Ferguson Files: Fear and Loathing on the Front Lines

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear, itself.”  My grandfather always said that when an animal was trapped and went “wall-eyed”, that was when they were most dangerous to human animals.  I tend to think that my grandpa was more right than FDR when it comes to the current state of affairs in St. Louis Metro area.

I include both St. Louis City and County and even Missouri and parts of southern Illinois in this because of the fact that so many different types and departments of law enforcement were brought into the original issue in Ferguson, so it truly is no longer about just Ferguson.

Now, from what I’ve seen first hand and on different media, I see scared people with guns and other weaponry.  Scared of we, the people, who are and have been terrified of law enforcement.  The fear the police have of people is hidden behind bluster, batons, riot gear and weaponry.  That last part is what makes police even more dangerous to the public than before.  Scared with guns is a recipe for disaster and death.

Don’t believe me? A prime example is a traffic stop that was made on a car carrying young, black men in St. Louis.  After they were pulled over by a patrol car with two officers in it, who proceeded as normal with a traffic stop, another patrol car pulled up.  This car was carrying one officer.  He exited his car, then reached back inside to retrieve a shotgun!  He very plainly jacked a shell into the chamber as he approached both his fellow officers (who were dumbfounded by the look on their faces) and the car full of young men.  The armed officer was so fearful of “a traffic stop gone bad” that he even forgot he had a body cam on his uniform and it was recording.  He’s since been suspended after a formal complaint was lodged along with the various videos of his performance.  But what do you suppose would have happened if he was the first officer on the scene?  What if he’d not had a body cam?  What if the young men hadn’t had the presence of mind to record him themselves?  What if they had recorded him, but the recording was “lost” along with any record of the stop?  These are questions the black population lives with every single day and night.

On the flip side, the people of St. Louis Metro are feeling their power, illusory as it might be.  However “brave” or “stupid” they might seem when confronting the power that is, they are willing to confront it now, and that is making the power very uncomfortable.  These people are every day citizens, not gangers, thugs, and miscreants of various stripes the police keep talking about and most of them do not go around armed, especially around police.  Why?  Because the simple perception, based in fear, that black people are all ______ and carry guns/are violent, already puts them on the defensive when dealing with the people.  Add in an actual firearm, and all kinds of hell breaks loose.

Because we know the governing powers are not only afraid that the grand jury won’t return an indictment, they are preparing for any backlash by the people, i.e. race riots to be blunt about it, people have been having discussions and meetings on how to prepare themselves for what may come from the streets and the police.  They don’t want “revenge” for Michael Brown and his brethren, they want the justice system to work for them instead of against them for once.  They actually want justice.

Recently, a young man came by and was advocating using Missouri’s newest version of the open carry law.  This law, which just took effect, arms not only teachers, but anyone who wants to carry a weapon, who meets the age criteria and passes a background check.  So he was saying we should take a page from the original Black Panther party in openly carrying weapons.  He was shut down pretty quick by a majority of the people listening to him.  In other words, it was smdh and walk away from that mess.  Why?  Because they know as well as my grandfather did that the police are freaking out enough over all this and are behaving like a trapped animal except, again, they are frightened and armed.  The people are frightened too.  Mostly of what the police will do if an indictment is not returned.



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