So what’s the big deal about Ferguson police shooting an unarmed black man?
Aren’t people getting shot by the police in this country all the time without even a ripple of attention in the mainstream media? Aren’t they disproportionately black? Aren’t they often unarmed?
It’s really difficult to get solid answers to these questions but there is good evidence that the answer to all of them is “Yes!” Still, the attention to Ferguson is important for a number of reasons: The shootings and subsequent police response to protesters are symptoms of much larger problems, and like most symptoms (e.g., chills, fevers), violent behaviors can be signs of more than one illness.
For example, the lethal police actions in Ferguson are symptomatic of several pathologies that ought not to be ignored:
*rampant racism, which disproportionately kills people of color and is life-threatening in many ways less obvious than the firing of guns.
*erosion of gains made during the Civil Rights Movement, as described here by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
*this country’s glorification of violence
*the turning of civilian police forces into swat teams and other sorts of military units
So, there’s a lot that’s bad about Ferguson and all it represents.
Most of you know that ignoring symptoms (e.g., the cough that accompanies smoking, the weight gain that accompanies poor eating habits, the mindless behavior that can follow excessive drinking) can lead to worsening problems. What kinds of problems can you foresee from ignoring the symptoms that Ferguson exposed?