By now you must have heard of Ferguson; if not, read this for a quick synopsis. The shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson would have been a call for action by most Chiefs of Police in the United States except for Mr. Jon Belmar, the Chief of Police in Ferguson, MO. For those who may be mulling the idea that the shooting of Michael Brown was an accident, it was not. Ferguson police officers have been gunning down black men in the area without impunity, mercilessly; in all cases, no officer was held accountable. Two weeks after the Michael Brown’s tragedy, another black man was gunned down a few blocks away by two police officers. The extremely graphic video removes all doubt that Ferguson police officers are held accountable for any of their actions. Indiscriminately supported by their chief police, a prosecutor who rubber stamped every black killing as justified and a justice system that agrees wholeheartedly with the police modus operandi, the blacks in Ferguson have had their civil rights violated more often than during the civil rights movement era. Ferguson is even worse; most of the blacks lost their lives without any hope that the perpetrators would be held accountable. Yep! This is the United States of America.
A few days ago, Ferguson chief of Police, Mr. Jon Belmar took to the streets to walk alongside the protesters as a show of support. It was good PR but it was too little too late. Mr. Belmar has overseen everything that happened before the shooting of Michael Brown, immediately after the shooting and what ensued later, the protests. To judge by the officers’ behavior towards the protesters, Mr. Belmar could not possibly convince anyone that his sympathy for the Brown’s family is genuine. If anyone has any doubt as to where Ferguson Chief of Police stands, consider that it took the Department of Justice and the Feds to order the police officers wearing bracelets “I Am Darren Wilson” to stop the practice. Any sensible Chief of Police, with the slightest sympathy for Michael Brown’s family, would not have to wait for a third party to prohibit such insensitive actions by his police officers. After all, Officer Darren Wilson gunned down an unarmed civilian; “I Am Darren Wilson” is very loaded with unwarranted implications.
In a PR move to calm the protests, Chief of Police Jon Belmar issued an apology and his sympathy to Michael Brown’s family; that was too little too late. It is near impossible to imagine that Mr. Belmar is capable of or even willing to hold his officers accountable. The few changes that are now observed in Ferguson are simply a product of the forever presence of the media and the watchful eyes of the Justice Department and the Feds. When the media goes home, Mr. Belmar would undoubtedly fall back to a practice that’s been condoned for decades. Ferguson would be better off with a new chief of police; Ferguson would be better off without Jon Belmar; Ferguson will be better off with a Police Chief who can hold the officers accountable. It is totally unacceptable that the United States of America that has been waging war campaigns against tyranny around the world could have those types of human rights violation practices occurring all across the country.
That didn’t go unnoticed in the world stage. A Russian analyst, Mark Adomanis, twitted the following on August 14, 2014 “Dear Ferguson Police Department: Dmitry Kiselyov sends you his thanks. You just gave him his next year’s worth of talking points.” The violence in Ferguson has been featured on Russian televisions non-stop, ridiculing “US freedom the world should envy”. Russian ministry tweeted on August 19, 2014 “#US should mind its own problems, not meddle in others’ affairs… #Ferguson.” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian foreign ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and rule of law stated “While urging other countries to guarantee the freedom of speech and not to suppress antigovernment protests, the United States authorities at home are not too soft with those actively expressing discontent over persistent inequalities, actual discrimination and the situation of ‘second class’ citizens.”
Russia is not the only country to express dismay at US meddling in other countries’ affairs while the situation in America is even worse than in some of those countries. Egypt, Iran heckled similar concerns. We Americans should not be quick to dismiss those remarks; they have a great deal of merit. The message is very simple, before waging wars with other countries in the name of freedom, US should fix the problems at home; then and only then the idea of exporting US freedom to other countries would make sense.
Michael Brown’s tragedy should serve as a starting point to begin a complete overhaul of the Police Force throughout the country. Chief Jon Belmar should resign or be forced out to begin the healing in Ferguson. I would surmise that society would be best served if only an elite group of physically, emotionally and psychologically well trained police officers are allowed to carry firearms on the job.
The primary duty of a law enforcement officer is to protect the citizens of the community; everyone should feel comfortable seeing, interacting with law enforcement officers. Just the opposite is true today. Almost everywhere, there is a palpable distrust and disdain for law enforcement officers, and it’s justified most of the time.
The trigger happy law enforcement officers, such as Officer Darren Wilson, should be taken off the streets, retrained, re-assigned or relieved off their duty for anything less is unacceptable in America.
Follow Mike Ducheine on Twitter: @mducheiney