Topics for today include:
- Calls for Violence
- Will Ferguson still exist after everything is said and done?
- A few blatant examples of continued media distortions
Calls for Violence
Since I haven’t mentioned her before, let me introduce you to State Senator Jamilah Nasheed. It should be noted that she is not the State Senator for the district involving Ferguson. On 08/16/2014, she penned a letter to St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch demanding he step down and appoint an independent prosecutor. Here is a quote of particular interest:
“Critically important, you must consider the potential consequences if you choose to not seek a special prosecutor. If you should decide to not indict this police officer, the rioting we witnessed this past week will seem like a picnic compared to the havoc that will likely occur, because the black community will never accept that there was an impartial investigation from your office.”
Credit where credit is due, at least even she admits that there has been rioting, something the media and individuals like Jon Stewert refused to do. Still, the threat is undeniable and completely incompatible with civil society. I find it interesting that people that demand a fair shake are trying so desperately to impose their will on a people with violence, a people who already elected Bob McCulloch with nearly 71% of the vote.
While Jamilah Nasheed is fortunately in the minority and direct calls for violence have been rare, there has been a lot of militarized language being repeatedly used, with many of the same individuals opting for this imagery to also be refusing to call for non-violent protest. Some will say this is in response to the militarization of the police, but at what point does a tit-for-tat “you did A, so we’re going to do B” become nothing more than justification for armed revolt? One such man involved in the rioting/looting/protests calling for “rebellion” is Kareem Jackson, AKA rapper Tef Poe.
Poe was on NPR last night along with two other youth leaders on Don Marsh’s, St. Louis On the Air . While I’m talking about violent vs. peaceful protest, I want to contrast Poe’s language with one of the other guests, youth minister, Jay Mitchell, who was using peaceful imagery the likes of which Martin Luther King Jr. would be proud. While I don’t agree with the sentiment behind this protest, I can respect peaceful protest which has been unfortunately few and far between during the nighttime hours in Ferguson in the weeks that followed Mike Brown’s death. Contrary to popular opinion, most officers don’t have a problem with a peaceful protest.
Unfortunately, Poe has not been calling for nor participating in peaceful protest. Here is a transcript of a particular gem from last night’s interview:
“If you watch CNN and NBC you don’t quite understand how organized we actually are. You have a group of people who never had any military training, I’m a regular person. I have helped mobilize two to three hundred people away from a militarized police force. We’re regular human beings. That’s part of the reason why I use the word rebellion. Cause you have regular civilians fighting a militarized force with no weapons. I know they like to paint the picture that we’re on TV shooting back and throwing Molotovs. One Molotov is not going to do nothing against six tanks… *laughs* …quite frankly.”
With all due respect to the rapper, Molotovs don’t do much damage to MRAPs which is ironically justification for why MRAPs have been essential to keeping us safe. What’s more the notion that Molotovs are not a big deal is exactly why the police are quote unquote “militarized.” The type of mindset that justifies throwing a bottle of ignited accelerant onto another human being is beyond the point of any objective measure of being peaceful. I know I’m having a dumb argument when I have to clear up the notion that Molotovs are of excessive danger to people and property.
What’s more, it seems that members of the community are gearing up for further violence should Darren Wilson fail to be indicted. Don Marsh attempted to give the three a chance toward the end of the interview to denounce violence if for some reason Darren Wilson was not indicted. He didn’t come out and ask outright if there would be more violence, but he phrased matters in such a way that it would have been easy to condemn violence should it occur from other protesters or from members of their own organizations.
Furthermore, None of the panelists would conclusively say what the response would be from their respective organizations with anything other vague platitudes which I thought was oddly telling. The only common refrain was that they had talked about what would happen and they were prepared for that eventuality. The unstated point was clearly to give each of the guests the opportunity to say that their group wouldn’t participate in further violence but they either couldn’t commit to that goal (I think in the case of Mitchell) or wouldn’t commit to that goal (in the case of Poe).
Some other peaceful protesters on social media:
Will Ferguson still exist after everything is said and done?
I don’t mean to say that the entire town will burn to the ground, but as an actual political entity, has anyone considered the long term ramifications of the rioting, lawsuits, and bad press? The first major lawsuit to come out of this event is demanding 40 million. The city only brings in around 19 million a year and barely breaks even on the budget. Even if the city seeks to fight the lawsuit and not settle, there’s no guarantee that the city’s insurance carrier won’t simply decide to settle regardless. So the city’s liability insurance carrier drops the city after losing the first of a series of lawsuits and then general revenue is up for grabs.
What’s more, of the businesses that have been destroyed during the riots, many of them will not return. QuikTrip corporate has already said they will not rebuild the W. Florissant location. How many other damaged businesses will choose not to rebuild in Ferguson? How many other undamaged businesses will decide to move to less turbulent locations like West County? At this point, what are the chances that any new big corporations would be willing to relocate inside the Ferguson city limits?
What about the residents? How many citizens both in affected and unaffected parts of the city will remain once everything is said and done. It doesn’t matter if people are afraid of the police or of criminals, residency is going to drop in Ferguson regardless. Between residential taxes and businesses leaving in droves thus draining an already tight revenue stream, what are the chances that the city government can survive an onslaught of lawsuits, let alone fines likely to be levied by Eric Holder and the Justice Department?
The bottom line is that even after the dust has settled, the future is bleak. What remains will probably be some unincorporated subset of the county. All the talk of getting out the vote and electing a newer more representative government will be for nothing if there’s no positions to elect. It’s so ironic that after everything is said and done, the governing of Ferguson will likely fall to the administrators of St. Louis County, whom the black residents of Ferguson have overwhelmingly expressed their distrust. Even more ironic is the notion that the dissolution of Ferguson’s city government will have ultimately been their fault.
A Few Choice Media Distortions of the moment:
Media: Michael Brown was convicted of no serious felonies as a juvenile.
Reality: Michael Brown was never convicted of any A or B felonies. For the record, all felonies are serious and Missouri’s criminal code has felonies from A-D as well as Misdemeanors from A through D. However, for the sake of argument, the following offenses are C and D felonies deemed not serious for the sake of the Juvenile Court and the media:
- Involuntary Manslaughter (C Felony, RSMO 565.024)
- Felonious Restraint (C Felony, RSMO 565.120)
- Assault in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 565.060)
- Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer in the Second Degree (C Felony, 565.082)
- Domestic Assault in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 565.073)
- Arson in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 569.050)
- Burglary in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 596.170)
- Tampering with a Judicial Official (C Felony, RSMO 565.084)
- Tampering in the First Degree (C Felony, RSMO 569.080)
- Statutory Rape Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 566.034)
- Forcible Rape in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 566.031)
- Forcible Sodomy in the Second Degree (C Felony, RSMO 566.061)
- Sexual Abuse in the First Degree (C Felony, RSMO 566.100)
- Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance (C Felony, RSMO 195.202)
- False Imprisonment (D Felony, RSMO 565.130)
- Child Abduction (D Felony, RSMO 565.156)
- Assault While on School Property (D Felony, RSMO 565.075)
- Property Damage in the First Degree (D Felony, RSMO 569.100)
- Knowingly Burning or Exploding (D Felony, RSMO 569.055)
- Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree (D Felony, RSMO 566.101)
- Sexual Misconduct involving a Child (D Felony, RSMO 566.083)
If I had included Misdemeanors, even A Misdemeanors this list would have been three times as long.
Media: The city of Ferguson gets all or most of it’s revenue from writing tickets and fining its black citizens.
Reality: Public safety and fines for fiscal year 2012 was 12.9%. $2,227,648 of 17,249,760 in total revenue. Jon Stewert claimed that this was disproportionate. 12.9% of revenue against the 67% of the population that is black would seem to indicate that his claim is false, and that’s assuming that the 12.9% only accounts for fines and court costs levied against black residents.