Rallies began on the night of August 10 (Pulliam-Moore), less than 24 hours after the death of Ferguson resident Michael Brown as a result of multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by Darren Wilson, acting on behalf of the Ferguson Police Department. Wilson afterwards insisted that it had been an act of self-defense, but in a city like Ferguson, the ninth most segregated town in the United States, where black residents outnumber white residents 2 to 1, yet are almost entirely unrepresented in the police department which killed Michael Brown (Goyette), suspicions quickly arose, and protests began swiftly (Davey). In a hail of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters, activists from across the country challenged the F.P.D., Darren Wilson, and the American justice system in a battle of passion and vigor that is often dreamed of and rarely seen.
The Ferguson unrest is not a departure from America’s past, and neither is the shooting which caused it. State-sanctioned violence against U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil, has a rich and colorful history. In an address to the Canadian Club in Ottawa, Canada, on January 10, 1946, future 34th President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity” (Eisenhower). His words are correct, but his sentiment misguided—increasingly so, it is citizens, not soldiers, that...
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... rarely inclined to work toward involving themselves willingly. However, it is also a transparent one, and Obama’s insipid remarks left a bad taste in the mouths of many, further catalyzing the incredulity with which Americans are beginning to approach apparent abuses of power.
It is time, then, to ask ourselves what else can be done to combat police violence. Rather, to ask what can be done to supplement the progresses that are already being made in Gallup polls and in towns like Ferguson. It is tempting to think that with enough compassion and transparency, state-sanctioned violence against U.S. citizens will melt into air: tempting, but dangerous. Before we commit ourselves back to peace and quiet, we must decide whether what happened in Ferguson was a case of the system going tragically wrong, or the system working exactly as it is designed to—and go from there.
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