A Community in a Great Crisis

It started the morning of Saturday, August 9, 2014, and the events of that morning will forever prevent the small Missouri town of Ferguson from ever again being the same.  The town and the people will forever be scarred and never able to find its way back to its comfortable condition of Friday, August 8th . . . of just being another quite, small town in the heartland of the United States.  A town where families live, work, and try to be good neighbors; where Churches try to minister to local folks; and where educators were certainly beginning short-term preparations for the kid’s return back to school and even longer-term planning for Christmas pageants . . . just a few short months away.  Life was slow and rather easy in these final dog days of summer, before the fall school term started, until that shot rang out . . . and shocked the small town.

The dilemma began with a 911 telephone call at 11:51 am announcing the alleged robbery of a convenience store.  A brief 10 minutes later, at 12:01 pm, a young African-American male, Michael Brown, laid dead in the street.  His family was devastated by his death, the local police department came under brutal attack, the community became fractured, and the ugliness of race riots and clashes with law enforcement were soon being played out on the streets . . . as the world looked on. 

As is always the case in these tragedies, those who love the spot-light and yearn for public attention rushed in and threw out their same hate-filled mantra . . . always making everything a black and white battle . . . and without knowing any details or facts, began to scream “discrimination” and getting folks stirred up and ratcheting tensions up to the boiling point. Those self-serving screwballs declared that young Michael Brown was shot to death for no other reason than simply having been a person of color.  In their haste to point fingers and pit a battle between African Americans and whites, they failed to recognize that Michael had lived in Ferguson for years without having been shot for that or any other reason . . . as had many other citizens of color.  But the truth of the matter is that those troublemakers have no interest in truth and justice . . . those things do not fit into their agenda.

The small police department was overwhelmed with what happened on that lazy Saturday morning, and was unskilled in such matters, as well as ill-prepared to deal with and explain the chain of events to the public and media.  Thus, in its confusion and apprehension, the Department naturally clammed up and tried to feel its way through the public relations nightmare, as surely the Chief of Police, the Mayor, the City Manager, and the City Attorney all try to call signals and determine who would speak and what would be said.  Their silence served as fuel for rising tensions, and was interpreted as sheer disregard for the citizen’s right to know, and folks became really angry.  As tensions built, there was no shortage of those willing to add high-octane fuel to the fire. 

Of course, there were events that occurred that fateful morning and an honest explanation of those event could certainly have helped everyone understand what happened and why. Personally, I am inclined to always try to give the local police the benefit of the doubt, as I simply cannot believe that some out-of-control cop simply drove down the streets of Ferguson and shot a young black guy in broad open daylight for no reason than his color.  However, it must also be said that it seems that most local police departments have brought some of this hostility upon themselves.  The truth is that most of them have had a radical make-over in recent years . . . and certainly not for the best!  There has been a serious change in the demeanor of those local departments, and a great shift from the long time motto of “To protect, Serve, and Defend” that was once painted on the sides of patrol cars, to a very real militarization of the local force today.  Even small-town departments (even in towns where the largest business in town is the Dairy Queen) now sport assault weapons and other such military gear.  When I see that junk I always wonder just where and when the local cops plans to use such specialized equipment and upon whom?  Even worse, it is no rare thing to find a local cop who is a bully and a jerk.  I have had a few personal experiences with some of them. 

Accusations have been hurled in Ferguson, threats have been made, looting and rioting have occurred, and violent clashes have taken place; schools have been closed and classes cancelled and hundreds have gathered outside the Police Department demanding  justice . . . and the question remains if there is even any justice to be had in any of this.  Lawyers have already been retained . . . and are quite busy making their pitches and boasts.  Folks have gathered along the streets and the police have launched tear gas from military-style trucks . . . trucks that ought to have been in Iraq and not in small-town America, brutalizing local citizens. 

Al Sharpton arrived on the scene. Jesse Jackson also arrived. Then the New Black Panthers arrived.  Why have they come?  To help?  To help with what?  Actually, the proper question is, “What have they ever helped with?”  Those two clowns have passed themselves off for years as preachers of the Gospel and have lived off of poor, honest, hard-working people’s tithes and offerings, and the truth is that I have never heard either of them even utter the name Jesus! 

Ferguson, Missouri, like so many other towns and communities across the United States, has experienced significant changes over recent years.  Those changes have come in several different forms, as follows:

Demographics: The town has experienced drastic shifts and changes, and has seen a shift from its ethnic composition in 1990 of 73.8% White and 25.1% African American, to a 2010 composition of 67.4% African Americans and 29.3% White.  Such shifts require serious work to adjust and embrace the change and all that it entails.  Had new leadership been encouraged and had it emerged?

Cultural: Over recent years, Ferguson, just as every other small town in the Country, has seen a radical change in values, standards, value of life . . . as well as a great loss in public trust and confidence in those who are charged by the Constitution with the responsibility of representing us.  We have seen them largely ignore us, and seemingly simply to represent their own interests. In recent years we have seen the sitting President of the United States proved to be a liar, sex monger, and an abuser and user of a foolish and easily-impressed young intern . . . and doing so in a perverted manner.  Those who were elected to defend the Constitution and honor that high office merely swept the entire scandal under the Washington rug, and smirked and chuckled about him being “a rascal.”  What a sorry commentary on our rule of law and highly-elected officials.

Religion: As a result of several things, Church attendance is continually falling as member’s interest and commitment wanes, and by and large, it must be recognized that the Church is failing its membership in a number of different areas and that, too, is being reflected in the culture.

Educational system: The educational system of this great Nation is in shambles as Washington dictates to the local school systems.  The evidence is that tests repeatedly reveal that students graduating from high school 40 years ago were better educated than are current graduates.  Our educational ranking amongst other industrial nations is constantly on the decline.  It really is true that students are graduating from high school . . . Who honestly and literally are illiterate. 

And now, the White House has announced that the Attorney General’s office will conduct an inquiry into the Ferguson Police Department, as if that is some solid solution that can add some measure of honor, comfort, and instill integrity in this messy situation by its involvement.  As a reflection of where were are morally as a nation, the truth is that there is no agency of the U. S. Government that is as despised and distrusted as is the present office of the Attorney General . . . and that is tragic . . . as it is the highest law enforcement office in our nation.  Yet, under this Attorney General, there has been one scandal after another . . . and the office has lost all credibility and respect.  That office is more suspect than is the Police Department of Ferguson, so it seems this is another instance of the fox and the hen house.

And . . . now, today . . . reports that another young man has been shot to death . . . just four short miles away from Ferguson.  God help the poor folks . . . both Black and White . . . living in that region; folks who simply want to earn a living and raise their families.  Things will surely escalate in the hours and days to come . . .

And, God bless the families of the two young men who were killed.  I hope they find some answers that help bring them healing, restoration, and peace.  I hope and pray that the allegations of race slayings are false.  I pray that we are well beyond such foolish stuff . . . stuff that once defined us as a confused and troubled Nation, a Nation whose citizens claimed to love and reverence God, but treated their fellow citizens terribly for foolish reasons. 



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