A Premature Response to the Michael Brown shooting?

I’ve read a lot of people saying that the protests in Ferguson are premature, that people need to wait for an investigation and learn all the facts surrounding the shooting of Mike Brown before they react. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know all the facts surrounding the shooting. But I don’t think the people in Ferguson are just reacting to what happened in this one event. They’re frustrated with a police force that’s been mistreating residents for years. So I can understand why they aren’t exactly willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to the police in this one case. The shooting of Michael Brown was just the spark that lit a much bigger fuse.

This is a police force that arrested two journalists who were working in a McDonald’s, and during the arrest, one of the officers “slammed [the journalist’s] head against the glass purposefully on the way out of McDonald’s and then sarcastically apologized for it.” [1]

This is a police force that arrested the wrong guy and then locked him up anyway for “getting his blood on their uniforms” (the arrested man claims he was beaten by the police). Then, the officers offered contradictory statements under oath regarding whether blood ever got on their uniforms:

however lax the department’s system and however contradictory the officers’ testimony, a federal magistrate ruled that the apparent perjury about the “property damage” charges was too minor to constitute a violation of due process and that Davis’ injuries were de minimis—too minor to warrant a finding of excessive force. Never mind that a CAT scan taken after the incident confirmed that he had suffered a concussion. [2]

Of course, every institution has its bad apples. But institutional practices appear to have played a role in allowing such behavior to exist:

“On September 20th, 2009, was there any way to identify any officers that were subject of one or more citizens’ complaints?” he asked.

“Not to my knowledge,” [former police chief] Moonier said.

“Was there any way to identify any officers who had completed several use-of-force reports?”

“I don’t recall.” [2]

I know I’m angry. And I don’t even live in Ferguson.

Something’s got to change.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/huffington-post-reporter-arrested-ferguson_n_5676829.html

[2] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/15/the-day-ferguson-cops-were-caught-in-a-bloody-lie.html