I have purposefully avoided writing about the situation here in my fair city. As a young man, I watched LA burn on CNN in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.
Never once did I dream that such could take place in St. Louis.
For you out-of-town folk, the view you are getting of Ferguson (and by default, St. Louis) is that we are one big impoverished area just ripe for unrest.
In all truthfulness, Ferguson is a nice little area. I dated a woman from Ferguson before I met my wife and spent a lot of time there. I used by snacks, gas and cigarettes at the Quik Trip that famously went up in flames during the riots. It was/is a mixed ethnic community where working class and middle class lived peacefully together for the most part. I’m sure that there were incidents that fouled the Utopian dream, but I never felt unsafe. (Even when a guy I stopped to help in the middle of the night that threatened to kill me – but that’s another story for another day)
All of that changed in August. I happened to be in the woods of Wisconsin when the shooting occurred and watched the initial reports on the news.
I was sad. And angry. But mostly sad.
I was sad that the Ferguson I knew and liked is gone forever.
I HATED how different factions tried to spin the narrative to suit their own agenda. Especially the reprehensible Photo-shopped abominations that painted Michael Brown as a gun-happy gangster and the bogus pictures of a beaten man in the hospital that was supposedly Darren Wilson that have since been debunked.
I equally hate how police officers have been painted with a broad brush as trigger-happy hillbilly morons jest itchin’ to shoot. I know too many cops to allow that to pass without mention. Mainly they are ordinary people doing an awful job and just want to get home alive.
That being said, there are good people and bad people, good cops and bad cops. What amazes me is the amount of gray area there is in this situation. I am NOT passing judgement on this situation, let me hasten to say. I am not a member of the jury, nor was I a witness nor am I privy to any special information about the case.
There are a lot of unanswered questions that I have. IF Darren Wilson killed the man wrongfully, let him go to prison and experience the treatment that convicted cops get from their fellow inmates.
IF Michael Brown did indeed attack the police officer and try to take his gun, then there is little I can condemn the officer of.
But those are both big IF’s.
I don’t have a horse in this particular race, except for the health and well-being of my fellow St. Louisans and the good people of Ferguson.
I hope that the protests are as peaceful as possible. I hope that their right to free speech is carefully protected. I hope that some good comes of all of this.
I hope that the police are safe and get home to their families at night in one piece.
I hope that no more lives are lost.
The announcement is coming any minute now. I hope Ferguson burns no more.