Back on August 9 of this year, Ferguson (MO) police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. The killing lit a powder keg of pent-up tensions in the St. Louis suburb. The world witnessed police paramilitary units patrolling the streets of Ferguson in riot gear and firing tear gas cannisters and rubber bullets into crowds.
Now, more than three months later, tensions are once again on the rise in Ferguson as everyone awaits the decision of a St. Louis County grand jury investigating the shooting. The local District Attorney refused to recuse himself and the governor resisted calls for a special prosecutor.
If our history is any guide, the grand jury will choose to no-bill the officer either because the DA made no effort to obtain an indictment or because Mr. Wilson wears a badge. Police officers just don't get indicted unless the evidence is undeniable as to what they did.
In anticipation of a no-bill, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in St. Louis County. The reason given is the need to preserve law and order and to protect people and property. Of course, if you stop to think about it, sending in the paramilitaries when they are the ones responsible for the unrest in the first place makes absolutely no sense. But that hasn't stopped Gov. Nixon.
Nope. You know the last thing Mr. Nixon and his band of wealthy white supporters want to see is a bunch of black people marching and carrying signs reminding folks that racism and oppression are still alive and well in the Show Me State. His declaration is but an attempt to intimidate people into not exercising their right to seek redress of their grievances. By upping the ante with a bunch of black-clad Stormtroopers carrying the latest gear obtained from the US Defense Department and military contractors, Gov. Nixon has assured us of a confrontation.
Mr. Nixon has done nothing since the night Mr. Brown was murdered to address the concerns of the citizens of Ferguson. He has nothing to address the concerns of African-Americans living elsewhere in the state. He has done nothing to address the issue of police brutality. He has done nothing to address concerns over the militarization of the police.
Police officers are supposed to be members of the community. Their job is to serve and protect those around them. But, when you put riot gear on an officer and give him a helmet and a visor, those he's standing across from become the enemy. It's no longer everyone working together, now it's us against them. These paramilitaries are the last line of defense for the Establishment against those who aren't wealthy and/or white.
Wearing a badge does not give one carte blanche to kill people. Police officers are not above the law, they are subject to the same laws that the rest of us are. Maybe one day we'll realize that.