The St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is on fire as outraged residents take to the streets to demand justice for murdered teenager Michael Brown. Of course in the immediate aftermath of an uprising Sunday night significant opprobrium has been directed towards those whose anger boiled over. Let’s be clear, the reason why police brutality often elicits outrage of all types is because these are not isolated incidents. Police harassment, brutality, and murder of Black people in the United States are well documented. Also the absolute impunity that police officers receive is also well known.
These flashes of anger are a result of frustration. Frustration about the fact that the “thin blue line” routinely and uniformly across the nation protects police from doing any serious time for their actions in almost all of these cases. More than that there is frustration with the fact that poor Black neighborhoods are marginalized by just about every conceivable social indicator you could use.
Further there is frustration at the fact that the response from the politicians is somewhere between “we wish we could do more but there is no money” and “it’s your own fault for being lazy and not wanting to work.”
Protests are rightfully continuing in Ferguson, all of them peaceful. But we need to be clear on who is to blame. If you want people to stop expressing their outrage, then you need to fight to stop the outrages. Focusing on whether or not it was right to break windows misses the whole point, why were they broken in the first place?