Once again, we have a police shooting in a largely black community being used as an excuse for rioting, rampaging and looting.
The proximal excuse is the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old boy, Michael Brown, who media repeatedly tell us was unarmed.
The teen in question was supposed to be starting college this week, and his family’s and supporters’ version of the story is that Brown was shot repeatedly for no reason while walking on Saturday to his grandmother’s house with a friend. According to a witness, Brown had his hands up in the air when he was shot.
The police version — surprise, surprise — is different. In that version of the tale, a police officer stopped two men on the street, one of whom was Brown, and soon found himself fighting with at least one of them inside the police car as the suspect tried to take the officer’s gun. Several shots later, Brown was fatally wounded.
The details of what happened are still sketchy, but that didn’t stop protesters on Sunday from chanting “no justice, no peace” and going into riot that lasted well into Monday, spawning multiple parallel riots and brawls throughout town.
During the riot, the criminal element turned to pillaging and burning their own community, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people caught on videotape trashing stores and lighting several on fire. Teams of seemingly organized thugs broke into stores and were taped running off with goods under their arms.
Even though the police were out in force with riot gear and police dogs, the rioters managed to vandalize several police cars, and law enforcement often appeared hesitant to stop the rampage’s worst outbreaks.
There are many details that remain unclear at this point, both about the shooting and about the ensuing riots. Still, there are many lessons that can be drawn from the events in Ferguson.
Probably the most important lessons have to do with power. The dynamic in Ferguson seems to be one that is common across the country, particularly in black neighborhoods. The local residents live in a situation where they feel powerless. To be sure, some like it that way because it means they get taken care of by the government like small children. But I’ll wager even more people in that community harbor a seething resentment toward a government system that financially punishes anyone who tries to break away from the federal and state plantation.
Government programs are in many ways a trap. They rarely provide enough money, food or other benefits to have a decent life, only enough to squeak by on. So long as you’re content with that, you’re fine. But if you want to better yourself or seek opportunities for your family, the government begins subtracting benefits in a way that often will exceed any increase in income you might earn on your own. Those who want out of the system, therefore, have a huge incentive for surrendering their hopes and aspirations.
Adding to the resentment that situation creates, many poor communities feel the double sting of a high crime rate and a constant authoritarian police presence that seems to have little effect on that crime rate.
Part of that police state of siege is the strict enforcement of gun control laws, a situation that only truly affects the law-abiding even as criminals have access to ever more powerful weaponry.
It’s worth noting that in the Ferguson riots, businesses that weren’t looted or damaged often were not those with police officers nearby but with armed owners using their own guns to defend their property.
Ferguson, Missouri, is a model of the Left’s socialist society, where the people are angry but powerless and the suffering is spread around but opportunity goes missing while the police lord over everyone.
This is what the Left wants for all of America, and this weekend’s riots are the most likely results of such a situation.
The solution to such riots before they ever happen is to get government out of people’s lives and teach them to take personal responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities.