The Ferguson Riots and The Militarization of the Police

It’s the same exact thing that keeps happening over and over again.

Step 1 – The government does something very, very bad.

Step 2 – In response, citizens protest, go way overboard, and do something very, very bad.

Step 3 – In response, the cops get pissed, go way overboard, and do something very, very bad.

Step 4 – Steps 2 and 3 repeat and escalate over and over again for several weeks.

Step 5 – After much death and destruction, things finally calm down.

Step 6 – Both sides end up being wrong.

From the Rodney King riots to the Occupy Wall Street protests, it’s the same damn thing every time. It never changes. When Santayana said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, he was wrong. Dead wrong. Human beings want to repeat history, no matter how evil or useless it is.

Let’s apply the six steps to what happened in Ferguson.

Step 1 – In Ferguson, Missouri, a white cop shoots an unarmed black teenager (Micheal Brown) from a distance of about 30 feat, hitting him several times in the arms and torso and twice in the head. Beyond that, the details of what actually happened are still sketchy.

People on both sides have been caught lying. Some defenders of Brown said he was shot in the back. The autopsy proved this to be untrue. The local cops bungled the PR, changed their story regarding what happened, and refused to issue details except as responses to accusations.

A cop shooting an unarmed citizen from 30 feet away is absolutely unacceptable. Sadly, this has become a typical story. From cops choking unarmed civilians to death to throwing grenades at babies in cribs, to smashing up houses of little old ladies who they think (incorrectly) made a post on a forum, this is what happens under Bush-Obamaism…government run amok, with little oversight.

Don’t forget. This is big government doing this. This time, instead of politicians, bureaucrats, or soldiers, it’s cops.

True, in many of these cases the individuals involved were resisting arrest and/or police instructions. If an angry, trigger-happy cop ever yells at me to stop doing something or to move, I will move. I might get his name and badge number, but I will move, since I don’t want to be shot or arrested. So I 100% agree with the argument that standing and arguing with angry, armed cops is a very, very bad move, even if the cops are in the wrong.

However, the bigger point is that cops are government employees, and need to calm down and respect citizens’ freedoms. As we’re about to see, this is not happening.

Step 2 – Citizens of Ferguson go apeshit. Protests quickly turn into riots, smashing up local shops and throwing rocks and bottles at police officers.

Now let me explain something. If you hit me and I hit you back, that’s self defense. If you hit me and I hit your sister, that’s aggression. Self defense is good. Aggression is not.

So if you’re wronged by the cops and wrong them back, that’s one thing.

But if you’re wronged by the cops and start smashing up local shops who had nothing whatsoever to do with why you’re pissed, then you’re an asshole. Moreover, I now officially don’t care what your point was. You’ve lost all credibility. You’ve lost the moral high ground.

I realize that some of the looters and rioters were not from the local area of Ferguson, but many of them were. Unacceptable.

Both sides are now officially in the wrong. But we’re not done with our six steps yet, so lets continue.

Step 3 – The over-militarized cops go apeshit. They start firing gas canisters and rubber bullets into crowds. They bust into peaceful restaurants and start arresting journalists. They start firing grenades at journalists.

Yes, American police officers are actually doing these things. Again, when you repeatedly vote for bigger government, these are the kind of things that start to happen. You love it when big government does what you want, but inevitably that same big government does something horrible. That’s how big government works. That’s why government shouldn’t be big.

Want to get really depressed at what your big government is doing? Go to 6:38 in this video to see cops enter a peaceful McDonalds to “move” journalists they didn’t want observing them, and then arrest them. Go to 9:52 to see cops fire gas grenades at a news crew from across the street, who were doing nothing violent, with nothing violent happening around them.

Cops arresting journalists and firing grenades at them. Yep. This is happening in America. Well, when Obama calls up foreign leaders and tells them to imprison journalists, I guess it was only a matter of time before it started happening here too. I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

Yes, I’ve already heard the excuses and I don’t buy any of them.

“Maybe shooting the grenade at the journalists was a mistake.” Was the arresting of the other journalists at McDonalds a “mistake” too?

“Maybe the journalists refused a lawful order to move.” Then why didn’t the cops walk up to them and tell them to move? Or worst case, arrest them? Why the fucking GRENADE?

“Well, they released the journalists the next day.” So what? What does that have to do with anything? They were fired at and arrested.

I’m sorry, but there’s too many of these incidents to be explained away by any of these excuses. There’s too much smoke in that kitchen for there not to be a fire.

The militarization of local police all over the US began in earnest under Bill Clinton, and under Bush and Obama it’s become far worse. Cops are now getting military-grade weapons and vehicles from the Afgan and Iraq wars.

And as long as Americans keep voting for Republicans and Democrats, it’s going to keep getting worse.

Step 4 – The violence between asshole rioters and angry, trigger-happy cops worsens. It’s been 12 days, and every night the violence continues, on both sides. For no damn reason.

Step 5 – Step 5 hasn’t happened yet, but in a few weeks this will all calm down. Then we can have a few months of peace until another trigger-happy cop unjustly kills another unarmed civilian, and people react with violence against innocents, making everything worse.

Step 6 – Both sides are wrong.

On the protester side:

  • Protesters should not damage or steal any personal property, particularly the property of anyone who has nothing whatsoever to do with why you’re protesting. Jerkwads who do this should be punished to the full extent of the law, and be made to make reparations to the people whose livelihoods they’ve damaged or destroyed.
  • The peaceful protesters should spend the same amount of time denouncing the violent protesters on their “side” as they do the reason they’re protesting, in order to maintain a moral high ground.
  • When a wall of angry, trigger-happy cops are lining up and telling you to do something, you should swallow your pride and do it, even if the cops are in the wrong, which they probably are. Why? Because if you don’t do it, they’ll fucking kill you. Do you want to be right or alive? I don’t know about you, but I choose alive. Get a name or badge number if you can, quickly do what the cops say, keep your cool, don’t get killed or arrested, then if you’re still upset after the incident, use legal means to pursue your grievance. That, or get arrested and/or killed. Up to you.

On the cop side:

  • Cops should not be militarized, period, end of story. America has begun down a very dark road.
  • Cops should minimize the use of force against unarmed civilians of any race. Minimal use of force against unarmed civilians should be a priority in police culture and training. Cops are government employees, which means they are our servants, not our bosses.
  • If violence absolutely must be used against unarmed civilians, cops should always use nightsticks, mace, or tasers first, before using guns or grenades.
  • Only black cops should police black neighborhoods. (This probably won’t minimize the violence, but at least it removes the white-on-black race issue, so people on both sides can think more clearly and with less emotion if/when something like this occurs.)
  • Cops must absolutely respect the freedom of the press at all times, no matter how upset or uncomfortable it makes them to have reporters witness or video what they do. In a free country, being a police officer means you are going to be watched at all times. If you don’t like it, don’t become a cop or move to a less-free country. Any cops harassing journalists in any way whatsoever should be severely punished, including permanent termination. Freedom of the press! It’s in the friggin’ Constitution. 
  • All local, state, and federal police and should have some form of completely independent oversight.
  • Any cop who is found to have killed or seriously harmed an unarmed civilian unjustly should not only be fired, but imprisoned to the full extent of the law.

And so, Santayana’s curse continues…

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  • Steven
    Posted at 09:11 pm, 20th August 2014

    This is much too logical.

    No one will listen. 🙂

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 11:58 pm, 20th August 2014


  • buzz
    Posted at 03:55 am, 13th March 2015

    I agree with all your points but one.

    One lawful purpose of a police force is to stop riots
    with deadly force if necessary.
    I do not think the police went far enough.
    I think they should shoot to kill in riots.

    Somebody gets killed in Missouri and we have people blocking traffic in cities all over the country.

    If you riot you die.

    peaceful assembly does not mean in the street blocking traffic.

  • Caleb Jones
    Posted at 11:13 am, 13th March 2015

    The death penalty for blocking traffic? Um, no.

    If you’re blocking traffic, causing real traffic snarls, and won’t move, of course the cops should use force to move you. But we’re talking non-lethal force. The cops have riot shields, bean bag guns, tasers, rubber bullets, nightsticks, other cops to help them, etc.

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