In the US they like to say that the country is a huge melting pot, a place where different people or different cultures all come together and begin to merge and mix. Things that divide people disappear as they become 100% Americans. This concept has always been questionable, but political correctness has made sharp social problems drop out of the national political discourse agenda being hushed up or declared non-existent.
The Fergusson events showed the imagined melting pot is seething real hot and is about to explode with its lid going up in the air to fly away. Actually it was an event routine in the United States – a policeman shooting a black young man, but this time it made come to the fore the whole lot of problematic issues that Americans preferred not to discuss in public. For instance, the hostile attitude of policemen towards black people, or the problem of excessive force used by cops as they detain suspects. Regional differences and old offences are remembered to hit the agenda of public discourse. Darren Wilson, the Fergusson police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, is white. He was born in Texas, the state where racist sentiments have always been strong. Another burning issue is employment and racial disproportions. For instance, black people account for 70% of population but there are only three black officers in the ranks of 53 men strong city police force.
The forgotten problems of racial segregation have been made to emerge from the deep bottom of public awareness. Ku Klux Klan supported Wilson and started fundraising for him. Nobody even asked the question how a racial organization espousing ideas of misanthropy could exist and conduct its activities in a democratic country!
Fergusson laid bare the truth about the United States – the whole country is nothing but a huge repressive system that has no respect for democracy and human rights. Police is an element of this system posing a threat to the citizens. Michael Brown had no criminal record at the time of his death. He wanted to study and become a sound producer. According to his friend’s narrative, the boy was wounded, he had his hands raised ready to give up but the police officer kept on shooting to finish him off. He was not detained but rather executed.
The police officers did not stop there. As protests turned into meetings gathering thousands they used tear gas to dispel the crowd. American reporters were really shocked by the fact that the police used the poisonous substance forbidden for use in international conflicts but allowed to be used against US citizens.
The fact that the police treated people and their rights with scorn was confirmed by what happened on August 20. That day another black man holding a knife was shot by cops. Two armed police officers were unable to stop the man, so they had to open fire and kill him. Naturally it raises questions. It sounds no more convincing than the story about Michael Brown leaving the officer with no option but the use of his weapon.
The powers that be did not stop at that. They did not hesitate to go farther. Missouri governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard deployed to Ferguson. Actually armed military were called in to quell a protest like it happens in banana republics.
John Stossel, the host of «Stossel» weekly program highlighting current consumer issues with a libertarian viewpoint, says in this connection that, «Libertarians warned for years that government is force, that government always grows and that America’s police have become too much like an occupying army». The US is more often called a police state. It reflects reality instead of invented image. It is corroborated by the fact that many reporters highlighting the Fergusson events were detained or not allowed to enter the city. It all happened in the country that ostentatiously cares so much about freedom and human rights abroad.
The actions of US police look especially repugnant against the background of Washington’s importunity while inspiring of civil unrest and state coups in other countries.
Just think about it. The policemen shot the boy for «aggressive behavior» and possession of a knife. It was enough to justify the use of a gun to fire several times. In February 2014, during the Maidan protests Ukrainian policemen were shot at for two weeks. They were also attacked with Molotov cocktails and stones, chains were used to hit them in the close distance. At this very time the US State Department pressed former President Yanukovych to abstain from the use of force in response. Even the use of water cannons to disperse the crowd was viewed by Washington as an act of war waged by Ukrainian leadership against its own people. As a result, the Maidan protests turned into a concentration of right-wing radicals ready to use any methods they saw fit to fight the government.
But these events were taking place in the faraway in Ukraine. The United States is different; it’s a bulwark of democracy. Protests are not allowed here. This is the place where one can only support the government and follow police instructions. Any doubts expressed – here is a cop with a cocked gun for you.
John Eligon, a reporter for the New York Times, said that Fergusson is the city of «Anger, Hurt and Moments of Hope». Anger at the powers that be for ignoring the real problems of the country. It hurts! True, it really hurts to realize that the police created to protect people hunts and execute them behaving like a real criminal gang. And hopes! The hopes for reforms not limited by an isolated city but encompassing the whole country. Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. believes that, «In Ferguson, this is a defining moment for Missouri. It's a test for the governor's leadership. He has not done very well. It is a test for the police, the occupiers' leadership. They have botched it badly. Since it's so broadly covered by the media, you could have replications across the country. I hope that does not happen. But I do know that the sense of disgust, the sense of disappointment, is very prevalent».
The protesters should ask themselves a question: if a fair investigation took place and the American people were sure that those who are guilty would face a fair trial, would it guarantee no power abuse on the part of police in future? The history of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s protests teaches that hitting the streets may exert impact on the government. Protests are what the government is afraid of and trying hard to prevent even if it requires the use of rude force.
It’s hard to day if Fergusson is a beginning of country-wide wave of protests, something like the Maidan square in Kiev. It could be as a lot of things have changed in the United States since the tragedy took place. This time the wave of protests hit about 100 US cities, including Los Angeles and New York. This is a phase in American history that will impact the country’s future.