I have been watching the events of Ferguson, MO for over a week now. I have also been listening to and reading the comments from people about all of these events. First and foremost, it is tragic that an unarmed young man was shot and killed and my prayers go out to his family. Was it right or was it wrong? I have an opinion but it is based on what I read and see on the television and the internet which, as we all know, is not always the best source of the facts.
Do the people of Ferguson, MO have a right to protest? Simple answer is YES! Do these people have the right to loot, destroy property or assault the police or others? NO! Peaceful protests are a fine line between civility and chaos. The police have a job to protect life and property as well as allow the ‘peaceful’ protests. My feeling is that 98% of these protesters are and have been there with peaceful intentions. Emotions are very high and that makes it very difficult. It’s the other 2% that concerns me. These are ‘outsiders’ and others that are just there to cause problems, to cause injury and to destroy property for no other reason then to be ‘thugs’. These are the people who are causing the aggressive decisions that law enforcement must use when these thugs show up and show out. They hide within the peaceful protesters making it difficult for police to see and then strike out causing police to react to the protesters as a whole. As a police officer myself my heart goes out to every law enforcement officer involved in Ferguson, MO. They are there to protect these people yet they are getting criticized for walking this fine line of chaos while trying to protect themselves from the cowards that hide in the midst of the protesters, their goal, to cause damage and harm.
There is a problem in Ferguson, MO without a doubt, and sadly, it took this tragic incident to set it in motion. The Ferguson Police Department was overwhelmed, and sadly, out of their league from the start. The Chief of Police was not prepared for what was getting ready to happen after the shooting occurred. I could see it from his first press conference. He was nervous, not comfortable in front of the press and basically not ready for the questions he was asked. The arrival of the Missouri Highway Patrol was the best move, although late. Captain Johnson shows great professionalism and confidence from the very moment he arrived and took over the security of the city. He still must deal with the outsiders that are making the protests, especially after dark, a challenge for the officers working this incident.
The police have been accused of being heavy-handed by using tear gas, armored vehicles and other protective gear. Admittedly, it is reminiscent of the protests and riots of the 60’s. The police have a right to protect themselves as well. They have been shot at, had Molotov cocktails and objects thrown at them. The 2% in the crowd of protesters are the ones attempting to draw out the aggressiveness of the law enforcement officers trying to protect the other 98%. The armored vehicles that people are claiming make the police look to militarized are necessary to protect the police that are attempting to protect the people of Ferguson, MO. Now the Missouri National Guard is being deployed to the area, the real military with real military equipment, all because a few ‘bad actors’ that 2% wanted to turn this into a dangerous situation instead of a peaceful protest.
What is the solution out of this mess? Communication and negotiation is key. People have to let the justice system work, let the investigation be completed. None of this will happen overnight. Patience on the part of the people of Ferguson, MO is paramount. As for the other issues that have been brought forward due to this incident those have to be handled through talking with city and state officials and not violence. Until peace is returned to Ferguson, MO nothing else will be fixed. The citizens of Ferguson, MO and the country deserve answers and justice but the violence must stop before that can happen.