Friday, August 15, 2014

"Peace like a river ran through the city...."

So this morning the hero of Ferguson is Capt. Ronald Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, because he didn't take to the streets in an MRAP or deploy another SWAT team or send everyone out heavily armored and armed in riot gear that made them look like Darth Vader wannabes.

He walked in a protest march in his shirt-sleeves.

If the militarized response of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police was the Dick Cheney response to the situation in Ferguson, this is the Martin Luther King, Jr., response.  This is the response of compassion and humanity, not power and authority.  This, not complaints and acid-tongued articles and screaming internet comments, is how you turn a populace against the militarization of the police which has taken place.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon this morning is already admitting such 'militarization' made Ferguson less safe; and in a rapid turnaround, the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown is expected to be revealed today.

And all of this is in response to indignant bloggers (yours truly included), and nasty articles all over the internet, and fevered comments on Twitter?

No; it's due to one person finally doing the right thing.  Funny how effective one person can be.

And if we learn a lesson from it, maybe that lesson is that Dick Cheney's response is not the one size that fits all; and some of the simplest lessons of Dr. King, of compassion over power, humanity over demonization, are still valuable.


  1. for the work you put into your blog I don't know why you want to act as if it doesn't matter- humility? because it (and the other writing and talking about the issue) are part and parcel of the groundswell of opinion that sometimes does prompt an individual to step forward and put words into action. one person "doing the right thing" (or the "wrong" thing for that matter) out where they can be seen doesn't necessarily accomplish anything without support from people on the sidelines

  2. My point is, admittedly, a subtle one: social media played a role in this, as did all the general public outrage that played a role in the response to Bloody Sunday in Selma (long before even cell phones).

    But the response was carried out in exactly the right way by a man who disdained any show of force, who understood what good police work looks like, and who did the right thing. Gov. Nixon knew things were going wrong in Ferguson, and he found the right person who made the right response. It is that right response we should honor and urge our public officials to emulate.

    What works is always so much more effective than the idea that is only spoken of.

    Besides, I know my numbers on this blog. A flea jumping onto an elephant has more influence over movement of the elephant..... ;-)