In honor of this Fiftieth Anniversary of the historic Civil Rights March and Battle in Selma, Alabama, it would be most fitting to abolish Ferguson, Missouri -- not just its racist and reactionary policy force, but the entire jurisdiction, too.
As to the Selma Police Force (Police Farce would be more appropriate), whose chief once offered to resign after the tragic "death by cop" of Michael Brown -- and then reneged on that offer, there is obviously no hope for that department. Judging from the recent Federal Justice Department investigation, the racist culture there is so pervasive that officers felt comfortable using police computers to sent emails portraying our president as a chimpanzee, and captioning a photo of a group of bare-breasted African women "Michelle's High School Class."
That type of disgusting juvenile racism is incurable, but it is consistent with all Ferguson Police Department statistics showing the overwhelming preponderance of arrests, traffic stops, traffic tickets, and many charges against African-Americans, who constitute about two-thirds of the Ferguson population but typically are subjected to over ninety percent of adverse police actions. In point of fact, the email trail on those computers show that this police department was pressured to use tickets and citations and fines as a revenue-raising technique by City of Ferguson authorities. And it appears that the Ferguson Police Department was more than happy to comply by gouging local residents for money.
These racist tactics by the City of Ferguson, Missouri itself also indicate why its abolition is essential to the quality of life of those who reside in that present jurisdiction. Listening to the city's Mayor on Television, one is struck by his insensitivity, not only to racial issues and concerns in general, but to the needless killing of Michael Brown. The Mayor of Ferguson just does not get it: Black Lives Do Matter, indeed All Lives Matter -- and they should matter equally, not depending on the matter of from which racial group a particular life emanates. We are all Michael Brown.
There is hope that the civil suit planned by the family of Michael Brown will help to establish these truths, as the standard for proof in civil matters is much more realistic than that burden imposed by the prosecutor in the grand jury presentation of the criminal case. That prosecutor manipulated the evidence despicably to get Michael Brown's killer off the hook of his own rash misconduct. There is little hope of changing Ferguson, Missouri for the better, and no hope of making that jurisdiction a place where the American Dream of equality for all can ever be realized.
Better, then, for the State of Missouri to initiate a process to abolish its City of Ferguson, by transferring that city's territory to the surrounding county, or taking comparable steps to eliminate its festering racist administrative structure. Those who reside in Ferguson deserve far better treatment than they have gotten in the past, or are likely to get in the future. If Missouri will not take action, the residents of Ferguson should initiate a referendum to deal with the future of their jurisdiction. Even if non-binding, such a referendum would point the way. There are, indeed, other options.
The Civil Rights Movement was able to impact Selma, Alabama fifty years ago, and afterwards, in an ongoing process which ultimately achieved better lives for all residents of that area. But, that was then, and this is now. What happened ultimately in Selma is very unlikely to happen in Ferguson, Missouri, because there is very little goodwill and mutual respect in Ferguson. Sometimes, all you can do with a cancer is to cut it out. That truth surely also applies to Ferguson, Missouri.
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Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)