“It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”–The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

“This is exactly what is supposed to be happening when an injustice is happening in your community,” he said, adding: “You have kids getting killed for nothing.”–DeAndre Smith, 30, of Ferguson, MO

The murder of Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed black teenager, by a Ferguson Police Department officer has sparked outrage in the predominantly black suburb of St Louis, Missouri. Yesterday more than one thousand of the 22,000 citizens turned out for a protest vigil. Within hours of that event those who felt their outrage could not be sated by a peaceful remembrance of the young man whose life was snuffed out carelessly went on a rampage of looting and property destruction that saw cars damaged, shop windows broken and a store set on fire.

Ferguson, Missouri youth protest police killing, Aug. 9, 2014

I sat down last night watching the coverage of this riot, one in a long litany of Americans venting their frustration in the form of violence, and tried to understand what would motivate people to commit crimes in the response to a tragedy or a perceived injustice. No one group has a monopoly on this type of violence over the course of American history, however, there is a common thread that stretches back to the earliest riots in 18th century. it is not race, nor is it religion, nor is it class. The common rioting thread in American culture is a communal, no a tribal, sense of grievance in the face of a power structure that cares nothing about their sense of loss.

The riots that took place in State College, Pennsylvania after the firing of head football coach Joe Paterno had little to do with poverty, or race or religion; that is unless you consider college football a religion as some surely do. Joe Pa was an institution in State College for decades; the people there felt he belonged to them and was, if you will, the leader of their tribe. When the crimes of Jerry Sandusky were exposed, the citizens of that town which owe their existence and economic stability to Penn State football the rules of responsibility in command dictated that someone had to be held accountable for what they knew and when they knew it. Paterno’s supporters, read the majority in State College, felt his termination was equal to a murder of the leader of their tribe. Of course, this is far from the truth, Penn State despite their sanction by the NCAA still plays football despite the dismissal and subsequent death of their long time coach.

“Let it go, let justice prevail. And if doesn’t prevail in the way they want, don’t do this again. Sometime we create our own demise. You didn’t hurt Ferguson police, you hurt yourself,” Karl McCarty, 39, of Ferguson, MO

I’ve heard from many people both here and on Terra try to explain away the causes of rioting as being racially inherent of culturally based; the crime of property damage and theft are none of these. These crimes are simply an outcry of loss by a community that seeks to revenge an unrecoverable loss. Michael Brown is dead. His family must grieve the loss of a son that was heading to college while those with political agendas will seek to vilify him for any undiscovered transgressions of the law in the past. But Michael Brown is an individual not a symbol of the tribe. he is not Trayvon Martin nor is he Rodney King.

What was taken from the black community in this case was a sense of freedom in their own neighborhood. The ability that all free peoples should have to go about their business without fear of law enforcement is paramount to any society that calls itself democratic. When because of physical characteristics a person becomes a profiled target for law enforcement it is not simply a case of bigotry it tells a story about the wider society and the information they are being fed by the media and others that enforces fear and suspicion. At the end of the day the people who rioted and looted in Ferguson are no less culpable than the students and adults that turned over cars and lit tires in State College and must be brought to justice for allowing their tribal anger to boil over into violence.

Qu’ul cuda praedex nihil!

Sarah Bloch, D.S.V.J., J.F., O.Q.H [Jur.]
Amici Bax Demvolu Comnu
Politics & Culture Wars Managing Editor
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork
47 Ashtaq 3 AS

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