Could Ferguson Happen in Your Neighborhood? In Mine?


November 26, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

Fergsuon police line

I’d like to say no but the reality is it probably could. And honestly, it does, every day.

Let me try and explain.

Last night I was in Atlanta. I am actually doing a freelance piece on the reaction in Atlanta and specifically, the protests in front of the CNN building in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Several hundred protesters, many of them students who were bused in to Atlanta for the event, were largely peaceful but pointed. In short, they came with a purpose-To send a message that justice was not served in Ferguson, that “it” could happen anywhere in America and that CNN should do more in its coverage to discuss the roots of racial rage in urban areas across our nation and not just show the lawlessness in Ferguson on TV.

After taking in the protests at the street-level (in Atlanta on Spring Street), I, like millions of my fellow Americans, watched the television coverage of the Ferguson protests as well as the many orchestrated protests in many of our larger cities, like NYC and LA.

Ferguson signs

Don’t tell Ted Turner but even though I was staying the night in the CNN-Omni hotel, I also watched the FOX coverage, you know, just to try and be fair and balanced.

What I saw didn’t shock me too much. Concern and sadness, yes. Shock, no.

The were crowds in Ferguson who looked like a mixture of local community members genuinely feeling equal parts outrage and equal parts sadness while voicing their support for Michael Brown and his surviving family members. There were hooligans and looters who wanted to exploit the scene for their gain, be it stealing stereo and cellular phone equipment or knocking over convenience stores. There were some “professional agitators” who are well trained in escalating emotions to the tipping point for their own political and policy agendas. There were business owners and shopkeepers who couldn’t believe “it” was happening in their neighborhood. And these folks weren’t sure if they had the money, the time or frankly, the heart, to re-build and make a go of it again in Ferguson.

Fergsuon hooligan

Living in Washington DC and still traveling there at east part-time for work projects, I have probably become calloused, maybe too calloused at what I often see are what I call “professional protests.” These are well-financed, media-savvy folks with sophisticated training and techniques to ensure they “frame” the media coverage with their desired message…often being totally ignorant of or indifferent of any “bad facts” that might hurt or even sabotage their “narrative.”

I sometimes think of the old joke about the protester with the sign that says “The World Will End Tomorrow” who turns to his buddy at the end of the day and says “Hey, good work today, see ya tomorrow morning.”

For many folks in DC, protests are just another tool in the advocacy and public-influencing tool box. When it’s over I know for a fact that many will be riding the metro the next day, headed back into their offices on M Street, checking to see the latest polls and media numbers they helped generate, usually for other clients or sponsors footing the bill.

Call it the cost of doing democracy in the 21st century.

Obviously, many of the folks in Ferguson were less organized and orchestrated in their approach. Rage, frustration and a feeling of unfairness in the judicial system seemed to fuel them to hit the streets day after day.

These protesters, or what I call the “Genuinely Disenchanted,” have also felt that the media focused too much on some of the violence, looting and destruction of public property and not the “message.”

Fergsuon tear gas

Last night, as I flipped back and forth between CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Megan Kelly and Sean Hannity at FOX, I looked for how they were “framing” the protests. FOX spent, by my unofficial count, 7 minutes straight showing live coverage of protesters (rioters?) trying to burn an unmanned Ferguson police car and eventually flipping it over (it actually fell back on its 4 wheels and then the group kind of gave up or got bored or were chased away as they went on to their next target).

Ferguson cop car burns

FOX commentators made the point at least 12 times (again by my count) that everyone who “threw a rock, a bottle or vandalized” should be arrested and tossed into jail. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani went as far as to say that the Missouri Governor should have said that if he needed 50,000 more troops to arrest everyone who broke the law that was fine and that he “would find a jail somewhere for everyone.”

Fergsuon V vendetta mask

CNN’s Anderson Cooper and then Don Lemon seemed to want to focus on what happens next for Ferguson and if this area could “re-build” or if it was essentially finished.

Both CNN and FOX also ran live video of a group of youths in LA who seemed really “hell-bent” on breaking a chain-link fence to, I guess, be able to run down a hill and disrupt traffic below on a freeway.

Why they didn’t just jump the fence I am not sure. It didn’t look too high to me. But then, I am not accusing any of the youths in that group of being geniuses of the type we see on the new show “Scorpion.”

Ferguson la fence

Before the night was over (or at least my eyes got really heavy, around 2 am) I saw and heard from law enforcement officials, Officer Wilson (the shooter), the family of Michael Brown, the attorney for the Brown family (who struggled to get in a word edgewise while being “interviewed” by Sean Hannity), a former Mayor of Ferguson, the Lt. Governor and Governor of MO, church leaders, business owners, shopkeepers, experts of all types, shapes and sizes and the “usual suspects (Sean, Bill, Rush, Geraldo and Nancy Grace).

And lots of people in the streets. Most of whom wanted “justice: of some type or another though one guy late in the night said he was looking for a “bar that was open” so he may have been the only one with a very different, though still specific, agenda.

In short, FOX seemed intensely focused on the need to restore law and order and to arrest a whole lot more folks as well as why the National Guard wasn’t called sooner than any other story line. CNN raised more questions about the future of not just Ferguson but race relations across America.

Ferguson national guard

Honestly, I found space in my own heart for both topics and more last night.

But all the while, I mostly wondered, could this explosion of anger, rage, violence and conflict find its way to my neighborhood? For that matter, any and all neighborhoods or communities in our country?

My gut feeling is sadly, yes. I opened this blog with asserting that “it” was already happening across America.

What I mean by that is the feelings of frustration, inequality, barely simmering below the surface racism, and a sense that the “system” and the “man” is not set up in “your” favor is certainly not limited to or somehow isolated to Ferguson, MO.

And what I just described above is a toxic brew just ready to be served, spilled really, in any neighborhood. It seems to be just waiting for the right “topper.

And until we find a way to get at those “roots of rage” the students at CNN spoke of, until we find a way to treat each other with at the very least a genuine resect, regardless of race or background, then Ferguson is just another way of spelling the name of the place you (and I) call home.

Fergsuon racial harmony










69 thoughts on “Could Ferguson Happen in Your Neighborhood? In Mine?

  1. Taylor H says:

    Ferguson could happen anywhere to answer Dr. R’s question! And it’s because wherever you have diversity of people you have potential for conflict and anywhere you have cops you have potential for abuse of power.

    • Heather W. says:

      I agree with this.Typically, cops are recruited with the intention of shipping a few “slightly-wired” humans out into the field. Think about. Would you send a goody-two-shoes into a heavily laden drug area to bust out a deal or would you send someone with a slight background ,that is not afraid of a little violence every now and then? I think greater accountability (which is happening) is the key–same as seen in the broken structures of our government. Civil service is not immune to this broken system. Unfortunately, public response is out of control. Maybe this will breed answers and produce change.

    • Colin M says:

      I feel as if it is very likely that this could happen in neighborhoods where things like this happen frequently, but to be honest I don’t think it would happen in mine. My hometown has never had any such issues with the police despite how diverse the area is. Many riots like this certainly have a correlation between the levels of violence in an area and the education level of the people within that community.

  2. Sadie J says:

    I keep hearing about what a nice kid Brown was and his Mother on tv saying he was a normal teenager. I am sorry for the loss of his life BUT normal teens I hope don’t rob stores, shove business owners say “F” you to cops, try and grab their gun and charge at them…If that’s normal behavior then I am staying away from all teens. Maybe that’s normal if you live in Ferguson?

    • Heather W. says:

      Where was the footage shown of Mike Brown shoving owners, swearing at cops etc?

    • Niku L says:

      But how do you know that Mike Brown did in fact reach for the officer’s gun, curse at him, and charge at him? Because Darren Wilson said so? Okay.

      • Niku-not sure if the question is directed to me or not…of course, I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. I can only go by what I’ve seen and heard reported, the eyewitnesses and their testimony before the Grand Jury and yes, ex-Officer Wilson’s account. At best, it seems contradictory and not crystal clear, as these type of events so often are-

      • Niku Letang says:

        Dr. Rabidoux, it was directed at Sadie. I thought your post was well written, thought-provoking, and insightful.

    • Jalesa W. says:


      In my opinion, the entire case had several gray areas. However, you saying you’re sorry for the loss of his life is not sincere at all. If it was, you wouldn’t have emphasized the word “BUT.” Anyways, one major gray area was the idea of Brown grabbing a gun and charging the officer. Not sure if you watched the actual broadcast or the several viral videos, but that was never proven. When it comes to this case, I am neutral. I believe the cop had to do what he had to by all means, if he felt his life was in danger. However, one thing you may not understand is the lack of trust among officials and people in various communities. Ever thought that Mike Brown felt threatened? I’m extremely open-minded, so I have thought of every possible scenario from BOTH sides.

  3. Chris R says:

    I understood there were protests in Atlanta, however not the scale to which there was damage and that there were people driven in for them. The case is very conflicting to me. I feel as though this should not have happened, however, I do not know enough about what happened to make a firm opinion on the verdict of the case. I feel as though the story is to an extent unbelievable, but the evidence does to a large extent support it. Unfortunately not many people will know exactly what happened in the saddening minuets. With that being said, it was a moment in our society to point at and address an underlying issue of race relations and police roles in our communities today. There is undeniably a concerning issue involving these things, which is not getting better and needs to be addressed. It also concerns me with the media coverage. The spin on it, and the encouragement almost demanded a riot despite the verdict and this is uncalled for and irresponsible on the part of the media.

  4. Khari L says:

    I think the Ferguson incident can happen in every city. The court system is designed to protect the police whether they are right or wrong. When Darren Wilson interviewed of CNN news for the fist time, he gave a very in depth description with his altercation with Michael Brown. He mentions how strong the teenager was and how he appeared to have a weapon. These excesses of teenagers appearing to have a weapon needs to stop. Wilson has decided to leave to police force, it is not a question of if, it is a question of when. He can never go back as a police officer. St. Louis county will be hitting the street gunning to people that look like Wilson. The first day he walks out as a regular person, something terrible will happen to him. The changes within the law can not offered to change now but if we educate more people how to handle when being approached. Cop are going to be on guard even more after court closed the case and set him free. This problem can only get worse and everywhere from Missouri to California will be end danger. It would best if everyone follows the media and read the new via internet.

  5. Tinisha. S says:

    Although this situation is absurd, however it’s quite common in regards to race and inequality between community members primarily of urban areas and the officers who protect and service the members of these communities. Therefore, I believe that this situation could happen in my neighborhood. As a matter of fact the situation of race and inequality is currently taken place in my urban community where I was raised. The issue is that the members of my community have not protested against the behaviors that have transpired between members and the police.The media only covers the negative images of the urban community members and not the officer involved and their negative behaviors, which brings up the issue with the media coverage in Ferguson, Missouri. The media should have covered the true issue pertaining to the justification of deaths caused by law enforcement instead of the few bad apples who took this situation as opportunity of self greed.

  6. Cenetta B says:

    I find it quite funny actually, that you were covering the protests in Atlanta, Dr. R. Depending on which day you covered, you might have seen me, and my friends. I believe that this can be, and IS, your neighborhood, especially as it pertains to the injustice itself. Unfortunately, among other things, I have learned that the media coverage has been a cash cow. From CNN’s terrible portrayal of Mike Brown as a person, to Channel two’s constant focus on the few people who were acting inappropriately at these protests, all I have seen is ABC, NBC, CBS. and the like fight for what truly matters: RATINGS.

    This is our lives. The constant fight to make others believe that Black lives matter just as much as anyone else’s is our life. That is what these protests are about, and the media has (in general) completely missed that fact. We are tired of being treated unfairly, and the media, as far as I am concerned, is a HUGE part of how we are seen by others, and the news has only made it worse by focusing on the few rather than the collective.

  7. Bryan K says:

    I live in Dallas-Ft. Worth area and I doubt we’d ever have riots like in Ferguson. The reason is we respect property and don’t loot the stores and shops in our own neighborhoods. We also have plenty of cops to keep the peace, we don’t let thugs like that dude get away with stuff so openly…that’s what causes problems the idea you can do whatever you want just because you are a bully. Maybe if people had more self-respect and were brought up properly things like those riots would not happen.

    • Bryan-not to be a troublemaker here but I seem to recall that just a couple of summers ago there was a shooting in South Dallas where a white cop shot a black male and rumors quickly spread that the suspect was shot was shot in the back and had been smoking marijuana and there was an initial riot and looting and a whole bunch of cops and a SWAT team had to be called in. Maybe I am wrong about this but I don’t think so…

  8. Joshlyn D says:

    Hello to all! Hope al is well! What is going on in Ferguson MO right now is beyond tragic. I agree that it’s more than just riots, angry citizens, and burning of buildings, it’s a movement. Whether its positive and or negative in ones eyes its a movement that I strongly feel can occur in my neighborhood.
    I am originally born and raised in Atlanta, GA where there have been numerous of protests all trying to push the same message. THERE IS STILL RACISM and JUSTICE for MIKE BROWN! No the protests weren’t as violent as the ones in Ferguson, but they were still done to drive a point and raise awareness. To take it more local in a smaller environment, there was a protest and or vigil held at our Valdosta State Campus. College campuses all over came together peacefully seeking justice for Mike Brown, hoping to get through to the system to change for the better.
    Protests like the ones going on in Ferguson can and will happen in Atlanta and Valdosta, especially if a case with same or similar nature happens to arise. I don’t condone the violence or the burning of businesses; I do think it’s a positive to have a city or a group of citizens to come together for a cause for better. Protests should be peaceful and non violent. Especially in this situation, supposedly violence was used to take a young innocent life. So why would you react with violence. Like the parents of Mike Brown stated, “Answering violence with violence is not the appropriate reaction. Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference!”

    • Lyle O says:

      Didn’t the Father or Uncle of Michael brown stand in front of an angry crowd and mob and repeatedly yell “Burn this B***H down meaning destroy Ferguson and burn it to the ground?? How is that being peaceful and MLK-like? He should have been arrested for inciting a riot. And all the looters and all those who destroyed property should be caught by using cameras and arrested. You can’t just destroy your city because you are angry, what a joke!

      • Dan G says:

        I agree. If it was reverse, the media would be calling all the whites stuff like “skinheads” and they would quickly be arrested but because race gets involved and it’s black rioters causing problems we have to be gentle and make sure not to anger all these crowds more, that’s the real joke in this country. There is a double standard and it is unfair to the majority of us as the minority dictates how we apply or don’t apply the law. I guess because we all fear the violence of blacks and with good reason. Stats show us that this group is by far the most violent in our society and that shows bad, violent upbringing and no respect for the rest of us.

      • Tammy R says:

        Let me get this straight boys, you think whites would have been treated worse than blacks in this situation?? by white cops? are you guys in the real world? the facts is you can’t reverse it because it’s not white kids being killed by black cops. end of story.

  9. Jocelyn D says:

    I believe that Ferguson could happen anywhere, with that being said, it is no need to keep on stabbing at a open wound. The open wound I speak of is them replaying the terrible events thats going the rioting the vandalism and so on.The longer we as people keep those things relevant the more they will happen and thats sad but I guess thats just the way our world works. I believe that they should listen Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper and thinking about what’s next for Ferguson and have Michael Brown’s name go down as something positive we learned from not a tragic event that destroyed a city. It was already tragic enough that his life was lost and no one else life needs to be lost due to this.

  10. vtshipman says:

    Of course a ‘Ferguson’ could happen anywhere because there is a tremendous amount of bottled up anger in most African-American communities due to the real or perceived inequities between whites and people of color. I am old enough to remember having segregated schools where I lived in Alabama. But thankfully I was raised right by parents who understood all humans are human regardless of their skin color. However, they were quick to point out that people are a product of their environment and it will take a community working together to make conditions better. I don’t know what it is like to be black. I don’t know what it is like to be poor. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be black and poor. But the reality is that we live in the land of opportunity and that everyone can become what they want to be if they are willing to struggle their way out of their current situation. Will it be easy? No. But we need to teach our children to respect the law and other people’s property. We need to reach out and help those who are asking for help. Yes, the situation in Ferguson is terrible but it didn’t have to happen. I respect and applaud police officers who do their dangerous jobs every day to protect us. The police should not be viewed as the enemy. As proclaimed in the comic strip ‘Pogo’ in the 1960s during the height of the Vietnam War: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Let’s learn from this unfortunate encounter and move forward. We are too great of a people to let this opportunity pass us by. Peace to all.

    • Niku L says:

      Good post. And thank you for acknowledging that you don’t know what it is like to be black rather than simply adhering to the naive perception by many that this frustration comes from nowhere or is not meaningful. But alas, it is because they don’t know or understand, or are not willing to. Unfortunately, America is not a land of opportunity for many, and that can only be rectified if people face reality and are willing to change the system.

  11. Heather W. says:

    Oh how i enjoy the tiger picture at the end! It sure makes enough of a period. To the current issue at hand, unfortunately,(or fortunately) our area “V-town” is known as a well-protected enclave. Least to say, if there were any hints of rage,frustration,protest-ation, our very own VPD will be right on top of it. I agree with the different angles journalist and media “specialists” place upon the coverage of the nation-wide protests. As a formal journalism major, I am well aware of just how “neutral” journalists can be.Neutrality is given the same regard as ethics in public administration, it is up to the individual just how “neutral” to be and what being neutral truly means. Maybe I should get my cell phone and lace up a video called ” the-media-people- who-witness-all-but-do-nothing-at-all”.

  12. Luke E says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t help but agree; what we are seeing in Ferguson could happen anywhere. Furthermore, there are several different things that can be taken away from what is transpiring across the country. Like you the two most obvious points are race relations and lawlessness. I pride myself on being able to empathize with anyone on nearly anything, so far. Therefore, I can totally understand the anger and feeling of injustice. I am also the son of a police officer, and was raised to also respect law and order. Riots typically lack one or sometimes both of those qualities. The events that transpired on August 9th are regrettable. Please forgive me, but I do feel that the riots and looting are not helping the cause to bring equality. In my opinion the lawlessness in Ferguson dilute the message. That said, I would guarantee that over 95 percent of the protests in Ferguson are being done peacefully and lawfully. However, the media needs you to want to tune in. The sad truth is more folks will likely tune in for social unrest versus a peaceful protest. Which ties into one of your first points made. At the end of the day, I hope the Brown family, Wilson family, and the City of Ferguson will find peace. I also hope that the country from the court house to the white house will learn something from this. Cities need to make improvements on creating a representative local government from the police department to the commissioners. Furthermore, police offices need to look to the Oklahoma City Police Department for ideas on education, building trust, and improving relationships. There needs to be an effort to create more respect and trust between all the citizens in our cities.

  13. Niku L says:

    Yes, like others have stated, it could happen anywhere. I think that what partially fuels some of these protests is the belief that Mike Brown could have been a family member or a friend, or that a family member, friend, or the protesters themselves have been harassed by police officers at some point in their lives for no legitimate reason, and they could have faced the same fate as Brown. It is the cruel reality of racism and discrimination in America. I think that it is sad and a shame that the protests turned violent. Not only does this solve nothing, it also reinforces the perception by some that blacks, especially black males are savages and criminals, or “demons” which Darren Wilson used to describe Mike Brown. That is the problem right there. Black males are demonized which is all too supported by the media and promotes the belief that they should be feared. The media was more than happy to show repeated coverage of Brown’s step father yelling profanity after the verdict so that “they” could say, “You see? you see how they are? Darren Wilson’s actions were justified!” without considering all the facts.

  14. Sandy T says:

    Niku-so it’s the media’s fault, huh? If black males don’t want to be “portrayed” as vicious or violent or out of control maybe they shouldn’t burn the B***h down, or loot, or steal or burn police cars. You can’t blame the media they wouldn’t show it if it wasn’t being done! The stats don’t lie, black males in this country are the most violent and most prone to commit violent crimes. Or is that the media’s fault too?

    • Niku L says:

      Sandy, you failed to see my point while simultaneously reinforcing my point. In no way am I excusing his behavior, but what you chose to see was not an angry parent overwhelmed by frustration and possibly hopelessness that his step son’s murderer would not be brought to justice, but a vicious black man who is igniting violence just like the rest. Yes, it was extremely stupid and irresponsible of him, but as a human being I can sympathize. And that’s all I’ll say here.

      • Niku-I continue to be impressed at how classy and thoughtful you are on topics like this and frankly, in response to some comments that are not nearly as classy and thoughtful. Be the change you want, right?

      • Niku L says:

        Dr. Rabidoux, thank you. I tend to not get phased by some of these comments because unlike many others are willing to admit, I am aware of the reality of the bias toward black people, some of which I recognize from my own daily interactions. Be the change you want to see indeed.

  15. Felicia H says:

    Sandy, yes I get your point but that is the outcomes not the reasons why it happens. Like Niku says how can you or anyone understand unless you are in that position being a minority discriminated against? But my fear is unless the rage and need for change is done peacefully like MLK did then it will just be seen as out of control thugs and the deeper message will be lost

  16. Kyle G says:

    C,mon man! Brown had just finished robbing a convenience store and shoving the owner, what higher message was he sending? He was a thug, he didn’t deserve to die but I am tired of hearing how he was this innocent poor little teen-ager-he looked like a street bully to me.

  17. Sharriette F says:

    I agree. Ferguson is happening everyday in neighborhoods across America. We have seen enough examples in the news to know that. The culprits are not always police officers. Oftentimes, citizens without badges allow their prejudices to negatively impact other citizens, sometimes to the point of death. It is heartbreaking and frustrating. This is not the America my Grandparents and my Parents envisioned for me.

    With thoughts of Ferguson and hearing similar news about the Eric Gardner case in New York, one of my younger colleagues came to me in anger and in tears. Her generation does not understand why there is so much hate. Is all of this the reaction to a black president? Her anguish caused me to ask a few questions: What can you do when the justice system is against you? What do you do when everyone is against you? Fight? Pray? Protest?

    The conclusion that Ferguson helped me to reach is that many thoughts, feelings, attitudes, “hatreds,” and prejudices were lying dormant for decades. The dormancy allowed some progress to be made. The progress went too far with the election of a president with a slightly darker hue. The result is a segment of people who conjure up threats as excuses to do deadly harm. Only God has the remedy. My faith in Him causes me to continue to pray that we will actually overcome…someday. Let it be today, in the name of Jesus.

    Thanks for the thoughtful posts, Greg the Blogger. It’s been fun. Peace!

  18. Jill V says:

    What went on and is still continuing to happen in Ferguson is sad. It’s even sometimes overwhelmingly depressing. But what’s even sadder is what I still read in some of these posts above (now granted everyone has their own views and opinions). But to get to my personal opinion, I believe we are a nation divided (and continue to be) regardless of incidents that make it such…and unfortunately, it’s our own faults. It’s not one specific officer, or media, or one rowdy protester; it’s everyone living in ways that keeps us divided and unequal to each other with our chosen lifestyles or the absence of similar thoughts. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, or pink. I could go on and on about my thoughts of the Ferguson decision, the Martin decision, and every other decision…but the reality is…I don’t think it’ll make a bit of difference. Until we quit bickering and open our eyes to the fact that we ALL make the world the way it is…nothing is going to change. – – I’d like to add that this does not mean we all can afford the same luxuries because we also live in a world controlled by money; however, this doesn’t eliminate the equality we could have in how we choose to see the world and treat each other.

  19. C. Williamson says:

    I think a Ferguson can happen just about anywhere, if there exist decades of political neglect, reverse social uplift, voting disparities, and public offices littered with one dominating ethnic group. Its a wonder we havn’t seen more of this over the last several years. However, I think social media which is by all accounts still in its infancy has dramatically changed the concept of news and media. The ability to galvanize a march or even a riot can be formulated over the internet within hours.
    We live in a society where, the baby boomers are fading away and the a new generation is sprouting up who view civil liberties and the constitution slightly differently than most. Now I am still fairly young I think..LOL, but I would never support looting, vandalism, and burning of businesses. As a wise man once told me and President Obama repeated a few days ago, good policy has never stimulated from burning a car or a business. Now activism changes current laws and policy. Its definition alone defines, advocacy, voting, developing candidates, and holding the current leadership accountable at the ballot box. So yes I believe when the variables are not there for which a community can lean upon or rely on for justice and to level the playing field in city departments, the potential for a Ferguson can be seen in just about in part of society.
    Finally, we have allowed the media to define our divisiveness. We are more divided today as a country than we were in the Civil Rights Era. Its shameful, that we allowed a corrupt political system at times and a money driven media outlets owned by billionaires to define our allegiance. We have conservatives hating progressives, progressives hating conservatives, we have hate groups for every part of society just to oppose the group who either doesnt look like or live like the other. Its fascinating to read post on Ferguson , so much vile and hate comes out in the postings to the point I feel if we were all in a room it would bloodshed. Until we hold or begin to ignore the stories that promote divisieness and support good journalism, we will all be just chasing our tails.

  20. m martin says:

    Ferguson is a microcosm of the systemic racial disconnect permeating American society. I’m not surprised that racial relations in Ferguson is strained given the social stratification of the city’s socioeconomic make-up. The city composed of a 68% African American population has no political or public administration executive of color nor have they every elected any. The police department has 53 police officers 3 of which are black but no city department head is an African American. The city has a long history of conflict between the police and the public which is consist around the country when minorities are denied access to adequate education, employment opportunities, and political inclusion. States around the country have decreased their funding of public education providing an inferior education. This ignorance in my opinion is why the citizens have never elected minority politicians. Let me be clear, I am not saying that African American politicians will change everything or the white politicians of conscience can’t improve the situation, these resident need to see that people from their community can earn elected and appointed public administration position. The vast majority of competitive paying jobs in the area are located in St. Louise County out of the reach of most Ferguson resident and jobs available are minimal wage, denying any opportunities for economic advancement. To resolve the problems in the Ferguson’s of the country, political and private sector leaders must start including the minority communities into the social and economic strategy of urban development

  21. Trey D says:

    From what I can see, black America is violent prone. I see it in how they bring up their kids, interact with others and on tv. Being in your face and violent is maybe just who they are naturally, I see many more incidents to the future between cops and blacks because the cops are being forced to act like the parents many of these young dudes never had when young.That’s why they are drawn to sports they can be violent and get paid for it. If you say why we have so much crime in our country I say it’s because of violence in the black community. Maybe young blacks think it’s cool to do crime, drugs and be in a gang, it sure looks like that on tv and the news.

    • Julie S says:

      Wow, Trey, not even sure where to begin. But sadly, I am sure many think like you. All I can say is let’s see you treated like a second class citizen and be harassed by cops and see if you become “naturally” violent and angry. As far as the sports thing, huh??

      • Niku L says:

        Julie, his comment does not even deserve a response. It is so vile that I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt in that he is forum trolling but sadly, I bet this is how he truly feels. But like I said, this is how many view black people in general because it “looks like that on TV”. Interestingly, many black men are taught from very early in their lives to comply with cops even when they are harassed and angry. It is sad that my 19 year old cousin cannot even hang out by the community pool at night in his “nice neighborhood” because his mother fears that he will be targeted because of the color of his skin. It must be daunting to know that you have worked so hard so that your child will not be faced with the crime that penetrates impoverished communities, yet you are still compelled to continuously look out the window into your upscale neighborhood past the perfectly manicured lawns, anxious for his safe return. This is just one of several unsettling examples of what it’s like to be black in America.

  22. Brandi S says:

    Yes this can happen where I live and anywhere else for that matter. It seems like ever since the Trayvon Martin case these so called incidents keep on happening just in different areas. It seems like the police number one job which is to protect has switched to plain ole police brutality. Michael Brown should have went to jail if he was robbing a place but to lose his life because the officer so called feared for his life should have never happened. It was said that the officer said that Michael Brown looked like a demon. What is that to say about a person. So that is letting you know right their in the eyes of the officer he didn’t see Michael Brown as a person. Either way it goes these people are losing their lives over stupidity and carelessness.It is a sad situation but it will continue to happen if the justice system continues to let these people get away with killing innocent unarmed people.

    • Braden H says:

      It is getting out of hand but if so many black males were not so violent and criminals then cops would not need to have to fight fire with fire!

      • Braden, not to point out the seemingly obvious here but only one side (cops) have fire (guns) in these cases. They are killing unarmed black males, really, there is no other way to ensure justice?

  23. pycarter says:

    Yes I do believe Ferguson can happen in my neighborhood where there is racially bias police law enforcement which has existed in my town since its creation. A senseless murder of young black males has not just started in this century or this decade with Mike Brown’s murder. I am from the a small town in the deep South which has grown over the 48 years of my life and there have been cops who never faced a grand jury inquiry for the murder of unarmed young or old black males. When the citizens protest to City’s or County’s local government about police brutality and racism, they didn’t tear up the local businesses or the town. I remember when white officers killed a naked unarmed black male who had been reported to experience mental illness and killed him instead of letting the EMT’s responders do their job. The family got paid but the officers carried on their police brutality until one officer was actually left town after having a 9 miler meter pistol drawn on him when he continually harassed a young white male. But now our city is so torn with unsolved murders of all races and ranking in the top 10 of the most dangerous cities of Georgia we have more than race relations to deal with. Media outlets like Fox News who only finds the negative things of the rioting and looting from Mike Brown’s murder is what’s wrong with our country and our Criminal Justice system now. I don’t agree with people being brought on the bus to protest with the wrong agenda with nothing to do with Mike Brown’s killer not being charged. I think it should be local area people like most of the peaceful protestors in Ferguson. I wished every one of those who were protesting, rioting, or looting in Ferguson who really wanted to make a constructive change for Mike Brown and his family had all voted on last November 4, 2014 to rid their government of bias and racist decision-making officials.

  24. Okwudili O says:

    I wholeheartedly believe that it can happen anywhere across the country, as a matter of fact, I think that police brutality and intimidation are being suffered somewhere as we speak. I have an issue with police not aiming to wound (just shoot the leg) even unarmed people that are not instant threat to their lives. In Ferguson case, I don’t think the officer applied common sense approach. I appreciate the job they do especially by putting their lives in danger to protect the community. However, I believe that many police officer are arrogant and I think that the officer in question must have provoked Michael Brown to act the way he was alleged. I believe the police department is presenting false statement in this case.

  25. Jalesa W. says:

    In my opinion, this could happen anywhere . Doesn’t matter if you’re from a small town or big city, anything is possible. Who would have thought that there would be a silent protest on our very own campus? When it comes to high profile cases, reactions can be seen any where. Another thing we must realize is the idea of racial discrimination. I am one of FEW blacks that feel this case was NOT racially motivated. I seen several people sharing stores on Facebook of whites doing “worst” things and are living after police confrontation. I strongly believe that it all depends on the officer and it all depends on the person. Some officers never feel threatened, and some officers use different means of apprehension (such as tasers, mase, etc). On the other hand, some officers feel as if they must protect themselves by ANY means necessary.

  26. Tricia P says:

    The situation in Ferguson could happen in any urban area, including right here in Georgia. I would think there would be a greater chance of this occurring in the South, since there still seems to be simmering racial tensions in major areas. It only takes a few moments for a small occurrence to spin out of control, ending in violence or worse. Hopefully some good will come out of this terrible situation by encouraging the discussion of these issues by the nation. With greater understanding and empathy, hopefully the nation can work towards eradicating these kinds of incidents.

  27. Ashley G says:

    I’m from Oakland, Ca and not only can I see this happening it has happen and very recently with the death of Oscar Grant. The wound still hurts and the reality is this can happen in every urban city across America. When I was younger the fear of police was no where near as heavy as it is now because I feel that if I am about enjoying my night I don’t know if me or anyone that I am with could get gunned down getting off the train or leaving a venue. As a community people must be aware and teach there children the do’s and don’ts when being pulled over by the police. Knowledge is key and everyone must be aware of there surroundings.

    • Brenda J says:

      Cops have become more aggressive and trigger happy but then t seems many people have also become more armed and aggressive too. Michael Brown was sure no angel, and while it is not just black youth they sure seem to be the most violent and angry, is it because so many don’t have proper upbringings and fathers at home?

  28. Marcus E D says:

    Ferguson…It can happen anywhere. The issue at hand is not just urban unrest and police abuse of power. What needs to be considered is whether the poor, urban, African American population has opportunities to speak and to be heard in a positive light on a national platform. Fact is the left leaning commentators on MSNBC who would love to speak for poor African Americans can’t actually relate to urban plight. They depart from their daily broadcasts in Mercedes S500s and sleep comfortably at night in expensive homes. Further, African Americans in Congress can hardly speak for poor blacks either. The Congressional Black Caucus, who claim to do so, is made up of America’s black elite. Congressman and rich news commentators can’t speak for poor African Americans. Nor can I (a middle class white student), nor can highly educated bleeding heart Sociologists.

    So how can poor, dis-enfrachised minorities be heard? Via the political process? Hardly! Democracy in America seems to work well for the affluent, the educated, and the politically active. What this country needs is a way for poor minorities to communicate directly with their representatives in their own forum. Elected officials should be required to spend a night in a ghetto, to live a week on minimum wage, and to communicate “constructively” with law enforcement officers of a different race. Until politicians learn to empathize with their poor constituents, the poor will continue to be without a voice. Absent constructive communication opportunities and the ability to have audience with their elected representatives, poor, dis-enfrachised minorities will likely continue to cry out in ways that offend the general population.

  29. John F says:

    I agree 100% that a Ferguson situation could happen anywhere in the country, even in a town like Valdosta. If the people become upset about an issue and start protesting in the streets, then there are going to be protestors who turn it into looting. When there are hundreds of looters what are the police left to do? In any and every situation in life there are going to be extremists and there is nothing we can do about that. It is sad what happened in Ferguson, and it is equally as sad that their community will spend years rebuilding what was torn down in just a few nights.

  30. Kelsey G says:

    What happened in Missouri has happened in other places and will continue to happen in other places of the system and the way we think changes. The event that caused all of the anger and violence was very unfortunate and was out of line. This does not justify the way that the crowd has reacted to what happened. People must learn how to get he governments attention when they want change to come about. Have riots , setting cars on fire, and stealing from innocent people does not make anything right it creates more wrong. We must edu the one another at how to approach situations when unfortunate events such as this occurs. Everyone does not know how to vocalize their opinion in a politically correct way and will need guidance. I could not agree more with the former governor about the looters needing to be arrested for the crimes that they have committed because they were in the wrong. The more important thing to worry about is what is causing the people to act this way. They are not being radical protestors without a reason. We need to focus more on the big picture of what happened and worry about our system being fair and everyone being treated as equals. There actions by no mean are the way to handle this situation but I believe that this should have everyone’s attention about how the world we live in really operates.

  31. Theresa L says:

    I think it’s interesting when you say, “What I saw didn’t shock me too much. Concern and sadness, yes. Shock, no.” This just shows that we are used to seeing violence and hatred all around us. Even if we don’t necessarily live in an area where it happens at all. Well, it happens..but is it shown on TV all the time? No, it’s hidden. Yes we think violence is sad and we should treat everyone with respect, but it’s almost out of our control at this point. Where I grew up I felt extremely safe. I never experience any violence or disrespect in the schools I went too or on the weekends. But I remember there were certain areas my parents would always say, “stay away from this area past 12 midnight or on the weekends”. So I knew it was out there but I never saw it…nor did I ever watch the news on TV because the perception I got from other people is that it was nothing but negativity and I did not want that in my life. When I eventually moved away from home and traveled to the city of Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC, that’s when I started to see the protests with my own eyes. Because I lived in the suburb my whole life, I never saw it. I remember how almost fascinating it was to observe these people and just want to pull my car over and watch them for hours thinking, “why? why is this worth it?”. Now, I stay far away. You have this feeling like all you want to do is help and make the world a better place, but it’s almost smarter to stay away and not get involved or bad things can happen.

  32. Michael W says:

    Ferguson could happen anywhere, that police brutality and oppression could come from. I could see that these events will become common in the near future.

  33. K. R. says:

    I live in Atlanta, and the rest of my family lives in Albany. I heard of many riots happening in Atlanta. I heard of attempted riots happening in Albany but they were not organized enough. We travel to St. Louis a great deal for business, and it is scary to think of any of those three cities, or any city for that matter, having riots break out. It makes you a little more concerned for your safety, which is not fair for individuals to stay locked up in their houses.
    I watch the show, Good Wife, and it recently had an episode similar to the Ferguson cases. It actually did a disclaimer that said filming was done before the release of the verdict. Watching the news and even this drama show really clues you back into the world that you live in. The Good Wife actually told it with more politics involved with their case, so it would be interested to see that side of the Ferguson case.

  34. Caleigh M says:

    Although we do not know what the future holds and what people are capable of, but depending on the motivation and determination of others, I think that anything could happen anywhere, even in a small town of 10,000 people (where I’m from). What i do think though, is that if many protests and riots broke out in a small town, i feel like it could be managed and taken care of a lot faster than it would in a bigger town, say of 20,000 citizens. Where I’m from, i don’t live in a neighborhood. well i guess you could call it a neighborhood, but it is basically a family compound. Riots and protests happening in my “neighborhood” isn’t necessarily apart of the norm. Anyways, like i said, because we do not know the future we can’t say what can and cannot happen, but i think that if the determination to stand up for what you believe in is strong enough, then anything is possible.

  35. A Blackwell says:

    The city of Ferguson was a powder keg waiting to happen. It can definitively happen in any neighborhood where there are similar circumstances. Looking at Ferguson months later after the incident as more information comes to the forefront, it was only a matter of time before tensions would snap. The city manager, finance director, police chief, mayor, the municipal judge, and more have either resigned or taken heat over the incident. These tensions and the incident in Ferguson didn’t just “happen”. Incidents have been going on for years and they were perpetuated by people in power. Its hard for things to come out when corruption runs so deep.

  36. Robert T says:

    With the recent events in Valdosta, I can see how things can get out of hand. VSU, in my opinion chose the right side, they support freedom of speech, and however, they could have went about it in a different minor. Its small incidents like this that fuel fires like Ferguson. With the leader of the protests on the run for having weapons and consider armed and dangers, put a perfect target on his back. I am praying that no harm comes to him, as they may lead to a smaller Ferguson event, and I believe that everyone should get there day in court. Little incidents like this give power to the statement that events like Ferguson can happen anywhere.

  37. Tochi M says:

    I definitely agree with you. These event that took place in Ferguson could no doubt occur where I call home. Why? Because everywhere in America and even in the world, you find a lot of frustrated people who feel trampled upon and disenfranchised. I believe the Police officer shooting the kid was just the tipping point for people already frustrated with the justice system here. Sadly, these people seem to be for the most part, African-American. Similar events took place in Valdosta, when a group pf students were protesting what they felt were injustices to the black community, and in the process of making a statement, one of the students walked on the American flag (which on a side note, I believe this student had a right to do–first amendment rights andall; Texas v Jonhson). My point is, although what happened in Valdosta was not as violent as that of Ferguson, it is still proof that we definitely do have unhappy people in the American community and until something is done to eradicate these feelings of frustration, and we can all treat each other equally regardless of race or color, I don’t know if events like these will cease to occur.

  38. Michael W says:

    First hand I can see this happening in any neighborhood anywhere in the United States of America. A Couple of days ago Valdosta saw a mini race war unfold on its streets. As a man named EJ sparked a bomb by stomping on the United States Flag. This gave way to blacks threatening whites and vice versa.

  39. Sheldon G says:

    After reading this post and looking at the situations in Ferguson, Missouri I do believe that where I reside in Atlanta, Georgia there would be an outrage and major chaos if something like this were to take place. People are already on edge waiting for something to happen committing senseless crimes and in the wake something tragic happening here, then it would take more than just the cops to stop a riot. Although these people would be looked at as thugs or vigilantes, they only respond and take to the streets when they feel that they are constantly being done wrong and someone of their community has suffered. That is when you begin to see people unite and come together because it is like they do not want an outsider to tear the community apart but they can.

  40. Candus K. says:

    Unfortunately, this could happen in any neighborhood here in the United States. To me, this revolves around false perceptions and stereotypes. There have been several cases in the media pertaining to “white” officers and “black” suspects that involve violence. Is this because this officer was racist? No, I do not think so. I think it is because the officer perceived this large “black” man as a danger. Is it right? NO! but it happens all the same. It’s a version of the old saying “kick butt and take names later.” It is a shame that another youth was taken before him time and I feel horrible for his family, but I’m sure this will not be the last case of the matter.

  41. LMC says:

    Dr. R, I have to say honestly, I read the “Balitmore Burning” post you wrote ( before reading this one, and I was curious what other posts you’d written about the race relations issues our country is facing right now. I was pleased to find this post on Ferguson with a – in my opinion – more balanced perspective than what I read in the Baltimore post.

    Race relations is a deeply complex issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of the nation’s mind, albeit, the way it’s happened is far from desirable. The conversations that have arisen from the public have been long overdue. My hope is that people stay away from Fox News and instead, choose to focus on their own communities and the personal decisions we each can make to bring about positive change. These are hard conversations to have. But so worthwhile. These are difficult matters to consider honestly about oneself and one’s community. But so worthwhile.

    Great forums, organizations, and movements have been created as a result of these tragedies, and my hope is that we as a nation can continue to move forward to true equality.

    These are a few of the online and face-to-face communities I’ve become involved with in the last few months:

    Black Lives Matter (
    Be the Bridge (

  42. Ambreshia says:

    I feel as if Ferguson could happen anywhere. Last year when it all happened I can remember turning on the television and seeing all the news channels and reporters airing all the Americans that were involved in the protests. I felt as if the message that they were sending was not the right message. I understand that everyone was upset with the way things took place, even i felt it was an injustice. But at the same time i felt as if destroying the stores, stealing, burning cars etc. was not the way to display the “right” message to many people that were watching. Many families businesses and organizations were destroyed all because people took it upon themselves to display their own actions and voice their opinion of “im going to do whatever to get attention.” There were many ways that could have achieved this message. I appreciate the coming together of many Americans and standing beside one another instead of fighting against one another as is done on a daily but i do feel as if there could have been a better way to develop a message to send across America.

  43. gljackson33 says:

    Ferguson is not the first time riots has broken out in the city because of mistrust of law enforcement. I could happen anywhere. So many people are frustrated about our criminal justice system and have no way of getting their point across so they think they will be heard if they riot. Sometimes it is the only way to shed some light on what is happening in different areas and communities around America. Just like the LA riots when Rodney King was beaten. They felt the same way as the people of Ferguson. I think that America needs to take a closer look at who is mostly affected by the criminal justice system.

  44. Matt R says:

    This is another case of the liberal media creating a divide that is not there. Mike Brown was proven to be the aggressor in the situation with a white officer. The officer had no choice but to shoot Brown or risk his own self being injured. But, what did the liberal media do? They portrayed it as racism. They used it as a tool to further divide whites and blacks across America. It’s ridiculous. It’s funny how this all happened during the past 8 years under the Obama administration. Finally, a black man got into the white house and who does he elect as one of his advisers? Al Sharpton who is one of the biggest black extremists known in America. The Liberals have caused all this mess. Black people argue that “black lives matter” right? That’s a racist statement in itself in all reality, because it should be “ALL LIVES MATTER!” We are called the UNITED States after all. It’s time the media started trying to unite us instead of divide us.

  45. A. Hughes says:

    Oh man. Since I’m almost done with chapter four and done responding to discussion board three I’m picking this blog post for my fourth posting. This week’s chapter on Governing the Multiethnic Metropolis and the discussion board on Ferguson is all intertwined so I’m going to stick with the topic.

    Everything that happened in Ferguson could totally happen in any city. I completely agree. It takes one police officer poorly using his discretionary power and bam, we are taking 500 steps backwards away from progression.

    However, and sadly, have you ever experienced something really traumatic and then grown from said experience? Is police brutality the traumatic experience that we all may grow from?… It’s sick, I know, why can’t we be easily integrated from the get go. Unfortunately, history has put us here. Slavery had and is still having some serious major repercussions. Our ancestors F’d up big time (well, some of our ancestors…)

    I probably sound like a broken record. We have come a long way from civil rights in some regards but we still have some growing to do. The black lives matter movement needs to continue. Also, the black lives matter movement does not need to be diminished by saying, all lives matter. That’s a given. We all need to educate ourselves on why racial tensions are still happening. There is fear among all races. Those fears range big and small. Generally fear is a driving factor in decisions. Is it possible that Michael Brown was shot out of fear? Then we need to ask why.

    For anyone who thinks they’re not racist boy do I have a song for you…

    Checkout Avenue Q’s song, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist.

  46. Zack Saunders says:

    I believe that a situation like this could happen anywhere in the U.S. I will not be naive and assume that the Civil Rights movement solved every race problem. I am fully aware that racism does still exist and is a real problem in some areas. Unfortunately, I believe that we are going to see more situations like this before the problem is solved. This is not a quickly fixed problem. Ending racism will take several generations because it will literally require a change in how Americans think.

  47. Joe Pennino says:

    The events that happened in Ferguson, Missouri could certainly have transpired in any urban area in America. The shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent media frenzy pitted law enforcement against the black community. Protests went on for days and spread to cities throughout the United States. While the battered police chief attempted to keep the peace, each conflict only served to further divide the community. While there were genuine protesters who were trying to make change, there were also looters, rebel rousers, and those from other parts of the country who were trying to further their own agendas. However, the unrest in Ferguson did not begin with the shooting of Michael Brown but was rather personified through it.
    The racial and cultural profiles within urban areas and big cities have changed drastically over the last several decades. The white middle class has moved to the suburbs to escape violence, in search of clean air and a place to raise their children. Though many of the breadwinners still work in urban areas, many in positions of authority, the residents are becoming more and more diverse. This mismatch between those in positions of power and those who live in the community can cause tension. Add in a policing structure which includes raising revenue through issuing citations and pervasive poverty, and you get a recipe for disaster. This was the case in Ferguson and is the case in many urban areas today.
    Public administrators and elected officials need to do their part to reach out to the community they serve. The best weapon against frustration, mistrust, and hostility is an open dialogue. Public administrators should institute programs encouraging those who live in the community to consider careers in public service. Officials should meet frequently with community leaders, neighborhood groups, and host town hall style meetings. Trust must be built ahead of a tragedy. Once a tragedy occurs, administrators and elected officials are powerless to lead their community, if that community that doesn’t trust them.

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