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Ferguson events raise troubling concerns

Posted: August 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

Smoke slinks across pavement in the darkness, cries from gassed citizens fill the air, people break into a McDonald’s to provide milk-based relief to a person hit with tear gas, sound weapons pass levels that cause permanent damage, police shoot pellets at journalists.

This time, you have not entered the Twilight Zone or the Gaza Strip. Rather, you’ve entered the streets of a Missouri community on the night of the Aug. 17.

Nine days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson, reports from Ferguson focused on the excessive tactics being implemented by the police.

Wilson has not been charged or even detained in the killing of Brown, despite an autopsy report, among other evidence, that indicates initial witness reports were correct.

Brown was surrendering, arms extended in pacifism, and was shot fatally after receiving several bullets to other parts of his body, the report indicated.

The body was left on the street for hours.

However, the violence was not the only troubling thing to occur last week in Ferguson. Some of the most disturbing realizations to come to light may be the proof that we are living in a police state and that a lot of people don’t seem to care.

Rallies in support of Ferguson have been held throughout the country, and yet I am still encountering people who haven’t even heard of the community.

On the second night of curfew, Aug. 17, officers in Ferguson began riot response hours before the curfew went into effect, giving approximately five second of warning before implementing tear gas and flash bang grenades.

Lights were shut off on the streets, reporters were arrested and threatened by officersnot wearing name plates. All of this came two hours before the state-mandated curfew. 

This is outrageous and should be angering all Americans. Our police are breaking laws and constitutional amendments; where is the national outrage?

Missouri’s governor called in the Missouri National Guard. The president has sent the attorney general to the state to deal with the unrest.

Amnesty International sent a delegation to the Missouri community and has called for an investigation into Brown’s death.

SWAT teams are being released in daily police work around the nation and more than 500 local police agencies are equipped with mine-resistant, military grade vehicles (MRAPS).

The Ferguson Police Department is one of the local departments given surplus military equipment, including the MRAPS and automatic weapons, thanks to the DoD 1033 program.

America’s police are becoming increasingly militarized and the results are grim. An overhaul of the system is needed; we are citizens, not prisoners of the state.

This should terrify you; it should terrify everyone. The police are exerting more power than they should ever have been given, and the outrage is concentrated.

And yet neither has taken the time to support the community of Americans in Ferguson who were left to live among smoke and turmoil.

Police are being outfitted with military equipment, breaking laws and protocol, threatening and silencing journalists, and tear-gassing civilians here and now.

The events of Ferguson may feel far away to other Americans, but these crimes against human rights aren’t happening in the Ukraine or Iraq this time.

They’re happening in the United States of America.

Mallory Fencil is a Valencia resident and a student at California State University, Northridge.

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