On the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, violence stained Ferguson once again. After a day filled with marching, moments of silence, and peaceful protesting, things took an ugly turn as day drew into night. Protestors began hurling bottles and rocks at Ferguson police officers, and looters ransacked a local beauty supply store. But it was when an (as yet unidentified) man took shots at police that the day turned bloody.
Officers described the man as having unleashed a “remarkable amount of gunfire” with a stolen firearm. Detectives in the area spotted and pursued the individual, only to find themselves the new target of his gunfire. The detectives eventually cornered the suspect in a fenced area, shooting him several times to put an end to the violent spree. The suspect, described only as a man in his 20s, was undergoing surgery as of Monday morning.
“We cannot continue, we cannot talk about the good things that we have been talking about, if we are prevented from moving forward with this kind of violence,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. He said that those who had been shooting during the night could not be characterized as “protestors.”
The president of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday to bemoan the lack of progress made since Brown’s death. “In terms of legislative action, 40 legislators have taken up some measure of holding police departments accountable but only a tiny fraction of which actually moved towards holding police departments accountable,” said Brooks.
Brooks said it was important to pass laws against racial profiling and make sure law enforcement agencies everywhere were outfitted with body cameras.
But even Brooks must admit that violent protests that pit young black men against the police will only hinder the progress he seeks. Americans are turned off by this extraordinary anti-police sentiment dripping from the Black Lives Matter movement, and there simply isn’t enough evidence to support their efforts. This movement started with a case that, sad to say, just wasn’t what the protestors wanted it to be. The real victim a year ago was Officer Darren Wilson, a man who did his job, saved his own life, and found himself America’s most hated man in the process. A real Black Lives Matter movement might start with an apology.
It’s too bad, because there are issues here that deserve to be addressed. It’s obvious that something is very wrong in poor black communities. It’s clear that police are not always abiding the law when they arrest suspects. The advent of body cameras will protect both suspects and police and should promote a more constitutional approach to law enforcement.
But as long as these protestors continue to make it an “us vs them” thing, their concerns are going to go unheard. They are actively driving away the very politicians who would otherwise support them. This movement either needs a good leader to come forward and change the tone, or it needs to go away.