Washington Post: Ferguson Police Response Demands An Investigation

And an act of Congress? Here’s the Editorial Board

FROM THE chief of the police department to the president of the United States, government officials on Thursday promised a different approach to the racially charged unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. But the situation demands a lot more than a stand-down by assault-rifle-toting police. It might require an act of Congress. (snip)

That was justified in light of what Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. termed “unnecessarily extreme displays of force.” Nothing justifies looting or assaulting police, but law enforcement officers in Ferguson did not need to respond to mostly peaceful protests by deploying armored vehicles, pointing sniper rifles at civilians and tossing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets liberally into crowds. These tactics have been an affront to a community that needs to be heard, not suppressed.

Nor does the cause of public safety excuse the documented abuse of several journalists, including The Post’s Wesley Lowery, whom police detained for “trespassing” in a McDonald’s, and an Al Jazeera film crew, which was tear-gassed.

Our objection to the brandishing of tools of war in a crowd-control operation raises the further question of whether police departments have obtained too much military hardware from the Defense Department. Police officers with the wrong attitude can do a lot of damage with a nightstick or a pistol. It would be a good idea for the Pentagon to reconsider whether a local police force should ever need, say, a mine-resistant armored vehicle. Congress, too, could take more control of the equipment-transfer policy, in place since 1990.

Now, there are couple interesting issues to deal with. First, Congress should definitely rethink the 1033 program, whereby tons of military grade equipment ends up in the hands of local law enforcement without the necessary training. One of the problems in Ferguson was that the police were responding to all the violence during the protests, and surely went overboard with their toys. They might have gone overboard without all the toys. How many police forces are really prepared for riots? If you were one of the police, how might you act in the face of multiple lawless nights? If we really want to point fingers, we need to point them at the higher ranking officers, who should have de-escalated the police response.

It is interesting that when it is the media being targeted, the Post is suddenly concerned with the militarization of the police, something many on the Right have been noticing for years.

Let’s consider something else, which needs to be debated: what about the initial response from the citizens of Ferguson? As the WP wrote “Nothing justifies looting or assaulting police, but law enforcement officers in Ferguson did not need to respond to mostly peaceful protests by deploying armored vehicles, pointing sniper rifles at civilians and tossing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets liberally into crowds”. Remember, it wasn’t the Ferguson police who started this. It was the riots, looting, robbing, violence, vandalism, etc, which brought the police out. Molotov cocktails being thrown at the police. Think about it: how might you have responded if you were a Ferguson police officer? From the comments

I wonder what the Post’s position would be if a crowd had decided to trash its building and the police could only stand by.

Good question. I’ve read many comments and heard them on the radio from citizens in Ferguson, who are thrilled that the police were attempting to protect citizens and their property from those who took advantage of the situation.

While we are investigating the police response, we also need to be investigating the citizen response. It may not be popular, it may be called racist, but the leaders in the Black community need to dig deep and discuss exactly why so many in their community immediately turned to violence, which caused the police response. So many are forgetting that it wasn’t the police who caused the riots and violence, the citizens brought the police out. And that still doesn’t excuse the police response.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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6 Responses to “Washington Post: Ferguson Police Response Demands An Investigation”

  1. Jeffery says:

    The riots occurred because an unarmed Black kid was gunned down by a white officer in broad daylight and by every action the police appeared to be considering it business as usual.

    Paraphrasing MLK: Riots are the language of the unheard.

    In an urban/suburban city where a white police force has earned a reputation of abuses against a largely Black citizenry, an unarmed 18 yr old Black kid was shot multiple times by an officer and killed. The police force immediately closed ranks, collected cell phones of witnesses, hustled the killer away (he has never been identified), and made official announcements giving the officer’s story, asserting it was true. Investigation over! The kid’s body was left in the street for hours. In the information blackout, rumors were that the officer shot the kid for no reason (which still may be the case). When asked how many times Mr. Brown was shot the chief said dismissively, more than one, less than many.

    The actions of the Ferguson police greatly contributed to the foul climate. Every action was to protect the shooter. The decision to bring in armored vehicles, military force and tear gas was counterproductive and the head of the County police should lose his job, now. The wildly out of control “soldiers” detained, abused and arrested reporters. Govt guns were trained on protesting American citizens. A gun-toting citizen was shot by a St. Louis County officer and critically injured Wednesday night. The officer claimed the man pointed a gun at him.

    The police and prosecutor shows great concern for the killer’s safety. He would be safe in jail, which is where Mr. Brown would be if he hadn’t been killed.

    Governor Nixon has now replaced the occupying St. Louis County armored units with the very well-respected Missouri State police and the atmosphere has been cooled.

    The protestors giving our state troopers hugs is a good sign.

  2. david7134 says:

    Jeff,
    You could have gotten some support in your statement. I believe most here would agree with the fact that the police were heavy handed in there responses to the protest, or at least what we have been allowed to see via the media (they actually staged riots in the 60’s and had their own police to respond the way they desired). But then you go off on stupid stuff like shooting the poor, innocent 18 year old child when he was actually a giant thug that had just held up a convenience store. Then you fail to note that when the cops back off last night, there were a number of people assaulted for their race and continued violence by the blacks in the area. As to the blacks being put upon over the years, I have not seen a single valid report to that and in a colorless society, why do you differentiate between white cops and black cops? You are clearly a racist.

  3. gitarcarver says:

    But then you go off on stupid stuff like shooting the poor, innocent 18 year old child when he was actually a giant thug that had just held up a convenience store.

    Yeah, but look what happened here david. The Ferguson police chief came out this morning to release the video, dispatch calls and stills of the convenience store robbery.

    After that had made the rounds, the chief came out after lunch (and all the lunch time news shows) and said the officer Wilson was unaware of the robbery when he and Brown came together.

    So what was the purpose of the video and the stills? Why release them other than to try and make the case that Brown was a bad person?

    Are we really saying that Brown deserved to die over a $43 box of cigars? Are we really trying to say that the cop shot Brown when the cop was threatened even though Brown was 25 – 30 feet away? With his back to the cop? With his hands in the air? On his knees?

    God save us from the bumbling efforts of this Police Chief and the police department.

    Then you fail to note that when the cops back off last night, there were a number of people assaulted for their race and continued violence by the blacks in the area.

    That number would be “two.” One was a victim of the “knock out game” which is despicable and people needs to be addressed in many ways across the country, and the other was a cameraman who was assaulted by an unknown person.

    I cannot defend the police response to this whole mess. Instead of allowing people to protest and protect property and businesses, the police chose to deal more with protestors. They let businesses be robbed and looted while they marched in force down residential streets attacking people for no reason. That included lobbing tear gas onto private property without provocation. That includes breaking the cardinal rule of handling of weapon – don’t point it at a target unless you are prepared to fire. Yet there are lots of images where police are pointing weapons at protestors without any threat or provocation.

    Certainly there are going to be people that try and loot in situations like this. When a hurricane went through my neck of the woods, people looted and those who were arrested were white. Thugs and buttwipes are not limited to a specific race.

    And in case you missed it, there are a lot of white faces in the crowds at Ferguson. This situation has crossed racial and political lines because the response by the police has been so moronic, so misguided, and so ignorant that people are thinking “there for the grace of God go I.”

  4. Jeffery says:

    dave,

    Yeah, dave. Being called a racist by a white supremacist rings a bit hollow.

    Recognizing that there are Black people and white people and they are treated differently in our society is not racism.

    Even if Brown stole some cigars, the punishment is not death.

  5. david7134 says:

    Maybe you missed something Jeff. Like the fact that the cop was beaten up and was protecting himself. That is why he was shot. He would have simply gone to prison for the cigars or been fined for walking down the middle of the street.

  6. gitarcarver says:

    No david, you are missing something.

    We only have the word of the police chief that there were injuries to the cop. We don’t have any indication of the injuries to Brown as the autopsy has not been released.

    Secondly, Brown was away from the vehicle when he was shot. No one has even remotely said he was returning to the vehicle where the cop was said to be. You say you are a doctor and so I would ask if you know of any human being (even the 6’7″ Brown) have arms that are 25 – 30 feet in length.

    Because of that, the cop was no longer “protecting himself” because at that moment, there was no threat to the officer.

    (And that is based on what we know at this point in time. Things may change, but it is hard to imagine the distances changing.)

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