On Saturday, August 9 Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The police say that Mr. Brown was unarmed but that he reached for the officer’s gun. A witness to the shooting states that, “I saw the police chase him…down the street and shoot him down.” Community protests have been ongoing since the incident with troubling police actions. Two journalist with the Washington Post and the Huffington Post were arrested as they were filing their reports in a local McDonalds with one having his head banged against a window…and then being sarcastically apologized to by the officer. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was arrested after receiving national attention from his interviews and social media reports. Al Jazeera journalist were teargassed and their video equipment dismantled by the Ferguson police.
The frightening reality of these incidents is that it is not in the war torn middle east…but in the heart of the United States…the mid-west. Without police protecting and serving our communities we would be a country of chaos and anarchy. But isn’t that what has been transpiring in Ferguson, Missouri? All of the protests have not been peaceful…in fact there has been some looting and rock throwing and dangerous tension filled moments for both the police and protestors. Truth and justice of what happened with Mr. Brown and the officer who felt it was necessary to use deadly force..is for the courts to decide…but the reality of the extreme hurting of the residents of Ferguson cannot be denied. How would you feel if your son had been shot to death? The protestors are not all black…there are white residents of Ferguson protesting also. Is it all right to treat some communities with more force than others? Then is it also correct in difficult incidents of the exercise of free speech to decline those rights to the press…who were white? The name Al Jazeera does not leave many americans with a warm and fuzzy feeling…so can we assume that the rights of free speech and assembly does not apply to them?
Last night Missouri Governor Jay Nixon removed the Ferguson police from the job of security for the protests and installed the Missouri State Police with Captain Ronald Johnson heading the force. A night of calm transpired. Protestors say that now they are being treated with respect. Order is being kept…which is what any of us would want if we lived in Ferguson.
Often free speech is wonderful when I agree with it…and heinous when I do not. However if we are committed to continuing our excellent experiment of democracy in our beloved country it has to be for everyone…not just our friends and neighbors…and people who look like we do. Don’t we all have the basic right…when we see the police to feel that they are our friend…and the protectors of our constitutional rights?