By Ashley Beth
It appears the tipping point – from a battleground to a community in recovery – in the modern civil rights movement ‘hot spot’ of Ferguson, Missouri, is when the number of riot police responders outnumber the number of rioting members of the community. This is what appears to have happened this past week, indicating the ebbing of nighttime looting and rioting in the name of the “Black Lives Matter” movement which resurged upon the one year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
Fortunately, this suburb of St. Louis is able to focus their energies on rebuilding and reinforcing a strong municipality, now that the dramatic back lash to the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Brown by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, has seemed to run its course.
A report compiled and issued by the U.S. Department of Justice harshly criticized the local police force for their racial bias and labeled the city courts as a system which profited off targeting African-American citizens. After being blasted on paper, Ferguson’s city judge, city manager and police chief stepped down. Interim police Chief Andre Anderson, on loan from a Phoenix, AZ, made it clear he is willing to make his position permanent, but filling the role of city judge is proving more difficult.
The Honorable Roy Richter replaced battle weary Ferguson judge Ronald Brockmeyer after he stepped down, but the city faces another judge hunt upon the inevitable cessation of Richter’s term due to his age. This job hunt may prove more difficult as Brown activists are still calling for an independent investigation on how prosecutor Robert McCulloch oversaw the November 2014 court proceedings which cleared Office Darren Wilson of any charges in the Brown shooting. The DOJ report also did not cite Wilson for any injustices, focusing more on the for-profit police state Ferguson seems to have become over the years.
It turns out police state may not be too radical a term to define the city’s municipal system as the Pentagon has re-visited the allotment of heavy equipment such as the four AM General High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) or ‘Humvee’s’ the city received, a discrepancy from the allotted two the city was supposed to get. This surplus in military equipment came under intense criticism from the Obama administration and Congress after the overwhelming deployment of such warfare materials during the initial response to the Ferguson riots. The state of Missouri has taken control over the equipment until more decisions can be made.