On Saturday, August 9th, a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer (allegedly) shot and killed an unarmed, black teenager during or immediately after an altercation. While the investigation is still underway, police have verified the 18 year old victim, Michael Brown, was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
On Sunday evening, following a candlelight vigil for the victim, some members of the vigil group began seeking justice by rioting. They attacked police cars and shouted at police. Then they began destroying property, jumping up and down on top of cars, breaking store windows, entering those stores and stealing property, and finally setting a gas station on fire - right there in the victim's own neighborhood.
While we don't know all of the circumstances of the shooting (since we weren't there) it is certainly understandable that people in the neighborhood are angry at police over it. Anger and outrage often accompany grief - especially when we don't understand why the tragedy occurred. It's always a tragedy when an unarmed person gets shot by police - regardless of the circumstances. If a person is armed and shooting at police it's easy to see the justification for police firing at a suspect. If they're not it's sometimes difficult to understand how and why that person gets shot and ends up dead.
Note - I am not putting any blame on the officer or on the victim because, as I said, I wasn't there and don't know exactly what happened and why. It's not even known (at least publicly) at this time what race or ethnicity the officer is.
I watched an interview on TV last night of a man who was there during the rioting and looting. I have no idea if he participated in it but he certainly encouraged it.
"This is what needs to happen after something like this," he said to the reporter. That's the mentality I will never understand. "We want justice so let's destroy our neighborhood and burn down our local gas station to get it...." How does that make any sense?
Some residents of the neighborhood have said that the persons responsible for the property damage and looting were not from the immediate area. That could be true since many residents came out of their homes to protect some of the local businesses from damage and theft.
The riotous mob mentality is difficult to understand. I remember when the Denver Broncos won the Superbowl in January, 1999, the citizens celebrating the win began starting fires, damaging cars and store windows, looting and attacking police. And that was after something good happened!
If the officer involved in the incident shot Michael Brown without justification he should face the full wrath of the law. That remains to be seen. The FBI is reportedly going to be involved in the investigation so nothing can be covered up by the police department. (That's not implying the police department would do so.)
I'm waiting for President Obama to make a statement about the incident that is prejudicial against the officer, as he has so famously done in the past. Maybe, hopefully, he'll stay out of it this time and allow the powers that be to fully and thoroughly investigate the incident without tainting it with his own personal views.
As for the chance of continued violence and unrest in Ferguson - have no fear. Al Sharpton is on his way there. What could possibly go wrong...?