Opinion: The third Ferguson argument


Before you grab your pitchforks and politically affluent Twitter accounts, let’s chat. With Ferguson and now Eric Garner, there seems to be a two-party argument. You’re either racist or ignorant … or maybe both in some cases. But we like to blow over the third argument, the overlaying theme that we all agree on: No matter what you think of the recent cases, the local, state and federal government has failed to protect its citizens in some capacity.

If you are passionate about your belief that Michael Brown was a victim to racially charged violence and murder, or that Eric Garner was unjustifiably killed, then you must acknowledge there is corruption in law enforcement.

If you think Michael Brown was raised in an environment that cultivated drug-use, robbery and assault on an armed officer, then you are aware of the exploitation by a nanny-state government.

If you are super angry about the looting in Ferguson, then you understand there was a failure to “serve and protect” by law enforcement and failure of a timely deployment by Missouri National Guard troops.

All of these beliefs are connected through an acknowledgment that individualism rules above all else.

Without video-camera footage of the Ferguson incident, it is nearly illogical to attempt to clearly identify what happened at the scene with only media reports and inconsistent witness testimonies. A government failure in the matter of the attack is based purely on hypothesis, but neither side should not be discounted as an invalid argument.

To assume that racism has disappeared as an absolute in all law enforcement would be an abhorrently ignorant statement. It also doesn’t discount the third argument: if Michael Brown was racially targeted, corruption in law enforcement and the federal government still exists.

The other side would argue that Michael Brown’s robbery and assault on former officer Wilson originated from somewhere, since it would be illogical to justify theft and assault on a police officer without probable cause. Maybe there was a lack of parenting. Negatively influencing friend groups? Possibly. Poor education? A high chance. Nanny-state and anti-cop culture? I definitely think so. The latter two? Failure on behalf of public services provided by government.

None of that matters now, though, because the convenience store that Michael Brown stole his cigars from doesn’t sell cigars anymore. Not after it was looted in the protests that followed the grand jury decision.

If you watched any of the live feeds of the protests on Dec. 3, you understand the state of anarchy that was Ferguson. Where were the cops?

In an interview with two store owners by Fox2Now, St. Louis News, an AR-15-wielding store owner told the reporter, “The Capt. Johnson person that called my cellphone, I’m watching the TV and I see people coming out with boxes, with cases of stuff, and he’s trying to tell me that they’ve got cops in front of the store and that they’ve got everything under control. I told him, ‘No sir, I’m watching the TV right now and I see people running out of the store with the boxes. The boxes full of stuff that we just paid for out of our own money.’ We understand Michael Brown’s family has nothing to do with this. Our prayers go out to the family. But the police need to do something about these looters. We are being the police right now.”

They had to be the police. The government failed to protect its citizens yet again.

After the jury decision on Dec. 3, Mayor James Knowles III said he was disappointed with the delayed deployment of the Missouri National Guard.

“Unfortunately the National Guard was not deployed in enough time to save all of our businesses,” he said in a press conference the next day. “The decision not to deploy the National Guard was deeply disturbing.”

Need I say it? More failure. Public: 0 Feds: -3.

Now, it isn’t fair to parallel the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, due to a lack of evidence and disparity between the two men’s activities preceding their deaths. But it is totally fair to say that Eric Garner’s death is indisputably the result of government overreach and corruption.

Eric Garner was killed as a result of being brought down by a choke hold by law enforcement, employed by the state government, because he was selling a single cigarette on the sidewalk since the packs sold in store cost $12-$15 due to state and federal taxes. This means he was breaking the law by selling on the black market. But of course, the government has your best interests at heart. Since when are police officers violent tax collectors? Can’t a guy get a break?

What the past four months have taught us is that no one can win, because when a citizen is potentially racially targeted by a police officer, no law enforcement or National Guardsmen will be there to protect the community when criminal looting breaks out afterwards. Then, when you try to freely sell untaxed cigarettes on your sidewalk because all the gas stations are burned down as a result of a lack of police action during protests, you just may be brought down in a choke hold by the same policemen that shot your friend and let your store burn.

Laura Meyers is a sophomore in mass communications.