On Saturday, August 9th, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson. The evening of Sunday, August 10th, residents of Ferguson held a candlelight vigil that turned into a riot that included looting, vandalism and arson. Ferguson police didn't interfere much on the first night. They did make a few arrests of people who were looting stores but crowd control was almost non-existent that first night.
Monday evening brought more protests but also brought a stronger police presence. Police responded in large numbers, some in standard riot gear and some in military style, tactical gear. They brought armored vehicles along as well. The rioting that evening turned ugly and police ended up using tear gas and concussion grenades (flash-bangs) to break up the disruptive crowds.
The main stream media and many people went crazy saying the police were "becoming militarized" and using too much force." They were criticized over and over for wearing "military gear" because "the people can't identify them as police," even though on the front and back of every vest was the word "POLICE" in big white letters.
Some people were demanding that the police only use helmets and batons because "having military gear isn't fair." What? Seriously? That's as stupid as the ones who say Israel's Iron Dome System gives them an unfair advantage over the terrorists who are attacking them. Police carry firearms in the conduct of their daily duties. They encounter numerous criminals who are unarmed. So let's see - should the police stop carrying weapons or should every citizen in the United States start carrying one just so they're on an even plain with the police?
And no - I'm not going to get into the whole "Michael Brown was unarmed" thing because anyone who reads my blog has already seem my opinion about that.
Even the President of the United States spoke out about police tactics and said "The police shouldn't be using excessive force against peaceful protesters." Funny thing is - I haven't seen one report about the police using excessive force against peaceful protesters that first night. And with all due respect, Mr. President - where I come from rioting, looting, arson, gunfire and throwing rocks and bottles at police isn't a peaceful protest. Of course, I'm not from Chicago...
Anyway - with the media and the President clamoring about how the Ferguson police were using too much force, within days the State Police took over. Their strategy was simple - hug the protesters and sing Kum Ba Ya with them. No "military gear," no armored vehicles, no real purpose except to be there and visible, in regular uniforms that weren't visibly traumatizing. Protesters praised the replacement of the Ferguson police. Everything was peaceful. The strategy worked.... for about 36 hours. Once it got dark the next day and people began gathering again the looting and vandalism began all over again.
That night the rioting and looting once again went unchecked. The next evening the "hug a thug" police decided not to be caught off guard again and showed up with riot equipment and tactical gear. The people rioted, the police responded accordingly. That went on for several days.
On Saturday, August 16th, the Missouri governor enacted a curfew in Ferguson from midnight to 5am. It worked well - except for those pesky protesters. They ignored it and the battle began all over again early Sunday morning. That's when the governor called in the Missouri National Guard, who rolled into town yesterday. They didn't really do much but get set up near the police command center. Regular police with their riot gear, tactical gear and armored vehicles handled the situation as it became ugly again last night.
President Obama now wants to review the federal program that allows police departments to purchase military equipment. In a recent press conference he said "There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred. That would be contrary to our traditions. And I think that there will be some bipartisan interest in re-examining some of those programs."
But here's the funny part...
The Ferguson police were criticized and replaced for acting too much like the military. Now the military is there to act like police. American logic at its best.
One of the saddest things about these violent protests is that, according to various reports, many of the agitators seem to be coming from outside Ferguson. I'm sure most of the residents are getting tired of what's going on in their community. I'm not saying they don't want answers - I know they do. But I would bet they're getting tired of the ongoing violence.
In other Ferguson news, Attorney General Eric "I Need To Hang A White Cop" Holder will be traveling to Ferguson 'to meet with federal officials investigating the death of Michael Brown' - no doubt to encourage them to find something, anything they can use against Officer Wilson in a federal civil rights case. President Obama said Holder will also meet "with other leaders in the community who’s support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson."
Certainly that will work because Eric Holder has proven himself such an effective communicator between blacks and whites in this country. Oh, wait....