The bedlam of unrest in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting has continued to grip the country and the rest of the world. Images from Ferguson, Missouri has become the beacon of calls for a renewed focus of the U.S. Constitution, the power of the Executive Branch (Department of Justice), the intermingling between local and state jurisdiction, the militarization of the police, protection of journalists under the First Amendment, and the infringement of civil liberties and civil rights of American citizens.
They say that a single photo has the power to capture what a thousand words can say. Well, the images coming out of Ferguson are pretty powerful. We’ve decided to share some of those photos. And what we see is almost a repeat scenario played out during the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950s and 1960s. We saw the dogs then. We see them some 50 years after the 1964 Civil Rights was enacted. Law enforcement was seen as the bad guys then. They are seen by some parts of the public as the bad guys today. Not much has changed from then until now.
Incredibly, the mistrust and divide between law enforcement and communities of color, particularly African Americans, is just as wide as it is in 2014 as it was back in 1964. The story is old and tried: A young black man has his life taken away by a white member in the law enforcement community. Information about the shooting is withheld, increasing heightened racial tensions. What we see in Ferguson is a big mess, largely because city officials basically disappeared and the city’s police department bumbled this whole situation from Day 1.
We are in Week 2 of the Ferguson debacle because no one in authority wanted to listen to the black community. From a dismissive point of view, the African American community, which make up about 2/3 of the population in Ferguson, has had their voices largely ignored, which has transpired into unrest, confrontations and clashes with the police. It doesn’t help that there is a history of deep racial division between black folks and the majority white police department. It feels like the situation in Ferguson has completely spiraled out of control.
The polarization of the black and white divide shows once again the differences in our country. Instead of coming together, we’ve grown apart. As a country, America still has not owned up to slavery. Jim Crow only helped to keep the divide going. So, 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the open wound of race has once again re-surfaced. We keep ignoring it. But every time we do, that ugly spirit raises its head to remind us that it is not going away until we, as a country, finally admit we have to deal with it.