Warning serious post ahead. Detour here if you want something lighter.
I know I should really write about Ferguson. Everyone else is. But I can’t quite see the funny side of the situation. Maybe it’s because I’m too close to the issue – I live not that far from Ferguson. Far enough away that tear gas doesn’t waft in through open windows, but close enough that I know which streets are being firebombed.
I’ve met people from Ferguson and they seem perfectly nice. I’ve also met my share of police officers and they too seem perfectly nice. I don’t really feel qualified to talk about the underlying issue – the Irish haven’t been on the butt end of race relations in this country for more than 100 years. Well before my time. Now, once a year everyone plays at being green.
What bothers me is that I seem to be the only one who is still waiting for the Grand Jury to deliberate on whether to indict the police officer in the Michael Brown shooting. In my mind, the verdict could go either way. Police officers are people too – they sometimes do stupid things, but on the other side is an 18 year old – they sometimes do stupid things, too. I wasn’t there, so I’ll accept the grand jury’s verdict. I trust my peers (I’m really glad I’m not one of them) to hear the evidence and make a decision.
But I guess my crystal ball must be broken. Everyone else seems to already know the verdict. The parents have already testified to the U.N. asking the world at large to arrest the police officer (I think that’s the gist of it), “The Protesters” are holding practice sessions in preparation, and as of yesterday the Missouri National Guard has been called up. Schools are planning to close after the verdict – regardless of what it is.
And this is where my common sense butts heads with reality. Everyone is waiting for the answer, but no one actually wants to know the answer. There will be protests either way. Everyone wants justice, but only the justice they want.
Let’s talk about “The Protesters” for a minute. From what I can gather from various news reports (I’m not crazy, I watched the war zone in Ferguson on TV just like the rest of you!), the initial protest was to ensure that the police didn’t sweep the shooting under the carpet of government embarrassment. I’ll call these initial folks the Benevolent-Protesters.
So far, so good. I heard you. The world heard you. Mission accomplished. This is good old-fashioned American free-speech at work.
But then the Benevolent-Protesters were joined by Malevolent-Protesters: those who just want to throw bricks at things. This wasn’t unexpected. Protests are sporting events to some.
A this point I should talk about the police response to the protesters, but there’s not much to say – small town police captain who seems not to have read much U.S. history gets in over his head and can’t tell the difference between the two types of protesters (or the media). War zone ensues. Identifying badges are a definite must for the next round of protests.
Here’s where it all comes off the rails for me. There seems to be a third group of protesters; the Theatrical-Protesters. These are the folks who have continued to protest accosting people at baseball games, taking over symphony orchestra concerts, and disrupting film festivals. I have no idea what these protesters want.
“Listen to me!” they shout.
“I’m listening,” I shout back. “What do you want to say?”
“Listen to me!”
Regardless of the verdict, the Theatrical-Protesters will be out in force. The police will also be out in force. Sounds like a re-run to me.