I have been reluctant to touch on the subject of Ferguson, Missouri, but since the last issue of the RoundTable included the article “Ferguson Tactics In Evanston? Never, Says Chief Eddington,” I decided to do so.
I do not condone the looting and other destructive behaviors that occurred in Ferguson, but I do understand how destructive behaviors can result from unbridled anger and a sense of hopelessness. In the Discussion section of the January 2013 issue of the Smithsonian magazine, Irvin Waller (President of the International Organization for Victim Assistance in Ottawa, Ontario) said: “The United States…does not use the robust knowledge it has developed about what works to prevent violent crime…” I agree.
According to news reports, the Ferguson Police Department has a history of unfair dealings with the black community, so one can see how the killing of a young, unarmed African American male would incite residents (and non-residents) to demonstrate.
I want to stress the fact that there were people who demonstrated peacefully in Ferguson. Presumably, these peaceful demonstrators felt hopeful that their actions would produce some positive responses and change. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” (“Essay on Man,” Alexander Pope, 1733) Sadly, the Ferguson Police Department did not always make a distinction between the peaceful demonstrators and the rowdy in its aggressive tactics.
One hopes that the involvement and investigation by the Department of Justice into the Ferguson matter will bring about an atmosphere in Ferguson that promotes peace and fairness. But Ferguson is not the only community in the United States in which hope is not eternal.