FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

There is a Ferguson Near You

by

There is a Ferguson near you. Many pundits are saying that the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has revealed troubling racial tensions in America. But the real scandal in Michael Brown’s shooting is that it reveals what we’ve already known.

As conservative Republican Senator Rand Paul wrote about Ferguson: “Anyone who thinks race does not skew the application of criminal justice in this country … is just not paying attention.”

Ferguson is a suburb of St Louis that is two-thirds African American. Its 53-person police force has only three African Americans. Its mayor and five of six of its city council members are white. Its seven member all-white school board has just closed the school that Michael Brown graduated from.

Across this country, African American parents warn their children, particularly their sons, that they have a bull’s eye on their T-shirt. They are more likely to be picked up, more likely to be arrested if stopped, more likely to be jailed if arrested, more likely to be jailed if charged. This isn’t just in Ferguson; this likely is true in the town where you live. While the investigation is not complete, what we know is that Michael Brown was unarmed.

Imagine if that had been your son.

The reaction of the police in Ferguson to demonstrators looked like a military, not a police response. Police are trained to use the least force necessary. The county police in Ferguson acted like an occupying military force, responding to a threat by hitting hard and escalating, firing tear gas at residents standing on their own lawns. Police carry identity and name badges so residents can know them. Ferguson’s force was decked out in camouflage as if it were facing not outraged citizens, but foreign guerrillas.

The excesses in Ferguson aren’t unique. Across this country, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon have been providing military type weapons ­— tanks, artillery, mortars, tear gas — and arming SWAT teams in local police forces.

No one should condone violence, whether by the police or the people. But everyone must understand the rage expressed by the residents of Ferguson. Whole sections of our cities and suburbs are like kindling, needing only a spark to flame up.

The urban middle class in this country has been under economic assault. In Ferguson, a middle class suburb, the poverty level now is at 22 percent. Homeowners have been victimized by bankers peddling fraudulent loans. Good jobs are scarce. African American unemployment remains about twice that of whites; for the young it is even higher. Their schools are underfunded. They lack affordable day care, decent public transport, adequate training and educational opportunity.

When people see no way out, then an unrepresentative, discriminatory, heavily armed police force only adds to the alienation.

Ferguson should lead to a review of police hiring, arming and procedures across the country. But that alone is not enough. We need a new urban initiative, a renewed focus on the poor. We need a plan for jobs, decent schools, and affordable public transport. For decades, we’ve chosen to lock people up rather than lift them up, to build first-class jails and second-class schools. Michael Brown was a victim of that reality. The people of Ferguson have every reason to be outraged. And there is a Ferguson near you.

Jesse Jackson founded Rainbow/PUSH.

 

 

 

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail