Final Ferguson thoughts

It would be far better to take race out of the equation and just deal with the problems with real solutions. These solutions need to be specific to the kids who are the highest risk.

By , Decoder contributor

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    The Rev. Al Sharpton (l.) attends funeral services for 18-year-old Michael Brown on Monday, at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to Brown, who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer on Aug. 9.
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  • It’s exceedingly sad that Michael Brown was shot six times by a police officer. It doesn’t matter if it was in the back or in the front. It doesn’t matter if he had smoked pot or had stolen some swisher sweets right before. It’s just damn sad.
  • It does matter that Brown and the police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot him got into a violent confrontation that resulted in Brown being shot. It would be nice to have the entire context of that confrontation, but witnesses have proved to be unreliable.
  • This is why every police officer (as well as border patrol agent) should be forced to wear a lapel camera. Nothing compels better behavior than the knowledge that there is a video record of the event.
  • We have instant replay for baseball and football. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had instant replay for these types of confrontations?
  • The police unions should be in favor of these lapel cameras. My guess is that in more cases than not, it would give the cops the evidence they need in a court of law.
  • Every police force should be thoroughly integrated. It’s awfully hard to cry racism at the police if the cops happen to be black.  Now, that won’t stop some race-baiters from doing that. Indeed, in Chicago, black cops are accused of being racist against black criminals all the time. But the facts are facts.
  • Most cops are good people and courageous public servants. But you would have to be naïve to think that all cops are honest. There are bad seeds in every walk of life, and that includes law enforcement.
  • Black criminality is less a function of race and more a function of class. There are a thousand black kids between the ages of 18 and 21 who are homeless in Washington DC. I bet you those numbers are higher in Chicago, Detroit, and East St. Louis. If these kids don’t have anywhere to live, anything to eat, any jobs to go to, or anybody who loves them, how can we as a society expect them to live by our laws? Desperation brings out the worst in people, no matter what race they happen to be.
  • These are problems that deserve solutions. It would be far better to take race out of the equation and just deal with the problems with real solutions. These solutions need to be specific to the kids who are the highest risk. If they drop out of school. If their parents are in jail. If they don’t have anywhere to live. If they had known gang affiliations. When we don’t give these kids a decent chance to turn out decent, they turn to gang-banging, shooting one another, knocking off liquor stores and 7-Elevens, and otherwise causing mayhem.
  • Police officers might not yet have lapel cameras, but just about every liquor store and bank has a security camera. So we have plenty of evidence of who is committing the majority of crimes in this country. The irony is that crime is actually down in most areas. Way down.
  • KTAR News had an interesting story about how most parents freak out about allowing their kids to play outside without adult supervision. Here is an excerpt:

Studies show that crime has been going down consistently for more than 20 years. In 2012, the Christian Science Monitor noted that “the last time the crime rate for serious crime – murder, rape, robbery, assault – fell to these levels, gasoline cost 29 cents a gallon. and the average income for a working American was $5,807.”

Asked whether news media and political leaders accurately report over- or underestimate threats children face in their day-to-day lives, 41 percent said it’s an accurate portrayal. The remainder split nearly evenly between under- and overestimating threats, at 29 and 27 percent respectively.

Crime fears are “over-hyped,” according to an article by Lenore Skenazy on Reason.com. She wrote: “‘One culprit is the 24-hour news cycle,’ Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, said when I asked him why so few kids are outside these days. Turn on cable TV, ‘and all you have to do is watch how they take a handful of terrible crimes against children and repeat that same handful over and over,’ he said. ‘And then they repeat the trial over and over, and so we’re conditioned to live in a state of fear.’

  • So, first, we should all take a deep breath. Things are getting better. Second, we should find solutions to persistent problems.
  • We should spend resources on these problems in very specific, measurable ways. Create a job training academy that takes at-risk kids out of the cities, provide them beds, meals, education, and gives them a solid chance to make it in this world. Give them a place to feel secure. Surround them with support. They didn’t pick their parents. It’s not their fault that they have no place to call home.
  • We should have an ice-bucket challenge to create this kind of program. It would be neat if it were faith-based. Maybe the president and Pope Francis can come up with a solution.
  • One problem we have with the basic assumptions made by most folks in our society is faulty logic. Some black kids get in trouble with the law, so society assumes that all black kids are trouble-makers. Some cops are racist and folks in the black community assume that all cops are racist.  A subset does not imply that the whole set assumes the same characteristics. But in life, it is sometimes hard to differentiate.
  • Al Sharpton actually something useful yesterday.  He reminded the assembled audience about what it should mean to be black:

Blackness was never about being a gangster or thug.  Blackness was about how no matter how low we was pushed down, we rose up anyhow. Blackness was never surrendering our pursuit of excellence. When it was against the law to go to some schools, we built black colleges and learned anyhow, when we couldn’t go downtown to church, we built our own AME church and our own Church of God in Christ. We never surrendered, we never gave up. And now we get to the 21st century, we get to where we got some positions of power. And you decide it ain’t black no more to be successful. Now you wanna be a nigga and call your woman a ho. You lost where you come from. We got to clean up our community so we can clean up the United States of America.

  • Police officers are killing people all over the place. One mentally deranged woman came at some cops in Arizona with a hammer and she was shot dead.  A white kid was shot by a black cop in Utah in vaguely similar circumstances to what happened in Ferguson.  A New York cop put a choke-hold, killing a black suspect.  A suicidal teenager was shot dead by cops in the Virginia suburbs, despite pleas by his mother to not shoot.
  • Some pundits are making the snide observation that you don’t see white people marching protests, but my response to that is: Why not?
  • Cops have to protect themselves, and I understand that. But did they really have to shoot dead a young mother because she was approaching them with a hammer?
  • I am pro-cop. And I will always instinctively take their side at the outset. But there seems to be an plethora of these incidents in all communities around the country. Maybe the police training manual needs to be revised.
  • Finally, we need to take a serious look at our drug laws. We have built up this security state mostly because we are trying to eradicate illegal drug use. It’s not working. Instead, we should invest more money in drug treatment facilities, paid for with a hefty tax on the sale of drugs. Nothing will lower the cost of drugs more than making it legal, and nothing will take the criminal element out of the drug market faster than having it regulated by the government. Is it a perfect solution? No. But living in a security state in the hopes that we can stop people from doing whatever they want to their bodies isn’t working either. And we can’t afford it anymore.

John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at http://www.thefeeherytheory.com/.

Recommended: Race equality in America: How far have we come?

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