Nobody hates cause-heads more than I do. Feminists, anarchists, hippies, Black Panthers, liberals, conservatives, pacifists, capitalists, communists. Any time someone defines themselves through a certain cause, I immediately loathe them. So why did I find myself among protesters last night? Because the situation in Ferguson, Missouri is not a cause, not an ideal and not a philosophy. It is simply about not wanting to be afraid of the law anymore.
There are two different problems that have surfaced over the last week. One is the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. The rally I attended focuses primarily on this, and for a good reason: police have been systematically murdering black kids for generations. There were interesting discussions taking place about the role of the black community in stopping this. Mainly, that putting an end to crime within the communities, no matter how petty, is a good first step. I can’t really speak on this for obvious reasons. And racism isn’t ending anytime soon, so there will always be racist cops. The solutions offered here range from strapping every police officer with a camera and more transparency with investigations in deaths involving officers. This is all well and good, but I think we need to start somewhere else.
This brings me to the second problem: the militarization of law enforcement. Wednesday night opened my eyes and brought up one of my biggest fears: when the State wants to forcibly dominate the population, the State will win, and nobody will stop them. The police invaded a city a mere four hours away from my own home, and declared without oversight a state of martial law. It was a fucking movie. I watched live streams of peaceful protestors chanting in the street get pelted with rubber bullets. I witnessed camera crews get tear gassed and their equipment destroyed. The foundation of this country’s freedom was being dismantled by untrained cops masquerading as military, setting a city on fire in the middle of the heartland, meanwhile the state’s governor was MIA and the country’s president was at a party. Journalists were jailed for no reason. This was the government imprisoning the population because, well, because they simply could.
Nowhere to be found where the 2nd Amendment fundamentalists, the NRA, the Tea Party or any other group that claims to be anti-government and willing to defend the people against a corrupt tyranny. They became cowards, while the people of Ferguson and the journalists covering the madness emerged as heroes. The officials who could have ended this with a phone call came out the next day with a message of “we’ll do better next time”. As Ferguson stood there looking like a Middle Eastern war zone, caused by state employees, nobody has been arrested for the crimes committed against the people. The Constitution was set on fire.
While the Michael Brown case needs to go through the courts – and if that doesn’t work, we can revisit it then – the overreaching hand of police needs to be addressed immediately. Why local cops have access to tanks, tear gas, internet jammers, sniper rifles, etc. is beyond any rational thought. Why an officer of the law being videotaped breaking the law isn’t in handcuffs needs to be the question on the front of every major newspaper. The United States of America turned into Baghdad 2.0, but this time it wasn’t about freedom or oil, it was about power and the need to wield it. It’s time we stripped law enforcement of the absolute power they have been granted. We now have the blueprint of what they are capable of doing to us.
I don’t know what the solution is. Rallies and protests only get so far. I know this, because last night there were a number of old hippies by my side, reliving the issues they once tried to eliminate. I do know this though: in the age of social media, talking about it is a start. Tweet about how you are against this military state, against the president who let this happen. Go on Facebook and plead with the angry militias that they either need to stand up or shut up. Inform your coworkers what is going on.
This needs to stop now.