On Tuesday, the Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, spoke with Breitbart regarding reports that voter registration booths had been set up in Ferguson. Apparently, civil rights activists, led by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have used the protests in Ferguson over the death of Mike Brown to convince local residents to register to vote. This doesn’t sit well with Wills and the state’s GOP. When contacted by Breitbart to give an opinion on this, Wills said the following:
“If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is. I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”
Nope. Nothing racist about that at all.
One of the main complaints from black Ferguson residents in the aftermath of Brown’s shooting is that they feel shutout of the political process and major decisions affecting them. Despite African-Americans making up 67% of the town’s population, the mayor is white, six out of seven members of the school board are white (the other one is Hispanic) and nearly every other elected official in the town is white. The school system’s superintendent, a black man, was summarily suspended without explanation by the school board. He later resigned. The police department has only 3 black officers out of a force of 53.
Sharpton told the black people of Ferguson that if they want to affect change, they need to get to the polls and votes. He loudly condemned the 12 percent voter turnout by black residents during his speech at a rally Sunday. If they want more African-Americans in positions of political power they need to register to vote and get involved. Sharpton put his money where his mouth is and, along with others, set up the voter registration booths in and around the major protest areas. Basically, if young black people are going to come out and demonstrate, then they should also be given the tools to affect real change.
However, Wills, obviously speaking on behalf of many Republicans, not only in Missouri but this country, feel that this is awful and “disgusting.” I am shocked I didn’t see him quoted as calling Jackson and Sharpton ‘race hustlers.’ In his mind, civil rights activists shouldn’t use an event that is largely happening due to the long-standing racial and political issues affecting a specific area to raise awareness with the people who are most affected. They need to be solemn and respectful and not try to incite young black people to take any action towards their future. In other words, do what white Republicans want them to do — nothing.
Also, per Wills, he doesn’t think the Mike Brown tragedy has anything to do with race, and he wishes people would stop bringing it up.
“This is not just a tragedy for the African American community this is a tragedy for the Missouri community as well as the community of what we call America. Injecting race into this conversation and into this tragedy, not only is not helpful, but it doesn’t help a continued conversation of justice and peace.”
Ummm, OK. Sure. Race has nothing to do with what happened in Ferguson. Also, Wills doesn’t think it’s helpful to discuss race when talking about this awful tragedy. However, he also thinks it is “completely inappropriate” for black people to get registered to vote at this time in Ferguson.
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).