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By now you have probably heard about the chaotic crisis occurring in Ferguson, Missouri. Riots have broken out, bringing back memories of the Rodney King situation. There has been looting, destruction of property, and terrorizing of citizens. Heavily armed police have been cracking down hard on protesters and reporters. They are utilizing tear gas grenades and rubber bullets against crowds.
On Tuesday, President Obama released a statement regarding the killing of black teenager Michael Brown.
The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.
There is certainly nothing disagreeable within his statement. But as events have continued to unfold, now is the time for President Obama to use the bully pulpit to establish a message of moral clarity to all parties involved in the Ferguson crisis. Deescalation is the solution, not further escalation.
First, he should condemn the riots. There is absolutely no excuse for inciting fear and damaging private property. Those are severe crimes and should not be excused just because people are upset.
Second, he should call on the police to demilitarize. This is America. We do not need tanks on the streets. Military grade equipment must not be used on American citizens, especially the element of protesters who are nonviolent.
Here is why President Obama will do neither:
To condemn the riots would be seen by many if not most members of the black community as a condemnation of the whole race. As illogical as that is, we saw how group think such as that was manifested during the Trayvon Martin fiasco.
And he will not condemn the police militarization because in large part his own Department of Homeland Security is responsible for it. Through an extensive grant program, military-grade equipment is funneled to local police departments. Exactly why this is happening is anyone’s guess, but it is a top priority of the DHS.
One would hope President Obama would show some courage and address this crisis in the mold of Kennedy or Reagan. Sadly, I believe the political and bureaucratic backlash is too great for him to consider it.