Before the riot gear, before the tear gas, before the media swarm….there was an opportunity missed.
I remember the day clearly, it was my nephews birthday and I was headed to Hudson Park, just a few blocks from the incident, for his 3rd birthday party. I was driving down 270 when a stream of white SUVs zoomed past me with their lights, but no sirens on. I arrived to the party as we began to have cake and ice cream we heard the fire station alarms going off about 5 blocks away.
It seemed a little weird, but nothing too alarming.
It turns out, just down the street, Michael Brown had been shot by a police officer and was left laying in the street for 4 hours. We all know what happened from here: crowds gathered, police arrived, force was used, violence erupted, and the media tagged on like there was no tomorrow.
But before the violence erupted, there was this very short period of time when something powerful happened. A period between 4pm and midnight where the crowds had gathered and the police were gaining…and there was just protest. There was a gathering in the community to fight the injustice of police brutality and racism. The images I saw were powerful. They were reminiscent of the civil rights protests in the 60’s.
Can you imagine what the world would have seen, if these were the only images that the media had to report on?
If the Ferguson community, had come together to show their outrage in a peaceful way? If the hundreds of people that gathered, came together to show that they were tired of the mistreatment in the community.
If the hundreds had become thousands and the thousands spread to other cities and we all came together in peace? The world would have had to listen. There would have been change. The message would have come across so clearly, there would have been no denying the issue at hand. We would have been forced to have a conversation about what is wrong and really going on in America. Ferguson could have gone into the history books as a defining moment of change.
But something happened…
The peace was interrupted and the message overshadowed.
Our community was ransacked…stereotypes that plague the black community and perpetuate the racism emerged and businesses were destroyed.
The media began to focus on the war zone that our little community had become. Riot gear, tear gas, bullets, smoke, sirens, profanity, looting and vandalism became the face of our hometown. The message disappeared as quickly at QT went up in flames.