Jason Henry Project

A political opinion blog

Want trust in leadership in Ferguson? Start by packing away the teargas and tanks

Protestors are met by Missouri State Highway Patrol officers/Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT

Protestors are met by Missouri State Highway Patrol officers/Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT

Trying to find distinction amongst chaos can be maddening. Since Mike Brown was executed by a Ferguson police officer this past Saturday, I’ve attempted to find reason as to why a police officer would shoot and kill an unarmed man.

I haven’t found one sans the obvious, but as I continue to search, I came across something else that should scare the life out of minority residents in Orange County.

On Thursday night in Ferguson, police officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas onto peaceful protestors to break the remonstration. Since Brown was killed, there have been incessant protests topped with riots and looting.

Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times

Matt Pearce / Los Angeles Times

Those demonstrating are not only showing their torment about Brown’s death, but the Ferguson police department has yet to release the name of the officer responsible for taking Brown’s life, and Ferguson PD has put the city in a choke hold.

Supposedly there is teargas being fired into neighborhoods where there are no protesters and officers are pointing weapons at activists who have their arms raised in the air.

So if this is happening in Ferguson, there’s reason to believe that this may go down in Orange County, no?

According to Slate.com, local law enforcement agencies have received over $4.3 billion in military equipment. That includes tanks, assault rifles, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, as well as planes.

MRAP’s and planes? Are we fighting terrorism or residents?

Here locally, SWAT teams were deployed to disperse a peaceful demonstration in Parramore a few weeks ago. Because the gathering swelled to more than 1,000 people, Orlando PD and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office deployed their SWAT teams to break the crowd.

So with the military giving away equipment like its candy, local police departments are using them for small situations.

It is also empowering them to act as soldiers on the battlefield.

In Ferguson on Thursday, a reporter from the Washington Post and one from the Huffington Post was arrested for sitting in a McDonald’s dining room. When asked to leave, they were detained for not moving fast enough.

 

Ferguson PD is attempting to control as much of the narrative as possible but through strong arming the media and residents.

If residents have to deal with tanks, teargas, assault rifles, and armored vehicles for protesting, what should we expect next?

Mike Brown's stepfather/Huy Mach / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Mike Brown’s stepfather/Huy Mach / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Better yet, if residents in Orange County begin to do the same in Orlando, should we prepare to stare down tanks and guns if protests are achieved?

More than anything, the people of Ferguson, and those who understand the outward show of anger, are looking for empathy and justice. From Governor Jay Nixon to local elected officials, their silence and inaction allows for a continued breakdown of trust between residents and leadership.

 

Searching for justice amid the clouds of teargas and hurt of rubber bullets is hard. But without answers and no guarantee of justice for Mike Brown, protestors have not been given a reason to trust that their search will soon end with a reasonable result. -JH Update: St. Louis Alderman Antonio French has been arrested for his role in the protest in Ferguson.  

If you want more politics, well, because who doesn’t, click the links below.

Mike Brown is more than a hashtag — and so am I
5 things to know about the redistricting special session
Is Orlando becoming Florida’s poverty capital?

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