After the latest developments from Ferguson, I had to add my voice in decrying the situation. In going through media reports, more than one person noted we still don't know exactly what happened. But there is an almost universal condemnation of the tactics the Ferguson police have used against protesters - and against journalists. If you haven't read reports (and I'll share a link or two in a moment), please note that police in full riot gear, swat teams and snipers, and heavily armed vehicles have been the response to peaceful protests (yes, there has been some looting and such, but for the most part, the core of protests has been peaceful). Not only that, two journalists were arrested, totally without cause, and an Al Jazeera crew was scattered and their equipment dismantled.
In response, the Gov. of MO has replaced the police with the State Highway Patrol and the results so far have been positive. The U. S. Attorney General has said that Federal entities will get more involved as well and stated that the previous scenes from Ferguson cannot continue.
The situation exposes on so many levels problems in our society. There is the tendency of police to profile African-American young men. Many have called attention to the number of fatalities they have suffered at the hands of police (there was just the incident in NYC in which the death of the young man was ruled a homicide). There are also way too many incidents of brutality by police - often against mentally ill individuals, but women and the elderly have not been immune. Such reports are very easy to find in a cursory search of the internet.
And there's something else. The Ferguson situation has given wider exposure to a phenomenon that has been growing and has attracted some attention: the increasing militarization of police forces. At The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece which gives an overview of both the situation in Ferguson and the problems fostered by the militarization that was so evident there. In the article are several links to background and reports on this issue. If you look at what is happening, it should be clear that this increasing militarization presents real threats to Freedoms of Speech, Assembly, and the Press.
I also found this thoughtful article at The Guardian. It is definitely worth reading.
Finally, in thinking about the threats to our freedoms, here is one of my previous blog posts which I hope you might read - or reread, as it certainly seems a propos to current events.