The situation in Ferguson, Missouri seems to be winding down right now, but it was a pretty wild few days. We had such wonderful things as:
*The police using what looks a lot like military equipment to intimidate protesters.
*Rioting and destruction of property.
*Armed store owners keeping the hooligans away.
*Journalists roughed up in a McDonald's.
*Journalists getting gassed.
*Foreign propaganda outlets use this to make Americans look like a bunch of hypocrites.
*Someone writing in a respectable outlet called it a "police coup."
*I'd heard something about a state representative getting arrested too, but I haven't been able to find any corroborating evidence. I think it was referring to this state senator getting tear-gassed.
*Real soldiers sounding off on how inept the police were even with their military hardware and how if this was the "militarization" of the police force, it was the most inept militarization they'd ever seen.
*Cops telling people not to film them, even though that's perfectly legal.
*The hacker militia Anonymous shutting down much of Ferguson's government.
*A no-fly zone being declared. Very convenient for keeping away news choppers, I think, although it's the FAA and not the local cops declaring it.
Here're my thoughts. I identify as a conservative politically and/or as a Libertarian and I think this is bugnuts insane. Even IF the police shooting that set this all off was justified--and based on witness reports it almost certainly was not--the police massively overreacted to citizens exercising their rights to speak freely, assemble, petition the government for redress of grievances, etc. That the local thug element used this as an opportunity to make trouble doesn't justify the sheer overkill involved.
Some online left-wingers have been claiming Tea Party types, libertarians, militia types, people waving the Gadsden Flag, etc. have been awfully quiet about the situation, with the implication they're entirely cool with brutal police-state stuff if it's directed at black people.
Well, as a big fan of the Gadsden Flag (I plan on having the protagonist in my Wastelands series use it as his personal insignia), here's my response:
The police here have been behaving in a ridiculous manner, to the point their authority in the area has been revoked and the State Highway Patrol (led by a black officer who grew up in the area) has been brought in. Things seem to have gotten a lot better.
(And by the way, libertarians have been complaining for awhile.)
Now for some political thoughts:
*The militarization of the police has gotten absurd in this country. I could understand the need to have some kind of heavy iron for an emergency, but a lot of departments have stocked up on gear they're not likely to ever need short of an alien invasion. I'm an Eagle Scout and I'm all for being prepared, but there's not unlimited money out there. Although the problem in this situation is more of attitude than equipment, I'll steal a page from Rahm Emmanuel and suggest that a good crisis never go to waste. A relevant bill has been put forward. At the very least it might help control government spending.
*From eyewitness reports, the officer straight-up murdered the man. The robbery-suspect thing seems like an ex post facto justification for what happened, given how it didn't come out for days. If the eyewitness claim is true (it may not be--there hasn't been much of an investigation so far), he needs to be charged with the appropriate degree of murder and subject to the appropriate punishment (up to and including execution). Police have a reputation for closing ranks in the event of an accusation of wrongdoing and that needs to stop for the sack of justice.
*I've seen the suggestion floating around the Internet about having police carry small cameras on their persons to record the events of their shift. This seems like a good idea, in order to reduce police brutality and provide evidence to protect the cops themselves if a suspect attacks them and then claims to have been brutalized. It might also give them another source of information for their reports and all. Here's a poll from one of my major clients on cop cameras. If you could vote in it, that would be spiffy.
And because I'm a nerd, here's a selection from Battlestar Galactica about why the police and military are two different things.
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