that these people who are mostly African American have had enough. This protests seems to be creating a movement in America where the people will not take police abuse anymore. I have always been a critic of how the police do their job and the excess protections they have when compared to citizens. Police officers can stop you for any reason, if you argue with them or gesticulate too much you risk being arrested.  Seriously? Moreover, there seems to be a culture where police officers tend to cover for one another making it hard for investigations to carry on without tainting.

Police officers can use "force," but this is not really defined leaving it open to anything which is dangerous and often leads to the death of civilians. Furthermore, if a citizen feels like his/her life is in danger while being arrested, he/she cannot defend himself because if he/she strikes an officer, he/she will be charged with a felony, granted he/she is not gunned down first.  These protections are unfair and leave the door open to abuse.

It is not news that minorities are stopped by police officers. Growing up in the Bronx, I myself have witnessed my friends being stopped just for looking like a typical youth.  I have also witnessed African American and Latino American youth driving trendy cars being pulled over because they are suspect of stealing those rides. This is just horrible.

I don't blame the people of Ferguson for protesting and continuing to protest. They have had enough; we all have! The police system throughout America needs to change. America is becoming a Fascist nation I'm afraid to say. The images on CNN and other networks showing these overly armed cops pointing assault weapons at protesters and even the media is not what America is supposed to be.  This is not just a "minority" thing, but an American issue.  We are losing our freedoms.








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