|(New York Times)|
One young black man tried to take a detour from the school to prison pipeline that our cruel society had so callously mapped out for him, and he paid for his goal with his life.
Ferguson, Missouri may be the epicenter of a national tipping point, when the people finally had enough and began reacting to state violence against their peaceful protests with some civic violence of their own. From Reuters:
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, fired tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs to disperse some 350 protesters late Wednesday, the fourth night of racially charged demonstrations after police shot to death an unarmed black teen.
Some demonstrators hurled rocks at police as others scattered, while smoke engulfed the area. A Reuters reporter saw two young men preparing what looked like petrol bombs in a bus-stop shelter, their faces covered by bandanas. Police said protesters had thrown petrol bombs at officers.
Protesters have gathered every night since Saturday when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death in the mostly black suburb of St. Louis, during what authorities said was a struggle over a gun in a police car. Some witnesses say he was outside the car with his hands up.
Police have deployed camouflage-clad officers in body armor, including one manning a rifle on a tripod atop an armored car, to Ferguson.
"I've had enough of being pushed around because of the color of my skin. I'm sick of this police brutality," said one protester, who gave only his first name, Terrell, 18. "I'm going to keep coming back here night after night until we get justice."Political bigwigs have called for calm, of course. President Obama, esconced on his island playground with other members of his social class, is "heartbroken." And do I have to tell you that they're already insisting that "this is not who 'we' (exceptional Americans) are?"
“The worsening situation in Ferguson is deeply troubling, and does not represent who we are as Missourians or as Americans,” Mr. (Missouri governor) Nixon said in a statement. “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern.”Yes, actually, Ferguson is who we are. The only surprise is that there is not even more of a national uproar. Like in Detroit, where they actually cut off life-sustaining water to poor people who couldn't pay their bills. Like in New York City, where another black man was choked to death by police for the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes on the street. The state violence against ordinary people may not be as flashy and camera-ready as it is in Ferguson, Missouri, but it goes on every single minute of every single day, in every neighborhood in every town in every state in this country.
It's the violence of committing ten times as many mentally ill people to prison as are being treated in psychiatric facilities. It's the violence of a bipartisan Congress cutting billions of dollars from the food stamp program while giving corporate welfare to the elite class that is sucking the life out of poor people. It's the violence of a Texas governor using game wardens to hunt down human beings at a national border.
Meanwhile, since it bleeds, it leads in the corporate media. Blood and gore in the Homeland are vying for attention with the blood and gore in Iraq and other far- flung locales that are not in our back yard. When even reporters from respected national news outlets get roughed up and arrested without charge by the cops in a hometown low-wage McDonalds, that is news.
When police brutality starts happening to nice, white, middle-class people who vote -- maybe then the bigwigs will pause in their toasts to one other and worry that they'll be toast in November and beyond.
As Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times recounts in a truly chilling article on police militarization,
The Pentagon program does not push equipment onto local departments. The pace of transfers depends on how much unneeded equipment the military has, and how much the police request. Equipment that goes unclaimed typically is destroyed. So police chiefs say their choice is often easy: Ask for free equipment that would otherwise be scrapped, or look for money in their budgets to prepare for an unlikely scenario. Most people understand, police officers say.
"When you explain that you’re preparing for something that may never happen, they get it,” said Capt. Tiger Parsons of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office in northwest Missouri, which recently received a mine-resistant truck.Obama and his war-mongering cronies should have known that when you give toys to boys, they will play with them at every opportunity. Why go to a domestic argument in a squad car when you can roll through someone's living room in a tank? Why let all those surplus grenades go to waste when you can raid the wrong house and toss them into the crib of an innocent baby? Why let schools keep a trouble-maker after class to do homework when you can taser him and point a submachine gun at him before throwing him into a private prison?
So, if Obama is as heartbroken as he claims to be by the events in Missouri, he should take his pen and his phone and issue one of those mandatory orders of his. All police departments must give up, forthwith, their billions of dollars' worth of tanks, planes, attack helicopters, submachine guns, water cannon blasters, and grenade launchers. A safe, unpopulated spot out in the desert somewhere can be found where the weapons of war can be neutralized.... perhaps by digging a hole a mile deep and a thousand miles wide and pouring a billion tons of concrete over the whole mess. Then the president can take his pen and cancel all the contracts with the Offense Industry. Let them make war with the weapons they already have. When those wear out, stop the wars and come home.
The surplus money can go to schools, universal health care, forgiveness of college loans, a guaranteed national income or living wage, and enhanced Social Security for dignified old ages.
I hate violence. But I applaud anyone who refuses to be dehumanized for one more outrageous minute.
Update: President Obama has evolved beyond the heartbreak phase, and has entered the next theatrical phase, where he urges calm from all involved, thus lumping the proles and the police into the convenient melting pot of free-floating violence. The cops should exercise more restraint, and at the same time it's on the victims to not react the way a normal human being is supposed to.
For the next suppressive phase, Obama pointedly moved from the previous outdoorsy backdrop of his vacation spread to a more officious indoor venue, complete with military flag backdrop.
It was a tacit message that Security State America shall prevail.
“Now’s the time for healing,” Mr. Obama said. “Now’s the time for peace and calm on the streets of Ferguson.”
This is called rushing the public to get over it already, and achieve that instant closure that he so desperately needs, even before the latest victim is decently buried. He also made the obligatory and utterly meaningless call for "transparency."
In Obaman newspeak, transparency is defined as opacity. Transparency is the way he absolved himself from revealing details about his drone killings, the way the NSA is absolved from perjury and criminal trespass charges, among other myriad felonies, and the way the CIA is absolved of torture and crimes against humanity of which we know naught, because Obama censored the Senate report.
Not one word from the president about disarming and demilitarizing the local police departments as a sensible way to effectuate the calm he pretends to crave.
It does seem, however, that the Powers That Be will make an attempt to "tone it (police brutality) down" until the people get over it and until the mainstream media get around to moving on to the next bloody thing.