Law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Mo., worked late into the night Sunday facing off against a band of demonstrators who had defied a state-ordered curfew to protest the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The clashes were fierce and intense, the continuation of what has since the very beginning been a violent response to the black teen’s death, the first night of protests featuring rioting and looting.
The demonstrations have been so violent, in fact, that Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., announced Sunday that he is deploying the state National Guard to help local law enforcement officials get the demonstrations under control.
“Tonight, a day of hope, prayers and peaceful protests was marred by the violent criminal acts of an organized and growing number of individuals, many from outside the community and state, whose actions are putting the residents and businesses of Ferguson at risk,” Nixon said in a statement, adding that attacks appear to be “deliberate, coordinated and intensifying.”
“These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory, and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served and to feel safe in their own homes,” the statement added.
Sadly, what the looters in Ferguson likely don’t realize, apart from the fact that they’re shameless criminal opportunists, is that they are holding that community back, replacing what could be a healing moment with ugly behavior that has ignited partisan demagoguery.
“These looters — some of whom may not even be from Ferguson — are giving right-wing nuts all the ammunition they need to attack politicians on both sides who are trying to preach restraint,” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Monday, referring to reports that many of the looters are not even from the small Missouri town.
Scarborough went on to cite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and conservative radio host Erick Erickson as examples of voices on the right who have struck a bipartisan tone regarding the events in Ferguson, both calling for calm and restraint from the police and the protesters.
But more importantly, the looters have also handed the state all the justification in the world to react with a heavy-handed police response.
Indeed, as I’ve stated elsewhere, one hopes that the looters in Ferguson at some point realize the long-term damage they've caused that community and the nation.
After the first night of protests, which included looting and rioting, law enforcement officials moved in with an extraordinarily heavy response. Many, this author included, were alarmed.
The looters were then handed a rare opportunity to prove that there is something greater than the petty and cruel self-interests that motivate the weak. They had an opportunity to rise above the situation and prove that the police response was unwarranted, a move that could’ve sent a message to a nation that has become increasingly militarized.
They had that opportunity and they blew it, signaling to the statists that the "little people" are unfit to rule themselves.
Rather than behaving like masters of their community, the looters behaved like an invading horde, burning stealing and threatening violence. The state can now claim that it's justified in crushing this "invading horde." And like all victors, the state will treat the defeated like subjects.
So, congratulations, looters, you had a chance to prove the state and its heavy-handed response wrong and you said "no." You failed yourself and you failed Ferguson.
A police presence is now required, a state of emergency has been declared and the Guard has been called in — and all for some lousy shoplifted goods.