Why Did The Ferguson Protest Shooting Happen? One Year After Michael Brown's Death, Tensions Continue To Run High
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, protests in Ferguson that began late Saturday night have continued into Monday morning. The protests, demanding justice for Brown, began peacefully. But by late Sunday evening, it was confirmed by authorities that at least two people had been shot in two separate shootings, and one victim had been taken to the hospital. A Ferguson police officer, allegedly under heavy gunfire by protesters, shot one person, and Ferguson police have reported via Twitter that two unmarked cars were shot and that locals should steer clear of West Florissant, where protester/police interactions became violent. Multiple videos of the scene at Ferguson that have been posted on Twitter show a man lying on the ground, surrounded by police officers with guns pointed, and a voice yelling in the background the man is bleeding and needs help. So, why did the Ferguson protest shooting happen?
As of early Monday morning, Mashable reported that Ferguson police have yet to issue any comment about the shooting, but the answer is nowhere near as simple as more condescending critics of the community would like it to be. The Ferguson protest is one of huge cultural significance, commemorating the tragic and controversial shooting of Michael Brown one year ago in the same location. Last August, Brown's death inspired similar outraged protests and unfortunate violence, and three months later in November, when a jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson, protests became violent as businesses were looted and burned.
The protesters in Ferguson are ultimately trying to achieve something: They are trying to push for awareness and an end to the police brutality that African-Americans are more vulnerable to, as well as express their frustration with a justice system which they believe has ultimately failed them. It has been one year since the shooting of Michael Brown, and in that year, they believe there has been no justice for Brown and his family, nor change in police relations with people of color.
It's undeniable that news of black victims at the hands of police surfaced at shocking rates this past year. Protesters shouldn't be blamed or antagonized by the violent acts of a few seeking to unravel the work of peaceful demonstrations with senseless rioting. No large-scale demonstration is ever immune to being hijacked or manipulated by people seeking to loot and destroy.
It's difficult to decipher the exact motive behind the Ferguson shooting at this time, thick with tension, conflict, and renewed anguish. The shooters could be outraged protesters poorly expressing themselves, or perhaps they were people who wished to commit acts of violence, and viewed the large protests as the perfect context to do so. But this is not the time to make sweeping generalizations or condemn a community in pain as it tries to inspire much-needed reform and raise awareness about structural racism and social injustice.
Shootings and looting are indefensible, and the proverb that two wrongs don't make a right certainly rings true. But the situation in Ferguson is a complex one. It's fair to condemn violent acts and senseless killing, but it's unfair to expect the demonstrations of a community torn apart by tragedy and frustrated race relations to be a perfectly docile affair. We can't be so quick to renounce protests in Ferguson because of the deplorable actions of some. Confusion and frustration will linger in the Ferguson community until open communication takes place between Ferguson police and protesters, but unfortunately, it appears that violence rather than dialogue is currently escalating between the two.