Thoughts on Ferguson – Did the city WANT a riot?

IMG_3054There is NO WAY that I could expect to influence anything going on in Ferguson MO right now. There’s way too much emotion running at full speed. But I might offer to my friends, who were initially satisfied by the “conclusion” announced by the Ferguson City Prosecuting Attorney, an alternative perspective on the city government that might at least give us pause to consider why the outrage has grown. There is so much wrong with this situation that I cannot begin to address all I see (even from my remote white-man’s perspective). I think there’s plenty of guilt to go around, but I really feel the bulk of the guilt lies with the city government corrupted by inattention to racist behavior on the part of those who act in the city’s name.

I was just thinking about what a town government might do if they WANTED the people to riot. You might ask WHY on earth would a town government WANT people to riot? Well, one possible reason would be to turn public opinion against the townspeople who have been accusing the city of racist injustice.

So what could the city do to start a riot? Well, it could start by saying “We will investigate ourselves”. Then, knowing that Grand Jury proceedings (intended to support prosecution, not defense) are secret, it could control the evidence presented to the hand-picked regular Grand Jury such that no fault would be found (knowing how their buddies think). Then, the city could top it off by having the prosecuting attorney, whom no people of color in town trust as far as they could throw him; announce the “no fault” finding. And he could do so just after sundown rather than in the morning’s light while most folks are working. And of course, the city would make sure the announcement time was publicized well in advance so the media and some known hot-heads, who don’t even live in town, will plan to be there. Yeah. That should do it.

But isn’t that a wild conspiracy theory? “Theory” – yes, “wild” – no. And besides, even if the theory is pure conjecture, WHY would a town do these things that so obviously appear as the specter of conspiracy? I suggest two possibilities: 1) they thought they could get away with it, or 2) they weren’t thinking at all. (some might judge either of these as “stupid”)

And if a town believed a riot was INEVITABLE, why not choose not to turn all investigations and Grand Jury processes over to an outside authority like the State or Federal government and let the State or the Feds be the bearer of the news? Well, perhaps the town feared outsiders might find the town government at fault (giving the rioters some public-opinion-justification for their criminal behavior).

And WHY would a town who KNEW WITH CERTAINTY that their police force was justified, choose not to turn all investigations and Grand Jury processes over to an outside authority like the State or Federal government so that no conflict of interest would cast doubt on the findings? Well, I can’t think of a reason why not.

IN NO WAY am I condoning a riot. That behavior is counter-productive and rather stupid in itself. But as Martin Luther King said “a riot is the language of the unheard”.  So, from that perspective, I understand the reason, but certainly not the excuse – particularly when the businesses of law-abiding neighbors are looted and burned by the misdirected aggression.  A better course of action would be (and still remains) to fight at the ballot box and elect a new city government committed to replacing the city’s police force (and other agencies) with one that reflects the demographics of the city.

My personal conclusion (you must certainly draw your own) is that whoever orchestrated the investigation and Grand Jury process in Ferguson was guilty of either manipulative miscarriage of justice (criminal misconduct), or just plain criminal stupidity.

Then, I was just thinking, they can’t be that stupid.

As a humorist, I try to find something laughable in stuff that’s not funny. I’m having trouble doing so this time. Here, I see the things that could BECOME laughable, but it’s way too early. For everything, there is a time. It’s not time yet. I pray that the time will come soon that we can all look back on these horrid events, in unity and mutual respect, with the maturity required to understand the old biblical verse: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (King James Bible, 1 Corinthians).


Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist

About Darrell

Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist
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4 Responses to Thoughts on Ferguson – Did the city WANT a riot?

  1. kat says:

    Great post, Darrell. Very thoughtful.

    • Darrell says:

      Thanks Kat. It’s dangerous these days to say anything about anything that touches nerves. I don’t want to offend or alienate, but I do want us all to consider that the press often reports hearsay and presents opinion as facts. We need to ask tough questions and be unafraid to learn the truth – even if it means we all look like racists. Awareness is the first step toward change.

  2. racism exists, it’s naive to think it doesn’t. but beyond that, police have too much power. that’s the real root of this problem. they can lie, steal, commit assault and battery, murder, do whatever they want damn near, and get away with it. they are above the law. they have a terrible job. they never know when they stop a car for running a red light, what will happen? there might be somebody in that car with a weapon, they might get shot or whatever. so they are constantly amped up, ready for trouble. so it’s much easier for them to respond to anybody with force and fear. basically, they are afraid. that’s what their job has come to. society has created this. it’s a violent society, so the cops are violent to match that. none of it is premeditated, it just happens like this. so they have all this authority, the right to beat up anybody who “resists,” who doesn’t fawn all over them. they don’t have to treat anybody with respect, so they usually don’t, unless it’s very obvious to them that the person is innocent and law abiding and up to no harm. they feel they are the sole judge of this. they take the basic premise of law and turn it on it’s head: everybody they see is guilty until the cops are convinced he’s innocent. they treat everybody like a criminal. they have way too much power, too much authority. this will probably not change anytime soon, so the problem will not go away. all the training in the world, all the investigations, will not change this. nobody will acknowledge this. so the problem will remain, they will keep on beating up people, committing assault and battery. that’s how it seems to me. that’s my experience with the police. and i’m not even black. so it’s not all racism. it’s copism.

  3. Darrell says:

    Thanks for that perspective Bob. We all know that there ARE good, even GREAT officers out there. Many of the good guys are actually bullied by the not-so-good. It’s sad. A smart psychologist once pointed out to me that when we feel victimized, we can more comfortably justify our own villainy. Perhaps that’s the self-perpetuating aspect of a violent society. I pray for my grand children to discover a peaceful way to diffuse the “societal bomb” we have created.

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