Who’s to Blame for the Ferguson Riots?
The day before Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, and the town went up in flames, citizens of Baltimore buried a three-year-old black child, McKenzie Elliot. A stray bullet, fired in another one of those “random” acts of mayhem that are buried deep in local newspapers, killed little McKenzie. That same day, the city of Baltimoreimplemented a curfew. Children under 14 must be indoors by 9 p.m., with 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds inside by 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends.
A spokesman for the black mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, explained the purpose of the curfew: “The primary goal of all of this is to make sure young people who may be in challenging situations late at night are able to get home safely.”
Curfews are usually imposed as part of martial law. In cities with large black populations, however, this kind of authoritarianism is common. Nor are curfews imposed by whites on blacks–blacks often complain that whites had not been doing enough to police their communities.
- In 2011, Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia increased police patrols in response to “knockout game” attacks, imposed a curfew, and pushed harsh sentences on first-time offenders.
- That same year, Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, also black, tightened an already existing curfew after he was caught in a gunfight between “youths.” To this day, the city maintains a strong presence in trouble areas in order to enforce the law, which imposes a $500 fine on curfew-breakers.
- In 2013, Jesse Jackson called for “immediate Federal Intervention and Homeland Security in Chicago.”
- Just last July, black pundit Roland Martin said the National Guard should be sent to protect Chicago.
When black politicians impose a police state on their “youth” or when black activists ask the armed forces to keep blacks from shooting each other, it goes mostly unnoticed–unlike the frenzy over a white mayor’s “stop and frisk” policy in New York City. Needless to say, the reactions to the police response to the Ferguson riots–because it was ordered by a white police chief–is getting the same treatment as Michael Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” policy. At Slate, Jamelle Bouie says the police are “treating demonstrators–and Ferguson residents writ large–as a population to occupy, not citizens to protect.” When white people are behind it, a robust police response is invasive and threatening.
The Ferguson police department is, of course, being criticized by the rioters and everyone else for being too white: It has three black officers out of a force of 53. Police Chief Thomas Jackson pleads that he is “constantly trying to recruit African-Americans and other minorities . . . but it’s an uphill battle.”
The Ferguson riots are also a chance for reporters and activists to work one of their favorite–and ugliest–moral shell games. Instead of condemning rioters and arsonists outright, they accuses the police, white people, and America generally of “racism,” thus implicitly excusing and encouraging the violence. Gawker is using the incident to claim “America is not for black people,” and VICE’s Natasha Lennard explains that “The Ferguson Riots Are Not a Shift Away From Peace, They’re a Challenge to Violence.” Got that? Looting and burning local stores, attacking police officers, and destroying public property is a “challenge to violence.”
As of this writing, the rioting continues, though so does normal life in Ferguson. Yesterday, four or five blacks driving by in a car shot a woman in the head. This was so unremarkable that it got just four sentences in the local news.
Everyone is tip-toeing around “root cause” of all of this. Ferguson used to be a prosperous and peaceful Southern town, but as one story explained, St. Louis schools got so bad that even blacks couldn’t stand them, and some moved to nearby suburbs like Ferguson. The result: “As more black residents moved in, whites in Ferguson began to move to outer suburbs.” The town is nearly 70 percent black.
The story of Ferguson is the story of countless communities that transformed from the First World to the Third in just one generation. The legacy of that transformation in Ferguson is a mostly white political class and mostly white police force that try to keep a lid on crime and violence in a majority black city. For trying to achieve the impossible, they receive nothing but condemnation.
Michael Brown’s shooting may have been unjustified. Or maybe not. We don’t know what happened because the investigation is just underway.
What blacks and those who defend them in the media fail to understand is that rioting has nothing to do with whether an officer committed a horrible mistake or even premeditated murder. If whites were rioting in analogous circumstances–very hard to imagine, but let’s try–everyone would say they were scum, but since they are black they are mounting a “challenge to violence.”
What, after all, are the “protestors” supposedly protesting? That they don’t have the right simply to murder people they don’t like? Michael Brown’s mother has already said she wants the police officer who shot her son dead, so that may be the case. Let us remember this cry for blood the next time a concealed carry permit holder defends himself and blacks run to the media denouncing “vigilante justice.”
Of course, what no one dares point out is that blacks don’t need a reason to loot and riot. That’s just what happens when there are enough of them in one place and the police are out of sight.
Aside from the destruction and violence, these riots have another deeply insidious effect: Every thrown brick, every whiff of tear gas reduces the chances that the officer involved in the shooting will get a fair shake. The police who beat Rodney King were initially acquitted. After the Los Angeles riots, the next jury got the message: Convict, or be responsible for another 50 deaths. Whether the officer is put on trial or subject to internal procedure, it no longer matters what the evidence is. He’s guilty.
But let us return to beleaguered Ferguson. The media are warning about “police violence” and trying to conjure up the Democratic Convention of 1968 with cries of the “whole world is watching.” We can expect every email, every off-color joke, and every association of every police officer in Ferguson to come under the microscope. And the department will come under incredible pressure to hire more black officers.
They already tried that in New Orleans. When blacks got political power, theyreorganized the hiring process to get more black officers. The resulting majority-black force disintegrated during Hurricane Katrina, along with the rest of local black government. After the National Guard restored order and the police trickled back to work, Mayor Ray Nagin of the self-proclaimed Chocolate City sent them to Vegas to get some rest. It seems almost unnecessary to add that after leaving office Mr. Nagin wasconvicted of taking bribes.
What prevents Ferguson from this fate are the white officers fighting to save a black city from itself–to the scorn of reporters, residents, and everyone else. But the real question is: Why should they bother? If the Ferguson police were majority-black and exactly the same incident occurred, there would be no riot. If there were rioting and a majority-black force rolled out the armored cars, it would be praised as a strong stand for law and order.
But for the Ferguson police, no matter what they do, the aesthetics of helmeted men against “peaceful” demonstrators will convict them in the eyes of public opinion. And after the smoke clears, Attorney General Eric Holder will find some pretext to put the entire department in a Justice Department hammer lock, regardless of what anyone did or does.
As only black politicians and commentators are allowed to notice, a large black population requires a police force that is essentially an occupation. Whites are at fault whether they provide too little law enforcement or too much.
Perhaps the best thing the police of Ferguson could do is what the people and the media seem to want: walk off the job. Leave Ferguson to its fate. Let’s see who needs whom.
Perhaps the time has come for responsible whites to stop trying to save people who don’t want to be saved.