Protests and Looting

Ferguson, Missouri is bringing to America’s attention a difficult and PC challenged situation. An unarmed African American youth was shot multiple times under disputed circumstances. On the surface it was just another “white against black” power struggle where again the black person came out on the fatal side of the confrontation. Is the death enough to cause a week’s worth of demonstrations and looting?

The Ferguson police department seems to have done everything possible unintentionally to encourage the African American community’s outrage. From refusing to make public its incident investigation to releasing prejudicial information on the victim, the local police were begging the community to assume the worst. So does that justify demonstrations and looting?

The answer is maybe but not for sure.

It is far more likely that the Ferguson local environment was predisposed to turn violent and only needed an incident to let the local anger and frustration to spew forth. The question might be, whose fault is the poverty, lack of education, and joblessness that pervades the community?

Ferguson, demographically, is not much different from a lot of other American cities. The middle class and well-to-do live and work in sections of the community while those not so well off are clustered in other parts. For unexplained reasons, the poor remain poor (cycle of poverty), this despite all sorts of “head starts”, affirmative action, and jobs programs. So are these protests and lootings unjustified?


The shooting of an unarmed youth, particular with multiple shots, is hard to understand. Police officer judgement must come to mind.

Provocation from the victim is also likely. This deadly combination could explain the tragedy but not justify the death. But what about the demonstrations and looting?

Demonstrations normally have multiple constituents. Some participants were motivated by the “triggering” incident, others by other drummers. Looting, on the other hand, represents the basest of motives. Looters are opportunists, the original “free lunchers”. Many looters act on the spur of the moment, while others justify their actions on the greed or callousness of the store owners. In American values, looting has no place.

For those Americans, not residents of Ferguson, understanding what is taking place is difficult.

The issues are not cause and effect related. The timing and extent of the demonstrations and looting seem to have been unleashed by an unexplained shooting.

The African American community could profit from thinking deeply about Ferguson. It will serve no one good to accuse the greater community of racial prejudice. Rather it should be assumed the greater community is prejudiced.

So the question should be, why have large numbers of African Americans not been economically assimIlated into the American mainstream like so many other immigrant groups? Positively stating the same thought, how can African American groups assimilate economically?

The death of the African American teenager was a tragedy that should never have happened. It is, however, unrelated to the overall situation of African Americans in Ferguson or in many parts of America.

Explore posts in the same categories: Economics, education

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