Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Will Come of the Ferguson Protests?

Dave Weigel has an interesting column in which he asks what the protesters in Ferguson want, and what might come of the whole thing.

As to what the protesters want, the simplest answer is that they want the arrest of police officer Darren Wilson. Comparing Ferguson to the Trayvon Martin case,  Weigel says:
The idea that a kid could be shot and the shooter could walk away without a charge -- that was the outrage. Benjamin Crump, who represented Martin's family, is representing Brown's family with the same public argument. "What else do they need to arrest the killer of my child?" he asked at a press conference yesterday, quoting Brown's mother.
Beyond that, what? Weigel highlights two possible avenues of change:
Turn out the vote. The day after Mike Brown was shot, Mother Jones ran the numbers and noticed that Ferguson, a mostly-black city, was almost entirely run by white politicians. Only three of 53 police officers were black. More than 92 percent of the police searches that happened in Ferguson happened to black people. ThinkProgress's Ian Millhiser asks whether the timing of the city's elections -- April, not November -- guarantees a whiter electorate and a less representative local government. . . .

At his first speech in Ferguson, Al Sharpton condemned the city's low voter turnout. The Center for Constitutional Rights is offering voter registration near the scene where Mike Brown died. I learned this via Charlie Spiering, who reports that Missouri RNC executive director Matt Wills condemned the voter registration as "not only disgusting but completely inappropriate."

That seems like a fantastic reason to do it.
And, on the national level, de-militarization of the police:
The transfer of military ordnance to police departments, a sleeper story for the better part of a decade, has become a national scandal. . . .

Libertarians and liberals in Congress are already talking about de-militarizing the police; Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson has a bill ready to go. There might be space, too, for an investigation along the lines of the Kerner Commission, which could pull the cops out from behind their masks and anonymous threats to reporters.
We can only hope.  And write our representatives.

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