I have waited to post about what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri. If you’ve been living under a rock or blissfully unaware of this whole situation, a good place to start is here.
I thought adding my voice to the noise could distract from those who are saying valuable things, those who are on the ground there, those who have facts about what is going on there. My thinking now is that approach is wrong. To be silent in the face of injustice and pain is not a good thing, and there is plenty of both in Ferguson. I speak from a place of ridiculous privilege. Though I am a woman, I am what I think most would consider middle class and white. I do not know this parent’s worry. I have been pulled over once by a police officer in my city, and, though I was obviously nervous and erratic, he did not ever question whether I was a threat; he wrote me a deserved speeding ticket and let me continue home. Home to my family, home to my friends, home to live my life. These experiences are luxuries many do not enjoy, and that is not okay with me.
Before I go any further, something needs to be said. I am very thankful for the existence of police. I have personally called the local police here once in my life, and that experience was very positive. I know several police officers, and all are very upstanding, lovely men of integrity and character. The problem here is not “the police” at large, I do not think. (Though, in this case, the Ferguson police department and their attitude and over-militarification have made this situation so much worse.)
The issue is so much bigger and more complex, and yet I think it boils down to something very simple: the belief that some people are worth more than others, that there is a hierarchy of those “better” than or “less important” than, that we fall on a spectrum. We cannot perpetuate this lie. Everyone deserves to have a chance to live. That sounds trite and useless but it is true. In our nation recently, many (so many) black men have had that chance taken away. That includes Mike Brown. The police department has tried to smear his name, using dog whistles. I do believe that they want the spotlight off them, and that we as a society and nation cannot let that happen. I think his family, friends, and neighbors have the right to know how and why he was taken from them. The way the police force in Ferguson has treated their residents, the ones they are sworn to protect, is despicable and downright scary: rubber bullets, tear gas, unlawful arrests, tanks, snipers, and more. This is especially true when you consider what they were PEACEFULLY protesting-the killing of a teenager, in the middle of a neighborhood street, by an officer of the law, and the subsequent handling of the case and the young man’s body, lying in the open for hours for all to see. The people of Ferguson are right to protest.
But they should not be the only ones. Here are a few groups people I am surprised not to hear more from:
- proponents of free speech: journalists have been shot by rubber bullets and tear gassed, effectively banned from the town for hours, arrested and then released without charges in the middle of a McDonalds for “not leaving fast enough”, interrupted during live broadcasts with threats of violence and arrest by members of the police
- pro-life activists: If you’re going to value human life, value *all* human life. Not only should this make your blood boil for Mike Brown, but also for the lives at risk in the neighborhoods of Ferguson, because tear gas can cause miscarriages.The tear gas that many have described as permeating almost every night and many streets, indiscriminately. This is also so problematic when viewed as a under-the-radar comeback of eugenics and forced sterilization. I do not say that lightly.
All that to say, this is absolutely not okay. None of it is okay. I do not condone this. I am one voice, what does it matter? It matters because when we combine our individual voices, we become loud. You cannot ignore that.