A Lack of Responsability



The riots in Ferguson, Missouri show that the political unrest and culture which revolves around them are not exclusive to Europe, the Middle East or America’s coast, but the American Midwest as well. It would also appear that the governmental imprisonment of journalist and the limiting of the freedom of speech are also the not exclusive to the Third World.

The riots in Ferguson began when police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. On his way back from having robbed a pack of cigars from a local liquor store, Michael Brown was stopped by Officer Darren Wilson and asked to put his hands up. It is unclear the details of what happened next, but Officer Wilson did shoot and kill Michael Brown, who was unarmed. However reports vary on whether or not Michael Brown assaulted him or not. But this is not the focus of this article.

The aftermath of this brutal killing has resulted in a huge backlash by many of the people in Ferguson and the country. The more frightening thing is the way in which the police have handled the situation. The police, who have by definition put the people of Ferguson into a state of martial law. The police response in many ways in absolutely ridiculous and unlawful. While it is true there has been looting done by some within the Ferguson community, it is not at all clear that these people are directly connected with the protestors. For the most part the protesters were fairly peaceful and more angered by political grievances and the harsh brutality of the police response than anything else. In many ways the progression of these riots can be compared to that of the riots which occurred in Dinkytown last Spring. That is, in saying that the riots only got out of hand when the police decided to escalate the situation by charging the crowd with batons and throwing tear gas.

“There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response,” Rand Paul said.

At the same time can the rioters and looters really be blameless in this situation? Are these people who are looting and rioting really doing this due to any political or racial grievance or is it a way for most of them to fulfill their own selfish desires? For most of the rioters, the incident involving Michael Brown seems to only be an excuse in order to steal, assault, and commit other crimes. While freedom of speech and peaceful protesting is a paramount of American democracy, this rioting has gone far beyond the limits of both.

Nevertheless the whole question that this case has been asking is, have the police acted within legal limits? After having discussed the situation with Rice county attorney, Paul G. Beaumaster, it really comes down to the fact that there is a lack of evidence in the case as a whole. Much of the mystery surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown could’ve been cleared up if the police in Ferguson had been equipped with cameras, a practice which is becoming more popular around the country. While many fear the idea of “Big Brothers Watching and 24 hour surveillance” one should also look on the flip side. These efforts would force the police to use more discretion, helping to create a police force which is not only more responsible to the community but also more accountable. As Mr. Beaumaster said, his office has sought to make the police less like an occupation force, and more “collaborative with the community”. This has seriously reduced crime within Rice county and has lead to safer community.

In the end the whole situation in Ferguson, by both rioters and police has come down to responsibility or a lack thereof.