Ferguson, man, Ferguson…
Ferguson Day 5
Unrest in Ferguson took a turn for the worse last night. Police, with seemingly the most current riot gear, but maybe without current crowd control training, augmented the perceptions of callousness and injustice.
Among the stupidities, media was order to turn off their cameras, reporters were arrested and one St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French was arrested. (French is a gently composed, physically unintimidating individual; his arrest demonstrates the absurdity of law enforcement; he was most likely refused to put his iPhone down…) Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal reported being tear-gassed.
Social media exploded as the evening unfolded and the single reverberating chorus across the spectrum was an outrage at the absence of Governor Jay Nixon, who was reportedly at a music concert at the state fair. Some wondered if this was Nixon’s “Katrina moment,” AWOL and aloof in the midst of a crisis.
Then late last night the governor’s office announced that Nixon would skip this morning’s traditional Ham Breakfast and travel to Ferguson today.
Nixon also released a statement which left a few of the platitudes from his church speech for a more practical framework: “While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern… Once again, I ask that members of the community demonstrate patience and calm while the investigation continues, and I urge law enforcement agencies to keep the peace and respect the rights of residents and the press during this difficult time.”
Washington Post reporter’s account of being arrested here. “The woman sang hymns throughout the ride.”
The might Jason Rosenbaum’s link to police throwing teargas at a television crew here.
Chappelle-Nadal on being gassed here. “I approve their budget, so you know that I’m pissed off.”
Public radio reporter Dale Singer’s account here. “After being hit with tear-gas, this reporter left the scene.”
Post-Dispatch interview with Antonio French here. When a reporter asked French today how he went from being in his car to being arrested, he said: "They open your door and drag you out."
Post-Dispatch coverage here.
It’ll be interesting to see if there’s lasting impact after this crisis passes. Many have been unnerved by the “militarization” of the police. They have been struck by the similarities in appearances between Ferguson and televised images from across the globe: wearing combat fatigues, throwing tear-gas pre-emptively, and aiming guns at protesters as routinely as strolling.
I can’t help but felt like St. Louis County’s fragmented political structure is to blame for the political incompetence. Many of the county’s seventy-ish municipalities are run by political amateurs. The mayor and aldermen of Ferguson are in way over their heads here. As most of the leaders of the various tiny municipalities of St. Louis County would be. They just seem to lack the skills to deal with the tragedy and the ensuing aftermath.
What Would Help
The one thing which would help right now would be for the police officer who killed Michael Brown to step up and take some measure of responsibility for his actions. He should hold a press conference, no questions need to be taken, and he shouldn’t retell the events according to his story. But he would be human and express some sorrow, some remorse that a young man dead, and that he had a part to play in happening.
Other Bits from the Political World
Republicans think that they may be able to override even more bill at Veto Session next month than they did last year…
Michelle Rhee, founder of StudentsFirst, split from that education reform group. They’ve been active in Missouri during the past couple of years. See it here.
For the voyeurs this morning… a free service to look up the salaries of congressional staffers can be found here.
“The Missouri Department of Agriculture, Office of the Director Division, has a full-time unclassified Special Assistant/Professional position located in Jefferson City, Missouri. An employee in this position will perform administrative and secretarial duties requiring a high degree of independent judgment and discretion…” See it here.
Today’s fundraising events from Mary Scruggs’ indispensable events calendar:
Governor’s Ham Breakfast & Legislators Day at Fair
Grigsby for Missouri - $15,400 from Missouri Democratic Party.
House Republican Campaign Committee Inc - $6,538 from John Bargett & Associates Inc.
SEIU Missouri State Council PAC - $8,000 from SEIU Local 1 Missouri Division PAC.
Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from Thompson Coburn.
Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from Stone, Leyton & Gershman.
MO Democratic State Committee - $6,000 from Grigsby for Missouri Representative.
Dr. Dan Brown for Senate - $10,000 from Friends of Tilley.
HealthPAC - $7,700 from Committee for Quality Healthcare.
Ashcroft for Missouri - $25,000 from Committee to Elect Ron Richard.
Happy birthdays to former state senator John Loudon (47), and SEIU’s Nancy Cross.