Ferguson suffered its 5th night of unrest; as we feared during the day yesterday, when night fell in Ferguson, a combination of massive SWAT team presence and an increasingly disillusioned citizenry were a recipe for disaster. Over 70 heavily-armed police enforced quasi-martial-law in the troubled town, at least 10 people were arrested, tear gas and rubber bullets were unleashed, and 2 reporters were (briefly) arrested. Perhaps Rep. Justin Amash summed it up best, "Is this a war zone or a US city? Gov't escalates tensions w/military equipment & tactics."
"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."
Clashes broke out between police and protesters overnight in Ferguson, Missouri, four days after police shot to death an unarmed black teen.
— Slate (@Slate) August 14, 2014
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.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 14, 2014
A St. Louis alderman, Antonio French [who has become a Twitter celebrity with his Vines], was among some 10 people arrested on Wednesday evening, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported. About 40 protesters have been arrested since Saturday.
But the Police say they are trying to help...
Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters his priority was improving race relations in Ferguson, which has seen a stark demographic shift in recent decades, going from mostly white to mostly black. About two-thirds of the town's 21,000-strong population are black. On a police force of 53, three officers are black.
"This is an opportunity to fix what's wrong," he said.
Politicians are anxious...
National figures from President Barack Obama to civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton have called for a peaceful response to the shooting.
Obama, who is vacationing on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, was briefed on Wednesday night about events in Ferguson by senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the White House said.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said in a series of Twitter messages he would visit the area on Thursday, and urged "law enforcement to respect rights of residents (and) press" with the hopes that the "ongoing crisis" does not compound Saturday's "tragedy."
"Situation in Ferguson does not represent who we are. Must keep the peace, while safeguarding rights of citizens and the press," Nixon wrote.
Reporters arrested and tear-gased...
— Robert Cohen (@kodacohen) August 14, 2014
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Spot The Difference...
— ???s (@theblogpirate) August 14, 2014
As Michael Snyder asks - How is it possible that our once very peaceful nation has fallen apart so dramatically?
Let’s be honest – Ferguson, Missouri is under military occupation right now, and the entire world is watching in horror as militarized police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at unarmed protesters. Yes, the rioting and looting in Ferguson needed to be stopped. If order had not been restored, more stores and businesses would have been destroyed. However, there is no excuse for the brutal tactics now being employed. At one point, police snipers were even using laser scopes to target protesters that were obviously unarmed. Sadly, this is just a preview of what is coming to America in the years ahead. As the economy falls apart and people become even more angry and even more frustrated, there will be a lot more incidents of civil unrest like we have just witnessed in Ferguson. And in response, the federal government and our overly militarized police will seek to crush those uprisings with overwhelming force. ...
when police get all of this equipment, it is inevitable that they are going to use it. One result of this has been the astounding increase in the number of SWAT team raids in America. The following numbers come from my previous article entitled “10 Facts About The SWATification Of America That Everyone Should Know“…
#1 In 1980, there were approximately 3,000 SWAT raids in the United States. Now, there are more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country.
#2 79 percent of the time, SWAT teams are deployed to private homes.
#3 50 percent of the victims of SWAT raids are either black or Latino.
#4 In 65 percent of SWAT deployments, “a battering ram, boot, or some sort of explosive device” is used to gain forced entry to a home.
#5 62 percent of all SWAT raids involve a search for drugs.
#6 In at least 36 percent of all SWAT raids, “no contraband of any kind” is found by the police.
#7 In cases where it is suspected that there is a weapon in the home, police only find a weapon 35 percent of the time.
#8 More than 100 American families have their homes raided by SWAT teams every single day.
#9 Only 7 percent of all SWAT deployments are for “hostage, barricade or active-shooter scenarios”.
#10 Even small towns are getting SWAT teams now. 30 years ago, only 25.6 percent of communities with populations between 25,000 and 50,000 people had a SWAT team. Now, that number has increased to 80 percent.
And of course African-American communities receive a greatly disproportionate amount of attention from our militarized police. Just imagine how you would feel if every time you saw a police officer you cringed in fear because you might be about to get searched again. The following is how author Michelle Alexander put it in her book “The New Jim Crow“…
Ultimately, these stop-and-frisk operations amount to much more than humiliating, demeaning rituals for young men of color, who must raise their arms and spread their legs, always careful not to make a sudden move or gesture that could provide an excuse for brutal - even lethal - force.
Like the days when black men were expected to step off the sidewalk and cast their eyes downward when a white woman passed, young black men know the drill when they see the police crossing the street toward them; it is a ritual of dominance and submission played out hundreds of thousands of times each year.
So what can we do about this?
How can we change the system?
How can we reverse this alarming militarization of our police?
Unfortunately, our system has become so corrupt that there is very little that we can do. In fact, one newly released study discovered that average Americans have a “near-zero” statistical impact on public policy…
A startling new political science study concludes that corporate interests and mega wealthy individuals control U.S. policy to such a degree that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
The startling study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Perspectives on Politics and was authored by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page. An early draft can be found here.
Noted American University Historian Allan J. Lichtman, who highlighted the piece in a Tuesday article published in The Hill, calls Gilens and Page’s research “shattering” and says their scholarship “should be a loud wake-up call to the vast majority of Americans who are bypassed by their government.”
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This is America...