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Inflaming speech

By Jim Killebrew

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[August 20, 2014]  One of the complaints we have heard from the people who are talking about the Ferguson, Missouri reaction to the shooting involving the death of the 18 year-old Michael Brown is the "militarization" of the police in responding to the persons who demonstrated and looted stores. When the police used military equipment left over from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan that consisted of armored vehicles, many said the presence of the "military-like" equipment provoked the crowd into a state of being out of control causing them to loot and burn property. Since the police responded in force, we are being told, it "caused" much of the problems because the people in the area are so "frustrated" with the law enforcement that they are only trying to protect themselves against a police force who have been unfair to them. When those kind of forces show up at scenes where large mob-like crowds are looting and burning convenient stores, the police look so "menacing" that it creates violence and exacerbates the already volatile situation.

Of course when Al Sharpton can stand in a pulpit in a church on Sunday morning and preach violence and hatred, apparently that does not seem menacing to anyone and presumably serves to calm the volatile situation? Sharpton stood in the church and said, "We're not looters; we are liberators. We're not burners; we are builders." (Al Sharpton, 8/17/2014 at the Ferguson Rally) Really, Mr. Sharpton? Liberators instead of looters; builders instead of burners? Exactly what were those people who were breaking into the store carrying things that didn't belong to them out of the store without paying for the merchandise, then setting a building on fire think they were "liberating" or "building?"

It seems that all those people gathered in the streets throwing Molotov Cocktails and trying to take things that didn't belong to them and destroy others' property were not listening to Mr. Sharpton when he called them liberators and builders. Other store owners who have fortified their stores and property to a defensive posture must not believe Mr. Sharpton either. Apparently the police force must have believed in part what Mr. Sharpton was saying, Governor Nixon put the State Police in charge of the security propelling Captain Ron Johnson into the leadership role, sometimes even embracing some of the marchers as well as marching with them.

Even with that gesture, however, Mr. Sharpton continued to send veiled messages to the people by saying, "There are many more hurdles in the coming days." The Civil Rights leader continued on with, “We haven’t even had the funeral. What happens when these kids see their friend laying in the casket? I’ve been through this more than one time. We’re not out of the emotions because we all of a sudden had a good night of marching.” Mr. Sharpton's self-fulfilling prophecy came true with the rioting looters (or liberators and builders) continuing on in their law-breaking behaviors. Not only did they continue, but the intensity became worse. It necessitated the involvement of the federal Department of Justice, the FBI, Missouri State Police as well as the police department.

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As the riot gear was put away the rioting and looting became much more intense. So intense was the destruction, the Governor finally called the National Guard to take control to accomplish what the local law enforcement, the state police and others could not do. It finally became apparent that there were people from outside of Ferguson coming in to loot and riot. It appeared it was an opportunity for those not even effected by the shooting began to take advantage of the situation simply to agitate and loot.

As the "softer approach" seemed to fade, the environment turned more ugly than in the beginning. The result was the President denouncing the actions of those who are stimulating the rioting actions, and calling for the U.S. Attorney General to visit the city to ensure the investigation is not tainted in any way. The President referred to the rioting people in Ferguson telling them they are not contributing to achieving any justice by doing what they are doing. He warned them that it was unacceptable to engage in such behavior as the lawbreaking, especially in a nation based on the rule of law.

Taking the cue from the President reminding us of the rule of law, perhaps we should make a greater effort to examine and evaluate the race-baiter comments that continue to inflame situations like the one in Ferguson, Missouri. When Mr. Sharpton and the New Black Panthers begin calling for actions that run counter to the "rule of law" perhaps the Attorney General should investigate those behaviors and determine if it is right to engage in inflammatory behaviors tantamount to "yelling fire in a crowded theater." Finding all of the evidence through a complete, unbiased investigation should be the better way. That should be the standard for all citizens in our country.


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