As protesters gathered in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson to mark the one year anniversary of Michael Brown Jr.’s death at the hands of a White police officer, two groups of young people allegedly began firing guns at each other a short distance away in a strip of stores that had just been looted.
The police responded quickly and at the end of the encounter, Tyrone Harris Jr. was on the ground after being shot several times. He remains in the hospital.
The police say Harris was shooting at them and they returned fire. Harris’s father told the Associated Press, “My son was running to the police to ask for help, and he was shot. It’s all a bunch of lies … They’re making my son look like a criminal.” Harris’ father continues to assert this belief in spite of the recent disclosure of a video that allegedly shows Harris with a gun during the Monday night police confrontation, and the additional disclosure of Harris’ criminal record.
It has been a tumultuous year as more and more people are beginning to realize that Black men and women are being victimized and indeed killed by the police at a frightening rate. That spotlight nevertheless pales when compared to the numbers of Black on Black violent crimes that are perpetrated every day. In Baltimore, home to Freddie Gray, who died earlier this year in police custody, it
appears that most of the record high homicides committed so far this year have involved Black perpetrators and Black victims.
In Ferguson, which declared a state of emergency following the shooting of Harris, a relatively peaceful protest has been marred by not only the shooting of Harris but the accompanying looting.
As in past uprisings, the damage done to the business institutions inside our communities often far exceeds the ostensible gains created by the boisterous demonstrations.
It is time to ask who is to blame. Protesters can’t claim everything is the fault of racist police while at the same time shoot outs and looting are taking place nearby.
The Ferguson protests have been extremely important in initiating positive improvements in how Black citizens are to be treated, however, such improvements will surely be viewed historically as ineffective unless there is also a greater effort to eliminate the violence that continues to caste a national negative image upon too many of the Black communities in this country.