"Driving The Distance To Protest"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pick up any newspaper, view any TV news broadcast or listen to the news on the radio: You will receive the same news. It will vary, based upon the opinion of the reporters, but generally it’s the same news.

This column, being an opinion column, affords an opportunity for me to take a shot at the current news topic: unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and related incidents around the country.

I have viewed the media frenzy of TV cameras, reporters pushing and shoving microphones in any face that would respond. The subject of all the turmoil was the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer.

Many eager individuals jumped into the event stating they were witnesses to the shooting. There were so many conflicting accounts that anyone who wished to get involved could just pick one they felt comfortable with and join the rabble. Many people had their own idea of what took place on Aug. 9, and more continue to surface creating ideas of what took place with no evidence to support their claims.

When the Rev. Al Sharpton arrived, he managed to convince the crowds that the problem was strictly black vs white. He quoted from past events and referred often to Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement: “All men are created equal.”

With the aid of social media and unrelenting media coverage, confusion has spread around the country.

I don’t disagree with Martin Luther King’s conviction that we are created equal, but I don’t believe our problems are related to color. My belief is the upbringing of our youth and their subsequent lack of self-esteem is at the root of most resulting difficulties. Color doesn’t cause people to disrespect one another or create an anger that erupts into violence. As we viewed the actions of those who broke windows with bats and bricks it was evident they had no concern for the people, many of the same color, who would lose their jobs or businesses.

It’s hard to believe that all created equal men and women drove long distances to burn buildings and steal merchandise. Upbringing and what it teaches about respect makes the difference in people’s actions and what they will do to benefit themselves at the expense of others — black or white.

An article in USA Today pointed out the comparison of local residents and out-of-area persons in the number of arrests one night during the peak of the unrest. Local residents made up a very small percentage. When protestors gather to take a stand and voice their opinions, few are present to burn and loot. A close look at the crowds protesting shows many of the marchers leaving when the violence begins.

The behavior of Michael Brown’s step-father did incite some of the current violence with his screams of burn and damage, but the issue had been festering for four months.

As I see it, the town of Ferguson had a predominantly white police department for years, yet we are led to believe this was the first time a serious incident occurred. Who or what really was responsible for the event getting so out of hand? And, after a passage of four months, why was the town not better prepared?

When the protesters gathered in Rockefeller Center this week to protest, mingling with the large crowd gathered to witness the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree, there were no serious incidents. Can we determine why?



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