How far do we have to go to draw attention to social injustice these days?
Many of us will agree that Michael Brown’s death at the hands of officer Darren Wilson was a serious tragedy, but some would argue that the community’s reaction to the situation is too drastic. Since Brown’s death, Ferguson, Missouri, has been racked by looting, protesting (violent and nonviolent) and vandalism. Many members of the community are urging everyone to be calm, and understandably so, as officers and civilians have been injured or killed amidst the chaos. But, as radical as this may sound, might this turmoil be an effective reminder of what could and should happen in response to civil injustice such as this?
The Cincinnati race riots of 2001 also stemmed from a White officer (Stephen Roach) shooting and killing an unarmed Black male (Timothy Thomas, 19) under questionable circumstances (Roach claimed Thomas was reaching for a gun; he was pulling his pants up). With over a dozen other Black men killed by White officers in the preceding years, this was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in Cincinnati, sparking violent protests in the city. It was this chaos and turmoil that led to the Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement, which mandated many changes to police protocol, helping to improve race relations in the city over the next decade.
It took a city nearly tearing itself apart to bring about much-needed change; maybe this is true for Ferguson. Though I’m not sure I condone things like snatching innocent people out of their cars and attacking them, maybe it still takes that kind of attitude to make things happen these days.