6 Comments

  1. From what I’ve read, there are groups of violent protestors who are looting local businesses and throwing homemade explosives. These businesses are not at fault, and should not be victimized regardless of what’s happened between the police and Michael Brown. I support peaceful protest, which fortunately is the majority of the demonstrations occurring in Ferguson.

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  2. I think that we (us, people, and the media) can focus our energies on castigating a few people who may be behaving poorly and wrongly at the expense of losing sight of the main problem: bodies of color are targets, and historically been targets. these shootings are not new. These shooting are not anomalies. These shootings are not happening because of “bad” police. They are part and parcel of an institutionalized xenophobia that is based off of profit. Racial prejudice and class bias are used to polarize human beings, and, in turn, empower those that wish to maintain the class and race hierarchy as it stands today. kind of verbose, but sometimes verbosity has it place.

    Also, there are protestors that are actually stopping or trying to stop other people from damaging property (why, though, are we focusing on property more than human lives? At least, some of us are.) On the Melissa-Harris Perry show, they showed people trying to mediate with the police force. Some of them said, “we can stop these people from damaging property. But you have to extend the curfew…” looks like the police force, though, is not interested in negotiation. Christina Beltran, a professor and writer, said on MHP show that the ideology of democracy and the ideology of the police force are opposed. One is interested in mobilizing bodies into action to talk about injustice, and the ideology of the police force is to “suppress” and “contain.”

    Finally, in regards to the use of the term, “riot.” What does that mean to us? Why do we frame the conflict in this way. Words are powerful. A heavily militarized police force, people that claim to “serve and protect” are protecting people from….who? Someone should be protecting the protestors from them.

    Check out this excerpt from Black Girl Dangerous (the rest of the article is here http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/?_ga=1.8406517.1963243438.1408490656):

    1. Over-Simplified Talk of “Riots”

    According to media outlets and some residents, there’s been rioting in Ferguson since the killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. There have been reports of peaceful protests turning less than peaceful, with people confronting cops, throwing things at them, etc. I don’t know if the stories of rioting are true. Most of the video I’ve seen of Ferguson shows the protesters themselves gathered or marching relatively calmly. Angry sometimes, sure. But anger is a perfectly normal response to your unarmed teenage neighbor being gunned down in the street by police (police who have now showed up at your peaceful protest with attack dogs and riot gear).

    But let’s get something straight: a community pushing back against a murderous police force that is terrorizing them is not a “riot”. It’s an uprising. It’s a rebellion. It’s a community saying We can’t take this anymore. We won’t take it. It’s people who have been dehumanized to the point of rightful rage. And it happens all over the world. Uprisings and rebellions are necessary and inevitable, locally and globally. This is not to say that actual riots don’t happen. White folks riot at sporting events, for example. Riots happen. But people rising up in righteous anger and rage in the face of oppression should not be dismissed as simply a “riot”.

    Don’t be distracted by terms like “rioting”. Whether you’re for or against uprising and rebellion (side-eye if you’re against it, though), it’s a tool, not the issue itself. The issue is yet another Black teenager murdered by police. His name was Mike Brown.

    I apologize for the length of this response, but they way in which a lot of us are looking at what’s happening in Ferguson–we just need to be critical.

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  3. I absolutely agree with you that “we” are guilty of a “if it bleeds it leads” mentality. People in general don’t do enough research and lose focus on the bigger issues, so I welcome your well thought-out discussion and critical thinking.
    And I also agree that the larger problem at hand is the high amount of African Americans killed every year (something like 7,000). A recent study shows that this is 98% due to black-on-black crime and 2% due to police force in an unarmed manner, so I agree this is not a “bad police” issue. Of this total, 75% of crimes go unsolved, and that is incredibly sad. At least in this case, we know who did it.

    I’d like to hear more about “institutionalized xenophobia.” Who are the “foreigners”? Who is it that is marginalizing them? And what is the connection with profit? Who are those in power that you believe are trying to maintain a class and race hierarchy?

    As I mentioned, the majority of protests are peaceful. Their expression of anger and frustration is natural and I will defend to the death their right to peaceful protest. The National Guard was sent there to contain the situation either because it was already out of hand or had potential to. I’d rather have them there prematurely and excessively armed than risk anything close to what happened with the LA Riots.

    I think it’s reasonable for the police to enforce the curfew and not lift it simply because some protesters feel confident that they can keep things under control. Things can turn fatal very quickly, as in the example of Michael Brown’s death. If I were part of the National Guard sent to Ferguson and some people in the community told me “we can stop these people from damaging property”, that would not be reason enough for me to pack up and leave. Also, given that Ferguson PD is under such scrutiny right now, it would be beyond stupid of them to act with unnecessary force.
    As for the ideology of democracy, I think it depends on your definition and what you mean by “mobilizing bodies into action.” The US Constitution defines it as the right to election, vote, equal rights, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, etc … And yes the police are meant to “contain” and “suppress” when things get out of hand. That’s why our government consists of a Legislative Branch (to make laws) and an Executive Branch (to enforce laws). In the case of Ferguson, it appears that things got out of hand or were about to. As we both agreed, the media has exacerbated the situation and if not for them, things would probably be a lot calmer.

    Thank you for the article by Black Girl Dangerous. It made some good points. The main focus here is getting to the bottom of what happened to Michael Brown. My initial post was directed towards the minority group of violent protesters and journalists (many from outside Ferguson) using this as an excuse to be bad and fan the flames.

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  4. I think that I had a gut reaction to your post because it seemed to me like you were equating a loss of human life with damaged property. That doesn’t sit well with me because–well for obvious reasons, but also because historically, people of color–in particular, black Americans have been seen as less than human. During slavery, black Americans were simply tools, and, though most people would not say such things now, I argue that that same trend of thinking still persists (though perhaps not in the same way), and that type of thinking is played out during events such as these.

    Yes, most black people are killed by other black people, but so are most whites. This argument is made by people (specifically people on the political Right) who wish to deflect from the true issue (wanton disregard for black life on the part of the police force–or people who act in an authoritative capacity) in an event like this. (By the way, I’m not saying that YOU were trying to deflect.)

    When I mentioned that this is not necessarily about “bad” cops, I meant that that’s oversimplifying the issue. National police forces ought to be trained not to racially profile people (we all really should take a healthy look at out subconscious and unconscious bias).

    I think what Beltran was saying was that historically, protest has been something that low-income people (everyone, has done this, but for people with fewer resources, it may be the only thing they can do) can do to express their concerns with the government / policy. Police forces, however, are trained to “contain” bodies, and those philosophies may be opposed to one another in a democratic society, PARTICULARLY when it comes to bodies of color in the streets. Consider the Black Codes (a post-antebellum precursor to Jim Crow), and Jim Crow, which lasted until the mid-1960’s. In some ways, the modern police force is echoing the repressive practices employed by racist authorities against black bodies pre-1965. For people of color, trusting the police is easier said than done. It is very difficult to believe that the police force is there to protect. Having male cousins in my family, I knew from a young age that it was particularly hard for them to just move around outside without getting stopped. It just was. So, knowing this, knowing this history and the framework it’s evolved from, it’s difficult for black people to put their faith in the police, especially if you live in a low-income neighborhood.

    In regard to residents negotiating with police: It is because of the reality that I described above that it might serve the police dept. well to listen to community negotiators. Sometimes it’s easier for someone from the community to stop negative and obstructionist behaviors. I’m not suggesting the there is no place for the police force, but instead of treating the CITIZENS like hostile invaders, perhaps they should look at most of the protestors as people actively using the First Amendment rights.

    It’s also important to remember that the Ferguson police force CAME IN with tanks and military-grade equipment. They didn’t go, look at the protestors, deem them threatening, and then bust out the tanks. They arrived with tanks and tear gas. The fact that people in Gaza were advising residents in Ferguson on how to deal with this militarized police force is incredible to me. The world is watching this. This is not going to be a chapter we highlight in history books. These police were not looking to protect the protestors. Not when they came in with military gear. When you set up a dynamic like that, yeah, the situation is not going to de-escalate. The police set up this environment. And now we’re focusing on the “unruly” bodies that engaged in poor behavior. That’s a laugh. I’m not saying that it’s okay to steal or destroy property, but what I am saying is that it’s not okay to equate that with yet another death of an unarmed black man. That’s what I’m saying.

    Race and Violence: Some Data
    http://www.timwise.org/2013/08/race-crime-and-statistical-malpractice-how-the-right-manipulates-white-fear-with-bogus-data/

    The Larger Context of the Michael Brown Shooting:
    http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/the-larger-context-of-michael-brown-shooting-318927939681

    How the Rest of the World Sees Ferguson:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/08/18/how-the-rest-of-the-world-sees-ferguson/?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost (PS: Not saying that other countries don’t have something to gain or an agenda when they critique America, but that doesn’t mean that what they say is completely wrong, either.)

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  5. I forgot to mention a few things:

    -Xenophopia, in its most basic sense, means “fear of difference.” So when I talk about an “institutionalized xenophobia,” I mean there seems to be an entrenched “fear of difference” in our governing groups. And among us, as well. When we are really young, we don’t really make distinctions in the way we do when we mature. Because we live in a racially stratified society, we do learn to make distinctions based on appearance. “I look different from her b/c I’m from…or b/c I am [insert ethnicity / race here].” This is not inherently negative, but we can make it so. And many of us have (as evidenced throughout history). Anyway, if we don’t try to address the fear of difference that can spill over into our work lives, we’ll never be able to root out (or, at least problematize) race-based (or gender or class-based) prejudice. But because we live in a “color-blind” society, sometimes it’s hard to point these things out. And we all get very defensive when we talk about race. That is partially because we generally encouraged to ignore it.

    Capitalism and race-based prejudice go hand-in-hand. Slavery was implemented because there was money to be made. Just like now, there is a profit to be made if there are poor people and people that do not have access to resources. These people are disproportionately people of color. Think about who controls 90% of America’s wealth. It doesn’t have to be this way. The income gap has been widening over the last decade, because people (like those that control 90% of the wealth) want more. As a result, working-class people get even less. And, as I said before, those that are most vulnerable are people of color. So race and class operate with one another to produce societal inequality.

    More on racial stratification and its implications here: http://blacknectar.me/2012/07/07/is-the-new-american-order-a-tri-racial-system/

    Whew.
    I hope I’m not talking too much.

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