Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson and the Aftermath

Fearsome: A demonstrator flashes a peace sign before a burning police car during clashes between police and protesters over the decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown

As expected, the grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown--a violent street thug that attacked Wilson shortly after robbing a tobacco shop. And, also as expected, the community organizers, the "gangsta" wannabe's and the professional victims all rioted and protested. In addition to Ferguson, Missouri, the Daily Mail reports on protests in some 90 other cities across the nation.

The Drudge Report and Weasel Zippers are both good sources for aggregations of reports on the violence and protests. KSDK, a local television station, has a slideshow of the some of the damage. I would also note this summary from The New York Times:
After a chaotic night of demonstrations that erupted in many fires, frequent bursts of gunshots, looting and waves of tear gas, Gov. Jay Nixon said early Tuesday that he would send additional National Guard troops to help quell the worst violence this battered St. Louis suburb has seen since a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August. 
The hours of unrest followed the announcement on Monday evening that a grand jury had chosen not to indict the officer, Darren Wilson, for the death of Michael Brown. St. Louis County reported that 61 people had been arrested. 
“I really don’t have any hesitation in telling you that I didn’t see a lot of peaceful protest out there tonight, and I’m disappointed about that,” Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County police chief, said early Tuesday at a news conference. “I’m not saying there weren’t folks out there that were out there for the right reason — I’m not saying that wasn’t the case — but I am saying that, unfortunately, this spun out of control.” 
Chief Belmar said demonstrators had set fire to at least a dozen buildings in and around Ferguson, and estimated that he had heard about 150 gunshots. The police, he said, did not fire any live ammunition. 
Asked whether he would call the unrest that unfolded in Ferguson a riot, the chief replied, “Oh yeah, this fits.” 
Fires continued to burn into Tuesday, and some of the flames and smoke on West Florissant Avenue, a main thoroughfare that was an epicenter of violence in August, lapped over the fence lines behind the storefronts, swooping perilously close to homes. 
“It’s horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible,” said Tammy Ruffin, 54, standing in stinging smoke that swept over her house Tuesday morning. “I knew this was going to happen.” 
Although she said that she, too, was upset that Officer Wilson had not been indicted, “It’s the wrong reaction,” she said.
Actually, it meets the definition of domestic terrorism under Federal law. But don't hold your breath about the DOJ actually investigating, let alone prosecuting any of the rioters for terrorism.

Race: A firefighter walks past the burning Little Ceasars restaurant in Ferguson on Monday. Within a few hours, several large buildings were ablaze, and frequent gunfire was heard
The real victims of this will be the local residents. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the damage is much worse than the riots earlier in August. In a case of eating-their-own, most of the damage was to minority owned businessesFred Siegel, writing in August after the initial riots, pointed out:
Riots bring but one certainty—enormous economic and social costs. Businesses flee, taking jobs and tax revenues with them. Home values decline for all races, but particularly for blacks. Insurance costs rise and civic morale collapses. The black and white middle classes move out. Despite its busy port and enormous geographic assets, Newark, New Jersey has never fully recovered from its 1967 riot. This year, Newark elected as its mayor Ras Baraka, the son and political heir of Amiri Baraka—the intellectual inspiration for the 1967 unrest. 
The story is similar in Detroit, which lost half its residents between 1967 and 2000. Civic authority was never restored after the late 1960s riots, which never really ended; they just continued in slow motion. “It got decided a long time ago in Detroit,” explained Adolph Mongo, advisor to the jailed former “hip-hop mayor,” Kwame Kilpatrick, that “the city belongs to the black man. The white man was a convenient target until there were no white men left in Detroit.” The upshot, explained Sam Riddle, an advisor to current congressman John Conyers, first elected in 1965, is that “the only difference between Detroit and the Third World in terms of corruption is that Detroit don’t have no goats in the streets.” 
The grotesque pantomime of repression and redemption, riots and never-quite-achieved rewards, plays out time and again. The chaos in Ferguson is but the latest episode of this long, sad drama of resentment and revenge. The drama persists in part because so many journalists and academics, not to mention black activists, have so much invested in it. It’s the conceptual air that they breathe. Sadly, to paraphrase the philosopher Ernest Gellner, some failed practices cannot be the subject of reconsideration, because they already shape the way we think.

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