Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Burning Down Ferguson Is Not Going To Help

“If you burn down buildings, you achieve what? A fire. But you don’t get justice for Michael Brown.” -Al Sharpton

Last night, the grand jury (which included 3 blacks) decided that Darren Wilson (white) had committed no crime when he shot Michael Brown in apparent self-defense last summer. The young black man that everyone had said was gentle and loveable, the police officer said was more like “Hulk Hogan” and that he had no choice but to shoot in self-defense as Brown repeatedly punched him. Because of that, supporters of Brown began to burn down Ferguson.
At least 80 people were arrested, fires were started and hundreds of shots were fired. So far no one is believed to have died, and the national guard has been called in. At one point over a thousand protestors gathered in one area. Police fired pepper spray and irritating gas. At another time protestors charged a barricade manned by police in riot gear and knocked it over.
Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, is not far off from the court house where, over a hundred and fifty years ago, another important battle was fought about human rights. In what one Supreme Court Justice called the courts’ most embarrassing time, it was ruled that Dredd Scott did not have the right to be a free man, no matter how many Free states he had passed through. It was, to say the least, a terrible decision, and inexcusable.
In front of the court house where the decision took place, in modern times, protestors, (who included whites) burned an effigy while calling Wilson to be indicted.
Back then, there were many fiery attempts at increasing human rights. Some were moral but not legal. Which was alright. But some were neither. More than once slaves were not content to run away or simply resist those who were attacking them. They became violent.
Such as Nat Turner in 1831. He and his men killed around 60 men, women, and children. Turner himself killed a woman with a blow to the head from a fence post. Her crime was being white. Of course, this is much more violent and terrible than Ferguson, and these men were slaves, but there was no need to go around killing white children. Racism is inexcusable. But so is angry violence that does not accomplish anything.
The rebellion only lasted two days. Turner was executed, and mass hysteria began Slaves were treated worse than ever. The little support for abolition of slavery there was in the South evaporated. Those that held the views were seen as wanting the whites to be killed in their beds. The slaves put their cause back by years.
Last night the city was already so scared of the protestors that they called in the national guard even before the decision was announced. The constitution gives the right to peaceably assemble. Emphasis on the word peaceably.
The jury, in the proper sense of law and order, decided not to indict. That, in itself, is rare. Very rare. In 2010, the last year for which we have data, 162,000 different times prosecutors asked for indictments. They got all but 11 of them. It appears Wilson case was very, very good. After all, there is an old saying that a grand jury will “indict a ham sandwich.”
The reason for it all. Wilson and Brown. Officer Wilson, who claims to have
shot Brown is self defense was cleared of all charges yesterday by a Grand
Jury. Wilson reportedly will be retiring from the force in the near future.
Brown's family is calling for calm in the middle of the riots.
But be that as it may, the people in Ferguson are not doing themselves any favors. Troops are now being sent in. To show how little the protestors were already trusted, you need only look at the images of buildings being boarded up before the announcement, and the barricades being erected before the night began.
Protestors, apparently, at least about these sort of human rights, do not have any respect any more. No one is paying attention, except to perhaps hope that they don’t burn down their house. As proof, in the over one hundred days since the shooting they have protested constantly, looted, stolen, burned effigies, and staged a “die in.” None of it helped. They didn’t win their case.
The fact that anyone, including Michal Brown -whatever he may have bee- died, is tragic. But, as the president is fond of saying, we are a nation of laws, and attacking someone is against those laws. Apparently, Brown was in the wrong. And burning down buildings is not going to help. Racism is a terrible thing. But so is attacking people because someone else won a case in court.
Violence, we are taught in grade school in “anti-bullying” classes, never accomplishes anything. Until human rights protestors remember something every school kid is supposed to know by heart, they won’t accomplish anything either.

Andrew C. Abbott 


  1. Pack lots of fire extinguishers.

  2. Pack lots of fire extinguishers.