After another restless night in Ferguson ended with tear gas and rubber bullets fired at protesters, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon unilaterally decided to send in the National Guard to help keep the peace Monday. Apparently, Nixon made this decision without much discussion with police on the scene and didn’t even give President Obama a head’s up before making the announcement. Nixon did state that due to these additional resources being deployed, Ferguson will not be under a curfew Monday evening. However, the addition of 80 National Guard troops to Ferguson is yet another band-aid that’s been applied that will do nothing to cover up and heal the wound that’s been created by the Mike Brown shooting.
The fact is that the protests would quickly simmer down if a handful of actions were taken, none of which involves SWAT teams, tear gas, riot gear, assault rifles or armored vehicles. The moment Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson gets charged with the murder of Mike Brown, the city of Ferguson won’t find itself overtaken with protests, rallies and marches. We are now 9 days past the shooting of an 18-year-old unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer, and no charges have been filed. There have been two autopsies performed and the federal government is doing a third one. Yet, Wilson remains a free man, and until recently, was able to keep his name and identity a secret.
While looting, violence and police reactions have been taken up much of the media attention surrounding Ferguson, the fact remains that people started demonstrating and lashing out in the community due to the senseless killing of Mike Brown. They feel that the police departments and administrative offices in Ferguson and St. Louis County are not going to provide them justice. Therefore, with each passing day that Brown’s killer is not charged with his crime, people will take to the streets and protest in Ferguson.
Besides hitting Wilson with a murder charge, there are other actions that can be taken politically and administratively that can provide some relief to the city of Ferguson and bring calm to the community. First off, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson needs to be removed from his position. Whether he resigns of his own accord or is fired, the vast majority of Ferguson residents do not trust him one bit. The way he has handled the shooting and its aftermath has been beyond abysmal. Many of his comments and actions, such as releasing a video of Brown taking part in a minor robbery minutes before he was killed while simultaneously releasing Wilson’s name, have served to antagonize and anger the residents of Ferguson. It seems as if he takes delight in pouring gasoline on fire.
Another thing that likely needs to happen is that St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has to be removed from investigating this case. McCulloch’s objectivity has been called into question due to a number of factors, least of which is that his father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty when McCulloch was twelve. His dad’s killer was black. Also, McCulloch publicly criticized Governor Nixon’s decision to remove command of law enforcement overseeing the situation in Ferguson from Jackson and St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar and hand it to Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson. The move was universally lauded and seen as a necessary step that was needed in building back trust within the community. McCulloch’s criticism makes it appear as if he’s too close to the police departments and cannot be objective when potentially trying one of the officers.
Beyond that, other things that can be done include releasing the initial autopsy done by the St. Louis County coroner, the mayor of Ferguson being more visible and publicly apologizing to the residents for allowing institutional racism in the town to go unchecked and the hiring of more officers of color to the Ferguson police department (there are currently only 3 among a force of 53). But, more than anything, Wilson needs to be charged with a crime, and that needs to happen sooner rather than later. Anger and frustration will only continue to build upon itself as long as Wilson isn’t staring down a murder charge..
The people of Ferguson, and Mike Brown’s family, want justice for Brown. They want to feel like they are going to see progress in their community. Until then, it doesn’t matter what strategic band-aids are put in place, such as making the burned down QuikTrip off-limits, people will continue to hit the streets and voice their rage
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).