This is a touchy time to be in St. Louis.
It is a difficult time full of anger, and fear, and confusion.
And this brings out the worst in people.
Some may say that I am incapable of understanding what is going on in Ferguson: the anger they feel, the mistrust of their own government. And those people would be right. But what I am capable of, what we are all capable of, is empathy. If we are not a part of it directly, we have all been blessed with the imagination necessary to put ourselves there, in at least the most basic sense. We, as outsiders, will never really know, but we owe it to the good people of Ferguson to try.
Imagine, if you will, growing up in an area that has more than its fair share of violent crime. You need not imagine the projects as you would see them in Hollywood, but picture an area, that is just over the cusp of "safe." There may be the occasional gunshot, or sirens off in the distance. There may be incidents in your neighborhood. There may be violence in your home. Or there may not be. It is the threat of these things that keep you on your toes. All your life, you are raised in this society. You are on edge, and guarded. You, more often than not, do not let your guard down. The hairs on your neck prickle if something is out of place, and you know where not to walk.
This is a hard way to live. No one wants to feel unsafe but no one SHOULD feel unsafe in their own neighborhood or in their homes. And yet, this is a reality for millions of people every day, not just those in Ferguson.
The threat of violence, be it directed to you, or collaterally, permeates every part of your waking life and most likely your sleeping life too.
You have very little to place your faith in.
So when one Sunday afternoon, you hear that a police officer may have executed a teenager in your neighborhood: a place that is supposed to be safe, but at the very least, kept safe by the police, I imagine it would be devastating. Whether or not you have believed the police to be on your side, whether or not they have helped you in the past, there was at least the idea, the concept of the police that aided you in some way. For your whole life, no matter where you lived, you knew that if you needed to, you could run to a police officer and he could help you.
But this incident, this alleged execution removes that. Regardless of the result of the official investigation, your trust in the police is now shaken if not entirely destroyed.
The one place you thought that you could run to, no matter what, and receive help, is gone.
Even if you never trusted the cops, and thought them all to be criminals, in the back of your mind, you know it was a safe harbor that could always be relied upon.
But no more.
That would scare the hell out of me.
And I believe it scared the hell out of the people of Ferguson as well.
So they took to the streets. They protested. They raised their communal voice and shouted for justice! They screamed for someone to take a good long look at what is going on so that they could retain some feeling of safety in their own community. They gathered, and the thundering voice of fear and sadness and loss echoed across the country to the ears of the most important men in America.
They may be screaming for justice, and equal treatment under the law. But what I see them doing is screaming to be safe. They are screaming and crying out in the hopes that they once again can at least feel like there is somewhere to turn in the most terrifying of situations.
"Dear God would you please let us be able to rest our heads at night knowing that at least the police department is trying to keep us safe!"
These people have made a difference. These, the good, and terrified citizens of Ferguson, have screamed loud enough that the President of the United States has come down from his tower. Al Sharpton has come to town. The NAACP is involved. And the FBI and DOJ are doing their own investigations.
There were those who took this as an opportunity to destroy property, steal, wreak havoc and spread mayhem. These opportunists, these fear mongers, are just as guilty as this potentially failed system. They have seen their neighbors and friends screaming for help, terrified for their lives, and instead of aiding in their pursuit of happiness, they have instead added fuel to the fire of terror. These people are terrorists in their own community. They are traitors to their own people. And this treason should be looked upon as such.
Very little is known as fact right now. All we know is what we hear on the streets. And that is about as reliable as the news outlets for factual information.
But the one fact that we can rely upon, is that there are citizens inside the United States who are afraid. And that, above all else, is the greatest travesty of justice.
Until next time...be a gentleman.