So here we are my intrepid Internet freedom lovers. The end of 2014 is hours away, and I thought I’d wrap up the year with a final critique on the Ferguson events. There were other events and obviously the 2A community endures on, but I often wonder what we’ve gained is offset by what we lost – and just how long we as a nation can endure on the trail it’s on. I guess I’m just overly pessimistic but when pro-ISIS recruiters are here in the US advocating for American criminals to integrate into the extremist network my faith in the tapestry of American society is thrown into question.
It was only recently that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called an end to the State of Emergency in Ferguson. (KMOV) This signaled an end to the state’s concern over the unrest that followed the Grand Jury’s decision not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson over the shooting of Michael Brown. Sadly a recap offers only sad testament to the true powers of ignorance and hate, rather than any discussion on police powers or race. See some of my assessments leading up to the Grand Jury decision here and here.
In the first 24-hours following the Grand Jury decision over 20 small businesses lay smoldering after protestors took to the streets and turned violent. (USA Today) Over 80 protestors were arrested, of whom only three were for outside the Saint Louis area thus dispelling the myth that a majority of the agitators were principally those from outside the region. (Huffington Post) Some cite Michael Brown’s stepfather at the head of the listeners listening to Prosecutor Bob McCulloch reading his decision yelling to “Burn this bitch down” as inciting the rioters. (Sanchez) The sad thing here was those who lost their livelihood had nothing to do with Michael Brown or Darren Wilson, and simply owned businesses the rioters felt necessary to vandalize. Time will tell if those impacted opt to return or leave the area and start over elsewhere.
Governor Nixon and the state bumbled their way through their response, initially choosing not to deploy the National Guard until the second day following the rioting and looting. (KMOV) This cause many private home and business owners to start looking to their own measures on protecting their community. More notably was the utilization of the Oath Keepers, whom appeared to many in the public as armed vigilantes. It wasn’t an issue until the press caught wind of it and made it media fodder, forcing the police into ordering the Oath Keepers to stand down. (Pertzborn) This placed the community at odds, decrying government inability to provide public safety and speculating if the White Have or Eric Holder had pressured the Governor at the last minute to hold off deploying the National Guard for fears of perception and political sensitivities. (Kovacs)
Since the Grand Jury announcement, Ferguson protestors exploited the issue as fodder for a variety of political or social commentary. From the initial symbolic gesture of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” to leaders like Al Sharpton who did nothing but incite further unrest in a variety of inflammatory speeches and empty promises. And since, protestors have shut down local malls (occasionally damaging merchandise), staged die-ins, and closed freeways risking motorists. (Fox News) (NBC News) (Rhodan) At one point as reporter Jake Tapper was giving a broadcast among protesters, behind him a sign advocating the militant terrorist group ISIS was noted among the crowd. (Ernst) With the extremist and apparent pro-terrorist support among the protestors and criminal elements in Saint Louis, the FBI took almost immediate notice and involvement. (Fazal)
It’s difficult for me to sympathize with the protestors given their apparent readiness to risk non-committal citizens, further unrest, and destruction to private businesses (let alone their apparent ties/sympathies to violent extremism). Moreover while I feel it is unfortunate that Michael Brown, a man so young, died – he did so after committing strong-arm robbery and (per the evidence and eye-witness testimony) attempting to assault Officer Wilson while grappling for the officer’s sidearm. This brings to mind “Don’t do stupid things” and typically you won’t die. I get that people were initially shocked that police were forced to respond as they did, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and heavily armored vehicles previously utilized by the military. But that was from the police sustaining direct/indirect gunfire (something that went almost unreported in local and national media because it jeopardized their story of the protestors as “peaceful”) and gas/fuel bombs like Molotov cocktails. Make no mistake, if that had happened in any other country save perhaps Europe, the government crackdown WOULD have resulted in civilian deaths. Typically most governments and police forces are not as tolerant or willing to endure the abuses the protestors demonstrated against the community and property.
In the end, overall I was relieved the damage was relatively minor. Yes, it’s unfortunate that small businesses not even associated to the events were looted or damaged. And many others were arrested on a variety criminal charges. But in the context of what was being promoted in social media for violence and race baiting, it could have been far worse. Today the protests continue (all be it in diminishing numbers). Locally I think the movement is dying out because of lost momentum and changes in weather have driven many inside away from the cold. Additionally, the group’s increasingly destructive “in-your-face” approach that forcibly involves an unwilling/non-committal public is alienating people from the movement. Although protestors advocate further actions going into 2015, much like the “Occupy” movement they probably will fitter out as their own actions and message erode public support. What little there was to begin with.
Fox News. Ferguson protests continue leading to mall closures, arrests. 29 November 2014. 3 December 2014 http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/11/29/ferguson-protesters-move-from-streets-to-stores-on-black-friday/.
Ernst, Douglas. The Washington Times. ‘ISIS Here’ sign held during Ferguson march confuses viewers. 19 August 2014. Accessed 20 November 2014. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/19/isis-here-sign-held-during-ferguson-march-seen-cnn/.
Fazal, Farrah. KSDK. ISIS tries to influence criminals in Ferguson. 23 December 2014. Accessed 23 December 2014. http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/ferguson/2014/12/22/isis-tries-to-influence-criminals-in-ferguson/20786973/.
Huffington Post. More than 80 Ferguson protestors arrested in Saint Louis Area. 25 November 2014. Accessed 28 November 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/25/ferguson-arrests_n_6218034.html.
KMOV. Gov. Nixon ends state of emergency for Ferguson protests. 17-December 2014. Accessed 18-December 2014 http://www.kmov.com/special-coverage-001/Gov-Nixon-ends-state-of-emergency-for-Ferguson-protests-286150281.html.
—. Governor Nixon activates National Guard ahead of grand jury announcement. 18-November 2014. Accessed 20-November 2014. http://www.kmov.com/special-coverage-001/Governor-Nixon-activates-National-Guard-ahead-of-grand-jury-announcement-282964721.html.
Kovacs, Joe. Did Obama Halt National Guard in Ferguson? 26-November 2014. Accessed 28-November 2014. http://www.wnd.com/2014/11/limbaugh-did-obama-halt-national-guard-in-ferguson/.
NBC News. Ferguson Protesters Stage ‘Die-In’ at Missouri Mall. 29 November 2014. 3 December 2014. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/ferguson-protesters-stage-die-missouri-mall-n258126.
Pertzborn, John. Ferguson Oath Keepers challenge order to leave. 2-December 2014. Accessed 2-December 2014. http://fox2now.com/2014/12/02/ferguson-oath-keepers-security-team/.
Rhodan, Mary. Ferguson Protesters Attempt to Shut Down Highway. 10 September 2014. 3 December 2014. http://time.com/3319371/ferguson-protest-highway-police/.
Sanchez, Ray. Michael Brown’s stepfather at rally: ‘Burn this bitch down!’. 26-November 2914. Accessed 27-November 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/25/us/michael-brown-stepfather-video/.
USA Today. Ferguson burning after grand jury announcement. 25-November 2014. Accessed 26-November 2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/24/ferguson-grand-jury-deliberations/19474907/.